Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Skate America – An Olympics Preview 



Those who follow this blog know that I am an avid figure skating fan and try to attend as many live events that I can (budget and time permitting).  I try to see at least one live competition a year ever since I went to Boston in 2016 to see the World Championships.

Seeing skating live is much different than on TV, not only are the costumes more sparkly in person but I get a different appreciation for the skaters’ speed and ice coverage.  The energy is much different at a live event, too that you can’t get by watching on TV or Youtube.  There are also opportunities to meet the skaters and other fans, which is fun!

This year, I made the 250 plus mile trek (and I do mean trek) to snowy Lake Placid to attend Skate America, which is part of the six event Grand Prix series that occurs every fall.  Top tier skaters from around the globe compete twice for a place in the Final, which takes place in Nagoya, Japan December 7-10.  Only six are selected from each discipline (Ladies, Men, Dance and Pairs) to compete based on their results from the six events.

Skate America is usually held in mid-October but it was changed this year to Thanksgiving weekend presumably for NBC sports to promote the Olympics, where figure skating is a usually a top audience draw.  With the Olympics happening in less than two months’ time, I will give my impressions how this event may impact who gets selected for Team USA.  The team announcements will be made the first week of January, following US Nationals in San Jose, CA.

Ladies:  The US has three ladies’ spots for the Olympic team.  At this event were two of the top contenders, current US Champion Karen Chen and veteran Ashley Wagner who won a silver medal at Worlds in 2016 and has three US titles.  Both Chen and Wagner had a challenging competition here with Chen suffering a hard fall during her “On Golden Pond” short program and Wagner withdrawing from the competition mid-skate during her “Moulin Rouge” program due to an ankle injury. 

The big story at Skate America was Bradie Tennell, who was not on the radar as a serious contender for the team until this event.  Tennell had two clean programs and scored over 200 points overall, securing a bronze medal behind the gold and silver medalists from Japan, Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto.   Tennell is one of the few American women with a stellar jump technique and has been consistently landing them in smaller competitions.  Many had not heard of her before this event, but now she is a one to watch to contend for the US title.  Other contenders to make the team are Mirai Nagasu, who was 4th in the 2010 Olympics and now has a triple axel in her arsenal of jumps and Mariah Bell, last year's bronze medalist at Nationals.



Men:  Another headlining story at Skate America were the gold and silver medalists: current US Champion Nathan Chen (no relation to Karen) and Adam Rippon, who had the title in 2016.  Chen is the one you will be seeing all over the Olympic commercials (he has endorsements with Coke and Bridgestone Tires, among others) and has made a name for himself the past couple of seasons as one of the few US men to consistently land difficult quadruple jumps to compete internationally.  Some are predicting he could win gold at the Olympics!

Rippon is a veteran who is not known for landing quads but his consistent quality of performance and artistry.  His program to "Arrival of the Birds/Exodus/O (Fly On)" choreographed by Dancing With the Stars' Benji Schwimmer has been a crowd pleaser the past two seasons.  During his free program, Rippon fell on his quad lutz jump and dislocated his shoulder.  To the crowd’s amazement, he got up and popped it in and continued to land all of his jumps and mesmerize the audience.  He even won that segment of the competition over his teammate Chen!  (Not to mention cleaning up bugs off the ice before his skate - see video below)



Chen (who had a stellar short program to the song “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine, scoring over 100 points) faltered in the free skate by popping a few jumps due to issues he was having with his skates.  He still had enough of a lead from his short program to win by about 10 points.   Another American skater, Ross Miner, competed here and placed a respectable sixth out of ten skaters who completed the competition.  (There were two withdrawals here due to injury; Russia’s Maxim Kovtun and Israel’s Daniel Samohin, who also dislocated his shoulder during his freeskate.  Figure skating is no joke!)



I expect to see Chen and Rippon (who also share the same coach, Rafael Aryutunyan) on the Olympic team.  The third spot is up in the air now, but my bet is on fan favorite Jason Brown, who did not compete at this event.  Chen and Rippon also qualified for the Grand Prix Final here, which can help solidify their campaigns to represent USA in PyeongChang.  (By the way, I was lucky enough to meet Rippon after the men’s free at a local restaurant and congratulate him on his performance). 

ETA 12.1.17: Jason Brown will also be going to the final, with the withdrawal of China's Boyang Jin.  This is the first time there have been three US men in a Grand Prix Final since 2009!

Maia and Alex Shibutani take their bows following their free dance
Dance: Two time and current US Champions, siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani won the gold here, surprising nobody.  They got well deserved personal best scores for their Latin themed short dance and their free dance to Coldplay’s “Paradise.”  The Shibutanis will be named to the US team, along with Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, who did not compete here.  All three of these teams will be in the Grand Prix Final.

Two up and coming US dance teams, Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker and the Parsons siblings (Rachel and Michael) placed 5th and 9th here, respectively.



Pairs:   The US only has one spot on the Olympic team for pairs, which will most likely go to married pair team Alexa and Chris Knierim.  They were US champions in 2016 but were out for most of last season due to a serious illness that sidelined Alexa for months.   They have great elements such as their triple twist and throw jumps but struggle on side by side jumps, which left them in 5th place here, among stiff competition from the top teams from Germany, China, Canada and Russia.

Still, they are the most polished of the US pairs and will be selected over teammates Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier (who won the 2017 title in the Knierim’s absence) and Deanna Stellato and Nate Bartholomay, who placed 7th and 8th here, respectively.


If you’re still reading this (lol), I hope you enjoyed my analysis of the US skaters at this event and watch them compete in PyeongChang in February.  I also plan to travel to San Jose for the senior level events and will be sure to blog my impressions!

#olympics #skateamerica #nathanchen #adamrippon #bradietennell #alexaandchrisknierim #figureskating #shibutanis #shibsibs

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy 396th Thanksgiving America! November 23, 2017

This has been posted annually with minor revisions since the first 2012 Thanksgiving post! Enjoy 



"My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor." 
~~ Phyllis Diller, American stand-up comedienne, actress, voice artist, and comedienne, best known for her eccentric stage persona and her wild hair and clothes.(b. July 17, 1917 – d. August 20, 2012)


Happy 396th Thanksgiving Day America!

