Another January 1st, another Happy New Year to all !  !  !

Enclosed are some great thoughts by some great people, and some fun art to keep your day funny.  ENJOY ! ! !

PART   1       



Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. 
— Oprah Winfrey



Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
— Charles R. Swindoll
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. 
— Mark Twain
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to 
succeed is always to try just one more time. 
— Thomas A. Edison
Well done is better than well said. 
— Benjamin Franklin
You will never win if you never begin. 
— Helen Rowland
A goal is a dream with a deadline. 
— Napoleon Hill
Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. 
— Wayne Dyer
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‘Dancing With the Stars’ finale: Jordan Fisher, Lindsay Arnold take home Mirror Ball
Ever since “Dancing With the Stars” started 25 years ago, I have made it a point to select in my mind the winner, once the three finalists are revealed. And every year I have selected the winner correctly !
This year it was especially easy to select the winner, considering the background and incredible ability of the winner, Jordan Fisher, who is a professional Broadway musical dancer, most lately in the huge hit “Hamilton.”

After a season full of perfect scores and gushing praise from the judges, singer and actor Jordan Fisher was named the champion of the 25th season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and tangoed off with the Mirror Ball Trophy. It was the first win for his pro partner, Lindsay Arnold.

Judge Len Goodman called Fisher “the most complete male celebrity ever on ‘Dancing With the Stars,'” and judgeBrunoTonioli said Fisher was “right up there with the best we have ever seen on this show.”

Violinist Lindsey Stirling came in second. Frankie Muniz — who called his time on the show “the most amazing experience of my life — came in third.

The finale featured the scored dances in the ballroom and many festive holiday numbers performed live outside at the Grove in Los Angeles. In between, the season’s other cast members returned to dance and, in some cases, sing.

The show began with each couple doing a favorite dance from earlier in the season. Stirling and her partner, Mark Ballas , performed their jive from guilty pleasures week and received 10s across the board. Muniz and his partner, Witney Carson, performed their pirate-themed Argentine tango from Disney week. They also received a score of 30. Fisher and Stirling performed their samba from Latin night, and they, too, earned 10s across the board.

With all the couples tied going into the final performances, fusions of two styles given to the competitors the night before. Sterling and Ballas performed a cha-cha-tango fusion and received a perfect score of 30. An emotional Sterling said the show “really made me relearn who I am in a really different way, and it’s been amazing.”

Muniz and Carson performed a foxtrot-tango fusion. Carrie Ann Inaba awarded the couple a 10, but Goodman and Tonioli found small faults in the performance and gave only 9s.

Fisher and Arnold performed a salsa-paso-doble fusion that was superfast and featured various gymnastic flips. The judges raved about the number, his talent and her skills as a choreographer, dancer and teacher and awarded the couple a score of 30.

The competitors’ final positions were revealed live onstage at the Grove, and Fisher and Arnold — and the Mirror Ball Trophy — were hoisted into the air as streamers shot everywhere and the crowd went wild. The three final couples and fourth-place finishers Drew Scott and Emma Slater will appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.

Also on the show, country star Kelsea Ballerini sang her latest hit, “Legends,” and season 25 competitor Nick Lachey sang a new ballad, “Someone to Dance With.” Stirling and Becky G performed their current holiday hit “ChristmasC’mon,” from Stirling’s album “Warmer in the Winter.” Fellow season 25 competitor Debbie Gibson sang the holiday favorite “Sleigh Ride,” and Jordan belted out Stevie Wonder‘s “What Christmas Means to Me.”

Fisher and Muniz will be headlining the upcoming “Dancing With the Stars: Light Up the Night” tour, which kicks off Dec. 30 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Dancing With the Stars” will return in the spring of 2018 with a special four-week all-athlete edition, featuring 10 athletes from across the sports world.

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All my life I have believed and lived by the three words featured in the important video listed below.



If you have never seen this before, WATCH IT! If you have seen it before, WATCH IT AGAIN!

