Thursday, July 27, 2017

Monthly Archives: February 2017

Two Weeks in the Berkshires
by Allegreta Behar Blau

Few people on the West Coast have  heard of the Berkshire Mountains much less Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow.   Nestled in the Berkshires are  the communities of Pittsfield, Great Barringon, Lenox, Lee, North Adams, Becket, Williamstown  and more that  are all homes to the arts.   These towns of Massachusetts are close to each other and are resplendent with art museums, galleries, music halls, dance, theater, libraries, and magnificent old mansions.

Our home away from home is a condo in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.   Location is good as it is smack in the middle on the map of places we want to go; Lee, Lenox and Great Barrington to the South and North Adams, Becket  and Williamstown to the North.  Each place is less than an hour away.  The view from our condo is green, green and more green but not especially pretty.  A lot of flat trees.  Our place is very comfortable and attractive which is a good thing because due to the horrific humidity and heat (hello, East Coast in the Summer) when we are not sightseeing, we spend a good amount of  time indoors, reading and resting in powerful air conditioning.

Tanglewood  One

Tanglewood, in the town of Lenox,  is sort of like the Hollywood Bowl but not really.  The campus consists of a gigantic shed called The Shed which houses 5,000 people, and a few smaller auditoriums on a gigantic lawn.  Unlike the Hollywood Bowl which is completely outdoors,  The Shed has a roof, a stage,  and a floor, and the sides are open.  The seats are all benches.  But like the Hollywood Bowl, the stage is very very large .  It is the Summer home of the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pop Orchestras.  One must get tickets months in advance as this is the number one attraction in the Mountains.

Our first adventure  was on a Saturday night  just one day after leaving Los Angeles.  The program featured the Boston Pops with John Williams conducting music from Star Wars and other epics for which  he wrote scores.  This “movie night” draws a packed house and the lawn holds 18,000 people!  (Parking is a wonder  — suffice to say it is well handled by a large parking staff giving speedy directions — it is self-parking.)

We were told to get there early –evidently even though we had tickets there is a long line to get in.  We gave ourselves about three  hours to get there and to enjoy lawn seating before we went into The Shed for the concert.    Way too much time!  And it was very hot and humid.  Very.  Lawn seating is very desirable as it is far less expensive than inside seating plus there are large screens dropped down the exterior of The Shed so one can view the concert while drinking a glass of champagne (or water) and relaxing on a lawn chair.  But there is no protection from the elements, which we found out shortly after the concert began.  We were really happy we had indoor seating.

People come with all the props necessary for comfort — wagons full of chairs, umbrellas, sweaters, rain gear! food and drink.   We found a spot on the lawn and looked around.   The couple behind us had a lobster dinner, complete with small table, tablecloth, flowers in a small vase, wine and some kind of cool desert.  I’m thinking baked Alaska.   We graciously (and gratefully)  accepted the glass of wine we were offered.   We were meagerly prepared, munching on our lowly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drinking bottled water and sitting on a spread out raincoat.

After way too much time laying on said plastic raincoat in sweltering heat,  we entered The Shed  — the concert began promptly at 8:00 pm.  About 45 minutes later the rains came.  Or should I say teemed.  The thunderstorm seemingly was not unexpected, except by us.  The thunder and lightning was very loud, bright  and exciting.   John Williams stopped the concert and invited all those who could take shelter from the lawn into The Shed.  We talked to many people; they all seemed intrigued by the fact that we came across the whole country to visit Tanglewood.   After about 45 minutes the rain subsided and the concert resumed.  John Williams and the musicians had a 45 minute rest and when they returned to play, it was truly magical.
We easily exited, jumping over puddles and go to our car and out onto the road with the guidance of the parking attendants.

Tanglewood Two — an Entirely Different Experience

We had tickets for the following Friday night.    The first Tanglewood night was the Boston Pops; the second was the Boston Symphony.  While a very large number of people attended, it was nothing like the 24,000 plus (including the lawn people) of the previous Saturday night.
A few days previously, we discovered a lovely synagogue nestled in the woods surrounding Lenox.  We went in to inquire about Friday night services.  The lady in charge told us that on the next Friday night, the synagogue was to hold Friday night services on the Tanglewood lawn.  They do this only once or twice a year.  I told her  this was perfect as we had tickets for the concert that started at 8:00 pm; she said services were at 6:30.

