Monday, December 28, 2020

My trip to Tempe to go to the Cinema!

Cinemark Mesa 16

In this horrible year since the closing of theaters in March due to the pandemic, I have seen 5 films in a theater since the spring. Under normal conditions, I would have seen at least 40 between March and December, but I only saw five, and two of those films were seen just this past weekend. As a treat to myself since my travel plans to see family during New Year's Eve weekend has been canceled, I decided to drive to the city closest to me that has theaters open, and that honor goes to Tempe, AZ. I was just in Sedona in September after Labor Day, so I was excited to travel to AZ again.

Theaters are closed in California, and for a change of scenery, especially since I was traveling solo, I felt it was safe enough for me to drive, solo, to Tempe, and stay in a nice hotel, solo, while venturing around town, solo, wearing a mask. I know there has been a lot of news reports about the dismay of public health officials lamenting the fact that people are not adhering to the guidelines of staying home to help prevent the spread of the virus. And for the most part, I wholly agree with that. Especially when you have multiple people who are family or friends flying on planes to go see relatives at the height of the worst part of this pandemic.


Cinemark Mesa 16

This is why my trip to Michigan was canceled because it wasn't safe for me to travel. So I get all that, and that is why I felt totally comfortable in my decision to drive to Tempe on Christmas day with low traffic, to stay two nights at a Hilton with the primary purpose to see movies at Cinemark Mesa 16, which was a beautiful theater that had strict Covid-19 sanitation information posted all around the theater.

Below are the quick film reviews of Promising Young Woman and Wonder Woman 1984. First and foremost, both films were so great to experience in the theater and it solidifies my smart decision to treat myself to this special short trip. Now more than ever, I believe it's imperative for us all to support watching films in the theater. It is safe. 

#PromisingYoungWoman was fucking excellent!!! The Avenger of toxic masculinity and white male bro privilege. Carey Mulligan's character was haunted to honor her best friend and just when you thought she wouldn't succeed, she does so with sublime calculating brilliance! A++

Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

To elaborate a bit more on Promising Young Woman, this is a story of a former medical student who quit school to support her best friend who was sexually assaulted by fellow male students. Cassie's friend Nina suffered terribly from this devastating attack, and it also affected Cassie, brilliantly played by Carey Mulligan. Promising Young Woman is a story of revenge plotted to avenge a friend, and destroy the toxic privileged male fraternity bullshit that is so rampant and protected. I was shocked and horrified by the end result of the film, but also applaud the surprise ending, it really was a shocker and goes against all conventions in movies about the protagonist. It's bittersweet in the most bitter of ways. But if you're like me, you will be sad and satisfied. I'm so glad I saw this in the theater, but I get bummed out in knowing how denied I am in watching this very film with a Los Angeles audience of my peers of voters and critics. And of course, the Q&As that are so common in the LA market for the awards season. I've seen Carey Mulligan in person back in 2018 for Wildlife, but I would have killed to see her at a Q&A for PYW. I will be participating in a virtual screening of PYW in two weeks via Film Independent, but as you know, that's not the same. But I am looking forward to watching this wickedly smart and brilliant, timely film again. Carey Mulligan won the Best Actress honor for the LA Film Critics Awards two weeks ago, so that's a good sign that she's deservedly on Oscar's radar.

The primary reason why I drove to Tempe was to see Wonder Woman 1984. In the aftermath of the crazy decision for Warner Brothers to release WW84 in theaters and on HBOMax at the same time, there was just no way I was going to watch this very film in my bedroom, all by myself, on Christmas day. No fucking way! I was going to drive 360 miles and pay $14 to see it, and it was worth every drop of gas. 

Now I know why Steve Trevor is in #WonderWoman1984Be careful what you wish for because it comes at a cost that even hurts Wonder Woman. Jenkins and Gadot puts heart into a super hero battling against Pascal's Trump like greedy maniac in a spectacular and exhilarating ride! A-

Gal Gadot and Chris Pine in Wonder Woman 1984

I really enjoyed Wonder Woman 1984, and a superhero film is best seen on the big screen the first time you're able to see it. I don't understand the hate for WW84 that can be seen on Twitter, but most of the haters are guys and fans of Marvel. So make of that what you will. It's almost as if they are taking joy in wanting to slam this film. It's a superhero movie based on the outrageous greedy consciousness of the 80s, and it had great special effects and action scenes. It was just a lot of fun and I think the pandemic has made some people particularly dark and bitter and they just didn't want to like WW84. But alas, Warner Brothers, perhaps in an attempt to sow good favor for themselves in the aftermath of the past two weeks with the revelation of the plans for the 2021 roster of films to be released in some theaters AND on HBOMax, the studio announced today that they have given the green light for Wonder Woman 3. So that's great news as I love Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Patty Jenkins as the director.

