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Archive for the ‘Films, TV and Music’ Category

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s CV

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Basquiat is my favorite artist. At one point I based travel plans on where there was an exhibit of his work. I worked on a short documentary on him a million years ago during my film days. I learned so much about him from people who knew him, collected his work, and a lot of written material. He was a beautiful and tragic figure who created some seriously deep graffiti art. Have you seen Julian Schnabel’s film “Basquiat” starring Jeffrey Wright, Dennis Hopper, and Benicio Del Toro? It’s really good, though not entirely true to the artist’s life.

Anyhow, I recently learned about this blog and just came across this post. How cool!

The Good Stuff

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

A few things I think are really cool.

Iron and Resin posts 

Peter Bradley Adams‘ voice & lyrics are soulful. And, he was signed by Robbie Robertson (yes, of The Band).

This documentary on the Sunset Strip with tattoo artist Mark Mahoney. I had one of mine done nearby at Sunset Strip Tattoo. There’s something very right about having work done at the same place as Motley Crue and Billy Bob Thornton. It’s as much about the experience as knowing a true artist is creating a permanent mark on your body.

The audio book version of Beautiful Ruins. I spend a lot of time on the road.

Miss Moss: Man’s Best Friend post

True Blood

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

I don’t watch much TV, but “True Blood” is SUCH a good show. It’s up there with “Miami Vice” and “The Wire” as far as I’m concerned.

RIP Helen Thomas

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Though my father passed away seven years ago next month, he is never far from my thoughts. It’s almost weird; he doesn’t seem gone…and certainly not for that long.

J.K. Rowling once said “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” Knowing my father he is busier than ever, but rather than with the work that consumed so much of his life, I hope he is enjoying a Magnolia summer swinging high over a lake, tossing a ball with his fraternity brothers, and reading all those books he was forever stacking on the coffee table.

When it came to history and politics my father had a great mind. He was far more capable than I am of learning and retaining all the information (I have what I liken to a series of file cabinets I open and close on a frequent basis – some being more organized than others). He had a passion for both subjects and until his final years never tired of either subject, especially the former.

Some of my fondest memories of my dad were when he took me to events at the Smithsonian – movie screenings (we went every year to see “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”) and participated in a few doll house workshops (my favorite was when we built a country general store). After he retired, he joined a private social club with a well-stocked library and terrific cultural programs including lectures and author dinners. I went there with him nearly every time I visited home.

One of the last events we went to was to hear Helen Thomas, the veteran White House correspondent who was as famous for covering every U.S. President from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush as she was for her outspokenness. I was in awe of her long before that day and when I met her she was kind and funny.

I can only imagine the adventures she is setting out on. Certainly, I hope my father reconnects with her for a chat.

Congolese Farmers Visit Maine and a Very Special Story about Bananas

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

That human power can create such catastrophes, be so resilient as to survive such cruelty, and also carry such innocence and great kindness…is something I will forever be amazed at. That so many who live such fortunate lives “the lucky ones” and choose to be ignorant or unmoved deeply disappoints me. (When I linked to the story on Facebook it did not get one “like” not one. I didn’t write it to promote myself, but seriously post a pic of your cat and you get 10 likes.)

I have never been afraid to look, probably because conflict is something I’ve been aware of for as long as I can remember.  Helping is something that comes as second nature, something I will never be able to do enough of.

A week and a half ago I wrote about persons who are participating in a solution. Defiant of what might seem insurmountable obstacles, four persons from the DRC traveled to Maine earlier this month for four days of farm business training with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The purpose of this short-course was to equip them with skills and knowledge related to farm business planning; farm product marketing; farm enterprise selection and evaluation; food processing and food safety with a goal of sustainable and successful farming. The group, joined by several recent immigrants, visited local farms, Falmouth Farmers’ Market, and food processing businesses including Winter Hill Farm in Freeport, Maine.

UMaine Extension Educator Tori Lee Jackson, one of the organizers of the tour, told me the next session (scheduled for October) will focus on post-harvest handling of crops and food preservation.  I’m planning on attending that session and writing about it for my Portland Press Herald blog The Root.

