Monday, March 7, 2011

My eighth belt test

On Monday 03/07/2011 I took my eighth belt test at KnK World Champion Taekwondo in Scappoose, Oregon. I advanced from blue belt to brown stripe (a blue belt with a brown stripe). It represents two full years of taekwondo study. This time next year, I will be preparing for my black belt test. This was my first belt test without Master Jason Leitzke. He had been my instructor up until he enrolled in nursing school in January. It was a little sad to test without him. Our new instructor is Mr. HyungMin "Eric" Jun. Our test was scored as usual by Grand Master Byong-Cheol Kim, but Grand Master Je-Kyoung Kim was not in attendance. He has only ever missed one other belt test. I imagine his schedule did not permit him to be in Scappoose that night.

My test began at 7 o'clock and included green belts, blue stripes and blue belts. The white belts had tested at 6 o'clock and the yellow and orange belts had tested at 5 o'clock. Our school doesn't have any brown belts or red belts yet. We do have one black belt (first dan) and one black stripe. He will test for his first dan next month. Sometimes they attend our belt tests as assistant instructors, but they did not attend tonight. There's been a lot of flu going around. I hope they are not ill. Their absence made me high belt, so I lead the bowing ceremony. It's pretty simple and easy enough. I just have to say: "Attention, face the flags, bow. Attention, face the grand master, bow. Attention, face the instructor, bow." But I have to say it all in Korean, and I couldn't' remember the word for grand master, so I just said the word for master. No one corrected me, so I guess I didn't offend anyone.

We started with some jumping jacks and some stretching. Then, the instructor asked the green belts and the blue stripes to sit down. And the blue belts did some pushups, blocks, stances and punches. There were only four of us: me; my friend, Heidi Peck, my eight-year-old daughter, and her six-year-old son. We did our self-defense and one-step sparring (which seemed to me a lot like a self defense move). Our self defense move started with an attacker holding a knife on us. We slapped the attackers wrist from both sides with our hands, causing him to drop the knife. Then we jumped up, spun around and kicked him in the chest with a back kick. Our one-step sparring moved started with a bear hug from behind, we dropped to a bent knee position and trust out our arms to break our attackers grip, then we placed two elbow strikes in his ribs, jumped up and placed a back kick in his chest. We practiced lots of back kicks in preparation for this test.

Our form this time was Tae Guk O Jang. It was a little complicated because it featured lots of back fist strikes and middle blocks which look almost the same, so it was challenging to perform them both precisely enough to tell the difference. I had a little trouble keeping my back foot down during all the front stances, but at least we didn't switch stances constantly like in our last form. The form also features a side kick with a punch. We've never done a kick and a punch at the same time before, but the best part was the hop. After the last kick, we hop forward, land in cross stance, perform a back fist strike and yell. It's a pretty cool finish.

After our form, we lined up to kick a target. We did round house kick and back kick, four each with each leg. Grand Master Kim complemented me on my back kick. He said that I had very good form. I felt seven feet tall. I've been working really hard, but my back injury has made every thing very difficult these past few months. I think maybe all the work I've been doing with my physical therapist to improve my posture has made me a better martial artist. Who would have thought?

Then we sat down, I was a little surprised. It didn't seem like we had done very much. The green belts and the blue stripes took the floor and did their pushups, blocks, punches, forms and kicks. There were eight of them: four green belt and four blue stripes. It seemed like they did more, but maybe it just took them a little longer because there are more of them. I remember Master Kim had a lot of praise for one little boy who showed much improvement. He's a shy little guy that mostly just tries to keep up by copying his brother. They look the same size, they might be twins, but they are very different in temperament.

Their self defense moves included throwing their attacker to the floor. Mr. Eric made a great show of falling very hard as usual, but two students: Mr. Rob and Ms. J.T. move really very fast, so I'm not sure if he was just showing off, or if he really did fall that hard. I tried throwing my partner really fast like that once, and I dropped her right on her head. Since then, I've been very careful about my self-defense routines.

The next thing we did was to read our philosophies and our bad habits. I wrote that my bad habit was eating junk food, but Master Kim remembered that was my bad habit last time. I did not remember that, so I tried to think of what it was last time, and my friend, Mr. Bert reminded me that last time I said that my bad habit was spending too much time playing video games - everyone laughed at that - again.

We all broke our boards without any trouble. Blue belts used an elbow strike to break their boards. My eight-year-old daughter received a trophy and a gold star for having an excellent attitude for the past several weeks. I think all the children earned their trophies this time. At the test, they did NOT have new belts for us. They have been ordered, but they have not arrived. That's always a little sad and frustrating and anti-climatic, but they did have two very exciting announcements. First, they will be having four session of summer camp at our school in Scappoose, so the kids can come and play taekwondo all day long for $150 per week. They are even going to teach them some nunchuk routines. Second, they will be going to Korea and China in June. I wish I could go, but they need the money by the end of the month, and even though it's only $3300, I just can't put it together in time, but I have started a plan to get it together for next year. My eight-year-old daughter is planning to raise her share of the money with a lemonade stand!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Oscar Reviews 2010

The Oscar Award nominations were announced on January 25, 2011, and so begins my annual quest to see as many as possible before Oscar Night. Fifty-six (56) films were nominated in 24 categories. On the day of the announcement, I had already seen 12 (23%). By the time the Oscar show aired, I had seen 34 (61%). I could have seen one more on iTunes, but I hate watching films on my computer.

The hardest films to see are always the shorts. There are fifteen: five short films, five short animated films and five short documentaries. Fortunately, the Hollywood Theater in Portland, Oregon shows the five short films and the five short animated films every year for the price of two tickets. This year I took my 8-year-old daughter with me. She had a great time. I don't know why they don’t' show the documentary shorts.

