In The Limelight

In the Limelight © Copyright Jeffrey H. Lubeck – all rights reserved – Courtesy of the MESH Gallery

As the month of March progresses thoughts of what Spring and Summer will offer in The Valley begin in earnest, while the benefits of Winter remain.  One benefit is Spring Skiing and with daylight growing longer there is no better place to be than the Warm Springs side of Baldy in the afternoon.  With a warm sun as the spotlight the perfectly groomed snow softens to enhance the carving of turns for top-to-bottom skiing.

And the best of the best of the skiing?  Being in the limelight on the Limelight run (left of center).

Thanks to the U.S. Geologic Survey we know that there are only two lift-served ski runs in the United States that are of more than 2,500 feet in length, more than 1,250 feet of vertical drop and provide 30 degree angle throughout.  In short Steep, Deep and Long. The two? Al’s Run in Taos New Mexico and Limelight.  I have the privilege to say I have skied both many times.

After a third straight top-to-bottom ski of Limelight the late Warren Miller looked back up the run and then to me and said “when this run is groomed and the temperature is right there is no place on earth you can ski faster and farther – and we just did it three times in a row in under an hour.”

Jeff’s Worthless Trivia

In the late 1980’s  The Challenger and Greyhawk lifts on Warms Springs were proposed and created.  John Phipps of the U.S. Forest Service retained me for consulting – on this amongst other things – during the period.  It was fun to see the lifts go from concept to finished product.

Before the lifts were created the route to the top of Baldy was a two-step effort.  From the bottom it was Chair Lift #7 Lower Warm Springs as step number one.  Next it was Chair Lift #8 Limelight as step number two.  For virtually the entire ride hovering over this steepest and deepest of runs skiers in the Limelight could be observed.

In the image above the remnants of the cut in the trees for the Limelight lift can be seen.

I am honored to say I have skied Limelight with Bob “why bother stopping” Sigley many times.

Baldy Ski Map 1974

Baldy Ski Map 2018

Subtlety and Nuance Shine in a Fading Light: The Last Movie Star

Adam Rifkin’s The Last Movie Star is a wonderful piece of work that gains great strength and power as it progresses through its rather short run-time (94 minutes).  Ironically, The Last Movie Star is not about strength, but about dealing with fading fame, growing old, and dealing with it.  Then again, it may really be about strength as well.

Burt Reynolds (Deliverance, The Longest Yard, All Dogs Go To Heaven) is brilliant as the fading star, and Ariel Winter (Modern Family) is equally effective as the oblivious and self-absorbed young adult obligated to take care of him over the course of a weekend.

The Last Movie Star was written by Rifken specifically for Reynolds.  The storyline and methods to tell it are uncannily effective and reason alone to see the film. Reynolds is spot on being cranky, maudlin, and sincere in his reflection.  Winter is just as good at being irritating and shallow.

The supporting cast of the Last Movie Star assists as it plays the naive but sincere admirers, fans and persons related to the storyline.

15:17 To Paris: Be Gentle and The Amateurs Actually Help

15:17 To Paris the film by Clint Eastwood will likely not win any awards. 15:17 To Paris will not likely score high on critic or user reviews.

Ironically the reason the film is not a total throwaway is that 15:17 To Paris is based on actual events, stars the actual heroes, and the storyline is worth a nod of recognition and thanks to them.  The sincerity and true friendship of the heroes is apparent and makes the film watchable.

Selfishly, given what three friends from childhood (Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone) risked on a train from Amsterdam to Paris – we should all watch (with financial contribution) 15:17 To Paris.  These three men (and one other) received medals of honor from France and The Unites States for their heroism.  To Hollywood’s dismay there were no easy ways to include car chases down Russian Hill in San Francisco.

Honestly, 15:17 To Paris is stiff and stilted at the start and uneven throughout.  Mr. Eastwood owns this condition.  However, there are parts of 15:17 that work well – just not enough of them to carry the entire film.

Repeat or Rhyme Of Itself? A Look Into History: Mark Felt

Mark Felt – The Man Who Brought The White House Down is an intriguing film that looks into a big piece of U.S. history from the vantage point of Mark Felt.   And why is the name Mark Felt important?  Mark Felt was the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) who 30 years after the fact admitted he was “Deep Throat” in the Watergate affair. Mark Felt is Written and Directed by Peter Landesman (Concussion).  And similar to Concussion, Mark Felt moves smoothly, steadily, and what appears to be honestly through its 103 minute run-time.  However, remember Mark Felt is a Biographical Drama, not a documentary.

