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May 27, 2012

Helping our veterans through bicycling

Filed under: bicycling — Tags: , , — Roger @ 10:49 am

On this Memorial Day weekend, it appropriate to remember all who have served, especially those who have died and all those those are suffering because of the effects of war.

USA Cycling, through its Facebook page, is urging people to donate toward the making and distribution of “Recovering,” a documentary chronicling how bicycling helps troops heal wounds. USA Cycling says the film “documentary centers on veterans recovering from the challenge of injuries such as PTSD, blindness, traumatic concussions and lost limbs through cycling”

Michael de Yoanna is the producer/director of the film, Greg Campbell is the director of photography, and Mike Shum is the editor.

“Last year, ‘Blood Diamonds’ journalist Greg Campbell and I followed veterans recovering from the challenge of injuries such as PTSD, blindness, traumatic concussions and lost limbs,” Michael said at the IndieGogo website. ”The healing happened on bicycles and I was honored to ride hundreds of miles (including 911 miles on the 10th anniversary of 9/11) with these troops. We got more than we bargained for in terms of film (hundreds of hours of amazing HD footage) and some incredible stories showing the recovery process up close.”

Michael had been seeking donations through IndieGogo — the campaign ended May 29 — to transcribe interviews, edit the film, enter it into several major film festivals and distribute it. For more about the movie, visit the filmmakers’ website.

Here is the trailer for the film:

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April 13, 2012

Review: “The Three Stooges”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Roger @ 4:12 am

Publicity still for The Three Stooges movieBeing a hard-core fan of The Three Stooges and the director of a bicycle ride called the Tour de Stooges, I couldn’t help myself.

Yes, I went to the midnight showing of “The Three Stooges” movie, which made its nationwide debut today.

The Farrelly brothers worked for about a decade to get “The Three Stooges” to the big screen. At one time, they had considered actors such as Jim Carrey and Sean Penn, but they wound up with Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Sean Hayes (Larry) and Will Sasso (Curly).

They made the right choices. The modern trio did a fine job of resurrecting the slapstick comedy Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard mastered in the 1930s and 1940s. They revised some of the classic routines of the original Stooges, and in some cases, expanded upon them.

The basic plot goes like so: The young Stooges are dumped off at a Catholic orphanage, where they give the nuns — especially Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David) a hard time. As they “grow up,” they work at the orphanage, only to learn that it will be closed unlees it comes up with $830,000 to pay the bills. From there, the Stooges get caught up in a murder plot and with the cast of “Jersey Shore.” It’s divided into three sections, each with a title, so it feels like you’re watching three episodes of the Stooges.

One truly funny scene was when Moe offers Snooki a gift — a poke in the eyes. “Jersey Shore” haters definitely will love that way Moe treats the reality show cast.

They also put nice twist on a scene inspired by the golfing scenes in “Three Little Beers.” In a hair-brained scheme to raise money for the orphanage, they start a fish farm — on a golf course. Much like the hundreds of golf balls and divots Moe left on the course, hundreds of fish are lying on the fairways.

And, yes, they attempt to ride a triplet bicycle!

The Farrellys, for the most part, avoid the gross-out humor they’re known for in previous movie. The closest thing thing to gross humor involves babies in a hospital nursery.

Now for the weaknesses: The Three Stooges weren’t always known for their plot development, but “The Three Stooges” may have suffered from too much plot development. Some scenes, particularly in the orphanage, seemed to drag.

I also disliked the background music in many of the scenes throughout the movie. The original Stooges shorts were so fast-paced that they generally didn’t need background music.

The original shorts used music as a part of the plot, such as “The Alphabet Song” in the movie “Violent Is the Word for Curly” or the march tune played in many of their shorts. There are a few songs like that in the movie, mostly performed with the help of Jennifer Hudson, who plays orphanage nun Sister Rosemary.

One group definitely doesn’t like the movie. The Catholic League isn’t fond of the “nun bikini” and rosary worn by Sister Bernice (Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton), and it doesn’t care for Larry David or his character’s name, shared by Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele.

“It is a cultural marker of sociological significance, and what it says about the way we’ve changed is not encouraging,” the Catholic League wrote in its article.

All in all, the Farrellys produced a good-hearted homage to The Three Stooges. Despite the flaws — I didn’t laugh out loud too often — it’s worth seeing, especially if you’re a Stooge fan! And, yes, women should watch it, too!