Inspired by my experience researching and writing the story, I will be doing a series of  articles for The Root on indigenous agriculture starting with meeting Somali Bantu farmers in Maine. As I always do when starting  out on a research project I headed to Rabelais Books in Biddeford, Maine for books and guidance by one of the smartest persons I’ve ever met – Don Lindgren. I left with three books that deserve a post all their own! Cultivating Community provided me with two DVDs on Somali Bantu refugees. If you want information on them let me know and I’ll try to track down copies, they are both well worth watching!

International Aid and Bananas
In the meantime, I have become privileged to participate in the most extraordinarily simple and essential international aid project.

While researching my DRC/farming story for The Root, I reached out to the best sources of information I know – war/documentary photographers. The witnesses. A contact in New York led me to Oslo, Norway, led me to Kinshasa, in the DRC. Another route led me to Susan Schulman, an award-winning video/photojournalist based in London; she has chronicled the plight of the village of Kimua in the eastern DRC for the past five years.  Susan was a terrific resource for the story.

She brought to my attention that while working on a project in the DRC the locals complained about an unknown disease killing off their bananas — which is their last accessible food so of huge importance. They really wanted the help of an agricultural expert to cure the problem. I reached out to a few contacts and began working the Internet. A local contact responded almost immediately with information about research at the University of Hawaii on one banana disease.  My emails to U. Hawaii educators were not returned, but thankfully the director of Dole Food Company’s Nutrition Research Laboratory  (in North Carolina) stepped up to help. And help he did! He got in touch with Dole’s agronomists working in Costa Rica and after a few exchanges/days came back to me with information on a disease called “black sigatoka” which is killing the banana crop with dramatic effect all over the world and the bacterial disease known as “MOKO” in the industry which is caused by a Pseudomonas bacterium. It turns out this disease spreads very quickly via the cutting tools that are used to work on the banana plants to prune, deleaf, harvest, etc. and that it is happening in many African countries due to lack of discipline in sterilizing the tools between plants.

I’m working with Susan and probably very soon will be reaching out to a number of folks trying to get images of the plants to share with the agronomists so we (they) can figure this thing out!

Background on DRC:
In Rwanda between April and July, 1994 over 800,000 men, women, and children, primarily members of the Tutsi tribe, were executed by members of the Hutu tribe. When the Tutsi regained control, around two million Hutu refugees fled into eastern Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo). Conflict followed with attacks against Congolese ethnic Tutsis in eastern Zaire. Unrest led to a five year civil war and humanitarian crisis. Instability continues in eastern DRC with armed rebel groups terrorizing villagers,  driving them deeper into the heavily forested region and makeshift refugee camps. Additionally, according to Doctors Without Borders Malaria is the cause of 40 percent of deaths among children in the DRC.

As tensions rise and fall it is likely the country will see much more bloodshed.

If you want to help, support Doctors Without Borders and check back here from time to time on updates.

Group image by Tori Lee Jackson. Banana image from Congo Rainforest Basin blog.

Summer Reading List

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

It’s about time for a new reading list. I’m still working on the one I wrote about this past winter, but have a whole new slew of books picked up along the way that I’ve been meaning to share (for weeks!). The first four were recommended to me by Lacy, the brilliant proprietor of Hello Hello Books in Rockland, Maine.

The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars by Maurice DeKobra. First published in 1927, the book was one of the twentieth century’s first massive bestsellers, selling over 15 million copies worldwide. It’s the story of two tremendously charming characters who embark on a glamorous adventure on the Orient Express—and find themselves on a thrilling ride across Europe and into the just-barely unveiled territories of psychoanalysis and revolutionary socialism.

The Islanders by Christopher Priest. A tale of murder, artistic rivalry and literary trickery. (You might know Priest’s work from his award-winning book The Prestige, which was made into a film directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale.)

