I thought I’d get Harry Smotter when I read the books, but I’m just as Dumbledore as before…

 
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My sons have been devouring the Harry Potter books at record pace and although I tried to fight it, they’ve cast a spell on me too. I know, I’m twenty years late to the party, but punctuality was never my strong suit. I’ve seen the movies since I see everything nominated for the Oscars and they finally won their lucky 13th try with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. There was never a reason I hadn’t read the books before now and I gotta tell you – I had some unresolved issues…

 

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As we tore through page by page, chapter by chapter, and then finished each and every book, I kept assuming they’d finally address the elephant in the room – the most important overlooked part of the whole saga – but, much to my dismay, they never did. One day when J.K. Rowling and I are sharing tea and crumpets, I’ll her how amazing and creative her books are and then work up the nerve to ask her: we’re talking about the greatest sorcerer’s the world has ever known. One’s even so powerful that we literally can’t even mention his name without people trembling in fear, but no one knows a spell for Lasik? It’s bad enough that this kid has a lightning bolt scar on his head forcing him to grow out that bowl haircut to try and hide it, but then you go and give him those glasses too? I mean come on, there’s no Lenscrafters at Hogwarts? If not Lasik, how about we get this kid some contacts? I don’t know – that just doesn’t sit right with me.

 
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Does anyone else confuse the Oscar wining star of Whiplash with this fantastic writer or is it just me? Apparently J.K. is the new trendy name like Mary or Joseph (not THE Mary and Joseph, just a lot of kids with those names). There’s J.K. Rowling, J.K. Simmons, J.K. Schaffer (former Cincinnati Bengals player), J.K. Dobbins (football Player for Ohio State Player), J.K. Scott (Green Bay Packers – another football player?). I mean come on – I just can’t keep em straight anymore – It’s only a matter of time before there’s a J.K. Kardashian or Cardi J.K.! I’m gonna change my name to J.K. Immodium Abuser as it’s obviously key to the success that’s eluded me so far!

 

 


Speaking of confusion – the Rita Skeeter character is obviously based on Skeeter from The Muppets and I approve! Skeeter was so underappreciated and Scooter always got all the attention…Twins my ass, they forgot about Dre, she always got the shaft so I’m glad that J.K. found a way to honor Skeeter here!

 

 

 

I won’t go through every book and storyline, but I do wanna give a shout out to one part of the saga that really touched me deep – it’s very rare that I find an author who can speak right to my soul and I gotta give props when it happens! I read that page and it’s so eerie – it’s like she was speaking directly to me and only me! It’s in The Half Blood Prince, Chapter 11 which for some odd reason is called Hermione’s Helping Hand, which sounds very dirty to write in a kid’s book and could actually be the next Stormy Daniel’s film if we don’t stop publishing her exploits in the tabloids. Either way – here’s a screen shot of the page and J.K. was not Just Kidding when she wrote this – it’s her message to the Immodium Abusers out there to let us know that she sees us and hears us and for god’s sake, she describes the harsh reality of my life when she talks about U-No-Poo!

 

 

 

I mean it’s obvious that they’d have Imodium at Hogwarts! He who shall not be named is literally scaring the shit out of half the students and you don’t think everyone’s doubling up on U-No-Poo? Ron is a nervous kid normally, so he’s definitely taking as much if not more than me with those scary adventures! For the love of God – someone better tell Harry Potter he should take some too! Kid, they’re not gonna call time out during the match when you Quidditch your pants up on that broom!

 

 

U-No-Poo! Apparently, it’s not just the muggles who get the gastric struggles! She writes about being purple in the face and straining and it’s just like “Stop it J.K., you had me at Hello!” Full disclosure, I’m not normally in the common room or at mealtime when I’m straining like that because I won’t be able to Hagrid-and-bear-it. Also, I’ll need a new set of robes and they’ll change the name of the class to Defense Against the Dark Sharts if I’m not careful in there.

 

 

 

So since my kids now have the costumes, wands, movies, and Legos, our house is becoming as crazy as Bellatrix’s hair. It’s hard to surprise them anymore, but I’ve found the perfect thing for them: Hogwarts bedding! They’re gonna be kicking the sheets out of those Death Eaters and they’ll be Slytherin under the covers this winter warm as can be now that I have these! Super Dad to the Rescue!

 

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Follow here to get Harry Potter set or many other kids – check it out:  https://www.latestdeals.co.uk/tags/duvet

 

 

If you’re looking for your own set, click the link to follow and get your own. Since they’re Harry Potter themed – you should get them from the UK to be official, but even if you’re not into Harry Potter, they have other sets too. You can always go with Soccer themed, Holiday themed or Teletubbies – which randomly is my wife’s pet name for me. I’m all for fun shit in the bedroom to help have fun dreams so my wife and I actually have the Teletubbies set on our bed! Just kidding – she’d never let me try to get frisky on top of her Tinky-Winky – so we went with a normal set! Make the bedrooms in your house relaxing and fun and you’ll sleep like a baby…or you’ll get frisky and make a baby! Just don’t name it J.K. because there are just too damn many of them to keep track of!

 

 

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This is where the Magic happens…

 

CelebriTuesdays: I felt The Big Sick after Kumail’s egregious Oscar snub!

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I know what you’re thinking: the Oscars always omit deserving nominees and even though the field was expanded to include more films, this year is no different. How can the Academy legitimately present the best films and egregiously omit Kumail Nanjiani’s best work on the movie screen: Poop Talk? That’s obviously much more fun to talk about than me following after him down half a block to get a photo with him…

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If you thought I was referring to The Big Sick, you might be sorry you clicked here. That’s also a really amazing film, but if I’m honest – it kind of pales in comparison to the depths of emotion and honesty that Nanjiani shows in Poop Talk. Forget about Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, this is the real deal – the meat and potatoes if you will. No, I am not making this shit up and you won’t see anything more real on your screen this year. There are no avian females or billboards here, but there are plenty of comedians and experts dropping their truth while celebrating the very last taboo: poop talk.

I will admit that when I first heard about Poop Talk, I was a tad bit offended that I was excluded from participating in the making of this masterpiece. Could there really be a better “expert” on the complex intricacies of number two than moi? I don’t think so and it’s shocking anyone else could either. That being said, since I am a part-time mature adult, I took a cue from Elsa and Let it Go. Also, I thought I’d channel these feelings of exclusion and abandonment into focusing on getting myself a role in the inevitable sequel which they should make just for the title alone: Poop Talk: Number 2 – Dance til I Puma Pants! It’s toilet porn with a lot more corn and you bet your sweet bippy I want in on that!

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Poop Talk is in movie theatres and Video on Demand on ITunes on February 18th so get that Valentine’s Day Shopping done right now – who needs flowers or jewelry, when this is the gift that will show the depts. Of your affection. It’s guaranteed to bring out the smiles and laughter and I heard that Meryl Streep actually said it moved her like nothing has in the past few years. She also could have been talking about Nanjiani’s chili moving through her which would make more sense, but who am I to argue with her Streep-ness? Full disclosure, no one has ever heard her say anything like that, but it does sound like something she might say or it’s more likely that if the Dingo that ate her baby could talk, this is exactly what it would say…

In all seriousness, we should feel extremely fortunate because it’s not very often that you see an Oscar nominee chatting it up about dookies. In a perfect world, The Big Sick would win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar next month if only so that he could rush the stage extolling the virtues of poop and Imodium…I’m rooting for you Kumail – now let’s hang out and swap shitting stories Buddy! Friends talk about the jobs and family, but Best Friends talk about poop and boy have I got a shitload of stories for you!

