Thursday, February 16, 2017

LOCAL GOLF - Get Out This Weekend

It looks like we are entering an early beginning to the 2017 gold season locally.  Get out and play this weekend,  But when I learned that there will be less courses to play around here, as a few have chosen to close it made me sad.

I always mourn when certain places close down forever.  Theaters, amusement parks, stadiums, schools and golf courses.  Places that were built with no other purpose but to bring people together for fun.  Even if you're a hard core tough guy, it is hard to watch the end of any long running era that was once so important come to a permanent end.  These kind of closings always have, and will always make me sad.  There were hard times for some of these courses, and some are making room for newer commerce.

This spring, I will wonder how those workers will feel when they climb high atop gigantic machinery, and level those golf courses for good.  It's their job I get it, but a couple of these courses have been around for almost 100 years.  How much fun and joy did they bring to so many for so long? 

There is no denying that less people are playing golf over the past few years.  The recession chased some people out of the game altogether and they never came back.  Profit margins on courses are slim and with a drop in play, some just can't make it anymore.

But a larger question does remain.  Golf remains very popular, and tons of people still play, but will they continue to do so years from now?  Threats are development as land is valuable, and future players themselves.

Golf is about the only sport you can play your entire life. Some of the best friends I have ever made, and best times I have ever had, have been on a golf course.  Golf is a game that requires patience, and isn't learned quickly or easily.  Do teens, or younger adults have the attention span, desire and the patience to learn a game that isn't fast or action based? 

That's a fair question, and I hope so. Support your local golf course.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

MOVIE REVIEWS - New This Week February 12

The movies this week are both acquired tastes.  And they are polar opposites.  Let's look.

John Wick Chapter 2

The original of this series I thought was simply sensational, in what it was. An over the top, basically a parody of graphic novel movies starring Keanu Reeves are the amazing John Wick.  He is an incredible hit man who is trying to retire (yeah right), and he keeps getting pulled back into the game.  And he does here again as well.

He is called on to this time kill a sister of a mobster so the mobster can rise in the "field."  Wick has no option but to oblige, again reluctantly. To say this is violent is the biggest understatement of the year.  But this is really fun, and when you understand this is what it is, you can swallow it and let yourself escape with this.

The action is simply wonderful and the opening sequence is as fun, funny, over the top and ridiculous as any you will see.   NO KID on earth should see this movie.  Insanely violent and a HARD R rating. But interestingly with all the violence, there is virtually no bad language, nudity, or sexual situations of any kind.  Very interesting there.

John Wick 2.   Great escapism.

50 Shades Darker

Perfect example of a flick that critics are going to shred like last weeks mail, and fans are going to love more than any other movie this year.  Second installments of trilogies are usually the worst of the lot, and it's tough to imagine the next one could be worse than this.

The books were so big and popular, that the pressure on the movie makers here is intense.  I feel the fatal flaw in this whole idea of making this series is the watering down of the premise.  I say take the risk, make it NC-17 and let adults see what they are grown up enough to see and let their visions from the book come to life.  In short, with a story and premise so bold and taboo, they are simply making lame mainstream movies about it.

This again is diluted down to a safer, less edgy series that may be striking a chord with fans toa  degree, but where they could be going with this would be more honest.  Now we have a love story, and for many this is simply boring.  Pretty tough to do, but take this subject matter and make it a snoozer?  They did.

50 Shades Darker.  True, it is darker, slower, boring and far less than the original.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

MOVIE REVIEWS - New In Theaters

A huge range of movies to choose from right now. There is something for everyone.

The Comedian

This little Independent movie has a huge cast, a great concept and really marginal, if not bad execution that really left me disappointed.  Robert DeNiro, Leslie Mann, and a bunch of others including a ton of cameos from big comedians can't save this.

This is the story of an aging comedian  (DeNiro) that is trying to come to grips with the fact that comedy has changed and he struggling to be relevant. He also finds younger love (Mann) and is having a tough time adjusting to that.  He is his own worst enemy, and finds life more difficult as time goes on.  

This is terrible. The "comedy" written for this is absolutely horrible  His stand up routines are brutal and almost unwatchable.  These scenes are vile, crude, and flat out not funny.  The movies best moments are those between Mann and DeNiro, as she is really great in this, in a role you have not seen her in before.