Thanksgiving, referred to by many Americans as "First Thanksgiving" was originally celebrated by the Pilgrims and Colonists after their first harvest in the New World in the year 1621 when they invited the Wamponaog Indians to their autumn harvest feast. 
Photo above right of a food decoration for Erntedankfest, a Christian Thanksgiving harvest festival celebrated in Germany courtesy of Wikimedia.org.

AllThingsDigitalMarketing blog would not stand to it's allthingsdigitalmarketing motif without a collage of "Thanksgiving Google Doodles" past and analysis of Google's basic design structure over the years. Besides the Google logo differentiating itself from the other search engines (e.g., Yahoo, Lycos, HotBot, etc.) it symbolizes uniqueness and mold-breaking vision. Below are Google's Thanksgiving doodles from the very first doodle in 1998 through present. (This collage will be updated with the most current Google doodle asap, so bookmark and visit frequently). Interesting to see what Google will do this year.




































The very first Thanksgiving doodle was posted in 1998 (see collage above, lower right). Note how the clean, conservative signature Google logo design breaks all the conventional rules of branding and logo design. Ruth Kedar, graphic designer of Google's doodle, created one of the most recognizable logos (within a few years, Google's logo became as popular as NBC proud peacock and the CBS eye, also known as the "Tiffany Network"). Below are examples of standard branding rules Kedar obviously ignored:
        •   Don't incorporate more than 2 bold colors (Google uses 4 bold colors, playing with colors created a very child-like, playful yet bold design);
        •   Never over-kern letters (Google has excessive, uneven spacing in-between letters. Even though they have made a few changes (the latest in May 2014) the spacing is way off and obvious to the naked eye);
        •   Stay away from simple, elementary fonts (The original choice was the world's most popular typeface -- "Times Roman;" However Google's simple, chisel-style "Catull" typeface was selected for the subtle, sophisticated sans-serif design which incorporated old world writing style (e.g.,chisel and quill) with new age digital.

Google signature brand elements remained unchanged for the first Thanksgiving doodle (1998) with the exception of an exclamation mark and cartoon-like turkey, respectively at the very end of the word Google.

From a market branding perspective, Google doodles illustrate how breaking rules can be very effective -- violating traditional guidelines of logo brand management yet not minimizing Google brand equity. Interestingly, Google's Thanksgiving doodles gradually integrate design motifs within the Google letters (e.g., doodles from 1999 through 2002).

Beginning with 2003 to the present, Google doodle design integration spread to multiple letters with some doodles entirely replacing actual letters -- particularly with the 2008 cornucopia and in 2010 Google doodle's entire letters were replaced with food servings from the design by Food Network's Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.



Can you think of other brands who have broken the rules with their logos and still maintained their brand?

Do you think breaking the rules for logos would work for other brands.

The 2015 Thanksgiving Google doodle is not animated. Here's the 2014 animated Thanksgiving doodle. Isn't is adorable? Enjoy!

To view the 2013 animated Thanksgiving doodle, click here!


RESOURCES: Links to Thanksgiving doodles past
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2016  
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2015
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2014
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2013
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2012
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2011
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2010
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2009
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2008
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2007
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2006
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2005
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2004
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2003
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2002
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2001
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-2000
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-1999
  • https://www.google.com/doodles/thanksgiving-1998

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada. Although Thanksgiving is celebrated by many in religion and cultural traditions, it is also a world-wide (non-religious) celebration. Photo right miniature pumpkins by Gloria Buono-Daly (taken at Stew Leonards, Yonkers, NY, October 2013). 

Our 16th President of the U.S.A., Abraham Lincoln, declared Thanksgiving Day a national holiday to be held annually in November during the Civil War (1863). Although New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday in 1817.

Not surprising, many Native Americans as well as other individuals disagree with the way Thanksgiving is mentioned historically particularly in text books, school classrooms and other periodicals. They believe millions of deaths resulted from the long and bloody war between Native Americans and European settlers and call Thanksgiving a "day of mourning." A History.com posting, reports that since 1970, protesters have gathered on Thanksgiving Day at the top of Cole’s Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, to commemorate a “National Day of Mourning.” Similar events are held in other parts of the country. 

Photo below left of Black Friday sale courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.

This Thanksgiving for sure many will eat, drink, and sleep while others will shop till they drop for many things especially electronics, smart phones and iPhones.
Samsung usually advertises their new products and for sure many will consider the latest Samsung Notebook 4 (released in mid October).

So be on the lookout for discounts if you are interested. Not surprising, iPhones will not have discounts.

Phone companies offer no-finance monthly plans with a slight discount if you lock yourself into a 2 year plan. Since many are not opting for cell phone lock-ins, you may find great deals for comparative, non-Apple products.
What will you be doing this Thanksgiving Day?

If you plan on being in New York City, there's always the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, this is the 90

th year.

This year, there are many performers including Mariah Carey, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, and Trey Songz. Click here to view the complete line-up for this year.

There are plenty of things to do on Thanksgiving -- see links below in the "Resources" section.

Thanksgiving Day (Jour de l'Action de grâce in Canadian French) is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.

Several other places around the world observe similar celebrations.

Resources: 

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2014 R, TimeOut
 NEEDTOBREATHE to Play at 88th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade , Urban Christian News
Ruth Kedar On Designing the Google Logo Google BlogoScoped
10 Reasons Not To Spend Thanksgiving with your Family, Babble by Disney
5 Tips for Viewing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade , LuxeAdventureTraveler
How to do Thanksgiving without Family, Elephant 


Please remember to check out the links in the resource section above and share this on your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks you enjoy! Thanks! 

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia.org unless otherwise indicated.




