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Posted by on Aug 11, 2012 in Blog, Movie Reviews | 0 comments

Movie Review: “To Rome With Love”

 

 

MOVIE REVIEW:  TO ROME WITH LOVE

 

Woody Allen’s seventh postcard from Europe lacks enough postage.  It should be rubber-stamped “Return to Sender.”  This is undoubtedly the most disappointing of all his films set in Europe.

Following a lifetime spent channeling New York’s neurotic side, creating some of the most memorable roles in modern film history (Annie Hall, Leonard Zelig, Danny Rose, and of course – Allen himself), the 76-year-old film legend abruptly departed his familiar Manhattan backdrop in 2004, taking his introspective wit across the Atlantic, initially to London, then Barcelona, followed by Paris, and now Rome.

His latest release To Rome with Love has all the ingredients of yet another tasty Allen stew.  But in the end, all we sample is watered-down broth, poorly seasoned, with stale recollections of the spicy flavors that made Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Midnight in Paris so thoroughly original and enjoyable.

To be fair to Allen, he’s coming off his biggest commercial success ever, which is a hard act to follow.  Since his heyday as a writer-director-star during the 1970s, Allen’s films haven’t performed particularly well at the box office.  But like summer stock theater, they tend to make just enough money to keep Allen atop the list of directors most actors long to work with.  For that reason, Allen pretty much gets his pick of the litter as to who he casts in his films, and often writes characters perfectly suited to the typecasting.

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Posted by on Aug 10, 2012 in Blog, Rants and Raves, Restaurant Reviews | 15 comments

Nolan Dalla Rant: A Guide to Restaurant Tipping

 

nolan-dalla-photo

Bon Appetiti!

 

NOLAN’S GUIDE TO RESTAURANT TIPPING

1.     Food Service

Start with 20 percent of full bill (tax included) and work way either up or down, based on the following events.

If server approaches my table within the first two minutes, maintain 20 percent tip.  Then, deduct one percent for every minute the server is tardy.  If server shows up 2 to 3 minutes late and then profusely apologizes, reset meter to 20 percent.  Moreover, if server stops by and asks for more time, allow one reset.  But no more than one reset permitted.

If no waiter shows up within five minutes, bolt for the door.  No questions asked.

If I am alone or dining with Marieta, we ALWAYS order everything IMMEDIATELY.  I do not want to fuck around and have multiple visits from some college kid asking what I want on each course — drinks, appetizers, and main course.  Let’s get to the point, I am here to E-A-T.  Not listen to someone’s life story.

Furthermore, I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THE WAITER’S NAME!  I am ordering a meal from you, not buying a fucking house.

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Posted by on Aug 9, 2012 in Blog, Personal, Politics | 3 comments

Meeting Richard Nixon — A Shakespearean Tragedy

 

RIchard Nion in San Clemente

 

IF WATERGATE DIDN’T HAPPEN, WOULD WE NOW HAVE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE?

 

Thirty-eight years ago tonight, President Richard Nixon resigned from the most powerful job in the world.

August 9, 1974 was a particularly muggy night in Washington, fitting for the national tragedy that was the final tortured two years of Richard Nixon’s doomed presidency.

Everyone in America knew what Nixon was going to say on television that incredible night — announcing to the world that he would become the first and only president in American history to resign from office.  But until we actually watched it for ourselves, until we witnessed it, until we heard the President tearfully utter the fateful words, “I shall resign the presidency,” no one really contemplated the full force of gravity that was the tragedy and sorrow of that memorable night.

I was 12 years old when I watched Nixon’s resignation.  During the spring leading up to that night, in school classrooms we watched the Senate committee hearings on Watergate, which were carried live on all three major networks.  This was long before cable television, so everyone knew what was going on politically in this country, since that was all that was shown.  And what grand theater it was — the nation’s first real reality show, with an astounding cast of characters, entwined in the gravest of controversies.

By the summer of 1974, just about everyone in America loathed Nixon — even Republicans.  His job approval ratings hit an all-time low of 12 percent.  Resignation was inevitable.

Richard Nixon was a divisive figure, to be sure, and very much remains so.  He’s arguably the most vilified American political leader of the 20th Century by those on the left, and in the judgment of many.  Perhaps, even deservedly so.

Yet behind his utter disregard for the U.S. Constitution during the crisis, and the crimes which eventually became known as the Watergate scandal, was a highly-accomplished man of tremendous intellect and great potential.  Indeed, he very well might have gone down as the greatest LIBERAL since FDR, had his executive agenda not been diverted by the massive cover up and all-consuming series of events that led to his downfall.

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Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in Blog, Featured, Personal, Picture 1, Politics | 4 comments

What I Saw: Photo Essay of the 1989 Romanian Revolution

 

Nolan Dalla in Bucharest Romania

Romanian Army forces during the 1989 Romanian Revolution

 

The Romanian Revolution took place in December 1989.  I lived in Romania at the time and was assigned to the American Embassy in Bucharest.

Few Americans or Westerners lived in Romania during that period.  It was one of the East Bloc’s most repressive regimes.  Media were not allowed into the country, and so there remains relatively little coverage of one of the most extraordinary political upheavals since World War II.

Romania was one of the final Eastern European Communist dictatorships to collapse, following a series of relatively peaceful revolutions in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and East Germany — which had taken place during the preceding months.

However, aside from the aftermath of Yugoslavia’s demise in the early 1990s, Romania’s “revolution” was by far the most violent.  Thousands died in the bloody street battles between the dissidents aligned with the Romanian Army and dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s private military forces known as “Securitate.”  In fact, a series of demonstrations and riots plagued Romania over the next six months leading into the Summer of 1990.

I’ll be writing a series of narratives about these experiences in the weeks to come.  In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of some photography (most of it mine, which is why it’s of lesser quality) which has not been seen before.  Most of these photos have been kept in my garage.  Keep in mind these photos were taken before digital cameras.  Moreover, film was very difficult to obtain in Romania at the time, which makes photographs (and especially video) of the revolution somewhat rare.

 

Nolan Dalla in Bucharest Romania with Romanian Army

Nolan (in white) with officers in the Romanian Army

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Posted by on Aug 7, 2012 in Blog, Politics | 2 comments

Does President Obama Deserve a Second Term?

2012 President Obama Photo

 

Yesterday’s blog ended with the following statement:

“President Obama’s first term has been a failure not because he has been one of us – which means being a Liberal.  His presidency up to this point has been a crushing disappointment, because — the fact of the matter is — he has been one of them.”

So, what do I mean by – “one of them?”

President Obama has failed to break from the mainstream establishment on any major issue of importance.  Never mind that he’s been falsely labeled a leftist, a liberal, a socialist, and (gasp!) even a Marxist — preposterous characterizations to anyone with an understanding of what those terms mean aside from all the demagoguery.  Fact is, the current Administration has taken virtually no major risks in it’s first three-and-a-half years and has essentially governed from the political center.

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