Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Coco and Roman J. Israel, Esq.

“Baby, baby, baby, you’re out of time”
The Rolling Stones, "Out of Time" (1966 Aftermath album, U.K.; 1967 Flowers album, U.S.)

                                                        Reviews by Ken Burke
                                        Coco (Lee Unkrich)
“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): 12-year-old Miguel Rivera, living in Mexico, longs to be a musician (he’s quite good on guitar in his secret sessions) but is forbidden from even being around music by his extended-generations-shoemaking-family—particularly grandmother Elena—because his great-great grandfather abandoned his wife, Mamá Imelda, and baby daughter (now great-grandmother Mamá Coco) decades ago to share his musical talents with the world.  As the annual celebration of Día de los Muertos approaches, Miguel longs to enter the talent show honoring fabulous-but-long-departed-entertainer Ernesto de la Cruz, but Grandma smashes his guitar so he sneaks into Ernesto’s tomb—convinced the great man is his ancestor—to borrow the famed instrument displayed there but becomes magically transported to the Land of the Dead where he meets his ghostly-relatives (all as walking, talking, fully-clothed skeletons) who refuse to give him the needed transport back to the Land of the Living (it needs to be accomplished before sunrise or he’s stuck forever with the dead) unless he renounces his musical interests.  Instead, Miguel decides to seek out Ernesto—as famous in death as he was in life—both to bond with the grand ancestor and to get passage home from him, although the situation becomes complicated, bordering on tragic, when he encounters Héctor, also desperate to get Miguel back to the Land of the Living so he can take Héctor’s photo to his long-lost-daughter, the only person with any vague memories of him, so it can be put on an altar in his honor, preventing him from disappearing forever.

 Coco’s a fabulous delight, combining colorful visuals, a sentimental-yet-embraceable-story, vividly-drawn-characters (both conceptually and literally, as this is an animated movie), infectious music, and a celebration of connection now sorely needed in our increasingly-hostile, divided world.  I enthusiastically recommend Coco, with easy access because it’s everywhere throughout the planet.

Here’s the trailer:  (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)

If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who want to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify any give-away sentences/sentence-clusters like this: 
⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.⇐ OK, now continue on if you prefer.

What Happens: As the annual celebration of Día de los Muertos arrives in the Mexican town of Santa Cecilia, most of the Rivera family’s eager to put up the traditional ofrenda (altar) with photographs of their departed ancestors in order to welcome the once-a-year-return of these spirits, although Abuelita (Grandmother) Elena (voice of Renée Victor) has no use for: (1) any remembrance of her grandfather (whose head’s been ripped off a family photo) because he left his wife and little daughter, Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía as the old woman)—Elena’s mother, now elderly and invalid—to share his emerging musical career with the wider-world; (2) any presence of music within this family (who turned to a stable career in shoemaking upon the decision of abandoned-ancestor Mamá Imelda [Alanna Ubach]) in disgust toward the memory of her grandfather, which poses a huge problem for 12-year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), who’s secretly developed a solid talent as a guitarist in imitation of his idol, the long-deceased-but-still-widely-beloved Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) with a fabulous singing and movie career cut short by a freak accident in 1942 when he was crushed by the falling of a huge bell.  Miguel’s only audience so far is his street dog, Dante (Grandma doesn’t care for the mutt either), but he hopes to change that by sneaking away from the family festivities to participate in the town’s musical festival honoring Ernesto.  Elena learns of his plan, putting an end to it by smashing the boy’s guitar; determined to follow his dreams Miguel asks other musicians to borrow their instruments—to no avail—so his ambitions embolden him to do the unthinkable: sneak into Ernesto’s lavish gravesite to follow the celebrity’s motto of “Seize your moment” by borrowing his famed guitar, then make a presence for himself at the competition on the night of this long-awaited Day of the Dead (most of this movie’s dialogue’s in English, for the benefit of us gringo patrons, so I’ll largely go that direction as well), because, as this story progresses, Miguel’s convinced Ernesto’s actually his long-estranged great-great-grandfather.

