Saturday, June 24, 2006

Omar Ricardo and His Many, Many Women

I just got back from Johnson Hall in beautiful downtown Gardiner where I witness the featured performance by the legendary, Cuban ex-patriot Omar Ricardo.

What a show!

How can one describe Omar Ricardo? With the phrasing of Sinatra, the sexiness of Tom Jones, the power of Bobby Darin, and the talent of Elvis, Ricardo is a force to be reckoned with. Awarded the American Freedom Medal by President Reagan in 1983, Omar Ricardo is the greatest Cuban exported talent since Ricky Ricardo (rumored to be distant cousin).

From the Johnson Hall’s website, you can read the citation from President Reagan:

"Omar, your long, sometimes painful journey here from the collapsing casinos of Havana and the clutches of Castro's Communism was the very salvation of sensational Las Vegas showmanship. Your example has inspired untold millions of washed-up has-beens, outmoded amateurs, and penniless social ciphers to follow you into the ranks of show-biz luminaries who make life so worthwhile…

"Fellow Americans, this little mother pulls more weight with your President than an entire twenty mule team. It is with pride and pleasure that I present you, Omar Sanchez y Sumadre Diaz de Ricardo with the American Freedom Medal. Thank you, Omar. You are a beacon in a dark world.”

I am blessed.

For those who could not be there, pictures and a video (Warning: 52 MB) are available on the website of the Gaslight Theater.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hurray for Bill

Bill Gates
The news this week that Microsoft (MS) co-founder Bill Gates was leaving MS to spend more time with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation should not really come as a surprise – in spite of what the national news media thinks.

It was either a slow news day on Thursday when NBC Nightly News heralded the news as their lead story, or they have not been paying much attention.

The Gates Foundation is of course well known here in Maine for funding a number of projects associated with everything from public libraries, to Maine’s Promising Futures, to the George Mitchell Scholarship Research Institute (and Great Maine Schools project) to laptops in schools.

Despite Apple Computer’s foothold with the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), Gates and his dollars have been extremely beneficial to the schools and citizens of Maine. I just wish the Apple Nuts would appreciate this as well.

So, good luck Bill and Melinda. And, thank you!


Sunday, June 11, 2006

My DaVinci Code

Can you handle one more review of the film, The DaVinci Code?


I liked it.

I suppose there is are few people on the planet who have not heard at least some of the hype about this book and new movie. Probably most of the information out there is distorted to some degree. Having personally not read the book, only reading countless reviews and op pieces, seeing the movie, and viewing umpteen "unlocking" videos and specials on The History Channel, I guess I was pleasantly surprised to find the movie, and story, more compelling and interesting than I had expected.

Yes, from all of these other sources, all of the "mystery" and suspense of the story line was already well known and I did find myself predicting correctly the outcomes and even some of the dialogue (not a very difficult task). But, I clearly enjoyed the action and pace of the film and found some degree of suspense after all.

I actually received a copy of the book when it first came out and was quickly rising to the top of the NYT's best sellers list. Around the same time I discovered the first "debunking" website which even included a game element of having to search through "clues" to find additional "facts." So, I was a skeptic from the beginning and figured I would save myself from the chore of reading the book. I lent it to some friends who read it, loved it, returned it and then sent it off to other friends who have read it, loved it and not returned it. I'm not sure I have any interest in reading it now except that the movie is confusing in the story.

Now for the review of the film. As noted, I liked it. I thought the acting was better than I expected. Tom Hanks did not deliver his most striking performance and understandably did not appear to be very enthusiastic with the character. I agree with the mainline critics that the little girl Audrey Tautou who plays the female lead character Sophie Neveu, was pretty poor.

My favorite character - played by an actor whom I believe is quite masterful in his own right - was the hero/villain Sir Leigh Teabing played by Ian McKellen. Delightful. Most will recognize him from the X-Men and The Lord of the Rings movies, but clearly one of his best performance in recent time was as James Whale in Gods and Monsters. Go rent that movie.

Decent performances were provided by notedFrench actor Jean Reno superb in The Professional (a.k.a. Leon) and Paul Bettany playing the evil monk Silas.

So, if you are looking some something decent in the theaters these days, check out The DaVinci Code. I think you'll like it better than the critics.