Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pardon me, I have to go wash my bat-dog.



Well, there she blows: this year’s Halloween invitation for what is - I’m sure - to be an incredibly spooky/horrifying party. Spooky cause Andrew and I now live across the street from a cemetery, and scary cause we’re in Uptown (brava Alderlady Schiller). And although the invitation doesn’t feature a scantily-clad Elvira straddling a pumpkin, I’m awfully pleased with how she turned out thanks to spending far too much time trying to decide which image to use and Andrew’s photoshop prowess.

After all was said and done, we decided that our little bat-friend here actually looks a lot like Oskar when he’s thrown into the air in an attempt to get action shots dressed up as a bat. We’ve already had requests to dress him as the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz and Pete Campbell from Mad Men, but I think he would make a perfect little vampire bat.

And speaking of Oskar, I thought that adopting him would spur on my worst instincts and that I’d become some sort of mommy-blogger or doggie-blogger or whatever they’re calling it, but that’s simply not the case. In fact – as I’m sure my dearth of posts can attest – I’ve next to no time to write about Oskar’s every move. Owning a dog in the age of social networking/blogs/whathaveyou has made me realize one simple truth: Parents who blog are horrible parents. Although I suppose most mommy and daddy-bloggers don't actually hold down 9 to 5s. So congratulations… I’ll still be taking the El to work and looking for a dog-walker.

No wonder people are always preaching about the importance of a two parent household. Last weekend when Andrew was out of town I decided to take my civic-minded self to the first meeting of our street’s block club, and although I had reservations, I ended up having a good time and meeting some great people (vote for James Capplemen in 2011!).

The meeting was held outdoors and so I figured I’d bring Oskar since he’s much nicer than myself and he doesn’t bite strangers like I do. All was well until I was asked to sign a petition. Oskar is exuberant to say the least and so a kindly woman from down the block offered to hold his leash while I signed. I am possessive of Oskar’s personal space and he is completely unaware of it, but neighbor-lady seemed sane enough so I relented. JUST as a handed him over, the only kid at the meeting comes running up and asks if he can hold the leash. I was ready to drop everything and smash his childish dreams, but kind neighbor-lady intervened and told him that he had to be super-careful because Oskar is stronger than he looks and, oh yeah, the kid was only about twice as big as our nine-pound puppy.

To his credit, little neighbor-boy did a good job until he took Oskar away from the crowd and sat down on a curb with him. You see it’s Autumn, Oskar loves leaves, there were a bunch of them on the ground, and so he started rolling around. But then he REALLY started rolling around… like, rolling on his back and writhing on the concrete. I walked over and asked neighbor-boy what was up and was met with a painfully innocent, “I don’t know,” but when I turned Oskar over his entire backside, collar and leash were covered in shit. Upon realizing what happened neighbor-boy unceremoniously screamed, “EEWWW, that’s poopy!”

When I said my hasty goodbyes, our - hopefully - soon to be Alderman’s partner attempted to shake my hand, but I explained that I had to go home an wash my dog. So Oskar and I made our exit, both covered in shit at this point, and vowed never to let children or those with questionable bowel control near each other. I know the little boy didn’t actually take a dump on my puppy but this is, of course, the story I’ll be telling everyone.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Das Puppy

What did I do this weekend, you ask? Well let me tell you...

Bought a ridiculously under-priced terrarium with a pewter base at the Andersonville sidewalk sale... check.

Attended Market Days and managed not to see En Vogue or Jodi Watley perform... check.

Finished painting the new dining room... check.

Adopted a puppy from a crazy lady in Indiana? Oh yes... check.

So please, meet Oskar:



Oskar hails from an Amish puppy mill breeder who apparently was unable to unload all the dogs he had, so aforementioned crazy adoption lady took him in. Oskar's parents are a Beagle and a King Charles Cavalier (Elizabeth Taylor I'm guessing). He enjoys sleeping, chewing on my ear, eating Andrews jeans, and playing with miniature tennis balls.

Although Oskar's only eight weeks old, he's already keeping some fantastic company:


Oskar Kokoschka


Oskar Werner & Julie Christie


Oskar Schindler

Oskar loves nice people and their assorted animals, so if you've like to set up a play date, Oskar would be happy to oblige.

