Friday, February 28, 2014

How to Throw a Killer Oscar Party: Join Me for the Academy Awards

How to Throw a Killer Oscar Party

As you have already figured out, I love movies and the Academy Awards.

December through February is Super Bowl Season for movie lovers as the Academy Award Nominations are announced and the awards season gets under way.

Over the years, my Academy Awards Party was a popular annual event with friends and family, so I thought I would share my tips for throwing a memorable party so you can join in the fun.

Tip #1:

Send out invitations, preferably movie-related. 
I know it's asking a lot to actually shop for some invitations, address envelopes and mail them.  Failing that, email e-vites will work. There are many Oscar-themed invites available online.  If you send invitations via snail mail, include a ballot.  If you send something electronically, include the ballot link.  Make sure your guests know there will be prizes.

Tip #2:

The ballot: 
Find a ballot that not only includes the movie nominees, but also the actual nominees e.g. In addition to the movies nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design, I also want to know the name of the nominee e.g. when I see Sandy Powell, it helps because she has won before.  For those of us who follow this stuff, over the years names become familiar and this is helpful when filling out the ballot.  

Make sure your guests bring their filled-out ballots with them to the party.  You can do this on the honor system or once the guests arrive, create a board to list everyone's picks so everyone can see what everyone has chosen.


Though it is not essential, it's nice if you invite people who give a damn about movies.

Tip #4:

Ask that everyone come dressed in their Academy Awards Finery. 

Provide a red carpet (you don't have to have a red carpet but it would be fun) - it could be as simple as a runner of red felt - but dressing up is essential.
Other Academy Awards decorations are also fun.  Here are some ideas.

Tip #5:

Have TV's in more than one room so people can move around a bit without missing anything.

Tip #6:

Provide incentives which you have already announced in the invitation. 

Ideas would be  - everyone contributes $10 per person and winner takes all or one big prize for the winner and other prizes for 2nd and third place.  Have a funny booby prize for the person with the least correct answers (this would be an incentive for your guests to actually TRY to win.) 

One year the booby prize at my party was Mr. T's (remember him?) album (yes, we are talking vinyl) "Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool."

I thought that was hilarious.

Tip # 7:

Provide adult beverages. 
Preferably champagne and a non-alcoholic punch bowl.

Tip #8:

Provide food. 
A finger food buffet works best as it's easy for your guests to help themselves and eat while watching the show, so you don't have to be serving people.  Give the appetizers cool names related to the nominees. Popcorn is de rigeur. Or why not recreate the food from the very first Oscar show?

Tip #9:

Give everyone a "swag bag," just like the nominees.
Perhaps add a mini Oscar or a champagne glass filled with chocolates. 

One year the bag for the celebrities at the Oscars was highlighted by cannabis chocolates (hey, it's legal here)!

In other years, the swag bag has included maple syrup, dog food and vaginal rejuvenation, to name just a few items. Yes, you heard me. 

Tip #10:

Air kiss and call everyone "dahling" when they arrive and leave.

If you can't have a party: Whether or not we held a formal party, this was always a family affair.  When the kids were at home, we dressed up, had fancy hors d'oeuvres (or pizza) and watched together.  Now the kids are grown and one lives in another state, but we still have our Oscar competition and text and call each other during the show.  I provide the ballots and we give the kids a deadline and then Hubby lists everyone's picks.  We all put in $10 each and the winner takes all.  I plan to dress up, eat fancy food and drink champagne -- and to win!

Want to join us? 

Do you have some tips to share from your killer Oscar Party?

Some Movies You Might Have Missed!

