08/18/13 6:00am
08/18/2013 6:00 AM

AMC COURTESY PHOTO | The cast of Breaking Bad.

Yes, I know this column is supposed to be local in its focus. And this week’s submission will be, too, insofar as our television set is located in Orient, N.Y.

I have been bitten bad, you see, by the “Breaking Bad” bug. So it’s neigh on impossible for me to focus — this week, at least — on ferry traffic, hot new restaurants or the thrill of watching the North Fork Ospreys win their league championship.

No, this column will be about Walter White, the high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine cook who has captured the hearts and minds of millions of TV addicts like myself.

Perhaps more than anyone, the former Joan Giger Walker knows the drill. It begins immediately after the dinner dishes are transferred to the dishwasher. I thank her for the meal, then slink off to the front room of our house, where Walter White and his mates await. Four or five hours later I rise from the couch, somewhat groggily, having gorged on four or five consecutive episodes of this highly addictive AMC maxi-series.

If you, too, have been bitten, you know whereof I speak. If you have not watched, and plan to, stop reading now to avoid any spoilers.

This past Sunday night, Aug. 11, had been marked on my iPhone’s calendar for close to a year. That’s because it was the first of the show’s final eight episodes, and I had to prepare for the occasion by watching most of the 50 some episodes that led up to last year’s finale, wherein Walt’s brother-in-law, Hank, the Drug Enforcement Administration agent, discovers that Walt is the drug kingpin he (Hank) has been searching for all along, said discovery having taken place while Hank is seated on the toilet at Walt’s house. (See for yourself by calling up episode 508: “Gliding Over All” on demand.)

Yes, indeed, “Breaking Bad” is edgy — to the max. But that’s why I (and millions of others, apparently) have fallen so hard for it. It’s unlike anything else on television — in particular “Duck Dynasty” — and not just because the show’s creators have invented dozens of unique methods of “eliminating” characters from the show. (Case in point: a tortoise, carrying the severed head of a Mexican cartel drug lord, explodes and kills several DEA agents.)

Yes, I know, that may have been a little too edgy, but that’s not really what the show is about. What it’s about is the transformation of a highly sympathetic, mild-mannered high school teacher with a diagnosis of lung cancer into a highly unsympathetic, cold-blooded killer and illegal drug manufacturer. And what makes that transition possible, and believable, is the astounding acting of Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White. He’s won three best-actor Emmy awards over the show’s five seasons and several of his co-stars have been similarly honored in supporting roles.

Simply put, in this self-appointed critic’s humble opinion, “Breaking Bad” has been, is and will be until dethroned at some point in the future, the very best thing American television has to offer.

And if you doubt me, set your DVR for AMC (Channel 43 for Optimum subscribers) at 9 p.m. this coming Sunday, Aug. 18. But first, make 10 pounds of popcorn, empty your bladder, turn off the phones and watch all 54 episodes that have aired to date.

And when you come up for air, give me a call.

[email protected]

07/06/13 10:00am
07/06/2013 10:00 AM

I often tell people there’s no greater place to cover news than in Riverhead.

This town has it all: diversity, a downtown in flux, agriculture, silly politics, great local sports and loyal residents who are passionate about the place they call home.

With all of this comes the good type of news and the bad. This town is heartwarming one day and heartbreaking the next. The past week provided the perfect example of this.

My wife, Vera, and I were camping near the Jersey Shore two years ago when we received word of the horrible gel candle incident that left Michael Hubbard badly burned. The breaking news reporter for the paper at the time, I remember Vera, the breaking-news reporter at the time, trying to report the news from the road. It was exactly the kind of story you hate to have to tell, the kind where everything changes for the worst for a young person with promise.

Ever since that day, we’ve enjoyed hearing little bursts of good news as Michael has experienced small victories in his long road to recovery. Two years later, his friends and family were able to celebrate his biggest win yet as he was returned home to Riverhead from the Westchester County facility where he had been cared for since September 2011.

As a great example of a community hospital looking out for one of its own, Michael is now being cared for at Peconic Bay Medical Center’s skilled nursing facility as he awaits the opening of Brendan House, a group care facility planned for Riverhead. (I’d be remiss to not mention the role riverheadlocal.com publisher Denise Civiletti played in connecting Michael’s family with the hospital, where she previously worked. She declined to accept credit when asked about it last week, but both Michael’s family and hospital officials say she was a critical piece of the puzzle.)

