I’d Like To Thank The Academy

The 89th annual Academy Awards will be televised live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California this Sunday.  The show starts at 6:00 p.m. CST and will be hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

The Academy Awards are the oldest and most famous film awards.  They are also the most influential and prestigious and have been presented annually since 1929.

My husband and I are movie buffs so we look forward to watching every year.  In fact, we always try to see as many of the movies that are nominated for best picture as we can before the actual awards show.

This year, there are nine films nominated for best picture and we have seen six of the nine.  Perhaps we will be able to fit one or two more in before Sunday’s show. The best picture nominees for this year’s Academy Awards are:

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion*

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Every year when we watch, I always wonder about two things:

Why are the Academy Awards (the show as well as the actual award) sometimes called the “Oscars” and who exactly IS the Academy that everyone thanks in their acceptance speech?  So, I did a little research to find out because I can’t be the only one who wonders about these things!

The Academy is short for the “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” and is a non-profit professional organization created in 1927 whose members are part of the film industry.  In 1927 the Academy consisted of just 26 members but today has a membership of approximately 5800 voting members.

In the early days of the Academy there were five branches…Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.  Today, the Academy has 17 different branches with the largest branch (22%) being made up of actors.  Some of the other branches include:  Casting Directors, Cinematographers, Costume Designers, Designers, Documentary, Executives, Film Editors, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists, Music, Public Relations, Short Films and Feature Animation, Sound, and Visual Effects.

Academy members do both the nominating and the voting for the Academy Awards through paper or online ballots.  Members are restricted to nominating for awards that are covered by their branch only with the exception of Best Picture, which every voter can nominate.

Once the nominations are in, the votes are tallied and top five are announced as nominees.  The exception to this is the Best Picture Category which can have up to ten nominations.  After the nominees are announced, each Academy member receives a final voting ballot which is either paper or online.  Members may vote for the winner in all categories, regardless of which branch of the film industry they work in.

Three people lay claim to dubbing the gold figure award “Oscar.”  One of these is actress Bette Davis who said the statuette looked like the backside of her husband, Harman Oscar Nelson.

Another person who took credit for giving the Academy Award its nickname was the Academy’s Executive Secretary, Margaret Herrick, who first saw the award in 1931 and said it reminded her of her Uncle Oscar.

It is most commonly believed, however, that writer and Hollywood gossip columnist, Sidney Skolsky, got tired of calling the Academy Award “the shiny gold man” or “the gold statue of the Academy” and began calling it “Oscar” which was a name he heard in a vaudeville joke.

The actual Academy Award or “Oscar” is 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds.  The figure of the statuette is 10.5 inches tall and the base is 3 inches tall. The Oscar statuettes are made of a metal mixture called Britannium (93% tin, 5% antimony, 2% copper) and have 24-karat gold plating on their surfaces.  The base of the Academy Award is a circular can of film with five spokes representing the five original branches of the academy.

In the old days, Academy Award  winners would have their awards taken away after the ceremony for about a week while the metal plate on the base was engraved with their name and category of their award.

Since 2009 however, Oscar winners can go to the Governor’s Ball held after the Academy Awards and wait five minutes while the metal plate is engraved and then attached to their statuette.  That seems like a much better way to do things since it allows the winners to keep their awards!

So, will you be watching Sunday night?  Which film do you think will win for best picture?  We will be pulling for “Hidden Figures” or “La La Land” but there were so many good films nominated and it will be fun to see what the Academy decides!

 

Look Up!

We’ve had some unseasonably warm weather in Texas this month.  One evening last weekend it was so warm that my husband, Jeff, and I were able to sit outside and enjoy a sky full of twinkling stars.  That’s something we haven’t done for quite a while.  Life gets so busy that we sometimes forget to look up and see the glorious views that God gives us every night.

While we sat outside, we were able to see Venus which is at its brightest this month, as well as Mars in the western sky.  I found it slightly amusing that we could see both Venus and Mars in the sky together this Valentine’s week.  You know, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus…

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We sat outside for about an hour and during that time we were able to see the moon, Venus and Mars, the International Space Station, another satellite, and a sky absolutely jam-packed full of stars.  It was breathtaking.

As we gazed at the sky, we reminisced about the summer of 1969.  Both of us were just eight-years-old on July 20th 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.  Jeff said he was so excited that night that he couldn’t sleep and he stayed awake half the night to watch the moon landing.

