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When I Heard, I Just Said No

America’s Lady in Red is back with her Ronnie.

Nancy Reagan passed away yesterday at the towering age of 94.

First Lady Nancy Reagan was just that in so many ways. People first looked to Mrs. Reagan as a personification of grace, intelligence, class and style. She was a one-of-a-kind First Lady of the United States of America. Nancy Reagan will be remembered for her love and devotion to her husband, the conservative cause and for epitomizing what the First Lady should exemplify. Far too often we are forced to look to movies for showcasing the best of a modern American president and first family (Independence Day, Air Force One), but Nancy and Ronald Reagan (former actors themselves) turned that perception into a lasting reality.

They were positive, optimistic role models for people (in and out of politics alike).

The Reagan''s Celebrate Their 50th Anniversary

(Photo courtesy Ronald Reagan Presidental Library/Getty Images)

Nancy Reagan was surely shocked at the state of vulgarity, lack of civility and absence of optimism in the current race for president. Hopefully, this picture and many others of Nancy Reagan with her husband will send the exact right (and necessary) shock waves to voters of what a first family of the United States should personify.

Republicans loved and idolized her, but so did Americans of varying political stripes. Let’s hope (and pray) people’s memories of her and her husband from a more civilized era can be the wild card of this political season that reveals an inspiring third act, showing the best of who we are for moving into an uncertain future.

If the past 24 hours are any indication, Americans are just saying yes to Nancy Reagan’s loving, elegant legacy.

RIP Nancy Reagan.

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Leaving the Cage

'Ghost Rider' Photocall

(Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

 “Actor Nicolas Cage returns stolen Mongolian dinosaur skull”

This is a real news headline found on Yahoo. It’s not April 1st. This is real life.

One of the reasons why people (myself included) love watching Nicolas Cage movies and searching for past interviews of Nicolas Cage is rooted in the headline above. He’s a uniquely strange human being who electrifies mankind with a talent and magnetism that hasn’t yet been discovered.

Not even the deepest reaches of an exotic rain forest has the answer.

“The actor bought the Tarbosaurus bataar fossil at a New York auction in March 2007” (AFP online). 

The dinosaur skull is a part of the Tyrannosaurus family. And on a related note, a belated high-five goes out to America’s national treasure.

Sadly, Nicolas Cage didn’t track down the dinosaur skull by scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef and catching a rare fish that, when examined with a black light, revealed a specific scar that was the birds-eye view of an abandoned fishing village run by a skinny and intensely tan 83 year-old man with long white hair named Kiku who was holding in his possession a worn map that would lead to a specific patch of desert in Mongolia that contained the rarest dinosaur skull pursued by archaeologists from all around the world.

Instead, according to the Yahoo article, Nicolas Cage bought the skull (reportedly outbidding Leonardo DiCaprio) and unknowingly left the country with it in an illegal fashion. Mr. Cage is returning the skull without interference.

Kind of a bummer.

Nicolas Cage should always, always be able to ask someone, “Hey, do you wanna see my dinosaur skull?”

C’mon Mongolia, you’re better than this.

The Right Disguise in the Town of Tinsel

The Devil in the White City will officially come to life (a strange sentence, I know) on the silver screen.

Variety reports that Leonardo DiCaprio will play Holmes for Martin Scorsese in a long-awaited adaptation of the popular book. This will be their sixth collaboration after The Wolf of Wall Street, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and Shutter Island. According to Variety, the project has been in development for more than a decade.
—Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair

In the era of CGI blockbusters, this breaking casting news for a gritty, dark story is oddly refreshing. Ironically, the outcome will likely not be as refreshing as we expect.

But not for the reason you’re thinking.

Leonardo DiCaprio is a gifted actor with an anywhere, anytime magnetism with fans around the world who become instantly attentive with the mere mention of his name. If he’s in a movie, people will see it. The Devil in the White City is a lauded novel with a gruesome premise: murder. And lots of it. Add in the fact that it’s based on real events and the cringe factor is elevated when reading it from the book’s 400+ pages, let alone graphic visual interpretations from a director who refuses to censor violence and its brutal consequences. As certain as the novel’s intense scenes will come close to meeting our imaginative nightmares, so will the DiCaprio-Scorsese partnership remain within the cinematic confines of their past collaborations.

