Thursday, May 31, 2007

Damon Wayans was a cool guy – very professional yet funny and loose at the same time. It was a pleasure to speak and with him and I would have liked to have asked him about his movie career, but I ran out of time.

So why is the star of the successful ABC sit-com "My Wife and Kids" as well as an alumnus of "In Living Color" and "Saturday Night Live" and the star or co-star in a dozen movies touring the country performing stand-up in small clubs?

Damon Wayans laughed and said, "I'm still in shock why I'm doing this."

He quickly explained, though, that of all of the things he has done in show business from acting to writing to directing nothing "gives me the same joy" as performing live and alone on stage.

Wayans will be coming to the Comedy Connection at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee on June 2.

He said there is no better way to test your skills and timing as a comedian than performing live.

His fame doesn't allow him to coast.

"You have a grace period of about five minutes. If you're not funny, they're start yelling at you," he said. "You constantly have to prove yourself."

He said the stand-up tour was a "tune-up" for a television special he will be shooting on June 27 and 28. When asked what network it will be on, Wayans laughed, and said, "Whoever spends the most money."

Wayans is well known for pushing the comedy envelope. He recently was banned from The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles for three months for repeating the "n-word" on stage.

Wayans said that he apologizes to his audiences up-front.

"I will offend you tonight," he said.

For him, comedians are "the voice of the people."

"If you stop comedians from telling a joke, you stop the masses from expressing their point of view," he said.

Weighing in on the firing of Don Imus for saying "nappy headed hos" on his radio show, Wayans said that Imus shouldn't have been dismissed. He said he thought Imus was "speaking matter of factly. I didn't feel any malice. He was trying to be cool."

Commenting on the love-hate relationship many comics have when they land a television sit-com, Wayans pulled no punches. "I love the money and I hate everything else."

Wayans is currently working on launching his own web site,, which will feature new comedy shows designed for Internet audiences. He said he doesn't understand why the television networks aren't designing new programs for a web-based audience instead of developing new shows.

His site should be up June 1 and will feature a sketch comedy troupe. If a character does well, Wayans hopes to launch more shows.

Movies hold little interest for Wayans right now. He said unless you have written the film and "want to protect the baby," being an actor for hire isn't appealing.

"I don't want to play the third lead in a Charlie Sheen movie, if you know what I mean," Wayans said laughing. "That's nothing against Charlie Sheen."

He said he makes sure to connect with an audience on their terms. He doesn't get on stage and talk about his life as a star.

"I talk about stuff they can relate to," he said.

He knows that some fans have misconceptions about the life of a person in show business.

Believe or not he said, he does not spend every day waking up with four women in bed, followed by his butler delivering breakfast, then spending all day hanging with other celebrities and ending it with five women.

"Well, not every day," he added.

Instead he'll wake up at 3 a.m. with ideas that he is compelled to write down.

"I work hard. My brain is calloused," he said.

He said the people he knows who excel in their field are the ones who work the hardest.

He said his friend, basketball great Michael Jordan, was the first one in the gym and the last one to leave.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hey I was the radio again.

I love radio. Always have since I was a mere boy and beardless youth. While I love writing and publishing, there is something so seductive about talk radio. You can be angry or funny or creative or smart or all of the above or none of the above from segment to segment. It's a blast.

I was on a talk station, WREB, from 1982 to 1987 as the afternoon drive shift host. Ah, to be a liberal voice during the height of the Reagan years. I got the best hate mail.

Once I understood that station management paid no attention to the content of my show I had a ball. I worried about the listeners and the advertisers.

A partial guest list from those shows would include: Governor Michael Dukakis, Senator George McGovern, Attorney General Elliot Richard, Sidney Shelton, Vincent Price, Lillian Gish, George Romero, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Lucie Arnez, Cassandra Peterson, Larry Cohen, Barry Morse, Clarence Nash and many more.

Hey at the end of my interview with the Lone Ranger himself, Clayton Moore, he remarked that I really knew his career and gave me an "Adios amigo." The memory of that moment still brings tears to my eyes.

People used to asky my wife why she worked if I was on radio. She made more than I did! Five bucks an hour with $1 extras for every live endorsement I did. That's right: every man has his price and mine was a dollar.The spot I had to do for "Cold Stick," a plastic tube filled with anti-freeze that you would put in the freezer and then shove up your backside to relieve the pain of hemorroids was my favorite.

