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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weird Book of the Week
Last time on Weird Book of the Week, we pondered a sorta recursive centaur-thing. This time, we've got a mystery on our hands. Behold!
Galactic Bunny
There are many things to marvel at in this illustration, most notably to my mind, the unconventional yet still quite effective choice to portray the laser beams emanating from the giant, pink space bunny's nostrils as opposed to the more traditional eye-beam. This is an illustration that just begs to be explained. Why is the mustachioed man attempting to silence the bald guy, can the Galactic Bunny hear things in space? What is it eating, a moon? Are those other moons floating around out there? What planet is this? What are those lasers actually pointed at?

I found this on Twitter a while back, on the Pulp Librarian's feed (which is just chock full of awesome pulpy book covers), but there is no title on the artwork, and no one mentions it in the responses (one person does ask, but there did not appear to be a response). I would really love to read the book this was created for. Barring that, I'd settle for a high quality print, because wow, just look at that thing. Sheer brilliance.
Posted by Mark on March 22, 2015 at 02:21 PM .: Comments (0) | link :.

End of this day's posts

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Link Dump
More interesting stuff from the depths of the internets.
  • Notes on watching ALIENS for the first time again, with a bunch of kids - Whippersnappers gonna whippersnap.
    They liked Ripley, Hicks, Frost, Apone, Bishop the android, and even Hudson, whose defeatism irritated them so much that I think they would've hated him if he weren't so funny. "Somebody shoot that guy," one said. Frost insisting that "it doesn't matter" when the "poontang" is Arcturian confused a couple of kids. "It means he's bisexual," one explained.

    The cigar-chewing Sgt. Apone's oddly musical phrase "assholes and elbows" got the biggest laugh of the evening; two hours and twenty minutes later, the kids were quoting it as they brushed their teeth. Frost's quip, "What are we supposed to use, man, harsh language?" made my son laugh for nearly a full minute.
    Nice. Some of these kids are certainly more astute than I was at that age... Also of note, the updated response to apparent outrage that I guess everyone needs to write anytime they write an article that people read these days.
  • Spaceprob.es - This website tracks the active probes in operation in and around our solar system, and has lots of fascinating info on each. Also of note: The complete recording that appears on the golden record of Voyager 1...
  • Bank of Canada Urges Star Trek Fans to Stop "Spocking" their Fivers - Awesome trend in Canada where folks draw on 5 dollar bills to make an old prime minister look like Spock (which has become very popular in the wake of Leonard Nimoy's passing).
  • Freakiest Friday - Appreciating Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning - Contrarians gonna contrarian, and since this past Friday was the third Friday the 13th this year, I'm betting horror sites are running out of schtick to post about, so we end up with stuff like this. For what it's worth, I've always liked the idea behind this installment, and there's a bunch of things to like about it, but it does fall down on execution pretty hard (but then, so do most of the movies in the series, so there's that).
  • Cuil Theory - From my ever popular delicious tag idontknowwhatthefuckisgoingoninthisvideo (also, isn't it quaint that I still use delicious? No? Ok, fine.)
That's all for now. Busy week, probably no entry on Wednesday. Enjoy the respite.
Posted by Mark on March 15, 2015 at 07:11 PM .: Comments (0) | link :.

End of this day's posts

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My 2015 Hugo Award Nominations
The Hugo Award Nomination Period ended last night, and miracle of miracles, I managed to get my ballot in on time. I suppose the value of posting this list after the deadline is questionable, but we're that kind of timely here at Kaedrin (meaning, not timely at all). But I suppose if you're looking to see what I enjoyed from last year's spate of Science Fiction, this is a pretty good place to start. For the most part, this is just an expanded version of the list I posted in January, and that commentary is generally just as relevant here (most of the comments here will be about the additions and possibly some general expectations). Additions are noted with an asterisk (*)

