Oscars

Every year I imagine I’ll throw a fabulous Oscar-watching party. I imagine everyone — me, included — wearing Caifornia-chic casual style. I imagine a creative bounty of innovative finger food. I imagine intelligent movie-savvy conversation. But of course what happens instead is that I forget it’s Oscar night until three minutes before and I end up watching in my ratty pajamas and eating out of a Cheetos bag and saying things to the cats such as “‘An Education’? I’ve never heard of that movie before.” The cats are not impressed. However, if you imagine a glittering and successful Oscar-watching party and you have faith that you will actually do it, then take a look at this AP article about Oscar-inspired cocktails: http://www.heraldnews.com/lifestyle/x655498432/Oscar-inspired-cocktails-toast-the-movies It might have shown up in your local newspaper but in case it didn’t, you’ll want to take a look. Raise a glass for me, and I’ll in turn toast you with a Cheeto.

Music

I admit I’m not young and cool. I admit I think Lady Gaga should put some pants on. I admit I’m in that demographic of Super Bowl halftime-show viewers who said, “You know, Pete and Roger haven’t changed that much since I first saw them in ’75. When we had to walk 10 miles in the snow uphill both ways to get to the show.” But I was blown away by the great music I heard on the recent Grammy Award broadcast. I mean, despite Lady Gaga’s weird green Tinkerbell ensemble, her performance was powerfully awesome. Same with Beyonce and Pink. And Green Day and Kings of Leon. And I found myself tapping and clapping along with newcomer the Zac Brown Band. And Taylor Swift was intriguing — I mean, she knows she can’t sing but she’s so supremely confident that she does it anyway? Who is this kid??? So then I wanted to hear more from these folks — and of course classic favorites such as the Dave Matthews Band and even the Black-Eyed Peas. If I were music-savvy and had plenty of money, I’m sure I’d already have a Grammy-worthy CD and iTunes collection. But I’m not and I don’t. So, Wal-Mart to the rescue! Running past the electronics department — between office supplies and dairy — I spotted this $11 CD of Grammy nominees and I’ve been rocking out ever since. I promise you have to smile when you hear Fergie promising you a good night and Sugarland bemoaning that “It Happens.”  You can order it from http://www.grammy.com/, too. This is like bullet points for pop music of the past few months — your kids and friends will be impressed.

Family

Here in northwest Alabama, we seem to really be getting winter this year. Usually we can count on mild and sunny with only a couple of freezing wet and dreary days here and there to remind us what winter is. But this year I’m starting to understand terms such as “winter blues” and “cabin fever” — we’ve had several runs of bitterly cold temps and wintery mix precipitation and looks as if that’s continuing. Ugh. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to amuse us — when my ugly winter raincoat is the most-worn item in my closet, I’m up for any bit of fun that comes my way. Luckily, Younger Daughter is hanging out at home before grad school starts. She’s taught me to play two-person Nertz (I even win every once in awhile), convinced me to take a tap-dance class with her (and has the grace not to laugh) and joined me in unhealthy addictions to “reality” TV (we think Jake the Jerk Bachelor deserves to end up with Vienna the Car-Wrecking Daddy’s Girl). Plus, she’s always up for a batch of chocolate-chip cookie dough — the perfect antidote for too much winter. And go here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nertz to find out about Nertz. I think it goes by many other names and many variations, but we play fast and simply: Get rid of your stack first and you’re the winner. Because we need more time to eat that cookie dough.

Grammys

I know next to nothing about music. My radios are all tuned to NPR stations and my CD/iPod collections lean heavily on the classics — as in Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles. That’s why I rely on the annual Grammy Awards to cue me in on what’s hot and what’s not. Luckily, 23-year-old Younger Daughter watched along with me on Sunday night and we made a great team: She explained what the Blackeyed Peas were singing about and I told her who Alice Cooper and Stevie Nicks are. But what a show!  I was moved to tears, moved to laughter and then at times simply moved to leave the room until my ears (and eyes) stopped bleeding. Here are some highlights, and if you want more go to http://www.ew.com/ew for complete coverage:

As somebody tweeted on Sunday night during the broadcast, “Where’s Kanye when you need him?” Even folks as musically challenged as I am could tell that teen-country-diva Taylor Swift mangled her live performance, but apparently that’s normal for her. And I wasn’t sure if I should be proud of Stevie Nicks for going along or embarrassed for her part in the debacle. It’s so hard to tell with Living Legends! And truthfully I do not understand how Swift has slipped into super-star status. I mean, she’s cute and perky and nice — is that all you need nowadays?

I loved Pink’s rock-‘n’-roll-meets-haute-couture red-carpet gown, which contrasted directly with her performance ensemble of a white sheet covering criss-crossed white bandages. And were the folks sitting below her high-rise swing act issued umbrellas and ponchos?

Multi-winner Beyonce was strong, confident and powerful in her performance. But what’s with the headache-inducing hair tossing and the weird techno-military backup dancers? I mean, when do gimmicks for gimmicks’ sake cross the line from entertaining to annoying? Or maybe being annoying is part of the entertainment. Now my head aches.

If you listen to Lady Gaga’s music, you do not picture a drag queen-like constellation-wearing pale skinny girl. I say congrats to anyone who can work their way up, create an instantly recognizable image and construct such an enormous fan base as she has. If you’re a friend of Elton John, that’s good enough for me.

All I have to say about Lil Wayne, Eminem and the other hip-hop/rappers is, “Could you please pull your pants up? Thank you.”