Michael’s move back home was among the best news for Riverhead in quite some time. It was only one day later, that this community received some of its worst news in awhile.

If you know that feeling of nervous tension you get deep in your stomach when you hear unexpected bad news, than you know exactly what I felt when I received a phone call Friday night from one of our reporters was who was on the scene of a fire at Athens Grill in downtown Riverhead.

It’s not that uncommon to hear volunteers responding to a kitchen grease fire at a local restaurant over the scanner. But this one, I was told immediately, looked real bad.

News that a local restaurant was lost in a fire would never be good, but I can’t think of too many places I’d less like to see destroyed than Athens Grill.

Opened in 2004, John Mantzopoulos’ restaurant was ahead of others in the push to revitalize downtown Riverhead. And despite the restaurant’s reputation for serving up great food, it was clear he wasn’t making a killing there.

Like a lot of businesses on East Main Street, Athens had seen some ups and downs, and I don’t think it would be a leap of faith for me to say the restaurant had seen more slow days than busy ones as revitalization efforts downtown have ebbed and flowed over the years.

Still, Mr. Mantzopoulos carried on in a town where many before him had packed up and taken their recipes elsewhere.

It would take a heart of concrete not to feel sorry for the man and his staff, or to the many other downtown business owners affected by the news that his restaurant burned.

But this is Riverhead, the place where you get knocked on your back one day and you’re up on your feet another. This is a place where despite its flaws and the cynicism that breeds, everyone loves a tale of rejuvenation. This is, after all, the home Michael Hubbard returned to.

I’m sure the fundraisers that are already in the works to help rebuild the restaurant will be a major success.

I look forward to the day when the Athens building is restored and the restaurant rises from the ashes. I look forward to my next plate of lamb meatballs.

Grant Parpan is the executive editor at Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at [email protected] or (631) 354-8046.

07/05/13 8:00am
07/05/2013 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | A view of Peconic Bay from Mattituck Beach.

Here’s some bad news for those of you hoping I would flunk my boating safety test: I passed. I — and all of my classmates, I am pleased to report — are now the proud possessors of a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety certificate and “license.” (It’s actually just a laminated wallet card, but let’s call it a “license.”)

Also, in the days following the final exam, our little 18-foot runabout passed the Auxiliary’s boat safety inspection, which it would not have done had I not taken the course. (Not enough life jackets, no throwing rescue cushion, no fire extinguisher.) And throughout the process, Auxiliary member Ted Webb of Orient could not have been more helpful or informative. And the same is true of his fellow Auxiliary members who instructed us: helpful and informative to a man and woman.

Having said that, I stick by my original assertion that the Suffolk County Legislature overreached in passing the new boating safety law. Licensing is a good thing and should be required, but there needs to be some sort of mechanism for exempting experienced boaters from taking the 11-hour course before they take the exam. In my opinion, only if they flunk the test the first time around should they be required to take the course.

Meanwhile, those of you out there who live in Suffolk and operate a motorized craft better get a-crackin’. The deadline for getting a license is Friday, Sept. 13. After that, without one, you will be breaking the law every time you operate your boat.

Note: This column was published before it was reported that a bill in the state Legislature would supercede county law.

And here’s another update to an earlier column, the one about my grandson receiving the gift of an expensive baseball glove from Major League pitcher Heath Bell, then of the Florida Marlins and currently of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In this day and age of pampered, over-compensated (and occasionally criminal) professional athletes, Mr. Bell appears to deserve his reputation as “the nicest guy in baseball.” Case in point: as this is written, Tyler, his mother and grandfather (that would be me) are preparing to drive into Manhattan to be Health Bell’s guest at lunch. After that, we’ll be Heath Bell’s guest as the D-backs take on the Mets at Citi Field. Of course he can afford it with a contract that pays him $9 million a year, but no one is paying him to be so very nice to a 12-year-old baseball fan from eastern Long Island.

I would never be so bold as to suggest that there is a major shift in the air, politically speaking in Southold Town, as there was when United Southold vaulted into power in the early 1990s. Although the Republicans still have a stranglehold on Town Hall, there isn’t a sense that it’s their way or the highway. And Supervisor Scott Russell’s quiet style of leadership and communication deserves much of the credit for that.

