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Found 10 results

  1. This article claims that Yelp has offered to remove negative restaurant reviews for $299 a month. I really want to make some sort of joke here about running a $249 special on donrockwell.com, but instead I'll just shake my head in disbelief over the accusations. Cheers, Rocks.
  2. Can you believe that there is no general thread (at least none that I can find) here about Facebook? The reason I'm starting one now is because I've noticed a somewhat disturbing trend in the past few days. A few days ago, a Friend (whom I've only met once in my life, but who did a favor for me long ago) posted that for his birthday, he'd like people to donate to his favorite charity. I thought, "Well, what a nice thing to do. Sure, why not?" So I donated $20 out of respect, and wished him a Happy Birthday! I'd forgotten all about this - until I saw another Friend do a similar thing a couple of days ago. And another. And now another. Has anyone else noticed this on Facebook in the past week? Changing the subject a bit, the last two times I've donated money - once on Facebook, once on GoFundMe - including having given a fairly ample sum to a person who doesn't even seem to like me, but who seemed desperate - both times, I got not so much as a thank you, or even a "Like." Really? I don't expect anything in return when I give people something, but what has happened to common courtesy? The flip-side of this is that I gave a pretty substantial sum to an old high school buddy who really *was* desperate - he needed a kidney transplant, pronto. And a couple months ago, he got one, and is doing much better now - we haven't seen each other in 40 years, but now we've reconnected, and that makes all of this worthwhile.
  3. For several years, I was a Big Brother, until my little brother, Ali, his mom Iris, and his sister, Naimah, moved to San Diego to stake out a better life for themselves. I remember taking his family to the airport, and had to pay for their cat to get on the plane because they didn't have the money. I only saw Ali once more after that, a few years later when I went to visit their family out in San Diego. We drove up to Los Angeles because Ali wanted to go to the Spike Lee Store, where everything was overpriced and of questionable quality. I bought him a T-shirt, and paid twice what it was worth - I didn't want to drive back to San Diego without a momento from his hero. A few years before that, I had flown in from Moscow. Exhausted after traveling the better part of 24 hours, I was ready to collapse into bed, but checked my answering machine first. There was a message from Iris: Ali's best friend Frankie was shot and killed in a drug deal gone bad, and the funeral was in about one hour. Somehow, I found the strength to throw on a suit, and drive to Seat Pleasant, where I was the only white person at the funeral. Frankie's mom came up to me, and asked me to say a few words. To this day, I have no idea why - what the heck was I supposed to say? Fighting lack of concentration because of sleepiness, I fumbled through my speech, turned to Frankie lying in his coffin, and told him we all loved him - that won the audience over, and things went as well as they could have under the extreme amount of pressure I was under. Six years ago, I wondered what Ali had been up to, and I searched his name on the internet, only to find his obituary. I posted this. Frankie and Ali were both the finest young men. I loved them and miss them terribly to this day - their premature deaths are 100% attributable to the neighborhoods they grew up in - even though Iris tried her best to escape, it just wasn't enough. She didn't have the money. I did things with Ali and Frankie about once a week, and remember one day asking them where they went to school. "Taney Middle School," Ali said, which meant nothing to me, or to him, or to Frankie. But a few years later, I did a little research, and found that Roger B. Taney was a Supreme Court Justice. 'Okay,' I thought to myself, they had gone to a middle school named after a Supreme Court Justice. Then, I found out that Roger B. Taney was actually Chief Justice from 1836-1864, and was the person who wrote the majority decision in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857. These children were going to a school that was nearly 100% black, and the school was named after the Chief Justice who tried the Dred Scott case? I couldn't believe it, but over the years, I forgot all about it. Until recently, when it popped back into my mind, and I Googled to see if that school was really named after the same man who wrote the Dred Scott ruling - the ruling that said, blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Fortunately, in 1993, someone had the common sense to change the name of the school from "Roger B. Taney Middle School" to "Thurgood Marshall Middle School": "School May Change Name to Thurgood Marshall" on articles.orlandosentinel.com This column came out today: "Out with Redskins - and Everything Else!" by George F. Will on washingtonpost.com Will mixed up some valid points along with some reductio ad absurdum, as he seems to have a tendency to do - he's a smart guy; I wonder what he would say about Roger B. Taney Middle School educating a nearly all-black student body.
