Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The Colorado Symphony gave an excellent Viennese concert tonight featuring the music of Strauss and others. It was a very enjoyable evening. The guest conductor Scott O'Neil was a good speaker, but the highlight of the evening was a series of solos by associate concertmaster Claude Sims. He had excellent technique and a gorgeous sound, particularly playing the high harmonics.

It was an excellent way to end this year and start 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


THE WRESTLER is one of the best films I've seen this year. It's ultra-violent, and not for the average moviegoer, but it's very well written and shot, and the acting is phenomenal. Mickey Rourke's face tells a story without having to say a word. Marisa Tomei is also excellent. I would expect several Oscar nominations.

There's not much else to say except that it's a difficult movie to watch, but rewarding in its own disturbed way.

Monday, December 29, 2008


As a big fan of the surreal comedy of the original series, I was a bit reticent to see the feature film until I learned Steve Carrell was playing the lead role. Although there are a few misfires, overall, the movie was a pleasant surprise, and I laughed out loud a number of times while watching it. Carrell brings a warmth to any role he plays, and he's a naturally funny guy who doesn't need to try. Most of the screenwriters' decisions were for the better, making Smart a more believable character in today's movie marketplace.

I hope that if there is a sequel, that it lives up to the first. They did leave themselves plenty of options.

Recommended for a rental.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The series POV on PBS had an excellent documentary tonight titled INHERITENCE. It is about the daughter of the Nazi Plaszow concentration camp commander, Amon Goeth, meeting one of the women who as a young girl was forced to work in his home.

Goeth was the character played by Ralph Fiennes in SCHINDLER'S LIST.

It's a very interesting film and I highly recommend it. Many PBS stations will be airing it over the next month and is is available via streaming as well.

You can read more about it here:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Maudlin Road

I have not read the novel upon which REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is based, but I can say this: sometimes books are better left as books.

This movie has a plot that would be melodramatic even on ALL MY CHILDREN. There's not a lot that happens, which leaves the audience plenty of time to figure out where every scene is going long before the characters do. The actors rise far, far above the material, particularly Michael Shannon, who is the only sane character in the film, and he lives in an asylum.

The symbolism in the film is very heavy-handed, with characters named "Frank" and "April" and the family names "The Wheelers" and "The Givings" being some of the less offensive but still obvious markers. The structure of the movie is a complete mess, with pointless and confusing flashbacks, and occasional scenes from an outside point of view for no reason (including the final scene, which is laughable).

I can't recommend anything about this film.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


DOUBT is based a play and reeks of it.

It takes itself WAY too seriously, and sledgehammers every point home with over-the-top symbolism that even a third-grader could use to write a thesis.

The characters are all completely one-dimensional; there are no shades of gray here. The acting is very good, although they never explain why Meryl Streep is doing a Boston accent in the Bronx. She has very little to work with in the paper-thin story, so I'll give her some slack for trying to inject something into the character. The closest thing we get to a backstory on any of the characters is that Streep's character was once married. Secondary characters are completely undeveloped, including all the students.

I really wanted to like this film, but I can't recommend it.

Monday, December 22, 2008


MILK chooses to focus on Harvey Milk, rather than the much more interesting story of Dan White. Perhaps it's because I remember the story so well, or perhaps it's that the word-of-mouth on the film is so high, that I'm a little let down by the film itself. Sean Penn is good, but not phenomenal in the role. I was more impressed by many of the smaller parts, especially James Franco and Diego Luna.

It's a good film, and I highly recommend it, particularly with the Prop 8 passage in California making it so timely, but I think renting the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk will be a much more satisfying viewing if you are really interested in the story.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I see a lot of new theatrically released films every year, although most of them between November and February. This year I had a three-month lapse between MOMMA MIA! and tonight, when I saw SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

If someone had said to me, "One of the best films you will see this year will be a Bollywood film directed by Danny Boyle," I'd have said they were crazy.

If someone had said to me "One of the best films you will see this year will be about WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE.... in India!," I'd have said they were crazy.

If someone had said that the aforementioned film would be one of the most deeply romantic ever made, well, you know where this is going.

Turns out, I'm the crazy one. I can't recommend this film enough. There's a wonderful combination of Indian and American film styles, some excellent acting, and a fantastic script. If you get a chance, see it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Stanley Hotel

Photo by REMB.

For our Thanksgiving holiday, we decided on a change of pace and are staying at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

The Stanley Hotel is where Stephen King got the idea for THE SHINING. Kubrick used a different hotel in the movie... the real Stanley is much too close to civilization, surrounded by a mall and condos, but the mini-series was shot here.

Through a series of bizarre events, we were upgraded to a different room, one which is supposedly one of the haunted rooms. Normally I would not put much stock in such things, but the TV series Ghost Hunters shot here and had two paranormal events in this very room. The closest thing to strangeness since we have been here is a drawer that keeps opening itself. Even more strangely, after I pointed it out to my wife Rachel, it stopped. Our dog Riley also barks at an empty chair in the lobby. Otherwise, nothing special has happened, other than a pack of elk deciding to graze on the lawn just before sunset the other night. (Photo by my wife Rachel.)

This morning there was a light dusting of snow everywhere, but it disappeared before we got a chance to photograph it.

It's been a great holiday, and another reason to be glad that I'm alive. This is the third year in a row that I have written about my thankfulness. Last year's can be read here. And the previous year is here.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Bach, Bloch, & Prokofiev

As supporters of the orchestra, we were invited to an open rehearsal this morning of the CSO performing several pieces. The first was the Concerto for Keyboard in D by JS Bach, featuring conductor Jeffrey Kahane at the keyboard. I didn't know before the rehearsal, but it's simply a reworking of the ubiquitous E major Violin Concerto. It was interesting hearing it reorchestrated. However, the orchestra was too big for the piano, and the piano sound was overwhelmed. In addition, the theater-in-the-round design of the hall forced them to remove the piano lid, which never sounds right to me.

The second piece was Bloch's Schelomo, which is not one of my favorite pieces. The few memorable moments in the piece are overly melodramatic.

The highlight of the show was Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony, his most serious work, and a great orchestral showpiece. It runs the full gamut of emotions, from the dissonance of the WWII years when it was written, to the light-hearted second movement. The orchestra sounded absolutely fantastic, and I've yet to see better conducitng from Kahane. I'm very impressed.

They perform this concert tomorrow night as well.

Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald

Four years ago, when I was very sick and recovering from pneumonia and a two-week coma, I had plenty of time to watch TV in the hospital. I've always loved animals, and the hospital carried the Animal Planet, which I had not seen much. Every day I would wake up at 6 for breakfast, and then have nothing to do, so I would watch reruns of old shows on Animal Planet. One show that I fell in love with is EMERGENCY VETS.

As the title suggests, it's a reality show about life in an vet's ER. One of the things I liked about it was the real-life characters, including one of the vets who specialized in exotic animals. His own life had been somewhat exotic; he became a vet later in life, after being a bouncer for various rock acts including the Rolling Stones.

Little did I know that only a few years later, I would get a dog, move about a mile from Alameda East Veterinary clinic, and take my dog there.

Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald is also a stand-up comedian. As he says on the show, "Everybody laughed when I said I wanted to do comedy, but no one's laughing now".

We got the chance to see him at a local club on their comedy night. Unfortunately we had to sit through a half-dozen local comedians who were embarrassingly bad in order to get to the main act.

Fitzgerald is a good performer who connects well with the audience. He clearly loves his nights on the stage, and laughs heartily at his own jokes, in a very endearing way. He brought a pet he saved from near death at the clinic, a geriatric chihuahua named Yoda, who roamed the room while Fitzgerald told jokes.

To close his act, he made the strange choice of dropping his pants and tap dancing. His tap dancing was very bad and was clearly a routine designed for children. I'm not sure if it was even supposed to be funny, but it was well-received by the crowd, which was clearly on his side.

If you get the chance, catch him in a show, but skip the opening acts...

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The CSO tonight gave a live performance of the score to Chaplin's masterpiece film, CITY LIGHTS. This is my favorite Chaplin film, perhaps because it is also his most sentimental. It's also a bit of an historical oddity. The film was released in 1931, years after the silent era had ended. Chaplin insisted that the sound film was a passing fad, and kept the tramp silent. The film has a soundtrack, but it was mostly music. Chaplin "composed" the music for the film, although he could not read or write music. He could play several instruments and dictated the score to an assistant.

The orchestra played quite well, but the projection screen was embarrassingly tiny and difficult to see. They really should have invested in a larger screen.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


OK, I'm a geek.

The CSO pops played the music of STAR TREK tonight with Erich Kunzel conducting. Guests were John "Q" DeLancie and Robert Picardo of Voyager.

The concert had a lot of problems. It was too long, and the banter between the 2 Trek alums was terribly written. (By them.)

