Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

2/27/10

Speed Racer: Almost a Great Movie, But Disappointing (review)

I wanted to like Speed Racer a lot. I grew up with it. The cartoon is the first thing I remember watching on our new color TV. The movie was cast perfectly, with everyone's looks and mannerisms similar to what I recall. The plot was a more sophisticated version of the cartoons, complex enough to survive 90 minutes.

Where did the movie go astray? It tried too hard to be modern. Rather than create a new product based on the old, like the Spiderman and Superman franchises, it tried to blow us away with a sense of what Speed Racer could be.

I was going along happily until Spritle flipped off the bad guys in an elevator. While the movie was hardly profanity-laden, it had Speed, Racer X and several other protagonists using course language. This was unnecessary to plot and character development and showed weak screen writing.

Racing scenes mimicked some of the old hyperbolism of the 1960s version, but took it too far. The CGI and other animation were colorful and amazing artistically, but left all sense of drama behind. I couldn't follow which car was which in the blur of jumps and loops. It was like my old Hot Wheels set on LSD.

Christina Ricci looked like Trixie. With her, the personality update was OK in that she was less of an airhead Betty Boop and more of a genuine, confident woman. Speed Racer's relationship with her pushed what I would be comfortable letting a young child see. While nothing happens, a scene at Inspiration Point is led along until Spritle and Chim-Chim are found in the car.

Many aspects of Speed's personality are rich and right on the money. His disdain for school as a child and the implication Trixie cheated to help him graduate was a poor choice.

John Goodman cast as Pops Racer was brilliant. He had the look and feel of what I would expect of a guy running a racing company.

Paulie Litt is terrific as Spritle. An actor to watch. In a DVD extra, he takes viewers around a tour of the studio during which production people explain their role in developing the film. He's playful and smart, and I expect we will see more from him.

The plot is solid. When billionaire E.P. Arnold Royalton wants Speed to race for him, Speed is intrigued. For good reason too. Royalton offers incredible training, resources and glamor, as well as the promise that his family will be free from financial worry. The trouble is races are fixed. Speed's integrity is challenged. He fights back against corruption by rejecting the impressive offer, but Royalton pushes right back with a bounty on Speed in the next race. Racer X gets involved, as does another racer looking to escape from Royalton's clutches.

Overall, my expectations were higher. While marketed to young viewers, the race scenes, profanity and romantic themes might be too much. For me, not so young, this was the case. I was confused at times, and disheartened. I am glad I didn't see this in the theater.

Anthony Trendl
http://anthonytrendl.com/

2/17/10

Hallelujah - The Song Remains the Same (and Handel Isn't There)

Hallelujah. You know the song. It was in Shrek. Moody, dark. It is Leonard Cohen's song. Everyone sings it, from American Idol to Bon Jovi. Unlike Amazing Grace (see my growing collection of YouTube versions), there seems no creativity in delivery. Same tempo, same mood, same instrumentation.

I love the song. I prefer Cohen's voice, so he gets top billing. Besides, he's the writer. That's worth bonus points! :)

Below are some of the leading versions of the song, finishing off with the Hallelujah Chorus as found in Andre Rieu's "Live From Radio City Music Hall." Which do you prefer? Do you know of any truly original versions?

Leonard Cohen


Jeff Buckley


Rufus Wainwright


Bon Jovi


Kate Voegele


Amanda Jenssen (Swedish Idol 2007)


Sheryl Crow


Handel



Hallelujah - Lyrics

I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well, it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Well, your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Well, baby, I've been here before.
I've seen this room, and I've walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I knew you.
But I've seen your flag on the marble arch,
And love is not a victory march,
It's a cold and it is a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Well, there was a time when you'd let me know
What's really going on below,
But now you never show that to me, do you?
But remember when I moved in you,
And the Holy Ghost was moving too,
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Well, maybe there is a God above,
But all that I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.
It's not a cry that you hear at night,
And it is not somebody who has seen the light
It's a cold and it is a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah

Hallelujah

2/10/10

Hotlips from MASH Predicts Illinois Earthquake

At 4:00 am, I awoke to a 3.8 earthquake. Rare in Illinois. So rare, I didn't consider it a possibility.

