Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ron Burgundy

Catching up on some comedies I missed, I'm reminded at how good Will Ferrell is as an actor. He really carries a lot of this movie, much of it improvised, I expect. The whole film is well cast, although Steve Carrell is underutilized. Otherwise the film has enough laugh-out-loud moments to justify the rental cost.

The script is actually pretty good, there is an actual story arc (more than I can say for some of the other comedies I've recently seen). Christina Applegate is also good in her role, which is a little surprising considering how weak she has been in other films.

I'm not sure why the film is not out on BluRay. Not that it matters much with a film shot like this, but it's still a much better looking format than DVD.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


HOT TUB TIME MACHINE was a pleasant surprise in several ways. Thirty minutes into the film I was almost ready to give up. I don't expect much from a comedy, only a laugh now and then. It wasn't happening. However, it turns out that I was wrong, it wasn't so much a comedy as a dramedy. It gets better as it goes along. There aren't that many big laughs, but the characters do get more interesting. At first I was turned off by the one-dimensional characters, but Rob Corddry especially gives a great performance, which I did not at all expect. John Cusack is always good and Clark Duke was also good in his role.

The script has a lot of funny references to other time-travel movies, most notably BACK TO THE FUTURE, including a recurring cameo by Crispin Glover. It's a smarter movie than it seems at first, and in the end enjoyable. Definitely more of a guy movie though.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Dad in rear center. Coaches Frank Defelice and Dick Lynch in rear with him. Front left is Mike Lynch, now sportscaster in Boston on WCVB.Right is co-captain James Carone. (1970)

The Salem News recently ran an article about my father, who passed away eight years ago but is still remembered in the area quite well:

Coincidentally to that article running, I had just found a web site about Swampscott High School football run by head coach Stephen Dembowski with most of the pictures in that article:

I was water-boy when he was at SHS. I was in elementary and junior high school, and was usually in the locker room for Dad's speeches. Even when he left for Bishop Fenwick, I was often there for the speeches as well. They played on Sundays so I was able to be an assistant trainer for the team early in high school until I became too busy in our band.

His speeches were very motivational. I wish I had inherited some of those skills. Dad had a way of making a performance out of every speech, where he would start small and personal, and slowly get bigger and bigger until reached a fiery climax, riling up the team and sending them charging out to field feeling like they were Titans who could beat anybody.

I don't remember the text of a lot of the speeches but I do remember a couple of things he said. One I remember very well because I was there when he wrote it. Dad was a very popular public speaker at conventions, athletic conferences and football camps. Sometimes he would bring me along, especially at summer camps. One summer we went to a camp, I can't remember which one, and I can't remember how old I was either. I think I was probably about 10 years old.

Anyway, he had a speech prepared, and it was to be given at an outdoor stage, and we walked in and above the stage were written the words I CAN AND I WILL in huge block letters. I have no idea whether this was the title of a play that was going to be put on there, or whether it was just a motivational phrase someone at the camp came up with, and I know my dad had no idea either, but when he saw it, he looked at me, said "I'm giving a whole different speech." He walked on stage and improvised one of the most exciting and motivational speeches I had ever seen, ending with those words in a big climax, and convincing the kids listening that they could do anything. (I can't watch the movie EMPIRE STRIKES BACK without thinking of that speech when Yoda tells Luke "Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'") Dad's speech worked so well that I CAN AND I WILL became a catch phrase for him and he used it many times subsequently in other speeches. I said those words many times to myself when I was recovering form a life-threatening illness a few years ago.

Years later, when I went to MIT, I took some filmmaking classes with Ricky Leacock, a noted documentary filmmaker. I decided to make docs about the two most influential men in my life, Herb Pomeroy (whom I have written about before here) and my dad. I have them on VHS somewhere. Maybe I can transfer them to disc and post portions of them on my blog. Anyway, in fall of 1984 when he was back at SHS, I got some footage of one of Dad's speeches. He said two things in the speech that I will always remember. One was "I CAN AND I WILL." The other was:

"I know why your parents love you, because I do too."


