The Multi Talents of the Talented

JeffBridges-photographer

It’s no secret that talented people are often multi-talented, including in the film and music industry.  For example, we know that a multitude of actors, if not most, in the old days also could sing and dance too.  But also, there have been – and still are – folks with other talents, such as:  Tony Bennet & Johnny Depp, fine artistic painters; Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood, both composers of music and Jazz musicians – clarinet and piano, respectively.  Yes, I know, there are many, many examples of all this kind of thing among actors.  My favorite dual talent is Sam Shepard, a pretty good actor and an award-winning playwright.

To wit, I share two links here to photo pages by academy award winning actor Jeff Bridges, who is also a skilled photographer (and yes, also a musician).   Check out all the great shots he took and tweaked of many famous folks over the years, and then check out his photo web site.  Fun stuff…

1) Great 11 minute or so photo slide show by Bridges on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r8oYW6meX0&feature=em-share_video_user

2) Jeff Bridges Photo Web Site: http://www.jeffbridges.com/photojan10a.html

 

 

Roy

The Amazing and Unique Life of Actor James Franco

James-Franco-16

A most educated and interesting fellow, is James Franco.  To wit:

Though he was a drab, aloof co-host of the Academy Awards in 2011, my interest in Franco’s career and life picked up again when I learned he was directing a film on Faulkner’s book, As I Lay Dying (2013).  Upon reading up on Franco some more, I was surprised – indeed stunned – to learn many things about his life:

As a mathematician, Franco interned at Lockheed Martin in the Bay Area, having gone to high school in Palo Alto (during which he acted in plays and had several scrapes with the law).  After several acting jobs, he landed the lead role in the 2001 TV Biop on James Dean.  To immerse himself in the part a learned to ride a motorcycle, and play the guitar and bongos.  For the part, he was nominated for and Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award.  His career took off and you know or can look up the rest, on through his Academy Award nomination for 127 Hours (along with another Golden Globe and SAG award).

Things I recently learned though that blew my mind:  Franco exhibited video, drawing, and sculptures in a solo gallery show at Clocktower Gallery in New York City. Having painted since high school, his paintings were displayed at the GlU Gallery in Los Angeles, and at Peres Projects in Berlin.   While many of his college credits at UCLA were from independent study for his involvement in films, he received permission to take as many at 62 credits per quarter(!) to wrap up a degree.  Besides English and Acting, he studied French, American Literature, Philosophy of Science, the Holocaust, and other things.  He took his degree in 2008, then moved to New York and SIMULTANEOUSLY attended graduate school at Columbia, NY’s University’s Tisch School for the Arts for filmmaking, Brooklyn College for writing, and a low-residency MFA program for writers – for poetry – at North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College.  He received in MFA from Columbia in 2010, attended the Rhode Island School of Design, and is simultaneously pursuing two PhD’s – one from Yale (English), and one from the University of Houston (Literature and Creative Writing).

Franco has directed short films, dance theater, and docudrama.  He has taught classes on screenwriting and filmmaking & production at New York University, UCLA, and the University of Southern California.  He also taught a course on modifying poetry  into short films to graduate students at NYU.  Of all places, Franco began teaching a film course this month (Sept 2015) at Palo Alto High School.  Even though he’s an odd duck, he does charity work, education, and clearly loves to teach in his spare time.  He likes to read James Joyce, the IIiad, and other such famous works between takes on a film set.

Franco made his Broadway debut last year in Of Mice and Men.

That’s new you can use on a most fascinating fellow, like him or not.  Stay tuned for sports and weather.