  4. This topic reminded me of the great Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda. The Pacific Pinball Museum is a privately owned (yet non-profit, 501(c)3 charity) run by a bonafide expert when it comes to pinball machines - from their history, to their mechanics. I spent about five minutes talking with the gentleman, and figured out that he runs this museum as a labor of love; not in order to acquire wealth. For $20 per adult, you can play to your heart's content, and I honestly haven't had this much fun in a long, long time - I spent several hours in there, feeling like I was a kid again - it was not that far away from being "a kid in a candy store." This place is a *little* light on the truly old (1930s) machines, but it has a few - these "Bagatelle" machines are almost like Pachinko, in that they're almost pure chance. The museum's playable selections run the gamut from the old, "cannot-defeat-gravity" (*) wooden models; to the new, "cannot-see-the-ball-because-it's-going-so-fast" digital wonders. Even if you live in San Francisco proper, it's worth a trip out here (I even found a *fantastic* Chinese restaurant in the vicinity which I'll find and report on). I urge anyone who loves, or even likes, Pinball to visit here - for me, it was like going to an amusement park with a Fast-Pass. As good as life gets! Some sample pictures I took (I visited in January, and would be there right now if it wasn't 3,000 miles away.) (*) As revolutionary as 1947's "Humpty Dumpty" sounds, it's nearly impossible to keep the ball in play for very long, as it invariably drops, drops, drops, until you can flip it no longer, and it sinks down into the pit. Here's a video I found of Humpty Dumpty in action, though not at this museum (playing this machine is more educational than fun): Actually, I found a video of a 1941 Genco "Seven Up" which is at the Pinball Museum. Do note: Most of the museum's machines are the type of "fast and fun" machines that we're all used to - these are mainly of historical interest (I just don't want you to think you're going to show up here, and be bored playing these antique machines - that's not the case at all):
  5. I feel like I just watched the love child of "Do the Right Thing" and "Pulp Fiction." On hallucinogens, because for whatever reason, I could *swear* I remember the story line about Sgt. John Ryan (Matt Dillon) helping his father (Bruce Kirby) off the toilet, but that's forty minutes into the movie, and I remember *nothing* else up to that point; yet, I remember this scene so vividly that ... how could I *not* have seen this film before? This scene isn't exactly a highlight that they'd put on YouTube. "Crash" would make a fine episode of a television series; to win an award signifying "Best Motion Picture" of the entire year? Boy, that's a real stretch - it is hit-you-over-your-head obvious (not the plot; the presentation), in a terribly condescending way. All these different train wrecks have departed towns such as "Meanville," "Nastyland," etc., and they're each taking the express lane to "Luv Station." Meh, like I said - a fine television episode; not best picture material by any means. Although I love the message of this film, it resonates the same with me as Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature - just as some serious author or poet who spent a lifetime honing their craft got cheated out of a literary award, a more serious, less contrived film got cheated out of the Academy Award for Best Picture - that's not to say that Dylan is "bad" at literature, or that Crash is a "bad" movie; just that neither perform - *in these particular categories* - at these (theoretically) most prestigious levels of accolades. An interesting sidenote: Although "Crash" was released in 2004, it didn't qualify for the 2005 Academy Awards because it didn't play for at least one week in Los Angeles. Aug 12, 2015 - "Paul Haggis: Crash Didn't Deserve Best Picture Oscar" by Ben Child on theguardian.com
  6. Not only have I never seen "Million Dollar Baby," I know nothing about it other than that it's a boxing movie directed by and starring Clint Eastwood and Hillary Swank, and won a Best Picture award - I didn't even know Morgan Freeman was in it until five minutes ago. This falls within that "post-Karen, pre-DR period" where I went a long time without seeing any movies. I spent many years, decades ago, being a student of film, but I let it slip because I got busy with other aspects of life - although I have a lot of catching up to do, it's coming back very, very quickly. Well, for once, I watched the entire film without writing any of the review during the movie - that's because it was so damned good that I didn't want to pry myself away from the film. This movie is a masterpiece, and not only must it surely be Clint Eastwood's finest directorial effort, but Eastwood also *composed the score*! I