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San Diego Int’l Film Festival is bigger and better

December 30th, 2017

San Diego International Film Festival Opening Night film was the very well-received “Marshall” about the first black Supreme Court Justice screened at the beautifully restored Balboa Theatre.


The Opening Night party was at the elegant rooftop Westgate Hotel. Hollywood Casino hosted the party which was replete with casino tables and fabulous showgirls.

One of only six Moet Chandon champagne vending machines in the U.S. is at the super cool Pendry Hotel (base hub and partner with the SDiFF). The photo of the purple jewelry bag below is a sipping flute which fits into the top of a split. A special coin is purchased from a server and deposited into the machine ($16)! Flute tended to drip so design needs to be perfected unless you like wearing the aroma of bubbly. Anyway, I prefer sipping from a glass flute. Much more civilized. Seemed gauche slugging back from the bottle.

Photo below:  Variety Night of the Stars Tribute honored Sir Patrick Stewart with the Gregory Peck Award in the Grand Ballroom @ The Pendry Hotel.

I really missed our usual Tribute interviewer and host, Jeffrey Lyons, NBC Film Critic of more than 15,000 films! — he always has a personal movie star anecdote to share with the honoree and audience that is often so funny and captivating. I wished he interviewed Sir Patrick (My two cents.)

Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) was honored with the Auteur Award and stole the night with his hilarious perpetual off-the-cuff quipping of the word, “auteur”in his acceptance speech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SDiFF Industry Panels in the absolutely hip Oxford Social Club in the Pendry Hotel

Tonya Mantooth (Exec. Director of SDiFF) serving as Panels Moderator is on the far left.

Actor and Hereditary Chief of Sac & Fox Nations,  Saginaw Grant with yours truly.

Buy your SDiFF festival passes today and support the independent filmmakers of the world <www.sdfilmfest.com>.

Happy Christmas and bless those before us, after us and those with us now.

xo, j

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Boss Babes: Behind the Seat of Your Own Life

October 25th, 2017

Leading Lady on Women Lead Radio

Boss Babes: Behind the Seat of Your Own Life

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I got the brass ring, Ma!

August 15th, 2017

Friends of Balboa Park, a non-profit organization, have acquired the historic carousel in Balboa Park and has initiated a fundraising campaign to raise $3 million for completing the purchase, renovations and restoration ($789,00 has been raised already). It is unique in the fact that it is a menagerie carousel replete with a mythical dragon. This 3-row Herschell-Spillman hand carved and hand-painted menagerie carousel features 17 different types of animals from camels to zebras as well as three chariots (a few were rockers). Music is provided by a North Tonawanda 187 band organ from c. 1912 on the original paper scrolls. A ring arm is also operational at the carousel.

There are only 16 pre-1960 carousels with operating brass ring dispensers that offer iron rings, a brass (or gold) ring, and a target board. As the carousel starts to turn, rings are fed to one end of a wooden arm that is suspended above the riders. One hopes that the timing of the carousel rotation (the rise-and-fall motion of our seat—and only the outer circle moves up and down) places us within reach of the dispenser when a ring becomes available. The prize is offered to ensure that the brass ring is returned and a target game secures the iron rings.

Built in 1910, the carousel still runs on the original General Electric motor. Also unique, the entire carousel is suspended from the top of the tent and the bearings are greased daily by San Diego native, Bill, who has lovingly cared for the carousel for 40 years. A five-pound drum of grease lasts a year. This carousel has always been family owned and operated during its 100+ years in San Diego.

Most children love the merry-go-round, although, some are frightened by the animal’s faces. Who wouldn’t be when you are only two feet tall?

I chose the giraffe which helped to heighten my grasp of the fabled brass ring. Of course, just as in life, I had to go through three iron rings before capturing the elusive brass ring.

The prize?

A free ride! Yes, folks, there is such a thing as a free ride.

Sometimes, it takes a few rides, maybe even a few visits in a lifetime to capture the brass ring. In a month filled with rejections, this was a great sign that I am on the right ride.

Take care of each other,

j

Photo: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


 

 

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Happy Almost Summer!

May 27th, 2017

Like everyone else, life has been on speed dial and the need to slow down my spinning micro-world is needed more than ever. And with the recent Manchester, England bombing and the passing of elders–there is a lot of praying going on for souls departed. Rest in peace and go with God.

