I'm hopped up on strong Black Angel of Death Coffee and ready to hit the discount stores! ("S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G / We're shopping!")

I also just read a good chunk of Life of Pi, the current bestseller about an Indian boy and a tiger stranded in a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean. I've found parts of it mesmerizing, especially a lengthy passage about a strange, unearthly meerkat and algae covered island--where does the author, Yann Martel, come up with this stuff? Other parts are a little tedious, and I can't stand the titular character's religious sanctimony... the book jacket promises that it may just make you believe in God. Well, unless something unceremoniously spellbinding comes up in the last thirty minutes to make me see the light, I remain skeptical.

I stand by most of my Oscar pics, exception maybe for my exclusion of Seabiscuit. It's a little sad that this decent, but by no means spectacular flick is a likely multi-nomination candidate just because the studio is pouring millions into a campaign for it. Even if it gets nominated for Best Picture / Best Director, it'll be akin to flogging a dead horse to think that it'll even have a chance of beating The Return of The King.

However, not only does a nom for Charlize Theron in Monster seem like a lock, I wouldn't be surprised if she'll be taking home a statuette (and giving presenter Adrian Brody a peck on the cheek.) I saw the film last Monday. It's not the masterpiece Ebert would have you believe, but it's impressive for a first film, and earns its favorable comparisions to Boys Don't Cry. Theron, though, is as amazing as she's hyped up to be. Especially when you consider how blandly vapid and unmemorable she was in nearly everything else she's appeared in. No one ever would have imagined her in this type of role, or pulling it off so well. She owns the film and our empathy, even as her character irritates and repulses. The circa late '80s roller rink sequences (set to Journey's :"Don't Stop Believin'"!) nearly brought a nostalgic tear to my eye for their tenderness and charm. After popping up in one mediocre film after another, Christina Ricci is also fine as Theron's lover ("You HAVE to get a car!").

I will have to write about Head and Tamala 2010 sometime soon... enough trippy goodness to satisfy my psychedelically surreal gene for months. As a dopey, oafish man said to me during the latter, "Man, this movie is like being WASTED!"