Surf Report: An American (Surfer) in Paris

SELIFE ABOVE THE SEINE     AVEC CLAUDETTE ON PONT DES ARTISTES

The Pacific Ocean is still really cold.  There has been very little surf all Winter.  So, while the Spring winds warm the water, I am off on holiday in search of Friends, Fromage, and A Moveable Feast.

Day One: They Arrive

Paris — At Passport Control in Charles de Gaulle airport, I feel groggy from the 9-hour+ flight from Dallas and forget to say Bonjour to the police officer and say Hello instead and am met with a frown as the woman officer reluctantly stamps my passport and moves me on and out (as there are hundreds eagerly waiting to enter France behind me).

Customs doesn’t give me a second look as I make my way to outside Baggage Claim where I am met by many gypsy cab drivers offering rides to the City. I brush pass them and head outside to join the line of people (no one) hailing official taxis in the taxi line where there are many cars waiting for passengers.

I choose Taxi over Train because today is a designated Strike Day by the railways who are protesting the government, Macron, etc. Whenever I have been in France, the trains always go on strike. The strikes are set to continue through June.

SEINE RIVER ACROSS FROM NOTRE DAME     MOTORCYCLES ON RUE BEAUBOURG

I hop in Taxi #1.  My driver is Manuel. He is Portuguese and speaks fluent French but no English. Merde. Having anticipated this exact situation, I hand him my hand-written address for my Paris apartment written on a buckslip (with my name on it). He is unimpressed and also not exactly sure of where my street, Rue au Maire, is located in the 3rd Arrondissement, known as the Marais – I exhaust all of my high school and college French in the first minute.

Thankfully, the quick 35-minute drive into the City Center is pleasant: All the trees are a verdant green and fully leafed out. Ah, Springtime in Paris.

Manuel locates Rue au Maire after a misdirection or two, and scoffs at me when I offer my credit card to pay the 50 Euro flat rate. He points to a poorly handwritten sign (in French) that should clearly explain that he doesn’t accept credit cards because of no machine. Whatever, Manuel. I pay in cash just to get out of the cab.

(Note: I brought Euros with me before leaving the US.)

RAINY COBBLESTONES     RUE AU MAIRE STREET SHOT

I walk along the medieval narrow cobbled street to my apartment found on VRBO (emailed to me as a suggestion from a friend in Kansas City): 15 Rue au Maire.  The door code does not work, so I look up and yell my friend’s name who pokes her head out of the 4th floor window, waves hello and promptly comes down and lets me in our building, my home for the next month.

The apartment looks a lot like the photos posted on the website but A LOT SMALLER.  The photographer must be brilliant at manipulating perspective, I determine. It’s clean, though: a small, yet deceptively spacious loft-style home that has been recently renovated with new hardwood floors, a new sofabed, a wall console, a very nice and compact kitchen, and very well designed bathroom with a sliding door.  The table and chairs look a little like their photo from the website but also a lot SMALLER as if hit by a shrinking ray gun. I feel three times too big to sit on them.

TINY CHAIRS

15 RUE AU MAIRE APT 4A

Welcome to the Land of Cheese, Bread and Wine

My first night, I learn that one hits the cafes from 5 -7 in the afternoon and drinks only wine (as the cafes are tourist traps and not known for great food unless it’s a great café). Dinner is at 9 pm.  I beat my jetlag by adhering to this schedule: Drinks first and a late meal somewhere else. I am exhausted and yawning, but I am now on Paris time.

Among the first meals I enjoy in Paris is a shared evening with friends visiting the City from the South.  It’s Ascension Day – one of five holidays in May in France, so many restaurants are closed, but not our destination: Pain Vin Fromage

PAIN ET FROMAGE DANS PARIS      FINE FRENCH WINE

Since we are Americans, we are seated downstairs as far away from the regular customers as possible so as not to disturb them with our unusually loud voices and dreadful accents.

The service is slow to start, but once begun, the meal is indeed a pleasure: Cheese Boards consist of selections of cheeses based on the region of France where it is produced. Lots of crusty bread (seeded with poppy and sesame) and fine Bordeaux which is perfect on a rainy evening. A 3-4 hour meal elapses, and we are the last to leave.

It’s a rainy night. The ancient streets are wet and deserted but safe. Walking. I will be doing a lot of walking.

Ah Paris, I could get used to you.

N E X T   U P:

An American (Surfer) in Paris – Continues!

LOUVRE SELFIE

 

 

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Surf Report: Another Mother’s Day, Another Onslaught of Emails Asking You To Buy Stuff (Which Is Annoying When Your Mom Is Dead!)

MOTHERS DAY

Paris, France — For the last several weeks, the emails have been arriving fast and furious urging me to not forget to buy something for Mom.

Take Mom to Brunch!

Buy Mom Some Flowers!

It’s Not Too Late to Celebrate Mom!

Important Story Point:

My mother died 34 years ago.

That’s not stopping Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, or Delta Airlines from hitting me up twice daily, though. These are just three of the hundreds of emails from other companies now occupying my virtual trash bin.

Clearly, the algorithm has not yet been invented to alert these companies to that fact that they are barking up the wrong tree, beating a dead horse, or talking to the hand.

Some days, I am merely annoyed. Other days, I feel slightly bummed knowing that people are out there celebrating their mothers, and I haven’t even heard my mother’s voice in decades.

I feel saddened that I can barely remember the sound of my mother’s voice.

This is where Dead Mother’s Day comes to play. It’s the holiday I created with some dear friends many years ago. We, the adult children of mothers who have passed on, gather on Mother’s Day to participate in the celebration.

For many years, we met at my house in Santa Monica, enjoyed brunch, lots of champagne, and hours of laughter as we shared memories of our Moms, what they taught us, how they continue to influence us, and how much we continue to miss them.

This year, I am in Paris, and on Mother’s Day, I am meeting some friends both old and new to celebrate our wonderful mothers with some very special food and plenty of fine French wine.

PAIN ET FROMAGE DANS PARIS   FINE FRENCH WINE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fellowship is a cure-all for old wounds, tightly held grievances, and emotional bruises. Not everyone remembers their mother fondly. Not everyone is blessed with a loving mother. Not everyone wants to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Hence, the annoying emails and how they can disrupt one’s life.

Sante! to my loving mother, Frances Bond, on Mother’s Day.

I love/loved her dearly and am thankful for being her youngest child. She always reminded me to Count My Blessings of which I have many, even on those occasional dark days where sometimes, it feels I have none.

This Mother’s Day, in Paris, I count my many blessings and give thanks for my mother who gave me both Roots and Wings.

MOM & DAD WEDDING DAY

N E X T   U P:

Postcards From

An American (Surfer) in Paris.

