Blackburn gets personal best discus throw, aiming higher

Posted on 19 April 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach’s Sydney Blackburn keeps her goals close.

The talented Highlands Christian Academy sophomore track star recently accomplished one of those goals as she threw 151.02 ft. in the discus and won the District 13-1A title.

Her throw is the second best in the state behind Hallandale High School senior Amani Heaven’s 161.50 ft. throw at the Pepsi Florida Relays. Blackburn’s throw is also the 18th best in the country.

That felt really good because there were a lot of people from school there,” said Blackburn, who also won the shot put event that day with a throw of 37.10 ft.“The athletic director was there; the headmaster was there and so was my teammates.”

Blackburn said she sometimes feels pressure because she shoulders the load for her team.

I just know that I am one of the captains, so if I am having a bad day, it will affect the others on my team,” she said. “It helps me know that my team is depending on me, so it helps me calm down. The competition I have now is not as good as my summer track.”

She finished fourth at the state meet last year in the shotput with a throw of 36.1 ft. but scratched on all three attempts in the discus.

My throw would have been the winning throw at states,” said Blackburn, who was 9th in the state in the shotput in her 8th-grade year and was 14th in the state in the discus event that year. “They said I walked out of the circle wrong and didn’t count my throws. It was disappointing, but it really motivated me this year.

I want to get 155 ft. in regionals and hopefully 160 at state,” said Blackburn, who placed 4th in the National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas with a throw of 144.75 ft. last July. It was her previous best throw until the district competition last week. Blackburn competes for Broward Elite Track Club out of Pine Crest in Ft. Lauderdale during the summer.

The regional competition is Wednesday at Calvary Christian in Ft. Lauderdale.

Blackburn, 16, is a sophomore and has spent 10 years at the school.

It is a small school, but I enjoy going there,” Blackburn said. “With public schools, you get to experience more, but in my district there is very good competition.”

I like to keep my goals close,” Blackburn said. “My goal is to get into the high 170s by the time I finish high school. My highest last year was in the 130s, so I am improving each year.”

Blackburn is highly thought of by Highlands track coach Brenda King.

Sydney is our most valuable track member not just because of her points but she is our heart beat,” King said. “She is a fun loving young lady who does not mind working hard at athletics or academics.

Most importantly, Sydney, her family and me are all humbled to enjoy this great ride of her success through hard work.

Sydney has always desired to go to college and participate in a sport,” added King, who said that Blackburn has drawn interest from the University of Miami and University of Virginia as well as Butler. “Now, track has made it more real for her. Sydney has special God given talents and she must be treated in that manner. She reminds daily of why I love to coach.”

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FLICKS: A Bag of Marbles & Deep Sea 3D at MODS IMAX

Posted on 19 April 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

The motion picture industry is having a fine spring with Rampage, A Quiet Place and Ready Player One dominating the box office. It will be eight days before the most hyped and most secretive movie of the year opens, Avengers: Infinity War. In the meantime, check out an indie film or a selection from IMAX’s Museum of Discovery & Science (MODS) in Ft. Lauderdale.

A French, Yiddish, Russian and German movie with English subtitles, A Bag of Marbles is a simple film about a Jewish Family trying to evade the encroaching Nazis in France and Italy during WW2. The use of European landscapes creates beautiful cinematography, which add to the innocent perspective of the young boys. When the boys are outside traveling, the film feels like a Mark Twain Adventure with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

It is in the indoors that one feels the tension and witnesses the cruelty of Adolph Hitler’s goons. Moments of family joy celebrating a Mom’s violin solo is interrupted by Nazis who complain about hearing Jewish music. Situations get darker when the boys are brutally captured and interrogated by a commandant who wants them medically examined for circumcision.

Though a title works as a dramatic piece of symbolism, A Bag of Marbles is a very humane motion picture. The boys are not superheroes, they bicker and cry for the most immature reasons. Early in the motion picture, the youngest boy befriends a German soldier because the soldier is “cool.” Based on a true story from Holocaust survivors, A Bag of Marbles is a movie about growth.