  1. 127 Hours: nominated for best picture, best actor, film editing, best score, best song ("If I Rise") and screenplay. This is the true story of how one plucky young man goes hiking in the mountains alone and has to cut off his arm in order to get back home again.
  2. Alice in Wonderland: nominated for art direction, costume design and visual effects. It totally deserves all these nominations. It is a very beautiful film. Anne Hathaway was probably my favorite. Johnny Depp was also wonderful, but I really liked Anne Hathaway as the white queen. Her makeup, costume and acting were such that, at times, I wasn't sure it was her. And, I loved it when Alice appeared in her suit of armor. She looked just like Joan of Arc! (03/05/2010)
  3. Animal Kingdom: nominated for best supporting actress (Jacki Weaver). This is an Australian film about a crime family. It starts with a teenage boy calling his grandmother letting her know that his mother just overdosed and died. He moves in with her and his uncles and tries not to get involved in their crimes, but he really can't escape. Weaver's character reminds me of Nurse Cratchet.
  4. Another Year: nominated for best original screenplay.
  5. Barney's Version: nominated for best makeup.
  6. Biutifulnominated for best actor (Javier Bardem) and best foreign language film (Mexico)
  7. Black Swan nominated for best picture, best actress, cinematography, director and film editing. I wasn't sure at first if I liked this film. The nail breaking scenes are really hard to watch, and the dancing is not filmed very well, but the story of this young ballerina's psychotic break is fascinating. The special effect when Natalie Portman's arms turn into wings was stunning! Mila Kunia and Winona Ryder were just as wonderful as Portman (01/23/11).
  8. Blue Valentine: nominated for best actress (Michelle Williams).
  9. Confession, The: nominated for best live short film. A boy is preparing to make his first confession. Something very bad happens. The boy seeks out his priest early, but he can't bring himself to say what has happened. The priest recognizes his anguish, and grants him absolution, assuming he knows the kind of thing he needs to confess. It was sad because the boy really needed to confess. The priest guessed that he needed absolution, but the boy seemed just as anguished. Confession is good for the soul. Absolution lures us to the confessional, but I might be reading too much into this. (02/20/11)
  10. Country Strong: nominated for best song ("Coming Home").
  11. Crush, The: nominated for best live short film. This is a lovely, light, humorous film about a second grader in love with his teacher. When he discovers that she is engaged to someone who is not good fr her, he challenges him to duel. When he shows up with a real gun, it gets very tense, but it all ends well. If you can find this film, I think you will enjoy it. (02/20/11)
  12. Day & Night: nominated for best animated short. This film plays as a lead into Toy Story 3. It features two characters: Day and Night. When they first meet, they don't like each other, and they quarrel, but as they spend a little time together, they come to appreciate what each has to offer. In the end, they get to switch places (06/18/10)
  13. Dogtooth: nominated for best foreign language film (Greece) . This film is very beautifully shot, but the story is so strange that I do not recommend it. It's about a couple with three adult children who have never been allowed to leave the house. They live in a large house with a large yard and a high fence. They have been taught that it is dangerous outside, and they will not be prepared to leave until they loose a dogtooth. There is no explanation for why the children have been raised this way. It's just weird for weirdness sake (01/31/11).
  14. Exit through the Gift Shop: nominated for best documentary feature. Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles, is obsessed with film. He films everything. When he becomes interested in graffiti artists, he films them constantly, but he doesn't actually know how to make a film, so he leaves his footage with Bansky, the preeminent graffiti artist, and he makes some art himself. He's not very good, but he is very successful. (01/31/11).
  15. Fighter, Thenominated for best picture, supporting actor (Bale), supporting actress (Adams & Leo), directing, film editing and writing. I didn't expect to like this film, and I didn't. First of all, it was boxing. I don't like boxing films. They always show the fighters all beat to hell. This film was not exception to that standard. The characters in this film were such deeply flawed individuals that it was just hard to watch, sad. The one bright spot was that Mark Wahlberg (who isn't nominated) is really very easy on the eyes, and his character is really quite likable, too. (12/17/10)
  16. Gasland: nominated for best documentary feature. Exploring the wisdom of replacing coal with natural gas. Apparently drilling for natural gas poisons the water table. Hundreds of thousands of wells have been drilled through the rural west. There are plans to drill in Pennsylvania and New York where millions of people receive their water from a single enormous unfiltered aquifer. I had to write my senator after viewing this film. (02/09/11)
  17. God of Love: nominated for best live short film. This is a very nice little film. A talented dart thrower prays to God for the love of a woman. Instead, God sends him a box full of magic darts. He tries to get the girl to fall in love with him, but it turns out he's a lot better at matching up other people. (02/20/11)
  18. Gruffalo, The: nominated for best animated short film. This is a lovely little film that maintains the language of the children's book is based on, narrated by a mother squirrel voiced by Helena Bonham Carter - perfectly charming - a bit slow of pace. (02/20/11)
  19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: nominated for art direction and visual effects, and deservedly so. This movie looks great! It's probably the best installment of the franchise. I think it struck just right balance between details and pace, and I think Emma Watson steals the screen from her costars. (11/19/10)
  20. Hereafter: nominated for visual effects.
  21. How to Train Your Dragon: nominated for best animated feature and best score. This was truly delightful film. I have small children, so I see a lot of animated films every year. This was truly a bright spot. It's well drawn, but nothing fancy. The dialogue is very witty. My kids quote it constantly. And, it includes some really poignant life-lessons. The lead character is a young Viking who is very clever, but not very strong, so he doesn't really fit in with his friends. The people are deeply prejudiced against dragons based on a tragic misunderstanding. (03/26/2010)
  22. I Am Love: nominated for costume design. This is an Italian film starring Tilda Swinton. The costumes are a beautiful collection of Italian fashion, but the story is completely confusing. A woman with adult children falls in love (inexplicably) with her son's friend. When her son finds out, he freaks out, hits his head and dies, but she still runs away with her lover, abandoning the rest of the family in their grief. I don't get it. (01/25/11)
  23. Illusionist, The: nominated for best animated feature/
  24. In a Better World: nominated for best foreign language film (Denmark).
  25. Incendies: nominated for best foreign language film (Canada).
  26. Inception: nominated for best picture, art direction, cinematography, music, sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects and writing. This was a great film. It's about a spy who travels inside people subconscious while they are dreaming to steal corporate secrets, and just like the Matrix, I left the theater wondering if I was awake or asleep. (07/16/10)
  27. Inside Job: nominated for best documentary feature.
  28. Iron Man 2: nominated for visual effects. This film is a first-rate action film and a first-rate comic book film. It looks great. The story is solid. Robert Downey, Jr. is brilliant. I was disappointed that they had to recast the character of War Machine, and I thought that the villain was far less interesting than the heroes. Scarlette Johansen was delightful surprise. Her fight scene was totally cool. (09/28/10).