SEINE RIVER ACROSS FROM NOTRE DAME

Wish You Were Here!

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TV & Film Surf Report: (Don’t) Be Scared – Horror Is Now Trending On All Screens Which Is Great News For Killer Clowns, Swamp Things, And Creepy Dolls

A QUIET PLACE EMILY STFU

Santa Monica, CA — With the recent success at the box office of the innovative trifecta of movies A Quiet Place, Get Out, and Stephen King’s It, the Horror genre is on quite a roll.

So much so, I have almost forgotten Universal’s dreadful launch of its Dark Universe franchise with the miscast Tom Cruise in The Mummy. So so bad. Universal, however, is not giving up on Horror, though, as it has another sequel to John Carpenter’s successful Halloween franchise hitting theatres in October and recently won a bidding war for James Wan to produce and to direct Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers

Television knows a Good Trend, so expect TV to follow.

Or, has it already been leading?

Ahem, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Twin Peaks: The Return, The Exorcist, The Frankenstein Chronicles, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Midnight, Texas, Hannibal, and Penny Dreadful ring any bells?

Sad news for The Exorcist at Fox which has been cancelled after two seasons as well as for Ash vs. Evil Dead fans as Starz Cancels Horror Series After 3 Seasons

Personally,  Horror is not my genre of choice (although, I loved Penny Dreadful on Showtime). And yet, I did see all of the Wes Craven Scream movies, and I do feel that Stephen King’s Carrie is a classic. I never saw any of the Nightmare on Elm Street films nor did I buy a ticket for The Conjuring franchise which is expanding each year including a 3rd Annabelle Spinoff and New Entry, The Nun

ANNABELLE 3

Annabelle 3 opens July 3, 2019, which is a major opening date so New Line expects this film to be a big hit. James Wan executive produces. The Nun hits theaters Sept. 7th.

I gotta say, though, I really enjoyed Get Out, but I thought it was more Thriller than Horror film (up until the last few minutes). Tip o’ the hat to screenwriter Jordan Peele who totally deserved winning both the WGA Award and the Oscar for Best Screenplay.

GET OUT WGA

A Quiet Place is that rare hit for Paramount Pictures, so expect the studio to get in business on a long-term basis with actor/director John Krasinski who also toplines the studio’s TV reboot of Jack Ryan which is set to air via Amazon (in August! renewed three months before it premieres!):

Amazon Renews Tom Clancy’s JACK RYAN

Krasinski really made you care about that family (who we knew nothing about, backstory-wise) as they tried to survive Alien-esque monsters attracted to sound. Kudos to those child actors. Terrific. The film is still in theaters, and the studio has already Put A Sequel in Development

As for Stephen King’s It, actors Bill Hader and James McAvoy have signed on for the sequel. So, prepare for more Pennywise. Director Andy Muschietti promises It: Chapter 2 Is So Scary You’ll Need Adult Diapers

As already noted, Jamie Lee Curtis is set to return in the next installment of John Carpenter’s Halloween franchise, as well. David Gordon Green and Danny McBride scripted the Sequel

Lots of movies in this genre (including remakes of The Grudge and Pet Sematary) coming down the pike headed directly for either the metroplex or your various devices, including Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

JAMIE LEE CURTIS HALLOWEEN 2018

Meanwhile in TV, here’s what’s cooking across All Platforms:

  • Lovecraft Country at HBO. Jordan Peele (Get Out) adapts Matt Ruff about a guy traveling across America in the ’50s and coming across monsters.  J.J. Abrams EPs.
  • Into the Dark at Hulu. Dermot Mulroney and Tom Bateman (Da Vinci’s Demons)star in this unique series from Blumhouse Television that revolves around one holiday each month.
  • What We Do In The Shadows at FX.  Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnorak) adapts his own feature film for TV as a half-hour comedy which follows three vampires who have been roommates for hundreds of years. Looking forward to this! Well done, FX.
  • Swamp Thing at DC Digital. James Wan executive produces. Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman write and EP.
  • V-Wars at Netflix with Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries) fanging up once more in a 10-episode adaptation of a novel. Haven’t read it (yet).
  • The Order at Netflix. A college freshman joins a secret society that includes a lot of monsters. 10 episodes ordered.
  • NOSA42 at AMC is an adaptation of the Joe Hill novel about a woman who tracks a man who steals the souls of young children. 10 episodes ordered.
  • The Purge at USA/SyFy. One day each year, murder and mayhem are legalized in this TV adaptation of the Blumhouse film.
  • The Vampire Chronicles at TBD. Paramount TV and Anonymous Content have been awfully quiet about the buyer for those 11 Anne Rice novels featuring The Vampire Lestat, however, I expect corporate synergy to win out allowing Showtime to win the prize. Bryan Fuller (American Gods, Hannibal) and Christopher Rice (Bone Music, Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra) exec produce.
  • The Passage at FOX. Ridley Scott EPs the adaptation of Justin Cronin’s novel set in the not-too-distant future where a military experiment gone wrong unleashes a vampire plague upon the continental US. Really loved this book which was so disturbing on so many levels.
  • The Haunting of Hill House at Netflix. Timothy Hutton stars in this 10-episode adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel.
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch at Netflix. This spin-off from The CW’s Riverdale goes much darker. Series order (20 eps!).
  • American Horror Story at FX.  Joan Collins toplines the newest season of Ryan Murphy’s successful franchise which promises a return to the tone of AHS: Coven.
  • The Birds at BBC. Am really looking forward to this British re-make of the Alfred Hitchcock classic.
  • The Witcher at Netflix. A group of young people hunt demons in this adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s books. Sean Daniel (The Mummy) exec produces. Sounds like Buffy 2.0 to me!

the-passage

 

N E X T   U P:

Death of The Daily Campus at SMU

THE DAILY CAMPUS

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TV Surf Report: Super Heroes, Are We Done Yet? (Answer: No, So Stop Asking!)

DC ROBIN IN MASK TITANS

Santa Monica, CA — Are we there, yet? Are we done with the Super Hero shows? No? Well, I have a suggestion and a few thoughts, and maybe, a List.

Meanwhile, I just can’t keep up anymore. There are so many super hero and super hero-ish shows on the air right now from Broadcast to Cable to Streaming, and the landscape is getting more competitive by the day.

The current smash at the box office, Black Panther, ensures that the Super Hero Trend will continue on screens both big and small. Expect Disney and Marvel to somehow expand Wakanda to TV either via ABC, Freeform or its upcoming streaming service.

And Super Heroes are not just dudes with capes, btw. They are also Witches (Charmed, Sabrina), and Jedi Knights (Star Wars), as well as Texas Preachers (Preacher). And, American Gods (Starz). And Vampires (The Vampire Chronicles — TBD).