Deep Sea 3D has returned to MODS. Narrated by Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp, Deep Sea 3D is a 45-minute documentary about the creatures that live in the darkest and deepest oceans on Planet Earth. The most monstrous creature of Deep Sea 3D has to be the Humboldt Squid, a vicious character. With tentacles that can extend up to 6 ft., this carnivore has superior underwater vision and can rip its prey to shreds with its beak.

My favorite character had to be the Mantis Shrimp. This scrappy fighter defends his turf from an over-reaching octopus. While the octopus has the advantage of eight tentacles and a slimy disposition, the Mantis Shrimp manages to out box his predator with his attitude, front claws and speed. As scary as the Humboldt Squid is, the Mantis Shrimp provides the best comic relief and a moment to cheer.

Both A Bag of Marbles and Deep Sea 3D present big screen entertainment, sharing the theme of survival. With decent box office numbers, perhaps big screen entertainment will survive another summer.

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CLERGY CORNER: Digital wafers and virtual wine

Posted on 19 April 2018 by LeslieM

“… on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” (I Corinthians 11:23b-25)

Some call it “The Lord’s Supper.” Some call it “The Eucharist.” Some call it “Holy Communion.” There are many names but just one purpose and that is to connect us. When we gather to receive the wafer or bread, wine or grape juice, we connect with God and we connect with our fellow communicants. If I were to look for a trendy word to describe this experience, I would call it “The Divine Connection.” Indeed, it is a divine connection.

Are we connected? Some people would say that we are more connected than ever. We have smart phones, computer tablets, Apple watches, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap Chat. Wifi is available in every Starbucks or McDonalds. We panic when we lose our cell phone signal on road trips. We are so connected that we are actually in bondage to technology. If I leave the house without my cell phone, I actually break into a sweat. I am just as guilty as anybody else in this regard. But are we really connected?

I hear people complain all the time about going to restaurants and seeing people sit across the table from each other and text. They are not making eye contact. They are not listening. They are not speaking. They are texting. Are they texting each other? That would be pretty sad. Are they ignoring each other and texting their friends? That is sadder yet. They may be making a digital connection but they certainly are not making a human connection.

I know that technology can be a great asset. I know that there are ways that churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship can utilize technology in very helpful ways to communicate. I heartily endorse the use of technology in churches because I use it all the time. Case in point, I am writing this from my computer.

If homebound people cannot attend worship but can stream a sermon … terrific. If someone is out of town and wants to stream a sermon … terrific. If someone wants to listen again to a sermon I left recorded on a website … terrific. And then I come to a realization. While the sermon is a major part of our worship experience, it is not the only major part of our worship experience.

I can listen to a sermon and I can sing along with hymns and songs, but Holy Communion is an experience that I cannot simulate with technology. There is no such thing as a “digital wafer.” There is no such thing as “virtual wine.” If you want to experience Holy Communion, the only way that is possible is on a human-to-human level.

I happily bring Holy Communion to homebound people or hospitalized people, and every worship service at Zion includes Holy Communion. Human interaction is the only possible way to distribute communion and I have to say that this is good. The lack of human interaction is taking its toll on society whereas Holy Communion is one of the last vestiges of human interaction left.

Even for faith traditions that do not celebrate Holy Communion in the manner in which we do, we celebrate communion in the general sense of the word. Communion and community have a common root and faith-based communities are sacred space where humans interact in person. Our places of worship provide an invaluable service during the digital age. We pray together; we praise together; we sing together; we listen to one another and we speak to one another. When someone in our community is hurting, we empathize, sympathize and hug. Technology cannot do any of these things.