  29. Kids Are All Right, The: nominated for best picture, actress (Bening), supporting actor (Ruffalo) and writing. I was very disappointed with this film. It was billed as a film about two children raised by two moms on a quest to find their biological father, but it turned out to be about two middle-aged lesbians who had lost the spark in their marriage. It's nice to have something lighter in the best picture category, but the characters and relationships were not very convincing or interesting. (2/2/10)
  30. Killing in the Name: nominated for best documentary short.
  31. King's Speech, The: nominated for best picture, actor (Firth), supporting actor (Rush), supporting actress (Carter), art direction , cinematography, costume design, directing, film editing, music, sound mixing and editing. This is a beautiful story, beautifully told, well deserving all of its accolades, full of priceless moments. At the end of the story, I was struck by the fact that this man, King George VI, found himself in such terrifying circumstances: at war with fascist Germany, but the thing that frightened him most was the rather ordinary fear of public speaking. (2/5/10)
  32. Let's Pollute: nominated for best animated short film. This is probably the shortest of the short films. It's only 6 minutes long. Of course it is trying to discourage people from polluting by pretending to encourage it. My 8-year-old daughter was thoroughly confused, but the other adults in the audience with me laughed in all the right places. (02/20/11)
  33. Lost Thing, The: nominated for best animated short film. This was really charming - lots of imagination in this film. A boy finds a thing on the beach. It's alive but cannot speak. Its about 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide and very friendly. It looks something like a teapot crossed with an crab. Anyway, over the course of the film, he tries to find the thing a home. (02/20/11)
  34. Madagascar, a Journey Diary: nominated for best animated short film. I did not like this film. It started out interestingly enough: lots of beautiful pictures in lots of different animation styles, but it never stopped switching styles, so when it finally tried to tell a story, I kept getting distracted, but it didn't try very hard. This film comes off as a student showing off how many different ways he knows how to draw a film. (02/20/11)
  35. Na Wewe: nominated for best live short film. This film was terrifying - lots of tension and drama, but ultimately much ado about nothing. It is set in Rwanda. A military patrol stops a van full of people and tries to sort out the Hutu from the Tutsi. (The Tutsi will be executed). The comedy or absurdity of the situation is finally revealed as each person tries to explain their complicated family background. (02/20/11)
  36. Outside the Law: nominated for best foreign language film (Algeria).
  37. Poster Girl: nominated for best documentary short.
  38. Rabbit Hole:nominated for best actress (Nicole Kidman).
  39. Restrepo: nominated for best documentary feature. This film is about an outpost in Afghanistan. As a documentary, it doesn't really tell a story, but as a snap shop of the war in Afghanistan it presents our soldiers as completely incompetent.
  40. Salt: nominated for best sound mixing. This is Angelina Jolie as an action hero and everything that you would expect from that, no disappointments. The story is that Jolie's character, Salt, works for the CIA, and she might be a sleeper spy for Russia. Half the fun of the film is trying to answer that question: who is Salt? And there are several twists to keep that interesting. The film excels with disguises, so it’s a shame is wasn't nominated for makeup, but the action films always seem to show up in the sound categories. (01/30/11)
  41. Social Network, The: nominated for best picture, actor (Eisenberg), cinematography, directing, film editing, music, sound mixing and writing. This is the story of how Mark Zuckerberg invented facebook. It's mostly a character study. It's really, really good - a lot of fun to watch. Highly recommended. Don't miss this one. In the story there is a conflict between two characters about putting advertising on the site. Ultimately they don't put advertising on the site, but they never explain how they make billions of dollars with this website (02/12/11).
  42. Strangers No More:nominated for best documentary short.
  43. Sun Come Up: nominated for best documentary short.
  44. Tangled: nominated for best song ("I See the Light"). This is a completely delightful film. I can't imagine why it was denied a nomination for best animated feature (along with Despicable Me). My favorite thing about this film is that animal companions do not steal the scenes from the human characters, and the prince doesn't upstage the princess. She got to be the hero of her own story, and that is important to me. I credit the addition of John Lasseter to the production teams at Disney Studios to the superior quality of work coming from that studio in recent years (11/24/10).
  45. Tempest, The: nominated for costume design.
  46. Town, The: nominated for best actor in a supporting role (Jeremy Renner). This film is about a bank robber who falls in love with his hostage. Renner turns in a first class performance, and its fun to see films set in Boston. The story and the characters are interesting but not captivating. This is a great film to see, but it is not a must-see film. (02/15/11)
  47. Toy Story 3 : nominated for best picture, best animated feature, best song ("We Belong Together"), sound editing and writing. This was a very sentimental film. The toys' boy, Andy, is going to college, and they worry about being thrown away, put into storage, or donated. The great adventure surrounds their accidental donation to a day care facility and subsequent quest to return to Andy's house. It's the perfect conclusion to the greatest animated trilogy in film (06/18/2010).
  48. Tron: Legacy: nominated for sound editing. This film was visually spectacular, but I did not find the story, characters or even the world particularly compelling or interesting. I did love the way they were able to cast a young (12/17/2010).
  49. True Grit: nominated for best picture, actor (Bridges), supporting actress (Steinfeld), art direction, cinematography, costume design, directing, sound editing, sound mixing and writing. I liked this film very much. This is one of those rare gems in which a very young protagonist is very well written. Steinfeld plays a young girl who hires a Marshal to hunt down her father's killer in the Wild West. She delivers a spectacular performance, at least as good as Anna Paquin in The Piano (1993). I was also impressed with the way in which the west was portrayed as a very rough, no-nonsense place (01/23/11).
  50. Unstoppable: nominated for sound editing.
  51. Warriors of Qiugang: nominated for best documentary short.
  52. Waste Land: nominated for best documentary feature.
  53. Way Back: nominated for best makeup.
  54. Winter's Bone: nominated for best picture, best supporting actor (Hawkes), best actress (Lawrence) and writing. It was really good. The trailer had filled me with dread, but the fate of our heroine was not nearly as bad as I had imagined. This film is about a 17-year-old girl taking care of her 12-year-old brother and 6-year-old sister when she finds out that her father put up the house for his bond, and if he doesn't show for court, they will be evicted. She sets off looking for him, and she finds a lot of trouble, but eventually, she finds the truth, and the solution to her problem. (2/2/10)
  55. Wish 143: best live short film. This is a cute little film about a boy with cancer who makes a wish. It's a British film, so he's not talking to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but a similar organization. What he really wants is to loose his virginity. What follows is hilarious and heart breaking all at the same time. (02/20/11)
  56. Wolfman: nominated for best makeup. This film really does have great makeup, and a great cast, and great sets, but the story is time-worn, and I did not find the characters compelling. I could not bring myself to care one way or the other about their fate. (02/15/11)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Liberal Assassins