The pieces on the concert were in chronological order, from Sandy Courage's music for the pilot, through the 6 movies and the three TV shows. In almost every musical choice, they played the main title music, which provided a lot of redundancy. ST: The Motion Picture main title, AND The Next Generation? They are the same piece!

Add on ST II: Wrath of Khan, AND ST III Main Title AND End Title???

Throw in the lousy music from VI, a piece from Generations, and the theme from DS9, and there was a LOT of fluff and redundancy. The orchestra sounded good for the most part, but the brass section could have used a few more rehearsals, and the percussion was persistently loud.

The best piece of the evening was the suite from "The Cage." Unlike most of the other music, it was not just a theme, it was actual score music from the pilot, which was used many, many times in the series. It was surreal hearing the music and re-imagining the many scenes it had played under. Alas, they never played the Kirk/Spock "fight to the death" music, perhaps the most memorable music from the whole history of Trek.

There is a great history of composer involvement with the show. Courage's horn call is simple but brilliant. The samba theme is dated, but a beautiful melody. Jerry Goldsmith scored TMP, V, and wrote the theme for Voyager, and James Horner scored II & III (borrowing liberally from his predecessors). If they had stuck to that material, and maybe threw in some more material from TOS, it would have been a much more enjoyable evening.

A very small number of people came in costume. The best were a few Klingons. Most wore lame uniforms.

The hall was not sold out, and a considerable number of people left at intermission and did not return. It was a long concert.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Last night the Colorado Symphony performed the Brahms Violin Concerto under guest conductor Peter Oundjian with soloist Elina Vähälä. The orchestra sounded great this week; even better than last week. The string section sounded full and rich. the conductor kept the orchestra together well.

It's a strange hall, with the orchestra in the center as in a theater-in-the-round, which means some people are sitting behind the orchestra. And the hanging lights are glass-covered, so there is a lot of reflected sound. Yet for some reason it sounded better this week.


In response to the question added as a comment:

Boettcher Hall is unique. It was in fact designed to be a theater-in-the-round, but that's an acoustical disaster. They did a redesign in 1993, but they are hoping to do a major renovation in a few years as part of a bond initiative. However, they are counting on $30M in donations as part of the funding, and with the economic changes, it's unlikely they will get that any time soon.

As for photos of the hall, I did not take any, and you are asked to refrain from taking photos. However there are a few sites that will show the layout:

This site has some thumbnails on the top row you can click on to see the hall:

Back to the concert review:

The soloist was good but not perfect. Early on there were some intonation problems. Her rhythm was a little loose, and the articulation on the runs was sloppy at times. However, she had an absolutely gorgeous sound and was a great soloist.

The evening opened with a lively reading of the overture to The Magic Flute. That was followed by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 5 in D major. The conductor spoke in great detail about how it's not like other Vaughan Williams, and I was suddenly hopeful that it would not be as boring as I expected. I was wrong. This snoozefest was, in the words of my wife, "only slightly more interesting than elevator music."

However, it was still a good concert.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Tonight we heard the Colorado Symphony perform a bizarre collection of works, featuring two by Mozart, as well as two other works.

The program began with a new piece by George Tsontakis, Winter Lightning from Four Symphonic Quartets. Like many new pieces, it left a lot to be desired, with the composer feeling the necessity to overuse the full orchestra simply because he could. Some sections of it were interesting, but it would be hard to imagine sitting through all four movements. It is admirable that the orchestra plays new music, but this was not a great choice. It was also a very poor way to start a concert.

This was followed by the piano feature Burleske in D minor by Richard Strauss, with the solo played by Jeremy Denk. Denk played quite well. It's a very Romantic and difficult piece, and although there were a few sloppy runs (the conductor chose a very fast tempo), overall he was impressive. Denk has a nice blog by the way. 

The small turnout for the concert was a little surprising, but the same program runs tomorrow and Sunday, so I suspect they will be better attended. Swan Lake was playing in the adjacent hall and I suspect they stole some of the audience. I do have to say that it odd leaping back from a contemporary piece to one that was SOOOO Romantic in sound. It made for a very disjointed program.

Even stranger was the choice to follow that with the Mozart Rondo in D. Another huge leap back in time, to a simple divertimento piece that has as much substance as a marshmallow fluff sandwich. This would have been a better piece to open the concert, and then go into the Strauss Romanticism, and then into the contemporary piece. The intermission would have cleansed the palette for the return to Mozart as a nice bookend.

And that return was the Symphony #39 in E flat. Again, not Mozart's best work, but certainly a nice piece. I'm so fond of the G minor, all his other symphonies pale in comparison. Jeffrey Kahane is a good conductor, although I was surprised to see how small he was in physical stature. His oversized coat made him look at times like Elmer Fudd conducting (with Larry Fine's hair). At one point in the last movement, he stopped conducting, and leaned back on the podium as though he were waiting for a train. That takes chutzpah for a conductor to trust the orchestra that much!

The concert hall is nice, but the acoustics are a bit metallic for an orchestra. The sight lines are not great (with the piano on stage, you can't see the conductor) and I suspect that is one common complaint and a reason why they are trying to raise funds for a new hall, even though this one is fairly new.

Next week we will see the Brahms Violin Concerto. I look forward to it!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dodgers Season Virtually Over

The Dodgers had plenty of chances to win tonight, but gave it up several times over.

A bizarre series of bullpen decisions from Joe Torre made the game almost irrational to watch. Lowe pitched 5 excellent innings, giving up only 2 runs. He was not taken out for a pinch hitter, instead the inexperienced Kershaw was brought out with no explanation in the 6th. I know Lowe was on short rest, but so what? It's a 1-run game at that point. Kershaw got an out but also gave up a walk and a hit.

From there, Joe brings out Chan Ho Park, who gives up the tying run but gets an out. Then Torre turns to Beimel, who gets out of the inning.

Things got stranger in a 4-run 8th. Kuo came in to pitch the 7th, and did so well that Torre had him bat and bunt in the bottom of the inning. He got the bunt down, but the Dodgers could not get the run in.

At the top of the 8th, Kuo pitched to one batter and was removed for Cory Wade, who had pitched 2 innings the previous night. Wade started the season in AA and has done well against lefties, but why pull Kuo? It backfired, and Wade gave up the 2-run homer which tied the game at 5.

Pulling the clearly exhausted Wade, he was replaced with Broxton, who had also pitched the previous night. Broxton's one flaw is his over reliance on his fastball. As fast as it is, there are plenty of people who can hit it, and another 2-run homer killed off the Dodgers for good.

In NY, a lot was made of Torre's bullpen decisions, but when you can finish the game with the best closer in baseball, you can still make it to the playoffs. In LA, there's not as much to work with, and those decision are a lot more important. Even in NY, there were complaints about his overuse of Scott Proctor. With Proctor on the DL, Torre overused Wade, and the result is that the season is probably over after Wednesday. Torre appears resigned to losing, and even cancelled tomorrow's workout session.

Another record crowd of 56,800 was silenced at the end of the game.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dodgers Win in LA

Following suit with the rest of the year, the Dodgers beat the Phillies back in LA again. The Dodgers did everything right, with Hiroki Kuroda pitching a great game for most of the night, and the few times he made mistakes, he got out of it relatively unscathed, going 6 innings with only 2 runs and 5 hits allowed.

Cory Wade did well out of the bullpen, pitching two excellent innings, as did Jonathan Broxton in the 9th.

The offensive hero of the night was Blake DeWitt. Although he still has a low batting average, his bases-clearing triple in the first inning broke the game open to a 5-0 lead, and giving him 6 RBI in post-season in his rookie year.

There was a strange animosity between the teams, with Russell Martin being hit by pitches twice in the game, and a lot of up-and-in pitches to both teams. At one point it looked like there would be a brawl, but the fire was quickly put out.

Attendance was a new record for Dodger stadium, 56,800, which eclipsed the old record. I guess the Dodgers renegotiated their contract with the city that limits them to 56,000 per game.

The whole team looked good. Let's hope they keep the offense alive tomorrow for Derek Lowe!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

105 dB for Dodgers!

The program Decibel for the iPhone measured the crowd at 105 dB when Broxton made the final out for the Dodgers, sweeping the heavily favored Cubs in the NLDS. The Cubs were the best team in the NL throughout the season and were expected to go to the World Series. The Dodgers barely won their division and were only a few games above the .500 mark, but they managed to fire on all cylinders against the Cubs. The Cubs on the other hand were feeble in all three games. LouPinella angrily said Fukudome would never play again, then used him to pinch hit tonight, showing how desperate he was a for a hit.

Manny was not the player of the night, but had two home runs in the previous two games, and was the needed boost for the second half of the season (along with Casey Blake). James Loney's grand slam was probably the highlight of the series, but the pitching in all three games was really the reason they won. Kuroda was excellent tonight, getting out of trouble several times, and gettings stronger throughout the game, until he was removed in the 7th.