May we people of faith never lose sight of the important role we play in the lives of the people we serve. When God speaks to his people it is through sending people, not text messages.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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FLICKS: Beirut & Women of Venezuelan Chaos

Posted on 12 April 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Women of Venezuelan Chaos and Beruit are two serious and timely movies that open this weekend at local theaters. Both films are riveting dramas. Beruit is based on terrorist drama that began in 1972, while Women of Venezuelan Chaos is a documentary based on recent news from South of the Border.

Directed by Margarita Cadenas, Women of Venezuelan Chaos interviews five women of various economic status of post-Chavez Venezuela.

Kim (who attended an Apr. 9 screening at Silverspot Cinema in Coconut Creek) is married with children and is also a nurse. We see her providing healthcare, but many medicinal supplies are lacking.

Maria is a community manager who works from her home. She talks about bartering milk for diapers and how the Venezuelan economy is turning the population into a community of hoarders.

Eva is unemployed, therefore, she must wait in line to receive a lottery number to get rice and flour from the black market.

Luisa is a retired police officer whose grandson is imprisoned for being critical of the Venezuelan government.

Olga is a waitress with a tragic story to tell about government oppression and the murder of children.

Spoken in Spanish with English subtitles, Women of Venezuelan Chaos is newsworthy. When it was “cool” to mock President Bush, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was upheld as a poster boy for socialized healthcare by some. When Chavez died and his house of cards crumbled, Nicolas Maduro became president. As poverty increased, the main stream media seemingly lost interest in the plight of the Venezuelan people. Through the voices of these five women, this documentary sheds some light upon their struggles for survival under the rule of graft politics and thug leaders.

Beirut deals with the growing world of terrorist thugs. In 1972, Diplomat Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) hosts a party in which he states, “Christians are in one corner; Muslims in the other corner with Jack Daniels in the middle.”

During the party, Mason learns that a student they are sponsoring is the brother of the No. 1 terrorist involved in the murders in Munich during the 1972 Olympics. That night, the terrorist invades the party and the student is abducted.

Ten years later, the CIA recruits Mason for a hostage negotiation in Beirut. The simple negotiation becomes an elaborate affair when many greedy organizations haggle over the hostage fee. During this complication, Mason learns that his old student is now grown and is involved in the kidnapping.

The summer movie blockbuster season is almost upon us. However, don’t let the serious fare like Beirut and Women of Venezuela Chaos get lost in the crowd.

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CLERGY CORNER: C.J.’s final thoughts: why the little things matter

Posted on 12 April 2018 by LeslieM

When you discover that nearly 80 percent of NFL players are either bankrupt or in a financial hardship within three to five years following their career playing football, and that 70 percent of lottery winners become broke, it’s only natural to wonder what happened? While it may seem that a proverbial straw broke the camel’s back, the truth is, whether financial ruin, a plane crash or even an overnight success, it’s never just one thing. Compounded factors, often the little things, added over time become that final piece of straw.

For the NFL players it begins in high school — if not before — as special treatment erodes personal responsibility. Similarly, lottery winners are statistically poor money managers prior to their windfall. It’s a poor decision hours before the crash or the years touring in dive bars and on college campuses before the breakout hit trends on iTunes. We know this, and in “the real world,” we accept and plan for this truth.

Yet, for many, as it applies to matters of faith, we’re waiting for some big, miraculous moment to launch us into action. We gaze longingly at the doers vastly impacting the kingdom and we think they must be special — confusing capacity for faithfulness. And so, we wait upon the Lord neglecting to do our part.

That’s not to say that there aren’t legitimate times to be patient. However, we can’t use spiritual sayings to justify inactivity. In doing so, we’ll miss the powerful and unique ways God wants to use our lives to complete His plan.

For me, my move to Texas was a culmination of little decisions to be faithful — and it didn’t even start with me. I have my family to thank. Because of their faithfulness, I learned to seek and nurture a relationship with God, one that would provide the confidence needed years later to depart my profession as an airline captain and begin working full-time with students. I had to embarrassingly choose to miss a friend’s wedding for financial reasons, but doing so led to chance encounter with an athletic director and school administration who hired me as a coach and teacher. In the classroom I felt called to start a youth ministry.