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This has nothing to do with this post, but I would never be able to use this bathroom!

Poop Talk trailer here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IrzZ0ceFyRY

Get Out: I, Tonya is more like I, Oscar as the nominations announcement takes Shape!

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Forget about the Government shutdown or any of those nimrods running this country like a second-rate car wash and prioritize what’s important: Tuesday morning’s Oscar nominations announcement! This year’s race has been all over the place and exciting because there’s not one movie running away with everything – the critic’s prizes have been all over the place so Best Picture isn’t necessarily sewn up just yet.

 

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Forget Christmas or New Year’s – Oscar Season is the most wonderful time of the year! If you don’t agree then you can just Get Out? If you had told me a year ago that this little horror movie would be an Oscar nominee – I’d have told you to get out, but in just a few hours it most certainly will be! I don’t know if I’ll get a Best Picture nomination, but it’s a really great film that’s sure to be recognized tomorrow.

 

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I’m not one to launch into a checklist of all the categories with who I think will be nominated because that’s boring and that’s typical and I am neither of those things. We’ll jump around, but let’s talk Best Director. Do I think Lady Bird will get a Best Picture nomination – definitely. Do I think Greta Gerwig will get a Best Director nomination for it? I’m really hoping that I’m wrong, but unfortunately, I’m leaning towards no. Not because she doesn’t deserve it or she shouldn’t be nominated; I want to be wrong on this but I’m leaning towards no based on Oscar history. At this point, I don’t know that there’s anything to stop Guillermo del Toro from winning for The Shape of Water, but the Director’s Branch doesn’t go with the popular vote for their nominations and that’s especially true recently.

 

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It may seem odd to overlook the front runner to one of the most talked about films this year, but there are only five spots and this is an old boys club that might just stick with the veterans like Spielberg and Ridley Scott over newer directors like Greta Gerwig or Jordan Peele. Also, there have only been four women nominated for Best Director and only one female winner. In 90 Years – how is that even possible? That fact in itself is hard to ignore and pushes me towards a Gerwig snub Tuesday morning…

 

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If snubbing Greta Gerwig seems absolutely crazy, remember that this is the same Director’s branch that didn’t give Martin Scorcese a Best Director Oscar until The Departed in 2006! Take that in folks – Eminem was an Oscar winner for 8 Mile years before Martin-effin-Scorcese! Shameful as that is, Christopher Nolan has never even been nominated for Best Director – this nomination for Dunkirk will be his first! This is one branch of the Academy that doesn’t seem to go with emotions or what the public does like the acting branch. In fact, in recent years the Best Director hasn’t even lined up with the Best Picture winner which, historically, was never the case.

 

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Remember how great it was when Kathryn Bigelow stormed the stage for The Hurt Locker to win Best Director? That was an anomaly. She was snubbed for Zero Dark Thirty shortly after in the same year that be Affleck was snubbed for Argo – which actually won Best Picture! How the hell does the film winning Best Picture not get a nomination for Best Director? Affleck’s snub was the best thing that happened to Argo; it made them the underdog and they ran on a “shame on you for not nominating Ben Affleck” campaign which gained momentum and won the trophy. That could certainly happen with Lady Bird if Gerwig isn’t nominated tomorrow – it would up the chances in a race that’s not over by a long shot and march Lady Bird right up to the podium!

 

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Along with the snubs are the surprise nominations that come along every now and then; there are always a few head scratchers that seem to just come out of nowhere and I love them. Last year, Amy Adams was snubbed for Arrival which I didn’t love and then her costar Michael Shannon came out of nowhere and got nominated for Nocturnal Animals which he could do again with The Shape of Water. It’s a film that everyone has seen so he could possibly hear his name called if the film builds momentum. It’s extremely doubtful for so many reasons but just know that if he hears his name, Woody Harrelson or Armie Hammer definitely won’t.

 

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Both The Shape of Water and Three Billboards will have three acting nominations but Sam Rockwell – it’s about damn time! Three Billboards will be the first film since Bugsy in 1992 with two supporting actors nominated for the same film. Those nominations are givens, but although quite unlikely, it’s entirely possible for Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game to sneak into Meryl Streep’s The Post spot and Daniel Day Lewis might not get the love people are expecting for Phantom Thread leaving an open spot for Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out.

 

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My big wish for the nominations is to see some love for Mudbound and The Big Sick and not just because I met Kumail Nanjiani and he’s awesome. I don’t think Mary J Blige is gonna make the cut for a Supporting Actress for Mudbound, so I’m rooting for her in the Best Original Song category! Mudbound is a great film, with a great story and a great cast that just happens to be written and directed by Dee Rees and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves. It should land a screenplay nod tomorrow, but getting a Best Picture nomination would be amazing, but it’s a very long shot.

 

 

 

If you think the race is over, consider that final Oscar voting closes on February 27th and the ceremony isn’t until March 4th – that is a lifetime away from now in Oscar campaigning and although Three Billboards has momentum right now, it’ll be hard to maintain that for the next month; I, Tonya could club the competition and surge up to a prime spot between now and then.

 

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CelebriTuesdays: 1, 2, 3 – another Faith saw me!!! Faith Evans completed my Trifecta!!!

 

As most people do, I have an Ice Trifecta (Ice T, Ice Cube, & Vanilla Ice) and an all-important Faith Trifecta (Faith Evans, Faith Hill, & Faith Prince) of people that I’ve been dying to meet. I’ve been stuck in a holding pattern with both (having met two of the three in each bracket) and I never thought I’d complete my Faith Trifecta, but I finally did it: I met Faith Evans!!!  Two of the three Ice’s have been very cool, but all three Faith’s were so amazing and awesome that Mr. Ice better bring his A game when he meets me! Have a little faith, I’ll revisit the others later on…

 

 

I caught up with Faith Evans and she was seriously, so awesome! I was just walking by, minding my little own business like I do, when she walked up…Or, one might say I was stalking the building she was coming out of like a lunatic. The guy in front of me walked up and asked if he could snap a picture and she said of course. He was “of a certain age when technology probably isn’t his best friend” although I’m no techie either that should be throwing stones. Faith waited patiently posing with him, for what seemed like forever, as he fiddled with the camera telling her to say cheese repeatedly. Unbeknownst to him, while he was posing up a storm working on his big boy smile for her, he had his phone on video the whole time, and he kept pushing the red button to snap a picture while he was recording video not realizing he wasn’t taking a picture. He hit that button so many times, I’m not even sure he was recording either. I can only imagine what all of those one-second videos look like…

 

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Faith nicely tried to tell him twice that he was recording – not taking a picture. He either wasn’t listening because he was so caught up in the moment with her or he just didn’t get it, so by the third time, she took the camera out of his hand. She switched from video to photo and then looked at him and said “We’re gonna need to get someone else to take this, you can’t do it.” It was hysterical and priceless and we were all hysterical laughing. She handed off his camera so he was finally able to get a snap with her. Win, win for everyone. It was so awesome and she was just so funny; such a sweetie about it whereas any other number of celebs would never have been that patient with anyone.