Thursday, September 16, 2010

CSO Donor Concert

My wife and I donate a minuscule amount of money to the Colorado Symphony, and this year they had what they called the “First Annual Donor Concert,” which was a potpourri of favorites that will be played during the season. I think the concert was somewhat of an apology to fans of the orchestra for the incredible shoddy treatment that happened to subscribers during the transition to a new publicity firm. The president of the orchestra claimed that this was the most successful donor campaign ever, as well as the most successful subscriber season, although I really find that hard to believe.

When I looked at the list of pieces, my first thought was that these were all very, very familiar pieces, and that might result in a dull concert. Conductor Douglas Boyd stated that they had almost no rehearsal time (he had flown in that afternoon), but it sure did not show in their performance. It turned out to be one of the most exciting concerts I’ve heard. Although some of the pieces I had heard many times in person (I’m almost sick of Berlioz at this point), there were several pieces I know very well but had never heard in person.

Also, I had forgotten how much I missed the sound of the orchestra. It’s been almost four months since I heard the CSO and two months since the NY Phil concerts we heard. The opening notes of "Die Zauberflöte" sent chills down my spine just hearing the orchestra. The orchestra had a couple of rough patches early on in the concert, but all was quickly forgiven.

No matter how many times I hear Beethoven’s Fifth, it still moves me. The tempo was bit fast, but it was a great performance.

One of the highlights of the night was hearing the new principal flautist on “Afternoon of a Faun.” Debussy was brilliantly inventive not only harmonically but orchestrationally. The instant she began playing there was a gorgeous sound from the orchestra, which grew throughout the piece. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard this piece in person either, even though it is one of my favorites.

Perhaps the most peculiar mood change came with a speedy transition from “Greensleeves” to Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance.” Both pieces were very well played, but the programming sounded like someone changing stations on the radio.

The second highlight of the evening was the Finale from The Firebird. I’ve played this piece before, in Carnegie Hall, no less, but I don’t think I’ve heard it in person. Like the Debussy, this is an orchestrational showpiece, and brilliantly performed by the orchestra. I’ll say it again, this is one of the best orchestras in the country. The crowd went crazy, and I think everyone who left the hall left excited to hear the upcoming season. I know I am. Alas, our first tickets are not for another month. I’ll be waiting.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rockies Win 9th in a Row

But they are still 3rd in the divisional and WC races, 3.5 games back in each. Ubaldo pitched well, giving up only 1 run in 6 innings, but did not get the win.

Nonetheless a sellout crowd of 48,000 went crazy all night long supporting their home team. THe Rockies sold over 7600 walk-up tickets.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA is a good documentary about Daniel Ellsberg, who released the top secret "Pentagon Papers" that ultimately led to the end of the Viet Nam war, as well as indirectly leading to Nixon's resignation. It's suprisingly timely with the release of the WikiLeak documents, which parallel the case in that the release of government documents is illegal, yet one could argue that their release is more important than the secrets that are being kept.

It's a good film but it does bog down a bit in the middle. It is completely one-sided with Ellsberg narrating the film, and the re-enactments are a bit on the cheesy side. Yet, it's an important story in American history. Worth watching if you are a fan of history.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


OUTRAGE should probably have been titled OUT RAGE, as it is a documentary about the outing of gay politicians. I have to admit that I was surprised at how much new material there is in this film. I follow politics to some extent but there is a lot in this film that I had no idea about. There are a lot of great interviews with gay writers and some with politicians as well. Even though the film is now a year old, it still is very relevant to current issues (sadly) about homophobia in our culture. The film is very well edited by my friend Doug Blush.

It's difficult for me to imagine how a gay man could be actively homophobic, but the movie makes a case that much of the anti-gay legislation of the last decade is actually the result of gay politicians who are afraid to come out of the closet. I'm sure many of them told themselves that an anti-gay constitutional amendment would never pass (and it did indeed fail) but by supporting it, they gave credence to homophobic arguments. Thankfully, Proposition 8 has been overturned in California. But as we approach the 2012 election, expect gay marriage to be a major issue again.

I very strongly recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in these issues.