Alice Wu, a promising voice finally returns for an encore in Netflix’s “The Half of It.”

Director Alice Wu (third from left) poses with (left to right) producer Teddy Zee, actresses Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen during a 10th anniversary screen of Wu’s debut film “Saving Face.” Wu’s second movie debuts on May 1 in Netflix’s “The Half of It.”

It was several years ago when I first watched “Saving Face,” renting it from a local video store (yeah, it was a VHS) and was captivated by a film that featured three strong leads, two of which I didn’t know much about before.

What drew me was that it was an Asian American film with an interesting premise. A mother and daughter were keeping secrets from each other. The mother is pregnant and no one knows who the father was, while the daughter was in the closet, but entering a serious relationship.

The film was directed by Alice Wu, who had made the unusual transition from tech to motion pictures. But this is around the time when Ang Lee’s career was launched with two movies that still rank among my favorite’s, “The Wedding Banquet” and “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.”

It really felt like the launching pad for some extraordinary voices in the Asian American community. Put that into perspective: Lee has gone on to become one of the most celebrated directors in Hollywood and has won three Oscars.

Wu’s debut work in “Saving Face” is that good.

So it was five years ago that my brother and I headed out to Los Angeles for a 10th anniversary screening and Q&A at the Japanese American National Museum.

I figured it would be a large Asian crowd. Well, it was a large female crowd, which I hadn’t expected. But it is a testament that Wu had touched a nerve in different audiences for different reasons.

But it was a cool evening. I got to meet the cast and Teddy Zee, a legendary producer. Another producer on the movie, who wasn’t there, was Will Smith. Yes, the Fresh Prince.

So a few days ago, I had seen the preview for “The Half of It,” which debuts on May 1 on Netflix. When I saw the trailer, I got excited.

It felt like it a fresh new story, but the spirit of “Saving Face.” It also has the feel of “To All The Boys I Loved Before,” a teen movie with a lot of heart and intriguing characters.

“The Half of It,” is about a 17-year-old who starts writing love letters for the star football player, only to also fall in love with the same girl.

What has surprised me is that it’s been 15 years since Wu has written and directed a film, although she has been a script doctor for other productions. Part of it was her returning home to care for her mother, and part of it was writer’s block. You can learn more about Wu in this feature from the San Francisco Chronicle https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/movies-tv/san-franciscos-alice-wu-gets-back-into-directing-with-new-netflix-film-the-half-of-it?fbclid=IwAR28W9xjBSHI4PdnW0-H24Av8WjHssGPwUi3y4W5C1y1x1QE_7_-Hcb6lKs

But Wu’s story in getting “Saving Face” made reminded me of another film maker got his start, Jon Favreau.

Another one of my favorite independent movies is “Swingers,” which Favreau wrote. And he has gone to become maybe the biggest power player in Hollywood having launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he directed the Iron Man movies. His long list of accomplishments is too long to list.

A few days ago, Jon M. Chu, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians” tweeted out the New York Times article on Wu and posted:

The @thatalicewu is a pioneer that was ahead of her time when I first was in awe of her and now the world has caught up. Get ready everyone, she has a lot more to say. Keep an eye out on her for years to come. @Netflix #TheHalfOfIt

For that New York Times article, go to https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/29/movies/the-half-of-it-alice-wu.html?smid=tw-share

Playlist for a Pandemic, inspired live performances recorded on YouTube

With the cancellation of Coachella and tours, we will be without concerts and live music for a while. Although Chris Martin and John Legend said they would do live performances online, which is cool, although I haven’t had a chance to see it yet. You think I would with all this free time.

So here’s a look at some of my favorite live performances I’ve found on YouTube. These all have something unique, like a special guest.

Landslide with Stevie Nicks and Dave Grohl

This song always brings out the feels. But what makes this performance so special is how Dave Grohl looks at her and really accents the emotions of this song.

