Tigers fall in regional semifinal

Posted on 23 February 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

There will be no state championship three-peat for the Blanche Ely boys’ basketball team this season.

Palm Beach Lakes’ Daiquan Wyatt saw to it as he banked in a layup with just six seconds remaining to give the Rams (23-3) a 64-62 victory over the host Tigers in the Region 4-8A semifinal on Tuesday night.

Blanche Ely guard Mike Forrest missed a desperation three-point heave from just inside half-court at the buzzer setting off a wild celebration for the Rams and ended the Tigers bid for a sixth state championship under coach Melvin Randall.

It marked the second consecutive time that the Tigers (25-7) were stymied in the regional semifinals in a quest for a third straight state championship. After winning back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013, the Tigers fell to Boyd Anderson, 61-54. They also lost 70-57 in the regional semifinals to Dwyer in 2010.

Blanche Ely defeated Dwyer in the regional semifinal 75-56 in 2015 and again in last year’s regional quarterfinal, 57-52, en route to winning back-to-back Class 7A state titles.

Wyatt and Tyrese Mapp each scored 19 points for the Rams in the victory, while Lavorris Givins added 18.

We’re just glad to stay alive,” said Palm Beach Lakes coach Lorenzo Hands following the contest. “[Blanche Ely] is a great team, well-coached. They’ve set the bar the past couple of years and that means we’re heading in the right direction, but we still have a way to go.”

Palm Beach Lakes carried a 32-30 lead into the locker room at the intermission and then flexed its muscle in the third period to start to pull away as it opened an eight-point, 54-46 lead and eventually carried a 6-point lead into the final quarter.

Blanche Ely, which faced a similar deficit in a regional quarterfinal win over Dwyer in overtime, were able to take a 58-56 lead with 2:27 remaining in the game when Joshua Scott converted two free throws. Forrest scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter and Geremy Taylor delivered two free throws with 35.8 seconds remaining to knot the game at 62.

We got off to a bad start,” Taylor said. “We came back from six points down in the fourth quarter. Mike (Forrest) hit a couple threes but we couldn’t pull it through. This is very disappointing.”

Jordan Strowbridge had a team-high 16 points for the Tigers, while Taylor and Forrest each finished 13 points.

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FLICKS: Year By The Sea

Posted on 23 February 2017 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

As the longest standing film columnist in Broward County, I’ve seen certain movies like Boynton Beach Club and Play the Game that resonate in our community during this time of the year. Year by the Sea will be this season’s cult movie that neighbors will be talking about.

Based on Joan Anderson’s three New York Times best-selling memoirs, Year by the Sea opens with a montage of home movies. We witness a young man getting married as his parents, Joan (Karen Allen) and Robin (Michael Cristofer) bicker in the backroom. After 30 years of marriage, Robin sells their house and announces that they are moving to Kansas. Joan has other plans.

Taking a page from Henry David Thoreau, Joan relocates to Cape Cod to live her life, deliberately. While adjusting to the rustic life, Joan takes stock in herself and begins learning new things, like running the cash register, digging for clams and spending an afternoon on Seal Island.

As her editor (S. Epatha Merkerson) coaches her to write her next book, Joan develops a friendship with Erikson (Celia Imrie), a wise neighbor whose husband is dying in an old age home. As she copes with her empty nest syndrome, Joan realizes it is never too late to find some time to play.

Watching Year by the Sea is a pleasant experience. The Cape Cod Tourist Bureau should provide director Alexander Janko and cinematographer Bryan Papierski honorary keys to the city. This simple film takes full advantage of the New England shoreline. The setting becomes its own nurturing character.

As the most nurturing character, Celia Imrie steals the show. Besides dispensing words of wisdom with a glass of wine, Imrie’s Yoda-like character is a pleasurable person to hang out with. Year By the Sea is Karen Allen’s movie from start to finish. There are moments in which her performance could have become melodramatic or verged towards slapstick (especially during the early scenes in which our heroine is adjusting to island life). Allen underplays these moments, which makes her character more humane and empathetic. It’s great to see Karen Allen in a leading role again.