A Winter's Tale (2014)

Based on the book of the same name, this screen adaptation stars Colin Farrell as a burglar in the early 1900's who falls in love with a dying girl and then finds himself transported to the present day, plagued by the forces of evil.  It's one of those true love transcending time and space things not to mention all of the heaven and hell stuff

There's Russell Crowe as a demon, Will Smith as Lucifer, a flying white horse that I thought would start talking like Mr. Ed any minute, and Eva Marie Saint and Jennifer Connolly looking like they are wondering what the hell they are doing in this mess.  And William Hurt?  What was that all about?  What the hell happened to your acting chops, Bill? In fact I found myself saying "What the hell?" a couple of times during the film.  And what's with Colin's hair? Suspending disbelief isn't possible here. But it was nice to see Lady Sybil ("Downton Abbey") again.  If you are a fan of the book, you will be disappointed.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Pure schmaltz. Don't waste your money.  
If you must see it, wait for the DVD.  You will thank me.

Rush (2013)

The real life 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

My father and brother were huge racing enthusiasts.  Think back to when there were only three television channels and usually only one TV in the home.  Our house anyway. So when the Indie 500 came on, that was what was on!  I always hated Sundays, because after we came home from church nothing would be on except sports and it seemed mostly car racing.  As a teen I drove "hot" cars around town, because my Dad and brother were always souping up the family car.  I drove a Dodge 440 and Chrysler 300 all with dual 4-barrels, bored and stroked and with glass-pack mufflers.   My Dad told me that if I was stopped by the cops because the car was too loud, to say my Dad was getting it fixed tomorrow!

My brother and Dad raced the family cars in stock car races, not to mention the impromptu drag racing that occurred at night around town.  In fact, on my way to my first year of college, with the car packed to the gills with my belongings and my mother in the front seat, my Dad drag raced a guy as we left town!

So car racing is in my blood.

And this film captured the excitement and ambience of this period in racing history. Director Ron Howard expertly wove real footage into his film to create the intensity of Formula One racing and produced one hell of a film with Hemsworth and Bruhl looking just like the real guys. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...this one could have been a "contenda!"  
But though it didn't garner an Academy Award nom, this is one of the best films of the year and a really good, exciting film, especially for racing enthusiasts. 

And ladies, if you are not interested in the racing, let me present one of the most gorgeous and exciting specimens of manhood out there, Mr. Chris Hemsworth.  If he doesn't get your heart racing, I don't know what will! Enjoy!

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (2013)

Controversial Russian performance art band protests against Putin and anti-feminist policies and gets two years in Siberia.

This documentary begins with a Bertolt Brecht quote:  "Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it." 

And these young women are using the "hammer" of their courage and art to call attention to sexism and authoritarianism in Russia.  They were beaten with sticks recently during their protest during the Olympics which made watching this film all the more real.

It's a beautifully photographed film which is not seen in many documentaries.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Utterly stunning.  You go, girls! (subtitles)

Wadjda (2012)

A young Saudi girl enters a Koran competition to win money for a bicycle.

Women not only can't drive in Saudi Arabia; girls are not supposed to ride bikes.  But young Wadjda is determined so she can race a boy.  I still struggle with the treatment of women in so many Middle Eastern countries - what they can and cannot do, what they must wear.  Speaking of which, watching this film, I was struck by the fact that the men wear white, the women must wear the black abaya.  The color white often symbolizes good; black often symbolizes evil.  Mmmmm.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet film that some critics felt should have been an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign film.  If you like films set in the Middle East and have an interest in other cultures, you will enjoy this. (Subtitles)

The Spactacular Now (2013)

Teen life of the party Sutter lives for the now.  He also has a problem with alcohol.  He meets Aimee, the nice girl, and they help each other turn "now" into their future.

This is a study in reality.  It's almost as if the actors are improvising, it's so real, which is not typical of most teen-oriented films.  But that is also it's flaw.  Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, who shone in "The Descendants," are affecting as the young lovers, but the film is slow moving and predictable.  However, if "Endless Love" had even a fraction of the heart in this film, it would have been a good film. Jennifer Jason Leigh has a small part as Sutter's mother and I didn't even recognize her.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Honorable effort that just misses the mark.  But see it for Woodley.  When her "Divergent" movies come out, she could be the next Jennifer Lawrence.

Kes (1969)

A young boy in working-class Northern England befriends a young kestrel hawk.