Still, there was a sense that this could be an unusual year, politically speaking in Southold Town, based on my observations at County Legislator Al Krupski’s fundraiser Friday night at the Pequash Club in Cutchogue. As you would expect, most of the usual subjects were in attendance. But it was the unusual suspects who caught my eye. As in Town Justice Bill Price Jr., a lifelong Republican who this year is running for re-election as a Democrat. (See earlier editions of The Suffolk Times for details.) Then there was Conservative (with a capital “C”) Town Board member Jim Dinizio, whom I would not normally have expected to see at a Democratic event, even though, as a friend of mine reminded me recently, “everybody loves Al Krupski.” It turns out the Conservatives have endorsed Krupski, but still …

And that got me to thinking the following: with the very-popular Al Krupski at the top of the ticket via his special election bid for a full term, Scott Russell not on the ticket because he’s in the middle of a four-year term, and Bill Price drawing Republican and independent voters to the ticket as he undoubtedly will, maybe, just maybe, some change will be in the air come Nov. 4.

(Disclaimer: Al Krupski’s was the first local political fundraiser that we’ve ever attended as paying customers. That’s because the former Joan Giger Walker and I no longer are owners of this newspaper, whose long-standing policy prevents editorial staff members from supporting or contributing to local campaigns.)

tgustavson@timesreview.com

06/27/13 1:59pm
06/27/2013 1:59 PM

I write my columns while out walking, mentally, that is. This particular morning I was coming up with zilch. My mom was always good for a column or two. Although she was chronologically 92 years old, her attitude was that of someone half her age. And with Mom, there was always a story to tell. Nothing to tell of late; she died over a year ago.

Of course, there was my “sweet Frank.” He was my straight man and we often played off each other. But alas, he died in April.

Ah, me. I suppose I’m in a funk.

My doctor said that I am doing fine, grieving appropriately and moving forward. Well, maybe so. But forward to where? Does this grief thing have a destination? I feel better for a few days, then grief sneaks up from behind and — gotcha! — I’m in funksville again.

They say that when facing any loss we must get on with our lives. Really? This cliché makes me laugh, even now. If any well-meaning folk would venture to give me this advice, I would blurt, “What the h— do you think I’m doing?”

And the death business is really a business. I don’t know how many times I’ve sent a death certificate to the same agency. I mean, really, dead is dead is dead! I have a missing husband to prove it.

I had a spell last month when my normal weirdness morphed into a full-blown case of eccentricity. Here’s what I did in the span of a few days:

I’m meticulous about my finances (or lack thereof ). When I received an overdraft notice from my bank, Ifreaked out. I remembered transferring funds to cover my bills, except that I didn’t know where the funds went or, worse yet, to whom!

Upon discovering an empty shampoo bottle, I began the blame game (dreadful of me, I know). Turns out that I left the bottle uncapped and the shampoo spilled into the plastic container that holds my hair products. While using a few choice words, I flung the container into the bathtub and began rinsing it. Lordy, lordy! That bathtub produced more bubbles than the Lawrence Welk show.

During a torrential rainstorm, I drove to a friend’s house. Trying to alight from my car, I opened the umbrella inside the car. The umbrella got stuck in an open position and me along with it. Oy!

Lest you think I’m a complainer, many graces have come my way. At first blush, however, they presented in odd packaging. For instance:

I am continually amazed and humbled by the support of my family, extended church family and friends. They sustain me.

And to my readers: Although I don’t know most of you personally, I deeply appreciate your expressions of sympathy and concern. Your cards and notes arrived in my mailbox just when I needed them the most.

Upon receiving the aforementioned overdraft letter, I made a beeline to my bank. The manager was sympathetic, fixed the error, offered cookies and dispensed some sage advice.

My across-the-street neighbors materialize regularly with food, tend to my trash cans and have been there for me in ways that give new meaning to the word “neighbors.” Truthfully, they are more like family.

Quite by chance, I landed a part-time job at a charming assisted-living facility in Cutchogue. I was hired to interact with the residents and engage them in stimulating activities. And bonus! I enjoy it. One can say I was at the right place at the right time. But I know better.

Last week, I heard someone laugh; that someone was me.

While contemplating this column I came across the following passage: “Sometimes you have to just stop worrying, wondering and doubting. Have faith that things will work out, maybe not how you planned, but just how it’s meant to be.”

And what do you know? This column just got written.

Hmm. Grace, definitely!

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

06/07/13 8:00am
06/07/2013 8:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

The residency requirement to run for New York State Assembly is defined very briefly on the NYS Board of Elections website. In fact, the definition is only one sentence long.