Please view it and let me know what you think at

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Mark Ballas
DWTS 25 Magnesium SHOW SCORES MONDAY, SEPT. 18, 2017 :
* Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas: This spunky violinist definitely struck a chord with the judges, earning a score of 22/30 — tying with Fisher and Arnold for the highest score.
NEO NOTE: MARK BALLAS is the grandson of Maria Luisa Marulanda Ballas, who started as a dance teacher in my hometown, Laredo, Texas, around 1948. She danced flamenco alone, and did comedic pachuco dance with her sister, Cata Marulanda. Many years later, when I went to teach a modern jazz dance workshop at Rogelio Rodriguez’s studio in Houston, Maria Luisa had, in my honor, a terrific dinner party at her Houston mansion. Parked in the back garden of the house was a helicopter. Her husband owned DANCE CITY U.S.A., the largest ballroom dance school in the entire U.S ! Eventually his son Corky Ballas took over the dance usiness. Corky is Mark Ballas’ father.
Competing for the Mirrorball trophy this time around are:
• Paralympic swimmer Victoria Arlen with Val Chmerkovskiy
• WWE wrestler Nikki Bella with Artem Chigvintsev
• “Shark Tank” entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran with Keo Motsepe
• former NBA player Derek Fisher with Sharna Burgess
•Singer/actor Jordan Fisher with Lindsay Arnold
• ’80s singer Debbie Gibson with Alan Bersten
• Singer Nick Lachey with Peta Murgatroyd
• TV personality Vanessa Lachey with Maksim Chmerkovskiy
• Actor Frankie Muniz with Witney Carson
• former NFL player Terrell Owens with Cheryl Burke
• “Pretty Little Liars” star Sasha Pieterse with Gleb Savchenko
• “Property Brothers” star Drew Scott with Emma Slater
• violinist Lindsey Stirling with Mark Ballas.
According to Wikipedia:

Mark Alexander Ballas Jr. (born May 24, 1986) is an American dancer, choreographer, singer-songwriter, musician, and actor.

Ballas is a professional ballroom dancer on the ABC program Dancing with the Stars. He began competing on the show in the fall of 2007. He was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography in 2011. He is also a singer/songwriter/musician and released his first solo CDHurtLoveBox in March 2011.

Ballas was born in Houston, Texas, the son of dancers Corky Ballas andShirley Ballas(née Rich). His paternal grandparents were of Mexican,Spanish, and Greek background, and his mother is originally from the United Kingdom and is of English heritage.His paternal grandfather, George Ballas, was the inventor of the Weed Eaterlawn-trimming device.

Ballas is a member of singer-songwriter duo Alexander Jean[ along with his wife, BC Jean. The two became engaged in November 2015 after three years of dating, and were married on November 25, 2016 Malibu, California.

Ballas attended Rosemead Preparatory School in South London. At the age of 11, he earned a full-time slot at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, as well as earning a full scholarship. In 2005, he was awarded “Performer of the Year”. He then moved on to win championships at The British Open to the World, The US Open to the World, and The International Open to the World. With his former partnerJulianne Hough, he won the Junior Latin American Dance Championship and the gold medal at the Junior Olympics.

As an actor, Ballas played the lead role of Tony in the musical Copacabana and was the lead dancer in the UK national tour of the Spanish musical Maria de Buenos Aires. He was also theunderstudy for the role of Ritchie Valens in the UK national tour ofBuddy, The Buddy Holly Story. Ballas played an extra in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as part of the Hufflepuff House. In October 2008, Ballas made a guest appearance on the season premiere of Samantha Who.

On September 6, 2016, it was announced that Ballas would be the final actor to portray the role ofFrankie Valli in the Broadway cast ofJersey Boys before it closes in 2017.

NEO NOTE:  And now, Mark is back on American TV, for the duration of Dancing With the Stars  25, which airs on ABC-TV at  evening prime time on Monday and Tuesday.  ENJOY ! ! !
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AUGUST  2017
In the midst of all the terrible destruction in Texas, no thanks to Hurricane Harvey, I decided this month’s column should provide a personal attitude picker-upper, as a  light  break from all the storm disaster.
So first off, let;s watch a terrific video, where we will see a grand old lady, at age 92, do a terrific exhibition  ballroom dance that will make you forget the terrible weather storms, at least for a moment.  Her dance partner is her 29-year old grandson.
They certainly enjoyed themselves, so let’s us enjoy them now.  Click on the website listed  below:
 92 y.o. woman and her 29 y.o. grandson.  Guarantee to make you say WOW ! ! !




104 Year Old Rolls Royce
It was originally bought for $1,000 in 1912 (almost $93,000 in today’s money) but has now gone under the hammer for $4,705,500, making it the most expensive Rolls-Royce ever sold at auction. Unique:  This 104-year-old Silver Ghost Rolls Royce has sold for a world-record price of 5 million after a furious bidding war at Bonhams.