Liam Neeson plays the lead role of Mark Felt and Marton Csokas (The Equalizer, The Debt) plays the role of Acting Director of the F.B.I. L. Patrick Gray.  Both are superb in their roles and reason alone to see the film.  Diane Lane (Secretariat, Unfaithful) plays Audrey Felt with high-level level of faithfulness to what his known about her character.  The supporting cast of Mark Felt is packed with lead type players.  While many are small roles, each is excellent in terms of importance to the storyline.

Most of the writings about the person Mark Felt suggest he was a G-Man’s G-Man who followed the rules.  The vast majority of the time Felt follows the government’s rule.  However, when Felt believes some one or some body is undermining to great adverse effect the mission of the FBI or the safety of U.S. Citizens, Felt applies his rules.  The movie Mark Felt pulls no punches in showing how rules are applied in various circumstances, and lets you draw your own conclusion.

The settings for many of the scenes in Mark Felt compliment the film and its intent. Mark Felt is about the behind the scenes of things; the inner workings.  The government offices are not grandiose with perfect sightlines and lighting.  The offices look to be those of the period, heavy in wood and poor in natural lighting.  It makes for great effect.

Jeff’s Thoughts and Worthless Trivia

Mark Felt (Twin Falls) and his wife Audrey (Gooding) were born and grew up in the state of Idaho in the 1910’s.  They met during college at the University of Idaho and married in 1938.

In Hoover’s FBI, agents were deliberately moved around to as many field offices as possible, with the desired effect being an agent could go into any office and be effective.

So why include in the the headline Repeat or Rhyme Of Itself?  I believe if you remove the specific names, political parties, events, and timeline in Mark Felt and apply another relatively recent crisis in the U.S. Federal Government,  Mark Felt feels like deja vu’ all over again.  And while history does not repeat itself exactly – it at a minimum appears to rhyme.  Step back and think about it – the parallel’s always seem reveal themselves.   And do me, and yourself a favor, do not to the cherry-pick the institution. The foundation of the United States is built upon the separation of power and the check and balances it creates.  When one institution or body desires to force a change to the separation and balance (legally or illegally, in public view or shrouded in secrecy) history shows the U.S. moves to a bad spot with heightened speed.  By luck or greatness some set of people or institution(s) identify the issue and have the guts and resolve to address it and create the appropriate solution for the best of the U.S. citizens.

The Post: Highly Watchable Today and In The Future

Steven Spielberg’s The Post is a highly watchable film.  It is an efficient Political Thriller with a superb script, cast, staging, and direction.  My guess is that like most of the recent Spielberg films, The Post will not win the Academy Award for Best Picture, but over time I will watch it the most of any of the nominees.  Bridge of Spies (2015) is a great example.  Spielberg’s films since 2000 are nothing if not rich and complete in their presentation and they stand the test of time.

The subject and themes in The Post are as relevant today as when they occurred.  The Post presents issues before the people and the nation not in a sanctimonious partisan hack way, but as a legitimate challenge to who we are and what we represent.

A deep and talented cast, beginning with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks The Post delivers with few if any weak links.

I strongly suggest you watch The Post, then All The Presidents Men, followed by Mark Felt (and or read The Pentagon Papers, All The Presidents Men and The FBI Pyramid).

Jeff’s Worthless Trivia and Notes

As many of you know I was an executive of a large Media Syndicate (Universal Press) and owned another (Asterisk).  While it should not be construed as I was of importance, I was acquainted in some fashion with many of the people involved in the story (so were the janitorial staff).

Meg Greenfield was a terrific Editorial Page Editor, writer, and a Pulitzer Prize Winner.  I was fortunate to be in her presence on a number of occasions.

I was lucky enough to meet Kathryn Graham and Ben Bradlee while with Universal Press and Asterisk.

I met Ben Bagdikian while he as at U.C. Berkley in the 1980’s.

The Shape of Water – Everything and Nothing All At Once

As The Shape of Water begins its 2 hour and three minute journey into your brain, I suggest you draw no conclusions about what is being presented until you have had some time to think about what you have just seen.

So while in the theater – go with the movie.  In the end you will be rewarded.  Why?

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, An Education, Layer Cake) is a joy to watch and embrace as the heroine who over comes the odds and stands above all others.  Hawkins performance is reason alone to see the film.

The Shape of Water is set in the 1960’s with many of the characters representing segments of the population (handicapped, devoted scientist, sexual persuasion, color of skin, Creature from the Lagoon) that had demonstrably more difficult challenges then than now.  Not to say it is easy for these segments today, but they could be arbitrarily kicked to the curb in the early 1960’s.  These characters are played by today’s most prominent film actors; Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, and Michael Stuhlbarg.  Each of these three actors are, more often than not, a material reason as to why you like a movie.  They are good in The Shape of Water.

