December 6, 2017

Random Acts… Holiday spirit abounds at Moody Gardens

Posted in Entertainment, Travel at 7:15 pm by dinaheng

Galveston, Texas — When it comes to holiday cheer, Galveston’s Moody Gardens offers a diverse slate of attractions bound to please the young and young-at-heart.

This year, the 16th annual Festival of Lights features a one-mile trail of more than 100 lighting displays, including a jolly Santa, various animals, and a nativity scene. Visitors can enjoy the area’s only outdoor skating rink, or watch “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4D” in a movie theater where special effects – like snow falling into your lap — will pull you into the traditional story.

One of the most popular attractions is ICE LAND, a fairyland wonder of ice sculptures carved by master artists from Harbin, China.

“This year, we have a Rainforest Holiday theme,” says Jerri Hamachek, marketing and public relations manager for Moody Gardens, a non-profit promoting education and conservation that has become a tourist destination and community focus for local Galveston residents.

“Twenty-five Chinese carvers arrived in September to work on blocks of ice that are frozen in College Station, three hours away, and trucked here. The sculptures are maintained at a temperature of nine degrees, and we provide heavy parkas for visitors to wear in the exhibit.”

Guest zips down the ice slide in ICE LAND. Photo courtesy of Moody Gardens.

Visitors will walk through a wonderland of monkeys, beautiful birds, jungle orchids and more in this frozen representation of the Rainforest, decorated with festive Christmas lights.

A 38-foot tall ice slide with three lanes will tempt the kids (and some brave adults) for some winter fun, though some adults may be more attracted to Shivers Ice Bar, where alcoholic beverages can be purchased in the below freezing temperature.

“The work and effort that goes into ICE LAND impresses people because we rarely see snow or ice in Texas,” Hamachek says.

Back by popular demand is the Lone Star Circus “Cirque Joyeux Noel Dinner and Show,” which features a buffet dinner and performers from NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and Cirque du Soleil.

“This year, the show is very warm and flamboyant,” says Fanny Kerwich, founder and creative director of Lone Star Circus, based in Dallas. “With all the damage from the hurricane in the Houston area, I wanted to have strong, powerful performers to deliver the message that Texas is a big, strong state. We want to bring happiness and a sense of joy to the audience this holiday season.”

Kerwich, who began performing in circus acts at the age of six, is an eighth generation circus performer who has traveled the world. She is an accomplished acrobat, aerialist, contortionist, and clown, who has performed throughout North America, Russia, South America, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

“Being around the sound of performers, music and the show, is in my blood,” Kerwich says. “My brother was born in Paris, my sister in southern France, and I was born in Montreal, Canada. We had a family circus in Canada and toured before Cirque du Soleil even existed.”

She explains that circus acts in Europe originated with one-ring shows that would allow a horse to perform. When the circus migrated to America, P.T. Barnum needed more space for his spectacular shows, so created the three-ring circus for his animals and clowns.

The Pompeyo Family & Their Amazing Rescue Dogs perform in Cirque Joyeux Noel. Photo by Zan Keith Photography.

“For Americans, the circus vibe is popcorn and big arenas, but in other parts of the world, circus shows are more intimate,” Kerwich notes. “The acts are very glamorous and sophisticated in Russia and throughout Europe. They are performed in small theaters or tents. You expect to see excellence and artistry.”

While the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed this year, ending a 146-year run, its first African American ringmaster, Johnathan Lee Iverson, will be hosting “Cirque Joyeux Noel Dinner & Show.”

“Circus is still alive,” Kerwich says. “While Ringling closed, it could still re-open. When a show closes, it creates a good chance to reinvent yourself and connect with the audience in new ways.”

Kerwich was touring in a circus in the United States when she met her husband in Dallas. After two years of a long distance romance, she agreed to marry and settle down in Texas. In 2006, she launched the Lone Star Circus.