Wade has been a pleasant surprise from the bullpen, having started the season in AA, and now an important reliever. Broxton showed excellend confidence (which he had clearly lacked earlier in the year) and also mixed his slider into the pitches well.

This marks the first time in 20 years that the Dodgers will advance to the Championship Series. It was a stellar night for the sellout crowd, with many people staying after the game was over to see the Dodgers celebrate, and excited fans screaming and honking in and out of the parking lot long after the game had finished!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

D'backs Beat Rockies

Although tomorrow is the last home game for the Rockies, today was my last baseball game of the regular season. It was somewhat sad to see it fizzle with a 9th inning loss by the Rockies' young closer Brian Fuentes, who had an excellent season after replacing Manny Corpas. Corpas had fallen apart halfway into the season.

Once again I was impressed with several defensive plays by the young Rockies. Unfortunately the win keeps the D'backs post-season hopes alive, and I am hoping to see the Dodgers go to post-season, along with my hometown Red Sox.

Only a week left in the season to see who makes it.

Rockies Beat Snakes

Today marked the 40th baseball game I've attended this year.

The Rockies looked pretty good against the D'backs. De La Rosa pitched himself into trouble but got out of it unscathed, giving up only 1 run in 6 innings of work, with 3 walks being the biggest damage.

Ian Stewart made seeral excellent defensive plays at 3rd. He looks like a young star. I think we have a lot to look forward to next year.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rockies Lose to Dodgers Again

20-year old Clayton Kershaw pitched 6 great innings at Coors field, giving up only 1 run an striking out 7. Chan Ho Park's relief work continued to impress as he pitched two scoreless innings and struck out 4.

The Rockies continue their slide into the end of the season, looking like the opposite of last year's team.

Dodgers Beat Rockies

Jeff Francis did not pitch poorly, giving up 3 runs in 6 innings, but it wasn't good enough for the weak offense of the Rockies last night. Billingsly allowed 6 hits, 3 walks and a hit batsman, but the Rockies could only bring 2 people home in the game. They also committed 3 errors in the game. "Closer" Manny Corpas gave up 3 runs in one inning of work.

This drops the Rockies to 9.5 games back of the Dodgers, and the Dodgers' magic number is 13. The Dodgers timely hitting last night brought in 7 runs off of 6 hits and 2 walks. They look good!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hearing Loss Update

The correct numbers for what I quoted off my head in class:

Noise Exposure
Level - Time
90 dB - 8 hours
95 dB - 4 hours
100 dB - 2 hour
105 dB - 1 hour
110 dB - 30 min
120 dB- 7.5 min
130 dB - potentially instantaneous

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Pitchers' Duel at Coors Field

Jeff Francis made one mistake pitching to the Houston Astros: a 2-run homer in the 6th. In the 5th, he had gotten out of trouble with no outs and men on 2nd and 3rd, by getting 2 strikeouts and a pop-up.

Roy Oswalt pitched a complete 9-inning shutout, giving up only 1 hit and 2 walks. He looked great all night.

The Dodgers beat the D'backs to rise to first place by half a game. They play again tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


The Rockies looked like they had an easy win in the 4th inning when they led 5-0, but things quickly fell apart when they needed 3 pitchers to get through the 6th inning. Tied at 5, they went into 12 innings and 7 pitchers before Ryan Spilborghs finally knocked in the winning run.

Hernandez looked good for 5 innings but gave up 4 runs in the 6th inning while getting only 1 out and leaving 2 men on base. Rusch came out and threw 4 balls to load the bases, then was pulled for Vizcaino, who struck out the first batter, but then allowed consecutive hits to tie the game.

Because the D'backs lost, they have now pulled to 5 games back, and 3.5 back of the Dodgers. There's still a (very small) glimmer of hope for Rockies fans.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Great Punctuation Blog

As a fan of punctuation, I found this blog interesting. It covers one of my pet peeves, the extraneous use of "quotes." ("Irony" intended.) 

Thursday, August 28, 2008


See all 150 photos we took at Flickr!

It was an amazing evening to be there. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have not only lived to see it... but to get tickets to be there in person.

They were urging people to get there as early as 1PM, but I knew that would create a rush to beat the rush, so we looked at the schedule and decided to try to get there at about 5PM. We ended up leaving later than expected, but there was plenty of parking at the light rail, and the trains were almost empty. We were forced to get out a stop early, apparently there had been a huge backlog of people earlier in the day, so they were making people get off further to alleviate congestion, and it worked. We walked straight into the stadium in about 15 minutes.

I was surprised by a lot of things. I expected a lot of nutty protesters, and although there were a few (I was not surprised to find out that I'm going to hell), there are more at Laurel & Ventura on a Friday night.

Security was weird. We had been told that all tickets had been registered with names and that they would be scanning and checking IDs at the gate, but they did neither. No one scanned our ticket, no one asked for ID. I could have sold (or bought) my tickets on Ebay.

Security was weird. The metal detectors were pretty much it. They did look carefully at my keychain; I think they thought the mini flashlight was a crackpipe and would not let me through until I lit it up. (The flashlight, not the crack.)

We got there at about 6. I was excited to see a number of the speakers. We got there just as Sheryl Crow started her set. I'm not a huge fan, but she was pretty good until she sang a song that wasn't hers and her vocal weakness cut through.

Mark Udall was good. Tim Kaine was better, and Bill Richardson was great. I think he would have been a good VP choice. We were seated on the top level, behind the stage, and although we still had a good view, it was hard to hear, particularly when a speaker got a good crowd response. It looked like they did very little sound reinforcement, so it was probably loud on the field and soft and muddy up top. It's too bad, they could have easily told people to bring AM radios and played it on a local station with no delay, as well as add captions to the large video boards (everyone was speaking from a TelePromTer, even the singers' lyrics).

The crowd got increasingly louder throughout the night, until Obama was imminent, and then they became so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The crowd was a little sparse when we got there, but by 8 there were hardly any empty seats.

Stevie Wonder was good as always (we've seen him at the Grammys), he's the consummate pro as a musician.

I've also heard Al Gore speak in person before. I said it in a previous blog post, but his media image is completely different from what he's really like. He's an extremely engaging speaker, intelligent, funny, and animated. I don't know how or why the media has made him look so bad. He was very, very good tonight, going on the offensive on a lot of important topics. His speech had more substance than any of the other speakers I saw, other than Obama.

Michael McDonald thankfully was limited to one song. Alas, he stole Ray Charles' signature song and butchered it.

Susan Eisenhower also had good text, but was not a dramatic speaker.

It was VERY smart to get the retired military on stage with him. So much for lack of experience. These guys could have waged a war without leaving the stage.

The 6 Average Americans were also great. It seemed a little heavy on the women - Obama's already got the woman vote - it seemed that it would have been smarter to get more middle aged white guys on stage; they are his weakest following.

However, it was great to see the mix of people in the crowd. Young, old, male, female, white, black, Latino, you name it. There was a sense of camaraderie not only in the crowd but even on the train home. People were really excited that change might finally happen.

Dick Durbin was good too.

But the night belonged to one man. He has a huge presence. I think the applause for him could have gone on for an hour. The video tribute before his entrance was very moving. The crowd of about 85,000 people was silent, and many moved to tears.

It was an historic night that I will never forget.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dodgers Beat Rockies

The Dodgers squeaked out a victory over the Rockies after losing 2 in a row to them. They are still back from the D'backs.

Lowe gave up a run in the 1st but the rest of the day looked quite good. Kuo did well in 2 innings of relief, and after a leadoff hit, Broxton struck out the side with many of the pitches clocked at over 100 mph.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rockies Road

The Rockies looked better tonight, with Brad Hawpe going 3/3 with a walk and 2 RBIs. Francis gave up 3 runs in 6 innings, but Manny Corpas blew the hold, so the win went to Taylor Buchholz.

It was a really beautiful night at Coors Field.

Monday, August 11, 2008


For years I had intended to buy THE CUBE, which is a really nifty way of storing a lot of CDs or DVDs. I have a lot of both, and they take up a lot of space. I just never got around to reorganizing them until my recent move, and now I've compressed a lot of storage space. It's a really nice, solid piece of furniture. Definitely worth the price, and highly recommended.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Wednesday's game was rained out.

Friday's game lasted 2 innings before the rain stopped play for an hour. The Rockies ended up beating the Padres' best pitcher, Jake Peavey, 6-3.

Saturday's game vs. the Padres appeared threatened by rain at first, but it turned into a nice night for baseball, until a 5-run 6th inning broke the 1-1 tie and gave Greg Maddux the win for the Padres.

The Rockies have a lot of young talent, but this year pitching seems to be the major problem, even their best starters are not making the best of it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Manny Trade

As a life-long Red Sox fan, and a Dodger season ticket holder of the past few years, people have asked me my opinion of the Manny trade.