We decided to have a nice dinner in Lenox before we went to Tanglewood and not have to deal with bringing a picnic.  Upon our arrival at Tanglewood we searched high and low and could not find the synagogue group.  It is a humongous lawn!  Acres and acres.  We asked a couple if they knew where the services were to be held; they told us and actually walked us to the spot under a huge tree.   Then this couple told us of a jazz concert being held the next night, Saturday night, at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home, on its terrace.  You can buy food and sit on porch rocking chairs or on the vast lawn and listen to the music.  We decided this was something we wanted to do.

Under the tree, we encountered a group of congregants whose very young  Rabbi was leading Sabbath services.  About a hundred men, women and children stood under a very large tree in the rear of the garden, chanted, sang  and afterwards — naturally! — ate.  The very large Oneg Shabbat (Friday night dessert) was on a very long table in the middle of the lawn.  Yards and yards of sweets and wine.  We chatted it up with the people who were very welcoming.

The concert was wonderful.     Part of the concert was excerpts from an opera.  At this time 160 men and women marched in to become the choir.  Also on stage was about 100 musicians.  Later,  a very special treat was seeing and listening to two piano solos by Menahem Pressler.  Mr.  Pressler is 92(!) years old and is the head of the music department at Indiana University of Jacobs School of Music.  He walked onto the stage with help, but once he started to play the very grand piano he became youthful and very alive.  His performances were spirited and emotional.  You could see how much he loved the music and the piano. Another great musical experience.  We left feeling very rewarded and — no rain.

Next — Architecture and Literature — two visits to The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts a home designed and occupied by Edith Wharton in the early 1900s.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to end on February 14!

Today is your opportunity to enter a contest for the exclusive chance to win a free lover’s getaway dinner at LA’s premier Caribbean destination, The Brownstone Bistro, on Saturday February 18!

The Brownstone Bistro and Savîle Premium Rumtini have partnered to offer couples across Los Angeles an exclusive opportunity to celebrate Love over an unforgettable evening of amazing food, tropical drinks and island vibe.

The Brownstone Bistro is an upscale dining experience where culture meets cuisine. Overseen by the celebrated international chef, Clive Jackson, the restaurant features an electric and savory blend of California Fusion Cuisine. Chef Jackson was employed by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as a Chef dePartie and advanced to Executive Chef where he learned a wide range of international cuisines to include: French, Italian, Tex-Mex, American Steakhouse, Asian American Caribbean, and Mediterranean, to name a few

His inimitable style, global philosophy, and love for Caribbean culture is infused in every dish he prepares – a Calyspo Shrimp Linguine that sizzles with Creole spices, a Mango Glazed Chicken Breast topped with Chef Jackson’s signature Jerk sauce, and many more creations!

Included in the dinner to quench the couple’s palates is Savîle Premium Rumtini. A Caribbean-inspired rum cocktail, Savile is infused with tropical flavors that offer a new experience with every sip.

Savîle Rumtini is a beverage unlike anything you have ever tasted before. Exotic, colorful, with rich citrus flavors and deep dark India rum at its core, this is the refreshing exotic ready-to-serve drink you have been waiting for.

Dee Tutt, a former professional hairstylist, whose creative side took a unique turn when she discovered a talent for mixing cocktails, crafted Savîle.  Inspired by drinks she enjoyed while traveling to her favorite islands in the Caribbean and the Bahamas, she created a unique Caribbean style punch for a gathering of close friends and family. Little did she know how popular her kitchen creation – perfected over 30 years – would one day become! Savîle Premium Rumtini, became a local phenomenon, and she was encouraged to manufacture it for mass production for all to enjoy.







By Hermine Hilton

America’s Memory Motivator’


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

 These words of love from the poet, Elizabeth Barrett, to her future husband, the poet, Robert Browning, have been immortalized thru the ages. Now, although it would be nice if we all could have our Lizzys and Bobs to be our Valentines, in most cases that would be a stretch. However, all is surely not lost if we could learn to love ourselves a little (and then a little more). If you can do this, then you, dear heart, can Be Your OWN Valentine.

