Aquaman – If 20,000,000 people in the USA and Canada have paid to see this film there is hope that old, white bald men are soon going to be in vogue and hot!

Marty and I have been reading all the hype about Aquaman so we got tickets for today’s 4:30 showing. Right off let me say that I enjoyed the ads and the previews as much as the film itself. At least the ads and previews were over quickly. I missed an important factor in judging a film before you see it. If the running time is 2:22 – which added up is a total of 6 – and I think we all know who the number 6 represents – buckle up and get ready to exercise some real patience.

Aquaman was part cartoon, comic book, computer graphics, way too many sub plots, cheesy characters and dialogue. Aquaman himself had more lives than all the feral cats East of the Mississippi. The volume was over the top loud. Our “local” friends will understand when I say the volume for this film was so loud it made the Christ Fellowship Praise and Worship Music seem like the “mute” button was on.

The plot was as mish-mashed as a potato grinder. It was a combination of Samson, Jonah and the Whale, big men with Mommy issues and more characters on the screen at the same time – if you count sea creatures – than I could keep track of. I swore the film came to an end three or four times only to finally wind down to what can mercifully be described as thank goodness this is over.

If there are 20,000,000 North Americans that walked out of the theater thinking this was really entertaining then I am encouraged because anything is possible – including hopefully a come back for old, over weight, white bald men.

The Stephens Family went 0 – 1 and 2 for the Christmas Movie Week

The Stephens family saw three films during Christmas. One we recommend for home viewing and or taking your grand children to see and the other two films are definitely wait for home viewing unless you value history over entertainment.

Mary Poppins came out originally in 1964. Apparently at age 19 I was considerably more innocent and easy to entertain than today. I will say both the leading female and male actors did a splendid job but it wasn’t enough to stave off the sheer boredom of the first hour and fifteen minutes. The film finished on a high note but not high enough for me to recommend it to adults. On the way out we saw our friend Pam and she was so excited and thought it was better than the original. In full disclosure Pam is one of the most enthusiastic people I know. So if you are innocent and enthusiastic and or have younger children or grand children (PG) take them for a family outing. Otherwise wait for home viewing.

Mary Queen of Scots. I can’t believe this slow, tedious and often confusing attempt at History opened in the theater. Netflix or Amazon is where this belongs so you can get up and walk around and talk with friends or your family if you are into that kind of thing. The acting by the two leading ladies was very good but other than that this film is a dog – meaning no offense to Scottish Terriers.

Tony really likes the actors in Vice and he thought they did great work in their roles. That said he texted me half way through the film and said Dad don’t see this film until its on home viewing. He found it boring and from his review it sounded like a good history lesson if you are doing a term paper on the Bush era but did not qualify as entertaining.

Sa-Lute To Excellence

Marty and I went to Sa-Lute in the Summer “off season” here in S FL and we chose them for my 73rd Birthday because we really liked them earlier and wanted to see how they are doing “in season.” We shared the evening and the bill with our friends Mike and Joanne and we all had a wonderful time. We are glad to report the food and service was even better than before and we learned a few things we want to share with you.

The food was excellent and is also very good value for the PGA Corridor. For “Apps” the four of us shared an order of the Meat Balls ($11) with a generous portion of tomato sauce and the Stuffed Dates ($9). Both the Meat Balls and Stuffed Dates came with four portions so we each had a large, moist and tasty meat ball with plenty of sauce to go around. We all had a rich and tasty stuffed date so for $20 total we had plenty of food to keep us going while we talked and read the menu.

One thing we learned is the very customer friendly “Wine Pricing.” Each bottle on their list is priced at competitive retail prices with only a fifteen dollar or so “Corkage Fee.” The combination of which was very good value for us. We were leaning towards the Salmon and all enjoy Chardonnay. We looked at the Sonoma Cutrer at $26 plus a $15 corkage fee for $41. We almost order it but then we spotted one of our favorites – Rombauer Chard for $42 plus a $15 corkage fee or $57 total – much less than we can get it in a restaurant in North County. We couldn’t resist the Rombauer at this price and had two bottles before the night was over.

For our entrees we had and highly recommend the Short Ribs, Salmon and Filet (straight up without anything added.)

Once again we had an excellent dining experience at a price we can afford. Mike, Joanne, Marty and I all highly recommend Sa-Lute Market to you for a friendly environment – good service and food and excellent wine values.

A Star is Born – Stretching the Full Range of Human Emotion

“A Star is Born” for me personally resonated with the full range of my emotions. I laughed – I held Marty’s hand and shared the love and support so evident as portrayed by the leading and supporting cast –  I rejoiced in the fulfillment of personal dreams and insecurities overcome – I twitched in my chair and became uncomfortable as the twine of their lives began to unravel and I was moved with “Ally’s” closing scene in the film.

