Monday, December 31, 2007

MICHAEL CLAYTON

MICHAEL CLAYTON is a very intelligent, well-acted, and well-written political thriller. George Clooney is very good in it, but Tilda Swinton, Syndey Pollack and Tom Wilkinson steal the scenes they are in.

One thing the film reminds me is how much I hate lawyers. You'd think that half the lawyers in the world would be good guys, fighting on the side of right, but the truth is somewhere in between, where right and wrong are not as important as how much money there is to be made.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

SHOTGUN STORIES

SHOTGUN STORIES is much better than the other Spirit-nominated films I've seen so far this year. That's not to say it's great, there are a lot of rough edges, and it's certainly not original (half-brothers from two families fight each other), but at least it's competent, which is more than I can say for some of the other nominees.

The acting ranges from pretty good to pretty weak, with most of the major parts being the good part, and the minor roles a lot weaker. Unfortunately, being more of a genre film than a real drama, it's a lot more predictable than it should be.

ENCHANTED

ENCHANTED is one of the best films of the year. It's a brilliant, original idea (a fairy-tale princess enters modern-day New York). It's funny, charming and entertaining, with some fantastic acting. Amy Adams was nominated for an Oscar for her excellent performance in last year's JUNEBUG, but this year she deserves another nod for her completely original and inventive performance in ENCHANTED. The film accomplishes the rarest of feats; it's a (mostly) live-action film that is entertaining for all age groups. The songs are great and funny as well.

I highly recommend the film.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

SWEENEY TODD

I'm not a fan of Sondheim.

There, I said it. He's very overrated as a composer and songwriter.

SWEENEY TODD is a very strange musical. It's a black comedy that's not very funny, and without a single memorable song. The best part of the musical is the book, which is usually the least important aspect of a musical.

The weakest part of the book is the first act, and that stands true in the movie. Tim Burton does his best to rise above the difficult material, with the excellent casting of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen, but the first third of the movie slogs along endlessly until the murders finally begin. Yet there is also the bizarre casting of several unknowns who are very weak, including eye candy Jayne Wisener and Ed Sanders.

The visual design is excellent, as always for a Burton film.

It's worth seeing, but certainly not awards-worthy.

FOUR SHEETS TO THE WIND

FOUR SHEETS TO THE WIND certainly has its heart in the right place; unfortunately, it doesn't amount to much. It's a coming-of-age story of a young American Indian leaving the reservation after his father's suicide.

The movie is all over the place. The first third of the film is like a different movie; a black comedy about the family dealing with the father's suicide. Then suddenly the focus shifts and it's about one of the kids.

Virtually everything about the film reeks of student-filmdom. The camera is rarely in the right place, the script lacks structure, coherence and focus, and the acting is uniformly terrible. It's always amazing to me that so many minorities complain about the lack of good roles, then when someone makes a movie with nothing but minority cast members, they can't find one good actor. Can it really be that difficult?

Somehow Tamara Podemski managed to get a Spirit nomination out of the film. I have no idea why or how. She isn't as bad as everyone else, but she certainly does not have a memorable moment in the entire film. It's sad to me that a movie this weak can get a nomination; it almost seems as though the nominating committee is bending over backwards to support minorities rather than rewarding good work.

Friday, December 28, 2007

THE SAVAGES

THE SAVAGES is a black comedy about two middle-aged children dealing with their aging father.

It's funny, sad and intelligent. It isn't brilliant, but very much worth watching. Perhaps it's that I went through my own father's illness and death six years ago, and now I'm seeing it again in my father-in-law. Dealing with illness and death is going to be something everyone will have to deal with, but with the human lifespan continuing to expand, the length of time dealing with the aging process is only getting longer.

There's some great acting in the film, although nothing Oscar-worthy. Laura Linney continues to surprise me with her range. Philip Seymour Hoffman is good in several scenes. Philip Bosco's part as the father is minimal but very good.

The last shot of the film is very powerful.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

No Film for Young Men

For the first 110 minutes of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, I thought it had a chance of being the best film of the year, as well as one of the Coen's best films. There are a lot of great things about the film. It is very much in the vein of their first film, BLOOD SIMPLE, and very Hitchcockian in tone. There's some fantastic acting, cinematography and sound work. It's a film with virtually no dialogue, and very little music. The action in many scenes is in real time, frequently with characters who are alone.

Badim's badass is one of the most frightening screen creations in a while. His subtle acting talents only add to the strong script. Tommy Lee Jones is also good, but the real surprise is Josh Brolin, who apparently had to shoot his own audition tape in order to get considered for the role.

I have to discuss the ending now. I'll try not to spoil it (if that's even possible) but if you don't want to know anything about the end, stop reading here. The film is worth seeing, but be prepared for a letdown at the end.

SPOILERS!

Unfortunately, any film is only as good as its ending, and there's a bad taste left in the mouth when the ending is, well, a rip. Major, major action occurs off-screen, but worse than that, there is no sense of finality about the end. Normally I like films that don't feel the need to wrap every thing up by hitting it on the head, but here, there is no sense of closure, just a pretentious cut to black, not unlike the SOPRANOS series finale. It just doesn't work. In the end, the film doesn't add up to very much.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

AN UNREASONABLE MAN

AN UNREASONABLE MAN is a documentary about Ralph Nader.

It's hard to even write the word Nader without becoming overwhelmed with emotion. My wife and I were active in the 2000 election and it was painfully disheartening when Nader refused to pull out of the election, even though it was obvious that he was going to force a close race into a possible loss for the Democrats. With 7 years of hindsight, one could only imagine what would - and would not - have happened if Nader had dropped out and Gore had won. Perhaps no war, no Patriot Act, and no erosion of human rights here in our own country.

So I was a little afraid to watch the film. However, they approached the issue in the first few minutes as though they were going to spend the next 120 minutes haranguing Nader, which made me feel better about watching it.

Then they did something very smart; they spent an hour talking about Nader's accomplishments in the 60s and 70s. I knew all of it; I lived through much of it, yet I had forced it out of my mind with the sheer hatred I had built up for the man between 2000 and 2004. And throughout the hour, my opinion of the man slowly changed. Suddenly I began to feel sorry for him. Here's a guy who spent more than 30 years of his life doing amazing things for our country. So much of what we take for granted in our lives was started by him and his small core of followers in the 60s. And now it's very likely that he will be remembered for only one thing. Making Bush our president. Twice.

The film continues to humanize him by talking about his New England upbringing, and his family's involvement in local politics, very similar to my own.

Then suddenly the film leaps forward in time from the election of Reagan to the 2000 election, a leap of 20 years. It's a strange edit, but they spend a lot of time going into the election and how Nader botched things for America. There is a lengthy but very well-edited sequence intercutting his defenders with his detractors. Both sides are so overcome with emotion that neither really sounds intelligent in the argument.

This is definitely a documentary worth seeing, regardless of what your opinion of the man is or was. It is very thorough (almost to a fault, the running time feels long) and although the majority of the film canonizes his past, the important parts criticize his current involvement in politics.

Quiet City

I believe it was Aristotle who said thousands of years ago that drama as an art must be more interesting than real life to keep an audience involved.

Unfortunately the makers of QUIET CITY have not studied drama at all, and think that pointing a camera at just about anything or anyone and letting reality play out in real time constitutes a movie. Every few years there are new film students who think they have come up with a brilliant, original idea when they do this, but of course all they manage to do is alienate any potential audience.

The director seems to think that casting a pretty girl is enough eye candy to keep an audience watching. The lead actress is certainly attractive, but she tries much too hard to be "cutesy" throughout the movie to be as realistic as the movie clearly wants to be. The lead actor on the other hand is completely natural, but also as interesting as watching paint dry. It's not his fault, there does not appear to have been a script (contrary to the three credits at the end of the film!). It appears as though the actors were told to improvise, and none of these actors is smart or mature enough to come up with anything worth listening to.

If you want the same experience as seeing this film without having to sit through it, do to a diner and sit and listen to the people around you talk for 90 minutes. You'll get the same experience, but it will almost certainly be a lot more interesting.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Starting Out in the Evening

Starting Out in the Evening is all over the map.

There are some great scenes, but much of the film is filled with the type of trite melodrama you would find in a daytime soap opera. Some of the actors rise far above the material, most notably Frank Langella, who continues to surprise me as an actor. His character is written rather one-dimensionally, but he manages to infuse layers into his performance that make a cranky old writer interesting to watch.

I can't say the same for his screen partner Lauren Ambrose, the annoying and cloying redhead who made me stop watching SIX FEET UNDER. She maintains the single dimension written into her character, and her big moment near the end of the film elicits a laugh in the wrong place (although the writer is as much to blame as she is).

Typically I love Lily Taylor, but her entire subplot could easily have been excised completely from the movie, or at most could have consisted of a handful of scenes. The film isn't that long, but it certainly feels like it's a lot longer.

Film Independent this year has decided to screen their nominees via the Internet. The wave of the future is definitely not here yet. In the past, most of their nominees were distributed to members via Netflix, which allowed viewers to see and hear DVD quality with great convenience.