On a lighter but still responsible note, Jason Mraz has headed up an initiative with other local farmers, restaurants, and purveyors to create public awareness of diminishing farmlands. A local and international songwriter, his public persona has brought attention to the beloved and ubiquitous avocado by taking up organic farming.

On a hot, windy day in South Morro Hills, the Mraz Family Farms was the hilly picturesque site of the first annual O’sider Feast.

In his welcoming speech of all the participants and volunteers who helped to make this event come together and run smoothly,

”I have been all over the world, and I can tell you, right here is as good as Tuscany! [Here being South Morro Hills in Oceanside] We have hopes of turning the very ground you are sitting on into a coffee plantation complete with a coffee tasting house. It is still residential zoning so there is a lot of work to do. I want to thank my wife, Christina, for always saying yes.”

Kudos to her graciousness and beauty. The property was originally horse property and the adjacent surrounding acreage were all Mraz avocado trees.

With the motto of the day being ”Zero Food Waste”: guests were given a reusable fork, a reusable  bag, and a reusable Mason jar to drink from. Delicious amazing tastings from local restaurants and purveyors were offered with complimentary food and drink tickets. Melamine plates were placed in portable sinks and even eating responsibly felt good. Real good. The most absolute amazing offering of the day was vodka called, Misadventure. Unique fermentation made from days old infamous baked goods such as the illustrious Twinkie, Hostess cupcakes, and so forth. Baked goods that you probably would  hide in a closet and eat in the dark with shame. This drink however, has no shame. It is after all, repurposed! It had quite a kick to it and offered a glow that outshone the sun.

At the end of the day, Mraz graced us with his truly gifted pipes by singing songs dedicated to both, matriarchal and patriarchal grandfathers (Frank D. Fixer).

“They each passed on gifts that have made me who I am today.”

Gotta say, Mraz is the real deal. Humble, generous and dedicated to leaving the garden a better place…and gifted with a beautiful voice to eat by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beth Kupanoff, Jason Mraz and yours truly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mraz Family Farms Photobomber and Beth

Mraz (in center) with restauranteurs and purveyors

Extremely tart mulberries from Louise’s farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying Pig restauranteur and assistant (this was melt in your mouth fantastic!)

I could go on but there are some very fine restaurants and cafes in Oceanside that merit attention: Petite Madeline, The Privateer Marketplace, and The Whet Noodle are just to name a few.

So remember folks, there are many, many caring, hardworking people amidst us who are angels and stewards of this here earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God bless you and be kind to each other, J

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A Winter’s Roundabout

January 9th, 2017

Happy 2017 and may your year be blessed with good health, sweet dreams realized and prosperity to all!

San Diego Circus Center is a well kept secret…who knew?! Our very own Cirque du Soleil. In fact, the founder, Jean Luc began his illustrious career with Cirque. What a wonderful, creative, and inspiring troupe of dedicated children, volunteers and teachers. A memorable, December evening thanks to Mrs. Walsh.

 

 

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2016 Entries wanted for San Diego Book Awards contest

October 23rd, 2016

 

The 22nd Annual Writing Competition is now open for unpublished writers residing in San Diego County. Copyright or release date must have a 2016 copyright.

For complete rules, guidelines and entry form, please visit:

http://sandiegobookawards.org/submission-guidelines/

A jury determines the winners and cash awards will be presented at the Awards Ceremony.

SDBA, PO Box 6487, Oceanside, CA 92056 or email: sdbookawards@gmail.com

619.356.1038

Good luck and be kind to each other,

j

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Why are the faces of Tibetan Buddhist monks so familiar?

July 17th, 2016

Why? Is it because they really are reincarnated? Or maybe, we are too and therefore, that sense of familiarity goes both ways. The only difference is—is that His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama hasn’t recognized anyone outside of the monastery as reincarnations of highly evolved human beings. Let alone females. I’m not complaining. Just stating the facts. Well…maybe just a little.

