Soaking up the Island Life

On our last full day, I left the schedule wide open. We slept in ( as much as we could. I seem to be waking up around 630am anymore, no matter where I am or how late I stayed up the night before), ate a leisurely breakfast, and hung at the beach and pool.

We also got to hang with our favorite new critter friends: lots of lizards and Freddy, the neighbor dog we thought was a stray, but wasn’t.

 

Captured a few moments of Drummer Boy and Singer Girl:

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HWSNBN took it upon himself to go snorkeling — way too far out for my liking. The bay we were on was sandy smooth and clear, which was great for wading and splashing, but not good for marine life sightings. So he swam out — and disappeared. After 45 minutes of having no idea where he was, I asked folks at the neighboring villa if they had seen him when they were out swimming and canoeing. Nope. So one of teh guys took a boat back out and found him; I could see them talking from teh beach, and can only imagine the conversation:

“Hey there!”

“Um, hi..”

“Dude, your wife is stressing.”

“Why?”

“She can’t see you. I think you better get back. You might be in trouble, man.”

“Crap, ok…”

So he came back. I gave him the stink eye, explained calmly that if the kids or I had done that he would have lost his ever-loving mind. He agreed, kind of sheepishly. I gave him another look, then left to get ready for dinner.

Men.

That night we went out to an amazing restaurant — Scotchies in Falmouth (http://scotchies.restaurantsnapshot.com/). As we all wondered what to have, the waitress just took away the menus and said. “I’ll take care of you, mon.” And she did. Jerk chicken and pork, sausage, ribs, steak, and sides. Our fave new food in Jamaica had to be festival, a kind of semi-sweet dense doughy breadstick. Incredible! And the margaritas at Scotchies were amazing as well! We sat outside and it was very pretty — thanks to Andrew for suggesting it!

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After dinner, it was time for our last adventure: swimming at Glistening Waters, one of only 4 bioluminescent bays in the world (http://www.glisteningwaters.com/luminous-lagoon-tour/). Once again, Andrew hooked us up: we were the last ones there for the night, so went out in a boat solo and got to swim. The waters glow when they are disturbed, so we treaded (trod?) water with wild abandon to make the magic happen!

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The bay was bath water warm, and if you ever go heed the call for water shoes because that is some squishy stuff on the bottom (don’t ask, don’t tell). But what a fun last adventure!

well, not quite the last one!

When we got back to the house, we resumed a marathon activity that Sailor Boy had been planning for us: a game of Dungeons and Dragons. For weeks leading up to the trip, he helped the D and D virgins (me, HWSNBN and Singer Girl) create characters, and gave us YouTube videos to watch. It didn’t help. I spent my teen years avoiding this game, sure that it would ruin my social standing if I played the “game of nerds.” Well, having happily raised a proud nerd, it was inevitable that I would have to come to the dark side eventually. We played the game over a span of three days and nights — and ultimately had to speed through the end or we would still be there at the table, me baffled at what I was supposed to do. My son was in his element, and we were all bonding with wild abandon.

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It was awful.

It was awesome.

I’d do it all again tomorrow!

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

On day three we donned water shoes and hiked through the Jamaican jungle to climb up — and jump off of — waterfalls.

I had originally planned to visit the famous Dunn’s River Falls, but Andrew reassured me that the Blue Hole area was actually more enjoyable, according to the other folks he had driven around. Again, Andrew did not steer us wrong!

There were little falls and big ones. Tiny shallow pools and great big deep ones. Lots of blue water and green foliage. It was beautiful, and it was so fun! We actually got some great pictures, too! I don’t usually buy the CDs that the professional photographers hawk, but these were worth it!

 

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After all our time in teh ocean, the fresh water was incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating. As tourist attractions go, it was about as far from American as you could get: pot brownies sold at stands as you climbed, Rastafarians selling Red Stripe beer out of coolers, and very few safety rules.

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always be wary of what’s happening behind you…

The last jump was the biggie: about a 40 foot drop!

After that (and after we had to reinsert Drummer Boy’s arm shoulder back into its socket), we did a short zip line into a pond!

All in all, a stellar experience!

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That evening, back at the villa, Chappie, the house caretaker, made a bonfire on the beach!