Through the roof: The lengthy auction saw two enthusiasts dueling for the pristine car as the bidding went up in increments of 100,000, smashing past the 2 million estimate.
In great nick: The six-cylinder, 7.3-litre car comes with perfect provenance and is still purring smoothly, doing about 15 miles to the gallon.
What it lacks in gadgetry, the British-made classic more than compensates for with an extraordinary level of luxury that leaves its modern-day counterparts looking a little unsophisticated.
Its gleaming interior fittings are made of silver and ivory, while the door panels are embroidered silk, with brocade tassels attached to silk window shades for privacy.
The sale took place at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex on Friday. Auctioneers had expected it to sell for around 2million and were astonished when the bidding between two rival collectors topped 4million. James Knight, from Bonhams auctioneers, said: ˜There were three bidders, then one of them dropped out at 2.3million and we thought it would end there.
Traveling in style: The design chosen by its original owner echoed the luxurious ‘ Pullman ‘ Railway carriages pioneered by American George Pullman.
Luxurious: The elegant passenger compartment (left) complete with 29 beveled glass windows and (right) the stylish steering wheel.
˜But then another bidder entered and the bidders were dueling. It went up in increments of 50,000, and then 100,000, and then back down to 50,000.
˜It went on and on and on and was the longest car sale I have ever witnessed. It was pure theatre. Everyone was very respectful but when the price reached a milestone, like 3million, there was an intake of breath.
˜The bidders were dueling and when the hammer came down there was spontaneous applause. ˜It was fitting because the car is celebrating her centenary.
The car was commissioned by Rolls Royce connoisseur John M. Stephens, who also bought the first Silver Ghost the luxury car-maker produced in 1906. The body was built by former royal carriage-maker Barker’s of Mayfair, which had previously built coaches for King George III and Queen Victoria.
Standing the test of time: The 7.3-litre, six-cylinder engine is still purring smoothly and is capable of doing around 15 miles to the gallon.
Mark of history: A plaque bearing the vehicle’s chassis number of 1907. 
Touch of class: The original owner employed the services of the best coach-making company, Barker and Co. Ltd, to do the bodywork.
Classic designs: One of the car’s brake lights. The Rolls- Royce still had its headlights, carriage lights, rear lights and inflatable tyres when it went up for sale.
The car even had an early speedometer – an important addition given that a 20 mph speed limit was introduced in 1912. Unlike most car enthusiasts of his time, Mr. Stephens, from Croydon, South London, asked the makers not to include a glass division window between the driver and the passengers as he wanted to drive it himself rather than rely on a chauffeur.
The car’s distinctive cream and green design echoed the luxury ˜Pullman Railway” carriages of the time, and it was known as a Double Pullman Limousine. But it was nicknamed ˜the Corgi Silver Ghost” in the 1960’s after the toy-maker based its Silver Ghost toy car on this model.

Mr. Stephens’s car is believed to be the only one of its kind to survive with its full interior and bodywork, as many Rolls Royce’s from the era were converted into ambulances during the First World War.


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JULY  2017
July 4, of course, is a most special day in American history, as we celebrate America’s Independence Day.
And this July was extra special, thanks to Mary Valdez, wife of Tony Valdez, leader of the Valdez Brothers Orchestra in Laredo, until they moved to California in 1964. Mary, a terrific email friend, sent me the info for today’s column. You’ll probably remember these faces below…great Americans who were also great actors in Hollywood.
The notes below are from whoever put the info in the web:
So what is Fourth of July
all about?
This fantastic group of heroes…
and each and every one of them…
they could by themselves have taken care of
any and all wars
of the last quarter of a Century,
and then some…

Sterling Hayden, US Marines and OSS. Smuggled guns into Yugoslavia and parachuted into Croatia.
James Stewart, US Army Air Corps. Bomber pilot who rose to the rank of General.
Paul Newman, US Navy Rear seat gunner/radioman, torpedo bombers of USS Bunker Hill.
Kirk Douglas, US Navy. Sub-chaser in the Pacific. Wounded in action and medically discharged.
Henry Fonda, US Navy. Destroyer USS Satterlee.
Tony Curtis, US Navy. Sub tender USS Proteus. In Tokyo Bay for the surrender of Japan.
Mickey Rooney, US Army under Patton. Bronze Star.
Tyrone Power, US Marines. Transport pilot in the Pacific Theater.
Charlton Heston, US Army Air Corps. Radio operator and aerial gunner on a B-25, Aleutians.
Gene Autry, US Army Air Corps. Crewman on transports that ferried supplies over “The Hump” in the China-Burma-India Theater.
Rock Hudson, US Navy. Aircraft mechanic, the Philippines.
Cark Gable, US Army Air Corps. B-17 gunner over Europe.
Cesar Romero, US Coast Guard. Coast Guard. Participated in the invasions of Tinian and Saipan on the assault transport USS Cavalier.
Robert Taylor, US Navy. Instructor Pilot.
Randolph Scott. Tried to enlist in the Marines but was rejected due to injuries sustained in US Army, World War 1.
Ronald Reagan. US Army. Was a 2nd Lt. in the Cavalry Reserves before the war. His poor eyesight kept him from being sent overseas with his unit
when war came so he transferred to the Army Air Corps Public Relations Unit where he served for the duration.
John Wayne. Declared “4F medically unfit” due to pre-existing injuries, he nonetheless attempted to volunteer three times (Army, Navy and Film Corps.
 So he gets honorable mention.
And of course we have Audie Murphy, America’s most-decorated soldier, who became a Hollywood star as a result of his US Army service that included his being awarded the Medal of Honor.