I remember my parents waking my brother and me to watch the incredible event live on our only television.  I was still half asleep but I remember my father saying, “You have to see this.  No man has ever landed on the surface of the moon before.  You will remember this moment for the rest of your life.”  He was so right and I am grateful that I had parents who recognized the importance of that night and who made sure I saw history happen live.

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To this day, only 12 men have landed on the moon and the United States is the only country to successfully conduct manned missions to the moon.  Between July of 1969 and December of 1972, there were six NASA moon missions.

So, if you are interested in looking up this week, Venus will be at its brightest and most brilliant late in the evening of February 16th and during the early morning hours of February 17th.  The reason Venus is so bright is that it’s closest to the Earth right now and its illuminated side covers more area of our sky than at any other time of the year.  Mars is also visible near Venus in the western skies after sunset.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac website, while Venus is at its brightest right now, it is not a full disk in the sky.  If you look through a telescope, you will see that Venus is only at a crescent stage.

If you would like to get a glimpse of the International Space Station, just go to the website:  spotthestation.nasa.gov and enter your city and state.  The website will give you the dates and times when the space station will next be visible in your area.  It will also tell you how long it will be visible and where in the sky to look for it.

We all spend a lot of time looking down at our various devices…phones, iPads, laptops.  Perhaps it would be a nice change of pace to look up.

I’ll be outside looking at the sky tomorrow night.  Will you?

Author’s note:  And speaking of “looking up” a big  CONGRATULATIONS to my neighbor and friend, Paul Brown, on his promotion to Captain.  If you fly Southwest, he might be piloting your flight!  He also has the distinction of being my only guest blogger on the post, “Which Came First The Chicken Or The Egg?”

What Are You Trying To Say?

I’m a Kroger Author, which means I get to do book signings on weekends in Kroger stores.  Kroger does this as a way to support local authors.  From week to week, I never know where inside a Kroger I’ll be signing.

My favorite location to sit in a Kroger store is next to the floral department.  Many men do the grocery shopping alone on Saturdays and more often than not, they also leave with a bouquet of flowers.  I so enjoy watching them choose flowers for the loves in their lives.  Some are very decisive and pick a bouquet very quickly.  Others linger and look and might pick up several before they settle on their final choice.

Valentine’s Day is today and while millions of paper Valentines will be given, many people will also be buying flowers for someone special.  Valentine flower buyers are 73% men and 27% women…and 15% of women buy flowers for themselves on Valentine’s Day.

The ancient Greeks associated flowers with the gods and assigned a very high importance to them.  Evidence exists that the giving of flowers as a gesture and a gift has been a significant part of many cultures since the Middle Ages.

In the old days, flowers had a symbolic meaning and were sent to convey a message.  In Victorian times especially, people did not believe in showing emotion but it was considered acceptable to send messages through the giving of flowers.

A great amount of effort and detail were put into giving meaning to the flowers that were sent.  The color, size, condition of a flower and even the flower’s position next to other flowers all conveyed meaning to the recipient.  A single flower might have one meaning and a huge bouquet another, but the intent was to express love, remembrance, apology, support or simply to be a thoughtful gesture for another.

Books and guides were written during this time to serve as decoders of these unspoken messages.  Most included meanings of just the more common flowers, while others went so far as to include less common flowers as well as the meanings of trees and tree leaves.

The practice of flower giving has evolved since Victorian times, and most people no longer know the old-fashioned meaning of flowers.  However, flowers are still used to convey sentiments and messages to others even though in today’s world it could be through either real or virtual flower deliveries.

Everyone likes to get flowers so in honor of Valentine’s Day I thought it might be fun to look up some of the flower meanings from the “old” days.  This will help you choose the right flowers for that special someone!

Roses are the most popular flower to give on Valentine’s Day and according to www.statisticbrain.com 198,000,000 roses will be produced to celebrate the holiday this year.  So, let’s begin with the meaning of roses.

Red rose-True love, romance, beauty and perfection

Pink rose-Admiration, gratitude

Lavender rose-Enchantment

Yellow rose-Friendship

White rose-I am worthy of you

Sweetheart rose-You’re a sweet girl

Orchid-You’re beautiful

Tulip-I love you or perfect love

Daisy-We understand one another or innocence

Gerbera Daisy-Beauty, innocence and purity (My daughter’s favorite.)

