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Intimate, Entertaining “Still” Lets Michael J. Fox Share His Story in His Own Words

9 May

There’s a scene in Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, where the actor best known for his performances as Alex P. Keaton and Marty McFly in Family Ties and the Back to the Future trilogy acknowledges the heavy weight of responsibility that comes with being such a beloved public figure. “I don’t want to fuck it up,” he says.

When a celebrity allows a filmmaker to tell their life story in a documentary, as so many have done in recent years, that’s probably a big worry. We’ve all watched plenty of Behind the Music episodes, and we’ve seen plenty of sympathetic clip-fests about actors, sports figures, politicians, and other famous folks. Often, they’re driven by vanity or an attempt to rehabilitate a damaged reputation. Sometimes it’s purely a nostalgia trip. Either way, at this point, we know the tropes that many of these films follow all too well. Every now and then, one rises above the rest (Gleason and Amy are two of the better examples), but it’s easy to be cynical since so many of these films adhere to a conventional format.

I’d imagine Fox hesitated before he allowed a movie to be made about his own life. After all, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when he was just 29 years old, at the peak of his career. Since then, he hasn’t sought out pity. Rather, he’s conducted himself with grit and grace, applying his well known name and his abundant optimism to fundraising campaigns and other efforts that will help others like him who have Parkinson’s. 

A less skilled filmmaker would probably seize on the obvious storyline, portraying Fox’s fast rise to fame via a greatest-hits collection of film and TV clips, and then cover his slow decline from the disease, with a coda to contribute funds to support the foundation that bears his name. As Fox himself says in the film, “That’s boring.”

Clearly, he’s not the only person who thought so, and thank God for that. 

Continue reading

A Year Later … I’m Grateful, Not Fearful

9 Apr

Most people consider Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the start of the longest year ever. That was the day the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. It was the night the president* spoke to the country from the Oval Office. The night the NBA stopped its season. The night we learned Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson had tested positive.

And yet, that night, after a stressful and frustrating day of work, I walked into a restaurant, saw some empty seats at the bar, and sat down at one to eat dinner, not even realizing why those stools between couples and other folks had been left empty. Even though I distinctly remember the guy on my right giving me a confused look, I stayed and enjoyed what was, apparently, a delicious meal. It was just another night.

The next day, Thursday, March 12, 2020 … that’s the day I consider the actual beginning of the pandemic.

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What I Want to Do in 2021

1 Jan

Today may be the first day of a new year, but I’m happy to say that the end is already in sight.

Yes, with COVID vaccines starting to be injected into people’s arms around the world (slower than expected, but still), it’s clear we’re at the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Sure, it won’t be an easy next few months as we get through the winter and spring, and before the vaccine reaches general availability, but I’m hopeful that with the November and December 2020 holidays now in the rear-view, people will actually hunker down, and we won’t have to worry (as much) about people crowding together or congregating for special occasions. (Fingers crossed!)

With that hope comes reason to be optimistic that 2021 won’t be like 2020, and that, by some time this coming summer, we’ll be back to some degree of normal. Even Dr. Fauci says that if all goes well with the vaccination campaign, we could approach herd immunity by the end of the summer, and be back to a normal “that is close to where we were before” by the end of 2021. Continue reading

Home Alone During the Coronavirus Pandemic: It’s Really Not That Bad

27 Apr

Home AloneDespite what that depressing Boston Globe article said this weekend, I didn’t choose to live alone.

Not recently, anyway.

When I first moved to Boston in March 1997, nearly a year after I graduated from college, I found myself a one-bedroom apartment. There was no grand plan or strategy involved; the timing was such that I needed to find a place relatively quickly, and I didn’t want to move in with strangers.

While I’ve moved multiple times since then, I’ve always lived by myself in a one-bedroom apartment. Sure, I thought I’d have moved in with someone else by now — someone I was in a relationship with, that is — but the stars haven’t aligned yet, so here I am.

