Saturday, December 31, 2016

Community Cats Rescues Stray Cat Population In Bedford, New York

Bedford, New York resident Penny Berk dreams of the day when she can do more than just imagine an animal sanctuary to sustain the local stray cat population. "This thing we do is not for the faint of heart," says Ms. Berk, as she and her 14 cohorts find caring for seven stray cat colonies to be "a heartbreaking thing that just kind of gets to you," she added.
It first got to Community Cat's founder Lynn Mannino eight years ago while out on an evening stroll. She encountered four feral cats and a small amount of food and water soon turned into enough Friskies to fill a trunk, as she realized she wasn't dealing with a cozy little quartet of kittens.
"Within a week," said Ms. Mannino, "those four kitten turned into I don't know how many cats," which left her the queen mother of a colony of felines. Eventually she enlisted the help of an organization called Ally Cat Allies, which advocates that colonies be managed by trapping, vaccinating and neutering each cat before returning them to the colony.

Red Molly Trio Plays Bluegrass Mix Of American Music Throughout Connecticut

The all female trio Red Molly can be found throughout Connecticut playing a mix of Appalachian ballads, bluegrass, gospel and Jazz that guitarist Carolann Solebello says is high in fiber and rich in diversity. "We do a nice big salad of different songs," she says.

Scheduled for release soon is their forthcoming CD entitled, "Love and Other Tragedies." The same music mix as the previous CD but with more original material. Abbie Gardner, who plays a stringed instrument called a Dobro or resophonic guitar, is credited with most of the original material on "Never Been to Vegas," while Ms. Solebello admits that she and banjo and guitar player Laurie MacAllister have gotten away from songwriting in the last few years.


Trio Helps Take The Load Off Motherhood In Mahopac

In 2005, the Putnam based MotherLode Trio found itself caught in the whole mom rock band mania. They ended up on Good Morning America, Rachel Ray and The Today Show so a benefit at Gilda’s Club earlier this month certainly represents a downsize in comparison. But Patti Pelican, Terry Platz and Stacy Labriola distinguish the difference in venue through a wisdom that only a mother could successfully mete out to that much anticipated destination or on the long journey of life.

“You are always where ever you are,” Labriola says is the answer to the oft asked question – and MotherLode original – “Are We There Yet?”


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Moon Is The Same Old Story Of Human Greed

Moon with Sam Rockwell shows us a world where the energy needs of the human race have been met by the implementation of cold fusion on a global scale. That should pretty much do it - no more war, hunger, drought, ignorance or want. Yeah, not so fast, and Sam Rockwell serves as the focal point – ad infinitum - in this not so distantly futuristic 2009 film by Duncan Jones.

The key resource needed to mass produce this self-sufficient energy system is helium-3, and the Moon provides the primary source.  The lynchpin of the operation is a sole astronaut on a three stint acting as a high tech maintenance man on the Moon.

Carrying all the weight of the school janitor walking the abandoned halls on second shift, while never going home, “Sam Bell” is nearing both the end of his term and his breaking point. All that stands in his way is GERTY the talking computer, prerecorded messages from his wife and time passed tending to his plants and finely carved model city of wood.

That leaves you wondering what kind of man signs up for such a mission. Well, Dave Bowman and Frank Poole did in 2001 and the layout the film dispenses is meant to evoke a parallel. The same goes for the soothing monotone of GERTY, played by Kevin Spacey, and the feeling of impending doom.

But 2001 feels justified in a pursuit of a cause greater than the human race. Still, families have always separated for the chance to secure their futures, and one has to believe the sacrifice will be well worth it upon re-entry.

The financial resource to provide is present in abundance for Lunar Industries, so the question is, why not man the station with more than one person for sheer humanity’s stake.  Not so fast, as I said earlier.

On a routine run with his rover, Sam is distracted by a flashback, crashes the vehicle and is left unconscious on the desolate surface of the moon.  The scene going black, he somehow awakens in sickbay – overseen by the calming coercion of GERTY.

We soon realize that Rockwell is not alone, and the presence is carbon based not binary coded.  This might seem to speak well of the omnipotent energy company, but “his” appearance perplexes your viewership. Was GERTY able to remotely maneuver the rover back in and is Sam’s depleted state resulting in a hallucination that takes human form.

But slowly the truth emerges, and we understand why we must hesitate. Even as science has again put humanity on the brink of a new world, man and greed brings us back down to Earth.

The mystery eradicated, the full horror unfolds when Sam is finally able to make direct contact with his family. The lengths a company will go to maximize returns for shareholders, it almost makes Walmart seem human as they pay sustenance wages to union-less employees and stockpile factory workers in firetraps across the world.