HWSNBN couldn’t resist helping: IMG_0882

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A great ending to a great day!

Yee-haw!

I have never made a formal bucket list (note to self: good blog topic), but I already know some of the things on it, and am working my way through it. Last year, I danced on teh Champs Elysees for my birthday. This summer I will go skydiving. And last week, I rode a horse on a beach!

When I broached the subject with the Jamaica-bound crew only Singer Girl was an immediate and emphatic yes vote. The others came and to the idea (except for one. He chose to sleep in and hang out poolside at the villa. Not a bad choice!).

The rest of us hopped in the car with driver Andrew and headed to Braco Stables (http://bracostables.com.jm/). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After donning the requisite headgear, we saddled up!

Soon we wandering fields and beaches, passing abandoned drug airstrips and banana trees, enjoying the flowers and the wildlife. Occasionally our horses had minds of their own — especially mine, who wanted to keep nibbling the tall grass as we passed. We all secretly hoped we’d get a chance to pick up speed, but the guides really frowned on that. Every now and then I’d hear Drummer Boy call out “Yah!” to his horse. I think he may have had the most fun of all of us!

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Then it was time to get in the water (after a beer break, of course!)

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Then we hopped back on the horses and rode back.

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What a glorious day! So many laughs, and such huge smiles on everyone’s faces! And the scenery! Whatever could we do the next day to top it?

Under the Sea

As we were planning the trip, I gave the crew a list of adventure options. Some were universal yeses, some were met with a “no thanks” and some were in the middle. We started the trip strong, with a unanimous choice: scuba diving.

HWSNBN and I have been certified for decades (took our classes in a YMCA swimming pool in Fargo in the dead of winter), and Sailor Boy and Singer Girl have gone twice before, in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. But since they aren’t certified, they were required to do a “how to” crash course along with scuba virgins Drummer Boy and Mojo Jojo. Andrew brought us to Garfield Diving in Ocho Rios (http://garfielddiving.com/) and we all suited up. HWSNBN and I went out for a dive while they took classes, meeting up with three other divers from Germany.

Every time we dive, I know I am going to get a wee bit panicky at first. The human body is not supposed to breathe underwater, and, as an overthinker, I always have to work through that first time. But once I start to swim a bit, I get distracted by the beauty and wonder of the underwater world.

When the kids were done and ready, our boat met up with theirs. We dove in and waited at the bottom for the rest of the group. A couple came right down, but two took a while, as one was experiencing the same panic I get. The dive master from Garfield was patient and understanding and helped him through his nerves, and soon we were all swimming with the fishes!

 

As always, I am humbled when I am under water. The vastness, the sense of peace and beauty and wonder — all combine to make me slow down, relax, and enjoy the moment. I did see a lot of dying coral, which was heart-wrenching.  It is hard to see the environment failing because we have failed it. Before we went down, our dive master told us to be on teh lookout for lionfish, an invasive species dangerous to fish and humans.  They prey on baby fish and are contributing to the destruction of the reef. During our dives, we found (and he killed — that was hard to watch but necessary) four of them.

Once killed, he trimmed them of their dangerous spikes and fed them to sea anemones, so the circle of life was fulfilled!

Here is a slide show of some of the amazing sea life we experienced:

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As always, we came away knowing we HAD to do this again — and my kids are determined to be certified! After diving, it was time for some grubbing, so Andrew drove us to Olympic runner and Jamaican legend Usain Bolt’s restaurant (https://tracksandrecords.com/)  where we replenished our stores, then headed back to the villa, reminiscing about today, and looking forward to the next adventure!

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My familia

Jamaica, Mon

The last time our family took a vacation — all four of us — was in 2015, when Sailor Boy was a senior in high school. We spent spring break in Puerto Rico that time, knowing that in a few obtsh he would belong to the US Navy and we didn’t know when we’d get him again. Here are a few pics from taht trip:

 

 

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Flash forward 4 years and here we are. Last week the four of us, plus Singer Girl’s BF Drummer Boy, and Sailor Boy’s bestie, Mojo Jojo, went to Jamaica. We all needed this trip, for various reasons. As a family, we needed to reconnect. HWSNBN had just lost his wonderful father the week before. I had spent much of the last 4 months recovering from my ice fall and helping my mom through an epic battle with the kidney stone to end all kidney stones (3 inches long it was, and after 6 procedures we think it’s gone). The four young ‘uns were knee deep in school, either starting a new semester or heading into finals. And 7 of us had just survived a Minnesota winter for teh ages. So we were DUE.

