Thursday, August 30, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians

                 “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?”
                                           (from The Beatles’ "Baby, You're a Rich Man" on the 
                                         U.S. version of the 1967 Magical Mystery Tour album)

                                                             Review by Ken Burke
                                                  Crazy Rich Asians (Jon M. Chu)
“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): Based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling 2013 book of the same name, this fast-paced romantic comedy begins (after an funny opening scene about the immediate power of wealth, followed by colorful visuals, bouncy music of the opening credits) in Manhattan where Rachel Chu, NYU Economics professor (Full Professor?  Not sure, but despite her youngish-age, she’s really sharp in Game Theory so she might have already climbed the slippery ladder of academia [I speak from experience, having been denied tenure at one school before receiving it at another]), accepts boyfriend Nick Young’s invitation to attend the wedding of his best friend, clear around the globe in Singapore.  She quickly comes to realize what he’s been keeping from her: he’s extremely rich in a family carrying the honor of “old money,” a class-accomplishment outranking the “new money” of Rachel’s college friend and her family (sort of like the contrast between the "dignity" of inherited-clout vs. the "boorishness" of recently-earned-clout explored in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby [1925]), with Rachel being treated like a commoner (despite her academic credentials) by Nick’s patrician mother, Eleanor, who—even worse—sees the young woman as a “banana”: Yellow on the outside, White on the inside.  Rachel’s initially willing to make the best of this clumsy situation, but as events become more complicated (while Nick weighs his options in wanting to propose to her, despite Mom) the frequent humor in the first half of this movie begins to turn more tense, so unless you’ve already read the novel or seen its adaptation (millions have) I’ll leave the rest to either your curiosity or to a plunge into the spoiler-filled review below.  I experienced Crazy Rich Asians as delightful—although with few surprises—but in the non-spoiler aspects of my review I note some criticisms of what’s on screen despite the praise for Hollywood finally ending a 25-year drought of presenting a high-profile, Asian-cast, mainstream entertainment.

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: Nick Young (Henry Golding), a financially-stable (although we don’t know why yet; one summary I read says he’s an NYU professor, but I didn’t get that from watching the movie) invites his year-long-girlfriend, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu)—definitely an NYU prof, in Economics—to accompany him to his original Singapore home where he’s to be best man at the wedding of his best friend, Colin Khoo (Chris Pang), to Araminta Lee (Sonoya Mizuno).  She accepts, but her upcoming trip is known in Asia even before Nick can call his mother, Eleanor Sung-Young (Michelle Yeoh), with news she already knows due to gossipy cousin Celine “Radio One Asia” (Constance Lau), spreading what she overhead between Nick and Rachel at a restaurant, so when he does call home he encounters Mom’s initial resistance when she insists the family’s not ready for Rachel to stay in their home.  Rachel accepts that situation but then has a bigger surprise when they board the airliner, escorted to swanky first-class-seats, showing Rachel Nick’s wealthier than she’d yet known.  Upon arrival in Singapore she goes to stay with old college friend, Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina), whose family (headed by Goh Wye Mun [Ken Jeong]) seems rich enough until she tells Rachel how “crazy rich” the Youngs are, which she gets a full sense of when finally going to a party at Nick’s family mansion where Eleanor continues to be chilly toward her (she barks at her son too, tells him he needs a haircut; she must be my mother's long-lost-relative) although Nick’s grandmother, Shang Su Yi (Lisa Lu), seems charmed enough.  Once these situations are established (along with us getting a sense of how extensive Nick’s family is with various uncles, aunts, and cousins—most of whom aren’t crucial to this plot recap, although if you’d like an overview of the cast complexity you might be interested in this family tree diagram [taken from Kwan’s book]), there’s not a lot of vital plot complication to keep up with; it’s mostly one opportunity after the next to be dazzled either by the location-delights of sight-rich-Singapore or the lavish events at the Young home, the resort hosting Araminta’s shopping spree/spa bachelorette party, the offshore-barge where Colin’s equally-luxurious-but-more-debauchery-oriented bachelor party’s in full swing.