This is in the top ten on the British Film Institute's list of the "Top Fifty Films You Should See by the Time You are 14" and it ranks 7th on their list of best films of all time.  It's a touching bit of realism.

As a caveat, it is not only a very British film, but it's set in Northern England, which means it can be difficult to understand the dialogue at time.  That fact actually hurt distribution when it was first made.  But it's worth it.  This is Ken Loach's first film and it won Best Film in Britain in 1970.  He brought British films out of the "angry young man" phase and, using mostly unprofessional actors,  into the realism of working class England. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Loach is not for everyone, but if you love films, you need to give him a try.  This is social realism at its best. (Needs subtitles)

***Book of the Week***

Scandal: a Manual (2013)

An inside look at the workings of the gossip mongers.

Authors Rush and Molloy, the only married gossip columnists, ran their column in the New York Daily News from 1995 to 2010, eventually quitting because they couldn't keep up with Twitter and bloggers who were getting the dirt on celebs before they were.  It's only fitting that this is the book right before the Oscars!

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are hip to the gossip world, there probably isn't much in this book you don't already know, but if you are interested in the lengths people will go to get a scoop, you might enjoy this.

Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What This Newly Retired Baby Boomer has Learned from Figure Skating

Retirement can be a big shock for the newly retired, especially if you have worked your whole life.

It's an irony that something we look forward to for much of our working life could end up a disappointment, or worse, a regret.

If I am honest, since I walked out of my office for the last time eight months ago, it's been a roller coaster ride as I navigate the changes to my life.

One of my interests is figure skating, so naturally I watched the Olympic competition. 

As I watched, I realized there are some parallels in the quest for Olympic gold and the quest for a satisfying Golden Years.

Exercise keeps you thin

It's important to keep moving.
Though I have learned that exercise alone does not stave off fat, I will ask: 
Have you ever seen a fat figure skater?

Keep up the bling

In retirement, it's easy to wear sweats all of the time, go without makeup and look like crap.

Figure skaters are notorious for their sparkly, and sometimes crazy outfits (do you hear me, ice dancers?)

But they need to wear sparkly costumes to call attention to their identity out there on the ice and to illustrate their programs.

We might not want to go so far as some of the ice dancers, but we retirees need to also retain our identities and, hey, why not call attention to ourselves? 

Women of a certain age seem to become invisible around 50.  We must put an end to that!


I must admit I succumb from time to time to the "looking like crap" scenario while at home (poor Hubby), but my identity has always been the glam librarian clothes horse, so why stop now?  Though, finances preclude the "clothes horse" part, I still am interested in fashion, wear makeup and fix my hair (most days).
And watch out when I go out to a concert or the theatre!


Not only do figure skaters have to be patient as they learn how to jump higher, better and with more revolutions, they also need to exercise patience during their competitions.  As a male skater prepares for his quad, the most difficult jump in figure skating (four revolutions in the air), you see him set his course so he doesn't hit the boards, put his toe pick into the ice, launch himself and check himself on the way down. If he rushes the steps, he will fall.


Retirement is the same, I think. 

I am absolutely astonished that after eight months, I am still struggling with the feelings I have about not working anymore.  I think this new part of my life is my "quad."  I need to be patient. I shouldn't be hard on myself when I fail.  I had some good advice from some other retired people - that it takes time and I need to try different things until I find a good fit.

I need to keep working on my quad: set myself a course, put my toe pick in the ice and launch myself and keep doing that until it works.

If you screw up, it's not the end of the world

In figure skating, it's possible to fall down and still win, especially in the long program.  It's all about the points.  Yes, you get a deduction for falling down, but if you get up and keep doing your best, you can still win.

So too in retirement. 

I started out with guns blazing.  I had my days all spelled out in lists.  Monday is blog day, Tuesday is "work out like a maniac" day, Wednesday, Project Day, etc.  I was going to take Zumba and horse-back riding lessons.  I was going to meditate every day, lose 30 pounds and save the world.