End of the Innocence with Bruce Hornsby, Bon Iver and Jenny Lewis

Got a chance to witness this live during Bon Iver’s set at Coachella. There was no introduction, they just started playing and it took me a while to realize he brought out Bruce Hornsby and Jenny Lewis. It was a great moment.

This one keeps getting removed, so enjoy it while you can. There was a better version in the past. Hopefully it will pop up again.

Young Forever with Jay-Z and Beyonce

During Jay-Z’s headlining set at Coachella, he brought in Beyonce to cover the Alphaville’s “Forever Young,” for his song, “Young Forever.”

Never Gonna Give You Up, Rick Astley and Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl has some pretty inspired moments on stage and this is another one, with Rick Astley, giving a rock version of the Rickrolled song “Never Going to Give You Up.”

Shallow with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

As far as I can tell, this is the first time the two performed “Shallow” together since the release of “A Star is Born,” and it was definitely before their heavily buzzed Oscar performance.

Playlist for a Pandemic, a look at music series on YouTube

The worst symptom of the Coronavirus might be boredom. So it’s time to go down some of these wormholes on YouTube to get me through the social distancing.

Also, to start writing my blog again.

So I’m going to do different topics, I think mostly music related. This one will be kicked off with some various music series on YouTube that are fun to follow. To be honest, I haven’t checked in with some of these for a while.

AV Undercover

This is a fun series where top up-and-coming acts come through and cover a song from a selected list. Some of these can be really inspired.

Other times, you’re wondering what the hell you just watched.

But that’s the pure fun of this series. I haven’t been following this lately. But above is a fun cover of “Brandy, You’re a Fine Girl” from Looking Glass. Or maybe you’ll know it better from Guardians of the Galaxy II,

Below is one of my favorites from the series, which is Ted Leo and the Pharmacist covering “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” It’s just a fun rock-punk vibe to an 80s staple.

And this one might be my favorite, Nada Surf covering “Bizarre Love Triangle” from New Order. This song seems to be a favorite of a lot of people as I’ve seen numerous covers of this song. Nada Surf added some horns and a beatbox (kind of) to this song which makes it fun.

PS22 Chorus

I stumbled across this when I was looking up music from Walk The Moon, and “Anna Sun” was one of those earworms I couldn’t shake off. That’s when I discovered this performance with this chorus in New York. It’s a really good series that’s truly inspiring.

Here’s another fun video with Portugal the Man performing “Feel It Still” with the chorus.

Live from Daryl’s House

This is an amazing series that features Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates, and he brings in various acts for some amazing jam sessions. This started when I was obsessed with Fitz and the Tantrums and I was blown away when they were on.

I think this one is a real gem with Nick Lowe, covering his hit “Cruel to be Kind.”

And finally, here is Neon Tree with Daryl covering their hit “Animal.”

Let me know what your favorite music series are on YouTube and I’ll feature my favorites in a future blog. I need the inspiration during this pandemic.

My friend Sam Boghosian, the Lord of the Rings

Sam Boghosian posing with one of the two Super Bowl rings he won with the Raiders as the offensive line coach.

I’m always surprised at Sam Boghosian’s patience with me, because I had always been obsessed with his rings.

When we would meet for lunch or early morning coffee, I would eventually ask about the rings, and inquire if he would bring them over. I hope he didn’t think I was more interested in the rings than him.

Sam was that really cool sports figure that I loved to hang around with. People might not know as much about Sam as other sports figures here in the Palm Springs area. But few sports figures are more accomplished as Sam.

In college, Sam played for UCLA and helped the Bruins win their only national championship in football. When you consider how rich their sports history is, I think that makes the football title especially unique.

Sam had also interviewed for the head coaching job at Oklahoma at one point, but then he got a job as the offensive coordinator coach for the expansion Seattle Seahawks in 1976.

After his stint in Seattle, Sam went on to join his friend Tom Flores with the Raiders where he was the offensive line coach. There, Sam won two more rings.

