Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oscar Best Pictures

After listening to all the noise I created by not watching every single movie nominated last year (regardless of film-worthiness or my actual desire), you will be happy to know: this year, I saw every single best-picture nominated movie

Spoiler Alert: I use the term "spoiler alert" because it is the common colloquialism. A more proper term would be "Informing Alert". Why wouldn't you want to know what you are getting into? Informing Alert: I don't like surprises much. Not only that, some of these movies are steeped in history. Things that actually happened (and some things that didn't exactly happen- I'm looking at you Selma). If you are concerned about not wanting to know something then reevaluate your stance and then read on... There will be "spoilers".

American Sniper - This hard-to-watch is now the highest grossing war movie ever. Some media acted all shocked that it had such a huge opening weekend at the box office, and I was like "Um, did you see the trailer?" It was the best trailer I have ever seen. It made me feel things: patriotic things, empathetic things. It made me consider my family, what I would do for my country, where the line should be drawn, where enemy lines should be erased. The movie was just as good as the trailer. It depicted a realness from the perspective of a warrior that was hard-to-ignore. Not only about while being deployed, but also about being home and the homeland he serves. From what I understand, it also stayed true to the story. Though tragic and tough, the story was beautifully told and taught audiences a lot. Bradley Cooper should win Best Actor for his performance. It is my Best Picture pick. It was the best overall and it was the best at what it was.

Birdman - I will say it: this movie is weird as hell. I consider myself pretty open to artistic stuff, but this was heavy handed even for me. They were able to pull it off. Crazy as it was weird. That was the point though, to take us into this world of a crazy man in a crazy back stage world. As far as the acting goes, Michael Keaton proved he was more than just Batman in the most meta way possible. He can act, but he wasn't the best. Ed Norton, who never disappoints, didn't. And if you are on my private fashion emails, you know I have an affinity for Naomi Watts. While Emma Stone somehow has tricked America into having a collective affinity for her, she seemed less annoying to me. In comparison to other films: it was the best of an art-house movie. A few years ago The Artist won, an that was weird and art-house, and terrible, and poorly done, and shouldn't have won anything. Birdman was good, and well made and maybe could win with out pissing me off. It makes me wonder if this year's dark horse Birdman (so many animals) will come out the victor? [Insert lesson on voting primaries here, and why this movie actually might win considering the others will split votes and this one could be universally liked enough to be 2nd Best with 1st Best being a 4-way tie, and Last Best being a 3-way tie.]

Boyhood - Look, this went were movies have never been. They created something really new. Well, kind of. It is like when produce came out with those cotton candy flavored grapes this summer, or when we got the grape flavored apple. Still fruit, but new. Still a movie, but new. Boyhood was a little boring, the plot wasn't wowing anybody. Though, it did give me curiosity to wonder if every persons personal tale is at least that interesting? If so, that is interesting: to consider that everyone might be mildly interesting if I cared enough to find out. Linklater will/should win for Director. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Here is the problem with this movie: it reeked of Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson smells good, but it is old hat. It was exceptionally entertaining. I loved it. Had this movie been the first WA movie ever made it could win. But it isn't, and it won't, and it shouldn't. 

The Imitation Game - USA won that war. Unrelated: This movie shouldn't win this Oscar. It was good, not great. Just like Britain's contributions to WW2. 

Selma - This movie was comprised of long scenes depicting MLK in private, quieter moments- with The President in the Oval Office, with his wife discussing an affair in the middle of the night, even showing his own contemplations leading to major decisions made on the front lines of the civil rights movement. Unless everyone that knew MLK kept meticulous and deeply personal journals, and/or cooperated with the filmmakers in an intimate way with the clarity of objectiveness and with out personal bias, let alone the shaded view of 50 full years in between then and now, we don't know what was actually said or thought. So, this movie is pretty much made up, around a framework of history. Selma is  wrong to voice history like this. The movie did a fine job emotionally investing the audience, it's really a shame they threw credibly to the way side. They had a responsibility to respect history and they did not. The Civil Rights movement is important to understand and telling the story of the Selma March was worthy of a film. I agree with the general sentiments of the movie. Agreeing with morals of the protagonist of a movie doesn't mean the movie was good. I did not like this movie much. When people say they really liked this movie, they might mean to say they really like civil rights or they really like MLK or the story is important. 