My prized WW84 popcorn tin!

I don't know when I'll be able to go back to a theater again, but it felt really good and safe going to AZ to watch these two films. I don't think theaters will open up in CA until perhaps May, and this is based on how soon more people can get vaccinated in the months between Feb-April, which is the time frame I expect to be vaccinated as I work in the healthcare industry and I am considered an essential worker. But as long as theaters are doing the innovative cleaning like Cinemark, and Harkins Theaters are doing at the height of the pandemic, along with social distancing in the theater, I welcome the opportunity to go to the theater again here in SoCAL as soon as possible.

I hope to resume updating ToZ more regularly as I watch more films on screeners in the coming months for the awards seasons, so please keep coming back here.

Be safe, wear a mask, socially distance, and have a Happy New Year, 2021 has to be better for all of us that 2020 was.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Quick Film Review: The Midnight Sky


George Clooney directed and starred in Netflix's The Midnight Sky

George Clooney's #TheMidnightSky began with such vagueness about a global catastrophe that it was a little hard trying to follow where it was leading to. But in the end, the dreariness allowed the human spirit to shine through and offered slight and bittersweet hope. B+

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Film Review: Shoshanna Bean 'Sing Your Hallelujah'

 Review originally posted at Rich Girl TV.

This Christmas, bring some cheer right into your living room with Shoshana Bean and friends in 'Sing Your Hallelujah.'

The holiday season is different this year. Due to the pandemic, audiences cannot see popular Broadway Star and Billboard #1 recording artist, Shoshana Bean in concert singing favorite holiday songs. However, in 'Sing Your Hallelujah', a virtual concert directed by Amy Segal (Schitt's Creek: Best Wishes, Warmest Regards), Shoshana shines in this concert special, recorded on stage in the beautiful and historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. In between the beautiful stage sets accompanied by an accomplished arrangement of acoustic musicians supporting Shoshana and a variety of guests singing, Shoshana laments very candidly about how New York City and the world has changed due to Covid-19, and the subsequent mandate lock-down guidelines of social distancing.

As the holiday season approaches and revealing in the relief of the announcement of the Biden/Harris Presidential win, Shoshana and friends are inspired and realize that they have a unique opportunity at hand to perform. Although Broadway is still closed down, the show must and can go on, but on a smaller scale by, virtual presentation. Behind the scenes socially distanced rehearsals reveal how much all the talent have a love and respect for each other and are committed to uniting the community through the spiritual power of their voices in the Christmas songs they sing. 

Joining Shoshana in 'Sing Your Hallelujah' in a variety of excellent performances are Tony-winner Gavin Creel, tap dancer Jared Grimes, Broadway star Jeremy Jordan, singers Shayna Steel, and Connie Talbot, and Tony Award nominee Daniel J. Watts. Together, each performer is on stage solo or with a duet with Bean bringing much-needed holiday spirit into the homes of viewers. Bean in particular has an absolutely amazing voice that embraces you with the love she wants to share this Christmas. Extra meticulous care went into designing a stage presence that gives the appearance of a concert that is intimate and in your home, bringing that community spirit close to you when these socially distanced days make one yearn for that very closeness.

Everyone involved in this production explains in their own way about their connection and friendship with Shoshana and how they felt compelled to be a part of this spiritual concert as it is something that they needed to be a part of in these unusual times. Director Amy Segal presents a holiday musical experience that is beautiful, introspective, and meaningful in giving people something special that they need and will cherish this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max

In highly anticipated movie news, Warner Brothers announced that Wonder Woman 1984 will still be on track to open in theaters on Christmas, but in an unprecedented move, it will also be released on HBO Max on Christmas for a month. While Covid-19 is still rocking havoc on our lives, with over 250,000 Americans dead of this virus, many theaters throughout the country are still closed, and HBO Max is the best place to allow fans to watch this movie that we call need right now. I did not want to wait until next summer for WW84, there have been so many films pushed in 2021 already and Wonder Woman 1984 has a moment to shine all on its own on Christmas and the weeks after.

