Archive | August, 2012

25 Things I Learned This Summer

31 Aug

Where does the time go?

It feels like just yesterday it was Memorial Day, and we were making all kinds of plans. Now here we are at Labor Day weekend and summer is over.

Sure, I know. Summer doesn’t technically end till September 21 — or, if you really have a hard time letting go, when the weather actually cools down sometime in October. But mentally, I think we all consider the end of summer to be on Labor Day. Right?

The last three months were great for me; I hope you can say the same for yourself. They were relaxing, fun, and productive, and while I didn’t get to everything on my to-do list, I was plenty busy and I enjoyed myself.

I also learned quite a bit. So here, before the sun sets on summer, are just 25 of the many things I learned over the past three months.

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Two Reviews, One Blog Post

30 Aug

At first glance, the two movies Celeste and Jesse Forever and Sleepwalk with Me would seem to have little in common.

The first is a story of best friends who get married, only to realize it was a mistake, and then have a hard time moving on.

The latter is a dramatized monologue about a guy trying to make it as a standup comedian, who can’t seem to do the right thing and dump his girlfriend. Oh yeah, and he sleepwalks too.

So why, then, are these two movies appearing in the same review? Because they both engendered the same response from me — meh — and I didn’t feel like writing two separate reviews.

Ah, the benefits of not being a professional movie critic. Continue reading

Day or Night, I Love Walking This City

29 Aug

I have a confession to make.

Remember earlier this year when I said I was going to use part of my newfound free time to work out?

And remember how I was true to my word on that first day and went to the gym to use the equipment?

Well … I haven’t gone back to the gym since then. Not even once.

Oh well.

I’m sure you’re surprised to learn this.

But here’s the thing: Even though I haven’t been using the gym, I have been staying active. Continue reading

Thanks for Keeping Me Alive

27 Aug

In the late 1960s, a singer-songwriter named Rodgriguez was developing a following in Detroit.

Described as an “inner-city poet” and a “wandering spirit,” and hailed as a peer of Bob Dylan, Rodriguez released his debut album, the critically acclaimed Cold Fact, in 1970. A year later, he released his follow-up, Coming from Reality.

But despite the accolades, very few copies of the two albums were sold, and Rodriguez was soon dropped by the record label.

That’s just one of the confounding things we learn in the excellent new documentary Searching for Sugar Man. Continue reading

Could You Ever Quit Social Media Cold Turkey?

21 Aug

A friend of mine disappeared last week.

One minute he was there, and the next, I couldn’t find him.

Perhaps I should clarify: He disappeared from Facebook last week. He had posted something funny, I commented on it, and when I went to look at the post an hour or two later, it was gone — as was his entire profile.

I checked Twitter, and he wasn’t there either.

These days, that’s tantamount to someone disappearing off the face of the earth. Continue reading

The Odd Movie Review of “Timothy Green”

17 Aug

What’s the point of giving a bad review to The Odd Life of Timothy Green — or of even reviewing it at all?

This is one of those critic-proof, middle-of-the-road movies that arrives in theaters just as quickly and quietly as it will disappear. It has no intention of being a blockbuster (no chance, really), and no great ambitions other than being an audience-pleasing film you can bring your family to.

At that, Timothy Green succeeds. Sort of.

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There Was Magic in the Night at Fenway

16 Aug

What do you say about a Bruce Springsteen show that starts with “Thunder Road,” the previous evening’s high point, performed simply and in classic style, with just piano and harmonica by Springsteen and “Professor” Roy Bittan?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that includes diverse but amazing audience requests like “Thundercrack,” “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?,” “Frankie,” “Quarter to Three,” and “Prove It All Night” (with the 1978 intro), and where a cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood” (a song the band has only performed once before — in 1976) is considered by Springsteen to be the weirdest one of them all?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that also includes an excellent, powerful “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” an awe inspiring “Land of Hope and Dreams,” and a transcendent “Backstreets?”

What do you say about a Springsteen show where he sings “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” and ironically, that’s when it starts raining? Then he does an acoustic “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” and it starts raining even harder?

What do you say about a Springsteen show where he asks for a hot dog and beer so many times that someone actually gives him one — at the start of “Working on the Highway” — and he chugs that entire beer in one sip … while still playing the intro to the song!

What do you say about a Springsteen show where even the usually stoic and serious Max Weinberg smiled a few times?

What do you say about a 30-song Springsteen show where only 12 of those numbers were repeated from the night before, one of which (the aforementioned “Thunder Road“) performed so differently that it kinda doesn’t even count as having been repeated?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that ends — with Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys joining the band for “American Land” — and then treats the audience to a fireworks show off the Green Monster as they’re leaving the stadium?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that’s even better than the one the night before?

Really, what can you say other than that you’re lucky to have been there. Damned lucky. Continue reading