Well anyway, I was a guest on Bill Dwight's show over WHMP radio in Northampton, MA, discussing local politics yesterday. Bill's a good host and a good guy. I've known him for years and I worked for his father as a reporter on the Holyoke Transcript Telegram.

I don't hold that against him, though.

If you want to listen, click below. I'm on the second half hour.

Bill Dwight's May 29th show on WHMP radio

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day musing...

Yeah, this will undoubtedly tick off a few folks who will first tell me I don't have the right to feel this way because I don't understand geo-politics, the big picture.

And maybe I'm just a little soft on the whole terrorism thing. Or maybe I just don't understand the political process.

Well, everyone needs a little justification to get through the day and the 25 percent of the nation that still beleives in Bush's plan for the Middle East – nation-building – and making the nation safe from terrorists need to beleive that everyone else is wrong or their own value system might take a tumble.

I did not serve in the military, but I grew up in a military family as my dad was a three-war, 26-year veteran of the Air Force.

My father never voted in an election while he was in the Air Force as he said his opinion was that folks in the armed services should be politically neutral.

I've wondered if he would have thought the same today.

Well, another point he would like to make is that it doesn't matter what a recruiter promised a person as they were signing up, it only mattered if a President and a Congress lived up to those promises.

The fate of the American military is not in the hands of their professional commanders, but is the responsibility of elected officials.

The president likes to call himself "the Decider," and has routinely criticized members of Congress who want the Iraq war over as people who want to "micro-manage" and "politicize" the conflict.

Apparently that is what Congress believes as well with the gutless and pointless deal they struck last week with The Decider over continued war funding.

The common reaction from many pundits is that the Democrats don't want to be seen as people who've cut funding from the troops a political weakness that might be exploited in future elections.

So American and innocent Iraqi lives are being put in jeopardy because some senator or representative is concerned about a smear ad back in the district.

There are many reasons to consider the cowardice of their actions. Let me give you 3,425 of them: the American dead as of May 23.

Here's 26,188 more reasons: the wounded who've come back home.

By the way, what The Decider hasn't decided to talk about is the wounded very much. More than 4,600 Iraq vets have suffered a severe head or brain injury. What is going to be the long-term costs of care for them?

The amputation rate in Iraq is nearly double that of other wars. More than 1,300 soldiers have lost a limb. What is the cost for their care?

If you want more statistics, log onto

Don't these men and women, whose lives have been ended or altered forever, who have demonstrated the principles of honor and duty, shouldn't they expect the same kind of courage from members of Congress? It shouldn't be difficult for the House and Senate to show this kind of backbone because they are being backed up by a majority of the American people who sent a clear message during the last election that the war should end.

This war and now the Democrat's failure to take a stand are among the most shameful events in the history of this nation.

The blood of the dead is not longer just a stain on The Decider's hands. It is on every member of Congress who supported this "compromise."

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

(That's me pointing my finger at another newspaper guy while on a panel at Western New England College)

Well, today is my birthday...the same as John F.Kennedy, Patrick Henry and Bob Hope. At 53 I'm not considered "old," as "old" is now when one reaches the eighth decade of life and beyond.

There are times when I feel much younger than some of the younger people with whom I work: people who have very strict rules and outlooks on life and act far more conservatively (not in a political sense) than I did at that age.

At least how I remember I acted. I could be wrong here. Maybe I was a putz as well.

But there are times when I'm not able to keep up or even understand the popular culture and that does make you feel out of touch.

A bit of wisdom that has come after 53 years: One fact of which I'm sure, the two most previous commodities one have in life is love and time. If you have support and the time to accomplish things, life is sweet. I've been very lucky in having a soul mate for the past 28 years-plus and for having time within my field of interest to accomplish a few of the things I 've wanted to do.

I've not made much money. I've been screwed over by people I've thought were my friends. I've taken hits that I didn't deserve. But all of that has made much more bearable thanks to my wife and true friends.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Go over to That's Thirty for a new post.

Documentaries dominate this week's DVD column.

Secrets of the Dead: Dogfight over Guadalcanal

This PBS series re-examines historical events and this episode is compelling even if you're not a history fan.