Best Novel: My initial three picks were all longshots. A Darkling Sea has a very outside chance (but I'm guessing it unlikely, and its buzz factor seems to be waning), The Martian suffers from an eligibility question (more on why I'm still including it here, though at this point, I think everyone's fears mean that even if is eligible, it won't get nominated because everyone is leaving it off their list), and A Sword Into Darkness is self-published mil-SF that the literati probably would hate. The two additions are considerably more likely to be nominated. Annihilation is a near certain shoe-in for a nomination (it's already got a Nebula nom) and pretty good odds on taking the prize. I just finished The Three-Body Problem myself and will probably write a full post about it at some point, but it's been steadily picking up steam since it's release in November. Unfortunately, a lot of mainstream buzz (like this New Yorker article) appear to be hitting a little too late to really influence the nomination process. On the other hand, it did garner a Nebula nomination and it ticks a bunch of typical Hugo checkboxes, so it's got a good chance. While I wasn't a huge fan, I would also predict Leckie's Ancillary Sword will grab a nomination because of the runaway success of Ancillary Justice (last year's winner) and generally positive reviews. Scalzi's Lock In has a decent chance, but I wouldn't be surprised if it gets left out either. I'm betting Correia will be one of the few beneficiaries of the Sad Puppy campaign, and possibly Butcher's Skin Game while we're at it. There's usually some sort of fantasy novel in contention as well, but I'm not too familiar with those...

Best Novelette Still not sure if the first two are actually Novelettes, but hey, I'm putting them there. Wanna fight about it? The addition is The Bonedrake's Penance, which I guess has some mild buzz, and Yoon Ha Lee seems like a rising star type (I'm certainly a new fan). No idea what else would tickle fandom for these short fiction categories.

Best Short Story:
  • Periapsis by James L. Cambias (from Hieroglyph)
  • Covenant by Elizabeth Bear (from Hieroglyph)
  • The Day It All Ended by Charlie Jane Anders (from Hieroglyph)
  • Passage of Earth by Michael Swanwick (from Clarkesworld)*
  • The Knight of Chains, the Deuce of Stars by Yoon Ha Lee (from Space Opera)*
Note that Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer by Megan Grey is not eligible for this year's awards (something about the magazine being a January 2015 edition that just happened to be available in December). It will, however, be eligible next year (at which point, I genuinely expect it to be nominated). Covenant seems to have buzz and Hieroglyph was a popular anthology, so it has that going for it. Passage of Earth also feels like it has some buzz. However, the short story category is infamously fickle, with votes spread out amongst the widest range of stories (many stories which could potentially be nominated aren't because they fall short of getting 5% of the overall vote). It's always something of a crapshoot. All I know is that I liked just about all of the short stories I read this year much better than any of the nominees from last year.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Coherence and The One I Love are far and above my favorites of the year and I'm pretty sure they won't even come close to being nominated (both recommended though!). I swapped out The Lego Movie for Interstellar (though I think both of those will end up making the cut) I also wouldn't be surprised if movies I didn't care for do well, notably Snowpiercer.

Best Related Work: This is a weird, catch-all category, but I actually think these two things have a good chance of winning (gasp, I aligned with the Sad Puppies on one of these). One thing I feel bad about is not nominating A Report on Damage Done by One Individual Under Several Names by Laura Mixon. It's placement in terms of categories is unclear though. George R.R. Martin apparently recommended her for Best Fan Writer, which didn't seem quite right, and I just plain forgot to add it to my ballot last night. Which is a shame, because that is some tour-de-force shit that Mixon put together there.

Best Professional Artist:
  • Stephan Martiniere for covers like The Immortality Game and Shield and Crocus*
Yeah, I guess I fell for Ted Cross's push for Stephan (who provided the art for Cross's book), but this artist is genuinely talented and I kinda love his covers.

Best Fan Writer: I don't have a lot here, but Nussbaum is a regular read and I think she should have won last year, so here we are again.