So I think I got Sam to bring his rings a few times, sitting in Ruby’s or Mimi’s Cafe. If only the people next to us knew what he was carrying.

Sam Boghosian with his two Super Bowl rings while coaching the offensive line for the Raiders in both Oakland and Los Angeles.

I got to know Sam when I worked at the Desert Sun. I can’t remember the story where we met. I’m pretty sure he was promoting a charity event, because he was always giving in that way.

But Sam was great about helping these events as a volunteer. As a journalist, you deal with a lot of PR professionals, and they stink at dealing with the media. They should have hired a guy like Sam.

I’ve made the transition from writer to handling media relations and marketing. My success with it is really based on how Sam did it. He was friendly, informative and knew how to sell it.

In fact, Sam did it better than people who made a career of it.

And Sam would introduce me to people, some who would become interesting stories. I met Bob Newton, who was on the offensive line during Sam’s time with the Seahawks.

Bob is a man who had battled addiction, overcome it and has been a successful counselor for several clinics in town, including the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage.

Sam Boghosian, myself and Bob Newton after one of our lunches.

And of course, I got to know Tom Flores, the former Raiders coach, through Sam.

It was Sam, who alerted me to the fact that Flores is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, despite the fact he won two Super Bowls as a head coach, one as an assistant coach and another as a backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.

He had pushed for Flores to be inducted, and now I try to do what I can to help Flores. I mean, the Raiders have never won a Super Bowl without Tom Flores. The Raiders are the only Southern California team to win a Super Bowl. And Flores is also the first minority coach in the NFL, let along the first to win a title.

Sadly, Sam won’t be around to see Flores inducted into the Hall of Fame.

On Sunday, Sam has passed away. He had Alzheimer’s and his health had been declining.

It took me a while to pick up that Sam had Alzheimer’s. He would always ask me many times how I was doing. But even before he had the disease, he would ask me multiple times how I was doing because he sincerely cared about me.

I’m not the only one who Sam really cared about. Flores would tell me how Sam would have so many friends around the area. He was a lovable guy.

Sam also seemed like a larger-than-life kind of guy. Although he was only 5-foot-9, he just seemed like he would be tough as nails if you pushed him.

I’m not really how Sam would react in a adverse situation, because I never saw Sam angry. Well, that’s if you don’t count the times when he expressed his frustrations over Flores not being in the Hall of Fame.

I had gone through some tough times. Each time I spoke with Sam, he would want to figure out a way to help me. During those times, I wasn’t sure how I could help myself, so I didn’t know what to ask for.

The last time I spoke with Sam was during the holidays. I wanted to wish him a Merry Christmas. He was repeating himself a few times, but it was always wanting to know how I was doing.

To me, that was the same old Sam.

I’m really going to miss him.

Same and me after coffee.

Below is what Sam’s daughter Jody Boghosian Schiltz posted on Facebook.

My daddy, the man that taught me how to love, live and respect has passed away. It’s all fresh and raw. I am grateful for the unconditional love and comfort that he gave me and taught me how to give in return.
My daddy was my hero. ❤️

Sam Boghosian was born in Fresno, CA on December 22, 1931 and passed away in his Indian Wells home on February 23, 2020. With his wife Judy, and daughter Jody by his side.

Sam Boghosian was a man of many talents.
He graduated from UCLA as an Academic All American and asset to the 1954 National Championship Football team. His success at UCLA set the groundwork for the man he would become. His passion for people and football lead him into coaching with jobs at UCLA, Oregon State University, the Houston Oilers, the Seattle Seahawks, and lastly the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. Sam helped coach the Raiders to two Super Bowl Championships.