It was a sparse crowd for the 3:15 showing today but when Lady Gaga’s closing song ended no one moved as they showed the main credits using out takes from the film. You would have thought it was a full house with the clapping and comments from our fellow viewers.

Asking an amateur like me to “rate” this Film is like asking the creation to give a grade to the Creator. The male and female leads earned their chops and laid it all on the line as they drew us in to the lives of the descending and ascending characters, Jack and Ally.

Bradley Cooper was amazing. He was the Director, Male Lead and a fully accredited “P.G.A.” – a “Mark from the Producers Guild of America, which indicates the credited producer performed a majority of the producing duties is the film.” Lady Gaga earned her chops as a lead Female Actor as she ever so naturally allowed me to believe I was watching a struggling young Italian singer/song writer filled with insecurities get her break and then faithfully, but firmly “stand by her man.”

As I look back at this film the thing that impresses me the most is how two Professionals in the entertainment industry at the peak of their careers crossed over from their primary craft and were both impressive in their new roles. Bradley, in my view, is one of our finest Actors. I will never forget his portrayal of Chris Kyle in “American Sniper.” He brings even more emotion and vulnerability to this role. What blows my socks off from what I read is he actually sang his own songs and played the instruments. Lady Gaga never let me think of her as anyone but but the up and coming hit artist “Ally” and a young woman who falls in love with “Jack” and supports him to the bitter end.

The supporting cast was in the background but excellent. Sam Elliott, one of my favorite actors played the strong supporting brother of Jack. I had no idea until I got home that Andrew Dice Clay was Ally’s Father and filled all my expectations of a strong Italian Father. Finally you could have bowled me over with a feather to see that Dave Chapelle played the role of the supportive next door neighbor from Jack’s past.

OK – I have to wrap this up. I have two suggestions for you:

1. If you only see one movie in the theater this year make it this one – “A Star is Born.”
2. Go with someone you love!


The Joys of Fall in S FL

The daily high begins to cap out below 90 – it gets into the low 70’s at night and the humidity declines to the point where you don’t think you see it in the air and your sunglasses don’t fog up the minute you walk outside. Once in a while we can even open a window.

Our electric bills decline by at least a third and I can wear jeans to Church and not work up a sweat on the walk from the parking lot. Our “seasonal” friends from NY and NJ haven’t come back yet so the roads are only moderately crowded and you seldom ever get the honking horn and middle finger.
As great as that is for Marty and I – who love TV – the good news is most of the new and renewed Fall TV shows are rolling out. Our old favorites are still our favs but there are few new contenders on the horizon. Surprisingly two of them are sitcoms which are not usually my cup of tea.
Last Man Standing with Tim Allen and the Baxter Family have been picked up by Fox on Friday night at 9:00. I assume that must be the night the left wingers all meet at the beach, hold hands and support their friends who still can’t believe Hillary lost. The “conservative” humor is still there and in the opener they had some killer one liners – mocking the network who dropped them (ABC).
The Neighborhood with Cedric The Entertainer is the first real contender for the “All in the Family” re-do award but the races have changed places. Cedric is no Archie Bunker yet but its only the first show. He likes his new white neighbors as much as I like an apple cider vinegar with kale slushee. Check it out on CBS on Monday at 8.
Over on Netflix a show they debuted The Good Cop featuring Tony Danza and Josh Groban. Would you believe me if I told you Danza is the one who sings? Marty and I sat down and knocked out five shows and it went by like Fall in Chicago.
Well that’s it so far for new Fall TV shows that we like. Marty and I both are looking forward to finding some time to get to the theater and see the latest remake of “A Star is Born” with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

How Do You Make A Ryder Cup Sandwich?

How do you make a sandwich? Do you put the “feature” item in the middle of two pieces of bread or do you put the bread in the middle with the feature item on the outside?

You don’t have to be a Psychologist to read the body language of the American players in the just concluded Ryder Cup. Coming off the big year end finish with a $30,000,000 prize pool and $10,000,000 for first place at stake and starting the 2019 PGA Tour Golf season next week the scheduling geniuses of golf put the Ryder Cup right in the middle.

It doesn’t surprise me because for decades the “PGA Tour” (The Professional Players) has viewed the “PGA of America” (The Professional Teachers) like the poor, dumb step child. It seems the PGA Tour doesn’t care if the PGA of America – the Association responsible for the Ryder Cup and the teaching of all the great future tour players set their schedule for 2018 set the players up for failure.