Then there are the bad guys.  Michael Shannon (Elvis & Nixon, Premium Rush, Take Shelter)  and Nick Searcy (Cast Away, The Fugitive, Moneyball) get to be really bad and they succeed in being believable.

So The Shape of Water while being almost arthouse in nature, staffed with the best of character actors in the industry is rather enjoyable to watch on the big screen.

Notes and Worthless Trivia from Jeff

Sally Hawkins in her roles in Layer Cake and Blue Jasmine is as good as it gets.  Both films are superb and Hawkins is a good reason as to why.

Michael Stuhlbarg co-stars in three films nominated for The Academy Ward for Best Picture in 2018:  The Shape of Water, The Post, and Call Me By Your Name.  Stuhlbarg was nothing short of brilliant in the lead role in A Serious Man.  Very cool to see this happen!

Warren Miller Public and Private – Always a Friend

 

My sometimes business associate, and at all times friend by the name Warren Miller passed on a week ago.  I waited a week to start this Post. Rarely can you find yourself associated with a true Icon with a lasting legacy.  And in these times, one who does not prove to have clay feet (e.g., a complete jerk or subject to some horrific scandal that brings tarnish and shame).  Warren Miller was a story teller extraordinaire who just happened to make ski films and shape an industry like few if any others. Warren Miller was a story teller extraordinaire who also could use the medium of photography, written word, and illustration as a means of expression.

Warren Miller’s public exploits are well documented and the obituaries provide the highlights.  And while I could use this space to reminisce and provide detail of our collaborations and relationship; Newspaper Syndication, Computerizing Warren Miller Entertainment, countless ski trips, weddings, birthdays, vacations, Christmas etc, I think I will use it to discuss the private Warren Miller.

The public Warren Miller could make everyone; from the living-in-a-bubble-elite to the ski-bum pinching pennies to survive feel warm, welcome, and connected to him and his tales.  It is a skill few possess.  The private Warren Miller was a somber and sincere person who knew first-hand that any true success, and happiness were best earned through hard-work, could prove to be fleeting, and should not be taken for granted.  The public Warren Miller could accept and be part of the life and scene associated with people who owned private jets and islands.  The private Warren Miller was more comfortable traveling with a trailer attached to the the back of his car, and eating home-made sandwiches to save some money that might be needed later, and seated amongst the commoners. The public Warren Miller was reliable and at-the-ready each fall for his adoring followers; like clockwork. The private Warren Miller kept his feelings and friends close-to-the-vest.  The private Warren Miller could discuss life in general and his life in particular with free flowing ease with his close friends.  Sometimes it could come across as maudlin but it was honest.  The private Warren Miller was a good listener and observer.  He could respond to your dilemma with context and provide an insightful point of view; even if it involved Warren discussing one of his failings and what he did to over come it.

A girl\lady\tornado named Laurie entered Warren Miller’s life in the 1980’s.  Warren attempted to grab the tornado. Laurie likely added 50 and took away 30 years to Warren’s life expectancy (for a net +20).  An elegant tom-boy, Laurie, in my opinion, was the best thing since sliced bread to happen to my friend.  And because I am a guy who grew up without a sister, Laurie also proved to be my little-big sister.  Warren and Laurie married and it proved to be a colorful, passionate, intense, and an ever-lasting one. One of the private Warren Miller’s best jokes; “Lewis and Clark had Sacagawea, I’ve got Sacalaurie!”

The public Warren Miller could accept having his show homes on Orcas Island and The Yellowstone Club appear in magazines and feature stories.  The private Warren Miller was at his very proudest meeting me at the front door of his interim Orcas Island house converted from a garage by his own two hands (for the most part).  The beauty of the Warren and Laurie braintrust is they could envision something even when the path to the final result started with them on opposite ends, presented enormous road-blocks, and ups, and downs.

The public and private Warren Miller loved to espouse and promote that each person should search for their own freedom in all aspects of their life.  The private Warren Miller possessed an almost unending appetite for the next new thing.  Because of his mental and physical gifts coupled with dogged determination, Warren could quickly become competent in his new subject of interest.  The result?  New material for new stories to be told.

The Door Opens with Smooth and Lasting Effect – The Music of Bryan Lubeck

 

 

When one door closes another opens. The first five words of an observation coined by the great inventor Alexander Graham Bell are well known and often used.  However, they may be the least important of Bell’s observation.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

How does that statement apply to you?  I would like to claim I have never focused too long on the closed door – but that would be an untrue.