These two Hollywood veterans will produce impressive performances in their own rights from back in 19th-century Chicago, yet this film will likely prevent DiCaprio from earning that sought-after golden statue at the Oscars.

Leonardo DiCaprio is such a money actor (in many ways) that it’s easy for people to envision him in the roles he accepts. That’s a valuable quality in Hollywood and it should be recognized as a defining characteristic of his everlastingly long career. However, some of the most memorable actors with similar charisma, before holding a golden statue with the words, “Best Actor” on it, took on surprising characters that people criticized with striking bewilderment.

There’s a forty second video clip that’s resurfaced from a 2012 documentary that includes Heath Ledger’s diary used for his preparation for his genius portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. Ledger carefully and purposely escaped into becoming the Joker with a terrifyingly original vision and daring creativity that resulted in something truly mesmerizing. There was outcry about his initial casting, yet this was met with nothing but legendary praise following his iconic performance of the diabolical Batman villain.

Heath Ledger shocked the cinematic world in the best ways imaginable in The Dark Knight.

The reason for mentioning Heath Ledger is he (like DiCaprio) had similar skills in playing a wide-variety of characters, but it wasn’t until Ledger took on a role of a lifetime that required him to utilize every single talent he had that he finally revealed himself as a true giant of acting. We were all amazed (and still are) at his performance. At the same time, the audience never saw Heath Ledger on screen. We only saw and heard the Joker.

Discovering how to escape in front of the public eye’s camera is one of DiCaprio’s goals with his personal life, but it’s also the devil he must defeat on film to ultimately grip that coveted golden statue in front of a billion people.

Sweet Serendipity

First off, it’s Friday the 13th. Hopefully, nobody sees any black cats, walks under ladders or steps on a crack that breaks your mother’s back. Today’s post has nothing to do with superstitious behavior. However, to help ensure that nothing bad happens, it feels like the right thing to at least acknowledge this freaky Friday occurrence.

Stay safe everybody!

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We never know who we are going to meet. Life is great that way. In a moment, you’re scrolling through a menu at a restaurant in Agoura Hills, California with a New Zealand-inspired menu. That apple and pear drink was too inviting not to RSVP to, especially on such a warm, sunny afternoon. As the waitress (who lit up the shaded patio area with her beautiful smile) took our drink orders, there was something about her that hinted at some hidden intrigue. There are polite, charismatic waiters and waitresses. And then there are polite and charismatic waiters and waitresses who are merely making a quick stop as a culinary transporter on their way to something big.

Our waitress was the latter.

With our delicious non-alcoholic fruit concoctions in-hand, a conversation was born of “what brings you out to southern California from Ohio?” After a minute of conversing, as soon as the word, “Broadway” was enunciated, the fun started. Katie (our waitress) told us that she had co-written a play that’s going to be work-shopped at The Mint Theater in New York City this June. She wrote a children-appropriate play, “Devil in the Deep” with Graham Russell, the former guitarist from Air Supply. The story is based on “Treasure Island,” which is enough to gain the attention of children and adults like, quite honestly.

Culturally, we’ve become familiar with stories of a waiter or waitress saying, “I’m writing a screenplay” or “I’m just waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory until I get my big break!” But to meet someone who has written a play that is going to run in a theater in New York City for a month was quite incredible. A testimony of hard work. Another special moment from this past weekend was eating at a beer and wine selling tavern called the Ojai Beverage Company and sitting at a table next to Jason Segel of How I Met Your Mother and I Love You, Man fame. It just goes to show that we sometimes realize, and sometimes may not realize, who we’re sitting next to or speaking with.

Randomly going to a casual joint in Ojai on an overcast, rainy afternoon for the best fish tacos around (true story!) or engaging in conversation with a sweet waitress can change our days (and summer plans) in a matter of moments.

Talk about an off-the-menu special…

“Devil in the Deep”
The Mint Theater, NYC
Playing in June