Anna Dean Bellfield Hall

Bellfield Hall: Or, The Deductions of Miss Dido Kent (Dido Kent Mysteries) by Anna Dean. In 1805 Dido Kent inhabits a world easily recognizable to readers of Jane Austen. Unmarried at 35, she is regarded as a hopeless spinster and entirely at her family’s disposal to help with illnesses, deaths, lyings in etc. But when the crisis of a niece’s broken engagement summons her to Bellfield Hall – and a dead body is discovered in the shrubbery – Dido finds a much more satisfying outlet for her intelligence.

A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse. Translated from the French by Alison Anderson. Live out the fantasy of owning a bookstore with Cosse’s brilliant story of former comic-book seller Ivan “Van” Georg and stylish Francesca Aldo-Valbelli establishing the Good Novel, a bookshop that will stock only masterpieces in fiction. Check out this telling review in The Washington Post.

And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis. My friend Andrew, who is opening the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, and who with is wife Brianna are collaborating with me on a super fun project I hope we’ll all be reading about soon…recommended this book as part of my distilling education.

Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy (she wrote the book Circle of Friends). This was a thoughtful gift from my Irishman J. The novel takes place in a small town on the west coast of Ireland where a young woman has taken on an old mansion and is attempting to turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea. Several short stories introduce you to the guests and staff. My favorite, should you read it, is the one with Winnie and Lillian. It’s a quick read, perfect for a weekend at the beach.

The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (3rd Edition) with translation and introduction by Jack Zipes. A collection of German fairy tales first published in 1812 by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

I recently watched the film “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” based on the book by Paul Torday. Such a beautiful story, I’d love to read the book one day.

Want more, maybe food/farming related check out this post I did recently for my Portland Press Herald blog The Root, on a few books I’ve acquired while researching stories.

A-to-Z Guide to Conversations in Before Sunrise and After Sunset

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

I love the films “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset” and am so looking forward to seeing the (presumably) last film in the trilogy “Before Midnight” and (for the record) absolutely anything else Julie Delpy decides to do. Check out this interview with her in Vanity Fair.

Vulture published this brilliant A-to-Z guide of to the topics covered in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, including quotes from Celine and Jesse. Check it out!

My favorite: Kissing “Do you know what I want? I want to be kissed.” — Celine

Crazy Sexy Goddess Smoothie from Chef Chad Sarno

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

A few weeks ago I was invited to a cooking demo and book signing with Chef Chad Sarno at Whole Foods Market in Portland. Chef Sarno’s latest project is the New York Times bestseller  Crazy Sexy Kitchen, which he co-wrote with Kris Carr (one of my new food heroines). Having met Sarno and read Kris Carr’s blog I can only imagine the fun and adventures these two got into while putting this book together.

Let’s step backward for a second. Carr is a cancer survivor, or as she puts it a cancer thriver.  On Valentine’s Day in 2003, she was diagnosed with an incurable (slow-growing) cancer. After a WTF moment (or more likely two) she took-charge of her diet and switched from processed foods to a “plant-passionate diet,” and wrote two successful books – Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips and Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor – about cheerleading one’s way through a cancer diagnosis with little more than goji berries and spunk (a LOT of it). Carr is beautiful (I thought she was a former model till I read about her), funny, likes to cuss, and is the only 41-year-old I know (no, not personally) who can look cool with a streak of hot pink (her trademark) in her otherwise blond dyed hair. She’s made vegan the cool kid in the classroom.

Sarno is currently the senior culinary educator for Whole Foods Market’s healthy eating program, which he  helped create and launch in 2009. His accomplishments range from launching a boutique chain of international restaurants in Istanbul, Munich and London to being a featured expert in the documentary film, PLANEAT. Oh, and yes he’s handsome.

The demo was far different and better than most I’ve been to, because Sarno was fun – I mean he engaged the audience. He was fast, conversational, well-spoken, and did I mention fun. He made all the ladies laugh (that’s right, you can see it now can’t you – a room full of ladies who either are vegan or seriously thinking of converting). For my part, I was impressed by all of it and though not a vegan or someone who is considering giving up dairy, I found myself tagging recipe after recipe for smoothies, purees, scrambles.. So far I’ve made Crazy Sexy Goddess Smoothie (who knew avocado and banana could taste so yummy), Avo(cado) Toasts, and Crostini with Artichoke Puree, Garlicky Mushrooms, and Horseradish.