Most of us who voted for Biden/Harris are still stressed out by the post-election crap in delaying the Biden transition. So a superhero, a Goddess superhero is what we all need to distract us from the madness! I will happily watch Wonder Woman, starring Gal Godot, Chris Pine, the sexy Mandalorian Pablo Pascal, and Kristen Wiig, on Christmas day while eating Chinese or Thai. I graduated from high school in 1984 so I'm very excited to be taken back into the best decade of my life, the 80s. Thanks, Warner Brothers!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

At the Precipice

I must admit, I have not been in the mood to update the ToZ blog because the pandemic has literally ruined the primary purpose of utilizing ToZ. Covid-19 has Los Angeles and the country pretty much on semi-lockdown, but on full lockdown when it comes to the entertainment industry. There are no movie theaters open so that I can see 2-3 films a week; there are no film festivals I can attend in-person to watch Oscar contender films; there are no red carpet events; I can't even meet up with my few friends to do exciting things to write about and share with my limited audience. This year has sucked for me creatively and I feel it in being anxious and semi-depressed. 

I was able to thoroughly enjoy my birthday trip to Sedona, AZ in early September, and I overspent my budget in treating myself to some fun things I bought for myself. I think I did this in an effort to cheer myself up and give things to myself to make up for the misery that I know we're all feeling together. I live and work at home in the same space M-F. Everyday is exactly the same.

Everyday is exactly the same. This is a song from Nine Inch Nails' 2005 self-titled album. In fact, I'm wearing that t-shirt right now, a shirt I ordered from in September when they put these limited edition t-shirts on sale. It sold out quickly and that's no surprise as surely, everyone felt the t-shirt reflected their current lives. Anyway, I think for the most part I am coping as well as could be but something is missing in my life that makes it so much more fulfilling, and that thing is the theatrical experience of watching a new film in the theater. Now, when I was in Sedona, I went to the Harkins Theater three times to see 3 different films: Tenet, The New Mutants, and Unhinged. Social distancing was employed, and mask-wearing was required. I felt safe and comfortable and was reminded of how much I missed going to the theater. 

When my highly anticipated Dune was pushed from December 18th to October 1, 2021, I was not surprised because the spike in Covid-19 infection rates, and the fact that LA and NYC theaters are still closed, it just made no sense to have such a blockbuster be released during a time when not many people would be able to see it. Since then, several other very high profile films have been pushed into 2021, but as I publish this entry, Wonder Woman 1984 is still slated to open on Christmas Day. I'm sure within the next week or so, that will be pushed too. It makes no sense in keeping it on this release schedule when infection rates are at levels similar to March/April. 

Timothée Chalamet | GQ Magazine Nov 20 | Renell Medrano

However, in this darkness, I have found a new creative outlet for my Club Chalamet (CC) venture. In September I created the Club Chalamet Conversations YouTube video series to focus on the latest news on actor Timothée Chalamet and have discussions with select friends. Three videos have been created thus far and I'll be recording another one today. They are a lot of fun and it's a way for me to connect with local friends who have supported CC for quite a while. I'm producing and editing the videos, and I even self-taught myself how to create a damn intro video! In conjunction with videos, I also hired a graphic designer to create a new logo for the CC Instagram account, a logo design to be used at the CC forums, and a design for merchandise to be sold at the CC Zazzle store. All this is in an effort to professionalize my Club Chalamet brand and to stand out from the hundreds of other Chalamet fan accounts. So at the least, I am being creative and having fun with my stan project for Chalamet and as we're heading into the most important Presidental election, this project has alleviated some anxieties about the upcoming unknowns. 

The next President and Vice President

Speaking of the election. I believe in my heart that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will win the election. We as Americans are at the precipice of where we will tell the rest of the world exactly who we are. The majority of Americans are good human beings and for the first time in American society, record numbers of people have voted early and will vote on Election Day because they want to get rid of the current President. He who shall not be named is not only corrupt and evil, but he's a mentally unfit person for the job, and the current mismanagement of the pandemic we're in is testimony to the fact that he is the wrong person to be President at this very challenging time in our country. I voted early by mail and received confirmation days later that my ballot has been received and counted. It's my hopes that for the election of 2024, all of America will have it as easy as me to vote by mail so their voice is heard. I will update ToZ on election night of the outcome of the results. Good will prevail over evil!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Doldrums of a Pandemic Summer