Manny is one of the best hitters in the game. But off the field, he has always been a mess. He never liked playing in Boston, where he felt the media intruded on his personal life. (Good luck dealing with TJ Simers in LA!)

Boston put up with it because he was a great player, and even when he twice asked for trades, Boston kept him. However, this year he brought his problems onto the field. First he refused to swing at pitches, then he called in "sick" when he appeared to be fine. The Red Sox had had enough and put him up for trade.

It's a very strange scenario, because he's in the final year of a contract, so any team that picks him up gets two months out of him. It's a good move for the Dodgers. They gave up practically nothing for him. Andy LaRoche, who has been a bust at 3rd base, and a minor league prospect.

For Frank McCourt, in the 24 following the signing, they sold 11,000 tickets to tonight's game, making it a sellout. Compare that to the anemic crowd from last Friday, when they had so many leftover bobble-heads that they were still giving them out on Sunday.

For the team, it's the big bat they need.

However, there are still problems. Manny is probably the only outfielder in the game whose defense is worse than Juan Pierre's. There's a LOT more field to cover in Dodger Stadium, and it will take him a while to get used to it. You can't put them both him and Pierre in the game at the same time. Neither can play center or right. So you lose your lead-off batter when you put Manny in, and you lose your cleanup man when you put Pierre in.

And we're still stuck with Andruw Jone$.

The infield is a bit of a mess as well. Furcal is gone, Nomar is in and out, and Kent's showing his age.

Worst of all, the pitching is a much bigger problem. There is only one starting pitcher on the team with a winning record, Billingsly, and he's 11-9. Granted some of that is poor offense, but let's face it, without Penny at All-Star caliber, and Schmidt a complete bust, there is no ace on the staff. And without an ace, there's not much to hope for.

As for the Red Sox, they lose an irreplaceable player. They get Jason Bay, who has tremendous talent and will do very well in Fenway.

If tonight is any indication, the Red Sox got the better of the deal. Manny grounded into a double play in the bottom of the ninth with the potential tying run on base.

Jason Bay went 1 for 3 with Boston, walked twice, and scored both Red Sox runs and 12-inning game. His triple in the bottom of the 12 allowed him to score the winning run.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


It's been a few days since I saw MAMMA MIA, but I've still got those damned songs stuck in my head. The problems with this film are so plentiful that it's almost impossible to list them all.

First off, when the hell is this movie supposed to be taking place? The lead girl is 20, supposedly conceived 20ish years ago, which would be 1988. But photos of the potential parents sure look like the 60s! Except that ABBA's songs did not exist until much later... nothing in any timeline makes sense, unless the film is supposed to be a period piece, and it's never explained if that's supposed to be the case.

Then there is the awful lighting and makeup. The three older women should sue the makeup artist. Streep looks about 100 years old... and about 50 pounds overweight! The lighting makes the whole movie look like it was shot green-screen even though it wasn't!

The plot is a lame sitcom plot. Admittedly, most musicals have stupid plots, so I would have bought the story if the rest of the movie had been better. There are WAY too many characters for them to be developed well enough to be anything more than stereotypes.

Then there's the music. ABBA had about 4 good songs. (And by good, I mean they had a decent hook and a memorable melody. It ain't great art no matter how you slice it.) Once you get past the title song and "Dancing Queen," it's a long, long wait for "Take a Chance" (which is thrown away) and "Waterloo," which makes no sense in the movie. The rest of the songs are completely forgettable, and very, very similar in sound. I think all of them are in C major.

If the music in a musical isn't worth listening to, there's no movie.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

iPhone, uPhone, weAllPhone

After waiting for several days for my iPhone to come in, I finally gave up on the AT&T Store, who apparently lied to me when they told me that I was on a waiting list for an iPhone, and went to the Glendale Apple Store last Thursday to get one.

There was a line, which surprised me a week after the release, and they told me it would be a 90 - 120 minute wait. I got a sandwich, came back and waited about 20 minutes. There were a few blips because I wanted a family plan with the other line we had started at the AT&T store, and I wanted the union discount, which they aren't supposed to do at the Apple store.

After buying it I got home, called AT&T, and got someone here in America on customer service (much to my surprise), and he fixed everything.

So far, 4 stars on the phone. It makes my Treo suck by comparison. And I liked my Treo a lot. The Internet access is great on the iPhone, and so far everything works well as advertised. It's definitely an enormous leap forward in technology.


Tonight's concert at the bowl was probably the weakest of the season so far... and a sorry choice for me to be finishing my season. A little Mozart goes a long way, particularly when none of the pieces on the program are the "best" of Mozart.

The Overture to La Clemenza was light; as well as forgettable. Conductor Andrew Davis was fine; perhaps the best conductor of the ones I've seen this summer from a technical standpoint. However, all the music was very restrained emotionally. I know some purists insist this was the way Mozart was meant to be played, but I disagree. His melodies ache for interpretation.

Mezzo soloist Isabel Leonard did the best job of the evening, particularly on Exutate Jubilate. Her voice was absolutely gorgeous. Perhaps her only flaw is that her low notes do not project well, but then who does in the Bowl.

Piano soloist Orion Weiss showed a few moments of sympathy in the 2nd movement of the Concerto No. 17, but the whole concert felt poorly programmed. It ran long, yet was unsatisfying. The crowd was weak as well, and they will be playing the same concert on Thursday night.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Home runs on Back-to-back pitches in the 2nd inning were not the demise of the sox. They were able to score 2 in the 3rd to tie it, then 1 in the 7th to take the lead. But Tim Wakefiled lost it in the 8th, giving up 3 runs to lose the game.

K-Rod got his 36th save of the season.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


The Angels whomped the Red Sox last night in an 11-3 runaway game, showing great offsense for a team that otherwise has lacked it.

Today it looked to be a Red Sox victory, with Josh Beckett pitching another complete game, but losing a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th. He ended up losing a well-pitched game, 4-2.

Looks like the Red Sox need David Ortiz more than they realized.

Friday, July 18, 2008


An excellent concert at the Hollywood Bowl tonight, featuring a Chinese composer, conductor, cello soloist, and pianist.

The highlight of the night was Lang Lang performing the Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1.

I have mixed feelings about him as a performer. At times, he has brilliant technique, especially when playing the block-chord melody sections; his wrists were moving so fast they were a complete blur. But he has several flaws in his performance style. One is his obvious hand motions that are overly exaggerated even in the simple sections. At times I feel like I'm watching Chico Marx playing his one-fingered solos with flourishes.

But more problematic is his insistence on playing at breakneck paces; even sections that are supposed to be slow. He uses it as an excuse for sloppy playing; I think he assumes we won't notice if the notes go by quickly. The tempi are so fast that they remove musicality from the performance.

Yet the night was a pleasure. Tan Dun's Crouching Tiger Concerto was fun, and the fireworks at the end of the night were even more fun.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Tonight's Hollywood Bowl concert had a nice mix of classics. The highlights included Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, performed by Renaud Capuçon, violin. He began the first movement a bit off (intonation is always a problem at the bowl with cold instruments), but by the time he got to the cadenza, he owned the piece. His tone was gorgeous, especially in the high register. The third movement in particular was great; the conductor, Andris Nelsons, took a ridiculously fast tempo, and Capuçon played it fluidly and flawlessly. Nelsons, on the other hand, made some of the most ridiculous faces I've seen on a conductor. He looked "special" at times.

The Dvoràk Symphony #7 was also well played by the ork, with a broad emotional range, and pulsing rhythms.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dodgers 9, Marlins 1

Chad Billingsly pitched a career-high 13 strikeouts today. With a 6-run first inning for the Dodgers, it was good to see a clear lead from the beginning, held throughout the game. The team batted around in the first and played well through the game.

Dodgers Lose Third Straight

The Dodgers blew plenty of chances to win one against the hot-hitting Marlins, but the biggest blow came when tied in the 9th with 2 out; closer Takashi Saito had to leave the game with an apparent elbow injury.

It took the Dodgers 6 pitchers and 11 innings to lose the game. Andruw Jones struck out 5 times (although he ran out a dropped 3rd strike and made it to base once).

Kemp & Ethier each had home runs, and DeWitt had 2 hits. Small highlights in a weak loss.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


One of the numerous "Fifth Beatles" spoke at USC tonight. Beatles producer George Martin, at age 82, stood for two hours and delivered a fancy PowerPoint demo about his accomplishments. I have to admit that it was impressive to hear him talk, and I did learn a few things about his work.

However, I had heard much about his tremendous ego, and assumed that those comments were laced with a bit of jealousy at both his accomplishments and his sheer luck for being in the right place at the right time. But hearing him in person, it did strike me that he was a bit full of himself. More than once in his lecture he referred to "the five of us in the band," explaining that he "played piano in the studio." I suspect he did not do very much as a musician. I have no doubt that he did a lot as a producer and engineer. But I think it's unfair of him to claim himself in the same vein as the band.