On January 29, 2008, Ann Coulter said the following to Harry Smith on The Early Show (CBS): "… every presidential assassin -- or attempted presidential assassin in the history of the nation has either been a liberal, a communist, an anarchist, someone on the left…" (News

I love this kind of historical generalization, and I've been meaning to do my own fact checking. This morning I heard about the attempted assassination of Senator Gifford (D, AZ), and I decided to finally work this out.

I obtained the following list of presidential assassins from Wikipedia. What I found even more interesting than the assassins political motivations was the fact that so many of them were insane. I was also interested to learn that many of them were not executed for their crimes.

  • Richard Lawrence attempted to assassinate Andrew Jackson on January 30, 1835. His politics are unclear. He believed the president owed him money. Lawrence was found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to a mental institution until his death (26 years).
  • John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Politically, he opposed the abolition of slavery, so I think that makes him a conservative. He was shot and killed during pursuit. I think he is the one assassin who was not insane. I also think this is the one assassination that actually made a difference politically; although, not the difference Booth intended. Booth believed the death of Lincoln would inspire the south to rise up and keep fighting the war, but instead I believe it inspired the north to be particularly hard during reconstruction.
  • Charles J. Guiteau assassinated James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881. Politically, Guiteau was a supporter of Garfield and felt cheated that he had not been appointed ambassador to France. Garfield was a Republican when Republicans were fighting to establish suffrage among former slaves, so I think that makes him a liberal. By some travesty of justice, he was denied an insanity defense. He was executed by hanging.
  • Leon Czolgosz assassinated William McKinley on September 6, 1901. Politically, Czolgosz was an anarchist. There is great debate regarding his mental state. He was executed by electrocution.
  • John F. Schrank attempted to assassinate Theodore Roosevelt on October 13, 1912: Schrank's politics are murky. He was opposed to the Roosevelt's attempt at a third term in office, so that might make him a conservative. He said that McKinley's ghost had told him to avenge his assassination. Schrank was found legally insane and was institutionalized until his death in 1943 (31 years).
  • Giuseppe Zangara attempted to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 15, 1933. He made several statements against capitalists, so he might be categorized as a communist. It seems clear that he was mentally ill, blaming Roosevelt for his chronic pain. Zangara was executed by electrocution.
  • Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola attempted to assassinate Harry S. Truman on November 1, 1950. Politically they were dedicated to Puerto Rican independence. I believe this makes them liberals. Torresola was killed in the attempt. Collazo served 30 years in prison.
  • Richard Paul Pavlick attempted to assassinate John F. Kennedy on December 11, 1960. Pavlick's politics are also murky, but I believe he was a conservative supporter of Nixon. Pavlick served six years in prison and mental institutions
  • Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Politically, Oswald was a communist. His sanity was never examined thoroughly. He was assassinated in police custody.
  • Samuel Byck attempted to assassinate Richard Nixon on February 22, 1974. He believed the government was conspiring against the poor. This could be considered a liberal position. He was suffering from mental illness. He was killed in the attempt.
  • Lynette Fromme attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford on September 5, 1975. She was a member of the Manson family which qualifies her as liberal but mostly insane. She served 34 years in prison.
  • Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford on September 22, 1975. Politically, she was radically liberal. Her sanity was not evaluated, but her statements and actions are so inconsistent that she seems insane. She served 32 years in prison.
  • John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. His politics are immaterial and therefore unknown. Since he attempted to kill a conservative, we might assume he was a liberal, but he also stalked Jimmy Carter. He was trying to impress a girl. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. As of 2011, he has been incarcerated 30 years, but he is allowed unsupervised visits to his mother for nine days at a time.
  • Frank Eugene Corder attempted to assassinate Bill Clinton on September 12, 1994. His politics seem immaterial and unknown. Friends claim he bore no ill will toward President Clinton; he was attempting to increase his notoriety which calls his sanity into question. He was killed in the attempt.
  • Francisco Martin Duran attempted to assassinate Bill Clinton on October 29, 1994. He mounted an insanity defense claiming to try to save the world from aliens. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
  • Robert Pickett attempted to assassinate George W. Bush on February 7, 2001. Pickett was found to have emotional problems and employment grievances. Pickett was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
  • Friday, January 7, 2011

    Tae Guek Oh Jang

    There are many sites on the Internet which offer instruction on performing the forms of taekwondo. They vary widely, partly because instructors refer to the same techniques by different names, but mostly because people just write things differently. I am intrigued at the notion that although we are all doing these forms exactly the same way, we are all talking and writing about them very differently. It's really easier to learn forms in class than it is to learn them from written text, but I think this is helpful. I wrote this out to help me study for my test, and I offer it up to anyone who might find it useful. If you note any errors, please let me know. Thanks.

    Tae Guek Oh (5th) Jang is represented by the symbol for wind.

