Saturday, August 29, 2009


THE NINE LIVES OF MARION BARRY is an HBO documentary about the former mayor of Washington DC. He's a fascinating character, and as such, it is an interesting viewing. Barry was repeatedly elected mayor, even after being convicted of drug use and having multiple affairs.

The film itself has problems. Although it was released this year, most of the recent footage is from 2004, when he was elected to the City Council. Shortly after that, he failed another drug test, yet was re-elected yet again. Very recently he had a charge against him from a woman who claimed he was stalking her. Most of the negatives of his career are glossed over, or left out completely, but those were the things that made him interesting. His lengthy tax problems are never mentioned in the film. Neither are most of his health problems, including a kidney transplant. It seems like they ran out of time or money to complete the film and just released it as is.

However, still an interesting watch.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Once again, it was not a pretty win. Hammel pitched quite well, 7 innings and only 2 runs, and Colorado took a 4-2 lead into the 9th, when the bullpen fell apart. Beimel gave up a hit but got the out, and then Bettancourt gave up two runs to tie it.

The tenth was another improbable win for the Rox, after their 14-inning game last night. A walk, a bunt by injured Car-Go, with an error, an intentional walk to Helton, and a single by Tulo to win the game. It was a nice team effort, and representative of the team's hard work to get where they are, only 2 games behind the Dodgers, and at 18 games over .500, they have their best record ever at this point.

Tomorrow, Wolf vs. Fogg. Wolf is having a great year, and Fogg is doing well as a reliever, forced to start in the place of injured Aaron Cook.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


It wasn't a pretty game. Rockies starter Jorge de la Rosa gave up 6 runs in the first 4 innings, but a 7-run 6th inning put the Rockies on top. Then Rockies relievers gave up another 5 runs in the last two innings, forcing Jim Tracy to bring in his closer to finish what had been an 8-run lead for the Rockies.

Nonetheless, we'll take the win, keeping the Rockies in the Wild Card spot. The next week is likely to be a tough one for the Rockies. They have two more games against the Giants here in Denver, including today's game against boy-wonder Lincecum, then they play 3 against the Dodgers, then go on the road to SF for 3 more against the Giants. The Rockies took a big loss Friday when starter Aaron Cook left the game injured. The Rockies do not have on off day until September 17th; their first day off in a full month. This means someone will have to step up out of the bullpen. If Adam Eaton can return to form, he is probably their best bet.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


A little late on this review as well, it was released 2 years ago.

Ten years ago the first TREKKIES movie was a pleasant surprise as a documentary about STAR TREK fans. (Although many real fans prefer to call themselves Trekkers, but that's another matter, which they do discuss in the sequel.)

I expected that there would not be much new or interesting in a sequel as they had covered it pretty thoroughly in the first film. I was wrong, to an extent, as this time they went to conventions in many other countries, proving that Trek fans are the same pathetic losers on every continent. Seriously, there isn't anyone from any country who looks remotely normal. I consider myself a fan of the original series and TNG, but I would never dress like one of them or go to a convention. I just don't care that much. It's fine for people who do, but it does seem an odd coincidence that every person you see at one of these conventions is someone who, if they sat next to you on the subway, you would get up and move to another seat.

There were nice follow-ups on a couple of characters from the first film, including the woman who was on the Whitewater jury and insisted on wearing her costume to the trail (and her work). I did notice a resmblence between the Arkansas juror and the character on Reno 911 played by Kerry Kenny, and wondered whether she based the character's look on her.

There are some very nice moments in the film, especially when they get the fans to talk about their charity work, which they consider part of their fandom. But the film runs a little long and definitely feels repetitive by the time they get into talking about Trek-themed fan bands.

Probably worth watching for fans of Star Trek, but not for most people.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Well, I thought last night's documentary about 9/11 was depressing... try sitting through one on the collapse of Chinese elementary schools in an earthquake due to shoddy workmanship.

This is a really interesting and very well made document of the parent's march to the local government capital to complain that they were not responding to their requests for an investigation. It's very painful to watch the parents all dealing with the recent deaths of their children. By nature, most of them were only children, as the government heavily taxes families with multiple children.

The show is short at 38 minutes, but very strong nonetheless.

Monday, August 10, 2009


102 Minutes That Changed America is an excellent documentary that aired on the History Channel earlier this year. It's about the first 102 minutes after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. It unfolds in real time, not unlike the show 24, and is almost all home video footage, most of which has not been seen before.

