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.


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.”

Mile 22 – This film is extremely violent, suspenseful and has an ending I never saw coming!

If the Motion Picture Association rated movies for violence they way they do for sex, Mile 22 is as close to X as I have seen. This film is not meant for most of you who read this review. That said, if you are of a certain mindset – an attraction and affinity for extremely realistic and graphic violence that comes at you so fast you can hardly keep up you can can not miss Mile 22. If you see this film you will never forget it.

Mark Walburg won’t win an award but he brought this hopefully fictional character to life. Iko Uwazs – who plays “the asset” Li Nor is the second coming of Bruce Lee on steroids. Jon Malkovich has a minor but authoritative role and fills the bill.

The movie started out at a good clip for about 10 minutes and then pumped the breaks for almost a half hour. I know they have to set the scene and flesh out the characters but it was just slow for a bit. Then almost without notice buckle up you seat belt for 40 minutes of frenetic action, sound effects, violence, suspense and boom – just like that the surprise ending.

I asked Marty how she liked the last half hour and she said “I got bored with the speed of how things were happening and the violence.” Many of you may feel that way. I, on the other hand allowed myself to be drawn in – and doing my best to keep up with each scene, who went down, what happens next, how will they escape and I found it very suspenseful – almost tension filled.

As I said this movie is violent, filled with suspense and not for everyone. If you like this kind of film – and you know who you are – you will be filled with the kinds of emotions that exhilarate you. Regarding the issue of paying ten bucks and seeing it now or waiting for home viewing I can take both sides of that argument.

Mama Mia Two – See It Again and Smile!

Marty and I saw Mama Mia Two today and we loved it. In fact we may see it a second time – but! For us this film was just the break from the reality of our every day lives that we needed. It was so much fun and so easy to relate to and get involved with the characters that we found it very entertaining, uplifting and surprisingly I got involved with them on an emotional level. Every actor brought a bit of joy to the film including Cher. I’m not a fan of hers at all but even she was enjoyable.

None of these actors will be nominated for any awards – possibly because they were so transparent and also because this movie has no depth – no deeper meaning – it doesn’t make any statements about the down cast or oppressed. It is simply FUN! And who doesn’t like to hear the Music of Abba? It’s like us being in our thirties all over again!

I was concerned the film was going to be a clumsy remake of the original. The screen writer did a great job of going back and forth in time – giving us more details about the life of Donna (Merrill Streep) – her daughter- her friends and the three possible “fathers.” Other than the last twenty minutes of the film I thought the flash backs were my favorite parts and they were very easy to follow.

Then why the “but?” We saw Mama Mia on Broadway and loved it. We saw the first film and loved it so we were primed for version “Two.” If I were going to suppress the joy I walked away with I  could say that the first 15 minutes or so were a little slow. Also, if you wait for home viewing you won’t miss hardly anything except the case of delayed gratification from the kind of film I wish there were more of today.

Finally, if you go you absolutely have to stay in your seats when it seems the film is over. At our showing not one person moved and the last five minutes or so of extra footage was the second most enjoyable part of the film for me. My personal favorite was the armada of fishing vehicles coming to the party with the whole cast joining in for a rousing rendition of “Dancing Queen.” Now if you don’t remember or like Abba’s “Dancing Queen” this movie is not for you. It was all I could do not to sing along. When it was over the audience clapped!

Take a moment from the drama of life, politics and the markets and go see Mama Mia Two. I hope you enjoy it half as much as Marty and I did.


Solo – Is Synonymous With Fantastic Entertainment

“Solo” gets Five Stars from Tony, Jenna, Marty and The Supreme Leader. I usually don’t let their household name for Uncle Larry slip out like this but considering how pumped I am right now about the latest release in the Star Wars Saga I am feeling it.

Please let me tell you what else I am feeling – like I just saw 95 Minutes of sharply written, directed, acted and most important – fast paced entertainment. Yes my friends real good old fashioned fun and entertainment from the first minute to the very last. I can’t tell you when I remember seeing a film that never once lost it’s pace and rhythm. I never thought about my missing prostate until the last shots rolled and I hit the back of the line in the Men’s room.

If you like Star Wars you will totally love this film. It brings back so many “future” memories and does it with style, humor, action and excitement it may be our favorite Star Wars film of all time. If you are modestly familiar with Star Wars and saw a few of them you will enjoy the show and appreciate the plot twists and turns, dialogue, humor and multiple crescendos of adventure.