    From the Joon Be (ready) position:
    1. Turn 90* to the left, stepping with the left foot in front stance and perform a low block with the left hand.
    2. Turn 90* to the right, returning to ready position, look left, and perform a hammer fist strike to the left with the left hand.
    3. Turn 90* to the right, stepping with the right foot in front stance and perform a low block with the right hand.
    4. Turn 90* to the left, returning to ready position, look right, and perform a hammer fist strike to the right with the right hand.
    5. Step forward with the left foot into front stance and perform an outside-in middle block with the left hand followed immediately by an outside-in middle block with the right hand.
    6. Perform a front kick with the right foot, coming down in front stance and perform a back fist strike with the right hand and an outside in middle block with the left hand.
    7. Perform a front kick with the left foot, coming down in front stance and perform a back fist strike with the left hand and an outside in middle block with the right hand.
    8. Step forward with the right foot into front stance and perform a back fist strike to the face. KI HAP! (yell)
    9. Turn 270* to the left (so that you are facing 90* to the right) and step with the left foot in back stance and perform a double knife hand block with the left hand.
    10. Step forward with right foot into front stance and perform an elbow strike with the right hand (left hand holds right fist).
    11. Turn 180* the right and into back stance and perform a double knife hand block with the right hand.
    12. Step forward with left foot into front stance and perform an elbow strike with the left hand (right hand holds left fist).
    13. Turn 90* to the left and step with the left foot in front stance and perform a low block with the left hand followed by and outside-in middle block with the right hand.
    14. Perform a front kick with the right foot, land in front stance, and perform a low block with the right hand and and ouside-in middle block with the left hand.
    15. Turn 90* to the left without moving the right foot and slide the left foot forward into front stance and perform a high block with the left hand.
    16. Perform a sidekick with the right foot and a face high punch with the right hand, landing in front stance then perform an elbow strike with left hand (right palm holds left elbow).
    17. Turn 180* to the right and step into front stance and perform a high block with the right hand.
    18. Perform a sidekick with the left foot and a face high punch with the left hand, landing in front stance then perform an elbow strike with right hand (left palm holds right elbow).
    19. Turn 90* to the left, stepping with the left foot into front stance and perform a low block with the left hand.
    20. Perform a front kick with the right foot and leap forward into cross stance (left behind right) and perform a face-high back fist strike with the right hand. KI HAP! (yell!)

    Farmville Tips: Breeding Cattle & Horses

    Week 37: I finally have a permanent stallion! It wasn't difficult filling my five dairy barns with bulls. It's harder to find lots of females to fill the barns, but I've finally got a permanent stallion for my stable, so I've decided to get serious (sort of) about breeding cattle and horses.

    I don't have any truly exotic breeds, but I've decided to concentrate on breeding cream draft horses because they are pretty and they seem to me the rarer of the two possible horses I can raise in my nursery barn. Light blue ponies and cream draft mini horses are also interesting, so if come across any of those, I'll put them in the nursery barn, too.

    My stable holds 40 horses, 39 mares and 1 stallion. My goal is to fill it with 13 cream draft horses, 13 light blue ponies and 13 cream mini horses. I will get these animals from my Nursery Barn. Because it takes so long to grow a foal into a horse in the nursery barn, I don't want to waste time rearing breeds I don't want, so the only foals I can put in my nursery barn are the breeds that will grow into cream draft horses, light blue ponies or cream mini horses. Those breeds are: cream draft foals (of course), Clydesdale foals, Percheron foals, all ponies and all mini horses.

    I don't want to put in any brown foals, black foals, gray foals, white foals or any other foals because they all grow up to be black horses.

    All calves will grow up to be Holstein cows or chocolate cows. Holsteins earn 12 coins per day. Chocolate cows earn 80 coins per day. My plan is to only raise the following calves in the nursery barn: fan calf, green calf, Kelley green calf, Neapolitan calf, pink calf, pink patch calf and Simmental calf. Oddly, the chocolate calf does not grow up to be a chocolate cow, but my chocolate cows will breed chocolate calves, so cattle breeding is not as sustaining as horse breeding. In order to produce one of the calves listed above, I need to purchase "special" cows.

    Multiple Harvests per day:
    I think I finally figured out how to harvest my stable more than once a day and it is simply this: fill up the stable, keep a few extra horses outside the stable. When you arrive on your farm, the stable will be ready to harvest because the stable is ready every 23 hours. Harvest the stable, share the newborn foal with your neighbors. Then, remove one horse from the stable (not the stallion), and place another horse in the stable. The other horse must be at least 34% ready. Horses are 100% ready in three days, so if you play once a day, they should be about 34% ready when you arrive on your farm. When this one horse enters the stable, the entire stable will be ready to harvest again. I haven't actually tried it yet, but I keep reading about it, and think this is what the writers are trying to describe.

    This same trick can be duplicated with the dairy barns.