And that just about covers it. Official nominations will be announced, as usual, during the inexplicable Easter day timeframe, so look for some comments on the subject then.
Posted by Mark on March 11, 2015 at 11:32 PM .: Comments (0) | link :.

End of this day's posts

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Adventures in Brewing - Beer #16: DIPA
Around this time of the year, I'm normally brewing up a batch of Fat Weekend IPA, a beer brewed for a specific gathering of portly individuals from across the country. Well, it looks like Fat Weekend will be scaled down a bit this year due to an inability to align schedules. A quorum of chubby friends will be traveling to New York, but we'll be spending most of our time at bars or restaurants, so no brew needed.

But just because it's not strictly needed doesn't mean I shouldn't make anything, right? I've actually been woefully inactive on the homebrewing front. My last brew, a barleywine that I ended up calling Trystero, turned out ok, though it never carbonated in the bottle and I had to dump it into a keg, where I was able to force that carbonation, at which point it was rather great. Well, it's kicked and I need something else to put in there, so here goes nothing.

I started from the base Fat Weekend IPA recipe and amped it up a bit, now hitting DIPA territory (though still on the lower end of that scale):

Beer #16: Double IPA
Full-Batch (5 gallons)
March 7, 2015

12 oz. CaraPils (specialty grain)
8 oz. Crystal 20 (specialty grain)
6 lb. Muntons Extra Light DME
1 lb. Muntons Wheat DME
8 oz. Turbinado Sugar
1 oz. Simcoe (bittering @12.3 AA)
1 oz. Amarillo (flavor)
1 oz. Amarillo (aroma)
1 oz. Citra (aroma)
1 oz. Amarillo (dry hop)
1 oz. Citra (dry hop)
GigaYeast GY054 Vermont IPA Yeast

Ingredients for my homebrewed DIPA
(Click to embiggen)

Several tweaks to the Fat Weekend IPA recipe are worth mentioning. First, the inclusion of wheat in the grain bill. Nothing fancy, just a pound of basic wheat DME (which is actually only 55% wheat). So this isn't going to be a white IPA or anything, but it will hopefully soften things up a little and provide a nice platform for the hops. Second, the hop schedule is tweaked a bit as well. Last year's brew turned out a bit too bitter, so I'm just sticking with 1 ounce of Simcoe this year. As with last year, Amarillo pulls flavoring duty and a blend of Amarillo and Citra will serve as the aroma and dry hop additions. I may actually grab some more hops for that dry hop addition, depending on what's available and when I can get to the shop...

Finally, the biggest change of all, the use of GigaYeast GY054 Vermont IPA Yeast. This is the infamous "Conan" strain of yeast that is used in Heady Topper (and seems similar to the yeast used by other Vermont heroes as well), and is finally available to homebrewers (albeit in limited, hard to find quantities). The general description sounds perfect. It's a mostly clean fermenting yeast that yields some slightly fruity, citrusy esters that are "amazing with aromatic hops" (like, hopefully, Amarillo and Citra). There are a few reasons I think Heady Topper enjoys the popularity it has, and one of the major ones is the yeast. The yeast costs a little more than your typical Wyeast smack pack, but it seems worth the stretch.

So the target here is an aromatic 8% ABV Double IPA. With attenuation in the 75-80% range, it won't be too thin, and with the adjustment to bittering hops, it shouldn't be too bitter. One of the things I've noticed from drinking so many Tired Hands IPAs is that they tend to be on the lower range of bitterness. Anecdotal observations indicate that their IPAs rarely exceed 60 IBUs (for reference, last year's IPA was somewhere on the order of 90-100 IBUs). This year's should be around 50 IBUs, which is actually a little lower than the style guidelines (which has a minimum of 60 for a DIPA). I'm hoping this will come out to be bright and citrusy rather than bitter and dank.

Original Gravity: 17.8 Bx, or 1.074 (exactly on target).

