Two Stunning New Images by Artist Sheila Smith

A beautiful study in orange by Sheila Smith.

A beautiful study in orange by Sheila Smith.

New York City artist Sheila Smith’s images are always a treat!  These latest two studies in orange are particularly gorgeous, and intriguing too.

The one above seems to contain so many visual secrets that I can hardly stop looking at it.  I see flowers, sunsets, a moth, the inside of a ripe clementine, vanilla frosting, and several fairies – and that’s just in the first glance!  These images aren’t just beautiful.  They’ve got a magical quality and they’re fun!

If the first one is full of curves, the second has more lines and movement.  I see an Olympic runner on a rainy track, a bird of peace, and a butterfly at an angle.  What do you see?

 

Sheila's second orange beauty.  Wow!

Sheila’s second orange beauty. Wow!

The F.B.I. Closes the D.B. Cooper Case, But He’s Still Out There…

Sketch made from eyewitness descriptions of hijacker D.B. Cooper. have YOU seen this man?

Sketch made from eyewitness descriptions of hijacker D.B. Cooper. have YOU seen this man?

I consider this a crying shame: the FBI is closing the D.B. Cooper hijacking case, and not because they caught him.  They didn’t.  They’re closing it because they failed to find him!  For shame, FBI!

Do you remember the story?  It happened on November 24, 1971.  A man calling himself “Dan Cooper” – the name was later misreported in the media as “D.B. Cooper,” and that’s how he became known – boarded a Northwest Orient Airlines plane in Portland, Oregon.  Cooper said he had a bomb onboard, and took all the passengers hostage and would ransom them for $200,000 – which was a lot of money in those days.  The plane landed at Seattle Airport.  The hostages were released, thankfully unharmed.  Then D.B. demanded another plane, two parachutes, the moolah, and a free flight to Mexico.

Somewhere over the state of Washington, he jumped from the plane and parachuted to freedom, complete with the money.  The powers that be at the time didn’t think he’d survive the drop.  Apparently, he did.  You might think  it doesn’t take a criminologist to figure out that he was almost certainly a member of some nation’s paratrooper division, but think again: he jumped out of the plane at night and over a Washington forest, the last place an experienced parachutist would have chosen to eject.  Later, bills that were to be part of the ransom money were found by the Columbia River, but Cooper wasn’t, not dead, not alive,  but hey, he’s got to be somewhere!

This inspired me to write the following limerick – okay, with a LOT of input from my mother and father – in Mr. Cohn’s fifth grade class at Victor Mravlag School 21 in Elizabeth, NJ:

“There once was a hijacker named Lord

who hijacked a plane while onboard.

He got all the loot,

And a big parachute,

But alas!  It had no rip cord!”

In my version, he didn’t get away with it, but now, he did!  They’re giving up the long hunt for D.B. Cooper!

Are we going to sit back and let that happen?  Take a look at those drawings.  Who knows?  He jumped from that plane in Washington State.  He obviously had a brain, enough so that he masterminded what is considered “the perfect crime,” so I doubt he would have stayed in the Washington or Northwest vicinity.  He’d be elderly now.  He sounded Midwestern.  Did he go back home?  Might he be living in relative obscurity in, say, the Ozarks?  Is he sipping Starbucks in Indiana?  Or did he go towards the ocean?  Is he that old man on the beach towel beside you at the seashore?  Look closely.  He might be your neighbor, your boss, or even your best friend…

Age-enhanced photo of D.B. Cooper.  Look closely...have you seen this man?

Age-enhanced photo of D.B. Cooper. Look closely…have you seen this man?

 

Wanted poster, with full description. He had an olive complexion and sounded Midwestern...who was he?

Wanted poster, with full description. He had an olive complexion and sounded Midwestern…who was he?

Meet the 2016 Olympic Mascots: Two Adorable Ambassadors of Happiness

Vinicius and Tom, the 2016 Olympics Mascots who are dedicated to bringing the world together!

