3 Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling Overseas



3 Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling Overseas

By Burt Carey

Paris, Brussels, and now the U.S. government is ordering American families and non-essential personnel to leave southern Turkey. With terrorism on every foreign traveler’s mind, here are three simple things you can do to stay safe.

Traveling with family — and especially with juniors – or other companions can introduce several challenging scenarios in the best of worlds. Under duress or in any type of emergency, things can go haywire in a hurry.

terrorism, traveling with family, government resources, personal safety, travel tips, smart traveler

  1. Teach Your Kids or Other Traveling Companions
  • No one wants to be THAT parent that helicopters over their children and scurries them about like a Mother Hen and her brood. The key here is preparation. Don’t just tell your kids where to meet up in an emergency, make them go over the plan in detail. What little bit of scare you might put into them could save their life.
  • Everyone on the trip should keep their cell or smartphone fully charged at all times.
  • Kids should carry pictures of their parents. Parents should carry current pictures of their children. Friends should carry pictures of friends. Get it? You need pictures of anyone you know in country. Smartphones make this easy to do while you’re on your trip.
  • Teach every member in your traveling party to stay aware of their surroundings and people moving about them. See a suspicious package? Tell someone. See someone who truly scares you? Leave the area.


  1. Use Government Resources
  • Before ever leaving the USA, you need to see the website of the S. Department of State to check for any security concerns or other warnings that may have been issued for anyplace you might visit. The State Department also has a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which makes it possible for U.S. government officials to contact you wherever you are.
  • Once you arrive in another country, check in with the U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Make copies of your passport, credit cards, medical card and itinerary. Keep one for yourself and give a copy to a family member or good friend at home. Set up a web-based email account (one you can access remote of your home computer), and then email copies of those documents to yourself.


  1. Think About Your Personal Safety
  • Terrorists likely won’t look to steal anyone’s wallet or purse, but there are plenty of other scallywags who prey on unsuspecting tourists.
  • If possible, try to blend in with the locals.
  • Avoid causing scenes in restaurants, on buses or other public areas that would identify you as an American.
  • And stay vigilant, watching your surroundings and making eye contact with people who approach you.
  • Call it a day early. That party at the neighborhood pub may sound like a good idea at 8 p.m., but by 2 a.m. the streets are a whole lot darker and potentially dangerous.


Source:  Baret News

Mickey Mouse Solar Field To Open This Spring


Mickey Mouse Solar Field To Open This Spring

By Burt Carey

What has a two big black ears and a cute, round face? If you said Mickey Mouse you may have seen the 20-acre solar farm being built by Duke Energy Florida next door to Walt Disney World Resort.
Mickey Mouse, solar farm, Duke Energy Florida, modern renewable energy, Disney WorldThe solar panel field is a larger than life outline of the famed Disney character, a fitting nod toward tradition to draw attention to the theme park’s use of modern renewable energy.

In May 2015, Duke Energy announced that it would be building a new solar field of 48,000 photovoltaic panels that would be arranged in a Disney-inspired design. Move over Buzz Lightyear, Mulan, Bambi and Snow White! It turns out the most recognized Disney character of all time got the honors.

Duke Energy says the solar field, which is situated just outside the gates of Disney World and Epcot Center off Disney World Drive, will begin operations sometime this spring, with peak generating power of 5 megawatts. While Mickey and Disney are garnering all of the attention for a spectacle that stands out when viewed from the air, Duke Energy is working with the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Reedy Creek ID supplies power and other utilities to four theme parks and about 40,000 hotels rooms in the area.

Even at peak capacity, the solar field is relatively small compared to Duke Energy’s 9,000 megawatts of electricity produced at coal and natural gas-fired generating plants. Peak capacity of the new solar field will account for just six hours of each 24-hour day, with expected revenues around a half million dollars per year. In contrast, Reedy Creek’s 2015 electricity bill was about $84 million.

“Our new solar facility agreement is another example of how we’re always looking at innovative ways to conserve our natural resources,” said Reedy Creek Improvement District administrator Bill Warren. “The use of solar energy builds on our commitment to protect the environment and is another step toward realizing our long-term sustainability goals.”

The Reedy Creek Improvement District has agreed to purchase electricity from the site for the next 15 years.



Source:  Baret News

NCAA Men’s Final Four Promises Excitement to the Last Buzzer


NCAA Men’s Final Four Promises Excitement to the Last Buzzer

By Burt Carey

They keep calling it March Madness, but this year’ NCAA Division 1 Men’s Final Four matchups will be held in April.

NCAA, Final Four, March Madness, Michael Gbinije, Syracuse, North Carolina, Villanova, OklahomaNo matter. The winner takes home the national basketball championship trophy after a weekend that promises to be as exciting for those in the student sections at Houston’s NRG Stadium as it is for those watching on Turner Sports.

