Wednesday, December 21, 2016

TRAVELERS: Croatia/Slovenia Travelogue (Part 4 – Departure)

November 29, 2016 (Tuesday)

The coldest morning yet (-1 degrees Celsius or 28 degrees Fahrenheit).  Neither Doug nor Kay felt well – I guess a cold was traveling around the group (lucky me!) -- so they skipped the city tour that day.  The rest of us bussed to Ljubliana and met Jasmine, our local guide.  She was perky and informative.  However, much of the tour was a cold walk through Old Town with few pockets of sun (the streets were narrow).  By about 30 minutes into the 90 minute walk, I was freezing.  I brought a warm coat, hat and scarf, but forgot gloves.  Big mistake.  I was impressed that Jasmine could remember her spiel (and in a foreign-to-her language).  I was so cold I could barely remember how to speak let alone form coherent sentences.  Ljubliana is a beautiful city, and I would love to have spent more time here.  But about 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer would be nice.

I took shelter from the cold in a nearby coffee shop.  I ordered hot coffee and a pastry Jasmine recommended called gibanica, layered with poppy seeds, walnuts, apples and cheese.  It gave kremsnita a run for its money.

Once I could feel my fingers and toes again I sought out Ljubliana’s 12-story skyscraper to get an aerial view of the city.  (I didn’t take many pictures on the walking tour because my fingers were blocks of ice.)  After that jaunt I had about 30 minutes before rendezvousing with the bus, so I headed to a pizza place recommended by Rick Steves.  Unfortunately they didn’t have pizza “to go,” and I did not have time for a sit down meal.  Instead I found a corner grocery that sold pizza slices.  Problem solved.

Back to Lake Bled for a brief tour of Castle Bled.  I was keen to walk around the lake, so I took the pictures I wanted from the castle and made a quick circuit of the castle’s museum before heading down the hill to the 3.5 mile trail that circled the lake.  The total circumference takes about 90 minutes to walk, so I needed to get going before the sun went down.  It was worth it.  The walk kept me warm, though the shady stretches were challenging temperature-wise.  I got plenty of pictures before the cold forced me to walk with more purpose.  I ran into Kay and Doug heading in the opposite direction around the lake.  Kay insisted that I stop on my way to the hotel and get my picture drawn by a fellow named Bobby.  She showed me the picture he had drawn of her, and the drawing would indeed make a nice souvenir.  However, when I finally reached Bobby further along the trail he had three people waiting to have their picture drawn.  I was getting cold and needed to keep moving.

Tomorrow I leave the hotel for Venice airport at 4:00.  I set a wake-up call for 3:00, though I will probably set my alarm 15 minutes before that for safety.  I have been waking up between 2:00 and 3:00 the whole trip, so I’m hoping the early hour won’t be too traumatizing.

Tonight is the farewell dinner and, I suspect, an early night for most.  One couple leaves for the airport at 2:00.  Ugh!

The farewell dinner was very nice.  At first I was seated at a table with Suzanne and others, but Kay dragged me over to a different table with her, Doug, Sharon and her husband, Phil and his wife, and Sabrina and Ryan (aka “the kids,” an adorable pair of 30-year-olds who were the youngest members of the tour).  I went around the room taking pictures of my travel companions.  I was so distracted by the process I told the waitress I had ordered the vegetarian entrée (I’d ordered the fish).  I didn’t realize my mistake until I had already eaten the first course.  I tried to explain to the waitress, but she gave me the look of death.  Fortunately, Elvis stopped by and was able to explain more clearly on my behalf what had happened.

Elvis gave a sweet speech, then Phil gave a funny speech, and Doug, to everyone’s surprise, gave a touching speech praising Elvis and Mario (our driver), all our tour guides in the various cities, and everyone in the tour group.  To which Elvis profoundly observed that we are not tourists but travelers.  Travelers indeed, seeking understanding of those who are otherwise mostly strangers.

Because of the Lufthansa pilot strike many folks had to change flights.  Thanks to this Kay would no longer be leaving at 2:00 but at 4:00 (the same time as me).  As the dinner ended, emails were exchanged, and Kay invited Doug and me back to her place for a little wine while she packed.  Doug and I left after a drink, as we had to be up in around three hours.

November 30, 2016 (Wednesday)

The nine departing travelers gathered at 4:00.  To my disappointment we were taking two shuttles, and Kay was going with the kids in the second shuttle.  I was stuck with irritating Agnes, the mundane sisters, and a mother/daughter pair.  However, as luck would have it, the drivers were okay with one person from our van traveling in the second van.  I volunteered like a shot.

So, Kay, the kids and I drove with Rudi.  The kids slept most of the way.  Kay and I both tried to sleep without much success.  At the airport Kay and I hung out until our respective flights departed – she on Lufthansa, me on Air France.  Happily there was a very helpful Italian employee that guided us to where we need to be.

Our parting was brief.  We had exchanged information.  Little did I know at that moment that I had lost the small piece of paper with her email and phone and full name.  I meant to send her an email or text to make sure all her rescheduled flights worked out, but that will have to wait until I track down her information.  I did retain Suzanne’s email, so I wrote her on the chance she may have Kay’s information.  She did not, but Doug did.  She and Doug and six others had stayed on in Venice for a couple of days.  Suzanne said that Doug would send me Kay’s information when he could.  I hope so.  Kay and I actually live close enough where we could visit each other on occasion.

