Fitness and Fame with Jack LaLanne

Jack Lalanne

A tribute from the original article and interview published in ALIVE, March 2007, by Antonia Venezia.

Who would ever think of swimming the length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater handcuffed and shackled while towing a 1,000 pound boat? Who would swim the treacherous Golden Gate Channel, towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser while fighting the cold and swift currents?

There is only one person who comes to my mind and he is America’s Number 1 Energetic Fitness Expert and Guru, Jack L Lanne. His breathtaking feats, some of which were performed in the Bay Area, have made undisputed world records through the years. “On my 65th Birthday I towed 65 boats a mile and a half in Tokyo. On my 70th Birthday I towed 70 boats with 70 people in it with my feet and hands tied a mile and a half in Long Beach,” says LaLanne.

Jack LaLanne is best described as a pioneering fitness enthusiast who finds immense joy in educating millions of people to stay healthy, fit and trim. Often known as a top-quality mover, shaker and motivator, inspiring both the young and old, he’s been able to attain the fountain of youth. There are many fans who want to find out what his youthful secret is; it’s obvious that he’s doing something right. At 92, this nonagenarian is still going strong and his energy level is higher than some people who are in their forties. “I work out two hours every day. I eat no meat, just fish and egg whites. That’s where I get my protein. It isn’t what you do once in a while – it’s what you do all the time! The main thing is getting your 4-6 raw vegetables every day and 3 or 4 pieces of fresh fruit. All your grains have to be natural whole grains. Now is that asking too much? It’s eating all the junk between meals that’s terrible,” says LaLanne.

Jack LaLanne began his fascination for health and fitness, after attending pioneer nutritionist Paul Bragg’s health lecture at the Oakland City Women’s Club. At that time, LaLanne was a skinny fifteen year-old junk food junkie and sugarholic, soon to be convinced that if he exercised and maintained a proper diet, he could regain good health. He learned how to change his bad lifestyle and old eating habits from the advice of Braggs, which in turn became the catapult that set his healthy lifelong journey and quest in motion. While setting his sights on his new health-kick adventure, he finally attained the muscular body of his dreams, after discovering a set of weights at the Berkeley YMCA. He began experimenting and studying everything that had to do with Gray’s Anatomy – it was his bible. “I became a voracious reader and I absorbed everything that would help me to improve myself,” claims LaLanne.

Jack LaLanne soon became an American icon and role-model to many. In the fifties, LaLanne’s fitness craze spread like a burning wildfire throughout the country and today history obviously speaks for itself – he’s still moving mountains and muscles. “You have to take care of your 640 muscles and the #1 thing is exercise. You can eat perfectly, but if you don’t exercise, you cannot get by,” says LaLanne.

Jack LaLanne, hailing originally from San Francisco, opened the nation’s first modern health studio in 1936 on the third floor of an old office building in Oakland California. “I was forty years ahead of my time. I knew more about the workings of the muscles in my body than most doctors,” says LaLanne.

As Jack LaLanne’s new and exciting innovative ideas on health kept increasing, he landed a great opportunity to showcase his fitness knowledge on television reaching even more people with “The Jack LaLanne Show.” “It started in 1951. My show was on for 34 years. That was the first show ever in history to have a health and exercise show. Nobody came along until three or four years later”, mentions LaLanne. He reached out to millions of Americans with his uplifting gospel message – “Get out of your chair, work out and feel better.”

LaLanne set out to create some of the most impressive firsts in the world of physical fitness. He was the first to have athletes, women and the elderly working out with weights, the first to have a combination of Health Food Bar and Gym, the first to have a coed health club, and the first to combine weight training and nutrition. LaLanne was even the first to sell vitamins and exercise equipment on television. How impressive is that!?

As a creator of innovative fitness merchandise, he invented the first leg extension machine and the first pulley machines using cables, along with the first weight selectors. With these impressive accomplishments, no wonder he’s often called, “The Godfather of Fitness” and “The King of Fitness.” “I don’t care what they call me, just so they pronounce my name right”, adds LaLanne with a chuckle.

Jack LaLanne believes that you control everything within yourself; the thoughts you think, the words you utter, the foods you eat and the exercise you do. Vigorous, systematic exercise and proper diet are part of his daily regimen; working out every day is at the top of his list. “There’s no reason for anybody to be sick and tired, fat and out of shape – it’s ridiculous! This has got to be taught in the schools. It’s got to be taught in kindergarten. That’s when kids should first get the idea that the most important thing in your life is your health and your body. You can have all the education and you can have millions of dollars in the bank, but if you’ve got headaches every day, if you’re fat and you are out of shape – what good is your money? Your health account and your bank account, build them both up,” says LaLanne.

This inspiring non-stop entrepreneur is always coming up with something new. “The Jack LaLanne Power Juicer” is selling like hot cakes world-wide. “This juicer is the most successful thing that’s ever been on television. We’re selling millions. I never once thought of making money. With my juicer you can put in a whole potato, squash and 6 raw vegetables. In 30 seconds it’s done,” claims LaLanne.

During our interview I asked Jack La Lanne about his lovely wife, Elaine LaLanne. With his heartfelt reply, he said: “Without her I’m a big nothing! She’s the power underneath my muscles. We are a team. We’re lovers, we’re business partners, we’re friends and we’re associates. We both believe one thing: Wanting to help people who help themselves.” Together, they do lectures on exercise and nutrition and appear on various television spots. Elaine LaLanne has written five books: Fitness After Fifty, Dynastride, Fitness After Fifty Workout, Total Juicing and Eating Right for a Whole New You. Jack LaLanne recently completed a cookbook called Cooking with Jack – Eat Right and You Can’t Go Wrong.

Jack LaLanne told me that in business you have to keep up with time, keep up to date, keep modern and keep up on your toes. Today, he’s still making headlines – and with a mix of fitness and fame, he even has his very own star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. “Listen, life is wonderful…life is fantastic – work at it. You know, living is an athletic event – right? How does an athlete train? He eats right…he has goals and challenges…he works out every day hard. You know, I work out two hours every day seven days a week. I hate to work out, but I like the results. Ask a thousand athletes – ask them if they like to train. Everything in life that’s meaningful takes effort – takes vitality. You have to work at it. And God helps them who helps themselves…help you,” says La

The Jack LaLanne Interview – As published in ALIVE March, 2007

Antonia Venezia: Hello! It’s lovely meeting you. You’re fantastic. Congratulations on your phenomenal achievements and all of your feats.

Jack LaLanne: You know what my phenomenal achievement is? It’s waking up in the morning.

AV: I’d like to start off by asking you about your “Jack La Lanne Power Juicer”.

JL: I started juicing when I was fifteen years old.

