Over 50 ideas: Oscar movie marathon; 'The Pacific' debuts; share food money saving tips

World War II, a world away

Return to The Pacific in an HBO miniseries that begins at 9 p.m. March 14. Just as they did with 2001's Band of Brothers, executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks bring a sweeping epic to the small screen. If the Emmy-winning Brothers is any indication, this will be a winner too. Filmed in Australia, the series illustrates just how different the war was away from Europe. "The war in the Pacific was savage and brutal and fought on unfamiliar territories, across the far sea on tiny little dots of land that the fighting men couldn't even pronounce," Hanks said in HBO press materials. The Pacific is based in part on the memoirs of two Marines, Eugene Sledge's With the Old Breed and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie. Succeeding episodes debut every Sunday at the same time through May 16.

For serious — serious! — film fans only

It's a tall order to see all the Oscar best picture nominees any year, but even more so now that the Academy has named 10 possible best picture candidates. AMC Theatres invites you to try: They're running the complete lineup split over two Saturdays. In the Tampa Bay area, the films will be screened at the Veterans 24 in Tampa (9302 Anderson Road, toll-free 1-888-262-4386). Free popcorn. If only they'd throw in some back massages and foot rubs. A two-day pass costs $50 ($60 if purchased online), and a one-day pass goes for $30. Go to www.amcentertainment.com and click on the "Best Picture Showcase" box. The schedule:

Saturday

10:30 a.m. Avatar in 3-D

1:45 p.m. Up (the 2-D version)

3:45 p.m. A Serious Man

6:30 p.m. Precious

8:45 p.m. District 9

March 6 (the day before the Oscars)

10:30 a.m. An Education

12:45 p.m. The Hurt Locker

3:15 p.m. Up in the Air

6 p.m. The Blind Side

8:30 p.m. Inglourious Basterds

Better red than dead

Food and drug interactions can be a problem, but really, candy too? That's just wrong. Consider black licorice: Although some studies and anecdotal reports indicate healthful uses for the stuff — perhaps helping with peptic ulcers and having anti-inflammatory properties — it can also raise blood pressure in some folks. If that proves a problem for you, red licorice is safe, because it doesn't have any glycyrrhizin, the substance that causes all that good and bad, report health experts Joe and Teresa Graedon (peoplespharmacy.com). Of course, the red stuff doesn't have that wonderful, pungent anise flavor. Red tastes, well, red.

Are you a penny-pincher? Do tell

Some of you are better than others at systematically saving money at the grocery store. You've got the coupon caddy. You're the ones who say "BOGO" instead of buy-one-get-one free. Maybe you store-hop for good deals or, better yet, you've figured out how to get the best prices at the store where you regularly shop. Perhaps you're the cook who has mastered a repertoire of economical dishes, ones that provide leftovers for another night. Well, we want to know your secrets for an upcoming feature to be published in the St. Petersburg Times' Taste section. Help those of us struggling to slash the weekly food bill with your pearls of wisdom. Some might call you cheap; we think you're a genius. E-mail tips to features@sptimes.com and put PENNY-PINCHERS in the subject line. Mail submissions to Penny-Pinchers, Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Please include your name, daytime phone and city of residence. The deadline is March 5.

A Scrabble puzzle for you

If there's one thing we know about readers of the St. Petersburg Times, it's that you like puzzles, and plenty of them. We're glad, beginning this month, to share the ScrabbleGrams puzzle. Today's answer is also provided. The Times also runs the puzzle in the BayLink section on Sundays. So rack 'em up.

Over 50 ideas: Oscar movie marathon; 'The Pacific' debuts; share food money saving tips 02/23/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 3:30am]

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