New iPhones may be on the way in 2020!

I have the iPhone 11 large and with the IOS 12 and 13 software upgrades it just doesn’t seem to perform as well as when it was new. I’m sure there are new features in all that new software but I honestly believe part of the reason Apple loads up the older phone with the new software is to get us to buy new ones – which cost at least $1,000.

I had made up my mind I was going to buy a new one this weekend and then I read the article below about from the Wall Street Journal about what Apple is coming out with in 2020 and I’ve decided to put my plans on hold and wait for the “next big thing.” Here’s the summary of the article:

iPhone Excitement Returns—Kinda

“It’s hard to get jazzed up about another iPhone, but analysts are predicting this to be the biggest upgrade in years. The addition of 5G may not even be the most exciting part. Industry analysts are spreading word of a new iPhone 4-like design with a stainless steel band and flat glass backs and new cameras that capture depth information to help with augmented reality. You can bet on Apple releasing multiple models at different price points, and there’s even talk of an upgrade to the smaller iPhone SE in the first half of the year.

We don’t anticipate a completely port-free, wireless-only iPhone this year, but the new U1 chip in the iPhone 11 models has a lot of untapped wireless potential. Since the chip allows iPhones to more precisely locate and communicate with other U1-equipped devices, it wouldn’t surprise us if, in iOS 14, Apple added more new ways for iPhones to communicate with each other. It might even release the long-expected lost item tracker so you can locate your keys or… dog.”

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker – Very Good but perhaps too involved to be great for general movie audiences!

The year was 1977, our son Tony was seven years old and in what seems like “A long time ago in a Galaxy far away” Marty and I stood in a long line on a cold and wet winter day in suburban Chicago to see the 10:00 first showing of Star Wars. We hadn’t seen the film yet but Tony already owned several of the toys and it was all the rage of his friends back in “the day.”

For the next 42 years and nine Star Wars we have circled the opening date on our calendar and have never missed being there for the first showing. With Fandango and other websites its easier these days to get your prime reserved seats months in advance and we no longer have to stand in a long line in the cold in South Florida to get our Star Wars Fix.

As a wise and discerning reader (that’s you) you already know our Family loved the film and we were very excited to see some old plots and relationships brought to a close. We clapped along with the rest of the audience when almost all of the past Star Wars characters that are still alive made an appearance, including one who is isn’t. If you, like us, are Star Wars fans you are going to love this movie also and of course you will absolutely have to see it on the big screen.

However, in fairness to those of you who are neutral to the franchise I’d say there is about a 50% chance you will really enjoy this film. Maybe it’s because I was thirty two years old when Luke Skywalker, Princess Leih, Hans Solo, the Droids, Obi-Wan Kenobi and so many others fought the Evil Empire and the most dreadful villain of all times, Darth Vader. Back then I could keep up with every scene and enjoyed the pacing of the film.

That said, my only complaint about “The Rise of Skywalker” is that there was so much going on, with the brilliant J.J. Abrahams Directing and closing old doors and redefining relationships and opening new ones I honestly had a hard time keeping up with everything that was going on. Maybe its just that I’m 74 now but I like to think I can keep up with the kids on the block. If you are new or newer to Star Wars and don’t know the back stories of the characters this film may not be as enjoyable to you.

From an “acting” perspective the film centered on “Rey” – an orphan who found her way into the camp of the good guys and was extremely well played by Daisy Ridley. I’ll be shocked if she doesn’t find lots of film offers coming her way soon. Since this is my review I will just say that I thought all the other actors did a good job but no “person” really stood out to me. Some of the “non human” characters are just delightful and I’m sure will generate a new line of toys for todays children.

Finally, what can I say about the plot. It’s Star Wars – It’s Good versus Evil – It’s filled with action and suspense but amazingly very little personal violence that would upset a young child. Most importantly while the movie ends the plot never does. If you want to know why the film is titled “The Rise of Skywalker” you will have to wait until the absolute last line is spoken and the 42 year old theme music plays and you can’t wait until the next Star Wars comes out with a female Skywalker leading the way.