 In contrast to Nick, who slips away from the hearty-party with Colin for some private conversation in which he reveals he’s ready to ask Rachel to marry him, Rachel’s getting catty insults—as well as a dead fish left on her bed, along with some bitchy comments on the windows of her party's nook—from Nick’s former girlfriends, none of whom consider her worthy of Nick (Eleanor’s left that impression also).  Rachel then gets some comfort from fashionista-cousin Astrid Leong-Teo (Gemma Chan), who’s having problems in her own marriage when she learns husband Michael Teo (Pierre Png)—a commoner by this family’s standards, tired of having to justify his worth—is having an affair.  Tensions continue between Rachel and Eleanor, even though imperial Mom admits Nick’s grandmother didn’t find her acceptable enough for the Youngs’ standards either, denying Nick’s father the traditional family engagement ring so he had a new one made; yet, as Eleanor’s now essentially running the family, she’s not accepting of Rachel (maybe if she owned NYU instead of just teaching there she’d be more welcome—not as silly a suggestion as it might seem if we hark back to the short opening scene in 1995 where Eleanor and some of her family walk rain-soaked into a posh London hotel [she deemed it unseemly to take a cab ride for just 9 blocks from their Tube stop], only to be turned away by the snotty manager until she called her husband [forced to use an outside payphone] in Singapore who promptly bought the place, giving us an early idea of the wealth this family commands).  With the help of Peik Lin and Nick’s cousin Oliver T’sien (Nico Santos) Rachel wears a stunning dress to the wedding, but her day’s ruined when Eleanor and Grandma confront her with news uncovered by a private eye: her father didn’t die before her mother immigrated from China to NYC but instead she’s the illegitimate result of an affair, making her totally unacceptable to Nick’s family (but not to him).  She’s devastated, takes refuge with Peik Lin until Rachel’s mother, Kerry Chu (Tan Kheng Hua), flies in (at Nick’s request) to comfort her daughter, revealing her husband was abusive, so she responded to the kindness offered by Rachel’s true father but the pregnancy forced Kerry to move far away to escape her furious husband’s wrath.⇐

 Kerry asks Rachel to meet with Nick, who proposes to her, followed by a scene in a mahjong parlor where Rachel tells Eleanor she declined Nick’s ring, to save the connection to his family (she also would have won the mahjong game had she not purposely given Eleanor the winning tile).  Rachel and Kerry are set to fly (economy) back to NYC when Nick shows up on the plane, proposes to Rachel again, she accepts this time (he’s told Mom he’s going to back off from the family business; she reluctantly accepts this, gives him her own engagement ring for Rachel), then they stay in Singapore for one more night to enjoy the most lavish party of all to celebrate these soon-to-be-newlyweds, followed by those colorful graphics, upbeat tunes for the final credits sequence.⇐

So What? Despite solid critical praise for this movie, collecting 93% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes* plus a 74% average score at Metacritic (a more-supportive-stance than it might seem from this often-stingy-bunch; they rarely go much higher than that in my awareness), along with an especially-solid-box-office-result, steamrolling the rest of the competition for its first 2 weekends of release (more on that in the next section of this review just below), there have been complaints about some of the casting such as Golding playing an ethnically-Chinese-Singaporean despite being Malaysian-English himself—with a response from Golding he finds this “quite hurtful,” given he’s lived most of his life in Asia—as well as concerns the story concentrates just on the (large) Chinese presence in Singapore, essentially ignoring the Malay, Indian, and Eurasian (OK, Henry, you're acceptable now!) populations, along with others complaining about the depiction of only the extreme upper class rather than including the rest of the tiny country’s demographics, although that seems to me to be more of a knock on original novel-author Kevin Kwan—himself an ethnic-Chinese-Singaporean from a well-established, upper-class family, although he was transplanted to the U.S.A. as a boy—yet, Kwan's awareness of these cultural imbalances in his book (even as played for laughs) somehow seems to absolve him of any fault for his overall depictions, at least for some of the naysayers, no matter that the script based on his writing (by Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim) seems to be an easy target for those who want this movie to be more acceptable to Singaporeans, even as they acknowledge such a big-ticket-project is basically intended for financial embrace by American and Chinese audiences—all of this resulting in a paraphrase of Abraham Lincoln’s famous statement: “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”  (Not that I’m in support of cultural insensitivity, but I’ll let singer-actor Awkwafina [Nora Lum], American-born of a Chinese-American father, South Korean-immigrant mother, have the last word on this: “If Asian people did not voice their opinions and didn’t fight for what was right on the internet, then all those movies from 2015, 2016, that cast white actors as Asian people, that would’ve never been called out and that could’ve then turned into a pattern. […] It’s OK for us to laugh about ourselves but it’s not OK for us to then represent that character as one-dimensional so that should change.” Any other concerns? Text her.)

