Chloe M. O'Connor | Layout, Illustration, and Freelance Design

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Picks Of The Week

Obsession of the week: Colorado

How much do I love this 39th Telluride Film Festival poster by Dave Eggers? Oh so much.

How much do I love this 39th Telluride Film Festival poster by Dave Eggers? Oh so much.

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How could I not be obsessed? I head to the beautiful mountain state in just about a week for the first time since I moved to Arkansas in October 2010. Also, it’s my first vacation longer than four days since then, so needless to say, I am ready for a temporary change of pace.

The whole trip was planned around attending the Telluride Film Festival during Labor Day weekend. I had a taste of the event a few years back but didn’t get to attend any movies. After my parents sat in front of director Michael Hazanavicius at the Telluride screening of his film, “The Artist,” I knew I couldn’t miss 2012’s fest. My mom also waved at George Clooney — who she says waved back — and she and my dad ate dinner in the same room as Tilda Swinton.

Neither the attendees nor films are announced until days before, so I’m looking forward to being surprised, rubbing elbows with industry greats (if I’m so lucky) and seeing what I expect will be fabulous cinematic gems.

Don’t even think about robbing my apartment while I’m away, folks. The roommate is still around and she’s good at beating off intruders (by sleep-talking them away). She’s fierce. Like the University of Colorado fight song, which I grew up singing at women’s basketball games (because I didn’t attend the school in the end).

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Viral video of the week: “Somebodies: A YouTube Orchestra”

Wally, aka Gotye, emailed to his fans this video compilation he put together. It mixes some of the best YouTube covers of his smash hit, “Somebody That I Used To Know.” I was very happy to see Pentatonix, an absolutely amazing a capella group, get some generous screen time. There’s also a smooth sax, Ingrid Michaelson and a choir in formalwear.

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Note to my dear readers: It is time I took a little hiatus, what with vacation and my twice-a-year teaching gig fast approaching. I will not post Picks of the Week for the next four weeks. I’ll miss all y’all’s comments!

There will be one final I Quit Sugar post Sunday. Don’t forget, it’s a giveaway. Bust over to last week’s post and comment for a chance to win Sarah Wilson’s e-book. You can read it on your computer, e-reader, tablet, laptop hooked to your TV, whatever!

Filed under: Academy Awards, Colorado, Design, Entertainment, Hollywood, Movies, Music, News, Oscars, Products, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘The King’s Speech’ Reigns Victorious

Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Melissa Leo and Colin Firth

Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Melissa Leo and Colin Firth, winners of the acting awards at the Feb. 27 Oscars (Courtesy DVIDSHUB)

It was the beginning of September when I first heard of “The King’s Speech.” I was in a chocolate shop in Telluride, Colo., looking at truffles, when a man struck up a conversation with my parents and me. He was in town for the annual film festival.

“So what’s the best film you’ve seen?” we asked him.

“The King’s Speech,” he said without hesitation. He was moved by it, and of all the films at the festival, he put his confidence in the success of the Colin Firth/Geoffrey Rush/Helena Bonham Carter-driven British import. I needed to see it.

Four months later it hit the big screen in my area. I paid $4 to see an early show at a theater where the rooms have ceiling fans, the sixth row back feels like the first and the film pops from continuous play. A few other ladies had decided “The King’s Speech” was worth a viewing. I was the youngest person in the audience.

I left the theater with blurry eyes. I cried for the last 10 minutes where King George VI – played by Firth in a now Oscar-winning role – gives a radio broadcasted speech at the start of WWII. Like the man in the Colorado chocolate store, I was moved by the inspirational story of conquering a very personal issue (the king stammers) in a very public role (he is the King of the United Kingdom, after all).

At Sunday’s ultimate celebration of 2010’s greatest cinematic achievements, hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway, “The King’s Speech” reigned victorious. With big wins for leading actor, directing, original screenplay and best picture, September and the first mention of this film seem a long time ago.

While the ripples from the earthquake near Conway minutes after the show’s end was likely the most shocking event of the evening, Tom Hooper did manage an upset in the directing category for “The King’s Speech.” David Fincher was expected to take home the statue for his work on “The Social Network.” Then again most of us were also calling “Network” the best movie of the year until “Speech” swept the top prizes at the guild awards.

The most entertaining award presentation of the night, and perhaps the most awkward, was that for supporting actress. Kirk Douglas brought the wholesome comedic relief a show like the Oscars needs.

