Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Additions to the National Film Registry

The Library of Congress announced 25 films being added to the National Film Registry . This brings the total to 500 films. Established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, the Library Board selects up to 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films" each year for the National Film Registry.

To be considered for the registry, movies must be at least 10 years old. But they do not need to be feature-length or have had a theatrical release.

I was happy to see many of my favorite movies already on the list. It also made me think about what movies I'd like to see added to the registry. Criteria for my picks are movies that I watch over and over. If they have provided me with endless hours of entertainment and if they aren't on the list, they should be added!

Top Ten Movies for the National Film Registry
  1. 9 to 5.
  2. Mommie Dearest.
  3. Titanic.
  4. Coal Miner's Daughter.
  5. Superman.
  6. Superman II.
  7. The Birds.
  8. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
  9. On Golden Pond.
  10. The Empire Strikes Back.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wishing you, your family and friends a very Merry Christmas.

I hope your day is filled with the important pieces of the season: family, friends, happiness, egg nog, good health, cheer, Santa and mistletoe.

Ho Ho Ho,

Michael Rivers

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Golden Globe Predictions: Part 2

After the exhaustive process of picking their winners for the Golden Globe Motion Picture nominees, Michael and Anthony are back. This time, we use our top secret evaluation process for picking our winners for the Golden Globe Television nominees.

In Treatment
Mad Men
True Blood

Michael: Mad Men. The show gets so much great press coverage.

Anthony: Mad Men. The show won an Emmy and I think it deserves to also win this award.

Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
January Jones, Mad Men
Anna Paquin, True Blood
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Michael: Kyra Sedgwick.

Anthony: Sally Field.

Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, The Tudors

Michael: I would love to see Jonathan Rhys Meyers win. I love The Tudors and I think he is wonderful in it.

Anthony: Jon Hamm.

30 Rock
The Office

Michael: 30 Rock. Tina Fey and that show are so hot right now.

Anthony: 30 Rock.

Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Debra Messing, The Starter Wife
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds

Michael: I would be happy with Christina, Tina or Debra. I think Tina will win.

Anthony: America Ferrera has won before but I would like to see Christina get it.

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Kevin Connolly, Entourage
David Duchovny, Californication
Tony Shalhoub, Monk

Michael: Tough choices. They are all great in these roles. I'll pick Alec Baldwin.

Anthony: Tony Shalhoub has won multiple awards for this role, but I think Alec Baldwin will get it.

A Raisin in the Sun
Bernard and Doris
John Adams

Michael: John Adams.

Anthony: John Adams. This was a big winner at the Emmys.

Judi Dench, Cranford
Catherine Keener, An American Crime
Laura Linney, John Adams
Shirley MacLaine, Coco Chanel
Susan Sarandon, Bernard and Doris

Michael: Judi, Shirley and Susan all in one category. Wow. I love them all. I think Laura Linney will win though.

Anthony: Laura Linney will win. She won an Emmy for the role and it was well deserved.

Ralph Fiennes, Bernard and Doris
Paul Giamatti, John Adams
Kevin Spacey, Recount
Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Redemption
Tom Wilkinson, Recount

Michael: Paul Giamatti.

Anthony: Kiefer Sutherland. 24 has been out of the limelight for awhile and he won before for this role.

Eileen Atkins, Cranford
Laura Dern, Recount
Melissa George, In Treatment
Rachel Griffiths, Brothers & Sisters
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment

Michael: Dianne Wiest.

Anthony: Dianne Wiest.

Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Denis Leary, Recount
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Blair Underwood, In Treatment
Tom Wilkinson, John Adams

Michael: Neil Patrick Harris. He is one of the strongest characters on that show.

Anthony: Jeremy Piven.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Golden Globe Predictions: Part One

The Golden Globes will broadcast on January 11, 2009. Each year I make predictions about who will win. I usually do this with my friend, Anthony. I asked him to join me on this blog. So welcome, Anthony, as my guest blogger.

Our predictions for the motion picture categories are below. The television predictions will follow in a separate blog.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionaire

Michael: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This has the Best Motion Picture feel.