This Thanksgiving post is a reposting of previous AllThingsDigitalMarketing annual Thanksgiving blog posts.

Visiting this blog frequently and sharing this with your social media and professional network is much appreciated. Thanks.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Veterans Day America! Let's give thanks to all our veterans and families November 11


Happy Veterans Day America!

Veterans Day honors those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11th. Last year the theme was
 “Courage – Honoring All Who Served”  is the Veterans Day theme this year


Veterans Day coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. Thank you to all of our Veterans and families.

The United States originally observed Armistice Day and it was renamed to Veterans Day holiday in 1954.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day as November 11, 1919.

Seven years later, the United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution (June 4, 1926), and requested that President Calvin Coolidge issue another proclamation to observe November 11th.
Photo right of soldier with folded American flag courtesy of wikimedia.



I was fortunate to receive this interesting article from one of my dearest cousins about my late father and his 3 brothers(total 7 brothers, 1 sister) who served during World War II.

Coincidentally, major hostilities of World War I formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect.


Do you plan on doing anything this Veterans Day?


Many celebrate with family and friends, and there are so many special ways to celebrate.

For example, sharing photos of loved ones who have served in the armed forces (I've just done that via the photo above), posting to your social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, blogs, etc. Also the traditional VD Parades, especially in New York City.
Photo below right of bald eagle courtesy of wikimedia.

Parades are wonderful especially for children. Being creative with children is also an excellent way to help them learn about history and Veterans Day. Have them read various periodicals (e.g., books, newspapers, magazines, internet, photos of soldiers, etc.) and ask them to draw pictures of various images that remind them of Veterans Day such as our American flag, relatives in uniform, Veterans Day Memorials, and our national emblem, the bald eagle. And you can also enjoy the parade at home with family by watching it on TV live or online  ~ Watch the Parade!

If you happen to be in New York City, there's always the Veterans Day Parade, this year, the theme is “Honor and Remember, Home of the Brave” commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II and the 25th Anniversary of Desert Shield. Organized in New York since 1929 by the United War Veterans Council (UWVC) this parade is the largest Veterans Day event in the nation with over 25,000 parade participants, and this year marks the 87th year! 



The wreath laying ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Eternal Flame in Madison Square Park (located in the Flat Iron district of New York City) and the parade begins at 11:25 a.m. and ends 3:30 p.m.


Photo below left of Aviation High School at Madison Square Park during the NYC Veterans Day Parade courtesy of wikimedia.


The parade goes up Fifth Avenue, from 26th to 52nd Street. The route is 1.3 miles (approx. a 35 minute walk).

The Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard are also represented.

If you can't be there, you can still see the parade live at PIX11 ~ America's Parade to Air on PIX11



Resources:
▼   Visit this link and share the 2015 Veterans Day Teaser Poster http://americasparade.org/share-the-2015-teaser-poster/
▼   America's Parade to Air on PIX11 http://americasparade.org/pix11-to-air-americas-parade/
▼   Veterans Day 2014: Deals on meals for military personnel, New York Daily News,
▼   Veterans Day Parade in New York City,About Travel,
▼   America's Parade in New York City,About Travel
▼   Veterans Day Parade information on Wikipedia
▼   Office of Public Affairs http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/

This is a reporting of a previous VD post with updates. Please bookmark this blog and share this with your social media and other networks. Thanks.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Know Your Value Conference with Mika Brzezinski


Mika Brzezinski, best known for co-hosting MSNBC’s Morning Joe (with her now fiancé, Joe Scarborough), is a bestselling author of books for professional women.  One of her titles, Knowing Your Value (Hachette Books), is a guide “to empower women to claim their worth at every stage of their personal and professional lives.”  (Hachette is releasing a revised version in September 2018)

Brzezinski has recently expanded the Know Your Value brand by hosting live events and a new website. One such event was held on October 30th at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, featuring such luminaries as Martha Stewart, Jane Pauley and Sarah Jessica Parker, not to mention Joe Scarborough, who acted as co-host.  Oh, and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped by to declare it “Know Your Value” day (and presumably to court women voters)!


The day was packed with interviews, panels, and workshops covering personal branding, salary negotiating, health/wellness, re-launching a career after taking time off to care for family, body language, millennials in the workforce and more.  There was also a contest featuring three everyday women who, after some professional coaching and styling, pitched their value.  The winner, Tiffany Hamilton, received $5,000 after an impassioned one-minute speech which made WNBC’s New York Live host and judge Sara Gore get teary eyed (NBC’s Willie Geist and InStyle’s Laura Brown were the other judges).

Brzezinski also spoke throughout the day, advising women how to Know Their Value:

1) Stop Apologizing - Women say “I’m sorry” too often and in the process, diminish their value in comparison to men.
2) Get Your Data – Have metrics handy of the value you bring to your company’s business. Think how much revenue did you generate or how much did you save the company by implementing a project?  What awards have you won?
3) Respect First, Friendship Follows – You are not at work to make friends but be respected for your value.   Relationships are important at work, but they need to respect you first.
4) Dress for Your Message – Wear clothing that makes you confident and expresses your brand.
5) Use Silence for Your Advantage – When asking for something – make your case and ask, then be quiet.
6) Press Reset – You can always try again if you don’t succeed the first time.

Here are some highlights and tips from some of the Know Your Value presenters:


Martha Stewart, now well into her 70s, keeps her creative juices flowing by always being curious, reading and getting out to meet new people.  (She also memorably described her TV co-host Snoop Dogg as intelligent, funny and always reeking of pot!)


Sarah Jessica Parker has parlayed her “Sex and the City” fame into a successful shoe line.  Although a shoe line was always a natural extension of her brand and many wanted to work with her, she refused to compromise on quality and decided to work with Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus to bring her shoes to market.  She also says to learn the business she “is quiet and learns” and surrounds herself with people who know more than she does, so she can learn. She also spoke of having a strong work ethic, being reliable and watching how you treat others.