Take an afternoon to go see Year By the Sea with some friends some afternoon. It is a positive movie about life, letting go and renewal.

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CLERGY CORNER: The Spiritual Legacy of MLK

Posted on 23 February 2017 by LeslieM

As we near the end of another Black History Month, it is worthwhile to consider the life and message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a champion of social justice with his call for racial equality and harmony. His willingness to engage in peaceful public protest against the injustices of his day still inspires. His messages and speeches sounded a clarion call to peace and brotherhood, and remain an undeniable part of the civil rights movement.

The greatest legacy of Dr. King, in my opinion, is the faith that inspired, informed and ignited his pursuit of equality and brotherhood. What else could explain his unwavering message and mission? What else could cause him to be so passionate and determined that only an assassin’s bullet could stop him?

All that Dr. King attempted and accomplished in the struggle for civil rights was framed in the context of his religious faith. He was first and foremost a preacher of the gospel, and his beliefs were the lenses through which he viewed life and humanity.

In a sermon delivered at a Chicago church in 1967, he confessed “before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office. I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher.”

It is quite clear that his religious training, his belief system, his faith was the thing that gave rise to his philosophy, his action, and his dream. His undeniable connection with God inspired him to be an instrument of moral conviction and social transformation.

Dr. King’s faith also informed his dream of social justice. He once preached a sermon, Guidelines For A Constructive Church, from Isaiah 61:1. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

As he rightly saw it, God had established the mission of the church and set clear guidelines for real ministry to the world. Such ministry would address the conditions of life here on earth along with the hope of life in heaven. It was his conviction that “any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that cripple the souls – the economic conditions that stagnate the soul and the city governments that may damn the soul – is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion in need of new blood.”

The faith of Dr. King also provided him with courage in the face of great challenges. Early on, his leadership of the boycott against the city of Montgomery, Alabama made him a target of scorn and hatred. He noted years later that during the time he had received many nasty, threatening phone calls, sometimes over 40 in one day. He did his best to withstand the storm of backlash. A midnight phone call ordering him to clear out of town in three days or else, got the better of him one night, and he was unsettled by fear.

Overwhelmed by a sense of uncertainty he almost gave up. In desperation, he confessed his fear and weakness to God in prayer. And he says, “it seemed in that moment that I could hear an inner voice saying to me, Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice, stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you, even until the end of the world.” He was encouraged that night to continue the fight despite the threats.

As his faith inspired, informed and encouraged his pursuits, may our faith guide us as well. Let’s leave a strong spiritual legacy for those who follow.

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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FLICKS: Fanny’s Journey

Posted on 16 February 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Football withdrawal weekend provided box office gold for three motion pictures last weekend. The Lego Batman Movie, Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter Two collectively earned more than 120 million dollars. In contrast, the Oscar best picture nominees, Hidden Figures, La La Land and Lion barely earned $16 million at the box office.

Fanny’s Journey, a French movie with English subtitles, opens tomorrow. Based on a true story, this is a beautiful drama about World War II.

After Mussolini’s downfall, Hitler’s agents ruthlessly order their leader’s Final Solution — eliminate any and all Jews. Seeing the writing on the wall, responsible adults export children to Switzerland. When the adult leading the refugees becomes separated from the children, 12-year-old Fanny leads the orphans to the promise land.

What makes Fanny’s Journey so fascinating to watch is the everyday heroics of Fanny’s actions. The protagonist does not outrun enemy machine gun fire with a soaring musical score. Instead, she must find a way to cook and feed the dozen of children she is responsible for. Heroism is found to be the daily routine.

While the threat of danger is consistent, Fanny’s Journey never loses a child’s perspective of the world. At certain times, the child-like wonder about the world is fresh and innocent; one scene features children splashing each other by a cool stream. In contrast, there are moments of danger in which silence is needed for survival, but one young child cannot control their verbose nature. The Nazi atrocity is not seen, but the deadly threat is felt throughout the film.