Would someone please remind me again how many of today’s Hollywood elite put their careers on hold to enlist in Iraq or Afghanistan? The only one

who even comes close was Pat Tillman, who turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the US Army after September 11, 2001, and serve as a Ranger in Afghanistan, where he died in 2004. But rather than being lauded for his choice and his decision to put his country before his career, he was mocked and derided by many of his peers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you that this is not the America today that it was seventy years ago. And I, for one, am saddened.
My generation grew up watching, being entertained by and laughing with so many of these fine people, never really knowing what they contributed to the war effort.
Like millions of Americans during the WWII, there was a job that needed doing they didn’t question, they went and did it, those that came home returned to their now new normal life and carried on, very few ever saying what they did or saw.

They took it as their “responsibility”, their “duty” to Country, to protect and preserve our freedoms and way of life, not just for themselves but for all future generations to come.

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JUNE 2017

When I was a student many years ago, I used to hear that to be prepared for show business you needed to be a triple-threat performer: you had to know how to sing, dance, and act.

Well, we know Jennifer Lopez, probably the world’s most talented Latina, is all those things. EXCEPT: Now she is also a full-fledged executive  producer. So, she has truly set a peak for young people to aim at.

Now, from the web,  enjoy the latest news on the Latina show biz marvel !



Jennifer Lopez Reaches For the is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The 30 Hottest Jennifer Lopez Photos


NBC’s new dance competition series “World of Dance” is led by a judging team of extraordinary dance superstars – Jennifer Lopez (who also serves as an executive producer), Derek Hough, NE-YO and host/mentor Jenna Dewan Tatum.

The 10-episode series from Universal Television Alternative Studio and Nuyorican Productions will give dancers the platform to showcase their talents and the opportunity to receive a life-altering grand prize of $1 million.

In partnership with preeminent global dance brand World of Dance, the series brings the world’s elite dancers together to compete in epic battles of artistry, precision and athleticism. Solo dancers will compete against duos and crews in an unlimited range of dance, including hip-hop, popping, locking, tap, ballet, break dancing, ballroom, stomping and more.

Handpicked from qualifying events around the nation and thousands of online submissions, competitors are divided into three divisions: Junior (any size act, 17 years old and under), Upper (groups of 1-4, 18 and older) and Team (groups of 5+, 18 and older). Our panel of experts scores the acts using a precise point system developed by World of Dance, using the following criteria: Performance, Technique, Choreography, Creativity and Presentation. The competition consists of five rounds: Qualifiers, Duels, The Cut, Divisional Finals and the Grand Final. In the first four rounds, dancers only compete within their division, but in the Grand Final the winner from each division will compete against each other for the grand prize.

World of Dance is among the most trusted and fastest growing dance and music entertainment brands, combining a successful digital platform of more than eight million subscribers with the world’s largest international urban dance competition. What began in 2008 as a single event is now a continent-spanning, tour de force of human spirit and sick dance moves. The World of Dance Tour attracts YouTube stars, industry icons and tens of thousands of fans to events in more than 25 countries, spanning the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. The inspiring performance videos captured from these events drive 30 million monthly views online, making World of Dance the largest dance entertainment channel on YouTube. No language barriers. No animosity. Just pure, awe-inspiring movement.

Jennifer Lopez, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Benny Medina will executive produce for Nuyorican Productions. Also executive producing are Kris Curry, Matilda Zoltowski, David Gonzalez, Matthew Everitt and Al Hassas. The series is produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio in association with Nuyorican Productions and World of Dance.


Jennifer Lopez is an American actress, singer, dancer, producer and fashion designer. Jennifer Lopez became the first Latina to get $1 million for a movie role. She is also an accomplished musician. She is one of the most successful ladies in Hollywood. Her music career has also been on the top level. Her most notable film roles are Selena, Out of Sight, Anaconda, Maid in Manhattan, Shall We Dance, Money Train, and Parker. Jennifer Lopez is the most influential Hispanic performer in the United States of America. Waiting for Tonight, Dance on the Floor and Ole Ole are few of her hit songs.