News anchor and journalist Jane Pauley, who was diagnosed as bi-polar when she was 49, talked about self-care being important for all women, not just for someone who is managing a physical or mental illness.  She gets plenty of sleep and takes her medication daily, describing her 50s and 60s as the best years of her life.


InStyle’s Editor in Chief Laura Brown is known for her “kooky” Instagram  account which she describes as a magazine of her life.  She advises women to be authentic and use their inner 8-year-old as a guide to what makes them happy.  She is also using InStyle to highlight “badass women” such as Cate Blanchett and write about social change through interviews with political figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden.


The BBC’s Katty Kay, who co-authored The Confidence Code, advises women to assess why they deserve a raise, list achievements and prepare and strategize before asking her boss.  She also says that persistence is key and making it a win/win for the employer.  She also says not to cry and learn to respond to objections in real time.


Body language expert Janine Driver gave a riotous presentation where she gave some great do’s and don’ts.  She said to focus on voice and posture and to shake hands while facing someone with your body, and to grab your chin to show confidence and stature.  She also explained why Hillary Clinton shimmied during her debates with Donald Trump – it was done to control anger – it’s impossible to stay angry when you are shimmying!  Some don’ts included not to shrug (shows uncertainty and not caring) or to shake hands with your body turned to the side.

Fitness guru Tracy Anderson spoke about the importance of daily exercise (30-60 minutes) for all women and they should choose something they enjoy.  She also talked about how important Instagram has been to her success with her #tamily hashtag that brings her fans together and connect.

In all, this was a great event and I applaud Mika Brzezinski and her team for pulling it together.  If I had a criticism, I felt she tried to jam almost too many topics into the day, so there wasn’t enough time to really dive into each.  (I was also expecting a complimentary copy of Knowing Your Value, having been to similar events where the book is always included in the price of admission.  In this case, they were selling books in the lobby to be signed by Brzezinski).

#KnowYourValue #MikaBrzezinski #JoeScarborough #MarthaStewart #SarahJessicaParker #JanePauley #tracyanderson #laurabrown

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy 122nd Halloween - October 31, 1895


"Double, double toil and trouble;
fire burn and cauldron bubble."  
 
 
   
~~ William Shakespeare, “Macbeth, 1611 

English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". (1564-1616)























Google Doodle celebrates Halloween with the Memo the Cat and her Magic Academy interactive contest doodle.

Follow feline freshman Momo on her quest to rescue her  magic academy. Score points and help ward off mischievious ghosts by swiping in the shape of the symbols above the ghosts’ heads. And you’d better pounce fast—the ghost that stole the master spellbook is getting away! 



HAPPY HALLOWEEN DOODLE and BoooOooH ha ha ha to all ghastly ghosts & evil spirits!

 


Save Momo's Music Academy and earn game points by swiping the shape on top of the ghosts' heads and wipe out all the ghosts.  

I scored 1660! 


How many ghosts can you wipe out?












Much more than a just a Google doodle, today many internet surfers enjoyed spooky, interactive, search results instead of Google’s customary and “I’m Feeling Lucky” search options.

Eighteen Halloween's ago, Google posted it's very first Halloween Google Doodle.

Photo right, screen capture of Google's first Halloween Doodle, October 31, 1999.

Internationally, Halloween's first celebration traces back to 1895 in Scotland and for North America the first Halloween was celebrated in 1911.


Enjoy this collage of Halloween Google Doodles above or to experience Google Doodles of Halloween's past, visit the following links:

Halloween Momo on Her Mission 2016
Halloween Global Candy Cup 2015
Favorite Monsters Google Doodle 2014
Google Halloween 2013 doodle.
Google Halloween 2012 doodle
Google's 2011 carving pumpkin doodle celebrating 100 Halloween years
Google Halloween 2010 doodle
Google Halloween 2009 doodle
Google Halloween 2008 doodle
Google Halloween 2007 doodle
Google Halloween 2006 doodle
Google Halloween 2005 doodle
Google Halloween 2004 doodle
Google Halloween 2003 doodle
Google Halloween 2002 doodle
Google Halloween 2001 doodle
Google Halloween 2000 doodle
Google Halloween 1999 doodle

Happy Halloween to you and yours!



What do you think of Google’s Halloween doodle today?

ABOUT HALLOWEEN AND HISTORY

Halloween or Hallowe'en (a contraction of "All Hallows' Evening"), also known as All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints) and the day initiating the triduum of Hallowmas.

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.

According to Frank Leslie's popular monthly, (Volume 40, November 1895, p. 540-543) in Scotland and Ireland, guising – children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins – is a traditional Halloween custom, and was recorded in Scotland at Halloween as far back as 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visited homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money.

The practice of Guising at Halloween in North America was first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going "guising" around the neighborhood was first noted by Rogers, Nicholas, "Coming Over: Halloween in North America". Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. p.76. Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-19-514691-3.

American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book length history of Halloween in the US; The Book of Hallowe'en (1919), and references souling in the chapter "Hallowe'en in America":

"The taste in Hallowe'en festivities now is to study old traditions, and hold a Scotch party, using Burn's poem Hallowe'en as a guide; or to go a-souling as the English used. In short, no custom that was once honored at Hallowe'en is out of fashion now."

OTHER RESOURCES 

▲ Google's Halloween doodle turns you into a witch, CNET, http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57610125-93/googles-halloween-doodle-turns-you-into-a-witch/
▲ The wizards behind Google's doodles, CNET, http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57573307-93/the-wizards-behind-googles-doodles/
▲ Halloween witch: The real history behind Google's doodle, The Christian Monitor, http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/2013/1031/Halloween-witch-The-real-history-behind-Google-s-doodle 


Please share this on your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks you enjoy! Thanks! This is a reposting from previous Happy Halloween blog postings from AllThingsDigitalMarketing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Happy 166th to Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick - October 18, 1851



“There she blows!-there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!” 
~~ Herman Melville, American author, quote taken from his book, Moby Dick, chapter 133: The Chase -- First Day (b. August 1, 1819 – d. September 28, 1891)


Hard to believe, Herman Melville’s classic, "Moby Dick," was not well received in 1851 by British reviewers and bombed big time. Who would think that it was a native New Yorker author, Herman Melville, who would coin "There she blows ~ There she blows ..."  Image above screenshot taken from Google doodle, celebrating Moby Dick's 161st as posted on October 18, 2012 at Google.com.