It's very difficult to watch. I remember the day like it was yesterday. Although I was in LA, it was a very stressful day, as my wife was with her family in DC, and for much of the day it was unknown what was happening, with at least one plane still unaccounted for, and rumors that there were still several more missing.

Perhaps the most difficult part of watching is the fact that we, the viewers, know what is going to happen, yet it takes more than an hour for the first building to collapse. It's very frustrating watching the people do things that will eventually result in their deaths, and there's nothing we can do about. These are real people, real men jumping from the buildings, real firemen thinking that if they enter the building they can save lives, even though most of them will die in the collapse of the buildings.

There were several people who were tangentially related to me that died that day. Two of the flights took off form my hometown of Boston, 2 were destined for Los Angeles, where I was living at the time, and one crashed in DC, where my wife and her family were. Eight years later, it still hurts.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


HBO recently ran a new documentary about Ted Williams. He's a fascinating figure historically to baseball fans like myself, especially Red Sox fans, but I had assumed before watching it that it would be a rehash of old material. I was wrong, they shot a lot of new interview footage for the film, including a lot of Boston sportswriters, and several players, including my father's good friend Johnny Pesky.

Overall I'd say it's worth watching for fans, but if you are as big a fan as I am, you probably won't learn anything new. His daughter is interviewed but sheds no new light on his life and death, which is a bit of a shame. Also it seems the film overlooks a number of negative incidents in his career.

Still, the footage is great, both archival and new, so it gets a "worth watching" for baseball fans.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


OK, I'm 2 years late to the party on this review, but hey, we just got HBO. It's tough seeing a movie so long after all the hype; it can't possibly live up to it. And it didn't.

First off, I was shocked that Seth Rogan is such a terrible, terrible, terrible actor. He's funny, and I suspect that he ad libbed many of the funniest lines of the film, but it was real tough watching a film with a lead actor who is the this unsympathetic.

Katherine Heigl, on the other hand, shocked me by being such a good actress. I had no trouble believing her in a fairly complex role. The script however, needed a lot of editing in terms of tone and structure, and 2:15 is QUITE long for a goofy comedy. The film took itself MUCH too seriously and in the end that only made it tougher to watch.

I do like Judd Apatow, but this movie makes me glad I didn't spend money on his new "serious" film. He should stick to what he knows best: comedy. And maybe watch SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS again before he decides to bite off more than he should chew.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Aspen Chamber Symphony

Last night we were lucky enough to see a great concert here in Aspen. The orchestra here is made up of students from the high-profile summer school hare where many of the world's best music students spend their summers. Principal chairs in the orchestra are taken by the teachers.

The venue is called a "tent," but it's not at all what I expected. As part of an AES group, we got a nice backstage tour (photos to follow in a few days). It's a permanent building now, with an outstanding stage and backstage area. The acoustics are excellent.

The roof is indeed a tent, and the back walls are open for people who want to sit on the lawn for free. This allows in some exterior sound, most noticeably crows in the Britten, and kids yelling, and some airplanes landing at the nearby airport towards the end of the Mendelssohn.

The orchestra sounded excellent for the most part, especially the strings, which was great for Britten's Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge, a wonderful piece I had only heard a few times before. Conductor James Conlon gave an excellent introduction that taught me about the piece and made me notice some things (especially humor in the piece) that I had never heard before. He did an excellent job conducting, and the strings sounded great, even though some of them looked like they were still in grade school! (Side note, I noticed for the first time a section where the violins are strumming like banjos, which I had seen earlier this year on Gershwin's Piano Concerto.)

The second piece was really the best of the evening, an expanded orchestra joined soloist Lise de la Salle on the Prokofiev Piano Concerto #1, a somewhat brief but extremely challenging piece that at times sounds like Charles Ives. The soloist was really outstanding, and the orchestra played wonderfully. Probably my only negative comment about the acoustics was that the piano sounded a bit muddy and might have benefited from some sound reinforcement. Backstage we had spoken to the audio crew, who said they normally avoid any reinforcement unless absolutely necessary. If they were doing any on the piano, I didn't notice it.

After intermission the orchestra returned for the Mendelssohn Scottish Symphony, leaping backwards from the two 20th-century pieces of the first half, and guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. This was the weakest performance of the night, strangely, for music that should in theory be easier. However, the conductor took a blindingly fast tempo on the scherzo, and the young clarinetist and horn players simply could not keep up. Otherwise, they played well, particularly in the finale.

I am very, very impressed with music in Colorado.