“I’m proud of the power of circus, and what it can bring to the heart of the audience,” Kerwich says. “Circus is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and is a reminder of the beauty of humanity.”

“Cirque Joyeux Noel Dinner & Show” runs December 15-25 at the Moody Gardens Convention Center. For more information, see http://moodychristmasshow.com/.

The Festival of Lights and ICE LAND runs through Jan. 7, 2018. For more information, see https://www.moodygardens.com/holiday_season/.

 

 

 

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November 20, 2017

Random Acts… Orchard Canyon at Oak Creek an ode to the past

Posted in Dining, Travel, Uncategorized at 12:15 am by dinaheng

If you long for the good old days — when getting away for a vacation meant no telephone calls, no emails, and peace and quiet – go to Orchard Canyon at Oak Creek in Sedona, Ariz.

Just driving onto the lodge grounds is like stepping back in time. Manicured lawns and shade trees invite you to pick a chair and relax. Cozy cabins make you want to sit down on the porch, open up that book you’ve been wanting to read, and just breathe.

And, as you may have guessed, there is no telephone, television, or Internet access in the cabins. If you’re dying for a WiFi connection, you can get it in and around the Main Lodge, but if you’re serious about getting away from the regular routine of life, this place will take you there.

Each stay includes cocktails by the fireplace at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., and breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the historic lodge on the premises. The food, regardless of which meal you’re eating, is one of the best things about staying here.

Formerly known as Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge, the property was renamed for the bountiful fruits and vegetables grown on site that dictate each day’s menu. The orchards boast 6 to 8 varieties of peaches, 12 to 14 varieties of apples, apricots, cherries, plums and more.

Dining room at Orchard Canyon at Oak Creek

The chicken coop yields fresh eggs every day, and the gardens are planted with everything from tomatoes and winter squashes to a variety of peppers and garlic.

“I do French-inspired California cuisine,” says Chef Brian Widmer. “Three weeks out, the gardener will come in and say, ‘I have this,’ and I build the meals around it. Guests can tell us if they’re vegan or lactose-intolerant, and we’ll sculpt a menu for them.”

Guests are encouraged to share tables, a traditional that has resulted in many friendships over the years. Non-lodge guests can make dinner reservations, if there’s room, for $60 per person, with cocktails and gratuities extra.

The hotel, which started as a homestead in 1908, today features a tennis court, hiking trails and spa services, on request.

During the winter months, a few of the cabins remain open December 1 through mid-February, but meals are not served in the winter season. The kitchen re-opens March 9, 2018.

Even so, the cabins with wood burning fireplaces, king size beds and private decks are a bargain, starting at $125 a night during the week, and $195 weekends.

For more information, check out https://enjoyorchardcanyon.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 16, 2017

Random Acts… Be strong, stand up for the right to live

Posted in Politics, Travel at 11:57 pm by dinaheng

Las Vegas – Two weeks after the worst mass shooting in America’s modern history, tourists are gambling in the casinos and partying in the nightclubs, while locals are continuing to lay flowers at makeshift memorials near the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, not far from the site of the Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting.

Fifty-eight died, and nearly 500 were injured, at the hand of a man who legally purchased an arsenal of weapons and fired into the crowd from his Mandala Bay Resort and Casino suite on Sunday night, Oct. 1.

Driving past Mandalay Bay a couple of days ago, it was hard to imagine how multiple rounds of bullets could fly from the 32nd floor and reach concert-goers more than 300 yards away. But the black banner, #VegasStrong, hanging from the top of the hotel is a reminder that the horrendous event really did occur.

Everywhere you go in Sin City, VegasStrong signs abound. Throughout the United States, “Name-That-CityStrong” slogans have no doubt appeared in towns like Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando, and who knows how many more cities to come.

Reminding ourselves that we will survive is important. It’s also time to remind ourselves that we do not have to be the victims of mass shootings. We can stand up to the NRA and idiot politicians who would rather do nothing (or propose minor regulation changes for show) than tackle the problem.