Classified as American Romanticism, in Britain it was first published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851 and on November 14, 1851 in the U.S.

"Moby Dick" sold only 500 copies in the United Kingdom, compared to 6,700 for Melville's first book, "Typee."

According to The Christian Science Monitor“shortly after Melville's death in 1891, his publisher reprinted several of his novels, including "Moby Dick."

These new editions excited New York's literary scene. Like long-smoldering embers, this underground movement kept Melville's name alive.

Eventually, the flame spread. So much discussion surrounded "Moby Dick" that many people gave the book a second chance.”






Other Resources 
 The Christian Science Monitor, Herman Melville books: At first, 'Moby Dick' was a total flop
Moby Dick on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moby-Dick

Please share this on your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks you enjoy! Thanks! This article is a reposting from earlier Moby Dick blog postings from AllThingsDigitalMarketing.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New York Film Festival Reviews (NYFF)



After seeing over a dozen movies at TIFF last month, I attended four more at the New York Film Festival (NYFF) in its 55th year run by the Film Society at Lincoln Center.  Although it is a few days longer than TIFF, NYFF is much less hectic because all films are held on the Lincoln Center campus and seats are reserved at the main venue, Alice Tully Hall.

I also tend to see films that I missed at TIFF here, since there is always some overlap. This year is no exception as I saw two films I was not able to schedule at TIFF.  Those were the documentary Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed directorial debut, Lady Bird.  The two others were Todd Hayne’s Wonderstruck and Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel. (Counting Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which I saw at TIFF, that makes three festival movies with “wonder” in the title!)

Here are my thoughts as well as award season possibilities.



Wonderstruck (Release Date October 20):  Having already played at Cannes, Venice and Telluride, Wonderstruck came to NYFF with some mixed reviews.  Director Todd Haynes (Carol, Far from Heaven, Velvet Goldmine) adapts Brian Selznick’s 2011 novel about two 12-year-old deaf kids (Rose was born deaf and Ben loses his hearing when he’s struck by lightning), born 50 years apart and their adventures in Manhattan, winding up at the Museum of Natural History, which plays a pivotal role in both stories.

Having not read the novel, I still saw the connection between Rose and Ben coming from a mile away but the pleasure gotten from the film are the parallel narratives, one told as a 1920s silent film and the other a gritty tale of the 1970s. Julianne Moore is arguably the star here, and she shines in two supporting roles in both narratives but the kids take front and center.  Deaf actress Millicent Simmons plays young Rose with an adorable haircut, expressive face and her emotions always authentic.  Oakes Fegley as Ben (who speaks throughout since he just lost his hearing) is also sympathetic in his quest to find where he belongs.  He has a nice chemistry with Jaden Michael, who plays his new hearing friend, Jamie. (Michelle Williams is also briefly in the film in flashbacks as Ben’s late mother)

Overall, I enjoyed Wonderstruck and Haynes brings the story to the screen with a lot sensitivity and creative vision.  It’s a very sweet and sentimental story of two children who don’t let their deafness stop them from seeking adventure or a place to belong.  Haynes seems to want the film to be seen by a deaf audience, with close captions used throughout.  He even used a sign language interpreter during the on-stage introduction to the film! (4/5)



Wonder Wheel (Release date December 1st):  Written and directed by Woody Allen, Wonder Wheel features a tour-de-force performance by Kate Winslet, who plays a neurotic 40ish waitress in 1950s Coney Island.  (Viewers might recall Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, with her character wistful for the past as she descends into a state of semi-madness – harkening back to Blanche Dubois).

Justin Timberlake channels a younger, handsomer Woody as a 30ish playwrighting student who works as a lifeguard and serves as our slightly unreliable narrator.  He has an affair with the unhappily married Ginny while desiring her twenty-something stepdaughter, Carolina (a luminous Juno Temple) who is on the run from her abusive mobster ex-husband and the mob. Rounding out the cast are a very good Jim Belushi as Ginny’s blustery husband and Jack Gore as her pyromaniac-in- training son from a previous marriage.

Although there are some humorous moments in the script, it is not a typical Woody Allen comedy and plays out as a tragedy.  Timberlake’s character loves Eugene O’Neill and characters with tragic flaws and the film is written and directed almost like an O’Neill play.

As for Oscar chances, I think Winslet may snag a nod for Best Actress as she captures Ginny’s neuroses, passion and roughness into a vividly memorable role.  Allen may get direction and screenplay as well. (4/5)


Lady Bird (Release Date November 3rd): Greta Gerwig’s hilarious and touching directorial debut is not about the former First Lady, but a coming of age story of a Sacramento teen at a Catholic high school. Saiorse Ronan plays Christine aka “Lady Bird” who is navigating her senior year of high school in the early aughts.  Ronan perfectly channels a younger Gerwig in the role and Laurie Metcalf is excellent as her prickly mother.

The supporting cast is excellent with Tracy Letts as her loving, recently laid off dad, Lois Smith as one of the school’s nuns, Beanie Feldstein as her BFF, and Timothee Chalamet and Lucas Hedges as her love interests.  The central tension is Lady Bird’s wish to go to college in NYC and the financial strain this desire puts on her parents.

I thoroughly enjoyed Lady Bird and I hope it gets showered with nominations.  It would be nice to see Gerwig get a directing and screenplay nod along with Ronan and Metcalf for their acting. (4.5/5)




Boom For Real, the Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (Release date TBD):  Brooklyn born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has been the subject of multiple films and documentaries since his death from a heroin overdose in 1988 at the young age of 27.  Sara Driver’s Boom For Real covers his formative years of 1979-1981 as a teenage artist making his mark on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  Many of his peers and friends were interviewed such as Fab Five Freddy, Jim Jarmusch, Alexis Adler, Patricia Field and many more.