Roy Hovey

Food Movies – My Favorites and Me Thinks the Best

Big Night (1996) Directed by Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci Shown: Stanley Tucci (as Secondo), Marc Anthony (as Cristiano), Tony Shalhoub (as Primo)

Big Night (1996)
Directed by Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci
Shown: Stanley Tucci (as Secondo), Marc Anthony (as Cristiano), Tony Shalhoub (as Primo)

Food Movies – Roy’s Highest Rated and Favorite Dozen

Like Water for Chocolate (1992) (subtitles)

The sensuous Mexican film based on the novel by Laura Esquivel and directed by her husband, Alfonso Arau.  Tita, literally born on a kitchen table, embraces cooking later in her life to release and express her emotions after her lover Pedro must marry her sister (per the mother, but he figures it will let him be close to Tita).  A period piece set in Mexico during the early 20th Century, beautifully filmed.  Food served among things carved like flowers – or was it real flower pedals?  “Nectar of the Gods” Pedro says as he eats one of Tita’s meals, and that’s how she invades his body, though it belongs to her sister. Much more of a drama though than a food movie, but it’s a classic and still holds up fine.  Oh, and the film became an international hit and its admirers paid tribute to it by cooking some of its recipes – and probably still do.

The Big Night (1996).  Largely believed to be the best film in the little genre, two brothers (Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub) open an artisan Italian restaurant near the Jersey shore and try to compete with the big Italian place up the street that serves the average popular meals that cater to American taste and perception of fine Italian food.  As one reviewer put it, this delicate comedy/drama is swatted in lemancholy and mozzarella.  The food scenes are off the charts.

Chocolat (2000)  Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who later does the wonderful The Hundred-Foot Journey (see below).  A young mother (Juliette Binoche) arrives in a French village and opens the small La Chocolaterie Maya which begins to change the towns people.  She casts a spell on them with both her charm and her confections.  The story is complex and humorous, and very tempting to watch, even if you’re not a chocaholic!

Tortilla Soup (2001)  Hector Elizondo plays a widower and father of 4 daughters in the warm-hearted tale of love that’s full of cooking and dining scenes that will make you want to elevate your cooking skills.  Elizondo is a retired chef/restaurant owner who still loves to exercise his artistic skills at home by cooking a big family dinner each night….

Sideways (2004)  The wine road trip movie that helped Paul Giamatti become famous and Pinot Noir prices go through the roof.  The food is enjoyed at restaurant stops and during picnics, and the food with wine – or wine with food – experience is most inviting in this film.

Julie & Julia (2009)  Amy Adams and Meryl Streep play Julie Powell and Julia Child, with Stanley Tucci appearing again as Child’s devoted husband.  Charming, and it inspires us to still believe in Julia Child (whose memoir My Life in France is explored, detailing her discovery and mastery of French cooking), as it juxtaposes the story of Child in France in the 1950’s and Julie Powell as an inspiring blogger/writer in 2002 who sets out to cook and blog about all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s classic first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Another chick flick I have to say I most enjoyed, though there is much more to Child’s story!  Did you know that in her younger days, she was a decorated researcher in the Secret Intelligence division of the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, D.C.?  Furthermore, she met her husband Paul, also and OSS employee, while on assignment in Ceylon.  In a reversal of the “Behind every great man there’s a woman” story, her New Jersey native husband had lived as an artist and poet in France for a time and was said to have an extraordinary palette. (They later built a home together in the hills of France).  He introduced Julia to fine dining, designed the kitchen that was used many of her TV shows, and was her constant encourager and supporter as she evolved into a top chef and built her writing career.  They were married for nearly 50 years.

Love’s Kitchen (2011) With Dougray Scott and Claire Forlani (married in real life in 2007).  Scott (and chef Rob Haley) takes over a pub in the British Countryside in an effort to turn it into a legitimate fine food establishment (“gastropub”).  Food critic Kate Templeton (Forlani-you’ll remember her from Meet Joe Black) is not an ally at first, but then she and Haley fall in love, all during which the pub turns into a very special place to eat.  It builds to the conclusion of what planned visitor Guy Witherspoon (Simon Callow), renowned food critic, will think of the place.  Love this little movie.