AV: Do you think your juicer is benefiting a lot people?

JL: Are you kidding!? This juicer is the most successful thing that’s ever been on television. We’re selling millions. I never once thought of making money. With my juicer you can put a whole potato, squash and 6 raw vegetables in it. In 30 seconds it’s done. You should read the mail – all the responses we get from this: “I never felt so energized”, “I’m losing weight”, “My aches and pains are gone”, “My skin is better”, “My hair is better”, “It’s incredible”…you’re helping people. People need help today.

AV: How do you stay so young?

JL: I work out two hours every day. If it tastes good, spit it out. All those cakes and pies and candy and ice cream – all that terrible fast food stuff! I just bought a new corvette sports car…would I put oil in the gas tank? Would I?

AV: No.

AV: So, you have a special diet?

JL: It’s simple. I eat 6 or 7 raw vegetables every day, 4 or 5 pieces of fresh fruit.
I eat egg whites each day. If I eat bread – it has to be whole wheat. I eat brown rice. I don’t eat between meals. I eat at 11 ‘0 Clock in the morning and 7 0’ Clock at night.

AV: Even your voice sounds young!

JL: If something saved your life, would you be enthusiastic about it?
When I was a young kid at fifteen I dropped out of school for 6 months, I was a troublemaker, I tried to commit suicide, couldn’t stand these blinding headaches every day, I was 30 pounds under weight – I was a skinny terrible kid. I attended a health lecture. I wanted to be born again, I wanted to be an athlete – I wanted the girls to like me and I wanted to be like everybody else. That way I was sick all the time. After that lecture, I went home that night and I went strict vegetarian – cut out all white flour, all white sugar products, joined the Berkeley California Y.M.C.A. and the rest is history, just like that.

AV: So, you don’t eat any meat?

JL: I eat no meat, just fish and egg whites. That’s where I get my protein. Turkey’s good, and chicken, if you take the skin off. It isn’t what you do once in a while – it’s what you do all the time! The main thing is getting your 4,5 or 6 raw vegetables every day and 3 or 4 pieces of fresh fruit. All your grains have to be natural whole grains. Now is that asking too much? It’s eating all the junk between meals that’s terrible.

AV: Are you still the Godfather of fitness?

JL: I don’t care what they call me, just so they pronounce my name right.
I was the first one in the world to have women working out with the weights and the first to have the old people and athletes working out on the weights. When I started, I had my first gym in 1933 in Oakland California.

AV: Are you from Oakland?

JL: I was born in San Francisco. I went to Berkeley High. I was Captain of the Football team. I had my first official gym in Oakland California in 1936. I had all the firemen and policemen, who couldn’t pass their physical, working out in my backyard.

AV: You’ve done a lot of feats. Tell me about some of them.

JL: The first thing I did when I was forty years old, I put handcuffs on and I jumped off Alcatraz prison and swam to San Francisco handcuffed. That made national publicity. Then, there were three or four years where I would do more difficult feats. Another birthday I towed a thousand pound boat across the Golden Gate. On my 65th Birthday I towed 65 boats a mile and a half in Tokyo. On my 70th Birthday I towed 70 boats with 70 people in it with my feet and hands tied a mile and a half in Long Beach.

AV: Do you still do that?

JL: My next Birthday I will be 93. I’m gonna tow my wife across the bathtub.

AV: Oh, how cute. I read about your wife, Elaine. How she used to eat junk food before she met you – hot dogs and doughnuts and she was smoking.

JL: Yes, she was smoking, she was underweight, skinny and boy, she just changed her whole life around.

AV: So, it sounds like you are a great match?

JL: Without her I’m a big nothing! She’s the power underneath my muscles. We are a team. We’re lovers, we’re business partners, we’re friends, we’re associates, you know. We both believe one thing: Wanting to help people who help themselves.

AV: It’s beautiful – it’s rare to have that.

JL: Billy Graham was for the here after. I am for the here now.
Forget about what you used to do. Don’t make those same mistakes again. Everybody says, “Oh the good old days” – the good old days are right this second! You know that song, (singing) “This is the moment I’ve waited for. Make me happy this moment”. This moment controls the next moment. The food you eat today and walking and talking tomorrow. You’ve got 80 trillion cells in your body, right? What nourishes those cells? The food you put in your body.

AV: Do you think living as long as you have is a combination of things?

JL: It’s a combination because I believe so strongly in what I do and I practice what I preach! My Dad died at fifty – do I have to die at fifty? My Dad ate all the junk food, he wouldn’t exercise – how can you tell your Dad anything? We know today about nutrition and we know about exercise. There’s no reason for anybody to be sick and tired, fat and out of shape – it’s ridiculous! This has got to be taught in the schools. It’s got to be taught in kindergarten. That’s when kids should first get the idea that the most important thing in your life is your health and your body. You can have all the education and you can have millions of dollars in the bank, but if you’ve got headaches every day, if you’re fat and you are out of shape – what good is your money? Your health account and your bank account, build them both up!

AV: Please tell me about your very first Jack La Lanne show. What year did that start? Do you own all the rights to your shows?

JL: It started in 1951. My show was on for 34 years. That was the first show ever in history to have a health and exercise show. Nobody came along until three or four years later. I own all those shows. Elaine and I never had a partner.

AV: Do you own the whole enterprise?

JL: Yes, one million percent! The only partner I have is God and Elaine. I do what I am supposed to do. You got to do what’s happening today in the world. You got to keep up with time. Keep up to date, keep modern – keep up on your toes!

AV: Tell me about the song you sang on with Connie Haines.

JI: I was going to be a singer. If I hadn’t been in my profession, I was going to be an Opera singer. That’s from a young kid. I had all these records from all those famous Opera singers. I wanted to be an Opera singer – that was my whole thing and physical fitness got in the way, Thank God.

AV: Did you study medicine?

JL: Yes, I started Pre-med. I was going to be a medical doctor. I got a degree in Chiropractic, but I never used it.

: Would you like to give a message to the public?

JL: I want to tell the public that anything in life is possible, if you make it happen. Who puts the food in your mouth? Who goes to the bathroom for ya? You do. You came on this earth alone and you are going to leave alone. Think about it. If anything happens to Jack La Lanne good or bad, I made it happen. If anything happens to you good or bad, you made it happen – right? I’m not going to blame my mother or father. You know what you inherited from your mother or father? Eating habits and they are bad habits – whatever they did, you did. Like I said, my Dad died at fifty – do I have to die at fifty? I changed my habits. I told you I went to that health lecture. I went home that night and I went strict vegetarian and started working out and I have been that ever since. The only important person on this earth – tell those people – it’s them – it’s you! Listen, life is wonderful…life is fantastic – work at it. You know, living is an athletic event – right? How does an athlete train? He eats right…he has goals and challenges….he works out every day hard. You know, I work out two hours every day seven days a week. I hate to work out, but I like the results. Ask a thousand athletes – ask them if they like to train. I hate to train, but I like the results. Everything in life that’s meaningful takes effort – takes vitality. You have to work at it. And God helps them who help themselves…help you.