What’s say we kick our nutrient deficient, veggie starved tuckuses into a crazy sexy goddess like frenzie with the following… ox

Crazy Sexy Goddess Smoothie from Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kriss Carr and Chef Chad Sarno

Ingredients:
1 avocado*
1 banana
1 cup blueberries (wild, frozen)
1 cucumber
A fistful of kale or romaine or spinach
Coconut water (or purified water)
Stevia, to taste, and/or a sprinkle of cinnamon or some cacao (optional)
*If desired, use coconut meat, raw almond butter, or nut milk in place of avocado. You can also add super foods like cacao (to taste) and/or 1 or 2 Tbsp of E3 Live.

In high-speed blender, blend all ingredients until smooth.

Parmigiano-Reggiano

Monday, March 4th, 2013

I was recently presented with the challenge of writing a post about Parmigiano Reggiano. A challenge I hope to be able to speak about in some detail in a few weeks.

My first reaction was, you know I’m lactose intolerant ….but I can eat Parmesan (the English/lazier man’s word for Parmigiano Reggiano). My second was I love Parmesan. It has been my gateway back to cheese after being diagnosed (if that’s really what happens) as lactose intolerant my senior year in university (gratefully after the semester abroad in France).  Shannon Tallman, local blogger and cheesemonger at the Whole Foods Market in Portland, is actually who helped me realize I could eat some cow cheeses. She started me off on Parmesan and now I’m happily eating aged Cheddars (I even attended a wine and cheese event at Whole Foods recently). Shannon and I became friends because of Parmesan. That’s the kind of cheese it is!

Parmesan is this cheese that stands up and says hey I have a story to tell, I’ve got dignity, history, character…it demands to be noticed. Ever wonder why it usually has its own table in the market?

Parmesan reminds me of the scene in “Dead Poets Society” when Robin Williams first meets his students and takes them into the hall and asks them to recite Robert Herrick’s poem “Virgins, To Make Much of Time” and then step forward and look at faces from the past (old class portraits) and whispers their legacy Carpe Diem! Seize the Day!

That’s Parmesan!

When figuring out where to begin writing about Parmesan, I turned to one of my food mentors,  Nancy Harmon Jenkins.  A terrific human being who inspires those around her to experience the world and eat well (and from the earth). Nancy is an accomplished writer and food historian who has spent a considerable amount of time in Italy. She told me about seeing Parmesan made at the Parma Cheese Factory and shared her photographs of this fantastic process.

Parmesan cheese is produced in five Italian provinces: Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua. The region boasts more than 1,600 cheese factories (I read this, then asked Nancy and she said that number could well be true!).

Parmesan, Nancy explained is made up like most cheeses of morning (whole) and evening (skimmed) cow’s milk. The evening milk is left overnight to allow for the creation of bacteria, and then combined with morning milk. The starter culture is added and the cheese starts to curdle.  Nancy’s pictures showed batches being made in huge copper vats by muscular men who were taught by the generations before them. They make two or three giant cheeses in each batch.

In the morning the workers coax the curds into a form, which will be suspended in a cloth, where the cheese’s form will take shape. They tie it to a bar so it can be lifted out and they drain the whey. The cheese is then put into a brine for several days to encourage the surface to harden. From there it goes into a warehouse that Nancy said looks like a cathedral with stacks of “great golden drums” she said are just beautiful.

The Cathedral of Parmigiano (photo used with permission by Nancy Harmon Jenkins)

For information on visiting the region and touring a factory, I recommend you check out this article in USA Today and Italy for the Gourmet Traveler by Fred Plotkin, which has a chapter on Emilia-Romagna with a short history on Parma.

