There’s No Business Like $how Busine$$

by Bob Sparrow

Indeed, there is no business like show business when it comes to spending time, energy and money patting themself on the back   We have now just concluded what I call the ‘Actors’ Aggrandizement Season’; there’s been the Golden Globe Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and new to the party is the Made in Hollywood Honor Awards, because apparently Hollywood felt we were one awards show short of genuinely honoring actors and actresses. And now finally (I think!) we’ve endured the just-concluded Oscars – excuse me, the Academy Awards ceremony presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where winning an Oscar means . . . “I can ask for more money for my next movie”.

Watchers of the Oscars were subjected, ad nauseam, to the emotional thank yous from the beautiful people, to their agent, their psychiatrist, their current spouse and of course, us, the fans who they believe, wish we were them. We heard how wonderful the acting ‘craft’ is and of course we heard not what they were wearing, but who! Really?! Most of all, these thespians wanted to make sure they used their celluloid platform to express their banal opinions on domestic and world affairs – forget that most of them couldn’t find Syria on a map if they were adopting a baby in Damascus, much less understand the intricacies of our foreign and domestic policies. Yet, they have opinions and they are free to express them – unfortunately they all have the very same opinions. Where’s the diversity they so cherish?

Aside from similar opinions, one of the other things they have in common is a large, fragile ego. Do you remember when they used to open ‘The Envelope’ (which now cost $200 each!  Yes, just the envelope!) and say, “And the winner is . . .”? They don’t say that anymore, because saying ‘winner’ would imply that there are ‘losers’, so the presenters were asked a few years ago to change the phrase to say, “And the award goes to . . .”.  Now that is standard phraseology for ALL the award shows.

Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu Beach, Kauai

And under the heading of ‘all participants should get a trophy’, gift bags or ‘swag bags’ as those on the inside call them, are given to all of the nominees in the actor, actress and director categories. The bags include such things as a 5-night stay on the island of Kauai, a full wardrobe of women’s clothes from Belldini, a stay at an Italian hotel overlooking Lake Como, and while they’re in Italy they have a three-night stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria which overlooks Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast, the cost of a suite there is $1,800 a night. They’ll get another week at an exclusive spa, a Casper mattress for each nominee AND THEIR DOG, and many, many more items. The value of the swag bags last year was approximately $230,000 . . . that’s not for all the bags, that’s EACH! There is no business like show business!  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that $3.4 million could go to a better cause than 15 wealthy movie people.

Oh, I almost forgot, under the category of ‘any publicity is good publicity’, the Razzies, or more formally, The Golden Raspberry Awards, were handed out last week recognizing the worst picture and actors of the year. I didn’t watched them, but I wonder if they said, “and the loser is . . .” Nah!

My sense is that actors and actresses are generally not people that I would want to spend a lot of time with or have my children emulate. Their morals are questionable, they spend money foolishly, certainly too much on houses, cars, psychiatric help, and ex-spouses and wherever they are, it is always all about them. Going on location to shoot a movie always takes precedent over going to their kid’s soccer game. Generalizations I know, some do get it, but most don’t. Contrast these statements from two famous actors:

When is Robert Redford really acting?

Robert Redford said of the recent passing of Mary Tyler Moore, “The courage she displayed in the movie Ordinary People, taking on a role darker than anything she had ever done was brave and enormously powerful”. Really?? OK, I liked the character The Sundance Kid and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Mary Tyler Moore in her own show as well as The Dick Van Dyke Show and was saddened to hear of her recent passing, but I felt that Redford must have been acting when he said that, or does he really believe that playing a character in a movie is “brave and enormously powerful”?

Contrast that with what Denzel Washington said when he was sitting around the table with a group of fellow movie people and was asked how tough it was to make his latest movie, Fences. He said, “Making a movie isn’t tough, sending your kid to Iraq is tough! Making a movie is a luxury; it’s just a movie!”  Thank you!

Hidden Figures

As unimpressed as I seem with the acting profession, I have watched most of the aforementioned award shows. Why? The truth is, I love movies, I love a great story well told. I don’t know the political leanings of the three women who were in Hidden Figures, nor do I care, but the movie, told a great, true story of three incredibly smart and courageous women who succeeded in spite of having to overcome significant obstacles (There, Mr. Redford is bravery and courage . . . in real life). You don’t have to like Mel Gibson to recognize his performance as William Wallace in Braveheart, another great story based on historical events.