The streaming video looks and sounds like crap. It's an insult to have a cinematography award and then stream the movie for a resolution appropriate for a cell phone. I watched a movie on the plane a few days ago that sounded 100 times better than this crappy download. In addition, the film keeps hiccuping, and there is no easy mechanism for stopping and restarting the movie if you need to take a break. Even if you note that you stopped at 70 minutes, there's no easy way to get back to that point, you have to guess where it is along a very short unlabeled timeline.

Add to that the fact that none of my computers are set up to comfortably watch a 2-hour film, and it's a just a huge inconvenience to work this way. I'll try to see as many nominees as possible on the big screen, the way they were meant to be seen! Unfortunately, not all of the films are available for screenings.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon

The Papillon in the title of Le Scaphandre et le Papillon has nothing to do with our dog Riley, unfortunately.

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is based on the true story of the editor of Elle magazine who had a debilitating stroke and ended up dictating his autobiography by moving one eyelid, the only part of his body over which he still had muscle control. Directed by artist Julian Schnabel, the film goes to great extents to make the audience feel what it must have been like to be trapped and immobile. The film has a lot of wonderfully cinematic moments, but it is an incredibly depressing movie.

I have to admit it was strange watching it in a house where my father-in-law is essentially in the same condition. Once a brilliant lawyer, he is trapped in an immobile body from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Unfortunately, he cannot blink to tell us what he wants.

The hospital scenes also reminded me of my own time in the hospital, and the incredible depression I associate with that. Recently I went caroling with the Burbank Chorale at the hospital where I was trapped for a month, and it brought back a flood of depressing memories as well. At least I was never paralyzed.

The film has been nominated for a slew of awards, including some Spirit and Golden Globe awards. It's too soon to say if it might win, as there are many films I still haven't seen, but it is certainly in contention, particularly the cinematography of Januzs Kaminski.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

JUNO WHAT I'M TALKIN' 'BOUT

JUNO is a strange little indie black comedy about a pregnant teenage girl and how she deals with her dilemma. The cast is great, especially the lead actress Ellen Page, who is reminiscent of indie Queen Christina Ricci, and who has been nominated for a SAG award and a Golden Globe for the title role. Several of the other cast members are known mostly for TV; Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner as the "perfect" adoptive couple, and a nice cameo in the opening scene by Rainn Wilson.

It's a surprisingly honest take on a difficult subject, with very real, likable, and flawed characters. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pirates 3

I gave a quick review to Pirates 2 last year, stating that I had liked the light-hearted approach in the first film, but hated the fact that the sequel took itself way too seriously, diminishing the role of Jack Sparrow and bloating its running time well beyond welcome.

Reviews for the third film were better, so I had higher hopes, but when I saw that the running time was nearly 3 hours, I passed on seeing it in the theater. Watching it on DVD, I literally fell asleep about 30 minutes in. There are some humorous moments, particularly when it gets surreal, but the film is so bogged down in its own plot that it's almost impossible to follow. Do they really think I remember the first two films? I flushed the plot of the second film from my memory cache before the end credits were over; I'm certainly not going to remember it a year later. There are too many characters, and peripheral characters I didn't like the first time around now get full-blown and undeserved subplots.

Yet it looks like there will be a fourth film.

Friday, December 07, 2007

TRANSFORMERS

I was already grown up when the toys hit the store, so to me, Tranformers were always something for children that was overly marketed. The fact that they made an animated TV show out of it on Saturday mornings was the last straw in pretending that there was a difference between children's' television programming and free advertising.

So when I heard they were making a feature film out of it, I had no desire to see it, particularly when I heard that Michael Bay was the director. Clearly they were relying on the grown-up children's nostalgia factor, while at the same time trying to market the toys to a new generation. Hollywood cynicism at its finest.

However, at the Hollywood Bowl this summer they showed a scene with live orchestra playing the score, and it didn't look like it sucked out loud. And even Vanilla Snow said it wasn't as bad as he expected, so I figured I'd watch the DVD.

It sucked out loud.

The problem is, the scene they showed at the Hollywood Bowl seemed like the opening of the movie. Optimus Prime introduces himself to our hero, played by Shia LeBeouf. Turns out, that scene is 70 minutes into the movie. The preceding hour could have easily been collapsed into about ten minutes. The movie is almost 2 1/2 hours long, and overstays its welcome a long long time.

It has all the troubles of a Hollywood blockbuster; weak script, terrible acting, over-reliance on visual FX, unbelievable plot points, 25 year-olds playing teenagers.

Plus, they make no attempt to keep the Transformers real. You can't have something the size of a car one minute and the size of a four story building ten seconds later. There's no regard for the laws of physics. This is the type of problem that wouldn't be an issue if the script were strong enough. I'd suspend disbelief.

At one point a character says "This is worse than Armageddon!" referring to Bay's film. That would be hard to be true, but it may be.

Nonetheless, the movie made a ton of money and will sell a lot of toys.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

USC beats UCLA

I didn't make it to the game today.

It wasn't the runaway that everyone expected (although USC's turnovers might be the only reason for that), but USC beat UCLA to advance to the Rose Bowl.

#2 West Virginia lost today. #1 Missouri is losing. It's unlikely USC would move up much in the standings, but they were #8 going into the weekend.

I did make it to the USC-Oklahoma hoops game Thursday night. It was the first time I saw a game at the new Galen center. It's a nice place to see a game, although nowhere near as nice as it should be. During the course of construction, costs exploded and they were forced to cut back their plans. It's too bad, it turned it into a standard court instead of the top-notch facility it could have been. But certainly it's a lot nicer than the Sports Arena.

USC looked good but rough around the edges. What's amazing is that they are doing so well with such a young team (they've won 6 in a row and only lost their opener). I think Floyd is a good coach and will clean up the team quite a bit as they come into tougher teams, starting with Kansas tomorrow, and Memphis next week at Madison Square Garden.


As for the Coliseum debacle, I can only assume this is a desperate measure to get them to take renovations seriously. It's almost unthinkable that USC would go to the Rose Bowl as their regular home stadium. Especially since their recent record there is less than stellar!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

INTO THE WILD

Written and directed by Sean Penn, INTO THE WILD tells the story of a young man's journey to independence and freedom in Alaska. There's a lot of great stuff in the film. Penn is an outstanding director of actors. Hal Holbrook's performance alone is worth watching.

However, he's got structural problems with his writing. The decision to tell the story through flashbacks, with literal chapter markings in the film (and the chapter titles are literally what is going on in the scene), he could have used some help with the screenplay. But the cinematography and sound are great.

Recommended.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!


A year ago, I wrote one of my most popular postings about all the things I have to be thankful for.

This year I have all the same things to appreciate, and one thing more... our dog Riley. My wife Rachel found Riley for us last January, and he has been a hugely positive influence in our lives. Dogs are wonderful. He is a pisher at times, but more often than not, he is a bundle of undying love. I always feel better when I get home and see him jumping for joy (literally). I think everyone should have a dog.

This year we celebrated with a fantastic dinner, and then watching USC beat Arizona State, which brings USC one step closer to the Rose Bowl. They still have to beat UCLA next week as their final regular game of the season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Office Hours

My final regular office hours this semester will be this Thursday (11/29) from 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM.

However, I will be around campus quite a bit for 546 Mixes. You can see that schedule on my iCal here. During those hours you can probably find me in Dub A (G-100) or in my office.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Judgement Day

Only a few weeks ago, I was having lunch with a friend of mine who had made a few documentaries, and we were talking about how PBS has fallen apart as a source for intelligent television. I had pointed that how I knew scientists who had tried to get documentaries on the air, but were rebuffed when it was explained to them they they could not mention evolution or global warming because they were "hot topics."

Imagine my surprise when NOVA finally grew some gonads, and this week's episode was a two-hour exploration of the Dover, Penn. court case from three years ago, when science was put on trial in the courtroom (yet again). Honestly, it took a lot of courage to show the "Intelligent Design" argument from both sides... there really are NOT two sides to the argument.

It's just appalling to me that 150 years after Darwin, people are still arguing Creationism.

The real issue is that the founding fathers were wise enough to demand a separation between church and state, and here we are 230 years later, and the religious right are still trying to reunite the two.

This show should be required viewing for every school child, not only to learn the scientific method, but to understand how some people will blur education with a personal agenda. In this case, religion is used as blanket protection against any sort of criticism or serious examination.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Office Hours Revised Again

Revised Office Hours

Thurs 11/15 3:30 - 4:30 PM

Thurs 11/29 3:30 - 4:30 PM

Likely to be it for the semester. However, I will be around a LOT for 546 mixes, so contact me if you need to meet at another time.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

USC Beats Oregon State

The first quarter wasn't pretty, but USC showed a commanding win over Oregon State. Booty was a little rusty after a few weeks off, and he looked like he still lacks confidence. But the important thing is that they had a big win.

This is the last game I'll be going to this year.

Friday, November 02, 2007

499 Mix Schedule

499 Mix Schedule:

Friday
Dub B
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM BOB
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM ANDREW

Dub C
10:00 AM - NOON ABEDES



Sunday
Dub B
10:00 AM - Noon KYLE

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM JOHANNES
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM KELLI

Dub C
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM KHA

1:30 PM -3:30 PM JULIANA
3:30 PM - 5:30 PM MAX

Sunday, October 28, 2007

499 Mid-Semester Evalations

499 students who are taking the class for a grade should expect an e-mail from me with your personal evaluation. Here are general comments:

The quiz averages are low because there have only been 4 so far. There is plenty of time still to raise them. If you have missed a quiz, please make an appointment with the SA to make it up. All quiz and assignment grades are scaled up at the end of the semester. Generally, I drop the lowest quiz score and the lowest assignment grade for each student. Remember that your final project is 40% of your grade.

