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.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Final 540 Class

Our final class meeting for Summer 540 will meet at the normal time, 7:00 PM, tonight. We will watch playback of all of the final projects.

See you there!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Summer Office Hours

Summer Office Hours are officially over. I will be in sporadically for the rest of the summer. Please check here or e-mail me for an appointment if you need to speak to me.

Fall office hours will begin August 30th.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

I miss my Dad.

He died five years ago on St. Patrick's Day, less than two weeks before his 84th birthday, after a lengthy illness. Every father-son relationship is special, but I had a particularly great dad. He was a brilliant man who loved sports, music and movies and had a great sense of humor. You can read his complete obituary here.

Dad was the high school football coach and athletic director in the town where I grew up. He was not like most football coaches. Dad had a doctorate in education, and in another life he would have been a great lawyer. But he was one of those lucky people who managed to have a career in something he really loved. He was the head coach in Swampscott, Massachusetts, for almost 30 years and his coaching career lasted over 40 years. During that time, he had one of the best records in New England high school sports history. He lost less than 1/3 of his games, had 8 consecutive undefeated seasons, and won the first High School Superbowl in the state. All of this at one of the smallest schools in the state. As a result, he was somewhat of a local celebrity.

Dad's parents moved to this country from Poland shortly before he was born. They were dirt poor, and after living in a tenement in Boston for a few years, they managed to buy a small farm in western Massachusetts. When my dad finished high school, he was offered a scholarship to St. Anselm's College in Manchester, New Hampshire. It's hard to imagine this type of thinking now, but his father (my grandfather) was very upset at the thought that his son would go to college instead of staying at home and working on the farm, which he considered a "good, honest living."

I never met either of my grandfathers. They both died before I was born. I'm the youngest in my family (my mother was 40 when I was born), and both my parents were the youngest in their families, so there was a huge generational difference between me and my grandparents, who were all born in the 1880s. Both of my parents were first-generation Americans. My father's mother was illiterate (and his father probably was as well). My father taught her how to sign her name on legal documents. Neither of them ever learned to speak English. And here I am, only two generations later, a professor at one of the best schools on the west coast.

I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for my grandparents to give up everything they had to come to this country. And it must have been equally difficult for my father to decide to go to college against his father's wishes. But it worked out well for my father. He became a star on the college football team, and when he finally talked his father into going to a game, he saw the crowd reaction to Dad's playing and finally realized his son had amounted to something after all.

My father graduated from college during WWII, so he went directly into the Army Air Corps. However, he never saw action because he was badly injured in a plane crash during a training mission. When he left the armed services, he got a job playing for a semi-pro football team (the Providence Steamrollers) long before the NFL existed.

Growing up, it was clear that I was very different from my father. Although I love watching sports, I was always terrible at playing them. It must have been difficult for him to deal with that. I know it was difficult for me. Not only Dad, but the entire town expected me to be a sports star of some kind. The worst of this was from about age 10 until freshman year in high school. Fortunately, I had great grades and excelled in the high school band, which of course played at the football games, and that took a lot of pressure off of me playing sports.

Dad valued education very highly, and I am forever indebted to him for helping to put me through three different schools. After I got my master's from USC, he would often joke that I had 3 degrees but no job. Like many film school alums, my first 3-4 years out of school were pretty terrible for me, but not long after that, my career really started up picking up steam, and it was clear that he was very proud of me.

Unfortunately, by the time I won my Emmy, Dad's health was declining, and he was was not really aware enough to understand what an honor it was.

We had a particularly special bond because when I was 10 years old, my mother developed colon cancer and spent most of the next two years in and out of the hospital before she finally passed away. This happened at almost the exact same time that my sisters both left home to go to college, so the house went from 5 people (with 3 women) to just me & my Dad. So in addition to working a full time job and coaching the football team in the afternoons, he also had to come home and do the cooking and cleaning.

My dad was an outstanding cook. His love for cooking and baking was outdone only by his love for gardening, which resulted in a lot of fresh vegetables for him to cook. He would make his own spaghetti sauce from tomatoes grown in our garden. He grew just about everything at some point, including asparagus and strawberries, both of which are very difficult to grow in New England's climate. He made strawberry shortcake from scratch that was just amazing.

When I think back about why I love my dad, probably the strongest memories are of watching sports with him. I remember watching college football bowl games on New Year's Eve with him when I was too young to go out that night. He always preferred college ball to the NFL, as the players were clearly playing for the love of the game, and not for money.

But my most pleasant memories are of watching Red Sox games with him. He was a huge baseball fan. He was good friends with Johnny Pesky, who lived down the road from us. Johnny spoiled me forever by routinely getting us the best seats at Fenway, right behind home plate. Dad also knew the Conigliaro family very well, as they all went though the town's school system. "Tony C" was a very well-loved Red Sox player who had a terrible series of personal tragedies. Dad loved Carl Yastrzemski and would proudly remind us that "He's a Polack, you know!"

So every year when baseball season starts up, I get a little misty, missing my dad.

Probably the single biggest disappointment in my adult life was that my father was too sick to attend my own wedding. I had hoped that he would be my best man. But for me, he'll always be the best man, period.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Derek Lowe struck out a lifetime high of 11, and gave up only 4 hits and 1 run in 7 innings, at one of the most exciting games of the year at Dodger Stadium. The Angels also played exceptionally well in front of a regular-season record-tying crowd of 56,000, who witnessed a spectacular pitching demonstration from both sides, in a playoff-like atmosphere. (Remember, Sports Illustrated predicted these two teams to meet in the World Series.)