There are no easy answers when people debate who’s to blame for mass shootings. Blame is not the issue. Needless deaths are the problem. So why can’t we just take one common sense step forward?

No one, other than military and law enforcement officers, needs to legally own an assault weapon. Period. In a democracy, nobody is out to kill you for holding whatever beliefs you hold, so unless your intention is to kill those who disagree with you, you don’t need to own an assault weapon. Period.

You don’t need an assault weapon to go game hunting – if you’re that bad a shot, you shouldn’t even pick up a gun. Period. Nobody is challenging anybody’s right to self-defense. The challenge is getting past our irrational fears.

One small step toward common sense would mean one large step toward a saner society.

Be strong. Tell Congress to ban assault weapons NOW. The life you save may one day be your own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 19, 2017

Random Acts… ‘Victoria & Abdul’ shares the treasure of friendship

Posted in Diversity, Entertainment, Movies at 2:02 am by dinaheng

Improbable friendships are what change the world.

In the new film “Victoria & Abdul,” due out in theaters September 22, England’s Queen Victoria (played by Judi Dench) is in her 70s when Abdul Karim, a young Muslim servant, arrives from India to be part of the Queen’s golden jubilee.

When the curious and outgoing 24-year-old man captures Victoria’s attention, the two form an unlikely friendship that threatens the Queen’s household and inner circle. For the more Victoria learns about India – a part of her empire that she will never visit because of security concerns – the more she casts aside rigid traditions that have long governed the monarchy.

Victoria insists that Abdul become her Munshi (teacher) on all things Indian and Muslim, so he teaches her how to write Urdu, an Indic language written in an Arabic alphabet. More than a teacher, he becomes her spiritual advisor and devoted friend.

He introduces her to the work of Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master, who wrote, “Love is the whole thing. We are only pieces.”

That, of course, is what every true friendship teaches. In sharing our hearts with another, we learn that commonalities outweigh differences. We learn that being different is something to celebrate, not to fear. And we learn that we are never truly alone.

The story of their friendship was nearly erased from memory by the Queen’s son (later King Edward VII) and others in the court, who were jealous of the outsider’s influence on the monarch. The pride and prejudice that surrounded their relationship was unearthed by author Shrabani Basu, who stumbled upon the tale while researching a book on the history of curry.

Learning that Queen Victoria enjoyed eating curries, Basu toured Osborne House, the Queen’s Isle of Wight home, and noticed two portraits and a bronze bust of an Indian man. Tracing Victoria’s interest in India, Basu journeyed to Pakistan, where she discovered Abdul’s journal, which confirmed the stories in the Queen’s Hindustani journals, hidden away in the Royal Archive.

The movie is based on Basu’s book, “Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant,” and while some historical events are dramatized, the film remains a witty and touching tale of two unlikely friends.

The conflict of class and culture that occurred in 1887 is still very much with us today. We live in a world where leaders are still out of touch with the people they govern. Class differences and cultural misunderstandings still occur in every society.

It’s unlikely that “Victoria & Abdul” will draw big box office numbers because sweet films like this rarely make waves. That’s a shame because prejudice is only erased one heart at a time, and movies that show improbable friendships are needed now, more than ever.

 

August 30, 2017

Random Acts… Hurricane watch goes beyond storm’s duration

Posted in Diversity, Politics at 10:50 pm by dinaheng

The only thing harder than riding out a hurricane is watching from afar, wondering if your loved ones in the danger zone are safe.

I live in California, the home of earthquakes and wildfires, while the rest of the family lives in Texas, the place you’re not supposed to mess with. Four of my six sisters live in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States, now devastated in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Before the storm stuck, my sisters joined everyone else in stocking up on groceries and topping the tanks off in their cars. Then they went home to watch the rain fall.

Each day, I called or texted them, just to touch base. Fortunately, they all live in neighborhoods on higher ground, and their homes were not flooded.

