Latest Video: The High Bar w/Warren: Ninive Calegari (Teachers)

NiniveCalegariCROPPEDIt’s not just the late Whitney Houston who believes the children are our future, politicians have always been quick to pawn off today’s challenges to younger generations. Yet if we are going to rely on our offspring to solve all of our problems, wouldn’t it make sense to insure they get better educations now? Wouldn’t it be prudent to invest more in educators so that students be gifted the best tools possible for gerry-rigging our wacky world?

Ninive Calegari is the President of The Teacher Salary Project and producer of the documentary AMERICAN TEACHER. Today, she is also a guest at The High Bar, joining Warren to raise a toast to and raise the bar for… teachers.

Please, watch this episode then craft a five-block essay detailing what you’ve learned. Spelling and punctuation do count, but we’ll give you an A for effort just for considering Ms. Calegari’s salient argument.

by: Warren, on: May 28, 2013 at 11:35 am, posted to: Video Comment Count No Comments

Showtime at the Apollo

Posted on: Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

film_12720282_photo1Documentary filmmaking isn’t child’s play even when chronicling two high school squads of rope-skippers on their way to the Holiday Classic in New York City, where Double Dutch and Jump Rope champs compete in speed contests and the hybrid sport of Fusion.

In DOUBLETIME, director Stephanie Johnes blends in with two very different crews prior to their trip to the Apollo; the Bouncing Bulldogs of Chapel Hill, North Carolina are predominately white, suburban team and Double Dutch Forces of Columbia, S0uth Carolina, a socio-economic mirror-image. Despite these superficial differences, both are similar in the students’ commitment to the sport; Timothy Martin, the Bulldogs’ national record-holder in speed categories passes on possible track scholarships to pursue the less-rewarding sport of jump-rope and larger-than-strife Antoine Cutner of the Forces competes with complete abandon and a brilliant smile while pursuing multiple extracurriculars, a career as a hair-stylist and his eventual crowning as Prom King. The teams are also alike in the passion of their coaches, Ray Fredrick and Joy Holman, which never overwhelms what’s best for their charges, in in the face of tremendous odds and unpromising ends.

DOUBLETIME is a delight, an easy-going, inspirational movie that triumphs even if not every one of its subjects enjoys a storybook finish. DOUBLETIME serves as a reminder that, sometimes, sport should be embraced for exactly what they are: fun and games.



It’s not brain surgery?

Posted on: Sunday, November 3rd, 2013


Damn! While trying to remove the funny bone from the two-dimensional, red, bulbous-nosed patient on the table, my tweezers touched the metallic sides of his body and triggered the buzzer. Admittedly, I am not a real doctor; fortunately, Hasbro’s Operation is just a game.

Of course, surgery is a very real ordeal for millions of Americans, yet the procedures can often seem as amateurish as if friends and family were performing these operations. According to USA Today “up to 6,000 patients a year leave U.S. operating rooms with surgical sponges, forceps and other surgical tools mistakenly left inside them. The error is usually not detected until the patient develops a life-threatening infection.”* Perhaps surgeons need those buzzers, too. And a whole lot more.

In Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care, Dr. Marty Makary — who collaborated with Atul Gawande to craft the titular checklist of the latter’s Checklist Manifesto — describes the multitude of sins within the medical industry that are due in large part to laziness, hubris and… a lack of accountability. It’s enough to make readers stay healthy simply by willing it so. Beyond detailing the routine failings of our current healthcare system, Dr. Makary also offers significant advice as to how patients can take better care of themselves by becoming more proactive clients. Thankfully, there is hope within the horror; many hospitals are implementing strategies to improve the services they offer. Still, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so pick up a copy of Unaccountable and heal thyself.


Posted on: Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

waxie_moon_in_fallen_jewel_6Kudos to Wes Hurley whose FALLEN JEWEL is the craziest, campiest, most outrageous Seattle feature since Sue Corcoran‘s indelible GORY GORY HALLELUJAH. Waxie Moon may be the star, but the crown jewel of this production is the ever-arresting Nick Garrison, pictured here. FALLEN JEWEL is an unabashed assault on provincial Northwesterners and their antiquated notions of sexuality. Beware, Christians, this movie is not for you.


Posted on: Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

i-frankenstein-aaron-eckhartQ: What does Hollywood do to good writers? A: Bribes them to ignore their better story-telling senses.

How else can I explain what has become of Stuart Beattie, whose script for COLLATERAL is one of my favorites? Since then, he has written the titularly-prescient DERAILED, GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and now, I, FRANKENSTEIN, which he has directed, as well.

With COLLATERAL, Beattie used a genre film to explore meaningful thematic content with emotionally complex characters, even Tom Cruise’s warm-blooded hitman who, at first, comes across as a monster. In fact, the silver-haired killer is reminiscent of the creature Mary Shelley introduced in Frankenstein (the name of the doctor, let’s not forget). Both are misjudged killing machines who seem invincible yet are vulnerable due to their misunderstandings of mortality. Shelley’s Frankenstein is a brilliant condemnation of society’s struggles with scientific progress, provincial reasoning and compassion. Mr. Beattie’s reanimated patch-job is a true mutant, some hybrid of reluctant superhero and ridiculous leading man.

I have to believe Mr. Beattie read the same novel I did, yet the trailer for I, FRANKENSTEIN clearly exposes the venture as an exploitation of recognizably-branded intellectual property rather than an exploration of humanity through the eyes of the revivified and reviled.

Mary Shelley warned us of the dangers of imbuing life into the dead. Why oh why can’t Hollywood recognize the similar dangers of exhuming classic literature only to create some freakish spectacle?




Recapturing the Friedmans?

Posted on: Monday, June 24th, 2013

capturing-the-friedmans-stillCAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS won awards for its filmmaker, Andrew Jarecki, and helped generate interest in the case against the eponymous father and son who had been convicted as sex offenders.

In 2003, I interviewed Jarecki and concluded by asking if he believed the Friedmans were guilty. Jarecki, the founder of Moviefone, responded:

“The most honest thing I can say is that after all the misinformation I got while making the film, I learned not to give opinions about things when I wasn`t present. I was not a primary source. But the film gives the audience the tools they need—including putting them directly inside the Friedman house—to decide if they feel this family was capable of the acts of which they were accused. This is serious business, the accusation business, and whether you believe the Friedmans were guilty or innocent, they never had a chance.”

Now, years later, one could argue they got their chance. On Monday, June 24th, 2013, “[i]n a 155-page report written with very little ambiguity, the Nassau County district attorney, Kathleen M. Rice, concluded that none of four issues raised in 2010 in a strongly worded ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit were substantiated by the evidence.

In the interim, it seems, Mr. Jarecki has developed a stronger belief in the innocence of the younger Friedman, Jesse: “D.A. Kathleen Rice has made a craven, but not surprising, political decision in failing to admit to the wrongdoing of the Nassau County D.A.’s office and former sex crimes chief Fran Galasso, in the face of overwhelming evidence of Jesse’s innocence.”

Should Jesse Friedman continue appealing his case? Is he innocent? Can anyone ever truly say?

What do YOU think?


** To learn more about how to better protect children from sexual predators, check out these three episodes of The High Bar with guests Sam Brower, author of Prophet’s Prey,  Sally Bock, a child safety advocate, and Tracy Sarich, the former Executive Director of the Children’s Trust Foundation.