So much has been written about the Tibetans since their auspicious flight (auspicious because H.H. dreamt about it and succeeded in extricating valuable cultural Tibetan artifacts and other holy teachers) from an inevitable, hostile and violent Red China takeover. Unless you crawled out from under a dry rock in the Bedouin desert and practice seventh century philosophies with camels and goats as company (wait, I guess Buddhism began in the sixth century, sooo…why is it more evolved?), we all know who the Dalai Lama is and how his life of compassion and forgiveness is an exemplary living testament to such seemingly unattainable realities for most humans. I mean, he has on several occasions ON RECORD, said he forgives Mao Tse-Tung and the Republic of China. Note to self: they do not forgive him nor do they recognize him as the leader of Tibet. Hmm. What would Confucius say?

BBC has reported long ago on the deliberate, horrific acts of genocide against the nuns and monks of pure Tibetan bloodline. Anyway, I digress.

When I saw the magnificent two-dimensional sand mandala in person, it looked fake. Like they (the monks of Gaden Shartse Phukhang Monastery) had laid down a tablecloth with puffy brightly colored ink or fondant of mysterious Tibetan symbols and then ran in with their special tools before everyone showed up. But then, that would be a lie and Tibetan Buddhists do not lie. You hear about these mandalas and (now the new fad is for adults to draw and color in books of mandalas) and by the time you actually see one, it’s no big deal.

Till you see one up close. 

Colored sand. Plus two metal tools. And four days. Really BIG deal.

Yeah. It’t a good thing H.H. had a premonition because we (the First World) would never have been invited to view their private religious ceremonies up close or listen to their powerful prayers (chanting). As Geshe Lama Phuntsho opened his sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Compassion Without Limit, I thought to myself: God. He looks so familiar. And so open with a gigantic smile that pulled at my heart and made it swell. I felt like the Grinch whose heart was too small. It swelled and it swelled till I found myself grinning back like an idiot and wanting to give all my money to the monks.

The Sunday service at UUF is always held outdoors in the Amphitheater and really feels like one is back in The Garden. Without the apple tree and the serpent (thank God, no rattlesnakes). As a practicing Catholic and Marian devotee, this was as alien as—actually, this felt familiar too. I imagined this must have been how the pagans or Druids must have felt dancing under the oak trees. Ours was a pine tree. And we were sitting.

Geshe Lama Phuntsho starts his sermon with how “Buddha was born under trees, taught under trees and died under trees. It feels right to be here talking about love and compassion under trees.” Watching his genial and unlined face while listening to his accented, intelligent voice gave me pause. His words permeated my being and feeling guilty, I began my mental recitation of those I needed to forgive. Oh my tiny heart, keep swelling. And please God, bless everyone so that we can hurry up to see the destruction of the mandala. I mean dissolution.

Everything the monks do is with great deliberation and ceremony. Nothing goes without prayer and chanting. Or chanting prayers.

I love it. I care. I breathe in deeply as if to fill my tiny heart with love and compassion. For a fleeting moment, I am able to rewire my brain.  And then, bells. I mean real bells —ringing from the monks. They surround the table and move in a circle. A dry paintbrush appears in Geshe Lama’s hand. With a slow stroke, Lobsang Khamchuk Rinpoche follows him and starts at the center of the mandala and creates the first stroke wiping through it. Then two, then three…you get the point.

Whoa, Nellie! It almost pained me to watch. The lesson of impermanence is not without discomfort. This lesson is inherent in the Buddhist principle that life is transient because all things are impermanent. Sweeping it up into a little mountain, they added more sand? Geshe Lama said that it was from India (crushed marble stone, I asked) and that it had been blessed by a 1,000 monks. Sounds like an alternative rock band. Or a restaurant. With that said, they put a little into tiny (like my heart) plastic bags and gave one to everyone present.

Geshe Lama said that just a few grains of sand would purify or bless a place (trees, mountain, lake, home) with healing and or protection. It can also be used to assist a dying person by placing it on his/her crown with a little (tiny) butter. Why butter you ask? (I asked.) So that the sand would stick and not fall off. Does margarine count? You really are irreverent. Yeah, you.

With that said, we were all invited to join them at the beach to return the sand to the sea (traditional closing gesture whether it be sea, lake or river) and to close the ceremony.

Geshe Lama Phuntsho

 

As we left, I felt as if the best party with an open bar had just given last call and it was time to call Uber.

Deflation set in after so much excitement in being a part of a twenty-five hundred year old mystical ceremony that had just taken place in a present day reality of boogie boarders, surfers and sunbathers. I can see why people think retreating to an enclave of like-minded individuals praying constantly as a collective is enticing. I am sure it is not without its challenges just like a condo complex and its Mello Roos and HOAs.