As much as the Mobile Oil and Koch Industries want to stifle such realities with all their financial might and heartwarming TV ads, Lunar Industries does not hesitate in employing a kind face to placate Sam, while readying to use their muscle to clean up the mess. “You’ve done a great job now just sit tight until the rescue team arrives,” the corporate liaison transmits on Rockwell’s deaf ears.

Escaping to Earth as the corporation’s goons touchdown, the glaring truth Sam brings back home is met with an even more powerful force.  The media megaphone that drowns out any dissent that threatens their corporate backers and the profits going with it.

A story as old as the man in the Moon that won’t soon be changing - no matter the heights that our humanity takes us.

Vascular Associates Of Westchester In Hawthorne, New York

Varicose veins occur to due a condition known as Venus Reflux disease. “This is a disease where valves in the surface veins are not functioning, says Dr. Arun Goyal of Vascular Associates of Westchester in Hawthorne. In turn, the blood flow is reversed and the blood pools up in distended veins instead of traveling to the heart. Once addressed with a procedure called Phlebectomy, which stripped the vein right of the leg and resulted in a long painful post operative recovery, today’s modern methods keeps the patient awake and has them up and walking the same day.

Endogenous Laser (EVL) and Radio Frequency Closure Fast involves a needle prick and the insertion of a catheter into the great saphenous vein. Using real time computer imaging, the distended vein is collapsed and sealed off with laser heat or radio frequency energy respectively. Otherwise, he says, the main difference between the two is the Closure Fast ends up having less post operative pain.


Putnam Family And Community Services Focuses On Recovery

For the most part, according to Alison Carroll of Putnam Family and Community Services, people don’t want to see mental illness unless they are directly confronted by the disease. It therefore becomes easier to relegate the problem out of sight – until the mind it begins to come out of is yours. And in Putnam County, the actual numbers might be surprising, according to the Carmel based non-profit.

From severe depression, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and seasonal depression to stress related issues of parenting, relationships, job loss and divorce, says Ms. Carroll, “We see about 10,000 people through the doors of this agency every year.” For those counting, that amounts to 10% of Putnam’s population.


Kombine In Mt. Kisco Helps Kids Develop The Physical Building Blocks To Become Better Athletes

On every playground, soccer field or baseball diamond, we see kids who lag well behind in the physical skills that are a key component to the make up of a good athlete. Derek Jeter was probably never one of those kids, but what truly separates him from his peers, can be one of several building blocks that the right sports trainer can use to help kids gain much needed ground on the playground.

In alluding to the all-star shortstops sport’s IQ, says Nick Serio of Kombine Sports in Mt. Kisco, “Derek Jeter is in the right place at the right time - all the time."


Boo Girls Seizes The Opportunity To Make The Most Of Online Purchasing Trend By Closing Their Storefront In Katonah

In towns across America, going out of business signs continue to going up and signify that the economy has taken down yet another small shop. Katonah has not been immune to the situation, and one such posting seems to indicate that another long time staple has succumbed. “Boo Girls closing Here,” encompasses the pane facing Katonah Avenue, but “here” is the operative word – given that everywhere will soon amount to its new storefront.
Taking the dress selling digital, says proprietor Gaynor Scott, “I’m not going out of business, I’m taking advantage of a new opportunity.”
In this, she refers to a sea change in shopping that no longer requires or desires a lift from mom to get a look at the latest. “They are all shopping online,” says Scott of how the younger generation goes about their business.

The House Of Sports In Ardsley, NY Trying To Cover All The Bases For Student/athletes And Their Parents

For Bedford, 30 minutes separates parents and their student/athletes from a cutting edge sports facility that will certainly add mileage to busy schedules but put real distance between the baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball and lacrosse players who stay behind.
 The House of Sports in Ardsley is a three story behemoth of sports instruction, academic engagement and adult recreation off exit 17 on the Saw Mill. While the main focus is youth sports of all levels, says Andy Borman Executive Director of Basketball, “We want this to be a one stop shop for the community.”

Monday, December 26, 2016

Local Elementary School Students in Bedford and Mt. Kisco, New York Share Election Insights

It’s getting very close and area kids are decidedly not among the undecided. “Hillary Clinton is running against “wrong” Donald Trump,” jibed Jocelyn.  But they don’t see it in all rights - just like the rest of us.
Isabelle understands double-speak like the most seasoned among us. “She does a lot of talking,” says the fifth grader. “Yada Yada Yada, I promise to do this, and that and she doesn’t always make a difference.”

Jackson Will Live Long And Prosper With His Inquisitiveness

Pinning down Jackson on one particular subject can be a little like getting a rabbit to focus all his attention on nibbling the shrubbery as he nervously scans the panorama for predators. However, that doesn’t mean his thirst to learn suffers the sheer volume of all the things that interest him. Always ready with a question, reading serves as his jumping off point, and he doesn’t just let the words pass over him without getting the gist.
“It’s about a little mouse,” he says of Stuart Little. “I think the story is really about your size not mattering.”