I booked a house in a community called Bengal Beach, in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica.  We were about an hour east of Montego Bay, and 40 minutes west of Ocho Rios. I thought about staying in a big hotel in a big city — but I didn’t want to lose my kids to swim up bars and nightclubs. Plus, I know from traveling experience that communal space is key to good family time. So the house was perfect –especially since it had a staff of 3 to keep the party humming (ie: I didn’t have to cook or clean. Halle-freaking-lujiah.). I also booked a driver named Andrew at the suggestion of the VRBO owner. We all agreed he MADE the trip! He was making great suggestions for us from teh minute we got in the van on the way to the villa!

Here are a few pics from the house!

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If you’d like to learn more about the Seahorse Villa, go to https://www.vrbo.com/824324?arrival=2019-08-26&departure=2019-08-30&adultsCount=6.

As you’ll see in the upcoming blog posts (and probably have discerned from previous ones), I don’t find sitting still day in and day out very fun. I realized this time that while some folks like coming back from vacation refreshed. Personally, I want to feel invigorated. Don’t get me wrong: sitting in teh sun with a good book is way up there for me on the happy scale (and my book on this vacation was The Velveteen Daughter, by Laurel Davis Huber. So good!). But I can sit on the couch anywhere. When I travel, I want to do it all! In this trip, we did a lot, as you will see!

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A Cuppa Me

Every morning, before I let the dog out, I turn on the coffee maker. I do it without thinking (which is good, because I often need that cup to kickstart the synapses). My first decision each day? Which cup do I want to use?

This is important because it can set the tone. Now, up until about 5 months ago, I was a little sad each time I opened that cabinet, as none of the mugs were mine. I mean, I picked out the matchy-matchy Crate and Barrel set, so yeah, that’s mine. But those mugs aren’t ME. They are EVERYONE.

I was jealous, as people were always giving my husband mugs — including me. But I mentioned in passing to my mom once that I no one had ever given me a mug. So at our holiday bunco party, she won this, and gave it to me:

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When I put it away, I realized I did have a few mugs that were mine, but not because of my personality. This first one was for my husband and I, as a holiday gift from the School of Rock, where our kids learned music for 10 years:

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And this one was a “thank you” for volunteering in the school district:IMG_0839

This next one is super special. It’s a gift from my sister in law when our sons joined the armed forces the same year:

I heart that mug. But it wasn’t just for me. It was for HWSNBN as well. Some other mugs of his:

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That one was a gift from Singer Girl. This next one was a gift from our foreign exchange student from Denmark:IMG_0848

I gave him this next one:

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I have no idea what this one is about, but it is clearly NOT mine: IMG_0838

When Sailor Boy was deployed to the Persian Gulf, Singer Girl had one gift request: something from Caribou coffee in Dubai:

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Well then my mom gave me this one, and I adore it:

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Seriously the coolest. I LOVE that she thought of me when she found it.

On a funny note, this is my most recent gift, from my friend Kristy:IMG_0840

So true. I am.

And you may remember this one, that I purchased on my own:

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That mug makes me peaceful and happy and reminds me every time of our whirlwind escape to Amsterdam in December. I pick that one when I am not feeling particularly rushed or overtired or stressed.

I know this post seems pedestrian. But life is made of moments, and frankly, it’s the everyday moments that provide most of life’s crazy quilt. It’s funny how every time I look at that wine-themed mug from bunco, I will think of my mom, and how she listened to me and remembered what I said and it was important to her. She didn’t pay a dime for it, but it’s a treasure to me.

So next time you are bleary-eyed in the morning, running on autopilot, take a sec and think about the mugs in your life. Pause. Breathe. Remember the connections. And if there are no memories in there, maybe you should start some of your own. If there are, I’d love to see your favorite mug in the comments, and what it means to you!