A 94-year-old man calling Hathaway gorgeous and telling category winner Melissa Leo, “You’re much more beautiful than you were in ‘The Fighter,'” is both sweet and strange. And dragging out the announcement of the golden statue recipient was a genius move in the night’s most anticipated and hard-to-call category. It’s too bad it came so early in the evening.

Leo had been the front-runner until she distributed what many thought to be tasteless ads asking the Academy to consider her for the award. That’s when the adorable Hailee Steinfeld gained momentum. And while the 14-year-old’s first feature film performance in “True Grit” was excellent, I’m glad the voters looked at Leo’s more polished work and not her misstep with the media.

Hosts Franco and Hathaway took a hit from the media following their so-so turn as Oscar emcees. Both of them have twice hosted “Saturday Night Live.” They were enjoyable, funny episodes. But there’s a difference between a 90-minute sketch show where the host plays an array of characters and a 3-hour awards presentation where the host plays his or herself.

It would be terrifying to be in front of your most accomplished peers and the ever-critical world, hoping to entertain and gain acceptance by all. Franco and Hathaway have yet to hit the level of respect the acting and viewing community has for entertainers and past hosts like Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg, just to name a few.

In a year where the Academy’s producers insisted on tailoring the show to a more youthful audience, it’s ironic to see the younger generation’s “The Social Network” fall to the older audience’s “The King’s Speech.” It just goes to show the Academy’s voters choose the best – not the most popular – candidate, as they should.

Filed under: Academy Awards, Colorado, Entertainment, Hollywood, Movies, Oscars, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beard On A Bike

When I lived in Colorado, a man rode around eastern Boulder County on his bicycle. His beard grew full and black, and his nose sunburned during the winter. He picked up trash around Louisville and Lafayette, collecting it in plastic grocery bags on the bike’s handlebars. With a colossal smile, he waved to cars passing him as he peddled along in the bike lane. Most people guessed he was homeless, but he lived with his brother.

My family named him Beard on a Bike. Others called him Jesus. I first heard his real name on a bus stuffed with high school marching band kids, brass horns and drums. On our way to a Friday night under the lights, we passed Beard on a Bike.

“Look, there’s Jesus,” someone said.

“His name is John,” said a defensive voice from the back row. I think most of us sitting near the guy, a tenor drum player with a punk rock exterior, were surprised he knew Jesus’ name. Even after the enlightenment, we still used our own nicknames.

One July third, Jesus wandered into the Target-owned Starbucks where I worked. I laughed when I saw him wearing the same hat as me, a black cap stamped with the Starbucks logo.

“Why’re you wearing my hat?” he asked me.

“Why are you wearing mine?” We bantered a bit and he handed me the local paper. He pointed out a front page article about a free Fourth of July pancake breakfast.

“You gotta go,” he said. “Free pancakes from the firefighters. After the bike parade.” I thanked him, purposefully failing to mention my shift scheduled during the shindig. In high school, I marched in the pointless parade, as most parades are. And like most teenagers, I hated cheesy local events, especially ones where little kids decorate their bikes with flags and crepe paper for a quick ride down Rock Creek Parkway. Everyone adheres to the unwritten summer dress code of jean shorts and white T-shirts.

The next morning, as I pushed the start button on the blender for the fiftieth time and turned around to see the line of guests measuring 10 deep, a parade sounded almost enjoyable. Firefighters, pancakes and training wheels trumped crazy co-workers who dyed the whipped cream Independence Day blue.

I learned Beard on a Bike’s last name when a car hit him as he rode his bike along US-287. Because of the Jan. 30, 2009 accident, John Breaux rests in the Louisville Cemetery.

A few years ago, the local paper named him citizen of the week and the city gifted him with a helmet. He used to ride around without one, a strange sight in bike heavy Colorado traffic. His death at 57 started an outpouring of love for the man, from community cleanups to impromptu gatherings at stores where Jesus received free cups of coffee.

Residents financially contributed toward the creation of a life-sized bronze statue of him. Businesses placed collection jars on counters and a local bank created a fund. In two months, offerings totaled $35,000. Hundreds of people gathered for the statue unveiling, exactly one year after Beard’s passing, a short turnaround considering it takes the city five years to fill asphalt canyons in neighborhood roads. Louisville’s Jesus — wearing his helmet, straddling his bike and waving — now watches over the city, gazing past the library up Spruce Street.

Everyone remembers the same man, but our personal encounters tell the story of his public, silent hero life. I remember him as Beard on a Bike, cycling along McCaslin Boulevard, smiling, the Flatirons as his backdrop.

Filed under: Colorado, News, , , , , , , , ,

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