 Upon entering the tomb memorial and strumming the storied guitar, however, Miguel suddenly finds himself transported to the visually-mesmerizing-Land of the Dead, emitting the same yellow-orange marigold glow that characterizes all these many departed spirits (somehow Dante travels there as well, to provide some ongoing physical-comic-relief).  Almost immediately Miguel meets his dead relatives, presided over by matriarch Imelda (we see nothing of any generation preceding her, possibly verifying how you disappear completely, even from the Land of the Dead, once you’re no longer remembered by any of the living, the greatest fear of these departed souls), who joyously welcome him but know he needs to be back in his own world, which can happen if given the blessing by a family member; however, Imelda refuses to allow such unless he promises to give up his attraction to music (she still hasn’t forgiven her long-departed-husband).  Refusing this condition, Miguel sets out to find Ernesto, hoping to share his delight in romantic songs as well as return to where he belongs, a challenge he must meet before the sun rises concluding the Day of the Dead, lest he remain with these spirits forever (or maybe until he’s forgotten and vanishes also).  In a parallel subplot, we find Héctor (Gael García Bernal), a mischievous skeletal presence, also anxious to cross the grand marigold bridge back to the Land of the Living in order to reconnect with his long-lost-daughter, but he’s not allowed out because there’s no photo of him on an altar recognizing his memory; these 2 story aspects come together when Miguel meets Héctor, who says he has a relationship with Ernesto (estranged we later find out), so they’re off to attend the famed musician’s lavish party with the goal of Miguel taking Héctor’s photo back with him in order to bring it to the daughter, reconnecting them with still a little time left for Héctor to cross that amazing bridge to the Land of the Living (much more beautiful than any Trump-proposed-wall, I assure you).

 Once they’ve gained access to the impresario’s festival (Miguel’s honored by Ernesto as the descendant he claims to be, Héctor sneaks in with a disguise), though, Miguel learns the truth that Héctor and Ernesto were once partners but the former decided to return to his almost-forgotten-family, taking with him the many songs he’d written which Ernesto popularized with his flamboyant performance skills, so—to preserve his budding career—Ernesto killed Héctor.  Miguel’s horrified to learn all this but soon suffers a worse fate when Ernesto has him thrown into a huge pit to prevent the boy from revealing the truth about this tarnished-star.  Héctor’s tossed down there too, soon providing a bit more revelation he’s truly Coco’s father, heartbroken he died before being able to return to his wife and baby (Imelda’s aware of his presence in the Land of the Dead but still refuses to see him, remaining angry about her abandonment).  Rescue from the pit arrives in the form of Imelda’s giant, winged spirit-guide-cat (somehow Dante’s turned into a little spirit guide as well), allowing Miguel and Imelda to interrupt Ernesto’s Sunrise Spectacular celebration, revealing his awful truth to everyone, after which the charlatan’s pursued by the huge cat-beast, resulting in another termination (Can the dead die another time?) from another giant bell.  Once Imelda learns the truth about Héctor’s absence she forgives him, then sends Miguel back to his home where he awakens Mamá Coco’s memory of her father, singing his song written for her (but popularized by Ernesto as a romantic ballad), “Remember Me” (with the additional overtones of the dead needing to be alive in the minds of the living lest they vanish from all existence), which allows a musical embrace by Elena and the rest of the family at last.  A year later, Coco’s now joined the deceased who all come back for the Day of the Dead family reunion, highlighted by Miguel’s joyful music.⇐

So What? My initial response to the planned release date of Pixar/Disney’s Coco was “Why wasn’t it planned for the weekend before Halloween (given its focus on the annual Day of the Dead* celebration) instead of coming out on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving?”  In more-enlightened-retrospect (and regardless of what competition it might have faced a month ago—the less-than-spectacular Jigsaw  [Michael and Peter Spierig]Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, even as these movies are more specific to that holiday unlike Coco’s true emphasis which transcends the mercantile-spookiness we’ve now come to associate with All Hallows' Eve [originally a harvest festival/remembrance of the deceased, strongly influenced by Celtic tradition]), especially after having seen it on Black Friday (instead of doing any shopping that day, except for dinner after the movie**) following our annual Thanksgiving gathering with as many of my wife, Nina’s, family as can be rounded up on a given year (if we got everyone in the immediate lineage together it would take the largest house that any of them owns, although lots would still have to be drawn to decide who’d feast in which room because even the banquet hall at Hearst Castle might be inadequate to contain everyone at the same grand table), I was in the best mindset possible for Coco’s intended focus on family, living or otherwise.  Family’s also the ultimate theme of the Disney animation, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (Kevin Deters, Stevie Wermers) which precedes Coco—a short (but not very, at 21 min.) sequel to the hugely-popular Frozen (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, 2013; review in our January 24, 2014 posting [please be tolerant of my atrocious older layout]), where Olaf, the enchanted snowman tries to help royal sisters Anna and Elsa create a Christmas tradition, because they never had one when growing up, only to accidently burn/destroy everything he gathered before they reveal the heartwarming (or intended as such) reality to the heartbroken creature that pictures of Olaf shared between the isolated siblings were a valued annual tradition—so Olaf is truly a part of their family.

