Ricki and the Flash – Two Thumbs Up

Ricki and the Flash

Ricki and the Flash

When I saw that Meryl Streep was going to be starring in the film Rick and the Flash, my initial reaction was not a good one.  I wondered why on Earth this Oscar award winning actress would take on a role that didn’t seem to measure up to her level of stardom.  The saying goes you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The same concept applies to this film, too.  I was dead wrong about Streep’s performance and the plot.

Ricki and the Flash tells the story of a washed up musician who attempts to rekindle the relationships with her three children.  Rick, played by Streep, left her kiddos behind after she divorced their father, played by Kevin Klein, and sets off to chase her dreams in Los Angeles.

Rick Springfield is Streep’s on screen love interest and side kick in her band.  I was a big fan of Springfield’s growing up and was happy to see this multi-talented 65-year-old Aussie carried his own in the film. As did Streep’s real life daughter, Mamie Gummer, who plays along side her Mom in the film.  The acting gene is clearly strong in the family.

Together Streep and Springfield nailed the live band scenes with their vocal talents coupled with Springfield’s guitar skills.  As a kid who grew up in the 80s, the music of that era resonated with me from the very first scene.  Audra McDonald plays stepmother to Streep’s children and carries her role remarkably well.

Springfield answered questions after a screening this week hosted by The Moms Denise Albert.  He talked about his early stardom and his decision to step out of the spotlight and take an active role in raising his children. Springfield said leaving at the top of his career was a tough call. But getting back into the scene was very difficult as anyone can tell you when trying to resuscitate a career.

Rick Springfield talks to Denise Albert

Rick Springfield talks to Denise Albert

The only bad thing I have to say about the film is this.  Streep has the WORST hair extensions I’ve ever scene on the big screen.  Ricki’s braids are atrocious.  Same goes for her heavy blue eye shadow and eyeliner that never seems to quite get removed at night.  Clearly someone needs to introduce her to Almay’s make-up remover pads.  It’s rocker chic.  But hard to look at when I keep seeing Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady or in the Anna Wintour inspired role as Miranda Priestly she nailed in the Devil Wears Prada.  Both of those characters went to bed at night with squeaky clean skin I’m sure!

I was a guest of The Moms and my opinions are my own.  I liked the film and think you should go see it if you want to be entertained. It’s playing in theaters now.

 

 

Antarctica – The White Continent

 When you ask someone how many continents they have visited, you might suspect that Antarctica would be missing from their list.  Luckily for me, it is not missing. Australia, yes. But,  Antarctica?  Check!  Been there, saw it and have a tv episode to prove it! Watch as I chill with the penguins and dance on the ice!   It was truly a trip of a lifetime that I will never forget!

I spent my time on board the Orion with many well traveled members of Exclusive Resorts.  By the end of the journey we’d all become better acquainted with each other as you’d expect after spending nearly two weeks together!  I even met Scott Forstall, former Apple executive, turned Tony award winning Broadway producer of Fun Home.  Forstall is spending his post-Apple time traveling the world, producing shows and helping the authorities crack down on the on-line sex trade when he’s not at dance lessons with his kids back in California.

If you want to see Antarctica be prepared to drop a lot of Benjamin’s as it is not an inexpensive journey to the bottom of the planet. But I promise you, it is well worth every single penny spent!  You’ll go for the penguins, whales and seals but you’ll want to book your return trip to see the ice!

Costa Rica – Travel Turns into Giving

butterfliessmallLuxury traveling isn’t always about doing, seeing, shopping and getting as much out of an experience as you can.  Sometimes, you can find ways to actually give back in ways other than spending money while traveling.

Traveling over the last year with Exclusive Resorts shooting our travel show Meet Me There,  I’ve met a lot of locals along the way and as you’d imagine,  talked to other club members, too.  But, I’d have to say Lassetter family from May Pearl, Texas made a lasting impression on me and has forever changed the way I approach travel. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing and sharing the family’s story of travel and making a difference in the lives of some local school kids.  Watch it here!