: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The momentum is strong for this one.

Burn After Reading
In Bruges
Mamma Mia!
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Michael: I loved all of these. Mamma Mia! won't get it, but it's such a fun movie. In Bruges was a great surprise. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was another wonderful Woody Allen script. Burn After Reading was hilarious. It's between Burn After Reading and Vicki Cristina Barcelona.

Anthony: Burn After Reading. The Coen brothers have a lot of buzz and their success from last year could carry over.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Michael: Sean Penn. Milk is getting such great reviews and mostly because of him. I haven't seen The Wrestler yet so I might change my mind.

Anthony: Mickey Rourke. His performance is being labeled "Best Performance of the Year" and "A Comeback." People love a comeback.

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

Michael: Meryl Streep.

Anthony: Meryl Streep.

Javier Bardem, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Colin Farrell, In Bruges
James Franco, Pineapple Express
Brendan Gleeson, In Bruges
Dustin Hoffman, Last Chance Harvey

Michael: I think Javier will get it, but I would love to see Colin Farrel win. His performance was very emotional.

Anthony: James Franco. The movie was a big hit and he is building a great career.

Rebecca Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading
Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia!
Emma Thompson, Last Chance Harvey

Michael: Frances and Meryl were both incredible. I think Meryl will win. Her role was more of a challenge. Singing, dancing, comedy.

Anthony: I loved Frances McDormand. She'll win.

Tom Cruise, Tropic Thunder
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Ralph Fiennes, The Duchess
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Michael: Heath Ledger.

Anthony: Heath Ledger.

Amy Adams, Doubt
Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Michael: Penelope Cruz. When watching the movie I thought, "She's going to win awards for this." She stole every scene. She deserves the win.

Anthony: Penelope Cruz. For the Vicky Cristina Barcelona nominations, she has the biggest chance of winning.

Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road

Michael: David Fincher.

Anthony: Danny Boyle. Great buzz and he's an established director.

Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
David Hare, The Reader
Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt

Michael: Peter Morgan.

Anthony: Eric Roth. The screenplay is complex and original.

Kung Fu Panda

Michael: WALL-E

Anthony: WALL-E

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cheapair Offers Easy Travel Planning

I love to travel. As a list maker and detailed planner, I love researching and organizing my vacations. For a trip for Las Vegas, I created a chart with all the shows I wanted to see, the restaurants where I wanted to eat and the special sites I could not miss. I admit, sometimes I get carried away. Maybe I should become a travel agent.

There are so many options to plan your travel via the Internet. To find the best deals on transportation, Cheapair.com is my favorite site. It's my favorite for many reasons:

1. You can search for flights, hotels, cars and cruises. (It's winter here in Minneapolis. A cruise sounds wonderful right now).

2. The site is very easy to navigate and it keeps track of your previous searches.

3. When shopping for flights, you get a complete breakdown of ALL airlines AND a Mix & Match option. My experience is the Mix & Match usually provides the least expensive flight combinations. You might be flying Delta to your destination and flying American back home, but if you save several hundred dollars does it matter?

4. Viewing the search results, you know immediately what the lowest ticket price is for each airline and which airlines offer direct flights.

5. When you choose an airline or the Mix & Match you are presented with the available flight times AND the corresponding cost. Matching your budget to available flights could not be easier!

The next time you are planning a trip or you are curious what travel costs are averaging, try cheapair.com. In a few clicks of your mouse, you'll be presented with a very clear breakdown of several options.

Happy Travels!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Burger King Offers Men's Body Spray

Are you a guy who wants to smell like a Burger King Whopper? Are you a lady who wants her man to smell like one? If you answered yes to any of these questions you are in luck!
Burger King Corp. has launched a new men's body spray called Flame. The spray has the "scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat." You read it right: Seduction and flame-broiled meat in the same sentence.
The photo for the new campaign features the Burger King in a seductive pose. Crackling fire, bearskin rug and a nude King with some strategically placed fabric. It did make me laugh. And it reminded me of Burt Reynolds' famous 1972 Cosmopolitan centerfold.
The site firemeetsdesire.com is dedicated to the new mouthwatering scent. You can also purchase it from Rickys NYC in person or through their website. The cost is only $3.99 for a 5ml bottle.
I've worn Acqua di Gio by Armani for almost ten years. I can't imagine changing. And I don't want to smell like flame broiled meat. No matter how seductive it is. Unless it really works then let me know asap! I'll buy it by the case.
Of course, the most important question still needs answering: Can I get fries with that?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fleetwood Mac Tours Again

