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Don’t Forget All the Good Times We Had in 2016

31 Dec

2016-videoMuch has been made about how sucky 2016 was. And for good reason: For the most part, it was a pretty bad year.

But dwelling only on the negative does a disservice to all the good times some of us had. Continue reading

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

30 Dec
Photo credit: Blake Richard Verdoorn/Unsplash.com

Photo credit: Blake Richard Verdoorn/Unsplash.com

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

Everybody Wanted Some Good Movies in 2016!!

27 Dec

everybody-wants-someEvery year around this time, movie watchers put on end-of-the-year goggles and delight in the riches that come with awards season movie releases.

Funny thing is, it wasn’t so long ago that many of those same people (myself included) were bemoaning the lack of quality releases this year. For example, in September, in a column on the sorry state of movies, Boston Globe critic Ty Burr actually wrote, “Someday we may look back on 2016 as the year the movies died.” Ouch. (And this was less than a year after Spotlight, a fantastic movie about a group of dogged Boston Globe reporters, won all kinds of awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture.)

There was also a great video by a YouTuber who calls himself the Nerdwriter about the epidemic of “passable” movies.

To be sure, neither Ty or the Nerdwriter — or the multiple other critics who wrote similar columns — was wrong. Much of 2016 did feel seriously lacking in great cinematic pleasure.

And yet, here we are. Continue reading

I’m 42, and I Have No Idea What That Really Means

7 Jun

42 candlesAs you get older, you start to ask the big questions. Like, for example, what is the meaning of life?

So here’s a fun fact.

If you ask the Google machine what the answer to life, the universe, and everything is, the answer you get is 42.

That’s right, forty-two. Continue reading

When Is a College Reunion Not a College Reunion?

5 Jun

brandeis_reunionSo, here’s the thing about college reunions. Mine, anyway.

Ten years out of school is a significant milestone. Which is probably why, at my 10-year reunion, there was great attendance — in addition to many members of our class, there were lots of spouses and kids in tow. And it very quickly turned into a disappointing, awfully superficial affair: Many people overdid it with the hyperbole (they had “the most wonderful husband” and “the best kids”) to show off how well they were doing, and made all kinds of excuses about why they hadn’t stayed in touch over the years. It was kind of like the old-fashioned cliché of reunions, complete with social anxiety and lots of one-upmanship. (Remember: This was in 2006, when most people weren’t using Facebook.)

Suffice it to say, as a single guy who was frustrated personally and professionally at the time, it really wasn’t my scene. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, there were folks there I didn’t care to see (like, ever), who I went out of my way to avoid. So I didn’t enjoy that reunion very much. No surprise. And I skipped my 15-year reunion altogether.

This weekend, at my 20-year college reunion (a fact I’m still trying to wrap my head around), it was a very different scene. Continue reading

Keeping Things in Perspective Made 2015 a Great Year

31 Dec

IMG_9182According to multiple reports, 2015 was a great year for the average human being. Well, I must be average because I did have a pretty great year.

Actually, all kidding aside, if there’s one good thing the article I linked to in that first paragraph does, it’s put the year into perspective. Yes, mass shootings, racism, terrorism, and other awful things dominated the headlines, from Charleston to Israel to Paris to Syria to San Bernardino to wherever Donald Trump was speaking. But let’s not forget, there was also much to celebrate: the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, the Patriots won the Super Bowl, and in many ways, quality of life for the considerable majority of the planet’s population actually improved this year.

Continue reading

Putting the Spotlight on My Favorite Movies of 2015

29 Dec

jurassic-worldWhat a great year for the movies 2015 was. Yes, I say that every year, because when you’re looking back on your favorite releases, it’s hard not to think positively.

But the fact is, going to the movies brought me a lot of pleasure this year, and not always due to conventionally good films.

To that end, two of the most enjoyable movies I saw, Jurassic World and, especially, San Andreas, delivered exactly what I wanted them to despite (or maybe because of) dubious quality.

Other films were pleasant surprises, like The Peanuts Movie, Ant-Man, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — and I mention that last film not just because it featured Alicia Vikander’s most adorable, most endearing, and most winning performance of the year.

I saw a lot of excellent documentaries this year, including Sunshine Superman, The Wolfpack, He Named Me Malala, and The Hunting Ground, and I watched as one of my all-time favorite docs, Man on Wire, became a drama: The Walk.

All this is to say, it was fun to be a frequent moviegoer this year. And frequent I was: I saw a total of 85 movies — more than I’ve ever seen in a single year.

Seeing so many movies made it even more of a challenge to narrow them down to my 10 favorites; you’ll notice the ones mentioned above didn’t even make my list. Which ones did make the list? Let’s get to it. Continue reading