*RT says they’ll be adding more approved critical voices soon so consider applying if you do any form of regular film criticism in print, broadcast, or digital formats (I’ll give them another try as well).

 Despite these Singapore-based-complaints, though, there’s been plenty of praise for the fact we finally have a Hollywood mainstream movie with an all-Asian-cast (by birth or heritage; see my [diatribe-based] comments in next section below on how this might—or might not—have impacted the ongoing financial-windfall of this release, with my preliminary observation that despite having a notable Asian/Asian-American population in various parts of my San Francisco Bay Area, my local neighborhoods of Hayward and Castro Valley don’t seem to tilt so much in that direction yet Crazy Rich Asians is playing at both local theaters, even the single-screen-venue in Castro Valley that has to be particular about what it books in order to stay in business, furthering my argument below this movie’s not a demographic-specific-experience despite its content and setting), the first since the majority-Asian cast of The Joy Luck Club (Wayne Wang, 1993), although I’ve not yet seen any mention of another example of such, Flower Drum Song (Henry Koster, 1961; based on the 1958 Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway play), likely because Wang’s work offers a healing story of generations separated by birthplace and degrees of desire for assimilation while the older one unfortunately plays into the age-old-dichotomy of fictional-female-stereotypes: “virgin” (mother; wife; “girl next door”), with Mei Li played by Miyoshi Umeki vs. “whore” (loose morals; hell-raiser; radical-feminist), embodied by Nancy Kwan as Linda Low.*  (Maybe as in "low"er class?  I wonder.)

*While I can’t steer you to free viewings of 2 documentaries exploring this topic in detail I can offer you access to short clips from Slaying the Dragon (Deborah Gee, 1988) and its sequel Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded (Elaine Kim, 2011) with encouragement to view either or both whenever available (maybe you can visit this site, then get your local public library to consider a purchase for a mere $89 as a benefit for the community if they don’t already own this informative double-feature).

 Relatively speaking, though, even such a collection of detrimental-tropes as contained in Flower Drum Song could be seen—maybe even enjoyed a bit (before being dismissed)—as at least somewhat better of an on-screen-representation of almost-invisible-for-decades Asians/Asian-Americans than the “yellowface” casting of European-heritage-actors taking on Asian roles, as with Luise Rainer in The Good Earth (Sidney Franklin, 1937; she even got the Best Actress Oscar), Katharine Hepburn in Dragon Seed (Harold S. Bucquet and Jack Conway, 1944), Marlon Brando in The Teahouse of the August Moon (Daniel Mann, 1956 [I have to admit, however, I’m guilty of “yellowface” as well in this latter instance, having played the very minor role—2 lines plus a lot of background presence—of Mr. Sumata’s Father in my high school production of Teahouse … in 1966, although everyone else in that cast supposed to be Asian was just as White as me in good ol’ Galveston, TX's Ball Highor as we quietly called it, "Knee Deep."]).  But, if you’d prefer to not focus on what used to be or what’s not included in this current movie that’s actually starring an Asian cast shot in Singapore and Malaysia, I’ll finish off this section of the review with an analysis of a scene by director Chu where Peik Lin drives Rachel to Nick’s palatial home for the first time, in which Chu explains the enormous amount of post-production needed to give the locations the extravagant look so essential to the themes of this generally-delightful (if highly-predictable) story.