It all kicks off Saturday (April 2) at 6 p.m. (ET) with the Sooners of Oklahoma facing off against the Villanova University Wildcats. That semi-final game will be followed 40 minutes later by the second semi-final game, pitting the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Orangemen of Syracuse.

The winners will meet in the national championship game April 4 (to be televised by TBS), with tip-off slated for 9:18 p.m. (ET).

North Carolina (32-6) is the lone remaining No. 1 seed in the Final Four. Villanova (33-5) and Oklahoma (29-7) arrived as No. 2 seeds, while Syracuse (23-13) is looking for a Cinderella ending having entered the 64-team NCAA Tournament seeded 10th in the Midwest Division. Twenty times a No. 1 seed has won the title, compared to only three times a No. 2 seed has won it all. No 10-seed has ever won the NCAA Tournament.

Oklahoma smoked Villanova back in December, 78-55, but the Wildcats defense has improved dramatically since then. They’ve allowed opponents to score an average of just 63.6 points per game, the 15th-best defense in Division 1 basketball. They will need it.

Oklahoma averages 81 points per game, much of which is a credit to guard Buddy Hield who’s responsible for 25.4 of those points. Hield became the Big 12’s second-highest scorer of all time in the first half of Oklahoma’s Elite Eight matchup with Oregon. He scored 37 points in that game. And he’s not the only Sooner who can shoot. As a team, Oklahoma makes 42.8 percent of its shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Point guard Jordan Woodard is averaging 16.8 points per game.

Villanova’s offense is anchored by 6-4 point guard Ryan Arcidiacono who’s shooting a cool 58 percent from 3-point territory during the tournament. Junior forward Kris Jenkins (13.5 points per game) has his back, as does junior guard Josh Hart (15.3 points per game).

Syracuse stunned No. 1 seed Virginia and the nation with its 68-62 Elite Eight win. Even head coach Jim Boeheim was surprised. The Orange will have more work to do to take down the Tar Heels.

North Carolina took both head-to-head matchups with Syracuse this season, and most college basketball fans would be beyond speechless if the Orange were to win. Roy Williams, it seems, has his Tar Heels poised for another championship.

Averaging 15 rebounds and 21 points per game in the tourney, North Carolina forward Brice Johnson poses a significant threat, as one who’s looking to close out his senior year with a championship. He’s recorded a school record 23 double-doubles this season, including one against Notre Dame in their Elite Eight contest.

Orange guard Michael Gbinije almost single-handedly carried Syracuse in two earlier tournament games they should have lost. Gonzaga had them down by nine late in the game, but Gbinije stuck a go-ahead layup that put Syracuse over the top. Then, behind by 16 points to Virginia, Gbinije shined on both ends of the court with a pair of steals, six assists and 11 points to lead he upset. Syracuse counts on him for defense and to set the pace.


Source:  Baret News

Doctor Leads Rescue Team in Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Flick


Pandemic, Film Review by Kam Williams, Rachel Nichols, Missi Pyle, post-apocalyptic zombie flickPandemic

Film Review by Kam Williams

Doctor Leads Rescue Team in Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Flick

Laura (Rachel Nichols) managed to avoid getting infected by the virus that decimated the population of New York. Now the Center for Disease Control veteran is in L.A. where she’s heading a rescue team assigned to find survivors among the masses of victims morphing into flesh-eating zombies right after dying from the fatal affliction.

Dr. Laura also harbors faint hopes of finding her husband and daughter as she dons a bio-hazard suit before embarking on the dangerous mission. Her partners in the endeavor include itchy, trigger-fingered Gunner (Mekhi Phifer), nurse/navigator Denise (Missi Pyle) and ex-con Wheeler (Alfie Allen), the driver of their Department of Corrections school bus.

As they leave the safe confines of the compound, Gunner warns Laura to “Think of it as a game.” This advice comes in handy, since their vehicle is soon enough engulfed by a horde of hungry ghouls. In fact, Gunner gets to deliver the most memorable lines (“Ever play whack a mole?”) in the way of comic relief.

Pandemic, Film Review by Kam Williams, Rachel Nichols, Missi Pyle, post-apocalyptic zombie flick

Directed by John Suits (The Scribbler), Pandemic is a cliche-ridden horror flick that borrows the bulk of its ideas from the zombie genre inaugurated by Night of the Living Dead in 1968. If you’ve never seen one of these movies before, you’re likely to find this adventure fascinating. However, this low-budget offering doesn’t hold a candle to the original or to such recent homages as Zombieland (2009) or World War Z (2013).

A paint-by-numbers production recommended for folks who can never get their fill of post-apocalyptic zombie fare.

