hey, those oscar predictions weren't all that bad! joe and i came in second in the pool at our local pub; it was winner take all, so no cash for us,* but that's better than we fare when we're at their dart board. i feel that penelope acquitted herself well (especially from the waist up) in the fashion department, though i should have had more faith in cate blanchett: she won.

other weekend adventures included a trip to h&h bagels on the extreme west side yesterday morning; not something i would do again solo, though the neighborhood is probably worlds better now than it was a few years ago (just look at the shiny new hustler club!). the bagels themselves were decent, but i remain a murray's girl in the new york bagel battle: i love my foo-foo cream cheese, and a refrigerator case full of whipped philly doesn't do it for me. nor does having to walk an extra fifteen blocks because i don't have cash and every ATM in the neighborhood is out of service. my money-hunting did, however, take me past fountain new york, a collaborative exhibition featuring pieces from a half-dozen williamsburg galleries. joe and i went back yesterday evening, and it was very worth it: if we'd prevailed in the oscar pool, i'd have no problem plunking down our winnings for (an eighth of) something like this. it's nobler to want money if you'd spend it on art, right?

in personal art (cough) news, i've decided to fire up the sewing machine and try to make a quilt. so far i've jumped up and down on three pairs of chopped-up blue jeans (fig. 1), toasted said jeans on the radiator (fig. 2), made anal retentive little stencils for my pattern out of old junk mail, sewn together my first two pieces, and broken my needle (i was trying to catch the bobbin thread, which somehow escaped from whatever it's supposed to come out of in the base of the machine. if anyone knows where that something-it's-supposed-to-come-out-of actually is, um, call me). progress is stalled, but i remain enthused! like penelope, i will bring my A game when i face the kenmore instruction booklet tonight.

in impersonal food news, i've been plugging everyone i know into ye olde online cheese comparator. it tells me that my cheese rating, for instance, is king river gold ("has a pink/orange rind with a dusting [of] grey mould, and has a sharp taste."). joe, in turn, gets romano ("made by a method known as 'rummaging curd'"); i am sleepy enough that both of these make sense.

*i'm trying not to dwell on the fact that picking children of men for best adapted screenplay cost us a few hundred dollars. it's mostly working.


oscar time, oscar time! as in the past few years (every year since we've moved to new york, really), i'm woefully behind on my filmgoing and westcoastogling. no matter: let's do this! i'll be honest and asterisk movies i've actually seen; my predictions are italicized. if you've seen something i've missed and want to weigh in or, hell, want to weigh in as a general proposition, be my guest.

best actor

leonardo dicaprio - blood diamond
ryan gosling - half nelson
peter o'toole - venus
will smith - the pursuit of happyness
forest whitaker - the last king of scotland

fie, fie on the academy for tapping leo for blood diamond rather than the departed! i don't think he'd have had much of a chance of winning either way - peter o'toole's honorary award in '02 doesn't really make up for the fact that he's lost seven times, which should make the voters feel like assholes, and forest whitaker is a huge favorite - but his performance in the latter was so very nice, and his accent in the former was so very grating. anyway, i think whitaker takes it.

best supporting actor

alan arkin - little miss sunshine
jackie earle haley - little children
djimon hounsou - blood diamond
eddie murphy - dreamgirls
mark wahlberg - the departed*

i'm 25/75 on whether marky mark can actually take this - he was great, mind you, but one of many supporting greats in the film - but i'm still pissed about leo's misnomination. i want an acting win for the departed.

best actress

penelope cruz - volver
judi dench - notes on a scandal
helen mirren - the queen*
meryl streep - the devil wears prada*
kate winslet - little children

this is helen mirren's to lose: her performance was sly like the fox, and it's up for the award of least resistance for the queen (which, in a weaker year, would probably win best picture and best director as well). meryl streep was cute, but i don't think she's earned the oscar.

best supporting actress

adriana barraza - babel
cate blanchett - notes on a scandal
abigail breslin - little miss sunshine
jennifer hudson - dreamgirls
reiko kikuchi - babel

america hearts jennifer hudson. the babel girls are unknowns, though reiko kikuchi has been forging a bjork-like reputation for herself on the red carpet. little miss sunshine has rabid fans, but hudson's underdog cachet dwarfs abigail breslin's, if that's not a total oxymoron. cate blanchett...has won a lot of things. voters who haven't seen any of these will vote for jennifer hudson.