BLACK LIGHTNING CRESS WILLIAMS

Fox is crazy for DC Comics (Gotham, Lucifer) and has Marvel’s X-Men properties to exploit (Legion, The Gifted).

I don’t really watch The CW, so I am not really up to speed on the latest shenanigans on Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, but I am kinda interested in checking out Black Lightning though.

Pretty soon, The CW will reboot Smallville.

Am wondering why ABC hasn’t thought to reboot Batman, the classic ’60s series? That gets my vote. Would love to see contemporary actors take on those fun super villainous roles opposite a new Dynamic Duo and Batgirl. The series is owned by Fox, so that might make things difficult. And yet, a live-action reboot would fit in well with Fox’s Sunday night lineup anchored by The Simpsons. Just me?

Warner Bros. and DC are really taking their time with that Batgirl movie as Joss Whedon just dropped out of making the feature citing his failure to come up with a good Story. Writer Roxanne Gay may have booked the gig via Twitter. Good for her!

Roxanne Gay’s Cool Tweet to DC Comics

TV showcases kick-ass women far more effectively and would be a better medium for her, I think, based on these series: Supergirl, Agent Carter, Buffy, Alias, Xena, Wonder Woman.

 

BATGIRL

Here’s that List I promised.

Am way behind on watching most of these Series, mostly due to lack of interest, but that doesn’t mean I won’t rediscover them eventually, somewhere down the viewing road:

  • Supergirl is now in its 3rd season on The CW after a debut season on CBS.
  • Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on The CW continue to dominate the netlet’s schedule which expands to Sundays this year.
  • Black Lightning on The CW has made a lot of noise with its great reviews and winning casting.
  • Charmed is getting a Reboot pilot at The CW. Yes, Witches are super heroes. The original cast is pretty vocal on social media with Holly Marie Combs blanching at the reboot’s vow to be more feminist.
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hits its 100th low-rated episode on ABC thanks to that Disney synergy. Just never got into this show. I tried!
  • Inhumans at ABC has been cancelled after a dismal few months on Friday nights following the fading Once Upon a Time (also cancelled).
  • Agent Carter was not as fortunate, and yet Peggy keeps popping up in the movies.
  • Xena Warrior Princess Reboot at NBC is on ice, but give them time and a new writer. The suits in Burbank should be hopping all over the enthusiasm for the similarly themed Wonder Woman, but it sure doesn’t look like it.
  • Lucifer and Gotham at Fox are both DC Comics properties and well into their third seasons.
  • The Gifted at Fox has earned a S2 renewal continuing the studio’s X-Men relationship, but how much longer will that last as Disney acquires Fox?
  • Legion at FX earned a second season, as well.
  • Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher are each still going at Netflix, but that relationship is most definitely finite. S2 of Jessica Jones premieres March 5th with all episodes available to binge.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch at Netflix is a spinoff from The CW’s Riverdale and features Sabrina in Magic School.
  • Marvel’s Runaways at Hulu has been well-reviewed, but Future Man not so much.
  • Squirrel Girl got punted by Freeform which is about to launch a YA Mermaid-themed series, called Siren.
  • Cloak & Dagger at Freeform is also in the mix. Has that aired yet?
  • The Magicians on Syfy is now in its third season, which is a win for the basic cabler. I never embraced the casting or the adaptation of the Story.
  • American Gods on Starz is a far superior adaptation of a novel. Pity that showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green left the series after S1. Am loving the new takes on the Old Gods, though. Jessie Alexander is the new EP for S2.
  • Preacher on AMC is heading into its third season. I enjoyed S1 but need to catch up.
  • Watchmen at HBO is in development with Damon Lindelof starting from scratch with the graphic novel.
  • Good Omens at The BBC is a comedy from Neil Gaiman based on his work with Sir Terry Prachett. Michael Sheen and David Tennant star. Jon Hamm guests as the Angel Gabriel.
  • The Vampire Chronicles have yet to land at a network, but Paramount did recently hire Bryan Fuller (American Gods, Hannibal) to showrun alongside Christopher Rice and Anne Rice. My money is on Showtime due to corporate synergy (Viacom) but am hoping for elsewhere (BBC America).
  • Teen Titans, now called just Titans, will be a centerpiece of DC Comics’ digital streaming service that premieres this year. Robin or Nightwing leads the ensemble of youthful crimefighters.
  • Star Wars will be the centerpiece of Disney’s new Streaming Service. The EPs of Game of Thrones have been tapped to expand the Universe for Television.
  • Doctor Who on The BBC is television’s longest-running hit drama series, and this year, audiences finally get a female Doctor (Jodi Whitaker).

DOCTOR WHO LADY DOCTOR POSTER

 

Am sure I have omitted a few shows or forgotten some recent cancellations (Powerless on NBC comes to mind). Let me know if I have unwittingly excluded your favorite.

Meanwhile, settle in and binge away. The Super Hero trend is going to be here for a good, long while.

N E X T    U P:

Question: Who’s Up for The New Adventures of Hermione Granger

 or that Trinity/Matrix Standalone Film?

Answer: Me! Features Are Slow To Catch Up To TV When It Comes To Women.

TRINITY

 

 

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Surf Report: California Dreamin’ On A Winter’s Day – Series To Binge, Books To Revisit, and Photos for That Inevitable Surf Memoir

BW SURF MEMOIR COVER

Santa Monica, CA — I never realized just how much writing I did at my local coffee shop on Main Street, which has been closed for two months, and that’s exactly how long it’s been since my last Post.  Yikes.

I sure do miss Peets Coffee and the Dawn Patrol gang of locals, but I have made do with Home Brew, grinding my own beans, and attempting to froth whole milk and to create a Latte that is acceptable. Still, it’s not the same.

Meanwhile, it’s Winter here in So Cali and that means it’s chilly and cold at the beach in the mornings but sunny by midday. Ya gotta bundle up, wear a scarf, etc.!

California and the US are plagued by a deadly Flu virus, which I have successfully avoided thus far. Also, I am in Week 17 of growing a beard prompting lots of taunts from friends who tell me I resemble slightly younger versions of either Kris Kringle or Gandalf.

The dreaded Drought looks likely to return to these parched parts at any moment if we do not get some much-need Rain throughout the month of March, which is traditionally the last month of The Rainy Season.

I have been binge-watching Westworld (S1) and The Crown (S1). Thumbs up to both series, however, Westworld kinda unravels by its season finale after such a promising start, reminding me a bit of the disappointment I felt with Lost a few years back on ABC. One feels as if the writers don’t really know where they’re going. Presumably, HBO does.

Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy’s series also brings to mind Battlestar Galactica as well as Blade Runner, evoking that familiar premise: Who is more human, the robots or their creators? Credit author Philip K. Dick for being such an Influencer. Am not sure I will return for S2. Still, I love seeing Anthony Hopkins commanding every scene he’s in portraying an Uber-Walt Disney with quite the ruthless streak. Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, and Ed Harris really score, as well.