Real movie critics generally are giving the film moderately positive reviews. Here’s a sampling:

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April 5, 2012

The new Three Stooges go biking!

Filed under: bicycling — Tags: , , — Roger @ 12:17 pm

Publicity still for The Three Stooges movie
I couldn’t help but post this publicity still from “The Three Stooges” movie featuring Curly, Larry and Moe on a triplet bicycle!

Being the knuckleheads that they are, they aren’t wearing helmets. That’s too bad because I’m sure something bad is going to happen to them! At least they’re riding on the right side of the road!

It’s good to see the 2012 Stooges carrying on the cycling tradition the original Moe, Larry and Curly established in the 1930s and 1940s in the movies “Men in Black,” “Whoops, I’m an Indian,” “Three Sappy People” and “Three Troubledoers.” Curly also rode an Ingo-bike in the movie “Yes, We Have no Bonanza.”

Not surprisingly, those films were the inspiration for the Tour de Stooges. I invite you to ride your triplet, tandem — or your bicycle built for one — at this year’s event on Saturday, May 5, in Highland, Ill.

In the meantime, I invite you to predict what the Stooges are about to run into in the comments below.

 

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January 26, 2012

New site for St. Louis “Bicycle Dreams” showing

Filed under: bicycling,Missouri — Tags: , — Roger @ 12:39 am

Tonight’s showing of the Race Across America documentary film “Bicycle Dreams” scheduled for the Moolah Theater in St. Louis has been moved. Here’s the message I and others received from organizer Garry Harrington via Facebook:

The show has been moved from the Moolah to the Chase Park Plaza a couple miles away at the corner of Lindell and N. Kingshighway Blvd. because the Moolah had a conflict with a Warner Brothers film it was contracted to show. If you purchased tickets online for the film, you will be at the Chase Park at 7 p.m. However, we have decided to add a 9:15 p.m show for those who had yet to purchase tickets. It is very important that you show up for the 7 p.m. show if you pre-purchased tickets as they WILL NOT be honored at the late show. Your name will ONLY be on the 7 p.m. Will Call list. Please pass the word to everyone you know who you think is going so they can show up at the right place and the right time.

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December 18, 2011

A look at “The Three Stooges”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Roger @ 11:55 am


When I first learned about the Farrelly Brothers’ efforts to make a Three Stooges movie, I was highly skeptical.

After seeing the trailer, I’m less skeptical. I know that sometimes filmmakers often put the best parts of the movie in the trailer to hide the fact the rest of the film is horrible, but I think “The Three Stooges” shows some promise.

The movie is slated to come out April 13, just weeks before the 15th annual Tour de Stooges on May 5 in Highland, Ill. If the movie is a success, it will raise awareness of the Stooges, and I hope that translates into more interest in the ride.

Back to the movie. “The Three Stooges” stars Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, Sean Hayes as Larry and Will Sasso as Curly. The Farrellys had been trying to get the film made for more than a decade. At one point, they were in negotiations with Sean Penn to play Larry, Jim Carrey to play Curly and Benicio del Toro to play Moe. Those fell through. But judging from the trailer, Diamantopoulos, Hayes and Sasso appear up to the challenge of playing Howard, Fine and Howard.

The Farrellys also managed to get a promising supporting cast, including Jane Lynch, Larry David, Jennifer Hudson, Sofia Vergara and Snooki. As any fan of the Stooges knows, the supporting actors are critical to Stooge humor. People like Vernon Dent, Bud Jamison, Stanley Blystone, Emil Sitka and the lovely and talented Christine McIntyre added a lot to the original Stooges shorts.

OK, I know a lot of people aren’t fond of the fact Snooki is in the new movie, but Snooki is part of the funniest bit in the trailer. The Farrellys found a new twist to an old slapstick routine, and Moe has the honor of doing something to Snooki that most Americans would love to do to her!

I only have the trailer to make this assessment, but it’s clear Bobby and Peter Farrelly have tried to pay homage to the original Stooges. For example, they used parts of Curly’s wrestling scene in “Grips, Grunts and Groans” in a a scene included in the trailer.

The Internet Movie Database says the plot – and longtime fans of the Stooges know plot development wasn’t one of their strong suits —  as: “While trying to save their childhood orphanage, Moe, Larry, and Curly inadvertently stumble into a murder plot and wind up starring in a reality TV show.”