 (I'll ask for just a bit more toleration here, indulging me while I go exploring an extended sidetrack.) 
*It's not really parallel to Halloween, though, as these days are often confused, especially by gringos who don’t realize in either case they should be celebrating something else than how much alcohol can be consumed.  Technically—despite some observances of Día de los Muertos as running anywhere from October 31 (or before, for the truly impatient) through November 2, it should only occur on the latter (regarding deceased adults, with departed children the focus of Nov. 1) to correspond to what the Roman Catholic Church designates as All Souls Day (and the previous All Saints Day), where their emphasis is intended to be on prayers for the release of those departed currently in Purgatory, awaiting the final cleansing of their sins before entering Heaven (anyone who’s joined God and the angels beyond the Pearly Gates is already a saint—even if they haven’t been declared as such yet by the Vatican—so they’re honored, maybe prayed to but not prayed for, on Nov. 1, All Saints Day, while those unfortunates condemned to Hell are beyond the aid of prayer anyway; prayer also doesn’t help those in Limbo—the pleasant-but-not-marvelous-afterlife for good souls not saved by baptism so they can’t ever go to Heaven [sort of like the difference between being a Californian in Pismo Beach vs. Malibu***]; hey, this is all Church lingo as I couldn’t possibly make it up, although I internalized it for years before moving on to other beliefs—or a lack thereof).

 However, Día de los Muertos isn’t so much about helping release the dearly-departed from the soul-restoring-fires of their temporary home in Purgatory as it is about remembering them as they have this annual opportunity to return to the Land of the Living in order to visit once again with their still-alive relatives and descendants.   You can get more on this much-loved Mexican holiday if you like by visiting the 2nd reference to Coco in the Related Links section of this review, farther below.

**The obvious choice would have been Mexican food—or more likely the Tex-Mex style inhabiting U.S. restaurants, but Nina’s still off-and-on dealing with some intestinal problems so we “made do” with a delicious Italian dinner, awaiting the time when she’s ready to delve into some salsas again.

***Honestly, I find unique delights in both, although—just as I’d probably prefer Limbo if you’re supposed to sit around Heaven praising God all the time (just like another prominent leader seems to expect)—I’d likely be more comfortable in Pismo than Malibu unless I really hit it big in the lottery.

(OK, back to the actual review, where we were talking about the Disney short that runs just prior to Coco.) Olaf’s … a sweet little story, complete with new songs and other characters from Frozen, but it does seem to be too much of a ploy to reinvigorate sales of Frozen merchandize, it feels a bit too much like a recap of that previous hit, and it certainly goes on long enough—especially for those restless audience members ready to celebrate Mexico rather than Norway, with their bladders already contemplating the main feature's near-2 hr. running time (110 min.)—there’s now even social-media-encouragement to come late for Coco in order to miss Olaf … (although, given the popularity of Coco, that’s likely to leave you with a poor choice of seats, so maybe get there notably before official screening time, then have someone save your spot while you peruse the snack bar).

 Despite the ongoing complaints about mixing Olaf … with Coco (the problems are more about narrative confusion and unexpected, extended showtime-length for the younger viewers, not necessarily about the visual quality/welcome character recognition of the animated short), once you settle into the feature, traveling back and forth from the Land of the Living to the Land of the Dead (with the former showing solid research on what Miguel’s town would look like, the latter being an ongoing image-extravaganza from the opening shots of the lavish city where the departed dwell to the ornate luxuries of Ernesto’s private compound), you can easily forget about Olaf and his companions, concentrating instead on the constantly-active, surprisingly-serious-at-times-but-light-hearted-in-most-others flow of this story, with lots of humor including the soul-skeletons constantly finding themselves dismembered only to quickly reconnect.  (So, I guess if any permanent damage came to Ernesto it was because the huge bell crushed his bones to dust or maybe it was one of those time-dislocation things that occurs in the afterlife—except for the precision of the annual Day of the Dead recurrence—where I have to assume Miguel and his family later promoted the truth about Héctor and Ernesto, leading to gradual disregard of the formerly-famous-star in our sphere, resulting in his disappearance from the Land of the Dead as well—or maybe he just receded into the shadows after being exposed as a Milli Vanilli-type-hoax, no longer to be revered even in the afterlife.)⇐   Everything about this movie is an ongoing delight, from the spectacular images to the engaging voice characterizations to the sincerity with which the project was undertaken, not to further exploit age-old-idiotic-representations of Mexicans but to honor an uplifting aspect of their culture emphasizing connection rather than increasing isolation (as well as holding evildoers accountable for their transgressions, no matter how famous or powerful they are).