Knives Out – Real Acting and Real Enjoyable

We really enjoyed “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson and a very strong supporting cast!

If you turn on “Pay Per View” and they are advertising a 100 yard sprint between the tortoise and the hare at $10 per each at the Senior rate – would you hit “YES” and wait for the event to begin? The gun sounds, the Hare makes two or three “leaps” and leaves the tortoise in his wake. Since you paid $10 apiece you figure you ought to at least watch to the finish and see what happens. The Hare crosses the STRAIGHT and OBVIOUS finish line and the inquisitive tortoise takes his sweet time and right before the end takes the “road less traveled” and crosses the ACTUAL finish line just to the right for the “legal” and “personally satisfying” finish.

If this scenario were a movie is it possible for “slowness” to be overcome with “excellence?” In this era of computerized everything and non stop action is it possible to actually enjoy an old fashioned “Who Done It” that has an outstanding script – steady and professional, enjoyable and relatable acting – all revolving around a plot you hope is coming to the end you want but aren’t sure it will ever get there?

For Marty and I the answer is an uniquivable YES. If, like me you are on Clonazapam to take the edge off you may want to wait for home viewing. That said, I was never bored during this film. Daniel Craig as the “Famous Detective Benoit” turned in the best acting performance I have seen since “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” James Bond is more thrilling but his work in “Knives Out” as a professional actor is not to be missed. The film revolves around his character and the “warm hearted nurse” played marvelously by Ana de Armas. Her more popular roles to date have been in “Blade Runner”, “Knock Knock” and “War Dogs.” She convinced me she was the caring nurse to an older man in the last days of his life who chose what he believed was the best for his heirs and the person who carried him to the end.

If you enjoy films that are carried by the dialogue and interaction with the other actors you will love this movie. This film will not lose anything on the 60” 4D Small Screen other than the enjoyment you will pass up by not seeing it NOW!

Uncle Larry

Ford Vs Ferrari – A+

Praise God! Finally a real movie with real people reliving one of America’s enduring themes: Men, Cars, Speed and the Women who loved them.

Matt Damon and Christian Bale did a great job in “Co-Starring” roles of the lives of Carroll Shelby of Cobra fame and Ken Miles, a lesser known but reknown race car driver. Caitriona Balf did nice job as the supportive wife of the driver Ken Miles.

This is a great movie and all red blooded American Men and Women are going to want to see this on the BIG screen. The cinematography and Dolby sound helped me to feel I was right there in the race car with them.

Generally speaking this is a true enough story and and I love it when a plan comes together and the good guys win. I’ve had enough drama watching the news from Congress to last two life times. Take a break from TV and buy a ticket for what I believe will be a big success at the Box Office.

Uncle Larry

The Wynn, Las Vegas, In a Class by Itself

In writing this review I was tempted to rank some of the great Properties we have been fortunate to visit in numerical order. On further reflection that is a fool’s errand I fear because most of the truly great Hotel properties serve a different clientele with a theme and style that defies listing them one to ten or however many you have visited.

Marty and I have been blessed to stay at The Ritz in Paris, Hotel Danieli in Venice, The Plaza in NYC, The Beverly Wilshire, The Dorchester in London, Villa D’Este in Como, The Breakers in Palm Beach and each was a joy and brings back great memories. 

I can’t say The Wynn is an equal or better Hotel Property than any of these but I can say it is the finest Resort Hotel in Las Vegas. In terms of pure enjoyment, visual splendor, vibe, Guests services, choices and variety of entertainment it is truly special. Their common areas are anything but “common.” We took over a hundred pictures of our small wedding party in the Wynn’s truly remarkable Floral Sculpture and Gardens alone. Their Floral Sculptures are all made with fresh flowers and are changed every other day. Their outdoor two story waterfall and reflecting pool was nice in the day time and spectacular at night with their virtually continuous light show. Very dramatic. Speaking of water I have no idea how many swimming pools they have but it is a lot. One was posted “For Adults Only” and allowed topless bathing. Unfortunately Marty didn’t let me see that one.