best song

"i need to wake up" - an inconvenient truth
"listen" - dreamgirls
"love you i do" - dreamgirls
"our town" - cars
"patience" - dreamgirls

it's tragic that the broadway version of dreamgirls featured "and i am telling you i'm not going" (making it ineligible): after seeing jake gyllenhaal perform it on saturday night live, i'm sold. i oppose randy newman whenever possible, so i reject him as a contender; melissa etheridge is a fine songwriter, but al and an inconvenient truth will get theirs in the documentary category. "listen" is the strongest of the three dreamgirls entries, so it gets the gold star.

best director

alejandro gonzalez inarritu - babel
martin scorsese - the departed*
clint eastwood - letters from iwo jima
stephen frears - the queen*
paul greengrass - united 93*

i saw and was mightily impressed by united 93 last weekend: greengrass is a talented guy, and i think his work with the victims' families (documented in extreme detail in the DVD extras, as well as in local media), both in a professional and personal sense, was extraordinary. frears did a fine job of wringing epic things from a series of tabloid stories; i don't know know if the queen is "the best british film in years," as some have said, but it's solid. let's not beat around the bush, though: scorsese's still a virgin, and the departed is more than good enough to put him over the top and clear hollywood's collective conscience (a little).

best picture

the departed*
letters from iwo jima
little miss sunshine
the queen*

i'll cop to serious myopia: i loved the departed so very much (that dropkick murphys song! that brilliant ensemble work! that leonardo dicaprio performance that, for once, i didn't hate!) that i have a hard time imagining that anything will beat it. its odds are a bit shakier if scorsese wins - voters do like to divide up the biggies - but still. it's marty's year.

best outfit (actor or actress)

reese witherspoon - vintage cocktail dress
rachel mcadams - non-pink hair, non-bearded ryan gosling
jennifer garner - armani
penelope cruz - chanel
sacha baron cohen - g-man suit

ms. witherspoon has looked fantastic in recent years, and she's been working righteous indignation and itty bitty dresses with a vengeance since her split from the husband. i'm only half-behind the canary yellow number she wore to the golden globes, however, and she's been burned before by stylists who re-lend her pieces. rachel mcadams is cute as hell, but triumph here hinges on her ditching her weird dye job (so gwen stefani circa her wedding) and shaving her boyfriend while he's asleep. my office has declared a collective girl-crush on penelope since seeing volver, so i'm counting on her to sustain her magnetism through sunday. she favors fairly classic designers - oscar de la renta and valentino are other faves - and she's a nominee, so i predict grandeur. side note: it pains me to omit cate blanchett (a perennial favorite) here, but her golden globes look was heinous; i think she's been too busy with theatre in sydney to worry about the red carpet. which is understandable.


oh, hollywood. i've never imagined myself in celebrity journalism, so i can't say i had fantasies about dishing over lunch at the chateau marmont or elbowing other stringers' kidneys in a press holding pen. an assignment fell in my lap on thursday, though, so i spent the holiday weekend psyching myself up and trolling the web for kicky factoids.* my research was ultimately pretty unnecessary, as the format my assigning editor had in mind was cute rather than - hard-hitting isn't quite it, obviously, but i was aiming for that end of the spectrum. the psyching up, on the other hand, was key: after trading e-mails and calls with a publicist for several hours, i was expecting a call that would firm up an interview sometime later in the week. i'd relaxed into my lunch hour and was halfway through a salon piece on the oscars when she buzzed me back with The Celeb on the line, so i had to spit out my oyster crackers and go for it.

i joke about how i shouldn't open my mouth in front of famous people, but there's good reason for it: my stomach drops out and nonsense swoops in to fill the vacuum. in this case nonsense was 'rushing into questions to avoid potentially awkward silences' rather than 'spouting off creepy non sequiturs,' and thank goodness for that, but i'm still a bit frustrated with myself. the one piece of pro advice i had before the interview was that one has to use silence in order to get extended responses. me, i kept things moving so aggressively that the rep called me back afterward to be sure that the call hadn't gotten cut off accidentally. sigh.

i do think i have what i need to put the piece together, though, and i did get to throw in a few odd questions. most importantly, i soldiered through the dreaded first interview without totally losing my shit. this is something, internets! it will be laughed about someday.

totally unrelated: i don't want to scorch any veronica mars fans who haven't seen tonight's episode (summary) by chatting about it here, but if you have - meet me in the comment box. can you believe - ?!