Buy the Dress

I’m a member of a popular Facebook Group called Grown and Flown. Ostensibly it’s for parents whose kids are in the high-school-college-just beyond age group. The topics covered are too diverse to count, and can focus on all sorts of highs and lows, most pertaining to the drama of young adulthood. Some posts are braggy, some are heartbreaking. Most of the time people are looking for help, such as advice on how to pay for college, what to do when your child’s heart is broken after that first big romance ends, or how to deal with kids driving you nuts.

The other day someone posted something that had been discussed before (frankly, most topics get re-introduced regularly. Reminds me of how similar we all really are). This topic:  “What’s a reasonable amount to spend for a prom dress? We are not trying to create entitled attitude but do want to make this special for her.”

Now any time anyone asks a question on social media the answers are gonna range from helpful to hurtful. This was no different. This was my response:

“No one can tell you that! It’s up to you… To me, it’s not about the money. It’s about the memory of THAT MOMENT…don’t do what you can’t afford. But do what feels right. I leave practical for grocery shopping and doing housework.”

Recently I was reintroduced to the high-stress world of prom dress shopping. I thought that those days were behind me (I also thought my days of wondering what school my kid would attend were over as well, but that’s another post). However: Drummer Boy is a high school senior, and he and Singer Girl are still going strong, even after a year of separation (sort of — they saw each other every month,  lol).

So it’s prom time again. Which means, of course, shopping again. She wants it to be special but was torn, because she knows last year we spent a lot, and she wants to be practical. It’s not her prom. And wouldn’t it be nice to get something she can wear twice?

I totally understood where she was coming from. And I appreciated it. So when we ventured out, we tried to be fiscally responsible and cognizant of her desire not to look like she was in high school still. She had a look in mind, but we couldn’t find it. Then we started broadening the search parameters and kept venturing away from re-wearable and back. Then we danced towards glitzy and pricey, then retreated.

Anxiety was building. I tried to keep an even facade and let her lead the way. But she was stressed, and the whole time we shopped, I was battling the inner demons of wanting to give her everything and wanting to pull back. After a while, I realized that even though she didn’t want us to go overboard, I was prepared to do so. Why?

Because every day I hear of a family that will never again see their daughter dress up in a beautiful gown. Or of a mother who can’t be there when her daughter shops for her wedding dress. Or a father who won’t be there to be uncomfortable when he sees a young man look at his daughter in awe.

I’m not morbid. But life sometimes sucks. And it’s effing unfair. And shit happens.

Last week we lost a friend. I wasn’t super close with him or his wife, but close enough that we always stopped when we saw each other in the schools or gravitated towards each other at work functions. My husband worked with him and was close to Mark, and the loss gutted him. An amazing man, gone too soon (only 62). Bigger than life — and now, suddenly, gone.

I tried to put myself in his wife’s position, shocked and stunned and overwhelmed. All those plans: gone. All the dreams that would go unrealized. What would it be like, to not be able to do another date night? To quarrel over the kids’ choices? To laugh at the foster dogs and their antics?

Time is short, and memories are precious. I’m not saying anyone should do anything that will truly be a burden for their family. If it’s a choice between paying your bills or buying the fancy, expensive, never-to-be-worn again dress, don’t buy the dress.

But.

If I can afford to spoil my kids, I am going to. If it’s not a financial hardship for my husband and me to take a trip, we’re going now — and not waiting for someday. If I don’t have to choose between groceries and the overpriced glass of chardonnay from a winery a friend raved about, I’m buying it (but I might not share).

When it came time to choose the prom dress, we actually went home with 6 options and we had a voting party with Drummer Boy and HWSNBN. Silly? Maybe. But it’s a memory for all four of us now. Someday Singer Girl could become Mrs. Drummer Boy. Who knows? And someday, when people are reminiscing,  this story might be laughed about in a moment of sadness and loss.

Ultimately she picked the first dress she tried on — a respectably priced one. But she actually really loved another outfit as well. It was a jumpsuit, and not really right for prom. But she loved the way it made her feel (and frankly, when an outfit makes you feel good, you should buy it. Period.), so we kept it as well. So yeah, we weren’t totally practical.