I have high hopes for this batch. It should be ready to drink right around the time my little break from beer ends, which is good timing. Up next, I'm thinking an easy drinking summer saison. Perhaps something of the more funky variety (I have some ideas about that, having learned from my previous attempt). All in good time. For now, I'm just trying to figure out what to call this batch. Going with the Conan theme, I was thinking Crom, but that might be too simplistic. "The Enigma of Steel" sounds like something Tired Hands would brew, a not entirely unwarranted comparison. Or perhaps I could combine the two and call it Crom: The Engima of Steel. But that sounds too ornate. This will bear some deep thought.

(Cross posted on Kaedrin Beer Blog)
Posted by Mark on March 08, 2015 at 03:07 PM .: Comments (0) | link :.

End of this day's posts

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

SF Short Story Review, Part 1
I was pretty disappointed by last year's Hugo slate of short stories, so I wanted to make sure I read enough stories this year to nominate worthwhile stuff. Of course, the short fiction categories are infamously fickle and don't enjoy quite as much in the way of convergence as the novels do (meaning that a very wide array of stories are nominated with little chance of any individual story standing out from the crowd - this is why there often isn't a full ballot nominated, as many of the contenders never reach the 5% threshold needed to make the Hugo ballot). The good news here, though, is that I enjoyed almost all of the stories in this post a lot more than almost any of the stories nominated in short fiction categories last year. Go figure. That being said, I will probably only nominate a couple of these because there's only so many slots...
  • Whaliens (aka How to Win a Hugo Award) by Lavie Tidhar (Short Story, ~4900 words) - This is a goofy little story about whale-like aliens (i.e. Whaliens) that visit Earth and demand to convert to Judaism. As the alternate title might indicate, it also involves a dismissive sub-plot about science fiction writers that feels rather petty and dismissive. It's a fun, short read and worth checking out, but it's not going to be on my ballot.
  • Toad Words by Ursula Vernon (Short Story, ~800 words) - This year's "If You Were a Dinosaur My Love", it is marginally more fantastical, but still pretty emphatically not my thing.
  • Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer by Megan Grey (Short Story, ~4000 words) - Every once in a while, you hear about how someone infamous and/or super evil spends their spare time doing mundane things like watching Seinfeld or something, and that kinda tickles me. So this story about a fire demon ironically condemned to live out his retirement in exile in Minnesota (i.e. a very cold, snowy place) really clicked with me. Molakesh enjoys hot chocolate and chatting with his teenaged neighbor. There's a moment when I was worried that this story would go off the rails, but it sticks the ending, and I found this the most enjoyable of the stories in this post. Will almost certainly make my ballot.
  • Passage of Earth by Michael Swanwick (Short Story, ~7400 words) - Interesting story about an autopsy performed on an alien that takes a hard turn about halfway through. It descends a bit into literary angst for a while, but it's not undone by it and reasons its way to a natural conclusion. Strong contender for my ballot.
  • The Innocence of a Place by Margaret Ronald (Short Story, ~4100 words) - Haunting tale of a historian's attempt to understand the disappearance of students from the Braxton Academy for Young Girls. There's a beautifully ominous tone to the story and it is very effective... as horror. As the obvious explanations are thrown out, what is left is speculation on the fantastical, so I don't know that this is quite as non-SF as, say, last year's Wakulla Springs, but it's borderline. I don't think I'd nominate it, but I would not get worked up about it if it got nominated...
  • Brute by Rich Larson (Short story, ~4800 words) - Entirely predictable tale of two scavengers who run across a piece of technology that bonds to one of them and gives him super powers or something like that. It's the sort of thing you've seen a million times, but it is a reasonably well executed version of the story. That being said, it's not exactly award-worthy material.
  • Death and the Girl from Pi Delta Zeta, by Helen Marshall - Seems like it would hit on that mundane life of infamous personages thing that I like so much, but this one is distinctly less effective to my mind. Well executed for what it is, but not really my thing.
  • Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology by Theodora Goss (Short Story, ~6800 words) - A bunch of anthropology students invent a country from scratch and are then surprised to learn that the country they made up actually exists. They go to visit and find that many of the small details they have invented for the culture have unintended consequences. This becomes particularly important when one of the anthropologists marries the princess. A dense, Borges-like story (Borges is explicitly referenced in the story, so this is an obvious referent) that I found appealing and interesting. A potential nominee...
  • The Bonedrake's Penance by Yoon Ha Lee (Novelette, ~9800 words) - Notable for its elaborate but not overwhelming worldbuilding, this follows the story of a human girl raced by an alien war machine that had given up war. Perhaps more concerned with that central relationship than the detailed setting, it works better than I'd expect. Would love to read more from Yoon Ha Lee... Would be a contender for my ballot if I hadn't actually done so:
  • The Knight of Chains, the Deuce of Stars by Yoon Ha Lee (Short Story, ~5700 words) - So I did seek out more Yoon Ha Lee, and this one is even better than the last one. Interestingly, there are a lot of similarities. Both have an archive of sorts (games, in this one), a guardian (a warden, in this one), and both feature disgraced warriors of some kind. This one is about the warden of a collection of games and a warrior who intends to bargain for a game that will help her keep a promise. They play a game with high stakes and the byzantine worldbuilding implied by the games is quite impressive.
I may sneak in a few more stories before the deadline, but I'm planning on posting my updated ballot on Sunday, so stay tuned.
Posted by Mark on March 04, 2015 at 06:21 PM .: Comments (0) | link :.