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    My Oscar Reviews 2009

    I set a goal for myself to watch all the films nominated for an Oscar last year (2009). The year is almost over. The Golden Globe nominations were announced 12/14/2010. The Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced 12/16/2010. The Oscar nominations will be announced 01/25/2011. As of 12/27/10, I have seen 52/58 of the nominated films, that's 90%. I know I can get at least one more of the remaining six (Which Way Home). I might be able to see two others, but it is highly doubtful. Here I've written a brief (100 words or less) review of each film. They are listed in alphabetical order in case you want to find a particular film. The date in parenthesis is the date I saw the film. The most recently written reviews are underlined.
    1. Ajami was nominated for Best Foreign Film (Israel). It is the story of two brothers in Tel Aviv. The film is divided into five stories. The stories all connect at different points. That was interesting, but the theme of the stories was desperately depressing that I cannot recommend this film unless you are deeply curious about life in Israel. (11/2010)
    2. Avatar was nominated for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Score, Best Picture, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. It's a great show. It lives up to its hype. The animation is extraordinary, but the story is not original. I've seen it at least three times, and I thought the science fiction was a bit weak. The avatars and the ponytails were cool, but I thought the end was bit anticlimactic. (01/10/2010)
    3. The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock was nominated for Best Actress and Best Picture. It's the true story of a woman who adopts a homeless boy who becomes a big shot in the NFL. I love stories like this. The woman was a real hero who made a real difference. I hope I have that kind of bravery. Sandra Bullock is a very popular actress, but this is her first nomination. I love seeing popular celebrities achieve critical and professional acclaim. (c. 11/20/2010)
    4. Bright Star was nominated for Best Costumes. It has great costumes, and a character to point out their greatness. The pace of the story is uneven, but if you like John Keats, you should not miss this film. It's about his love affair with Fanny Braun. If you don't know Keats, you might appreciate knowing that he died young and unappreciated. I love period films. They're like time machines. Still, I remained perplexed by the lives and lifestyle of 19th century English gentry. (02/06/2010)
    5. Burma VJ was nominated for Best Documentary. (It lost to The Cove.) It is about the video journalists who documented the popular uprising against the ruling military regime in Burma in September 2007. They did all of their work with hand held cameras and smuggled their images out of the country at great personal risk. Although the uprising was ultimately unsuccessful, and many of the video journalists were imprisoned, their work has inspired more Burmese to document what is happening in their country. (06/11/2010)
    6. China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province was nominated for Best Documentary Short.
    7. Coco Before Chanel was nominated for Best Costumes. It's about the most famous designer of all time. At nine, her father left her in an orphanage. At 18, she worked as a seamstress and a singer. She follows a man to Paris where she meets another man who helps her open a hat shop. Her clothes are stunningly revolutionary. She wears a lot of black and no corsets. It is a beautiful film. I highly recommend it. (03/05/2010)
    8. Coraline was nominated for Best Animated Feature. It's a stop-motion animated film made right here in Oregon. It looks a little like The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's also set in Oregon which is super-fun for me. Coraline is tricked and abducted by some kind of witch, and she must use her wits to escape. It's really creepy, but my kids love it, too. It actually provided an opportunity for some good discussions - highly recommended. (c. 07/21/2009)
    9. The Cove was nominated for Best Documentary Feature. Free Willy and the subsequent mission to actually free Keiko, the whale who performed in that film, made me aware of the evil that is Sea World. This film is about that industry (captive sea mammals as entertainment). It is also about the systematic slaughter of dolphin as vermin which makes no kind of sense whatsoever. The horror is truly heart breaking. It's time to save the whales - again. (02/20/2010)
    10. Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal was nominated for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Song. It's fictional biography of a country singer. Predictably, he neglects his family and abuses drugs. I thought it honestly portrayed his drunkenness as worse some times than other. His rock bottom was interesting: he lost his girlfriend's four-year-old boy. He leaves the area and can't give security much information. They find him anyway. All's well that ends well, but he finally checks into rehab. (03/01/2010)
    11. District 9 was nominated for Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Visual Effects and Best Screenplay. I really loved it right up until the South African betrayed the alien, then I disconnected, and I didn't care what happened for awhile. I found the scenes where they are experimenting on the South African to absolutely disturbing. They will stick with me for a long time. (12/31/2009)
    12. Il Divo was nominated for Best Makeup. I don't recommend this film unless you are familiar with the subject: a seven-term president of Italy with connections to the mob. The film seemed to serve as (beautiful) illustrations for a story which its target audience already knows. I am clearly not a member of its target audience. I was pretty bored. (02/07/2010)
    13. The Door was nominated for Best Live Short. It is an Irish film but everyone speaks Russian. The film opens with a man sneaking around, breaking in, and stealing a door. Later we learn that it was his own door he was stealing. He had to abandon his house, but he wanted the door for his daughter's funeral. His daughter died of radiation poisoning following the Chernobyl accident. It's a terribly sad story. (02/25/2010)
    14. An Education starring Carey Mulligan was nominated for Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Picture. Mulligan reminded me of Audrey Hepburn. She was enchanting. The story is about a young student in the 1960s trying to get into Oxford when she falls in love with an older man. She has to choose between her man and her education. I think the film did a very sloppy job of answering that question. What do you think? Why do women need a university education? (03/02/2010)
    15. El Secreto de Sus Ojos was nominated for Best Foreign Film (Argentina). This is film is two stories told out of sequence: that sounds like the sort of thing that would normally annoy me, but I think they did it very well, and I liked it very much. The first is the story of a murder and the investigation. The second is the story of the investigator and his infatuation with his boss. It's a great film. I particularly liked the character of the grieving widower. He puts forth a convincing argument for a life sentence over the death penalty. (11/30/2010)
    16. Fantastic Mr. Fox was nominated for Best Animated Feature. It is stop-motion animation (like Coraline), but it never really drew me into the story. The characters are all a bit odd, and I just kept noticing the film-making. The way the animals' fur moved reminded me of the old Rudolf cartoons from the 1970s. (02/07/2010)
    17. Food, Inc was nominated for Best Documentary Feature. It was very enlightening, better than Super-size Me, much better than King Corn. I was very surprised to learn that the USDA has lost the authority to shut down meat packing plants that fail their quality control tests. I was also surprised to learn how many children die from e. coli poisoning in the ground beef that they eat. It's an important film. I hope the Oscar nomination gets it watched by lots and lots of people. (02/03/2010)
    18. French Roast was nominated for Best Animated Short. I saw it on You Tube. I liked it VERY much. The images were interesting and the characters were charming. The filmmaker employed this very clever device where a mirror on the wall behind the main characters allowed us to see what they were looking at without changing the camera angles, but the thing that really made me fall in love with the film was the message was at the end. (02/24/2010)
    19. Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty was nominated for Best Animated Short. I saw it on You Tube. It's cute and clever. Granny comes in to tell her granddaughter a bedtime story. She starts telling the story of Sleeping Beauty, but she identifies with the bad fairy. It turns out to be quite a statement about being nice to the elderly. In the end she leaves her granddaughter quite terrified. It's pretty funny. (02/24/2010)
