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Pat Colander's commentary on life as we know it and its aspects that surprise, delight and sometimes frighten us.
A travel section for mature readers exploring places you've always wanted to go and places you need to add to your list.
Find out the latest about must-sees in television, films, and other forms of entertainment not to be missed.
Gain some insight on family and relationships, and the perks and quirks we find living among different generations.
A roundup of technically cool stuff for tablets and smartphones that really works.
A weekly column by Denise DeClue - a semi-retired part-time professional former-screenwriter seasonally living in Beverly Shores.
Singer, Dancer and Recording Artist Chester Gregory comes back home to reprise his role as Jackie Wilson in a new tribute production at West Side Theatre Guild and Bartlett’s starts Third Thursday with Johnny V music nights at the Beverly Shores roadhouse.
Chester Gregory Brings Back Jackie Wilson: Chester Gregory was probably still in high school the first time I saw him perform in “The Jackie Wilson Story,” a production of Black Ensemble Theater at the group’s home base on Beacon Street in Chicago, near the fringe of Uptown and Lakeview, long since gentrified. He was a knockout. I had missed the sensational premier of the show in 2000 held at The Regal ---- where Jackie Wilson had performed back in the day --- but Chester Gregory, a student at Emerson’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, was amazing in the role from the start. (He got a Jeff award for his performance and toured with the production after that.) Gregory went on to graduate from Columbia College in Chicago during that time. The Jackie Wilson Story had a New York run and though the reviews of the show were tepid, the star got raves. Roles in major Broadway musicals starting in 2005-6 followed Gregory’s New York debut. The first was “Tarzan,” which I saw in previews---the show had lots of acrobats but not much of a story---and then the mega-hits: “Hairspray,” “Shrek,” “Dreamgirls” and most recently “Sister Act.” Since then Gregory has been in New York or on the road for most of the last decade. Though he comes home to visit his family every few months, he has not performed here in quite a while.
But he will be Friday night at the West Side Theatre Guild when he stars in “The Eve of Jackie,” a show he created, wrote and produced about the day before Jackie Wilson collapsed on stage in 1975 during a concert. Gregory calls in a “tribute.” (Wilson fell into a coma which lasted nine years before he died January 21, 1984.) Chester Gregory is also a recording star, as Eloise Valadez wrote in a profile for our Times’ GO! section this week. You can check that out here. But if you have the chance to see Chester Gregory perform live, I strongly urge you to do it. He is a natural, Gary native superstar, much like his idol Michael Jackson.
When all is said and done, it seems like nothing is ever finally said and done. Research continues at a maddening pace into the efficacy of the anti-aging products we put on our skin.
Maybe it's because 8,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day (and we have a ton of wrinkles!). Maybe it's because as a group, humans are totally susceptible to advertising. Whatever, anti-aging skin care is an $8 billion business in this country. Count in the rest of the world and the amount probably doubles.
Just trying to find out what might work to make your skin look better turns out to be a journey down a long, dusty, and oxidizing road. The FDA does not regulate “cosmeceuticals,” as they are called in the industry. Individual brands conduct tests designed to produce results vaulting their own particular potions. Plus everybody is different and some folks might feel that a certain product makes their skin look and feel better than others do. If you're really worried about your skin, see a dermatologist and ask your mother what she uses.
"I was looking for something else on Pinterest" is the simplest explanation of how I got a chalkboard wall. But my willingness to completely ignore adequate sleep requirements while following pins leading entirely away from my original search is typical of how I’m likely to come across an idea for a home improvement project. That is to say, these random searches occur late at night or on weekends only.
I had followed a trail that started with “interior design” but eventually led to the big “do-it-yourself” scrapbook on the site. Then I looked for “walls” inside of that cluster. “Chalkboard walls,” was not much of a leap from there, but I was surprised by how many chalkboards were there considering I don’t follow that many people.
Several chalkboard walls were in kitchens with grocery lists on them, which made me think of my daughter-in-law who has two small children and not much time. On a chalkboard hanging on the kitchen wall, she has a two-week menu plan with main ingredients in a grocery list underneath the meals. When she leaves to go to the store, she takes a picture of the chalkboard with her phone.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
A frequently quoted maxim of design experts says that the closer something is to your physical space the more important the quality. I’ve been thinking about that idea a lot as we were putting this issue together. I was reading and writing about families retrofitting existing spaces to other uses, while I was going through the same process at home. My turning point revolved around the purchase of a new bed—a king, finally— that had been researched and negotiated for more than a year. There was never any doubt about the size or the style; those questions were off the table 100 hotel rooms ago. We like the contemporary metal frame we already have and are just getting that same design in another color.
But mattress technology has moved rapidly in the past few years and yes, there is a spectrum: basic triple layers of foam for several hundred dollars on up to the $10,000+ hand-sewn quality material custom-built mattress on top of a box spring made up of hundreds of state-of-the-art metallurgical coils. At the middle-of-the road are popular pillow tops that come in a range of soft to extra-firm, the kind of mattress standard in hotels. A queen or king set probably on average costs about $3500. There are endless web sites with information, ratings and years of comments on mattresses.
Your phone rings; instead of rooting around your pants pockets and three jacket pockets looking for the phone while people around you get tired of hearing the Walking Dead theme song, you simply push a button on your wrist and you're free to talk. The recent trend among device makers has been to take the technology you love from your phone and transfer to a device that can be worn out and even have it be stylish.