Good (2 stars)


Running time: 91 minutes

Studio:  Parkside Pictures

Distributor: XLrator Media

To see a trailer for Pandemic, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivuuyw4xnks

Source:  Baret News

Top Ten DVD List for March 29, 2016


This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten-DVD Releses-This Week

Top Ten DVD List for March 29, 2016                       



The Hateful Eight


Humans: Series One [Uncut UK Edition]


The Red House


CPO Sharkey: The Best of Season Two


The Making of Trump


Cartel Land




Point Break


The Winter


Source:  Baret News

Without Stewart…The News (And Laughter) Must Go On


Without Stewart…The News (And Laughter) Must Go On

by Amy Lignor


Yes, Comedy Central is still a fine station. “The Daily Show…” is also okay. Trevor Noah, the new host of the show, is trying his absolute best. But, let’s face it, asking Noah or anyone else to do the job is like asking that ridiculous comedian to truly BE Colonel Sanders and understand the concept of why Kentucky Fried Chicken seriously rules!

It is heartbreaking not seeing Jon Stewart’s requisite “quilt of looks” as he tells the rest of us the dumbest – yet truest news each and every day. His laughter as he brought the headlines to our attention is greatly missed. But…it is a fact that when it comes to news, the dumbest of the dumb must still be shared. (Just imagine Stewart’s grin while reading)


For those who are unaware, the large state of New Mexico has had some interesting news in the last couple of weeks. First, a van was transporting five inmates between jails that are 170 miles apart. The story is a bit fuzzy but, supposedly, the police stopped to get gas or something at a mini-mart, and when they reached their destination 170 miles later they found out that only three inmates were still on board. Thankfully, the bad guys got re-caught, but…did the cops include themselves when they did the count, or is five just a really high number in the dry, lonely desert? Hmmm.


One other New Mexico tidbit comes from Roswell AND has to do with a UFO. The silver decorative UFO that was attached to the side of the Roswell UFO Museum was taken down for repairs after a strange and hardly-ever-seen snowstorm hit the town and damaged it this past winter. The UFO was in the back of the building under an awning being repaired when three men pulled up, lifted the UFO, put it in the back of their truck and drove away. The UFO was found shattered into pieces along a main highway the next day. No arrests have been made. The perpetrators and their crime was caught by a trusty security camera. Is it important to say that the actual police department is just a couple of feet away across the road? Probably not.


More fun headlines are out there. News comes in the form of a Mascot party held in University City at the Palestra; the University of Pennsylvania. Really furry friends, this includes the NBC10 (local) Peacock, broke out their dance moves to break a Guinness World Record. Great video is available and money was raised for childhood cancer.


In Suffolk County, New York, Girl Scouts proved to one and all that they were the “smart cookies” when it came to selling those thin mints that everyone loves. They took a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio who was eating Trefoils at the Oscar ceremony and made it into a poster to attract more customers. Talk about star power, these scouts proved they will one day leave their badges behind and be entrepreneurs on “Shark Tank.”


In Arizona, there is a sign on the road from Nogales to Tucson that lists miles to go in kilometers, just to make all those students (including me) who despised the metric system in high school must do math while driving. When you think about signs that should be changed, however, the worst are those found all across the country where someone had no idea how to spell the word: SCHOOL. Look them up. Everything from SKOOL to SCOOL to SCHOL has been painted on America’s roads…which is actually far more scary than funny.


In North Carolina a man was arrested for not returning a VHS tape that he’d obviously really loved, considering he’d had it for the past fourteen years. Police pulled his car over for a busted taillight and when the officers pulled up his license they found the warrant issued in 2002. The charge? Failure to return hired property. No movie is worth all this silliness.


And let’s not forget a past headline featuring an alligator that was thrown through a drive-up window in Florida. Gator is fine, thankfully. But not only must you feel upset for the poor gator because he probably thought his loved ones had become part of the menu, but also because he had to be in a fast food joint smelling that crap instead of having a lovely jungle dinner with his female counterpart.

Girl Scouts, Arizona, North Carolina

Television host Jon Stewart reacts during a taping of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” in New York, on Wednesday Nov. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Brad Barket)

With all the tragedy in this world today, it is becoming clearer that Jon Stewart’s ability and talent to make us all laugh was and is necessary. Humor has a way of making the brighter spots in life rise above the hideous crimes people are choosing to commit in this day and age. So, as the politics and painful news continues, here’s some advice. Take a moment to laugh at least once a day. We all need it.


Source:  Baret News

Alexander’s Candor!


Bridgette Alexander, The “Southern Gothic” Interview, with Kam Williams, 19th Century French Art HistorianBridgette Alexander
The “Southern Gothic” Interview

with Kam Williams

Alexander’s Candor!

Born in Chicago, Illinois on September 21, 1965, Bridgette R Alexander is a 19th Century French Art Historian specializing in the racial and sexuality construction during the development of modern Parisian culture, singling out one artist, Edouard Manet, for deeper focus. She’s also an independent curator and an art advisor.