In 2017 one door closed for me; my mom’s passing (at 93 years young). The burial of my mom’s ashes next to my father’s at the family church in Naples, Florida with all four of her boys present – brought me a sense of closure and peace.

The door that has opened – ever so slightly – is a reconnection with my nephew Bryan.  Bryan is the son of my oldest brother Dave.  To my pleasant surprise Bryan and his son Rhett attended mom’s burial.  Since the burial Bryan, and I have corresponded.  The doors cracks open a bit more.

Bryan is a popular musician on the Chicago Jazz scene (music, lyrics, vocals, and guitar).  And if you tune into the Water Colors channel on Sirius XM (66) you have likely heard his music.  This past Christmas, Bryan’s works from We Three Strings (2014) were played extensively on Water Colors.  There is good reason – his renditions of classic Christmas songs are inspiring, beautifully arranged, engineered, and played.  Bryan’s latest album (Sparks) was released last August (2017). Bryan’s Tuscan Sun (2012) spent 14 weeks in the Top 20 Adult Contemporary Jazz Chart.  Tuscan Sun is a superb body of work.  Brian’s arrangements highlighted by his Spanish Guitar are most certainly smooth.  However the songs have an organically intimate feel with wonderfully placed levels of calm and cheer.

So my question to you is… has a door closed in your life in the past year and have you found another to open?

Jeff’s Worthless Trivia:

Bryan’s work is available on the main consumer sites such as Amazon.

You can go to Bryan’s website for listen as well: Bryan Lubeck

In high-school and college I was a fan of the burgeoning Contemporary Jazz scene.  I could not get enough of George Benson, Earl Klugh, Dave Grusin, Bob James, Michael Franks, Lee Ritenour, Emir Deodata, John Tropea, Grover Washington, Eric Gale, and David Sanborn.

Earl Klugh played solo guitar at the wedding of one of my dad’s staff in the 1970’s.

Smooth Jazz and its urbane coffee-house compliant sound took charge in the 1980’s with the seemingly unending play of Kenny G.  While Kenny G.’s popularity and success cannot be argued, his music simply does not connect much with me.  For me the sound of Acoustic Alchemy and in particular Nick Webb’s Spanish Guitar makes my heart sing.  While Webb died of cancer in 1998 and Acoustic Alchemy lives on in another iteration, I listen to one of 20 of Webb’s works almost every day.  While each artist is unique, when I listen to Bryan’s work I am reminded of Webb and the wonderful sound of the Spanish Guitar.

Snow Returns to The Valley

January has brought The Valley snow.  In enough quantity that the City of Ketchum is back to performing one its principle tasks – removing snow overnight – such that the picturesque town – has The Elephants Perch looking in picture perfect form just before the sun rises.

In enough quantity that snow wraps the Barns that welcome traveller’s heading into Sun Valley from Ketchum.

In enough quantity that north of town Decker Peak in the Sawtooths is decked out in the white stuff.

In enough quantity that I’m going to stop taking pictures and typing and take a ski tour from the cabin into the Iron Creek and back for a little exercise.

Get Out – If Only It Was Easy

In most relationships – business or personal – there comes a time when the person in which you have been involved decides it is time for you to meet the parties for which they are associated or tied.  In business it may mean meeting the boss. When dating, it usually means meeting the parents. Invariably if your relationship is to continue these meetings require at least minimal discussion on straightforward and touchy subjects; morals, positions on topics of the day, race, religion, and sexual orientation. At best this experience is full of angst.  At worst the experience proves to be a nightmare.

Jordan Peele’s clever film Get Out projects all the elements of such an event and more.  Get Out provides comedy, drama, horror, and thriller scenes in taught fashion.  Peele (Key and Peele, The Daily Show, MAD T.V.) sets up the viewer to be the observer\participant in Get Out.  Get Out deliberately telegraphs foreshadowing on foreshadowing – so as to convince you that you know where this story is going and are simply along for the ride.  Sometimes you are right and sometimes you are wrong.  Regardless, the trip is fun viewing.

Get Out stars Daniel Kaluuya (Sicario) and Allison Williams (Girls) as the handsome couple in love.  Both are superb in their roles and Peele’s dialog for both cements their believability.  The parents are played by Katherine Keener (Capote, 40 year-old Virgin, Out of Sight) and Bradley Whitford (West Wing).  There casting is smart because both are the same age and logically could be parents of a women in her late 20’s.  Keener and Whitford have a history of being able to play supporting actors who’s roles are key to the success of the production.  In Get Out they both succeed.

Get Out deliberately leverages off of tried and true filmmaking techniques and provides it in a fresh and enjoyable package.