OSCAR NOMINATIONS 2019: Lots of “Black Panther,” “Roma,” “Favourite” and “Vice” love

I’m so excited for all the creatives of color on this list!

Movie Nation

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Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards rolled out this AM, live streamed in addition to televised.

And “Black Panther” kept coming up, alphabetically the first film named in category after category –costumes, score, sound mixing, sound editing. Seven nominations, including best picture. As this blockbuster picked up any script, acting or directing nominations.

So “Best picture long shot,” we’ll say. For now.

Not that Spike Lee‘s “BlackKklansman” didn’t make some noise, with nominations for score and best supporting actor. “BlackKklansman” collected six nominations in all, quite the haul for Spike Lee’s “Comeback” picture.

Similarly, nominations for Amy Adams and Christian Bale editing and makeup and Sam Rockwell made “Vice” an Oscar nominations winner, alphabetically turning up at the end of lists of nominees time and again. “Vice” landed six nominations, including Best Picture and best director, Adam McKay.

“Roma,” a pre-announcement Oscar favorite, cleaned up with ten nominations.

Surprisingly…

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Dusting the cobwebs off my creativity

Hi! I’m back. This space has always been on my mind, but my creative life has been kinda garbage this fall. Not that I haven’t had ideas and made plans or taken classes and experienced the creative world — I haven’t executed much of anything.

Why?

I enrolled in school full time and, whoosh! has it been an adjustment. A draining, terrifying, rejuvenating experience. And I ended the semester with 4 A’s!!!!

My goal, although I don’t make resolutions, is to prioritize creativity. I’m struggling right now. Last week I printed out a few WIPs (over 500 pages) and have been skimming. You know what? I’m not half bad at this writing thing…

Our RWA chapter has a goals night every month, and I’ve challenged myself to rework the central conflict on a story that has been haunting me for about 4 years. I’d love to finish and release it into the universe. It’s been sorta complete for about a year and a half, but there’s something not quite right that holds me back from querying. That, and I still struggle calling myself a novelist. BUT I just read (Not Just) Another Book on the Craft of Screenwriting by Max Timm, and Timm talks about how he’d created a script he was very proud of but execs all said there needed to be source material. So he wrote an award-winning book to go along with his screenplay. Well, for the past 2 years or so, my plan had been, since I’m pretty certain Novelist shouldn’t be my primary job title, to take all these mostly finished drafts and turn them into scripts for film and TV. Once I’d made that decision, ideas started coming for new stories. But after reading Timm’s books, I was like doggonit, I’m gonna have to finish these books AND their screenplays. I can’t abandon one for the other, not if I want to be a professional storyteller. I mean, I’ve accomplished a few things: I’ve self-published and been paid for other writings, had a play produced, written for my school’s newspaper, and been paid to edit the works of others. I introduce myself as a writer & editor and love the work I do for others.

Working for myself, though, I struggle to get going whenever I have down time, which hasn’t been often since starting back at school. I’ve been ripped from sleep by ideas and restlessness to do … something … That something usually looks like me brewing a pot of coffee and sitting on the couch scrolling through Twitter. This morning I rose an hour earlier than usual and dusted off a long-abandoned craft box. My kids and I used to make homemade gifts for their teachers, so I have soap kits, wood crafts, paper crafts, fabrics, knitting & crochet implements, canvases & paint, and clay stacked up in a corner of my basement.

I read somewhere that when you find yourself stalled (I won’t use blocked) in your primary artform, work in another. So I’m crafting this morning and writing to you–yay creativity!

My budding army of snow people.

I’m making pins and ornaments to get my creative juices going (and inspire holiday cheer — bah-humbug). I haven’t created these in several years, but this Sculpey clay I’ve amassed and abandoned still do what it do.

This year has been another of me doing things I hadn’t really expected but always hoped for. I wish the same for you.

Blessing y’all.

Dreaming of Strawberry Fields

I don’t know about anyone else, but my mood is highest after I’ve made something. There’s this satisfaction that can only come from creating. At least that’s how it is for me. It’s energizing!

These past few weeks have been very positive for my writing life — I’ve checked a few items off my to-do list and made major dents in others. *if you want to join a sort of accountability team, follow me on: https://www.mywriteclub.com/beta/writers/DaphneMarie I’ll follow you back and cheer you on!

Anyway, I promised my family that I wouldn’t work on the weekends, and so I find myself kind of anxious.

Creatives Must Create

On the weekends, if we’re not out on some local adventure, I cook. More specifically, I bake. I’ve been baking for as long as I can remember, starting with boxed brownie mix for my uncle.

We’re a household of foodies. Whenever we dine out, we try something new and deconstruct the entree so we can recreate it at home.