Marissa Mutascio Takes A Turn For Acting And Thrives

NYC Actress Details her Choices and the Life she’s made as an Actor

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore Jack/I went out for a ride and I never went back/Like a river that don't know where it's flowing/I took a wrong turn and I just kept going - Bruce Springsteen /react-text 
Marissa Mutascio wasn’t faced with such dramatics as she went to work everyday on the California freeway.  But she could feel the pull as exits for L.A. and San Francisco rolled passed and pointed to different career choices.  “That’s when I knew it was time for a change,”  said Mutascio.
She would eventually leave her job in finance, but kept her creative aspirations in the can until moving to Reno, Nevada.  “Its a strange place to end up but there I began pursuing my passion for film and worked as a production manager for a small commercial production house,” she says.

New York City Actress Turns Make Up Artistry Into Work In Front Of The Camera

This time of year should have Melissa Roth putting a scare into Trick or Treater like few could. Unfortunately, time has not permitted. “I haven’t had Halloween off in 15 years,” she says. But getting others to play dress up keeps her from having to haunt at late hours as a waitress of bartender like others in her career of choice.
“The reason I started doing makeup was to supplement my work as an actress,” says Roth.
The pictured troll clearly shows that she can work on the flip side while a possible role awaits somewhere as a scream queen.  In accordance, such get ups also start conversations like the modern day, basement dwelling versions found online. But the discourse doesn’t angle for agitation. “Doing make up keeps me on set, and it’s a great way to network as an actor,” she says.

Trump Video Gives Us All Reason To Despair

Donald Trump, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy - especially since he poses such a danger on so many levels.  On the other hand, I find the current release of the Billy Bush video pretty disturbing. Believe it or not, in certain respects I’m coming down on the side of Trump, while far more troubling insights exist in relation to women and truly hinder his ability to lead.
Let’s start with the video.  If you haven’t noticed, this is how guys talk.  Find me one that doesn’t and I’ll introduce him to my sister. I must admit, though, that saying he would grab a woman by the pussy is one I’ve never heard and is pretty unsettling.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Rachel Weisz In The Whistleblower Ties Human Trafficking To U.n. Peacekeepers And American Military Contractors

On Tuesday, July 26h, director Larysa Kondracki appeared at the Jacob Burns Film Center with her new film, The Whistleblower, a powerful expose on human trafficking in post war Bosnia.

The film is based on U.N. Peacekeeper Kathy Bolkovac and her efforts to shed light on the complicity that existed between the traffickers, U.N. officials and United States contractors acting as peacekeepers. Putting aside the disturbing nature of the conspiracy, the extent to which the director portrayed the victims' ordeal was a continual struggle. "I wanted people to go through this," she said, "but you also didn't want audiences to walkout," she added.

The film begins with the lead, portrayed by Rachel Weisz, in the midst of a family breakup where she loses custody of her daughter. "She was just a mom from Nebraska," said Kondracki. "Someone the audience could relate to."

So in pursuit of a hefty six month salary and a career stepping stone, she leaves her job as a police officer and accepts the peacekeeper position from a U.S. Contractor, which the film chooses to fictionalize. "We couldn't afford the production insurance," said the Canadian born Filmmaker.

The force was also far from elite. The only requirement was a 21 year old age limit and high school diploma. Additionally, said Kondracki, "Kathy's psych evaluation took place over the phone."

Her initial role was to teach crime fighting techniques to local police officers. In the film, she stumbles onto a police raid on a bar in which a group of prostitutes are arrested with their pimp. She quickly realizes that the police action has occurred because the pimp has not paid off one of the U.N. Peacekeepers in her unit and the women are being held against their will.

Of course, the film then has her investigating and navigating through the stonewalling of U.N. Officials, fellow officers and higher level executives in the American contracting firm. Real life was a bit less dramatic, according to Kondracki.

"A lot of it was right out in the open," she said. Bolkovac would amass evidence, get a pat on the back and was continually told to go away.

But despite the over dramatization in this regard, the plight of the young women needed no embellishment. On film, this collides when she realizes the only way she can get the house to collapse is by getting one of the young women to testify. The powerful forces neutralize the character's efforts and results in the brutal rape and eventual murder of the woman who dares to speak up.

Bolkavac also failed to get someone to testify during her actual stay and she came across a murder victim who was found with tape over her mouth. "They were sending a message about what happened to people who talked," said Kondracki.

As for the all inhumanity perpetrated upon the victims in the film and all the tangled webs between traffickers, the UN and peacekeepers, she added, a search of the Internet yields numerous examples throughout the world that mirrors the events in the film.
Bolkavac eventually sent out a mass email to U.N. officials because her files started to disappear. In response, she was fired. It would have seemed that the contractors complicity was safe from exposure and the billion dollar contract going with it.