Jennifer Lopez was born on July 24 1969. She was brought up inBronx. Her parents are Guadalupe Rodriguez and David Lopez. They were relatively poor during her childhood. At the age of 5, Jennifer Lopez started music classes. She has an elder sister named Leslie. Jennifer Lopez also has a younger sister named Lynda Lopez. Lynda Lopez is a Journalist. While still in high school Jennifer Lopez was cast in My Little Girl. After that, she decided to become a famous movie star. She was a dancer in the series In Living Color. In 1993 Jennifer Lopez decided to become a full-time actress. She starred alongside Wesley Snipes andWoody Harrelson in the Money Train. In 1997 she starred in Selena. This became her breakthrough roles into Hollywood stardom. After that she starred in the blockbusterAnaconda. In 1999 Jennifer Lopez topped the Billboard Hot 100 with her debut album On the 6. After the success of her following album J.Lo, she became one of the hottest pop stars in the world. She is currently the highest paid Latin entertainer in the United States. She recorded the official FIFA World Cup 2014 song with Pitbull and Claudia Leitte.

Jennifer LopezJennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez became a sex symbol during her rise to fame. She has always been listed amongst the sexiest women in the world. She married a waiter Ojani Noa in 1997. They divorced a year later. Jennifer Lopez then married Chris Judd in 2001. The married lasted only two years. She later married Marc Anthony in 2014. Lopez gave birth to twins Emme and Maximilian in 2008. The couple divorced in 2014. Jennifer Lopez also had a high-profile relationship with actor Ben Affleck after her Second marriage. Her net worth currently is around $400 million.

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Cher, 2017 Billboard Music Awards

MAY 2017
When Cher performed in May for the Billboard Music Awards and received in Icon trophy for her incredible history of performing terrific music, I shared her print foto with friends by email.
When Raul Flores answered, I was shocked to find out–Cher performed in Laredo on  Nov. 23 during her 2002 national tour back then. Raul was my 9th grade student at Christen in Laredo in 1957-58, btw. Raul saw Cher perform in Laredo at the Laredo Entertainment Center with almost 12,000 seats, and there was no empty seat in the house during that show. Cher did a total of 275 shows in the U.S. that year with a total gross of $1l88 million. Her total U.S. tour attendance was  just short of 3 million spectators, altogether.
Raul, who was about 60 when he saw the Cher show, doesn’t remember how much he paid for the tickets to see Cher in Laredo.
Raul writes: It was an incredible show! Like a Vegas Show. I remember her saying that this ONE show would PROVE once for all who was, and still is, THE. REAL DIVA!! And I think she did just that…and more.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, tells us re: Cher and her legacy and influence:

Wax figure of Cher wearing an outfit similar to the one she wore at the 60th Academy Awards in 1988

According to Goldmine magazine’s Phill Marder, Cher “has been and remains today one of the Rock Era’s most dominant figures”. He described her as the leader of an effort in the 1960s to “advance feminine rebellion in the rock world [and] the prototype of the female rock star, setting the standard for appearance, from her early hippie days to her later outlandish outfits, and her attitude—the perfect female punk long before punk even was a rock term.” Cher’s unconventional outfits and dominant attitude over her partner Sonny Bono have influenced the presence of women in rock music, inspiring contemporary singers such as Marianne Faithfull and Nancy Sinatra. According to Jeff Miers from The Buffalo News, “Her music has changed with the times over the decades, rather than changing those times through groundbreaking work”; however, he felt that subsequent female singers such as Cyndi Lauper, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, and Madonna, whom he calls “her generation’s Cher”, were heavily inspired by Cher’s abilities to combine “showmanship with deep musicality … to make valid statements in a wide variety of trend-driven idioms … to ease effortlessly between pop subgenres [and] to shock without alienating her fans”, as well as by her charismatic stage presence and the strong LGBT support among her fan base.Billboard’s Keith Caulfield wrote that “There’s divas, and then there’s Cher.” She is commonly referred to by the media as the “Goddess of Pop.”

Cher has repeatedly reinvented herself through various personas, for which Professor Richard Aquila from Ball State University called her “the ultimate pop chameleon”. The New York Times declared Cher as the “Queen of the Comeback”.] According to author Lucy O’Brien, “Cher adheres to the American Dream of reinvention of self: ‘Getting old does not have to mean getting obsolete.'” Author Craig Crawford, in his book The Politics of Life: 25 Rules for Survival in a Brutal and Manipulative World (2007), describes Cher as “a model of flexible career management”, and relates her career successes to a constant reshaping of her image according to the evolving trends of popular culture. He further explains that she billed “each dramatic turnaround of style as another example of rebellion—an image that allowed her to make calculated changes while appearing to be consistent.”

Author Grant McCracken stated, “The term ‘reinvention’ is now often used to talk about the careers of American celebrities. But in Cher’s case, it is particularly apt [because she] is inclined to lock on to each new fashion wave [and] is swept violently down the diffusion stream and out of fashion. Only substantial re-creation permits her to return to stardom.” Her “integrity” and “perseverance” are highlighted in the Reaching Your Goals book series of illustrated inspirational stories for children, in which her life is detailed emphasizing the importance of self-actualization: “For years, Cher worked hard to become a successful singer. Then she worked hard to become an actress. Even when she needed money, she turned down movie roles that weren’t right for her. Her goal has always been to be a good actress, not just a rich and famous one.