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014).  Chef Hassan Kadam (Om Puri) relocates from India to a quiet village in the south of France to open Maison Mubai restaurant, which soon starts a war among competing eateries.  Helen Mirren plays the woman who runs the restaurant across the street and works tirelessly to undermine Kadam’s efforts to succeed.  Somewhat lacking in food scenes, but the make-peace between rivals omelet preparation scene with Mirren and Kadam’s son Hassan (Manish Dayal) working together is both touching and inviting, and as the movie progressed, it charmed my socks off, down to the unexpected event that results from the combined efforts of Mirren and Hassan after he cooks for her for a time in her French restaurant.  The movie is far from over at that point, with much more fun, drama, and extraordinary food to come.

Chef (2014) Jon Favreau as a chef who leaves a posh restaurant to start a food truck that serves perfectly prepared tacos. There’s a lot more to it than you’d expect, and it’s tons of fun…

And, three more, the last two of which I haven’t seen, but the praise by writers all over tells me these are special and I must see them soon:

Lady and the Tramp — Arguably the most romantic scene in the history of Disney, the Tramp takes Lady to an Italian restaurant where they share a gigantic plate of spaghetti and meatballs – and their first kiss. Yeah, I include this last one – just once scene – just for grins, but who didn’t love it!?  For scene competition, with the nod to humor, one has to include the “hold the tuna, hold it between your knees” (by Jack Nicholson) scene in Five Easy Pieces, and the dialogue on tipping the waitress in the opening of Reservoir Dogs.

Eat Drink Man Woman  (not my write-up:  haven’t seen it):  Before graduating to sensitive independent features like Hulk (OK, just kidding), Taiwanese-American director Ang Lee made his name with this depiction of an emotionally repressed Taipei family. The central character is a master chef whose only real means of communicating with his three headstrong daughters is via the elaborate Sunday dinner he cooks for them every week. By turns funny and poignant, this is a beautifully balanced study that well deserved its foreign-film Oscar nomination.

Babette’s Feast  (not my write-up:  haven’t seen it):  Almost a quarter-century after the film’s release, the culminating scene of this quietly urgent Danish drama still stands as the most beautifully rendered depiction of a lavish meal ever committed to celluloid. But it’s not just spectacle for spectacle’s sake: The triumphant banquet sequence also communicates volumes about the movie’s central theme, the eternal tug-of-war between self-denial and sensual gratification.

Cheers, and Bon Appetit!

Roy Hovey

I’m a Democrat – but not a Liberal

I’m a Democrat, but I’m not a liberal.  As a Christian, I don’t like abortion, but like President Obama – who doesn’t personally like it either – I don’t believe it should be adjudicated in Government (hello, party of “less government”?).  I don’t like to see the terms Communism or Socialism thrown around carelessly, as we typically see in the over-generalized opinions from both parties when speaking of the other.  Then again, I believe in effective government management of programs.  I’m ok when it’s better at the State or local levels, but I like many of the national programs we have, though they can always get better.  Ever heard of the US Postal Service?  The US Park Service?  Social Security?  The FBI?  The IRS?  Yes, as I said, these agencies aren’t perfect and we don’t always love them or what they do, but governing from the Nation’s Capital has worked well in a variety of ways for a long, long time.

I voted Republican a couple of times.  I’m ultimately for the guy (or gal – get ready, that’s coming one day too) who stands closest for what I’m for.  Right now, the “party of NO” as it’s known as is not in my favor.  It’s the party that calls itself “pro-life,” but that starts shameful wars like in Iraq, sending thousands of our young men and women to their deaths to settle an old score.  The party that opposes health care for the poor, and saving the lives of our beautiful resources in opposing/blocking environmental conservation in favor of big business.  The party that opposes stem cell medicine all together, though I get the opposition to excluding embryo stem cells.

Furthermore, I’ve never seen such behavior as displayed in the last several years by a party, in all my days.  Their sore-loser, our-way-or-the-highway mindset, refusing to believe they could lose – or not win every time – is amazing and appalling.  Much of the Republican agenda since Obama first took office has been, first and foremost over the needs of the country, to simply block and stifle everything he’s tried to do.  It borders on treason, in my mind.  I think even Ronald Reagan is turning over in his grave as to how his party has labored recently.