AV: Tell me about your lecturing and motivational speaking that you do.

JL: That’s my whole life. I have one thing in my mind. How can I get people to start taking care of themselves? That’s all I think about – “Get them up doing something”. They say, “my mother did this…my father did this…all that junk…everybody’s got an excuse. I can’t afford it. I am too old young or I’m too young”. It’s sick. You’re never too old. The medical doctors take people in their 80’s and 90’s and put them on a weight training program. They double their strength…they double their endurance in six to eight weeks. So forget the age. Nobody’s perfect…everybody has something wrong with them. You work through it. You do the best you can with what you have.

AV: Do you ever get joint pain?

JL: No, I don’t get anything. I feel good all the time.

AV: You sound like you are thirty-five years old.

JL: As I say…I got one thing on my mind. To get the people to get off their big fat butts to do something!

AV: Are you interested in speaking in the Bay Area?

JL: Absolutely! You know, I love the Bay Area, boy. I was born in San Francisco and spent a lot of time in Berkeley and Oakland. I lived in Alameda for many years on a house boat. That was a wonderful experience.

AV: Tell me about your dogs that appeared on your shows.

JL: Happy, Smiley, Walter and Chuckles. Those were my personal dogs. I sent them all to school – they were all trained. When Walter was born we had a big contest. Anybody that would submit a name that we would choose for the dog, we’d send to Las Vegas – two people all expenses paid for a weekend. This little girl from U.C.L.A. College sent in the name Walter (we all love to exercise regularly). Isn’t that cute?

: Do you have any dogs today?

JL: Yeah, I got two dogs. Dogs are wonderful.

AV: What’s the secret to owning all the rights to your Jack La Lanne Enterprise?

JL: When I started out. We were very poor. My Dad would say, “Kid, if you are going to buy something, pay with cash…never get into debt with anything”. I never forgot that. Anything that Elaine and I would do – we’d own it. No partners ever. I don’t think about wealth. I get one thing in my mind, “How can I help people…come on humans…do something, you know. Let’s wake up. Man alive…you’re half dead. Let’s do some living”.

AV: You do sound alive.

JL: I am alive. I enjoy life, you know. (Singing) “I love life and I want to live!”

AV: Out of all your achievements in your lifetime, which ones are you most proud of?

JL: Marrying my wife. No doubt about it! And the thing I am most proud of is all the years I spent on television – 34 years. We were on in every country in the world that had television.

AV: Is there anything that you would like to tell me?

JL: I got one thing on my mind. When you write an article, maybe we are going to help someone or save somebody’s life. Maybe we’ll get someone to eat right by reducing all the fat on their body. We’re motivated you know.

AV: The editor will be amazed when I tell him that we talked today.

JL: Listen, I’m very flattered with anyone who wants to talk to me.
(Singing) – “I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows. I believe that anything in life is possible”. That’s how I end my lectures singing, “I Believe”. I always get a standing ovation.

AV: Who should I talk to if you want to come speak up here?

JL: Have them call me. Anything you want to do. We’re at your disposal. I’m your brand new friend.

: One last question. Do you take vitamins every day?

JL: Absolutely. I take at least thirty or forty from A to Z. Everything natural…no synthetics. You’ve got to add extra vitamins and minerals. A lot of people say, “Well, Jack do you need that stuff?” I say yeah…just in case it works.

AV: If you’re 92 like you…it’s obviously working.
Well, I wish you a fantastic day. You made my day a whole lot better.

: You made mine…more than you’ll ever know. Anything you need, give us a jingle.

I was saddened by the news of exercise guru Jack LaLanne’s passing. In 2007 I had the privilege of interviewing him. He had great energy and pizzazz—it was if I were speaking with a 30 year old, not a man over 90. I was very impressed by Jack LaLanne’s upbeat, positive and excited outlook on life. He was truly a nice man. LaLanne was rightfully proud of his lifetime accomplishments as was eager to share his knowledge and passion for fitness with others. I am not only saddened by the passing of Mr. LaLanne, I am also saddened that we are approaching the end of an era. –Antonia Venezia

John Loar Former Blackhawk Developer is Now Applying His Skills in Hollywood

John Loar

John Lohr with Adrian Grenier of Teenage Papparazzo

You would think that a guy with a Google Contact Management file that includes the mobile numbers of Billy Bob Thornton, Sugar Ray Leonard, Kevin Pollack, Adrian Grenier, writer Buzz Bissinger and producer Brian Grazer, to name just a few, would certainly feel like a Hollywood insider. If truth-be-told, after three plus years in the movie business, John Loar still feels like the new guy trying to establish himself. From his early days in real estate development, Loar has had a very simple, task oriented, work ethic: Use what you’ve learned, build off what you’ve done, and take on the next job until the work is completed. As the Managing Partner of Red Bird Cinema and President of J. Loar Productions Inc., both growing independent film companies, John is now applying his task oriented mentality to Hollywood’s maverick movie making industry. John freely admits, “It’s a dog-eat-dog business and there are no easy way to get a project completed. There are some days when the mountain of tasks to complete seems insurmountable, but like any business you have to pay your dues.”

Meeting for breakfast at Chow in downtown Danville, Loar resembles a more rugged version of Simon Cowell. John, 51, has a relaxed nature, and yet his demeanor gives one the impression that his days are filled with a sense of purpose. He maintains an on-going “To Do” list where he methodically lines out tasks that he’s accomplished. As a Danville native who attended San Ramon Valley High School, John graduated from Cal State Chico and joined the Blackhawk Corporation in 1987. Working for Ken Behring and Steve Beinke, John was an integral part of the team that built Blackhawk. Some of the residential projects he was tasked to develop included Blackhawk, Canyon Lakes and the Brentwood Country Club. On the commercial side, he worked on the Blackhawk Office Park, the Blackhawk Medical Plaza and the Canyon Lakes retail center. “I loved working with those guys. Ken and Steve identified a specific task and set me loose. They knew that mistakes are part of the process, but you still have to get the job done,” John recanted. The fact that Blackhawk Corporation oversaw a variety of company operations and processes gave John an eclectic on- the-job training as he learned to put together complicated transactions. Loar was ultimately responsible for the sale of Blackhawk Plaza to the Koll Company. In 1988, John’s introduction to sports agent Mike Blatt, (through former San Francisco 49er Jeff Stover), facilitated the Behring led purchase of the Seattle Seahawks. This monumental task ultimately led to his introduction to some of the biggest players in Hollywood.