As the son of two World War II veterans, I am well versed with that history. Today’s youth are well-versed about the achievements of President Barack Obama. This weekend, young and old will be given the opportunity to meet Fanny Ben-Ami, who will be visiting the Delray and Living Room Theaters, which will be screening Fanny’s Journey. Call the theaters for special dates and times.

Save the date: for Wednesday, Feb. 22. Silverspot Theater in Coconut Creek will premier Year by the Sea, starring Karen Allen and based on the memoir by Joan Anderson. Both the actress and the author are expected to walk the red carpet for the 7 p.m. show.

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CLERGY CORNER: Share the Love

Posted on 16 February 2017 by LeslieM

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is LOVE.” — [I Corinthians 13:13]

I like doing weddings. Weddings are a lot of fun. It is always an honor and a joy to celebrate with a couple and their families the unity of two people, two families and, sometimes, two cultures. I consider myself blessed to have met so many fascinating people. And there is a satisfaction that cannot be described when a couple, whose marriage you performed, comes to church pushing a stroller with a newborn. I always feel like I am, in some way, a part of that miracle, and that is a great honor.

Couples who want to get married love I Corinthians 13. The “Love Chapter” is one of the most “romantic” chapters in the Bible. There is just one problem. Paul was not writing about romantic love, but Godly love. Because I Corinthians 13 is used so frequently at weddings, single people who are not in relationships, think that it doesn’t pertain to them. The fact that the author, St. Paul, was a confirmed bachelor, escapes notice. Also, the fact that romance was the last thing on Paul’s mind, seldom gets mentioned. And that is why I bring up to all of you who think I Corinthians 13 is the sole possession of the happily married, it isn’t. This is God’s love letter to you. I Corinthians 13 belongs to everybody and so does Love.

When Valentine’s Day comes, dating and married people celebrate while single people are often left out. A single person may even say, “I haven’t found love yet.” I find that to be the saddest statement of all.

When I looked up Valentine’s Day, I discovered that this was a holiday that celebrated the contributions of a Christian martyr who lost his life by refusing to deny his faith. St. Valentine, like St. Paul, was a confirmed bachelor. And when he befriended the jailor’s daughter, he wrote her a letter of encouragement in her newfound faith. He signed it “Your Valentine.” This was not a romantic letter, but it was a love letter nevertheless. Valentine shared God’s love with a Christian convert.

Now, this legend varies as it is told and retold. How a perfectly platonic letter between a brother in faith written to a sister in faith could be the inspiration for a holiday which seems to be the sole possession of the happily dating or the happily married is beyond me.

I say it is time to give this holiday back to all people. Let us take time to write “love letters” to our friends who stuck with us through thick and thin. Let us write “love letters” to single and widowed people who are especially lonely on Valentine’s Day. Let us write “love letters” to our brother and sisters in faith who worship with us on a regular basis and could use a little reminder that they are loved. And yes, we carry on the celebration of marriage and courtship as well.

Love belongs to all people. Let us share it [even if it is after Valentine’s Day. Love can be shared all year long!]

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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Highlands falls in regional quarterfinals

Posted on 09 February 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

For the second consecutive year, Highlands Christian Academy’s (HCA) boys’ soccer season ended on the Lake Worth campus at Trinity Christian Academy.

Junior Rogeni Decaster tallied a golden goal with three minutes remaining in the first overtime to lift the host Warriors to a 1-0 victory over HCA (9-6-3) in the boys Region 3-1A soccer quarterfinals.

Decaster’s 17th goal of the season propelled Trinity Christian (15-2-3) into the regional semifinal where it fell in overtime to Boca Raton Christian. The Warriors won last year in regional semifinal 2-1.

HCA played the final 48 minutes of the game, including overtime, a man down after one of its players, Richard Silva, was hit with two cautions. Trinity Christian was state runner-up in 2014 when it lost 2-0 to First Academy (Orlando).

It was a rebuilding year for us,” said Knights coach Darryl Mauro. “We are a small school where most players join our team for the first game. We average 6-10 players at pre-season training since most are participating in other sports, and all but one or two of our players touch a soccer ball during the off season. They played hard.”

