Archive | November, 2011

George Harrison. RIP.

30 Nov

George Harrison

Already 10 years ago today George Harrison died. He was of course one of the greater musicians of our time playing guitar and writing songs for the most prominent and influential band in the history of music–The Beatles.

The Beatles revolutionized music and Harrison was responsible for writing 31 of their songs. In memory I will list my five favorite Beatles songs written by Harrison.

1) Here Comes the Sun

2) The Taxman

3) Something

4) I Want to Tell You

5) I Need You

Bonnie Prudden: Fitness Devotee

27 Nov

“You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.” -Bonnie Prudden

Bonnie Prudden

Bonnie Prudden is one of the most important American fitness innovators that you’ve likely never heard of. As an athletic prodigy turned fitness pioneer, Prudden was and still is the epitome of physical prowess. At almost 98 she is struggling with her health, so direct communication with Prudden is difficult. Through communication with her care taker and long time business partner Enid Whittaker, I was able to create this feature. I am pleased to introduce to you Bonnie Prudden.

A Star is Born

It wasn’t long after Bonnie Prudden’s birth on January 14, 1914 that she became notorious for her physical prowess.  As a 4-year old she would climb out of her 2nd story bedroom window and down a tree to the street below to wander the neighborhood at night.

At a very late hour one night she knocked on a neighbor’s door informing them that she was there to pay them a visit. The surprised neighbors made her some hot chocolate and then proceeded to call her parents to notify them where Prudden was.

Her late night climbing escapades did not thrill her parents. Unable to control their daughter Prudden’s mom took her to the doctor to seek out advice to control her mischievous nature. The doctor informed Prudden’s mother that their was nothing wrong with Bonnie. However she needed some discipline in her life, that her physicality left her with way too much energy at night.

So her mother enrolled her in Russian Ballet classes. The plan worked, as 3 nights of ballet a week left Prudden with little energy to climb out of her window at night, instead opting to sleep.

By age 10 she began to flourish in the ballet becoming a professional dancer performing briefly on Broadway.

Prudden was far from one dimensional as an athlete. Along with dancing she excelled at skiing, swimming, riding, tennis and rock climbing.

Rock climbing was the sport she became most well known for in her life. As a climber she made 30 first ascents, often outdoing her legendary male counterparts and climbing buddies Hans Kraus, Fritz Weissner and Ken Prestrud.

Her favorite climbing spot was “The Gunks” or the Shawangunk Ridge in New York where she was the first person make the ascent to what became known as Bonnie’s Roof.

As a skier she was the first female to receive a National Ski Patrol Badge. This recognized her for helping skiers that got stuck and she would help them.

Her athletic ability was unmatched by most females, breaking one barrier after another en route to becoming a fitness icon.

Overcoming Adversity 

When Prudden was 23 she badly fractured her pelvis in a skiing accident. The doctors told her that she would forever walk with a limp and that she would never again dance, ski,  climb or have children.

This didn’t stop Bonnie, who after having 2 children, returned to her love of climbing.

Because Prudden was in excellent shape to start, a recovery was not unfathomable to her. She spent lots of time doing exercises in the water in Florida to recover. Eventually she returned to her form.

State of Fitness Address

In the early 40’s Prudden used a test created by Doctors Hans Kraus and Sonja Weber to test the physical fitness of children in several countries across the globe.

The Kraus-Weber test involved 6 simple movements to be performed in 90 seconds. Prudden found that in the United States the failure rate was overwhelmingly the highest. At a 58% fail rate Prudden deemed United States children “the least fit in the world”. To Prudden it was unfathomable that the richest country in the world could be one of the most unhealthy. In her words “Physical education had committed suicide.”

Her response to the issue was to testify before Dwight Eisenhower about the troubling direction of fitness in the USA. The evidence provided by Prudden, convinced the president to form the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

The Birth of a Fitness Icon

Success in creating the President’s Council on Physical Fitness led to fame for Prudden who over the coming years would became a major spokesperson in the world of physical fitness.

In 1957 she began writing weekly pieces for Sports Illustrated, teaching readers how to keep fit and active.

Courtesy of Green Valley News

She also wrote the first book on physical fitness entitled “Is your Child Really Fit?”.  In total she wrote 22 books on physical fitness.

Her writing lead to frequent appearances on The Home Show and the Today show and then in 1968 her very own show The Bonnie Prudden Show. Her own show featured 3 segments. A segment in which she answered letters people sent to her, an interview segment and then she would conclude with an exercise segment. The content of her show was like no other at the time. Titles included “Sex, Socialism and Suicide”, “ Yes Virginia, There is a Swiss Navy!”, “Fear is another Word for Ignorance” and many more engaging titles. A worldly Bonnie brought new ideas, humor and good advice every week to her viewers.

