Icebreaker Questions and Answers

Icebreakers and I have a tempestuous relationship.
Despite being something of a hot seat devotee and a major fan of random and revealing questions, my first memory of icebreakers is on the traumatic side.

It was the first day of 3rd or 4th grade.  Our teacher (Probably Ms. Ellis in fourth grade, this seems like just her brand of sadism) told us we would be going on an impromptu camping trip, passed around a roll of toilet paper, and told us to take what we thought we would need for an overnight stay.
I was pretty sure something was up. I may have been eight years old but I was no fool.  They needed my parents’ signatures to bus me to the Science Museum for a few hours. But still part of me was completely appalled at the threat of being spirited away for a night. And having to reveal my toilet paper needs? It was the height of humiliation.
You may have played this game before- you have to share a fact about yourself for every sheet that you take. I don’t remember what I did- probably something middle of the road like 5.  Someone took one sheet and another boy (I think it was Pedro) took about half the roll.

So while I have no problem with sharing some level of personal information and even less of a problem listening to other people’s stories (when it doesn’t border on the TMI) I hate the enforced ‘getting-to-know-you’ of icebreakers, which are really only good for uniting a group against the irritating and condescending authority demanding how many bones you’ve broken.

Which is a long way of saying I found 25 fun icebreaker questions and I’m going tonsure some of them.
Please do not be inspired to use these for their purported purpose of ‘team building at work’.

  • What was your first job?
    My first paid job was as a barista at a Barnes & Noble Starbucks.
  • Have you ever met anyone famous?
    The most starstruck I have ever been was when I met one of the horses who played Shadowfax in Lord of the Rings.
  • If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be?
    So many I can’t choose: a language, hunting with falcons, parkour, an instrument…
  • Seen any good movies lately you’d recommend?
    Good Time wasn’t my kind of movie but it is being criminally overlooked. It came out in 2017.
  • Been pleasantly surprised by anything lately?
    The only things coming directly to mind are both today: Clinique’s eyeliner is in fact easy and liquid, and it sounds like Black Panther is super intersectional and has strong female characters.
  • Favorite band ten years ago?
    I was twelve, which was about the time I got my iPod and started listening to music for the first time. Honestly it was probably Aly and AJ or Avril Lavigne. Embarrassing.
  • What’s your earliest memory?
    I remember sitting on the rug at preschool and thinking to myself, “I’m three”.
  • Been anywhere recently for the first time?
    Grasse and Nice!
  • What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
    The first big ticket item I bought with my own money was one of those felted cardboard cat condos. It was two floors. We still have it. It was $80 and I had saved for forever. I think I was in Elementary school. I was a high roller.
  • Any phobias you’d like to break?
    Nope, spiders and I are good with where our animosity is, thanks very much.
  • What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?
    I’m such an old person, I like raisin bran. But I remember being young and loving the Cap’n Crunch I had at my cousins’ beach house. When I came home and asked my parents if we could buy it they told me it wasn’t sold in our state. Ah, the lies our parents tell us.
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Animated Crushes

 

Inspired by this video and this list, I decided to own up to the crushes I had on animated characters as a child.
It was only after doing a little thinking that I realized I either a) didn’t have any or b) have selectively forgotten all of them.
But what I do have is potentially even worse- current animated crushes. I’m 22 and there is potentialy something wrong with me.

  • Nick Wilde, Zootopia
    This is definitely the most disturbing one because not only is Nick animated, Nick is also a fox. In my defense, foxes are very cute animals. Add a sardonic sense of humor, sly resourcefulness (i.e. criminal behavior), and a softly mushy heart tender as a steamed dumpling and it all makes sense. Really.
  • Jack Frost, Rise of the Guardians
    He has pretty silver hair and a shepherd’s crook with ice powers.  He also loves fun, died protecting his sister (Whoops spoiler), and has a troubled past and sensitive soul- causing him to be a hero of the brave but reluctant variety.
  • Haku, Spirited Away
    Haku has Dora hair and can also transform into a dragon, which is really what we should all look for in a partner.  Unlike the previous two, he does not have a traumatic backstory because he can’t remember his past and has thus forgotten that he is a ~river spirit~.

Mkay, I will write to you all from therapy.

Links 2/17

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A links post with a one day delay. I’ve officially started on a two week break (but can’t get too excited because we have two exams the week we get back) and I’m debating whether I should go to The Catacombs today or take a joint trip to Maison de Balzac and the Monet Marmottan Museum. It’s a rough life full of hard choices.