Meanwhile, The Crown is just sumptuous Television. I feel so sorry for those poor Windsors! Bravo, Netflix.

EARTHSEA        AT ZEROS YOUNG GANDALF

Reading-wise, the recent passing of author Ursula K. Le Guin prompted me to re-visit her Earthsea series of books, which I have thoroughly enjoyed (and highly recommend): A Wizard of Earthsea and its three sequels as well as Tales from Earthsea, which I found to be quite remarkable and reminiscent of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.

I picked up these books during my stint as VP of Development for SyFy (then known as Sci-Fi Channel) in the 2000s. One of the first things I did back then was to meet everyone at the network and ask them what favorite books they recommended for development. The Earthsea books were at the top of the list, but beyond Sci-Fi’s grasp (and still now, I think).  I would love to see The BBC take on these adaptations as they would make winning miniseries.

Surfing in Santa Monica has been kinda poor all Winter, so I have ventured North to Malibu to Nicholas Canyon State Park, aka, Zeroes. It’s a great break, very consistently going right, and just lovely to behold. Funny I should surf there whilst reading Le Guin’s Earthsea books because the topography is quite similar to how I imagine the Archipelago and the Isle of Roke, where The Old Powers and Magic are strongest: Lots of big, ancient rocks for boats to crash onto and beautiful sandy beaches flanked by green verdant hills awaiting your arrival.

A good Book is a wonder. I love writing that fuels my internal projector and ignites my own imagination enabling the story to really come alive in Time and Space. Thanks, Ursula K. Le Guin. #RIP

N E X T   U P:

The Successful Launch of Black Panther Ensures More Super Hero TV.

BLACK PANTHER AND HIS LADIES

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Surf Report: Santa Monica’s Main Street Bids Farewell to Longtime Favorite Peet’s Coffee

PEETS AT 5 AM          MARVIN AT PEETS

Santa Monica, CA — A friend of mine on Twitter recently asked that his followers (including me) to refrain from publishing photos of their Lattes in 2018 saying they all look the same.

He’s got a point, however, not all Lattes are made the same.

For 18+ years, my Lattes have been brewed by Marvin, my local Barista at Peet’s Coffee on Main Street. These not inexpensive but highly addictive coffee drinks have been made with something akin to Love and are well worth photographing/tweeting.

One more Latte for the Road, and then the Party Is Over for Peet’s.

Edgemar Center, the venerable coffee shop’s landlord, has opted to raise the rent after Peet’s long-term lease agreement ended earlier this month. Peet’s Corporate decided to pass and look for new grounds (pun intended).

Last Call is Friday, Dec. 29th.

Ya can’t blame Edgemar for seeking more income, and ya can’t blame a successful franchise like Peet’s for declining to pay more rent after anchoring that center for nearly two decades.

One wonders how much longer other stalwart Edgemar tenants like Brick & Mortar or Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream will survive at Edgemar if a high-volume business like Peet’s can’t afford the skyrocketing rent increase?

Main Street has lost more than a few businesses to this Catch-22: Most notably, the well-established Omelet Parlor, American Apparel, and Areal.

So, what’s a Local to do now that his favorite coffee shop (along with some really great employees) is going away?

Mourn. Say farewell. Learn to brew coffee at home.

IMG_1640

Surfers, Teachers, Medical Personnel, Gym-goers, Cyclists…these are the first customers to arrive at Peet’s on a daily basis: The Dawn Patrol.  At 5 AM, this is not the most verbal of crowds who quietly place their order, exchange muted greetings and either settle in or depart for the rest of their day, caffeine in hand.

Make no mistake: Peet’s Coffee has been the Central Hub of a rather eclectic Community, and the coffee shop will be sorely missed.  The coffee is great (strong!), but it’s the people who keep you coming back again and again.

(This Appreciation was written there on a sleepy Wednesday morning.)

For 10+ years, Peet’s Coffee on Main Street sponsored my cycling club, Shifting Gears , who would meet for Tuesday morning easy spins from Main Street through the Marina (and back – 15 miles). After the training ride, the group always enjoyed a cuppa at Peet’s which provided a warm and friendly environment for such gatherings.

On any given day, one can run into their friends, neighbors, tennis partners, yoga instructors, bar tenders, and elected officials while waiting in line at Peet’s. And that’s part of its charm, you never know who you will see!

TUESDAY BIKE RIDE       PINTO STANDING SURFER BEACH

Peet’s Coffee also has been home to a lot of Writers, Journalists, Bloggers, Painters, Actors, Musicians, Techies, and many other Artists seen deep in conversation whilst enjoying a cup of Dark Roast.

Book recommendations have been exchanged there amongst new friends. Heated political discussions have taken place amongst old friends. Many a rainstorm has been weathered there with new friends.

So what’s next for Peet’s?

Thankfully, the wonderful, kind, and big-hearted employees are all being transferred to other stores around the area (Montana Avenue, The Grove). Peet’s Corporate has been looking for another space on Main Street for quite a while but has not found a suitable new home.

Main Street already houses coffee emporiums Dogtown Coffee, the Urrth Café, Starbucks, Groundworks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Bulletproof Coffee.  That’s a lot of coffee shops!

The next tenant is rumored to be (what else!) another coffee powerhouse: Blue Bottle Coffee (which started out in Oakland, CA). Nearby Abbot Kinney already hosts a Blue Bottle café, which has many other stores in Los Angeles.

Next Stop: Main Street, Santa Monica.

So Peet’s, this is a Farewell for Now. And, this is an Appreciation for the good vibes, the great coffee, and for the community fostered there.

Peet’s Coffee, this Peetnik will miss you.

Here’s to one last Latte (and yes, I shall tweet a photo!):

CUPPA   Thanks, Marvin, Rich, Adrin, Cynthia, Seb, Jenny & Co.

 

N E X T   U P:

New Year’s Resolutions! Home-Brewed Coffee …

PINTO SECRET LIFE OF

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Surf Report: 48 Hours in Park City, Utah

PARK CITY SNOW

Park City, Utah — No better place to escape smoky California wildfires in December than this sleepy Silver Mining town that is better known for hosting the Sundance Film Festival in January, and for great skiing, of course.

Like all great mountain towns, folks go there for the Winter but stay there for the Summer.

When visiting Park City to ski or for the film festival (Here’s The 2018 Lineup Of Films For Sundance), the best advice I can offer is for you to actually Take. My. Advice.  I have been skiing Park City for 25+ years, and I have got it down, Brothers and Sisters.