Still, she was able to get some of her files out of the country and went to the BBC. It was widely reported in England and throughout Europe but other than coverage in the Washington Post, which was never front page news, the story is mostly unknown here.

Simply following the money home may provide the answer. Additionally, no one in Bosnia was ever prosecuted because of diplomatic immunity. If nothing, she says, "That issue needs to brought into the public discourse."

As it turns out, the film has now gotten the attention of the U.N., but instead of acknowledging the situation, said Kondracki, they are going into damage control mode. Unfortunately, she and her film are also dwarfed by this horrific situation that she claims can be found wherever there are contractors and U.N. Peacekeepers. "What's being done - nothing," she said.

Hopefully, the inescapable power of this film can begin to change things.

My Occupation Of Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street kind of excites me but attending means a trek into the city. The distance would seem shorter if my like minded friend rode the train south with me. I was correct in assuming that he'd exercise unrest from his couch, but on Saturday, I finally set my sights on the occupation.
My first action was to get lost in lower Manhattan. I found a member of the 99% and asked for directions to the revolution. "Huh," was all the hotdog man could muster until he realized I was talking about "the big crowd over there."
Making my way past the tourists, I anticipated something big. I reached Zuccotti and was first struck by - I'm sad to say - body odor. I walked further and more of the same, but as I continued, that was it. Intermittent traces of body odor contained among a thousand people. Sorry detractors, you could say the same about the Subway and there's no talk of hosing down that undeniable vehicle of civilization, democracy and capitalism.

Trio Triangulates Deep Space 9 With The Rules Of Acquisition Podcast

The Greatest Generation seems to have the decided drop on all the Star Trek podcasts out there. Wade Bowen concedes that and freely accepts operating among the many on the internet undercard. “I feel like we’re the poor kids at the camp, and they are the rich ones on the other side of the lake,” says Bowen. But that probably better suits his trio’s delving into the franchise’s underbelly on the outskirts of Federation Space. 
“If Star Trek is about Gene Roddenberry’s vision, Deep Space Nine blurs it,” say Bowen. “The question that is always coming up is how do you uphold these principals when you’re faced with a lot more grey area.”

Solar Panel Seeks The Future At Somers High School

In early 2015, Governor Pataki set a goal by 2020 to have15% of all schools utilizing renewable energy. The accompanying program was called K-solar, and its official launch last spring probably went unnoticed by many in Somers - despite the proximity of the announcement.
“New York State considers Somers High School a leader in solar power so they came here to kick off the program,” says Somers High School Earth Science Teacher Brian Hugick in referring to the two solar power arrays on school grounds.

Looking back, Hugick’s background in construction provided the reflection he needed to turn his interest in the environment and sustainability into a renewable reality. “I saw that New York State was starting a solar power pilot program and Assistant Principal Kenneth Crowley gave me the go ahead,” says Hugick of the first array set up in 2002.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Mt. Vernon Native Compiles Sports Heroes And Legends From His Hometown

Mark Twain obviously went places as a writer, but he never forgot how his humble beginnings shaped him. “All the me in me is from that little town in Missouri," once said the sage. Bruce Fabricant knows the feeling. It just took longer for Fabricant to commit to paper, and now on his fourth Mt. Vernon based book, he hopes his hometown feels as good about reading Mt. Vernon, NY: Sports Champions, Heroes and Legends as he did writing it.
The self-published dissertation into Mt. Vernon's sports past contains 79 stories of athletes who succeeded on either the collegiate or professional level.
These include well-known standouts such as Ralph Branca, Ken Singleton and Gus Williams and more recent letterman like Keith Benjamin of the University of Pittsburgh, Garvin Alston, who briefly played with the Colorado Rockies and Christine Brennan of Mt. Vernon's last undefeated girl’s basketball team.  

I Stand With Colin Kaepernick

As Colin Kaepernick sits and others join where do you stand

Colin Kaepernick makes me proud to be an American, and as others kneel in, I swell in allegiance.  I hope you allow me to explain.
One reason I can so easily overlook the sit down is my deep skepticism of patriotism. I attribute this to reading a lot of history.
The past is replete with powerful people acting barbarically in the attempt to exert control beyond their own borders.  All countries are guilty, and American is far from innocent.

New York City Actress Turns Make Up Artistry Into Work In Front Of The Camera

This time of year should have Melissa Roth putting a scare into Trick or Treater like few could. Unfortunately, time has not permitted. “I haven’t had Halloween off in 15 years,” she says. But getting others to play dress up keeps her from having to haunt at late hours as a waitress of bartender like others in her career of choice.
“The reason I started doing makeup was to supplement my work as an actress,” says Roth.