The flight home was uneventful, except for nearly missing my connecting flight in Paris and not getting headphones for the long flight back.  I slept most of the way.  And, when I didn't, it was video Solitaire or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (I was one question away from retiring, alas!) or reading until I fell back asleep.  It was a great trip all told.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

TRAVELERS: Croatia/Slovenia Travelogue (Part 3 – Luggage Out)

November 26, 2016 (Saturday)

It is raining steadily in Dubrovnik with no end in sight, so I’m starting to regret my decision re: Montenegro.  Until this morning the hotel breakfast buffet had been, by and large, a Zen affair.  Calmly munching pastry, sipping coffee, tucking in on eggs and yogurt and cereal.  Today was Satan’s breakfast.  Because I had no timetable I slept in, did some stretching, and went down for what I had hoped would be a leisurely breakfast around 9:00.  I found myself in the Black Friday equivalent of breakfast buffets.  Parents dragging around unruly children.  Autonomous kids fingering the assortment of cheeses.  Long lines for eggs, pancakes and croissants.  The latter began being hoarded.  I saw folks with plates piled with them but none to be found at the pastry station.  To call the wait staff harried would be an understatement.  So I grabbed what I could (I did manage one croissant before they became an endangered species) which meant forgoing the eggs and loading up on cereal and yogurt and any cheese I felt reasonably certain had not been fingered by a recalcitrant child (or adult – let’s be fair to the children).  And, of course, plenty of coffee.  The woman who refilled my cup was pleasant.  She mentioned it had been busy over the past three or four days.  Because it was off season I wonder if the hotel was putting out promotional rates, and parents seized on this for a long weekend in the Pearl of the Adriatic.  Too bad about the rain.

I stayed in my room until nearly noon reading “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman,” an engaging memoir of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, before the rain began to let up.  Off to the bus stop and back to Old Town.  As the bus made its way east the rain returned, so upon my arrival I sheltered at the Dominican Monastery and Museum.  The Dominicans are more ornate than the Franciscans, with three rooms of exhibits and a beautiful but somber church.  Both monasteries were chock full of reliquaries (containers with sacred relics).  There were leg-shaped and finger-shaped reliquaries.  I suppose they cost less than full body reliquaries.  I intended to visit the Cathedral of the Assumption, but it appeared to be closed and the rain had begun to increase again.  By then it was close to 13:30, so I took a pleasant lunch at Konoba Ribar, a family run establishment that serves traditional Dalmatian cuisine.  I had the Black Risotto, risotto with cuttlefish.  They aren’t kidding about black.  I wiped my mouth with my napkin, and it came away positively noir.  While it may not have looked appetizing, the risotto was delicious and filling.  Dessert was at a sladoled that served ice cream, which is closer in spirit to the Italian gelato.  A scoop of Biscoto in (what looked like) a waffle cone really hit the spot even on the rainy day.

It was still overcast but the rain seemed to have let up, so I walked up the steep steps through the Buza Gate to the north of the city and bought a cable car ticket up to Mount Srd.  Had the weather been less spotty I would have bought a 1-way ticket and hiked down.  As it was I paid 120 KN (almost $20) for a round trip ticket.  While the view was impressive, all the viewpoints (except for possibly the restaurant, which I didn’t go into) were partially obstructed by the cable.  For the price one would hope for a more pristine view.  The rain started up again, so I took pictures quickly and headed back down.  Two idiot tourists had climbed beyond the safety fence to get their pictures against the city below while balancing on slick rocks.  In case of a problem I would certainly have called for help, but it was also tempting to let Darwinism take its course.  Mercifully I did not have to deal with that moral conundrum.

Back to Old Town to buy a couple of gifts for co-workers, then a futile attempt to buy a sandwich to take back to the hotel (both of my options were closed for the season).  The rain persisted, and I was getting cold, so off to the bus stop for a return to the hotel.

November 27, 2016 (Sunday)

The long travel day.  I made sure I was well away from the mundane sisters.  Gorgeous scenery from the bus.  The Adriatic.  The mountains.  Sun (on the travel day, of course).

We made a comfort stop in Bosnia & Herzegovina.  I had a black and white coffee.  Then we stopped in Pakovo Selo for lunch and a brief tour of the Ethnic Village there.  Our local guide Anna described what life was like 100 years earlier in this remote village.  She spoke perfect English, with hardly any trace of an accent.  My lunch was polenta.  Most of the rest had the more traditional peka, roast pork or chicken.  Donut holes (or the traditional version thereof) for dessert.

Because there was a delay on the highway (which is the equivalent of a freeway in the U.S.) due to mine removal near the road, we took side roads to meet up with the highway further along.  On this route we saw abandoned homes both bombed out or just hollowed out and empty.

We arrived in Zagreb, and it was cold with some rain.  After checking in at the hotel a group of us walked into the downtown to grab some food and a drink at a craft brew house recommended by a bar owner in Dubrovnik.  Doug and Kay were the instigators in this craft beer quest.  To say Kay is outgoing is an understatement.  She and Doug (who is about 15 years her senior) met at the airport a few days earlier and became fast friends and travel buddies.  She’s just that kind of a person.  Doug is a retired public school teacher who currently lives in Thailand.  Kay teaches nutrition and diabetes control at a university in San Diego.  Both are free spirits and somewhat irascible.  Kay “collects” glasses from pubs.  She paid for the ones at the Craft House (the pub we drank at) but apparently she absconded with others earlier in the tour.  I stopped at a sandwich shop called Pingvin before rejoining Kay and Doug, and I’m glad I did.  All they served at Craft House was pub grub, and I needed something more filling (i.e., a veggie burger).

November 28, 2016 (Monday)

Zagreb dawned crisp and cold.  Jelena, our local guide, started the tour on the bus (perhaps to give the outdoors time to warm a little).  Of all the Croatian towns/cities we have visited this is the one I could see myself living in.  Split was a close second.  If the view counted more than the bustle, Split would win.

There was an Upper Town and a Lower Town (where our hotel was).  Lower Town was planned and organized.  Upper Town was more chaotic as it had grown out of necessity.  Old Town is split into two parts – Gradec to the west and Kaptol to the east.  In the early years of the city a river divided the two areas with a bridge connecting them.  The two sides fought, often at the bridge, so it became know as Bloody Bridge.  Eventually both sides threw so much garbage in the river, it stank.  So they filled the river in and paved over it, thus permanently connecting both sides of Old Town.

Often when Jelena discussed the economic status of Croatia she would make her point by contrasting them with their wealthier neighbor, Switzerland.  For example, she would say things like, “70% of Croatia claim to be entrepreneurs.  Many of these entrepreneurs probably smuggle cigarettes from Serbia and Montenegro.  Otherwise we’d be Switzerland.”

After the tour I sought out the Christmas marketplace hoping to find a Santa figurine for Mom.  No luck.  The stand I thought might hold promise took forever to open and, as the merchandise came out, it appeared less and less promising.