Well, you know that old saying, "The best laid plans...?"  Life and your mental state have a way of wreaking havoc on one's plans.  Stuff happens. 

I didn't get involved in everything I thought I would.  Getting to a 10am Zumba class even started being a burden.  I don't even get up until then sometimes. Some days I meditate, some days I don't.  I had some bad days.  I didn't accomplish much. And I felt like I was failing my "long program" - retirement.

But as that great sage of baseball, Yogi Berra, said, "It ain't over 'til it's over." 
I am working on the Zumba moves at home.  I meditate most days and hey, I never even used to do it at all before.  And I am working with a volunteer group, which I have never done before either.

I will keep trying things.  Maybe I will save the world after all.

If I fall, I get up and give myself some points. It's all about the points.

Change is good

Speaking of points, those of us of a certain age remember when the figure skating ranking system was the 6.0 system - skaters were ranked from 1-6 - which ultimately led to too much subjectivity on the part of the judges as per the 2002 Winter Olympics figure skating scandal, where the Canadian pair skaters clearly skated a better long program than the Russian skaters, but received the Silver Medal.  There was such an outcry that the Canadians were also given a Gold Medal, which in turn led to the new ISU Judging System, a point system that is considered less subjective. 

However, even that new system has led to controversy in this year's Olympic women's figure skating competition where the favorite, Kim Yuna of Korea, the 2010 Olympic champion, lost to the Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova.  Yuna Kim skated a perfect program, Sotnikova did not.

The skaters all had to adjust to this new scoring system.  They had to add finesse and difficulty to their programs in order to gain the maximum points.  This has not been as difficult for the younger skaters.  But the skaters who were used to the old system had problems adjusting.

Likewise, in life, change is never easy, especially for those of us used to the "old system."  Try to get your husband to sleep on a different side of the bed! 

Retirement is one great big change. But as in figure skating, change can be good and it can challenge you to not only succeed but to exceed yourself. 

That is what I am hoping for.


Figure skaters have expressed the sense of freedom they feel speeding across the ice or launching themselves in the air and spinning three or four times.

Retirement is like that too.  No more deadlines, no more bosses, no more doing what you don't want to do.  But it's a "be careful what you wish for" story as well.  Same as the figure skater needing the discipline to attain the jumps and spins, in retirement, discipline is needed to experience the riches of freedom.  It's not easy to jump and spin on figure skates; it's not easy to be disciplined when completely free.

You don't want to live the lyrics "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Age and Experience Count for Something

Finally, I think it's easy to start feeling sorry for yourself when you age. 

It's no fun getting grey hair (unless you look good with grey hair), creaky bones, doctor bills, wrinkles, a turkey neck, age spots, or your grandkids tell you you smell.  I'm not so good at Twitter and forget about Vine.

The figure skating world was counting on 15-year-old Russian skater, Julia Lipnitskaya to win the gold, but she cracked under the pressure and came in 5th.  Veteran Mao Asada, also a favorite, had a disastrous short program ending up in 16th, but in the long program she came from 16th to finish 6th. And 23-year-old Kim Yuna, who came in second, skated impeccable programs and probably should have won the gold.  Even though the gold medal winner, Sotnikova is only 18, figure skating years are like dog years. She's been around awhile and 18 is actually 28 in skating years!  So the veterans reigned.

My point is this:  I may have wrinkles and creaky bones and am terrible at Twitter, but I've earned those wrinkles and creaky bones.  The fact that I am still here counts for something, and in those 65 years, I've learned a few things. 

Whether anyone else knows that is beside the point.

I know it.

I may not have my retirement quad or even my triple-triple yet, but I'm working on it.  And Twitter.

Now on to the World Championships.

See you Friday for
 "How to Throw a Killer Oscar Party"
The Week in Reviews

Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Best Films of 2013 That No One Saw, How I Met Hubby and The Week in Reviews

[Where I review "Endless Love" - the new one - and "Austenland" and  "Ender's Game" and recommend a great book.]