After the completion of the 1997 season, most people wouldn’t recall that the Seattle Seahawks relocated to Southern California for a month. “We worked with sports agent Leigh Steinberg and the folks at Disney in an attempt to create a “sports town” in Los Angeles. At this time, Disney owned the Ducks NHL franchise and was in the process of acquiring the California Angels. Disney President Michael Eisner saw the potential to bring the NFL into the mix,” Loar fondly recalls. Unfortunately, Disney CEO Michael Orvitz wanted the various franchises to rotate around the L.A. basin which ultimately killed the deal and Microsoft’s Paul Allen stepped in to purchase the Seahawks team. Fortunately for Loar, the Seahawks/Disney deal introduced him to a lot of very influential “Hollywood” people which set the table for a yet unseen task that would be coming his way.

Looking for his next project and while spending some “Mr. Mom” time (the hardest task John claims he’s ever tackled), he did some volunteer work with the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF). “We happened to live next door to Dennis Eckersly and I shared an attorney with Tony LaRussa.” John tells. While attending a birthday party for the St. Louis Cardinals Manager and East Bay animal activist/resident, John found himself sitting next to Buzz Bissinger author of Three Nights in August, a book which chronicles a critical three game series between the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs during the 2003 baseball season. “Despite having no understanding or interest in the movie business, I was brought on to raise money to convert Buzz’s book into a movie,” John tells. Once the book was optioned, Loar’s friend, actor/comedian Kevin Pollack was brought on to adapt the book into a screenplay. However, after several drafts it still wasn’t quite right, but Sandlot Venture Group attached itself to the movie by providing development financing. Ultimately, John suggested they approach Billy Bob Thornton, a good friend of LaRussa’s, to look at the script. “Billy has a true love of the game and truly thinks he knows as much about baseball as Tony,” John says with a chuckle. His fresh outlook gave and rewrite gave the latest version a slightly fictionalized adaptation based on the book. Billy Bob Thornton has also agreed to play one of the characters, but not the lead role. Once Loar, LaRussa and Pollock merged efforts with Thornton’s production team and corporate attorney, Greg McCoy was brought on, Red Bird Cinema, an independent film company was founded.

“I originally joined Red Bird Cinema to help get one movie, Three Nights, completed.” John explains. “As I began to learn the business, I realized that the entertainment industry is a unique environment unlike any other business. Your fate is often in someone else’s hands. There is a very small segment of the industry that controls most of what gets done in town. People come and go constantly, in and out of the business, but it’s the ones who are persistent, tenacious and resilient who tend to stick around. There is an element of blind luck and nepotism, but for the most part it’s just a lot of hard work, perseverance and developing relationships with the right people. You prove yourself by sticking to your word and doing what you say you’ll do.”

Today, Red Bird Cinema has Three Nights ready for filming as soon as the lead is secured. Additionally they have another Pollack written screenplay, Helen, in development stage. Pollack and Thornton are signed on to play the two male leads with either Emily Blunt or Kate Hudson potentially playing Helen. The company has also purchased the film life rights of boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and has optioned the script for a story about Pete Rose called Rose. “Having Billy on the team gives Red Bird direct access to talent. Billy’s ability to get things done in town opens a lot of doors to us. ” Writer/actor, Ed Burns and his production partner, Aaron Lubin (Maroborlo Gang Productions) are attached to the Rose script with Jeremy Renner tentatively pegged to play the title role.

John has also expanded his real estate and venture consulting company, J. Loar, Inc. into movie production to develop micro budget films and expand into television and cable opportunities. John says, “The new company is focused on different type projects from Red Bird Cinema with the main objective being to get shows into production quickly.” He recently released the documentary, Teenage Paparazzo with Adrian Grenier of HBO’s Entourage. Teen Paparazzo has already been shown on HBO, drawing a considerable amount of buzz including an international distribution deal. “Starting the new company was really about rolling my sleeves up and getting lower budget/socially conscious projects in play.”

John met Adrian about three years ago through a mutual friend at Creative Artists Agency. After a rocky first meeting with Adrian’s real life “entourage,” that John says was like a scene from the popular HBO series, they ultimately got together one on one connecting on a few ideas and worked out their own deal. In addition to Teenage Paparazzo, the pair has released a film entitled Don’t Quit Your Day Dream and has a synopsis for a five part mini-series entitled SPIN. While working on Teenage Paparazzo, John met Matthew Cooke, the producer/ editor of Deliver Us From Evil. John, Adrian and Matthew, collaborating under the J. Loar Productions, Inc. banner, will soon be housing on the UTA/Paramount lot, sharing space with writer, director, producer Steven Schneider of Paranormal Activity fame. “Steve/UTA Paramount will have a first look at everything Matthew, Adrian and I put out. Additionally, there will be some great partnering opportunities back and forth by working so closely together,” says John. The new company has already developed the concepts for a cable television cable series called, Tilt, a movie or series entitled Morning Michael, a science fiction drama called Rapid Eye Movement, a four-episode cable series with Bentley Kyle Evans called Brotha N Law, and their reworking a science fiction drama for UTA/Paramount.

“To me, making a movie or series is a lot like a putting together an incredibly complicated jigsaw puzzle. It’s virtually impossible to complete the puzzle alone and occasionally you need to walk away from the puzzle for awhile. In Hollywood, it’s ultimately about teaming up with the right people that can help you get the project produced. Adrian, Matthew and Steven are those types of people,” John shared as he simultaneously scratched off and added items to his on-going list of tasks.

Balancing his life between Northern and Southern California, John and his wife Monica live in Danville with their thirteen year-old daughter, MacKenzie, and fourteen year-old son, Connor. As hard as John works, he’s a devoted husband and father. “Monica and I have actually been married (to each other) twice for a total of 17 years. Since I feel like I’m reinventing myself everyday in the business world maintaining a stable family is a huge priority,” John says.

John is optimistic that he’ll have longevity in the movie business. I’ve learned that a project takes as long as it takes in Hollywood and you can’t out-think yourself,” he resolves. “The best you can hope to do is align yourself with the right people to get the projects you work on produced and distributed.” Perhaps his partner, Kevin Pollack, said it best, “It’s brutal until it’s not. Then we’re geniuses and everyone is kissing our butt because we’re finally making the damn thing.” Loar’s quiet confidence and successful track record leads one to believe there isn’t anything he can’t handle. Making his mark in Hollywood is just the current task at hand for John Loar.