He also spent a bit of time talking about the Cirque de Soliel show LOVE that is based on the Beatles music, after complaining about contemporary artists reusing material, specifically referring to George Lucas (an odd choice while speaking at USC).

However, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear the fifth Beatle (excluding Stu Sutcliffe, Pete Best, Brian Epstein, and various other studio musicians claiming the title). And for that, it was worth it.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Bram Tovey opened his second night as principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra with the "organ" Symphony of Saint-Saens. It's not the most exciting work for a bowl audience, but the performance was good. Tovey still has problems keeping the orchestra together, but he does have a nice emotional range.

He also suffers from diarrhea of the mouth; he won't stop talking. It's nice to say a few words about the piece, in this case Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, but he spend more time describing it than he did conducting it. The piece was well performed, but not as emotional as the other two performances I've seen at the Bowl over the last few years. It's definitely time to put that one to rest for a while.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I can't get over it... the people at Pixar are geniuses, and on so many levels.

They keep outdoing themselves.

As a fan of technology, to me, the most amazing thing is that the technology pales compared to the storytelling. It took a lot of balls to write a script that has virtually no dialogue in it. The two main characters only speak about half a dozen words in the film, and the other characters speak very little. This means the story has to be told visually, which is inherently much more interesting.

I also admire the fact that the film has an extremely cynical view of our future. Perhaps it's because I fear so much of it could come true, but I like the fact that it shows an overwhelmingly negative view of humanity's future.

Oh, and then there's the incredible animation. There are many sequences involving the main characters where I forgot I was watching animation. These guys keep pushing the envelope, yet they do it in a way that integrates it so well into story, you forget how impressive it is.

I can't recommend this film enough.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


The Hollywood Bowl is a wonderful place. The LA Phil has risen to be one of the great orchestras of America, and the bowl may be the best outdoor venue in America for Classical music.

Tonight, the show started a little off with a piece by conductor Bramwell Tovey, which was on the weak side. Tovey seemed like a better conductor than composer. Following it was Don Juan, one of the most challenging works for orchestra, which was good but not together, and for that I can only blame the conductor.

However, after the break, it was like hearing a new orchestra on the Carmina Burana. Not only was the orchestra magnificent, the three soloists were amazing. Considering that the baritone was a last-minute replacement, he showed fantastic range and emotion. It was a great night at the bowl, even though there was a sprinkling of rain at the beginning of the evening.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Kuroda Near-Perfect Game

Hiroki Kuroda pitched another fantastic game at Dodger Studium tonight, taking a perfect game into the 8th inning. Except for a lead-off double in that inning, Kuroda would have had a perfect game, striking out 6 along the way. Had he achieved perfection, he would have joined a lofty club. Only one other Dodger has ever pitched a perfect game, and that was Sandy Koufax in 1965.

Nomar hit a 2-run homer to give the Dodgers the lead in the 5th. Blake DeWitt had 3 hits, and Kemp had a hit and an RBI.

But the night belonged to Kuroda, who has turned into the pitcher that Dodger fans had hoped for. With the victory, the Dodgers are now tied for the division lead with Arizona.

Evelyn Glennie: How to listen to music with your whole body

I'm not sure I agree with everything she says, but this is a fascinating essay by the world's most famous deaf musician (since Beethoven).

Sunday, July 06, 2008


For years I had avoided the annual show at the Hollywood Bowl called BUGS BUNNY ON BROADWAY, assuming that it would be mostly show tunes. It turns out that Warners was apparently afraid of scaring people off by calling it WHAT'S OPERA, DOC? or some other more appropriate title.

The first half of the show had many great cartoons, including ONE FROGGY EVENING, and culminated with RABBIT OF SEVILLE, which was by far the highlight of the evening. In fact, the second half of the show was a bit of a letdown, with only the Wagnerian WHAT'S OPERA, DOC? living up to the level of Act I. I can't remember the last time I laughed this much.

The show has been playing for 19 years and will go on hiatus next year, to come back the following year in a new incarnation. I highly recommend the show.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Tonight my two favorite things about Los Angeles combined for a special show: The Hollywood Bowl celebrated the Dodgers' 50 years in Los Angeles.

It was a lot of fun, although it was hardly the musical experience we usually see at the bowl with our classical series tickets.

Randy Newman was present to sing "I Love L.A." He also conducted the orchestra for music from The Natural. Nancy Bea played the organ on several pieces, and Tommy Lasorda gave a great pep talk to the crowd, then led the 17,000 present in a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

They also sang two songs I love; "It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame" and Danny Kaye's "D-O-D-G-E-R-S." Alas, it lacked the Lego animation, and the singer was really annoying and brash. Vin Scully read "Gibby at the Bat" (alas, he was in San Fransisco, so his performance was recorded).

The Dodgers beat the Giants today, and with the D'backs losing, that puts the Dodgers 1/2 game out of first place!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Interesting Article

Interesting article on CNN that includes samples of Aztec flutes that have not been heard in hundreds of years.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Second Shutout in 3 Days for Dodgers!

Chan Ho Park pitched a great game for the Dodgers, continuing his attempt at Comeback Player of the Year. In 6 innings he gave up 4 hits and no runs. He struck out 7. Falkenberg pitched well in the 7th, and Broxton and Saito each struck out the side, for a total of 14 Ks in the game.

The Dodgers looked like a championship team. They strung together hits (plus a Russell Martin homer) to get 3 runs, and Ethier pinch-hit a 3-run homer in the 7th. All this against one of the best teams in baseball, beating the Angels 6-0.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stultz Pitches Complete Game Shutout Against White Sox!

What a difference a day makes... last night, the Dodgers looked completely flaccid, and tonight, Eric Stultz threw a complete-game shutout, giving up only 4 hits to the 1st-place White Sox. He also drive in an RBI with sac fly, winning the game 5-0. This was only his second game this year - both were wins, giving him the only winning record amongst the Dodger pitchers.

All the kids look good tonight. Both DeWitt and Kemp made good defensive plays, the hits and RBIs were spread out well among the team.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The Dodgers may be celebrating their 50th year in Los Angeles, but there wasn't a lot to celebrate tonight, as Mark Buehrle made the Dodgers batters look like Little Leaguers, winning 6-1. The lone Dodgers run was a homer by Delwyn Young.

The attendance was reported at 43,900, but the crowd was sparse in the 9th inning. Derek Lowe had 8 Ks, but had a tough 1st, loading the bases and giving up a run, then another run in the 2nd. That would have been enough to lost the game, but he turned it around and made it into the 8th with a 2-1 deficit, but gave up 3 more, and Wade gave up another for the loss.

The Dodgers are looking worse and worse each time I see them. It's like the life is gone from the team.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dodgers Blow it Yet Again

The Dodgers lost to the Cleveland Indians 6-4 tonight in a rare display of futility.

Clayton Kershaw pitched 5 innings and gave up 4 runs, but that wasn't the problem for the Dodgers. Over and over the Dodgers left runners on third base... The Dodgers had 12 hits but managed a paltry 4 runs. It didn't help that game time temperature was 92 with no wind. The hottest night game I've ever been to.

50,000 people were on hand to watch the Dodgers tie up the game in the bottom of the 10th, then to watch Saito take the loss by giving up 2 runs. Saito has not been himself this year; he throws a lot of balls, and has given up 20 walks this year so far.

The highlight of the night for the Dodgers was a rare 6-2-5 double play, with the bases loaded, the shortstop threw to home to stop the run, and quick-thinking Russell Martin threw to 3rd for the 2nd out. It was not enough to win the game, though.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Just what America needs, a crappy remake of a crappy movie that's only 5 years old, THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Just about everything here is a misfire... there's virtually no continuity anywhere in the movie, no motivations or explanations for anything that happens. One of the biggest problems in the first film was the ridiculous nature of the gargantuan animated character; it lacked any believability whatsoever.

The new Hulk is only slightly more believable. At least they TRY to explain his infinitely expandable pants, sparing us from his giant green penis flopping around as he runs (I miss Roger Ebert). But so little in the film makes any sense, it's hard to care about any of the characters. And the acting is universally terrible, even Ed Norton, who probably made the movie even worse with his constant tinkering.

Well, they can always try again in 5 years.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I don't think there was a single moment in the film INDY IV where I felt like I was watching something new. The film has constant reminders of other films, and not just the other Indy films; several times there are homages to CADDY SHACK.

It's a dopey script that's not very well executed. Dialogue scenes seem to exist only to string the action scenes together, and the action scenes are comically unbelievable. Visual effects were weak overall, looking more like a video game than the classic Indy films. Actig ranged from mediocre to terrible.