 For a movie about comedy, this is not funny. Almost never funny. What a shame. This was a good idea that could have been pretty darn good, everything was in place.  Horrible writing.

A Dogs Purpose

For a few moments, let's put aside the disturbing video with the German Shepard in the making of this movie and talk about - The movie. No one liked that video, including me.  But this movie is a very emotional piece that dog lovers and owners will tear up with.

This is the story of a single dogs spirit that lives through 4 different dogs.  After an one passes on, he is reborn in another. The spirit is wonderfully voiced by Josh Gad, who really is the star of this movie. This is very powerful at times, hard to watch at times, and very solid at times.  If you own a dog, get ready to really run a huge range of emotions.

This could have been a bit shorter, and refocused a bit tighter. This for some reason is just not as good as t should be.  There are some really nice moments here, but overall this is just a project that should have been put in different hands. 

Is it bad?  No, but this is an opportunity lost

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

We Will Miss Mary Tyler Moore

In today's social media heavy world, words like "icon" are thrown around too much.  But today Mary Tyler Moore died at 80, and she was an American Icon.  To earn that, you can't simply be famous for a role or two.  You have to be something more -  as in Mary Tyler Moore.

She was on TV in its infancy, at least her legs were on 77 Sunset Strip as a young actress.  Then the break of her lifetime, cast opposite Dick Van Dyke on his incredible sitcom that dominated the 1960's. The first one ever on TV that showed a "real" suburban couple that was far more like real people. She was hilarious, fresh and beautiful.

Then her own show, The Mary Tyler Moore show that dominated the 1970's.  Where she played Mary Richards, a single, working woman in TV in Minneapolis (who thought of that location?) and we loved her.  The joke was seemingly always on Mary, and she embraced it.  This beautiful young woman, had the same challenges as the viewers.  Her own show was blueprinted from the Van Dyke Show with an amazing ensemble cast and brilliant writing. 

I know it's hard to believe now, but in 1970 a woman starring and being incredibly successful on TV in a sitcom was virtually unheard of.  I think she is the funniest woman that has ever been on television.  The way she did it was non threatening, with class and an unassuming charm that was palpable, and a wit so sharp you could shave with it. Not many can say they were on TV in virtually every home, every day for 25 years in one way or another. But she can.

Then it was MTM productions that developed a huge array of great TV shows over the years.  She even had a Country Music record label in the 1980's that had a ton of great artist at the time on it.  She got an Oscar nomination for Ordinary People, and appeared in a bunch of movies over the course of a few years.

But her real gift was the gift of a career to so many.  Edward Asner, Gavin MacCleod, Ted Knight, John Amos all went on to immense careers after the MTM show closed down on TV.  Even Bob Newhart got new life in his career when Mary developed the Bob Newhart Show.  Not to mention the hundreds of small stars that got a huge boost from appearing on the set of her show.

Betty White owes a ton to Mary, whose career was completely reborn on the MTM show after Mary cast White as the original "cougar" on TV,  Sue Ann Nivens.  Without that role, there more than likely is no Golden Girls, and more than likely no pop culture Betty White today.
Then diagnosed with diabetes, she became the face of campaign awareness for the disease world wide.  I remember seeing her on TV doing commercials for it just a few years ago, and I would stop just to hear what MTM had to say.  She took on animal welfare on the global scale as well.  She faced the shooting death of a son, and had a marriage or two. 

But Mary Tyler Moore not only did everything, she did everything with class, dignity and beauty. She did most every thing the right way, and not the sell out way. She surrounded herself with talented people, and climbed to heights most never dream of.  And she did most if it - first.

Most everything she did was first, and original. A brave thing to do in entertainment, especially then.  She carved out the trail so others could follow.

Mary Tyler Moore - She was an original  - and an icon.

Friday, January 20, 2017

MOVIE REVIEWS - In Theaters Now

January is here, and there are still some movies in theaters including some new ones that are pretty darn good.

Hidden Figures

This has a good cast, and this is a story worth telling.  And for me, that adds up to a good day at the movies.  Although, this does come up a bit short of what it could have been, this is still strong.

This is the true story of three African American women working at NASA in the heat of the space race in the nearly 1960's.  It chronicles very well the struggle and difficulty that these women faced even in the face of a nation consumed by fear, and the need to get a man into space and pass the Russians.  What this really does, is showcase the culture at NASA, that sadly did mirror regular society in the years just before the Civil Rights Act.