*incidentally, myspace? is awful. i don't care how useful it is for indie bands and up-and-coming porn stars: it is migraine-inducing and must go.


scary fashion snapshot #2: wellies with a skirt, wabes, wellies with a skirt!

ze winter wellies (1 of 2)

we've been getting pelted with ice all morning, so i've been grateful for them. and i'm totally prepared if i have to go hunting for C.H.U.D. - so there.


calling all last-minute valentine's day question-poppers (with money trees): if you set the wedding wheels a-spinning tomorrow and want to squeeze in a lavish event on the most auspicious day of the ever (07.07.07), you can snag the lucky number 7 wedding package at the ritz-carlton new york for only $77,777!* bring along 77 people (including yourselves)! force manicures and pedicures on 7 people!** score 7 tiffany diamonds! have an old-fashioned rose bath drawn by the ritz's bath butler!*** i'm already married and my lucky number is 12, but i feel this press release came across my desk for a reason: get cracking, people.

thus far, my favorite valentine-related program activities:

001 personalized condoms, courtesy of moscow's dr. pyotr pomozov! "Some patriotic people ask for them with Kalashnikov guns drawn on them while there are others who want something romantic like Venetian gondolas. We do it all for them."

002 the usda's meat release (USDA Offers Dating Guidance for Valentine's Day).

003 cuddly rigor mortis's luv gimp (not quite as cute as her jersey devil, but hey, gimp!).

004 ...and his close relative, the shit bitch bear .

005 courtesy of eBay, the heart-shaped potato. and shipping this one (for o, there were several) to my zip code is only $19.80!

006 personalized romance novels, complete with your heaving bosom (for an extra $25)!**** this would be what i'd be hoping for tomorrow, had i not learned of

007 chocolate butts.

and how will you be hallmark holidaying, internets? tell me you will involve chocolate butts.

*excluding taxes and gratuities (which hardly seems sporting, but i don't design these things).

**i would totally tap paul and tom to be two of those people.

***creepiest. job. ever.

****with their sample text: "When Lauren appeared at the doorway to the living area, Joe was hanging up the phone. He nearly raced for her. She had that half-awake, tousled look that he found arousing."


i seem to have entered another of those phases where i gnash my teeth about waning youth and hipness (the last was triggered a few years ago when i found myself wearing a white blazer, eating trail mix, and listening to live jazz at columbus circle). part of it is, as george pointed out last weekend, that this is the year of turning thirty for a lot of our friends,* but it's been specific things as well. yesterday one of our top editors sent around a grammar and usage e-mail with it's a gettin' closer, goin' faster than a roller coaster as the subject line, which confused the hell out of most of my neighbors:

me: [proudly] it's james taylor!
et al: oh, i'm not white enough to know that.**
me: there is nothing i'm not white enough to know.
et al: do you like jimmy buffett?
me: NO!

i was tempted to talk about JT's adventures with smack to make the reference grittier, but that ship had sailed. specific thing number two came this morning, as i explained to another top editor that i might not hear back from a source right away, as she was busy teaching an elementary school class. "i just want to manage your expectations," i said. i didn't think anything of it until she complimented me on the phrase - and then i thought about it and was frightened, as it's possibly the weirdest lump of corporatespeak that's ever come out of my mouth. where did i even hear that?

are we turning into yuppies?

*not me, but i'm kind of looking forward to throwing a gothy death-of-my-twenties party next year.

**i initially slipped and said paul simon, which she said she was white enough to know. this spectrum interests me.


101 in 1001: 059 score at least 3 bylines in national magazines (mine counts) [completed 02.07.07]
i'm calling this one - the issue itself won't be on newsstands until the middle of next month, but damn it, i worked my ass off on those three pieces (and am armpit-deep in three or four more and the march issue close at casa de ladymag, hence the total lack of recent posts). i'm glad that i included the bit about counting work for my own magazine, as i've decided that i need an enormous clip stack before i peddle my wares all over town. some of the work was satisfying, some of it was frustrating as hell, and some of it is barely recognizable as mine, but i'm getting better about pitching with confidence and tolerating others' tweaks. said clip stack will be getting a lot bigger over the next year or so: the higher-ups have tapped me to shape our quasi-political content* leading up to the '08 elections, so i will be dragging the husband into my den of excessive alliteration for expert advice whenever possible. i don't know that he realizes quite how often i plan on doing this. i feel a little sorry for him. i should probably also mention that, if you have ovaries and beefs with the government (and don't live in the tri-state area), i will be hunting you down and forcing you to chat with me for one of these articles. there will probably be photos involved; you've been warned.

*what quasi-political content? that's where i come in, you see.