But that day was well spent. We didn’t fight. We had fun. What could’ve been a stress-filled trip ended up being a happy one. Maybe when she wears that jumpsuit, she’ll remember that day and smile. I don’t get enough days with my kids anymore, so I want to treasure what I get. And I think they get that.

There’s a funny meme going around, that reminds you to think about what you wear carefully because if you die that will be your ghost outfit. Silly, yes. But it also reminds me: be careful how you end every conversation or experience with someone. If they never see you again, that will be their last memory of you. At our friend’s funeral, one of the sons said that losing their dad suddenly wasn’t as bad because they always knew where they stood with him. He never let them wonder if they were loved.

Goals.

Buy the dress.

 

Falling low, Swinging High, and Getting Stabbed

One of my resolutions was to blog more, and if I didn’t have something to write about, I should find something. So I slipped on the ice, paid to have needles rammed into my body, and flew through the air. At the same time — and not.

Let me explain.

We’ve had an interesting couple of months, weather wise, in Minnesota. Currently we are going through a massive and frankly nerve-wracking melt down. With record levels of snow fall in February, and lots of rain and melting temps in March, people are bailing out basements and digging out storm drains and bagging sand.  This might get very ugly.  We are torn.  We desperately want spring, but man it is a wet price to pay.

In January, we enjoyed (survived?) the Polar Vortex. It was effing cold. For a week, our temps raged from a high of 17 F to a low of -26 F — without wind chill.  It was tough. Then we spiked to 39 and everything MELTED. Good news? Nope. Then it froze. Hard. Sheets of ice so beautiful and deadly we even had a snowplow truck slide sideways down a hill (https://www.facebook.com/CaravanVet/videos/1066766743531671/).

This big freeze happened on a day devoted to friendship, side bets, and nachos: Super Bowl Sunday. I was enjoying a party at our friends’ home, and after the game stepped outside to go home.

One step. And I was up and DOWN.

My husband saw it happen — our friends cred out for help.  Everyone assumed I would have a concussion as it was hard. The cold ice actually felt good for a minute, so I chose to lay there, taking stock, assessing the damage. Nothing apparently broken, amazingly. We would late find out that hospitals were full of the injured, many with brain bleeds.  Hand surgeons would be booked nonstop to repair all the appendages fruitlessly used to break falls. Luckily my hands were full of leftover yumminess, so the only casualty related to my hands was some spilled meatball sauce (and if you have had my friend Sandi’s balls, you know that is a tragedy).

But the price for intact hands was a whacked back. After a week of muddling through the gripping, breath-taking pain, I got checked out by a doctor who proclaimed me only bruised, thankfully. But this pain wasn’t going anywhere, so HWSNBN decided I should try something new: acupuncture.

I guess he knows me well — I rarely shy from adventure, so I was game.  I mean, it might help. A few days later I was having my pulses listened to and my tongue examined.  Then it was lay down (easier said than done) and prepare to be pricked.

The whole thing was pretty cool. I have done three sessions so far with Meghan at Peak Life Clinic (http://peaklifeclinic.com/). The first time I went in I could barely move; by the time I left I was pain free. Now, it didn’t last forever, but each time I have gone in I have felt better and better. She does my front first, then my back, then cupping (google images of Michael Phelps, cupping, and you will get an idea of what my back looked like!). It’s relaxing, and weirdly successful. Heck, one time I was congested from a cold. She stuck a few well placed needles and within minutes my nose was clear and dripping. Very weird!

At my second session, we talked about my date night that evening, and how we were about to do something probably really stupid for my healing back: trapeze lessons. Yes, HWSNBN and I dragged our 50 year old bodies up a long narrow ladder and jumped off the platform. Repeatedly. I booked the class at Twin Cities Trapeze Center (https://www.twincitiestrapeze.com/).

For 90 minutes we were strapped in and swinging, culminating in an actual catch by another person.  I mean: so cool! And soooo hard. When I first revealed to HWSNBN what we were doing, he was giddy, boasting he would be doing flips and stuff (and reminding me of his brief foray into gymnastics as a kid). After one turn on the bar, we quickly realized this was not a game for the young. We were so exhausted by the end of the night we couldn’t even make it to after-event cocktails (which really sucked, because my outfit that night was super cute: some 20-something gals ask me where I got my clothes, as they said I was the best dressed person in the room when we went to dinner before the lessons. Total ego boost!).