Then, a choice had to be made: stay as a teacher or go accept a full-time ministry position. God called me to the latter. And in a season of assessing my own personal ministry impact, God revealed a new direction that would draw upon my leadership as a captain, communication skills as a national itinerate speaker, content development and facilitation of such as a teacher and decade of mentoring — [to leave the church at Deerfield Beach as Youth Pastor] and to serve at a thriving church in Lubbock, Texas.

Even in my abbreviated tale, it’s apparent that I did not gather my life and spontaneously decide to move west on a whim, but again, years of a faithful pursuit and obedience led me to do so.

Here’s the kicker: I’m not special. while I might have different gifting and skills, or capacity, they aren’t better or worse than yours. We each can find joy and contentment knowing that we experience game-changing momentum toward reaching the capacity of our calling by abiding in the little things faithfully. God has an incredible plan and purpose for your life just as He does for mine, and they’re both equally exciting and Kingdom-altering because, in the end, it’s not about us. However, the difference will be in the choices we make: whether to treat faith like a lottery, hoping for that big break, or by deciding here and now to live a life worthy of our calling by investing in the seemingly insignificant spiritual disciplines that give power to our prayers, bring wise counsel into our presence and give us the assurance of God’s trustworthiness.

I sign off with this challenge: What is God calling you to today that has the potential to manifest itself into something unimaginable later, to become your Texas? No matter how small it might seem, never underestimate God’s ability to use the ordinary for the extraordinary. Say, “Here I am, Lord,” listen, then go do in faith.

Once the NextGen pastor at The Church at Deerfield Beach, C.J. Wetzler is currently the student pastor at The Message Church in Lubbock, TX. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. He loves to mentor the next generation of leaders and considers himself a fast food connoisseur. For questions or comments, connect with him on social media: @thecjwetzler.

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FLICKS: Ready Player One

Posted on 04 April 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Anything older than 21 years old is considered “the good old days.” As a child, I remember my parents’ generation refer to the big band music of Glenn Miller and how it influenced the music of the 1960s and 1970s. It should be noted that when my parent’s generation were listening to Big Band Music, they were in their 20s. For my generation, we were in our 20s during the 1980s, which has become our “good old days.”

The 1980s is a major reference point for Steven Spielberg’s new movie Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline’s book which was sold as a screenplay to Warner Brothers studio within 24 hours of first print. Cline created a cyber universe that has been fashioned by the software and computer games of the past 30 years. Given the corporate involvement, it’s worth noting that most of these cultural references are licensed by Warner Brothers studio.

This film begins in a multi-level trailer park in Youngstown, Ohio, circa 2045. Given their dismal reality, most of the population escapes to the Virtual Reality of the Oasis. The Oasis is a vast and detailed universe created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance, Spielberg’s favorite actor as of late). Halliday is a cross between Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Ben Bernanke. A single man with no heirs, Halliday dies — leaving the fate of the Oasis in a state of flux.

In his will, Halliday made sure to transfer the Oasis to the people who understood his vision. In the cyber games, Halliday planted three keys for people to find to unlock three magic gates. Two years post mortem, no one has yet found the missing keys. Enter Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who goes by his avatar name — Parzival, who spends most of his waking hours in the Oasis. Parzival makes friends with other avatars and, together, form a team to locate the three keys.

The plot for Ready Player One is that simple. It is the overwhelming detail that could confuse some ticket buyers. Having lived through the cultural references of the Bee Gees, Duran Duran and A-Ha, I found a connection that people (a few years older than me) could find it hard to relate to. Beyond the bells and whistles of cyberspace icons and avatars, Ready Player One reveals an important theme about human relations and friendship.

Spielberg is still a master storyteller with a great visual eye. Having eschewed the naive wonder of Close Encounters of a Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spielberg’s science fiction flicks since the turn of the century have taken on a darker hue with films like A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report and War of the Worlds. Ready Player One feels like a compromise between the two contrasting visions of light and darkness.