 

 

She chatted and took a few pictures with me and I, of course, gave her an immodiumabuser business card which she thought was hysterical. She was like “your name isn’t on it, what’s your name?” so of course I filled her in and gave her all the deetz. She was spending her time taking an interest in me which was just so awesome. Who does that? She was cool and kind and just hung out there in the moment with us like a boss. It’s as if she could tell how much this tiny little moment of her time would mean to us and how huge is that? She was funny and in charge and had an awesome hat that I desperately wanted to try on because a bald man always looks better in a hat – any hat!

 

 

Seriously, I have met a lot of celebrities and not many have been as cool as that. Actually, I’ll go into it another time but of everyone I’ve met – the Faith’s have it. Ms. Evans could have just gotten in her car and walked by as I’m sure she had more interesting things to do than discover my Imodium Abusing secret

 

, but she was working the crowd and making people’s day left and right. Very cool!

 

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Unlike CNN, I didn’t confuse Faith Evans with Faith Hill: I’ll just leave this awkward bit of ridiculousness right here. CNN tweeted that Faith Hill would be releasing an album of duets with The Notorious BIG 20 years after his murder and both ladies took the nonsense and turned it into something nonsensational!!!  So cool, although I think they need to seriously work a remix with both Faith’s & Biggie!

 

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Faith Evans reaction

 

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Faith Hill reaction

 

 

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This would be an awesome duet!

 

 

 

 

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Seriously, how cool would I look in this hat? Maybe a fedora is the next stop for me…

 

 

The only AA I care about: Academy Awards! Hollywood hasn’t been this fixated on the Reds since Joseph McCarthy!

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“This year has been all about the Reds and it has nothing to do with Warren Beatty!”

 

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The Oscars are finally here and I couldn’t be more excited. Just like all of you, I’ve been cramming in all the last minute nominated films and I could not be more pumped up about this year’s crop. There is truly something for everyone – Action, drama, sci-fi, musicals, sports, musicals, war, and seriously – one cannot talk about the year in films without mentioning Hollywood overcoming a HUGE hurdle that most people won’t talk about: after years of neglecting nominees of color, this has been an extraordinary year for Gingers! In the span of two years it went from #OSCARSOWHITE to #OSCARSORED! Forget about Rogue One – It’s more like Rouge One this year at the movies!

 

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Nicole Kidman in Lion – Boom! Emma Stone in La La Land – BOOM! Amy Adams in Arrival AND Nocturnal Animals – Snubbed but I’d like to give her that Boom! Isabelle Huppert in Elle – BOOM! Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea (reddish brown, but you can’t hide from me) – BOOM! Deadpool – BOOM! The Red Turtle – BOOM! The Lobster – BOOM! Poppy in Trolls – (technically pink, but we’ll give it to you) – BOOM!

 

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I’m not gonna go on a rant because I’m not a La La Lunatic, but if you haven’t been swept up this year by the sheer scope and style of the offerings – you just might be dead inside. I actually checked to see if rigor mortis had set in on him because my brother Joey hated Manchester by the Sea. Can you imagine? The scacriledge! Casey Affleck caused me to need anti-depressants and Michelle Williams performance still haunts me months later.

 

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This is not just to say how amazing La La Land is I La-La-Loved it and Emma Stone will rightfully dance away with her Best Actress Oscar tonight! If it was a just world, Ryan Gosling would win as well, but in a year when Casey Affleck’s pain tore me up and Denzel Washington reminded us why he’s the best working actor alive – Gosling’s nomination is a win in itself!

 

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I would have rather Andrew Garfield had been nominated for Silence rather than Hacksaw Ridge. I might be in the minority, but I didn’t love the movie – I actually wanted to take a hacksaw to cut myself in half just to make it stop. Personal issues aside, Mel Gibson is an extremely talented director and it was well made; I just felt that it was slow and drawn out – especially when Garfield’s character was saving soldiers during the last battle on the ridge. We get it, he saved seventy five people; do we need to show twenty rescues? I felt exhausted just watching him struggle to carry those soldiers to safety.

 

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Although I’m a big fan of his work, Andrew Garfield’s performance felt hokey and cartoonish at times. I couldn’t tell if his character was supposed to be “slow” in the beginning, but it was like there was a little something “off” about the guy. No hot nurse would have fallen in love with someone like that – they would have fallen for the cop that helped them get the restraining order. I felt the same way about Joel Edgerton in Loving; I know it’s based on a real person’s story, but was something wrong with the guy? I’m not making fun because I’ve actually been mistaken for a retarded person myself, but I couldn’t help but think – is he supposed to be handicapped? It was distracting and I almost felt like Ruth Negga’s Best Actress nomination had more to do with her keeping a straight face while her partner showed us what the love child of Forrest Gump and Sling Blade would look like!

 

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Speaking of miscast roles, Vince Vaughn was horribly miscast as a drill sergeant in Hacksaw Ridge – I felt like at any minute he was hazing him that he might lean in Garfield’s face and whisper “Just the tip, just for a second…” After this and True Detective Season two, he really needs to just stick with comedies…

 

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Hell or High Water; Sort of like the way I felt about Luke Wheeler on Nashville – if you don’t have something nice to say, move on! I got nothing for ya and I’m rolling on to one of the most amazing films I’ve seen all year: Jim: The James Foley Story. I haven’t seen such a powerful, grab you by the heels documentary that I absolutely loved since Searching for Sugarman and this one was a doozie. If I could tell you to seek out one film nominated this year – let this be it! No offense to OJ: Made in America or Life, Animated, but this is the Best Documentary of the year! I’m just grateful that it was nominated for Sting’s powerful song “The Empty Chair” or I might have missed it altogether.

 

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Florence Foster Jenkins? I love her Streepness too, but I’d rather watch Jodie Foster’s last colonoscopy than ever hear about this movie again. Meryl Streep is great in everything but in a year when Annette Benning made 20th Century Women, Amy Adams had not just Arrival, but Nocturnal Animals as well, Jessica Chastain in Mrs. Sloane; it’s almost a crime to line Meryl up for this. For the first time in probably ever – the Best Actress pool was overflowing with amazing, amazing, amazing performances that there was really no way to pick five and not leave out multiple deserving, go for broke, career-best performances, but I am still shocked that Amy Adams isn’t in there. Besides Streep, I can’t think who you’d replace. Natalie Portman was Jackie Kennedy! Isabelle Huppert was crazy amazing in Elle, Ruth Negga was great and Emma, Emma, Emma – I just loved you!

 

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You wanna talk about the year’s biggest snub? The supporting role that was inexcusably overlooked was the green dress that Amy Adams wore at the end of Nocturnal Animals! She has never looked more amazing than she has here and that green dress brought more feelings out of this writer than I should be admitting. I read that the original title of the film was Nocturnal Emissions and after seeing that dress, I can tell why.

 

 

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Best Supporting Role – this dress!