The next day we were comparing bruises, and deciding which hurt most — the backs of our legs, or our shoulders, or, in my case, my back.  So yeah: not the best activity for my bruised back.

I have since done more acupuncture, and some chiropractor appointments. The healing process is often two steps forward, one step back.  Oddly enough, getting back on the treadmill made all the pain go away for several days (until I had to lift and twist and move supplies while volunteering at Secondhand Hounds).  I’m looking to add a massage into my mix sometime soon — maybe next week when I can fit it in.In the mean time, I walk like a penguin over the remaining ice patches I see!

 

 

 

My Awards Show Has a First Name, It’s O-S-C-A-R!

So I watched the Academy Awards, as usual.  Took notes while it was on — and have edited those thoughts with pics and afterthoughts…(the verb tense is usually present, as I typed while I watched. Sorry if that confuses anyone)

What is up with the ruffles, the pink, the HUGE dresses?

 

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Gaga clearly set the trend when she showed up in that periwinkle ball gown to the Golden Globes and the pink feathered gown at Cannes. Hoping she wears something totally different.  A bright, sleek, regal number.

Speaking of sleek…

Clearly, when one wears a slinky dress, the left shoulder look-over is de rigueur. Like all of these dresses — except for the back of the last one. She looks like she has toilet paper stuck to her butt.

Another big trend: gender bending. I noticed the first gal pictured in the slideshow, costume designer Sandy Powell, in the background while someone was interviewing a big star, and just fell in love.  I always think it’s fun to see what the costume designers wear.  They are often so creative — just like their creations.  In this case, Powell’s designs for The Favourite inspired one of the most talked about fashion moments of the night (we’ll chat about that later). Here she looks amazing to me — I would love to wear this look! (BTW: Powell was nominated for both The Favourite and Mary Poppins Returns.  This is the third time she has been nominated doubly in the same year).

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So how did the men look?

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Here are a few other standouts, for better and worse:

 

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The red carpet behind them, the celebs sat down for the show.  After that opening,  I got even more excited to go to see Queen this summer! Watching Glenn Close, Queen Latifah and Javier Bardem sing along was so freaking cool. Best opening monologue ever? Looking at Bradley Cooper’s face, I am guessing he was thinking “I cannot compete with this…”

Non-hosts Amy Pohler, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph were hilarious. I was wondering how political the show would be, and the second joke of the night was about the border wall. I personally have no problem with folks using their 30 seconds of speech time to speak their mind, but I know it drives tons of people nuts.

The more I look at Tina’s dress the more I love it. And the more I look at Maya’s the more I want to use it to cover a couch.

Best Supporting Actress contenders:

Regina King wins (no surprise there). Her toga dress is masterful, and I think it wins best dressed in this category.  My fave actress in this category, Amy Adams, had a terrific look. The other 3? Two were ok, one was awful. You guess which.

Helen Mirren and Jason Momoa? Yes, please. What a great pairing!

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Best Documentary: wow! I was sure RBG would win it! Oh dear: that  — does she know we can see right through her dress? Maybe that’s next year’s documentary feature: fashion gone wrong.

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I’ts interesting seeing who the producers chose to introduce each best picture. Some made sense, like Dana Carvey and Mike Myers for Bohemian Rhapsody. But why did Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine introducing Vice? Is it because the movie is about the political machine?

Makeup: Vice won — and should have! But man the people who won sucked at giving their acceptance speech.  Buy them some frickin glasses. Their speech made everyone rethink the decision not to do that award during a commercial.

What the actual F. Melissa McCarthy and Bryan Tyree Henry! I am digging these costume collaborations. Not everyone seemed to get the reference, but the outfits were a mashup of all the nominated movies’ costumes. The bunny cape was from The Favourite (remember I mentioned something about that before?) 4708 (1)

J Lo and Chris Evans.  Very pretty people.  Her dress is her way of saying no one can outshine me! Metallic dresses were a theme this year, too:

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Cinematography — Roma‘s first of (I am betting) several wins.