Grand Cayman – Meet Me There

smallfishGrand Cayman is a destination I have returned to many times.  It’s a beautiful place for starters. It’s super easy to get to from New York City on a direct flight on Jet Blue out of JFK.  The sting rays, star fish, sea turtles, sunscreen, sand, sunsets, 7 Mile Beach and star gazing are the things that always take me back to the island in the Caribbean.  This trip is brought to you by the letter ‘S’ it seems!  Check out the Meet Me There episode with me and Corbin!

 

Real Del Mar and a New Start

smallfishTraveling to a new destination is always a thrill. I’ve made several repeat visits to a lot of places over the last 10 years. I’m never bored in the places I return to again and again. Often times, I relish the thought of returning to some of my favorite spots – hello, 11th Moon in Laguna Beach! But it is always good to shake things up a bit and explore new territory. That is precisely what happened on my trip to Real Del Mar, Mexico.

Technically, it was a work trip—my first shoot for the Meet Me There series. But it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was reeling from my father’s recent death. My whole world had been turned on its head. When I traveled to Real del Mar, I was just coming off of my Dad’s funeral the week before. Some alone time on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, even with some work thrown in, was just what I needed. In fact, I’d never needed it more.

I was excited for this first shoot, and a little nervous. As the first one to arrive at the house, I had the views all to myself, and I settled into a lounge chair by the infinity pool and took full advantage of the solitude. It felt nice. Really nice.

Real Del Mar view

View to a Chill

I couldn’t help but think about my Dad and the trips he’d taken with me over the last 8 years. He would have LOVED Real Del Mar. Dad was the kinda guy who liked to sip on a cocktail and “shoot the breeze” about everything from his latest building projects to his new favorite recipe. We had done just that very thing on every trip we’d taken together. Dad was thrilled about the Meet Me There series and knew how excited I was about the project, too. It broke my heart to think he wouldn’t get to see any of it come together.

Surf’s Up

But as soon as my feet hit the ground the next morning, the team and I were off and running on an unforgettable Mexican adventure. It was my first time in Real Del Mar, so I signed myself up for some other firsts—like surfing!

I confess—I am not a huge fan of water activities. Sure, I like to swim in the pool and hang out at the beach, but you’ll never catch me clambering for a boogie board or spending hours playing volleyball in the pool. I’m a leisurely, poolside kind of gal! The water is a side attraction, not the main event.

But I’d recently made a list of my personal 10 Commandments—at the top of the list is a promise that I will take the leap, every time—no matter what. I couldn’t break my own Commandment.

Hangin' 10 and a few fingers

Hangin’ 10 and a few fingers

Nothing motivates you to get up on a surfboard like a video crew “audience” on the shoreline and a photographer floating next to you a camera up your ass, it really motivates you to get up on that surfboard. I knew I had to deliver…something…or I’d have brought us all out here for nothing. So I went for it and found myself surfing! In the Pacific Ocean! On my very first attempt to stand up. Mission accomplished! And I looked amazing (thanks to Henry, a whiz with the camera!) I never dreamed I could do it. Sadly, my honors performance on the surfboard really cut down on the number of water-soaked, four-letter rants for the blooper reel. Sorry kids!

Mingling with the Gypset

I’ve met a lot of characters while traveling, but I had my first real encounter with a gypsy in Sayulita. But Natalie is not just a gypsy—she’s part of the Gypset. What the heck is a Gypset? According to Urban Dictionary:

Gypset
…Fusing the ease and carefree lifestyle of a gypsy with the sophistication of the jet set, Gypsetters are artists, surfers, designers, and bon vivants who live and work around the globe, from Jose Ignacio, Uruguay and Ibiza, Spain, to Montauk, New York. Gypset Style explores the unconventional, wanderlust lives of these high-low cultural nomads and the bohemian enclaves they inhabit, as well as their counterculture forbears, such as the Victorian explorers, the Lost Generation, the Beatniks, and the hippies.

Natalie is a gypset lifestyle guru and the eccentric owner at Pachamama, an amazing little shop and gallery. As soon as I stepped into her store, I was totally mesmerized. I couldn’t stop touching things, like the black tahitian pearl jewelry strung on leather cords and the handmade, locally designed bags. I played dress-up in a hand-embroidered dress that ended up coming home with me. I also snagged some amazing gold spiral earrings! I haven’t decided if I’m going to wear the dress or hang it on the wall. It is simply stunning and so colorful!

photo 5

Natalie was dressed like a gypsy goddess. Not too many women can pull off a look that includes no shoes, a slinky slip dress, face paint, and an enormous feather in the hair, but she did just that.

The Essentials

When I think of Mexico, my monkey brain immediately goes to tacos and tequila. Mama Lucia tequila factory was an essential stop on our trip. We took a tour and did a little tasting. Well, maybe more than a little. But the tequila did not disappoint.

Mama Lucia tequila

Triple Threat at Mama Lucia

You can’t drink tequila without a toast. So with each shot, we did a different toast. I had to stop somewhere after four or five “toasts”. After all, I was working, and the fear of an embarrassing blooper reel surfacing still loomed large in my head. So when you see me swirling around in the episode with a shot of tequila in my hand, I’m not drunk! That was all part of one of our hula/shake-your-money-maker/throw-back-a-shot-of-tequila toasts! I promise.

Tequila tasting

Bottoms up!

The food in and around Real Del Mar was yummy. I’d spent the previous week in Arkansas with my family, eating more than my fair share of Southern comfort food. I was reluctant to overindulge on food while on the shoot—I had a swimsuit to wear, after all, and the camera doesn’t lie!

But when I arrived at Tacos on the Street, my dreams of moderation went straight out the window. The restaurant delivers exactly what the name suggests – Tacos on the Street. The food was fresh and the flavors melded together brilliantly. The tacos were so good, I ordered seconds and ate every last bit.

Tacos on my plate!

Tacos on my plate!

After two weeks in shock, a trip to Real del Mar was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was relaxing, invigorating, and never, ever boring. I learned a few new tricks and got way out of my comfort zone…and liked it. I’d go back in a second. But next time, I’ll work on my surfing and indulge in a few stiff margaritas and a few plates of tacos. But this time, I’ll leave my cameraman behind. My adventures—and my bloopers!—will be mine alone.

That's a wrap on Real Del Mar

That’s a wrap –  with my camera man Henry!

Kids Take Manhattan and One Reluctant Mom

I’ve lived in New York City for years, but I have a confession to make—I have never visited the Statue of Liberty. Or Ellis Island. Not because I don’t appreciate their significance to New York City and America.  But because I have a real dislike for being part of aa sea of tourists.  But now that’s changed, in a big way. After seeing them both on the Exclusive Resorts Kids Take Manhattan Event, I’m glad I waited.

Lady Liberty

On this special Event, we had after-hours access to the Statue of Liberty. We saw Lady Liberty as she’s meant to be seen—without long lines or masses of tourists trying to snap photos. She was impressive close-up. And the only screaming kids were with us! They were thrilled to have room to run to get to the Statue before the rest us. Corbin and I wanted a little background, so we followed our park guide around to the base of the statue for a full rundown.

Statue of Liberty after Dark

Statue of Liberty after Dark

The guide told us that if we wanted to check out the view from her crown, to come back in January or February! Of course, I’d nearly freeze to death getting there, but the crowds are slim and the view is spectacular. Sounds tempting…except the freezing part. We’ll see!

The Great Hall

After our Statue tour (and the requisite trip through the gift shop), we boarded a private ferry toEllis Island. We walked into the main building and into the Registry Room, also known as the Great Hall. It was definitely great, in every sense. The room is awe-inspiring, and had a kid-friendly sit down dinner with the other ER members and their children. Corbin had a blast chatting it up with two boys from Toronto and another one from Alabama.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island

The team of park guides took the kids off to talk with them about their own ancestory. The big kids (adults) hung back with our own guide, who gave us the history of Ellis Island and clarified some of the common day myths – for instance, there was not a book that immigrants signed at Ellis Island that led to names being shortened or changed all together! We all reconvened for a little dessert! Corbin and the boys took off, running, hiding, and playing among the massive beams in the Great Hall until we boarded the ferry for our return trip.

Our Personal Playground

How do you even describe a sleepover at famous toy store FAO Schwarz? Three letters—OMG! Corbin still hasn’t stopped talking about it! He was over-the-moon excited when we showed up. Within in seconds, he was off with the other kids and I left them to their “business”. I’ve heard bits and pieces of how the night unfolded, but I can tell you this: He was up until 2 a.m. and was pretty bleary-eyed when I showed up at 8 a.m. I’ve heard about hide and seek, playing on the renowned giant floor piano, and the candy. Literally buckets of sugary candy. Clearly a recipe for a successful night.

The dream is over, Corbin

Corbin, it’s time to go home!

Broadway

Our last outing was to see the Tony-winning Broadway show Matilda. Despite the great seats, Corbin wasn’t so sure about this one. But once it started and he realized there were really a lot of boys in the cast, he got into it—his lack of sleep the night before got the better of him. He fell asleep during the second act. Fortunately, despite his cat nap, he managed to see and hear some of my favorite scenes in the show.

Corbin before Matilda and his mid-show nap!

Corbin before Matilda and his mid-show nap!

We’ve since downloaded a few of the tunes, too. Corbin is a big fan of Roald Dahl, so he’s checking out the original book. He’s currently halfway through—which makes me infinitely happy. Any Event that leads to more reading is okay by me!

Showtime Selfie

Showtime Selfie

 

The Skimm on the Oscars

motherofpearl-smallMy friend recently turned me onto The Skimm. It’s just that….a skim of the news, what you need to know, what impact it has on your life, and who the players are in the story. As a journalist, I first thought it was not “good enough” for me. Yes, I know that makes me sound like a total snob. Which I admit I can be when it comes to current events. But here’s a confession – I can’t keep up with everything in full detail all the time and have a life that includes raising an 8-year-old! Ukraine, I hear ya! It’s a mess. But I’m trying to get my son to eat healthy, learn to tie his shoes and master long division!

So, I laughed out loud this morning BEFORE I even crawled out of bed after reading The Skimm’s run down on the Oscars and the best film nominations.The Oscars are on Sunday. And you have a lot of movies to cram in this weekend. Don’t stress. Here’s what you need to know about the best pic noms from The Skimm.

ornament-wide

12 Years a Slave… A man is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Very hard to watch and if you don’t like it, you’re a bad person. Lupita Nyong’o. Know her.

The Wolf of Wall Street… It took three hours for Martin Scorsese to explain why you shouldn’t look up to Jordan Belfort and why you shouldn’t work on quaaludes.

Her… This is what happens when you like Siri too much.

Dallas Buyers Club… It took Jared Leto dressing like Kelly Bundy and Matthew McConaughey losing his entire BMI to become major Oscar contenders.

American Hustle… Bradley Cooper got a perm and made Amy Adams — in a weird accent — con some people. Kind of. Everyone said they really liked it but secretly didn’t.

Captain Phillips… Tom Hanks at sea again. But he’s kidnapped this time.

Gravity… Sandra Bullock desperately misses it when she’s lost in space. This is your worst nightmare.

Nebraska… Black and white. Road trip. Bruce Dern will make you cry.

Philomena… Judi Dench tries to find her son. Everyone likes Judi Dench.

Who will win?  Who cares!  It’s all about the red carpet and what the stars are wearing at the end of the day!