I went back to Pingvin for lunch, and the fellow loaded me up.  Delicious, filling and very inexpensive.  After a quick stop to change Kuna for Euro, I headed to the bus for our trip to Slovenia and Lake Bled (pronounced “Blade”).

We arrived near sunset.  The porters weren’t able to unload luggage from the bus right away due to the tight space.  Normally I’d just carry my bag to the room and save the porter a trip.  So I unpacked what I had with me and took a few quick pictures of the lake and the castle.  Even in dusk they looked beautiful.

I headed downstairs to pick up my bag and was greeted by an elevator full of luggage and a harried porter.  He began to unload the elevator, but none of the bags were mine.  As he hefted the bags out Agnes walked up, pointed to two bags and announced the room to which they should be delivered.  Entitled, party of one.  In the lobby I found my bag, took it up to my room and finished unpacking.

I walked over to the restaurant next door and ordered a coffee and a kremsnita, a light pastry filled with crème.  Word to the wise:  the kremsnita is so sweet and rich, a strong coffee is the ideal accompaniment.  I heard someone from the group drank a hot chocolate (which here is so thick, it’s almost a pudding) with their kremsnita.  They probably needed an insulin chaser.  About 20 minutes into my dessert a mass of schoolchildren arrived for a kremsnita treat, and chaos reigned.  I was lucky to get out in time for the country inn dinner later that evening.

We took the bus over to the tiny medieval town of Radovljica.  Elvis gave a brief tour then walked us over to dinner.  We were invited into the establishment with bread and salt, then led down to the wine cellar for samples of red and white Slovenian wine, as well as sausages.  No sausage for me, but the red wine was tasty.

We were also treated to traditional Slovenian music and dancing.  The accordion player was garrulous and funny, and during the meal upstairs he and the dancers would return between courses to provide more music, more dancing, and some historical context.  The end of the evening culminated in first the men and then the women playing the equivalent of musical chairs but with hats.  Elvis won the men’s competition and Sabrina won the women’s.  All in all a delightful evening.  Only sixteen of our number partook, but it was the fun sixteen.

After returning to the hotel, Kay invited Doug and me to her room to continue drinking beer.  We sat around and drank and watched music videos on VH1 until she kicked us out.  Tomorrow is the tour of Ljubliana.

Monday, December 19, 2016

TRAVELERS: Croatia/Slovenia Travelogue (Part 2 – Wake Up Call)

November 24, 2016 (Thanksgiving)

I am a bad tourist.  I left my camera on the bus before the Split walking tour.  I realized it after the bus had left until 13:00, at which point we would be off to Dubrovnik.  So I have no pictures of Split aside from a couple I took from my hotel balcony.  Bad, bad tourist.  I will not make that mistake again (I hope).

Our local guide Damir is knowledgeable and charming.  For 1½ hours he spoke with skill and dexterity about the city he clearly loves.  I came to love it, too.  I wish we could stay another day.

We began our tour on The Riva, the popular street along the Adriatic in front of Diocletian’s Palace.  Built 1700 years ago as a retirement home for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the last pagan emperor, the palace was taken over after his death and, over hundreds of years, appropriated by the commoners.  It has evolved into the thriving city it is today.  The palace (or what remains of it) was turned into homes for the regular folks, with remnants of the palace structure throughout.

When constructed the cellars were used solely to bring the Emperor’s living quarters up to sea level (the south wall bordered the Adriatic and was built out into the sea).  When the commoners took over, the cellar became a giant dumpster until it was filled up with waste.  Certain areas have since been excavated.  Portions of the excavated cellar were used as the subterranean lair of Daenerys’ dragons in “Game of Thrones.”  I would love to have taken some pictures for my GOT fan friends.  Sigh.

Damir noticed my Lonely Planet guidebook.  He’s hung out with one of the authors and informed me that some of the restaurant recommendations are, in his opinion, based on the free meal given to the author rather than the quality of the food.  Good to know.  Because we only had 2 hours before the bus picked us up, he recommended a walking lunch as opposed to a sitting lunch, which would cost us an hour.  I walked around for much of the time trying to find some restaurants and dessert places to try without much luck.  Instead I went to a serviceable pizza place, and the owner complained my bill was too large (100 KN).  If I had spoken fluent Croatian I might have pointed out that ATMs dispense 200 KN notes.  She relented but seemed resentful.  I’m glad I broke my 200 KN buying a Klapa CD or may have had to go hungry.  I ate my slice on a bench overlooking the Adriatic, which made up for the less than thrilling pizza.  I felt a bit guilty, and was still hungry, so I returned to the pizza place to purchase another slice with exact change to make amends.  The woman looked at me as though I were coming to rob her but softened (a bit) when I produced the requisite 12 KN for another slice.  No good deed goes unpunished.

I found a recommended pastry shop, but it only served ice cream now.  It was a cool day with a brisk wind off the Adriatic, and ice cream was not what I wanted.  I recalled another pastry shop in my unsuccessful search for lunch but could not find it again.  Today was not my day for dining.

The drive to Dubrovnik was a misery.  I sat in front of two retired sisters who (though very nice) were unable to remain silent or allow a silence to occur for more than a minute at a time.  If there were an audio definition of inane in the dictionary, the conversation I was subjected to for the duration of the four hours would be it.  If you think this is hyperbole, I used my phone stopwatch over the course of an hour to time the silence.  Once I made it to 90 seconds; one other time I made it over a minute.  Every other instance was significantly less.  I wanted to thrust a fork into my neck repeatedly as a distraction.  I guess silence creates anxiety in some.  Inane and unnecessary talk make me anxious.  These are not malicious women, to be sure, but their need to talk was positively pathological.  I do not intend to be within earshot of them on the bus for the rest of the tour if it can be helped.

There was a group dinner at the hotel that night.  A sweet Asian woman from Boston named Suzanne invited me to sit with her and an Asian couple whom I thought were married but were just traveling companions.  Suzanne and I had each taken pictures with the other’s camera on Day 2 of the tour.  I think she saw me eating alone before and felt sorry for me.  There was no need to feel sorry.  I was perfectly content, but I enjoyed their company nevertheless.  Suzanne is a retired IRS agent, the man was also retired (from some scientific field I would guess based on our conversation, but I forgot to ask), and the other woman had been a housewife all her life.