If you are among those who just hate Star Wars my heart goes out to you and much of what you see and hear will be lost as the next sub plot begins and you’re trying to figure out who is who. Speaking of who is who – How far into the film will it be before you figure out which central character was played by “The Mother of Dragons?” I can tell you it wasn’t Woody Harrelson – but this role fit him perfectly and its the most I’ve enjoyed his work in years.

Solo is the most enjoyable film our family has seen in a long time. It is better than the most recent Star Wars and the Marvel Series, even the really good ones. Unless you are a Star Wars Hater don’t miss this movie on the big screen. The costumes, Droids, weapons, background scenery, fight scenes and flying through space will not be as impressive in home viewing. Speaking of the Droids and other “non human” characters to borrow a phrase from Obi-Wan Kenobi L3-37 “is the Droid you are looking for!” Some of the best lines and clever themes were offered by L3-37 and an invigorated Chewbacca.

We loved “Solo” and we think you will too!

The Supreme Leader

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear!” … The rest hear the words, but do not grasp the meaning; the multitude have no ears to hear, all will be wasted upon them.

The verses below from God’s Word in both the Old and New Testaments are but a few of many verses that speaks to God’s blessings on the Children of Israel and being promised the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Kingdom of David and the City of David – Jerusalem in particular.

I send it to you today because as you know our President has made a God Honoring Decision by moving our US Embassy to Jerusalem – recognizing her as the true center of Israel. This decision will not sit well with those who do not Honor our God and his Word. It will no doubt stir world wide protest and violence and long term spiritual warfare from this world’s dark force – and I’m not referring to Star Wars. There is often a price to pay when we follow God’s Word.

“I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’ Ezekiel 37:14

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.”
Psalm 122: 6-9

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12: 1-3

Other verses you may want to read for further insight into God’s Mind as presented in His Word are:

Numbers 6:27 and 24:1
Deuteronomy 26:15
I Kings 8:66
Isaiah 62: 1 and 6-9

In The New Testament we read the Words of Christ: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5: 17-18

Luke: 21:24
Acts 1: 6-8; 3:19; 11:1; 15: 14-16
Romans 11: 25,26 & 29


Avocado Grill – Downtown at The Gardens

Avocado Grill – What do you think they serve there?
Where is the line between creativity that leads to high quality and just being different for difference sake? A couple of years back we jumped in with all the “foodies” and drove to the new Avocado Grill (AG) in WPB. We thought it was interesting and had a sort of “we didn’t have a big enough budget to finish the place” decor. I’m not real crazy about mixing my food groups so after two visits we said “Uncle.”

So now AG is hotter than a pistol and has opened in a very big space at Downtown at The Gardens – the Grave Yard of shopping centers in PB County. We held off for a few weeks to let it settle in and actually enjoyed our late lunch/early dinner today. The service is excellent and the bar seems top notch and flexible about it’s “mixology”

The room and outdoor seating are very attractive and in case you go and are wondering the huge AG on the north wall stands for Avocado Grill and all the plants and ferns in it are fake. Fortunately the food and drinks aren’t.

We tried the Avocado Margarita from the special drinks list and we got what we deserve for falling for that. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either. Mercifully “V” at the bar was open to mixing her special blend of Blanco, Repasado and Anejo with just simple syrup and a full lime. She did a great job and things started to look up!

Our server Bud is a man born out of time. He should have lived in the ’60’s but who knows, maybe he did. After a lot of input about not liking to mix my food groups he recommended the “Whole Avocado Vinaigrette” for ONLY $6. It was excellent and we should have ordered one each instead of splitting one.

We followed with the Guacamole for $13 – what else do you order at an avocado restaurant? Bud recommended we try the crispy carrot slices for two bucks and to roll the dice and for $4 upgrade to the Crab on top. I’m not into healthy or mixing my food groups but the carrots slices were great for dipping into the Guacamole – instead of the usual corn chips – the the Crab added a nice flavor offset to the rich and somewhat spicy Guacamole.

For an entree we ordered the Grilled Steak Tacos. It consisted of two “small” soft shell tacos and some very good crispy fries. Thank goodness for the fries because the tacos were small in size only – not in hot and spicy! In addition to our continually full mason jar water container we were saved by a small bottle of Chamay – real Belgium beer brewed my Monks in where else? Belgium!

Marty and I liked AG and will go back again and look forward to trying the Grilled Prime Burger and V’s personally designed Margarita.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO The First Time in this Century I have agreed with the “Members of the Academy!”

With some significant warnings Marty, Tony and I believe Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Mo (3 BB) is by far the best home viewing film we have seen in a long time. That said if you are sensitive to cursing you will be offended by the dialogue. Maybe I’m just excusing bad behavior but the language and bigotry in this film reflects the world it was meant to depict.

