Below is the full text for the eulogy I gave for my grandmother on Wednesday.

Good morning. On behalf of my grandfather, Michael, and our entire family, I want to thank you for coming today.

I was introduced to my grandmother on my birthday, October 26, 1976….well, I should probably say she was introduced to me. Those first couple years were—as I’m sure you can understand—a little fuzzy for me. But I definitely remember all the birthdays that followed because as I was growing up, she was there for every single one. For most of my childhood, my grandparents lived in Rhode Island, and they would always time their visits to coincide with my birthday. I think I looked forward to it more than anything else all year. I would stare out our window hoping to catch a glimpse of their car cresting the hill in the distance as a sign that they were about to arrive. It made me feel truly special. She always went out of her way to do anything possible in the world to make each of us feel special.

My sister, Courtney, has a birthday a few short weeks after Christmas. Grandma started a tradition called the “pretend birthday.” This way Courtney could have her own special birthday celebration when Grandma was visiting for Christmas. But it was always about more than just feelings. She made it her job to always remind us that we could do anything with our lives and find success. And anytime I doubted that, a talk with grandma would always put my worries at ease. That mentality was the core of who she was. And it was something she developed a long time before the two of us were introduced on that first birthday of mine.

She was born on March 18, 1932 in Providence, Rhode Island—the youngest of 9 children in an Irish Catholic family of very limited means. Hand me down clothes and charity assistance was a fact of daily life. Eventually, she entered a 28-year career with the Providence Housing Authority. Here, she helped elderly tenants find the services essential to their survival.
Every day she surpassed her job description. If someone needed anything that wasn’t her responsibility, she would go out of her way to help. The tenants loved her.—not something you hear often in the beaurocratic world of public housing.

Talk to her and topics of conversation would always shift to those she cared about. Her tenants knew so much about my mother, Ann, that they chartered a bus to attend my parents wedding as a group. They weren’t going to miss the marriage Helen’s daughter!

She was the most selfless person I’ve ever known. During 57 years of marriage with my grandfather, she took care of him and always worried that he was OK. From making his favorite food for dinner to ensuring the garage light was on for when he returned, she always put her needs second. In the last few months, my grandfather was able to return that care to her when she needed it most. It’s always been clear how much they loved each other.

As I got older, the October birthday visits started to take on a different kind of importance. It was a chance to become closer, to discover and to understand. Our conversations grew more complicated and I started to realize how smart, wise and progressively minded she was. From politics to current world events, she enjoyed discussing it all.

But it’s the unending support that always meant the most to me. In high school, I had this crazy idea to become a marine biologist and train dolphins. “You can do it. You should do it!” she said. Of course, it took freshman year of college to discover how much I despised organic chemistry—and hate swimming! But I had to try to figure it out. Then, I had an even crazier idea. I’d always dreamed of making movies professionally. Why not transfer to film school and enter a job field that’s nearly impossible to crack? “You can do it! You should do it!”

After I graduated, I thought it might require a move to California to break into the film industry. And even though she wished I would stay close, “You can do it! You should do it!” Things didn’t work out exactly according to plan and my career took a few detours, but every time we spoke, she would always slip in—don’t forget, you can still make the movies. And one day about a year ago when I told her I was thinking about self-producing my first feature film—almost ten years after graduating film school—she said, “you can do it. You MUST do it. It’s what you’ve always wanted to do.” And because of her support, I’m in the midst of making it happen now. She taught me to believe that even the biggest dreams can become reality.…and that’s the piece of her that I’ll carry with me always in everything I do.

I’m confident that anyone who truly knew her could tell his or her own version of this story. Because that is what she did…she pushed us each to find happiness. And in doing so, found happiness herself.

Thank you, grandma, for showing us the way.

We love you.


Wine, Malibu Style

We had heard that there were a couple places to go wine tasting in Malibu, but never made the effort because it's one of those very closeby things that you never think to actually do. Last Friday, Liz and I both had a weekday to do whatever so we decided to venture up the coast and check it out. We've been to Napa a few times and we go up to Santa Ynez a couple times a year, so while we're FAR from being any sort of experts on the subject we do enjoy our good wine. We always get suckered into joining the wine club of a vineyard we enjoy. I can't keep track of how many places send us vino currently.

ANYWAY...so we set out to Malibu on a gorgeous Friday afternoon.  It's only about 30 miles away so we stopped at the Malibu Kitchen for a tasty deli lunch before venturing on to taste some vino. I had a really great Turkey reuben. (Am I the only one that thinks turkey is soooo much better on a reuben than the traditional corned beef?) Liz had a really bland salad. Oh well, can't win em all.

Our first stop was the Rosenthal Vineyards tasting room. Their tasting room is on the PCH right outside of Malibu...unfortunately not on the actual vineyard property which is up in the hills a couple miles away. After being accosted in the parking lot by some old dude named Joe that claimed to manage the property and vented about the coastal commission for 15 minutes, we stepped into the tasting room.  When we walked in, the two guys pouring asked if Joe scared us and also implied that he bothers many people. I'm left a little unclear as to if he actually had a reason to be there.  After tasting their wines and buying a couple bottles that benefit the Surfrider Foundation, we left the place and ventured five miles up into the mountains to Malibu Family Wines.  

The Malibu Family Wines tasting room is on a vineyard up high in the Santa Monica Mountains.  The tasting room itself was outdoors.  We liked the Rosenthal wines a bit better but still ending up picking up a bottle before heading home.  For some reason we couldn't quite figure out, the guy pouring at Malibu Family was dressed like an extra in Newsies.  Was it a uniform?  Or did he choose to go that route?  We may never know.  

We drove back on the very scenic Mulholland Highway.  By this time it was evening rush hour and our GPS was directing us to the traffic clogged freeway which we smartly avoided.  Stupid GPS.  A third tasting room called will be opening soon in the hills above Malibu called the Cornell Winery. (It's to be located very near the famous Rock Store biker stop on Mulholland Hwy) It'll make for a nice afternoon wine drive without the trek all the way to Santa Ynez.  Liz and I love going up to Santa Ynez--the wine is obviously much better and it's fantastic for a weekend away--but you can't complain about a nearby inexpensive 30 mile trek when you don't want to devote the time and expense for that much more involved journey.   


Googly Eye Gardner

Stupid TV

So today the TV is on and I'm watching some news while eating lunch and suddenly....BOOM.  There's a bright flash, a very loud explosive sound, and it all goes dark.  

It smells terrible too. Like burnt electronics.


Why couldn't flatscreens have been as competitively priced 18 months ago when we got our DLP tv?  

And replacements are $200!   A new one has been ordered but this pretty much blows.

Oh well.


Yay, economy!

The stories you've been hearing are true. The economy sucks. It's a great time to buy a house here in LA. Prices have tanked over what they were only two years ago and now all I see are sign after sign for open houses--something that wasn't even needed when we moved here.

So the crappy economy put me into the unemployment line a few weeks ago. I'm holding to the "maybe it was for the best idea"...and despite things being generally bad, there ARE prospects, so we'll see what happens. But for now, I've been updating my portfolio with work from the last year. Take a look if you want!

it's easy to find:


A little preview...

It's been a while since I last gave this the attention it needs, so what better way to return than with this...

^-press play