 

 

So many other non-redhead performances were amazing this year too, but there’s just so little time to gush: Joe’s Violin, Moonlight, Jackie, Fences, A Man Called Ove, the short film Sing, Toni Erdmann (even if only for that “Greatest Love of All” scene), La Femme et le TGV, Captain Fantastic…just so much to love. Go and enjoy the Oscars. In a year when there are so many touching and powerful performances you can look at it two ways: A) be thankful that the amazing Lion, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight grabbed us and transported us through emotional journeys or B) scratch your head at how far we’ve fallen as a society when awful things like Passengers, Suicide Squad or Dr. Strange are Oscar nominated…I for one could have lived without finding out where Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were!

 

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The most Sponge-worthy book of the year is here: Seinfeldia is available now!!!

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Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

 

 

Rare is the occasion that I find myself taking up valuable real estate here in the Immodium Abusing landscape to talk about and promote someone else –  yet here we are!  I am literally Tickled like that new documentary that there’s a new book launching today called Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong ( https://www.amazon.com/Seinfeldia-About-Nothing-Changed-Everything/dp/1476756104/ref=zg_bsnr_books_18).

 

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This book has awoken in me a fervor that I haven’t felt since Imodium AD stormed back onto the shelves late last year; Seinfeldia is a can’t miss book for every fan of Seinfeld about the making of what became arguably the best show ever!!! Now I know what you’re thinking; what could she have promised him for promoting the new book? Full disclosure – because it will probably come out sooner or later – Jen shaved my back in return for an honest-to-goodness plug for the book. Don’t let that stop you from getting a copy because I have really short arms so I couldn’t reach my upper back and more importantly, it’s actually a great book! Quid Pro quo Clarice.

 

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I know you’re scared, the very thought of actually reading a book..with pages full of words…just for fun – is frightening. I hear you, but it’ll be OK. What? You don’t know how to read yet? Well, isn’t this the perfect little tome to start you along the path to phonetic understanding? It’s a literal Hooked on Phonics covering everything from A to Yada Yada!

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The best part of this is that Jennifer Armstrong isn’t too big for her britches yet so she’ll respond to tweets and Social media shoutouts! Go ahead – get the book and test it out! Let the world know what you think of it. Tell your friends and just maybe next time you’ll be invited to Armstrong’s Festivus Seder too!

 

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Three months from now when she’s all famous and hosting her own White Party in The Hamptons and dancing like Elaine – you can say you knew her back when she was just Jenny from the block. Do you want to be the only one there with shrinkage that hasn’t read it? Also, it’s not just a name to her – Jennifer really does have Strong Arms. Start carrying this book to the beach this Summer and you can too!

 

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Still here? What the hell are you waiting for? Click here to get this breathtaking book now and start reading! Not sure you want to pull the trigger yet –preview the first few pages and you’ll want to drape yourself in velvet if it were socially acceptable too!

 

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Don’t believe me about how great the book is? Here’s The NY Times review.

True Confession – I made a senior citizen shit her pants!

STRANGE AND DISGUSTING AS THIS MAY SOUND, I WAS REMINDED OF THIS INCIDENT AS I WAS MAKING ONE OF MY AUNT MARGIE’S FAVORITE DESSERTS: CHOCOLATE PUDDING IN AN OREO PIE CRUST. STRANGE HOW THE HUMAN MIND FUNCTIONS, HUH?

I ACTUALLY DID FEEL A LITTLE BAD FOR MY AUNT WHEN IT HAPPENED, AND IN TRUTH, I ACTUALLY BLAME MY SISTER FOR THAT WHOLE MESS (LITERALLY).  HER STOMACH ISSUES ARE AS WELL-KNOWN AS AL ROKER SHARTING AT THE WHITE HOUSE, SO SHE SHOULD HAVE INTERVENED WHEN SHE SAW WHAT WAS GOING DOWN. NO, I DON’T MEAN WHAT WAS GOING DOWN MY AUNT’S LEGS – THAT WOULD BE GROSS. ANYWAY, ENJOY READING AND LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT THE PUDDING RECIPE!

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It’s not something I’m extremely proud of, but I once made my 75 year old Aunt Margie shit her pants! Shortly after eating lunch, there was a rumble in the jungle going on in my stomach and like Madonna said – I needed to Express Myself. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one straddled with a quick-hitter after lunch, because while my sphincter was rocking, my Aunt Margie came A-knocking. She was at the bathroom door asking me if I was almost done and her voice was kind of shaky – but at 75 it was always shaky and she never came back so I didn’t give it a second thought. Big mistake on her part.  

She unfortunately found out that a senior citizen shitting her pants in the hallway and then trying to quietly change out of those soiled undies with the five other people in your small two…

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IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING THAT I EVER WRITE – LET THIS BE IT!

This is something very different for me: I’m actually going to share some real feelings. No hidden subtext or punch lines and sarcastic innuendos, just some feelings. I never share anything personal and I have lived most of my life running away from and not allowing myself to feel when it gets overwhelming. I’ve hidden my way through so much loss – sometimes with alcohol, sometimes with drugs, sometimes by hiding out in a casino or a movie theatre – but today I feel like I don’t have anywhere to hide. My dear friend MariaElaina died two days ago and I just can’t process it.

 

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MariaElaina and I at the Prom (we’re the couple that’s at least foot shorter than everyone else)

 

 

To call her a friend doesn’t seem like enough. I’ve known her my whole life and we’ve been through everything in the past thirty years. We’ve had so many amazing times and laughed our asses off during so many great days as much as we’ve fought and been down crying through so many bad ones. She cried with me when my mother died and I held her when her little sister Laura died. I felt like my mother died all over again when her mother died and she was there for me when my grandmother died. I was there when she lost both of her grandparents and I was standing next to her when she got married. She was with me when I sideswiped two cars with my father’s car when we were trying to “borrow” alcohol from her sister Annie. I was there for sauce every Sunday with her family where we all watched as her father stood watch like a sniper pretending to shoot their neighbor’s dog that never stopped barking. She was my partner in crime through so many adventures and so much of our lives have been intertwined that it’s just not enough to say she was just a friend…

 

 

We didn’t see each other all the time as life and miles have gotten in the way, but we were always like a movie on pause and the feelings have never gone away. Whenever we’re together, it’s like a moment hasn’t passed and we never miss a beat. I’ve been drowning in memories since I heard and thought the best way to honor her might be to share her with you.

 

In my life, I’ve heard a lot of people laugh, but no one laughs like MariaElaina. That’s what I’m thinking of now and what I’ll always remember – her hysterical, contagious, gut-busting laughter. Everyone will remember her in different ways, but for me – it’s her laugh. We were attached like two dim bulbs in a lamp and we’d go everywhere together. We used to skip school, grab a box of Entemann’s cookies, and sit on the curb in a random parking lot for hours just talking and laughing about nonsense. What wonderful nonsense it was though – it really is true that you never know during any given moment what will become a memory someday. We would make up stupid songs, shoot silly videos in her kitchen, and tease her younger sister Laura whenever a celebrity died. In my life up to and including today, I have never seen someone cry as hard as Laura did when Lillian Gish died in 1993. When John Candy died, I could understand when she threw the phone down bursting into tears, but Lillian Gish was 99 and Laura didn’t even know who she was.