Windsor, ON, Canada (L) Detroit, MI (R) taken from Belle Isle, July 2020

My last update was in June, and for the next two months, I haven't been inspired enough to update ToZ with film/tv review commentary, or whatever, because like how Michelle Obama simply stated recently, I think I'm suffering "low-grade depression" from all of what's going on. Since my last post, the Covid-19 situation has worsened with the US death count at 170K as I type this, the BLM protests around the country and the world, the deaths of more blacks and brown people by untrained and racist police - and I even participated in a protest in Pasadena in June - to the travel restrictions that have put the final nail in the coffin of any travel plans for late summer and fall, which would have included a trip to Toronto for TIFF. The song 'Mad World' from one of my favorite bands of the 80s, Tears for Fears, plays in the background of my mind when some new bullshit is added to the chaos.

While I consider myself lucky, fortunate, blessed to be gainfully employed with a great company, and the ability to work from home, I still have some brief moments of anxiety about what's going to happen next. So I can only imagine the dire straits and angst that so many other people are experiencing who lost jobs or worse, their health has been affected by Covid-19. I wear a mask every time I leave the house, I don't want to catch Covid-19 for fear I will die, and I'm healthy and have no underlying health issues. I just don't understand why there are so many ignorant, selfish, mean-ass people who walk around without masks, and proudly so as if it's so awesome to wear the badge of an asshole in public. I'm so glad I don't personally know people who are the type to not want to wear a mask. I just couldn't be friends with people who are so irresponsible. So to maintain the feeling of hope, I moved forward with plans to visit family in Michigan in July. I flew on Delta, and with their strict mask policy and not selling the middle seat, I felt comfortable flying with them, and I hope they extend their blocked middle seat beyond the current Sept 30th date.

Sedona, AZ

Although my previous September plans have been canceled, I have instead decided to travel to Sedona, AZ for some much-needed rest and recuperation from the stress of work and the pandemic. Here in LA, we cannot visit spas, so I have not had my routine facials or massages since March and I need to de-stress. I will be doing a Vortex yoga and hike session in Sedona, and I booked a 90-minute Swedish massage. Sedona is a very mystical place with great spiritual earthly energies that will heal your body, mind, and soul, and a wonderful place to detox and just get away from it all. This will be my first trip to Arizona and I'm sure it won't be the last. 

I still hold on to the hope that I can meet a friend in Paris in December. It's our hopes that the Euro travel restrictions will be lifted by then, or at least travel criteria to prove that you're virus-free will allow you to travel. Something has got to give, we still all must live our lives, but we will need to rely on wearing masks when we cannot socially distance for the next 10 months or so. And speaking of living our lives, as a cinephile, I personally can't wait for theaters to open in CA so that I can go see select films. I won't be going there as often as I previously did, but there are some upcoming films that I really want to see: Tenet, Wonder Woman, James Bond, and Dune. 

If you're reading this, I hope you are well and in good spirits. Watching the first night of the Democratic National Convention really gave me a lot more hope that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will win in November. For the sake of our national character, for the soul of our nation, and the welfare of the entire planet, we must and we will win back the White House. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Quick Film Review: Da 5 Bloods (B+)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Meeting Timothée Chalamet in a Post Covid-19 World

This article originally appeared at Club Chalamet on April 18, 2020, it has since been updated for ToZ.

Timothée at The King premiere in New York City, October 2, 2019 | Getty Images/Netflix

Covid-19 Will Change How Fans Interact (or not) with Celebrities

I've been thinking about how the coronavirus has disrupted my personal and professional life tremendously. Like for everyone who reads this, all our lives came to a halt and we had to stay at home per orders of government and health officials so that we can save lives and prevent hospitals from being completely overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. So many people have died who otherwise might still be alive today had they not become infected by this new virus. It's serious and it's real and literally, every human being on this planet has had to adjust quickly to this harsh new, temporary, reality that we find ourselves in. For the lucky ones, we still have our jobs and can work from home safely with job security and peace of mind, but so many are not lucky as they lost their jobs, and students from kindergarten through college now have to complete their studies at home through online learning. Events that many of us have long been looking forward to participating and attending have been canceled or postponed, and travel arrangements put into flux, and often with no refunds, but instead, a credit towards future travel, whenever that will be.