“I got to the grocery store today,” my sister Linda said on Wednesday. “There was a line of people around the store, waiting in the rain, because they only let five people in at a time. I waited about half an hour.”

Inside, there was no bread, bananas, and limited snack items. She grabbed some milk, peanut butter and eggs, and headed home.

In 2005, more than 800,000 homes were destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Harris County officials estimate 30,000 to 40,000 homes in Houston were destroyed by Hurricane Harvey this week.

The dramatic scenes of flooding, frightened residents, and heroic rescues on the news brought home the reminder that this is what real news is about. The political posturing in Washington and accusations of “fake news” by a president who’s constantly repeating lies were finally knocked off the air by a natural disaster that people can actually respond to.

Think climate change isn’t real? We’re seeing now what happens when land development goes amok without regard for natural resources. Want to fight over whether your Democratic/Republican/white/black/Asian/Hispanic/Native American/Christian/Muslim/Buddhist viewpoint is better than others?

Who has time to argue over semantics when you’re waist deep in rising water and a total stranger is trying to pull you into their boat? As for those who think ”the media” is just plain evil, maybe seeing what real journalism means will make you think again, especially if the stranger pulling you into the boat was a reporter who was sharing your story with the world.

The lessons of Hurricane Harvey will be discussed and dissected for years to come. Let’s hope we learned that it doesn’t matter where we live. It’s how we live – and how we help others — that matters.

 

July 26, 2017

Random Acts… Words of sorrow, words of joy

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Health, Women at 1:04 am by dinaheng

My mom died in April. My dad died two months later. The part of me that died with them is just starting to heal.

Each day, Life sends us messages, if we pay attention, the messages offer guidance for how to deal with pain, how to appreciate joyful moments, how to remember that we are not alone.

Sometimes the message comes from a friend who sends flowers, out of the blue. Two arrangements came this week. Or an assignment for work hits you with such synchronicity that you know it’s not a coincidence. My mom died of stomach cancer. I was asked to interview Emmy-nominated actor Ron Cephas Jones, whose character William on NBC’s hit show “This Is Us” died of stomach cancer.

(Here’s a link to that story, if you’re interested… http://www.emmys.org/news/online-originals/celebrating-life .)

The other night, I went to a screening of “Wind River,” a murder mystery starring Jeremy Renner as a wildlife official in Wyoming who’s learned to deal with the death of his teenage daughter, three years earlier. He gives advice to a friend dealing with the death of his daughter, the murder victim, telling him not to block out the pain, because pain is what keeps the memory of loved ones alive.

Today, it is the memories that bring on sadness. I open the weekly advertising circular that comes in the mail, looking at the sales at grocery stores. It reminds me of Mom, who always looked at the circulars, scanning for food items that the family would enjoy, even though she couldn’t swallow solid food anymore.

Whenever we talked on the phone, she would ask, “Have you eaten yet?” To my mom, who once starved in China as a child, the words were the same as saying, “Are you doing okay? I love you.”

Going out to eat lunch was something my dad and I used to do every time I went home for a visit before he became too weak to walk anymore. He’d either want to go to a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, or a fast food place for burgers or roast beef sandwiches. Whenever I drive by a Burger King or Subway, I think of him.

The words he always asked me were, “When are you going to move back home?” In father speak, that meant, “I miss seeing you.”

Last night, I finished reading “The Reluctant Queen” by Sarah Beth Durst (Harper Voyager, $19.99), the latest in a great fantasy series about a world where dangerous spirits and humans coexist only through the magic wielded by its queens.

These are the words of that leapt out of its pages at me…

“I could tell you that time will heal you, but I think that’s a cruel thing to say, because right now, you don’t want time to heal you. You don’t want to forget. Because forgetting means that they’re really gone…

“…I do want you to forget this… the pain that feels as if it’s eating your skin and consuming your soul. I want you instead to remember the moments they made you smile, or cry, the moments they made you feel alive. I want you to honor the ways they shaped who you are and who you will become. For they are a part of you, now and forever.