    20. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was nominated for Best Cinematography. I was disappointed that the filmmakers didn't tell more of Voldemort's story in this film. I think we needed more dialogue between Dumbledore and Harry following his views of selected memories. I loved the bits about the love triangle. Some people think that was the wrong place to focus, and maybe they are right. The Cinematography nomination is well-served. There are some really great shots in this film. (c. 07/15/2009)
    21. The Hurt Locker starring Jeremy Renner was nominated for Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Screenplay, Best Picture and Best Director. It is the story of a soldier who disarms bombs in Iraq. He is really good at his job, but sometimes he seems very reckless and stupid, and sometimes he seems very brave and noble. The pace of the film is quite uneven, but I really liked the ending. (02/15/2010)
    22. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Costumes. It really is a very beautiful film. I didn't find it at all confusing as other reviewers. Dr. P sets himself up as a sideshow and people may enter his imagination for a small fee. Even though the imaginarium is a wondrous place, his business is failing until his troop rescues Heath Ledger who seems a hero before revealing himself a villain. (05/19/2010)
    23. In the Loop was nominated for Best Screenplay. I did not like this film. It a political comedy about how government operatives in the United States and Great Britain try to stop the invasion of Iraq. Of course they fail miserably, and they end up miserable, so how is that funny? It did make me feel a little bit better about the so-called office politics where I work. We are complete amateurs compared to the characters in this film. (03/11/2010)
    24. Inglorious Basterds starring Christopher Walz was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Screenplay. The pace is uneven. It begins as an action film with Jewish American soldiers terrorizing the Nazis in France. Then it becomes a French film about a Jewish woman who accidentally catches the favor of a German war hero. When the stories converge the French story ends tragically and the American story ends triumphantly - typical. (c. 08/21/2009)
    25. Instead of Abracadabra was nominated for Best Live Short. It is a Swedish film. This film is about a young twenty-something magician, still living with his parents, trying to impress the new girl next door. It's very funny. The lead actor does awkward super geek to perfection. It's almost painful to watch. It is quite reminiscent of Napoleon Dynamite (02/25/2010)
    26. Invictus starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon was nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. It is the story of South Africa winning the rugby world cup shortly after Mandela was elected president. It is very much like other sports movies, very exciting and very sentimental. It made me cry. The setting of this film is unique. I came away with a better understanding of who Nelson Mandela was - quite extraordinary. Unless you really hate sports movies, I highly recommend this film. (03/04/2010)
    27. Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Actress. This film is based on two true stories. It is the story of Julia Child's life in France and how she accidentally became a first class chef. The love story between her and her husband is really very charming. The other story is about a girl named Julie living in New York just after the September 2001 attacks (more historical context). She distracts herself by cooking every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook. (c. 12/08/2009)
    28. Kavi was nominated for Best Live Action Short. It is about a little boy in India who is forced to make bricks all day with his mother and father. His father owes the kiln owner a lot of money, so he has effectively been sold into slavery. It' was hard for me to watch the abuses laid on this sweet boy, but he managed his escape in the end. The closing credits listed the film as part of someone's MFA. (02/25/2010)
    29. The Lady and the Reaper was nominated for Best Animated Short. I saw it on You Tube. It is very cute. I don't think that it was the animator's intention to make any kind of a statement about the right to die, but it did leave questions and worries in my head. I don't believe that doctors really try to revive older people over and over again as depicted in this film. (02/24/2010)
    30. The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner was nominated for Best Documentary Short.
    31. The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant was nominated for Best Documentary Short. This film was a little hard to find. It was made by HBO films, and I was finally able to buy a copy from What I found most interesting was that the plant was closed in spite of having one of the highest efficiency ratings in the whole company. It was closed because sales were down of the particular truck they made. I find it incomprehensible that factories are built to make only one thing, and then when we want to build something else, we have to build a whole different factory.
    32. The Last Station starring Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren was nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress. It is about the last year of the life of Leo Tolstoy. The title refers to the last train station on the Russian border. Tolstoy and his wife were obviously in love with each other, but they had grown to want different things. The countess wanted financial stability and security. Tolstoy wanted to improve the lives of all Russians. It seemed so tragic that I just cried and cried. (03/01/2010)
    33. Logorama was nominated for Best Animated Short, and it was preceded by an advisory warning of foul language and violence. There were lots of bad words. The most violent thing I think was when a man kicked a child in the head. The animation seemed really unique to me. Everything was a logo: the people, the landscape, the buildings and vehicles. The story was a car chase. The police were played by Michelin tire men and the villain was Ronald McDonald. (02/25/2010)
    34. The Lovely Bones starring Stanley Tucci was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. It's about a young girl who is gruesomely murdered (off screen). Surprisingly, the message of the film turns out to be how the dead cope with death, which I think is really very interesting. It might have been more interesting if I hadn't been so distracted by the other two stories: how the survivors deal with their loss and how the bad guy gets away with it. (01/31/2010)
    35. A Matter of Loaf and Death was nominated for Best Animated Short. It is a British film starring Wallace and Grommit. They have a new business now as bakers but there is someone in town that is killing bakers. Of course Wallace meets her right away and Grommitt is unsuccessful in his attempts to convince him that she's no good - a very nice little film with some very witty dialogue. (02/25/2010)
    36. The Messenger starring Woody Harrelson was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay. This film is about a wounded soldier assigned to perform notifications to the next of kin following the deaths of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's quite dull, but I'm really very glad I saw this film because my father told me that he was assigned to this same duty when he finished his tour in Vietnam. He says it was the worst or hardest duty he had ever been asked to perform. I wish we had seen the film together. (06/12/2010)
    37. Miracle Fish was nominated for Best Live Short. It is about a boy in Australia with a toy fish that predict your future. After a nap in the nurse's station he wakes up to an empty school. The little actor who plays the boy is super cute and a joy to watch. Eventually we learn why the school is empty and the boy shows enormous resilience in his ability to handle the situation. (02/25/2010)
    38. The Milk of Sorrow was nominated for Best Foreign Film (Peru) The title comes from the belief that mothers under stress transfer their fear to their nursing babies. The main character's mother was raped by Shining Path, and although she is now safely in Lima, she is still afraid of everything. For example, she keeps a potato in her vagina to ward off rapists. Her mother dies in the opening and she spends the rest of the film trying to secure her burial. Along the way she is cruelly cheated by a rich, white woman, but she triumphs in the end. (12/27/2010)
    39. The Most Dangerous Man in America was nominated for Best Documentary. This is my favorite film, so I'm allowing myself more than 350 words for this review. This film is about Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in an attempt to bring an end to the Vietnam War. I learned a lot; for example, all five presidents lied to the public about American involvement in Vietnam, just because no one wanted to be the guy who lost the war.