Fleetwood Mac is going on tour for the first time in five years! The tour is called Unleashed and it kicks off in Pittsburgh on March 1, 2009. The band released a joint statement:
"We love our band and think the title of the tour 'UNLEASHED' perfectly describes how we feel when we all get on stage together - especially in 2009. We are so happy to get back out on the road, perform everyone's favorite songs and see our fans."

Sixteen stops are listed on the band's site with the promise of more dates coming soon. The tour is scheduled to run through summer. Keep checking Ticketmaster to find out when these multi-Grammy Award winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees are coming to your town.

I saw both Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nick's last tours. Incredible sound. Professional. Fantastic vocal talents. On March 3, 2009, I'll have another ticket in hand to enter the Xcel Center in St. Paul, MN. Fleetwood Mac is performing and I can't pass up the opportunity to see this legendary supergroup again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Visions of Sugar Plums

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich is a quick and fun holiday read. The book is a little departure from the others in the the Stephanie Plum series. A mystery character named Diesel comes into Stephanie's life and we never do learn who--or what--he is.

The book dances on the edge of loosing the reality of the series. The story leaves a reader as curious and confused about Diesel as Stephanie Plum is. Maybe that is the point and his real identity will be explained in upcoming books.

The story works because it's tied to the magic of the holiday. You can suspend your disbelief even further when reading about Christmas. The ending leaves you feeling warm inside like you just drank a cup of hot chocolate.

If you are looking for a fun holiday story with a touch of magic and superpowers, read Visions of Sugar Plums.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Favorite Holiday CD

I have many holiday CDs. Last count was over 25. And I have a few that I want to buy this year including Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera and Tony Bennet. My tastes in holiday music are as varied as the rest of my music collection.

If I had to pick one, my all time favorite holiday CD is Once Upon a Christmas by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. I've listened to this countless times. Released in 1984, the recordings have not aged at all. The arrangements are timeless. I was reminded of this last night when I played the CD.

Every year I look forward to the month of December because I'll listen to Kenny and Dolly sing wonderful solos and outstanding duets. Of course Kenny and Dolly are one of the most famous and successful country singers to ever duet. Islands in the Stream started their partnership and their holiday CD reinforces their duet power.

The standard Christmas songs are great. My favorites are the five new songs Dolly wrote for the album including Christmas Without You, The Greatest Gift of All and With Bells On.

Even if you are not a country music fan, if you enjoy holiday music this CD must be part of your colletion.

Dolly Parton's Official Website

Kenny Rogers' Official Website

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oscar Host Announced

The host for the 2009 Academy Awards was announced. This year Hugh Jackman has the honor.

This is a departure for the Oscars. Since 1987, the ceremony has been hosted by a comedian. Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal, Whoopie Goldberg, David Letterman, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres have all used their comedic skills to play host. The last actor to have the job was Paul Hogan in 1986. Even then he co-hosted with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn.

The Academy Awards will be broadcast February 22, 2009 at 7pm (Central) on ABC.

Official website of the Academy Awards.

Friday, December 12, 2008

They are in the Mail

My Holiday Cards are officially in the mail. Written, addressed, stuffed, stamped and dropped off at the post office.

2 Countries.
15 States.
35 Cities.
70 Cards.


Okay, I took a few shortcuts to get these done. But that's not bad. Everyone can afford to save time during the holiday season.