“… (Your pain) is uniquely yours, and it is all right to feel it fully and deeply for today and for as many days as you need to feel it, until you can feel joy again…”

It’s good to know that Life is always reaching out to us.

 

June 2, 2017

Random Acts… Pick up a book this summer

Posted in Books, Diversity at 5:11 pm by dinaheng

Whether it’s mystery, fantasy, or romance you’re looking for this summer, all of that and more can be found in a good book. Here are a few that caught my eye for summertime reading…

There are few works of fiction that capture the feel of Asian Americans in our nation’s past in a way that makes you want to research and discover what actually happened beneath the surface of historical tomes.

But Beth Cato’s steampunk adventure “Breath of Earth” (Harper Voyager Books, 383 pgs.) gives an interesting glimpse of what life must have been like for the Chinese at the turn of the century, and for any group that has felt discrimination in any time period.

Cato’s story is set in an alternative 1906, where the United States and Japan have become allies with the shared goal of world domination, beginning with the destruction of China. In this fantasy, geomancers can control the energy of the earth to power airships; Reiki doctors can heal with magic, and women are ever subservient to men.

“Breath of Earth” book cover courtesy of Harper Voyager Books.

When a group of powerful geomancer wardens in San Francisco are assassinated, the only ones left to hold a catastrophic earthquake at bay are Ingrid Carmichael, a headstrong secretary whose power far surpasses those of the men she serves, and her mentor, who is gravely injured.

To clear herself of suspicion, and help her mentor, Ingrid seeks aid from Cy Jennings, a pacifist inventor; Fenris, Jennings’ enigmatic mechanic partner, and Lee, a Chinese friend who is much more than he seems. As the three unravel the mystery behind the assassinations, they discover that the greatest defense against fear is the strength of love and friendship.

When it comes to YA dystopian novels, I tend to pass on most, which offer cookie cutter plots. But Jessica Shirvington caught my eye with her two-part series “Disruption” and now. “Corruption” (HarperCollins, 435 pgs.)

“Corruption” book cover courtesy of HarperCollins.

“Corruption” concludes the story of Maggie Stevens’ hunt for her father and the fight to show the world the lies that M-Corp has woven for its own corporate gain. Now that Maggie has discovered the truth about her father, and has betrayed the love she found in Quentin Mercer, heir to M-Corp’s fortune, she must do whatever it takes to reveal the truth about the insidious company to the world.

With the help of Gus, the world’s best and most sarcastic hacker, Maggie and Quentin discover that nothing is what it seems in the life that both have taken for granted. With parallels to today’s reality — in which business leaders have as much sway over what happens in our democracy as politicians do – “Corruption” shows that greed is usually only stopped by those who have lost it all.

Yet in a world of broken promises, Shirvington’s tale shows that there’s still hope for the future, as long as we have someone worth fighting for in our lives.

“The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers, 386 pgs.) may have been written for those 10 years and older, but the captivating fantasy speaks to the child in all of us, sharing wisdom about life, death, and the stories that shape our everyday lives.

“The Girl Who Drank the Moon” book cover courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers.

The 2017 Newbery Medal winner is a novel about a certain way of life… Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to a witch to keep her from terrorizing their town. The truth of the matter, though, is that the witch rescues the abandoned babies and gives them to loving families elsewhere.

One year, though, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight, turning her into an extraordinary child filled with magic. When Luna turns 13, the magic locked within begins to emerge, as Xan’s magic begins to fade. When the real reason behind the baby offerings is revealed, the people of the Protectorate learn that evil has lurked in their midst all along, and that the only way to end fear is to stop feeding it.

When Luna finally discovers who her mother is, she helps to shatter the town’s misconceptions, and frees the woman who has grieved for her for years. Loving both her mother and Xan, whom she looks upon as her grandmother, Luna teaches all that “My love isn’t divided. It is multiplied.”