I was sure something hit our building hard. Nothing was broken - all pictures remained on the wall, and all dishes remained unshattered, but it was like a huge thump both directly to my bed (which is really heavy) and to the building. I figured it was a snowplow, looked, saw that no snow had been removed (lots of snow yesterday), was confused, but decided it was since I was groggy, and just before dawn, so what did I know?

I went back to sleep.

Notice the snow in the picture on the right. That's my back deck, and all that snow came yesterday. What you don't see (as pointed out astutely by Steven Knoerr) is snow on the trees. Click on the picture for a closer look. It might be that the earthquake jolted the snow on the upper branches just enough. The larger, lower branches have some, but, even then, not much given how much we received.

Loretta Swit (Hotlips Houlihan from MASH) sings on The Muppet Show - I Feel the Earth Move.
She knew way back then what would be our future. I didn't see a big fuzzy monster, but I didn't not see one either. It was 4:00, remember? Dark outside. I'm not willing to say that's not what really happened. After all, how many genuine, proper earthquakes do we experience in Chicago's western suburbs?



A Carole King live version

2/5/10

Man of a Thousand Voices on the Radio

I'm on the radio now for occasional pieces. You might have seen the widget on the left. I signed on with BlogTalk Radio to perform and read a range of works. Different styles and voices, from a tinny 1950s AM radio to a Chicago-ized accent (with accompanying attitude), looking at things as diverse as pizza, the 8-5 grind and the modest beauty of small town living. Four shows are up, 3-8 minutes each. Whenever you visit my blog, look for the radio widget to see if there's something new. I'd love to hear your opinion.

Anthony Trendl is a poet and writer living and working in the Chicago area, best known for his Amazon book reviews and Hungarian bookstore. As a storyteller, Trendl has performed across central Illinois, and recently has been doing spoken word poetry performances in Chicagoland. His poetry can occasionally be seen in Decision Magazine, and articles and public relations writing have been published in periodicals and newspapers across the United States. He has written speeches for leaders of Fortune 500s to inspire employees to succeed, always with a storyteller's flair. See http://anthonytrendl.blogspot.com/ http://anthonytrendl.com/

Slightly smoky, gravely, Chicago styled writer Anthony Trendl presents his work, looking at life from the underside, seeing what others often miss. Imagine Studs Terkel meets Erma Bombeck meets NPR, tweaked with a little Garrison Keillor. He tackles books, sociology, running, and even theology. As a big fan of the Beat movement, jazz and dead American poets, you will hear their influence in his work.
  • Love Song for Charlie Parker - Jazz/Poetry Performance
    Looking at the difficulty of modern life and culture through a spoken word performance. Influenced by the Beat Movement, Jack Kerouac, post-modern despair and the audacity of hope. Charlie Parker's piece "Orinthology" provides the background. A brief introduction on the Beat Movement followed by an avant garde poetry reading.
     
  • Matching Pop With Sausage Pizza: Pepsi is the Best Choice
    In Chicago, pizza matters. We take it seriously. While we did not invent pizza, we perfected it. After many years of sampling, it turns out Pepsi is what goes with a good sausage pizza. Listen and learn why.
      
  • Morning in Suburbia, Morning in the World
    One morning last summer, when there was no snow, and a friendlier sun, I awoke early and thought about what was around me. It was not the drab beige life of minivans and soccer moms. The Midwest has more than that to love, but can be missed if we forget to see the life we live for what it is. 
  • Visions of a Snowy Morning: Workaday Joes Filing By My Window One-by-One
    An essay looking at my hardworking neighbors en route to their next stop in their commute. It is both lonely and hopeful, as they trudge on a gray day looking forward to better days.