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CLERGY CORNER: Reconnecting at Passover

Posted on 04 April 2018 by LeslieM

Fifteen years ago, my friend observed a Passover in Japan while I was in Russia, this is his story:

It was a few weeks before Passover 1997. Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, of Chabad World Headquarters in Brooklyn, requested of my colleagues to travel to the Far East and conduct public Passover Seder for the Jewish community living in the remote city of Kobe. Our journey was to go to Japan; and the numerous encounters with hundreds of Jews residing in that part of the world remains etched in my heart.

My colleague, Moshe Leiberman (today a Rabbi in Boston), supervised the meticulous procedures of koshering the Synagogue kitchen for Passover and preparing the food for the Seder. We did not know how many people to expect; there are wandering Jews to be found in every corner of Japan. To our astonishment, our first public Seder attracted close to 200 Jews, most of them from very secular backgrounds, some have not attended a Passover Seder in decades.

The energy was great. We sang, danced, ate the crunchy matzah and drank the tasty wine. The guests were into it, eating up the discussions as much as the delicious meal.

In the middle of the Seder, I was searching for words to describe my sentiments. My memory brought forth a moving Chassidic tale — one of my personal favorites — about the holy Rebbe (spiritual master) of Barditchov. Here it goes …

A drunkard’s seder

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Barditchov (1740-1810) was one of the great spiritual masters of his generation. One Passover, following an emotionally charged Seder, the Rebbe was told from heaven that Mosheleh, the water carrier’s, Seder was superior to his. “This year,” he was informed from above, “G-d’s most lovable Seder was that of the water-carrier of Barditchov.”

The next day after services, the Rebbe’s disciples went up to Mosheleh the water carrier and asked him to come see the Rebbe. Mosheleh came before the Rebbe, and he began to cry bitterly. He said, “Rebbe, I’ll never do it again. I’m so sorry; I don’t know what came over me.” The poor man was devastated. The Rebbe said, “Listen, my dear Jew, don’t worry so much; just tell us what you did last night.”

Here we must interrupt the story for a moment. It is well known that, generally, intoxication and alcoholism are viewed in Judaism as repulsive and destructive. Yet, our dear Mosheleh was orphaned at a young age and was miserably poor. He sadly succumbed to the temptation of alcohol as a way to deal with his agony and stress. Essentially, Mosheleh was a good and innocent man, a G-d fearing individual and a pure heart, but this temptation, unfortunately, got the better of him, and he drank often.

The “problem” is that on Passover you can’t drink whiskey. So Mosheleh had a tremendous idea: He’ll stay up the whole night before Passover and drink an amount of whisky that would keep him “high” for eight days straight, throughout the entire Passover holiday.

This Moshe did: When the night before Passover arrived, he drank and drank, until the minute when you must stop eating Chamatz (leaven) on the morning before Passover. When the clock struck 20 minutes after nine, he took his last “L’chayim” and he was out cold.

Seder night arrived. His wife came to wake him and said, “Mosheleh, it’s really not fair. Every Jewish home has a Seder. We have little children, and we are the only ones who don’t have a Seder.”

Mosheleh gazed at the Rebbe of Barditchov and continued relating his tale: “By then, did I regret that I drank so much the night before! Did I regret it! I would have done anything not to be drunk. But I couldn’t help it. So I said to my wife: ‘Please wake me up in an hour. I just can’t get it together yet.’ My wife kept waking me every hour, and then every half-hour. Then, suddenly, she came to me and said, ‘Moshe, in 20 minutes the Seder night is gone and the children are all sleeping. Shame on you. You are a disgraceful father and husband!’

Gevald! I was so devastated,” Mosheleh told the Rebbe. “Here, my children are precious beyond words and I am a lousy alcoholic father, I didn’t even give them a Seder. I realized how low I have fallen, how my addiction destroyed my life and my relationships, how I sold my soul to the devil of alcohol. So, with my last strength, I got out of bed and sat down at the Seder table. I said to my wife, ‘Please, call our holy children.’