Bottom Line Final Comments: The parallel-downside to being part of a social group frequently underrepresented in commercial media (thereby denying you along with others like you a sense of established, respected existence in your culture) is existing in representation based only on stereotypes so what acknowledgement you do have is an absurd caricature of the complexity that defines you.  So, for Mexicans in particular, Hispanics in general, Coco presents a marvelous opportunity for sincere presentation, with its all-Latino voice cast in a vehicle distributed by the enormous brand allure and global presence of Disney, with hopes the many previous exaggerations (or falsehoods) perpetuated in movies (explored marvelously in The Bronze Screen: 100 Years of the Latino Image in American Cinema documentary [Nancy De Los Santos, Alberto Domínguez, Susan Racho; 2002], which you can rent cheaply but also can get a glimpse of here [3:22]) could be overcome, which seems to be the case (as best I know it), with positive testimony from Latino/Latina viewers (2:58)—although there may be naysayers I haven’t yet read about—coupled to the fact Coco (playing for the last month south of our much-debated-border) has already become the all-time-box-office-champ in Mexico.  While I can’t speak any more directly about how appropriate Coco is to what it attempts to celebrate as far as Mexican heritage is concerned (3 DNA tests on my adopted-as-a-baby-body confirm a high majority of British Isles and Scandinavian ancestry for me, although 1 of those findings showed a whopping 9% Native American [not even a trace in the other 2, so believe what you will about such results]), I found this movie—with what little I know of Mexico, despite having lived most of my life in Texas or California, with short visits only to several vastly-non-representative border cities—to be in no way shallow or demeaning but instead respectful of an honored cultural tradition (no matter how many celebrants may overindulge, just like gringos on Halloween—or even worse from our cultural-appropriation-standpoint, Cinco de Mayo), charming in its depiction of the characters, sincere in its emphasis on the importance of family, especially when a family becomes openly-accepting to the individuality of all of its members.

 Box-office-love for Coco has been quite solid globally as well, with a so-far-accumulated $155.2 million worldwide, with about $72.9 million of that coming from domestic (U.S.-Canada) screenings, a tremendous northern North American opening-weekend-haul (making it #35 on the entire domestic 2017 totals list with less than a week in release [much more to come I’m sure over the next month], as well as being about #10 [as best I can estimate] for 2017 domestic opening weekends, with 3 of the top 5 [#1 Beauty and the Beast {Bill Condon; review in our March 23, 2017 posting} at $174.6 million, #2 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 {James Gunn; sorry, no review from us} at $146.5 million, #4 Thor: Ragnarok {Taika Waititi; review in our November 15, 2017 posting} at $122.7 million] also from Disney, so they've had plenty to be thankful for this year) and other overseas markets still awaiting its arrival.  The critics also have been extremely supportive, with the aggregate-sites of Rotten Tomatoes offering 96% positive reviews (of 169, a most impressive result) even as the usually-more-reserved folks at Metacritic present an average score of 80% (notably hight for them; based on 43 reviews, about normal for them), a result I’m glad to see and agree with as there’s little about Coco to complain about (except the total time you’ll sit there if you watch all the previews and Olaf … in addition to the main feature, so plan your restroom breaks accordingly).