One thing that struck the most is given that between The Wynn and The Encore they have nearly 5,000 hotel rooms and Suites. In addition there are thousands of people “off the street” who come to see the property and the casino daily – Yet every square foot of their common areas are not only impressive they are continuously “clean as a whistle.

“If I had one modest level of disappointment it was the Five Star Dining. It was very expensive and the food was just OK. We had better dining experiences in their “Contemporary” and “Casual” dining rooms. The Dining Room we enjoyed the most is The Allegra. The prices are about the same as the good restaurants around here. We had the post wedding dinner there and heard many good comments about the Calamari, Chicken Parm and LaSagna. The wedding cake they made for Tony and Jenna was also good. For red wine drinkers they had an excellent bottle of Brunello Montelcino for $110 – which is about $15 less than the restaurants here charge. Marty and I stopped in for a “bite” before their Show “Le Reve, The Dream” – sat at the bar and had an excellent flat bread and the calamari was excellent the second time. By the way the show Le Reve, The Dream was very good.

I’m not saying that all this luxury and entertainment didn’t come with a handsome price tag but we thought it was worth it and we all had a fabulous time and are so glad we made the five hour flight from South Florida for our intimate Family wedding and entertainment experience.

Men in Black, International Wait for Home Viewing

Not even the power of Thor or the charm and wit of Christ Hemsworth could turn this “sow’s ear into a silk purse.” If we were just rating the Actors we would give them a B+. Who ever put together this script would get a D-.

I remember the previous M.I.B. films as being funny, especially the Aliens. Out of the hour and forty five minutes there were maybe four or five good lines and a few more moments of modest humor but not nearly enough to make this film worth going to the theater to see.

Even Saint Marty – the nicest person in FL only gave it a C-.

John Wick 3 – One Wick Too Many

When does the “unbelievable” actually become “unbelievable?”

The original John Wick was excellent – perhaps because the plot, the actors and the script concept were a new package of entertainment. John Wick 2 was fine but not nearly as interesting or compelling as the original. John Wick 3 has burned out the candle of my interest in ever paying to see another one.

Why? How many times can one almost regular human being defeat innumerable groups of 5 to 15 highly trained combatants all at once? About half the way through the only thing I liked about the movie was the “Dog.” The “certainty” that once again no person and or no group of evil doers could ever defeat John Wick became just too predictable to make the well choreographed fight scenes the least bit interesting.

I encourage you to pass on John Wick 3 until it comes out for “free” at home so you don’t feel like you overpaid and you had to stick it out to the end to get your money’s worth or at least to see if “Dog” lives. Spoiler alert, they both do – unbelievable and predictably of course.

Uncle Larry

Passover and Easter, 2019

Chag Sameach (Joyous Festival) to my Jewish Friends and Have a Blessed Easter to my Christian Friends. I’m writing this on Saturday, April 20th, the Second Day of Passover and the Middle Day of Easter Season, 2019.

As I understand it, Passover is a 8 Day Festival that brings people and especially Families together at Seder Dinner to “retell” the story of the Miracle of G/d’s Delivering the people of Israel from their long period of Slavery in Egypt over 3,000 years ago.

Easter is a 3 Day period of time that brings friends and Families together to remember the planned and voluntary Sacrifice and Death of Jesus, His burial and His resurrection which Deliver His believers from their bondage to sin.

Jews and Christians have so much in common. We are the only people in Creation who Worship the One, True, Living G/d. The Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Those of us who take our faith seriously believe in a G/d who cares for and loves us. One who gave us the system of “Sacrifice” that provides for the forgiveness of our sin. For without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

We derive the basics of our Faith from a Book that was written thousands of years ago, almost exclusively by Jews, as G/d moved them to think and write. He told us to continually remind our Children of the things He has done for us – not the things we have done for Him. Our Jewish friends read the Torah, Psalms, Proverbs and the Prophets that point to the Day when Messiah will come to Save us. My Christian friends read those same books and we believe Messiah has come and is coming again.