“Cher’s “ability to forge an immensely successful and lengthy career as a woman in a male-dominated entertainment world” has drawn attention from feminist critics. According to author Diane Negra, Cher was presented in the beginning of her career as a product of male creativity;] Cher remembers, “It was a time when girl singers were patted on the head for being good and told not to think”.However, her image eventually changed due to her “refusal of dependence on a man and the determination not only to forge a career (as an actor) on her own terms but to refuse the conventional role assigned to women over forty years old in an industry that fetishises youth”, wrote author Yvonne Tasker. 

She was featured in the 16th-anniversary edition of Ms. magazine as an “authentic feminist hero” and a 1980s role model for women: “Cher, the straightforward, tattooed, dyslexic single mother, the first Oscar winner to have entered into matrimony with a known heroin addict and to have admitted to being a fashion victim by choice, has finally landed in an era that’s not afraid to applaud real women.” Her 1988 Oscar win signaled an important change in Hollywood, according to Berman, as Cher appeared in a negligee outfit, danced onstage and was applauded for her daring. Stephanie Brush from The New York Times wrote that Cher “performs the function for women moviegoers that Jack Nicholson has always fulfilled for men. Free of the burden of ever having been America’s sweetheart, she is the one who represents us [women] in our revenge fantasies, telling all the fatheads … exactly where they can go. You need to be more than beautiful to get away with this. You need to have been Cher for 40 years.”

The reverence the show community holds for Cher has been attributed to the accomplishments in her career, her sense of style and her longevity. Alec Mapa of The Advocate elaborates: “While the rest of us were sleeping, Cher’s been out there for the last four decades living out every single one of our childhood fantasies … Cher embodies an unapologetic freedom and fearlessness that some of us can only aspire to.” Rolling Stone‘s Jancee Dunn wrote, “Cher is the coolest woman who ever stood in shoes. Why? Because her motto is, ‘I don’t give a crap what you think, I’m going to wear this multicolored wig.’ There are folks all over America who would, in their heart of hearts, love to date people half their age, get multiple tattoos and wear feathered headdresses. Cher does it for us.” Alexander Fury ofThe Independent wrote that Cher “represents a seemingly immortal, omnipotent, uni-monikered level of fame.” Bego stated: “No one in the history of show business has had a career of the magnitude and scope of Cher’s. She has been a teenage pop star, a television hostess, a fashion magazine model, a rock star, a pop singer, a Broadway actress, an Academy Award-winning movie star, a disco sensation, and the subject of a mountain of press coverage.”

Achievements and recognition

Throughout her solo career, Cher has sold 100 million records worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling music artists of all time.She is the only artist to date to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in each decade from the 1960s to the 2010s. She has held U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles over the longest period of time in history: 33 years, seven months and three weeks between “I Got You Babe”, which topped the chart for the first time in August 14, 1965, and “Believe”, whose last week at number one was April 3, 1999. With “Believe”, she became the oldest female artist to have a U.S. number-one song in the rock era, at the age of 52. Billboard ranked her at number 43 on their “Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time” list. In 2014, the magazine listed her as the 23rd highest-grossing touring act since 1990, with total earned revenue of $351.6 million and 4.5 million attendance at her shows.

In 2003, Cher appeared at number 41 on VH1’s list of “The 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons”, which recognizes “the folks that have significantly inspired and impacted American society”. She was ranked 31st on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Women in Music”, based on the period 1992–2012. Esquire magazine placed her at number 44 on their list of “The 75 Greatest Women of All Time”]In a 2001 poll, Biography magazine ranked her as their third favorite leading actress of all time, behind Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn. She was featured on the “100 Greatest Movie Stars of our Time” list compiled by People.] She is one of the few artists to win three of the four major American entertainment awards (EGOT—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony)] and one of five actor-singers to have had a U.S. number-one single and won an acting Academy Award.

NEO NOTE:  And that is who Laredo saw sing  in 2002.

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APRIL  2017
Laredo’s gift to Hollywood, Julia Vera now of Los Angeles, had to travel to Vancouver, Canada, for her latest acting job. It’s in a new CBS-TV series titled ZOO.
    We learn about ZOO from  Lesley Goldberg, who explains:

Zoo is a global thriller about a wave of violent animal attacks against humans across the planet. As the assaults become more cunning, coordinated and ferocious, a young renegade biologist is thrust into the race to unlock the pandemic’s mystery before there’s no place left for people to hide.