Basquiat hovers over the film in a ghost like manner, which was intentional, according to Driver in the post screening Q&A.  We barely hear him speak (mostly b/c he rarely did any video interviews) but instead see films of him creating graffiti or photographs of him creating art or poetry.  Driver also spends time setting the stage of what life was like for young artists in the late 70s/early 80s NYC, which was going through an economic transformation.  NYC is just as much as a star in this documentary as Basquiat, both relentlessly creating art and eventually commerce. (4/5) 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Saturday Night Live turns 42 today - Happy birthday to SNL


"Talk about a live show! It's nice to see you, welcome, and thanks for joining us -- live. I’m kinda glad that we’re on at night so that we’re not competing with all the football and baseball games. So many man … Football represents something we are. We are Europe Junior....What was the Europe Game?.... Let's take their land away from them...Football is a ground acquisition game... " ~~ George Carlin, (5/12/37 – 6/22/08) Comedy Icon, activist, actor, and author. Quote from opening line of George Carlin where he hosted the first “Saturday Night Live,” broadcast 10/11/1975. Photo SNL information courtesy of Wikipedia.org; Video below embedded from hulu; SNL 1st Season, 1st Episode; Video George Carlin opening skit, http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/george-carlin-monologue-1/n8596; SNL monologue script at http://snltranscripts.jt.org/75/75a.phtml
First SNL broadcast, 10/11/75, featuring first host, George Carlin video

Happy 42nd  SNL! Saturday Night Live may be over the hill  but this skit-driven variety show is still going strong 42 years later making live audiences and TV viewers laugh hard as ever. American late-night live TV sketch comedy/variety, SNL, premiered 42 years ago (10/11/75) on NBC.

Originally called "Saturday Night, the opening sketch roughly 5 minutes begins with a special celebrity guest host performing and ends with the signature catchphrase, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!

Wolverines segment with John Belushi, aired 10/11/1975 
 

Created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Eberson, SNL is one of the longest-running network television programs in the United States. The show is broadcast from Studio 8H at NBC's headquarters in the Comcast Building.


In 1977 the show changed its name to Saturday Night Live (apparently there was a name conflict "Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell" which debuted on ABC 9/20/75, was cancelled two months later).

Performed live in front of a studio audience, SNL immediately established a reputation for being cutting-edge and unpredictable. It became a vehicle for launching the careers of some of the most successful comedians in the United States.

Throughout four decades on air, Saturday Night Live has received a number of awards, including 36 Primetime Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and three Writers Guild of America Awards. In 2000, it was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

It was ranked tenth in TV Guide‍‍ '​‍s "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" list, and in 2007 it was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". As of 2012, it has received 156 Emmy nominations, the most received by any TV show. The live aspect of the show has resulted in several controversies and acts of censorship, with mistakes and intentional acts of sabotage by performers as well as guests.


RESOURCES 
▲   First season of SNL, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Live_(season_1)
▲   Tickets to see SNL, http://www.nbc.com/tickets-and-nbc-studio-tour
▲   SNL Season 1, Episode 1, http://www.tv.com/shows/saturday-night-live/george-carlin-janis-ian-and-billy-preston-98658/
▲   SNL on Wikipedia,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Live
▲   SCHILLER'S REEL, "Don't Look Back In Anger" skit with John Belushi, https://screen.yahoo.com/dont-look-back-anger-000000945.html
▲   28 'SNL' catchphrases that have kept us laughing for 40 years, Mashable, http://mashable.com/2015/02/13/snl-catchphrases/#1y.mCQ_Id5qC
▲   The 35 best SNL Skits of All Time, HuffPost, http://www.aoltv.com/2010/10/14/best-saturday-night-live-skits/
▲   The Killer Bees: Home Invasion, NBC, http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/the-killer-bees/n8622
▲   SNL 1st Season, 1st Episode, George Carlin Monologue on NBC video link at http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/george-carlin-monologue-1/n8596;



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Monday, October 2, 2017

Happy 67th BDay Peanuts: Did you know that Americas most beloved, pop culture comic strip turns 67 today? October 2, 1950

“My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?” ~~   Charles M. Schulz,   “Sparky, most influential “American cartoonist, “Peanuts” creator, Charlie Brown protagonist, based on his life as a child, 10/2/1950.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org
Sixty-seven years ago today, "Peanuts," known by many as the most influential popular culture comic strip, premiered on October 2, 1950 in nine newspapers: 

The Washington Post,
The Chicago Tribune,
The Minneapolis Tribune,
The Allentown Call-Chronicle,
The Bethlehem Globe-Times,
The Denver Post,
The Seattle Times,
The New York World-Telegram & Sun,
and The Boston Globe.

Trials, tribulations and life lessons of 8-year-old Charlie Brown with subtle racial and gender equality issues, and dashes of politics were celebrated throughout this cherished, American comic series which appeared in print for over five decades, and quickly finding the way to TV, Theater, Film and later on, Digital.

Originally a daily comic strip -- the first strip was only four panels long.

Charlie Brown is shown walking by two other friends, Shermy and Patty. Shermy greets Charlie Brown as he walks by, but then tells Patty how he “hates him.”
Photo of first comic strip above, courtesy of Wikimedia.org



This marked the ultimate precedent -- the first time ever (1950s) where comic strips depicted a child expressing hatred for others.

Another early famous character in the strip, Snoopy, Charlie Brown's pet dog with uncanny mind abilities, first appeared in the third strip, which ran on October 4.

The first Peanut Sunday strip appeared January 6, 1952, in the half-page format.

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia.org

The final daily original Peanuts comic strip was published on January 3, 2000.


The last Peanuts strip to run in papers was on February 13, 2000, the day following Schulz's passing.