Furcal and Pierre each got a single in the 7th, and Gonzales knocked in the two winning runs.

Broxton and Saito added to the strikeouts, totaling a whopping *14* for the game. The top of the ninth was exciting when Saito allowed two bloop infield singles, one getting by him and stopped by Furcal, just missing the out at 1st, and the other bouncing off Saito's glove. Saito stayed focused and managed to get his 19th save of the year.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dodgers Sweep Mets!

Brad Penny gave up a run off of 2 hits in the first inning, but he quickly settled down, and ended up allowing only 1 run in 7 innings, earning his 8th win.

Matt Kemp got 3 hits and an RBI. Betimit got 2 hits, one a homer, and scored 2 runs. James Loney hit a pinch-hit 2-run homer late in the game. Tony Abreau got 2 hits and an RBI. The best thing about this: these guys are the future of the team. Furcal and Pierre each picked up a pair of hits and an RBI.

Beimel gave up a hit in the 8th, but retired the other 3 batters, and Tomko finished the game with 3 up and 3 down.

The Dodgers are now tied for 1st with San Diego, and have more wins than any team in the NL.

Whoda thunkit?

They have Thursday off, then play a 3-game series hosting the Angels, who earlier this year swept them in Anaheim, and who historically have beaten the Dodgers. The Dodgers needed this series for many reasons, let's hope this gives their confidence a boost for the Angels series!


The Dodgers have come alive suddenly, against the team many consider to be the best in the NL, and a team that has in recent history beaten the Dodgers consistently. Although the Mets are currently in somewhat of a slump, it's good to see the Dodgers play well again, especially after losing the series against the Blue Jays.

There was also a flashback in the 2nd inning to last year's fantastic game against the Padres. The Dodgers managed to get 3 home runs in a row - off of consecutive pitches! Betemit, Matt Kemp (recently activated from AAA) and pitcher Hong-Chi Kuo all hit home runs over 400'. Kuo's homer was not only his first hit of the year, it was his first homerun as a major-leaguer. Kemp's home run was only the 16th ever to land in the Loge section; a distance of over 440'.

There were a lot of good signs for the Dodgers tonight. Kuo pitched 7 strong innings, allowing only one run in only 89 pitches. Even better, the bullpen was amazing. Broxton and Saito combined to retire the final 6 batters, 4 with strikeouts, and using only 19 pitches total, 16 of which were strikes. The crowd of over 42,000 was excited well after the game ended, as the win puts the Dodgers back in first place (albeit a 3-way tie with Arizona and San Diego).

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Derek Lowe Loses Third Complete Game

D-Lowe has pitched three complete games this season, all of them losses.

He pitched an outstanding game tonight, needing only 98 pitches to get a 4-hitter and giving up only one run on a homer.

The Dodgers lost 1-0. It was one thing to lose 1-0 against the Padres, but against the Blue Jays, it is just an embarrassment. They left 9 on base, 7 in scoring position, and the lases loaded twice (one inning started with two on and no outs; all three outs in the inning were foul ball pop flies).

And tomorrow they must face the Blue Jays' best pitcher.

Dodgers Beat Blue Jays in 10th

Brad Penny had another excellent outing, giving up only 1 run in 7.2 innings, but Takshi Saito blew his first save after 26 consecutive saves. Things looked grim for the Dodgers when Joe Beimel gave up a run in the top of the 10th, but when Tony Abreu walked, Olmedo Saenz came in to pinch and hit a home run on the second pitch of the at-bat. It was an exciting ending for the crowd of over 52,000, and a badly-needed win after being swept in San Diego.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


EAGLE VS. SHARK is a low-budget independent comedy from New Zealand. Although it has funny moments, the film has the same problem as Wes Anderson's films. The characters are one-dimensional cliches, and the plot points are clearly the manipulation of the writer and not a natural outgrowth of the characters. Instead of laughing at the main character's situation, I feel sorry for what the writer has chosen to put her through. The film is perfect for the bitter, jaded and angry independent film crowd, but could never cross over to adult mainstream audiences.


One of my former students has made it to the top 15 on the Spielberg show ON THE LOT. His film this week was #4, the musical, and by far the best of the lot. You can see his film on the web site for the show.

I wish they would stop monkeying with the format on the show; now he is one of five up for elimination.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Norton Simon

Last night I took the time to visit the Norton Simon museum in Pasadena. It's something I've been meaning to do for years. I highly recommend it. They have a split collection. One half of the museum is Renaissance and earlier (including a lot of Indian art), the other is 19th century and beyond. Although there are some great works in the Renaissance collection, I prefer the contemporary works. There are three Van Gogh paintings, any one of which alone would make the visit worthwhile.

The museum is free the first Friday night of every month. It was not crowded last night. It's not a huge museum, so you can do a good walk-through in about two hours.

540 Mix Schedule

Please remember that we are doing Practice Mixes the next two Saturdays.

Next Saturday (the 9th), you will be working in PAIRS for two hours. All the mixes will be scheduled between 10 AM and 4:30 PM. Please be thinking about whom you would like to mix with, and what hours you are available. We will schedule this in class Monday night.

Saturday the 16th, you will work alone for an hour. Due to my own schedule, the hours will be between 1 PM and 8 PM. We will schedule these that week.

If you will not be able to attend a Practice Mix on the 9th or 16th, PLEASE LET ME KNOW IMMEDIATELY. You will need to schedule a different time with Paul.

Final mixes will be the following weekend. They will be three hours each and will be Saturday and Sunday the 23rd and 24th between 10 AM and 7:30 PM. We will schedule these next week.