With any luck and great determination, I hope to find myself back in Italy in the next  two or three years (my last visit was to Rome a few years ago). In addition to visiting Nancy (what I can only imagine would be an amazing experience considering her knowledge and appreciation of the sources and taste of food), I would like to stay at the Le Occare Guesthouse after reading about it in  Melissa Pellegrino & Matteo Scialabba’s book The Italian Farmer’s TableFor the more adventurous (remember, Carpe Diem!), the book has information on farms with restaurants and guest houses in Emilia-Romagna.

Now that we’ve covered how Parmigiano-Reggiano is made, how about we dig into it’s rich history. Okay, so I kind of really geeked out here and went all the way to Italy (via the Internet) to the Academia Barilla-Gastronomic Library. It was actually on a bit of a whim that I emailed them asking for the history of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and when a day later heard back from a curator was ecstatic.

The History of Parmesan:
768 BC – 264 BC – The Etruscans raised sheep and goats in the area of Parma

Sometime after 27 BC in Roman times – The cheeses produced in Parma were branded with the symbol of the moon. This is the first example of the branding of the cheese

11th century – During the Agrarian Revolution, monks in the Parma area reclaimed areas and began breeding cattle thus increasing the production and distribution of cow’s milk in the area.

14th century – Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries played a key role in the how the cheese was produced.  The first official mention of Parmesan in writing is made in Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, which yes I purchased and read (the English translation, of course). The book is about seven young women and three young men in Italy who try escape the plague by taking refuge in the countryside and telling each other stories for ten days. Each day each of the ten tells a story.

Elisa, the fourth woman, tells a story on the eighth day about a painter called Calandrino who has a practical joke played on him. Calandrino is told of a wondrous region where there are magical stones and the mountains are made “entirely of grated Parmesan cheese, on whose slopes there were people who spent their whole time making macaroni and ravioli, which they cooked in chicken broth and then cast into the four winds.”

The joke does not end well, as practical jokes most often do not…but history was made.

15th century – The convent of San Giovanni, with four active dairies, two in Parma, and two in Reggio Emilia, was the biggest producer of Parmesan. However, by this time noble families had also begun to invest in the production of the cheese.

17th century – The first official formalization of the name of Parmigiano cheese was made by the Duke of Parma, Ranuccio Farnese, on August 7, 1612 in his essay on the economy.

18th century – Production of the cheese moved from the noble families estates to rural dairies, who sourced milk from various producers.

1898 – 10% of the Parmesan produced in Parma was exported abroad. The cheese was also called “Reggiano”.

1937 – The area of production of Parmesan was defined with the same boundaries that exist today and the term “Parmigiano-Reggiano” was made official in 1938.

1954/55 – The Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano protected the name “Parmigiano-Reggiano,” and specified it could only be made in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua.

And, with that let me just say (write) how grateful I am to be able to enjoy something with so much life. I am also grateful for having this post topic proposed to me, so now I may value the cheese so much more. As someone whose best days are spent visiting with producers, I greatly value the roots of our food sources. That this cheese is a product of so many people and years is pretty extraordinary don’t you think?

So, how about we get to eating some…

Parmesan and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata

3 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup scallions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of Whole Foods Sun-dried tomatoes

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Beat (whole) eggs and egg whites together in a bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil in a large broiler-safe nonstick pan over medium heat. Add green onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking about 1 minute.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the pan from step 3 and tilt to distribute it evenly. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, undisturbed, until eggs are set on the bottom but the top is still runny, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan over frittata. Place the pan under the broiler. Broil until the top is set and turning golden brown, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

*The whole recipe only uses one pan!

Yield: 2 -3 servings, depending on whether serving with salad.

Eggs from the Great Cluck Egg Farm (of course!)

Parmigiano-Reggiano from Whole Foods Market

So good!! Wishing I could fork some right through the screen.

p.s. Recipes and Storage

One of my favorite comfort foods, the kind you want with a big bowl and spoon and to eat curled up on the comfiest of chairs is risotto. Well, you cannot have risotto without parmesan. Note, you cannot and oh by the way don’t feel obligated to use portion control here. Recipe calls for ½ a cup of parmesan and you want a wee bit more, well I’m certainly not going to tell on you. My favorite rissoto recipes are: Pumpkin, Sage, Chestnut and Bacon Risotto by Jamie Oliver from Amanda Hesser’s The New York Times Cook Book and Saffron Risotto from the Diner Journal No. 20 Winter 2012 issue.