Now that it has been a full month of living in a COVID-19 world, I'm giving pause to think about how this has affected the life and work of our favorite actor. In a normal world, Timothée would be two weeks into his six-week run at the Old Vic in London for his sold-out 4000 Miles play. I had tickets for May 2, and when it was announced that it was postponed, Timmy flew home to New York in mid-March where he has been on lockdown ever since. He's safe and near family and I'm happy about that. But now we wait to see when 4k Miles will be rescheduled sometime in 2021. Earlier this week I started to think about his upcoming production 'Going Electric' the Bob Dylan biopic that we're excited to see him start. I started thinking about how film production would be drastically changed due to the virus, and until a vaccine is discovered, tremendous care will need to be implemented to have safe working conditions for all involved in making a film.

As this informative article from Deadline Hollywood Reopening Hollywood reveals, the industry is already discussing the significant changes that need to be implemented moving forward, with hopes that filming can resume in August/September. Here are some highlights to frame the larger question of this topic:

Getting up and running again in this brave new world is going to be very difficult to navigate. For one thing, insurers are unlikely to cover productions for COVID-19 cases when business resumes, according to multiple sources in the know. Producers all over filed multimillion-dollar claims triggered when civil authorities — governments — prevented filming from continuing and forcing production shutdowns. When the business starts up, that will now be considered an identified risk, and insurers will not cover it, sources said, just as CDC is warning of a second coronavirus wave.
There will be no ideal way to ensure a completely safe set, but this is what might happen right away. Everyone will be tested before they are allowed onto a set. While not as accurate as traditional swab tests that take days to process, rapid antigen tests are the best possible option as they provide results within 15-20 minutes.
And important to note:

There will be an extra level of protection built around actors whose health is crucial to keeping production going and a crew employed. They are irreplaceable and, because of the nature of their work, actors cannot be in front of the camera wearing protective equipment. To keep them safe, below the line personnel coming into contact with actors or directors will have to wear masks and gloves at all times.
This last quote is what we all need to understand. When Timmy resumes working on set and does promotional work for The French Dispatch and Dune, and then starts 4k Miles, his interactions with fans will be non-existent! For his HEALTH and safety, he has to practice social distancing from fans and everyone else, except for those who he has to work very closely with, and even they have to pass regular health checks for everyone's safety. When 4000 Miles is rescheduled sometime next year (or even in 2022), the vaccine still won't be available, so there will be NO stage door. Also, remember Timmy's co-star is a theater legend in her mid-80s! And when premieres for Dispatch and Dune occur later this year, fans congregating will be far removed from the talent walking the red carpet. Their screams and signs will be a nice welcome for the talent, sort of like cheerleaders, but no autographs, no selfies, no hugs. You don't need a crystal ball to see this.

Timmy at TIFF for Beautiful Boy Sept 2018| Photo Simone C
So if you're one of the few lucky ones that have met Timmy, got his autograph, got a selfie, a hug, or kissed him/got kissed by him, shook his hand... treasure those memories because it will be a very long time before any fan will have the opportunity to get close to him like that again. Even me writing that last sentence gave me pause and made me realize just how serious this virus is and until there is a vaccine that the whole world has been inoculated against, we cannot risk hugging or getting intimately close with someone we do not know of their health status and immunity to COVID-19. I have been so honored to have met Timmy several times, shook his hand, hugged him, got his autograph, got a couple of selfies, but I realize that it will be quite a while before I will even get to shake his hand again. And that's a very sobering thought.

The thing about being a fan of Timothée Chalamet is that he truly LOVES to engage with his fans, he thrives on the energy we give him and he just appreciates our support, and that speaks highly of him, and we love him for that. I'm sure by now he has been informed of the upcoming changes to how actors of his caliber will be managed on set, and how new security protocols will be established to protect his health and safety from fans, paparazzi, and red carpet interactions and interviews at film premieres and film festivals. Just as he was leaving London, he had a bodyguard with him. This will be the new normal at least for the next 2 years. Yes, two whole years!! It's going to take 6-15 months for a vaccine, then there are test trials, and then the vaccine will be given out to health professionals, the vulnerable, VIPs, and then the rest of us. If you're a Timmy fan reading this and you have yet to have an up-close moment with him, I'm sorry to say, that's going to have to wait quite a while. This bums me out and I know this bums Timmy out too. But just imagine, if you are now working from home, or doing your schoolwork from home, and you can't go to your local park without having on a face mask, or go to the grocery with a mask and gloves on, you then will come to completely understand why you will not be able to meet Timothée Chalamet any time soon.

