August 15, 2016

HUFFINGTON POST: "Mother/Daughter Car Trip Turns Into Highway a Twilight Zone"

Put down your cell phone and keep driving. Now, make pretend you're turning on the radio as you CLICK HERE for my new Huffington Post, "Mother/Daughter Car Trip Turns Into a Highway Twilight Zone."

August 13, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins, We Love You

In this wonderful film starring the formidable Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins, the audience is delighted by the audaciousness of this character. Florence sings. We cringe.

Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944), was a socialite and amateur operatic soprano who was passionate about music. She sang way beyond her technical ability and voice range. Her voice cracked. It billowed unliltingly. She sang flat, had no rhythm and feverishly fluttered a fan. She designed and wore over-the-top costumes that were √† la Liberace before his time. Wings, tinsel, feathers and stars garnished her zaftig frame. 

Her performances bordered on ridiculous ... but this babe had a passion that wouldn't quit. She never, ever, ever gave up. 

We love Florence because she believed in herself. She had a "Go to hell" attitude that was enviable. She may well have been the inspiration of Maya Angelou's wonderful saying:

Let nothing dim the light
That shines from within.

Sing on, Florence! Audiences continue to adore you for your inexorable and inimitable chutzpah


Click here
 to hear Florence Foster Jenkin's murder Mozart's aria, "Queen of the Night." (Get ready to hold your ears.)

August 7, 2016

Water is Worth Mesmerizing

Video with Depth
On a dog-day afternoon in August, water refreshes the soul. 
You can stare at it, jump in it, sail through it, ski over it, drink it.

Water patterns mesmerize the imagination.

In the calm of a swimming pool, 
the sun-filtered water against the tile 
creates soothing 
aquatic undulations.

August 5, 2016

A Summery Merlomoment at Lyndhurst Castle

                                                                                                                                                                            Photo: Bonni Brodnick

I took this photo at the Summer Sunset Jazz gathering at Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown, N.Y. The Thursday evening concerts from July through August, are sponsored by Jazz Forum Arts. Founder Mark Morganelli has created this wonderful gathering place for jazz aficionados who like to be outdoors, have a picnic, enjoy a Merlomoment, and groove.

The photo was taken at approximately 6:15 p.m. Isn't the light extraordinary?  I was completely flattered when a reader wrote in and said that it reminded her of Georges Seurat's painting, "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte."

August 1, 2016

High Seas / Big Winds on the Pacific Ocean

In followup to the earlier post about my friends sailing in the Pacific Cup 2016 ... yeee-ikes. It was 12 days of pounding and confused waves from every direction:  coming over the stern, the bow, the gunwhales. (Click here to get the drift.)

"We sailed under the San Francisco Bay and it was beautiful," my friend says as they started their journey to Oahu near Kaneohe Bay. "Whales were swimming nearby and we could see their tales going underwater. It felt like a great harbinger to a great sail ahead."

NOT. Immediately thereafter came waves. BIG waves of 20-30 feet. Winds blowing 25 knots and more. The entire crossing.

"It never let up," she continues. "There was no calm to relax, play games ... it was rough the whole way. Even at night, we were thrown around in our bunks."

Add to that the rotation of shifts at the helm. How would you like to be steering a 40-foot sailboat in huge seas in the middle of the Pacific on the 2-6:00 a.m. watch? "It was exhausting," she says. "Then the bowsprit broke off. We couldn't use a sail that was specifically chosen for this race and the weather conditions so we had to bear north."

Fellow sailors thought the team had cut loose from the Pacific Cup and were sailing to Alaska.

So how was it really?  "Miserable," my friend responds. "At one point a huge wave came over the starboard side, went under my foul weather trousers and filled my boots with water. I was freezing and night was coming, which meant there would be no chance to dry out and get warm."

Would my friend do the Pacific Cup again?

"Never," she says. "It's called the 'FUN (sic) Race to Hawaii' but it was far from fun."

After 12 days of this malarkey (and thank you, Joe Biden, for bringing this great word back into play), they finally approached Hawaii ... right into another huge tropical depression. The winds were blowing over 30 knots. Because there was chance that they would smash the dock at the hosting yacht club, they had to anchor out and be brought in by launch.

This was my friend's second crossing. (The first was with an all-woman crew.) Her husband -- a hearty soul and amazing sailor -- has made 16 Pacific crossings. Right this minute he is underway sailing back from Hawaii to California, making it his 17th mighty crossing.

What an amazing adventure. I share my friends' pride in their successful sail across the Pacific and their landing safely in Oahu after this incredibly challenging ocean race.

July 28, 2016

Obama: 4 More Years!

                                                                                                          Photo: Bonni Brodnick

"President Obama will go down in history with Abraham Lincoln as one of the presidents best able to articulate a nation's anguish as well as its promise. I don't think we'll see his equal for a while," writes my longtime friend, Jack Ewing, European Economics Correspondent for the International New York Times.

Here is part of Obama's speech at the DNC convention in Philadelphia. He is brilliant and should be knighted for his leadership and integrity.

"See, my grandparents, they came from the heartland. Their ancestors began settling there about 200 years ago. I don't know if they had their birth certificates, but they were there.
They were Scotch-Irish mostly, farmers, teachers, ranch hands, pharmacists, oil rig workers. Hardy, small-town folks. Some were Democrats, but a lot of them, maybe even most of them were Republicans, the party of Lincoln. And my grandparents explained that folks in these parts, they didn't like show-offs, they didn't admire braggarts or bullies.
They didn't respect mean-spiritedness or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life. Instead, they valued traits like honesty and hard work, kindness, courtesy, humility, responsibility; helping each other out. That's what they believed in. True things, things that last, the things we try to teach our kids.
And what my grandparents understood was that these values weren't limited to Kansas. They weren't limited to small towns. These values could travel to Hawaii.
They could travel even the other side of the world, where my mother would end up working to help poor women get a better life trying to apply those values. My grandparents knew these values weren't reserved for one race; they could be passed down to a half- Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter; in fact, they were the same values Michelle's parents, the descendants of slaves, taught their own kids living in a bungalow on the south side of Chicago.
They knew these values were exactly what drew immigrants here, and they believed that the children of those immigrants were just as American as their own, whether they wore a cowboy hat or a yarmulke, a baseball cap or a hijab.
America has changed over the years. But these values that my grandparents taught me, they haven't gone anywhere. They're as strong as ever; still cherished by people of every party, every race, every faith. They live on in each of us. What makes us American, what makes us patriots is what's in here. That's what matters."
One more quote from Vice President Joe Biden's speech:
Ladies and gentlemen ... listen to me a second without booing or cheering. His [Donald Trump's] cynicism and undoubtedly his lack of empathy and compassion can be summed up in that phrase he is most proud of making famous: "You're fired." I'm not joking. Think about that. Think about that. Think about everything you learned as a child. No matter where you were raised, how can there be pleasure in saying, "You're fired?

July 27, 2016

HuffPost: Take the leap & lap it up

It's hot. It's humid. Stop the bitchin' and get in the swim! Whether mimicking Esther Williams in the aquamusical "Million Dollar Mermaid," or diving in just to lap it up, swimming pools are the elixir on a 94-degree day. 

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