 Rather than belabor this review any further—except to encourage your attendance at one of the most honestly-intended (while-still-being-thoughtful) feel-good-movies of the year (or any other year) in Coco, I’ll just move along to my standard review-close-out-tactic of choosing a Musical Metaphor (one last observation—closely connected or more freeform—from the perspective of the aural arts) which, obviously enough here, is “Remember Me” from the soundtrack, a song you can find at sung in English, then Spanish, with lyrics shown for both languages along with active illustrations from the movie.  If you’d like a little more of that, here’s another version from a Disney celebration sung by Gonzales and Bratt (with an ironic reminder at the video's start of the kinds of social failings movies like Coco might be an antidote for, with a short intro from this movie’s [and much of Pixar’s products] executive producer, John Lasseter, one of the more recent notables to step back from the limelight following accusations of sexual misbehavior—if not outright crime in some cases—although it’s not clear yet what’s being referred to in Lasseter’s case while he’s on voluntary-6-month-leave to somehow deal with it).  So, even uplifting-Pixar’s not immune from the troubles we often attend movies to escape from, but if you can ignore as best you can the small contributions of Lasseter to this video (and Coco’s credits) I think you’ll still find Pixar’s latest offering to stability-starved-audiences to be among their best yet.
SHORT TAKES (spoilers also appear here)
                      Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Dan Gilroy)
An idealistic, old-school, frequently-antisocial lawyer has been the research wizard of his small firm for years, but when his eloquent courtroom partner dies he’s left with no other options except to work for a slick, corporate-style firm that he detests until fate provides him with an opportunity to reverse his meager fortunes, with the details easily implied in the previews.

Here’s the trailer:

       Before reading any further, I’ll ask you to refer to the plot spoilers warning far above.
 Had I gone only by the collective critical consensus on this movie (RT 52% positive reviews, with MC yielding a surprisingly-slightly-higher 58% average score) I’d have never bothered to see it, but the combination of Nina and me being willing to watch Denzel Washington just sit there and read the phone book (Millennial readers of this blog—if there are any—may wonder just what a “phone book” is; if so, here's a reference [although it’s been dinged for insufficient citations, but I’d say it’s sufficiently accurate]) and a notation in an early-Oscar-considerations-article I read noting his performance here as being nomination-worthy sent us out to our local theater on a Tuesday afternoon to find the house close to full (although in its second week of domestic release Roman …’s just now expanded from 4 to 1,669 venues so it hasn’t had much of a chance to make any impact yet, yielding only about $6.2 million in receipts against a $22 million budget).  While the story’s more about a complicated lawyer than any “arresting” case he’s trying (in fact, the brief courtroom scenes are just preliminary hearings, not trials at all), it’s a great character study of a brilliant-yet-largely-antisocial-man whose advocacy for social justice in the 1970s carries over into his personal passions today, just as his hairstyle, clothing choices, photos/posters on his apartment walls (Muhammad Ali, Angela Davis, etc.), even his cell phone (a mere clamshell model, just like the antiquated one I use [while Nina does amazing data-searches on her iPhone]) point back to earlier ages, largely because lawyer Israel is still fighting the same difficult battles for the socially-marginalized that he has for decades as so little has changed in that aspect of our national culture.  

 To accomplish this he’s worked most of his professional life in the L.A. 2-man-firm run by William Henry Jackson, him being the talented voice in the courtroom, Israel the effective-legal-strategist working behind the scenes (like with Ernesto and Héctor in Coco), every item in his office hosting a reminder Post-It note.  As our current story begins, though, the public partner suffers a fatal heart attack so his niece, Lynn Jackson (Amanda Warren)—working from her uncle’s instructions—brings in hugely-successful-lawyer George Pierce (Colin Farrell, effectively smarmy) to shut down the firm, leaving Roman initially without work until he runs out of options, then begrudgingly accepts Pierce’s offer to put his encyclopedic-skills in motion at a much more corporate environment Israel detests.