I'm not quite sure why Sean Connery was not in the film. Perhaps he was the only one smart enough to turn the script, even though it is basically a license to print money.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Reel Geezers

NEWSWEEK mentioned thes two YouTube critics, with whom I have quickly fallen in love.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rockies Beat Hated Giants 10-5

The Rockies have begin to resemble the team that went to the World Series last year, with Aaron Cook going 7 innings and giving up only 3 earned runs for his 9th win. .

More importantly, the offense looked alive with 2 home runs, a 3-run homer by Todd Helton, and a 2-run shot by Garret Atkins. Helton & Quintanilla each had 3 hits; Atkins & Baker each had 2.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Rockies Hammer Brewers, 7-2

the Rockies looked quite good tonight, and I am increasingly impressed with Coors Field. It's a great place to see a game, especially when the team plays this well. Rookie Greg Reynolds got his first major league win, but it was the offense that carried the game.

Colorado had a 5-run first inning, all with 2 outs. A double followed by 2 walks was followed by a grand slam by Brad Hawpe... and on the next pitch, another home run by Ianetta.

Colorado still has five major players on the DL. It will take a lot for the team to come back from the basement.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Kuroda Shuts Out Cubs

Hiroki Kuroda pitched his best game yet for the Dodgers, pitching a 4-hit shutout against the most dangerous offense in baseball.

Jeff Kent got the first RBI in the first inning. That would have been enough to win it. Kuroda had 11 strikeouts and no walks in the game. Kent got thrown out later in the game for questioning a strike call that looked far inside and high.

Russell Martin had the night off and his replacement Danny Ardoin had 2 RBI, including a perfect executed squeeze play.

If the Dodgers can beat the Cubs, why can't they beat the Rockies???

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Best Ad of All Time

I can't believe they didn't run this in the superbowl!

The best part is the music...


For several years after I was critically ill in late 2004 - 2005, I would get sick to my stomach when I was driving down Buena Vista Street in Burbank. The reason was that St Joseph's Hospital is on that street, and the time I spent there was very traumatic.

I may be over most of those demons, but to this day, I still get that same sick feeling when I think about the events in late 2000 surrounding the election. Eight years later, I remember the pendulum of my emotions as they called Florida for Gore, then Bush, then no one... Gore gave up, then he didn't, then it went to court after court.

For that reason, I did not want to see RECOUNT, even though it had a great cast, good reviews, and was directed by one of the nicest guys I knew at film school, Jay Roach. Tonight I finally screwed up my courage and watched it.

It was very, very painful to watch.

But thank you, Jay for making it. The film is very good, and a very good thriller, even though we all know the outcome. But it is an important reminder of the events that shaped our country for the last 8 years.

There is also another tie-in between my illness and the election. If you've read my account of being sick, you'll know that I got sick just after the incredible depression of the 2004 election. And I don't think that's any coincidence. I had never in my wildest dreams imagined that this country could be stupid enough to re-elect a moron who lied to get us into an unnecessary war. But, as George Carlin says, "Imagine how stupid the average American is; then realize that, by definition, 50% of the country is even dumber than that."

There is a weird irony, though. No one could possibly have done more damage to the Republican Party than George himself has done in the last 8 years. At the same time, no one could have done more to help stop global warming than Al Gore, which he almost certainly could not have done if he had been elected.

Mysterious ways.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dodgers Lose to Rockies

The Dodgers gave the Rockies their first road win in 14 games tonight, being shutout 3-0. Penny had a rough first inning, giving up 2 of the runs, and threw a lot of pitches in the next few innings, but managed to go 6 innings total with only those 2 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks.

The Dodgers were so frustrated that the highlight of the night was a bench-clearing brawl between Matt Kemp and Rockie's catcher Torrealba, which I had hoped would motivate the Dodgers to do well in the 9th, but even with 2 men on, Blake DeWitt popped out to fizzle the ending of the game.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer 2008 Office Hours

Summer 2008 Office Hours:
Mondays & Thursdays 6:00 - 7:00 PM  
Lucas Post G111
5/29/08 - 6/30/08

Subject to change

Please note that due to the demands of the department I am often not in my physical office during office hours. Ask at the sound window if they know where I am.

It is always best to make an appointment
via e-mail first.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer 540 Project Proposals

Sound Assignment 1

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

Please post a proposal for your final project here, including a brief description of your proposed sound design.

Remember that the scene should be 3-5 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 one of your own films, you must e-mail me a small QT movie of the scene (or upload it to my iDisk) so that I can look at it before I approve it.

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

If you have a Google or Blogger account, you may log in under that name. If not, please click on OTHER and enter a name in the appropriate field.

This will be posted publicly, so if you wish to, you may choose a handle instead of your real name. If you do so, you MUST e-mail me your real name too so that I know who you are.

Enter the Word Verification.

Enter your proposal in the LEAVE YOUR COMMENT box. Click PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT. ("Enter" or "return" will not work.)

If you have any problems, e-mail the proposal to me and I will post it.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cards Beat Dodgers Again

Brad Penny had one bad inning and gave up 4 runs to the Cardinals, but it was enough to lose the game 4-0. Not much great to talk about for the Dodgers; we can only hope that Klay Kershaw is in fact the second coming as he has been described by Dodger farm fans, and that his first major league game tomorrow (at age 20!) will be a win for the Dodgers.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Jones Blows it for Dodgers... AGAIN!

The Dodgers played a tight but frustrating game tonight; after 9.1 innings, the game was postponed because of rain. Lowe had pitched well but gave up one 2-run homer. The score was 2-1 at the break.

Finally restarted after more than an hour, Kemp made it to third, and Young to first with 2 out, and who pinch hits?

Andruw Jones. Strikeout to end the game.

Not sure what Torre is thinking, unless he want to prove to Dodger brass the Jones should be dumped once and for all.

Plus, fireworks were cancelled due to rain.

N.B. Looks like they had the fireworks anyway... at almost midnight!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dodgers Sweep Reds

The Dodgers had an all-Japanese pitchfest tonight, with Kuroda going 8 strong innings, and Saito coming in for the save.

This was one of the strangest games I've ever seen. High winds blew fly balls all over the outfield. Papers were flying everywhere. The Dodgers scored four runs in odd ways: a wild pitch, a passed ball, a wild pickoff throw, and a squeeze play that should have been an out but the pitcher lobbed the ball to short to the catcher and pulled him off the plate.

The small crowd of 33,000 enjoyed the game.


I was at the Dodger game, so I was lucky; I watched the last 3 minutes of A.I.

The people ruled, and chose correctly. David Cook won in a landslide. The judges backpedaled, apparently suspecting that they were wrong last night. The only thing I missed by watching only the last 3 minutes was an explanation for why Randy was wearing Captain Kangaroo's jacket.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The judges really, really want Baby Boy Archuleta to win. So much so that their accolades will almost certainly backfire and Cookie will win.

Archuleta was terrible all night long. His one strength was that he picked better songs. Elton John, John Lennon, and the hit-the-nail-on-the-head inspirational song were all better choices than Cook's. Archie did butcher Lennon's masterpiece, plus he had already sung it earlier in the season!

Cook had some weak moments in each song, but is much more talented. I think the judges are wrong to want Archie; obviously they thin he is more marketable. They might want to look at the sales figures on Jordin Sparks' album (last year's winner) versus Daughtry's. Cook will have a full career. Archie is a flash in the pan, and when he stops being "cute," all appeal is lost for him.

DialIdol predicts Cook by a significant margin. That doesn't include text messaging, which is a significant portion of the younger David's audience, so it will be hard to tell until tomorrow night.

Dodgers Beat Reds in Bottom of 9th

Blake DeWitt got the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the 9th, after a touch-and-go game in which Brad Penny gave up 4 runs in the first 3 innings. Two errors by the Reds also helped the Dodgers by allowing them to tie it up in the 5th at 5 each.

DeWitt had 2 hits and 2 RBI, and Kemp had 4 hits and a walk. Beimel had a tough 5th inning; first he thought he had the 3rd out on a foul ball, then he thought he had it on a pick-off which was ruled a balk. But he came through anyway.

The crowd of 34,000 was small for Dodger Stadium but very vocal in the 9th, greeting a great ending on a beautiful night for a game.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Jacque Tati's brilliant film PLAYTIME screened at the Egyptian Theater tonight. This is a 70mm print of a film shot in 65mm and mixed in 6 channel sound. It's a restored print including a few new minutes of material not seen in almost 30 years. It's a film that is hard to write about because it is so unique. Tati's films have virtually no dialogue, and no plot. They are extremely visual, with a very creative eye. They are comedies, but they are so subtle that if you are not very carefully paying attention, you'll have no idea something funny is happening. Unfortunately, contemporary audiences do not have the patience for this type of movie.

The film is so good that after seeing it you want to watch it again immediately, and when you leave the theater, you will look at the world differently. If I had to pick a favorite film, this would be it.