The man and I chatted about travel and Zika, and then he asked me about Jerry Brown (the governor of California).  The more we talked the more I realized he was not a fan of Obama.  Strange, because he seemed to think well of Brown (and Brown and Obama are both thoughtful, careful politicians), he did not sound like a Hillary hater and (thank the maker) did not seem to be a fan of Trump.  He then spoke of Obama pardoning murderers (I admitted I knew nothing about this) and they (the murderers) were “mostly black” (his words).  I was taken aback.  It sounded as though he was a connoisseur of fake news (or what a person with a passing understanding of the veracity of the internet information terms "bullshit for the easily led").  This also seemed to confirm that a significant amount of Obama hatred had little to do with policy and more to do with race.  I was reminded just how all encompassing the fear of a black president was.

November 25, 2016 (Friday)

Last night Elvis warned us of waiters in Dubrovnik who would intentionally misunderstand your order and bring you a more expensive item.  He cautioned us to be clear and explicit when ordering to avoid this issue.  Good to note.

We met our local guide Lydia outside the Pile Gate in Old Town Dubrovnik.  She was born and married inside the walls of the town.  She and her family live elsewhere in the city, and her brother now lives in the family apartment in Old Town.  Light rain fell on and off through the early part of the walk.  Lydia spoke passionately about the siege of Dubrovnik in 1991.  One of her best friends was killed by a bomb just outside the clock tower at the east end of the Stradun (the main road).  Many (again) erroneously believe that the war was solely about religion or ethnicity.  In the case of the siege of Drubrovnik, it was about armed civilians (as opposed to the Yugoslav army) attacking and stealing valuables from the city (appliances and the like).  What one might call a para-militarized Keeping Up With the Joneses -- or at least killing and stealing from them.

Dubrovnik dates back to the 8th or 9th Century.  Much of the city was destroyed in an earthquake in the 17th Century, in which half the population was killed.  The town rebuilt but was again severely damaged by the bombing of 1991.  Many roof tiles are now a brighter shade of terra cotta because these tiles were less expensive than the tiles replaced.  Many owners live elsewhere and rent out their apartments to tourists.  There are very few hotels in or near the walled part of town.  You can tell which apartments remain occupied by their owners, because the shutters are in need of repair or paint, as it is too expensive.  The town is a UNESCO Heritage site, and there are strict requirements for any renovation or improvements.

The city’s stone walkways were slick from the intermittent rain when we climbed up to the city walls.  We entered at Ploce Gate near the Old Harbor and would be exiting back near Pile Gate.  Those who wished could continue around the walls, which would take you along the Adriatic.  To walk the entire wall could take 1½ hours, and we had Lydia for just under 2 hours total.  The stairs were quite steep, and the rain made them treacherous and the going slow.  One woman in the group overestimated her ability or underestimated the steepness.  She was not physically prepared but soldiered on.  Even with the clouds and rain the views were impressive.  I redeemed myself today by remembering my camera.  Suzanne took a couple of photos of me on the wall.  She’s not the world’s most skilled photographer (she was an IRS agent, after all) but beggars can’t be choosers.

I had intended to walk the entire wall, but as we approached the Pile Gate exit the rain began to lash.  I was already soaked, and the rain did not look like it would let up any time soon.  Even Lydia seemed concerned.  If your guide is concerned, perhaps it’s best to take that concern seriously.  So with some disappointment I climbed down at Pile Gate.  (You cannot reenter the wall once you exit – though I wonder if in off season there’s some wiggle room.  Still you would have to pay the full admission again, which was 120 KN or just under $20.)

I sheltered in the Franciscan Monastery and Museum.  It’s a small but lovely museum with impressive artifacts, including parts of an unexploded bomb that damaged the monastery in 1991.

By the time I concluded my monastery visit, the rain had subsided.  So I sought out lunch at Nishta (which means “Nothing”), a remarkable vegan hole-in-the-wall (5 inside tables and fewer outdoor tables).  They also offered gluten free options, which I did not need.  The food was excellent.  I had a fennel soup (to die for), followed by a tofu and vegetable pasta dish.  I finished with a vegan version of chocolate mousse, also spectacular.  All of this was accompanied by a glass of Peljesac, a locally-made red wine.  Exceptional.

I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the city, scouting shops and restaurants for future shopping and dining.  Two of my future dining options were busts, closed for the season.  High season wanes in September, and shoulder season wraps up by mid-November.  We are officially in off-season.

I tracked down a Dalmatian restaurant where I will have lunch tomorrow, and an ice cream place which looked positively sinful.  I’m hoping for more sun and less rain tomorrow.  But I intend to have ice cream either way.  Yes, it looks that good.

I ate dinner at a pizza place called Bara Cuda, run by a sullen fellow who decorated it in old school Italian style, with red checked tablecloths.  I was there early for dinner, but he had no other customers.  Perhaps that’s why he was sullen.  The mushroom pizza was good.  The Plevac, another local red, was not as good as the earlier Peljesac but did the trick.

I ran into Suzanne as I made my way back to the public bus (a 10-minute ride to and from the hotel for a mere 12 KN).  She pointed out a chocolate store, which could provide some co-worker thank you gifts.  Suzanne mentioned she did not care for Lydia’s personal stories and opinions about the War of Separation.  She seemed uncomfortable in this instance when death and destruction became less abstract.  Lydia’s side stories were my favorite part of the tour.  History made less sanitary and compartmentalized.  If more people were exposed to these views, perhaps they’d be less inclined to view indiscriminate bombing as a sustainable solution to difficult problems.

I returned to my room and discovered I was exhausted.  I lay back on my bed and quickly passed out for 3 hours.  It is nearly midnight as I write these words.

Tomorrow most of our party travel to Montenegro for the day.  I have opted to say in Dubrovnik, catch a couple more sites, and take the cable car to Mount Srd (pronounced “Surge”).  I hope the weather cooperates just a bit more.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

TRAVELERS: Croatia/Slovenia Travelogue (Part 1 – Arrival)

The 2016 movie recap looms, so let us take the second in what I hope is a regular series of diversion travelogues to clear the palate and the mind.