Good actors make good movies, and I love them.

But they’re just movies.


by Bob Sparrow

Happy new year 2013 Thank you to my sister, Suzanne for introducing me to the idea of the ‘upside down bucket list’, for it was that concept that has inspired me to look at New Year’s resolutions differently.  Like many, I typically resolve to be a better spouse, parent, friend . . . person and include the requisite increase in exercise and consumption of much healthier food resulting in a painfully slow, if ever, decrease in weight.  Like many, I also have a bucket list of places I want to visit and things I want to do and resolutions always include checking off a few of those items during the ensuing year.  While resolutions and bucket lists look great in late December, reality seems to find its way into the new year and render many, if not most, of our resolutions unattainable.

 So this year, rather than ‘dream’ about the places I’d like to go in 2013, I thought I’d do the ‘upside down thing’ and look back at 2012 and review what I’d done and where I’d actually been.  Then, rather than be disappointed at not doing or getting to the places I resolved to get to, I’d be able to just ‘grade’ myself based on what I’d done and where I’d gone and hopefully put a few checks on that big bucket list.

Twenty-twelve will not be marked in my memory by the many places I visited or the life I led, but rather by the life I lost – the passing inscan0041 February of my best friend, Don Klapperich.  For more than 50 years he was a best friend, a mentor, a singing partner, a moral compass, a confidant, the little voice in my head and so much more.  He was a most talented, intelligent, entertaining and complex man.  He knew me better than anyone and I knew him as much as anyone could.  I miss him dearly.  I regret not spending more time with him, not talking to him more on the phone, not emailing as often as I could have, not going to visit more often.  I suppose it’s natural to now have a better understanding of the tenuousness of life; to better appreciate each day we’re given and to not take those around us for granted.  I don’t know if it’s a resolution, but I will try harder to remember these things – they have become more important to me.

Those who have followed our blog know that I’ve had the privilege of going to some wonderful places this year.  In January I was in Hawaii, on the Big Island to watch the PGA Senior’s golf tournament at Hualalai and then on to Maui to play golf and just watch some sunsets at Wailea.  I had a much too up-close and personal look at ‘senior living’ at my mom’s facility in Sonoma and while I was in the area I hiked through historical Jack London State Park in the rolling hills of Glen Ellen.  I traveled across country on business to Sunriver, Oregon, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Holyoke, Massachusetts and I HAD to return to the island of Kauai to attend a conference.  I lived on a boat in the harbor in Cabo San Lucas for three days while not photo (77)catching a single fish, but I did get to hang upside down at the Giggling Marlin.  I spent a week in our timeshare in Palm Desert for the 18th year in a row and hope I can play another 18.  I revisited the differences between northern and photo (74)southern California as I returned to the palm and pine trees on Highway 99 out of Fresno, and I spent several days not quite 26 miles across the sea on Catalina Island.  I thought I saw John Lennon at the Laguna Sawdust Festival, twice!  I stood at the lowest point on the North American continent in surprisingly stunning Death Valley, and I stood on top of Half Dome in not-so-surprisingly stunning Yosemite National Park.  And I had my annual martini with my Dad in his final resting place at Lake Tahoe.

That’s an upside down list that I may have a hard time topping in 2013.  I feel so very privileged to be afforded the opportunities to experience all that I have in 2012 and I know I was privileged to have such a great best friend for over 50 years.  It was a memorable year in so many ways. I recommend looking back at your year and the only resolution I would make is that in a year from now you’re going to look back at 2013 – make it memorable.

I know I speak for my dear friend and wonderfully talented sister, which she doesn’t often let me do because she can speak so well for herself, in thanking all of you who read our blog and especially those who send us back comments to let us know our words don’t all end up in cyber space.  May you all have an extraordinary 2013.


And now a word from our sponsor

Most of you know I’m now working for Zipz Gear, a unique shoe company, but may not know that I am now writing a ‘shoe blog’ called ‘From the Lipz of Zipz’.  You can find the blog by going to our website at  Feel free to check out the shoes while you’re there.


Hawaiian Postscript – OK, OK I Didn’t Work the WHOLE Time!