 

 

Random images keep flooding back – when it was a rain storm and MariaElaina and her mom dressed me head to toe in garbage bags so that I could still ride my bike home. Who could have known that the loose bags hanging down would get caught in the bike’s chain and throw me from the bike two blocks away? When we were playing Indiana Jones on her father’s flimsy home-made car lift in the backyard that collapsed almost on top of us the second we tried to rappel down the rope. The two of us getting yelled at on the overnight bus to Atlantic City by all the people sitting around us because we were laughing and fooling around and everyone around us just wanted to sleep. When we got yelled at in the movie theatre seeing Dumb and Dumber because we couldn’t stop laughing…When we went to a sleazy bar in a ghetto neighborhood that had about four patrons in it and the whole front was boarded up with wood. We had no idea that there was a drive-by shooting just a few hours before; of course no one would hang out there – it was practically still a crime scene! Common sense was never our strong suit. When her Grandfather used to steal things from the senior center and hide them under his cowboy hat or under his shirt.

 

 

We used to go and visit with an old lady named Mary and play cards. Old Lady Mary wasn’t your typical sweet grandmother type – she was crazy, used to feed us expired food and she used to cheat then steal Maria’s change when we played cards. Maria used to sneak and turn on her Air Conditioning because her house was always hot like an oven and I used to dance around in Mary’s ratty old underwear that being a child of the Depression, she saved and dusted with when they could no longer be worn. We were always doing crazy things to make each other laugh and Old Lady Mary was always a willing participant.

 

 

The way MariaElaina used to food shop was ridiculous. She would write a list and then she had to go in order item by item as listed and put things in the wagon one at a time checking them off as she went. I’m OCD and no one to throw stones, but she would walk past things three or four times until she got to it on the list. One time in Shop Rite I tried to put a can of Maxwell House coffee in the wagon and she freaked out and ran away because it was down about five spots on the list from where she was. She literally grabbed the wagon and ran away from me so I did what any sane person would do in that situation: I threw the Maxwell House coffee can like I was the Eli Manning but missed her shopping cart by a mile and took out about thirty glass jelly jars covering her and the wagon. We both laughed like idiots forever after that one…You couldn’t take us anywhere.

 

 

Here’s something I wrote about the two of us that was typical of the shenanigans we used to get into.

 

Air Raid Post!!!

 

I just reread it and it’s like I can see it all over and can see the two of us laughing our asses off…We were like Dumb and Dumber except Maria had the higher Aquanet hair! It’s not the best thing written, but it has a comment that she wrote when I posted it which I’d forgotten about until today. It caught me off guard and made me smile because it was like I could hear her voice again…

 

Here comes the part where I ask you for your help. MariaElaina didn’t have life insurance and her sister Annie is an amazing single mother having a really hard time financially. She’s going through so much right now and they just lost their father a couple of months ago. There’s a Go Fund Me page set up https://www.gofundme.com/sah39q44 to cover her funeral expenses and anything you can contribute would help her family immensely. People always wants to help make a difference to someone’s life and here’s a way to really make a difference to someone so desperately in need. The cost of your latte could do so much – please consider helping them out; any amount is significant.

 

Go Fund Me for MariaElaina

 

MariaElaina is a one of a kind woman and has been a pillar in my life. She’s had sickness, pain, and rivers of tears, but what she’s had more than anything throughout her life is laughter and love. She never gave up fighting and was always finding the humor and the laughter through it all. She lived for her family and friends and brought so much love and happiness to so many people. Bitterness never took over even though she was in and out of the hospital constantly and although MariaElaina isn’t leaving behind a legacy of riches and fame – she’s leaving a legacy of love and laughter – so much laughter!

 

I am lucky to have so many wonderful memories of her and until I see you again my friend…

Work life balance or how I learned to use my keyboard instead of my belt

work life

If there’s one quote I’ll like to be known for – it’s that “I write so that I don’t strangle anyone.” I was fortunate enough to realize early on in my career that it’s always a better idea to use your keyboard instead of your belt with bosses and coworkers. Many a blog post or a late-night journal entry has kept me in check and enabled me to keep things in perspective as opposed to the stress forcing me into a full-on cage match in my cubicle.

cagematch

 

As a general rule, most people will drive you crazy if you carpool with them – so don’t let them in. There’s always going to be traffic, there’s always going to be work meetings, there’s always going to be people texting and not paying attention, there’s always going to be family commitments that you don’t have enough time for, and you’re very rarely (if ever) going to be appreciated at work! Get control over it or it will overtake you!

 

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The key to happiness isn’t a big revelation people, the key is to be able to identify and create a little, protected zone where you have something that’s just for you; it’s that simple. Even if it’s just for a few minutes here and there, those little escapes will maintain order and sanity in your life. When I enter my zone and get pulled into a favorite book, am able to grab some wine with my beautiful wife, or just sit and play Star Wars with my sons – I get a sense of calm and meaning that the rest of the day can’t give me.

Star Wars

 

I write a humor blog not because I’m so funny and I just need to show everyone – one glance at my face tells them that. I write because it gives me a sense of meaning and accomplishment and I take a lot of pride in what I write. It’s an escape where I can take a few minutes and get into some deep keyboard action where no one else exists except for me and that keyboard. It’s my party and I’ll type if I want to!

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Once I post something I’ve written, there’s a great feeling of accomplishment that’s hard to duplicate. It’s sending a little piece of me into the vast internet galaxy and hoping that someone out there seeking a new experience and few good chuckles will find my message in a bottle.

luke warm

 

This isn’t something I get paid to do, but I love it more than anything in my work career. It fulfills me in a way that defies explanation. I know what you’re thinking: When I’m already so busy, who wants added work to write something, edit the piece, find a couple of silly pictures to accompany it, post it, and then start anew? It isn’t work to me – it’s a labor of love. Sure, I have lazy times when I can’t be bothered with it because life has gotten in the way and overloaded me, but like a devoted pup or an aging bottle of scotch, it’s always there waiting when I need it.

start writing

 

If someone reads something that I’ve written and laughs or likes and shares it with their friends, that’s a feeling you can’t describe. I write to create something and hope that people like it and as a byproduct of that it resonates with someone. Being funny is all in perspective and my sense of humor might not be for everyone, but sometimes you strike a cord and people just connect with your words.

 

editor

 

Truth be told, some of my friends and some members of my family don’t even bother to read it, but I take solace in the fact that there are a bunch of strangers that follow me and look forward to things I write. They like it and they share it and they comment on it and they follow me and they encourage me. There are days at work when I literally wanna place my junk into a metal fan because it’s so bad, but when I write – it immediately takes me to another place which makes up for the worst day in my office anytime!

hell meme

 

I start writing something and it transports me away and then I go back to it later on or move onto another topic, but it’s that escape that keeps me coming back. It’s the feeling of satisfaction that fills a need and makes everything a little better. I’m like everyone else, I dream of walking into work one day and saying “screw this, it isn’t what I love and I won’t do it one more day!” but of course I don’t really do that – that’s what dreams are for. They let you imagine a world of your own creation where you’re in control and life is what you make of it. I’m extremely lucky to have this positive outlet, when I see so many people bogged down and struggling to get through the day to day.