Prudden Leading Class

Bonnie appeared on the Today show for 2 years before the network decided to start advertising dieting pills prior to her segment. Bonnie ask them to remove the ads because she did not endorse the product and thus did not want to be associated with the product. Since they would not remove the product, Prudden left the show.

It was Bonnie’s stance that she would never endorse a product that she didn’t feel good about or that she felt was promoting false statements. She had offers from various companies to endorse their product but she was unwilling.

On August 5th 1957 she was the first female to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She introduced the world to the Leotard. In doing so she made a fashion statement.

Bonnie Prudden on SI Cover

Innovating Female Fashion

When she appeared on the cover of SI it was the beginning of a fashion movement. Prudden realized when she was a 15-year old competing in the high jump (she won) that women athletic apparel was not up to par with mens. It wasn’t even athletic apparel, just calf-length bloomers, collared shirt and a hat.

Prudden knew that this type of apparel was not conducive to exercising.

“Women  clothes were frumpy if women were gonna exercise, they needed fashion. The fashion helped promote the exercise.” said Prudden.

Prudden conceptualized new fashions by sketching them out. Her good friend Ben Sommers who was the head of  Capezio Dance apparel at the time would then sew Prudden’s designs. The Leotard that she appeared in on SI was the first of its kind and was just the first of many new fashions Prudden would go on to create.

Erasing Pain

In the mid 1970s Prudden created a new physical therapy that she would later call Myotherapy.

Myotherapy effectively relieves musculoskeletal pain by putting pressure on very specific trigger points for an extended period of time. Doing so releases the pressure in the muscles and effectively relieves the pain.

Myotherapy was conceived  of on one of Prudden’s climbs with Dr. Kraus. Right before they were to go on a challenging climb, Prudden’s neck began acting up. The stiffness made turning her head unbearable. Dr. Kraus pressed his thumb into the back of her neck to help relieve her pain and the pain actually dissipated.

“It felt like my eyes were gonna pop out.” said Prudden

At this point she realized how trigger point therapy could be effective against all types of pain.

The method requires the patient to do assigned exercises to help relieve pain between treatments. In doing so the pain will be relieved. In approximately 3 to 7 treatments a person can be fully recovered and also learn how to perform the therapy on themselves.

Prudden’s method has been well recognized for it’s pain erasing benefits, as many recognizable figures have used it to relieve pain. Most notably musician Leonard Bernstein and former major league baseball Home run champ Mark McGwire.

The method has helped countless people to this day and continues to do so.

Achievements

In November 2007 Prudden was honored with the President’s Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  An award recognizing her overall accomplishments as a fitness pioneer.

It is an award fitting for the person that Bonnie Prudden is. A loving and caring person. exuberant well into her late 90s, Prudden is influential to all of our lives even if we are not aware of it.

Prudden’s impact will have lasting effects, as her workout program Keep Fit be Happy is one of the few that can be done by all age groups. She emphasized making exercise accessible to anyone and she had a lifetime goal of making everyone the healthiest they could be.

Prudden is one of those influential figures that comes around only ever so often and for that she will be recognized for generations to come, even if we are not aware of it.

Remember while you can’t turn back the clock. You can always wind it up again. Truer words have never been spoken.

What have I been listening to lately…Foals

27 Nov

Foals

If your looking for a really great band to listen to, give Foals a try. There 2010 album Total Life Forever has literally been stuck on repeat on my ipod for over 2 months now.

I originally started listening to the album, which was nominated for a Mercury Prize (UK’s top music award) last year and then recently started listening to it again.

My first go around with the album left me very impressed. My second go around has me highly anticipating there next album.

While the album is brilliant from start to finish, my standout favorites are “Spanish Sahara”, “After Glow”, “Black Gold” and “Alabaster”.

Give a listen below if you like.

Houston Astros Switch leagues

27 Nov

A few days ago the Houston Astros found out that in 2013 they would become an official member of the AL West. This will be quite a dramatic shift from their cozy spot in the NL Central. A place where they have resided since 1994.

This is big news in the baseball world. First it puts both the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros in the same league/division for the first time in history, creating what is sure to be a solid rivalry. Instead of playing only 6 interleague games against each other. The two teams will now be treated to playing 18 games against one another. Furthermore the games that they play against eachother will matter, as they now find themselves competing for the same elusive playoff spot.

This is good for baseball and it’s good for Texas. Any naysayers should be swayed by the fact that having both Texas’ baseball teams in the same division should improve attendance numbers for both teams because interstate rivalries are usually a big draw. Factor in the amount of times they play and you’re looking at a substantial financial bonus.