 But, even if we just try to focus on all the ongoing critical/financial success and (to a large degree) multicultural-praise for what can be accepted as the positive aspects of Crazy Rich Asians we still can't ignore legitimate concerns/rejections of the past/continuing sins of Hollywood casting (a few noted above, many examples in this cited video) nor additional grousings about shortcomings in this new movie (despite plausible counterarguments: many members of the Young family speak with British accents, but likely because they were educated at Cambridge [a minor note about this involves an academic friend from Argentina who also offered the occasional British pronunciation of English words, indicating Great Britain's influence in his country’s educational system, especially where the bilingual learning of English was concerned]; characters in this film don’t speak any “Singlish” [a mixture of Singaporean Asian languages and English, akin to “Spanglish” in the southwestern U.S., mixing Spanish and English] which, again, would seem unlikely to me for these self-consciously-upper-class-Singapore-characters who dominate this film, yet I have no idea how common the use of Singlish is throughout all levels of this specific society, so if anyone can better educate me on this please do), as well as relevant issues that remind us of problems raising additional problems (I agree neither Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange [Scott Derrickson, 2016; review in our November 10, 2016 posting] nor Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell [Rupert Sanders, 2017; review in our April 6, 2017 posting] even begin to resemble Asian characters, noted in the video cited above [and many other sources], but it’s not my impression they’re even necessarily supposed to be Asian in these cinematic adaptations, despite what fans might expect on-screen).  

 Further, the concerns in these cases go beyond casting into the realm of changing characters from their original sources (comic books in these cases)—where both the Ancient One and Major Mira Killian were originally depicted as Asian—likely for the benefit of utilizing established European-descended actors in these roles for the financial gain of better-performer-recognition in American/European markets, probably with additional hope the fantasy/sci-fi elements of such stories would still find resonance with Asian audiences even if such characters don’t look like they might be expected to, based on previous depictions (just my opinion, which I’m eager to get more feedback on in the Comments option at the very end of this posting)Crazy Rich Asians has so far been able to rise above much of the older criticism of Asians depicted in Hollywood movies—or at least has been able to satisfy a wide variety of American audiences despite the concerns raised by Singaporeans—but we’ll just have to wait and see if any of this type of commentary intensifies when the inevitable sequels take us to other parts of this massive Eastern Hemisphere continent.

Bottom Line Final Comments: As promised, here are the figures on how well Crazy Rich Asians has been doing at the domestic (U.S.-Canada) box-office: After 2 weeks in release (demonstrating remarkable staying-power as its sales have fallen off only about 6%, whereas most weekly champs drop 40-50% by their second weekend) it’s already racked up $76.6 million in ticket sales at 3,536 theaters (plus another $7.3 million in international revenues, for a global total of $83.9 million so far), putting to rest any qualms about its relatively modest $30 million budget (quite reasonable considering the size of the cast and those lavish celebratory scenes).  Of course, much has been made of this being the first Hollywood mainstream product with an all-Asian-cast (or, at least, hyphenated-Asian; many of the actors weren’t necessarily born in the Far East) in the past 25 years, but that joyous reception doesn’t mean the audiences have been only Asian/Asian-American because it would be logistically very difficult for that much money to have been generated by a group that constitutes only about 5.6% of the U.S. population, 12% of Canada’s.Does any of this really matter, though, in terms of how effective this movie is as escapist-entertainment, at least for those who aren’t so turned off by its monetary-excesses that they can’t even see it for the good-natured-parody it seems intended to be, by both the author of the book it’s based on and the filmmakers who seem to be determined to capture the attitude of that highly-successful novel?  (None of which I can really comment on, given my dislocation from such levels of high society in any country as well as the book itself which—no surprise—I haven’t read [my wife, Nina, attempted to get through it before we saw the movie, but, just as other commitments left me with only this one option to review this week {so I decided I owed it to the current income-magnet to attend to a mainstream behemoth after devoting so much space recently to obscure entities most of you probably don’t even have a chance to find before they go to video} she didn’t have time to get that far into it so I can’t even cheat by getting her opinion about whether Kwan or Chu got the best result from this material].)  Crazy Rich Asians is nothing more than a well-acted, visually-dazzling, traditional romantic comedy (with some contemporary attitudes, plus stars often known better from other media); however, at that level it succeeds well, in addition to giving an often-neglected-segment of American society a chance to see themselves on the big screen, in charge for a change.