End of this day's posts

Sunday, March 01, 2015

SF Book Review, Part 19
As we near the Hugo nomination deadline, I have been surprisinly lax in my reading. That being said, I have made pretty good progress in terms of reading books I thought might be worthwhile, even if I won't end up nominating most of them. I'm going to make a last minute push for a couple books and/or stories though, so we'll see (nomination deadline is March 10). Here's some stuff I've read recently:
  • The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold - The third book in Bujold's Chalion series, this one seems almost completely disconnected from the previous two entries. As such, it takes a bit to get going, and unfortunately it never quite reaches the heights of Bujold's other work. Still, there are some fine sequences and decent ideas explored here. The book opens with Lady Ijada defending herself against a half-mad prince. Lord Ingrey is dispatched to investigate and transport the body to its final resting place. He is also tasked with escorting the accused killer to judgement. With the price dead and the King on his deathbed, the Crown is in play, and their journey is beset on all sides by intrigue and danger. The book perhaps bides too much time on this journey. The series has been pretty talky so far, but nothing compared to this book, which is extremely dialogue heavy and filled with esoteric lore that was only hinted at in previous entries. It's certainly not a bad novel or anything like that, but it was a little disappointing when compared to Bojold's other work...
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer - The first in a trilogy, this covers an expedition to the myserious Area X. Cut off from the rest of the continent by unknown means, no one knows what the deal is with Area X. Numerous expeditions have been dispatched to explore the area. Some were uneventful, some resulted in mass suicide, some ended in violence, and some of the expeditions just disappeared. This book contains the 12th expedition as it makes its way through Area X. Things almost immediately start to deteriorate. The general tenor of this book makes it feel a lot like Lost - a mysterious and isolated locale, previous visitors with unknown motivations, strange artifacts, and so on. Like Lost, I'm not entirely sure how much of this will work out in the end, but I'm comforted by the fact that the author completed all three volumes and published them in short order, which makes me think he may actually have a plan. The story is told in first person, as if we're reading one of the expedition member's journals, and VanderMeer has a very ornate style. This is a short book, but it's dense and introspective. Which is not to say that it isn't exciting or compelling. The central mysteries are well drawn and intriguing, and there are some revelations later in the book that are eye opening. This will almost certainly be nominated for a Hugo (It's already garnered a Nebula nom), though I'm a little more mixed on it. Definitely one of the better novels I've read from 2014 though, and I do plan on reading the next volume in the series (which I think says a lot).
  • Undercity by Catherine Asaro - Set in Asaro's well-established Skolian Empire universe, this is the start of a new series of books covering Major Bhaajan, formerly military, now a P.I. The initial segment of this book is fantastic. Bhaajan is hired by royalty to locate a missing prince, and Bhaajan has to return to her former home in the Undercity (a series of caves and slums under the Empire's capital city) to investigate. This section moves surprisingly quick, then the story transitions to a slower pace, dealing more with the politics and sociology of the Undercity. It almost makes me wonder if the first section was published separately (Update: apparently, it was!) The middle act, dealing with maneuverings of drug cartels in the Undercity, is a bit too slow and repetitive, but things come together well enough in the final act, as the cartels plan to go to war and other revelations about the population of the Undercity come to pass. I enjoyed this and am curious to check out more of Asaro's work, though I don't know how likely I am to read the next Bhaajan book (which, again, says something I guess). Not something I plan on nominating, but I'm glad I read it...