But first

With the Academy Awards only a couple of weeks away (March 2) and with all of the hoopla surrounding the nine nominated films, I thought I would highlight some other great movies that didn't receive much hoopla, but which, as they say over at the Academy, are also "worthy of your consideration."

(I have reviewed some of these in past blogs, but now you have a handy, dandy DVD to-do list!  You're welcome!)

So here are my Top Ten Films of 2013
that you probably didn't see.

20 Feet from Stardom

Documentary about the unsung world of the back-up singer.

Why you should see it:  Because you should know the musical contributions of Merry Clayton and Darlene Love and it will probably win the Academy Award for Best Documentary.  (Update:  I was right.  It won the 2014 Oscar for Best Documentary).


Two best friends fall for each other's sons.

Why you should see it:  C'mon.  Isn't that titillating enough, right there?  But also an interesting premise, excellent acting, beautiful people, beautiful scenery.

All is Lost

Robert Redford adrift at sea.

Why you should see it:  A Robert Redford tour de force and probably one of Redford's last great roles.  This should have brought him an Academy Award nomination (it didn't.  He was robbed).

Closed Circuit

Two ex-lovers must try a high profile terrorist case together.

Why you should see it:  Excellent fast-paced story and you should know who Rebecca Hall is.

Fruitvale Station

True life enactment of the last hours of Oscar Grant III who was gunned down by San Francisco BART officers for no apparent reason in the early hours of New Year's Day 2009.

Why you should see it:  Aching portrayal of Grant by Michael B. Jordan.  We need to see movies like this so this kind of thing won't happen again.

In a World

A young woman tries to break into the male-dominated world of movie trailer voice overs.

Why you should see it:  Lake Bell, who wrote, directed and starred in this film.

Last Love

A grieving, recently widowed professor living in Paris meets a young Parisian woman and they form a connection.

Why you should see this:  Michael Caine is an acting treasure, and you won't get that many more opportunities to see him.  And it's as good as "Amour," if not better.

This is the End

While attending a party at James Franco's house, he and several other celebrities face the end of the world.

Why you should see this:  Because it's really funny.

Way Way Back

It's the summer vacation from hell for 14-year-old Duncan until he meets Owen, the manager of the water park.

Why you should see this:  It's a coming of age gem.

World's End

Five friends reunite to try to complete an epic pub crawl that eluded them 20 years earlier.
Why you should see this:  Zany British humor from the folks who brought us "Shaun of the Dead."  What's not to like about pub crawling and alien robots?
What 2013 films would you add to this list?

The Week In Reviews

Endless Love (2013)
Wealthy girl, boy from the wrong side of the tracks, disapproving father.  Classic.
This is a supposed remake of the 1981 film of the same name and the credits include the Scott Spencer novel, but this 2014 version bears no resemblance to the earlier film or the book.
Gabriella Wilde bears a striking resemblance to a young Nicole Kidman and certainly is a better actress than Brooke Shields was in the earlier film. Alex Pettyfer is certainly a nice looking young man and together they are an engaging couple, but the script lets them down.  It's cliché ridden, far-fetched and riddled with stereotypes.  However, the teenaged girls behind me in the theatre seemed to like it.
Rosy the Reviewer says...for the under-25 set only and even some of them will probably think this is terrible.
NOTE:  Now you may wonder, why in hell did a person of my movie-going credentials I even go see this? 
I have to admit a soft-spot for the earlier film.  Well, the Lionel Ritchie-Diana Ross theme song, actually.  It figured prominently in my first meeting Hubby- that, and being hit over the head with a full can of beer.  But it's a long story.
Oh, all right.  Since you insist.
I was just getting over a bad divorce, and my friend, Janie was nursing the wounds of a recent break-up, so we went down to Big Sur for the week-end to assert our independence.  We laid out on the lawn of the River Inn, sunning ourselves, while Janie tried to teach me to play bridge. 
That evening we ate dinner at Nepenthe and flirted with the chef who wanted to meet us at the Fernwood Resort to hear some live music.  At Fernwood, the chef never appeared, but we engaged with one of the band members and danced and had a fun time.  The band was called "The Cousins."