During the battle of Guadalcanal during World War II, two fighter pilots, one American and one Japanese engaged in one of the more talked about dogfights during the war. While the aerial dual was well documented, there remained many questions about it the primary one being why the American pilot didn't shoot down his enemy when he had a perfect opportunity.

Using the memoirs of the pilots and going to Guadalcanal to find the remains of the American plane, this program provides the answers sought by many aviation and war historians.

The film does more than discuss history it puts it in a human perspective. It looks at both pilots and their lives.

Even if you don't like aviation or World War II history, this film will fascinate you.

For more information, log onto

Heavy Petting

By using clips from vintage dating and sex education films along with interviews with 1990s hipsters, director Obie Benz hoped to come up with a funny yet somehow revealing documentary about how Americans have viewed dating and sex.

The result is an unfocused production that really doesn't say much that we don't already know: kids are attracted, mystified and horrified by the opposite sex and no matter what adults do, we can't prevent confusion and mis-information.

Hearing Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Spalding Grey and Allan Ginsberg recount their sexual development is just stupid. Who cares?

The various dating, sex education and venereal disease film clips from the 1940s and '50s are also supposed to be hilarious and some of them are pretty funny. How the director has positioned the clips in the film, however, feels pretty random.

This two-disc set has all of those vintage films intact and, frankly, they are far more interesting as cultural artifacts. The VD films from the 1940s, intended to convince military personnel of the importance of safe sex, are far from camp, though, and are extremely explicit.

For more information, log onto

The 131st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: Special Collector's Edition

If you're a dog lover like I am, you probably catch a little of the annual broadcast of the venerable contest but never really have the chance to see the entire event until now.

This two-disc set has the complete broadcast and a ton of features. Set aside four hours to see it all.

Although I really liked the show, our dog, Lucky the Wonder Bichon, didn't pay too much attention to it. I think he was a little jealous.

For more information, go to

One Punk Under God: The Prodigal Son of Jim and Tammy Faye

Remember Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the PTL television ministry empire? Their son Jay is now a minister and is the subject of a six-part mini-series originally broadcast on the Sundance Channel last year. Made by the same team of filmmakers who produced the documentary "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," this show is one that anyone interested in religion or American popular culture should see.

Unlike his father, whose vision was to build commercial developments with religious themes, Jay simply wants to spread a message of God's unconditional love in ways that clearly impress and confound his father. The younger Bakker has helped set up Revolution, a dogma-free church that has made its home in bars and coffee shops and has reached people who would never go to a conventional church.

The series has several points of conflict. One story line revolves around Jay's decision to embrace the concept of not discriminating against gays, which causes his main financial backer to drop him. Two more concerns are his mother's fight against cancer and his strained relationship with his father.

What fascinated me about the show was how the soap opera/reality show elements were de-emphasized and how the filmmakers showed a young man who is dealing with issues of faith both as his calling and in his life.

For more information, log onto

G 2007 vy Gordon Michael Dobbs

Hey, here's the cover of my book by the uber-talented artist (not the race car driver) Mark Martin. I'm quite excited. The good folks at BearManor Media will be bringing this tome out later this year.

As I've written before here, this is a collection of animation articles I've written over the years with updated information. There are plenty of interviews with voice actors, animators, etc.


Puzzling evidence: I went to a Burger King the other day for the first time in many years and noticed as I was dispensing my own soda there were recommendations posted on the soda machine.

Just like you would ask the wine steward at a good restaurant to suggest a wine to go along with your meal, Burger King now suggests which soda to go with which sandwich. I never knew that Dr. Pepper went better with one mass-produced burger than another.

That's what I love about life you learn something new everyday.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I meant to put this up here weeks ago, but it slipped my mind. "Grindhouse" was a great experience and was an intersection of two of my pet film theories. The first is "Trash chic," in which film elements once commonly thought as bad by mainstream critics and audiences are lauded by niche audiences. Interestingly enough, while "trash chic" was once the province of film nuts and fan boys celebrating the "it's so bad it's good" aesthetic, it's now considered almost mainstream.

The other theory is "The Movie Boys" in which there is now a handful of directors whose roots are not in journalism, fiction, still photography or theater, but in the appreciation of film. Sam Raimi and Joe Dante are two examples. They reference favorite films and use actors whom they admired as fans. Richard and Alex Gordon were the first "movie boys," especially Alex, who sought out characters actors he loved – he tried always to find a place in his films for Frank Lacteen, for example.