  • Yara Shahidi was on Stephen Colbert, is turning 18, having a voting party, and is an amazingly well-spoken individual. I know it’s a cliche to say this, but we need more people like her in the world.
  • In spite of my issues with The Shape of Water, I do think it’s a bit unfair to sum it up as ‘the film where the woman has sex with a fish’. That being said, someone designed a dildo inspired by Fish God. You can find anything on the internet and this is why we don’t deserve nice things.
  • The inspiring knitwear of Prabal Gurung’s Fall 2018 collection.
  • The Obamas’ official portraits have been unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. They’re both pretty amazing, both from an historical and artistic standpoint.
    Buuuut: here’s a counterpoint and a deeper reading.
  • Wisecrack on how Monty Python shaped modern comedy (via postmodernism, the comedy of the absurd, and political satire).
  • A thought-provoking personal essay about an ‘accidental wedding dress’ and accepting that life rarely/never comes with the closure of a settled and final happy ending.
  • Similarly, this comic on the numerous ways to fill your heart and live a meaningful and love-filled life.
  • A surreal video of a very fluffy doggo swimming underwater.
  • The Louvre has created a Valentine’s-inspired Pinterest board. I’m particularly in love (no pun intended) the Antonio Canova’s sculpture of Cupid and Psyche.
  • I’m not planing on watching the newly reimagined/animated Peter Rabbit film ever, but there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle about a scene involving food allergies. I don’t think there’s much to be upset about but part of the reason I am steering clear of the film is that even from the trailer it struck me as being crass and mean-spirited. And I wasn’t even a Beatrix Potter kid.
  • And… a Disneyland social club is being sued for using ‘mafia-like’ intimidation tactics. What even is this world and what are people? Watch out for the White Rabbits or you’ll be swimming with the… flounder?
  • Reaffirming my goal to spend less time on my phone and computer.
  • I didn’t cry at this animated short, but I won’t lie- it did give me the feels.

My Oscars Predictions as Promised

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And yes, I know that I also promised links posts on Friday an I do indeed have links, but they will need to be saved for another moment.

Why?

I finally saw Phantom Thread last night. Damn son, that was stunning.
And I just finished an abominable test today (the studying for which was preventing me from posting, so now I’m ready to unload some writing and knowledge and thoughts of a non-links variety).
So let’s talk Oscars predictions.
If you lose any money betting on this I am not accountable.

I’m only going to go into the big categories because even I can’t pretend I’m qualified to discuss best original screenplay or cinematography.
Like last year (at least I think I did it this way last year- it’s been so long!) I’m going to point out which film I think is the likely winner and which film I personally think should win.

Let’s do it.

Best Picture:
“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

This was really difficult for me and if I could have chosen CMBYN, Three Billboards (Panels of Vengeance, here in France), and Dunkirk, I would have. Actually I had all three highlighted in blue until a few minutes ago, when I surprised myself by picking CMBYN rather than Three Billboards, which I was thinking would be my top pick. Maybe my mind will change tomorrow, but right now I’m really feeling CMBYN, looking back on my experiences watching all of these. Why CMBYN? The beauty, the atmosphere, the tender love, the heartbreak. Why Three Billboards? Because it’s powerful and kick ass and true but bizarre. Why Dunkirk? I love a good war film, I love Nolan, and this is honestly both at their best. The timeline and story intersections were beautifully done and the humanity of it all was devastating. And you have to love the ‘solidarity’ moments, which dad has trained me to love in films (and to look over to see if he’s crying- we watched Dunkirk together in the theaters, he was.)
And why Shape of Water? Let’s do process of elimination first.  CMBYN is obviously going to turn off conservative voters (but they’re okay with fish god bestiality (tune in to my upcoming links post for more on that)) and missed nominations in a few key categories (notably Best Supporting Actor). Darkest Hour was a long, dull, plodding film (I didn’t finish, I’m surmising from the first fifteen minutes and reviews that I’ve read/watched). Dunkirk: No acting or screenplay nominations, came out a while ago, not a lot of buzz. Get Out, like CMBYN, is probably a bit to political to pull through. I was excited to see it was even nominated and would be kind of shocked if it won Best Picture. Lady Bird could potentially win (it and CMBYN are my backup choices for actual Best Picture winner) but I haven’t heard as much about it recently, while the hype for Shape of Water seems to be only picking up.  Phantom Thread and The Post don’t have many nominations in other categories- it seems the nomination in these cases is the reward. And Three Billboards, while one of my favorites, has created a lot of controversy re: the redemption of a certain racist cop character (I didn’t have trouble with the way it was done but can see why some might).
What does The Shape of Water have on its side?  It has some Hollywood self-promotion- which the Academy loves- in terms of throwbacks to silent films, musicals, old creature features (of course), and the film industry as a whole (the heroine lives above a cinema).

Lead Actor:
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

I mean, obviously the Oscar will go to Gary Oldman in a fastest acting his fastest ass off as a curmudgeonly Winston Churchill.  He’s an actor the Academy wants to reward for previous work. He’s in a period drama about WWII. He’s acting aggressively. Physical transformation.
Were I a one-woman Academy, the Oscar would certainly be in the hands of Timothy Chalamet. And not just because I think he’s adorable and dreamy.  His work in CMBYN is just fantastic. I can’t say so much about it beyond “watch the film”.