Monday, July 13, 2009

On Moving


Via Undercity

August 2 will mark my four year anniversary in Chicago. As of this date I will have lived in a studio that I paid too much for and loved, moved to a one-bedroom that I did not love and susequently left two and a half months later, and currently live in a dirt-cheap two-bedroom in the heart of East Lakeview. Two roommates and one rasterbated horse later, I still love my neighborhood and my rent, but I'm ready for a change. Said change involves moving to Uptown - home to the Green Mill Lounge, Big Chicks, and an acre of abandoned seats.

Andrew and I have already begun work on what's quickly becoming known as the crumbling manse, a lovingly cared for two-bedroom apartment in a six-flat just off Lawrence Ave. All kidding and crumbling lathe aside, this place had way too much charm to pass up. Whether it's the built-in bookcase flanking the fireplace, the built-in hutch in the dining room, the picture molding throughout, or the scary closet that LOCKS FROM THE OUTSIDE... there was just something about this place that had us written all over it.

So far we've got a painted and somewhat appointed bathroom completed, but we hope to document our ongoing efforts at leaving a space better than we found it right here.



Oh yes, I must have forgotten to mention that we've opened up for business with STUDY. Right now there's the website in lieu of brick and mortar, but there you can learn all about our adventures in staging houses, doing color consultations, improving our own space and - hopefully - turning you on to great ideas, people and places.

But fret not my loyal band of 20 or so readers, I'll still maintain this blog as an outlet for all things NSFS (not safe for STUDY). Since I'm so good at keeping things up to date here, it's only natural I attempt writing for two sites. At least now you'll know that if you don't see me around these parts, there's a place you can find me writing... or posting pictures of a $12,000 bathtub I can't afford.

Either way, I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Man In Love



About that dearth of good music in 2009? Oh yeah... problem solved.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What the World Needs Now

Pride '09 has come and gone, but before you go back to your regular routine of self-loathing and pity, let's recap what we're thankful for:

4. Rainbow pinwheels.


3. Reckless barbecuing.


2. Lucite heels!


1. A beautiful boyfriend/Having friends who take pictures of you whilst you're licking your chops.


But most of all I'm thankful for Cheryl Burton. You see, the guy standing next to us on the parade route was wearing a tank top that read, "Fuck me, I'm famous," and when Chicago's sexiest television news anchor passed by on the Channel 7 float, she pointed to him and mouthed, "ME TOO!"



God bless you Cheryl Burton! You and your french-tip manicure are exactly what the world needs now.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lula's Baby Sister


(via Yelp!)


When I first moved here almost four years ago I had all these grand culinary plans of scouring the city to sample some of the best dishes Chicago had to offer. That lasted about four months when I realized traveling on public transportation in the dead of winter wasn't all that pleasant, especially since I had a plethora of affordable Thai places in my neighborhood that let you bring in your own booze without a corkage fee. Sold and sold.

And although my wallet still doesn't allow me to go hog wild with my gastronomic choices, the coming of summer and a trip last night to the new Pilsen restaurant Nightwood has really reinvigorated my desire to seek out venues that have menu options not including "drunken" or "crazy" noodles.

As with any restaurant I got to, I'm there for the food sure, but what really gets me excited are the surroundings. The interior here is, in a word, gorgeous, and mixes modern pieces (the patio will no doubt be featured in Dwell shortly) with classic elements that, if not revolutionary, are executed perfectly. Andrew was immediately taken with the vintage orange leather swivel chairs seen above that were apparently purchased from a now defunct hotel - I need to know which one! - and I had a near-ecstatic experience when I got up to go to the bathroom post-meal where I found a copious use of chunky tone on tone picture molding, a black basin and commode, and hand-painted Mediterranean tile. Bravo Kevin Heisner (Nightwood's designer)... you've achieved perfection in the potty and I say this without a hint of irony.

In a nod to Big and Little Edie (isn't everything in life though?), Andrew and I shared the chicken liver pâté with garlic potato chips as an appetizer. I'd never really considered pâté as a dining option - it just doesn't come to mind on my list of wants - much less pâté and potato chips, but I was not disappointed. If you were to take a look inside my refrigerator, you'd realize my two main food groups consist of chicken and hummus, so anything that essentially combines them into one dish is perfection.

For our main courses we ordered Nightwood's spit-roasted half chicken with a bread, mustard and white bean salad - boring but delicious - and a vegetable and white bean panini on brioche with soft poached farm egg. I know... this is highly specific/bougie language. Each dish was relatively straightforward and unsurprising. That's not to say they were mediocre by any means, just not the pinnacle-pounding dishes you get at, say, Lula. I'm chalking this up, however, to the fact that Nightwood's still in its soft-opening first week and kinks will be worked out.