Anyone Can Be A Writer

Michael Copeland

People ask me all the time (once) how I became a writer. After almost 80 magazine and newspaper articles, a book of children’s bedtime stories and a screenplay, I suppose I do technically qualify to call myself a writer, writer; however it’s difficult for me to consider myself a “real” writer. When I think of “real” contemporary writers, names such as J.K.Rowling, Rick Reilly, Stephanie Meyer, John Grisham, Buzz Bissinger and Tony Hicks come to mind. I don’t kiddingly group my name with that group of illustrious Pulitzer wannabes. I write because I enjoy it, not to pay my bills. Truth-be-told, only the elite of the writing profession make any real money. Most writers write to satisfy their creative side and since everyone has a creative side, I truly believe anyone can be a writer. Also, having a narcissistic ego doesn’t hurt. Whether it’s a journal, diary, poem, lyric, sonnet, story, article or a great American novel, provided you have inspiration there’s a writer inside all of us.

Inspiration can come to a writer in a variety of ways. When people occasionally (once) ask me what inspired me to start writing, I give credit where credit is due — Tony Subia. Tony sat next to me in Mrs. Krause’s third 3rd grade class at Edith Landels Elementary School. One rainy winter day, Mrs. Krause read a hysterical action packed tale, that Tony had scribed, about a band of dress- wearing ninja aliens who visit earth in search of Bubblicious bubble gum to sustain their race. Cut me some slack, it was 1972 and I was 9nine years old. I, along with my academic peers, roared with laughter hearing this brilliantly crafted short story. If memory serves me correctly, Mark Belyan (or me) laughed so hard he wet his pants. Experiencing, firsthand, the type of reaction a brilliantly crafted story, ripe with interesting characters, plot development and subtext, can have on a group of people was intoxicating.

Not surprisingly, I spent the next week crafting an equally brilliant yarn of polka dancing cowboys who rescue a herd of kittens in the Wild West. My story wasn’t received with the same enthusiastic vigor as Tony’s eventual best seller (that boy was truly gifted), but from that point forward I have strived to pen the perfect 1,200-1,500 word masterpiece.

Writing can be therapeutic and cathartic. It’s certainly cheaper than therapy. All of us living a suburban slow death tend to be bingers when it comes to our lives. We are so busy inhaling every aspect of our lives, including work, kids, travel, sports, art, electronics, entertainment, food and wine that we forget to purge. If a person where to channel their passion for a hobby or interest into a series of written words they would be, by definition, a writer.

During high school, I eagerly signed up to be part of the Eagle Gazette staff. In my early attempts to be liked and accepted by everyone, I pitched an idea for a piece called Around the Quad. The monthly column described the various cliques on our military base feeder campus. However, I cleverly twisted the stereotypes of our richly diverse multi-cultural student body. My school chums loved it and I loved the accolades. When I moved on to Foothill Community College, and later Cal State Northridge, my literary focus was based on what I knew best—football. My first attempt at interviewing people was for a column called In the Locker Room, a behind the scenes glimpse of my football teammates and other collegiate athletes competing in a variety of sports. Not surprisingly, I found it to be much more creatively rewarding to humorously pick on my contemporaries insecurities.

Upon starting my career in commercial real estate, writing proved to be a distinctive way for me to get some name recognition in an industry filled with much smarter and more talented brokers than I. Again, my sophomoric, juvenile, self-deprecating humor rang through. While my efforts weren’t Wall Street Journal worthy, it did get me the exposure I was seeking in my market territory. As I grew older and more open-minded, my interests and articles expanded to include history, politics, human rights and religion. I’m only kidding. I kept writing ridiculously silly humor lifestyle and personality profile pieces for a variety of local papers, newsletters and magazines. Once you build-up a body of work, people take you much more seriously when you submit an article for consideration.

The coolest thing about writing was getting my rambling rants published and read. Oddly enough, it still is (see narcissistic ego comment above). A typical article takes on average about ten hours to draft, tweak, proof-read, modify and eventually final. It’s not that hard if you write about what you know, like doing it and believe someone out there might share your thoughts or gain from your insights. If you’ve ever written a family holiday newsletters, maintained a blog or twitter excessively, you’re a writer.

ALIVE magazine is always looking for contributions from local area residents on virtually any subject. We encourage anyone to submit a positive, fact or fiction, based article for consideration to Editor-in-Chief, Eric Johnson. Who knows, you could be the next Paul Hirsch.

Emotional Intimacy: Connecting Beneath Our Protective Masks

Emotional IntimacyAn uneasy flutter in the chest, shallow breathing, churning in the stomach, forehead tension, a tight jaw, and a strong urge to flee…
You may think these symptoms describe an anxious person who is about to speak to hundreds of people sitting in a packed auditorium. Since public speaking is a widespread fear, the symptoms listed could indeed apply. However, these are also symptoms of another major fear. The source of this terrifying fear is summed up in two words…emotional intimacy.

It’s no wonder emotional intimacy is such a loaded subject. Unfortunately, few of us were raised with healthy models for emotional intimacy. And let’s face it; our parents couldn’t “pass on” what they didn’t receive. As a result, many of us try to hide our anxieties behind our social masks…and our sophisticated technology.

Essentially, to continue the avoidance of emotional intimacy that was modeled for us in childhood, we may rely on the use of distractions when we’re with others. Text messaging, checking our email accounts, and answering our cell phones (while we’re out with our partners or our friends after work) are easy ways to disconnect from whoever is in our presence.

When we’re at home, continually tuning into television programs is another unconscious way to distract our attention away from our loved ones. Unfortunately, in our “plugged in” society today, many of us are left feeling starved…yearning to be seen, heard, and understood by the people we’re closest to. Can you relate?

In my private practice, I work with clients to increase their abilities to have better “inner” and “outer” communications. In the process, many of my clients discover that communicating authentically (from the heart) leads to deeper feelings of connectedness…to themselves and to others.

For instance, when Valerie (a woman in her early thirties) came to see me she was struggling with anxiety related to her lack of confidence. She compared herself mercilessly to other women—on mind and body levels.

First, Valerie admitted to hating the way her body looked, and she cringed when she spoke of her small breasts. She shared that she often felt less feminine than women with curvaceous figures. When I looked at Valerie I saw a slender and sleek woman who could practically pass for a ballet teacher. On the other hand, being a “recovering perfectionist” myself, I know that seeing distorted reflections in the mirror is not uncommon in today’s world. My heart went out to Valerie when I saw the pain-filled expression in her eyes.

And, even though Valerie had a Masters Degree and was successful in her career, she didn’t “own” or appreciate her high intelligence. Valerie admitted that her social persona projected wit and confidence, although underneath her protective mask…she felt like an imposter.

My work with Valerie consisted initially of teaching her how to turn her attention inward…in a positive way. As a result of embracing her unique “inner gifts,” Valerie became more comfortable in her own skin. In the process, she learned to accept and appreciate her “God-given” form of beauty and femininity. And, after several months of rich personal growth work, Valerie began connecting with others in deeper ways, beyond her protective social mask.