Bucks have 13 move on to college

With three players already enrolled in college – Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), Deslin Alexandre (Pittsburgh) and Leroy Henley (East Carolina) – Deerfield Beach High School added an additional 10 to that haul on National Signing Day last week.

We laid out a very strenuous regimen for those guys to follow,” said Bucks football coach Jevon Glenn. “They’ve dedicated themselves. This is just the fruit of their labor. I am extremely proud … a very proud day for me, a very proud day for our football program.”

Receiver Daewood Davis, who signed with Oregon, and defensive lineman Lamonte McDougle, who chose West Virginia, were among the 10 college signees in this year’s draft class. Also signing were defensive back Eldine Dorvil (Albany State), DL Jamari Rouse (Bowling Green), quarterback Nick Holm (Florida Tech), DB Kobe Green (Buffalo), lineman Jose Jeanty and LB Branden Bailey (N.C. Central) and linebackers Brion Byrd and Cortez Grace (Virginia Union).

Ely falls to Dillard in Big 8

When it comes to the BCAA Big 8 boys’ basketball tournament, it appears that rival Dillard has Blanche Ely’s number.

Dillard’s Raiquan Gray and Robert Johnson helped key a 21-6 run early in the third quarter to break open a tight game and led the Panthers to a 72-61 victory over Blanche Ely at Ft. Lauderdale High School. Dillard won last year’s Big 8 championship with a 68-62 victory over the Tigers. Both teams won state titles in their respective classifications.

Johnson threw down a two-handed dunk off a look-away pass from Gray to push the lead to 52-35 with 1:09 left in the third quarter. Johnson finished with 17 points, Gray had 11 points and Bryce Oliver added 12.

Jordan Wright, a prized football recruit for Kentucky, finished with 18 points for the Panthers and helped Dillard seize a 28-27 halftime lead with a buzzer-beating 3-point basket.

Ely’s Geremy Taylor scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to pull the Tigers close before Wright converted a three-point play with 1:16 left to give Dillard a 68-57 lead to seal the game. Michael Forrest added 14 points for Blanche Ely.

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FLICKS: Hacksaw Ridge

Posted on 09 February 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

For the last week, I have been listening to Bill O’Reilly on his and Martin Dugard’s book, Killing the Rising Sun, a piece of nonfiction that debates whether or not the United States of America should have dropped two atom bombs on Japan to end World War II. While most of the attention focuses on President Truman and General Douglas MacArthur, Killing the Rising Sun shines a light on the people of my parent’s generation who won the war; among them was Desmond T. Doss.

Though a patriot and willing to serve, Doss was a conscientious objector who refused to carry a gun. The screenplay about this pacifist circulated for 14 years in Hollywood, until Oscar award-winning director Mel Gibson was offered the opportunity to direct Hacksaw Ridge.

The son of an alcoholic World War I veteran father, young Desmond has a profound religious epiphany when he almost kills his brother. Growing up in rural West Virginia, the mature Desmond (Andrew Garfield) develops an interest in First Aid and a pretty nurse, Dorothy (Teresa Palmer). World War II breaks out and Desmond Doss enlists, despite his father’s fears.

Being a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian, Doss refuses to carry a weapon due to his religious conviction. This causes Doss much consternation as he runs afoul Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Captain Glover (Sam Worthington). Despite being hazed by his fellow troopers, Doss earns the respect of his platoon. This hazing and bullying is nothing compared to the hell awaiting these soldiers on Hacksaw Ridge in the battle of Okinawa in the final months of World War II.

Either as an actor or as a director, the violence of a Mel Gibson movie always feels righteous. As the director of the battle scenes from Braveheart and Apocalypto, Gibson created memorable visuals. Yet these visuals would be meaningless without character empathy being developed earlier in the motion picture. When the battle of Hacksaw Ridge begins, you care about the soldiers we were introduced to earlier. Considering the central protagonist is a conscientious objector who does not defend himself with a gun, the drama is further enhanced.

See this movie on the big screen while you still can. It has been many years since I had such a genuine reaction to a big screen motion picture. With this film, I found myself pumping my fist and laughing after a jump scare. Hacksaw Ridge is a full cinematic experience.