It says: “You must be a resident of the state for five years and a resident of the district for 12 months immediately preceding the election.”

That one sentence is why I believe the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Assembly District special election should not be permitted to run for that office.

John McManmon does not dispute that he spends most nights in an apartment on Dean Street in Brooklyn, more than 90 minutes away from the district he wants to represent.

However, the 28-year-old attorney believes he is eligible — and many local Democrats agree — because his parents live here in Aquebogue. That’s the address on his driver’s license and he votes out here using that address.

He only stays in Brooklyn to ease the commute to his job at the Manhattan law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy, his supporters argue. He visits home frequently, they say.

It’s my opinion that Mr. McManmon is a resident of Aquebogue on a technicality at best. In the true spirit of the seat, and in the best interests of the people who live here, he should not be running for this office at this time.

But area Democrats are acting as if nobody has a right to question this. They seem offended anyone would have a problem with a man who spends his nights in Brooklyn and his days in Manhattan representing the North Fork in Albany.

In one of the great foot-in-mouth quotes of the year, Riverhead Town Democratic Committee chairwoman Marge Acevedo said, “His job is in New York City and he travels back and forth. His residency should not be in question at all. There are no real jobs out here and people should take that into consideration.”

Now let’s dissect that spin:

• His residency should not be in question? At all? He freely admits he doesn’t live here.

• No real jobs? For lawyers? A Google search for “Attorney Riverhead,” one of the few American communities with more courthouses than McDonald’s restaurants, returned the maximum 25 pages of search results.

Speaking of questions, does Mr. McManmon pay New York City’s income tax on residents? If so, how can he be a resident both here and there?

It’s a particularly sad display that given several months to find a candidate in a special election for a seat that will be vacant for eight months before the newly elected takes office, Democrats couldn’t even settle on someone who actually lives here. As Democrats continue to control the majority in Albany’s lower house, basic logic says a local Democrat might be able to accomplish more than a Republican.

And the GOP nominee hasn’t exactly hit the ground running for the office. So far, all Anthony Palumbo of New Suffolk and party leaders have offered in the early stages of his campaign is a few sound bites on cleaning up corruption in Albany that sound like they were written by state Republican officials. It’s nice to think a local Republican could use his minority seat to clean up the capitol. It’s nice to think about unicorns and magical wizards, too.

Word on the street is that some unhappy Democrats might take legal action in an attempt to challenge Mr. McManmon’s candidacy. They should. His right to vote in Riverhead Town should be questioned as well. While they’re at it, how about looking into the city income tax he could avoid by using his parents’ address?

I live literally a few blocks outside of the 2nd Assembly District, less than 10 minutes from the house where my parents have lived for 35 years, which is inside the district. I work on the North Fork and spend more time here than anywhere else.

That said, I don’t feel I have the right to vote in this district, let alone run for office here. Neither should John McManmon.

 Grant Parpan is the executive editor for Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at [email protected] or (631) 354-8046.

04/28/13 6:00am
04/28/2013 6:00 AM

John Miller

My mother, borrowing some folk wisdom from the Disney film “Bambi,” routinely told me when I was a lad that if I couldn’t say anything nice, then I shouldn’t say anything at all. Obviously, at some point over the years, I stopped taking Mom’s (and Bambi’s) advice.

And yet I have something nice to say this week about a man who I had something not so nice to say about in this space not so long ago. The man in question is CBS News correspondent and part-time Shelter Island resident John Miller, who took some grief from me here for a televised report he did on Plum Island that I thought suffered from a rehashing of some oft-told but dubious tales about the island being the birthplace of Lyme disease and the Montauk monster.

After I criticized him here, however, we kissed and made up, after a fashion, and I have admired his work for CBS ever since.

And never have I admired it more than this past Friday night, when he and CBS anchorman Scott Pelley did an outstanding job reporting on the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two brothers implicated in the Boston Marathon bombing.

The former Joan Giger Walker and I had just returned from dinner with friends in Greenport when we turned on our television to scenes of celebration in the streets of Watertown, Mass. The headlines scrolling across the bottom of the screen informed us that there had been an arrest in the case, but all we were seeing were flag-waving crowd scenes and policemen honking the horns of their patrol cars. We were desperate to know the who, what, where, when and how, and all we were getting, as we surfed from channel to channel, was more of the same: crowd shots from Watertown.