In Isaiah 55: 8 to 13 we read: “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

A Mother’s Concerns for Life’s Expectations placed on her Daughter

Friend, let me start by saying that if you don’t have a Daughter or a Grand Daughter or a young female relative or friend you care deeply about, reading my thoughts today is going to be too long for you and isn’t going to be moving or interesting or important.

These are Uncle Larry’s thoughts about a Country Music group called “Little Big Town” and their new soon to be big hit and introspective song by Karen Fairchild, who is herself a mother, Titled “The Daughters” 
If you got this far and you like music  I encourage you to open the link immediately below this sentence and listen to the song “The Daughters” – performed by two Moms to their Daughters.
If you aren’t sure about the lyrics and would like to read them just open this link. I opened them both with no issues.

Having had only one Son, Marty and I are not personally and experientially aware of the pressures and expectations placed on “Daughters” as they grow into young women. This song really hit a chord with my spirit and I would like to share a few thoughts with you – one being the potentially controversial line Karen Fairchild sings “I’ve heard of God the Son and God the Father – I’m still looking for a God for the Daughters.”

Songs are often meant to stir people’s hearts and minds on a subject close to the Artist themselves. It seems fairly obvious this mother (Karen Fairchild) has strong feelings about the expectations society puts on young women. I think it’s fair to say she is asking the question, will God be there for her daughter?

It may also be that the Way God chose to reveal himself to us – His creation – as The Father, The Son and later The Holy Spirit – brings a certain sense of “maleness” to God. It’s my personal view that at the time Scriptures were written Society was considerably different than today. The “nuclear family” with a father who provided leadership to the family he remained with was an example the people who lived at that time could relate to. The first born son in those families was loved by the father and was given a greater portion of the inheritance. I can’t begin to know why “The One, True, Living God” chose to reveal himself in this way. It may be so that the people who lived at that time could relate to what He was saying.

I do know this! In Genesis 5:8 God through Moses said: “When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.” There are three important points I see here: 1. God created the male and female in His likeness. 2. God blessed both the male and the female. 3. God collectively called the male and the female “Mankind.”

In my eyes this passage tells me that when God sees men and women he sees them as having his likeness or characteristics – they are equally blessed by Him and both make up what God calls “Mankind” – hence not discriminating one against the other.

Personally it helps me to think of all this in the light of Isiah 55:8 where God through a man named Isaiah says; “My thoughts are not your thoughts, says The Lord, and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” In the Uncle Larry Living Loosely Translation it says “God’s thoughts are so deep and spectacular and eternal that even if God told us exactly what He was thinking and planning we wouldn’t have a stinking chance of understanding it.

Recently a strong Christian female friend of mine offered the thought that one day in Eternity we may find that our God, who is not limited in any way, has all the best attributes of both his creations, Male and Female!

Here is something I do believe and know from Scripture. At just the right time The Son took upon flesh and dwelt among us as the only begotten son of the Father. Thus if I want to get an idea or a good look at what God thinks about something the logical thing to do is to look at the life of the Son, The Christ, the man named Jesus. 

My suggestion to the Artists who sing this song and to anyone who has questions about God’s view of women and their daughters is to simply look at the life of “The Son.” In Jesus time on earth over 2,000 years ago society degraded women and often treated them more like their property that partners. Yet Jesus, “The Son” showed respect and loving kindness to women and set the example all male believers should follow. 

How did The Son treat women? Jesus only had three years of public Ministry. Yet in that short period of time Jesus placed a great deal of emphasis, respect, concern and compassion on women. The examples are far too many for me to cover them all but here are just a few. 

Let’s start with when they were young. In Matthew 19:13 and 14 we read of a day when our Lord and the Disciples had been busy with Ministry and a group of children gathered around Jesus. Matthew writes: “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.” Jesus loves the little children!

Later in Matthew’s account of Jesus life in chapter 25 we read of Christ, The Son, teaching about the “Final Judgement” at the End of the Age. He says all the people who ever lived will be gathered into two groups – those on his left and those on his right. He says to those on the right come into the Kingdom that I have prepared for you. Why? In verse 40 we read: “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Then he says to the group on the left depart from me you cursed generation. Why? In verse 45 we read: “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

Jesus showed compassion to both male and female children. At the Final Judgement He will separate the sheep from the goats based on what people did to help His Brothers and Sisters.

