First up...the continuing conflict in Ukraine, as the United States and its allies are left with a decision to bolster their missile defense systems in Europe. Secretary of State John Kerry will be heading to Kiev on Tuesday to meet with the Ukrainian government while calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull his troops out of the Crimerian peninsula, which until 60 years ago was part of their country's territory. But according their Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Crimeria is still on Ukrainian soil despite the Russian presence.
Back here in the States, the week has already started with the never-ending winter with the latest (and hopefully last) blast pummeling the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, closing down schools and businesses yet again. Up to 10 inches of snow will have fallen in Washington and Baltimore with a foot of snow to come in New Jersey and parts of West Virginia, with governors of Tennessee and Virginia declaring a state of emergency.
Punxsutawney Phil was right about those six extra weeks of winter coming our way. Here, we have General Beau Lee, whose forecast called for an early spring in Atlanta. When it comes to weather in March, it's all about asking yourself one question: Who do you trust?
Slavery and "Gravity" triumph at the Oscars!
"Gravity" may have walked out of the 86th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday with the most overall haul (seven Oscars including Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron); but in the end, the more prestigious honors belonged to "12 Years A Slave" with Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong'o, and Best Picture of 2013. Those two films and "American Hustle" were in a cutthroat battle for the big prize, with "Slave" coming in with a huge advantage after racking up Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA wins ("Hustle" on the other hand, got nothing, as did "The Wolf of Wall Street").
As predicted, Matthew McConaughey was named Best Actor for "Dallas Buyers Club" with Jared Leto claiming Supporting Actor, while the heavily favored Cate Blanchett completed her winning streak with her second overall Oscar, this time Best Actress for "Blue Jasmine."
Other big winners include: "Frozen" (Animated Feature and Original Song ("Let It Go")), "20 Feet From Stardom" (Documentary Feature, punctuated by Darlene Love ultimately singing her praises), Italy's "The Great Beauty" (Foreign Language Film), and "Her" (Original Screenplay in a surprise).
Ellen DeGeneres in her second go-around as host put a whole lot of fun into the 3 1/2-hour Oscarcast, as opposed to Seth McFarlane's fawning last year. In addition to serving pizza to the audience, she was also solely responsible for the selfie that crashed Twitter, amassing 2 million retweets and counting. But I thought the best highlight went to Bette Midler in her first visit to the Oscar stage with "Wind Beneath My Wings" closing out the In Memoriam segment (which was probably completed on the fly to include Harold Ramis, whom Bill Murray gave a shout-out to)
One major highlight prior to all that's going on was in the skies above Los Angeles, as torrential rains threatened to put a damper on the fashion action. But thankfully, the sun came out to play just in time, though Jennifer Lawrence still couldn't get the sting from last year out of her head as she tripped in her red Dior yet again...this time on the red carpet. Though they both graciously lost to Blanchett, Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams looked like Old Hollywood in Alexander McQueen and Gucci respectively, while among the men, Jared Leto looked like a true winner himself in his Yves Saint Laurent jacket and red bow tie.
I think the best honor goes to Lupita Nyong'o in her icy blue Prada, but (back to the guys) Pharrell Williams? This is the Oscars, not the Grammys; leave those shorts in the house!
Cate Blanchett has always been the odds-on favorite ever since "Blue Jasmine" was released last summer, and her Best Actress prize did the trick for her. As for Lupita Nyong'o? Like Jennifer Lawrence last year, this is definitely not the last we'll be seeing of her...well, unlike Mo'Nique when she won that very same award four years ago.
And then there was the Sexiest Man of 2005 winner whose Texas charm has drawn the females wild for years. Even though his big-screen persona has now been carried over to the small screen in HBO's "True Detective", there is no doubt that Matthew McConaughey's stature is well cemented now that he and his wife Camilla have welcomed the newest member of their family: an 8 1/2 bundle of joy named Oscar.
Heroes and Hollywood may have been the theme, but there was one other keyword all throughout the 86th Academy Awards that held true: Diversity, and we've seen it. Quite fittingly, the Oscars did soar to new heights in more ways than one. So long and stay strong.