This is good for baseball because it finally evens the amount of teams in the AL and NL to a solid 15 a piece. This makes adding another wild card to both leagues more feasible something that will go into effect as soon as next year.

There are a lot of people who don’t want to see the Astro’s go to AL because it changes the dynamic of the team and league. Baseball is different in the AL, as the Astros will now have A DH (designated hiter) and will be faced with having to play high payroll teams like the Yankees and Red Sox on a regular basis.

However this is a change that had to be made and lets face it. Its good for baseball.

AL MVP

22 Nov

Justin Verlander

Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, Willie Hernandez, Roger Clemens, Dennis Eckersley are all recognized not only as great pitchers but as the only 10 pitchers in MLB history to win both the MVP and Cy Young in the same season.

Well…You can add an 11th member.

Justin Verlander.

In an era where it is uncommon for a pitcher to even be considered realistically for the MVP.  Verlander’s feat is far more impressive.

Verlander has now won the triple crown, Cy Young and MVP awards caping one of the best pitching seasons in recent history with a bang.

Here are his numbers from this past season.

24-5, 2.40 E.R.A, 250 SO

 

Tobias Canto: A Passion For Film.

21 Nov

Tobias Canto

Toby Canto was in the 6th grade when he realized what his life long passion would be. An after school coordinator was playing a movie-actor game. She would say an actors name and the kids were urged to answer with a movie that correlated with the actor. For the most part she would say movies that the kids would know. For fun though she decided to throw out the name Orson Welles, which she presumed would be obscure to the children. They were indeed befuddled. Except for Canto, who replied nonchalantly “Citizen Kane”.  His supervisor was taken a back.

It was right then and there that Canto knew his interest in movies was far more than a fleeting hobby. “I had never actually seen Citizen Kane but as a kid, I would read the TV guide and I would remember names that went with movies. At that point I knew that movies was kind of an obsession.” Said Canto

Growing up in Tucson, Arizona Canto originally has aspirations to be an actor, something he participated in during his high school years, however Canto eventually realized his passion for film wasn’t only about acting. He wanted to be at head of making movies as well.

“Growing up watching works of Directors such as Edgar Wright, Frank Darabont and David Fincher, I became fascinated with the process of filmmaking.  I realized that there was this very involved technical side to filmmaking and decided I want to do that more than act.” Said Canto.

As of now Canto has only one feature film under his belt, ‘Dorm of the Dead’.  The process of making the film has been his greatest learning experience as a filmmaker thus far and plans to use the knowledge he’s gained as a catapult into bigger and greater works.

The process in which the opportunity to make a feature came about for Canto was quite intriguing.

As  Canto Explains “It was our senior producing capstone class. The class was divided into two semesters. The first section is working with a BFA production student and producing their senior thesis film. After that first semester you don’t really do anything and that was frustrating to me.  Our teacher managed to get us passes to the American Film Market in Los Angeles for a very good price and this was an interesting class trip because as a class we got to see the film distribution process. What we realized is that a lot of bad films get distributed so it inspired us to make something hopefully better than those films that would get distributed.”

Upon returning from the American Film Market Canto approached his producing capstone professor about the idea of spending the next semester making a movie. He agreed as long as the class had a script written by christmas break. Toby had an idea in his back pocket entitled ‘Dorm of the Dead’ and so he submitted that script and his professor accepted.

This was the first time a student had every shot a full feature length film on the campus of the University of Arizona.

screen shot from dorm of the dead

Over the next year Canto and his class worked tirelessly at making Dorm of the Dead.

When they finally finished the film was well received winning best student film at the Phoenix Comic-Con.

“It was really awesome to get recognized for a film I had finally finished. Until that point I had just made very short films. This was my first feature.” Said Canto.

It is from this experience that Canto looks to create a successful career in filmmaking.

Dorm of the Dead

“I’ve got a lot of ideas. Right now I am working on a mockumentary, that I am really excited about and on top of that I am a part of a sketch comedy troupe that I help formed called Tea Time For Felines, which is real fun. Down the road I just want to make movies and maybe act a little you never know what will happen.” Said Canto.

For those who are interested in a career in filmmaking, Canto has one piece of advice. “Just make movies, it’s seriously the best way to get good at it.”