Nancy’s book Cucina Del Sole is one of my favorite cookbooks. Her recipes for Pomodori Ripieni di Formaggio and Wintertime Pasta with Sausages and Dried Mushrooms are wonderful ways to nourish one’s self.

Through university one of my primary food groups was popcorn. Oh, you didn’t know it was a food group? Well, in college it was along with tuna melts and bags of Nutter Butters (don’t judge till you’ve pulled as many all-nighters as I did). In those days I blissfully enjoyed M&M’s in my popcorn. They’d melt a little bit and then you’d have that insane chocolate/salt combo. Somehow, perhaps sadly, I’ve outgrown that joy. And! Grown into a whole new one thanks to Joy W., the sweet author of Joy the Baker. Joy has introduced me to incredible combinations such as Parmesan Seaweed Popcorn (should you have made a wee bit too much, don’t dare throw any away as it keeps fine in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 48 hours). If you come over to watch a movie at my home, almost certainly I’ll pass you a bowl of this. Thanks Joy. ox

My adventure with Parmigiano-Regiano will continue in a couple weeks with this recipe for Asparagus Ravioli in Parmesan Broth, from one of my coveted issues of the sadly defunct Gourmet Magazine.

Storage: Marcella Hazan’s The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is where I learned how to buy and properly store Parmesan. She recommends buying a precut wedge, never in grated form. It should be a dewy pale amber color, without any dry white patches. Wrap tightly in wax paper, then heavy-duty aluminum foil. Store on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. (*While living in France during my university days I learned to store cheese in a plastic container so I wrap and then place the cheese in it…)

p.p.s. For those readers who are also lactose intolerant, I want to introduce you to Scott Rankin, Professor and Chair Department of Food Science University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rankin specializes in dairy and graciously has helped with a few queries over the past few months. He kindly obliged my request for information for the science on how I can digest Parmesan. I hope this reassures those of you who have sadly (unknowingly) held off. Here you go…

In short, milk has about 5% lactose. As milk is fermented, the bacteria use the lactose for energy. However, when a cheese is young, the fermentation process is still continuing and there is still some residual lactose around. After several months of aging, however, even that residual lactose is gone. Most US parm has been aged nearly a year before it is placed on the market. Some of the imported parm is aged for years. With all that aging, the lactose is usually long gone and thus poses no trouble for those with lact intolerance. – Scott Rankin

Molto amore and mangiare bene. ox

Oscar Choices

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Here’s who I want to win….

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis for his portrayal of Lincoln in “Lincoln”…although I haven’t seen the film (yet)…he is one of the greatest living actors and reading about his process is impressive. My favorite of his films remains “The Boxer”..it’s absolutely brilliant.

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, an exceptionally gifted actress. For what it’s worth, Sean Penn compares her to a Stradivarius. I appreciated her in “The Debt” and loved her in “The Help” and felt she fully inhabited her character in “Zero Dark Thirty”…I believe she is this other person when I see her films.

Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook” ….I mean come on, it’s De Niro and he was brilliant as the obsessed Eagles fan.

Best Supporting Actress: How about Jacki Weaver, that woman rocked in “Silver Linings Playbook” and have you seen her in “Animal Kingdom”- SENSATIONAL. Or there’s Sally Field, or Amy Adams…basically ANYONE but Anne Hathaway. She tries WAY TOO HARD.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” should take home gold for Production Design. Anything else would be plain wrong.

“Silver Linings Playbook” earned David O. Russell another Oscar nod, this time for Adapted Screenplay…I’d like to see him win (though he’s supposed to be an absolute nightmare to work with).

Quentin Tarantino for Best Original Screenplay for “Django Unchained”…I haven’t seen the film…but he’s a solid human being and a lovable film geek (well, he’s more elevated than that now…)