2/2/10

They Would Not Let Me Vote Today (and a Republican Didn't Get My Vote?)

Today is voting day. Illinois Primaries. I tried to vote. I was denied at the polls the opportunity.

I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not Green. I'm not communist. I'm not. I'm not. I'm not!

I'm not.

(Can't see bumper sticker on the top left? Click here.)
See where I'm going with this? I am not the member of a political party. Why not? Besides the fact that that party ideology can no longer be assumed (example: Scott Brown, the Republican in Massachusetts that may influence the Obama Health Care initiative, is pro-choice), the fighting between the two is horrid and ugly. Not just radio pundits and congressmen, but real people. I had two friends, one a lover of Obama and Democrats, and the other a Republican and hater of Obama, absolutely go postal on me when they realized I didn't embrace their views. Really. It was uuuggglee. Profanity, swearing, masculinity suggestions, and so on. Yeah, I'm a little sore from this still.

A recent workplace even had one coworker bitterly announce how bad President Obama was when arriving at work, with anti-Obama posters on their office door. It made things uncomfortable, to say the least.

Don't get me wrong. Some party members are some of my best friends. Good folks. Voting smart, even when we disagree. I live in a community that has a balanced block of voters. This year, my county was overwhelmingly for Obama, but could have just as easily gone to McCain. There is a misconception from people who don't live here what our community politics are, but, to DuPage County's credit, it is a broad-minded, diverse area filled with people not as closed-minded as those who presume otherwise.

What? I was denied the opportunity to vote?
Yes, it is true. I am properly registered, and otherwise legal to vote. This was not in question. I was at the right polling place, proper ID, and everything was in order. In fact, they said I was free to vote... if I chose a party.

I had a candidate I wanted to vote for. He happens to be Republican going for a largely apolitical position. I went to the polling place. I asked for a ballot. "Which party?" they asked. I said that I had no party. They said I could not vote unless I chose a party. I said I preferred not to. While I don't at all like the term 'Independent' since I have exact views, I suggested that. They said no, I couldn't do that either. They said that's how the primaries are done. I didn't dispute this. I am not as knowledgeable about the system as some.

Why? One reason is that they opposing party might gather its troops to vote for the weakest candidate, hoping he would win, making a victory by the other party more likely. It makes sense, but I don't like it.

About Election Signs
I will write more about this in the next election, but I greatly despise seeing all the political signs on public property. I don't like them elsewhere, but I believe a person is free to post whatever sign in their own yard.

Before the next election, I'll suggest to area editors that this needs to be written about. I'll be taking pictures and posting them here.

PrimariesI have never voted in a primary. I prefer, in general, for the wheat and chaff to sort itself out. As it turns out, just about every candidate I have been inclined to vote for lost in the primary, and not by a little.

reference: Politics in a Box: Why I Am Not a Republican, Why I Am Not a Democrat

About Obama
I watched the 2008 election. I voted heartily. I really liked Barack Obama. I think he's sincere and  wants a better America. I disagree with how he wants to get there. I realized (among many other issues), 1) he is adamantly pro-choice and more unborn children would be massacred on his watch with his approval 2) though he is pro-peace and desired to strategically pull soldiers out from the Middle East, I didn't believe he would actually do it (and now our defense budget is huge), and 3) I've seen national health care in a European country, and believe it injures society not helps, plus engages the American government into the lives and business of private citizens inappropriately.

As for his speeches, they are well-delivered. Some claim they are inspired by him, and my questions is always, "Inspired to do what?" I am still waiting for someone to answer with something more substantial than, "He makes me feel good." Good for him, but that's not inspiration. To be inspired means to have a new breath, or direction to act. If the answer was, say, "Help my neighbor," great! But unless you are actually doing something for your neighbor, then you aren't inspired. You are just talking.

McCain hardly thrilled me, mind you, so I was not happy that he was the only other candidate with an actual chance of winning.