Williams helps Bengals to 2nd place finish in county meet

Posted on 23 June 2016 by LeslieM

SPORTS062316By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach’s Jevon Williams was in familiar territory recently as he successfully defended his 100-meter boys hurdles championship at the Broward County Middle School track and field championships at Coral Springs High School.

I didn’t expect it,” said Williams, who recently graduated from Pompano Beach Middle School. “It is kind of like winning a super bowl, but it is better because it was for my school.”

The 14-year-old Williams would know about winning Super Bowls as he won a youth football championship with the Pompano Eagles 13-Under team.

In addition to defending his hurdles title in 14.24, he also won the high jump with a personal best leap of 5-10. His previous best was 5-8. He barely clipped the bar as he attempted to top 6-0.

Williams put in a dominating performance in the boys hurdles as he won by nearly a second over Seminole Middle School’s Cody Brown (15.22). The Bengals finished second in the meet with 62 points, just nine points behind four-time defending county champion Lauderdale Lakes Middle School.

I did good,” said Williams, who has been running track for three years. “It was pretty hard to repeat in the hurdles, but I had the experience.”

Other top local finishes with Pompano Beach Middle School athletes in the championships included Robert Floyd, who finished eighth in high jump (5-4); Darnell Deas, who placed third in the boys 100-meter dash (11.84), and Jeremiah Mathieu, who placed third in the boys 800 (2:12.18).

Pompano Beach kept the meet interesting as it went 2-3 in the 200-meter dash as Shamari Lawrence was second (23.25), while Williams was third (23.74). Pompano Beach also had two standout relay performances as their 4×100 relay took first (44.44), while the 4×400 relay was fourth.

Not to be outdone, the girls also turned in some solid efforts as they tied for ninth in the county with Sawgrass Middle School with 18 points. Lauderdale Lakes’ girls won the championship with 94 points.

Jaleah Williams was one of three girls to break the 1-minute barrier as she was third in the girls 400-meter dash (59.73). K’Nyah Isaac of Pembroke Pines Charter won the girls 400 (56.43). Williams also took third in the 200-meter dash (26.41).

The Bengals girls relays teams also earned points as the 4×400 relay team was fourth in 4:42.17, while the 4×100 relay clocked 55.37 to place eighth.

Simply Soccer Camp offered

Area residents are headed to the Simply Soccer camp that is in its 28th year in nearby Coral Springs. The soccer camp is for boys and girls, ages 5-15, of all skill levels, who will be taught a variety of soccer skills from dribbling to shooting.

There are three sessions each day ranging from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., extended hours camp from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a Tiny Tot program for kids ages 5 and 6 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Full day campers must bring a soccer ball, swimsuit, shin guards, water bottle and lunch. You do not have to be a city resident to attend.

The remaining dates are June 27-July 1, July 11-15, July 18-22, July 25-29, Aug. 1-5, Aug. 8-12 and Aug. 15-19.

You can register daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Coral Springs Gymnasium, 2501 Coral Springs Dr., in Coral Springs. For information on the Coral Springs camp, call 954-345-2200.

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FLICKS: The Music of Strangers & Finding Dory

Posted on 23 June 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

There is a strong disconnect from what I see on television news and what I am witnessing at the local movie theaters. While headline news is simply atrocious with rhetoric that can be found in either The Book of Amos or The Book of Revelations, at the cinemas, I see happy people attending happy movies.

Opening tomorrow, The Music of Strangers features cellist Yo Yo Ma assembling his “Silk Road Ensemble,” a collection of international musicians who bring forth their own cultural artistry. Formed in the year 2000, the subject of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is presented, but this tragedy is not exploited. This film talks about cultural understanding through the international language of music.

In this 15 year artistic odyssey, Yo Yo Ma travels through China, Iran and Spain, countries that introduced Western Civilization to Asian culture in the 15th Century. After this cross cultural exchange of goods and services, “Silk Road Ensemble” is an appropriate name for Yo Yo Ma’s band of musicians. We watch and listen to these fine craftsman express themselves with familiar instruments like a cello, banjo or a clarinet. Yet, we are also introduced to the indigenous sounds of instruments like the Chinese pipa and the Persian kamancheh. After watching these individuals perform and party backstage, you may feel better about the world.