Over a twenty-year period, Bridgette devoted her attention to the art worlds of New York City, Paris and Berlin, parlaying that experience into a second career as the author of a young adult book series, the Celine Caldwell Mysteries. Here, she talks about her latest novel. “Southern Gothic.”   

Kam Williams: Hi Bridgette, thanks for the interview.

Bridgette Alexander: Hi Kam, I am so pleased to talk with you.

KW: What whetted your interest in writing, what whetted your interest in art history, and how did you come to combine the two?

BA: When I started studying art history, I hoped to become an historian of ancient Egyptian art and an archaeologist. I’d spent most of my weekends as a teen at the Oriental Institute in the Education Department and in the archives reading and studying in an unofficial capacity with the Director of Education at that time. I would go to the Field Museum and study there as well. Much, much later, long after college, I returned to the Field Museum and taught Egyptian Hieroglyphics to groups of children as an overnight workshop. I’d teach them the Ancient Alphabet and then instruct them on creating their own cartouche with their names. And then we’d spend the night near, or sometimes for the daring ones, in an exhibit area of the tombs.

But, back to the point. It was much later when I changed my major to Modern Art. I was living in NYC and started studying at Columbia University. I learned I couldn’t actually major in ancient Egyptian art history in that department. I was taking a number of modern art courses, one particular course with Rosalind Krauss, and in her slide presentation of modern masterpieces she introduced the class to Edouard Manet’s Olympia, a painting of a reclining nude white woman and standing right next her a clothed black woman. After that course, I took about six more classes in modern art ranging from feminism to theoretical constructs in modernity and, each time, Manet’s painting kept coming back to me. It happened so often, I knew it was telling me something…something more than the mere analysis the professors were so brilliantly laying out. For one thing, I couldn’t understand why so much had been written and discussed about Olympia, Edouard Manet’s seminal work, a painting so important it is what led him to be known as the father of modern art. Thousands of gallons of ink have been spilled about that painting and yet not one, real, honest mention of the black woman standing in it. Years later, at the University of Chicago, I centered much of my graduate study around not only Manet and that painting, but around the life and world of the standing black woman, whose name was Laure, and around the thousands of African, Jewish and Arab female artists’ models in Paris during the Second Empire, which made up 60% of female artists’ models in Paris. I still want to write that story.

KW: How did you develop the confidence to pursue your dream of a writing career?

BA: I have written and told stories since I received my first diary as a young child. Writing was a refuge for me, and a way to put my thoughts in front of myself. Writing never challenged my confidence, but was something I always needed to do, just as I live to tell stories. Before I was 23 and working at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a trader assistant, I already had the vivid sense that my life and work were my own. When my grandparents died and left me alone as a young adult, I was confident in my own decisions. I don’t mean to say that the path was clear to me. It wasn’t until much later, when I was a scholar of 19th Century French Art History living in Paris that I finally awoke to the art of writing as something I could pursue professionally. And it wasn’t until a few years after that that I realized that my writing had always been storytelling.

Bridgette Alexander, The “Southern Gothic” Interview, with Kam Williams, 19th Century French Art Historian

Bridgette, husband David and daughter Chloe at a Henri Bendel Event

KW: How did you come to settle on young adult readers as your target demographic?

BA: I don’t think I’ve ever left my own young adult stage of life. It is such an incredibly beautiful, complicated and amazing time for most of us. We’re no longer a child that really needs momma and daddy, but also not quite a full-on grown person. It’s probably, and certainly it was that way for me, a sort of delicious purgatory.

KW: How would you describe your new novel, “Southern Gothic,” in 25 words or less?

BA: Lady Macbeth meets the Gossip Girls for a day of art, crime and culture.

KW: What was the source of inspiration for the book?

BA: Southern Gothic” has many sources of inspiration. The book and the series represent a revisiting of my experiences in the art world. The historical material in “Southern Gothic” has a distant source in my husband’s old Scottish Presbyterian family in North Carolina. Religious groups and cultural sects in North Carolina during the 19th Century, like the Quakers, provided inspiration, too. And raising my daughter helped me re-think daughters and mothers. The protagonist Celine and her mother Julia are one result of that.

KW: How did you go about writing it? Did you create an outline to follow, or did it come to you as you went along?

BA: I don’t create an outline per se, however, I do have to create what I call “beats.” Writing to beats was not my creation, but a method I picked up from another writer, and I love it. I go through each action in the story and just write out the entire plot, subplot, character arc, everything… It all just gets laid out so splendidly. Even before I do that, the story starts to unfold in my mind as I create scenarios for Celine Caldwell to inhabit. Of course, the story sometimes changes when characters or plots refuse to go along with my plan. Eventually, I give up and let them live their own lives.

KW: Your heroine, Celine Caldwell, is biracial and the plot involves a lynching by the Ku Klux Klan. Did you consciously decide to have a non-white protagonist and to explore sensitive subject-matter?