She called the children and I said to them, ‘Please sit down very close to me, I have to talk to you. I want you to know, children, that I am so sorry that I drank. I am so sorry that I am a drunkard. If my drinking can make me not have a Seder with you, then it’s not worth it.’ I said to my children, ‘I swear to you, that I’ll never drink again in my life. But, right now, it’s Seder night, so let me just tell you the Passover story in a nutshell.’”

Mosheleh said to the Rebbe, “You know, I was still drunk, and I barely know how to read Hebrew. But, I tried my best. I said, ‘Children, I want you to know that G-d created heaven and earth in seven days. Then Adam and Eve ate from the Tree and were thrown out of Paradise. Since then, everything went downhill: There was a flood, there was a tower of Babel that was as much as I knew.

Mosheleh said to the Rebbe, “Then came Abraham and Sarah. They began fixing the world again. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel and Leah and their 12 holy sons. Then Pharaoh made slaves out of us, and tonight, G-d took us out from Egypt.

“’My Sweet children, now we are also in exile. And I want you to know that the same G-d who took us out from Egypt is still alive and present and very soon He will liberate us from this exile too.’

I turned to G-d, and said: ‘Father in heaven, thank you so much for taking us out of Egypt. And I beg you, sweetest father, please take us out of our present exile very soon’! Rebbe, I’m so sorry. I couldn’t say anything more because I was still drunk.

I Took the Matzah, Maror and Charoses situated on the table and ate them. I filled four cups and drunk them one after another, I turned over and I fell asleep again.”

The holy master, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Barditchov, was crying bitter tears. He said to his disciples, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that? I wish that one time in my life I should communicate Yiddishkeit (the Jewish spirit) to my children the way Mosheleh the water carrier gave it over to his children Seder night. I wish that once in my life I should converse with G-d like Mosheleh did during his Seder.”

A woman’s tale

I concluded the story and then I said:

I want you to know that I celebrated many a Seder-night in a very observant Jewish community in New York. Yet I get the feeling that G-d’s most lovable Seder was the one done right here, in Kobe, Japan! Many of us here this evening may be unaware of the detailed Seder rituals and customs, and so many of us may not even know how to read the Haggadah in Hebrew. But, my dearest brothers and sisters, the sincerity and the passion of so many Jews thirsty to reconnect with their inner soul — this I’ve never seen before during a Passover Seder and I thank you for allowing me this special opportunity.”

I felt that the story has stirred up deep emotion in the audience. I could see tears streaming from some people’s eyes. But one woman was sitting at the other end of the room and was weeping profusely. She later approached me and related her personal tale: “I grew up in a very assimilated home,” the woman said. “I know almost nothing about Judaism. I’m living here in Japan for more than 20 years, working as a school teacher and involved in the mystical disciplines of the Far-East.”

She related to me that she was uninterested in attending the Seder, as she felt completely alienated from Judaism, yet a friend persuaded her to come.

The only thing I remember about Judaism,” she continued, “was that my grandmother would always tell me that I have a special spiritual connection. Why? Because you are the 10th generation of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Barditchov.”

Who is Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Barditchov? That my grandmother never knew. She just knew that he was some great man who lived in Eastern Europe. And she insisted that I always retain this piece of history in my memory. So, thank you Rabbi, for serving as the messenger of my holy grandfather to bring me to come back home this Passover night,” the woman said to me.

I wiped a tear from my eye and thanked the Almighty for sending me to Japan for Passover.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Another birthday – OMG … so many!

Posted on 04 April 2018 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

Well, I am having another birthday this month. It‘s a biggie plus one — not a big deal. But, here’s the thing … after all these years, I’ve learned so much, not only about living, but living well. And now, I would like to start all over again.

But would I?

Mistakes, I have made, of course. Who hasn’t! But that’s part of the mix, and “starting all over,” with the aim of perfection, is destined to become a life without pain or challenge, kind of Barbie and Ken life. I’m not into boring.