Flights to Salt Lake City (SLC) – Delta Airlines has the best flight schedules b/c SLC is its hub. Schedules are important, especially, when the time comes to Depart. You don’t want to leave Park City at the crack of Dawn. Delta will have the best departure schedule, preferably after 1 PM, so you can chill-lax one more morning before leaving filled with regret that you didn’t buy a condo in Park City 20 years ago!

Transportation to Park City from SLC Airport – Forget Shuttle Services. Go Uber or Lyft . Much less expensive. Just as reliable. You do not need a car, especially if it’s wintry conditions. Repeat: You do not need a car.

Hotel – Ya gotta stay at The Lodge at the Mountain  if you are a Skier. Or, even if you are not. Located at the base of the Park City slopes, the rooms are great. Ski rental shops are right there as are the free shuttles to Main Street, Deer Valley, or the Canyons.

(Great Tip: Stop at the shop by the skating rink to buy some Milk or Cream for your in-room Coffee Maker. Otherwise, it’s nasty creamer for you.)

The Lodge at the Mountain also provides complimentary shuttle service to Deer Valley or The Canyons with really friendly drivers. Ask for Andrew, a Park City local with all the great tips on where to go, to eat, etc.

The most welcome surprise is the Fitness Center which includes a heated indoor pool, a hot tub, and a downstairs locker room with a sauna, steam room and showers. Great place to end the day after skiing and before apres-skiing elsewhere.

BALCONY VIEW AT LODGE AT THE MTN   AVALANCHE DOG MS T

Skiing:  Park City is great. In 2002, Salt Lake City was the Host City for the Winter Olympics , and Park City hosted the outdoor sporting events. The runs are fun and challenging no matter your level of proficiency. There is a fun run for you.  The US Ski Team also makes its home in PC, and for good reason: Park City is a great place to ski (or snowboard).

Rental Shops are right there at the Lodge at the Mountain, and they offer discounts for guests, so take advantage and rent there. Much less expensive than renting skis at Deer Valley for the day.

This trip, I rented skis from Jackson’s Base Camp  and received a 30% discount because I was a guest of The Lodge. Best of all, the beautiful 20somethings working at Jackson’s not only put on your boots for you, but they also take them off for you at the end of the day which feels like a gift from Heaven. Jackson’s also has an old, large in-store dog who likes to be petted, which is charming.

Also, the lift ticket office and access to the slopes are right there. It could not be more convenient. Someone has thought of everything. Trust me.

Park City and The Canyons also share a Ski Pass Lift Ticket, so take advantage and ski both slopes with an Epic Pass. There’s a really cool Gondola ride awaiting you at The Canyons.  Make time for lunch at the Red Pine Lodge on top of the mountain.

Deer Valley is more beautiful and scenic. I’ve decided it’s because of the plethora of Evergreens which make its slopes just more Forest-y. Deer Valley is also more expensive, so prepare yourself. The good news: Deer Valley is totally worth it.

My favorite spot at DV is, not surprisingly, The Beach, located on the backside of the mountain.  There are deck chairs set out on the snow by the Lodge where you can relax, have a drink, and definitely take a siesta.

3 AMIGOS   PERSPECTIVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Hop on the City Shuttle to Main Street and hit The Eating Establishment when it opens at 8 AM.  Great ambience with fireplaces, skylights and friendly servers make for a great start to the day.  Try the 2-Egg Breakfast, the Bennie, or the Biscuits & Gravy.

All were hits with my brothers and myself. (Our sister Paula owns The Hot Biscuit, the best spot for a country breakfast in our hometown of Hodgenville, KY, so we know good Biscuits & Gravy!)

MAIN STREET PARK CITY NO SNOW   EATING EST BFAST

Dinner: Ya gotta make the High West Saloon your first stop.

Locals love this converted house/auto garage into a hip distillery/restaurant and so will You. The trick is to show up, prepare to wait for a table, have a bourbon outside by the fire pit, and order correctly by eating light.

Skiers! I’m talking to you here.

The best thing on High West’s menu begins with its completely soulful Bread Basket which comes with a Compound Butter made with Whiskey and Honey. So so good and filling.

So, you’ve got a bourbon or an Old Fashioned. Order the Cheese Board. Relax. Enjoy. Nibble. Converse. Then, move on to the Beet Salad which is so completely light, bright and refreshingly citrus-y. Trust me, by now, you will be done. So, stop.

FIRE PIT AT HIGH WEST SALOON

Okay, you’ve spent the day skiing. You’ve enjoyed a hot tub or a sauna or a steam. You’ve had some great bourbon and a great dinner. Now, prepare to be dead tired. It must be the altitude.

Walk it off on Main Street. Window shop (or shop) at Lululemon or Roots (Where I Got My Blue Beret in 2002) Then, drop in on a bar of your choice for a nightcap before heading back to the Lodge for another welcome soak in the hot tub. There’s also several venues with live music, so check ’em out.

Get a great night’s sleep and wake up early so you can do it all over again and again. Enjoy! I must warn you, though. Forty-eight hours in Park City won’t be enough time for you as you’ll want to stay all Winter.

I know that I surely do (and just might).

N E X T   U P:

New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Ski More.
  • Surf More.
  • Watch Less TV.

REST DAY AT DEER VALLEY

BROTHERS LA RUE AT DEER VALLEY   TRUMP RUN AT DV

 

 

 

 

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Dallas Surf Report: Hidden History – A Room With THE View at SMU

BISHOP BLVD SIGNAGE

Dallas, Texas — At my Alma Mater, Southern Methodist University (SMU), there is a Room with, hands down, the best view of the campus and of the Dallas skyline.

And, it’s a 100-year-old Secret to most Mustangs.

Welcome to the Attic Apartment atop Dallas Hall.

DALLAS HALL 2021

Dallas Hall sits atop an actual Hilltop at SMU and commands a view of the entire campus (voted one of the most beautiful in the nation) as well as the skyline of the city of Dallas. The building is listed on the national historical register, and its dome is quite majestic.

If you look at Dallas Hall, focus on the two stone balconies beneath the grand Dome, on each side. Now look at the Dome, but right in the center beneath it, there is Another Balcony.

Herein sits Dallas Hall’s long forgotten dorm room and SMU’s very tight-lipped architectual Secret.

Once upon a time, the first President of SMU, Robert Hyer, was to live in a private attic apartment at the very top of Dallas Hall in front of the dome with its own private balcony overlooking the entire campus. The apartment, however, was deemed too small for President Hyer’s wife, so they ended up living in another building, Clements Hall.

Kudos to you, Mrs. Hyer. You are/were quite correct.