Sunflower-Warmth, happiness and loyalty

Lily-Refined beauty, class and style

Lily of the Valley-Happiness

Myrtle-Love

Alstroemeria-Friendship and devotion

Iris-Faith and hope…and blue or purple can indicate royalty

Gardenia-Purity, joy and old-fashioned love

Daffodil-You’re the only one for me

Zinnia-I miss you

Bluebell-Constancy

White camellia-Perfect excellence

Mimosa-Sensitivity

Aster-I share your sentiments

Carnation-Fascination and new love (This is the meaning but I say, “Don’t…I’ve never met a woman who is excited about receiving Carnations.)

Hydrangea-Gratitude and heartfelt emotion

Magnolia-Love of nature, sweetness, nobility and perseverance

Texas Bluebonnet-Pride in and admiration for the state of Texas

I hope you all receive flowers…and lots of love today!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

Guilty Pleasures

I’ve had the flu for the past eight days.  It was bound to happen.  I work in a pharmacy two days a week and I never get a flu shot.  Yep, the odds caught up with me.  And, I’ve been so sick that I do plan on getting a flu shot next year.

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So, for the first three days of flu misery I was pretty much in bed with water and tissues and medicine on the nightstand beside me.  Pretty pathetic I was.  When I was awake I didn’t feel much like doing anything.  Even social media and email took more effort than I was able to muster.

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I did use the immobility of illness as an excuse to indulge in some of my guilty pleasures.  In case you are wondering about the meaning of “guilty pleasures” let me assure you they aren’t anything bad or sexual or too weird.

Guilty pleasures are things you really like to do when you are alone that might be seen as unusual or weird and are not generally held in high regard…even though lots of people might secretly do them too!

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So, when I didn’t have the energy or strength to do anything else, I stayed in my pajamas all day and listened to the music from my youth.  Yup, I did.  I started with The Carpenters because I had just finished reading Randy L. Schmidt’s great book about Karen Carpenter, Little Girl Blue.

After that walk down memory lane, I listened to Carole King, Carly Simon, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Neil Young, The Guess Who, and Journey.  No matter what the “Glee” crowd thinks, they did not discover Journey.  Journey was around in the 1970’s and I saw them in concert my first year of college!

Once I got four or five days into the flu journey and finally felt like getting out of bed, my guilty pleasure attention turned to the TV.

I binge watched a season of “Sister Wives”.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out why any woman would want to share a man AND why any man would want more than one wife.  It’s a slow moving show but was kind of like reading the tabloid headlines in the checkout line or an unfortunate accident on the freeway.  I couldn’t look away.  Perhaps all the flu meds dulled my brain.

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Next, I moved onto Netflix and the new series, “The Crown”.  That one satisfied my love of history and since I had my iPad beside me, I could look up some of the actual events and find out more of the stories.  By the way, I do recommend it if you love history and are interested in some backstory on the British Royal Family.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I will also say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading my new “Old Farmer’s Almanac” and having ice cream for dinner one night when my throat was very sore.  You might be surprised by how much you can learn from an almanac while having a bowl of ice cream!

Although I’m not 100% well yet, I am now upright and happy to be back at my computer wrestling with the words on the screen.  Since I haven’t worked on my upcoming book for the past week, I have some catching up to do.

For your amusement, I Googled the top guilty pleasures of both men and women and found a list at www.globalgrind.com.

The Top Guilty Pleasures for Men:

*Watching reality TV shows

*Using beauty products

*Singing along to girl power anthems

*Watching romantic comedy movies

*Dancing at home alone

The Top Guilty Pleasures for Women:

*Reading romantic love novels

*Eating junk food in bed

*Reading trashy magazines

*Buying flowers for herself

*Dancing at home alone

How interesting that both men and women dance at home alone.  Perhaps we should be doing more dancing together?

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Other guilty pleasures that people owned up to online were:  having a cigarette now and then, playing video games, sleeping in, online shopping, late night meals, spending a lot of time on social networks, watching YouTube videos, napping, baking, getting manicures and pedicures, eating ice cream, and marathon watching of shows on Netflix.

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Feel free to share your own guilty pleasures.  You know you have some!