So what’s my secret and what have I learned? My secret is not a secret. I have been blessed with just plain luck and the willingness to acknowledge that fact. I was born to two loving parents in the U.S.A., a minute before the great depression, at a time when unimagined evil was brewing in Europe. I didn’t know we were poor because all the people we knew were enduring the same economic struggle. We weren’t poverty-poor, just walk-instead-of-paying-for-a-bus poor.

And I was blessed with many genetic assets — none of which came to me as a result of any struggle or effort on my part, most importantly, good health for which I do take some slight responsibility in the sense that I adhere to the rules … in full recognition that some others who also adhere to the rules are just not as lucky. I have an even, calm temperament. It comes without effort. I am not even sure that I own a temper. I don’t crave sweets, alcohol or caffeine, and the one time I inhaled a cigarette at age 16, I choked with such fury that I swore I would never do it again, which inhibits my ability to get any of the oft-touted results of weed. By some standards, this could make me a bore. Luckily (again) I was born a good listener and most people need to feel heard. “Feeling heard” trumps being bored.

And, although I never knew it until someone pointed it out to me, my personal life philosophy is in direct compliance with the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. My own version of this is layered on the concept of expectations.

And this is the most important thing I have learned in all my many years … I am easily able to recognize the difference between reasonable expectations, as in it is reasonable to expect my friend to check her e-mail messages at least every few days, if not more often. She always promises to do so, but often it takes weeks … and realistic expectations, as in she simply will not check her messages frequently; to recognize that it is reasonable to expect your husband to join you at a family event but, in some cases, the reality is that he believes he has reasons for refusing.

I have learned to train myself to expect only what’s realistic, which eliminates a whole range of toxic emotions: disappointment, hurt, anger, rage and down the line from there. Sounds simple but too many people cannot distinguish the difference between reasonable and realistic, especially in their personal relationships. It’s worth working on.

Actually, I learned a lot more, so far, in this lifetime. For instance, I learned how to make a really good quiche today — my first. Every day, I learn something new. Life is good.

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Snell continues training in Australia

Posted on 03 April 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach’s Shannon Snell is doing quite well down underafter competing in the 2018 Queensland Surf Life Saving Senior State Championships in Maroochydore, Australia.

The 20-year-old Snell, a 2016 graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School, recently placed fifth in the Open Women Beach Flags Final and seventh in the Open Women Beach Sprint despite a tight quad muscle. She was representing the Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club.

Snell, who represented the U.S.A. Open Team in the DHL International Surf Rescue Challenge in New Zealand that was held from Nov. 30-Dec. 4, extended her stay in Australia to become even more proficient in her lifesaving skills.

I’m currently in Australia training in the surf-lifesaving sport,” said Snell, who placed second in the sprint and fourth in the surf ski events during the DHL in Mount Monguani, New Zealand.

Since they are 50 years ahead of the U.S.A., there are actually clubs to train with that you can get the proper technique and training sessions to excel when racing internationally and for the U.S.A. (United States Lifesaving Association) Nationals. I was beyond thrilled to be selected for the U.S.A. team.”

The DHL challenge has been held since 1999 and attracted seven countries from around the world to compete head-to-head in New Zealand for the title of International Surf Rescue Champions. Snell helped the United States finish third in the competition.

Snell has been pleased with her progress so far. In January, she also took second in the Open Beach Sprint Final at Ocean 6 Series and ninth place in Open Women Beach Flags Final in North Cronulla Beach.

To be able to race with the top athletes in the U.S.A. is always a very humbling feeling and knowing that the work you put in doesn’t go without being noticed,” she said. “I was very pleased too to place as well as I did with coming out of our winter training into everyone’s else’s summer since the seasons are different.

The goal for Australia is to learn as much knowledge as I can in this sport and take that home with me and become a better athlete,” Snell continued, “and to help the next generation in the states and in Florida to be able to see the sport continue to grow.”