How often have you heard it said it’s really tough to win “back to back.” Look at Tiger – it’s great for golf he seems to be back – to some degree or another – but how much gas could he have left in the tank after winning the “Tour Championship” just last week. It seemed to me that Bryson Dechambeau played like a dog in the Ryder Cup but after winning two events in the “Tour Championship Series” he had to be playing on fumes! Then Captain Furyk teams them both together to start out the Event?

I don’t know what the geniuses in Ponte Vedra Beach are planning for 2020 but I hope they get over their feuding with the PGA of America and realize that when the US Team get drummed on a world stage it’s the PGA Tour Players that look bad – not the PGA of America that is running the Ryder Cup.

Musings from a below average tennis player who still watches golf!

Musings on the Passing of My Friend Dave Burke

These observations, feeling and musings are my meager attempt to express my feelings following the “Celebration of Life” for my friend Dave Burke – which was held in the Ocean Room at The Breakers Friday Morning. I have been to more “Funeral Services” than I can count and have officiated and spoken at a few but Friday’s Service had to be so special for the family it stands out as the “best” I have ever attended. I say “best” in the sense that the family participated and was so warmly supported by the speakers and those fortunate to receive an invitation. At the Family’s request they ask that the service reflect the balance that Dave had between laughter, work, his family and faith.

As I write this note I struggle with which to share first. At Nine AM The Ocean Room was full to capacity and the sun was gleaming in from the ocean view windows over the platform and those present.

I have to start by sharing what a wonderful, loving Family the Owners, Officers and Staff at The Breakers are. After our Pastor at Christ Fellowship Todd Mullins opened in Prayer he introduced the President and CEO of The Breakers Paul Leone. Mr. Leone spoke from his heart about how much he loved Dave and how the Breakers family know he loved them. “Guido” – as Dave called his boss to great laughter across the Ocean Room – said every member of The Breakers Family from the bottom to the top loved Dave and respected the tremendous job he did for The Breakers. He spoke equally of the faith he shares with Dave and the assurance of his home in Heaven. Mr. Leone – because I would never call him Guido – spoke warmly about Dave’s Church Family and how he respects Christ Fellowship and Pastor’s Todd and Tom and their impact on Dave and his Families lives.

The second is my complete admiration of the reflections shared by Dave’s “Best Friend” Bryant Gumbel. To be honest I am not that big a fan of Bryant’s style on TV and it gave me an opportunity to learn an old lesson – the person you see on TV may not be the real person at all. Between tears and laughter Bryant shared so many stories of their lives as best friends who spoke two or more times on the phone each day and saw each other weekly for golf and meals and laughs we all had the feeling that we shared in that relationship together with them.

At three points during the service Pastor’s Matt and Brad from CF brought moments of inspirational music that were Dave’s favorites.

Finally the time came for Dave’s two son’s – Ryan and Matthew – to share their version of life with Dad. They brought down the house with immensely personal stories through tears of joy and laughter. I have never, ever heard a family reflection as moving and funny and joyous and loving as Dave’s Sons. I know Dave was looking down and loved it and it had to be a wonderful moment for Dave’s wife Amy.

As they stepped down I, like everyone in the room were emotionally drained from tears and laughter. The seemingly opposite poles of human emotion having been experienced by all present.

The service had gone on for well over and hour but it seemed like only twenty minutes and as I looked at the program and saw my friend Founding Pastor Tom Mullins or “Coach” as Dave and a lot of his friends call him was up next. I couldn’t help but wonder how can Coach possibly follow all that? And then in the twinkling of an eye in eternity Coach brought the Word of God to life and gave Amy, Ryan and Matthew and everyone present the hope that only Faith in Christ can give. Coach closed in prayer asking those present if they had the same certainty of their personal eternity that Dave enjoyed.

I have never been more proud to be be associated with Christ Fellowship than I was Friday Morning.

Finally, as the close came I reflected on what I had just experienced. A Christian Celebration of Life in the Ocean Room of The Breakers – one of the absolute top rated Resort Properties in The World – during working hours. I was so encouraged that only in America – with a family ownership group of fine Christian people with Believers at the helm can Christians and Jews, Celebrities and Executives, friends and strangers come together to celebrate a man that everyone in the room considered their friend – including me.

Thanks for listening.


Jack Ryan on Amazon TV – The Best Show on TV right now!

Tony and I both have come down with bacterial bronchitis and sinus infection so we are a little low on energy and enthusiasm at the moment. We are dutifully taking our antibiotics, Promethazine with codeine cough syrup, “pearl” drops and all the vitamins and supplements we can think of. We have become converts of the “NeilMed Sinus Rinse.” It can take you from being totally stopped up to breathing freely in just a few minutes.