Mel Gibson has earned professional redemption from his Hollywood colleagues this awards season with six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Whether or not his film wins any awards, it is be the best picture on the big screen today.

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CLERGY CORNER: Quintessence of Life

Posted on 09 February 2017 by LeslieM

In 2013, the Chicago Sun-Times cut their photography staff and instructed the reporters to snap any pictures needed with a smartphone.

Three years later, the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series. Those covering the historical moment included the Sun-Times, as well as the Chicago Tribune — who still employed photojournalists. If you were to Google either of these two paper’s front pages the day after the Cubs’ victory you would immediately recognize the capacity of a professional photographer armed with more than a smartphone. Both papers captured the event, but only one captured an iconic moment.

That’s what I love about photography. Even in a world that relentlessly avoids … still, somehow, with just a click of the shutter, that frozen moment of time can tell a story. With this in mind, I grabbed my Nikon, hopped on my longboard and rolled to the Deerfield Beach Fishing Pier over the weekend in search of nanosecond stories. Though I was not expecting to shoot anything near the level of the Tribune at Wrigley Field, I did want to post images on my social media pages that added value to my viewers — pictures they would enjoy. I found plenty, but it was the snapshot I missed that I remember the most.

Atop the parking garage above Bru’s Room, I witnessed the sun sink deeper toward the horizon, engulfing the sky with a warm orange glow. Having already snapped a few pics of the sunset, I packed my gear and called it a day. I was ready for an ice cold Coke.

It was then that the iconic shot presented itself: the sun setting, Mars-esque sky, the Deerfield Beach water tower on the horizon and the Hillsboro Bridge open in the foreground. I knew by the time I unpacked my camera, configured the shutter speed and aperture settings, the moment would have passed. All I could do was follow the advice from the more recent version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), a negative assets manager for Life Magazine, sets out to find a misplaced negative sent by famed photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) — supposedly capturing “the essence of Life.” The unadventurous Mitty is forced to brave a treacherous climb through the Himalayan mountains where he finds O’Connell poised ready to photograph the elusive “ghost-cat,” a white snow leopard. When the animal enters the frame, to Mitty’s bewilderment, O’Connell doesn’t snap the pic. Mitty says, “When are you going to take it?”

Sometimes, I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it,” says O’Connell.

Mind blown! Countless times since first watching Walter Mitty, I’ve been tempted to grab my phone and take a picture, but didn’t. I’m reminded, while there are definitely times for us to capture a special moment — an iconic one even — most of the pictures we take are less about storing a memory and do more to rob us of being present and experiencing the moment.

And so, there I stood. Wanting to take a picture of the setting sun over Deerfield Beach, I clung to O’Connell’s wisdom: I stayed in the moment — no distraction of the camera. It was beautiful, satisfying even … worth clearing the distractions and being fully present.

If you are like me, there are other areas in your life where this is pertinent as well. For me, it’s in my alone time with God. My serving, reading plans, book studies, small group meetings, and even mentoring, while they all serve a higher purpose and help to capture the essence of faith, just like the camera, they can become distractions from being fully present with my Creator.

This week, take a moment to inventory the distractions that cloud your relationship with God. They may be good things, but as James C. Collins says, “Good is the enemy of great.” And we can’t have a great relationship with God — one that is as quintessential as the front page of the Tribune the morning after the 2016 World Series — if we’re bogged down by all the good, never fully present and satisfied with Him alone.

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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Crystal Lake Golf Club celebrates 52 years

Posted on 02 February 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach’s Crystal Lake Golf Club kicked off its 52 year anniversary recently as Crystal Lake staff members fired up the grill, local craft beer flowed and live music played for everyone to enjoy.

We’ve been told by some of our most loyal players that ‘Crystal Lake is back,’ – and we couldn’t be more excited about it,” said Crystal Lake Golf Club General Manager David Kandel. “We are confident in saying we have been the home of South Florida’s best value golf for more than five decades, and we invite everyone to come on out and experience it for themselves!”

Kandel, who took over as General Manager last January, is inviting players to “Re-Discover Crystal Lake” and its revamped playing experience.