BA: Yes, I did. I wanted her to be absolutely different from me. I thought about her as I rocked my own bi-racial daughter to sleep for afternoon naps. I thought about what her life could look like – a life of privilege, a life traveling the world at such a young age; a life navigating through social circles that I didn’t and couldn’t enter and, to a certain extent, didn’t want to engage with…I created a girl that could go in and out of that world of privilege and own it and see a lot of its ugliness. On the other hand, Celine’s contact with the KKK is through reading old diary entries from a girl her own age who lived in the 19th Century American South. I wanted Celine to see her life juxtaposed with that of someone living in dramatically different social conditions. I myself wanted to somehow experience a life that extreme right along with Celine. And throughout the book series, I attempt to continue that process. In the second book, “Sons Of Liberty,” scheduled for release in the spring 2017,  we’ll find Celine tackling a right-wing political organization as it’s tentacles reach into her private school while locking itself in a wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, creating total disruption in the name of “returning our country to its greatness”. In book three, “Pasha,” a former arms dealer-turned-art patron is being honored by the establishment of the art world but, unfortunately, Celine Caldwell intercepts a fatwa that has been issued against the newly-reformed art benefactor. Each of the twelve books in the series examines social and political issues, without being preachy or didactic. And the art, oh my God, I am so excited and thrilled about the art that’s featured in the series. The art takes the reader through centuries of visual culture from American portraiture, French Heroism and French Orientalism to Modern and Contemporary Islamic Art. The series is a beautiful journey through art history that is both sexy and informative. I think that’s why my retail partners, Henri Bendel and Clarins, are excited – developing and reaching new readers in the way Celine Caldwell does is very appealing to them! So, through this year, Henri Bendel and Clarins has partnered with Celine Caldwell Mystery Series to present fun and exciting book launch events at their stores across the nation. We’ve held a couple at the Chicago flagship for a packed house. People are falling in love with Celine Caldwell! If I may add, for more information on events and locations, please visit http://celinecaldwell.com. There, you’ll also find our secret razzmatazz button for giveaways.We also have original music created for each book in the series. The music was created by Francisco Dean, a music teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. You can hear the music by watching the “Southern Gothic” book trailer at celinecaldwell.com. We’re also looking to option the series for television.

KW: Does “Southern Gothic” have a message you want people to take away from it?

BA: I hope the experience is as meaningful to others as I felt it, but no, I do not have a message to convey.

KW: How is the progress coming with see your next book about prominent African-American art collectors.

BA: Wow! The book is entitled “Black Market.” It is a close examination of prominent African-American art collectors and whites who collect modern and contemporary art created by African-American and/or artists of African descent. This book was alive and had a publisher until the economic crash in 2008 threw the book market into a tailspin that changed publishing forever. I interviewed over 150 black collectors and a few prominent white collectors. With Goldman Sachs as a partner, I staged events called the Collector’s Circle that included a few of the collectors featured in Black Market. The events were held in art museums in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. I completed all of the interviews around 2009 and photographed close to a third of the interviewees. However, in light of our post-2008 economy, which has brought a lot of amazingly new essence to collecting art as a cultural custodian, I am interested in interviewing a new crop of collectors, before finalizing the project and getting it published.

KW: Who are some of the celebrities participating in the project?

BA: I talked to Wall Street executives, prominent businessmen, such as Raymond McGuire and Rodney Miller; museum directors like Maxwell Anderson; and academics. Television and motion picture actors like CCH Pounder; authors such as Terry McMillan, and Maya Angelou; Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons and his artist older brother, Danny Simmons. Hotelier and major art collectors Don and Mera Rubel; several well-known sports legends such as Calvin and Grant Hill, State Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, Darryl Walker and Elliot Perry, and many powerhouse women, such as Dr. Joy Simmons, Eileen Harris Norton and Vivian Hewitt who comes with an incredibly exquisite history in art, including hosting salons for her friends, “Jake” Lawrence and Romi Bearden. There are also plenty of wonderful, extraordinary everyday people in the book. I collected some amazing stories about fathers and sons, and about the connection between a man and woman and how they became husband and wife; and the chilling story of art lost under the weight of Hurricane Katrina. That particular story is heartbreaking.

KW: Who are some of the artists whose works will be featured in the book?

BA: You know, a lot of the usual suspects for some of the older and/or traditional art collectors: Lawrence, Bearden, Catlett, Gordon Parks, Henry O. Tanner, and Harold Woodruff. However, for the contemporary art collector, the more cutting edge or avant-garde collector, those collections hold the likes of: David Hammons, Mark Bradford, Basquiat and Warhol collaborative works, Rashid Johnson, Mickalene Thomas and others. The list is utterly amazing.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

BA: Pudd’nhead Wilson” by Mark Twain. I read it for school when I was in the 7th grade and have been dying to introduce the story to my daughter. She and I just finished it.


KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

BA: It’s vivid, because it’s shrouded in trauma. I was 2 years-old and being admitted into the Bethany Brothers Hospital to have my tonsils removed. My grandmother bought me a little yellow pajama set with white polka dots, something that I would wear after the operation. She didn’t come with me; my mother did. I was really frightened because my Madear wasn’t there. I was in the intake room, got my temperature taken, had a little hospital gown placed on me…and was then weighed, placed on a gurney, and rolled into the operating room. Once inside, the sea foam blue room, a black oxygen mask was placed over my face and the attending physician told me to start counting. The next thing I remember was waking up en route to my hospital room where a silver baby bed was waiting for me. I spent the night in the hospital alone. The next morning, after screaming in pain from the surgery, the nurses carried me around the hospital to meet some of the other patients. One patient was a pregnant African-American woman. I can see her so clearly right now. She was really cute and her stomach was ginormous. Later that same day, there was some terrible construction accident and some of the construction workers were sent to Bethany Brothers Hospital. I shared my room with one of the construction workers. I bet that wouldn’t happen today. Truly, I was two and this did happen.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years in Chicago?

BA: My grandparents–John and Bertha Talley. No one else, I think. They loved me and made me believe in my own ability to be loved and take that love out into the world and let it be my companion on my life’s journey. So, because of them, I have lived and traveled everywhere almost, by myself with no fears… because they loved me.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

BA: Yes, when I was around 4 or 5 and my grandmother read the story of King David to me and talked about him all the time. I somehow loved David and became jealous of him at the same time. I wanted the same kind of relationship he had with God

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

BA: Midnight pasta with a glass of Malbec. I learned this recipe while spending a summer learning French technique at the French Culinary Institute in Soho. I didn’t exactly learn it in class, but the kitchen staff taught me after restaurant hours ended. You need a super good, California extra-virgin olive oil, about five to seven garlic cloves, red pepper flakes and several other ingredients.

KW: What was your very first job?

BA: I dressed as one of five Mrs. Santa Claus selling summer sausages at the Brickyard Shopping Mall for Christmas Holiday in Chicago. It sounds messed up, but it was one of the best times I ever had on a job. The Santa was drunk for most of the season; and fired because he pinched a kid. The Santa who replaced him was even worse. And every time I walked up to shoppers with a 15-inch sausage in one hand and a little knife to cut a slice in the other, the comebacks I received from men and some women were priceless. It was awesome!

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

BA: A dark skinned, shaved-head version of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt. Only I’m a little more fearless and absolutely driven to be out and about in the world.


KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

BA: Continued vibrantly good health, and living on the Central Coast of California in a beautiful Richard Meier modern home with a pool and guesthouse with my hubby David and daughter Chloe.

Bridgette, husband David and daughter Chloe at a Henri Bendel Event

Bridgette, husband David and daughter Chloe at a Henri Bendel Event

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

BA: I don’t feel guilt over things that I take pleasure in. If you’re asking about unusual things that I take pleasure in that other people may not, well…I have skincare. It’s been my indulgence since I was a teenager.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

BA: Yes, what was the true impact your grandparents, John and Bertha Talley, aka June and Madear, had on you? Answer: They saved my life. Their pragmatism kept me living right at my means; their drive and desires for me allowed me to reach for the seemingly unreachable and then push myself further. Without them, I would have never had the nerve to leave Chicago on a Greyhound bus for NYC with $20 in my pocket and relocate to Manhattan with no place to stay. They gave me the composure to find a job as an usher for Radio City Music Hall and eventually get a first-class education.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

BA: The ones I have known are driven, focused, and doggedly committed to their goals. They definitely do not take their business or professional setbacks personally or allow emotions to cloud their judgment. I love them and I envy them, like I did with King David.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

BA: You better love who you are, because you are going to spend so much of your time alone with yourself, you better be happy with yourself. If not, fix it.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Bridgette, and best of luck with “Southern Gothic.”

BA: Thank you, Kam.

For more information about the Celine Caldwell Mystery Series, visit http://celinecaldwell.com

To order a copy of “Southern Gothic,” visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0986152609/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

Source:  Baret News


A Highly Debated Piece of Technology Serves a Purpose


A Highly Debated Piece of Technology Serves a Purpose

by Amy Lignor


When even saying the word “drone” in 2016, debates spark up immediately as to whether they are safe, they are needed, and what they can even do to save countries and people from war and terrorist attacks. Just this week we have seen horrific bombings occur in the stunning city of Belgium, and politicians vying for the Oval Office coming out to assert their thoughts and ideas about the future of national security (some being quite frightening). However, when stepping away from the “politics” of this technology, the idea of drones and the use of drones when it comes to environment and conservation efforts is definitely good.