Oh, and did I mention the free wine? Not that that swayed my opinion whatsoever, but it was a nice touch. Apparently Thursday was Nightwood's final night without a liquor license so they were getting rid of their casks of amontillado or something. Gracious, yes, but will it ever happen again... highly unlikely.

In toto, Nightwood is not to be missed and a welcome addition to Pilsen. I say that as a non-resident who has probably spent a total of less than ten hours there in my life... and I stand by it completely.

Full menu below (changes daily):

Appetizers
Mixed lettuces with radish and croutons, dressed with olive oil and vinegar 8
Spinach and parmesan salad with cucumber, hard-cooked egg, and aged balsamic 10
Chicken liver pate with potato chips 10
Marinated beets with aged Sardinian goats cheese, pesto, and pinenuts 6
Beef carpaccio with sorrel, aioli, and ash-roasted beets 12
Deep-fried Mississippi prawns with bacon-sardine vinaigrette 13
Handcut pasta with morels and stewed beef 10
Green garlic and cream soup 8

Entrees
Wood-grilled cheeseburger with fries and a dill pickle 13
Spit-roasted half chicken with a bread, mustard, and white bean salad 20
Wood-grilled trout with lentils, ham hock, and cream 19
Roast beef sandwich with blue cheese, slaw, and fries 12
Vegetable and white bean Panini on brioche with a soft poached farm egg 12
Suckling pig and morel ravioli with spinach and green olives 20

Desserts
Strawberry sorbet with macerated berries 2.50 per scoop
Almond tart with creme caramel ice cream 8
pretzles and chocolate 7

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Keep My Girls Kinky and a Hole in the Sheet



Good God, life can really catch up with you. What started innocently enough on Friday with a Peaches concert at the Metro, progressed to perusing the wares at IML's Leather Mart on Sunday, and ended with me getting all kumbaya with a bunch of lesbians on Monday at a barbecue. I know I should be most ashamed of looking at porn and ass-less chaps with a bunch of strangers on Sunday, but my real shame lies in singing along to an acoustic version of Wonderwall on Memorial Day.

And even though I'm most certainly feeling the effects of having drunk and eaten myself into oblivion over the weekend, as the receptionist at work said, "Those really are the fun ones." I've now seen Peaches four or five times, which makes me either a stalker or a groupie - is there a difference - and she did not disappoint by any means. The lyrics, the costumes, the dance moves... everything was more refined and really showed the mark of an artist who, frankly, realizes she can't ride the shocking-sex-fiend card all the way into her golden years. Not that she still isn't being bawdy for the bawdy's sake, but now there's more than one song off the album that can be played on the radio without being edited. Not to mention that she's just produced my new favorite Halloween jam with Trick or Treat! So tasty.

Then there's IML. Oh God, IML. Well, suffice it to say that I was not really shocked by anything until I reached the booth where sounding was being performed on some dude who, I guess, was enjoying it. Oh wait, scratch that... I wasn't really shocked by anything until I passed by the booth that sold bestiality DVDs made in BERWYN! They were far and away the outcasts of the festivities since they'd been secluded to a corner near an exit and had virtually no one coming to look at their goods. Oh, and did I mention they sold knives and switchblades? No. Fucking. Joke.

But as my IML "ambassador" told us, "Leather's a dying art," which made me sad, but also made me feel I was paying my respects by taking part in a time-honored tradition of gay culture... even though I was wearing jeans and a v-neck... and left my leather cod-piece at home.

Although you might say the crowning event of the weekend came on Monday when I attended my former roommate's barbeque. Lesbians were in abundance, which I knew getting into it, but what I did not know was that there would be a lesbian in attendance who knew how to play the guitar and had a penchant for "jam" sessions on the back deck. Will someone tell me why I thought it was a good idea to smoke clove cigarettes and sing-along to acoustic approximations of Oasis songs? Oh right. There is no good answer.

So next time you find yourself on a back deck with a bunch of sing-song lesbians with questionable musical tastes, just ask yourself, "Would Peaches do this?"

And then refrain from joining in.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Television Accent



I, apparently, only have one reason to blog these days and that involves throwing parties. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just that the last time I threw one was a month ago (see: Grey Gardens Premiere Party) and I don't have the resources or the time to be inviting everyone over for crudités and cheap wine once a week. Not that I wouldn't love to, you know.