Vinicius and Tom, the 2016 Olympics Mascots who are dedicated to bringing the world together!

Here they are, world – Vinicius and Tom, the new Olympic Mascots for the 2016 Rio games!  Look at those adorable and mischievous little faces.  How could anyone see the two of them and not burst out in smiles?

The “biographies” of the mascots say they were born “out of the explosion of joy following the announcement on the day in 2009 when Brazil found out they’d be hosting the 2016 games.”  Vinicius is a composite of all the Brazilian animals, and Tom’s representin’ all the plants.  Their mission?  “To spread joy throughout the world and celebrate the friendships that flourish between people from all over the planet at this incredible sporting event.”  Wow!  I love how their names were chosen by Brazilian vote: they pay homage to two great composers of Brazil: Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim, the creators of Bossa Nova.  They wrote “The Girl from Impanema.”  It was a big hit circa 1960 and introduced a dance craze.

Two mascots, named after Brazilians who created the Bossa Nova!  I have a feeling these particular Olympic Games are going to be absolutely spectacular.  I can already imagine what an Opening Ceremony they’re going to have.  The event starts on August 5, not a moment too soon, since we all know the world needs to start coming together at this moment in time.  Vinicius and Tom, teach us how to do the Bossa Nova, and let the Games begin!

Here’s “The Girl from Impanema”:

 

Ready to dance: Vinicius and Tom!

Ready to get the world dancing the Bossa Nova: Vinicius and Tom!

 

An Olympic torch-bearer having a fabulous time!

An Olympic torch-bearer having a fabulous time!

 

REAL Friends Don’t Tell Friends What to Think, How to Feel, or Who To Vote For

My new masterpiece!

My new masterpiece!

As all those who know me can tell you, there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, that I find more offensive than people telling me who they have “decided” I should vote for.  I was raised in a family of Independents, where politics rarely ever came up as a topic, which was the classy approach.

These days, however, people can’t stop putting their political stances in one another’s faces, both on social media and in person, which is the opposite of classy, to put it mildly, and I, for one, have had enough of it.  Have you?  If so, have I got a tote for you!

REAL FRIENDS

don’t tell friends

what to think, how to feel,

or who to vote for!

Here’s the link.  Get yours now, available from Logosportswear:

http://coconuts.logosoftwear.com/storeshop/buyfromstore/4e1bcd98fb99cab8ca8a1b14b8eb733a

 

A Beautiful, Heartwarming Documentary: THREE KHMER FLOWERS

If what the world needs now is love, sweet love, have I got a documentary for the world!

Take a look at THREE KHMER FLOWERS.  The story, from director Diane Mason, follows a woman named Jean Malmgren and her husband Jim Melvin as they travel to Cambodia to adopt an “older child,” not an infant.  Older children – that is, ones beyond about the age of one or two – have less of a chance of getting adopted, which is so unfair to the kids.

When they arrive, they find the child originally matched to them is not available, but are offered a beautiful toddler instead.  Of course they accept the toddler…but once they’re back in the United States, Jean still wishes she could have adopted an older child…

I don’t want to say anything more, because it will reveal too much about the movie, and this is a film well worth seeing.  What the world needs now is more people like Jean Malmgren and Jim Melvin!  Take a look, and by all means, enjoy this:

A Governors Island Story

Governors Island, with the Manhattan skyline across the river.

Governors Island, with the Manhattan skyline across the river.

Governors Island is my favorite place in New York City.  It was owned by a Dutchman back in the day when New York was New Amsterdam.  It later was a U.S. Army base, headquarters of the fabled First Army, which was the first one to invade Normandy on June 6, 1944, and begin the long-awaited liberation of Europe from the Nazis.  In the 1960’s it became a Coast Guard base.  Now, luckily for every New Yorker, it’s a park!

I went on a research jaunt to Governors Island yesterday.  It’s only about a ten minute ferry ride to get there, and the ferry is the right price: free!  I am completely enchanted by this little island, the perfect combo between past and present, history and modernity, with its old-time buildings and newly constructed park spaces.  I cannot go there without wishing I could have grown up in an Army family that had the honor of being stationed there.  I’m going to do the next best thing and set a fictitious book for children there.