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by Bob Sparrow

     For those who may have questioned my veracity regarding the story on my recent trip to Hawaii (I Had To Go To Hawaii To WORK! – A Picture Story), in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that while the conference I attended did go from Thursday – Saturday, the vendors (and I’m a virtual vending machine) were not included in Saturday’s agenda.  Since I was wasn’t sentenced to spend five hours on a ‘red eye’ strapped into the last row of seats for my flight home until 9:00 pm Saturday, I had the whole day to explore Kaua’i.

     On Friday evening, while not sitting at one of those tiki bars not having one of those umbrella drinks, I struck up a conversation with a young man who had just returned from a hike.  I asked him to tell me about it.  He had me at “at the end is this beautiful waterfall.”  My Saturday was planned.

     I took the Kuhio Highway – the term ‘Highway’ here is used in the most colloquial sense – it is a narrow, two-lane road, when it doesn’t cross a river and go down to a one-lane bridge, that winds past the posh resort, homes and golf courses of Princeville and then through the quaint and euphonious town of Hanalei until it just ends.  I think it was the first highway I’d driven on that just came to a dead-end.  I parked.  I was at Ke’e Beach in Haena State Park, on the Na Pali coast, trailhead for the hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls.  This was the setting for Bali Hai in the movie South Pacific; beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe it.

     The trail to the falls goes up the mountain then down to Hanakapi’ai Beach, which is two miles away.  It is narrow and drops off rather dramatically.  Here is part of the ‘Hazard Warning’ for this trail:

Extreme inclines and declines on uneven, narrow footpath on high cliffs.  Loose rocks underfoot and from eroding cliffs above.  Strong currents and flash flooding can occur at the river.  Dangerous shorebreak and riptides at Hanakapi`ai beach – use extreme caution.  Hike Rating: Strenuous

      So one false step could send you down the cliff, careening off lava rock into a watery grave several hundred feet below; but you will have died in a most beautiful place, so you’d have that going for you.

     It was about mid-morning when I reach Hanakapi’ai Beach and it was becoming quite warm; I considered a quick dip in the ocean (I read the ‘Hazard Warning’ after I did the hike) when I noticed a wooden sign stuck in the sand at the entrance to the beach.

 In case you can’t read it, it says, “BEACH WARNING! DO NOT GO NEAR THE WATER, UNSEEN CURRENTS HAVE KILLED (82 in Roman numerals) VISITORS.  I noticed that there was plenty of room for more hash marks so . . .

I splashed a little water in my face from the stream, turned and got on the trail toward the falls


     The trail cuts through the rainforest and crisscrosses the stream several times.   An agile hiker could use the large rocks in the stream as ‘stepping stones’ for the many traverses that are required.  I, on the other hand, had shoes and socks that were soaked by the time I reached the falls.  And I’m sure a less-experienced hiker might lose this poorly marked and seldom traveled trail, but . . . OK, yes, I misplaced the trail a few times, but I told myself I was just being adventurous, not lost; the road less traveled and all that.  I was less cavalier about losing the trail when I remembered that Jurassic Park was filmed around here and wondered if any of those creatures were still hanging out here.  Instinctively my step quickened.  As I was making my way back to the trail I came upon a fairly wide clearing in the otherwise thick foliage.  I noticed a sign at the other end of the clearing and made my way over to see what it said.


     What?!  I could have taken a helicopter here?!!  Don’t tell anyone, but I did ‘linger’ there for a while and thought that anyone coming to see the falls by helicopter would have missed the beautiful scenery along the way, and probably had very dry shoes and thus would not have appreciated the experience nearly as much as I did.

   Moving a little further up the trail, I reached the falls.  The view was spectacular and well worth the four mile hike, OK, it was worth the eight mile hike since I was planning on making the return trip.  The falls are several hundred feet high and cascade into a crystal clear pool, complete, as you can see in the photo, with nymphs, mythologically speaking.  I included them in the picture to give a perspective of the size of the waterfall.

       The return trip was uneventful, although I think someone moved the rocks in the stream further apart.  By the time I got back to the trailhead, my shoes were completely soaked, but my throat was quite dry, as I had run out of water on my return trip, so the young Hawaiian selling fresh coconuts filled with milk, complete with straw, at trails end, was a welcome sight.

     My shoes were not only soaked, but they were severely cut up from the lava rock, so no longer viable for hiking, but I wear them now when I work in the yard, and every time I look at them I think of this most beautiful hike.