Anyway, I loved "Grindhouse," although the Tarantino sequence was too talky.

For many of us who grew up during the drive-in era, the new movie "Grindhouse" brought forth a number of memories about that movie-going experience.

The recently released film is a double feature of two new movies that capture the spirit of drive-in classics. The three-hour show is complete with trailers for other outrageous films that don't exist. The only thing that could make the experience more authentic is if the stereophonic sound was replaced with the tinny noise that used to come out of those speakers that hung on your car's window.

Although "Grindhouse" had great reviews, industry pundits noted it didn't make the money its opening weekend many thought it would. "Grindhouse" is not a film for everyone. In many ways it has the specialized appeal of an art house film. While I think its hyper-violence is so over the top it becomes satiric, the zombie blasting of "Planet Terror" and the serial killer antics of "Death Proof" might offend others.

Unless you lived in a major city, you couldn't experience a real "grindhouse" the movie industry term for a theater that ran about 18 hours a day with continuous showings of both main stream Hollywood fare and exploitation movies.

In markets such as Western Massachusetts, though, the place for low-budget exploitation films were drive-ins such as the Airline in Chicopee, E.M. Loew's in West Springfield, or the Parkway in Wilbraham.

With the weakening of the major studios in the late 1940s due to Supreme Court decisions that made them divest their theater holdings and the rise in the popularity of television, there was an opening for independent productions and foreign imports. There was also a rise in the teen population and the explosion of the suburb that created a new market for theaters located outside of traditional urban settings.

Add those ingredients with the fact that theater owners were investing in drive-in theaters and eager to try new productions to lure people away from their television sets, and you had everything you needed to create a fascinating 30-year slice of American movie history.

The restrictions of television carefully censored productions shown on a small screen in black and white were used by independent producers to their advantage. They realized they did have big stars or big budgets. To make their films work, they emphasized elements that the major studios shunned: controversial drama, sex, skin, actions and violence.

The producers frequently used the horror, crime and science fiction genres as their vehicles of choice.

The delirious violence and action in "Grindhouse" is way out of the budget league of the filmmakers Robert Rodriquez and Quentin Tarantino emulated. The two contemporary directors, though, effectively caught the subversive qualities of the exploitation film.

Although many people who made these low-budget wonders took pride in their work, the goal was not art, but money. The producers were more concerned with box office receipts than with reviews.

I must admit that after seeing "Grindhouse" my first reaction was to go through my videotape and DVD collection and assemble my own double-bills. Here are some suggestions if you want to continue the "Grindhouse" experience in your own home.

Something Weird Video ( is the home for a wide variety of forgotten films and they feature some double feature DVDs. One great set is "Blood Suckers/Blood Thirst," a pair of films that have the very exploitable word of "blood" in their titles. Starring Peter Cushing and Patrick MacNee, "Blood Suckers" is an odd vampire film set in Greece and England that revolves around academics (!), while "Blood Thirst" is a vampire tale set in the Philippines that mixes the conventions of that genre with those of the detective fiction.

Another hysterical double feature is "Death Curse of Tartu/ Sting of Death," a pair of horror films from Florida director William Grefe. You haven't lived until you've seen a walking jellyfish man!

Something Weird also features collections of previews from dozens of drive-in movies. Since previews have to show you enough of the good parts to lure you to a show, they are frequently more entertaining than the actual movie.

Parents should be aware there is adult material on the Something Weird site.

There are dozens and dozens of drive-in movies available on DVD. Producer Roger Corman specialized in these films and among my favorites are "Death Race 2000," a darkly funny look at America's future, and "Hollywood Boulevard," a film that first time directors Allan Arkush and Joe Dante did for Corman on a remarkably low budget.

Corman produced a number of films in the Philippines that offered low labor costs and good filmmakers such as director Eddie Romero. Romero's trilogy of "Mad Doctor of Blood Island," "Brides of Blood" and "Beast of Blood" would make one of those great "all night" shows all the drive-ins featured.

While the era of the drive-in and the grindhouse is over, the films they featured live on and can still provide some low-rent guilty pleasures.

© 2007 by G. Michael Dobbs

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ah, joooooooooooooooooy!

