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June 2013

A Lovely Weekend

It is an honest joy to say that I still enjoy a weekend away with my wife after 33 years of marriage. She had continuing education classes in Sacramento, and invited me to join her. We took the Amtrak Capital Corridor, packed our weekend necessaries in two backbacks and took our bikes with us. Dinner at the Delta King! Two long rides on the American River trail (beautiful, but LOTS of pollen). We walked around downtown, where we also ate at the Grange restaurant (interesting vegetarian choices). While she was in class on Saturday, I got to ride the railway museum excursion train; I paid the extra $5 and rode first class in the air-conditioned El Dorado club car. Today, the excursion is only 3 miles, but but this time next year it may well be 16 miles. Worth the 40 minutes if you're in town. And as for the Capital Corridor, it is hard to beat, especially compared to Friday or Sunday afternoon traffic on Interstate 80.

Political Briefs

From Bob Nilsson:
Very interesting, jaw-dropping 6 minute interview on Marketplace this week with Donald Rumsfeld. In it he clarifies that Obama is to blame for Afghanistan and Clinton for Iraq. He was touting his new book on Rules and seems to have moved into a parallel universe, where he is big on assessment, but when asked about assessing himself and his period in office, he needs to be prodded with, “go ahead,” and still doesn’t answer the question. Kai Ryssdal asked whether Rumsfeld had read Robert McNamara’s memoirs, seen by many as an apology for Vietnam. Rumsfeld’s answer was no. The Daily Kos covered a couple of the interesting exchanges in the interview…..


Star Trek Into Darkness (3D/Imax)

4 stars out of 5
It was big, it was loud, it was in my face. It was J.J. Abrams' second bite at the rebooted Star Trek apple. I am a bit confused on the new reality, so I simply went along for the ride. I was early on the Benedict Cumberbatch train, having heard his drollery for several years on BBC Radio 4 before he came to these shores, first as Sherlock and now as a Star Trek villain. Many things blow up. People run, a lot. It is almost a meme in this movie. And, with utter futility, I object to the crappy editing in the "star ship crashes into San Francisco" scene which made it so difficult to follow. He was aiming for Starfleet Academy, but came up (I think) short. The villain destroyed scores of buildings and took thousands of lives, but thank God Starfleet he missed Starfleet. We were apparently supposed to be relieved. The whole thing seemed quite odd. But as this movie is review-proof, it doesn't really matter what I say about it. Parts of it were clever, parts of it paid homage to the Star Trek canon. And I've seen worse. More than two hours long, which is too long.

The Great Gatsby

4 stars out of 5
Astounding, amazing, incredible. Spectacle in every scene. Amazing music, amazing CGI, and faithful to F. Scott Fitzgerald's timeless plot. A real eyeful, and I saw it in 2-D. From the shots I saw, I can only imagine what an exhausting experience it must be to see it in 3-D. More than two and one half hours long which is WAY too long. Someday, someone is going to produce a 100-minute epic, and I am going to stand on my seat and cheer. Must length be our only signal that a movie is important? Kudos to Baz Luhrman for amazing directing, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey McGuire for amazing acting.

Kitlers, Dan Grobstein File

I have been informed that kittens who resemble Hitler (Kitlers) are now an internet meme. Or, more likely, they were a meme six months ago and I am just catching up.

Dan Grobstein File

On the Nature of Film

The only information source I have that is as rich as the Slate podcasts is the daily podcast of NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. This is an amazing segment from last week:

Scorsese Talks 'The Language Of Cinema' May 7, 2013 In a talk he titled "Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema," the famed director spoke passionately about the history of cinema and the films that stoked his love for the medium.

Regular readers will recall I have been musing here lately on cinema and my relationship to it. It was an unadulterated pleasure to hear Scorsese wax philosophical about film. He notes that film involves light, motion and time, which is why it is best viewed in a dark room where it is the only source of light. He points out that watching a film from 1895, we are both in 1895 and the present. "Film is not life, it is an evocation of life," he said, raising shared issues in both coded and indirect ways that allow for a shared experience, and, sometimes, a basis for discussing previosuly unspoken issues. My wife often says I take movies too seriously;  perhaps she does not take them seriously enough.

Wow! Also, I learned from Scorsese that the first cat video ever predates the Internet by just a bit: 100 years or so. Edison filmed boxing cats.

Speaking of Slate, this week it discussed and  posted a link to the transcript and video of Steven Soderbergh’s blistering  State of Cinema keynote from the San Francisco Film Festival.  No wonder he's giving up film-making. Paints a pretty dim picture, he does.

Danville Band Concert

I am the announcer for an 80-piece brass band. I also play tenor sax. Our concerts last about 90 minutes. It's OK if you don't come. Normally I don't do outreach, because our concerts are usually free. This is a big deal for us, because we're charging admission. If you've never seen me in a tux, now's your chance.

You should also consider coming to the free Christmas concert someday. It is a hoot.

Sunday, June 2, 2013
Lesher Center for the Arts
1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek
When: 4:00 p.m.
Cost: $15, Seniors and Youth $13

You can buy tickets here:

Nilsson on Cheney, Dan Grobstein File

From Bob Nilsson: Game Change: Cheney Opens Himself to Subpoena Regarding 9/11, Iraq, Torture and Valerie Plame When a former member of the Executive calls for Congress to subpoena another former member of the Executive, it is a game-changer. No longer can he rely on "Executive Privilege" to block his own testimony.

Dan Grobstein File