With that in mind, I went to the island to find out more about what it was like during the 1940s and 1950s.  I was told a story that’s too much fun not to share immediately.

Housing for single Army men.

Housing for single Army men.

 

As everyone surely knows, the Army often has some pretty strange and senseless rules.  If they didn’t, phrases like “Situation Normal: All Fouled Up” would never have entered the lexicon to describe the way the Army is run.  (And yes, I know the word used in that phrase isn’t really “fouled,” it’s another one.)  Enlisted men lived in many areas of the island, including the one shown above.

However, enlisted men were not allowed on the other side of the tiny island.  Nolan Park is where the officers lived with their families.  The enlisted men not only could not live there, they also were not even allowed to walk around on the street or go to the officer’s park!

Here’s the officer’s quarters:

Officers Quarters, Governors Island - restricted to the enlisted men!

Officers Quarters, Governors Island – restricted to the enlisted men!

They were there to serve their country but banned from walking down a street?  Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I had been one of those guys, I would have found some way to sneak over to that part of the island, just to say I did it.  Maybe I’d have wound up in the stockade, but it would’ve been worth it.

The houses are now used as shops for a lot of artisans and museums, and in one of them I was told a great story.  Apparently there’s a man who served on Governors Island, way back when.  An enlisted man, not an officer.  Well, he comes back to the island now on a regular basis – and struts around as much as he wants, peacock-style, walking up and down Nolan Park, going past the officer’s houses, and acting as if he owns the whole area of Governors Island that was once restricted to him!  BRAVO!  Whoever you are, sir, I’d love to meet you sometime!

Here are a few more views of this magical place.  If you’re in New York City, come on over!  You can step around Nolan Park, too.

The Base Commander's house.  Beautiful!  Open to the public, too.

The Base Commander’s house. Beautiful! Open to the public, too.

Flora.

Flora.

More flora, with the flag in the background.

More flora, with the flag in the background.

An example of the cool brick buildings.

An example of the cool brick buildings.

Fields.

Fields where children can play.

I never see any cars on this island, just golf carts and "surreys" - bicycles built for several!

I never see any cars on this island, just golf carts and “surreys” – bicycles built for several!

The old and the new: Governors Island building with the Freedom Tower across the river.

The old and the new: Governors Island building with the Freedom Tower across the river.

 

 

 

 

If You’re Being Bullied, Have I Got Some Anthems for You!

Are you a kid who’s a member of the club that nobody wants to join?  Are you being bullied?

I certainly hope you’re not!  But take it from me, if you are, it’s not the end of the world, even if it may feel that way while it’s going on.  One day you’ll be out of that school, or away from that town.  You’ll be in a new place, with a better and infinitely more intelligent group of people, and you’ll get the chance to start over.  It’s just a matter of riding it out.

In the meantime, here’s some anthems for  you to sing until what you’ll one day refer to as “the bad old days” are over:

Meghan Trainor’s All About the Bass is a song I love.  You don’t have to be a certain size, or have a certain look, in order to be fabulous.  This song, I heard, saved a girl’s life by giving her a more positive view of herself.

Here’s another good one!  Katy Perry’s Firework.  I adore the line:

“Maybe a reason why all the doors were closed

So you could open one

That leads you to the perfect road.”  

Exactly!  That’s the spirit!  It’s also the truth!

Finally, here’s a song that made me laugh out loud yesterday when I heard a group of little nursery school children singing it.  Those little tykes are being trained in the right direction!  It’s Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” which is what you have to do when dealing with detractors.  Here it is.  Enjoy!  And don’t give up.   As the good book says, “Though weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning.”

To Meghan Trainor, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift: if any of you find this, I hope you know how fantastic all three of you are for putting these fantastic songs out there!  You three are a gift to a world that needs you.  BRAVA!