Sumatran rhino

Think about what it would be like to have miracles reported each day instead of pain. Just this week a believed to be extinct creature rejoined the world when a Sumatran rhino was found. Thought to be completely gone from Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, the rhino had not been seen in forty years. The World Wildlife Fund on Tuesday announced that a female Sumatran rhino was there, and was safely transported to a more secure location. Once in its new home, the very rare rhino will be better protected from poachers. There are plans to move even more animals there in the near future to start a population that has been sadly missing.


What is quite successful is the wide use of drones for environmental research and wildlife preservation. In this category, the drone technology is more commonly referred to as unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or eco-drones. At this moment monitoring the polar ice melt in order to help determine animal migration patterns, eco-drones are the perfect piece of technology when it comes to reaching impossible sites and causing minimal impact to the surroundings.


Not only can the eco-drones track and photograph species that are extremely hard to monitor, like that amazing rhino, but they also collect data for conservationists so that the full understanding of the land and its resources can be had by people who choose to protect that land.


Eco-drones are also extremely successful when it comes to finding poachers and stopping the threat they cause to a variety of species. And when a species needs to be monitored to protect human life, the eco-drones also come into play. Right now the technology is being used to spot sharks off the California coast in order to help lifeguards better monitor the beaches.

green technology, drone, UAS, eco-drones, environment, Amy's Angle


Climate changes, monitoring air pollution in rapidly expanding areas…the list goes on. So, remember during these political debates the importance of eco-drones for the health and welfare of the environment and aiding in animal protection. As it stands now, they are one of the most worthwhile and helpful pieces of “green” technology ever to be created.

Images:  Shark-Spotting Drones Protect Swimmers     Sumatran rhinoceros

A Discussion with Justin!


Justin Hires, The “Rush Hour” Interview, with Kam Williams, premiers March 31Justin Hires
The “Rush Hour” Interview

with Kam Williams

A Discussion with Justin!

Justin Hires is a very talented actor, comedian, storyteller, dancer, video jockey and writer who will next be seen playing Detective Carter in the CBS-TV action-comedy series “Rush Hour,” based on the buddy films co-starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. The versatile entertainer has been an ensemble cast member on the sketch comedy series “Key & Peele,” and he’s also appeared in the box-office hit 21 Jump Street alongside Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum,

Justin was born in St. Petersburg, Florida where he was raised by a couple of very supportive parents. Even as a young child, he exhibited a knack for making others laugh.

While attending Clark Atlanta University, Justin was cast in two feature films: Stomp the Yard and The Gospel. He was subsequently hired by MTV as a VJ on their college network, mtvU.

Justin moved to Hollywood after receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Media- Radio, TV, and Film. In L.A., he started doing stand-up in comedy clubs, and began landing a variety of television and film roles, while accumulating over 13 million views of his personal sketches online.

Here, the rising young star talks about “Rush Hour” which is set to premiere on CBS on March 31st at 10 pm ET/PT. (Check local listings)

Kam Williams: Hi Justin, thanks for the interview.

Justin Hires: Thanks for having me, Kam.

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, so I’ll be mixing their questions in with mine.

JH: Sounds exciting…

KW: Congratulations on landing the lead in Rush Hour. Were you a fan of the film franchise?

JH: Absolutely! I grew up watching and studying those films. I’ve always been a huge fan of martial arts and comedy, so Rush Hour was the perfect combination for me.

KW: The trailer looks a lot like the first movie. How will the show be similar and how will it be different?

JH: The pilot episode is a reboot of the original Rush Hour. So, there are some similarities there. However, all the episodes after that, 13 episodes in total, tell completely new and exciting stories that are not connected with the Rush Hour films, at all.

KW: I think the key to the success of the film franchise was the chemistry between Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. How did you and John Foo go about trying to regenerate that magic?

JH: I completely agree. Fortunately, I think Jon Foo and my chemistry is incredible! Foo is a genuine introvert and I’m a genuine extrovert. We’re the perfect ying and yang, on and off camera.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: How did you prepare to play Detective James Carter? Did you get any advice from Chris Tucker?   

JH: I’ve been doing stand-up for a strong 8 years and I’ve been the class clown my entire life, all of which prepared me for a role of this magnitude. Also, I watched all those buddy cop movies again: 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, etcetera. I didn’t get any advice from Tucker, but I assume his advice would’ve been, “Have fun and be funny!”

KW: Patricia also says: You are an actor, writer and comedian. Which of those endeavors is your favorite?

JH: I honestly love all three equally. Each of those have played a part in getting me to where I’m at in my career right now.

KW: Patricia has another follow-up: Who is your favorite comedian, and do you have a topic you won’t touch in a stand-up routine?