“Carmer and Grit” book cover courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers.

Technology and magic come together when a magician’s apprentice and a one-winged princess unite to battle mechanical creations that threaten the faerie kingdom in “Carmer and Grit – Book One: The Wingsnatchers” by Sarah Jean Horwitz (Algonquin Young Readers, 360 pgs.).

Steampunk for young readers, this tale is the story of what happens when Felix Carmer III, an aspiring inventor and apprentice to Antoine the Amazifier, meets Grit, the stubborn faerie princess who’s unable to fly with one wing, but is determined to do whatever it takes to fight the mysterious menace that is quietly enslaving faeries.

As the two confront a mad scientist whose mechanical inventions are dependent on the magic generated by faeries, Carmer discovers a bravery inside he never knew he had, and Grit learns that shouldering the responsibilities of a princess is way more than pomp and circumstance.

For a summertime escape, check them out.

 

May 10, 2017

Random Acts… When your mother is gone

Posted in Health, Women at 6:36 pm by dinaheng

My mother passed a few weeks ago.

She fought stomach cancer for more than two years, going through radiation treatments and chemotherapy to eek out one more day with her children and grandchildren.

My sisters and I did our best to take care of her, so that she would be able to die at home when the time came. For the last six months, I have been flying back and forth between Los Angeles and Houston to help out, spending more and more time with her until the end. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.

You never really know what it means to lose a parent until it happens to you. If we’re lucky enough to have parents who are still living, we usually take their presence for granted. Mothers and fathers, after all, are supposed to be the ones whose lives revolve around us.

But when we realize that time with the ones we love is truly limited, everything changes. Suddenly, losing income is not as important as losing precious moments with Mom. Losing the “normalcy” of everyday routines doesn’t matter when you’re needed to take her to the emergency room, again and again.

Losing sleep doesn’t matter when your body instinctively wakes up at 4 a.m. to check and see if Mom needs help to go to the bathroom. Losing your appetite means little when you watch your mother become unable to eat anything that’s not thinly pureed or liquid.

Together, we went through the ups and downs of remission and the return of cancer. I held her hand as she made moaning sounds, unable to talk about her fears, and watched her struggle to get into the wheelchair when she was too weak to walk anymore. Through it all, she never gave up hope of living… one more day.

The week she died, I left Houston on Wednesday, telling her I would be back in two days. She passed the next day. I guess she couldn’t wait for me to return.

The days have been a blur since then. I cry whenever anything reminds me of her. I am grateful that just as she brought my sisters and me into this world, we were able to help her pass into the next.

This Mother’s Day, a friend — who also recently lost her mom — and I will be having lunch together to celebrate our mothers. I’m sure we’ll both have plenty of memories to laugh and cry about.

That’s what happens when you live life to the fullest.

 

January 23, 2017

Random Acts… Everyone should attend Festival of Human Abilities

Posted in Art, Diversity, Entertainment, Health, Travel at 5:37 pm by dinaheng

Why does an aquarium have an annual festival featuring performances that showcase the creativity of people with disabilities?

“It’s all part of our outreach to many communities,” explains Peter Martineau, marketing events manager for the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif. “Our mission is about taking care of the animals, the ocean and the ecosystem by getting people engaged to accomplish that mission.”Dinah Eng

So in addition to cultural festivals that celebrate people from diverse racial backgrounds, the Aquarium decided to create an event highlighting the talents of those with disabilities. The great thing about these events is that people from all walks of life attend and learn from each other.

This year, the Aquarium’s 14th Annual Festival of Human Abilities (Jan. 28-29) will feature hip hop wheelchair dancers (Auti Angel, The Rollettes, and Infinite Flow); a sign language choir; Kodi Lee, a singer who is blind and has autism; Dat Nguyen, a guitarist who is blind, and other inspiring performers.