  1. I didn't write my name and address on the envelopes: My car insurance provider sent to me some great holiday address stickers. These saved time and added holiday cheer to the upper left corner of the envelope. The stickers were in Christmas colors and Santa smiled beside my name and address.
  2. I didn't write the recipient's name and address on the envelopes: A couple years ago, I started a Christmas Card Label Spreadsheet. Each year I add new friends to the list. Then I press PRINT and watch as my printer happily fills in sheets of labels. And these aren't plain, boring labels. This year, a snowflake was beside each person's name.
  3. I always use holiday stamps. That way the upper right corner of the envelope has a touch of Ho Ho Ho.
  4. Who wants to lick envelopes? I use Scotch Tape. Quick, easy and simple. Sometimes I'll add a Christmas sticker on the back of the envelope. Can there ever be too much?
  5. I didn't do a holiday letter this year. Time was running out. I couldn't think of a time saving tip for this except just not to do one. Next year!

No matter how many time saving tricks you do, preparing 70 cards (or more) is a lot of work. Sometimes it seems like too much work. But in the end, I believe it's worth it.

As I was dropping each envelope into the mail, I looked it over to make sure I didn't miss anything. I smiled as I read the names of each family member and friend. I was reminded once again how fortunate I am to have so many special people in my life.

Sending a card to wish them a great holiday and a wonderful new year filled me with the spirit of the season.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Tudors: Season Two

I devoured season one of The Tudors. After I took my napkin and dabbed off my chin, I told my friends they had to watch this erotic and drama filled Showtime series. Jonathan Rhys Meyers' portrayal of a young, seductive and athletic Henry VIII let me wanting more.

I don't have Showtime so I've been anxiously awaiting the DVD release of The Tudors - Season Two. The original release date was December 30, 2008. I was excited to bring in the new year with Henry VIII and the gang. Then the release date was pushed back another week.

The four disc box set is scheduled to hit store shelves on January 6, 2009.

If you haven't watched season one, you still have plenty of time to get caught up before season two arrives.

You wouldn't want to upset Henry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Your Screenplay Sucks

I just finished reading Your Screenplay Sucks! Sure it is a catchy title but I never want to hear those words from an agent or a studio executive! After reading this book, I don't think I will.

If you are dreaming of a career in screenwriting, you must read this book. I plan to read it again once I am positive my screenplay is finished. I know I will learn even more.

Every page is filled with advice, tips, rules and checklists. I can't even begin to share how much I learned. I will share the email that I sent to the author, William M. Akers.


Hello Mr. Akers,

I'm almost finished reading Your Screenplay Sucks. Even before the end of Act One, I knew that I was going to send an email. This morning I finished reading Act Two and I couldn't wait any longer. This book is wonderful. The information in Act Two is worth more than the book's price.

I've read several books on screenwriting and I've written along with Syd Field's DVD workshop. I thought I had a great understanding about this mystery called screenwriting. I was wrong. I never expected to learn so much from another book. Many times while reading I thought, "Why wasn't this covered in any of the other books?"

I found your book at the perfect time. I'm on draft six of my screenplay. I can read your book and immediately know what I've done wrong. You caused more than a few pangs of panic to shoot through me. And a couple times, you managed to scare the hell out of me. The information you provided is so valuable. Once I complete my current round of edits, I will start the checkpoints in the book.

Now I'm off to read Act Three.


Michael Rivers
Minneapolis, MN

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

22 Shopping Days

It is December 2nd, 2008. The calendar on my wall and the Page-a-Day calendar on my desk both tell me so. Another month is just starting. Of course, December is not an ordinary month. It's filled with greeting cards, shopping, school concerts, decorating, baking, cooking, office parties, gift wrapping and traveling. A thousand pieces rushing to the Holiday Finish Line.

But right now, it's only December 2nd. The To-Do lists are slowly forming in my mind. I scratched out a brief outline on paper but I don't remember where I put it. There is no panic. No stress. No worries. I have an entire month to calmly prepare and carryout Holiday Plan 2008.

At least this was my thought this morning. But then things were reversed and spun to face the other direction. At lunch, I went for a brief walk. Some store front windows were decked out for the season. Some weren't. Some windows were mid-decorated. Full price Santas and Nativity Scenes were sharing shelf space with clearance price turkeys and Pilgrims.

I approached a Federal Express Shipping store. A sign in their window stopped me. I shook my head. "That can't be right." I read the sign again as panic crept into my thoughts.