  • Riding the Red Horse - I took a flier on this collection of short stories and essays mostly because it features Eric Raymond's first published fiction. I did not realize at the time that one of the editors was the dreaded Vox Day, but his commentary before each story (he shares this duty with Tom Kratman) gives him away (and generally, this commentary was unnecessary and needlessly dismissive of other perspectives). That being said, folks familiar with military history will recognize some of the names, like Bill Lind or Jim Dunnigan, who mostly provide the non-fiction portions of the book. Some of these could be eye opening, but only if you've never heard of Lind's conception of 4th Generation warfare, etc... Some highlights from the book:
    • Sucker Punch by Eric S. Raymond - This was the reason I bought the book, and it comports itself well. I don't think it will be making my ballot, but it is a short, interesting, and fun little military story about naval warfare (and how certain weapons might change the game). Worth reading!
    • The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF by Ken Burnside - Those familiar with the Atomic Rockets website will be right at home with this essay. The pragmatic considerations of space travel, in particular the problems posed by Thermodynamics, are applied to typical military SF tropes, and the results aren't pretty. The unimaginative would probably find this to be a killjoy, but the notion of working within our understanding of science when writing SF is one of the things that makes SF so great. This is one of the Sad Puppy nominees (under Best Related Work), and for once, I agree with them.
    • The General's Guard by Brad R. Torgersen - Interesting story of a General who attempts to unite various factions of his empire by forcing them to work together. From each tribe, he selects the strongest... and weakest member. It seems reminiscent of the other Torgersen stories that I've read; he seems every concerns with finding ways to interact productively with people from different backgrounds (whether they be aliens and humans, folks from different tribes, or two people with vastly different skillsets).
    • Turncoat by Steve Rzasa - This tale of an AI that inhabits a ship might be my favorite story in the collection, and the idea gets explored well enough despite the large amount of previous material with similar subject matter (i.e. The Ship Who Sang, Ancillary Justice, etc...) and it hints at some troubling things about potentially "uploaded" humans that might be weird in the longrun. Will probably make my ballot, though I'm not sure if this is a short story or a novelette...
    If you're a fan of military fiction (and non-fiction), you'll probably enjoy this collection. There were only a couple of stories that I didn't enjoy, and a lot of them were decent. I even enjoyed Vox Day's story (not award worthy, but definitely a sight better than that thing that was nominated last year).
And there you have it. I'm going to try and read some more short stories, novelettes, and maybe a novella or two before the Hugo nominations deadline. I will post my final ballot sometime next week...
Posted by Mark on March 01, 2015 at 12:58 PM .: Comments (0) | link :.