But I’m not all you-damn-kids-get-outta-my-yard old-lady-grumpy here. I loved the performances by Dave Matthews Band, Zac Brown Band, Slash and Green Day. And the Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige duet was so lovely. Now, that’s music.

Magazines

I love food. I love magazines. And food magazines? Cannot resist. That’s why I’m still mourning the loss of Conde Nast’s Gourmet. But there are a bunch of other magazines that entice with gorgeous photos, informative articles and innovative recipes. But how to know which ones are worth your hard-earned dollars? Chicago Tribune food writer Judy Hevrdejs has written a fun and helpful story comparing seven of the top-selling food magazines. She looks at such variables as average number of recipes per issue, usability, typical reader and her gut reaction. Your local paper might have printed it. If not, read it online at http://www.twincities.com/food/ci_14229780?source=rss. My favorites are Cook’s for intriguing reads, Food & Wine for inspiration and Everyday Food for how-to guides.

And while you’re online, stop by the TimesDaily Web site and read my column at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100129/ARTICLES/1295001. This week I wrote about an experience I had this past week, while Younger Daughter and I were babysitting 22-month-old grandson and nephew Capt. Adorable.  The Captain was overdosing on TV and the results were not pretty. I had two choices: 1) Fall back on my old parenting habits and be too lenient and indulgent or 2) employ the good parenting techniques I’d seen Older Daughter — the Captain’s mom — put into play. Read and find out what happened.

Golden Globes

One of the best things about blogging — and, c’mon, everybody should try it!  — is that you get to comment on just about anything. So, because much of the blogosphere is abuzz this morning with Golden Globes chatter, I’m going to add my .02. Mainly I’m just excited because this year I’ve seen or at least know about most of the various award-show nominees — makes the shows much more fun when I actually recognize who these folks are. So here are my best/worst of the Golden Globes. See if you agree.

In the “This Isn’t High School, People!” category, were actresses such as Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Garner and Toni Collette confused about where they were? I loved Bullock in Blind Side and think she’s great, but her shiny and sheer purple gown looked like it belonged on a 17-year-old who just got named prom queen (except for the sheer part, that is). And I’ve seen Garner’s and Collete’s shiny and sparkly choices on more pageant stages than I can count. Woman up, ladies, and be grownups.

In the “Why Do Their Stylists Hate Them?” category, Kate Hudson’s weird white gown looked like a reject from an origami class, with edges sharp enough to do some serious damage and a crumb-catcher neckline so big she probably couldn’t see anything below her chin. Cameron Diaz’s red satin looked like a backwards vintage nightgown, and I’m not really sure who Zoe Saldana is but she should have cut about half the ruffles off her overwhelmingly embellished, beribboned and ruched dress.

In the ever popular “Why, Oh Why?” category, I’m putting Mad Men’s January Jones for her severe and, let’s face it, ugly black dress-and-headband combo; quirky Chloe Sevigny for her big ruffled mess that somebody must have paid her escort to rip when she went onstage; and oh-so-cute Ginnifer Goodwin for her ill-fitting and chest-flattening draped blue cocktail dress.

In the “Cheap-Looking Shiny Upholstery Fabric Can Be Used in Dresses, Too!” category, put Patricia Arquette and Rita Wilson. I’m giving a prize to the person who comes up with the matching bedspreads.

In the “Right Dress but Wrong Place/Time” category, I’m nominating Julia Roberts for her super-cool and sleek knee-length black dress with hippie-chic statement necklace (too casual); Glee cast member Lea Michele for her gorgeously black full-skirted ballgown (too formal); and adorable Anna Kendrick for her elegant white and silvery one-shoulder choice (too old and too much).

And in the “Perfect!” category, I’m putting nominees who went with sophistication and restrained elegance, such as Gabourey Sidibe, Courtney Cox, Jennifer Anniston and Fergie. I loved Emily Blunt’s soft and tattered layers, Glee’s Jayma Mays’ black and white spider-web effect and Jane Lynch (who said she was at her first awards show ever) for the green halter dress that was totally her.

And in non-fashion highlights — I guess there were these award things handed out? — I loved Paul McCartney’s explanation of why adults like animation, (most of) host Ricky Gervais’s patter, Robert Downey Jr. “speechless” honesty and the class acts of Meryl Streep, Monique and Jeff Bridges.

Next up, the Screen Actors Guild awards on Jan. 23. Then the Grammys on Jan. 31 and the Oscars in March. The Emmys? In August. (I had to look that up.)

Alabama

It’s almost like the whole state of Alabama has shut down today, due to 1) snow and 2) the University of Alabama playing for the national college-football championship tonight. So far, at least in my northwest corner of the state, the snow is not impressing and doesn’t seem to warrant all the school-closings and grocery-store frenzies that went on yesterday. Here’s hoping that Alabama’s football showing tonight is better. Now, normally I am not an Alabama fan — you know it’s a rule here that you have to choose between Alabama and Auburn and I’ve just sort of gravitated toward Auburn as the usual underdog (plus I like the campus better because it’s prettier and smaller) — but tonight I feel as if the honor of SEC football is at stake in front of the whole country and Alabama Must Win. Younger Daughter, on the other hand, is bitterly anti-Alabama and already has declared that we’re a house divided tonight if I’m going to jump ship like this. And it does pain me, it really does — but it’s vital we in the SEC show everyone that we deserve to be represented in the national championship, at least by one team if we can’t have both. So — and you won’t often hear me say this — “Roll, Tide!” Tonight we’ll all be like 21-month-old grandson Capt. Adorable — lounging in our easy chairs with eyes glued to the screens and snacks nearby.