The strip began with Charlie Brown answering the phone with someone on the end presumably asking for Snoopy.

Charlie Brown was the only character to appear in both the first strip in 1950 and the last in 2000.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is the first prime-time animated TV special based upon the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. It was produced and directed by former Warner Bros. and UPA animator Bill Melendez, who also supplied the voice for the character of Snoopy.
Initially sponsored by Coca-Cola, the special debuted on CBS in 1965, and has been aired in the USA during the Christmas season every year since -- on CBS through 2000, and on ABC since 2001.

The story touches on the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas, and serves to remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus Christ).

Today the animated Christmas special is shown at least twice during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The special has been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody Award. 

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia.org 
RESOURCES 
▲   Peanuts Official Web Site http://www.peanuts.com/
▲   Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz Museum, History of Peanuts, http://www.peanuts.com/museum/
▲   Charlie Brown on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Brown 



This is an updated repost of previous Charlie Brown celebratory posts. Please visit this blog frequently and share this with your social media and professional network. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Happy 19th birthday Google - September 27, 2017

From breathing out and breathing in to playing solitaire, Google celebrates 19th with 19 great games from doodles past! Happy birthday to Google :) may all your wishes come true :) Enjoy google's doodle by visiting 19th Google Birthday doodle or copy/paste this link https://www.google.com/search?q=google+birthday+surprise+spinner&oi=ddle&ct=googles-19th-birthday-us-6538650035683328&hl=en&source=doodle-ntp

Monday, September 18, 2017

My TIFF 2017 Reviews


Another Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is in the record books, having spent 7 days watching a total of 14 movies (and one In Conversation with Gael Garcia Bernal).  I did miss one film (the sole documentary I was able to schedule – Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami) due to a flight delay.

Below, in the order I viewed them, are my quick thoughts, Oscar season potential and rating of each film on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the best).  You’ll notice that I saw many films about women and several directed by them, which showed TIFF’s commitment to featuring women’s vision and voices at the festival. 

I, Tonya – This Craig Gillespie directed biopic/satire about Tonya Harding exceeded my expectations.  Margot Robbie was very convincing (and somewhat sympathetic) as the damaged Olympian who deals with a complex relationship with her tough love mother (a scene stealing Allison Janney), her abusive first love and husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) and her passion for figure skating.  It’s also hysterically funny in some scenes as well as very sad.  Robbie did some of her own skating, but clearly they digitally placed her head onto Tonya’s body or a skating double for harder moves like jumps and spins.  In terms of Oscar buzz, Robbie and Janney may get nominations for their strong performances. (4/5)


Molly’s Game – This film is immensely entertaining, and a win for Aaron Sorkin as a director and Jessica Chastain in the title role.  Chastain plays Molly Bloom who ran an underground poker game in NY and LA and winds up in trouble with the FBI.  She does very well with Sorkin’s fast paced dialogue and makes the audience root for Molly.  Idris Elba is also very good as her lawyer as well as Kevin Costner in a smaller role as her psychologist dad.  My only critique is that it could be edited a bit.  Chastain may get nominated for lead actress and Sorkin for the script. (4/5)

The Children Act – Another strong female lead in this British import, starring Emma Thompson as a no nonsense family court judge whose life is turned upside down when she gets involved in a case regarding a 17 year old Jehovah’s witness (Fionn Whitehead) who refuses a live saving blood transfusion.  Thompson is riveting in the role as well as Whitehead whose life she saves and the impact that has on both of them.  The weaker part of the film involves a subplot about her husband (Stanley Tucci) wanting to have an affair but it doesn’t distract from the overall level of the production.  Thompson may nab a nomination, but the field is crowded already. (3.5/5)

The Current War – This was a disappointment, despite a strong cast including Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison, Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse, Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla and Katherine Waterston as Mrs. Westinghouse.  Pardon the pun, but a film about the race to bring electricity to the masses should be more electric.  I wasn’t that invested in Edison and cared more about Westinghouse.  The film is visually stunning but the characters weren’t as compelling nor was the story.  The audience response was pretty tepid and producer Harvey Weinstein didn’t look too happy at the premiere. Oscar chances are pretty slim, IMO. (3/5)


Update 10/10/17: With all of the news about Harvey Weinstein coming out now about his decades long sexual harassment,  I have to wonder if he knew a month ago that all of this would be coming out, since he looked terrible at the premiere.  He has since taken his name off the film as a producer.  Since more and more victims and Hollywood in general is coming out against his behavior, I have to wonder if his career is toast.  It's very clear that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and things need to change.



Mary Shelley – Director Haifa Al-Mansour (who comes from Saudi Arabia) lends her sensitive vision to the author’s love story with her eventual husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (the impossibly pretty Douglas Booth). She is most effective in documenting the inspiration for Frankenstein, which was published anonymously at 18. Elle Fanning does a convincing job as Mary and for the most part the movie succeeds as a period piece.  However, I didn’t care for Tom Sturridge’s performance as a cruel Lord Byron which made him look more like a 1970s rock star (complete with eyeliner, fluid sexuality and an ego to match) than an early 19th century poet.  Still, the story of finding her voice in her writing is inspiring for a lot of young women, who I hope see the film.  I don’t see this getting much Oscar buzz but you never know.  (3.5/5)

Submergence – I really didn’t know what to make of Wim Wender’s love story between an oceanographer (Alicia Vikander) and a water engineer/British spy (James McAcoy).  Told mostly in flashbacks, it’s beautifully shot in Normandy, France and they are both compelling to watch as two intellectuals fall in love.  Then they get separated since he’s going on a mission in North Africa and she’s going on a deep dive to prove that life thrives miles down in the ocean.  He’s captured and tortured by terrorists (while thinking of her) and she spends a lot of time checking her phone, wondering why he’s ghosted her.   Not sure of any Oscar contention here. (3/5)