Saturday we were up in Wisconsin at a strawberry festival and woke up today lamenting that we just didn’t have enough strawberries. I had a few strawberry pretzels, a small strawberry sundae and half of a strawberry brat. There just weren’t enough strawberry-themed culinary delights, although what I did have was beyond enjoyable. I also came away with a bunch of ideas for sewing and other craft projects, but that’s a post for another day.

bunch of red strawberries

Photo by Alexandria Baldridge on Pexels.com

Strawberries are some sort of comfort food for my family — like sunny days are embedded inside. This morning we started talking about what might make us feel better about not satisfying our strawberry deficit. The Mister started talking about hitting Luella’s for a plate of beignets.

Because I’m cheap, I offered to make them if he could wait a day. He was kind of skeptical, but I think his strawberry regret clouded his reason. He knows I can make some mean beignets. When we went to New Orleans a few years ago, we all declared my homemade creations edged out Cafe DuMonde. A bold claim, I know, but *shrugs* what can I say? I can burn.

We first had beignets at the now defunct Dixie Kitchen. They didn’t turn out well at all, and I hated to fry things because I never knew what to do with the grease after. Then my kids and I fell in love with Disney’s The Princess and the Frog and Lottie’s enthusiasm for Tiana and her goals (and how she could benefit from her friend’s talent).

Needless to say, we were dining at Dixie Kitchen one morning and my then nine-year-old daughter ordered herself some “man-catching beignets.” Her father was mortified, our server was confused, and I was laughing so hard I cried!


Those fluffy powdered squares of goodness were amazing, so we ordered maybe three more rounds before someone challenged me to make them at home. Apparently, my kids believed me when I said I can do anything. Up to that point in their young and impressionable lives, was all-knowing and all-powerful. Oh, how their view of me has changed…

I make beignets about once a year. I don’t really know why I don’t do it more often, except that I try different recipes and box mixes. I have a countertop deep fryer now, so storage and discarding the grease isn’t as much of a hassle.

Well, I’m in the mood for beignets, but the best batch came from a recipe that required the dough to rest overnight. I’ve found one that tops the beignets with strawberry powdered sugar, and I’m like, WHOA! I definitely need some of these in my life!

Click the picture for the recipe to A Cozy Kitchen’s Overnight beignets w/strawberry powdered sugar.

A Cozy Kitchen's Overnight beignets w/strawberry powdered sugar

A Cozy Kitchen’s Overnight beignets w/strawberry powdered sugar

I’ll probably snap some pictures of my progress, but first I need to find some freeze-dried strawberries.

These’ll make my family’s Monday!

What kind of things do you create in your downtime?

Blessings, y’all!

#confession

Once you get me to talking, it’s hard for me to shut up. Ask me a question, and I open like a river lock. Enthusiasm and anecdotal knowledge pour out, and I struggle to stall the flow. Classic movies, though, rarely come up in conversation.

Classic: (adj) judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind OR remarkably and instructively typical

Classic, to me, means a project ages well and repeated encounters create fresh experiences. It’s kind of like childbirth. The pain of the giving birth to my first child was enough to put me off the whole affair, but I went ahead and did it a few more times like I forgot how I sat on bags of frozen peas for weeks.

I’d argue that An Affair to Remember was both a critical and box office success. Although many might disagree that success is owed, in a large measure, to Cary Grant. I don’t think anyone would disagree that it is a Classic.

740full-an-affair-to-remember-poster

http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/220697%7C0/Trivia-An-Affair-to-Remember.html

#confession

I’m mad picky, yo, especially when it comes to romance. I do not want insta-love, insta-lust, pages of sex or introspection on how hot the other MC is. What I want is to care about who’s on the page or screen.

When I find myself tangled in a romance plot, it’s because a character or scenario or setting attracted me and held my attention. I suppose you could say the creative project wooed me. These gems have warmed and broken my heart over and over until the eventual HEAs left me emotionally and physically exhausted but utterly satisfied.

The attraction usually features the disenfranchised and downtrodden moving into their purpose and finding real love in the process. I like stories about real people who overcome hard things.

I love An Affair to Remember so much because it’s not really any of those things, at least not at first.

Two people who live charmed lives cross paths on a trans-Atlantic voyage and fall in love. While on the trip, they commit to one another. When they return home, they break off their other relationships and work their butts off to live independently in order to be their best selves for their true loves.

But Fate, sometimes, isn’t fair.

The dialogue in the first half of this movie is quick and clever and drips of innuendo. You’d have to be a special kind of somebody to be immune to dialogue uttered by Cary Grant. I mean, for real, Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant’s chemistry is atomic!

Here’s the gist, folks, An Affair to Remember is corny. It’s melodramatic. It’s a remake that was then remade again. But, doggonit, it works!! Why? Because Kerr and Grant are believable. The filmmakers have made the audience voyers, and I am unapologetic about how excited I am when they start flirting. Our heads remain on swivel the entire time as these two high-profile people try not to be demonstrative about their attraction while on the cruise and then visit sexy spots around the Mediterranean. Nickie is humanized and Terry softens, and attraction grows into love.