For Valerie, as well as for the rest of us, emotional intimacy grows from the inside out. And the good news is—by strengthening our inner resources we gain the power to become acquainted with ourselves underneath our protective masks. Then, from this authentic place of self-awareness, we share who we are…with safe others. The term “safe others,” refers to people with whom we have established a strong foundation of trust. With trust in place, we have a container that allows us to safely share our strengths…as well as our vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, an authentic approach to emotional intimacy encourages soulful connections with a variety of loved ones—including a mate, dear friends, and family members. In this way, we experience the gifts of heartfelt emotional intimacy…when we risk knowing and being known by others.

Finally, to celebrate a month where we are surrounded by sentimental greeting cards, candy hearts, and bouquets of flowers—let’s consider taking Valentine’s Day to the next level. After our workday is complete, let’s “unplug” from technology and practice being emotionally present with our loved ones. By connecting beneath our protective masks, we just may get to…the heart of the matter.
Name and client details changed to protect confidentiality

Trina Swerdlow, BFA, CCHT, is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, an artist, and the author of the 2-CD Set, Weight Loss: Powerful & Easy-to-Use Tools for Releasing Excess Weight. Her artwork and personal profile are included in Outstanding American Illustrators Today 2. She is the author and illustrator of Stress Reduction Journal: Meditate and Journal Your Way to Better Health. Trina has a private practice in downtown Danville. She soulfully shares her creative approach to personal growth and passionately supports her clients in reaching their goals. You can reach her at: (925) 285.5759, or

Certified Clinical Hypnotherapy services in California can be alternative or complementary to licensed healing arts, such as psychotherapy.
Attend the 6th Annual East Bay Women’s Conference (2011)
Embrace Strength–Imagine Success

Presented by Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau and Chevron Corporation
Monday, March 7, 2011; San Ramon Marriott; 2600 Bishop Drive, San Ramon, 8am–5pm
Register online at For more information, call 925.939.2007

Stamps In My Passport: Souvenirs

One of the greatest pleasures of travel is the memories it engenders. Our house is littered with a number of items both large and small that remind us of people, places, and adventures that we met, visited, or experienced recently – or maybe even decades ago. Last week while changing things around Barb and I talked about which of the various items were the strongest in our travel memories. Let me share a portion of our list with you.

First was the homemade cow bell from Laos. This simple purchase started in Luang Prabhang on the Mekong River. The city dates back to the time that the French ruled the area and used this inland city as a trading post for goods out of the inland region. The wares traveled down the Mekong River, and subsequently on to Europe.

We took a trip up the Mekong River and stopped at a number of small native villages. At one, named Xang Hai, we commented on the cows which were roaming quite freely around the town’s perimeter. As the animals moved they gave off a low, melodious clicking sound. Upon investigation we found each cow was adorned with a richly carved hollow wooden tube which had a carved clapper inside. The livestock were identified by the family’s distinct wooden bell. We couldn’t resist buying a couple of these intricately carved cow bells for our collection – even if we don’t have a cow.

The next keepsake takes us back to our visits in Nepal. While trekking in the hills one can identify with an ant crawling across a piece of corduroy. It seems that not one of the paths follows either the lower river beds or the hilltop trails. They all tend to travel from one ridge to the next.

Quite often the path is narrow and upon occasion a very precarious rope bridge takes you over a ravine or raging river. To avoid embarrassing and awkward meetings down in the gorges, quite often the guide will pull a compressed horn out of his backpack and extend it to the fullest. He then gives a warning blast to inform any other group in the area that he is starting down. There is only one tone, and it takes practice to make them work; but the horn was an irresistible piece of memorabilia from these treks.

Third on our list of proud possessions comes from Zimbabwe. While hunting for local artifacts we came upon one of those large carved ostrich eggs. You’ve probably seen them. They are close to ten inches long and about six inches in diameter. Apparently this huge ostrich egg is tapped, the inside is removed, and the egg shell is carefully carved with a design. The big problem is transporting this fragile object from the heart of Africa – over bumpy roads, through security, into an airplane, and finally to a resting place on our travel shelf. We have one that made it safely home – ours is a leopard.

The fourth item probably would qualify as an antique, even though there are thousands of them. This story begins in an out-of-the-way antique shop in Beijing, China. While this city bustles with modern products in the many new and shiny stores, huddled away in dark corners, down narrow streets are tucked lots of little private shops.

It was in one of these that we found our tiny treasure. At first I was unaware of what the box was. It had a solid “roof” and “floor,” and the two of them were connected by a series of small dowels (about the size of a toothpick) around the rectangular perimeter. I commented to Barb that it looked like a little jail, and she politely informed me that I was exactly right. Apparently the Chinese people kept crickets as pets, and this was a cricket cage. Inside this miniature cage the cricket was free to make its cricket noises and entertain its owner. Probably one of the smallest pets in the world. I’m sure the modern generation has moved on to more sophisticated entertainment, but a remnant of the past sits on my shelf.

Item number five represents a work of art in complex wood carving. Once again, we ran across this masterpiece in a small gift shop on the island of Bali, Indonesia. The artist started with a single block of wood, about six inches on either side. Slowly, I’m sure, he/she chipped the wood aside until a circular globe appeared, and then each continent was left about one-quarter of an inch higher than all of the oceans. It is hard for me to imagine how the detail of this globe was fashioned. The wood grain was apparent as this replica of our planet emerged. The intricate globe sits in a place of honor on one of our shelves.

One last souvenir gets the number six nod. This piece of cloth began as a blouse for its maker, a Kuna Indian, in the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama in Central America. The term for the handiwork, I am told, is a “mola.” I may have lost most male readers at this point, but the ladies will all recognize the complicated reverse-appliqué, work and the traditional designs. The original use was altered by us so it can be used as a pillow cover. The intricate beauty remains. We spent a couple of nights in a village on the island of Achutupo and were able to watch these ladies create their complex handiwork.

We’re got a few more, but my guess is that you’ve extended your patience already, so I quit at six. If you have a favorite treasure, I’d be glad to hear your story. How about an email to

2011 Kia Optima – Wow, What a Change!

Kia Optima

I have been involved in the automotive industry for the past 30 years and in that time have experienced firsthand the roller coaster of desirable and not-so-desirable design trends. With the help of a close uncle who introduced me to car shows, historic car events, and hot rod outings, educated me as we perused the halls and streets lined with those special vehicles of our past. This, laying a foundation for styling cues of the future, was a vision of days gone by. Cars of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s were cool, the ‘70’s and ‘80’s not so cool, the ‘90’s were a mixture of good designs, and over the past 11 years; things keep getting better. Case in point; the 2011 Kia Optima.

