Monday, July 25, 2016

Gravity Falls

“Things around here are suspicious
Who can we put our trust in?”
         “Gravity Falls,” Brad Breeck

The Disney series Gravity Falls first aired in 2012. It follows the adventures of twin 12 year-olds Dipper and Mabel Pines while on summer vacation in Gravity Falls, Oregon, a place containing supernatural creatures and undergoing paranormal occurrences.  At a Premier Performance summer recital Saturday grandson James played “Gravity Falls” on piano.  Sister Rebecca sang “Once Upon a December” from the animated film” Anastasia,” based on the young Romanov princess who allegedly escaped when Bolsheviks killed the Russian royal family.  One verse goes:
Far away, long ago,
Glowing dim as an ember,
Things my heart used to know,
Things it yearns to remember
I didn’t get the references to many songs on the program, including “Les Poissons” from “Little Mermaid,” sung by Theresa Collins as she, I learned later, was pretending to be a chef preparing a seafood dinner.  Similarly “Poor Unfortunate Souls” was about a witch turning mermaid Ariel into a human.  Kayla Szymanski sang “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from a Disney version of “Hercules” – a movie I’d never heard of.  More to my liking was Elton John’s “Your Song,” sung by Aliza Tannish.  I could have guessed – it was featured in “Gnomeo and Juliet.”

At Abuelo’s in Merrillville I pigged out on chips and salsa and then ordered a delicious steak salad, seasoned to perfection.  Bridge hosts Brian and Connie Barnes gave us special directions to their Crown Point home because construction of a roundabout was blocking the usual route.  Two Stellas brightened up a string of bad hands.  I finished the night in the middle of the pack.
 Heidi Zima with photo of Nicholas and Frances Scherer; below, Rose Marie Schafer; photos by Nancy Webster

Post-Tribune correspondent Nancy Coltun Webster’s article about Schererville’s 150th anniversary featured quotes by historical society officer Heidi Zima, geologist Ken Schoon, and Rose Marie Schafer, the wife of Schererville founder Nicholas Scherer’s great-grandson.  Settling along the ancient Glenwood glacial shoreline, German-born Nicholas Scherer, according to Schoon, was a ditch digger, railroad bed builder, sand miner, real estate developer, farmer, an postmaster.  It was common practice then for new communities to be named for postmasters.

Clara Bingham’s “Witness to the Revolution” contains a description by Griel Marcus of Jimi Hendrix’s blistering, feedback-drenched “Star-Spangled Banner” guitar solo to close the 1969 Woodstock Festival.  Marcus told Bingham:
  It was taken as an attack on the United States for its crimes in Vietnam, which is not an unreasonable way to hear it, but it’s also a great piece of music.  No art that has its own interpretation is ever going to be about one thing or be one thing.
Woodstock immediately became an iconic event, and attendees had instant bragging rights.  In the fall of 1969 newspaper reporter Paul Turk visited me at the University of Maryland, and we attended a party where a coed wearing a mini shirt and open vest with nothing on underneath was telling about her experiences at Woodstock.  Eyes slightly bulging, Paul was impressed.

In “Speedboat” Renata Adler wrote, many women’s college staff members, followers of Father Divine, took new names: “ A maid called Serious Heartbreak married a janitor called Universal Dictionary.”  Two acquaintances used annoying clichés.  One when drunk often said, “How too like life.” For emphasis the other would say “As sure as God made little green apples.”
above, Michael Glorioso by Tony V. Martin; below, cast of Grease

For the Valparaiso Memorial Opera House production of “Grease,” directed by Michael Glorioso, cast members were high school or college students except for Principal Miss Lynch  (Heather Chaddock) and lecherous deejay Vince Fontaine (Doug DeLaughter).  The musical had a nine-year run on Broadway beginning in 1971, and in 1980 John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John starred in the hit movie.   A half-dozen talented musicians were stationed in the upper box seats as the stage was extended for dance numbers.  At Portage Dave played the greaser Roger; the show was so popular that the school performances the following weekend.  We dined at Parea Restaurant across from the theater.  It way too hot and humid to even think about eating outside.  I had a burger and a Stella Artois on draft while Toni and crab cakes and a Jack Daniels on the rocks.

“Grease” director Michael Glorioso referred to his life companion as his husband.  Cullen Ben-Daniel did the same Friday at the Gardner Center.  Do lesbian partners generally refer to their mates as wives?  Anne Balay calls Riva Lehrer her lover, but they’re not married.  She has been married twice, once to a man and then to a woman, and the institution isn’t for her, although she acknowledges the legal benefits.

Due to a storm Samuel A. and Brenda A, Love lost power, so they saw the new “Ghostbusters” and loved it.  Anything with Melissa McCarthy can’t miss.  Highest on our movie list, however, is “Star Trek Beyond.”
I chatted with old friend Mary Delp Harwood, recovering from a back operation.  Things were progressing well until someone hugged her too hard at a funeral.  Both Cub fans, we discussed the recent acquisition of Cuban-born fireballer Aroldis Chapman.  Last fall Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend.  Though never prosecuted, he apologized and served a 30-game suspension.  Supposedly he’s been a model citizen since.  Cynics will say that pro teams will do anything to win. I’m in the camp of those who believe that we’re all flawed and deserving of a second chance.

The media, desperately seeking controversy to jazz up coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, received a boost from WikiLeaks, which made public thousands of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails.  A few of them showed favoritism toward Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, not surprising in that Hillary has been a loyal Democrat for over 40 years while Sanders is an Independent and a socialist.  With the press labeling it a scandal and hardcore Sanders supporters having a snit fit, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in favor of African-American Donna Brazile.  Clinton spin-doctors blame Russian hackers beholden to Vladimir Putin.  Ray Smock wrote:
  The First night of the Democratic National Convention has come and gone. I watched all of it on CSPAN, where I was not interrupted by pundits or reporters looking for oddballs to interview and I had no commercials to watch. It was a far more wholesome way to get into the convention. After the flap over Debbie Wasserman Shultz was resolved with minimum damage to the day, I found the whole thing positive, upbeat, and well presented. I loved the diversity of the delegates and the presenters. And I got a bang out of the video clips where Trump condemned himself in his own words. Sure, I wish some of the Bernie supporters would have been less vocal at times and less disruptive, but they had their good reasons and this is an open political forum and it represented a big tent that didn't always agree. It was great to see all the young people there. This is a party with a future. What a contrast it was with the doom and gloom of the GOP, where the most prominent leaders in the party didn't even show up and where Trump told us over and over how great he was. The GOP convention was a one-man band. So far the Democrats are playing a rich and varied melody with a variety of finely played instruments and voices.

Moved by First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech, Anne Balay repeated these lines: “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.  And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”  She added: “I wish that my mother were still alive to witness this. She met Hillary, and loved her. She loved political theater, and would love the history being made.”

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