There are so few films more blissfully complete in their wrongness as "From Here it Came." If you thought The Mummy was a slow moving monster, wait until you see a walking – kind of – living pissed off tree! How could you not love the great Paul Blaisdell's design of the tree god Taranga? Seriously! And that hideous close-up of supposedly handsome Tod Andrews? And the scene in which doctors "operate" on Taranga?

When will Hollywood make a big budget remake of this drive-in classic? When? When? But no CGI. Taranga must be imagined in loving latex.

Perhaps Nicholas Cage will read this and want to remake the film as his latest in a string of really bad career decisions.

One can dream.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs
Here's a press release I received today. Interesting food for thought. I'll be curious to see how far this gets in the corporate owned press.

Bush Proposes Weakening of Federal Alternative Fuel Standards Today

Rose Garden appearance falsely portrays proposal as improving standards

In a Rose Garden appearance today, President Bush cynically portrayed his "20-in-10" alternative fuel standard as improving current federal fuel economy standards. In fact, the proposal is considerably weaker than current targets signed into law in 1992 by George Bush Sr.

“The president's policy is a retreat, not an advance. It would weaken existing federal targets for alternatives to petroleum fuel, not improve them,” said Julie Teel, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate, Air, Energy Program. “This shameful ploy proves that the president still doesn’t understand the dire consequences of global warming."

Reiterating the State of the Union address, today's speech will call for the replacement of 20% of U.S. gasoline consumption with alternative fuels by 2017 (i.e. "20-in-10”). This is much weaker than current federal targets established by the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which was developed in response to energy dependence issues raised by the first Gulf War. The 1992 law mandated the replacement of 10% of petroleum motor-fuel consumption with alternative fuels by the year 2000 and 30% by 2010. To attain this goal, the law first required a replacement of 75% of federally owned vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles by 1999. The Department of Energy was then required to determine if extension of the regulation to municipal and corporate fleets is necessary to meet the national 30% reduction target. If so, the Department is required to institute alternative fuel standards for municipal and corporate fleets.

The federal government violated the Energy Policy Act by not converting its own fleets to alternative fuel vehicles and not establishing a municipal and corporate standard when it was clear that federal action alone was insufficient. The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth sued over these violations, winning one court order in 2002 and two more in 2006 requiring compliance with both aspects of the law.

In response, the federal government has increased the number of fuel efficient vehicles in its fleets. However, it has continued to refuse setting alternative fuel vehicle requirements for municipal and corporate fleets. Instead, on March 15, 2007, it issued a ruling which delayed the compliance date for a 30% reduction from 2010 to 2030. The rule is vigorously opposed by environmental groups and likely be challenged in court.

"The time for political games and pandering to opponents of meaningful alternative fuel requirements and greenhouse gas emissions caps is over," said Teel. Climate science shows that emissions must be reduced by 80% or more in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Reducing gasoline use is part of the solution, but to safeguard our children's future, we need rapid progress toward that goal, not a delay of twenty years."

Information on the Energy Policy Act and the Bush Administration’s refusal to implement it:

Information on the Bush Administration's decision to delay Energy Policy Act goals by 20 years:

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Friday, May 11, 2007

Hey, new stuff over at Animation Review!

One of my great pleasures in life is to look through a box of my stuff at home and discover things that I’ve forgotten about completely.

It’s like a getting yourself a present and not spending any money.

I found a plastic bag with a number of clippings of pages from the former “Springfield Union” from the late 1930s. I can’t remember who gave them to me but they’re great. I love them as a movie nut and I love them for their historical significance.

We talk today about entertainment districts, but what we have today in any Western Massachusetts city pales compared to what was here almost 70 years ago.

Terry O’Donnell, of our sales staff, can reel off the names of all of the movie theaters that once called downtown Holyoke home. It’s impressive. The Paper City clearly loved the movies and nightlife. The only one standing is the Victory – an empty shell of a building that has never fulfilled the promise of its long awaited rebirth as a performing arts center.

Chicopee has theaters as well with the Rivoli being the one people still remember fondly. Westfield also had theaters downtown.

Northampton and Greenfield still have downtown theaters, but they are the last ones in this area. The downtown areas of both of those communities have maintained much of their significance as the social center of the community.

The historians and urban planners can tell you exactly how these city centers changed through jobs moving south after World War II, the growth of suburbs and the influence of television.