 

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The issue of course becomes how do I maintain a blog about embarrassing shitting stories and experiences where I come off like the combination of equal parts George Costanza and Larry David with a hint of Woody Allen mixed in without sacrificing my professional reputation at work? Simple, I use a pen name – Immodium Abuser. It’s my super hero secret identity and protects my career while giving me the freedom to write honestly and put it out there without having to worry if people see it. The insecurity and fear doesn’t rule me the way it would if I published under my real name. Can you imagine if I had to explain to my boss why in the world I tormented my brother’s girlfriend with a life-size, plastic Baby Jesus, why people from Imodium AD tried to stage an intervention with me or tell him about my sister shitting on a cat? Some things are just better left out of the office…

 

wine 2

 

HELP!!! I’m sweating my Lupita Nyong’os off!!!

 

 

 

nyc marathon logo

http://runwithtfk.org/Profile/PublicPage/17718

 

I really hate this time of year, but the summer isn’t the only reason I’m sweating: I’m fundraising for the NYC Marathon in November and need your help with it. I know what you’re thinking – Oh great, he’s asking for money let me stop reading now, but wait…

 

 

Are you gonna tell these three cute little guys that you won't help their Daddy!

Are you gonna tell these three cute little guys that you won’t help their Daddy!

As some of you may recall, I ran the marathon last year and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Running has changed my life in so many ways and I’m in better shape than I’ve been in years. Just knowing that I can actually run 26.2 miles is actually pretty cool. Seeing and hearing and feeling the support and the cheers and for a very brief little period of time – all those people were out there for me. Cheering me on, supporting me, screaming my name; that’s an amazing feeling.

runner

So let’s close this mother down shall we? Am I going to set a speed record and head from here to the Olympics – No. Am I going to be celebrated on the cover of Sports Illustrated like Meb Keflezighi? Probably not… Am I going to help with a great cause and have a ton of fun along the way – YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! 

meb

 

If you need a subtle reason to donate, consider that the funds donated here will support Team for Kids, which is a team of volunteers who raise funds for critical services provided by New York Road Runners Youth Programs. These programs combat childhood obesity and empower youth development via running and character-building programs in low-income schools and community centers in New York City, throughout the country, and in Africa.

 

team for kids

If you need a not so subtle reason to donate: you be the one to tell this adorably handsome little guy that you’re not going to help his Daddy  😦 Go ahead, break his heart!

 

 

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I’m not asking for something significant from you or looking to break your wallet open. I don’t want anyone to put themselves out, just give a little bit if you can. A lot of little bits add up to a great big bit of good. I was thinking that of the thousands of people that follow this blog, if 1 out of every 4 of you could donate $1.00 I’d reach my goal and that money could make a huge difference. A dollar? Did I mention it’s tax-deductible? Obviously please donate more if you’re able… 

 

 

 

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Here’s the link if you’re so inclined – please help if you’re able – every little bit will help…I appreciate the support – whether financial, by lining the streets with the other millions of people who will all be out screaming my name and cheering me on or by sending positive thoughts that my clumbsy ass doesn’t trip and get trampled…

 

http://runwithtfk.org/Profile/PublicPage/17718

 

Please don’t think I‘m asking for something without giving you anything in return either: consider this my penny serenade. If the thought of my sore and sweat-soaked body bobbing up to the finish line in Central Park like your fat uncle doing the worm at a Bar Mitzvah doesn’t make you feel like you got your money’s worth, then here’s a little rant on a very important topic for you. I’m like a little baby monkey making you laugh until you throw coins – Dance Monkey Dance.

 

 

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SCHUCK YOU OYSTERS! I NEED MY TOOTSIE LOVIN!

 

tootsie roll

 

Why is it that when they talk about foods that are aphrodisiacs – no one mentions tootsie rolls? People say oysters, but come on – nothing about slurping them is enticing and I don’t eat any seafood except for Swedish Fish anyway.

 

The only seafood I eat!

The only seafood I eat!

I wouldn’t dip one of my little bitty piggies in the ocean; nonetheless eat something that came out of it. And don’t say you clean the fish before you eat it either – it’s soaked through with the filth that’s floating in that water – you can’t wash that off! And don’t even bring up lobster either – It’s not a high end luxury meal. Who wants to go to dinner and have to have a workout to even open and get the meat out of the shell? If hookers don’t work that hard to get the meat – you shouldn’t have to either!

 

This doesn't seem safe...

This doesn’t seem safe…

I want my food cooked and served and on the plate nicely – ready to enter my mouth. I’m not gonna break a sweat and manhandle this beast just to grab a piece of meat and end up covered – Am I a savage? Am I an animal? No, I’m just a regular guy that wants to be able to eat my dinner without bits of said dinner flying all over the place. I’m all for wearing a bib in general to keep you clean, but keep the food on my plate and in my mouth at dinner folks.

 

lobster bib

 

Speaking of doing all the work at dinner, don’t even get me started on fondue either. I’m not fond of fondue and I really don’t understand how people like it. Why should I have to work and cook the food at a restaurant? You go to a restaurant for a fondue dinner – but you have to cook it yourself? Why would I want to cook it – aren’t we going out to a restaurant so I don’t have to cook? And how long does it take to wait for a small piece of chicken to cook anyway? I’m so afraid of the boch so I need to leave it in extra-long and then I’m waiting and waiting and waiting and just starving. What’s next – I have to pour the wine and wash the dishes too?

 

wine

 

Why am I even tipping a waitress when I did the god damn work? Tips in fondue places should be outlawed because they’re reserved for hard working people – not sloths that make you cook your own food. We’re in a restaurant not camping in the woods. And that hot oil, cheese and vat of chocolate is just asking for all sorts of trouble. No good can come from this! The smoke coming out of it, it spits and stains your clothes, the obvious stomach issues…Not for me man, not for me!!

 

HERE’S THE LINK AGAIN!!!

http://runwithtfk.org/Profile/PublicPage/17718

 

As if being married to me wasn’t thank you enough… (My NYC Marathon thank you)

thank you shout out

I am working on a full recap but I’d be remiss if I didn’t devote a little space and time to give a shoutout to the amazing support system that got me through not only the 26.2 miles of the NYC Marathon but also the hundreds of miles logged leading up to that race day. No, this is not just another shameless Imodium AD plug – although I do owe them a thanks as well – this is a testament to the amazing, funny, crazysexycool, gorgeous, inspiring woman that just happens to be my best friend and wife.

 

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Unless you count the night of our Honeymoon when we broke the bed twice, I’ve never really been congratulated for my physical prowess. I started running about year ago and famously ended my first race getting popped in the chops by a fence while face planting into the pavement with a bloody nose and then getting trampled like Mufasa did by the wildebeasts in The Lion King from the rest of the runners. Talk about a sign to not take up running – those were obvious red flags that I ignored.

This and the NYC Marathon finisher medal are the only trophies in my sports case...

This and the NYC Marathon finisher medal are the only trophies in my sports case…

 

I’m a Klutz through and through, so when I took up running, you can just imagine my wife’s concern. After all, I’m the guy that broke the same ankle two years in a row on the same day, sprained ligaments in the other ankle last year because I didn’t have my glasses on and walked into the bathroom door, fell face first into a brick wall and recently got a black eye when I tripped while chasing my son in our kitchen and fell into the garbage can face first. Basically there’s not a single speck of coordination running through my body but she’s been nothing but encouraging. And this is from my wife who had never heard of me running in my life except for the time I went for a run in Hyde Park while studying abroad in London and got so winded that I got an ice cream cone and took a cab back home – not the tell-tale signs of the track star I’d turn into.