      A memo from the Defense Department under the Johnson Administration listing the reasons for American persistence: 10% - to permit the people [of South Vietnam] to enjoy a better, freer way of life - 20% - to keep [South Vietnam] (and the adjacent) territory from Chinese hands - 70% - to avoid a humiliating U.S. defeat - ALSO - to emerge from the crisis without unacceptable taint from methods used - NOT - to 'help a friend'. American soldiers are willing to die to preserve another's freedom. They are not willing to die to preserve another's pride.

      In the end, the leak of the Pentagon Papers did not contribute to the end of the Vietnam War, but the leak did strengthen our First Amendment right to freedom of the press as the Supreme Court had to make a decision regarding the injunction to stop the New York Times from publishing the Papers. The leak also prompted Nixon to do one more illegal thing that got him caught and impeached - which was a good thing - I think that man hated the Constitution more than anybody since Jackson.

      Daniel Ellsberg was arrested for treason, but the government's case was so full of irregularities that the judge declared a mistrial. He was released on his own reconnaissance. He was not acquitted, but the film included clips of him protesting the war in Iraq, and I think that is the happy ending. In spite of the obvious and horrible levels of corruption, they were not limitless. Ellsberg was not imprisoned or tortured or murdered as he might have been in some other country. (09/09/2010)
    40. Music by Prudence was nominated for Best Documentary Short.
    41. The New Tenants was nominated for Best Live Short. Two guys move into an apartment and before they can unpack, their neighbor knocks on the door and asks for some flour. She tells them that the previous tenant was murdered. Another guy shows to collect his heroin. The neighbor returns claiming her granddaughter is sick. The heroin dealer kills her. The grand daughter shows up and kills the heroin dealer. Then she dies. The film had some very clever dialogue. (02/25/2010)
    42. Nine starring Penelope Cruz was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction and Best Song. It is a story about filmmaker trying to make his ninth film. As he struggles with an idea he fantasizes about the various women he has loved throughout his life. Each fantasy was presented as a stage production. The hero is finally exposed as a villain. We are lead to believe that he finds redemption, but we only see his down fall. (03/04/2010)
    43. Paris 36 was nominated for Best Song. It is a French film about a group of out-of-work singers and comics who open up a theater as a co-op during World War II. It's an interesting story which includes a love triangle, a murder, and some really great songs. It got to be a bit dull in the middle, but it had a really great ending, which I don't expect from French films. (02/22/2010)
    44. Precious starring Gabourney Sidibe and Mo'Nique was nominated for six academy awards: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Editing and Best Picture. It is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who is pregnant for a second time by her father and how she escapes her abusive home. There are lots of heroes in this film including the alt-ed teacher and Precious but I was also impressed by the positive roles that the public school system and the welfare system played in her story. (03/01/2010)
    45. The Princess and the Frog was nominated for Best Animated Feature and twice for Best Song. It is about a young black woman in New Orleans in the 1930s, she has a dream of opening her own restaurant when she kisses a prince and turns into a frog. I thought the way they portrayed the racism and sexism from that era was totally appropriate for children. I loved this film. It was enchanting. I loved that it was 2-D cell-animation. (12/27/2009)
    46. Un Prophète was nominated for Best Foreign Film (France). A well crafted film to be sure, but I never connected well with protagonist, a 19-year-old French Arab convict sentenced to six years in prison. The film traces his transformation from an illiterate, tentative, naïve coward into a bold, brutal, cunning crime boss. I would have liked it better if it were only half as long. It's 2hrs 30min. (09/06/2010)
    47. Rabbit à la Berlin was nominated for Best Documentary Short.
    48. The Secret of Kells was nominated for Best Animated Feature. This is a really beautiful film. The animation is quite unusual. Everything about the story is quite unusual. It is sort of epic in nature. It begins with a boy and doesn't end until he is an old man. It seems to be set in a monetary and there is significant disagreement over how to deal with an impeding invasion, but there is much magic at work as well. I streamed this film from Netflix, and I recommend you take a look. (11/2010)
    49. A Serious Man was nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Picture. I hated it. It's by the Coen Brothers, who I usually like, but it managed to offend me on several levels. This film was supposed to be about a man whose life spirals out of control due to forces beyond his control, but I was not convinced that he was trying. He seemed to me to be allowing people to mistreat him without protest. (02/24/2010)
    50. Sherlock Holmes was nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Score. I don't think I've ever seen the great detective portrayed as a brawler before, but I really liked the way he described the injuries that he was about inflict upon his enemies. I liked the usual scenes of how he analyzes minute details. The chemistry experiments were cool, too. I was less interested in the villain. I thought he was kind of boring, but I will show up for the sequel. (01/10/2010)
    51. A Single Man starring Colin Firth was nominated for Best Actor. It's the story of a man mourning the loss of his partner in 1962. The period elements of the film are wonderful. He has been miserable for 8 months, and he has decided that today he will kill himself. He enjoys every part of his day as he sets his affairs in order. He is especially nice to people, and in the end, a new friend convinces him to live. I wish that were the end, but the very next moment, he dies of a heart attack - lame. (08/08/2010).
    52. Star Trek was nominated for Best Makeup, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. This movie was really beautiful, and I even liked the actors and the characters, but I did not love the premise. I don't want the franchise re-launched by creating a new continuity. If they wanted to create a whole bunch of new situations, why didn't they just come up with new characters, like they did for The Next Generation? How about a Star Trek series with lawyers, like JAG? (c. 12/28/2009)
    53. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was nominated for Best Sound Mixing. It was also nominated for the Razzie for Worst Picture. I did not love this film. It was fun to see Shea Beowulf and his costar again, but some of the Autobots were really annoying and the story line was mostly lost on me. I particularly detested the scene in which the mom takes her boy to college and accidentally buys some brownies laced with marijuana and then acts like a fool. (c. 12/28/2009)
    54. Up was nominated for Best Animated Feature, Best Score, Best Picture, Best Sound Editing and Best Screenplay. This is an absolutely charming film. I love the way they tell two short stories before the end of the opening credits and then tell another short story during the closing credits - very craft fully done. I also loved the way that the house floats like a parade balloon: sometimes they are weighing it down, and sometimes it is carrying them along. (c. 05/29/2009)
    55. Up in the Air starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick was nominated for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress twice, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay. I thought it was really good, very unusual, and terribly sad. It is the story of a man who flies a lot for work. He likes this lifestyle because it keeps him disconnected from everyone. He comes to realize this is not a great way to live, and he tries to change his life. (01/16/2010)
    56. Which Way Home was nominated for Best Documentary.
    57. The White Ribbon was nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Film (Austria). I did not like this film. It is set in Germany just before WWI. The children in the film are being abused, and they in turn commit horrible crimes against their neighbors. The message seems to be that violence begets violence, but it ending is so unsatisfactory that I cannot recommend it. (09/12/2010)
    58. The Young Victoria was nominated for Best Costumes, Best Set Design and Best Makeup. It is a stunningly beautiful film. It is also a very beautiful story. It begins one year before Queen Victoria's coronation when she is 17 years old. She is being manipulated by her mother and step-father. It tells the story of how she gained independence, power and love. It's really too beautiful to be true. I've got to read a biography of Queen Victoria.(03/02/2010)