Wishing Everybody a Happy Festivus

I wrote this poem for Christmas last year and put it on my now deleted Facebook fan page. Anyone who knows me well knows I am obsessed with Seinfeld. Festivus is the fictional holiday made up by George Costanza’s dad in the show. I think I do a pretty good job in describing the holiday.  Hope you enjoy! Happy Festivus!

This story is of, holiday and family alike
From the great Seinfeld episode, entitled “The Strike.”

Festivus Miracle
by: David Landwehr

‘Twas the night before Christmas Eve, and all through the house
The walls were shaking, much more than a mouse

The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care
Beating his chest was young George, stomach all bare

“Feats of Strength!” yelled Frank, charging is son
George stood defenseless, unable to run

On tackle! On Punch! On mighty slap!
It looks as though, George’s neck might snap!

Part of Festivus it’s called, the Costanzas fight
Only when one’s pinned, can we end the night

The holiday begun long ago, Father Frank in a store
Looking for a doll, one young George can adore

Frank and another, reached in sync
It turned to fighting, within but a blink

“There must be another way”, Frank Costanza proclaims
“For us to have Christmas, without all these games.”

“Religion, commercialism, all I despise”
“A new holiday I’ll invent! A pole I’ll arise!”

The grievances are finished, the airing complete.
Frank told George’s boss, “Your company stinks”

There is a dinner, the feast is prepared
Kramer, “Dr. Van Nostrand”, also was there

The holiday of Festivus this is, for all who come.
No gifts, no santa, no drummer, no drum.

There is no tree, the tinsel unsettled
In its place, is a pole made of metal

No religion, no gifts, none of that is for me
Only through festivus, will we be happy.

From then on it was Festivus, the Costanza’s delight.
HAPPY FESTIVUS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!!!!

Oscar Predictions: Best Picture Nominations

It’s getting close to the end of the year and for movie fanatics like myself that means the Academy Awards talk is heating up. There is still a little over a month before the nominations are out, but I want to get the discussion started right now. When this category moved last year to accepting 10 nominations, many people thought it would be difficult for the Academy to find 10 truly great movies each year. I considered last year to be a down year for movies, but this year certainly isn’t. I could probably give 15 movies that might earn nominations. So without further to do, here are my picks for the Academy Award Nominations for Best Picture of 2010.

(note: when there is a star* next to the movie, it means I haven’t actually seen the movie and I am just going on predictions and what I have heard and read from other sources)

1. True Grit*

This movie comes out on December 23, and I can’t wait. The Coen Brothers have had a movie nominated for best picture in 2 of the last 3 years (A Serious Man last year, and No Country For Old Men won it in 2007) and this one is sure to get the nod. It’s a re-make of the 1969 western, and there’s nobody better to do in then the Coens. Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld make for an unforgettable cast. To quote the SlashFilm review, “Perfect everything. If you like the Coens, see it. If you like westerns, see it. If you don’t like the Coens or westerns, see it anyway because it’s that good.” The Coens are my absolute favorite filmmakers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Burn After Reading, Blood Simple), and I am itching to see this one.

2. 127 Hours

Danny Boyle makes his return after bringing home best picture, director, cinematography, editing, music, sound, and screenplay with Slumdog Millionaire in 2008. Not an easy act to follow, but 127 Hours does it. It’s based on the true story of a hiker in Utah who gets his arm stuck between a rock and a hard place and has to cut it off with a dull knife. Boyle has the unique ability to make you feel like you are inside the movie. My arm started hurting while watching it. Great swooping shots of the Utah countryside and an unforgettable performance by James Franco make this an absolute can’t miss. Expect it to be up for a few more awards other than best picture as well.

3. The Social Network

Though I thought this film was slightly overrated, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be up for a nomination. David Fincher tells it like it is, and although Marky Mark Zuckerberg came out looking like a complete jerkface, Jesse Eisenberg portrays that jerkface flawlessly. My only complaint is this: It is too difficult to tell a story without an ending. The story was amazing, but the ending has no resolve. The story is still being written. That being said, this is a near perfect movie for having that limitation. It’s my pick to win Best Picture. Not because I think it is the best picture, but out of the top 3 in my book (Social Network, 127 Hours, True Grit), Fincher is the only director who hasn’t won an Oscar. And the other directors have won it in the last 3 years.

4. Black Swan*

This looks like the most intense movie of the year. Two incredible (and incredibly thin) actresses, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis (who dropped down to 90 pounds for the role), along side Vincent Cassel in an extremely unique story about ballerinas who are competing agains each other, and against themselves. I can’t talk too much about it because I haven’t seen it, but it’s directed by Darren Aronofsky who also did Requiem for a Dream, Pi, and The Wrestler. Judging by those films, I don’t think this ballerina tale is going to be another Bring It On. Check out the intense trailer here. This movie is poised to make an upset. I wouldn’t be surprised if it won.