The Theory of Everything - It was semi-captivating, and it was semi-superbly acted by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. When I say semi-suberbly acted, what I mean by that is Eddie did a phenomenal job, but within external limits. He really transformed his body and his delivery was amazing. But he didn't speak for much of the film. Some say that makes it more difficult, since he can only rely on his body language/facial expressions. I say it makes it half as hard. Simplifies it and amplifies the performance he did give. Sorry, bro. This one goes to Bradley. Also, I couldn't tell if Felicity Jones is that good, or was just that well-cast. The personal story of Stephen Hawking is amazing. It is a story of genius (see below) that was able to connect to a broad audience, because really it is a story of struggle and love, and we can all relate to that. I also appreciated the cinematography, costumes, and lighting. The secondaries that help transport you to another time. Those details were spot on. 

Whiplash- I saved the worst for last. (And the list is alphabetical). In the worst of cases, people mistake abuse for love. This movie/story gets something very wrong. I've long said not all who are manic are geniuses, but all geniuses are a some degree of manic. Manic can be a symptom of genius. In Whiplash they make it seem like if you are manic the symptom could be (musical) genius. That if you really just let go of all sanity, something creative might be able to come out. No. Not how it works. This was unfortunately written by someone who is looking at genius from the outside in. Continually purporting that if the main character could just get to that level of instability, he might find this depth of drumming that he didn't even know he had! Sorry, again, no. 

True: You may have this gift of musical genius and when you tap it, sometimes the manic escapes. 

False: When you have this intense instability, sometimes the music escapes. 

When JK Simmons' character goes on a diatribe about why he is pushing his students so hard abusive, claiming it was just bred of love; he saw something in his student that he knew he had to force to come out, and that is how all successes come, from a push to be better and that if someone had said "that was nice" then nothing great would be... OMG while watching, I considered hunting down the writers phone number so I could CALL THE WRITER AND EXPLAIN GREATNESS and how it all actually works and how love really can conquer all. I am not claiming to be a genius, but I am claiming to know about behavior management. Sure, people have made strides out of spite, out of resentment turned into passion... that has happened. Every time it has happened, it is tragic. It sells the greatness short. This movie got it wrong in a major way. Which is why when I just now (after writing all I just wrote previous) looked up the writer/director... a few fun facts: his father is a writer, the teacher was inspired by his own experiences with a director, and he is a mere 30 years old. So, he might really benefit from a lesson on how greats are actually made. Maybe instead of me, his father should make that phone call. Heal some things. JK Simmons does a really good job and he or Edward Norton should win for supporting actor. At the end of this movie it seemed to start to redeem itself by showing the student in his own twisted behavior, but then threw it all away in the last five seconds. Stop glorifying this behavior, stop trying to get approval from a maniac, stop trying to explain and defend something you don't understand. This film is immature. This film did have good tempo though. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

State of the Joke

Typically I live blog during The State of the Union. Adding in my thoughts as the Presidents tells us what he wants us to hear. 

This year I was unable to watch live since it aired one hour into a three hour flight I was on... I figured I'd deplane and hear all about the highs and lows. It would be the chatter of DC. 

I am a person who reads the news daily. I watch the news most days. The only thing I have heard about the SOTU is some ad-lib joke that President Obama delivered. 

[In case you missed it, it went like this... Obama: "I have no more campaigns to run..." and then all the GOP interrupt with a roar of applause. Then O: "I know... Because I won both of them.]

Ok, mildly amusing. He was quick-thinking. 

The problem with all of this: No one seemed to care enough about ANYTHING else he had to say. The media kept replaying it. I read more than one article headline about it. 

The rest of his speech? Who knows. It isn't that the joke is soooo good that it overshadowed the rest of it. It is the rest of it didn't matter.  But it does! America has a lot going on these days. Mostly amazing things. A few things internally that we need to deal with. That we need a President to step in and speak to... 

I didn't hear or see anything up there but a joke. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mary McMullen's 2014 Gift Guide

Good things to give. Good things to get. Goods. 

[Hope you enjoy my gift guide this year.]

The goods: The Atlas of Remote Islands. Want to know about where you want to go? It would be cheeky to add a nice beach towel, or pair of swim goggles to this gift. If you are looking for a luxury splurge, pair it with flight tickets to Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Good For: Travelers, Those who Wish To Travel, Wanderlusters

$23 from Barnes and Noble 

The goods: A Fancy Gold/Silver Bocce Ball Set.  The thing about bocce ball is it is fun for damn near anybody. Any body. Also easy to play any where. This one has got style. 

