A few thoughts after last night’s Oscars

February 23, 2014 — Last night’s Oscars weren’t among the best, but that’s most likely that’s because I only saw two movies leading up to the big event — Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Being prepared with my list of favorite performances and movies always helps me enjoy it more. Still, there were a few enjoyable moments:

  • Although the song from Selma was touching, the theme to The Lego Movie was catchy. I sang “Everything is Awesome” for the rest of the night and part of this morning, too.
  • Lady Gaga’s performance was great. I’m not familiar with her music, but she proved her vocal chops last night, and that when she’s not wearing clothing made out of meat, she’s pretty appealing.
  • The many Oscars given to The Grand Budapest Hotel had me jumping for joy. The clever and creative film did have the best costumes, scenery and make up by far.

There were also moments that had me scratching my head:

  • Neil Patrick Harris coming out in his underwear had me stumped, and I wasn’t impressed with him overall. This morning, I heard that the underwear thing had to do with Birdman. In years past, I would have known that because I would have seen Birdman.
  • Boyhood not winning Best Picture or Best Director was a not so nice surprise. Being one of the two movies I saw, I was cheering for it all the way. At least Patricia Arquette took home the Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
  • And speaking of Arquette, her fired up feminist speech had me confused. She said, “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” I agree with the wage equality, but also know that’s nearly impossible between any two workers in the same positions, male or female. Wages depend on so many factors, such as experience, performance, and ability to negotiate raises and bonuses. The latter is a huge factor. And I’m totally missing the equal rights part. What rights don’t I have? Please tell me so I can do something about it now! The bottom line is that I’m not a big fan when politics crosses entertainment.

That’s it for another year, folks. It’s time put the feather boa and tiara away until next February, and hope I do better catching the nominees in 2015.

Movies from SNL Skits

snlFebruary 16, 2015 – There’s no doubt the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special delivered huge ratings for NBC last night. Too bad you can’t say the same for many of the movies that came from short skits first performed on the show.

There were 11 movies in all, but I thought there were more. I must be thinking of the great movies cast members went on to create separate from SNL, like Fletch, Stripes, Bridesmaids and Anchorman, to name a few.

Here is a look at the 11 based on SNL skits in order of their release:

1. The Blues Brothers (1980) – The first to come out of the SNL arsenal is still the best. The Blues Brothers was a fun movie, filled with comedy and music. The story worked because it wasn’t based on an actual skit; when Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi appeared as the Blues Brothers on the show, they performed musical numbers only. While the movie was good, Aykroyd’s best will always be Ghostbusters, and Belushi’s best, Animal House.

2. Wayne’s World (1993) — Wayne’s World is likely the second best movie on the list, and the second to be released. The characters created by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey could pull off a feature-length film, and if nothing else, it breathed a second life into Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Still, my favorite Myer’s film is So, I Married An Axe Murderer, a classic I can watch over and over again. Although he’s extremely funny, I can’t think of a favorite movie starring Carvey. Still, even after all these years, he has singing “Chopping broccoli” while making dinner. That has to count for something.

3. Wayne’s World 2 (1993) – One was definitely enough for Wayne and Garth. I saw it, but it was more of the same, and I could have easily done without it.

4. The Coneheads (1993) — I adored this skit on SNL, and referred to my parents for years as parental units in its honor. However, it was one of those skits that was funny for five minutes, and should never have been made into a feature-length film. Aykroyd, along with Jane Curtain and Laraine Newman were too good for that.

5. It’s Pat: The Movie (1994) – Even Julia Sweeney’s short skit about the androgynous character Pat was creepy. Why was this ever made into a movie?

6. Stuart Saves His Family (1995) – I have no words for this Al Franken scripted feature. That’s because I never saw it and never wanted to.

7. Blues Brothers 2000 (1998) – Like Wayne’s World, one was enough, especially with Belushi gone.

8. A Night at the Roxbury (1998) – No. Just no.

9. Superstar (1999) – Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher character was fine, but not special enough to make me want to see 90 minutes of the spirited and klutzy Catholic school girl. Besides, how many times can she sniff her armpits in one movie?

10. The Ladies’ Man (2000) – Tim Meadows is somewhat appealing, but his Ladies’ Man character did nothing for me. Another skip for me.

11. MacGruber (2010) – I admit I got a kick out of Will Forte’s MacGruber character poking fun of the television show MacGyver, but not enough to pay $10 bucks to see it on the big screen. This was the last of the SNL skits made into movies. Perhaps, movie executives finally learned that what’s funny in small increments can be a disaster when made into a long feature.

Quench your thirst the entertaining way

il_340x270.575161680_66t5February 2, 2015 – It was Albert Einstein who uttered the words that once you stop learning, you start dying.

Perhaps that sounds dramatic to you, but in the world in instant information, it’s easy to see how you can get left behind in the workplace and in life if you don’t keep nourishing your brain. Or, at least so you can keep up with the conversation at the next cocktail party.

Here are two websites that I am obsessed with right now that offer plenty of knowledge.

Ted Talks

Looking for a free and entertaining way to learn something new. Visit Ted Talks, a nonprofit website devoted to spreading ideas. They accomplish this by presenting short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) on a variety of topics from creative problem solving and forensic anthropology to poetry that frees the soul, and in more than 100 languages.

The people at Ted claim they offer a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and they do exactly that. Search for any topic and you’re bound to find something that sparks your interest.

Lynda.com

Lynda.com is a leading online company that helps you learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve your personal and professional goals.

Users have access to the vast library of engaging courses taught by industry experts that range from digital photography and other creative arts workshops to programming languages and more. I recently turned to Lynda.com to learn Microsoft Visio when I was in a pinch, and within an hour, I had solved my problem.

With Lynda.com, there is a fee, but it’s affordable, and you can save even more with unlimited monthly subscriptions.

These two sites are a small sampling of the wide variety of learning tools available on the Internet. However, they are both so complete they’ll give anyone with a craving for knowledge a head start.