5. Shutter Island

I totally forgot this movie was even released in 2010. It came out in February, which seems like years ago. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Martin Scorsese, it’s a mental thriller about a detective who gets stuck in an insane asylum. It has great twists, good action, and also can be very scary at parts. Not your typical Scorsese gangster film, but he does a fine job in this action mind-screw.

6. Toy Story 3

This one has no chance of winning, but with the added 5 movies to the category last year, it seems the animated category is up for nominations. Up received one last year, and there’s no other animated movie that is in comparison with TS3 in 2010. Here’s some cool facts: Toy Story 3 is the first animated film ever to gross $1 billion worldwide. Sold over $100 million in DVD/Blu-Ray in the first 3 weeks alone. Most successful Pixar film ever and doubled the box-office income of the original Toy Story. This is a shoo-in for best animated feature, but little to no chance of winning best picture. Great film regardless, nomination probable.

7. Inception

This film by Christopher Nolan has the curse of being the highest grossing non-kid film of the year and really the only film in the top 10 money list that is in any Oscar talk at all. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this internal mind thrill ride that will take you everywhere from the Arctic to inside your MIND. Exceptional acting overall, although I can’t get past seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the kid in Angels in the Outfield. Probably the best film ending of the year for me, and I expect it to win best special effects and sound, but I really can’t see it winning best picture. It’s the big budget, big action, big story, big advertising, big talk, big director, big everything type of film that the Academy doesn’t usually favor. Just look at Avatar last year. Watch this hilarious Inception South Park parody.

Little nugget of information: the last film to win best picture after being in the top 10 money list that year was The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, which won a mind blowing eleven academy awards in 2003. Can’t expect Inception to win this category.

8. The King’s Speech*

I haven’t done too much research on this movie, but I think it’s going to be in there. This is going to be the An Education or A Serious Man of last year, which means it’s to be the least known movie of the nominations. The story about one of the King Henrys (not sure which one) and how he overcame stuttering to become one of the best speech givers of his time. It’s directed by Tom Hooper, whose a British director. And you probably haven’t heard of any of his other movies (Damned United which is very good, Longford, etc.), but he did do the John Adams TV series that my Dad loves. With an 8.4 on IMDb, 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 7 Golden Globe nominations, I think it’s a safe bet to put in the 10 nominations.

9. Winter’s Bone

I have to represent my state here. This is the chilling story about a young girl out to save her family. Set and shot in rural Missouri, Winter’s Bone gives one of the best performances by a lead actress I’ve seen in awhile. It has a chance to win, but it’s going to be very tough with how strong this year was. Expect nominations for Jennifer Lawrence for actress in a leading role, and maybe even John Hawkes for actor in a supporting role. The freakin’ film won the grand jury prize at Sundance, so you know it’s going to be getting some love. Check out my in-depth review here.

These last one is tough. I can’t decide between The Town, The Kids are All Right, and The Fighter.

10. The Fighter*

I literally had a review written out for The Town in this spot, but then did some research on The Fighter, and I had to change it. I’m taking my personal feelings about Christian Bale out of it, and saying this has to get the nomination. 8.2 on IMDb, 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and nominated for 6 golden globes. I would love to see The Town be nominated, but it is the type of movie that won’t. And The Kids are All Right might have too weird of a plot to get recognition, though I’ve heard great things.

So there’s my Oscar Predictions wrap up. I think I did pretty good with it.

Check out this great video for clips from over 250 of this year’s films.

Agree or not, that is what I think I think.

An Idiot’s Guide to Finals

‘Tis the season folks. Yes, it might be beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but before us college kids can get into that season we have one mountain to  climb. That mountain is Finals. Yes, as I’m writing this I probably should be studying, but I don’t have anything for 3 days, so I’m sitting pretty as of now.

There are a million aspects to finals. I will take an in-depth look at some of these aspects through a microscope, and perhaps shed a little light humor into this life killing time.

First, I’ll look at the different types of tests.

The Bone Crusher

This is a cumulative test meant to completely kill your soul. You must study for days if not weeks in advance. If you happen to get a study guide for this test, it’s got so much info on it that it might as well say “Just Know Everything.”

The Essay Test

Most of my religion classes have all essay tests, and after these tests I can’t move my left hand for hours. Builds ultimate hand and thumb strength for such activities as video games, guitar playing, and thumb wrestling. It’s difficult to actually study for this test because most of the time its more about grasping the concepts and being to elaborate on them as opposed to memorizing info.

The Team Test

A.K.A. “The Take Home Test.” Why would teachers ever give a take home test? Even if I don’t know anybody in the class, as soon as I hear the words “take home,” I’m making new friends.