Some of the images used in this article are red carpet moments at film premieres Timmy has attended, and he spent a great deal of time interacting with fans. From a May 7th article featured in The Hollywood Reporter, the red carpet will look very different the next time Timmy walks on it. No entourages, plastic shields, and individual interview pods - the new red carpet of the 21st century has been forced upon us by a virus that will change how we all socially engage with each other in this new decade:

Dr. Agus, founding director and CEO of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine at USC, says it could be 12 to 18 months before a vaccine and because of that, changes are necessary to fight a virus that has proven to be devastating for some while others don't even know they have it. “This is an insidious enemy,” he notes. “Asymptomatic people can spread it, so even though you feel good and nothing is wrong, you may be a spreader. That’s what we all worry about and that’s why there’s going to be extra precautions for large gatherings.”
Agus adds that modes of interaction will have to be redefined including seating, spacing and even who is allowed in. “There may be immunity certificates showing those who can’t catch or it spread it any longer, allowing those people to walk the red carpet with confidence.”
Still, others remain skeptical that major events will return before there’s a vaccine or herd immunity. “Everyone feels this liability issue, so I don’t think we’ll see large-scale premieres or junkets until there’s a major breakthrough,” says one A-list publicist who questions how events will accommodate fan interactions, especially those during fan conventions and international press tours where stars can make personal contact with hundreds of fans.

Along with doing at least one red carpet for Timmy news this fall, I was very much looking forward to covering Timmy's London stage debut this spring and covering his possible Dune panel at Comic-Con in July. Chances of meeting him one on one were very low, but that wasn't so important as I was confident I would have other opportunities in the future. His play and an appearance at Comic-Con were unique opportunities for Club Chalamet to do what I created this platform for, to focus on the artistic endeavors of Timmy and write quality articles about his work and public appearances to share with the general public and especially fellow fans. We're all really raw and feeling frustrated and helpless in our particular scenarios surrounding our stay at home orders, but this is temporary and we will experience some easing up of these restrictions in due time. But restrictions to a degree will remain until a herd immunity is obtained, and better yet when a vaccine is created and deployed for everyone around the world.

Timmy and fans in California Oct 2018
I hope you take from this article the information you need to help navigate how you continue to support Timothée in these challenging times for all of us and remember that he's a fellow human being and he is a very popular young actor who will have to accept some new security protocols that will help keep him safe and healthy to continue to do the brilliant work that he does. One day you will get to meet him and give him a hug that he'll very much appreciate, but until then, we all have to continue to practice social distancing until the vaccine is available. 

Stay safe, stay positive, and wear a mask when social distancing cannot be avoided. We're all in this together!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

ToZ Podcast #2: The Quandaries for Tenet and TIFF

In this week's podcast, I talk about the new Tenet trailer and ponder if the film will open on July 17th and the upcoming plans for a different TIFF in September.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

ToZ Has Created a Podcast Channel!

It has been two whole months since I last had the motivation to update the blog. The last theatrical and Q&A experience I had was on March 3rd for The Burnt Orange Heresy, seen down below. Like you, like the rest of the planet, I have been at home under orders of government officials, for all our safety, to save our lives from the coronavirus that has killed over 200k people around the world, and almost half of those are Americans! Social distancing is a brand new word for a brand new world and it has caused great disruption to all our lives. I'm grateful to be working from home, and I have been very busy with my work and getting used to the limitations of working from home, but I'm gainfully employed, as content as circumstances will allow, safe, and most importantly, healthy!

I have been so distressed by all the fun events I had long planned which have been canceled/postponed to unknown dates far in the future. Just this past weekend I was supposed to be in London, the first of three planned trips across the pond this year. If all goes well by November, I can move forward with plans to visit in December, if it's safe to do so. To avoid being too depressed, I have to remind myself that everyone else is bummed out too about how disruptive the virus has been to their lives too and sometimes it's true, misery loves company and if my 'fun life' has been screwed, yours have been too and we all empathize with each other. Well, most of us, there are Covidiots, but that's a whole different issue.

But we'll get through this, and we should be the better for it. In the meanwhile, me being me, a surprisingly spontaneous creative person, I just came up with the idea that I need to expand my Theatre of Zen brand into podcasting. I hope to do interviews in the future, and what better way to do that than via podcasts, especially if social distancing will be the thing we must adhere to for the next 15 months or so. I did some quick research today and stumbled upon Spreaker. Come to find out, the few podcasts that I do listen to uses this service.