The film is playing again on May 25th, at the Aero theater in Santa Monica. I
very highly recommend the film. It rarely screens, this may be your only chance to see it where it was intended, on the big screen.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


As expected, the black girl gets sent home, and the two white bread boys move on. It's too bad. I do hope Archuleta loses, it's like Barry Manilow and Liberace had a bastard step-child.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I've only watched 2 episodes of the HBO series so far, but it's outstanding. An excellent cast shows what it must have been like to live in the important age of the American Revolution. The series has excellent sound and music. So far the only criticism I have is the overuse of Dutch angles, which is very distracting.

Sex: The Revolution

Sex: The Revolution is a new documentary series on VH1. I expected it to be a little too much like INDIE SEX, which was pretty good. It covers some of the same territory, but instead of being about sex in media, it's about the sexual revolution. The first episode covers the 50s, with an emphasis on Kinsey and Hefner, and is definitely interesting viewing. So far I recommend it.


Boy, oh boy, do the judges want Syesha out of the competition. The only problem with this is that it leaves David Archuleta in, who has a shelf likfe of about a year left before his white-bred performance goes stale.

It's hard to imagine that David Cook will not win.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dodgers Lose Third Straight

The Dodgers lost for the second night in a row to the Astros, this time a 5-0 shutout, with only 3 hits in the game.

Billingsly had a terrible first two innings, but after giving up 5 runs, settled down for the next 3 innings, followed by 3 great innings by Chan Ho Park and another by Joe Beimel.

Dodgers bats were dead. The offensive highlight of the night was a double by Loney. The Dodgers need to get it together.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dodgers Let Astros Win

Derek Lowe of the Dodgers pitched poorly again tonight, letting the Astros walk all over them for a 7-1 win. There was little to be happy about from the Dodgers. Loney & DeWitt each got two hits. That was the highlight. Otherwise the team played poorly against a middling pitcher who got his first win.

Let's hope they turn it around for the rest of the weekend.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Jason Castro's singing may be half-baked, but he was totally baked on tonight's show, especially during his sing-off. At least the right person is going home.

Next week will be interesting. I think Syesha actually has a chance to knock Archuleta off.


Not much to say here, except that it will be nice to see Castro finally go home. He should have left about 4 weeks ago. He was quoted in this week's Entertainment Weekly as saying he had pretty much given up and was ready to go. Forgetting the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song he had said was one of his favorites pretty much nailed the lid shut on his coffin.

David Cook continues to impress and may very well be their most successful find in the history of the show. Archuleta continues to un-impress, but the screaming teens may keep him on for the final two. Honestly, I don't think he belongs in the finals based on his vocals, Syesha is a much better entertainer, but as a black woman competing against a cute white bread boy, she may not have a chance.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Film Music Article

I'm quoted several times in this Arizona Republic article about film music. It's pretty introductory for anyone who knows anything about film music.

Dodgers Beat Mets, 5-1

Chad Billingsly pitched a good six innings, giving up only one hit, a solo homer. The Beilel-Broxton-Saito combo provided a perfect 3 innings to end the game.

The bigger story was the Dodgers offense, which had 3 home runs, including Blake DeWitt's first major league homer. The offense was strong all night, starting with Rafael Furcal's lead-off homer, through Matt Kemp's 2 hits & 2 RBI and Russell Martin's 2 hits. Pierre got a hit and a walk and scored 2 runs.

The Mets looked weak, particularly their middle of the order, stranding 7 men on base. Their record is a lot better than they looked tonight.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


No surprise that Brooke finally goes home. I wish Castro were next, followed by Archulta, but I suspect that Syesha will be next.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Perhaps the most interesting thing on the show tonight was Paula, who thought she heard Jason Castro sing two songs when he had only sung one, and who called Syesha "Brooke." (I'll cut some slack on the first mistake, they do a run-through before the airing, which the judges listen to, and she was probably remembering that.)

As for the contestants:

Jason Castro was terrible. I'd expect him to be in the bottom two except his history has been great due to teen chicks. It's nice to see that DialIdol has him listed last for one. However, one can never underestimate the text messaging of obsessive teens.

David Cook was great on his first song,and fooled the judges on the 2nd song; he's still the man to beat.

I like Brooke, but she was also very weak. She is always nervous, and she picked too low of a key for the Monkees song. I would expect her to be in the bottom 2.

David Archuleta continues his progression towards king of the Disney Cruise line. He gets worse each week, but he'll be fine, again thanks to teeny-boppers.

Syesha was great on the 1st song, good on the 2nd, and in theory should not have to worry, except that she's the only black person left, and a woman, which would normally put her near the bottom. DialIdol has her at first, but again, the text votes should drop her down.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dodgers Win in 13

It was a long night at Dodger Stadium. Kuroda pitched well, but the game was very slow, with the 7th inning stretch at almost the 3 hour mark. It took 13 innings for the Dodgers to win. The Dodgers had sent Blake DeWitt back to the minors, so when Nomar pulled an abdominal muscle, the DOdgers were forced to move Russell Martin to 3rd. If Nomar goes to the DL, DeWitt will be back tomorrow. If not, and Nomar is day-to-day, it's a big question mark at 3rd.

Russell Martin finished the game with a Sac Fly; he had 4 hits in the game, plus 2 walks, getting on base in all 6 plate appearances. He had 2 RBIs and a run scored.

Hopefully the Dodgers will be well-rested tomorrow to start another game in the evening.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Juan Castro should have gone home, but he wasn't even in the bottom two, thanks to his hair and 13 year-old girls.

Carly's days were numbered anyway, she would have been gone in another week or two anyway. So it's not a huge loss.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Andrew Lloyd Webber week... another reason NOT to watch A.I., but I'm stuck with it.

David Cook was a little weaker than the judges said, but he'll be fine.

Syesha was not as good as the judges made her seem, but she was still one of the best of the night.

Jason Castro was so awful he should be the one going home, but I think he's safe.

Brooke was nowhere near as bad as the judges made her seem for her false start.

Carly was not perfect but gave an excellent performance. Webber saved her ass by making her change songs.

David Archuleta was as vanilla as usual, but he's safe.

Castro should go, but it may be Brooke because of her false start and weak critique from the judges.


Last week we were invited to an Emmy event where Don Rickles was interviewed at length by Jimmy Kimmel. Also present was director John Landis, who showed clips from the documentary he made for HBO about Rickles.

Rickles is amazing. He's 82 years old and sharp as a tack. He's constantly "on," and always entertaining. He's very old school, but so politically incorrect that he's still cutting-edge. Virtually every major living comedian is interviewed in the doc and worships him. And with good reason, he's very, very funny. The doc is definitely worth seeing, but even more interesting is seeing him perform in person.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


TCM had an excellent one-hour interview with actor Gene Wilder this week. Tivo had recorded it as a suggestion and I almost deleted it after reading a mediocre review in Variety, but I'm very glad I didn't. Alec Baldwin hosts an excellent discussion. Wilder is clearly a very intelligent man and committed actor. Actors in particular should see it.

Very highly recommended.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sampling Rates

I've frequently mentioned in classes the lack of double-blind testing on sampling rates, which has led many people to assume "the higher the number, the better it must sound."

Paul Lehrman has written an excellent article on sampling rates, including the results of the first extensive study I've seen. It can be read at Mix Magazine's web site.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dodgers Rout Pirates for 2nd Night in a Row

The Dodgers got 15 hits in their second straight rout of the Pirates. Furcal is having a banner year so far, with 4 hits tonight, pushing his BA over 400.

Nomar returned to the lineup with a hit and 2 walks. Blake DeWitt remains on the roster for the time being, pinch-running for Nomar and scoring a run.

Brad Penny had another excellent outing, and the bullpen was also strong.

The crowd was large and loud, with blanket giveaway night always a favorite.

AMERICAN IDOL 7 RESULTS has once again proved its irrelevance; Kristy Lee Cook finally went home. It was her time weeks ago, and I'm glad to see it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Kristy Lee Cook should have been eliminated weeks ago; her singing is weak and, frankly, annoying.

Carly Smithson gave a very weak performance. She embellished a melody that didn't need it, and did so by forcing her register. She was flat and grating throughout. She could be in trouble.

David Archuleta continues his drive to be America's best Disney Cruise singer.

Brook White gave her weakest performance yet; she should have used the band to back her on the bridge, and was extremely nervous and shaky. However, I think she will survive.

Jason Castro was good, but the congas did not belong in the song.

Syesha Mercado gave an absolutely amazing performance, one of the best this season.

David Cook is the man to beat.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Not really a lot new at NAB that I had not seen already. The new Digidesign Icon looks really hip. they've integrated three PT systems into one controller surface, so you can control any system from any part of the surface. The controller is expensive, $100k for just the controller and not including the PT HD hardware, but it's definitely a huge step forward in controller surfaces.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dodgers Lose Again to Padres

Brad Penny looked weak all night long, and the Dodgers offense could not get the deal sealed once again, leaving 16 on base. Anfrew Jones went a whopping 0 for 4, dropping is BA to a scant .114.