Many people have asked what inspired me to go to Croatia and Slovenia.  It was never a bucket list location like Machu Picchu, but it has lurked for a number of years in the back of my mind.  I knew very little of the countries’ histories, and I suppose that was a significant part of the appeal.


November 20-21, 2016 (Sunday and Monday)

My flight to Paris had been delayed 30 minutes, but I chose to keep my Super Shuttle reservation unchanged.  Better early than late in international travel.  The shuttle driver listened to KUSC (the public classical station), so the drive to LAX was pleasant.  On the plane I sat next to a very sweet Latin couple (though I couldn’t be sure if they were husband and wife or mother and son).  She watched Spanish language TV most of the trip and laughed heartily.  My baggage was checked through to Venice -- my final airline destination -- so I was able to make a tight connecting flight at Charles de Gaulle.  However, that flight was delayed because there were too many bags checked onto the plane.  After about an hour on the tarmac the pilot sheepishly came on the intercom to inform passengers that about a dozen pieces of luggage would not make it to Venice on this flight.  We finally took off after about a 1½ hour delay.  I checked my itinerary, and according to the paperwork my transfer to the first Croatia hotel was only obligated to wait one hour.  So I flew in suspense wondering whether I would have luggage when I arrived and/or whether I would have to find my own way to Opatija.

I arrived in Venice and both my luggage and my transfer were waiting for me.  I didn’t have to go through customs when I arrived, which was unexpected.  Perhaps that’s a perk of EU membership.  Several other members of my Gate 1 travel group were waiting as well (and had been for close to 2 hours).  Unfortunately, one of our number was among those whose luggage had been left in Paris, so we waited an additional hour while the couple filed their report before leaving the terminal.  Next was a 3½ hour drive to Opatija.  It was dark, so there was nothing to see scenery-wise.  More sleeping ensued.

We met our Tour Manager Elvis (yes, Elvis) at the Grand Hotel Adriatic and received the particulars of our stay, checked in, and enjoyed a welcome buffet dinner.  I was famished, as I had eaten little since around 13:00 (it was 21:00).  Though the dinner was meant to introduce group members to each other, everyone was so wasted from a day of travel that little socializing occurred.  Most went straight back to their rooms once the meal was finished, myself included.  It took a few minutes to figure out how to turn on the lights in my room.  You needed to insert your key card into a slot next to the door in order to activate the lights in the room.  I approve of the environmental efficiency.

There is an optional tour of the Istrian peninsula tomorrow, which I will forgo to decompress from 24 hours of travel and to stretch the old pins by walking around Opatija.

Last night I dreamed that I lived with my Aunt Janet and Uncle Ralph in Arizona.  A person they just met needed help, so they decided that the family should relocate to help this person.  I tried to persuade them to visit the new town first before making this commitment.  They disagreed.  We grabbed something to eat from a local café, while I determined whether I had the correct currency to pay for it.  A traveler’s nightmare.
November 22, 2016 (Tuesday)

Opatija is a quaint coastal town on the northeastern edge of the Istrian peninsula, like a more picaresque Cambria.  Today it is socked in with rain and clouds.  I woke up and did a full stretching routine in my hotel room – much needed after an entire day crammed into plane and bus seats -- then down to breakfast.  I arrived about an hour before the service ended but didn’t see any of my travel companions from the night before.  I had hoped to sit with some and chat.  Yesterday, I had no desire to talk, only to listen.  And even that had been exhausting.

Like Cambria there are no significant sights in Opatija.  However, there is the Lungomare, a seaside walk that weaves along the coast for several miles.  This would have been ideal on a less rainy day.  Instead I aborted the walk part way and began to look for places to eat back on the main drag of Marsala Tita -- filled with small shops, banks, restaurants, and coffee houses – that runs north (or is it east) to Volosko.

I found a recommended seafood place well off the beaten path in Volosko, a quintessential fishing village that itself feels off the beaten path.  I saw two fisherman walking the street in modified waders and felt momentarily transported to an earlier time.  Unfortunately, the restaurant didn’t open for another hour, and there was nothing to do in Volosko but wait.  It was cold, so I traipsed back the ½ mile to Opatijo.

About a ten minute walk from the hotel I found Ruzmarin, a restaurant which I had been looking for earlier in the wrong part of town.  (Sometimes losing your way actually pays off.)  I was hungry by then, so I went in.  My Croatian is pathetic, and the patient wait staff spoke English to me.  I ordered mushroom soup and what I thought was a monkfish sandwich.  The cabernet needed to breathe more but the soup was delicious.  When the monkfish arrived, it was a full dinner plate with sides.  It was very good but I had no idea how much it might cost.  The full fish dinners looked pricey on the menu, so I braced for the worst.  When the bill arrived all was fine.  It was more than I had originally expected to pay but less than I had feared.  According to Lonely Planet Guide there’s a service fee in Croatian restaurants, so you tip by rounding up.  It felt odd doing this, but the waiter didn’t run after me demanding more money.  So I guess it was fine.

After lunch it was still raining, so I walked around a nearby park then headed back to the hotel once I got too wet and cold.  After a refreshing nap/sleep I walked about 15 minutes for dinner at Roko, an Italian influenced restaurant.  I had a Greek salad and an excellent margherita pizza with a superior glass of cabernet.

In both Ruzmarin and Roko I noticed the background music tended to be acoustic, easy listening versions of popular songs by the likes of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Coldplay and Dexys Midnight Runners (?!).  More often than not the singer was a woman (though I’m pretty sure I heard a man singing a cover of Madonna’s “Material Girl”).  You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced an acoustic version of “Honky Tonk Woman” performed by someone who sounds like Karen Carpenter.


November 23, 2016 (Wednesday)

Alarm at 6:00.  Wake up call at 6:15.  No time for niceties. Luggage had to be out of the room by 7:00, so the porters could stow on the bus.  Down to breakfast.  Checked out and on the road by 8:00.  This was my first time having porters pick up my luggage outside the room; however, when I returned after breakfast my bag was still there.  Fearing a misunderstanding I took my bag downstairs and found a cache of Gate 1 bags waiting for loading.  Turns out it just took longer for the porters to collect bags than I had given them.