Until we switched to CBS, that is. In the space of less than 10 minutes, Scott Pelley and John Miller did a superb job of summarizing the story and the situation. Mr. Miller’s reportage, in particular, was most informative, as he called on his insider’s knowledge of law enforcement gained from his years of experience as a police reporter, as an aide to New York City and Los Angeles police commissioner William Bratton and as assistant director for public affairs with the FBI in Washington, D.C.

In other words, the dude has paid his dues. And never was that more apparent than Friday night on national television, when he and Scott Pelley helped make sense of as complex a news story as we’ve seen in this country since 9/11.

I’d never done this before, but I was so impressed with his reporting that at 9:23 p.m. I fired off the following email to the address I had saved after our tête–à–tête over Plum Island: “John: Great job tonight. Your coverage was very best, by far. (We channel surfed for a while before getting the real story from you and Scott.) Well done, sir.”

And now for the truly amazing part of this tale, remembering that this was a man sitting in a CBS-TV network studio in New York City, having just reported what probably will be the story of the year.

At 9:27 p.m., just four minutes after my original email, I get this back from John Miller:

 “Hey! They blocked the road from the Orient Ferry because they thought he might have made it on to the Cross Sound [Ferry]. Do we know if that is true? Thanks for the kind words. ”

Does this guy have sources, or what? Yes, the road had been blocked earlier in the day, and I was astounded that he knew about it at all, given everything that had been going on in Boston that day. And when I responded by sending him a link to Times/Review’s detailed online coverage of the false alarm at Orient Point, he responded again with a simple “Wow.”

Wow is right. I think I have a new favorite television newsman. And his name is no longer Brian Williams.

When I first met Steve Rosin, some 25 years ago, he was working as an apprentice to electrician Sal Prato. Steve would have been about 30 then, and what I remember most was that he was precise in his workmanship and soft spoken in his bearing. What I didn’t know then, but what I came to learn over the next 2 1/2 decades, as he continued to be our electrician of choice both at home and at work, was that he was kind and funny and incredibly reliable. And, by all accounts, he was a loving and devoted husband to Aileen and father to Sascha.

So it is with great sadness that I acknowledge Steve’s untimely passing this week at the age of 55. That is way too soon for a man of his vigor and lust for life, and it’s going to take me some time to make sense of his death. If I ever do.

[email protected]

03/11/13 8:00am
03/11/2013 8:00 AM

I’ve never been a big fan of booing. Maybe that’s because it’s such an unnatural reaction.

Screaming, crying, laughing, that’s all real stuff. You do it both on your own and in a group. When have you ever seen someone sitting by himself, booing?

Booing is something you do from a distance, in a mob, and when you don’t really care too much. If you truly hated that slumping athlete, you wouldn’t pay a small fortune to see him play. And if someone was really troubling you, I can’t imagine you’d use just one prolonged syllable to let them know how you feel.

Booing is a primitive distraction that accomplishes nothing — the caveman grunt of modern day reactions.

That’s why on some small level I can see why the Riverhead Town Board banned booing at its meetings, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them.

If you want to object to something a government body is doing, get up before the board and say something — offer a counterpoint or a solution.

We’re in the midst of a full year of politics in Riverhead and the surrounding towns. We’ve already had a special election for the North Fork seat in the county Legislature. And now that Dan Losquadro was elected Brookhaven Highway Superintendent last week, a May vote for the 2nd District seat in the state Assembly is on the horizon.

It’s also been an early town election season in Riverhead, where two challengers have already emerged to oppose a town supervisor they see as vulnerable, and a well-known candidate announced his intention to run for a Council seat before we even Auld Lang Syned in the new year.

It’s safe to say 2013 is going to be a loud year full of eruptions and disruptions at Riverhead Town Hall. Which brings me to what I don’t like about the resolution passed last week: the timing of it all.

The bill will enable the Town Board to admonish anyone they see commit a “disruptive demonstration” in a year where disruptive demonstrations at town meetings will be as common as constructive ones.

This resolution was not passed because booing had gotten out of hand at Riverhead Town Board meetings, but rather because a group of politicians is afraid it soon will. Personally, I’m never in favor of bills that do more to protect elected officials than the people they represent.

What makes this bill even more silly is its vague language: A “disruptive demonstration” is a broad, objective term that could include everything from a quiet belch to a screeching fog horn.