think that right now, he can take his place as the most important - or legendary - figure in all of Hollywood: He is our generation's version of the stereotypical Hollywood legend. "Million Dollar Baby" goes on my Top 10 List, or Top 20 List, or Top 5 List, or whatever number happens to resonate with me on a particular day. It's not a "boxing movie" any more than "Unforgiven" is a "western." I'm forcing myself to look at this without looking at any awards, but I do know it won Best Picture. I could also see it winning Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and numerous others - in fact, I'd be surprised if it didn't. How much did this movie affect me? I want to hurry up and finish writing this review so I can see an interview with Hillary Swank about the film, just to know she's okay. *** SPOILER ALERT *** Going into the plot would be redundant and pointless. Just allow me to say that "Million Dollar Baby" is one of the finest films I've ever seen, and that it should be among the pantheon of all-time Hollywood greats. How can Clint Eastwood keep getting better-and-better as he keeps getting older-and-older? I enjoyed "Gran Torino," but that was at a whole other level. Note, however, that both films involve Eastwood coming to terms with religion, atoning for past sins, giving up his life for others, and presenting Catholic Priests - not as characters to be mocked, but as supportive figures, which he badly needs. It's as if Eastwood realizes he's approaching the end of life, and he's displaying all his foibles for us on the big screen. Make *sure* to see "Million Dollar Baby" at least once in your life; just do *not* be prepared to come away feeling the way you did after you saw "Rocky." This is one of the best films I've ever seen, but it's also one of the most depressing films I've ever seen, and it's not a "boxing" film per se. I have one question: When Maggie (Hillary Swank) fought for the title, why wasn't she awarded the bout? How is it possible that she wasn't? It would have been *so* much easier to take the ending had she only known that she was, ever so briefly, the champion of the world - which she rightly was.
  7. This 2004 film depicts Margaret Cho performing stand-up comedy at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles (that's why I'm putting it in the sparsely populated Theater Forum). I haven't seen the entire film, but there's one laugh-out-loud funny scene from it that I confess to having watched about five times. Fair warning: This is Margaret Cho at her absolute crudest, which is positively NSFW! You might want to watch it alone so your loved ones don't see you doubled-over laughing at such a thing.
  8. If anyone could commit to being my reading-discussion partner with "Runaway," I'd love to do something similar to what we're doing with "Troilus and Cressida" over in the theatre forum. Obviously, the more the merrier, but I need at least one person. I'd never read Alice Munro before she won last year's Nobel Prize for Literature (*), but from what little I've read so far, she is an astounding, amazing, unique writer - as Cynthia Ozick states in something of a hyperbolic fit: she is "Our Chekhov." Or, as Jonathan Franzen writes: "Runaway is so good that I don't want to talk about it here. Quotation can't do the book justice, and neither can synopsis. The way to do it justice is to read it ... Which leaves me with the simple instruction that I began with: Read Munro! Read Munro!" The eight stories are between 33 and 65 pages long, depending on which edition you have. This book is easily found in Barnes and Noble, and can be ordered in paperback from Amazon (the book pictured is the exact edition I have). Having recently spent some time in Vancouver and Victoria, BC, this book is especially meaningful to me because Munro writes about "little things" from small-town British Columbia (this "Impressionist-like" celebration of local, ordinary life is what inspired Ozick's Chekhov comment, although Munro's laser-like prose is certainly not Impressionistic). Unlike Shakespeare, we can't copy the text here which is a shame, but it's all we have to work with. Who's in? Let's begin with story #1: the eponymous "Runaway." (*) It's such a shame Eudora Welty passed away before she, herself, won the prize.
  9. Founded in 1993, and featuring Paul Sabourin (tenor), Richard Hsu (tenor, keyboard), Greg "Storm" DiCostanzo (baritone), and Bernie Muller-Thym (bass (vocal), guitar), the a cappela quartet "Da Vinci's Notebook" toured through 2004, and can still be reached through their website. Former Artists-in-Residence at the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts, they have also been featured on Comedy Central and PBS. Here's Da Vinci's Notebook performing one of their seminal bits, "Enormous Penis," from their 2002 album, "Brontosaurus":
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