Patterson’s novel was published in September 2012 by Little Brown and Co., and was a No. 1 New York Timesbest-seller. The book has been translated into six languages and has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.

The deal comes after Pinkner, Appelbaum, Nemec and Rosenberg’s Midnight Radio banner (Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol, The Amazing Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) recently inked a first-look deal with CBS TV Studios. Mangold and Konrad’s Tree Line Films banner is also based at the studio.

Zoo was first put in development in October, with the network giving a production commitment to the drama. Konrad acquired the rights to the book shortly after it was published for a feature film and later approached Patterson about adapting the property as a TV series.

NEO NOTE:  But let’s hear now from Julia Vera, about her  trip to Canada to fulfill her role in an upcoming episode of the new ZOO tv series on CBS.  She writes:

Dear Neo.

Vancouver was beautiful. I was up there shooting ZOO, a CBS series. Flew out on March 17 and a car was waiting for me to take me to wardrobe . After wardrobe an assistant took me to sign my contract. I was taken to a hanger-like building to be taught how to shoot an M-16 and a AK-47. I asked the trainer to please take me step by step beginning with the bullets.

He showed me how to hold the guns and how to shoot them . They are real guns they just shoot blanks . So they are heavy. The AK-47 is heavier . All that took about 4 hours.

I was driven to my hotel . It was wonderful. Because of my being a member of the Actors Guild they have to put me up in a 4 Star Hotel . Also we union actors have to fly First Class . Lovely truly lovely.

I had the weekend to go around and explore. Monday I was picked up from the Hotel at 5:30 AM. to be on the set at 6:30AM. The day was beautiful with lots of sunshine and a nice breeze . We worked from sun up to sun down when we couldn’t see anymore.

Tuesday was totally different when it came to the weather. Cold, raining and the wind made it worse. We started shooting almost right away. Again from sun up to sun down. This is when I had to do lots of running and shooting. Over and over. 

I was afraid that my 76 years old body was going to let me down . I was wet all over because of the rain. My boots were soaking wet . I could not feel my feet anymore. But I kept going . In the scene my M-16 jams. So I have to run to where one of my sons has been killed . I run over to pick up the AK-47 and continue shooting at the bad guys . Of course, we did the scene over and over. 

Neo, I thank God all the time for giving me this blessings of acting . It is the most wonderful thing I have ever done. Its very fulfilling . It keeps me young and healthy cause one has to be in good shape to do all that action .

The main actors James Wolk, he is as nice as he is handsome. Sweetest guy. Hillary Jardine sweet lady and beautiful .The director was Michael Ketleman, he is also the executive producer of ZOO. and  he kept moving the shoot alone . He had a big responsibility to finish the scene before we had to leave and before the sun was no longer out . It was exciting and also very stressful .

The next day I left Vancouver for home . Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the people are so friendly . 

Got back in one piece .

Now I am waiting to hear about a new film that will shoot in Oklahoma .

Julia Vera Andrews
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MARCH 2017
I first met Brian Notzon when he was my student in my 9th grade English class in 1957 at Christen Jr. High School in Laredo, Texas, where I started my public school teaching career. And now we keep in touch because of the magic of  e-mail. Brian is a regular world traveler, and his latest escapade took him to beautiful Martinique, an experience he shares with us now:
 Martinique was very enjoyable to visit. It’s a relatively safe place, and with very good food. I was surprised that many people there speak very little English. Considering that so many Americans visit the Caribbean, the tourism mainstays for the island appear to be France and Quebec. The island is fertile and green, and there’s many birds. Mt. Pelee’s (no connection with Hawaii’s Pelee — in Martinique the word comes from the French word for “peeled”) last big eruption was in 1902, when about 28,000 people were killed, and the island has earthquakes.
One sees evidence of the island’s violent past in the rocks and broken cliff faces. It’s still the dry season there, so showers were generally brief, although we did have one day with more rain than sunshine. The last two days were very hot and humid, although evenings were pleasant. People drink lots of rum (which they spell rhum), and it’s common to be served fruit punch lightly spiked with rhum. Another note on languages: A Creole dialect is commonly spoken, and locals seem equally fluent in French and Creole.
Pay and prices in Martinique are relatively high, and the locals maintain European standards of living. Martinique considers itself a part of France, rather than simply one of the French Overseas Territories. There’s a degree of competition with Guadaloupe. The Elderhostel (d.b.a. Road Scholar) programs did well this season, and next season Elderhostel will be doubling the number of offered trips to 14. I don’t know if airfare between the U.S. and Martiniques will be included in the price of these tours next year. Norwegian Air’s low airfares allowed Elderhostel to offer the tours this season at an attractive price, although participants still had to pay for transportation to New York (or Boston, or Newark, depending on program timing).