 

lion king trampled

 

 

Through every run – long and short – she’s been a constant source of positive encouragement and believed in me fully without question when I cooked up this NYC Marathon pipe dream. Whereas I didn’t fully think I could do this until about nineteen miles into the Marathon on race day – she was always my loudest cheerleader. I struggled and doubted while she massaged sore feet and applied the icy hot…Each and every mile became possible because she believed in me and that was contagious.

 

True-to-life rendering of me in all my athletic glory.

True-to-life rendering of me in all my athletic glory.

 

I’m not sure if you know how many people come out and line the streets for the NYC Marathon, but out of those two million people – there was no bigger smile or louder cheer to be found than hers at mile 18 & mile 23. As I made my up to mile 18, I glanced up and there they were – my wife, my two sons and my mother-in-law – with huge smiles and tearing eyes like an oasis in the desert. Shouting, screaming, waving a big orange balloon and beaming with pride – there they were. A big hug, a quick kiss, a fast photo and they made me feel ready to conquer anything.

mile 18

 

As I darted away, knowing I’d see them again in five more miles I started to wonder why I hadn’t believed in myself when they so overwhelmingly and unequivocally believed in me. Why was I the only one who didn’t think I could do it? Their excitement was contagious and the proud looks in their eyes carried me through. I never cared about the timing – just that I could finish the marathon and have fun with it, and after seeing them there was no doubt that I could and would make it through.

running guy

As I arrived at mile 23 – there they were again screaming and even more excited than the first time. Kisses, hugs and smiles all around and then I headed off again to finish. They navigated the crazy, busy, crowded streets and subway system with a two and a four year old in order to see me in two different spots to encourage me along the way when they knew I’d need it and never once complained or thought about anything but how happy they were for me. They gave me the encouragement and the strength to finish strong and to believe in myself as much as they did.

nyc_finisher-225x225

I know that it might sound like the start of a joke to say I looked up and saw my mother-in-law’s face in the crowd, but she’s my Boo and they was such a sight for sore eyes. There she was – standing with my older son while my wife wore his brother like they were in Dagobah – he was Yoda and she was the young Jedi in training Luke Skywalker…At that exact moment there was no better sight that I could see then the four of them right there on the street! Granted, the last time I wrote about my mother-in-law it was about inappropriate movies and stuff so hopefully, this post is a little tamer…

Luke and Yoda

This is a different type of post than I usually write, but I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to thank them for pushing and encouraging me. They’ll never know what their smiles, cheers and laughter did for me. I think of how much my wife sacrificed over the past few months to encourage me and my crazy pipe dream while I ran like a madman training run after training run, day after day, night after night…I certainly couldn’t have gotten through it without her encouragement, support and love. Here’s to you honey – I love you!

 

 

The only A A that I care about stands for Academy Awards!!!

I’m going to be like all the other hacks and take this time to talk with you about the Oscars coming up this weekend. I’m not presumptuous enough to believe that any of you are actually out there waiting around for me to tell you who to pick for your office Oscar pool, but here goes. OK, maybe Weezie is actually waiting for me to tell her, but with my picks she has been undefeated and actually shut down her company Oscar Pool. They got pissed off that she kept winning yet hadn’t seen any of the nominated films so they stopped doing it. Way to go Weezie – work that system!

A little history about me, if you will. I will say it loud and clear: I am a movie lover. New ones, old ones, musicals, foreign, Black and White, documentaries, I love all types. Well OK, I actually detest 3D movies, but come on – Why would I want things flying at my face while I’m watching a movie?

Now that's how you make an entrance!

 Before we go any further, a little respect needs to be paid. February 27th is not only the 83rd Academy Awards Ceremony, but the birthday of my very first love, Elizabeth Taylor. Cleopatra was the first movie that I ever saw and let me tell you – this little boy was just blown away. I sat there transfixed as I watched her arrival into Rome on that enormous barge (no I am not referring to Richard Burton) and I could tell even then that this feeling was something special. It instilled an insatiable desire that still burns in me to this day. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had experienced the unmistakable power that movies can have over you. To be drawn in and be so completely enraptured is the ultimate experience. Such emotion gets so intertwined into a great movie that you remember that feeling every time you see it again. That’s power.     

With Cleopatra, I dove head-first into the movie pile devouring everything that I could get my hands on, and I haven’t been out since. I learned what being cool was from James Dean, what it meant to be a man from Paul Newman, and what funny really was from Cary Grant. I saw in these amazing films other worlds that just sucked me in and, somehow, resonated with me. Who didn’t want their very own Auntie Mame? Whose family doesn’t resemble Claudia Larson’s in Home for the Holidays and who didn’t want a friend like E.T.? I laughed with Arsenic and Old Lace, I was terrified of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, I was enchanted by A Place in the Sun, and I cried like a baby with Life is Beautiful.  On the downside, that painted an almost unrealistic picture of what the perfect woman should be for me. I never could have guessed back then that I would somehow manage to find the ideal mix of Vivien Leigh’s feistiness, Audrey Hepburn’s elegance, Rosalind Russell’s sense of humor, and Jayne Mansfield’s rack – but somehow I did. And she loves movies as much as me if that’s even possible!!!

One of my favorite movies - EVER!

 I tell you this to reinforce how personally I take these movies. Just like with a great book, I love that feeling of getting swept up in a story and just transported – there‘s absolutely nothing like that. I am also OCD compulsive and cannot control my need to see every single film nominated for the Oscars. Every single film. My wife was pregnant and tired, but I still dragged her almost two hours each way to see August Rush because it was nominated for Best Song. Suck it up Honey, its Oscar Season!

The actual Academy Awards Ceremony is the icing on the cake. Granted, it’s really good icing, but the reward for me is to see all of these movies that I possible might not have. I had heard of Animal Kingdom, but after seeing Jackie Weaver’s scary-good performance in it – Wow. Javier Bardem in Biutiful – Oh my God, just amazing! Restrepo – I dare you to watch that documentary and not feel something. Exit through the Gift Shop –one of the most fun films about a truly charmed and crazy individual; it’s like reality TV gone wild. Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy – OK, now that one I should have skipped because it was really awful. It reminded me of this one time in college after we ate mushrooms and I couldn’t get off the sidewalk. It was torture, but I physically couldn’t lift myself off the ground so I just stayed there – lying on the ground next to the Post Office for hours. That was Tron: Legacy for me. If you haven’t seen it – it’s basically an ultimate Frisbee game if the Frisbee were glow in the dark. And where was the warning label before that movie. Forget what rating it was, I was afraid I might stroke out right there from all those god damn flashing lights.  