Snell has been an Ocean lifeguard since 2016 on both the east and west coast of the United States, and, prior to that, was a Pompano Beach Junior lifeguard since the age of 9. During that time, she was selected to represent the United States Youth National Team in France in 2014. She also travelled to Japan and Australia the following two years.

Snell earned her fourth invitation to represent her country based on her performance at the United States Lifesaving Association Nationals in Daytona Beach this past summer.

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Alice Cooper — on stage villain, backstage superstar

Posted on 30 March 2018 by JLusk

Cinema Dave & Alice Cooper.

Over 40 years ago, Captain and Tennille’s Love will Keep us Together played on rotation on radio pop radio airwaves, while Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome to My Nightmare played regular rotation on album rock radio (Anyone remember WSHE?)  While the Captain and Tennille enjoyed the comforts of a variety show on ABC Television, newlyweds Sheryl and Alice Cooper were torturing each other on stage on an international rock ‘n roll tour  A safe bet would have predicted that “Love would have kept” Captain and Tennille together, but the couple divorced after 39 years of marriage, while Alice and Sheryl still continue to strangle and stab each other on stage. Back stage Alice and Sheryl Cooper have been married 42 years, raised three adult children with two grand children (twins) and one more on the way.

The contrast between Rock Icon and family man is what makes Alice Cooper (born Vincent Furnier) such a fascinating individual. Alice is comfortable everywhere he goes. He can give a lecture at the Salvador Dali Museum in Saint Petersbug and then play 18 holes of golf during the regiment of a yearly 100 city world tour.  At the end of the year, the Coopers return home to Phoenix, Arizona to host their final concert of the year, Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding.

Unlike the slick two-hour concert tour, featuring snakes, guillotine, balloons and confetti, Christmas Pudding is an epic variety show that features diverse talent: Gary MuleDeer sprinkles comedy between two roof-raising renditions of Johnny Cash songs, Slash (Guns n Roses) and Ace Frehely (KISS) taking turns proving who is the greatest guitarist in the world, while local talent features a dance review of 1970s disco and Mariachi Juvenil de mi Tierra performs a series Christmas Carols with Mexican violins, horns, giant guitars and sombreros.

Proceeds from that concert go to the operations of  Alice Cooper’s The Rock Teen Center. The Rock provide teens with a central place to learn, have fun and explore their creativity in a supportive and safe environment. Touring The Rock last December made me nostalgic for my Dillard School of Performing Arts days, while making me optimistic that the fundamentals of  the performing arts will be emphasized.  While some of the “Rock Teens” performed onstage, special attention was given to the young people backstage and behind the camera.

While keeping his core audience in good standing for four decades, there is a conscious effort to reach young people. For the School’s Out curtain call, it is usually a young person who throws balloons at the audience. His touring band is younger than  Alice, with the youngest being Nita Strauss, a 32-year-old heavy metal guitarist whose ancestry includes composer Johann Strauss.

For the most part, an Alice Cooper Show is strictly entertainment.  The themes can be lofty with symbolism and artistic merit, but the main goal is to entertain the ticket buyers.  However, last Saturday Night at the Orlando Hard Rock stadium, local headlines were acknowledged ( the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas) between the songs 18 and School’s Out. There was no politics, just photos of the 17 victims with support of the young people marching last Saturday.

His current Paranormal tour wrapped up on Holy Thursday and, on Easter night on Sunday, Alice Cooper will be typecast as  King Herod  in Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert on NBC. As an actor, Alice Cooper embraces his devilish contribution to Andrew Lloyd Wright and Tim Rice’s controversial musical. As a Christian, Alice Cooper accepts his role as a villain while publicizing the gospel of Jesus.

Before commencing his “Christmas Pudding” concert, the Cooper family appeared on stage. While receiving two notes from his twin grandchildren, Alice and Sheryl Cooper just learned that they are going to be grandparents for the 3rd time.

 

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