End of this day's posts

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Link Dump
Extra delicious, yummy links for your enjoyment. Sorry, some of these have to do with food, so yeah, it's on my mind. Crunchy!
  • The Katering Show - Hysterically funny show about a foodie attempting to cook food for her food intolerant friend. I'm... not making this sound as funny as it is. My favorite is episode 4, where they use a Thermomix to make risotto (aka hot wet rice).
    So "what is a Thermomix?" I hear anyone under the age of 33 ask. It's a blender, a microwave, an ice bucket, and a set of kitchen scales. It's a gangb@ng* of kitchen appliances that's created a futuristic robot saucepan.
    Go watch now.
  • Chef David Chang on the Best Seat in Every Restaurant - Hint: it's at the bar, a notion that is fully Kaedrin endorsed. Also, why are you still reading? Didn't you watch the Katering show? What's wrong with you!? Um, anyway, eating at the bar rules:
    When everyone's so close, it changes the dining experience. Out on the floor, you're a dickhead if you overhear a conversation and chime in. Not at the bar. You connect, trade stories, then trade bites. I've never shared as much food with strangers as I have at the bar. You meet great people that way-you're part of this band of outsiders within the restaurant. And for me, that's the best possible dining experience of all.
    Perfect for socially awkward introverts like myself!
  • A Story With Zombies - Pretty neatly encapsulates my problem with zombie movies.
  • Why this man created a Comic Sans typewriter - Because he's the devil?
  • The Rookie - This whole Instagram account seems to be Avengers action figures doing goofy stuff. It's fun!
That's all for now...

* What the hell Movable Type? The word "gangb@ng" (where the @ is an a) seems to throw a 403 error when I try to use it here. Just that one word. Or if I make it two words. "Gang B@ng". Stupid blogging software. First commenting doesn't work, now this bullshit.
Posted by Mark on February 25, 2015 at 11:21 PM .: Comments (0) | link :.

End of this day's posts

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Oscars
The funny thing about the Academy Awards is that your opinion about them is pretty boring. You think the Oscars are just a cynical circle jerk of self-satisfied Hollywood elites? Boring! You're outraged at [insert snub here]? Super fucking boring! You're genuinely excited about seeing films receive the recognition they deserve? You are both naive and boring! But the one thing that unites us all is the abject hatred of the short films categories. I think we can all agree on that.

In all seriousness, I have fun watching the Oscars. Probably more because I see it as an opportunity to mock celebrities and drink a bunch of alcohol, but still. Oh, and predictions! Back in the day, I used to do this thing called "liveblogging". For you young whipper snappers out there, back in the dark days before Twitter, people would just update their blog every 2 minutes during an event like the Oscars. A few years ago, I finally got with the times and took it all to Twitter. And to be honest, I'm not that funny, so I usually end up just retweeting a bunch of people who are funnier and more incisive than I am. But hey, if you want to chat, I'll be on Twitter @mciocco saying dumb crap. If, for some ungodly reason, you want to see a decade's worth of previous predictions and commentary on the Oscars, check them out here: [2014 | 2013 |2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004]