My point is this: I’ve lived on my own for a while, and I’m used to it — and all the pros and cons that come with this kind of arrangement. I don’t regret living by myself, and most days, I’m perfectly comfortable still doing it. Continue reading

After a Sucky 2016, I’m Ready to Work for a Better Year Ahead

30 Dec

Photo credit: Blake Richard Verdoorn/

Photo credit: Blake Richard Verdoorn/

What a year for a new year, right?

At this point it’s become a cliché, but that’s because, for the most part, 2016 really did suck.

There was the long, contentious, ugly, controversial election, which further divided an already highly partisan country, raised serious questions about Russian interference, and may have set us on a direction to a nuclear arms race, high anxiety, and worse. Included in this was all the fake news, the ignorance of facts and reality, and the many, many ridiculous twists and turns that were often unbelievable.

There was all that death. It hurt time and again to lose legends and those some of us grew up with, from music icons like Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, Sharon Jones, and Glen Frey; to TV and movie favorites like Florence Henderson, Gene Wilder, Garry Marshall, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and Alan Thicke; to history-makers like Muhammad Ali, Elie Wiesel, and John Glenn. Can’t forget Harambe, of course. Or Jim Delligatti, the creator of the Big Mac. And that’s not even counting friends who’ve lost family members and other loved ones. Perhaps it’s appropriate, then, that at the end of December, we also lost Robert Leo Hulseman, the inventor of the Red Solo Cup. Continue reading

Another Year, Another Loop Around the Trail of Life

7 Jun


(Photo credit: Martin Lieberman)

Yesterday, soon after I woke up, I laced up my sneakers, strapped on my armband, cranked up some good tunes, and dragged my largely out-of-shape body to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, partly to “train” for this week’s Corporate Challenge (which I signed up for kind of as a goof, but now actually have to do), partly to work off some of the crap I’ve been eating lately, and partly because — well, did I really need a reason?

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t an easy go at first. I jogged some of the way there, then after a few stretches, started jogging around the 1.5-mile-long trail. Then I slowed to a power walk, and eventually just walked.

Three quarters of the way around my counter-clockwise loop, even though I had walked nearly all of it, I thought to myself, “That’s it. I’m done. Maybe I’ll just do one today. Maybe I’ll come back and do another one later today after I’ve rested. Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow.” I was trying to talk myself out of continuing.

But a funny thing happened as I neared the starting point on the Boston College side: I decided I could probably — and should definitely — do another. So I pushed myself to begin another loop around. 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

7 Things Not to Do When You Work Out

1 Apr

True to my word, I woke up early this morning (before 8 a.m. — on a Sunday!) and headed next door to the gym to begin my workout routine.

For anyone else out there who is thinking about getting their lazy ass off the couch and hitting the gym, I thought I’d share a list of things not to do.

Things that will ensure your workout is successful.

Consider it learnings from my experience. Continue reading

Change Is Good

30 Mar

Long-time readers of this blog know that I often write about needing change in my life.

Well, today I’m announcing some big changes. Three of them.

The first is the obvious one: I’ve moved my blog to a brand-new home.

After six and a half years at, Martin’s Musings has taken up residence at WordPress, and yes, here at

It’s the same blog you’ve come to know and love, but better.

For example, I’ve done away with the white-text-on-black-background look that screamed “Amateur!” and I’ve chosen what I think is a cleaner look for this new iteration.

In addition, now you can subscribe to the blog, so you won’t miss anything. Just type your email address in the field at the top-right-hand corner of this blog post.

And you now can share the blog posts you like, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and yes, on Google+ too. (All those options are at the bottom of this and every blog post.)

I’m even going to be writing more often than I have been, on some different topics than movies, so that’s something to look forward to as well.

Why is that? Well, that brings us to the second big change … Continue reading

I Resolve To …

1 Jan

Like it or not, January and 2010 are both here.

Among other things, that means it’s time to stop looking back and start to look forward.

In most cases, that also means coming up with some resolutions for things to change in the new year.

Generally, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I’m never able to keep them.

But this year I’m going to publish my list of resolutions here, and I’m hoping that the public declaration will help me stick to them.

So with that in mind, I resolve to … Continue reading

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