Along with music and dance, the event will include art demonstrations, like the making of mouth-stick art by local artists with disabilities. Diveheart, an organization that takes people with disabilities scuba diving, will do a talk and take divers into an Aquarium exhibit.

Free creative workshop classes, lasting 30 to 45 minutes, will teach participants how to sing in sign language, create wheelchair art, paint a hat, or try hip hop wheelchair dancing. The Aquarium will also give audio tours for guests who are blind.

Auti Angel gives a wheelchair dancing performance at the 13th Annual Aquarium of the Pacific's Festival of Human Abilities. Photo courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Auti Angel gives a wheelchair dancing performance at the 13th Annual Aquarium of the Pacific’s Festival of Human Abilities. Photo courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific.

“We all have challenges in our lives, and whether you have a disability or not, you’ll find yourself inspired by these performances,” Martineau says. “We usually get about 7,000 attendees each day, and one of the most powerful things is the opportunity for people who don’t have disabilities to feel comfortable around those who do.

“The more you can talk to someone and hang out with them, the more you realize that that person’s a human being you can talk to. Everyone at the festival is getting the ocean conservation message, and it’s going to take a diverse world of people to make it happen.”

Admission to the festival costs $29.95 for adults (12 years and older), $26.95 for seniors (62 and older); $17.95 for children 3 to 11; and is free for children ages 3 and younger. Members of the Aquarium are admitted free of charge.

For more information, check out http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/events/info/festival_of_human_abilities/.

 

 

 

January 10, 2017

‘Patriots Day’ brings out the best in us

Posted in Entertainment, Politics at 3:52 am by dinaheng

Only those who have been in the middle of a terrorist attack can truly know the shock, fear and anger that such acts cause. But if you watch CBS Film’s  “Patriots Day,” you’ll come closer to the pain involved, and be inspired by the goodness that can emerge from fear.

The story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt, meticulously researched by director and writer Peter Berg (“Deepwater Horizon,” “Lone Survivor”), is a suspenseful account of a true crime that manages to grab you from the start and never let go.

More than entertaining, the film brings a deep understanding of how the attack affected the City of Boston, and how citizens, first responders, and law enforcement officials banded together to catch the terrorists four days after the bombs went off.Dinah Eng

While many of the characters are based on real life people, the central figure of Sgt. Tommy Saunders of the Boston Police Department (played by Mark Wahlberg) is a composite of several actual Boston police officers and first responders. Through his eyes, we see the horror of the event, and the determination of law enforcement to find the perpetrators.

While many acts of acts of heroism occur in the film, the unexpected hero is Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang), a Chinese immigrant and tech entrepreneur who, after being kidnapped by the terrorists, risks his life to call 911 and report their whereabouts.

Meng, and other real life survivors like Patrick Downes (Christopher O’Shea) and Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan) — both of whom lost legs in the bombing – are shining examples of the spirit of those whose lives were forever changed by the incident.

For even after losing so much personally, they continue to face the future without malice in their hearts. Listen to these words from the real life people who are portrayed in the film:

* “I think that day…the bombers took lives and limbs, they took some of our sense of security,” Former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick says. “But they took a lot less than they intended. And they gave us back some things they didn’t intend…they gave us a stronger sense of community, a common cause. And I think we’ve seen that in some other examples, in other cities around the world.”

* “When we see the news that another attack has happened, in Brussels, in Islamabad, Nice… Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris,” survivor Patrick Downes says, “I think it’s important we think of these people around the world, not as victims of violence, but ambassadors for peace.”

* “This has been the absolute worst and lowest time in our lives, as well as the best,” survivor Jessica Kensky says. “After being the recipient of such incredible care and kindness, the very least I can do is get out of bed and try again, and try and make this world a little bit better for someone else.”

To try again… to make the world better for others, and ourselves… this is what “Patriots Day” is about.

 

 

 

 

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