And to start, I set up a 'free' account that doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles compared to the pro-versions, but for a novice podcaster with no followers and just trying to find my voice, free is a great start and I was able to create my first introduction podcast without a hitch. Just as soon as the world gets closer back to what "normal" is, and when the entertainment industry wakes up from this forced coma, I hope to get back into working on my side gig as a film reviewer and share updates on my podcast and also start utilizing this tool for interviews of anyone or anything that will be of interest to my audience. So please check out my first podcast below and let me know what you think. Thanks, and stay safe!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Quick Film Review: The Burnt Orange Heresy (B+)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

StrangerCon LA - Stranger Things in April

I'm really looking forward to StrangerCon LA. Apparently it's been going on for a while in select cities. It's a steep cost for the Gold package at around $900 and sold out instantly. But I only wanted and got the Sunday preferred seating ticket at $95. I just want to see Millie and Noah and what they have to say on the stage. These are kids, 16 and 15 respectively. I don't care for a picture with them or an autograph, I just want to enjoy a day at StrangerCon with Stranger Things fans. It's all good.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Film Review: Greed (B-)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Team Sussex: Supporting Harry and Meghan

Two weeks ago, I never would have dreamed that I would witness a blood prince and his new American wife stepping back from their senior royal status, to live part-time in Canada in order to escape the debilitatingly rude, destructive, and relentless racist attacks against the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. I don't have the stamina or interest to rehash everything that has been made public, but it is the things that are being hidden from the public that makes me raise an eyebrow. With all the negative crap that the "Royal Rota" aka British tabloid press has printed to defame and humiliate the Duchess, it begs one to wonder, where are they getting these lies and misinformation, and why are they so obsessed with tearing down this woman?

Based on the fact that Harry is leaving his full-time royal status, this means that most likely the source of so much angst is coming from Kensington Palace and from the three people who have the power and influence to stop all this: The Queen, Prince Charles, and Harry's big brother William. I believe that due to Meghan's natural charisma and go-getter positive attitude, the public has taken a huge shine to her and the media, loving and hating her, is completely obsessed with her to the point that it has rankled the British royal family. This newcomer American girl Duchess did not stay in her quiet and meek lane, and a secret cabal was established to bring her down by any means necessary. But alas, the fools didn't realize that her knight in shining armor, Prince Harry, would go with her.

From their official website Sussex Royal, here is a portion of their statement released in early January 2020:

“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. 

In the coming weeks, we should learn more about exactly how much time the Sussexes will spend in Canada and in the UK, and which if any patronages they have will remain theirs. It's my hope that they retain their HRH status and their patronages because Harry and Meghan love their work and responsibilities to the charities they support, and it would not be fair to them or the charities/patronages throughout the Commonwealth if gears were shifted and reassignments occurred. Because of their commitments, they can create a working schedule that will allow them to continue supporting their patronages, and it will continue to reinforce that the Sussexes are here to stay and are serious about supporting the monarchy.

A tweet I posted today (seen below) has gone viral and I'm quite pleased that so many people support what I posted. I have been a supporter of William and Kate since before they married, and I have been disappointed in both of them in how they have not managed this situation. As the future King and Queen, you'd think they would set an example by making a short announcement of support and love for Meghan and attacking the bullying she has been receiving. But like the old adage, 'silence speaks volumes', and through their silence, they condone this attack against the Duchess of Sussex and are reaping the benefits as they enjoy the positive stories and media attention directed at them. The difference in the reporting about them is literally night and day and you have to be either completely dense and ignorant, or a racist to not see what the UK media has done, and will continue to do to Meghan.

As additional evidence of the double standard that Meghan has faced in comparison to Kate Middleton, see the headlines below. Just unbelievable!

Anyone with critical thinking skills and human compassion can see that the British tabloid media has had Meghan in their crosshairs for over three years, and it has taken its toll on her and Harry. This unfair treatment has to have been sanctioned by someone or some persons high up the royal family or who work closely with the royal family. For no one in the Kensington Palace to not speak one sentence condoning these attacks against Meghan leads a sensible person to believe that this has all been orchestrated to run her out of the family. But, there's true love between Harry and Meghan, and this bullshit has only brought them closer, and they'll be a stronger #TeamSussex in the end.