I have been rewatching season 1 of Rome with my girlfriend.  Rather than actually paying attention to the plot (Spoiler alert: Caesar dies!), I’ve been noticing the continuous presence of fowl in the city. There are chickens wandering around all over the place, which is to some degree nonsensical. As an avid devotee of the Backyard Chicken party, I know that raising chickens in urbanity necessitates fencing and caging. Free range is generally confined to rural areas. Free range chickens in a city are generally, eaten, stolen, or killed by evil canines.  Really, what is occurring here is a specific (and I contend deliberate) reference to a fowl chapter in Roman history.

During the Civil War between Pompey and Caesar, for a brief moment of time the chickens took over Rome. A rogue coalition of Leghorns and Fayum chickens briefly put aside their differences and took the government of the city upon themselves, in light of the failure of human governance. As Caesar reports in the Civil War (5.4) multi, multi galli in urbe sunt. I think we can extrapolate from this that the chickens presented a viable third party between the Caesarians and Pompeians. There is even some evidence that they may have aligned with Milo and Caelius. Sadly, the chicken republic had little future. Caesarian cavalry was too scary for these brave galli, who proved a bit too chicken to defend their ill gotten gains.

And now, some pictures of Plymouth Barred Rocks

Best Picture Standings

January 21, 2010

With the BAFTA nominees just announced, it’s time to update our Best Picture rankings.

1. The Hurt Locker, 8.867

2. Up in the Air, 5.682

3. Avatar, 5.502

4. Precious, 4.984

5. Inglourious Basterds, 4.07

6. An Education, 2.964

7. A Serious Man, 2.816

8. Invictus, 2.664

9. Up, 2.068

10. The Hangover, 1.923

11. Star Trek, 1.898

12. Nine, 1.795

13. (500) Days of Summer, 1.343

14. District 9, 1.168

15. Julia and Julia, .963

Things are generally unchanged from our last update, and there isn’t anything big on the horizon to shake up the race. This current version includes our “prestige” bonus, newly added to try to identify the next “The Reader,” and accounts for “The Hangover”‘s GG-Comedy/Musical win. I don’t see anything sneaking into the top-10 at this point.

Except….as Sasha Stern reports, nobody has any clue what ten movies to nominate! Academy members are struggling to come up with ten movies! Non-schocker of the day. Given that the Academy regularly had trouble finding 5 very-good-to-great movies to nominate, why did we think they’d find 10? Why not just add a 6th nominee? As it is, Best Picture and Best Director generally match 4/5, meaning that one of the 5 (supposedly) best directed movies isn’t nominated for the biggest prize. Ten just cheapens things.

Unless it makes this totally unpredictable. Maybe a movie like “The White Ribbon” comes out of nowhere to be nominated for best picture. I wouldn’t be totally shocked, and I’d be pretty amused. It’s unlikely, but it did win the Palm D’Or, giving it some prestige.

Here’s hoping that my rankings are totally wrong.