Elvis is a remarkable guide.  As we drove to Zadar he gave us a brief history of Croatia to set up the tragedy of the “War of Separation” that begin in 1991.  Contrary to media coverage it was less a war of religion or ethnicity than it was a fight over which of the provinces would control which parcels of land.  From the Venetians to the Ottomans to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the stage had been set for a bitter and fractious separation of Yugoslavia into its various provinces – which had been held uneasily together by Josip Broz, better know as “Tito,” until his death in 1980.

We had lunch at a cafeteria-style restaurant.  I was still full from breakfast, so I stuck with the cheese sandwich, tomato soup, and some fresh fruit for dessert.  I need to have tomato soup more often.  It’s the perfect comfort food.

In Zadar we were left to our own devices for a couple of hours.  Zadar is a peninsula.  At the tip are the Sea Organ, which uses wind and waves to create an eerily soothing music, and the Sun Salutation, solar panels that collect sunlight during the day and emit a light show after dusk.  We arrived in the early afternoon, so no light show.  But the Sea Organ was impressive, especially when large boats churned past, stirring up the waves.

We arrived in Split and checked into the Radisson Blu.  As a surprise Gate 1 treated the group to dinner to make up for the rainy day suffered the day before in Opatija.  Since the hotel was out of the city center and finding a place to eat on my own would have been a chore, this worked out well.  We were offered the choice of a meat dinner, seafood dinner or vegetarian dinner.  I considered the seafood option but, as portions in Croatia were much larger than their European counterparts’ I went with the vegetarian option – a nice salad and tasty pasta with fresh vegetables, washed down with the house red wine.  Small samples of a dessert pancake and flan were brought out.  One of our number (Agnes) was celebrating her 57th birthday the next day, so there was off-key singing.  Also, an older couple (the husband was Serbian) celebrated an anniversary that very day, which led to a couples dance while two musicians wandered the room playing a guitar and an accordion.  I spent much of the meal talking travel with Sharon from Chicago, who was with her boisterous husband.  She persuaded me to make Vietnam and Cambodia my next travel destination.  Elvis had to herd the group out quickly in order to get out driver back by 21:00 – union rules.  We were just wrapping up when Sharon’s husband strong-armed the amenable wait staff into bringing him an additional dessert of tiramisu.

After dinner some of the group went to the hotel bar.  I needed rest, and I was not sure I wanted to see how more alcohol might affect members of our group.  Apparently old town Split is beautiful at night, but it would entail a taxi ride, so I opted out.  I will see it in daylight tomorrow.

Friday, February 26, 2016


It’s time once again to match wits with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Below are my predictions the 2015 Oscars® and my reasoning for the predictions.  However, for your ballot it’s always best to go with your own best instincts.  Heaven knows, I probably think more than the average voter when it comes to making my choices.  And there you have it.

Best Picture:


If you use other awards as a guide, this year’s Best Picture appears to be a 3-way race.  THE BIG SHORT won the Producers Guild Award, SPOTLIGHT won the Screen Actors Guild ensemble award (the SAG equivalent of Best Picture), and THE REVENANT won the BAFTA (the British Oscar®) and the Golden Globe for drama.  (Yes, THE MARTIAN won the Golden Globe for comedy.  But it’s not a comedy, and that was a consolation prize.)  BROOKLYN and ROOM, both worthy nominees, are too small to win.  BRIDGE OF SPIES, a smart, sober drama, got the nod over other equally good films like CAROL and CREED because Steven Spielberg.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD would be my choice for Best Picture.  It’s an adrenaline rush of pure cinema that works as an action movie and an allegory while playfully tweaking our archetypical gender expectations.  It’s gloriously gonzo, and it’s George Miller’s best film.  And it will not win.  Sigh.

Of the remaining films that are in serious contention, SPOTLIGHT -- a tense, economical drama about the Catholic Church scandal of the early 2000s -- would be my next choice.  This is the kind of topical tale Hollywood once did better than anyone.  However, it will likely split its votes with THE BIG SHORT – a funny, furious recounting of the financial crisis of 2008 – which would be my next favorite of the contenders.  And that leaves THE REVENANT, a beautifully shot two-and-a-half hour UFC grudge match with fur trappers and muskets.  Watching Leonardo DiCaprio grunt and crawl his way to Oscar® glory (his grizzled character’s sole motivation from where I sat) seems to be sufficient reason for voters to hand Alejandro G. Iñarritu his second Best Picture award in as many years.  However, if you’re looking for a sensible contrarian pick, you could do worse than THE BIG SHORT.

Should Win:     MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Will Win:          THE REVENANT
Overlooked:    CAROL

Best Director:

Lenny Abrahamson, ROOM
Alejandro G. Iñarritu, THE REVENANT
George Miller, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Will voters award Iñarritu his second Best Director in a row?  The DGA did.  But then again the DGA nominated Tom Hooper for the garbage fire LES MISÉRABLES a couple years back, so their taste can be reasonably called into question.  Personally I would have preferred a Todd Haynes nomination for CAROL and give Iñarritu a rest, but no one listens to me.  This year there’s a chance (perhaps worth taking for the Oscar® pool contrarian) that the Academy will balk at giving so much love to Iñarritu in so short a time span.  Abrahamson snuck in (deservedly so) under the wire and is the longest shot.  McKay has the advantage of his film being topical and the disadvantage of his film being (essentially) a comedy.  That leaves McCarthy for SPOTLIGHT and Miller for MAD MAX as contrarian picks.  Of the two I’d give the edge to Miller.  He’s in his 70s, made a physically and logistically difficult movie, and is unlikely to be nominated again.  The safe money would be on Iñarritu and THE REVENANT, but I’m feeling contrarian.