So for those of you who read this to stay abreast of what I've been up to -- all five of you residing in California, Louisiana and New York -- I'll say that this has been a month of personal triumphs, peppered with bits frustration here and there, but what month isn't like that? I'm finally fulfilling my Chicago-goal of taking advantage of the lake by running up and down it's shores, blisters and ganglion cyst willing, three times a week, however, the real excitement is at the workplace where I've become the official/un-official voice of my job. I was volunteered a couple of months ago to record our on hold message which I was not at all excited about, but since no one else was willing, and being the administrative bitch good sport that I am, I did it.

Cut to a couple of weeks ago when my co-worker called me with the plea, "I NEED YOUR VOICE." I was a little shocked to say the least, and long story short, we ended up recording a podcast for our association's website. It's incredibly dry, a little technical, but if you want to listen to me regurgitate medical jargon, feel free to give it a listen. I'd post a link here, but then google would probably end up permanently linking this site to my work's site in searches, and that is not okay.

It's nice to know though that the insecurity about my voice I've harbored for the last 27 years has maybe been all in my head. Or as Andrew put it: "You've got a television accent!"

And THAT, as they say, is because I grew up in Holly-wood.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

You Know How Things Tend to Accumulate After Labor Day



Sometimes I wonder why I shell out an exorbitant amount of money each month for cable television and then something like Grey Gardens comes along to remind me that, yes John, it was all worth it. And oh God was it worth it. Needless to say, the Grey Gardens premiere party went off without a hitch and despite not everyone being entirely familiar with the Maysles' 1973 documentary, everyone - I think - enjoyed the film.

The evening started with a table setting fit for a Beale:



Then we added guests:



And DANCING:





But I think what really made the evening was the round table discussion, post-Gardens:



All in all, I was incredibly satisfied with HBO's effort at interpreting the lives of the Beales. I've been holding a grudge against Jessica Lange ever since she stole the Oscar from Winona Ryder in 1994 when she won Best Actress for Blue Sky. Well, I think I've finally forgiven her since she tewtally brought it as Big Edie. And if Drew Barrymore doesn't get an Emmy for playing Little Edie to a fucking T... then there is no justice in Hollywood. Not that we didn't already know that (see: Winona Ryder, 1994).

Most of all I was impressed with how the HBO film made you view the Beales as human beings, and not just objets in some grotesque curio. Andrew and I were talking about this today, how when you view the documentary you see the insanity within the confines of the Maysles' vision, but you have no real sense of how wealthy Big and Little Edie once were or how they had lives and - gasp - interactions with others before Jackie came with Aristotle's money to fix up the manse.

So long story short, the film was great, fun was had by all, AND my faith in theme parties was re-affirmed yet a-frigging-gain.

See you next time!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Look Who's On Apartment Therapy!



Okay, it's not me - though as anyone who's been to my house knows, that rasterbated horse is pretty fierce - but my complex and multi-talented boyfriend! This is part of Apartment Therapy's Small Cool: 2009 competition and as with any competition worth entering, there's a prize involved, so please go and vote y'all:

Link to Andrew's Beauty-ous Apartment

The voting's only open for 48 hours so I personally promise that if you link through and give a thumbs up, we'll invite you over for a dinner party. Did I mention he makes a mean pesto?

Thanks Everyone!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This is the best thing to wear for today you understand.



Bougie, adj.
Anything that is perceived as "upscale" from a blue-collar point of view. 'Bougie' is a hacked truncation of the word Bourgeoisie, which refers to the middle-class in Europe, but refers to a more affluent class level in the United States. See also, "Wine-Tasting Party".


I'm fairly certain I earned my bougie ribbon this weekend when I attended a wine-tasting party complete with a blackout in honor of Earth Hour. The guest list was comprised mainly of couples and although I was part of the youngest couple - and was the second-to-youngest person at the party - I'm happy to say I was not made to feel like a babe lost in the woods. In fact, I'm fairly certain I hit it off quite nicely with a few of the attendees - the wives, naturally, but I did have a rousing conversation with the hostess's husband about breeding show dogs from 25 year-old sperm - and once the drinks got to flowing, well, let's just say that the majority of attendees now know that I'm having my ganglion cyst drained on Tuesday.