When Finding Nemo was released 13 years ago, I was told that a mother was upset at the violence that Nemo and his father endured in the film’s opening. Now that the child is college age, I wonder how that individual is now holding up.  Unlike Finding Nemo, Finding Dory does not open with the death of a parent, but this sweet movie does provide some scary moment about loneliness and alienation.

This new Walt Disney Pixar motion picture opens with a close-up of big-eyed baby Dory, who announces her name and that “she has a short-term memory problem.” We are then introduced to Dory’s loving parents (voiced by Kate McKinnon and Bill Hader), who are teaching their special needs child. Dory becomes lost and spends the rest of the movie trying to remember why her parents are so important.

Finding Dory is that simple of a movie. Yet the film is rich with character development and emotional resonance. Dory (perfectly voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is such a vulnerable character, yet one is surprised by the strength she has gained through listening to her inner voice.

Dory’s charm forges a relationship with Hank the Octopi (Ed O’Neil), a streetwise curmudgeon with three hearts of gold. Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voiced by a new child actor) both return in supporting roles.

What is so unique about the documentary The Music of Strangers and the animated film Finding Dory is the lack of villains in both movies. In today’s popular entertainment culture, it is refreshing to see individuals overcoming challenges by simply being themselves.

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CLERGY CORNER: Challenges, comebacks and championships

Posted on 23 June 2016 by LeslieM

The 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers had quite the battle in winning the series last Sunday against the Golden State Warriors. Despite being down 3-1 by the time game five rolled around, LeBron James and his teammates found the will to defeat the defending champion Warriors for three straight games, and made history in the process. The odds-makers were sure that Golden State would repeat since no team had ever overcome a 3-1 deficit. A further hurdle was the fact that Cleveland had not had a major sports championship team since 1964, and had never won the coveted NBA title. The 2016 Champions proved that odds can be overcome and challenges can be conquered.

In the emotional post-game interviews with reporters, LeBron James acknowledged the great struggle he and his teammates had to overcome. It was a deeply fulfilling night for the Cavaliers’ star player who had made it his goal to bring the championship home to Cleveland ever since his return from a four-year stint with the Miami Heat.

Fans in Cleveland had voiced their displeasure with LeBron when he left Cleveland in 2010 to play in Miami. They had felt betrayed and abandoned, and their team suffered its worst seasons without James’ skills and leadership. But, on last Sunday night, all was forgiven as delirious fans celebrated the win in the streets of Cleveland, and hailed their hero, Lebron James.

In 1 Samuel 30, David and his men returned to their campsite in Ziklag to find it a smoldering ash heap, the result of a sneak attack by the Amalekites. Further compounding their distress was the fact that their wives and children had been taken captive by the enemy. The emotional trauma of the moment overwhelmed the tough fighting men who cried until they had no more power to weep. Frustration soon gave way to anger as they then contemplated stoning their leader, David, who had become the object of their blame. David somehow found the strength to encourage himself and inspired his men to pursue the enemy in the process.

There are powerful life lessons in both the Biblical account of David and his men, and in the championship quest of LeBron James and his teammates:

1) Never make a permanent decision in a temporary situation. Down 3-1 in the finals, LeBron could have concluded that the odds were too great and the championship run was over. David could have given in to his despair and considered suicide when his men turned against him.

2) There are times when the help you need lies deep inside of you. When you are playing on your opponent’s home court and thousands of fans are screaming and booing to distract you, it takes incredible focus and internal fortitude to stay true to your game. David was able to retreat from the unnerving sounds of mutiny around him and seek solace and encouragement in spiritual communion with God.

3) Acknowledge God’s presence and power at work in your life. LeBron opined that God (the man upstairs) must have intended for the Cavaliers to take the hard road to the championship. David looked to God for direction concerning a mission of recovery and was inspired to pursue.

4) Setbacks can turn into comebacks. The Cavaliers’ heroic effort paid off, winning them the championship and great respect in the world of sports. David eventually caught up with the Amalekites, recovered the kidnapped families and returned with the spoils of war.

May you and I find the courage to face our obstacles, confident that we can overcome them, and may God enable us to do, with His aid, what we cannot do on our own.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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Drayton wins state figure skating title

Posted on 16 June 2016 by LeslieM

SPORTS061616By Gary Curreri

With more than 350 figure skaters from around Florida participating in the Sunshine State Games Figure Skating competition at the Florida Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs, one local girl stood tall.