Should and Will Win:   George Miller, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Overlooked:                Todd Haynes, CAROL

Best Actress:

Cate Blanchett, CAROL
Brie Larson, ROOM
Jennifer Lawrence, JOY
Charlotte Rampling, 45 YEARS
Saoirse Ronan, BROOKLYN

Based solely on the three nominated performances I saw, Best Actress is one of the strongest categories this year.  Since her nominated performance in ATONEMENT Ronin has proven to be one of the finest actresses of her generation, but her performance in BROOKLYN may be too subtle for a win.  Lawrence and Blanchett have each won recently.  JOY received mixed reviews and CAROL proved elusive to Academy voters, so neither actress is likely to repeat.  Larson has been on a streak, with her performance in ROOM winning the Golden Globe for Actress in a drama and the SAG Award.  Her performance is devastating, and I see no reason for her streak to end.  Despite her storied career, Rampling has never been nominated until now.  There’s a remote chance voters will give her the win for 45 YEARS as a lifetime achievement, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Should and Will Win:   Brie Larson, ROOM
Overlooked:                Charlize Theron, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Best Actor:

Bryan Cranston, TRUMBO
Leonardo DiCaprio, THE REVENANT
Michael Fassbender, STEVE JOBS
Eddie Redmayne, THE DANISH GIRL

On the flip side of Best Actress, the Best Actor category feels lightweight.  So much so that with barely any effort I could name Tom Hanks in BRIDGE OF SPIES and Michael B. Jordan in CREED as performances more worthy than some.  Cranston’s TRUMBO is a very good performance in a mediocre movie.  Damon goes through his paces in THE MARTIAN but doesn’t connect emotionally until the final rescue attempt.  Last year’s Best Actor winner Redmayne is too mannered in THE DANISH GIRL for my taste (and I’m happy to blame the director Tom Hooper here).  Fassbender’s STEVE JOBS is the only performance that comes close to matching the material, but he will not win.  That honor belongs to DiCaprio in THE REVENANT.  Although his character is the film’s least interesting, voters seem more impressed with the actor’s hard work and less so with the performance’s artistic merit.  A modest proposal:  Institute a Tom Cruise Hardest Working Actor of the Year Award, so an Oscar® can be about the end result and not the process.

Should Win:     Michael Fassbender, STEVE JOBS
Will Win:          Leonardo DiCaprio, THE REVENANT
Overlooked:    Tom Hanks, BRIDGE OF SPIES
                        Michael B. Jordan, CREED

Best Supporting Actress:

Jennifer Jason Leigh, THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Rooney Mara, CAROL
Rachel McAdams, SPOTLIGHT
Alicia Vikander, THE DANISH GIRL
Kate Winslet, STEVE JOBS

The actresses in the Supporting category are uniformly excellent.  It’s a shame that only three are genuinely supporting.  Tessa Thompson in CREED and Julie Walters in BROOKLYN would have been more appropriate choices, just to name two.  Leigh’s fearless performance in THE HATEFUL EIGHT is truly hateful (as it should be), and its unpleasantness may turn many voters off.  Oscar® darling Winslet won the Golden Globe for STEVE JOBS but is unlikely to win here.  McAdams has the best shot of the legitimately supporting actresses, but SPOTLIGHT is such a strong ensemble that it may be hard for voters to single out any one actor.  Mara is the co-lead in CAROL and should have been nominated alongside Blanchett, whom she matches beat for beat.  All things being equal (though they are not) hers is my favorite performance in this category.  However, another wrongly categorized performance is more likely to win.  Vikander is certainly the leading actress in THE DANISH GIRL and carries much of the movie.  For this reason, and because she was marvelous (in a supporting role) in EX MACHINA, voters will recognize her exceptional year here.

Should Win:     Rooney Mara, CAROL
Will Win:          Alicia Vikander, THE DANISH GIRL
Overlooked:    Tessa Thompson, CREED
                        Alicia Vikander, EX MACHINA
                        Julie Walters, BROOKLYN

Best Supporting Actor:

Christian Bale, THE BIG SHORT
Mark Ruffalo, SPOTLIGHT
Sylvester Stallone, CREED

There is also an abundance of riches in the Supporting Actor category (and here at least each nominee is genuinely supporting).  So much so that I would be remiss if I didn’t bemoan the absence of Steve Carell in THE BIG SHORT, Benicio Del Toro in SICARIO, and Idris Elba in BEASTS OF NO NATION from the nominee list.  Bale’s quirky turn in THE BIG SHORT will likely be lost in the film’s strong ensemble.  Likewise Ruffalo in SPOTLIGHT (unless voters feel they slighted him in FOXCATCHER some years back).  Hardy’s performance in THE REVENANT is the film’s most interesting but will be unfairly overshadowed by DiCaprio.  My favorite is the subtle, sympathetic work of Ryland in BRIDGE OF SPIES.  He will lose to Stallone, however, for Sly’s sly, understated return as Rocky Balboa in CREED.

Should Win:     Mark Rylance, BRIDGE OF SPIES
Will Win:          Sylvester Stallone, CREED
Overlooked:    Steve Carell, THE BIG SHORT
                        Benicio Del Toro, SICARIO
                        Idris Elba, BEASTS OF NO NATION

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Emma Donoghue, ROOM
Drew Goddard, THE MARTIAN
Nick Hornby, BROOKLYN
Phyllis Nagy, CAROL
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, THE BIG SHORT

Of the five nominees only Goddard’s THE MARTIAN seems a weak choice (not a bad choice, just weak).  How often can a problem be solved by science within a couple of screen minutes of said problem’s arrival?  Too often for my taste.  A better choice would have been Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington’s CREED, a terrific reboot of the ROCKY franchise that stands fine on its own.  Donoghue’s harrowing and exhilarating adaptation of her novel ROOM may be too upsetting to win.  Hornby’s graceful BROOKLYN and Nagy’s quietly revolutionary CAROL are likely too subtle and may split each other’s vote.  The WGA just gave Randolph and McKay the award for THE BIG SHORT, and I couldn’t agree more.  Turning Michael Lewis’ book of the 2008 financial crisis (filled with esoteric financial terminology and transactions) into an entertaining and infuriating film is a minor miracle.

Should and Will Win:   Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, THE BIG SHORT
Overlooked:                Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington, CREED

Best Original Screenplay:

Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, BRIDGE OF SPIES
Alex Garland, EX MACHINA
Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Pete Docter, INSIDE OUT
Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT

The biggest surprise in this exceptional crop of scripts was Herman and Berloff’s STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, an energetic and vital biopic about the iconic rappers of N.W.A. which puts their music in a context that allows understanding and engenders respect.  Charman and the Coen brother’s BRIDGE OF SPIES is less surprising, but a solid and noble effort nonetheless.  In EX MACHINA Garland updates the mad scientist’s monster for the cyber era and creates the most cerebral of horror movies.  With the help of Pixar magicians, LeFauve & Cooley and Docter hit another animated home run with this wistful tale about a young girl’s coming to terms with sadness.  Yet my favorite of the bunch is Singer & McCarthy’s singular SPOTLIGHT, the economical and gripping story of the Boston Globe reporters who in 2002 uncovered widespread corruption at the Catholic Church.  The WGA honored it, and I’m confident the Academy will, too.