While I’m up on my soapbox, let me also say that I don’t agree with ten films being nominated for Best Picture instead of five. It takes some of the cache away from being an “Oscar nominee” when there are now twice as many films. When Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture it was such an accomplishment for an animated film to make the cut and now for the past two years there have been animated films nominated (Up and Toy Story 3). I’m not saying they weren’t worthy or aren’t very good, but it’s less of an accomplishment in a way. And let’s be honest, neither really had/has a shot at actually winning Best Picture anyway. Best Animated Picture definitely (although I did personally love How to Train Your Dragon – which I was surprised to learn as the movie started – was not a porn film) To me, it just comes across as a way of the Academy trying to skewer younger to be inclusive of movies that they feel younger people want to see and will root for. My message to the Academy: The formula works, stop messing with it!     

What I love as much as a great film is when I see a movie that is nominated or gets rave reviews and I hate it. It reminds me that my perceptions and tastes aren’t universal but sometimes it shocks me too. Lord of the Rings – I absolutely despised it and want the movie gods to give me my time back. It’s not that I don’t like the fantasy movie genre, but it just did nothing for me and I just don’t get all the raves for it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but there is absolutely no ring, or any piece of jewelry for that matter, that’s worth over ten hours of my time!

Another example of critical love/my hatred is True Grit, which I think is just awful and clowny. I know that people love the Coen’s and cozy up to shower praise on the Coen Alter, but once again I just don’t get it. I sat there watching it thinking A) I cannot understand half of what Jeff Bridges is saying and B) who thought that Matt Damon’s moustache and sideburns were a good idea? Don’t read into this and think that I am anti-Jeff Bridges either. He was outstanding in Crazy Heart and deserved to win Best Actor last year and I actually think that The Door in the Floor is the best movie he’s ever been in, but I am really surprised by this nomination. Speaking of last year, I am still offended that A Serious Man was nominated for Best Picture.  As I sat there watching it, I really thought that Netflix sent me the wrong disc because it was that bad. It doesn’t come across as quirky, just annoying. How ironic that A Serious Man was such a joke.

I want to talk about chemistry in the movies. People are annoyed at some of the nomination oversights and snubs this year, but which category has a snub where someone non-deserving took their place? Supporting Actor? I think The Social Network worked because of the dynamics between Andrew Garfield and Jesse Esienberg together, but I wasn’t surprised that Garfield didn’t get a nomination. The played off each other so well and that’s what made the betrayal in the story sting even harder. Garfield gave a great performance and was deserving of a nomination, but he was a victim of a foolish studio trying too hard to get three Supporting Actor nominations. Why would they campaign so hard for Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer? Timberlake had the least showy of the three and was the furthest chance for a nomination by any means and this is a movie that is seen as a writing triumph, not an acting triumph. They should have focused on Garfield and he might have edged out Mark Ruffalo. Don’t get me wrong, Mark Ruffalo is a great actor, but not in this role. He’s really good, but should have been nominated for You Can Count on Me.

The Kids Are All Right is another example of this. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore were so realistic and their relationship made you care about the story and pushed it further. They should have been campaigning for Moore in the supporting category all along, not as a lead. I know she was as much if not more of a lead as Bening was, but her performance got lost due to so many great performances this year. She will win one of these days (as will Bening, but not this year) and we will look back at this as a side note in her illustrious career. I see her in so many performances and have this terrible thought in the back of my mind that she might turn out to be like Lauren Bacall and always be the bridesmaid…I hope I’m wrong about that though.  

Blue Valentine is such a powerfully realistic portrayal of a decaying marriage, but truthfully, it’s a bit of a downer. It pulls you in, makes you care about them so much, and then spits you out because your heart just breaks for Ryan Gosling and you want so badly for it to work out between them. Michelle Williams makes you forget all about Dawson’s Creek and the two of them are like magnets drawing each other in and then repelling each other. This is a movie that stays with you long after the credits and Gosling’s snub is a shocking omission because the two performances are brought to another level because of each other. They work as a whole and it is impossible to separate where one begins and the other ends in the equation. I knew in my heart he was going to be left off the nominations list, but he was the one I was hoping might sneak in.

I will make the exact same case for Aaron Eckhart in Rabbit Hole. As I said about Blue Valentine, people have a tendency of shying away from sad stories/downers no matter how good they are and this is one that just breaks your heart. Unimaginable loss drives him and Nicole Kidman and they both just give it their all. I saw this movie by myself and I am not embarrassed to say that I was sitting in the back, clutching my Twizzlers welling up and just thinking “Oh my God” because it was just so powerful. Maybe if I saw this a few years ago when I didn’t have a son it might have hit me a little differently, but wow. When the cell phone video of his son got accidentally deleted, I just lost it. That stayed with me for weeks and hit me like a ton of bricks because of the two of them intertwined into each other. It is not an overall great movie, but the two of them elevate it to a higher level.

Natalie Portman totally transformed herself and is utterly unrecognizable as The Black Swan

I bring up these deeply intertwined relationships to lead you to Natalie Portman. Black Swan (despite what I wrote about it earlier) is at times a psychological thriller and at times a little girl’s fairy tale crossed with a horror film. If Natalie Portman isn’t announced as the winner Sunday night, than the Academy Awards really have stopped being about the performances. Annette Bening is Hollywood royalty and should have won already for Being Julia (my favorite movie she’s been in) but she shouldn’t win for Kids. Sure, she is great and our heart aches along with her, but this is not her strongest performance. Nor is her performance stronger than Kidman’s or William’s and I will just omit Winter’s Bone entirely, because I was taught if you have nothing nice to say – blah blah blah…Bening winning this year would be a triumph for a deserving career, a political statement without saying a word about gay marriage and the recognition for a film that dared us to look at “unconventional” lives and show us what the new “normal” might be, but it would not be about rewarding the best performance. Portman gave her heart, body (literally) and soul and every ounce of it shows on the screen. This was a go-for-broke, give-it-your-all performance that carried the movie to another level. If you removed any of the other performances in the film (Kunis was great and looking good as always) Portman would have still been as effective. She gave an amazing stand-alone performance that was great because of what she brought to it, not what she played off of. I’m all for a good upset, but I will be shocked if another name is called in this category.  

The Fighter was absolutely amazing and one of my favorite films. Christian Bale is unrecognizable and surely a lock – unless Geoffrey Rush gets caught up in a sweep for The King’s Speech (which will win Best Picture). The Fighter has the best ensemble performances on screen this year. Mark Wahlberg was overlooked for a nomination, but should take solace in the fact that he is personally responsible for elevating Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams to nominations. His was a more subtle role, all the while driving the other three to go all out, but never over the top. Melissa Leo could have easily become a cartoon character with the big hair and multiple-daughter posse she rode with, but she brought it home like a champ. I think that she might have peaked early and given a little room for Adams to sneak through with the award because this is a movie you see more than once. The first time, Bale and Leo dominate your thoughts and conversation, but you go back for Wahlberg and Adams. Supporting Actress is the only category I allow myself to go against conventional wisdom every year, so I am backing Adams for the win. I will not even mention Melissa Leo running her own “consider me” ads either. Where are her people? She was a lock until she started getting all crazy. Not that one should ever use Monique as an example to follow, but she should have just let the performance speak for itself.     

Clearly, I am no expert and I’m not the go-to Oscar prognosticator for Entertainment Weekly like the genius Dave Karger but I hope you take my thoughts into account before you fill out your ballot for Sunday night. At the very least, maybe it will encourage you to see some of these extraordinary films. See you at the concession stand!