So now I sit here high off of having spent the weekend spent with a wonderful man and attending a great party where some fantastic Argentinian wine was being served... and I wonder whether or not I should throw the Grey Gardens-themed party I've been mulling over for the past few weeks. My though process is as follows:

A. Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore playing the Beales merits a celebration.
B. I want to actually watch the movie.
C. I love my friends.
D. I love theme parties.
E. I will cut anyone who gets too loud during the telecast.

At this point I'm thinking I should just throw a Beales-themed party wherein everyone has to come as their favorite character. Boys certainly don't have too many options other than the cheesy neighbor-gardener-boy or a Maysles:



Then again, I think I'd be much more comfortable as Little Edie:



If the party does happen I think I need to have a signature drink in honor of the Beales. Not wine, but perhaps something made in a bathtub? Oh yes... the drink for today is definitely made in a bathtub.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ganglion



Above is a picture of what, I'm sure, will one day be the interior of my sitting room. My jaw literally dropped when I saw this picture owing primarily to a deep-seated but as yet unfulfilled need for John to paint his walls black when he was 13. I'm glad my parents didn't let me go that route, however, since I'm fairly certain I would've neglected to include the tasteful tone-on-tone stripes seen above. And the daybed... oh god the daybed! It's perfect in so many ways. I imagine myself spending a lazy Sunday afternoon on it reading John O'Hara or something. Preferably Butterfield 8.

I post this picture today because Andrew asked me what style of home Future-John would one day like to live in. I came up with some "likes" but no definitive period/genre/style that, given unlimited means, I'd absolutely have to have. Then I saw this and it was as if all my questions were answered via a pea green couch and some black on black stripes. I sent the picture to Andrew who reaffirmed the room's awesomeness, we traded a few emails, and then he jokingly sent me the following:



My gut reaction is to scream, "DOUCHE BAG," through the halls of Harpo Studios after viewing this, but I, much like many in young gay America, sort of want Mr. Berkus' charmed life. Not that he hasn't had his struggles either - his boyfriend died a few years ago in the Tsunami and thank you Oprah for devoting an entire show to it - which is why I don't totally hate him. But maybe I should preface that by saying that Nate lives in a ridiculous apartment on the Gold Coast which was recently featured in Elle Decor AND he's dating the creative director for Bally, Brian Atwood. Le. Sigh.


Not the best picture of Berkus... Atwood was angling for the camera... again.

Still, I'm not complaining right about now for myriad reasons (you know who you are). I may have developed a wicked ganglion cyst on my ankle from running (but I have my health), my trashy neighbors may have stolen my sheets and assorted intimates (but I now have reason to purchase new underwear sans guilt) and I may not have that pea green couch at present, but I don't doubt that if it's still important to me in five-year's time, it will be mine. And frankly black paint is cheap. I could totally do that this weekend.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Why Chicago Is Gross...


Daley Plaza - March 13, 2009, 5:10 PM

I hope you're not viewing this on a full stomach. And this may or may not have just become the top reason I need to eventually move away from this city.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tautou Après MacLaine



Get ready to have your fashion block knocked off with this one:



Yeah, I know it's all in French but you get the gist... I'm just glad that I understood over half of it as I find that proof positive that my six plus years of French language education did not go to waste - Thank you Mme. Cohen!

This is one of the more exciting trailers I've seen in the new year and pretty à propos considering that I just spent part of my recent convalescence watching the new Lifetime movie with Shirley MacLaine as Coco Chanel. Here's a little taste of this gem:



The script for the Lifetime one was pretty tragic, but the woman who played young Coco wasn't all that bad. And she was actually FRENCH... or something vaguely similar sounding. Although you've got to love Shirley for not even attempting a French accent. As if somewhere around 1952 Coco just miraculously lost her Gallic tongue and started speaking like a studio-trained American.

I know it's coming out a little early in the year (or maybe not since it has yet to see an American release date set) but I really hope that Tautou pulls it out of the water with this one. She looks incredibly like the real Chanel and the synergy she's got going on that alone could bring her home an Oscar in 2010. Oh, AND subtitles... she'll have subtitles in her corner too (see: Marion Cotillard).

Just remember: "You rock my life!"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Birfday Blessings

While it may be a little (read: a lot) presumptuous to post pictures of birthday gifts on a blog, I just wanted to thank everyone who bothers to read this for their exceeding generosity. Just so ya know, I had a great birthday, I'm a lucky young man and I appreciate each and every one of you.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Go Get 'em, Tiger

This is the attitude I'm shooting for today. And for life in general:



Tuesday, March 3, 2009

On Turning 27


Oh, to be twenty-one again.