Woman Walks Ahead – The second Jessica Chastain film I saw here was the weaker of the two. Beautifully shot by director Susanna White and another good performance by Chastain as a Catherine Weldon, a merry widow who travels from NY to Standing Rock in the late 1880s to paint Sitting Bull’s portrait.  She and Sitting Bull (native Canadian actor Michael Greyeyes) develop a strong bond while the townspeople and the US Army (led by Sam Rockwell) try to discourage her from helping the Lakota people, with whom they want to sign a treaty to give up most of their land.  While sensitively acted and shot, the story is a bit too romanticized and takes too many liberties with the real story.  (3.5/5)

Downsizing – From what I’ve read, Alexander Payne’s fable about a man who literally shrinks his life was a polarizing entry at the festival.  I was on the side that really enjoyed it, mostly because it was so funny and I enjoyed the performances by Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz and breakout star Hong Chau.  Where the film may not gel is that it has a hard time deciding what it is – a character study, unexpected love story, sci-fi climate change morality tale or a satire on consumerism.  It might do well on the screenplay and directing categories for the Oscars.  I’m hoping Chau gets a supporting actress nod as a political dissident turned cleaning lady who changes the main character’s life, she’s that good. (4/5)

Darkest Hour – Joe Wright’s WWII era biopic of Winston Churchill was what I would call a prestige entry with Gary Oldman’s expert portrayal of Churchill as he becomes Britain’s Prime Minister and navigates fraught political waters.  The main dramatic arc revolves around whether Britain negotiates peace with Germany and Italy over a period of a few weeks, leading up to the evacuation of troops at Dunkirk (the subject of Christopher Nolan’s recent film).  What could’ve been a dry history lesson is instead riveting mostly due to the performances, writing and the fast pace.  I also enjoyed Downton Abbey’s Lily James as Churchill’s secretary who becomes the audience’s surrogate.   Kristin Scott Thomas is wonderful as Mrs. Churchill and I would’ve liked to see more of her.  Ben Mendelsohn brings some humanity to King George VI, but the film belongs to Oldman, who I hope wins the best actor Oscar. (4.5/5)  


The Shape of Water – Although this didn’t win the Grolsch People’s Choice award (which went to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, with Frances McDormand), this was a festival favorite among audiences and critics.  Guillermo del Toro directs Sally Hawkins in a sure to be Oscar nominated role, a mute woman who is a janitor at a government lab in 1960s Baltimore (shot in Toronto).  She falls in love with a merman creature who is being held there and helps him escape, along with the help of her gay best friend (Richard Jenkins) and sassy co-worker played by Octavia Spencer.  Michael Shannon is the villainous boss and Michael Stuhlbarg plays a Russian scientist who also wants to save the creature.  The plot sounds a bit silly but the film works mixing many genres, ranging from horror to 1930s musicals, while celebrating otherness.  There is some typecasting, especially with Shannon and Spencer, but the film really belongs to Hawkins who communicates every emotion she feels without words. (4/5)

If You Saw His Heart – This film was probably one of my least favorites, which is a shame because Gael Garcia Bernal is a great actor and favorite of mine, but this is not a great addition to his resume.  I’m not sure if it was the direction (by first time French director Joan Chemla) or the lackluster story of a gypsy who loses his best friend in an accident and then lives in a run- down hotel while committing petty crimes to pay rent and trying to avoid his best friend’s brother, who blames him for the death.  He meets a beautiful woman who may be mentally unstable and falls for her.  It was nicely shot and Chemla creates a mood, but without a compelling story, this one goes nowhere and lacks, um, heart.  I did enjoy the interview with him the following evening, though and thankfully they focused on some of his other work. (2/5)


Professor Marston & the Wonder Women:  This is a somewhat conventional biopic of William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), a psychology professor who created the Wonder Woman comics in the 1940s.  Director Angela Robinson shows the inspiration for his famous work in the form of his brilliant feminist wife (a stellar Rebecca Hall) and a beautiful teaching assistant (Bella Heathcote). They become a long term threesome with several children, while trying to hide their unconventional relationship from the public.  There’s some mild kink and BDSM themes but the film never feels exploitative since the focus is on the love the trio have for each other.  Will it get any Oscar love?  A slim shot for Rebecca Hall to sneak in a nomination for supporting actress. (3.5/5)

Mudbound:  Director Dee Rees (if you’re counting, this is the fifth film I saw at the festival directed by a woman) takes many narratives and has them gel beautifully in this film about two families, one white, one black who co-exist on a Mississippi farm in the 1940s.  The main narrative is about the friendship between two WWII soldiers (Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell) from the families who bond, despite the difference in their races.  Unfortunately, their friendship has devastating consequences.  There are also fantastic performances from the ensemble including Carey Mulligan, a de-glamorized Mary J. Blige, and Jason Clarke.  Although it takes place 70+ years ago, the inclusion of white supremacists makes it especially relevant.  Despite some brutal scenes towards the end, the film ends on an uplifting note.  I hope the film gets some Oscar nominations – perhaps for picture, direction, screenplay and supporting actor nods. (4.5/5) 

Eye on Juliet:  My final TIFF film was an indie from Canadian director Kim Ngyuen.  Gordon (Joe Cole), lives in Detroit and just was dumped by his girlfriend.  He works as a hexapod operator (a robot that is sort of like a drone but it doesn’t fly and has six legs) that guards an oil pipeline in North Africa.  During his surveillance sessions he keeps seeing a young woman named Ayusha. (Juliet3000 becomes her code name) Intrigued by her story (she is trying to escape an arranged marriage with an older man by leaving with her boyfriend), Gordon decides to buck protocol to help her.  The film is a bit fanciful, especially the ending, but overall was charming and showed how technology can bring people together who otherwise would’ve never crossed paths.  Not expecting Oscars for this one, but hope it finds an audience. (3.5/5)

Most of the films I saw had some merit and many of them will most likely be showered with accolades come Oscar season.  I am not done yet with festival season, as I am planning to see a few more during the New York Film Festival (NYFF) including Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird (which was well received at TIFF) next month.  I will be sure to post my thoughts!