The Dodgers have major problems in every area. Torre has his work cut out for him.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Quite a shocker this week that one of the better singers, Michael Johns, was voted off. The worst singer by far, Kristy Lee Cook, was not even among the bottom three. Unfortunately, Michael, at age 29, is an old man compared to the obsessive adolescent voters who are text messaging in their votes, so it really shouldn't be that big of a surprise.

Congratulations to ME!

At 7:22 PM last night, an American Idol fan from Wichita, Kansas became the 10,000th visitor to my blog. His visit may have lasted less than a second, but it still counts!

I started this blog a year and a half ago as a way to communicate with students. It didn't work; instead I get baseball fans. Oh, well, it still works out to about 20 visits a day, and even excluding immediate family, that means I'm popular. Not enough to sell ads, but popular enough that I continue to write baseball updates.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Tonight's "inspirational" show was perhaps the worst ever, and put me to sleep literally, so I can't really make many comments.

Carly seems to be at the bottom, particularly based on the judge's comments. I really dislike Christy Lee Cook, though.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rockies Beat Glavine

It was 34 degrees at Coors Field in the 2nd inning, but Tom Glavine managed to pitch an amazing game nonetheless, shutting out the Rockies for 6.1 innings and allowing only 3 hits.

Aaron Cook allowed one run in the top of the 1st inning, then pitched a phenomenal game after that, going 7 strong innings with only 1 run and 2 hits allowed.

In the bottom of the 8th, Atlanta pitcher Peter Moylan allowed a 2-run homer from Matt Holliday, which was enough to lose the game.

Game time was a scant 2:05. This was the shortest game I've ever seen. Previously I saw Greg Maddux pitch a 2:15 game for the Dodgers against the Padres, and Pedro Martinez pitch a 2:15 game at Angel Stadium.

This was my first trip to Coors Field, which was quite nice. Although it's a new park, it emulates the old ones, with a "manual" type scoreboard in right field, similar to the one on the Green Monster at Fenway.

It was a great introduction to Denver.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wordless Wonders

With the success of THERE WILL BE BLOOD and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, CNN's Showbiz blog has an excellent article about scenes which do not use dialogue. It's interesting that so many readers immediately respond with their favorite scenes, yet writers continually use the crutch of wall-to-wall dialogue to explain everything. Cinema is so much more powerful when showing, rather than telling, but insecure filmmakers are afraid audiences will run for the door the minute people stop talking.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


It should have been Kristy Lee Cook, but it was Ramiele Malubay going home tonight. No question she was in the bottom half, but I liked her. Hopefully it will be Kristy next week.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


We're at the point in American Idol where all of the contestants are pretty good... except one. Kristy Lee Cook should go home. Alas, DialIdol has Ramiele "Lullaby" Malubay at the bottom, which is to bad. She's a good singer and very marketable.

Monday, March 31, 2008


PETER & THE WOLF won the Oscar for Animated Short this year. It was run on PBS's GREAT PERFORMANCES last week. I hope it reruns, because it is a fantastic piece of stop-motion animation. Needless to say, the music is wonderful. Prokofiev wrote a brilliant piece of music that just happens to explain the concepts of orchestration to children (and, in passing, also explains leitmotivic development).

Unfortunately, the narration is written for the youngest of children, and not only gets in the way of the music, it talks down to the audience. On top of that, the original story isn't very good. This film quite smartly dumped the narration and used the visuals of the animation to tell the story instead. The character animation is absolutely astounding, perhaps some of the best I've seen in stop-motion. They completely rewrote the ending to make the story much more intelligent and involving. It's a little more scary for the young children, but (MILD SPOILER) I think kids need to know that something that's dead STAYS dead.

In order to fill out the hour, there is a "making of" video that is almost as interesting as the film itself. It took them 5 years to make the film, and they used a lot of seamless visual effects to smooth out the problems with animation, while remaining true to the look of the stop-motion animation.

I don't think this is scheduled to run again soon, but if you get the chance, check it out. It's well worth it.

Dodgers Sweep Giants on Opening Day!

The Dodgers began celebrating their 50th anniversary in Los Angeles by introducing many stars of the past immediately before the game, and it was pretty breathtaking seeing everyone from Don Newcombe and Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela walk out onto the field, most of them in uniform. The crowd of 56,000 was suitably impressed. You couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day for baseball, with sunny skies and a starting temperature of 62 degrees.

They celebration continued in the first inning with a 2-run homer from Jeff Kent, allaying any fears that his hamstring injury would hold him up this season. That would have been enough to win the game, with Brad Penny pitching very well into the 7th inning. Proctor got the last out in that inning, followed by perfect innings from Joe Beimel and Takashi Saito, to complete a shutout of the hated Giants, 5-0.

Offensively the Dodgers did well. Leadoff batter Rafael Furcal got 3 hits, and RBI and a run scored. Batting 7th, lucky #7 James Loney got 2 hits and a walk, and a run scored. Rookie Dewitt got his first hit in his first major league at-bat (and scored as well) after initiating a 5-4-3 double play in his first play in major league baseball.

The kids look very good. Delwyn Young needs to redevelop the plate patience he had that helped get him to the major leagues. He seems very anxious to swing.

If there's anything hollow about this victory, it's how terrible the Giants looked. Barry Zito's fastball sat at around 84 mph throughout the game, and it took him a lot of pitches to barely make it through 5 innings. Their geriatric team looked weak in every way, from pitching to hitting to fielding (although there were no errors).

But the Dodgers could not have asked for a better way to start the season!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Red Sox Beat Dodgers at Coliseum

(Photo copyright Kevin Delin, taken with iPhone)

It was an amazing sight, yet an eerily strange feeling to see the Dodgers playing where I usually see USC football. They did an amazing job turning a football stadium into a baseball stadium for a one-night event! The atmosphere was absolutely electric.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers did not look good. Fifth starter Loaiza did nothing to encourage keeping him in the rotation, except for the fact that he has a contract. Although only 2 of his 5 runs were earned, he pitched a scant 3 innings and threw an awful lot of balls, and the 5 runs all came on 2 homers over that tall left field net.

At the plate, Juan Pierre went 0 for 2 with a strikeout. I can't imagine him in the starting lineup. If Torre does not have the cojones to bench him, then I don't understand why we bothered hiring him. This is the exact situation an experienced manager was hired for. Having dealt with the Yankees egos for over a decade, he should be able to deal with Pierre.

Kemp got 3 hits and Loney got 2, including a home run.

Blake Dewitt looks like a keeper at 3rd base, hitting a 2-run homer and making 2 great line drive catches at third. He also made a high throw to 1st for an error, but here's a kid who has never played above AA ball, and suddenly he's in front of a 115,300 person crowd at the Coliseum. The kids are alright.

Yesterday would have been my Dad's 90th birthday. It was nice spending it at the ballpark, watching his favorite team win.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


With the exception of a 10-minute ad for iTunes (showing the Idol wannabees downloading their own songs on iTunes!?!), the show had nothing more than expected. The call-in spots definitely have to go. Thank god for Tivo!

Syesha did not belong in the bottom 3 based on last night's performance, but Chickeze has been among the worst for weeks now. I shed no tears over his loss.


A mixture of terrible and pretty good this week.

Ramiele was weak for the second week is a row (although the judges loved her last week) and she may be among the bottom 2 this week.

Syesha did her best yet. She has been borderline for a few weeks now; if there's any justice, she'll be fine this week.

David Cook and Michael Johns both kicked ass tonight. They both look like the people to beat.

Chickeze and Carly Smithson were both good but not great. Considering Chickeze's track history, I'd say he may still be in trouble.

Kristy Lee Cook made a brilliant song choice which will save her ass. Every redneck in the country will be voting for her for singing PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN. Her performance wasn't terrible, but she's definitely the worst singer left on the show.

Jason Castro was forgettable, which is often dangerous, but this week there were clearly some worse singers. Brooke White and David Archuleta are both safe as well.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Angels 8, Giants 1

The Angels looked great and the Giants looked equally weak for a second day in a row.

Angels prospect Nick Adenhart pitched 6 shutout innings. That, combined with a whopping 17 hits from the Angels was enough for a good win. The hits were well-spread amongst the Angels. Eric Aybar hit his 3rd home run of the season. Catcher Mike Napoli upped his average with 2 hits, plus 2 runs, and an RBI. Chone Figgins got 2 hits and an RBI.

The Giants got a paltry 4 hits during the game. Bonds' departure has left them with no pop.

Tempe stadium is nice, but there's virtually no shade. Today's game was a sellout. The temperature only hit 83, but the Phoenix sky is crystal blue, and the sun beats down heavily. Several people seemed to have problems with the heat and needed medical attention. They did a minor upgrade of the stadium a few years ago, they need to add more shade coverage like the other parks.