1917 PHOTO OF DALLAS HALL

So for a very short time, the attic apartment which is basically just two rooms (and a fantastic balcony with an unparalleled view) housed SMU’s first football coach, Ray Morrison (who also coached Track, Baseball, and Basketball in addition to teaching Mathematics!) who was then succeeded by some lucky Theology students before they got too rowdy, and use of the apartment was discontinued.

This is why we can’t have nice things, people!

Darwin Payne, former chairman of SMU’s Division of Journalism, mentions this space in his well-received SMU Centennial commemorative book, One Hundred Years on the Hilltop. Payne’s book reminded me of the existence of Hyer’s apartment. The Seed of Curiosity germinated.

DARWIN PAYNE BOOK COVER

A few weeks ago during Homecoming Week, this Prodigal returned to The Hilltop to guest-lecture a couple of classes in Meadows School of the Arts.

I checked out a number of exhibits in both Perkins’ Bridwell Library  (Martin Luther Bibles!) and the Meadows Museum (Spanish Art!), however, those wonderful displays paled in comparison to this privately secured campus tour.

I was lucky enough to rediscover SMU’s architectural secret alongside my classmate, Dodie Jacobi (a Meadows grad), and Joan Gosnell, the University’s Archivist. Our tour guide was Scot Montague, Operations Chief (and an SMU Dad).

Entering via an unmarked door inside Dallas Hall, the four of us very carefully climbed an old iron spiral staircase which leads to an anteroom of the apartment. This anteroom is circular because of the Dome:

Lots of exposed brick, cobwebs, and dust welcomed us as its most recent visitors.

    JOAN AND SCOTT ATTIC APT

We were stepping back through Time: An Unmarked DoorAn Old Spiral Staircase! A Chamber of Secrets?

All that was missing was the ghost of President Hyer (or his wife) bitching about the draft and our casual attire.

My inner Harry Potter could not have been more thrilled!

If only those Theology students from the 1900s could have regaled us with their stories of having the coolest dorm room on campus. Surely, they grilled out hamburgers on the balcony while debating The New Testament.

Okay, maybe not.

What I did not know is that there is a second iron spiral staircase that leads to a private office below the apartment. Presumably, this staircase entrance was intended for President Hyer. Dodie and I both made mental notes to reserve that office should we ever return as Alumni-in-Residence.

 INTERIOR ROTUNDA

Dallas Hall is the first (and last) building a student likely enters while at SMU. I certainly had many English, Journalism and History classes there during my undergraduate days. So, it was a particular pleasure to finally get a peek at one of its most closely held secrets: The Attic Apartment.

In a perfect world, the University would share my love for this space and restore it. Again, there are only two very small rooms: A living area and a bathroom. And, that awesome balcony (or three!). The pale blue walls are heavily grafittied from students (and faculty) who commemorated their sneaky visits via Sharpie. We were not the first to visit this belfry. Many have preceded us. You can read their names right there on the wall.

SKYLINE OF DALLAS

What is undeniable about this curious space is how special and unique a living quarter it must have been back in the early 1900s. Also, it must have been very cold and drafty during the winter months!

One hundred year-old wooden doors with transoms, baseboards, and tongue and groove flooring show the craftsmanship that went into creating this one-of-a-campus apartment.

 

ATTIC DOORWAY     ATTIC SCOTT DODIE

Unfortunately, the safety concerns are numerous. That tremendous view, though…

ATOP DALLAS HALL WITH DODIE

One day, this wonderfully quirky attic apartment will be re-discovered by the right person, that maverick Dean, the history-obsessed University President, and it will be restored to its original Glory. (Heads up, Laura Bush!)

For now, though, this super secret apartment is A Room With THE View at SMU.

BALCONY SHOT OF DALLAS HALL

Special Thanks to Joan Gosnell of SMU Archives and to Scot Montague of University Operations for the private tour which was the highlight of a very special week in Dallas. Thank you for your time and for your generosity of Spirit.

After the tour of Dallas Hall, Joan invited Dodie and I to view the Archives which is located in the DeGolyer Library in the Fondren Building. It was like stepping backstage of Reality, or if you will, the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts.

 JOAN AT ARCHIVES ENTRANCE

The History of SMU is in good hands as Joan is a wonderful custodian of the University’s past which includes collections from Dallas entrepreneurs Stanley Marcus and J.C. Penney.

Dodie and I found our junior year Rotunda which chronicled our days as the Resident Advisors in the now-defunct Lettermen Hall (sadly, now a parking structure):

 

ROTUNDA LETTERMEN PIC

 

Architectural Secrets at SMU are probably numerous.

Supposedly, there are secret tunnels that run underneath the Main Quad. I shall leave those to another intrepid alumnus to file a report. For me, though, seeing this Dallas Hall secret after wondering about it for decades was a triumph in both curiosity and resourcefulness in addition to the generosity of the University to grant such a Tour.

I love my alma mater. Now, I love it even more. History really is a treasure. At SMU,  there is much to be discovered. You can start with SMU’s Digital Collections

Seek and Ye Shall Find, my fellow Prodigals.

 

N E X T   U P:

Off to Park City, Utah. Let it Snow!

PARK CITY SNOW

 

 

 

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Film Surf Report: Black Panther Leads A Strong Lineup Of Films For 2018 (Stock Tip: Buy #Disney)

 

BLACK PANTHER AND HIS LADIES

Santa Monica, CA  — Just renewed my Passport and am ready to travel to Wakanda to hang with Black Panther (and to check on The Winter Soldier who is still frozen) before heading to France to catch up with those Fantastic Beasts.  Am gonna need my wetsuit because ya never know where Aquaman will drag a fella.

2018 is gonna be a fun year at the movies!  Were I trading on the Stock Market, I would most definitely buy *Disney as 2018 will belong to this studio (with The Last Jedi closing out 2017) which will clean up via Marvel Studios, Pixar and Lucas Film.

With The Last Jedi, Disney Recoups Purchase Price Of LucasFilm

Add to that Disney’s proposed purchase of 21st Century Fox’s Filmed Entertainment divisions, well, the Mouse House is about to bulk up in a major way. Welcome, X-Men!

Meanwhile my pick for Sleeper Hit comes from Disney, as well:  Ava Du Vernay’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, which hits theaters March 9th (and is the first in a series, launching a new franchise). Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling Are Featured In The Trailer

A WRINKLE

Meanwhile, mark your calendar and alert your stock broker because here’s what’s on tap:

  • *Black Panther  In Theatres Now! —  SMASH HIT. Very impressed with Chadwick Bozeman and his introduction in Civil War and have high hopes for the standalone film which boasts a fine cast directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station).  Interested to see the South Korea locations.  Here’s the T R A I L E R #1   Fox scored with Deadpool on this release date. Smart move. The LA Times calls it “Royally Imaginative!”
  • A Wrinkle in Time  March 9th — See above! A recent Time Magazine cover shares my prediction, as well.
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider  March 16th — The re-boot stars Alicia Vikander and Dominic West. Roar Uthaug directs.
  • *Avengers: Infinity Wars Part One    April 27th –Could be way too many Marvel characters going up against Thanos in this one.  Everyone gets short shrift, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Marvel. Here’s the 1st Trailer – Wakanda! Black Widow is blonde now, so there’s that. Meanwhile, here’s the latest Trailer.