Kia first introduced us to the Optima in 2001 which had some upscale interior touches; however, an exterior that blended into the background. Also, in 2001, Kia’s overall reputation was still pretty low on the totem pole. A lot has changed in the past 10 years as Kia’s reliability and satisfaction numbers have escalated. Over the past two years when most other car companies were struggling, Kia did extremely well, and the all-new 2011 Optima will help keep the momentum going strong.

As part of a bold new product roll-out that started with the launch of the thrill-seeking Soul, Kia is now producing intriguing vehicles, eye-catching designs, improved quality, and impressive fuel economy. The 2011 Optima ranks as one of the newest cars that are turning heads.

For 2011 the mid-size Kia Optima sedan is available in three trims, LX ($18,995), EX ($22,495) and SX ($25,995). The LX comes standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder mated to 6-speed manual transmission. An optional automatic 6-Spd overdrive with a Sportmatic transmission is available on the LX and is standard on the EX and SX.

The exterior styling blows the doors off both previous versions and the Japanese competition. Personally, I think the Kia designers have made the new Optima more appealing and relevant to the generation X and Y buyers over anything coming out of Japan. The aggressive lines of the 2011 Optima come under the leadership of Kia’s lead designer Peter Schreyer. He took the Optima to new dimensions that grew nearly two-inches in both length (190.7-inches), and width (72.1-inches), while lowering the overall height. The result is improved leg room, sculptured proportions, and an assertive profile that competes with likes of Lexus and Infiniti.

From the front, the Optima features Kia’s new signature bold “tabbed” grille that is broader by menacing projector headlamps that, along with a vigorous lower fascia, completes the sharp looking face. The profile takes on a “Coupe-like” sweeping angle that flows from the A through the C pillars. If you opt for the Premium package ($2,150), it transforms the roof into a glass ceiling with a power panoramic view with two sunroofs. High and pronounced rear shoulder lines and bold flared wheel arches help to create a powerful stance that leads into the sculptured rear-end. The rear bumper surges up to meet the tail lamps on either side of the trunk lid. The bottom two-thirds of the trunk lid back portion is recessed delivering an added 3-D feel. Chrome dual exhaust tips project out of the lower valance.

Kia Optima Interior

From the moment you enter the cockpit, you are presented with the feel of luxury and many up-scaled features you would expect in a more lavish vehicle. The Optima’s dash is contoured towards the driver where buttons and knobs are easily accessible. A large screen positioned at the top of the center stack displays radio, cooling, optional navigation, and a rear backup camera view. The steering wheel is loaded with controls for the radio, cruise control, Bluetooth- controlled phone access, and Eco and Trip settings. Paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel add a racing flare to the vehicle. Smart Key Fob with touch buttons on the outer door handles and push button start is always a favorite of mine.

The seats were very comfortable and offered six-way adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support. A 60/40 split-folding rear seat offers flexibility for multiple seating and cargo configurations. The 2011 Optima is full of technological features including AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capabilities, auxiliary, and USB audio input jacks for connecting with MP3 players. Bluetooth®, wireless technology connectivity with steering wheel-mounted voice activation controls, enables hands-free operation and a cooling glove box.

The 2011 Optima is built on an all-new light weight platform that produces an extremely comfortable ride and utilizes high-tensile-strength steel to enhance structural strength while also achieving high torsional stiffness. The benefits include: improved handling, ride quality, and refinement. Kia took the Optima to new levels to help ensure minimal noise vibration and harshness (NVH). The front-wheel-drive Optima is built on a unibody frame and utilizes independent front and rear suspension systems. MacPherson struts are used in the front with a multi-link layout in the rear to provide the utmost comfort whether the road is smooth or less than ideal.

Power comes from the choice of two flavors of the 4-cylinder 2.4 liter engine. The standard configuration is a direct injection dual overhead cam generating 200 horsepower and 186 pounds of torque with an EPA rating of 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. If you want your mid-size sedan to have a few more horses under the hood, the 2011 Optima grants your wish with a Turbo version of the 2.0-liter that cranks up the power output to 274 horses and 269 foot pounds of torque with EPA ratings of 22 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.

Room for improvement:

Electric power steering needs improvement.

Cool Features:

  • UVO powered by Microsoft® for hands-free in-car entertainment and communication system
  • Rear-view camera option
  • Optional panoramic roof

The 2011 Optima was created with safety in mind, and is equipped with six airbags (dual advanced front and front-seat mounted side as well as full-length side curtain), front active headrests, height-adjustable front seatbelts with pre-tensioners, side-impact door beams, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Also standard are Four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control and Brake Assist Systems and Hill Assist Control.

In Summary – The 2011 Kia Optima is a seriously attractive automobile that will leap-frog its competition in design and features. It is a head turner especially when people realize it’s a Kia. The Optima is a bold statement from Kia that it is willing to take great steps to create vehicles with a strong presence, equipping them with the latest and best technologies to help improve the driving experience. The 2011 Optima is not last year’s Kia, it is the Kia of the future. Partly, it’s the drive which has bolstered KIAs new found popularity and sales. This car is worth a test drive and it leads the pack on my list of favorite new cars.

For more information and a complete list of features and specifications go to

2011 Kia Optima EX Turbo Sedan

Base price: $24,495 as driven: $29,340 (including destination and optional equipment)
Engine: 2.0-Liter 4-cylinder Turbo
Horsepower: 274 @ 6000
Torque: 269 foot pounds @ 1750 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission with Overdrive and Sportmatic
Drive: Front Wheel-Drive
Seating: 5-passenger
Turning circle: 35.8 feet
Cargo space: 15.4 cubic feet
Curb weight: 3223 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons
EPA mileage: 34 highway, 22 city
Wheel Base: 110 inches
Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
Also consider: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda MAZDA6, and Toyota Camry

Healing Shoulder Pain and Rotator Cuff Injury- Rehabilitation of the Shoulder with Class IV Laser Therapy

The Rotator Cuff muscles (four muscles in total) are the primary support structures for the shoulder. Therefore, even minor dysfunction associated with these muscles can create pain and decreased performance of everyday tasks. A Rotator Cuff injury can be caused by many everyday activities. These activities include traumatic events (e.g. fall on an outstretched arm, “yanking” of the arm), repetitive motion (e.g. throwing a ball, carrying children) and chronic improper posture (e.g. operating a computer, driving).