Today's that auspicious day when I officially say goodbye to my mid-twenties and hello to my late-twenties. I'd be a whole lot more excited about this if I hadn't become a giant consumptive in the last couple of days. Seriously, when I started coughing in the shower the other day and spit up a little blood, my first thought was, FUCK. That is exactly what happens to Nichole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. Too bad my towel off wasn't accompanied by a musical number.

Needless to say I was sick at home all weekend and called out from work on Monday and Tuesday. I'm fairly certain this is the first time in my adult life I've not felt guilty about calling in sick since my boss didn't even recognize my voice when I talked to her. But it hasn't been a total loss; I've caught up on a whole lot of movie watching. A quick rundown:



Quarantine was tight little movie about people in an apartment building who start coming down with cold and flu symptoms only to become flesh-eating zombie-esque freakshows. I related for obvious reasons.



Zack and Miri Make a Porno made me hate Kevin Smith a little less, but then again he's pretty much just channeling Judd Apatow in this movie. Also, maybe it was the "porno" angle, but this movie felt an awful lot like a John Waters flick. This could also be because Traci Lords was in it.



By this point the sickness had obviously infiltrated my brain because I loved Mamma Mia. Amanda Seyfried was kinda perfect in this movie but - I'm sad to say - Meryl Streep sounded pretty atrocious at various points. Nothing, of course, could top her opener in Death Becomes Her, but COME ON. I guess someone forgot to turn on the autotune.

So now that my little movie marathon's over, I embark on turning 27 with a lot of hope for the year ahead. Twenty-six was a pretty tumultuous year emotionally and I'm not entirely sorry to see it go. When Bonnie was 27, I was 21 (the year I, for all intents and purposes, came out) and since I was such an emotional trainwreck at the time I remember thinking, I hope I've got it a little more together by the time I'm her age. And I'm not even sure if she knows this, but whenever I have a birthday I sort of compare where the two of us were when she was the same age. Not in a competitive way or anything, but in a do I have my shit together way.

Ultimately, I don't think I have my shit together like Bonnie did at 27. Or maybe we have our shit together in different ways. Or maybe we've got entirely different shit to get together... ultimately it's pretty useless trying to figure out how "together" I've got it I suppose. I'm just hoping for the best and excited about the year ahead.

Oh, and maybe I should also mention that this was the weekend when I downloaded a Taylor Swift song. Again, I blame this on brain inflammation or proof positive that I will never, ever, have it entirely all together.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!

Wow, the Oscars are already upon us and I have yet to get all excited about arbitrarily selecting winners. That's probably because this year's nominees are even more uninspiring than last's - Slumdog Millionaire anyone? Nevertheless, I'll persevere by locking my "wants" and "desires" down for all time on this here blog. Side note: I got a ton of shit last year for not having seen all the movies I was "evaluating". WELL guess what? You don't win an office pool by not making Oscar picks AND I've seen even fewer movies this time around so my chances are probably even better!

Maybe it's coincidence or maybe I'm getting lazy in my old age, but for the 81st Academy Awards most of my "wants" match up with the "should wins". That, or my tastes are finally reflecting those of surprisingly conservative and decrepit Oscar voters. Whatever... if they start sending me screeners, I'll vote for whomever they want.

The structure's the same this year:

Who Should Win - Green Font
Who Will Win - Purple Font

If there's no purple font then the "want" matches the "prediction".

*********************
Performance by an actor in a leading role



Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor"
Frank Langella in "Frost/Nixon"
Sean Penn in "Milk"
Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler"

I think we all know Rourke's pretty much got this shit locked down tight.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role



Josh Brolin in "Milk"
Robert Downey Jr. in "Tropic Thunder"
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Doubt"
Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight"
Michael Shannon in "Revolutionary Road"

I took that film class too and if I learned anything it's that young + dead + actor = winner.

Performance by an actress in a leading role



Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married"
Angelina Jolie in "Changeling"
Melissa Leo in "Frozen River"
Meryl Streep in "Doubt"
Kate Winslet in "The Reader"

My friend Matt and I were obsessed with the Oscars and films in general in high school. After having not talked for almost six years we just recently got in touch again. He calls this Kate's "Mercy Oscar". I agree.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role



Amy Adams in "Doubt"
Penélope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Viola Davis in "Doubt"
Taraji P. Henson in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Marisa Tomei in "The Wrestler"

Duh... Viola's really winning for Nights in Rodanthe. And by-the-by, Oprah wanted this role. Thank You oh sage producers of Doubt for not giving it to her.