 By chance, he’s assigned to defend Derrell Ellerbee (DeRon Horton), connected to a homicide but willing to divulge the location of his notoriously-dangerous-colleague—the actual shooter—Carter Johnson (Amari Cheatom).  Roman turns down a plea-bargain-deal for Ellerbee who then dies from a stabbing in jail, Pierce is furious about Israel taking responsibility for deciding to reject the D.A.’s offer (Roman’s convinced the drift of our justice system to plea-bargains rather than actual trials is essentially un-Constitutional, has been working for years on a massive class-action brief to the Supreme Court challenging it, but needs the clout [and resources] of someone like Pierce to complete it), then Roman gets mugged on the way home to his modest apartment, all of which causes a turn in him so he secretly reports Johnson’s whereabouts to the uncle of the man he killed (leading to his arrest) in order to collect the $100,000 cash reward, with which he treats himself to a weekend in Santa Monica buying suits, staying in a swanky hotel, eating bacon-turkey-honey/maple-glazed donuts (a frivolous upgrade from his usual diet of peanut butter sandwiches), then comes to work eager for a hefty salary in charge of the firm’s pro bono division, earning him newfound-respect from Pierce. ⇒This all collapses when Roman suddenly finds he’s assigned to defend Johnson, who knows Israel snitched on him (both a dangerous and an illegal move), so he’s totally paranoid, attempts to escape in a U-Haul truck with all his possessions in a frantic drive to the desert (mistakenly thinking he’s being followed in a tense-then-funny-scene), decides to turn himself in (after sending the vast remainder of his bounty money back to the uncle) but is shot down by a Johnson hitman before he can get to a police station. Yet, we understand he’s made an impact by the direct testimony of how inspirational he is to civil rights advocate Maya Alston (Carmen Ejogo) as well as Pierce’s decision to finish and file Roman's enormous anti-plea-bargain-brief.⇐

 While there’s nothing all that memorable about this movie after a reasonable time has passed to mull over it (speaking of which, all of Roman …’s events occur in an incredibly-brief-3-week-span, even though the scenes’ contents imply considerably more time than that)—save for the crucial pleas for social justiceWashington gives another of his carefully-studied, impactful performances (as many other critics also note), this time about a crusading idealist with poor social skills (Maybe he’s somewhere on the autism spectrum?) who nevertheless almost forces those who can tolerate him to admire his genuine passion (he’s always handing out his business card but remembers who someone is if they contact him) so I’ll wrap this up by encouraging you to see Roman … for a touching, well-constructed experience (despite those same critics claiming a disconnect between Washington’s outstanding performance and the unresolved narrative he’s struggling to elevate) exploring a guy who truly wants to be around for you when he’s needed (especially if you’re being used as a faceless commodity in our criminal-justice-system), leading to my Musical Metaphor choice (stolen right from the end-credits section of their soundtrack, just like with Coco)The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around” (from their 1972 Spinners album) at, a video from TV’s Soul Train (probably from 1972 as well [dedicated to Nina's dearly-departed-Dad, a curiously-white-bread-regular-viewer of the show]).  As far as I know, I’ll be around again next week as well with more reviews so until then try to not get arrested (unless you know a passionately-dedicated-lawyer concerned with something more than large billable hours).
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.*  Overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepage If you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

*A Google software glitch causes every Two Guys posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to this Summary page; from then forward, though, this link is accurate.

Here’s more information about Coco: (11:08 traditions, mythology, and references within the movie)

Here’s more information about Roman J. Israel, Esq. (15:35 interview with writer-director Dan Gilroy and actor Denzel Washington)

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If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California  knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken*

*YouTube keeps deleting links to this Eagles performance so I keep putting a newer version back in but you’ll just find dead links in our previous postings prior to November 15, 2017, so don’t be confused.

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come.
Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 19,726 (a dip from previous numbers but I’m back to 5 continents again, excluding Africa and Antarctica); below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:


  1. movies 123 - I'm no critic, but Coco is close to movie perfection. It definitely deserved the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, no doubt, and is by far the best animated movie ever created. The visuals are stunning, the characters are fantastic, the twist is somewhat predictable but still great, and the story is so touching. This is the best film I have ever seen, over Shawshank, over The Godfather, over The Matrix; this film is a godlike creation from the very, very best of cinema. Do not be fooled by the haters who say it is a poor portrayal of a tradition; the tradition is likely far more beautiful in Coco than in real life. Fantastic, I am blown away.
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  2. Hi Megashare9 Movies, Sorry I’ve been so long in getting your comment published and replying to it, but there was some kind of glitch so I wasn’t even notified you’d sent it in. In the future, I’ll go into my Blogspot mailbox once a week to make sure I’m aware of any submitted comments. We agree on the grand quality of Coco, even though it's not the best ever for me (that would be Citizen Kane) it's still a magnificent achievement. Ken Burke

  3. If these are the reviews, then I am definitely watching it with my family. We will finish watching all the series by Andy Yeatman by this weekend and then we have time for the new movies and series. I will still miss these shows because I loved watching it with everybody.

    1. Hi Brham 13 Silva, Thanks for your comment. Ken Burke