Justin Hires, The “Rush Hour” Interview, with Kam Williams, premiers March 31

JH: Richard Pryor is the Godfather of Comedy. Eddie Murphy is the King. Martin Lawrence is my favorite. Chris Rock is the best. Dave Chappelle is a genius. Bernie Mac is the funniest. I’m a comedy nerd. And… rape is typically never funny.

KW: Sangeetha Subramanian says: Justin, is comedy like writing where an idea just pops in your mind at any given time? If so, what was the strangest occasion on which a joke came to you? :

JH: That’s a pretty accurate insight, Sangeetha. A funny idea might pop up in your head or you may see something that you think is funny–then you go to a comedy club, say that thought out loud, and see if everyone else finds it funny as well. Some of my funniest thoughts come to me while I’m taking a shower.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

JH: Do I prefer Coke or Pepsi? My answer depends on which one wants to give me an endorsement deal one day. [LOL]

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

JH: Who knows? I’ve just been reading 60-page Rush Hour scripts every week for the last 6 months.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

JH: Fried chicken and roasted potatoes. Yep, the myth is true–I do, indeed, love fried chicken.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

JH: Either telling my first joke in pre-school that got a huge laugh, or my mom rocking me to sleep in her rocking chair.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?

JH: Fear will keep you from accomplishing your dreams.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

JH: I’m really quiet at home. I don’t speak that much. However, when I’m in public, I make sure to speak to everyone.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

JH: Someone trying to achieve greatness.


KW: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

JH: I turned down a contract with a major network in New York my senior year of college in order to move to Los Angeles and pursue my acting career. But so far it’s working out.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

JH: The power of mind control. I’d be able to get pretty much everything I wanted.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

JH: Watching “Love & Hip Hop.”

KW: The “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan’s question: What would be your dream locale to live in Los Angeles?

JH: Either Malibu or Calabasas.

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?

JH: One of the reasons I started acting was to re-make The Karate Kid, but Jaden Smith beat me to it.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?   

JH: Dracula.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

JH: Being fearless.

Justin Hires, The “Rush Hour” Interview, with Kam Williams, premiers March 31

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

JH: Do your homework, study the craft, believe in yourself, and out-work everyone.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

JH: He did what many thought was impossible.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

JH: Rush Hour’ money. [LOL]

KW: Thanks again for the time, Justin, and best of luck with the new show.

JH: Thank you very much, Kam.

Or: http://www.cbs.com/shows/rush-hour/video/BNcTOId8kk_8JwTdnrlVHlI6w5ynp9OG/sneak-peek-a-look-at-the-new-rush-hour-tv-series/

Source:  Baret News

Heartfelt Documentary Revisits 1948 Flood Which Wiped Out Oregon City


The Wake of Vanport, Film Review by Kam Williams, 1948 Flood, Oregon City, Memorial Day disasterThe Wake of Vanport
Film Review by Kam Williams

Heartfelt Documentary Revisits 1948 Flood Which Wiped Out Oregon City

Vanport, Oregon was established in 1942 on lowlands located between Portland and the Columbia River. At its height, the hastily-constructed public housing project had about 40,000 inhabitants, most of whom were hired by the military to work in shipyards in nearby Portland and Vancouver.

After the war ended, it proved to be an attractive destination for African-Americans families who appreciated that the town was integrated and that it offered a higher quality of life than what they’d experienced in places like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. A big negative, however, was the series of sluices slicing through the city serving as an ever-present reminder of the precarious nature of its existence.

For, there was always the possibility that a dike might give out, a fear that turned into a frightening reality at 4:05 pm on Sunday, May 30, 1948. Heavy snows followed by an unusually warm spring combined to flood the town by nightfall, claiming 15 lives while leaving the rest of its citizens homeless .

The Wake of Vanport, Film Review by Kam Williams, 1948 Flood, Oregon City, Memorial Day disaster

The Wake of Vanport is a very moving documentary featuring archival photographs of the Memorial Day disaster, as well as the wistful remembrances of a number of survivors. Belva Jean Griffin, who was 21 at the time, recounts how her parents had received unreliable assurances that the dams would hold. Consequently, she lost everything she owned except an album of family photos.

Regina Flowers, reminisces about how there was no racial strife among the kids in Vanport when she was growing up, although there was some among the adults. Paula Hartman recalls that only whites received advance notice about the impending deluge in a handbill that read:

“Remember: Dikes are safe at present.

You will be warned, if necessary.

You will have time to leave.

Don’t get excited.”

Lily Raxter recollects watching a black lady with a couple of huge suitcases being swept away by the all-consuming current. And Marge White talks about immediately falling in love with Vanport upon arriving from Tallulah, Louisiana in the fall of ’44. Together, this touching collection of truly heartfelt remembrances paint a poignant portrait of a short-lived, idyllic oasis.

Excellent (4 stars)


Running time: 53 minutes

Distributor: The Skanner Foundation

Source:  Baret News