A Benedictine monk once told me he tried to go to confession weekly though sometimes he would lapse and it would turn into a bi-weekly. Astonished (I go once a year if that), I asked him what he had to confess since he lived in a monastery. Smiling, he said, “I’m not an angel. I’m human and sometimes, I think thoughts that are untoward against my brothers. We don’t always agree on everything!”

Okay, then. Even the monks struggle to be angels. There’s hope for us all.

God bless you. Namaste. Blessed be. Shalom. Be kind, j

 

 

 

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Au revoir! Teddie Tillett ~ March 23, 2016

June 22nd, 2016

My dearest Teddie:

For many, many weeks I have refused to believe you have really left us to muck about down here on earth, amongst the lost and found without your wry, dry humorous commentary and outfits so fabulous, it has inspired all sorts of DIY projects that is now called repurposing. You were ahead of your time.

You always saw beyond the blemish or broken and envisioned beauty that with just a little acceleration of your Nimbus 2000 sewing machine and a glue gun—Voila! You created so much splendor. Your Eiffel Tower lamp with a working clock and its perfect French canvas lampshade lights up my dining room like your spirit and friendship always lifted me.

And every time I hear Norah Jones—I think of you.

When a young Norah performed at the Greek Theatre, we drove together (actually you drove and expertly navigated through peak LA traffic I might add)…And from the height of your stilettos and your magic bag of tricks, you would produce sparkling water (because it sparkled) and black cashmere in defiance of the evening’s chill—without batting your long eyelashes. I remain in awe of your memorable blue topaz eyes—and of your 20 inch waist.

The last time I saw you—we were celebrating your 60th with Italian red wine and eating gourmet, personal pizzas handcrafted  by your man whose moniker is the Pitbull of Comedy.

Anyway Teddie, I took it for granted that I had more time to speak in person and laugh with you. I’m sorry I didn’t call when I said I would. But again, you already know this too. In selfish frustration, I miss knowing you are here—in the flesh.

I hope that you’re having fun at THE Rock Party of 2016 with Prince, Merle Haggard and David Bowie. I know heaven is swathed in pink tulle with you around. I can hear the angels and saints saying, “Gosh, it looks better already, Tillett!” Whether here or there—you always make a difference. I just wish I had met you sooner— so that I could have loved you longer.

Your faithful friend and sister from another mister,

j

(Appropriately, Teddie is hovering behind with her arms around us.)


 

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The Envelope please…

February 24th, 2016

 

And the winner is…

I have taken this ballot from People magazine and I haven’t always liked Oscar’s choices for Best Picture but then “he” likes melodrama and sometimes, I don’t. As far as the whole Black actors having been dissed, am I missing something or is Chris Rock a black man? And did not 12 Years a Slave have black actors last year which won several nominations and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor? And last I checked, the president of the Academy Awards is a woman and is —? Psst, her name is Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Hmm…methinks those with a myopic view regarding diversity needs to be evaluated by a professional.

For the record, I chose Sylvester Stallone (before his fame in Rocky, he once told me beer was bad for me) in honor of senior citizen actors, but keep an eye on Tom Hardy, he is an amazing chameleon who disappears into his characters and wears them like skin. If he continues choosing roles like he has, he will be accepting the Oscar for Best Actor in the near future.

I am ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

Happy Viewing.

Peace, j

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2016 ~ Year of the Monkey

January 28th, 2016

This year is filled with monkeys all right—and they are not in the Amazon—they are all actually running for president in the U.S. of A.!

The above images are from KingFisher, The Concise Children’s Encyclopedia…I couldn’t find the comb-over but I’m pretty sure the former Secretary of State (remember, Benghazi?) is in there.

This month is almost over and before we know it, Fat Tuesday will be here. And then, it will be 40 days and nights of denying ourselves or abstaining so as to be worthy by Easter Sunday. Unless you are Jewish…or Buddhist…or even atheist (doesn’t even qualify for an uppercase A)—in which case, how’s that working for you?! Different kind of bliss, I imagine.

And then, there is they-who-shall-not-be-named. They’re just mad dogs and should be put down as such. But don’t get me started…

What’s on your abstinence list?

Mine? Gluten.

God bless you and yours. Make the last word they hear from you be…love.

No regerts,   j

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