Friday, October 30, 2009

Jack explaining his great swim . . .

So a coach from another team told Meg that he went up to Jack after the 100-yard fly, and asked him how he swam so well in that heat. Jack tells him that he'll have to think about it, and will get back to him.

According to the coach, Jack comes up to him a half hour or so later and says that he has the answer. Jack's explanation for his great swim? "I did what my coach told me to do."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jack is 5th in the nation in 100-yard butterfly

Wow. Jack beat the club record for 9-year olds by two seconds last weekend for the 100-yard butterfly (something around 1:11, I don't recall the exact time off hand).

Not only that, but it appears from USA recordss that Jack is now 5th place in the nation for 9-year olds in the 100 yard butterfly, and 30th overall for nine and ten year olds.

Way to go, Jack!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two Really Good, Underrecognized Movies

Last night the kids and I watched a couple of scenes from the 1961 film musical, Bye, Bye, Birdie. That got me thinking about Dick Van Dyke, and one of the funniest, most bitter films I've ever seen, Cold Turkey. Normal Lear wrote and directed the movie, so you know where it's coming from. This 1971 film starts with a dog pissing on a sign that says "Eagle Rock's Churches Welcome You," and ends with the same dog pissing on a minister (played by Dick Van Dyke) as he lays on the ground shot through with a bullet. (It's funnier than it sounds.)

This is a very edgy role for Van Dyke. But it's not so much against type as it is through type. Dick Van Dyke's character in this film is to Dick Van Dyke's general screen persona what Mary Tyler Moore's character in Ordinary People (another very good movie) is to her persona in her well-known t.v. shows. In both cases, they draw on the darker potential of their more well-known, comedic personas. Very good stuff.

This reminded me of a second somewhat underrecognized movie that I really like and that also came out in 1971, A New Leaf. Elaine May wrote the screen play (based on Jack Ritchie's The Green Heart, which he later retitled A New Leaf). May also stars in the movie and directed it. Walter Matthau stars in the film as well.

This is one of the most charming movies I've ever seen. While much of the comedy is dark (and hilariously funny), the darkness is not unrelenting, and there is a simply charming turn in the story.

I've heard that the movie studio made Elaine May butcher the movie at the editing stage, making her cut the film by a third. She apparently hated the outcome. I would really love to see the screen play as May wrote it. I've been tempted to see if I could locate her and request a copy of the original screen play. I'm that much of a fan.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Evidence on Stimulus

Here's a summary an NBER study by economist Robert Barro and one of his students. Barro is a really level-headed economist who's willing to follow the evidence.