The film industry has changed as well. Having one screen, as all of these old movie houses had, is an almost impossible financial situation for an exhibitor today. Believe me. I ran a theater with just two screens.

If you book a bad movie, you’re stuck with a dog for weeks. In 1939, bills changed on a weekly basis. A sign that a film was a monster hit is when it was held over for several weeks.

I find it interesting the Urban Land Institute’s report on Springfield addresses the need to identify and market to key markets, two of which are empty nesters and young people who want something different than the suburbs and shopping malls. Perhaps a downtown movie theater will once again make financial sense.

And other urban centers might benefit from those strategies as well.

Hey log onto for a great story on Springfield and how it has turned a corner. This kind of story could have never happened just a few years ago.

For those without a computer the article has a headline of “Glimmers of a Turnaround in Springfield, Mass.”

The first few paragraphs of the story by C.J. Hughes reads, “Late last century, this once-thriving New England city, like many of its neighbors, fell victim to a causal chain of events — mills closed, jobs disappeared, crime rose and residents left.

“While cities like Providence, R.I., and New Haven were revitalizing themselves, Springfield languished, with rampant mismanagement and corruption dealing further blows. By 2004 with the city facing bankruptcy proceedings, the state stepped in, appointing an outside finance board to help get Springfield’s books in order.

“But now residents, developers, brokers, financial analysts and urban planners say that the city’s long decline may finally be starting to turn around.

“In the fiscal year that ended in June 2005, for the first time since the early 1990s, the city’s budget ($470 million) was balanced and even yielded a surplus ($6.8 million). And now Springfield’s tax base is set to expand, led by major commercial development, with most of it financed privately.”

Now if we could see ourselves as others do, maybe we could make even more headway.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Here's a couple of scans from the entertainment listings from the Springfield MA, daily from the late 1930s. I can't quite imagine what is was like to have a diversified entertainment district in a city of about 170,000 people. Saturday nights must have been great!

I've got some more. Want me to post them?

Hey, go over to my animation blog for my review of "Spiderman Three."

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, May 07, 2007

I look forward to spring. I enjoy seeing the shoots of plants in the garden pop up. I enjoy the warmer temperatures. I like being awakened by the birds.

Of course, I don’t look forward to certain urban fauna. There’s the “play-my-car-stereo-so-loud-it-shakes-people’s fillings-guy.” About this time he emerges from hibernation.

Then there’s his close cousin, the “drag-my-stereo-out-to-the-back-yard-so- everyone-can-hear-my-trashy-music” guy. I think their other cousin is the “let-me-drop-the-f-word-and-the-m-f-word-bombs-as-I-walk-by-your-open-window” guy. Oh he’s a prince.

And then there are the folks who love wildlife more than me that they keep the lid to their trash can open all the time. Here’s a Ranger Mike tip: Raccoons live in the city and they love garbage cans…at 3 a.m. and again at 4 a.m.

A closed lid stops them from having a noisy meal.

It’s funny that none of these urban animals is in any of my wildlife guides. They do make city living more wild, though and not in a good sense.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Documentaries dominate this week's DVD review column.


One might argue that when Woody Allen fired actress Annabelle Gurwitch from a play he was directing he was truly doing her a favor. Gurwitch was inspired by the incident to start producing theatrical events in which people would relate their own stories of being "let go."

Those stories helped form the foundation for Gurwitch's book, "Fired! Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized & Dismissed." The book then became this 70-minute documentary.

Having been fired three times myself, I was both amused and angered by some of the stories in the film. The stories told by both Gurwitch's celebrity friends and by every day folk are compelling.

The weakness in the film is Gurwitch herself. She comes across in many sequences as trying to be a lighter version of gadfly Michael Moore and it just doesn't work too well.

The stories of termination are the heart of the film and there are some great ones in the DVD's extras. Comedian Dana Gould's "Jimmy The Idiot" is laugh-out-loud funny.

Ultimately, the film is up lifting with the message that there is life after being fired.

Although not a thoroughly successful film, "Fired!" may be the thing to help put your own situation into perspective.

Log onto for more information.

The War Tapes

In 2004, filmmaker Deborah Scranton gave video cameras to several members of a New Hampshire National Guard unit deployed to Iraq. The goal was to make a film from the perspective of the people who were actually fighting the war. The result is a very powerful film that everyone should see.

