Sara McLachlan – Very Talented

If you are reading this and you don’t know Sarah McLachlan please send me a reply so I don’t feel like the only person who doesn’t. Tony and his Fiancee Jenna were planning a trip for her to come down and they saw Sara McLachlan was in WPB performing at The Kravis Center and they got all excited about seeing her. We found two sets of two seats that someone had returned and off we go.

She describes herself as a singer songwriter who finds “joy in sadness and depression” and brings that to her music. On several occasions she playfully mocked her music for never being upbeat or joyful.

As a 51 year old vocalist she has real pipes and tremendous range. Marty said she is an excellent pianist and it seemed to me that the concert Grand Piano she was playing was responding to her fingers with restrained effort. Early in her set she played a wired acoustic guitar and brought it to life. Later on she broke out an electric guitar and showed she can really pick. As an entertainer she did a 90 minute set and followed it with two encores with no break and only one woman who played cello and guitar and harmonized occasionally when it seemed appropriate.

Her respite came in the little talks she gave in between songs sharing her motivation and giving us a window into her mind. Her words painted a picture of a strong woman, daughter of two girls she really loves, a determined feminist and a moderate humanist. Regarding the political scene she had very little negative to say and spoke like a child of the sixties that wanted us to all find love and harmony – like she finds in her music.

The Kravis Center was sold out and it was filled with far more women than men and they responded with applause and shouts at almost any song or story she told.

About an hour into the concert I had only heard one song I knew (I will Remember You) and despite the sincerity and energy she put into her performance every song began to sound like the ones before to my untrained ear. 

If you are a fan of Sarah you should go and see her if she comes to your area. She is a real professional and puts on an almost one woman show. 

If not, I’d say don’t download her music but every now and then ask Alexa to play “I will remember you” – enjoy it and avoid the crowd and paying twenty bucks for valet parking:)

Horses for Courses – III Forks Restaurant On the PGA Corridor

Marty and I celebrated our 50 Wedding Anniversary at Cafe L’Europe in December and this being our 50th Valentine’s Day we decided to take the reins of our “Price Pony” for the night. We have a good friend who recently lost her husband and we thought it good for her to spend the occasion with company. Good company in Marty’s case anyway. Our friend doesn’t eat fish so we chose to make our once a decade trip to the popular but expensive steak place on the PGA Corridor “III Forks.”

We have friends who think the sun rises and sets on III Forks. I can see that if you want to stay in North County and “Wet Aged Prime” steaks are your thing and you have a “Price Stallion” rather than our “Price Pony” its a good choice. That said, when I sit down to write one of these restaurant reviews I have the broader dining public in mind. The categories I always consider are: Food Quality, Service, Ambience, Full Bar and Wine Offerings, Variety of Entree Choices across the Protein Groups, Small Plates, Desserts, Location, Anything Special that appeals to us and of course our “Price Pony.”

We had a lovely evening and very much enjoyed the wet aged Prime 8 oz Filet at $42 and their Prime Boneless 22 oz Ribeye at $60. All three of our steaks were cooked exactly as we ordered. We opened with a house salad at $11 and two Lobster Bisqsue at $12 each. Like many “Steak Joints” the meat comes naked so we ordered the Sauteed Spinach at $10 and Six Cheese Potato at $11. We had three glasses of wine and shared one dessert. Our bill for three diners with a 20% Gratuity was $325. Our “Price Pony” bucked a little but we knew it coming in and after all it was Valentine’s Day.

How then would I rate and or rank III forks? Please take a look back at the categories above I always consider. If you love Wet Aged, Prime Steak – want to be local and have a “Price Stallion” I’d say this is a good choice.

On the other hand let’s consider two other dining options within 50 yards of III Forks: Bonefish and JAlexander’s. If you like steak III Forks ranks number one of these three local restaurants by a wide margin. However, once you get past the steak – which is easy for me – Bonefish and JAlexander’s would equal or exceed III Forks in each of my other categories – especially price.

My conclusion and recommendation is simple. If you want top quality wet aged steaks and can afford it III Forks is a good choice for you. If you prefer a restaurant that equals it in all other regards for much less money Bonefish, JAlexanders and several other restaurants on the PGA corridor will give you just as enjoyable an evening and leave you with something for the light bill.

Options: Let’s say you are blessed to have a “Price Stallion” and are open to other choices I think the food is better at 1000 North in Jupiter and the ambience is superb. The creativity, choices and quality at Cafe Chardonnay is better and if you like Dry Aged meat Capital Grill’s ambience and service is superior. If you are willing to drive to Palm Beach there are a dozen of finer quality restaurants in this price range.

At the end of the day and this review I just can’t get fired up about III Forks but then again I’m not really a steak kind of guy.

Cold Pursuit – Get’s a B+ from The Stephens Family

OK, I know what you are thinking! You know the film starts Liam Neeson so it must have a revenge plot. Correct. You assume he plays the “Good Guy.” Correct, in fact right off he is being given an award as Kehoe, Colorado’s “Man of The Year.” You assume that someone he loves gets killed in the beginning of the film. Correct again. You assume that shortly into the film Liam, AKA “Nels” finds and kills three of them. Correct, how did you know it was three in the first round of killing? You are doing so well.

You assume that Liam makes a calm and collected plan to get to the man who ordered the hit and continues his killing spree until all the bad guys are dead. Wrong. I’m so disappointed you didn’t see a plot twist coming. That’s OK neither did we. At this point the plot thickens – two diverse groups of “players” enter the drama and the “Dark Humor” begins. I won’t say anymore about the plot except that it was interesting – the violence always felt justified to us and the director assumes you may have forgotten how many bad guys have been erased so he keeps score for you.

We were entertained throughout – I was never bored and not once thought of taking a potty break. Other than Laura Dern, I would have to Google the film to know who the supporting cast is but they all did a nice job. My personal favorite was the Indian Chief.

Did you assume there was a frantic vehicle chase at the end with one last surprise death – done in both an unexpected and darkly funny way? Correct again? Give yourself a B+ for your correct answers and if you are OK with violence and the occasional spilling of blood check out “Cold Pursuit.”

PS – Save yourself some time and don’t Google Kehoe, Colorado to see if you have been there. It was filmed in Canada.

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.