 NEO NOTE: Now Brian tells us about his beginnings, when he lived in Laredo and after:
My first 8 years of schooling in Laredo, Texas, were at St. Peter’s Parochial School. I was at L.J. Christen from fall 1957 thru spring 1958, and then went on to Martin High School, graduating in 1961. I think that it was probably the fall 1957 semester that I was in Dr. Neo’s English class, but I can’t be certain that it wasn’t the spring 1958 semester. But it seems that it was only one semester, and I can’t remember who my English teacher was for the other semester. Dr. Neo was an excellent teacher, and he was one of the teachers who I considered myself fortunate to have had.


After graduating from MHS, I interspersed working and attending classes at Laredo Jr. College. I left Laredo just short of having two full years of college credits. I worked at Falcon Dam, in the power plant, for 7 1/2 months, and then because of the remoteness of Falcon Dam, left the area to work in Shreveport, Louisiana, to take a job with a company there, working first in their print shop, and then in an accounting department. After a little more than a year of working there, and taking college classes at night, I enlisted in the Marine Corps, with the intent of finishing college on the G.I. Bill.


In the USMC, after finishing boot camp in San Diego and infantry training in Camp Pendleton, I was sent to 43 weeks of electronics training in San Diego, and Twentynine Palms, CA. My first duty station was the Marine Air Station at Cherry Point, NC, but I was there for only a few months before the equipment I was working on was moved out. I was then sent back to Camp Pendleton for advanced infantry training, and from there to Vietnam, where I again worked on the equipment I had been trained on. In Vietnam, I was stationed on Monkey Mountain, near Da Nang. At the end of my 13 month tour in Vietnam, I had just a little over two months to go in my 3-year enlistment, and I accepted the option of an early discharge.


I finished work on a Bachelor’s Degree at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA, getting a B.S. in 1971, with a major in economics, with the stress on international economics. Using the G.I. Bill, I was able to obtain an M.S. in economics at Texas A&M in 1973.
I had the chance to take a job in the economics field in Boston, but the pay offered would have been difficult to live on. I was offered a better paying job in Long Beach and Torrance, CA doing quality assurance work for the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and accepted that one. Eventually, I moved into contracts and pricing work. I took some additional job tests, and was hired at NAVAIR HQ offices in Arlington, VA, where I was a management intern for one year, and then worked in government contracting for two years, in nonnmanagement jobs.


I left the government for a year, and did additional college work, before working again for the government at the Air Force Plant Representative Office at the Boeing Company in Seattle, where I did pricing and negotiation work. That office transitioned from the Air Force to the Defense Contract Management Agency.
I’m now retired from the civil service.


Living in the Pacific Northwest has provided opportunities for mountain climbing, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing, amongst other sports, including kayaking and canoeing.

In 1983, I survived crush injuries from a tree, which I found out later that I wasn’t expected to survive, and I’ve also survived cancer and a heart attack. So, by the grace of God, I’m still here, and was able to give you that Martinique travel report.

Martinique (French pronunciation: [maʁ.tinik]) is an insular region of France located in theLesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 385,551 inhabitants as of January 2013. LikeGuadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, southeast ofPuerto Rico, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica.

As with the other overseas departments, Martinique is one of the eighteen regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the République française(French Republic). As part of France, Martinique iand virtually the entire population also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais).[4]s part of the European Union, and its currency is the euro. The official language is French,

Part of the archipelago of the Antilles, Martinique is located in the Caribbean Seaabout 450 km (280 mi) northeast of the coast of South America and about 700 km (435 mi) southeast of the Dominican Republic. It is directly north of St. Lucia, northwest of Barbados, southeast of both are Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic and south of Dominica.

The total area of Martinique is 1,100 square kilometres (420 sq mi), of which 40 square kilometres (15 sq mi) is water and the rest land. Martinique is the 3rd largest island in The Lesser Antilles after Trinidad and Guadeloupe. It stretches 70 km (43 mi) in length and 30 km (19 mi) in width. The highest point is the volcano of Mont Pelée at 1,397 metres (4,583 ft) above sea level.

The island is volcanic in origin, lying along the subduction fault where the South American Plate slides beneath the Caribbean Plate.[ Martinique has eight different centers of volcanic activity. The oldest rocks are andesitic lavas dated to about 24 million years ago, mixed with tholeiitic magma containing iron andmagnesium. Mont Pelée, the island’s most dramatic feature, formed about 400,000 years ago.[ Pelée erupted in 1792, 1851, and twice in 1902.[8] The eruption of 8 May 1902, destroyed Saint-Pierre and killed 28,000 people in 2 minutes; that of 30 August 1902 caused nearly 1,100 deaths, mostly in Morne-Red and Ajoupa-Bouillon.

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