That night, at our motel, Janie was sick, probably from dinner (sorry, Nepenthe), and I was in pain having gotten terribly sun-burned, but the next morning, we walked across the road to have breakfast at the River Inn and as we walked in, Janie poked me and whispered, "There's the band." 

The band from the night before was sitting at one of the tables, so we sidled over and sat near them. Not much later, one of the guys (it was soon-to-be Hubby) said to us, "So what do you ladies do?  Are you models or actresses or what?  What are your names?"  We giggled and I said, "I'm Rosy," and Janie said, "I'm Janie."  To which soon-to-be Hubby replied, "Well, I'm Chucky, this is Stevie, this is Sally and this is Joey."  More giggling on our part.  The ice had been broken (if there was any. If you read my blog, you already know I am a hopeless groupie).
We eventually ended up sitting outside drinking late morning cocktails with them.  There was lots of flirting, and I showed them my sunburn (I know).  Someone then suggested our moving the party down river and Janie and I, being newly single, adventurous, and a little tipsy, decided that sounded like fun, though I remember saying, as we walked through the woods, "This isn't like 'Deliverance' or anything, is it?"
The guys had a six pack cooling in the river and when Hubby-to-be asked me if I wanted one, I said yes and before I knew what had happened, he tossed it to me, and as I reached up for it, I was blinded by the sun and it hit me on the head.  I saw stars.
At that point, I wasn't worried about "Deliverance" as much as I was thinking I needed to call a medic.  My life passed before me and I thought, "Here I am in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strangers. My little son is going to be without a mother (and by the way, lest you think I had abandoned my son for a weekend of debauchery, he was with his Dad)."
However, though there was blood and Hubby-to-be tended to me as best he could, no one seemed concerned (must have been those cocktails), so I rallied, and we partied on.
Much later, Hubby-to-be and I ended up at my place playing records, and as the night wore on, both of us liking to sing, we engaged in a boozy version of "Endless Love" together, he was Lionel and I was Diana.  (I had probably pulled that out of the "I'm going through a divorce so I listen to all kinds of lonely love songs to prolong the pain" collection.)"
And other than a day or two in between, Hubby-to-be never left (his living arrangements were not the best and I think he liked my new car. His car wouldn't open on the driver's side).  I was attracted to his cheeky joie de vivre.  He was attracted to my feet.
A year later he became Hubby. 
And that was 30 years ago.
That's why I have a soft spot for "Endless Love." 
But I digress. 

Let's get on with the rest of The Week in Reviews!

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

Austenland (2013)

A woman obsessed with all things Jane Austen travels to England to a Jane Austen Theme Park.
Here is a really fresh idea gone terribly wrong.  What was supposed to be charming and funny was just silly, and Kerri Russell looks like a deer caught in the headlights in this. It's just awful.
Rosy the Reviewer says...cringe worthy.

Ender's Game (2013)

Young Ender is recruited to save the world due to his genius and amazing gaming abilities.
Based on the Orson Scott Card book which won the Nebula Award in 1985 and the Hugo Award in 1986, this science fiction movie finds earth preparing for an alien invasion by training a child army of the best and brightest, led by young Ender Wiggin.
There was controversy surrounding the film due to Card's conservative views and the film's supposed glorification of violence.
Rosy the Reviewer says...entertaining but falls a bit flat.  If you want more depth read the book instead.

***Book of the Week***

Dead MountainThe Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013) by Donnie Eichar

In February 1959, nine experienced Russian hikers died mysteriously while climbing in the Ural mountains.

Eerie aspects of their deaths such as their bodies being found outside in subzero temperatures in the middle of winter with no shoes, strange injuries and damage to their tent led to decades of speculation about what could have happened.

Rosy the Reviewer says... If you like books like "Into Thin Air," or true life mysteries, you will like this, though the author's assessment of what really happened is ultimately unsatisfying.

That's it for this week.
See you Tuesday!
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.