Lead Actress:
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Frances McDormand delivers a powerful performance as the lead in Three Billboards and I think she absolutely deserves this win- and it’s even more likely if we accept my poems that Three Billboards is unlikely to win Best Picture. Additionally, she’s been coming out on top in the awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars.
Could go to Soirse or Sally Hawkins, I find wins by Margot Robbie or Meryl Streep unlikely.

Supporting Actor:
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

This is I think the most difficult category to call.  There are significant reasons why the Academy might go for any one of these nominees. Willem Dafoe is a great actor representing a powerful project largely regarded as one of the more significant snubs. He’s never won before and he definitely seems like a man who could be an Oscar winner.  Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are both excellent in Three Billboards but are likely to split the vote.  Harrelson gets less screen time but Rockwell plays the character at the center of most of the controversy affecting the film. I don’t know that Academy voters are going to want to be the one to suggest rewarding the ‘racist cop with a heart of gold’ role. Richard Jenkins is touching and sensitive in The Shape of Water, which leads in terms of number of nominations. All the Money in the World hasn’t been getting much positive press, but Christopher Plummer was called in last minute to replace Spacey after his ignominious fall from grace, and it’s quite possible the Academy will want to reward that. Two weeks for filming a significant part in an already completed film is no mean feat.

Supporting Actress:
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

First I just want to say that all of these options are fantastic and there is no possible way to be displeased with any outcome.  Least likely to win is Octavia Spencer, simply because her role was less significant than the others and so has been getting less of a push and less attention.  Mudbound also hasn’t gotten much publicity (perhaps because it comes from the house of Netflix?) but Blige was potentially the best part of the film.  Lesley Manville is rather the dark horse and though her work in Phantom Thread is fantastic, I don’t think she’s likely to steal the award away from the two favorites- Janney and Metcalf.  Janney has been coming out on top more often than not and her portrayal involves more strenuous/exuberant acting. And on a personal level I liked I, Tonya more than Lady Bird.

Director:
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

It was a bit of a heartbreaker for me personally to choose between Nolan and del Toro.  Neither have Oscars and both have significant bodies of beautiful work that deserve to be rewarded.  In the end I think the Academy is more likely to give it to del Toro, who seems to be their darling this season.  I prefer Nolan. Apart from my issues with The Shape of Water, I think Dunkirk was a beautifully planned and beautifully realized tour de force.

Animated Feature:
“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

Coco will and should win.

Slowly Catching Up: Museums the Weekend Before Last

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My posts are slowly catching up to my actual life, and two weekends ago I hit four (!) museums in Paris.
Bonus tip: A bunch of museums in Paris are free the first Sunday of every month.

Where did I go?

  • Musee Cernuschi: A small museum of Asian art, actually free and replete with Tang dynasty horses.
  • Cinematheque Francaise: A museum of cinema history, focused on the early days of film technology, featuring a lot of very old projecting equipment. I was hoping for something a little more on the art than the tech side, but it was pretty cool.

And then on Sunday-

  • Cluny Museum: The Cluny is the Medieval History Museum on the left bank of Paris. This was probably my favorite of the weekend. Lots of cool/amazing artifacts and architecture. Reliquaries, sundials, pope rings, etc.
  • Musee Picasso Paris: Probably my second favorite of the weekend, even though it was super crowded due to the free day.  On the other hand, it’s a small museum and I’m not generally the biggest Picasso fan, so it was the right choice for me.  There was also a great exhibition going on on 1932: The Erotic Year.

Links on a Monday

My links are 3 days late and I haven’t been posting but GUESS WHY !
I’ve been on a field trip.

More details coming soon.

  • “We all harbor the knowledge, however covertly, that we’re going to die, but when it comes to small talk, I am the angel of death.”- What to Say When You Meet the Angel of Death at a Party, by Kate Bowler (a woman struggling with Stage IV cancer)
  •  Game Over, Man looks terrible. But I kind of want to see it. ‘So bad it’s good’ potential?
  • Speaking of ‘So bad it’s good’, do I need to watch the Oscar-nominated Boss Baby? Wisecrack just did a video on it’s ‘accidental’ philosophy, which I found really interesting.
  • Some pretty jewelry– I’m particularly attracted to the thin gold chokers.
  • I Had to Break Up With My Career Coach
  • A hysterical survey of the problematic history of black actors dying (often first) onscreen. And congrats to LL Cool J!
  • There is no snack more appropriate for the Me Too Generation than a chip that tells women to eat more damn quietly. Good job, Doritos.
    Will there also be a super-crunchy ship so that we can all be alerted when a Real Man is eating?

Friday Links 2/2

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Let’s just roll right in…