*I suppose you could attempt to claim this income could hypothetically just come from northern North America’s Asian-based-demographics, in that their 5.6% of the U.S. amounts to about 18.3 million people, while Canada’s 12% accounts for another 4.4 million, so if all of these 22.7 million folks each bought a ticket (babies included)—at the current average price in both countries of $9—that would generate a whopping $204.3 million in gross income, but that’s not the reality of moviegoing for any audience-segment, so let’s just agree this story, with both a romantic (love-based) plot augmented by Romantic (reeking of appealing fantasy in the narrative and/or a high degree of emotionalism) attributes in the delivery, has clicked with diverse groups of audiences who want to see true love conquer all, stodgy traditionalism put aside for personal triumph, opulent surroundings in exotic locales, and an almost-constant-parade of highly-attractive-actors.  Further justification of my “people don’t equal box-office-dollars-hypothesis” is that the non-Hispanic White population of the U.S. is about 62% (although predicted to drop notably in the next couple of decades—so, "Great Againers," start copulating!) or about 197.9 million people, Canada’s is about 84% or about 31 million, so then if all those Whites were to see the same movie at an average of $9 a pop that should generate about $1.97 billion in ticket sales whereas the actual highest domestic amount—for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams, 2015; review in our December 31, 2015 posting) falls a bit more than a billion short of that, with even the adjusted-for-inflation-champ—Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) coming in a bit under that mark at $1.895 billion.  While certain content along with screen presences can certainly be an appealing factor encouraging certain demographic groups to venture into the moviehouses, for a feature to succeed at the level Crazy Rich Asians already has requires cross-cultural-appeal, I argue, which is surely the case here.

 My demographics-analysis may be a bit subject to challenge because I couldn’t find a single source for these numbers, resulting in a need to pull together figures from disparate accounts, but my point is simply this: Often those who wish to dispute how popular a given movie is attempt to attribute its viewership to a specific subgroup of a given culture, with the premise it’s only viable for particular ethnic groups, thus can’t be counted on with additional sequels or others like it to bring in healthy returns on investments, the kind of thinking that’s kept all-Asian-casts away from well-funded-Hollywood-projects for decades.  (By the same reasoning, few “tent-pole”-franchises are financed with all-Black or all-Hispanic casts—not to mention how much flack Internet trolls can generate when some beloved “masculine” concept dares to be remade into an almost-all-female Ghostbusters [Paul Feig, 2016; review in our July 20, 2016 posting] or Ocean’s 8 [Gary Ross; review in our June 14, 2018 posting]).  In my opinion, about the only things keeping Crazy Rich Asians from being directly compared to Pretty Woman (Garry Marshall, 1990) in terms of its emphasis on class conflicts and the impact of opulence (no, Rachel's not a whore!) are the ethnicity of the casts and the geographic location of the stories.  Crazy Rich Asians may have its detractors (mostly, at this point, from Asian perspectives as noted above, just as BlacKkKlansman [Spike Lee; review in our August 16, 2018 posting] gets blasted by another Black director, Boots Riley [see the Short Takes comments in our August 23, 2018 posting]), but it falls squarely into the realm of dreamy, generation/class-conflict romantic comedies well-grounded in the Hollywood screwball tradition from It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934) to Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938) to The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940), just with Asian/Asian-American trappings rather than the European-American traditions that dominated U.S. culture in the past (and still would, if all those “Great Againers” have their way, so don’t forget to vote for onward progress come next November).