After seeing the trailer, I am more optimistic about “The Three Stooges” than I was when I first heard about the effort. I hope people will be saying this after seeing the movie: “It’s tremendous!” It’s colossal!” It’s putrid!”

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November 19, 2011

Tour de Donut documentary producer is at it again

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Roger @ 12:43 pm

Jim Klenn, who co-produced the documentary “Tour de Donut: Gluttons for Punishment” with Steve Kelly, is putting out a series of short films tied to the St. Louis Cardinals’ incredible postseason run this year.

The 11-part series is called “Life After Baseball: A Tail of Two Animal Lovers”, and four of the 11 segments have been posted on YouTube.

The main characters are two animal lovers who recently ended their Busch Stadium careers — retired Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and the Rally Squirrel. Jim portrays La Russa in the films. Helping out on the project are Keith Nussbaum and Bill Jackson.

They’re cute, especially if you’re a Cardinals fan. Here’s the first of the 11 segments:

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February 9, 2011

“Amazing Race” host’s bicycling movie hits the Midwest

Filed under: bicycle rides — Tags: , , — Roger @ 12:01 am

Phil Keoghan, best known as the host of the CBS reality show “The Amazing Race,” took a cross-country bicycle ride across the United States in 2009.

This year, Phil and the documentary of his journey simply called “The Ride” are making their way across the United States. This week, Phil and the film are stopping in the Midwest.

Tonight (Feb. 9) , Phil will make a live appearance during the screening of the film at the Regal St. Louis Mills Stadium 18 and IMAX, 5555 St Louis Mills Blvd.,  Suite 525, in Hazelwood, Mo. Showtime is 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children and senior citizens.

For those of you who live in the Chicago area, Phil and “The Ride” will appear Thursday will be at the Regal City North Stadium 14, 2600 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. Showtime is 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $11 for adults and $8 for children and senior citizens.

Phil and the film also will appear Friday in Pittsburgh, Sunday in Philadelphia, Feb. 16 in Boston, Feb. 17 in Dallas and Feb. 18 in New York City.

If you want to see “The Ride” but can’t make it to any of the screenings with Phil, you can buy or rent the movie through Amazon.com. That’s the route I have to go because of a prior commitment.

Phil’s 2008 ride raised more than $400,000 for people with Multiple Sclerosis, and all box office proceeds from the screenings will go to the National MS Society.

Not surprisingly, the 18th season of “The Amazing Race” debuts Feb. 20.

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January 11, 2011

“Breaking Away” director dies at 81

Filed under: bicycling — Tags: , — Roger @ 8:12 pm

Peter Yates — the director of “Breaking Away,” which I still consider the greatest bicycling movie of all time, and other great films like “Bullitt” and “The Dresser” — died Sunday. He was 81.

The cause of death was heart failure, according to The New York Times.

If you’re a cycling fan, you’ve probably seen “Breaking Away” at least once. It’s a classic coming-of-age film about four teenagers growing up in Bloomington, Ind. One of them, Dave Stoller (played by Dennis Christopher), has ambitions of being a bicycle racer.

The four end wind up riding as the Cutters — the nickname for Bloomington locals because of the large number of limestone quarries in the area —  in the Little 500. The character of Dave Stoller is based on the real-life Dave Blase, who led his Phi Kappa Psi team to victory in 1962 by riding 139 of the 200 laps of the race. The film — filmed almost entirely in the Bloomington area —  increased interest in the Little 500, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2010.

Here’s a clip from the film:

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com

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April 19, 2010

The Little 500 at 60

Filed under: racing — Tags: , — Roger @ 12:24 pm

Indiana University’s Little 500 bicycle race — immortalized in the classic 1979 film “Breaking Away” — hits a milestone this year.

The 60th running of the men’s version of the Little 500 is set for 2 p.m. EDT Saturday at the cinder track at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. The 23rd running of the women’s Little 500 is slated for 4 p.m. Friday, also at Armstrong Stadium.

This year’s race will be run on single-speed Schwinn bicycles with coaster brakes, and no toe clips and clipless pedals are allowed.