AVENGERS INFINITY WAR

  • Deadpool May 18th — Ryan Reynolds returns with a new director for the foul-mouthed, almost-Oscar nominated sequel and breakout X-Men property.  Fox has to get this sequel right in order to launch Strike Force, so expect a set-up.  Here’s the very fun T R A I L E R for DEADPOOL 2
  • *Solo: A Star Wars Story  May 25th —  Alden Ehrenreich (Hail Caesar!, Beautiful Creatures) seems to be a terrific choice.  Donald Glover co-stars as young Lando Calrissian.  Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Emilia Clarke also co-star. Phil Lord and Chris Miller either quit or got fired, and now, Ron Howard takes over much to my dismay.  Here’s the first Preview!
  • *The Incredibles 2   June 15th —  Cannot wait, Pixar Studios!  Brad Bird returns along with the original voice cast (Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter). This is a 4-quadrant movie.  Here’s the 1st TRAILER featuring Jack Jack.

INCREDIBLES 2

  • *Ant-Man & Wasp  July 6th  — Not a fan, so Rudd & Co. gotta win me over, especially since this film is being billed as Marvel’s first Romantic Comedy! Michael Douglas returns as Hank PymPeyton Reed directs (again). Walton Scoggins signed on for an unknown (and probably villainous) role. Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne also star. Film explains why Ant-Man skipped out on Infinity Wars and how he can help out during Avengers 4.

Here’s the 1st Trailer Which Features Wasp!

  • Venom Oct. 5th — Hopes were not high until Tom Hardy signed on to play Venom, the anti-hero of the Spider-Man Universe.  Interested. Underpaid actor Michelle Williams co-stars.  Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) directs. Here is the 1st Trailer featuring Tom Hardy!

VENOM POSTER

  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix  Nov. 2nd — Too soon. I still remember the Famke Janssen version of X3, and young Jean Grey was just okay in Apocalypse. Fox is going to the X-Well once too often, I fear. Simon Kinberg is set to direct. Jessica Chastain plays the Villain, who is taken from the original Comic.  Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy return as does Evan Peters as Quicksilver.  Feels Ho Hum to me. Been here, done that.  Meanwhile, someone dies! Any guesses?

FB CRIMES OF GRINDEWALD

  • Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them: The Crimes of Grindewald  Nov. 16th — David Yates to direct the 2nd of the planned five films in the franchise that will likely culminate in the big duel between Grindewald (Johnny Depp) and a young Dumbledore!  (Jude Law)
  • Aquaman  Dec. 21st — Man, I hope DC Comics/WB gets it right here.  Jason Momoa looks great holding a trident, confronting Bruce Wayne, etc. in Justice LeagueAmber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman also star. James Wan (Fast & Furious 7, The Conjuring) directs. Supposedly it’s not an Origin Story but expect a lot of humor a la Thor: RagnorakEW’s 1st Look Make It Sound Like An Origin Story, Tho!

AQUAMAN JASON SHIRTLESS

Here’s a Peek at  2 0 1 9:

  • Untitled Fox/Marvel Film  Feb. 14th — That Fantastic Four option appears to be lapsing.  Doctor Doom perhaps? Or possibly, Multiple Man starring James Franco! Simon Kinsberg produces from a script by Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman).
  • X-Men: New Mutants Feb. 22nd — Josh Boone directing a new group of mutants that will likely include Wolfsbane, Rachel Summers, and MagmaJames McAvoy set to return as Professor X.
  • Captain Marvel  March 8th — Okay, Brie Larson. Ya got your work cut out for ya. Story is set pre-Avengers in the ’90s with Nick Fury not wearing an eye patch! Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to direct. Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Tomb Raider) scripts. Jude Law has signed on to co-star. Film sets up Captain Marvel as the Avenger to beat in the ensuring Avengers 4 where Thanos gets his due.
  • Shazam! April 5th  David F. Sandberg (Annabelle) set to direct with Zachary Levi set to star, and Dwayne Johnson is set to produce and to star as Black Adam, the villain of Shazam!, in a spinoff film, but Johnson is reportedly not appearing in Shazam! (or is he?). Supposedly, Shazam! is the next DCEU film to go into production in 2018.

SHAZAM COMIC

  • The Batman  March (SO VERY TBD) Ben Affleck returns (or does he????). Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, War for the Planet of the Apes) set to direct.  Joe Mangianello made a surprise cameo as Deathstroke in Justice Leauge. However, there are rumors that Deathstroke is out (and may now get his own much smaller solo film instead), and The Penguin is in as an effort to lighten up this franchise. Frankly, I’d rather see  Bookworm (with Tom Cruise or Colin Firth). Affleck wrote the script with Geoff Johns, however, Reeves is starting over from scratch and going for a detective noir approach.  Hence, the delay.  This will be a standalone film and not part of the DCEU.

DEATHSTROKE JOE MANGANIELLO

  • Avengers 4  May 3rd — What was to have been a 2-parter from The Russo Bros. has now become Avengers 4 which supposedly wraps up the current group, including expensive paycheck players Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America who completes his contract with Marvel with this film. Look for a big assist from Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, as well.  The End of the MCU (As We Knew It) Via GQ
  • Gambit  June 7th — Channing Tatum, anyone? The loss of director Gore Verbinski has resulted in a delay. New Director is TBA. Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex) co-stars.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming Pt. 2   July 5th — Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei scored in Civil War and are rewarded with a 3-parter.  Expect director Jon Watts to return for the sequel. Jake Gyllenhall in talks to star as the villain, Mysterio. Gotta say, Tom Holland is really winning in this role (and I am a fan of the Tobey trilogy).
  • Flashpoint  (SO VERY TBD) Ezra Miller’s standalone film has been plagued with problems. New script and new director caused the film to get pushed back by a year or more. Hope they get this film on track as Miller was the highlight of the Justice League. This DC film will likely move to 2020. DC Film Slate Gets All Shook Up  Gal Gadot returns as Wonder Woman!