Pompano Beach’s Katya Drayton, 12, won the Pre Juvenile Free Skating Division recently and punched her ticket to the national games later this year.

When you see that your hard work has paid off, it is just so rewarding,” said Drayton, 12, who just completed her 7th-grade year at Somerset Pines Academy. “It’s just the best. I want to at least get to sectionals this year and then maybe nationals.”

Drayton got her start in the sport when she went to her sister’s friend’s birthday party. She took third at last year’s Sunshine State Games and trains at Glacier Ice and Snow Arena in Pompano Beach.

I just really liked it and I asked my mom if I could have lessons and that’s just how it began,” Drayton said. “The feeling on the ice compares to happiness. The memories … you will never forget that moment that you are out there on the ice.”

I wouldn’t say you are flying unless you are doing a flying camel or a jump,” she added. “I think it is more like you are gliding. Everything is loose. You can do whatever you want.”

Drayton said there is pressure when you take the ice for your program.

It depends on what competition it is,” she said. “If it is a smaller one, there are nerves, but if it is a big one where you are competing against so many people from the state, you will have some nerves because you don’t know how good some people are.”

Drayton, who practices six days a week – usually skating 2-1/2 hours every day, will train before and after school to prepare. She likes what the sport brings.

There is actually a lot of freedom,” she said. “You get to choose your music, unless you have a really strict coach. You get to do your program and, if you feel like some things are not right, you could change it to something that you are better at.”

Drayton is more confident in her jumps and always is looking to make a good impression with the judges.

I tried to smile as much as I can because I do love it, but you are focused in that moment, so if you are hooked in the moment, you don’t really smile,” Drayton said. “I love it, so I tried to smile and show how much I loved it. I am really happy with what I did.”

The Sunshine State Games is Florida’s Olympic-style Sports Festival that has provided amateur sports opportunities for residents of the state for 37 years. The Figure Skating competition was in its 30th year and was held on two rinks over three days at the IceDen. A total of 127 gold medals were awarded during the competition.

Betty Stark, who has served as the Figure Skating Director for all 30 years in the Games, was recognized for her service to the Sunshine State Games and amateur sports in the State of Florida. The competition drew more than 350 skaters from around the state

This is our largest number,” Stark said. “This is a big event especially because this is the start of the seasonal year for the skaters and they get to put their programs out, get it tested and get feedback back from the technical panel at the different levels. It is very encouraging because the little ones look up to the big ones who skate.”

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FLICKS: Wedding Doll, Genius & The Conjuring 2

Posted on 16 June 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Spoken in Hebrew with English subtitles, Wedding Doll opens tomorrow in local cinema. It is a quirky drama about growth that is both tragic and humorous. Hagit is a young woman with learning disabilities who works in a toilet paper factory. She is courted by the boss’s son, much to Hagit’s mother’s disapproval. Filmed in Israel with cinematography echoes of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Wedding Doll is a dry movie with a lively performance from Moran Rosenblatt as Hagit.

Genius opens tomorrow with Colin Firth headlining an all star cast as Max Perkins, the famed book editor of Scribner’s Publishers. Jude Law portrays Thomas Wolfe, a frail genius in the mode of Max Perkins’ previous clients: Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce).

To the shock of many box office experts, the relatively low budgeted The Conjuring 2 was extremely successful last weekend. A worthy follow up to the original film, this sequel presents the further adventures of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), a paraprofessional married couple in league with the Roman Catholic Church.

After wrapping up their investigation of the Amityville Horror in Long Island, Lorraine has a vision about her husband’s death. Feeling apprehensive, Lorraine wants to avoid getting involved with any future exorcisms. However, when the Hodgson family in London encounter an old man poltergeist, the Roman Catholic Church recruit the reluctant Warren family to investigate.

Due to their father’s departure, the Hodgson family recently moved into this London flat. Daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe) is taking it the hardest. She sleepwalks, is frequently ill and has nightmares. At first, Mother Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) dismisses Janet’s problems, until she witnesses paranormal activity in her other children.