Dedicated to cultivating lasting and meaningful connections, Sam lived his life in commitment to excellence and to all those around him that he loved so dearly. It was in his blood to help others and leave an impact on every person he met on his journey. As a member of the Triple X Fraternity and the NFL Alumni Association, he utilized his platform to do just that. He raised money and awareness for countless charities, helped facilitate and organize fundraisers, and was always up for a round of golf in honor of a good cause.
Sam Boghosian was a man of integrity, passion, and dedication.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Judy, and their daughter, Jody Schiltz, son-in-law, Brian, and grandson Braden. He now joins his son, John James Boghosian, who preceded him in death. Sam was a beloved son and brother leaving behind his sister, Joyce, brothers, Marty and Joe, their families, and the families of his siblings that passed before him.

We all love Sam dearly.

On behalf of my father, and in lieu of flowers; please consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association as they continue to search for a cure for this debilitating disease. Or please send a monetary donation, in my name, Jody Schiltz, for my mother, Judy Boghosian, who also has Alzheimer’s Disease and needs to be placed in a memory care home. I will be moving Judy to a care facility near my home in Georgia so she can be near my family and receive the care she needs to live the rest of her life with as much dignity as is possible. Thank you for any help you can give, as my parents were not financially prepared for the expenses that are needed for this level of extensive care.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/judy-boghosian-memory-care-fund?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-7a — with Brian Schiltz.  

Sam with all three of his championship rings, the two Super Bowl rings with the Raiders and the national championship ring with the UCLA Bruins.

My Coachella 2019 pick –Alice Merton

By Leighton Ginn

The best part of Coachella is catching acts just before they take off. Or catching a star as they ascend into legendary status.

This year, I think that act could be Alice Merton. I love her voice and her beats. I’m hooked.

But let me make something clear. She’s been gaining traction for a year. I think with her being at Coachella, I think it will bring a wave of momentum to elevate her even more. Her music is really good.

Her most popular song is “No Roots,” a catchy, moody song that has a great hook that sucks you in. She’s performed this song on the late night talk show circuit.

When I listen to this song, I just think it’s going to be amazing to her it live. It has the recipe to be a lot of fun.

But my favorite from Alice is “Lash Out.” I get giddy when the open guitar riff and then goose bumps anticipating the electricity her voice brings.

I’m posting this acoustic version that just got me geeking out.

It bums me out I won’t be able to catch her live at Coachella.

If you have a wristband, do not miss Alice Merton.

Pasarell’s look back on Andre Agassi’s first trip to the BNP Paribas Open

By Leighton Ginn

Former BNP Paribas Open owner and tournament director Charlie Pasarell said his mentor Pancho Gonzalez request an unknown 15-year-old get a wildcard. Without question or seeing the kid, Pasarell gave the kid a wildcard.

That kid happened to be Andre Agassi.

Agassi did well in the first round, beating John Austin, setting up a matchup against then No. 1 Mats Wilander.

Prior to the match, Wilander came into Pasarell’s office to ask what he knew about Agassi.

Pasarell didn’t know much, but suggest Wilander avoid his forehand.

When Pasarell went to watch the match, Wilander hit every shot to Agassi’s forehand, and won in dominating fashion, which Pasarell jokes about.

“Well that’s how much I know about the game of tennis,” Pasarell said laughing.

Because Agassi was an amateur, he couldn’t accept prize money. But Pasarell said made sure Agassi was properly compensated.

Agassi had put in his expenses as $300, but the prize money for reaching the second round was $1,000.

But Pasarell said he looked at Agassi’s expenses and thought there were things that were off, and made his corrections.

The story was later told differently by Agassi in his autobiography, “Open.”

Below is the full video of Pasarell talking about Agassi at the BNP Paribas Open.

Tough road for Williams sisters as BNP Paribas Open women’s draw announced

Serena Williams, seeded 10th, could open her BNP Paribas Open campaign against Victoria Azarenka in a rematch of the 2016 finals, and possibly face former No. 1 Garbine Muguruzu in the third round.

By Leighton Ginn

Serena Williams will have a tough road in the BNP Paribas Open with possible matchups against former No. 1 players in the world in her first two matches.