Best animated feature film of the year



"Bolt"
"Kung Fu Panda"
"WALL-E"

THIS should've been the best picture.

Achievement in art direction



"Changeling"
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Dark Knight"
"The Duchess"
"Revolutionary Road"

Changeling was a pretty grueling movie as in, "Hey Angelina Jolie, we get that he's not your son so Stop. Screaming." But it was really beautiful. And I'm sucker for Los Angeles-based period movies.

Achievement in cinematography



"Changeling"
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Dark Knight"
"The Reader"
"Slumdog Millionaire"

I think this should be the only award Button takes home. But there will most likely be more.

Achievement in costume design



"Australia"
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Duchess"
"Milk"
"Revolutionary Road"

When I went to see The Wrestler at Arclight, they had the costumes from Revolutionary Road on display in the lobby. A-May-Zing. Between this and Mad Men, my wardrobe is complete.

Achievement in directing



"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - David Fincher
"Frost/Nixon" - Ron Howard
"Milk" - Gus Van Sant
"The Reader" - Stephen Daldry
"Slumdog Millionaire" - Danny Boyle

I want Fincher to win for work he's already done. As in work from over a decade ago. I do not feel guilty about this at all.

Best documentary feature



"The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)"
"Encounters at the End of the World"
"The Garden"
"Man on Wire"
"Trouble the Water"

Documentaries are fun again!

Achievement in film editing



"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Dark Knight"
"Frost/Nixon"
"Milk"
"Slumdog Millionaire"

A movie based around a sit-down interview: Editor's wet dream or total nightmare?

Best foreign language film of the year



"The Baader Meinhof Complex" - Germany
"The Class" - France
"Departures" - Japan
"Revanche" - Austria
"Waltz with Bashir" - Israel

I've heard amazing things about this movie from friends and it's from France. Done deal.

Achievement in makeup



"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Dark Knight"
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army"

Old man makes-ups wins everytime.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)



"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Alexandre Desplat
"Defiance" (Paramount Vantage) James Newton Howard
"Milk" (Focus Features) Danny Elfman
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) A.R. Rahman
"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) Thomas Newman

This would be the only category in which Slumdog wins that I wouldn't feel slighted.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)



"Down to Earth" from "WALL-E"
"Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire"
"O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire"
Please let M.I.A. win an Oscar!

Best motion picture of the year



"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"Frost/Nixon"
"Milk"
"The Reader"
"Slumdog Millionaire"

A lackluster crop in anyone's book, but Slumdog's Bollywood ending really seals the deal. That's unfortunate, but I believe, true. Milk would be, frankly, more of a political statement from Oscar voters since the movie left A LOT to be desired.

Achievement in sound editing



"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) Richard King
"Iron Man" (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment) Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Tom Sayers
"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
"Wanted" (Universal) Wylie Stateman

Now if only they could've edited out Christian Bale's creepy Batman voice.

Achievement in sound mixing



"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
"Wanted" (Universal) Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

There are so many seemingly silent moments in WALL-E... this movie is precisely what the above category was created for.

Achievement in visual effects



"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Dark Knight""Iron Man"

Button should lose if for no other reason then they wimped out on making Benjamin a giant-sized baby-man at the end. BOOOO!

Adapted screenplay



"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
"Doubt" (Miramax) Written by John Patrick Shanley
"Frost/Nixon" (Universal) Screenplay by Peter Morgan
"The Reader" (The Weinstein Company) Screenplay by David Hare
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

It is obvious enough to me that Oscar voters will see that Doubt is based on a famous-ish stage play, and immediately hand the award over.

Original screenplay



"Frozen River" (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Courtney Hunt
"Happy-Go-Lucky" (Miramax) Written by Mike Leigh
"In Bruges" (Focus Features) Written by Martin McDonagh
"Milk" (Focus Features) Written by Dustin Lance Black
"WALL-E" (Walt Disney)

Milk was lifted, pretty much word for word, from The Times of Harvey Milk; WALL-E was lacking in dialogue (quality, not amount); and Happy-Go-Lucky looks like Happy-Go-Shitty. This leaves only two, but Bruges has way more momentum at this point.