One of my fave lines of the night: Khaleesi (aka Emilia Clarke)  loaning her dragons to RBG. Fantastic!

Serena Williams introducing A Star is Born.  I am thinking these odd airings are a surprisingly successful way to introduce a modern element more relatable for a younger audience.  Good touch.

I SUCKED this year at guessing the winners! Bohemian Rhapsody for sound editing,  It did make great sense.  But I still think a Quiet Place made better sense. But hey I got Roma right for foreign language film!

Bette Midler singing the song from Mary Poppins Returns.  Song was kind of boring.  Doesn’t make me excited to see the movie (the only one I planned to see this week and didn’t get to).

Charlize Theron and Daniel Craig — she could be Bond.

Best Supporting Actor contenders:

— Mahershala Ali won.  A given, really. But why was he supporting, and Viggo lead? I don’t know. Anyway: Maheshala always seems like such a thoughtful, intelligent person. I dug his outfit, too. Not sure if he was my fave in the category fashion wise — they all looked pretty sharp.

Best line of the night: “I can’t believe a movie about menstruation just won an Oscar!”

First Man won for Visual Effects. I should know better than to bet against a space film.  But seriously: Ready Player One had incredible effects!

So now the moment everyone is really waiting for, and it wasn’t an award. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper took the stage.  And, I loved how they did the Shallow song.  No intro needed. No fanfare. No upstaging anyone else. Evidently that was Bradley’s idea. The whole thing was planned — including the heat. I mean, they are actors. Do they have chemistry? Of course. But are they an item? No.

Spike Lee wins his first ever Oscar.  One of the few truly political moments, but that’s who he is (I am sure there will be people bitching tomorrow about people preaching from the podium. Yawn.)

So happy that Lady Gaga won for best song! And she was so touched! Love it.

Interesting that Barbra Streisand introduced BlacKkKlansman, not A Star is Born. A little bit more politicking, but lowkey.

Best Actor contenders:

No shock Rami Malek wins best Actor. Didn’t know he was dating his costar from the movie! Ok so here’s why I don’t think Rami Malek should’ve won: his portrayal of Freddy Mercury doesn’t seem like a huge stretch from who he is as a person. He also needed someone straighten his darn tie on the red carpet. best dressed in this category? Viggo Mortenson.

Best Actress contenders:

Emily Coleman wins! She was wonderful, and I love how shocked she is. She seems like such a wonderful person and hilarious. Blowing a raspberry at the teleprompter: genius! A lot of people didn’t like her dress, but I think it was pretty cool.  I think all these nominees looked fantastic.  I am torn between Glenn Close and Lady Gaga for best dressed!

Here comes the original pretty woman, looking stun-NING.

Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts

Best picture…. Green Book! Green Book? Wow! I liked it, but it wasn’t my favorite of all the movies.

The show ends, but the party continues, and so does the fashion! Here are some after-party fashion moments:

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That’s a wrap, folks. Now for me to get caught up on all the stuff on my DVR!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Predilection for Predictions

As you may know, I love a list.  I also love movies, so when the Oscar nominations are announced I print out the official ballot and start my must-see to do list!

I try to watch movies throughout the year that are nomination contenders, but I usually fail a bit.  The top movies are typically released at the end of the year, so it’s tough to get ahead of the game. But my goal is always to see as many nominated movies as possible.  Ultimate goal (never realized!) is to see every movie nominated. At the very least? Every best pic nominee, and it’s a rare year when I don’t meet that requirement.

This year there were 52 movies covering 120 nominations.  I ended up seeing only 16 — but they did cover 75 nominations, so I’ll take it! This year I am pretty sure I will get a lot of predictions wrong, as there are so many close races. In anticipation of the Academy Awards show tonight, here are my thoughts and predictions for some of the awards:

Best Actor:  Willem Defoe, who played Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate, was good, but the movie was not what it could’ve been.  It was hard to watch, as it was pretty much from a “madness” viewpoint. So he’s not a contender, really.  Viggo Mortenson in Green Book played a pretty generic character (ignorantly racist Italian New Yorker hired to drive African American concert pianist around the deep south. Basically a flipped version of Driving Miss Daisy). Bradley Cooper was amazing, but he’s not going to win.  For some reason Hollywood is NOT embracing A Star Is Born.  I think there is something there we mortals just don’t all know.  Maybe Cooper needs to do another amazing job as an actor/director so Rami Malek for Boehmian Rhapsody and Christian Bale for Vice.  Oscar loves rewarding actors for playing real people (four of the last 6 best actor winners covered this territory). I am torn.  I think Bale will win — and should win.  Since seeing the movie I have had to google pictures of Dick Cheney to see the difference between the two.  Malek was brilliant, but let’s be honest: playing Freddie Mercury is all about over acting, which Malek does superbly. So: Christian Bale.