You don’t have to like “Obama Care”, nor anything else he’s done – that’s your choice (oh by the way, the program was largely based on the Republican’s original program, but then when HE dared to try and bring it in, they fought it tooth and nail, and forced him to compromise it beyond what he preferred).  Like any new program though, it needed to get through the door, and can now be tweaked and bettered over the years.  My highly conservative, Republican taxman said in 2008 that the financial mess (uh, caused in the Bush era) would take 10 years to recover from.  In a mere term/4 years, Mr. Obama already has the economy on the upswing (slow, gradual, but in the right direction).  Jobs, housing prices, bank health – all looking much better now.  Foreign relations have been largely repaired from the alienating Bush days.  Immigration reform is on the horizon, that new health care program is unfolding (yes, it will be painful for a while as we adjust), and much more.  Nothing, and nobody, is perfect.  But as Jeb Bartlett said in “West Wing,” I’m not the President of the people who like me.  I’m the President of the United States.”

Roy Hovey

Some of My Thoughts on “Pension Reform”

OK, my bad, Yes.  I don’t like and seldom email or post on the political stuff.  I promise to resist for a long time, but I had to go there this one time.

I AM A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE.  I am not the enemy.  I am a cop, a firefighter, a teacher, a nurse, a social worker.  I keep you healthy and safe.  I educate your children.  I help those among us who need it most.  I did not cause the economic problems we have today.  I did not crash the economy with “credit default swaps” and “unregulated derivatives”.  I did not accept bailout money and then give myself a multi-million dollar bonus.  I get up in the morning and go to work.  I live within my means and pay my bills.  I AM NOT THE ENEMY!

To Wit:

Thanks to Keith M., my longtime friend, for the forward, and his life-long professional efforts. Thanks to my many dispatch, firefighting, nursing, police, and other friends who labored in a dangerous and thankless job for 20-30 years, kept around by wages that slowly got better, but remain far below those of friends and neighbors selling computer widgets around the world who can walk across the street and barter for more money as they please.  Thanks to my son, Richard, too, and all that labor in the ever under-appreciated and picked apart career of teaching.  Nice retirements we got in public safety work – yes, but fiscally mismanaged over and over of late by our bean counters, then further impacted by the worst economy in decades that has brought SO many things down – retirement funds not the least of them.  But, necessary retirement packages to keep us doing the crap we did for so long–with no bonuses for our great work, no limo rides to the airport to go on deductible seminars and meetings at fine restaurants, and no stock options offered for our endeavors or any of the lives we saved or powerfully impacted.  In all these serve-the-public jobs:  Kids & patients spit on us, fires seared us, criminals assaulted or shot at us, and media tried to hang us for every little slip that overlooked the 1000+ other times we performed perfectly. God Bless the public employees who serve you!

Oh yeah, one more great quote from a friend and former SJPD officer, unhappily retired out from injury on the job:   Regarding police and rescuers in the Colorado Movie Theatre Shooting in July, 2012:  “70 people shot. When everyone else was running OUT, these folks were running IN.  So my question to you is: How do you think that will affect them for the rest of their lives – their health, their families, their fortitude to persevere in their jobs?  AND, …SO HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THEIR PENSION SHOULD BE??”

(I don’t remember the last time anybody told me about the plumber at $85 an hour, the car mechanic at $125 and hour, the software analyst making $150k a year, or the many others complaining suddenly, when they last put their life on the line, rushed into a burning building to make a sale, helped keep a kid in school and steered him away from drugs, or attended to a dying client every day for a month or three to help close a deal or seal a contract)

Is life, the economy, and the MULTIPLE ways and people who got us here lousy and unfair?  You bet, but where should we really be focusing our strongest efforts to fix this mess?  I for one of many would argue that one of the last efforts should be scapegoating a selective group of special professionals that go above and beyond for the safety and betterment of all of our lives….

Cut and paste the address below to your web address line to see how all of this has impacted the police profession in San Jose, CA, the personal lives of the officers, and the safety of the nation’s 10th largest city.  Cut their wages, double their retirement deductions, increase the cost of all benefits, stifle any option for keeping up with inflation, and then convince them to stay around how?!?

file:///Users/Tier1/Desktop/“Pension%20Reform”%20Results%20in%20Mass%20Exodus%20from%20SJPD%20%7C%20Protect%20San%20Jose.webarchive

‘Till Next Time….