It’s going to be confusing, too, when Councilman Jim Wooten’s supporters start “woooooing” at meetings, as a sign of affection.

The biggest question of all, though, is what the punishment will be for those found in violation of the new code. Do they have to leave the meeting? Or  should they just pop their dunce caps on and retreat to the corner of the room?

It’s certainly an interesting resolution Riverhead has passed, but one that can be just as easily booed as it can be applauded.

[email protected]

02/14/13 10:57am
02/14/2013 10:57 AM

Yes, it’s true, ladies and gentlemen! You have arrived at our annual Academy Awards contest column, wherein readers of same are challenged to pick the winners of the 85th Academy Awards, which will be revealed on ABC-TV on Sunday, Feb. 24. 

Once again this year, due in no small part to a couple of friends who are members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I have seen all 10 nominees for Best Picture. (Well, to be perfectly honest, 9 1/3 of the films; more on that below.)

And if you can hang in there until the end of this column, there’s a challenge awaiting that could win you a $100 gift certificate to the Mattituck Cinemas.

But first, my picks:

BEST PICTURE—“Les Misérables” is the film I could not make it all the way through. (It was, in fact, miserable.) I’ve always had trouble with dramatic musicals (see 1962’s “State Fair,” with Ann-Margret and Pat Boone crooning in their underwear when normal, red-blooded people would have had other things on their minds), and Russell Crowe’s croaking forced me to admit defeat long before the credits rolled.

Conventional wisdom might indicate Spielberg’s “Lincoln” for the top award, and my personal favorite was “Zero Dark Thirty,” which turned off some moviegoers because its core is a procedural about an obsessed CIA analyst who won’t quit in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But this contest isn’t about who should win, but who will win. And in that case my vote goes to “Argo,” director Ben Affleck’s engaging, if somewhat predictable, retelling of another CIA-based tale. Note: With the exception of “Les Mis,” “Lincoln” and “Life of Pi,” which was a tad too fantastic for my taste, I really (really!) liked the seven other finalists.

BEST DIRECTOR—And the winner is: Spielberg, mostly via default because neither of the real best directors, Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), was nominated.

Longshot: Michael Haneke (“Amour”) — because he got the very best out of his lead actors, 82-year-old Jean-Louis Trintignant and 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva. But when asked by a friend if I liked the film, I emphatically responded: “No, it’s way too depressing.”

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE—And the winner is: Daniel Day Lewis (“Lincoln”). You may safely bet the ranch on this one. If ever there were a prohibitive favorite in this category, it is Mr. Day Lewis. His bravura performance as our nation’s 16th president actually outshines his earlier bravura performances in “My Left Foot,” “There Will Be Blood,” etc.

Longshot/Should Be: Don’t even bother.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE—And the winner is: Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”). She may be young, but she’s building an impressive body of work, including in “The Help,” “The Tree of Life” and “Take Shelter.” And there would have been no “Zero Dark Thirty” without her riveting performance.

Longshot: Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”). Like Chastain, she’s young and previously overlooked. But as with her 2011 performance in “Winter’s Bone,” this one may be a tad too dark and too quirky for the decidedly conservative Academy members.

Honorable Mention: Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), who was 5 years old when this movie was filmed, and is the youngest actress ever nominated for this award.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE—And the winner is: Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”). This time, his deadpan delivery, bloodhound eyelids and southern inflection work to perfection as Lincoln’s vice president.

Longshots: Alan Arkin (“Argo”) and Robert DeNiro (“Silver Linings Playbook”). Both of these old pros chew up the scenery in engaging but predictable roles.

And the winner should be: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but not for his performance in “The Master,” for which he is nominated. Rather, for his performance in “The Late Quartet,” an outstanding ensemble piece roundly snubbed by the Academy.

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE—And the winner is: Sally Field (“Lincoln”) in a brave performance as Honest Abe’s somewhat-unsympathetic mate. It’s also the safe pick, me thinks.

And the winner should be: Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”). Speaking of brave, what other 50-something actress would consider a role that requires her to appear in the buff for what seems like most of the film?

And now, the chance to claim that $100 gift certificate. All you must do to win is locate this column online at suffolktimes.com and be the first to post a comment below naming the most winners in the six categories cited above — having done so, of course, prior to the Sunday, Feb. 24, airing of the Academy Awards broadcast. Sorry, but in the event of a tie, the value of the gift certificate will be divided by the number of winners. But once again this year, popcorn is included.

[email protected]