Sound Editing: A Quiet Place.  I mean, it’s a movie that is all about sound. So maybe the sound should get the best actor award?

Documentary: I only saw one, and I think the Academy is as trendy as anything else. So: RBG (see this flick, btw!)

Best Actress: No one knows who Yaitzia Aparicio is, and have never seen her do anything other than Roma, so for all we know she is just being herself.  Melissa McCarthy was great in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but playing such an unsympathetic character, and one who preys on the celebrity of movie stars, will not endear her to the voters. So it’s a three way race. Personally, I would love to see Star’s Lady Gaga win.  She was fantastic.  But she won’t.  Glenn Close is a sentimental favorite — she has never won.  She was the best thing about The Wife, and it wasn’t her best role. Olivia Coleman in The Favourite could steal it from her, if Close and Gaga split their vote.  Coleman was hilarious and sweet and sad and heart breaking. But Oscar likes to throw old folks (ugh) a bone.  So: Glenn Close.

Animated: didn’t see any of them.  But I’m voting for Isle of Dogs  because: Dogs.

Best Supporting Actor: No freaking idea.  This one has good, but not amazing IMO performances.  Maybe Richard Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me? Maybe Star is Born’s Sam Elliott (again the old-timer’s-paid-his-dues reward). Adam Driver was good in BlackKKlansman, but we won’t remember it tomorrow. Sam Rockwell won last year for a better performance than this turn as Vice’s George Bush. Mahershala Ali DOES have some nuanced moments, and all the oddsmakers say it’s his to lose. So: Mahershala Ali.

Costume Design: Only saw two of them (Black Panther and The Favorite).  I always root for period pieces here, and I am doing it again.  The thing that makes Favourite different from others is that the outfits aren’t exactly accurate; instead, they read like a fashion house collection, with each dress having similar fabrics/colors/etc. A unique, modern twist. So: The Favourite.

Makeup: Vice.  Period.

Best Supporting Actress:  Favourite’s dueling nominees (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz) cross each other put. Marona de Tavira in Roma: nope. Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk is the oddsmakers’ favorite, but I was underwhelmed.  My hands downs favorite: Amy Adams in Vice. Her Lynne Cheney was eerie, scary, hateful and sympathetic. So: Amy Adams.

Score: If Beale Street Could Talk. Loved the music, and it really sets the movie’s tone.

Song: Shallow.  Let’s face it: this is the consolation prize for A Star is Born.

Foreign Language: I only saw Roma — and I am giving it the nod. Eager to watch Cold War, though.

Directing: Roma which means...

Best Picture: So I don’t have a favorite here – really.  I would watch almost all of them again.  Black Panther? I don’t get it. It was fine. BlackKKlansman? Cool story, great acting, well done, but I think it’s a one and done.  Green Book? Same thing. I adored The Favorite, A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody!!! That leaves Roma, which will win.  Why? Several reasons: Oscar likes to take itself seriously, even if it doesn’t understand why. It can’t choose between the others (and it’s all about sending a message), and Roma is inscrutable enough that no one can argue about its artistic merit. It’s also a Netflix property, and a win here could send a big ass message to the industry that the times they are a-changing. But let’s be honest: this is gonna be like other winners that no one watched again (Ghandi, Chariots of Fire). So: Roma.

Just for giggles, here’s my personal ranking of the 16 movies I watched:

A Star is Born

Bohemian Rhapsody

Vice

The Favourite

RBG

Green Book

A Quiet Place

Ready Player One

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

At Eternity’s Gate

If Beale Street Could Talk

BlacKkKlansman

The Wife

First Man

Roma

Black Panther

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