Howdy Wilcox staged the first little 500 to raise money for the Indiana University Student Foundation. Howdy’s father, Howard Wilcox Sr., won the 1919 Indianapolis 500, so Howdy modeled the Little 500 after the famous auto race. The Indy 500 has a starting field of 33 cars; the Little 500 has a starting field of 33 teams.

The character of Dave Stoller (Dennis Christopher) in “Breaking Away” is based upon the real-life Dave Blase, who led his Phi Kappa Psi team to victory in 1962 by riding 139 of the 200 laps of the race. For a more extensive history of the race, you can read this article in the Indiana University Alumni Magazine.

History continues to be made. A new documentary about the Little 500, “Freewheels 60″, will be released May 1. You can pre-order the documentary for $24.95 at the film’s website, and you can see clips from the film. At 3 hours and 42 minutes, the film promises to be an extensive look at the event.

Last year, Smithville produced a 30-minute documentary of four teams that raced in the Little 500. You can view “Little 500 –Ride Fast, Turn Left” at Smithville’s website for free.

To whet your appetite for the Little 500, here’s the trailer from “Breaking Away”:

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January 20, 2010

Review: "Bicycle Dreams"

Filed under: cycling — Tags: , — Roger @ 11:03 pm

“Bicycle Dreams,” Stephen Auerbach’s documentary about the 2005 Race Across America, has been out for some time and has been reviewed by quite a few bloggers. It’s my turn.

I’ve written frequently about RAAM over the years, mainly because RAAM passes through the St. Louis area almost every year. I’ve always wondered what goes through the heads of anyone who would attempt to bike across America in 8 to 12 days. “Bicycle Dreams” gives me a pretty good clue.

I’m old enough to remember the early days of RAAM in the 1980s and early 1990s, when ABC and NBC aired extended segments about RAAM on their sports anthology shows. Those segments made me aware of ultramarathon cycling giants such as Lon Haldeman, John Marino and Pete Penseyres.

The segments, normally aired weeks or months after the race, did a good job of giving viewers a taste of the race. Sadly, RAAM doesn’t get the attention it once got from the networks, so “Bicycle Dreams” fills a major void.

Fortunately for us, “Bicycle Dreams” goes a step further than the networks were able to do.

Stephen and his crew worked around the clock to film RAAM. They had an advantage over the networks; they had 18 cameras in the field to give an more intimate look at RAAM.

While RAAM athletes have to be in incredible shape, “Bicycle Dreams” makes it clear that the mental battles are the biggest challenges they face over the course of the race. Even someone like Slovenian soldier Jure Robic — a four-time winner of the race — fights the effects of long days or riding with little sleep. For example, Robic speaks of seeing a dolphin’s head in the road and speaks of forgetting what his wife and children look like. He even speaks of quitting the race — something he wouldn’t do until 2009.

Another competitor, Anna Catharina Berge, chews out her crew for allowing her to sleep for four hours, even though it was clear she was in desperate need of it.

While Robic gets his share of face time, the real centerpiece of “Bicycle Dreams” is Dr. Bob Breedlove, who died June 25, 2005, when he was struck head-on by a pickup truck near Trinidad, Colo., during the race. Bob lived in Des Moines, Iowa, attended Illinois State University, the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the University of Missouri School of Medicine Orthopaedic Residency Program.

It’s eerie to watch Bob on the roads, riding strong, commenting on his tactics to beat the heat of the Arizona desert, realizing that only days later, he would be dead. His death had a devastating impact on French rider Patrick Autissier, who did not finish the race.

Much of the photography is incredible, especially of the western part of the course. Other than sections of Kansas, the Midwest plays a lesser role in the movie. I recognized a lot of the Missouri River valley near Marthasville, Mo. The uprights of the Clark Bridge, a suspension bridge that crosses the Mississippi River at Alton, Ill., are clearly visible in one scene, although the film does not include images of the river or of cyclists crossing the bridge.

“Bicycle Dreams” has won awards at a wide range of film festivals, including the Fallbrook, Los Angeles Sports and Solstice festivals. It won for a reason: “Bicycle Dreams” both tells and shows the physical — and mental — exhaustion RAAM athletes endure.

As an independent filmmaker, Stephen Auerbach is relying on a grassroots campaign to spread the word about the race. You can purchase the film for $19.99 through the film’s Web site, http://bicycledreamsmovie.com.

As a longtime follower of RAAM, I recommend “Bicycle Dreams.”

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