Her sister Venus won’t have much of a cake walk either.

The BNP Paribas Open announced its women’s draw on Monday, and the road to the title.

Serena, who won the BNP Paribas Open title in 1999 and 2001, is the 10th seed and will have bye in the first round. In the 96- player draw, the top 32 players have a first-round bye.

To open her tournament, Serena could face Victoria Azarena in a rematch of the 2016 final, which Azarenka won 6-4, 6-4. It’s also a match up of two of the more high-profile working mothers on the tour.

Azarenka will face Vera Lapko in the first-round.

If Serena gets past Azarenka, she could face former No. 1 Garbine Muguruza, who is seeded 20th.

Serena has a 3-2 record against Muguruza.

Muguruza won their last matchup, beating Serena 7-5, 6-4 in the 2016 French Open final to claim her first major title. Muguruza also claimed the 2017 Wimbledon title when she beat Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0.

Venus Williams is unseeded and will play a first-round match against the dangerous Andrea Petkovic. They have split their four career matches, with Petkovic beating Venus in the Stanford tournament in 2014,

If Venus survives her opening match, she will then have to face third-seed Petra Kvitova, who is coming off a finals appearance at the Australian Open.

A two-time Wimbledon champion, Kvitova has a 4-2 record over Venus.

Leighton Ginn, who has covered the BNP Paribas Open for two decades, will be working with iHub Radio during the tournament. iHub will be live from 1-3 p.m. weekdays. You can go to http://www.ihubradio.com to listen or find it on the Tune In app.

Top-10 Oscar-winning songs

By Leighton Ginn

One of the clear favorites to win a 2019 Oscar is the song “Shallow” from “A
Star is Born,” which will probably go down as one of the top movie songs of all time.

But what are the other greats? There’s been 84 songs to win an Oscar. This is one man’s opinion on the top-10 Oscar-winners of all time.


. SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

I think this one is pretty automatic, as this is a song numerous generations have grown up with.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow won the 1930 Academy Awards, making it the sixth song ever to win the award. The American Film Institute has named is the No. 1 song in its “100 Greatest American Movie Music.”

MY HEART WILL GO ON


Celine Dion had so many songs nominated for best song, but this one is her defining number that earned her the 1997 Oscar. “Titanic” is one of the most successful films in history, and this song is one of the reasons why. AFI ranked this No. 10.

LOSE YOURSELF

Eminem’s theme song from his semi-autobiographical film “8 Mile,” is the classic song from a genre that’s so rarely recognized by the academy. It took home the 2002 Oscar, but AFI isn’t so kind to the song as it only ranked 93rd.

SHAFT

This is the funkiest winner of all time. And quite possibly the coolest song to win the Oscar.

It makes me happy that a best song winner has the lyrics “Who’s the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks.” We’re talking about “Shaft,” the 1971 award winner. AFI ranked this No. 38.

Can you dig it?

A new version of the “Shaft” series will be out later this year with Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson.

I’VE HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE

Nobody puts this song in the corner.

“Dirty Dancing” was the little movie that could, and “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” was the theme song that made the movie go. It’s a great collaboration between Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. Warnes had the golden touch as she also sang in the award-winning “Up Where We Belong,” from An Officer and a Gentleman,” and “It Goes Like It Goes,” from Norma Rae. AFI ranked this No. 86. 

FAME

And now we begin the Irene Cara portion of the list. She was golden in the 80s with “Fame,” a film in which she also starred in. And that year might have been one of the strongest group of songs, which included the Willie Nelson classic “On The Road Again,” from “Honeysuckle Rose” and Dolly Parton’s hit “9 to 5) from the film of the same name. AFI ranked this song No. 51.

FLASHDANCE … WHAT A FEELING


Three years later, Irene Cara did it again with the theme from “Flashdance,” as “What a Feeling,” became another classic. And this time, Cara had to beat out Barbra Streisand, who had two songs from “Yentl.” AFI ranked this song No. 55.