DEADPOOL AND COLOUSSUS

  • X-Force A team franchise led by Deadpool, Fox will make it work for better or worse (Fantastic Four anyone?). Drew Goddard writes and directs this non-virtuous team of X-Men which also includes Josh Brolin’s Cable. Ryan Reynolds gets an EP credit.
  • Wonder Woman 2 — Nov. 1st  — Director Patty Jenkins has set the sequel story during the Cold War with Russia.  Who’s the next villain for Diana:  The latest news is that Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) will play Diana’s nemesis, CheetahNerdist breaks ’em down 5 Villains for WW2
  • James Bond 25 — Nov. 8th — Purvis and Wade scripting. No director set, but Danny Boyle is the frontrunner. No distributor.  Daniel Craig returns one more time as James Bond, though. More info forthcoming including a return for Monica Bellucci.
  • Justice League Part Two  — November (SO VERY TBD) The reviews for Part One have been mixed with most declaring, It’s Better Than BvS! Part Two supposedly introduces Green Lantern! Will Ricky Whittle from American Gods land the role?This month is getting awfully crowded with franchises, so I expect this film to slide to either December or to 2020.
  • Fantastic Beasts 3 (Nov. 15th) More Dumbledore! Less Johnny Depp.
  • Untitled Fox/Marvel Film — Nov. 22nd — More X-Men! Or possibly, Dr. Doom from Fantastic Four with Noah Hawley (Legion) helms.
  • Star Wars, Ep. IX   — Dec. 20th —  How will LucasFilm deal with the untimely death of Carrie Fisher and her alter ego, Princess/General Leia? JJ Abrams returns to the franchise in the director’s chair after a troubling start. I predict the storyline for The Skywalkers gets wrapped up. No more Death Stars, please! Fisher had the last line in The Last JediWe have everything we need. Let’s hope so.

CARRIE AS GENERAL LEIA

 

N E X T   U P:

Super Heroes on TV — Have We Reached Capacity Yet?

DC ROBIN IN MASK TITANS

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Film Surf Report: Universal’s Dark Universe Should Look to John Logan’s Penny Dreadful for Resurrection & Inspiration

DARK UNIVERSE

Santa Monica, CA — When last we saw Tom Cruise’s character (whose name I can barely recall as it was so bland….wait a minute, he was called Nick Something) in The Mummy, he and his resurrected buddy were riding off into the desert landscape to Parts Unknown, both newbie Immortals in search of a Sequel.

Oy, The Mummy was a terrible film. Just terrible. Nothing worked.

Jammed in the middle of the crazy story was poor Russell Crowe holding court in The Prodigium, the hub of The Dark Universe, where the audience was supposed to one day meet Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, The Bride, and The Wolfman.

DARK UNIVERSE CAST

Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie & Co. will have to wait a minute for their respective solo Monster Movies as Universal regroups and commences its salvage operation. Architects Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have left the franchise.

The Mummy made a respectable $400 million worldwide. Not much to salvage here. More like, a course correction. Make a good movie! Tell a great story! Set up the franchise in the End Credits, if you must.

Universal’s Company Line About Its Intention to Move Forward

Heads Up, Universal.  I have a suggestion:  Look to Television.

Specifically, spend the weekend binge-watching Showtime’s enthralling three seasons of Penny Dreadful, wherein, you will see a seamless gathering of Monsters like The Wolfman, Frankenstein, Dracula, Dorian Grey, and The Bride.

More importantly, these Monsters exist within a really really good Story.

PENNY DREADFUL

Master Storyteller Anne Rice is a recent convert and recently shared her thoughts on Penny Dreadful and the Dark Universe:

Anne Rice Posts on Facebook About Dark Universe

Rice, who is on a book tour promoting her own Mummy sequel co-written with son Christopher, Ramses The Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra, knows something about good horror writing.  She’s a fan of the classic Universal monster movies. The studio should call her in for a meeting and bring her on board to help steer the rudderless ship.

Anne and Christopher Rice Discuss The Return of The Mummy With Nerdist

PASSION OF CLEOPATRA

You know who else Universal should meet with?  John Logan!

Penny Dreadful is brilliant storytelling.  Television was the perfect medium, too. Here, Everything Worked.

Logan (Gladiator, Skyfall, SPECTRE) clearly had a vision that his production team masterfully executed as they created period London by evoking foggy cobbled streets, mysterious horse-drawn carriages, and underground dwellings where monsters meet for a cuppa and some solace among friends.

The casting was dead on brilliant, too: Wonderful Actors Who Are Not Household Names.

Eva Green (Casino Royale) was put through an emotional wringer. Her scenes with John Clare, aka, The Monster, were so so moving, filled with wonderful depth and pathos. Rory Kinnear, a supporting player in the Daniel Craig Bond films (M’s assistant), breathes new life in a dead character we’ve seen so often.

Everyone has a monster within them. Moreover, our inner-monsters can be heroic.

Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Reeve Carney, and Billie Piper were equally excellent. Again, Everything Worked: Writing, Casting, Production Design. Everything. This series exemplifies the elusive Lightning in a Bottle.  It is everything 2017’s The Mummy was not.

Am not sure John Logan would wish to re-tread this material for Universal, but it’s worth a conversation, and at the very least, a binge-viewing. He is currently at work in TV adapting Justin Cronin’s deeply disturbing American vampire saga, The Passage, for FOX. (A wonderful book, btw. Am still haunted by its imagery.)

Meanwhile, the notion that the studio has abandoned the franchise after one terrible film (that will make money for them in perpetuity) does not hold water.

The Hollywood Reporter Sees Mummification of Franchise

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN ELSA

Bill Condon (Beauty & the Beast, Twilight, Gods & Monsters) is still attached to direct The Bride of Frankenstein, however, its 2019 release date has been scratched. Jolie was being courted to star but was never formally attached to the film. Now, she can concentrate on Maleficent 2. David Koepp wrote the script, which is being heavily scrutinized.

Please, no more mindless action!

The studio is on record saying these films will be director-driven. I would advise looking abroad for these directors. For example, New Zealander Taika Waititi did a wonderful job infusing some Kiwi humor in Marvel’s latest mega-hit, Thor: Ragnorak.

Also, these films should not be star vehicles. The Monsters are the stars and should not be eclipsed by the actors portraying them (Depp, Jolie). Sofia Boutella is terrific as the Egyptian Princess in The Mummy. I wish she had been given a better Story and a lot more to do than just wreak mindless havoc once unearthed. More Boutella. Less Cruise.

In a sense, the Monster(s) in these films should somehow break the audience’s heart through their respective pain at the cruel hand dealt to them by Fate.  Logan hits homerun after homerun via his characters in Penny Dreadful. As does Anne Rice in The Vampire Chronicles.

We. Must. Care. About. The. Characters.

There’s more life to be had in the Dark Universe. One misstep should not cancel an entire franchise. These are classic horror stories meant to thrill us. Again. And again.

Binge-watch Penny Dreadful. You will be glad you did.

 

N E X T   U P:

The Room with THE View at SMU.

ATOP DALLAS HALL WITH DODIE

 

 

 

 

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