Good For: A good all-family gift, Italian grandparents, anyone really. 

Gold and Silver Petanque Bocce Ball Set- $50 from Brookstone

The goods: Megaminx Dodecahedron Puzzle12 sides! Different Shapes! Oh My! 

Good For: Anyone who likes the rubix cube, smartie-pants, 

$10 from ThinkGeek 

The goods: Camera Remote Shutter for Smartphone. This isn't just for selfies, but also for group shots or whatever. 30 ft clearance, no apps to download, seems easy.

Good For: Self-obsessed, people who travel, parents, bloggers.

Muku Shutter- $39 from Amazon

The Good: Citrus Zinger Water/Drink Bottle. It keeps the fruit and the gross bits out of your water, allows it to steep & flavor your water. Also an opening at the bottom where you can put your ice in but a small opening at the top to drink out of. I saw some lady with one in the parking lot. It looked like the most refreshing drink I'd ever seen. The lime was hanging out at the bottom like it owned the water. 

Good For: Anyone! Especially sports enthusiasts, health junkies, foodies, a co-worker, 

Original Green Zinger Bottle from manufacturer site (Zing Anything), $16

Green, Pink, or Orange colored bottles, $18 from Neiman Marcus

The Good: Zoku Slush & Shake Maker. Another beverage gift, I must be thirsty! My mom bought this for my 9 year old niece; she loves being able to make "slurpees" anytime she wants. Well, not anytime. It works the same as the other zoku products: freeze the base beforehand, and when you want your shake or drink, pour the liquid in and it will freezes in minutes. No other fancy equipment needed, just pour then stir into frozen drink heaven. 

Good For: Kids, Adults in warm climates, drinkers (Cabernet Sorbet, anyone?)

Zoku Slush & Shake Cup, Assorted Colors, $20 from Williams-Sonoma

The goods: Snoozies Sequin House Slippers. 

Good For: Someone you are comfortable with, a girly girl, a niece, a cousin, a sister, a friend (in which case I suggest going full sparkle with a matching set- one for the both of you), a glamorous Grandma, yourself if you are a lady-reader.

Adult Sizes, Jewel-tones

Adult Sizes, Assorted-colors
Kids & Tween Sizes, Assorted-colors

$12-$20 a pair depending on size & color selection at Amazon.

The Good: Sport-brella. It's a tent-umbrella hybrid. Shelter from the sun, the wind, the sand, birds, a sprinkle shower, and other elements. This handy thing sets up easy. 

Good For: Beach Bums, Soccer Moms or Dads, Guys Who Want to Be More Outdoors-y, Picnic People

Original Sport-brella, $60
XL Sport-brella, $80

The Goods: Disney Princess Tiaras. Do you know any Disney Princess's? I know a couple

Good For: Little girls

Costume Tiaras, $10 each from JC Penney

The good: Nameplate Necklace.  Are personalized name necklaces out of style? Not with this one. You can also use a social media handle instead. I am still not over the fact @Real_Darrell is one character too many for their 12 character limit.  

Good For: Girls 12-42 years old. 

The Homemade Good: Cherry Pie. Homemade treats are usually shared of the individual variety around the holidays-- candies, cookies, etc. Why? Impress them with a whole pie! Let them keep the pie pan/dish (hot tip: Home Goods). And the red seems festive. And you can freeze it for a few months until you want it. It just is what I want. 

Good For: Anyone with taste (that is a pun).

My preferred Cherry Pie Recipe: I use this store-bought frozen crust and these jarred morello cherries, both from Trader Joe's. It really easy easy as pie.  

My Gift Guides Through The Years: (Many pictures are now outdated, most links work though--- you can also google the item, might be worth it).

Last Year, 2013


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Best Picture?

This years Oscar Noms for Best Picture blog is going to be a big let down. If you came her looking for something interesting, move along. Which is appropriate, it is the same for the lot of films. Many I did not see. Those I did not see, I noted & are indicated in red

My past nomination commentaries: 2011 | 2012 | 2013

SPOILER ALERT: I will type freely. Might spoil it. 

BEST PICTURE Nominations
  • Nebraska
    Did not see. Too boring. Even the colors are boring. 