Only 22 Shopping Days Before Christmas

Twenty-two days? That's it? I only have twenty-two days to get everything ready for the holidays? How is this possible? This morning I had an entire month before me. Now I have twenty-two days!? When and how could this happen?

From the viewpoint of December 2nd, the holiday was no problem. It was so far away. From the viewpoint of Only 22 Shopping Days Before Christmas . . . well, I have to get busy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Holiday Quiz

Q. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
A. Each year I put on holiday CDs or one of my favorite holiday shows (Rudolph, Grinch, Frosty) to begin the Gift Wrapping Process. I do like wrapping gifts with paper, bows and name tags. But the gift bags are so nice that I enjoy using those too. Sometimes it is just easier to use a bag.

[Bag Use Hint: Don't just put the gift in the bag. Make sure you have some tissue paper sticking out from the top of the bag. I think Martha Stewart may have told me this].

I do a mixture of boxes and bags. The variety looks great under the tree. A colorful mystery just waiting to be revealed.

Q. Real tree or Artificial?
A. I use an artificial one. They look real. They last the season. They don't shed needles. They don't need to be watered.

Q. When do you put up the tree?
A. Usually on Thanksgiving Day, or that weekend.

Q. When do you take the tree down?
A. Anytime after New Years. Sometimes on January 1st. Depends on the time.

Q. Do you like eggnog?
A. Yes. Very much.

Q. Favorite gift received as a child?
A. I loved the tape recorder I got one year. Used it for years. The family computer was a great one too.

Q. Hardest person to buy for?
A. That's a hard one to answer.

Q. Easiest person to buy for?
A. My niece. On a side note, I think that I am very easy to buy for.

Q. Do you have a nativity scene?
A. No. My mom has several though. Should I borrow one?

Q. Mail or email Christmas cards?
A. I love writing out cards. And I love getting them in the mail. Is that wrong to admit? There is something fun about getting mail. If you get one from me, send one back! You don't want to be scratched off my list.

Q. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
A. I don't remember ever thinking of a gift as "worst" or "bad." As a kid I didn't like getting clothes. Not sure many kids do. Now I love it.

Q. Favorite Christmas Movie?
A. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Christmas Story, The Year Without a Santa Clause, The Judy Garland Christmas Special, Emmit Otter's Jug Band Christmas, The Christmas that Almost Wasn't, Santa Clause, Santa Clause is Coming to Town.

Q. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
A. After Thanksgiving. I don't have too many to buy for and I can do it fast if needed.

Q. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
A. I've never had a reason to recycle a gift.

Q. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
A. Ham, sweet potatoes, stuffing, banana bread, macaroni salad, other salads and all the wonderful baking my mom does.

Q. Lights on the tree?
A. On my Blue Tree, I have hundreds of white lights: solid and blinking. It looks great. On my Rudolph Tree, I have red and white. Some blinking, some steady.

Q. Favorite Christmas song?
A. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. No matter who sings it, I love it. I have 20+ versions of that song on my iPod.

Some trivia: The song was written for Judy Garland to sing in the film Meet Me in St. Louis. My friend, Michael Siewart, owns the gown Judy wore while singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It was a moving experience to see the gown Judy wears as she sings my favorite Christmas song in that famous scene from the movie.

Q. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
A. I travel back home to Aberdeen, SD.

Q. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
A. Yes. No problem. Bashful, Doc, Sleepy, Grumpy . . . . oh wait, those are the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White.

Q. Angel on the tree top or a star?
A. A huge glitter covered snowflake to match the other huge glitter snowflakes on my Blue Tree.

Q. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning?
A. Christmas Eve.

Q. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
A. The stores being decorated for Christmas before the Halloween Decor is down?

Q. Favorite ornament theme or color?
A. My Blue Tree is done in a variety of blue ornaments. The garland, lights and snowflakes are all white. My Rudolph Tree is decorated in Rudolph ornaments, red garland and white and red lights.

Q. What do you want for Christmas this year?
A. A GPS so I stopped getting lost.