This is very well done, well acted and looks great as well. This could have been edited a bit tighter as it does belabor some points to death. This cold have been shortened down some, but it's not a deal breaker.

This is pretty darn good.

Live By Night

Been a while since we've had a good classic gangster movie, but the Ben Affleck written and starred in Live By Night delivers nicely.  This is a strong story of the gangsters of the late 1920's and 30's. The acting here is superb, and so are the sets and costumes. This is a period piece that really takes you to the time.

This has a nice cast, a great look and a lot of action. Yes, this is violent, but those were violent times.  Wonderfully written, acted and directed, as this is a very adult film.  I have a tendency to love a good time travel movie and this none places you in a time gone by, and place that does not exist anymore.

Well done!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

MOVIE REVIEWS - In Theaters Now

You've been busy, and maybe after the holidays, you are going to be looking for things to do.  Here is what is new for you at the movies.

Why Him

Well, James Franco does make me laugh sometimes, and he does here as well.  This is another comedy where the daughter is marrying the "wrong guy" and dad ain't to happy about it. Franco is Laird and he is about as goofy as they come.  Brian Cranston is the dad who is being tormented by Laird.

This has some fun moments and is pretty funny throughout.  We just never seem to get tired of this formula.  This is rated a hard R, and well deserved.  Kudos to Megan Mullaley who was quite funny here as mom, and there is a funny supporting cast. 

Not great, but good fun

LA LA Land

This movie is going to win so many awards, it may need a tractor trailer to get them all home. This is is a wonderfully done movie that Hollywood will love to honor, because it is a story about - itself.  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star and both will be nominated for numerous awards as well.

This is a great mixture of old school musicals, and a modern one.  The singing, the dancing, and the music in general is amazing.  Incredibly filmed, superbly written, and acted brilliantly.  It's a love story, a comedy and tragedy and a musical.  This is as original as movies get, and this is an experience that every movie lover should not miss on the big screen.

One of the best movies of this year. Or any year.


Fences is a new movie starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.  This was adapted from a play and this movie actually views like one. This is really serious drama, with a stellar story and an equally stellar performance by Washington who also directed this. 

It's a story in the early 1960's of a struggling family in Pittsburgh, who are a victim of the times, timing of life, race and family background.  This is very powerful and will make you uncomfortable at times with its honesty.  This is not big on a music soundtrack, or anything flashy, this is simply great actors, being great telling a story that is tough to watch at times, but worth the time.



A short Indy movie about former first lady Jackie Kennedy, and the days immediately following her husband's assassination in 1963.  This stars Oscar winner Natalie Portman as Jackie.  And this will be the role of her career. She is magnificent.

This deals with Jackie as a wife, mother, and first lady and takes you to places you never have been with the Kennedy's.  This is wonderfully written, acted and  produced.   This also has incredible costuming, sets and a very strong supporting cast.  Portman is amazing, and she will more than likely be nominated for another Oscar. 

Limited release, but worth the drive to find it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

MUSIC - My Five Favorite Songs of 2016

2016 has been another solid year in Country Music, that was loaded with some good transition.  There were some strong breakthrough acts this year that added a real nice seasoning to our already strong format. And for my ear, some of these artists and their great new songs and sound dominated my top 5 of the year.

5/  80's Mercedes - Maren Morris.  She absolutely has the chops to be a real player for years to come. Both of her singles were terrific as I loved My Church as well.  This song is a great example of a newer sound from a new woman artist that talks directly to her audience and has a thunderous beat.

4/  Hometown Girl - Josh Turner.  So great to have him back and it's worth the wait.  This is a real nice mix of who Josh was, as it doesn't abandon the road he's traveled, and paves the way for a clear view of where he's going.

3/  May We All - Florida Georgia Line.  I loved Holy too, but this a real nice song and a bit different from them as was Holy.  Their 2016 songs have shown some real versatility.  They are on a great roll these days and are cementing themselves as one of our largest acts.

2/  I Met A Girl - William Michael Morgan.  Great song, done traditionally, sung by a young singer with a Stetson, that is totally believable.  This song is among the ones that are really centering the format.  A lot of singers I feel would have loved to have this song. 

1/  Head Over Boots - John Pardi.  Good example of the right song finding the right singer.  This song also reminds us that with all the serious ballads and love songs out there, country music is still fun, and there's room for all kinds of country.  Really fun song!