The Paper Test

My personal favorite. Instead of an actual final, the teacher just has you write a paper. I love writing papers. Probably more of a blessing than a curse, but I think I’ve gotten an A- on 90% of my papers in college. Not a bad grade by any means, but I kinda feel like I’m always the brides maid and never the bride. I have to do papers in my Film Studies and Music classes. I’m actually just writing this post to get my creative juices flowing so I can finish those papers.

The Replacement

My second favorite by far. This test actually replaces your lowest test grade for the semester. I screwed up my answer sheet on my Finance test, so I have to replace that horrible grade with the final. Won’t be too bad.

So there are the test types. Everybody has their own opinion about how they like to study, so the second segment is going to be the different venues people prefer to study in.

The Maximum Security Prison

The Med Library. This place is closed to non-med students for most of the prime study time during finals. When you go in, they actually swipe your Student ID to make sure you aren’t trying to sneak in. During the semester, it closes at 9 to non-med students. I used to go there last year all the time, but haven’t gone this year. No eating, and NO TALKING. The guy who works there has greasier hair than Uncle Jesse, and it’s all natural. He usually keeps to him self, but his bug eyes will find you if you are group studying.

The Who Do You Know Place

Ellis Library. The biggest, most diverse study area on campus. You’ll always run into somebody you know there. There’s places to do group study (though hard to come by), and also for extreme personal cramming (stacks). There’s a room where 90% of the inhabitants are greek, and there’s a small little coffee bar. Great for all purpose studying, and late nights (open til 2am). Has some main flaws. First being the jerk cops who won’t just tell you to be quiet, but they’ll say something like “Did you miss the big sign that says QUIET AREA on your way in?” Another flaw is that it can be difficult to find a plug in for your laptop. The final biggest flaw is over-crowdedness. Something to check out: The periodicals section has great movies to rent for free. I’ve gotten The South Park Movie, Blair Witch Project, Bowling for Columbine, and the Truman Show among others.

The Casual Hang Out

Memorial Union and The New Student Center. Amazing places to go if you need to group study, write papers, or if you love food. There’s plenty of choices for food and coffee at these locations. Be careful though, it’s easy to get distracted and start talking instead of studying. New Student Center is probably my favorite location right now. Comfy chairs, tons of couches, all you can drink soft drinks, tons of food options, and great place to see people and have a good conversation.

The Comfort Zone

The Home. Easily the most comfortable and convenient location, but not a favorite of many because of all the distractions i.e. TV, friends, food, sleeping. Risky, but rewarding if you have the will power.

The Townie

The Public Library. Usually only a popular place during finals because they close early, but this place has it all if you can find a spot. Good light, plug ins, coffee, and the best people watching you can ask for. Probably only second to Wal-Mart when it comes to stalking the lovely people of Columbia, MO. Also a great place to find music and movies. Main flaw: no way to print.

The Random

Probably one of my favorite, tho not often used, locations. Just go to a classroom and set up camp. Easy in Middlebush, A&S, and GCB. Great for group studying, and hiding from distractions. Downsides: no food or drinks besides what’s in vending machines, and extremely uncomfortable desks. Upside: tons of computers to print from.

The Hipster

Coffee Shops are for sure the favorite for hipsters looking for soft jazz and their favorite obscure coffee combination. Starbucks and Kaldis are the favorites. Downsides: located far away, smaller tables, and plug ins can be tough to find. After studying you can find them at the Blue Fugue or the RagTag. No printing here either.

So there’s the  options we have for locations, but who fills these places? The final segment is an analysis of the different types of studiers. Where do you fall?

The Druggie

This person NEEDS Adderall or something of the sort to stay focused. I’ve never done drugs harder the caffeine to help with studying, and I don’t think I need to. Favorite location: Ellis

The Worrier

This person is the most dedicated person out there. Common symptoms include: studying days and weeks in advance for ALL levels of tests, re-writing notes multiple times, and studying for long, long hours. Favorite location: the Med.

The Socialite

This is the person you don’t want to study with. Easily distracted, and always asking questions. They need you there for entertainment, and if you have serious work to get done, good luck. I would probably fall here. Favorite locations: The New Student Center and Memorial Union.

The Night Owl

Though some might find this hard to believe, I’ve never pulled an all-nighter for school purposes. I’m usually pretty good at preparing ahead of time, because I’m a horrible crammer. These people work the best under pressure and little sleep. I need sleep, so I am not one of these. Favorite locations: Ellis early in the night, then home at 2am.

The Natural

Can get by with little to no studying at all and still ace the test and class. Easily the most hated category of studiers. Favorite location: the couch.

So there you have it: all the questions about finals answered. Agree or not, that is what I Think I Think.

Now why did you waste time reading this? YOU SHOULD BE STUDYING.