(Don't be confused here; this is Araminta's here-and-now wedding, not a flashforward to Rachel's yet-to-be.) 
 Well, you’ve likely had your fill of my easily-argued-as-off-topic-ramblings-in-what's-supposed-to-be-a-move-review this week so let’s put it away by using my usual review-ending-device of a Musical Metaphor, one more easily chosen than some I’d had to struggle with in recent weeks.  While there’s an active soundtrack in Crazy Rich Asians filled with songs I don’t know anything about (no surprise, given the much-younger-demographic-than-me-audience this movie’s generally aimed at, with the limited older characters mostly seen in a negative light [even the hallowed Grandmother’s adamant Rachel should not be part of her honored-for-generations family]) that might offer something even more relevant if I knew what those lyrics are saying (most of them are sung in what I assume is Mandarin, given that’s the Chinese language predominant in Singapore, along with others [including English] representing populations from other parts of the world), the ones I could identify by melody (except “Can’t Help Falling in Love”* from the wedding, sung in English) are obvious metaphors for what most of the plot revelations provide us with, summed up with "Money (That's What I Want)" (written by Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford, Motown’s first hit [Barrett Strong, 1960] but more famous from The Beatles, with their version on either With the Beatles [U.K., 1963] or The Beatles’ Second Album [U.S., 1964]; this video’s from a 1963 TV appearance, although you might prefer an updated version from the movie soundtrack but sung in English by Cheryl K, featuring Awkwafina, as used with the final credits, not the Mandarin version accompanying the opening ones) and "Material Girl" (for here I’ve harkened back to Madonna’s official music video [the song’s from her 1984 Like a Virgin album, the video’s based on Marilyn Monroe’s performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes {Howard Hawks, 1953}], but, again, you can choose to go contemporary from the soundtrack with Sally Yeh’s version if you wish [this one’s not in English, just like it's used in the flow of the movie]).

*You could reasonably call these lyrics another sub-theme of Crazy Rich Asians (proper pairings are inevitable), so please help yourself to the most-famous-version, by Elvis Presley, from the sort-of-semi-Asian-environment (?) of the Blue Hawaii movie’s (Norman Taurog, 1961) soundtrack album.

 Nevertheless, despite the eagerly-mercantile-attitudes of those songs, the true Metaphor-based-message of the movie, with both Rachel and Nick rejecting the lure of easy luxury (even though he’s still going to share in the family wealth even if he doesn’t run their business, I’m sure, while her NYU salary’s likely not meager either, so don’t get too inspired by whatever idealism seems to be offered here, easily put on hold with that lavish-beyond-description-engagement party) is once again from The Beatles (have you figured out by now they’re still my favorite group, despite being disbanded since 1970?), with the easily-interpreted “Can’t Buy Me Love” (from the soundtrack of A Hard Day’s Night [Richard Lester, 1964]) at, a clip from that movie (as with "Money ..." above, the second time it’s used in it's movie [I couldn’t find a clip of the more famous scene with the proper "... Love" music but here’s a version of it using the correct visuals plus some commentary on why John Lennon's not really in much of this action]), or maybe you’d prefer a live 1964 performance (only Paul McCartney sings but that’s how it is on the recording, although he’s doubled-tracked at times so it sounds like John and George Harrison are providing harmony), another ironic example of the super-rich (musicians in this case) espousing the benefits of the fundamental values of life, even while it takes accountants to tally up all their earnings (in London or Singapore).  Instead of money, I'll just count all the days until we meet again.
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Here’s more information about Crazy Rich Asians: (54:58 interview with Kevin Kwan, author of the book from which this movie was adapted [and its 2 sequels, likely source material for movie sequels as well]) and 
(30:00 interview with actors Constance Wu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding [begins, as always in these Build featurettes, with the trailer found above in the review])

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If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my email address of if you truly have too much time on your hands you might want to explore some even-longer-and-more-obtuse-than-my-film-reviews—if that even seems possible—academic articles about various cinematic topics at my website,, which could really give you something to talk to me about.)

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

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 6,656 (as always, we thank all of you for your support with our hopes you’ll continue to be regular readers); below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:

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