Director James Wan knows how to tell a story. With a minuscule budget, Wan helped create the Saw and Insidious series of movies, terror tales that feature a dose of human compassion. Including The Conjuring series, Wan’s movies rely on tried and true suspense techniques. Each film builds to successful payoff, one that does not rely on blood explosions induced by computerized special effects.

With a confident hand, Wan directs a scene with Patrick Wilson that could have become maudlin. Learning that the family used to enjoy listening to Elvis Presley albums, the Warrens purchase the Blue Hawaii soundtrack. Given the poltergeist’s tampering with the electronics, Ed Warren picks up an acoustic guitar and entertains the family. Between the previous scares and future shocks, this musical scene creates an intimate moment between the family and the human audience.

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CLERGY CORNER: “Love your fellow as yourself”

Posted on 16 June 2016 by LeslieM

This week, we celebrated the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot. On Shavuos, G-d gave the Jewish people his Torah.

A gentile once came before Shammai and said: “Convert me to Judaism, on the stipulation that you teach me the entire Torah as I stand on one leg.” Shammai drove him off with the builder’s measuring stick in his hand. [The Talmudic sage Shammai was a builder by profession.]

He then came before Hillel, who converted him. Said Hillel to him: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary — go and learn.”

Hillel and Shammai were two leading rabbis of the early 1st century BCE. They lived in Jerusalem during the time of King Herod and the Roman Emperor Augustus, in the turbulent and bloody century before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. It is in this conversation that Hillel sums up all of Torah — to treat another person like you would like to be treated. Imagine, if each of us would live that way!

One century later, Rabbi Akiva would comment on the verse “Love your fellow as yourself.” This is a cardinal principle in the Torah. As we once again receive the Torah on Shavuos 2016, this remains the summary of all of Torah: Treat the other like you wish to be treated.

Judaism is a religion of words. G-d created the natural world with words. We create, and sometimes destroy, the social world with words. That is one reason why Judaism has so strong an ethic of speech. The other reason, surely, is its concern to protect human dignity.

Psychological injury may be no less harmful and sometimes is even more harmful than physical injury. Hence the rule: never humiliate, never put to shame, never take refuge in the excuse that they were only words, that no physical harm was done.

In 2008, world renowned composer Benjamin Zander gave a TED Talk called “The Transformative Power of Classical Music.” This is how he ended his talk: What we say really makes a difference. The words that come out of our mouth really do matter. I learned this from a woman who survived Auschwitz, one of the rare survivors. She went to Auschwitz when she was 15 years old. And her brother was eight, and the parents were lost. And she told me this.

She said, “We were in the train going to Auschwitz, and I looked down and saw my brother’s shoes were missing. I said, ‘Why are you so stupid? Can’t you keep your things together for goodness’ sake?’ the way an elder sister might speak to a younger brother.”

Unfortunately, it was the last thing she ever said to him, because she never saw him again. He did not survive. And, so, when she came out of Auschwitz, she made a vow.

She said, “I walked out of Auschwitz into life and I made a vow. And the vow was, ‘I will never say anything that couldn’t stand as the last thing I ever say.’”

Now, can we do that? No. But it is a possibility to live into. Never ever embarrass someone — not a child, not even an adult, not your spouse, not your child, nor a stranger.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the Director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches. New location soon! For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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FLICKS: L’Attesa (The Wait) & Alice Through the Looking Glass

Posted on 09 June 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

L’Attesa (The Wait) opens tomorrow at the Living Room Theater on the FAU campus. Purely an art house drama with serious themes, L’Attesa is based on a play and a short story written by Sicilian legend Luigi Pirandello. The film stars Juliette Binoche as the matriarch of a mansion by the sea.

The film opens with Anna (Binoche) attending a funeral and returning to her lonely mansion. The phone rings and echoes through the halls. It is Jeanne (Lou de Laage), the girl friend of Anna’s son, Guiseppe. Jeanne and Guiseppe made plans to meet at Anna’s mansion for the Easter holiday.

The film is a slow paced mystery, full of haunted imagery. Owing a debt to Classic Neorealism of Italian cinema, director Piero Messina melds a modern interpretation of a Pirandello tragedy. The experienced craft of Binoche and fresh talent of Laage form a strong working partnership. See L’Attesa with a friend and discuss the film over a glass of red wine.