We first experienced the introduction of wearables with the Kickstarter funded Pebble Smartwatch. The little $150 gadget did nothing more than allow you to check your notifications, change your music and yes, check the time from your iPhone or Android phone. This year makers launched a new barrage of wearables from Samsung to Sony to help you channel your inner spy.
Samsung Galaxy Gear: $299
Leaf through a magazine while you're in the grocery store check-out line; click around channels on your TV; write someone an email with the words “anti-aging;” in the subject line. Doubtless, you will be bombarded with more claims of miraculous wrinkle-removers than Lourdes sends out news stories of lame people throwing away their crutches.
Unfortunately most of these claims can not be substantiated. Why not? Isn't the government supposed to protect us from false claims and "snake oil" salesmen? Isn't there supposed to be truth in advertising? Ask a stupid question, and if you ask the right people, you'll get a very detailed explanation of why your question is not necessarily stupid, but difficult to answer succinctly.
Dr. Michael O'Donoghue, dermatologist with Franciscan Alliance, led me to fascinating article by Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos, Department of Dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine Durham, North Carolina in the scholarly journal Dermatologic Therapy, Vol. 25. Some of us have come to believe that Cindy Crawford or Ellen DeGeneres or Oprah is the Queen of Cosmetics. Actually it's Dr. Draelos and she's very good at separating miracles from mole hills.
Programming alert: Something you may not have dared to dream about for a long, long time is happening in a few weeks: The first half of the seventh—and final—season of Mad Men will premiere on Sunday, April 13, at 9 p.m on AMC.
According to AMC, the last season of the award-winning ’60s-era advertising drama will be split into two halves—in a manner similar to the network’s acclaimed series Breaking Bad, which ended its successful run with a record high 10.3 million viewers in September 2013. Each half of the seventh season of Mad Men will consist of seven episodes (the second half is slated to begin in spring of 2015).
The popularity and buzz surrounding Mad Men may have been eclipsed more recently by edgier progeny such as Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, and other beloved basic cable series—or even new entries from Netflix including Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards. But Mad Men is still considered hugely influential, not only for how it raised the bar for television excellence, but for renewing interest in ’60s fashion, style and culture, and sparking the national conversation about gender and race bias.
Last week, I was entertaining a group of friends at my home, and one of them asked to see a snippet of a show we were discussing that happened to be recorded on my DVR. When I turned on the TV and accessed the menu of my recorded shows, one of them exclaimed conspiratorially, “Ooh, let’s see what she watches!” and I found myself becoming flustered as I raced to exit the screen containing my list.
In retrospect, I had nothing too serious to hide—no episodes of “The Bachelor,” “Big Brother” or “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” were lurking there alongside the more universally accepted “Parks and Recreation” and “Parenthood” entries. (And since “Access Hollywood” is essentially a continuation of the local news, that makes it serious journalism, right?) But still, I felt open to judgment.
Sure, there are lots of trends we can hide behind these days (“hate-watching” is the new “not-watching,” and “binge-watching” is…well, just new), but the type of program that has really stood the test of time is the notorious “Guilty Pleasure,” a catch-all description for a show that we know we shouldn’t watch because it’s either too uncool, racy, mainstream, violent, old-fashioned, poorly written/acted, derivative, or just plain bad. In other words, we just can’t seem to get enough of it.
Part of our family lore includes the story of my 90-year-old grandmother, who bought a skin cream promising to erase her wrinkles and rejuvenate her skin, making her look decades younger. She followed directions on the lotion's package for about a week, examined her face closely in the mirror every day. She discerned no visible change. "Lies," she mumbled. "Lies and false promises." She put that potion back in the box and took it to the drug store, where she asked for, and received her money back.
If American women did the same thing today, we'd have about $8 billion (some say $16 billion) more money in our pocket-books than we had yesterday. That's how much we spend each year on "anti-aging" skin care products. Some work a little, some work a little more, and studies show us that the OTC (over-the-counter) cheaper concoctions are mostly just as effective as specialty products touted by movie stars and an occasional doctor.
Dr. Michael O'Donoghue, a dermatologist with the Franciscan Health Alliance, was kind enough to share several scientific research papers from Dermatologic Therapy and describe the anti-aging skin business as he sees it.
Chances are, when you see older folks walking a dog while wearing headphones, they’re not listening to Beyonce or Jay Z. They’re listening to a book or a magazine article, maybe a podcast that they borrowed from the local library. Many listeners don't even have to leave home to borrow the material—they download it from the Internet with their library cards. It's free. Well, paid-for already with tax money.
While the readership of traditional books has fallen off a little, readership of downloadable audio books and e-books is exploding. According to Lake County Library Director of Circulation Julie Bradford, patrons of Lake County downloaded almost 85,000 e-books and 27,000 recorded books last year. Every month more and more books are added to their downloadable selections.
The Porter County library may not have downloadable audio books yet—but they're doing a rip-roaring business in lending. Assistant Director Phyllis Nelson, told me “In 2013, the Porter County Library (this includes all five branches - Valparaiso, Portage, South Haven, Hebron, and Kouts) circulated about 1.6 million items. This includes every single thing that was checked out during the year—books, DVDs, books on CD, magazines, etc. etc. Of this number, 43,281 were books on CD that were checked out by patrons.”