To Start With:

Appreciate the rhythm of life……the ups as well as the downs.

Just think. If you didn’t have any lows you couldn’t know and experience the thrill of the highs. And if your physical or mental instrument needs reviving, enjoy the many ways you can find to fine-tune it. Don’t be apathetic and expect others to be sympathetic. They may not be on the same wavelength. Give yourself your own makeover. Don’t wait for the Oprahs. She’s on another network now.

Be your own best friend……and then take a minute now and then to listen- really listen, to what you tell yourself. Listen to the statements- about you, your body, your health, your abilities- that you make about yourself in your head. Then compare that to what you would expect- or hope- a good friend would say to you. You’d want that friend to be honest, sure, but you’d also like support and encouragement. You wouldn’t want him or her to say things like “You’ll never lose those 10 pounds” or “That dream of yours is in La La Land.” You want a friend who will believe in you, share excitement about your ideas, and nudge you toward your goals. Indeed, when you’re trying to change not-so-healthy behaviors while reaching toward the stars, a friend can lend you just the support and motivation you need. So try keeping tabs on your own self-talk. When you hear yourself being unsupportive, try substituting the words of a good friend. Imagine how well you’d do if you could carry that kind of friend with you in your head.

Control your reactions…… Know that you like yourself and don’t let anyone else push your buttons. If others do or say something insensitive or mean- you have no control over that. But you do have control over how you react. And reacting negatively to what others say can affect your sense of wellness. The best way to gain control over your reactions and stop wasting emotional energy on such negativity is to know yourself. Take an honest look at your strengths and your weaknesses. Then you can reflect on negative input from others in an objective way. You can decide that either the other person has a point – that they have, indeed, hit upon an area that you need to work on- or that they’re just trying to get a reaction out of you- in which case you can refuse to play the game.

We all have our sensitive subjects and there are people who, for one reason or another, feel the need to push our buttons. In many cases you may not be the only one they’re doing a number on but perhaps you’re the only one dancing to it. Don’t get sucked in. Before automatically reacting, think. Are they right? Then work on fixing it. If not, perhaps they need some fixing. Most people who lean toward putting others down don’t like themselves. And if they don’t like themselves, they have a difficult time liking anyone else. But that’s not your problem. You can’t change them. What you can do is change your reaction. You may be surprised at how much more energy you have to spend on productive thoughts.


Get to know yourself well. Know what you like and change what you don’t.

Overall, stay away from people I’d label ‘socially impotent’ who only have brain space for thinking of themselves. They neither acknowledge, recognize nor understand the word, empathy. Can’t even spell it.

And, by the way, try recycling your memories…tossing out the losers and bringing the winners back around from time to time. Recalling great moments can recreate a most positive aura in your thinking, and it always pays to accent the positives.

I promise you, if you can learn to be your own best friend,

you’ll have a Valentine for life.


Now….    “How do you love thee?   I’ll let you count the ways.”



The Lady On The Mountain 


[International Speaker and Author of “50 Ways To A better Memory”,

 “The Executive Memory Guide”, & “Fuhhgeddaboutit!” (How To Stop Worrying About Your Memory), Hermine’s column ‘ABOUT YOUR MEMORY’ appears monthly, online, in the Malibu Chronicle. You may have heard her on Radio or seen her on Television with David Letterman; Charlie Rose; Matt Lauer; Bryant Gumbel; or a host of others. She is the creator of Sonik Memory and the memory motivator for the Fortune 500 Companies from Nordstrom to NASA.]

The MAXIM Super Bowl Party 2017 presented by Thomas J. Henry produced by Karma International at the Smart Financial Centre in Sugarland, Texas.  February 4, 2017.

DJ Khaled kept the party going





Fergie was all smiles


Joe Jonas rocked the house


DNCE were authentically and genuinely hip (as always!)



Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett showed their love for each other


Travis Scott put on an amazing performance

Ludacris sported a chic leather jacket









Link to hi-res images: Getty Images

Maxim Super Bowl Party – Red Carpet

Maxim Super Bowl Party – Inside 

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