The three soldiers featured in the film - Sergeant Steve Pink, Specialist Mike Moriarty and Sergeant Zack Bazzi - come to their deployment with different attitudes about the war itself but share the same objective of fulfilling their mission. The men and the soldiers in their unit are given the task of protecting supply convoys as they deliver supplies in Iraq.

Facing the risks posed by snipers and explosive devices on a daily basis, the men record both moments of horror - the death of an Iraqi woman who runs across a road during the passing of a convoy - to the mundane.

The film also follows the three men home to see how the war has affected them and how they adjust back to civilian life.

The DVD has more combat footage in its extras section and new interviews that update the three men.

This is essential viewing.

Log onto for more information.

Escape to Canada

I like to think I keep up on the news, but this film surprised me as I had no idea about the events shown in this film.

In the summer of 2003, a series of legal decisions made both marijuana and gay marriage legal in our neighbor to the north and this film shows how those changes took place and what were their effects.

Part of the film deals with what some people see as a lack of a national Canadian identity and that making pot and same sex union legal gave the country a needed boost in how it looked at itself. These changes made Canada more "free" than the land of the free in some eyes.

One of the film's premises is the changes also made Canada a threat of some sort to the United States and how pressure from this country sought to overturn Canada's domestic policies.

This film is a very intriguing look at a relatively brief experiment at reforming the laws around marijuana and how legalizing same sex marriage opened the door for the landmark decision here in Massachusetts.

For more information, got to

Terror Storm: A History of Government Sponsored Terrorism

Last year when this newspaper ran a story about a local screening of the film "Loose Change" that challenged the accepted version of the events around the Sept. 11 attacks, I had a reader call to cancel his delivery of "The Reminder." He objected to this newspaper giving any publicity to the film.

Well, I'm sure if he were angry about that story, this review of "Terror Storm" would give him a stroke.

The work of radio talk show host, writer and filmmaker Alex Jones, the film puts forth the premise that the Bush and Blair administrations have engaged in "false flag" campaigns to create reasons to go to war in the Middle East.

Jones had some very interesting documentation to support these premises and if you have an open mind, you will be riveted by this movie. Any one who is suspicious about the status quo will want to see this film. Those who can't view current events with a jaundiced eye should stay away from this production.

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© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs
Western Massachusetts is an area rightly proud of its many colleges, so undoubtedly the tragedy at Virginia Tech has resonated pretty deeply here among college staff and students.

Rather than concentrate on how to reconcile student privacy issues with a system that could enable college administrators to prevent such occurrences in the future, much of the nation's professional pundits have turned their sights on the gun control issues.

There have been plenty of suggestions that if Virginia had allowed students to pack heat on campuses that some of the 32 deaths could have been avoided. The right-wingers on talk radio have been having a field day saying this terrible incidence shows how soft this nation has become.

Radio host Neal Boortz wrote the following on his web site on April 17: "How far have we advanced in the wussification of America? I am now under attack by the left for wondering aloud why these students did so little to defend themselves. It seems that standing in terror waiting for your turn to be executed was the right thing to do, and any questions as to why 25 students didn't try to rush and overpower Cho Seung-Hui are just examples of right wing maniacal bias. Surrender comply adjust. The doctrine of the left. Amazing, isn't it? Even the suggestion that young adults should actually engage in an act of self defense brings howls of protest."

In Boortz's view I guess those poor Amish kids who were killed last year were "wusses," too. It really help solves problems in a society by calling the victims names, right?

I can't imagine how parents of the slain students must be feeling when they hear such a stream of hate.

The real issues in my mind, which have been clouded by the right wing media for the purpose of ratings, are the following:

How can colleges and other educational institutions better address students with mental and emotional illnesses so they will not be a danger to themselves or others?

How can colleges prepare themselves better to respond to such emergencies? Do mass e-mails or text messages do the job?

Will we as a society ever be able to defend ourselves from the actions of individuals with a mental illness who are determined to kill themselves and other people?

Is there substantial and reliable research to indicate an armed America would prevent acts of madness?

Would having a simple waiting period and background check in Virginia prevented this event from happening?

What do you think?

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Here's part three of the Kong article. Sorry this took so long, but this week has been a grinder...not a sandwich.