We’ve got a golf course here that is constantly described as a lot of fun to play,” said Kandel, who worked different roles at the club since 2010 including Pro Shop attendant and Golf Operations Manager.

Built in 1965, Crystal Lake Golf Club is a 6,953-yard championship par 72 golf course that was re-designed by Rees Jones in 1981. An older course with tall pines, scattered palm trees and native flora, it was renovated in 2000 with new tees and tifdwarf USGA-designed greens. The slight doglegs left and right combined with undulating greens present a challenge to golfers of all skill levels.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable round of golf with some great people, there’s no better place than Crystal Lake Golf Club,” Kandel said. “It was wonderful celebrating the history of Crystal Lake with our amazing golf family. We are lucky to have the best customer base in the industry and it was great celebrating our anniversary with them.”

Kandel said the club is home to perfect golfing weather year-round for snowbirds in colder regions, in addition to those in the local community.

Tee times this season start at $30 and can be booked by calling 954-943-2902, or by visiting the website at www.crystallakegc.com.

Pompano pledges $1,000 donation to Jr. Lifeguards

The city of Pompano Beach Mayor Lamar Fisher recently donated $1,000 to the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguard/Grommets Program.

Nemia Schulte, president of the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguard Association, said Fisher had excess money from his campaign fund, so he donated it to the city program.

Mayor Fisher has always been a big supporter of the Junior Lifeguard Program,” Schulte said. “In the past, when we had some of our kids selected to Worlds or do well at Nationals, he would issue a City Proclamation for our athletes and team before the Commissioner’s meeting.

When my eldest daughter Julia was selected to represent the U.S. Youth National Team at Worlds in Australia in 2012, he had presented her with a proclamation,” she continued. “The commissioners also donated money to her to help her to defray some of the cost of the trip. It was really awesome to have them donate to our organization.”

Schulte said it is one of the city’s most popular and successful programs. There are approximately 300 Juniors and Grommets who participate in the program each summer.

It is not only an educational opportunity for our children, but also one filled with many team-bonding social events,” Schulte said. “It appears that someone knows someone whose family is or has been involved with the program over the past 20-plus years of its existence.

Also, we are proud to say that the program,” she continued, “has also reached national and international recognition for being one of the most successful junior lifeguard programs in the world.”

There are camps planned for this summer and the United States Lifeguard Association National competition will be held on Aug. 9 in Daytona Beach for Junior Lifeguards.

For more information, send an email to Schulte at nemia2000@aol.com.

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FLICKS: La La Land & Split

Posted on 02 February 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

It is easy to see why Damien Chazelle’s two movies Whiplash and La La Land received such award recognition in the entertainment industry. Both films reveal the didactic behavior of entertainment professionals with brutal honesty. The music and spectacle works as both escapism and distraction while hiding the tears of a clown.

La La Land is a simple story about ingenues attempting to be a success in their chosen profession. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a pianist who worships at the altar of Jazz. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress who works as a barrister on the Warner Brothers lot.

Taking place over the four seasons of a year, Mia and Sebastian fall in love. Despite professional struggles, the two have time to fantasize their romance with a variety of musical numbers. This film is about growth. The duo’s vocals at the beginning of the movie are a bit flat. As the movie progresses, the two performers grow in confidence and so do their vocals. La La Land features a grand finale conclusion and Gosling and Stone are more than ready for the task.

There have been 10 musicals that have won Oscar’s Best Picture Award. While lacking the seriousness of The Sound of Music and Oliver, La La Land deserves it’s kudos for its own creativity. It is a simple romance, but with so much symbolism found in the details.

Split is the No. 1 box office leader for 2017, which is good news for M. Night Shyamalan, who has not had a hit movie in almost 15 years. James McAvoy portrays a dangerous man with 23 personalities who kidnaps three teenagers and sticks them in a closet.

This is a simple suspense film and, for the most part, Shyamalan delivers. While McAvoy may be considered for next year’s award season for his dynamic performance, Split is held together by Miami Native Anya Taylor-Joy’s grounded performance. If anything, the film has made Shyamalan’s next project more interesting.

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