Grief is a hard sale for the summer box office season, especially when it is based on classic children’s literature, which might explain why Alice Through the Looking Glass is tanking at the box office. Throw in bad publicity from a cast mate and this has already become Walt Disney Studio’s biggest bomb of 2016. Sadly, it is a superior sequel to the origin film six years ago.

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) has become a successful sea captain because she believes the only way to accomplish the impossible is to believe it is possible. However, when Alice returns home, she learns that her mother is in financial distress. Realizing that her mother’s dilemma was caused by her actions in the previous movie, Alice follows a blue butterfly (voiced by the late Alan Rickman) into a mirror, which is a portal to Wonderland.

Once in Wonderland, Alice learns that her best friend Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) suffers from melancholia. With the aid of the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), Tweedledee & Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), the Dormouse and the White Rabbit, Alice must steal from Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and battle the vengeful Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). This imaginative flight of fancy will amuse art patrons who enjoy Impressionism and Surrealism with Steampunk motifs.

While dealing with darker themes, Alice Through the Looking Glass is an entertaining motion picture that I wished I saw on the IMAX’s five-storey screen. Stick around for the end credits in which a loving tribute is provided to the late Alan Rickman.

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CLERGY CORNER: Care a little more

Posted on 09 June 2016 by LeslieM

I’ve heard that social media is good and bad. Unfortunately, both are an oversimplification, void of a deeper understanding (as I would argue that social media has both “good” and “bad” qualities — key word, qualities).

One of the “bad” qualities is what researchers have determined about stories in our social media newsfeed, how they carry equal weight. Everything shares the proverbial front page. Couple that with the saturation of tragedies posted, desensitizing us to their weightiness, and no wonder silly cat videos go viral. The “bad” qualities have led us straight into being overwhelmed, jaded and complacent … case-and-point, me.

Last week, while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I came across a picture of a young boy lying in a hospital bed connected to monitoring equipment. The tag line asked for prayer. I started to pray. I wish I could say that I rolled out of bed and dropped to my knees. Or that I at least prayed something more meaningful than, “Lord, be with this young boy; heal him.” But I didn’t. And it was then and there that the Holy Spirit convicted me. I asked God to lead me in what I should pray. What flashed through my mind next was probably one of the most authentic prayers I’ve ever uttered. “Lord, I wish I cared more.”

The truth: I was going through the motions — knocking out my obligatory prayer. I wanted to sleep. But God, after His conviction, prompted me to continue to aimlessly scroll through my newsfeed. He knew that just a few posts away was the same boy, except this time, the picture included detailed instructions how to pray. God is good and I prayed — for real.

While the main plot was that of the young boy — whose surgery went well — the side story included my growth. I decided from that day forward I would commit to caring more. Philippians 2:4 reads, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” and Romans 12:10 says, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” I want to take this wisdom to heart as I live the command of John 13:34-35 to “[love] each other [just] as [Christ has] loved you,” so that “[your] love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

Did you know that the average age for children being recruited for prostitution is 13 years old, which Peter Haas, in his book Broken Escalators: Funny and Frightful Lessons about Moth Eating and Moving to the Next Level, reports that these children who are coerced or trafficked comprise nearly 20 percent of Internet porn. And just how much cash is spent on pornographic material daily? Haas confirms that among China, the U.S., Japan and South Korea, a whopping $236 million is consumed … per day. What else happens per day? Haas continues, 21,000 children under 5 years old die from poverty-related illnesses. Toss in racism, terrorism, corruption you name it, and it can be overwhelming living in a world that has succumbed to sin.

If you’re like me, you will want to do something. You will want to care more. I love what Benjamin Kerns writes about righting injustices in his book From the Pen to the Palace: A Youth Ministry Evangelism and Discipleship Strategy For a Post-Christian Culture; he calls us to “[leverage] our power for the benefit of others.” We see this modeled by Christ in how He cared, how He loved. Eugene Cho writes in Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World? whether it was the widow, the leper, the adulterer, the prostitute, the marginalized, the oppressed, the forgotten, the rich, the poor, the hurting, the joyful, (you name it), Jesus lived justly and He calls us to follow suit: to love as He loves … to care more.

Join me and, together, let us be the Church — one that loves others by caring more than just in thought, but in deed.

C.J. Wetzler is the NextGen pastor at First Baptist Church of Deerfield Beach. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. For questions or comments he can be reached at cj@deerfieldfirst.com.