   The Wolf of Wall Street
   Did not see. Forgot to include it in the first draft of this post. To which I say: F***!

So, what picture do I think got snubbed? 
Blue Jasmine. It did just as good of a job as the ones nominated. And it was interesting enough for me to even want to see it. Actually, it should win best picture. It was not only really well done, I am having a hard time thinking it had any flaws. 

And finally, not necessarily the "best" but the film I enjoyed watching the most in 2013 was by far "Before Midnight". 

I'd also like to thank the academy for not nominating Mud for anything. I hated it. 


Friday, November 15, 2013

Mary McMullen's 2013 Gift Guide

It is the moment all you worldly readers have been waiting for. The housing market is in upswing, day traders seem to have a pep in their step, and I still have my bangs. It's a good year.

Behold my gift guide; it is all over the place, so you are going to have to determine who you know would like what. I am confidant someone you know wants one of these treasures. 

(Note: Was also too lazy to list in any sort of order) 

Merry Christmas!

Keep Warm. 

Wool Mittens Fleece Lined Nordic Snowflake Fair Isle Olive Green Copper and Beige
Handmade! crafted in Utah (and they know cold there) out of felted wool &; polar fleece. 
Wool Mittens, $35: Here
Her entire wool shop if you want to browse other styles or wares: Here

MADE IN THE USA! This wool Stormy Kromer cap has been around 100 years, people love it. 11 colors, all sizes.
Mens Cap, $40: Here
Womens Cap, $40: Here

Keep Memories.

Tiny picture magnets. This is a Do It Yourself project, which means it is fun and cheap and customizable! 

Keep Having Fun.

The SkyBall bounces up to 75 feet in the airSkyBall HyperCharged Ball

The Sky Ball is filled with compressed air & helium, making it bounce like no ones business. Under $10 a ball. Sky Ball in Various Colors: Here

I bought this remote helicopter for my nephew's birthday this year. I don't know if he liked it, but there are 1,940 reviews that are nearly 5 out of 5 stars on amazon, so likely someone you give it to will like it. 
Remote Control Mini Helicopter, $ 21: Here

Size 2XL - Railroad Play Mat T-Shirt : Playtime for Kids, Back Massage for Dad / Fathers Day Gift New Daddy Father Son Train Track Mat
Playtime for them, back "massage" for the wearer. It's labeled a dad shirt, but I am sure anyone could love this. 

Keep It Clean.
100% protection from messy cooks

Designed for the cook in the kitchen, this ipad/tablet sleeve can be useful all over the place- like the beach reading a book, or stowed away in luggage with toiletries, just in case a leek is sprung. 
Set of 25 disposable sleves: Here ($19.95)
Set of 3 disposable sleeves: Here ($5.95)
One reusable waterproof sleeve (not as sleek): Here ($38.05)

Keep Sweet.

I've been on a maple syrup kick. 
Love the packaging of this one. From NY, $12: Here
These people look nice, so does their syrup. From Maine, $7 up to $40 a jug: Here

For whatever edibles you decide to make, here is a collection of FREE printable lables. Designed and ready to use. 

Keep On Groovin'

wood earphones
Guys, think about it, instruments are made from wood for a reason. Deep, smooth sound. Perfect for serious audiophiles.

Keep Creating & Thinking 
Do you know a doodler? Do you ever walk by a blank wall and have the urge to become Lil' Mary & tag it? This book is filled with pages of blank walls, intended to let the owner mark them up. I could see how this would have been useful in any math class I have ever endured. 

The Humans of New York Blog is now a book. 

Some people I know are forgetful and lazy. They could use this notepad. Check check check. They also have a travel packing checklist. 

I like short stories, and I like spooky ones. Boom. 

Butter Keeper
I hate cold butter. But leaving it out in a humid climate doesn't work either. This little ceramic pot creates a water seal that keeps butter cool but spreadable. Genius. 

While on the topic of butter & delicious kitchen things... That is a grill press. You can cook better with it. 

Keep Pretty

Nordstrom Pavé Link Bracelet | Nordstrom
I've seen this beauty in real life, and I want it. So does your mom and your sister and your wife and your babysitter and the girl who you want to be your girlfriend. 

Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio - Fresh | Sephora
These little balms with a little color are the best. The best smelling, the best feeling, the best looking. You can gift the set, or break them up and give them individually. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When You're Right, You're Right

This is an excerpt from a blog I wrote during "Snowpocalypse" in 2010... it has proven itself timeless with regards to gov't ceasing operations.

1.) Soon, the rest of America will begin to wonder if they even need The Feds.

2. ) Just like everyone else, I was excited about these days. Unscheduled leave. Days at home knitting and such. BUT WE GOT IT ALL WRONG. Today I had to sign in to remote access and do a touch of work... and it hit me: oh my, I am going to have to deal with all this when I get back... I will have to work double as hard for double as long to catch up. What a nightmare.

3.) Fun while it is happening, but then nine months later you have a big problem on your hands. Stay safe out there DC.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Just Because"

I don't blog much these days. Get over it, I obviously have. On this I can't stay silent, I need to set somethings straight. Not to have you think the same as me, but to have you think. So, I was one hell of a teenager myself, also I am around teenagers all day in all sorts of situations. I know hundreds currently and have known, really known, thousands. I know them individually, I know them collectively. 

There has been a media blitz recently highlighting these "thrill-kills". Teens killing people for fun. No. 

Unless you believe that these teenagers, who have not lived many years, are truly evil, this makes absolutely no sense.  With each of these stories, there are people and family who claim to love these kids, so I have a hard time accepting any of them have fallen to real wickedness, lacking any morals. It is too hard to love evil. 

So, they are just going to kill people out of boredom? No way. Ironically, what bored teens usually actually do is they have sex (creating a life, not ending one); not motivated by boredom, but because it's free, anyone can do it, it is fun, it feels good, it validates them, and it even has that thrill of doing something they aren't supposed to. (Even if they have been taught it is ok, there are things that are intrinsically right and things that are wrong and if they are wrong, on some level you feel it.) Are they going to tell you all of that? Probably not. Let me tell you the reasons those teenagers would state if caught and asked why they had sex; "I don't know, just because". Or what they'd say if they cheated on a test, "Just 'cus". Or what they'd say if they were caught after stealing, "no reason". There is always a reason. They may be bored. That is not the motive though, that is an auxiliary reason they had the time to carry out the act.

Teenagers often will say limited information if they feel guilty or feel intimidated. Or if they don't trust you. Or for about a million other reasons. They don't want to talk about it. It is uncomfortable. And they are old enough to know that they don't HAVE to tell you what they feel or what is in their minds, but they are not mature enough to openly communicate if it is not to their advantage. They are in a zone that makes many lose patience with them; they have the right to remain silent and they will if not compelled. 

These teens may have killed. These stories share a common ending; someone is dead and teenagers played a part. The motivator is what is so disturbing. It is a sensational story for the media to spin: I don't buy it and more importantly, it shouldn't be sold to us. 

Instead of focusing on this notion that thrill kills are thrilling, start asking the questions. I can only hope some of these teens are being interviewed by actual mental health professionals and not just cops who get the "just because" answer and then accept that at face value and run to the media. That is not going to fix the problem. It does make it easier to sell a news "story".  It is also going to make it easier to hate the kid who did something horrific. The problem is that not only doesn't help prevent it from happening again, it doesn't help the teenager. That's right; I am concerned about helping criminals. Prison reform is for another day though. 

These are the unbelievable stories. Literally, I don't believe them. 

There were three teens in Oaklahoma who took the life of an Australian college student, prompting this to have an international spotlight. Now, not only are we selling this idea of rabid teenagers to ourselves, but to others as well. 

Another sad story out of a WWII Vet beaten to death by a couple of teenagers

And the most horrific of all, a baby dies at the hands of a teen in Georgia. This case is now in the trial phase, where a flimsy motive has been put forth (as has a flimsy defense). The point is that the trial is proving there more to it than these teens just being cold-blooded, malevolent killers. 

We have a social responsibility to hold these accused accountable, not just allowing them to give us some half baked reason so they don't have to deal with the distress of revealing why they took another life. If I am going to read, watch, listen, or consume a news story about these killings, I'd like the authorities to ask the questions that matter. Find the motive. Dig deeper. Then, I'd like the media to report on it. I'd like other teenagers to see what led these kids down a path that ended in death. I'd like to see us detect a pattern that we might be able to prevent. Instead of instilling of lack of hope onto an entire generation, learn more about them. Help them.