UP WHERE WE BELONG


One of the great duets of all time that matched Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, the song from “An Officer and a Gentleman,” was an instant classic. It took home the 1982 Oscar, beating out “Eye of the Tiger” from “Rocky III” and “It Might Be You,” from “Tootsie.” AFI ranked it No. 75.

MOON RIVER

Andy Williams is famous for singing this song, but it’s Audrey Hepburn’s performance in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” that won it the Oscar in 1961. AFI ranks it No. 4.

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT

Fred Astaire is one of the most influential dancers in the history of cinema, which sometimes overshadows his accomplishments as a singer. Although he claims he’s not a great singer, many of Astaire’s songs are stables in the Great American Songbook, including “The Way You Look Tonight” from the 1936 film “Swing Time.” Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Michael Buble have since covered the song. AFI ranked this No. 43.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Streets of Philadelphia (Philadelphia), Let It Go (Frozen), Thanks for the Memories (The Big Broadcast of 1938), Mona Lisa (Captain Carey, U.S.A.), Last Dance (Thank God It’s Friday), Let The River Run (Working Girl), When You Wish Upon A Star (Pinocchio), White Christmas (Holiday Inn).

The Rebirth of Ginn & Topics

I haven’t written on here for a while, but life changes and so will Ginn and Topics.

Before, this blog was to continue my writing. I was a sports writer since I graduated college, and I had covered tennis and boxing in my last newspaper job. This was a way to keep up.

It was also a way to indulge in another passion, music. I had gone to a lot of concerts and had a lot of photos to share as well.

I’m still going to do that.

But I’ve started to do marketing and content creation. So this will also be a space where I will show some of my videos and talk about the clients I work with.

The last project I worked on was the Palm Springs Health Run and Fitness Expo. I was brought on to help with social media and create video content. Above, you’ll see the wrap up video. Below is the first promotional video to launch our campaign.

The race featured a 10K and 5K runs, a 5K walk that was part of the United Way program, and a 1K fun run for kids. If you want to learn more about it for next year, go to http://www.palmspringshealthrun.com

The promoter of the event is Jeff Hocker of Hocker Productions. He told me the numbers were up around 30 percent or so. I’d also encourage you to listen to Jeff’s radio show on http://www.ihubradio.com/ every Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. It’s a health and wellness show, so you’ll get a lot of great information.

The promotional video to launch our campaign

Indio’s Ruben Rodriguez wins debut, Javier Padilla fights to a draw at Carson

 

RodriguezPadilla_Hoganphotos

Ruben Rodriguez’s fight against Roland Padilla on Aug. 26 at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif. Photos: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

 

By Leighton Ginn

Indio fighters had a mixed night at the Stub Hub Center on Saturday night as Ruben Rodriguez won his professional debut by second round knock out in a super lightweight bout.

“I’m glad that I had my debut win be a knockout. Considering that I was really nervous, I’m satisfied with my performance,” Rodriguez said of his victory over Roland Padilla (0-3) from Los Angeles. “I got to start my professional career on a Miguel Cotto undercard, and that is really crazy to me, and is a great way for me make my way up in boxing.”

Rodriguez was the first of a 10-fight card that was headlined by Cotto’s fight against Tokyo’s Yoshihiro Kamegai.

 

PadillaArias_Hoganphotos

Javier Padilla’s right against Ricardo Arias on Aug. 26 at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif. Photos: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

 

Fellow Indio boxer Javier Padilla fought to a draw against Mexico City’s Ricardo Arias in a four-round super bantamweight fight.

Despite the minor setback, Padilla remained positive.

“I’m not very happy with the way the judges scored the fight, but I know that this is a learning experience,” Padilla said. “I should have used my reach a lot more, however, I just like to fight from the inside. He was tough, and kept smothering my punches. I’m ready to get back into the ring.”

 

— Quotes provided by Jenna Dresner of Mercury. Photos by Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions