A Tribute to Olivia Newton John

For the world and right now for me, it is difficult to realize or to even type, “Olivia Newton John passed away on August 8, 2022”. She lived to be 73, almost 74. Her next birthday would have been September 26.

In the history of world-famous singers or actors there has never been anyone who did it better than Olivia Newton John. She was never a diva, there were never any embarrassing incidents throughout her entire career or anything that was controversial. She devoted her life to helping animals, to saving the planet, to global warming and ultimately to curing Cancer. Oliva has a Cancer research hospital in Australia named after her: The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, due to her tireless work with Cancer research.

Olivia was married twice, divorced once. She tried to start her own franchise business called Koala Blue in the 1990s that failed after a strong start due to the recession. In 1992, like so many millions of women, Olivia was diagnosed with breast Cancer and I remember thinking at the time, she is too beautiful, too cute, too kind, too good to animals, too nice a person to have anything bad happen to her. Not ever. Unfortunately, this is not how real life works — but it should.

In her lifetime, Oliva contracted Cancer 3 times, this last time was stage 4 and this is what eventually ended her life after living with Cancer in one form or another for 30 long years. Someone this nice, who has done so much good for the world should not have to go through something like this for so long. Just like Christopher Reeve with spinal injuries and Michael J. Fox with Parkinson’s Olivia’s huge world-wide celebrity put a giant spotlight on the never ending human health scourge of Cancer – much more than it would ever been without her. Olivia put her suffering with chemo, and fear of death for so long to good use – just like she always did – to help other people. In the long run, maybe one day we will all realize that Olivia’s main purpose was to become famous and beloved around the world, less so for her music and more for helping man kind to finally eliminate the disease of Cancer, forever. Too many millions still die of this horrendous disease every year despite billions and billions of dollars invested for research for many decades.

When the news about Olivia was announced yesterday, many of her fans, starting with me, have already known for years that this day would come eventually. Some two years ago, there was a news report that Olivia had died that turned out to be fake, but it was this kind of a reminder and realization for so long that made yesterday just a little easier to accept.

Now we all have to move on, as we all always try to do, But this time, without Olivia Newton John. How do we do that? For me, things already seem to be off, not right and skewed in some unidentifiable way.

For her whole incredible career that peaked in the 1980’s Olivia never knew the value of her singing career to so many average depressed people like me, trapped in their cars, trying to survive another bad day, another bad job. Then with the random turn of radio dial to another station playing one of her songs, for those few minutes, life just seemed to be just a little better.

Gone way too soon. Life will never be the same again without her.

Movie Review: Easter Sunday

The story of standup comedian Jo Koy is about a long and hard trek through the pitfalls and hardships of trying to make it as a standup comedian. We all know about the few who make it big, like Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, and Chris Rock. Two of them, Hart and Schumer, have written books about how hard it is to break into an almost impossible future that would include fame and fortune traveling the country, performing standup. This dream includes filling up stadiums, fame and making a huge amount of money. How many of us would be willing or able to pay the dues that the very few who have made it in comedy – even if you knew in advance that you would succeed? Based on how hard it is to make it by working in bad venues, living in bad hotels non stop for years, how many would be willing to even try?

I remember Jo Koy from his frequent appearances on the Chelsea Lately show several years ago. Chelsea Handler is another example of a miracle career of someone who grew up in Livingston New Jersey and then hit it big on the road as a female standup comedian. The odds of success like hers, considering how difficult it was to make it, is amazing. It is the same unlikely miracle for someone like Jo Koy, who grew up poor as a Philipino American and toiled for years before his recent success. About a month ago, Koy and Handler ended their 1 year relationship in front of the entire entertainment world but continue their 20 year friendship. One of the downsides of being famous is that your personal life is broadcast in front of the whole world.

Some time ago, Jo Koy, based on the fact that he has two high rated Netflix standup specials, was called into the office of Amblin Entertainment, the production company owned by of all people, Steven Speilberg. It turns out that Speilberg is a big fan of Jo Koy’s standup act and because of this, he decided to back a new movie idea, based on Koy’s family life. The movie is “Easter Sunday” and has been released this weekend. Having a meeting in the production studio of Amblin Entertainment is a dream of every aspiring screenwriter or actor. It had to feel for Jo Koy that his ship had finally come in and he had finally made it after so many years of hard times and standup gigs. Steven Speilberg likes your standup act and wants to make a movie about your life? It does not get better than that.

Unfortunately the new movie “Easter Sunday” which is about Koy’s extremely hectic professional and family life – included a screenplay that is both not good enough, and more importantly not funny enough. Considering the resources and talent pool that someone as powerful as Steven Spielberg controls, I was rather amazed at the relatively low quality of this film. This entire story is about the high stress and constant lack of time the main character Joe Valencia, played by Koy has to spend time with his son, his x-wife and most importantly his overbearing mother, who is a major part of Koy’s standup act. This story degrades into chase scenes and some gunplay involving a ganster and of all things the boxing gloves of Mannie Pacquiao when he fought Oscar Dela Hoya. This rapid fire manic non stop story does not work in so many areas and fails in too many attempts to be funny to ever recommend.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are a too low 33%, with my rating around 50% and a solid pass. In this case, I am most amazed at the low quality script of a Spielberg backed production. Hopefully Koy will bounce back with something much better.

Movie Review: Bullet Train

There are so many things facinating to consider when a stupid and bad movie like “Bullet Train” is released. How can a high level named star like Brad Pitt read, comprehend and then decide to make garbage like this after reading the script? Did someone just gather together some named stars like Brad Pitt and throw in cameos from Ryan Reynolds, Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock and believe that all those well known bankable personalities can rescue an extremely bad movie? Did someone owe some producer or director a favor, given that Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock were the main stars in the recent also bad “The Lost City” where Brad Pitt did a cameo in their movie? How much money was spent on a story, script, idea this stupid? How much money will be lost when decisions to make a movie this horrible are accumulated over a long period of time?

The best critical comments on Rotten Tomatoes about this movie is from Rex Reed who wrote “Just when you think you’ve seen the worst movie ever made, along comes a pile of toxic waste called Bullet Train. During the course of an interminable and unimpeachably excruciating two hours and six minutes, this abomination of a movie not only kills off almost everyone onboard but demolishes two of the world’s most miraculous trains as well. I could not agree more with these comments.

For me there were only 2 good things about this mess. The heavy English accents make much of the stupid dialogue indiscernible. The Bullet Train in Japan is a very impressive means of very fast transportation that cost 90 billion dollars to build. Other than that, there is nothing good here. The scenes are disconnected and all over the place. There is no logical flow, anywhere. There is flipping from different timelines trying to explain this garbage of movie mess. Nothing makes any sense, increasing the hopes that this torture of 2 hours of wasted film will finally be over.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this movie are a way too high 53%, with my rating of 3% – only for those who are interested in seeing Japan’s impressive bullet train. Do yourself a favor and miss this embarrassment of movie making – one of the worst movies ever made.