Speaking of the dialogue it is outstanding. 3 BB is a Dark, Violent, Brooding Film but in the midst of that the screen writer created moments that I can only describe as very dark but very funny! Is this movie a comedy? Absolutely not – not in any sense of the word. The truth of this film is wrapped up in one of its final lines – Anger begets Anger.

I can not remember a film when the quality, depth and breadth of the acting was as good as 3 BB. Frances McDormdand (Fargo) deserves all the credit she has received and I hope she gets a gold Statuette to go with it. FYI she is married to one of the Coen Brothers in the real world. Sam Rockwell immersed himself in the role of a rural Southern bigot deputy but it was hard not to love him in that role. In addition to his acting chops he had some of the film’s darkest, yet best humor. Woody Harrelson took a deep breath and reached back to the level of work he did in Natural Born Killers.

We loved this film but you may not! If you can not get past the way angry and foul mouthed people talk you will be offended. Please don’t see this film and then tell my you were offended by the language and the bigotry.

Finally I read on Wikipedia that much of 3 BB was actually filmed in Sylva, NC – which is in the Western NC Smokies about 36 miles by car or 22 miles “as the crow flies” north of Highlands, NC – a place Marty and I love to visit.

Restoration Hardware In WPB and their Scenic Fourth Floor Open Air Restaurant

The new Restoration Hardware (RH) and 4th floor restaurant in West Palm Beach is a one time must see for local and seasonal residents & tourists who have some free time on their hands. Marty and I are so glad we went and we had a great time. That said we will probably never go again unless we are shopping for furniture or showing out of town guests the local sights.

What can I say about furniture – even three floors of it? There were a lot of sofas and most of them were white. Despite the success of “The Black Panther” White must be the new trendy color! Or maybe white is the stock color and you order the fabric of your choice? Regardless I felt like I needed my shades on the furniture floors.

We moved quickly to the 4th floor open air restaurant and it is impressive. They have 270 degree views (N, W and S but no E/Ocean) from inside the restaurant and even better ones from the outside relaxing/waiting areas with very comfortable sofas surrounding the dining room.

At 2:00 on a Saturday there was a waiting list of about 20 minutes. They have a small refreshment bar where you can get coffees, water, soda, wine and a very nice Champaign. You can take your drink out on the balcony and or down to the shopping floors while you wait. They take your cell number and text you when your table is ready. Note – they have caller ID and the young lady immediately addressed me as Larry. Since she was cute I was OK with it but know they are capturing your information.

The hostess and server recommended the Brie Plate and they were right. It was excellent! It came with a piping hot/crispy roll of sliced bread – brie of course – a small pot of delicious strawberry preserves and a generous portion of outstanding toasted and sugar coated pecans. This paired marvelously with the sparkling Rose and we thought we had hit the dining jackpot!

Food Wise I should stop right there! Friends who have been to RH recommended the Truffle Grilled Cheese Sandwich – the hamburger and especially the French Fries. I love them as people but will never follow their lead on ordering. The Grilled Cheese Sandwich should be listed on “Amber Alert for Missing Truffle Oil.” There was zero hint of truffle! I asked for the burger rare to medium rare and the server said they serve it with two thin slices of meat – about the same as a Big Mac – and the best they can assure me is “Medium” and if grey qualifies as medium then you will like the burger. Marty and I split each entree and we both thought the “pickle” on the burger was a fresh cucumber – which immediately gave me gas.

The biggest disappointment – relative to my expectations – were the fries. They were fine but they do not come anywhere near close to comparing to the Truffle Fries at The Seafood Bar at The Breakers. If fact I prefer Mickey D’s crispy fries but that’s just me.

The staff were super friendly. The service was excellent and very quick. All that said if I go again to the restaurant at RH we will have Champaign while we wait, Sparkling Rose with our Brie Plate and enjoy the view and move on somewhere else for entrees. The room is loud when full. They have a lovely fountain in the middle of the room and it masks the myriad of conversations but does not make it any quieter. Nonetheless Marty had a great time – we are glad we went and we recommend you try it once.

Finally, the valet parking was easy-peasy. You enter from the SE corner of RH in the left lane of East bound Okeechobee Blvd. I have no idea where they put the cars but when we left it came within minutes and your only exit is to the west on Okeechobee which takes you to I95 is less than five minutes. Either that or you take your life in your hands and do a U turn to East bound Okeechobee and hope for the best.