We care, almost instantly.

What I don’t care for is most of the second half of the film. Deborah Kerr has never been a favorite of mine despite her being in some beloved films. I especially don’t like the hood version of “Getting to Know You” from Kerr’s previous film The King and I. It’s an utterly unnecessary mini-minstrel show. I usually fast forward past this part.

Six months after their missed date, Terry and Nickie cross paths when they attend a Holiday ballet with the exes they both dumped. After another Junior Minstrel Show interlude, Nickie suavely bursts into Terry’s apartment.

Nickie says, (in a barely veiled attempt at coolness), “If one of us didn’t show up, it would be for a darn good reason.” He’s hurt, the spontaneous thunderstorm while he waited for hours alone at the top of the Empire State Building hasn’t left his spirit, but he’s also discovered the joy of earning his own money and being his own man, so he never returns to the Park Avenue life he walked away from over a year prior.

Terry, though, does have a good reason for standing Nickie up, but it also is kinda not.

When Nickie falls into Terri’s arms at the end, I just absolutely lose it Every. Single. Time. It’s schmaltzy. It’s predictable. It’s melodramatic. It’s frigging beautiful.

Doesn’t matter if I’ve watched the entire film that sitting or just the last five minutes, I still mouth the words and blot at my eyes. After, I hug whatever’s closest a little too tight. My dogs and my children glance at the TV and wisely back away…

“Oh, it’s nobody’s fault but my own! I was looking up…it was the nearest thing to heaven! You were there.” Terry McKay

“If you can paint, I can walk. Anything can happen, right?” Terry McKay

I’ve got goosebumps from transcribing those lines.

Contemporary audiences may pan An Affair to Remember, but all storytellers can learn a few things from this film. In The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird, chapter 4 “Creating Compelling Characters” opens with this line: “Character is the human element of your story, the aspect that the audience actually cares about.”

Later, Bird says, “Audiences … want to identify with them (characters).” And, “The audience wants to cheer and fear for every hero throughout the story.”

I’d say An Affair to Remember does that for me and countless others who mark this film as an all-time favorite.

What about you? What books or movies break all your rules but you love anyway?

Event Horizon

Because Facebook has a penchant for reminding its users of past posts, and thus reminding me of a monumental moment in my life occurred two years ago this week (and I’m ridiculously off on my blog posting schedule), this Pschology Sunday is going to be literal and personal.

I think most people can pinpoint a specific moment where their lives changed–good, bad, or otherwise. For me, few years ago I suffered a personal trauma and found myself in a deep depression. I ain’t gonna front. It was ugly. I didn’t have the skills to cope, so I went out and learned them through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start. Drugs helped me get out of bed, but CBT taught me skills to get through the day, and the next, and the next…

I’m still a work in progress.

That trauma, though, wasn’t my turning point. What changed my life was chatting with my therapist who didn’t tell me I was crazy like I’d feared. Instead, he helped me understand I was profoundly lonely.

Two years ago, my therapist challenged me to make some friends by joining Meet Up. Through that I found my way to a #lifeofyes presentation and #fearexperiment

I wanted to sing, but a capella wasn’t offered at FE10. And my introversion definitely wasn’t cool with me doing improv, so I danced. Gloria Mwez is an amazing and patient, and firm dance coach. She pulled so much out of our DE7 crew. Since then some of us have moved across the country, gotten engaged and married, attained degrees, started new careers, written books, traveled the globe, produced art, and checked boxes off our bucket lists we didn’t know were there. I’m mad proud of all of my FE10 family and myself!

I’m honored to be a part of the Fear Experiment family–in more ways than I can articulate. Yo! A bunch of strangers got together, learned new skills, and performed on the stage at the Park West, y’all! I also had an allergy fit because of the smoke machine during our last couple of numbers, but I DID THAT! sneezing and runny eyes and all. I DID THAT!

That’s me in the orange. Big hair don’t care!

Today I was having a discussion about meaningful touch, and Saya Hillman through her Mac n Cheese Productions was brought up as one whose touch changes lives with her superpower of facilitation. I’m so thankful that she is who she is. And I’m grateful to my chosen family and my blood family for showing up to support me then and now.

Fear Experiment 10

One thing I learned in CBT and from Saya is to DO IT SCARED. Fear is natural, but we can’t let it stop us from attempting to live our best lives. It’s easy to be fooled into thinking where we are is the best version of ourselves, but when we tap into that childlike ambition and fearlessness to try it anyway, we’re better for it. We may look silly or be terrible or be amazing. *shrugs* so what? We tried. And trying beats standing still and waiting for life to come to you. If we don’t keep moving we’ll stiffen to stone, becoming bitter and immovable. That’s not the legacy I want to leave behind.

How about you?

Blessings, y’all.