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Grandmother gets ace on Mother’s Day

Posted on 02 June 2016 by LeslieM

sports060216By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach’s Roz Lagges spent Mother’s Day playing golf with her daughter, Cheryl DeNoia and it was a memorable occasion.

The 76-year-old great grandmother of nine celebrated the day by getting a hole-in-one at the Crystal Lake Golf Club in Deerfield Beach. She used her 5 Hybrid to ace the Par-3, 103-yard 12th hole.

Cheryl doesn’t golf with us that often because she works so much,” Lagges said. “My husband (Nick) had eye surgery and he hasn’t been able to play.”

Lagges said she thought it might have gone over the green since she lost track of the ball after it flew by the trap at the front of the green.

I thought, ‘Oh boy, here we go again,’” she said. “I thought it went over the green. [Cheryl] said, ‘No mom, you got it in the hole.’”

This was so exciting,” Lagges said. “I was with my daughter and she saw it go in the hole. I insisted it must have rolled off the green and that is why she didn’t see the ball on the green. She got in the golf cart and flew to the green and said, ‘yep, it’s in the hole!’ It was great! It was the best Mother’s Day I ever had.”

Her husband has four hole-in-ones and she is closing in on him. She got her first at the Deerfield Country Club on Nov. 23, 2011 when she aced the 120-yard, 17th hole with a 7-iron. They play together about 4 to 5 times a week.

It was a great thrill,” she said. “It compares to getting a 300 game in bowling. No I have to catch up (to Nick).”

Simply Soccer Camp offered

The Simply Soccer camp returns for its 28th year in Coral Springs. The soccer camp is for boys and girls, ages 5-15, and of all skill levels, who will be taught a variety of soccer skills from dribbling to shooting.

There are three sessions each day ranging from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with extended hours camp from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a Tiny Tot program for kids ages 5 and 6 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Full day campers must bring a soccer ball, swimsuit, shin guards, water bottle and lunch. You do not have to be a city resident to attend.

The dates are: June 13-17; June 20-24; June 27-July 1; July 11-15; July 18-22; July 25-29; August 1-5; August 8-12; August 15-19.

You can register daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Coral Springs Gymnasium, 2501 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs. For information on the Coral Springs camp call 954-345-2200.

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FLICKS: To Life! and X-Men: Apocalypse

Posted on 02 June 2016 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

To Life! opens tomorrow in neighborhood theaters. A German movie (Auf das leben!) with English subtitles, To Life! is about two misfits who are separated by generational gaps, but united by personal pain and loss.

Ruth (Hannelore Elsner) is a troubled senior with a past. A victim of the Nazi Holocaust, Ruth was a popular cabaret singer in post-war Berlin. After a rocky start, Ruth befriends Jonas (Max Riemelt), a troubled man on the run. As these two lost souls confront their problems, both individuals find simple healing.

At 86 minutes, To Life! feels epic, especially during some clever flashback scenes featuring young Ruth (Sharon Brauner). Once the climax is reached, the film wraps up with sweet denouement that will make one toast “L’Chaim!”

It has been 16 years since Bryan Singer directed the first X-Men movie, a film hailed as the most realistic comic book movie of all time. Now Singer has closed out the second X-Men trilogy, and there is a sense of diminishing returns.

There is an attempt to make X-Men: Apocalypse a stand-alone movie, but the weight of five X-Men movies, two Wolverine movies and one Deadpool film constricts the narrative momentum. With X-Men: Apocalypse, the production staff reaches back to Biblical times to create a villain, En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), an ancient one who recruits the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Of course, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are mutants, most notably former X-Men teammates Storm (Alexandra Shipp, replacing Halle Berry) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

While running the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, wheelchair bound Professor X (James McAvoy) attempts to prevent the end of the world in 1983. Professor X reunites with Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), who served on the X-Men team during the Cuban Missile crisis and end of the Vietnam War.

With Hugh Jackman providing a cameo to set up his final Wolverine movie, X-Men: Apocalypse is a montage of superheroes performing their own unique talents: Mystique is a chameleon, Magneto controls metal and Professor X thinks.

Despite a critical drubbing, this film was the Memorial Day weekend box office champion. It is not a bad film, but it simply feels tired.

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