Should and Will Win:   Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT

Best Animated Film


I only saw two of the nominated animated films this year and am frankly surprised the charming and faithful THE PEANUTS MOVIE didn’t make the cut.  Of those I did see Charlie Kaufman’s ANOMALISA, a brilliant but depressing tale of alienation, is far too much of a downer to win.  On the other hand INSIDE OUT, despite being tinged with melancholy, makes for a near perfect blend of kid friendly fun and grown up whimsy.  I would be very surprised if it didn’t take home the statue.

Should and Will Win:   INSIDE OUT
Overlooked:                THE PEANUTS MOVIE

Best Foreign Language Film

MUSTANG (France)
SON OF SAUL (Hungary)
THEEB (Jordan)
A WAR (Denmark)

I didn’t see any of the nominees this year, so I’m going with conventional wisdom and pick the Holocaust drama SON OF SAUL.  I understand a good upset pick could be MUSTANG.

Will Win:          SON OF SAUL (Hungary)

Best Documentary Feature


I only saw two of the nominees.  Joshua Oppenheimer’s bracing companion piece to THE ACT OF KILLING follows the brother of a victims of the mid-1960s Indonesian massacres as he confronts perpetrators (some still in political power) and their families.  THE LOOK OF SILENCE is one of the best films of the year.  However, the likely winner will be Asif Kapadia’s AMY, a loosely structured look at the tragedy of singer Amy Winehouse.

Will Win:          AMY

Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins, SICARIO
Edward Lachman, CAROL
Emmanuel Lubezki, THE REVENANT
Robert Richardson, THE HATEFUL EIGHT

A year in which Robert Richardson is my least favorite option is a strong year indeed.  Deakins is long overdue but an unlikely winner for SICARIO.  Seale’s oversaturated dystopia in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD works like gangbusters but feels like a long shot.  Lubezki has won the last two years and with THE REVENANT is the frontrunner this year.  If the Academy balks at a three-peat for Lubezki I might suggest the contrarian pick of Ed Lachman for CAROL.  His work was the year’s strongest, telling his story through framing, texturing and lighting better than any of the other nominees.

Should Win:     Ed Lachman, CAROL
Will Win:          Emmanuel Lubezki, THE REVENANT

Best Film Editing

Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Hank Corwin, THE BIG SHORT
Stephen Mirrione, THE REVENANT
Margaret Sixel, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

THE REVENANT felt like a slog, so Mirrione does not belong on this list.  Brandon and Markey did what needed to be done on STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, but it’s not really Oscar® caliber.  McArdle’s work on SPOTLIGHT is classic and subtle.  In any other year Corwin would deserve the prize for his clever cutting on THE BIG SHORT.  This year Sixel deserves every accolade she receives for MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, essentially a two hour chase that knows when to speed up and when to slow down.

Should and Will Win:   Margaret Sixel, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Best Costume Design

Jenny Beavan, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Sandy Powell, CAROL
Sandy Powell, CINDERELLA
Jacqueline West, THE REVENANT

Under normal circumstances Delgado’s costumes for THE DANISH GIRL or Powell’s for CINDERELLA would be the most likely winner.  I’m guessing (hoping?) that they’ll split the vote and pave the way for Beavan’s post-apocalypse fashion in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

Should and Will Win:   Jenny Beavan, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Best Production Design


MAD MAX: FURY ROAD has the most comprehensive world building since THE LORD OF THE RINGS and should win easily.  Unless it doesn’t.

Should and Will Win:   MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Best Original Score

Carter Burwell, CAROL
Johann Johannsson, SICARIO
Ennio Morricone, THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Thomas Newman, BRIDGE OF SPIES

Johannsson’s SICARIO score is the most anxiety inducing of the year – after Morricone’s THE HATEFUL EIGHT, that is.  Morricone has never won an Oscar®.  I think that’s going to change this year.

Should and Will Win:   Ennio Morricone, THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Best Original Song

“Simple Song #3,” YOUTH
“Til It Happens To You,” THE HUNTING GROUND
“Writing’s On The Wall,” SPECTRE

Conventional wisdom claims that Lady Gaga has been making enough public appearances lately to put “Til It Happens To You” on top.  Me?  I don’t know.  And I don’t care.  I’m also told that if any song has the potential to beat it out, that would be “Writing’s On The Wall” from SPECTRE, a movie I saw but couldn’t remember the song if you put a gun to my head.

Should Win:     Who cares?
Will Win:          “Til It Happens To You,” THE HUNTING GROUND

Best Sound Mixing


If it were up to me I’d give this to MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.  But it isn’t, and the other likely winners are THE REVENANT and STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.  If nominated, often the Best Picture winner matches the winner in this category, so I’ll go with THE REVENANT.  STAR WARS wouldn’t be a bad contrarian pick, however.

Should Win:     MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Will Win:          THE REVENANT

Best Sound Editing


Movies with a goodly amount of action tend to win in this category, so you’d think MAD MAX: FURY ROAD would be a lock.  I’m not so sure in this case.  The Academy may not want to over reward a movie that is not expected to win Best Picture.  So, as in Sound Mixing, I’m going to go with THE REVENANT.  And, once again, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS would be a decent contrarian pick.

Should Win:     MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Will Win:          THE REVENANT

Best Visual Effects


These are all good choices.  And though MAD MAX: FURY ROAD did a more impressive job combining practical effects with CG, the Academy will want to give STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS an award because it made so much money and because STAR WARS.

Should Win:     MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Best Makeup


The Makeup and Hairstylists Guild gave this award to MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.  I think the Academy will, too.

Should and Will Win:   MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Best Documentary Short Subject


Sounds like a Holocaust-related picture, so I’m going with CLAUDE LANZMANN.


Best Animated Short Subject


I’m guessing.


Best Live Action Short Subject


I’m guessing again.