Who was the first woman in Christ life? His mother, Mary. Jesus loved His Mother. In John 2 we read about the first public miracle which came as a result of Jesus showing respect for His Mother and doing what she asked. Three years later as He hung on the Cross of Calvary in physical and Spiritual agony, we read how Jesus showed His love for His Mother and told his best friend John – behold your Mother and care for her.

While most of the attention on Jesus followers and disciples is given to the 12 Apostles it was a seldom mentioned woman, Mary Magdalene, who traveled with them and provided financial support. Another Mary and her sister Martha and brother Lazarus were disciples, friends and supporters of “The Son.” Just before Christ’s death it was this Mary who took her most valuable possession – a vial of expensive perfume and anointed Jesus for his pending death. A service that Jesus thanked her for by telling her that her act of kindness would be recorded and remembered for all time. 

At a time when Jews would not mix with their neighbors to the North, the Samaritans, Jesus purposely went right through their land to meet the “Woman at the well.” Though He knew she was a woman of ill repute He treated her with respect and offered her the living water that only He could give.

One day a “woman with an issue of blood” was desperate for healing. She had spent all she had on Doctors and in faith one day she followed Jesus and touched the hem of His garment and she was healed. He stopped and asked “who touched me?” As the Son of God He no doubt knew who it was but he wanted to interact and encourage her. Jesus took the time to talk with this “unclean woman” and treated her with further kindness as he told her to “go in peace, your faith has made you whole.”

On another occasion, though he was obviously busy Jesus took the time to heal “the daughter” of Jarius. 

I could go on but my personal favorite is the story of a group of religious men, who dragged a woman they had caught in the act of adultery, before Jesus one morning. The Old Testament Law was clear – “stoning” was the punishment for her sin. They sought to test Jesus to see if he would agree, support the Law and have her stoned. I am moved as I think of how Jesus did not confront them but simply knelt down and wrote some things on the ground. One by one they all dropped their stones and walked away. While the unnamed woman trembled, no doubt expecting the worse, Jesus spoke to her and ask a simple question. Where are your accusers who condemn you? She looked around and said they are gone – to which Jesus replied then I don’t condemn you either. Go in Peace. Can you imagine the peace she took with her as she walked away from yet another act of kindness by “The Son” to one of but many women Jesus showed respect, concern and shared the Love of “The Father.”

I know this has been a long read. I hope these examples taken from the life of Jesus will show you The Father and his likeness the Son love and always respect women, young and old.

Personally I like the group Little Big Town. I don’t judge Karen Fairchild for asking where is The God of “The Daughters?” Like all of us that “once were blind but now we see” I hope she too will examine the life of “The Son” and how He offers her and her daughter His Love and Peace.

Uncle Larry

Captain Marvel – Worth Seeing if you are PATIENT

Marty and I haven’t seen a movie in so long we broke down and saw Captain Marvel today. The good news is there were only about 10 people there for the 3:10 showing. If you have been waiting to see it on the big screen now is the time. On the other hand I can’t say I discourage you from waiting for home rental.

If I were a pimply faced 15 year old with a thick head of red hair, slicked back with pomade into a duck tail – oh wait – that was me 58 years ago – I would have enjoyed all of this film. As a 74 year old that didn’t grow up on fake computer movies I found the first hour and a half slow and bathroom break worthy. The last half hour was very good and it ended with a “bang!”

I don’t know Brie Larson but any decent actress who looks good in a Captainess Marvel suit would have sufficed. Samuel L. Jackson was excellent as always. I like him on screen despite his politics. My favorite supporting actor was “The Cat” and you should keep any eye on him.

I understand “Marvel Productions” had to “introduce” us to Captain Marvel but it took so long to make the introduction. They probably figure with the cost of doing a film today and the potential for a sequel so what if the folks who see the first one have to be patient.