There are three major types of Rotator Cuff injuries that we treat successfully:

  1. Rotator Cuff Muscle Tears: This is a partial tear of one or more of the four Rotator Cuff muscles. Rotator Cuff muscle tears are often accompanied by deep achy pain in the shoulder and arm weakness.
  2. Tendonitis: Tendons are at the ends of each muscle and attach the muscles to the bones they move. When there is inflammation of these tendons it is called Tendonitis. The symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis are often trigger point pain over the tendon accompanied by deep, achy pain in the shoulder and arm weakness.
  3. Rotator Cuff Impingement Syndrome: Chronic injury of the Rotator Cuff can lead to a “pinching” of the nerves passing through the shoulder. This is commonly referred to as a Shoulder Impingement or Rotator Cuff Impingement. Symptoms often include numbness, tingling or sharp, shooting pain into the arm or hand.

How Do I Heal My Shoulder Pain?

The most common forms of medical treatment for Rotator Cuff injuries are anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections and surgery. Although meds and injections may reduce the severity of pain associated with rotator cuff dysfunction, they are not a long term solution and may do more bodily harm than good in the long run. Surgery is a last resort and should only be used if there is irreparable damage to the shoulder that cannot be handled with proper rehabilitation.

The Natural Approach

First: Heal the Damaged Tissue
Ending the pain caused by a Rotator Cuff injury requires stopping the cycle of inflammation that is creating the pain. Class IV laser therapy is an excellent method for this, because it is presently the only modality that can both reduce inflammation and heal tissue simultaneously. During Laser Therapy, the infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level, increasing metabolic activity and improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. As the injured area returns to normal, pain is relieved and function is restored.

Second: Correct the Shoulder and Postural Mechanics
Long term pain relief of shoulder injuries involves rehabilitation of the shoulder, neck, and thoracic spine. Shoulder rehabilitation is achieved by utilizing specific postural adjustments, exercises and specific posture stabilizing methods in order to re-establish proper motion and strength of the shoulder joint. Ongoing strengthening and stretching exercises are used to rehabilitate the musculature of the shoulder to ensure lasting results.

Give Us A Call
If you suffer from chronic pain, it is worth your while to spend some time figuring out which of any number of factors are contributing to your pain — we will help you explore which combination of therapies will help you heal it. The good news is — you can do it without drugs, and you can get back to the activities you love!

Dr. Niele Maimone, DC is the owner and founder of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA. She has been active in the natural health & wellness community since 1999. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit

The Dirt Gardener – Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Thanks for Asking

Q. I have a Japanese Maple who’s roots has grown through the drainage hole in a terracotta pot and rooted into the ground. I’m not quite sure what to do next to fix things.

A. This is not as much of a problem as it might seem. Your Japanese Maple is root bound. I suspect it was either planted in to small of a container to begin with or it has been in the same container for a very long time. Either way now and for the next month, is an excellent time to remedy the situation. The solution is quite simple, push the container over as far as you can and cut the root off at the drainage hole. Now, you have two options, root prune and replant the Maple in the same container or transplant it into a larger pot. Containerized maples, azaleas, camellias, gardenias and many others are transplanted once every twenty-four to thirty-six months as a standard practice. This prevents them from becoming root bound and declining. Root pruning allows you to keep a plant in the same container indefinitely by creating room for new roots while transplanting allows you to increase the container size gradually over time. With either technique, you’ll be cutting the root ball and this makes people very, very nervous, as they’re concern about permanently damaging the plant. This is not the case unless you grossly over due it. As plants become root bound, they develop a thick and tightly bound rootball in the shape of the container. You need to break this pattern by severing the roots by making several slices, two to four inches deep into the root ball with a steak knife, your pruning shears or a pruning saw. Depending on the size of the root ball, you might make four to twelve slices and don’t forget the bottom. With root pruning, you physically slice, trim or cut away two to six inches from the sides of the root ball and four to eight inches off the bottom. With both techniques, you then add fresh potting soil to fill the vacant space and complete the transplanting project.

Q. Will Roundup kill a mature tree? I‘ve a large, old peach tree and use Roundup for weed control under it.

It’s highly unlikely that Roundup would negatively affect an established Peach or any other dark color trunk ornamental plant. Roundup is a non-selective herbicide that is only absorbed through the chlorophyll or green portion of a plant that would be the leaves, stems, twigs, branches and trunk but not the roots. A few plants that you need to be careful with the spray drift of Roundup are roses, camellias, crape myrtles, and the basal growth around trees like a redwood. Established ornamental plants effective by the spray drift don’t die; instead, they produce an abundance of twisted and distorted growth. The plant returns to normal in the following year. It should also be noted that there are no benefits from spraying Roundup on bare ground.

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry – ALIVE at the Movies

The Secrets of Jonthan Sperry

You probably won’t find The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry in Redbox or Blockbuster Express. You will find it on Netflix and in the video store. It is undeniably Christian in content—a faith based movie that has a definite message.

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry is unabashedly slow moving. This is for a reason. This movie is the story of young friends whose lives are changed through friendship with a man who does more than encourage them to study the Bible; he sets a standard for them to live up to in the way that he applies those Biblical teachings to his own life.

The movie is set in the 1970’s in a small town in the northeast. When you watch it, it actually feels like earlier because the kids are still saying, “Yes, Sir” and “No, Sir.” How long has it been since you’ve heard that from someone who’s not in the military?

It’s summer vacation of 1970 and the kids are hanging out. Jansen Panettiere (younger brother of Hayden Panettiere of Heroes) plays Dustin, a good kid who lives with a single mother, hangs out with his friends at the local diner and mows lawns for spending money. The parents of the girl (Bailey Garno) he has a crush on, own the diner. Of course, there is always a school bully, enter Nick (Taylor Boggan) who harasses everyone and just happens to like the same girl as Dustin. This is a coming of age movie of a different kind.

Jonathan Sperry (The Love Boat’s Gavin Macleod), a kindly neighbor, hires Dustin to mow his lawn. Sperry invites Dustin and his friends over for a Bible study and chocolate cake. What 12 year-old boy can resist chocolate cake especially when he really doesn’t have anything better to do? Sperry has a very special way of making the lessons compelling – and for showing the boys with his own behavior and his quiet counsel how meaningful the lessons are.

This very special film is a collaboration of the Christiano brothers, Rich and Dave. Amazingly talented, they wrote, produced and directed this beautiful slice of Americana. The cinematography is definitely above par and the musical score done by Jasper Randall is so entrancing, it makes you want to run out and buy it.

Often in faith based movies, the storyline carries the movie, almost metaphorically dragging the actors along. To my delight there was not one weak performance in Jonathan Sperry. The kids were incredibly engaging and the adults were rock solid. This movie is a portrayal of patience, kindness and forgiveness and is the perfect family movie for viewers of all ages. I truly don’t think you will be disappointed in this movie regardless of your religious persuasion. I invite your comments at