There WILL be a quiz this week, covering the Objective Sound material (Acoustics) from Chapter 1 of the reading material, so PLEASE be on time. This is one of the most difficult quizzes of the semester, so please spend some time reviewing the material, and take time to ask questions at the start of class if there is anything you do not understand.

Also, we will be looking at your continuing work on your projects, this week specifically at the sound effects editing. You have only two weeks left. Several of you had almost nothing done for our meetings last week. Remember, I am grading you each week on your progress. Please have some more work done this week. Remember that after the mixes are done in two weeks, there are no more assignments and the class workload drops to almost nothing.

This week we will also determine mix times for the whole class. Another reason to show up on time!


Thank you all for your recommendations in your evaluations of my teaching this week. Unfortunately, opinions were completely divergent on almost every question. This leads me to believe that the basic structure of the class cannot accommodate the wishes of all students, so I am re-evaluating on a more basic level.

Instead of doing one major project throughout the semester that requires a lot of outside work, would you prefer a series of in-class exercises in which everyone participates? (This is how many of the other non-major classes are taught.) For example, one week, you would be taught how to use the PMDs, then sent out to record material, and at the end of class, we would listen to what you have done. Another week would be in the Foley room, and another week would be in the ADR room. This would require a lot less outside work. It would also leave me a lot more time to cover lecture material from the book.

Another option is that for a project, I choose a small set of scenes (maybe 6-10) for you to choose from, and pre-import a number of effects for you to edit from. This would lessen the outside workload as well.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

MPSE Sound Show!

I highly recommend the MPSE Sound Show for people interesting in learning more about the sound editing process. Click on the image below for more info:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

SICKO

There are an awful lot of things I don't like about Michael Moore and his films. Most obvious is the terrible influence he has had on doc filmmakers that has encouraged the filmmakers to make themselves the stars of their own movies. He also is incredibly manipulative in his films, such as bringing 911 volunteer rescue workers to Cuba for "free" treatment. And "anonymously" donating $12,000 to his harshest critic to help his wife with medical care. (Is it anonymous when you mention it in a movie???)

But even with all the criticisms, SICKO is a very powerful movie. Perhaps it's because I have first-hand dealings with the health-care industry, both the good and the bad, that made it such an emotional experience for me, but I suspect anyone who has had health issues in their immediate family will understand his criticisms of HMOs. Unfortunately, his face will probably turn off a lot of people. And, he criticizes Hilary Clinton for taking money from health care industries, even though she is perhaps our best hope for health care reform in this country, so he will even turn off some liberal democrats.

Nonetheless, it's an important discussion and I think every American should see the film.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

USC Wins

It wasn't pretty, but USC beat Arizona 20-13. They did not beat the 20-point spread, and were behind 13-10 throughout the 3rd quarter. Sophomore QB Mark Sanchez looked weak through much of the game, even though for a year and a half many people have been looking forward to his replacing Booty. USC got only 130 yards passing, and only 146 rushing.

The team looked all-around weak. The offensive line did not give Sanchez the time to make the throw. Receivers dropped the ball on several occasions. The defense let Arizona get too many easy first downs.

USC will need to get it together if they think they still have a shot at #1. With LSU losing in triple overtime this week, the slot is still open.

Star Wars Trumpet Solo

You thought Chocolate Rain was bad?


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Angels Put To Rest

The only bad thing about the Red Sox sweeping the Angels today is that I don't get to see the Red Sox play again tomorrow.

The Angels just could not get the offense sparked against the Sox, and slugger Vlad Guererro was the weakest in the lineup. Garret Anderson was forced to sit out the game with an eye infection, and Casey Kotchman was hospitalized with a virus. Gary Matthews Jr. was already sidelined with knee problems.

The end result was a 9-1 win, with Curt Schilling giving another memorable post-season performance, going 7 innings and giving up no runs. Jered Weaver was also good, but allowed back-to-back homers from Ortiz and Manny to take the loss. The Red Sox got 7 runs in the 8th inning to stifle any hopes of a comeback. It would have been a shutout for the Sox except the appearance of Eric Gagne allowed a run for the Angels.

The Angels were a great team this year, and for most of the season they were the team to beat, but they were overcome by injuries and forced to play an inexperienced team.

The crowd was loud until the 8th inning, when rats quickly fled the sinking ship, leaving the Red Sox fans to bask in the glory.

Stanford Upsets USC

There's not much to write about here. On any given day, any team can beat any other team... and did today. Although Stanford certainly looked much better with their backup quarterback taking over, USC looked terrible all around. Booty's passing game has regressed, and the offense was sloppy all around, allowing 5 turnovers. Even the defense looked weak.

If there's anything good about this, it's that the team will be forced to take its practice and preparation much more seriously.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

ELIZABETH: GOLDEN AGE

Only in Hollywood could a sequel to a historical epic happen, but almost ten years later, Queen Elizabeth returns to the screen in a vastly inferior sequel, this time bringing Clive Owen to her majesty's service as Sir Walter Raleigh.

Terribly written and paced, and not to mention historically inaccurate, the film seems to take forever to get from one scene to the next, yet seems to leap through history in record pace.

For a film about one of the most famous romances of all time, it completely lacks any chemistry between Raleigh and Liz. There's no flirtation, and even worse, no wit. The film takes itself as seriously as a heart attack.

And for a film about one of the most exciting historical attacks (the Spanish Armada) they fly through that in record time and suck any excitement out of it. Terribly edited and with a loud and bombastic score, the sequence is completely uninteresting. The visual effects are completely out of place and draw attention to themselves. The whole movie is wall-to-wall talky, with loud music and painfully loud sound effects (when they finally happen).

Save your money.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Red Sox vs. Angels Predictions

The Angels are very good and have been predicted by many all season long to win the World Series. Dice-K is a big question mark for the Red Sox. It should be a good series. My wife & I will be at game 3 and (if there is one) game 4 in Anaheim.


Game 1: Lackey (19-9, 3.01) vs. Beckett (20-7, 3.27). Two of the best pitchers in baseball. Slight edge to Red Sox with home field, and they are one of the few teams Lackey lost 2 games to this year.

Game 2: Escobar (18-7, 3.40) vs. Dice-K (15-12, 4.40). Big advantage to Angels. Escobar is having a career year. The $100M man is a big bust for the Sox. His ERA in September was almost 8. He is not used to pitching as often or for as long of a season and must be exhausted.


Game 3: Schilling (9-8, 3.87) vs. Weaver (13-7, 3.91). Toss up. When Schilling is on, he's one of the best, but he's been schizo this year. In the past he's been one of the best post-season pitchers. The kid is amazing but untested in post-season. Slight edge to Red Sox, but this time they are in Anaheim.

Game 4: Probably Beckett vs. Saunders (8-5, 4.44) or a Beckett vs. Lackey rerun. If it's either of these, I'll definitely take Beckett and the Sox to win the game and series in 4 games. But you'll notice I said 2 games would be very close. If they go to 5 games, the final game will probably be a rerun of Escobar and Dice-K (or Lackey & Dice-K). In that case, the Angels take the series in 5.


And of course the Sox had better not use Gagne.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Office Hours

In addition to my normal Thursday office hours (3:30 PM - 4:30 PM) I will be adding office hours on Friday afternoons as well. For at least the next three weeks these hours will be 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM. (After 10/19 they may change.)

In addition, I will also be around briefly tomorrow (Tuesday). Please be sure to contact me for an appointment if you need to see me.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Me!

The actual official first anniversary of this Blog was back in August, but I thought I'd take a moment now to celebrate, what with the lack of recent posts.

I started this Blog as a way to communicate with my students about classes, movies, music and other things that interest me. Looking at the "Labels" I use to categorize each post, you'll see over 130 posts about movies, most of them reviews of films I have seen. I see about 60 movies a year in the theater, but I see the vast majority of them during "Awards Season," which starts around November and ends with the Oscars. So this time of year is very slow for movie posts.

The next-highest number of posts is for baseball. Last year I wrote so much about baseball that students stopped coming to the Blog, so this year I promised I would only write about events I had personally attended. This year I saw 40 baseball games in person. With post-season coming up and the Dodgers out of it, I'll probably write a little about some of the other teams I follow (the Angels and the Red Sox in particular) even if I don't make it to any more games in person (although I certainly hope to!).

I've been to 2 USC football games so far this year. With baseball dwindling, I'll probably start posting more about football. I've been a Patriots fan my whole life, and even with the cheating incident, I'll probably continue to follow them. I also follow the Bills because the head coach is a friend of my family, but they are off to a weak start, are decimated by injuries, and are in the toughest division.

So don't stop reading just because it's been slow lately, it will definitely pick up as we get later in the year.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

USC WINS BIG, AGAIN!

USC looked absolutely fantastic tonight against WSU, winning 47-14. If there was any doubt about Booty's passing game, it was erased with his performance tonight. He completed 28 of 35 for 279 yards and 4 touchdowns. The team also rushed for 207 yards, showing a good balance for the first time this season.

It rained lightly in the 1st quarter, leaving the ball and field wet for a while, but it did not seem to effect the Trojans. Considering the gloomy weather early in the day, the attendance of over 86,000 was quite strong.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dodgers Beat D'backs

It didn't look good in the first few innings. Penny looked terrible. It took him 103 pitches to get through 5 innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 walks, and many full counts. Hendrickson, Saenez, Beimel, and Saito combined for the remaining 4 shutout innings. Saito actually got the last 5 outs, the first two with 1 pitch.

Nomar got 3 hits, including a homer, and Loney, Kemp and Ethier each got 2 hits. Alas, San Diego and Philadelphia won, so the Dodgers are still 1.5 games behind the Padres and tied with the Phillies.

Friday, September 14, 2007

RIP Zawinul

I met Joe Zawinul when Herb Pomeroy retired from teaching at Berklee. Joe had moved to the US is the late 50s to study and perform here. He studied with Herb when he first started teaching (they were the same age) and Zawinul (in later years he went by his last name) returned to the US to perform at Herb's retirement party in 1990. It's a bizarre coincidence that they died within weeks of each other.

Zawinul was a brilliant musician and composer. He wrote "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" when he was with Cannonball Adderly, and later wrote "Birdland" when he was with Weather Report, which was probably the only band to come from the Jazz-Rock fusion era that had an real, lasting and substantial impact on jazz as an art. He was one of the first jazz musicians to make extensive use of electronics.

Like Herb, he will be missed by many.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dodgers Beat Padres, Again!

Who would have thought that Greg Maddux would have his worst outing of the year against the Dodgers and David Wells? Maddux gave up 10 hits and 6 runs in only 3.1 innings of work.

Wells on the other hand did extremely well until the 6th, when 2 homers cost him 3 runs. Perhaps the highlight of the evening was Wells 300-pound frame chugging into a stand-up double off of Maddux. (He got thrown out at third after a Furcal grounder.) 44-year old Wells had his first multi-hit game of his career.

Proctor and Broxton pitched well and got holds, and Saito got his 38th save of the season, striking out 2 and getting the third batter to ground out on 1 pitch. The final three pitchers faced the minimum number of pitchers.

James Loney had 3 hits and 4 RBI.

The game was surprisingly poorly attended, especially considering that two living legends were pitching, with both teams vying for the wild card. The Dodgers are now only 1.5 games behind the Padres for the WC spot. They face #1 Arizona over the weekend.

Dodgers Beat Padres

Including pitcher Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers started 6 rookies tonight. Throw in Broxton's scoreless inning of relief, and the 7 rookies made outstanding contributions to a 6-1 win over the Padres, pushing the Dodgers into a 3-way tie for 2nd place on the Wild Card list.

James Loney was the star of the game. He got 3 hits, including a home run. Billingsley pitched 6 innings and gave up only 1 run. This after Lowe was scratched when he injured his pitching hand yesterday "playing catch" with hard-throwing Broxton. Hopefully he'll be ready to return this weekend against#1 Arizona.

It's been one day shy of a month since the last Dodger game I attended. I have to admit that a big part of the off time was my disgust with the team's play and Little's inept management of the team. I think playing the rookies is a very good idea against the Padres and I hope they do it tomorrow night was well, even though it's geriatric pitcher night. 44 year-old David Wells will be pitching against 42 year-old Greg Maddux, two amazing career pitchers. It should be a night to remember.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Korngold Event/Concert

There will be a reception at 5:30 tonight at Doheny, followed by a 7:30 concert featuring the music of film composer Erich Wolgang Korngold at the Newman Recital Hall.

If you are on campus, this should be a treat.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

499 Assignment 1

499 Students:
Assignment 1


All students should have received an e-mail from me.
If you have not, please contact me .

Please post a proposal for your final project here NO LATER THAN 8PM WEDNESDAY NIGHT, including a brief description of your proposed sound design.

Remember that the scene should be 3-4 minutes long and include DIA, MX, FX, BG, and Foley. If you choose an already existing scene, you should not attempt to reproduce the sound design of the scene exactly as in the film. The point of the assignment is to be creative and create an entirely new sound design. Consider it a blank slate.

If you are in doubt about your choice, you should list more than one possibility and I will try to guide you towards a good choice. If you choose something obscure or if you choose one of your own films, you must bring in a copy of the scene to the next class so that I can look at it before I approve it.

Click on “Post a Comment” immediately below to post your assignment. If you do not see it, try clicking here.

Monday, September 03, 2007

End of Summer

The official, astronomical end of summer is still a few weeks off at the autumnal equinox, but this week brings fall upon us in a number of ways. Classes started at USC last week, Labor day is today, USC football started Saturday, and most of all to us, we went to our last Hollywood Bowl concert tonight.

It was a fantastic end to the season. David Newman conducted an evening of film music from Paramount. Leonard Nimoy hosted the evening. There were many highlights, almost too many to mention, including hearing a live orchestra accompanying the climax to the 1928 best picture winner, WINGS. Jerry Goldsmith was represented with both STAR TREK and, one of the best scores ever written, CHINATOWN. One of my favorite composers, Franz Waxman, was represented with his beautiful theme from A PLACE IN THE SUN and the twisted SUNSET BOULEVARD.

Bernstein's TRUE GRIT and Mancini's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S and Nino Rota's THE GODFATHER were also great. Hearing a live orchestra play the opening of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was worth the price of admission alone.

The evening ended with a sing-along tribute to the hot weather with my favorite Jewish Christmas carol, WHITE CHRISTMAS.

It's a bittersweet ending, as I'll miss the summer. I look forward to the fall classes, the football season, and the cooler weather, but I'll miss the concerts.

This year I also worked on a summer series for Lifetime television, STATE OF MIND. The show mixes their final episode of the season this week, and it airs next Sunday. The show was a complete pleasure to work on. It was well-written, very intelligent, and everyone involved was great to work with. I'll miss that too.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Trojans Win

It's no surprise that USC won their opening game with a lopsided score, the #1 team up against the #113 team, but it was still somewhat of a letdown. USC was expected to win by 45 points, and only won 38-10. Neither the offense nor the defense sparked the way they were supposed to. Booty played well, but his passing game was not as strong as his predecessor, Matt Leinart. Even worse, the defense against Idaho's passing game was very weak. They were held to ten points, but it really should have been a much bigger blowout.

USC's first real challenge will be in two weeks against Nebraska.

Friday, August 31, 2007

70mm Festival at Aero

Coincidentally in reference to my comments about seeing movies on the big screen, there is a 70mm Festival at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

Fall Office Hours

My office hours this semester will be Thursdays, 3:30 - 4:30 PM. I will also have office hours on Fridays starting October 5th, and on some Wednesdays later in the semester.

499 Notes

Some important updates/reminders/fixes for 499 students:

If you plan on dropping the class, please let me know by contacting me .

Today's lecture is available on iTunes U. The sound quality is terrible, sorry, I'll try to do better next week. The radio mike was loose because there was not a tie clip included. The lecture is also on my iDisk as an .mp4 file.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

To access iTunes U go to:

https://itunes.usc.edu/

Click University Access
Enter your login (same as university e-mail) and iTunes will launch
Click on the class link (my photo)
Click on Lecture Podcasts
Click on Bondelevitch Lecture 01
Click SUBSCRIBE (at the top) if you always want all lectures on your iPod
or click GET if you want only this Lecture
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Don't forget to post your Assignment 1 on my blog by 8PM Wednesday night. To access that Blog post, click here:

http://bondelev.blogspot.com/2007/08/499-assignment-1.html
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Here are the correct instructions for accessing my iDisk:
There are two options:

If you are on a Mac, in the Finder, choose the GO menu -> iDisk -> Other User's Public Folder

Enter "Bondelev" (without the quotes).

You will then be asked for a user name and password. Leave the user name "public" (without the quotes). The password was distributed in class. If you need it again, please contact me.


If you are not on a Mac, you can go to:

http://iDisk.Mac.com/Bondelev-Public

You will then be asked for a user name and password. Leave the user name "public" (without the quotes). The password was distributed in class. If you need it again, please contact me.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Finally, if you are going to join the MPSE, remember to mail in 3 things:

1) Your signed application
2) Photocopy of ID or some other proof of student status
3) Check for $35

It may take up to 2 months to get your card, so the sooner, the better if you want to start attending screenings, which may start as early as October, and are in full swing in November. When you get your membership card, you can start looking for screenings at the MPSE web site:

http://mpse.org/membership/screenings.html

You'll want to bookmark that page.

See you next week!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hollywood Bowl 6

Tonight's concert was THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, and they weren't kidding. It was a good but challenging concert. The evening opened with Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, probably the weakest and certainly the least melodic of his concerti. It was well-performed by soloist Nicolai Lugansky.

After intermission, the orchestra performed the Shostakovich Symphony No. 1, his most academic piece. (His "good" symphonies are the multiples of 5: 5, 10, and 15.) Challenging for the woodwinds and brass, it's also a challenge for the audience.

The highlight of the evening was an outstanding performance of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. Conductor Kirill Petrenko picked some fast tempos, but the orchestra lived up to the challenge.

Petrenko was also entertaining in his amazing physical similarity to Yakov Smirnoff. It was a great ending to a good concert.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hollywood Bowl 5

Tonight's concert was significantly better than Tuesday's although with the same conductor. The program started with the Berlioz Overture to Les Francs-juges, not one of his best works, but a rousing start to the evening.

The highlight of the evening was the Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 5, featuring soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, who gave the most sensitive, subdued and sympathetic performance I've heard at the bowl. He made the piece, which is technically challenging, look easy. Unlike many soloists who would use the runs for showy bravado, he played softly and allowed the piano to be just another orchestral color, particularly in the first movement. It was truly moving.

The second half of the concert featured two of my favorite impressionist pieces, by two masters of orchestration: Debussy's La Mer and Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2. Both pieces were beautifully performed, and the orchestra was much more together than Tuesday. It was a lovely night.

Chocolate Rain

SEVEN MILLION HITS CAN'T BE WRONG!

I must thank two of my students at USC for introducing me to my most recent obsession:






Be sure to watch the parody:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

SUPERBAD

SUPERBAD is super good. An extremely funny yet heartwarming story of three teen boys who desperately want to meet girls at a party, I'd definitely recommend this film to adults as well as teens. In fact, adults are more likely to get the jokes. A nice selection of 70s music helps drive the film. If there is a weakness, it's the amount of time spent on the two cop characters in the middle of the movie. Otherwise the casting is great and the cast seems very natural.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hollywood Bowl 4

Tonight's concert was probably the weakest of the season so far. The first piece was the Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, as arranged by Stokowski. Guest conductor Stéphane Denève chose a lumbering temp that, combined with Stokowski's over-orchestration, sucked all the life out of the piece.

Weak conducting also harmed the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, which is one of his lesser works to begin with, and certainly a challenge for an audience. Sergey Khachatryan gave an excellent performance nonetheless.

The highlight of the evening was the Dvorák Symphony No. 8, which conveyed the most energy of the evening, particularly in the 4th movement. The orchestra seemed better focused than the conductor.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

BOURNE ULTIMATUM

It's no wonder Jason Bourne can't remember his life. THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM might be an entertaining action film, but ultimately it's as forgettable as the first two films. The action sequences are excellent, particularly the car chase, although one chase sequence goes on so long I actually started daydreaming about something else. The acting carries a lot of the film. Damon is better than usual and Julia Stiles is good, but the real masters are Albert Finney, Joan Allen, and David Straithairn. Director Paul Snodgrass, who directed one of last year's best films, UNITED 93, does an excellent job of inducing a verité feel into the franchise. However, as I've often pointed out, I really don't like the contemporary action style of all close-ups and rapid editing. It's a cheap trick to create visceral excitement, when instead the geographical explanation of an occasional wide shot or well-developed moving master would ultimately make an audience much more interested in what's going on, as it would be easier to follow. In fact, the biggest problem with the film is that the plot is labyrinthine, and that it actually expects you to remember what happened in the previous movies.

If Jason Bourne can't, I certainly can't.

THE SIMPSONS MOVIE

THE SIMPSONS has been on TV for 18 years. For the first third of that, it was one of the best shows on television. After that, there has been a steady decline in quality. I still watch it with my wife, more out of habit than anything else. Occasionally there is a good episode, like the final one from last season, which was a parody of 24. It's no coincidence that episode was better; several of the writers from the early seasons returned for that one.

They also returned to write the feature version of the film. I have to admit that I did not have high expectations from the film. The show has been on so long that it's getting redundant and going downhill. It's not exactly a cinematic show, it is 2D animation with little extensive background work and pretty bare sound design. With audiences so used to the Pixar model of 3D animation and dense visuals and full soundtracks, moving the Simpsons to the big screen did not sound like a great idea.

However, early reviews and word-of-mouth made me want to see the movie. One review called it "the best animated movie ever." Well, which is it, best ever, or the lame show moved to the big screen?

Somewhere in between. In terms of laughs, it is a very funny movie. And some elements of the film did live up to the big screen. Certainly elements, including crowd animation, were definitely up several notches on the big screen.

Unfortunately, the film also has inherent problems. We've been trained for 18 years that the Simpsons should come in 22 minute doses. I was pretty surprised that it took almost an hour for me to start looking at my watch. It moves pretty well at the beginning, but like other films written by people who aren't used to filmic structure, the film feels very episodic, and just when Act 3 should be getting into full gear, the plot stops and the family moves to Alaska. It clearly feels like there were three or four episodic ideas that they pasted together to make a feature, instead of one coherent plot.

Also, in 400 episodes, they have covered a lot of ground. Even on the show they appear to have run out of ideas, and in the film there are some pretty big moments where all I could think was "this is just like that episode from the TV show."

Another big problem is that it seems like someone told them they had to include every character that has ever been on the show. This means favorite characters like Mr. Burns, Smithers, Moe, Krusty, and many others are relegated to one or two lines in the film. I'd have much rather they dumped most of the cameos and gave a few characters more time. There is one new major character that is a major misfire, Albert Brooks as the head of the EPA. The character isn't funny, and the part could have been written for Mr. Burns or another regular character and been much better integrated.

Also there's a weird thing that the president in the film is Arnold Schwarzenegger. There's already a character in the TV series based on Arnold named Rainier Wolfcastle. He's a bad Austrian actor in action films who has political ambitions, married to Maria Shriver Kennedy Quimby. So now I'm supposed to believe there are two people in the Simpsons universe exactly like that? Why not just make it President Wolfcastle? Of course, if this plot had been better written, I wouldn't have wasted time thinking about that.

Nonetheless, if you're a fan of the sow, I'd recommend it, just for the laughs.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Herb Pomeroy, RIP

Jazz lost a brilliant and influential musician last week. He was also, for me, my most important mentor and a very good friend. Herb Pomeroy could have been one of the most famous jazz performer/arrangers in the second half of the 20th century, but instead of touring and recording, he decided to spend more than 40 years teaching jazz at Berklee. You can read more about him and his career here.

Herb was a personal role model and inspiration for me from the time I first heard his band when I was in high school, through my years in the Festival Jazz Band when I was a student at MIT (including one year we were chosen Outstanding Ensemble at the prestigious Notre Dame Intercollegiate Jazz Festival), and when I took his famous courses at Berklee. After moving to Los Angeles, I came back to Boston three times to see Herb, once in 1995 when he had his retirement party from Berklee, and again in 2000 and 2005 when MIT threw birthday parties for him. There's not a day that has passed that I don't think about Herb and hope that somehow as an educator I have lived up to his incredibly high standards. The world has lost not only a genius of a jazz performer and arranger, but a truly inspirational human being who influenced literally thousands of young musicians. Herb will be remembered by them forever.

Herb distilled a set of rules for jazz composition and arranging that reminded me very much of the strict rules Bach (and J.J. Fux) setup for writing counterpoint. Herb's method was a brilliant way of looking at music composition from a completely different viewpoint. Instead of composing harmonically by structuring chord progressions, Herb chose to write each melodic line individually around a set of rules that would create incidental harmonies when well-written melodic lines happened to cross each other. It certainly wasn't original to Herb; he learned a lot from Duke Ellington (and one of the courses he taught was on Duke's techniques) as well as Gil Evans and others who rejected traditional jazz arranging techniques; but it was Herb who structured these rules into a teaching system.

I learned a lot as a teacher from him. One was that having high standards was a necessity. It was very hard to get into his class, and getting an "A" was even harder. This was a huge departure from the way most classes at Berklee were taught.

The second important thing that I learned was that personal interaction was more important than lecturing. Herb gave homework assignments in every class meeting, and the first thing he would do in each class meeting was sit down with each student individually (but in front of the class) and go through their homework and make corrections. The individual attention gave each student a relationship with the teacher, and correcting in front of the class allowed every student to learn from every other student as well. It created a community feeling among the class members that I never felt in any other classes at Berklee. Herb was always the first to be excited when a student did something brilliant.

For a good part of the 20th century, virtually every important American composer would spend time in Paris studying with the brilliant teacher Nadia Boulanger. If you were a jazz composer in the US, there was a good chance that you would take the time to study with Herb. A list of his students is overwhelming, he had over 1000 students in the time he was at Berklee, many of whom went on to be some of the most famous musicians in jazz.

I remember when I was in high school looking at colleges, I was flipping through the MIT course catalog and saw Herb's photo. I did a double-take. What the hell was Herb doing at MIT? He conducted the jazz band at MIT, and that fact alone was a major factor in my decision to go there. I figured if Herb was there, the school couldn't be that bad. Herb told a funny story about how he ended up directing the MIT jazz band which you can read in MIT's obituary listing. He had been asked to sit in on a rehearsal with the intention of taking over, but the band was so bad, he asked for a break so he could leave. He sat in his car on Amherst Alley trying to think of a polite way to say no, and finally decided to give it a go anyway. He often remarked that to us the relationships he forged with MIT students were more satisfying than the Berklee students because for the engineers, jazz was an avocation, something they were doing purely for the love of music. (A lot like why he preferred high school sports to pro sports, and a viewpoint he shared with my father.) The Berklee students were often too focused on getting an A or worrying about finding a job or impressing somebody.

Herb had been born into a line of dentists and was expected to follow suit, entering Harvard as a freshman. But he loved jazz, and even though he was a brilliant man, he didn't fit in at Harvard. I remember Herb explaining his decision to leave. Herb was walking up the stairs to go to the library at the school and a man burst out and ran down the stairs, grabbed Herb by the shoulders, and screamed, "Have you ever had an intellectual orgasm?!?!?"

Herb said he knew there and then that he did not want to stay at Harvard.

My own introduction to Herb was equally amusing. I, of course, had heard his professional band many times and wanted to play in his band at MIT. I was a little star-struck at the audition and quite nervous. Without hearing a note, he looked at my name and asked "Is your father the football coach from Swampscott?," which of course was true. Herb LOVED sports, especially high school sports. He lived his entire life in Gloucester, and they play Swampscott in most sports. Here I was, nervous about meeting my idol, and Herb was excited to meet me because of my father. He had an amazing way with people. Years later we finally had Herb over for dinner.

One year at Symphony Hall there was a special fund-raising concert for former Red Sox star Tony Conigliaro (also from Swampscott), who had a series of personal tragedies. Frank Sinatra was featured at the concert with Herb's band backing him up. My father bought tickets since we were close to Tony C and his family. Not only did I get to see Herb backing up Frank, but because it was the day we were supposed to fly to Chicago with the MIT band for the festival, I got to fly a day later with Herb, instead of with the rest of the band. It was great to spend some personal time with him. I remember one year at the festival, the judges were really down on the band. In fact, the comments the judges wrote were outright rude and condescending. These judges were huge jazz names I had idolized. Herb had a nice way of diffusing the criticism by pointing out that certain people had an expectation of what a jazz band would look like, and the motley crew of pale white-faced engineers from MIT certainly didn't fall into that preconceived notion. They had clearly decided what they wanted before they heard us play.

When Herb retired from the MIT Jazz Band at the end of my senior year, we decided to buy him a gift. He was notorious for this ratty briefcase he'd had for decades, so we bought him a new briefcase, which we wanted to inscribe with his initials. This meant someone had to ask him his middle name.

Herb laughed and explained Herb was his middle name. His real first name was Irving, which he explained was a family name. In fact, he was Irving Herbert the 3rd. He said almost everyone in his family had Irving in their name somewhere, including his Aunt Irvina.

We ended up putting HIP on the suitcase anyway, because it was just too good a set of initials for a jazz musician.

And Herb kept using the ratty old briefcase forever.

I learned a lot from Herb and consider myself incredibly lucky to have been lead trumpet for the MIT band in my senior year. At Berklee, I took his first two classes and then graduated early. It always bothered me that I had left without taking his third and final class. I felt like Luke Skywalker in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, leaving my jazz Jedi master before I had completed my training. I had always hoped to go back for a semester, but it didn't happen before he retired. That's one of the biggest regrets in my life now that he's gone.

I'm very glad I saw him at the MIT reunion in 2005. He was in good shape and that's how I want to remember him. After my own father, Herb was probably the single biggest influence in my life, and I'll always miss him.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

American Masters: Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built

This is an absolutely fantastic documentary on PBS about record producer Ahmet Ertegun,
the producer for Atlantic Records, who was played (not very accurately) by Curtis Armstrong in the movie RAY. He was an amazingly important person in the history of American music, and e died shortly after this doc was made. It's great that his work is immortalized in this film.

Highly recommended for fans of music history.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dodgers Officially Suck Ass

The Dodgers have clearly given up for the season. Tonight, playing one of the worst teams in the National League, they scored 1 paltry run with their anemic offense. Billingsley was good for an an inning or so but gave up 4 walks and 4 runs in 5 innings, with Grady "Do" Little leaving him in a few batters too many, a disease he's shown since his days in Boston. If that wasn't enough, Little waved the white flag by sending in rust-bucket Hernandez to pitch mop-up duty. Surprisingly, the bullpen pitched well, but it was too late for the Dodgers, who missed 14 opportunities to score.

In a sign of just how desperate the Dodgers are, they picked up castoff Shea Hillenbrand, who has been thrown off two teams in the last year for causing problems in the clubhouse. Nomar Garciaparra showed a little fire at the plate, not by getting a hit, but by getting thrown out of the game for questioning a strike call. Unfortunately the excitement did not spread and Hillenbrand replacing him began his Dodger career by going 0 for 2 with a double play.

The closest thing to a Dodger star of the game was Pierre, who got 3 hits out of the 7 spot, 1 a bunt and 1 a bloop.

Astro pitcher Roy Oswalt pitched well, but the Dodgers should have done a lot better. This is their 3rd straight loss, and they are 3-9 in August. Announced attendance at the game was over 49,000, and it was a sizeable crowd for a Monday night, but expect those number to plummet if the Dodgers do not go on a winning streak starting this week.

Little announced that Hendrickson would be moving back to the bullpen, but would not announce who the replacement starter will be, forcing speculation that the Dodgers are going to pick up another aging clubhouse disaster, David Wells. If they do, this would be the worst act of desperation in the team's recent history.

The Dodgers have 44 games left in their schedule. Only 16 of those are non-division, leaving 28 games left in the NL West. 6 of those are against last-place SF, meaning there are 22 games left in the season against divisional contenders. They are 6.5 games back from Arizona. They were in first place virtually every day of the season until three weeks ago. On paper, this is exactly the same team they were when they were in first place (with a few more injuries, and a lot more slumps). They certainly have the time to pull it off, but they need to start winning almost immediately, and certainly by this weekend against Colorado.

Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film

PBS ran an excellent 4-hour documentary about Andy Warhol. If you are a fan of his, I highly recommend it. A few years ago there was an excellent exhibition at MOCA LA comparing his early commercial work with his later works, which I found fascinating. In fact, we went in the wrong entrance and ended up looking at the later work first, which made it very interesting to see his early drawings. Even if you're not a fan of his art, I think any art student would have to admit that he had an enormous influence on contemporary art. I think John Cage was interesting as a composer because many of the pieces he wrote challenged the audience to think about the definition of music.Warhol's works did the same, asking the audience to think about the definition of art.

I've seen several films about Warhol, including a couple of documentaries, and this one is by far the most all-encompassing. Of particular interest is the first hour, which covers the early part of his life, and which is the part least covered in other films.

Although it might seem like 4 hours is a long time to spend on one person, you still get the feeling when you're done that you have barely learned about this man. That's not a reflection on the quality of the doc, it's a reflection on how complex he was, and how much of an enigma he made himself to the public. He was one of the most famous people in the 20th century, yet most people know almost nothing about him, even people who were close to him.

INDIE SEX

INDIE SEX is a good doc series about the history of sex in cinema that has been running on the Independent Film Channel. It's pretty graphic, and not for everyone. My only problem is that they tend to lump all types of sex scenes together, from erotic and comic scenes, to rape and incest. There are definitely some unnecessarily explicit scenes in some films referred to in the documentary that might have been more effective if done differently, yet the film defends them.

Nonetheless, it's worth viewing for students of film.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Red Sox Beat Angels, 9-6

Red Sox fans finally saw the team they expected in Anaheim tonight with an exciting 9-6 win over the Angels. Both young starting pitchers had troubles resulting in the lead flipping several times. It was up to the relievers, with both teams having excellent bullpens, but Justin Speier gave up a homer to rookie wonder Dustin Pedoia that would ultimately cost the game.

The Red Sox used former Dodger closer Eric Gagné in the 8th. He did not look quite as good as he had in LA, but he managed to hold the lead. His fastball location was weaker, and his signature change-up was not reliable. Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon threw only 10 pitches in the 9th, ALL OF THEM STRIKES. The win avoided an Angels sweep of the the Sox. The high-scoring game was the longest 9-inning game in the history of the team, clocking in at 4:02.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007



Angels Beat Red Sox Again

A lack of wind at Angel Stadium caused Tim Wakefield's knuckleball to lack significant movement, and the Angels batter were all over it. Wake gave up 6 earned runs in 4 innings. 5 of those runs were in the 5th inning, with Wakefield leaving with no outs. The Red Sox had gone into the inning with a 2-run lead thanks to a homer by Doug Mirabelli, whose sole reason for existence on the Red Sox is to catch Wake's knuckleball.

Angels sophomore pitcher Joe Saunders pitched 5.1 innings and gave up only 4 runs, which was good enough for a win. Reliever Chris Bootcheck went 2.2 innings with no runs, and Darren Oliver finished the 9th.

The Red Sox did not look good, and if they continue to lose, they will give hope to Yankees fans everywhere.

Once again, the stadium was packed with vocal Red Sox fans who were disappointed.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Angels Defeat Red Sox

With the two best teams in baseball playing each other, it was a close game for a while, but the Angels out-pitched and out-played the Red Sox tonight, winning 4-2. Schilling pitched well in his return from the disabled list, giving up 4 runs in 6 inning. Jered Weaver also pitched well, giving up only 2 runs in 6 innings, but left with a no-decision. The win went to Justin Speier, who pitched one good inning, with the Angel bullpen strong as usual. Shields got a hold in the 8th, and Frankie pitched a good 9th, striking out Big Papi to end the game. The Angels' offensive star was Chone Figgins, with 2 hits (one a stand-up triple) and an RBI. Maicer Izturiz homered in the go-ahead run. A Monday-night sold-out crowd of 44,000 was loud until the end, with many Red Sox fans in the stand.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

HAIRSPRAY

HAIRSPRAY is a lot of fun, certainly a lot more fun than any recent musicals. Its key to success is that it does not take itself too seriously, that is, until near the end when it tries to make a statement about segregation (one that is too easy to make 40 years later). Yes, I know that was in the original, but it could have been handled better. The songs are all great... except the civil rights march to a gospel ballad. It's a good song, but it sucks all the energy out of the movie.

The casting is excellent, with great performances by Travolta, Walken, Queen Latifah, and Jerry Stiller (who was in the original!). Newcomer Nikki Blonsky is outstanding. Even Amanda Bynes is good as the sidekick.

The film also flies by at 107 minutes, and unlike many other recent films, does not overstay its welcome.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Dodgers Lost, but Bonds Does Not Homer

The Dodgers certainly do not look like contenders, losing badly to the cellar-dwelling Giants. You can't even blame Bonds, as he got only one hit and no RBIs.

You can blame Bombko, who was booed pretty badly after a first inning in which he pitched through the entire order, allowing 3 runs, which was enough to lose the game. He got his act together and pitched another 4 innings with no runs, but it was too late, the damage was done, and the Dodger offense was incapable of scoring the runs needed. Twice they left the bases loaded. "Team LOB" was a stunning 13. The team had 11 hits and a paltry 2 runs.

The Bobblehead Curse did not affect Martin, who went 2/3 + 2 walks and an RBI. Furcal, Garciaparra, Kemp and Ethier each got 2 hits.

The Dodgers now must face the first-place Diamondbacks.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bonds Goes 0/3, Dodgers Win!

Hendrickson went 7 fairly strong innings, giving up 3 earned runs, but it wasn't good enough for a decision, as the Dodgers only scored one run in those innings.

In later innings, the Dodgers looked a lot better. Scott Proctor's one pitch finished the inning with Russell Martin throwing out an attempted steal. Broxton gave up a run and a walk, but got the win when the Dodgers had a 4-run 8th inning.

The bats looked better tonight, with 2 hits (including a triple) and 2 RBI from Pierre, and 2 hits from Martinez, a hit, two walks and 3 runs scored by Furcal. Nomar had a 2-run homer. Gonzalez had 2 RBI.

Pierre, Furcal, Martin and Garciaparra all had stolen bases. Martin's stolen base, his 18th, matches a Dodger record for stolen bases by a catcher in a season.

It was interesting to hear the crowd in person. It was clear that there were many people there solely to boo Barry Bonds. This became most clear when Bonds was taken out for a pinch runner in the top of the 8th and literally thousands of people walked out immediately. (The score was 4-2 at this point.) The sellout crowd of 56,000 was loud throughout the game, even after the exodus, and especially when Nomar hit his homer.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?



(image courtsey SimpsonizeMe)


My wife is a huge fan of THE SIMPSONS. In honor of the movie, a dozen 7-Eleven stores were converted into Kwik-E-Marts for the month of July. Fortunately, one is near us in Burbank, so we drove by several times this month, hoping to stop by, but there was always a line around the block. We finally gave up and got in line today, knowing it would only be there a few more days. It took about 25 minutes to get in, and we spent a good ten minutes in the store.

My wife bought a Pez dispenser with Homer's head, and we got two pink doughnuts, which were amazing (much better than Krispy Kreme). Channel 7 News was there when we were there. My favorite subtle reference was the frozen Jasper in the freezer.

They did not do DUFF beer, but they did BUZZ cola (limit one 6-pack per customer). I wanted to buy CRUSTY-O's cereal, but they were sold out. That place is a license to print money. They could have done 10 times as many stores and still have lines around the clock.

This one is near the writers' office, so it has even more extras, "real" Bart tagging on the outside, and hand-drawn caricatures inside. I took a bunch of pictures with my digital camera, then somehow reset the menu language to Japanese, then in trying to fix it, I reformatted the card, erasing all pictures. I'm an idiot. Fortunately, the one photo above of me with Riley came out.

But now I have reason to go back. And get another doughnut.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hollywood Bowl 3

I was not too excited before tonight's concert, which was part of our subscription. Brahms' Academic Festival Overture was a fine start, but I'm not too fond of the Bruch Violin Concerto, and I'm definitely no fan of Schumann, whose Third Symphony was featured tonight. We kept the tickets primarily because Sarah Chang was the soloist on the Bruch. We had seen her ten years ago at the bowl, when she was only 16. She is an amazing performer. Not only is she impeccable technically, she is one of the most emotional players I have ever seen. Only she could breath so much life into a mundane work like the Bruch concerto. Unfortunately, the notoriously weak horn section clammed at least three times in the Brahms and Bruch. The strings, however, sounded fantastic. Conductor Alexander Mickelthwate had trouble keeping the orchestra together all night long.

The"Rhenish" symphony by Schumann is a snore-fest, but at least the last movement came to life for an nice ending to the evening. Nonetheless, it was a fun evening.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

RATATOUILLE

It's hard to imagine there being a better movie this year than RATATOUILLE. Smart, funny, and very moving, the film has a fantastic script with great performances by all involved. Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the film is the brilliant character animation. Clearly inspired by many classic artists from Disney to Chuck Jones to Charles Addams, each character comes alive after only a few seconds of screen time. There's also some great physical comedy, almost like a silent movie, when the rat (who can't talk to humans) pantomimes and later becomes puppet-master to the human chef.

This film is an absolute must-see for everyone.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

DODGERS BEAT METS

Brad Penny gave up 4 runs in the first 3 innings, but otherwise pitched a good game, and the Dodgers managed to use a 5 run 4th , highlighted by Kemp's 3-run homer, to take a commanding lead which they never gave up. Furcal and Pierre had good days, each getting a pair of hits.

Beimel gave up a 2-run homer in relief, but Broxton pitched 1.2 innings for his second save of the year, giving Saito a well-needed extra day off.

Charlie Bartlett

I caught this film last night. It's a lot like RUSHMORE, and in fact, for the first hour, I thought it was a lot better than that film. However, it collapses under bad writing in the third act.

The acting was good, particularly newcomers Anton Yelchin and Kat Dennings. Robert Downey Jr. is always worth watching, but he was full of cliches here. I'll be very surprised if this film does well at the box office.

Mets Beat Dodgers Again

Tomko pitched well for the second game in a row, allowing no earned runs in 6 innings of work. (The one run was an error by Pierre.) Unfortunately, the bats were asleep against Oliver Perez, who allowed only 1 run in 7.1 innings. Nomar got his 3rd homer of the year, and Kent got 2 hits and a walk, but otherwise the Dodgers were dead.

The loss went to 43 reliever Hernandez, only his second day with the Dodgers after a last-minute pickup to help the sagging bullpen.

The only good thing about this loss is that it will force the Dodgers to do something before the trade deadline, which is only 10 days away. A starter would be great, but it's unlikely. A middle reliever would be good, and there are several available. A slugging third baseman is also on the list, but again there are none available. I expect we'll see Wilson Betemit traded, possibly for Yankee pitcher Kyle Farnsworth, who made himself expendable when he complained about Roger Clemen's contract with the Yanks.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Les Paul: Chasing Sound

I finally got around to watching the AMERICAN MASTERS documentary on Les Paul called CHASING SOUND, the brilliant guitar player who was instrumental (pardon the pun) in advancing recording technologies for overdubbing, as well as designing solid-body guitars. Without him, the recording methods used in virtually all styles of music would not exist. The film is great, it explores his whole life and the many periods and styles in it. He's currently 92 years old and still performs publicly every week in New York.

I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of recording technology, as well as fans of Paul and his wife Mary Ford.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dodger Win Series with Phillies

The Dodgers won a close game at the ravine today, 504 over th Phillies. The play of the game was Ethier's 3-run homer in the 4th.

Billingsly gave up 4 runs in 5 innings, but Saenez, Beimel, Broxton and Saito combined for 4 shutout innings, and Gonzo's solo homer made the difference in the 6th.

One oddity in the 8th inning, Tomko replaced Saenz as a pinch runner, and the crowd still loudly booed Tomko as he jogged onto the field.

Dodgers Drubbed by Phillies

The Phillies embarrassed the Dodgers with 26 hits and 15 runs tonight. The Dodgers managed a paltry 3 runs, off a starter whose ERA was a whopping 13. They looked like a little league team. Hendrickson gave up 7 runs and 11 hits in only 3 innings. Stulz in relief was not much better, giving up another 4 runs in 3 innings, including 2 home runs. Saenez also gave up 2 home runs in relief.

It was a night to forget for Dodger fans.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dodgers Hammer Phillies

Jamie Moyer had a weak start, and Brad Penny another strong one, resulting in a 10-3 trouncing of the Phillies. After giving up a run in the 1st, Penny went a strong 7 innings, giving up only that run on 4 hits, with Moyer giving up all 10 earned runs on only 10 hits. DJ Houlton had a relatively weak appearance for the Dodgers from the bullpen, giving up 2 runs in 2 innings.

The kids did well for the Dodgers tonight, but the veterans also did well. Kemp hit a 3-run homer. Martin walked twice and got an RBI. Furcal, Pierre and Nomar each got 2 hits. Kent got a hit and 3 RBI.

It was an enjoyable game, with a fairly large Monday night crowd of over 42,000.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

WAITRESS

It's been a week since I saw the film WAITRESS, and I forgot to review it. I guess that doesn't say much for the film. What happened to the director is terrible (she was murdered before the film was released), particularly since most of the problems in the film point to a first-time screenwriter with some talent that has yet to be fully developed.

It's a nice story, with good acting, but the characters are very one-dimensional (yet frequently
they speak out of character, and all with the same voice). Several actors rise above the material, most notably Andy Griffith, who might even be a long-shot for supporting actor. Unfortunately, most of the third act is predictable melodrama with no real emotional payoff.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hollywood Bowl II

It was impossible to top Tuesday night's fireworks, but the performances tonight were excellent. Most of the night was filled with standard favorites. It started off with a Berlioz overture that was a lot of fun. The main piece in the first half was the Ravel Piano Concerto in G, a piece clearly influenced by the younger composer George Gershwin's Concerto in F (written five years earlier), in a fantastic, exciting performance by Andreas Haefliger, with Leonard Slatkin once again conducting.

The second half began with the popular Rossini Overture to The Thieving Magpie, which was staged with dueling snare drums and was another fun fanfare. There were also two throwaway pieces, the Fauré Pavane and Mascagni's Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana (featured in RAGING BULL). I could have done without these two short but pretty pieces, neither of which holds any musical development whatsoever.

The evening ended with Respighis' Pines of Rome, a piece that I had never heard in live performance, and which I feared might be a letdown at the end of a long concert. However, the orchestra gave an exciting performance, bringing out subtle orchestrational details I had not previously noticed, and building to an amazing climax at the end. I expected the concert to be long, but it actually finished a bit shorter than Tuesday's concert. With the lighter attendance, traffic was a breeze in and out, and it was another great evening at the bowl.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hollywood Bowl

Summer truly begins with our first Hollywood Bowl concert of the season. Normally I would like to go to a July 4th concert, but this year it was a Country-Western themed concert, so we waited until last night and saw the fireworks show with Pictures at an Exhibition.

The concert was great. Leonard Slatkin conducted. He's the principle guest conductor of the orchestra, and he's my favorite of the bowl conductors. He's very smart without overdoing things. The Russian concert opened with the Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture by Glinka, always an exciting start for a concert. The piece was followed by the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, performed by Gil Shaham, who showed amazing range on the instrument in many ways. Not only did he have a beautiful, sweet sound on the high harmonics, he also had a rich, sultry tone on the low notes. He also showed wide emotional range, finding humor in both the first and last movements.


The evening ended with one of my favorite pieces, Pictures at an Exhibition. The orchestra played it very well, but the real excitement came from one of the best fireworks displays that I've ever seen, which was amazingly well synchronized to the music. It was a blast (literally)!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Dodgers Win Last Game Before Break

The Dodgers had a nice breakout game against the Marlins today. Hendrickson pitched on only 3 days rest, and pitched 5 innings, giving up only 4 hits and 2 runs.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, had 16 hits and 9 runs, 1 short of the "free wings" promotion at Hooters. (I hate the Hooters, but hey, free is free.)

Martin & Ethier each had home runs. They each had 3 RBI. It was a good game.

The mid-season report on the Dodgers is mixed. I'll write more about that during the well-needed All-Star Break. They go into it one game out of 1st place behind the Padres.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Saito Blows Save, Tomko Blows Game

It was a very strange game.

Billingsley was so good in his last start, but in this game gave up a run in the 1st and 2 more in the 3d. The Dodgers managed to get 5 in the 5th (an amazing accomplishment for a team that has rarely scored recently). The Dodgers also left the bases loaded twice. The highlight of the evening was Martin's 2-run homer. He really played like an all-star tonight.

Houlton gave up a run in the 7th, then Saito gave up a run in the 9th. It's rare when Saito blows it, so it's hard to blame him for a single run after 23 saves this season. Beimel returned from the hospital to pitch to one batter. Saenez and Broxton both did well.

But in the 10th, the crowd of over 52,000 booed loudly when Tomko was brought on. He gave up 2 walks and a hit, and the losing run for the game.

The bullpen has been so overused, combined with the injuries, that no one knows who will start Sundays game. It's likely to be Hendrickson on only 3 days rest, and with an exhausted bullpen, that's a bad combination.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dodgers Have... Pitching Problems???

Probably the last thing you'd expect to go wrong for the Dodgers is pitching problems. First, we lose Schmidt. Then we find out Randy Wolf has been pitching with a sore shoulder and has been placed on the disabled list, which explains his rapid decline in recent starts. Then we find out Beimel has been hospitalized with potential heart problems. Hung Chi Kuo had been sent down to the minors, but didn't make it, he wound up on the disabled list as well.

Hendrickson started well, giving up only 2 runs in 5 innings, but with the depleted bullpen, Grady Little was forced to bring in Tomko in the 6th, who gave up 2 more runs in only a third of an inning.

They were so desperate, the brought in Broxton and Saito to finish the game, even though they were losing 5-2.

All of this combined could be a huge problem for the Dodgers, whose strength all year has been pitching.

At least the fireworks were worth staying for!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Dodgers Beat Braves Again!

Things looked rough again with starting pitcher Randy Wolf giving up 6 runs in only 3 innings. But the Dodgers quickly tied things up in the bottom of the 3rd, and the Dodger bullpen remained fantastic, allowing only ONE hit and no runs in 3 innings! Saenez got the win after 3 innings, Broxton gets a hold, and Saito got his 23rd save of the season.

Betemit got 3 hits, a home run, 4 RBI, and 3 runs scored, all against his old team. Kemp got 2 more hits. The younger players keep looking better all the time, although Furcal, Kent and Lieberthal also each got 2 hits.

Again, a good game against a tough team.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dodgers Beat Smoltz

It looked tough at first, with Lowe needing 108 pitches to go 5 innings, and Smoltz needing only 87 to go 6, and both giving up only 1 run in that time... but the Dodgers managed a 5-run 7th inning, which broke the game open.

Martin went 4 for 5 with 2 RBI. Kemp got a 2-run homer and 3 RBI. Furcal and Gonzalez each got 2 hits. Beimel and Saenez combined for 3 innings with no hits or runs. The only bullpen weakness was Tomko, who gave up 3 hits and a run in the 9th and was repeatedly booed after each hit.

This was an important win against a good team and an excellent pitcher. The only bad sign was that Lowe got another no decision, even after giving up only one run. He's a great pitcher, and he deserves more wins that the Dodgers have given him.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Summer Upon Us

Most think think that summer begins in May when most college years end, or maybe early June when most high school years end, or maybe even June 21st when we get to the summer solstice, but for me, summer vacation does not begin until around July 4th (because I teach an early summer class at USC that starts right after graduation and ends usually just before Independence Day). So I've finally reached a time when I get to relax a bit.

Generally my summer activities include more Dodger games, visiting the Hollywood Bowl, attending wine tastings, catching up on Emmy viewing an occasional movie screening, and maybe a little travel if I have time. This year I'm also working on a television series... more about that later. So stay tuned, I'm bound to have more to say this summer. I know it's been slow for a while, I intend to catch up soon.

Enjoy.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dodgers Lose to Padres

With the exception of starting pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo, the Dodgers looked quite good tonight against the Padres. Pierre and Nomah both had 3 hits. Kent and Loney had 2 apiece. They had a total of 14 hits. Unfortunately, they left 8 on base again, with 19 missed scoring opportunities. The Dodgers still need a reliable home run hitter to knock in some runs now and then. I really think that's the difference between the Dodgers being a very good team, and a championship team.

Kuo gave up all seven runs, six of them in the 4th inning, and only made it through 3.1 innings. But the bullpen did a great job as always, giving up only 3 hits in 5.2 innings and no runs.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Solange of Hollywood

Virtually everyone in the sound community knows Solange of Hollywood, a sound editor who also teaches at UCLA. Solange has a home just outside Tahoe, which was destroyed in the fire this week. Our thoughts are with her.

The Reno Gazette-Journal has both an article and a photo about her loss.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer 540 Over

I really enjoy teaching 540 Intermediate Sound, which is now offered only in the summer. This summer's session just ended, and I'm very happy to say that it went extremely well.

The course used to be taught in the fall as well, when the semester would have 15-16 class meetings. In the summer, the semesters are shorter and usually have 12-13 class meetings. Due to a scheduling fluke, this summer semester had only 11 class meetings, and I was seriously concerned that they class would not be able to handle the workload in such a short time, especially with a group of students that included a wide array of backgrounds: production majors, animation majors, undergraduates, graduates, students who had had Tom Holman's 507 sound and/or 508 sound, and students for whom this was the first sound class.

Amazingly, the class pulled through very well and got all the work done in an extremely short period of time, and no one would up left behind. It's been typical in the past that a couple of people who leave this class end up being interested enough in sound that they consider it as a career choice. Others end up working in the sound department at school, or on the sound design for their own thesis projects. Students who are serious about sound should consider doing sound in a 546/547 level project (you'll always learn more working on a real project), or take 554 Advanced Sound with Tom Holman, which is offered in the spring. 546/547 will teach production sound, dialogue editing, and mixing on the Euphonix console, none of which was covered in 540. 554 will teach advanced and 5.1 mixing techniques on the Euphonix console.

I am always open to options for making the class better, and I hope that any students who have suggestions will feel free to e-mail me. Thanks for a very enjoyable semester.