The Demise of the Film Critic

20 Nov
As Resources Dwindle, Newspapers Send Their Dedicated Film Critics Packing
Steven Josh, Margaret Christine Perkins, and Lucas Ayoub,
St. Edwards University
Austin
The opinion of a film critic was once one of the strongest factors in determining the success of a movie. Today, we are finding that the opinions of these professional movie critics, such as Roger Ebert, may be completely irrelevant to today’s audiences. There has often been a poorly reviewed movie that made it big at the box office. This ineffectiveness has the film industry wondering if movie critics are still needed.
The more in-depth analysis of critics are too specialized and complex to appeal to the mainstream. Originally these critiques were made for the general public, but with their over-analyzing they seem to be relevant to only film buffs and students. Discussing what the director was trying to portray with the use of “the black tree in the backyard” doesn’t really matter to the mainstream
Shows like Ebert and Roeper were created to tell audiences whether or not they should waste their time on a movie. Today, audiences are making that judgment on their own. It seems like the only factor that determines if a film does well prior to its premiere is if the movie’s trailer does it’s job by “wowing” audiences. With the creativity in making a trailer a movie of it’s own, the public is ignoring the critics and placing their decisions on these two-minute shorts.The rise of many websites and entertainment providers, such as Rotten Tomatoes.com and Netflix, are al so changing the game in offering a more popular source of public opinion. Websites make it more convenient for people to go online and get all the information on a movie that they need. They are able to watch trailers, read plot summaries, check the box office charts, and read comments by other people with the same goal as them, to select an enjoyable movie to watch.

As the rise of other opinion sources come, we are seeing a decline in movie critics. Newspaper companies, such as the Austin American Statesman, did not even have full-time movie critics on their staff as they once had before. More recently, Roger Ebert has said that his movie review television show, At The Movies, is in danger of cancellation due to lack of funding. Although this is not discussed, the lack of funding could be the effect of lack of interests. –Steven Josh

As more readers substitute online sources for the content previously obtained from their local newspapers, revenue has been drastically reduced.  Newspapers have fought to embrace new business models to remain solvent.
In a move to focus dwindling resources and trim expenses in a way that offers unique content to ensure relevance to the reader, papers are sharpening their focus on local topics with a clear connection to the community to compete with online news sites.
Since 2007, newspapers in Tampa, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Denver, Dallas, and Houston have all released their film critic staff, opting to use wire reviews such as the Associated Press, and other content from other national news organizations for content that covers the national film scene, while spreading their editorial staff to cover film news of local significance.
For example, Rich Copley, who covers film as part of his job as culture writer at the Herald-Leader in Lexington, Kentucky, (will cover a George Clooney film, because Lexington is) Clooney’s birthplace. In fact, although Lexington may not spring to mind when most people think of movie capitals, the city is a good example of the reach that film can have in Middle America: Copley also closely tracks Johnny Depp and Ashley Judd, two stars with Kentucky roots, as well as former state gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lunsford, whose production company helped finance Sundance Audience Award-winner “Grace is Gone.” For several years, Copley has followed the work of Jason Epperson, who appeared on the Fox reality show and filmmaking competition “On the Lot” this summer.

“You have to keep an eye out for local talent,” Copley says. “And when a film like ‘Seabiscuit,’ which is about thoroughbred racing and where they spent a month here filming, comes along, there is tremendous interest here,” he notes.   The End of the Affair,American Journalism Review, September 2007

While the trend, historically, has been that good reviews equal good box office, neither the professional critic, nor the opinion of the citizen/consumer presently has as clear a correlation.  —Margaret Christine Perkins

Before the advent of the Internet and the over-saturation of film reviews that came with it, It was safe bet that a film receiving critical praise had as about much pull at the box-office as say a trailer premiering during the Super Bowl does now. However these days a good review is not an accurate predictor of a film’s financial success.
In fact there appears to be no correlation between critical praise and financial success.  In the past weekend alone the top two grossing films at the box office ‘Immortals’ and ‘Jack and Jill’ were considered financial successes despite being critical failures.
Then there are films that have received positive reviews from both critics and audiences alike such as ‘Drive’, ‘Warrior’ and ‘50/50’, however that also did not correlate to box-office success.
What this suggests is that financial success for a movie is about as random as winning the lottery, or maybe it’s not.
There is one thing that can certainly be agreed on. The films that have the greatest financial success are the ones that are generally well advertised and liked by both critics and audiences alike.
For instance the upcoming film ‘The Adventures of Tin Tin’ is sure to be a smashing success at the box-office due to its wide reaching advertising campaign, positive reviews overseas and the fact that it’s a story that’s well known and has far reaching appeal. Throw director Steven Spielberg into the mix and you’re sure to have at the very least a 300 million dollar box-office success on your hands.
If this is the case, then it is safe to assume, that the opinion of the critic has been severely diminished over the past couple decades.  There is still a place for critics during the months of November to January. It is during this time that the major Oscar contenders start being released in bunches. For some reason most people are more willing to watch a film that a critic praises as Oscar worthy. In this way critics are useful at bringing people to the box-office during the holiday season and Oscar contenders often times may need that extra added push. –Lucas Ayoub