Alrighty then, enough preamble, let's look at predictions.
  • Best Picture: Birdman. Hard to believe, because Boyhood took 12 years to make (he said, sarcastically) and was the early odds-on favorite, but Birdman has been coming on strong of late. Personally, I'd vote for The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was legitimately one of my favorite movies of the year. Alas, it has no chance of winning. The Imitation Game makes for an interesting dark horse nominee, if only because of the Weinstein brothers' infamous ability to campaign for awards. A real long shot would be Selma, if people feel guilty enough about not nominating Ava DuVernay or David Oyelowo, but I'm not expecting that. The other contenders should just be happy they were nominated and like it. Or something. (I have seen 6 of the 8 nominated movies, which is about on par for me). Should have been nominated: Gone Girl and totally John Wick (heh).
  • Best Director: Richard Linklater for Boyhood. It took 12 years to make! Again, Alejandro G. Iñárritu of Birdman is a real contender here, as that movie is pretty damn showy and visually impressive (I'm betting on it taking Cinematography on that count though). Not being a fan of Boyhood I would certainly go with Iñárritu or the much less likely Wes Anderson for this award. Bennett Miller and Morten Tyldum are in "Why didn't you nominate Ava DuVernay?" jail and should be happy for their nominations. Should have been nominated: Ava DuVernay for Selma
  • Best Actress: Julianne Moore for Still Alice. I have not seen the movie, but people love her and this might be one of those lifetime achievement sort of awards (she's been nominated a bunch of times, but never won). I get the impression that the slate is somewhat weak, but I've only seen one of the movies here, so who knows? Should have been nominated: Scarlett Johansson for Under the Skin.
  • Best Actor: Michael Keaton for Birdman. Another potential lifetime achievement award type of thing for an actor folks love, but it's also a legitimately great performance. I don't see anyone else really challenging that, though I've only seen 3 of the nominees... Should have been nominated: David Oyelowo for Selma
  • Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood. Looks like I'm going long on Boyhood tonight, so I'm almost hoping I'm wrong on all these because I don't particularly care for that movie. Still, Arquette has all the buzz. Maybe Laura Dern, but that's a long shot. Should have been nominated: Emily Blunt for Edge of Tomorrow
  • Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash. Have not seen it, but by all accounts, he's what makes the movie. I suppose Edward Norton could challenge from his Birdman performance (which is also fantastic), but I'll stick with Simmons on this one. Should have been nominated: Tyler Perry in Gone Girl
  • Best Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Pretty tight race here between Budapest, Boyhood, and Birdman. My guess is that this will be one of those consolation prize type things, because Budapest is wonderful. I wouldn't be surprised if any of them win (but I'd hate it if Boyhood won). Should have been nominated: The Lego Movie.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Whiplash. Pretty much a complete toss up. The only one I'm sure about is Paul Thomas Anderson not winning for Inherent Vice (people seem to find the movie super confounding, but I tend to enjoy that sort of thing...) I kinda just chose this randomly. Should have been nominated: Gone Girl
  • Editing: Boyhood. I'm pretty dismissive of this movie overall, but the 12 years of filming probably does represent an interesting editing challenge that was reasonably well done. But who knows? Whiplash and American Sniper are buzzing on this one too. Should have been nominated: Edge of Tomorrow
  • Cinematography: Birdman. Duh.
  • Visual Effects: Interstellar. For a movie with its share of faults, visual effects is not one of them. Potential spoiler from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Should have been nominated:Godzilla
  • Makeup: The Grand Budapest Hotel. I dunno, it seems to have some buzz in this category, but I kinda think it should go to Guardians of the Galaxy. Wouldn't be surprised no matter what wins.
  • Costumes: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Same as above.
  • Musical Score: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Why not? This seems to be the favorite for a lot of minor technical awards. Should have been nominated: Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Best Song: "Glory" from Selma. This movie was only nominated for Song and Best Picture, and I think the Academy will want to reward it somehow (because they're totes not racist or anything), so here we are. On the other hand, "Everything is Awesome" has a chance because The Lego Movie was also snubbed.
  • Best Animated Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2. I guess? I mean, once The Lego Movie wasn't nominated, this category suddenly became boring as crap. Should have been nominated: The Lego Movie!
  • Best Documentary: Citizenfour. Pretty much a lock, I really wish I got to see this one...
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Ida. Has been the favorite for a while, but it looks like Leviathan is mounting a challenge. Also, since Ida is pretty fucking dour and it sounds like Leviathan isn't much better, there's a fair chance that Wild Tales may be a spoiler here, as it's apparently more of a crowd pleaser. In general, I find this award impossible to pick.
Well there you have it. Follow me on Twitter @mciocco to see what I'm saying during the show itself. I used to put a little widget thing here that would embed my tweets but come on, I think you can click on a link, can't you?
Posted by Mark on February 22, 2015 at 12:27 PM .: Comments (0) | link :.

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