Roy

Rowan Hovey Arrives!

Seems surreal, a grandson born on June 2nd, 2012. He was due on the 23rd of May, but found it fun to keep us waiting!  9 lbs. 13 oz.!! — don’t mess with him when he gets older!  Already a handsome lad, no doubt pondering his first iPad, or some such future invention and wondering when he’ll be old enough to go with Mom and Dad on a campout in the woods or on the beach.

I’ll be 60 in October.  I welcomed my son into the world at 23 and thought then I’d be a grandfather by 45 or so. After all these years of my son and his wife working for their degrees, establishing their careers, and then struggling to get pregnant for years, the Lord blessed them at the 11th hour.  At 37 years old, they’re finally parents.  There are not two more deserving people to love and bring up a child.  I’m still somewhat in disbelief and lost for words. To say that I’m so happy for them, while mightily true, seems inadequate.  What’s the phrase that expresses that twofold?  Tenfold?

I told them as soon as the baby can hold is head up, I’m taking him to a Giants game!

This is such a thrill and blessing.  Again, words are failing me, so ’nuff said for now.

 

the papaROYzzi

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On Travel

Travel? Why, No — but Yes!

I’m not big on travel. I’m claustrophobic and impatient. I grew up in a great New England town and area where people came to vacation – a lake at each end of town, historical sites all around the county and general area, the Boston Pops playing in nearby Tanglewood, and much more. Also, as a child of the 50’s and early 60’s, people didn’t travel much except to see relatives. Some eventually travelled big time in the form of retiring to Florida or the like to escape the winters.

Then I moved to the South San Francisco Bay area at age 12 where I’ve spent all of my adult life. With so many wonderful places and things in this area, it once again became easy to be a relative home body. I don’t begrudge those who like to travel more, as most do, and wish they would leave me alone as to how I like to live my life.

Local travel is a whole different story. San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Napa Valley Wine Country, Aptos/Santa Cruz/Capitola Village, Half Moon Bay — all within a 90 minute drive from my house. Then there’s all the State, County, and local parks – Big Sur, Big Basic, Muir Woods, Mt. Madonna, Portola/Butano, and many, many more.
Not to mention longer jaunts but no more than a day’s drive, such as Las Vegas, Shakespeare in America’s premier venue-Ashland Oregon, Giants Spring Training Baseball in Arizona, Los Angeles/SanDiego & the SoCal Scene, Sacramento Valley on up to the Gold Country, Lake Tahoe/Yosemite/King’s Canyon and other jewels in the Sierras. And much more…

It’s easy to become complacent in the comfortable town I live in. Nice restaurants, wine bars,, smoke shop, parks, and more. And, within the last decade, Morgan Hill has installed a new:
Community Center, Recreation Center, Aquatic Center,Soccer Complex,
Library, Dog Park, Skate Park, and more….

Nevertheless, and all the global traveling opportunities aside, I wonder why I don’t enjoy the aforementioned local list of destinations much more. You could go to a different place in Golden Gate Park (SF) every day for a week or more. You could hike the trails in these beautiful, large California parks for weeks & never be on the same trail. You could go to a different restaurant –good ones– every night for a year with all the choices in the Bay Area. The quaint towns, parks, strolls, photo opportunities, dinning options, views, scenery in all of these communities–and the Backroads of the Bay Area–are simply endless.

So yeah, I don’t fly, don’t like long travel, but certainly love short-term travel and where I live. I MUST commit to enjoying more of the wonderful places I can go for an afternoon, evening, overnighter, or weekend. Next time you’re in my neighborhood, remind me of this and we’ll swing by the reservoir that’s 5.5 minutes from my house, drive over the hill to the coast, or maybe hit Los Altos, Palo Alto, or Mill Valley for a nice dinner. I just love California, the Bay Area, and The West!

the papaROYzzi