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How to Teach a Film Course

Teaching a course on film can be one of the major joys of the educational process as long as both instructor and student are on the same page of expectation.  You cannot spend class time watching the assigned movies.  You must use that precious class time together to discuss and dissect the films frame by frame — but you cannot do that unless and until the students have watched the movies on their own time beyond the classroom.

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Peter Stone and the Short Con

Peter Stone was a great writer of Broadway musicals, movies and television.  He was also prickly, an un-diagnosed INTJ personality, and a good friend and mentor.  Peter always told me I was more than an assistant.  I was his associate. That distinction with a difference meant a great deal to me.

When Peter was working on — The Will Rogers Follies — we had a lunch routine we never broke:  Tuna fish sandwiches on a roll with mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato and provolone and a Martinelli’s apple cider to wash it all down.  Our time to talk about life and art and living was in that break when we’d walk to and from the corner deli to pick up our lunch.

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Eddie Lang: The Father of Jazz Guitar Review

Eddie Lang is the greatest Jazz guitar player you have probably never heard of before today.  Eddie Lang died in 1933 at the age of 30 after a botched tonsillectomy that Bing Crosby urged him to have so Eddie could have speaking roles, in addition to playing the guitar, in Bing’s movies.  Today, a new Eddie Lang album dropped — The Father of Jazz Guitar — and it is a delightful experience to hear Eddie’s archtop guitar sound so round and rich and full and warm 80 years after he first recorded the songs.

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Censoring The King's Speech

It is never an easy nor a short path from when a film is first conceived and when that same film is being watched — to a big calorie-rich bucket of popcorn in the lap. The idea for the film can come from many a place — in the case of “The King’s Speech,” it came from something that actually happened in history.

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Early Childhood Education Prevents Future Crime

Growing up, my late grandmother used to tell me that the first seven years of a child’s life would determine the way that person would behave as an adult — this idea has been explored extensively by television and film director Michael Apted in his Up series of films, which revisits a diverse group of individuals around England every seven years since they were seven years old — they are now all close to fifty.

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Favorites of 2010

This was a spectacular year for me, all things considered. While I didn’t particularly watch a lot of television, or see too many films, it was definitely one of the best years of my life if not the best year thusfar. Let’s see why — starting with my favorite things of the year and then moving onto why I really loved the year.

Movies and Television
I didn’t go out to the movie theater too many times this year. It wasn’t a matter of not having any interest in the films being played, but rather of having my time being taken up by actual living, so to speak. When I did get to the theater, it was only for a couple of films that I really wanted to see. A bit of a contrast with, say, the summer of 2004 when Elizabeth and I somehow managed to see practically every movie playing in the theaters.

The two films that I distinctly remember seeing in theaters were the Woody Allen film You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Toy Story 3. I particularly liked You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger though, predictably, it was panned by many critics. Was it a film of tremendous substance? It certainly was not — even the film admits it in a roundabout way as it opens, referencing Macbeth who said that life was “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing…” Nevertheless, this tale was a fun one to watch.

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Why the American Musical Theatre Must Have an Aesthetic Morality

The American Musical Theatre needs to have an Aesthetic Morality — because it does not yet have any sort of directional mandate for excellence — other than the annual, presumptive, parade of giving out incestuous Tony and Drama Desk awards to their own for shared masturbatory adoration.

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