That said I have been meaning to send you a note telling you how much Marty and I have been enjoying the new Jack Ryan TV series on Amazon TV. If you have a “smart TV” and you are a member of “Amazon Prime” you are already receiving the Amazon TV Network at no additional charge. The figures I saw recently on dollars invested in TV production by Amazon, Netflix and the Broadcast Networks would lead us to believe the most new and creative programs coming our way are going to be on Amazon.

I have enclosed a link on the “Rotten Tomatoes” review of Jack Ryan. You know it’s based on the Tom Clancy Novels about a well decorated Marine turned mild mannered CIA Analyst who gets thrown into the midst of the battle against terrorism. It’s our favorite show on TV right now. The acting is good – the plot is right up to date and the production of the scenes – especially the middle east insertions of American forces are realistic and believable. Like Netflix and other “digital streaming” video providers you can “binge watch” to your hearts content.

This next sentence will not sit well with the politically correct crowd but I don’t give a damn. The thing I like best about this show is it makes it 100% totally clear that we are in a war – an idealogical and spiritual warfare between the followers of Islam in the East and us – the Christians in the West. It is the ultimate Good Guys versus Bad Guys drama that will one day usher in the beginning of the “End of the Age” and the return of Messiah to Rule with a Rod of Iron.

Finally, in addition to “Jack Ryan” there are a lot of other TV and Movie offerings available on the Amazon Network. For now while the only “cost” is to join Amazon Prime and get free delivery it seems like a bargain to me – but I do shop on line.


Sa-Lute Market: Good Food, Excellent Table and Bar Service and very Fair Prices for the PGA Corridor

Marty and I enjoyed our first – but definitely not last visit to Sa-Lute Market in Palm Beach Gardens tonight. The restaurant is just the right size – has a full and varied menu – a wide selection of wines and liquors – excellent service (ask for Elle) – and very favorable pricing for good food in the PGA corridor. We loved – are you ready for it? Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates. They were wrapped in bacon, rich, delicious and only $9 for four. Plenty for two to split. We enjoyed the Chef’s Meatballs and rich tomato based sauce. $11 for four large meat balls and one per person is plenty for an app. The tomato bisque was rich but not spicy and very enjoyable. Our server Elle recommended the Salmon and she was not wrong. They recommend it medium and it was rich and tasted like fresh salmon with “0” fishy taste. If you like bread pudding you will love the bourbon bread pudding – guaranteed! Did I mention the house stuffed blue cheese olives in the shaken cold straight up dirty Martini. Why would I? Who like three overstuffed blue cheese olives in a cold dirty? We finished the night with a beautifully presented White Russian and Decaf Cap. The bill was very reasonable for “the corridor.” If you live in North County Sa-Lute Market is a must try. Its at the west end of all the restaurants at the S.E. corner of PGA and Central.

Crazy Rich Asians – Crazy Good Fun and Romance

If you have a beating heart – have ever been young and in love and enjoy comedy you should sprint to take in Crazy Rich Asians (CRA).

CRA is the best “Rom-Com” we can remember since “Sleepless in Seattle.” Who will ever forget Meg Ryan dramatically faking an orgasm at lunch in a restaurant – seeing this the elderly lady at the next table over tells her server “I’ll have what she’s having.”
CRA will probably be the biggest selling Rom-Com ever because it is really a good flick – and it stars, was co-produced by really rich Asians and filmed in Malaysia and Singapore. It we win the lottery and can afford First Class Tickets this movie makes we want to see Singapore. It looks like NYC fused with Las Vegas to the 3rd power. I mention the City because it is the back drop that makes the concept of crazy rich Asians/Chinese seem so natural.
Back to why we liked this film: It has all the elements necessary for a Rom-Com to be successful: Romance – Some really funny dialogue – And a Happy Ending. In addition it’s like the Asian’s/Chinese are opening the window to a part of their world to show the rest of the us that not only are their population numbers big – they also have some really, really rich people and they are willing to put them in spectacular estates – parties – vacations – shopping trips and ultra expensive cars to let you know some of them have arrived.
My favorite line comes early in the film when a meager “multi millionaire” Asian family is having dinner at home and the kids don’t want to finish their food. The mother looks at them with scorn and says you finish your food and be thankful you are not like the millions of people who are going hungry in America. OK – there are some American’s going hungry but when I was a kid the standard line at dinner was be thankful you are not like all those starving Chinese. I still laugh as I remember my mother laying that one on me. Speaking of laughing – we laughed out loud more times than I can count. One or or two occasions I caught myself clapping and on several more tearing up during the “romantic” parts of CRA.
CRA is PG-13 but it is far tamer than what we see on TV in the “family hour.” There was no sex, nudity, cursing or violence. How could this kind of movie ever make it? As the equally old cereal ad says “try it – Larry and Marty like it.”