By N3 Entertainment Squad
This week we embark on what will undoubtedly prove to be another serendipitous journey through a series of intriguing ideas, concepts and points of view from an eclectic collection of speakers on a wide variety of subjects.
No, we're not referencing the upcoming Golden Globes, we’re talking about the January Series beginning on Wednesday January 3rd.
For over three decades this Calvin College sponsored (and free) series has made the month of January a bit more bearable.
Not a lot more bearable mind you because it is, after all, January and as an N3 friend who moved south said recently “There’s a lot I miss about Michigan…..well…. except January…. oh yeah, and February.”
But anything that helps get some of us through the seemingly eternal opening month of the year (and don’t even try to convince us it has the same number of days as its much swifter sister July) is heartily welcomed.
Last year we recall being challenged by Eugene Cho, enchanted by Taylor Chase, awakened by Mark Charles and captivated by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
There have been many surprises that have arisen from the series when people at the podium previously unknown to us delivered insightful thought provoking presentations and few, if any, of the more well known names disappointed. A few years back they tossed out a rather remarkable back to back when Rebecca Skloot the author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” spoke on Tuesday and was followed on Wednesday by the iconic and infinitely entertaining and informative Cokie Roberts.
And as we mentioned the adventure is in listening to someone you’ve not yet heard of speaking to a topic that might seem foreign or at the least just not in your wheelhouse and coming away with a piece of something you didn’t have when you walked in.
The snag here being that Calvin College is a bit of a drive (Grand Rapids) and these things are held midday (12:30pm) because, after all, its a luncheon series of sorts.
Ah, but the Dogwood Center on the outskirts of Fremont is not a long drive nor would you be battling the East Beltline traffic to get there. For the 9th year running, thanks in part to the support of the Fremont Area Community Foundation, they will be hosting a simulcast of the presentations as well as... ‘BONUS ALERT’... offering lunch for a mere fin.
Yes five bucks and you get to settle into the cozy comfort of the Black Box while sampling a lunch whose source will depend on the day you attend. We’ve had our lunches there from a variety of local eateries and the best thing is that one can almost always count on a cookie or similar treat being part of the package.
‘BONUS ALERT II’ You must call a day ahead to have a lunch reserved. That’s 24 hours, meaning the morning before and not a ten minutes to midnight machine message.
This years lineup most certainly looks a lot more enticing than the one the Tigers will be putting on the field Opening Day.
Any Hamilton fans out there?
Yes, there are. We at N3 know your numbers are legion in our area.
Well, a special treat arrives on the 18th when Jeremy McCarter presents “Hamilton, Hope and Change”
Pentatonix aficionados? Plenty of you to be found nearby as well.
Well, on the (17th) group member Kevin Olusola will be “In Concert and Conversation”.
Check out Pashon Murray (9th) and Randy Lewis (5th) a pair of business folks with intriguing stories, Laura Truax (11th) who looks to provide an interesting take on generosity and we are intrigued by Beverly Tatum(15th) whose book title reads “Why Are All the Black Kids Still Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”
Then there is Katherine Boo (16th) who has written extensively about her time spent in some of the world’s poorest communities and is on our admittedly extensive ‘can’t miss’ list.
There you go Near Northians, three weeks of lunchtime listening and learning at the Dogwood which has annually been one of the highest attended remote sites in the nation for this series, including over 50 gathering spots that span the continent from Connecticut to California and Ontario to Texas.
We at N3 World Headquarters find our brains freeze up a bit along with the frigid temps so taking a mid day break to stimulate a few receptors seems to produce a thimbleful of thawing.
And we can use any help we can get because….because...
Well, because it’s January.
And 45 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.
The View From Here: Wrap Session
By Ken DeLaat
I hate wrap.
No not rap.While not an aficionado of the genre there exists strong appreciation for its impact on the musical world and when pressed must admit to giving certain artists an extended listen or two.
I’m talking Wrap. As in Christmas wrapping.
Of all the tasks assigned to the season wrapping ranks just below the post-holiday removal of pine needles from the carpeting on my least favorite pastimes.
Why? Because I am not very good at it.
And that’s an understatement.
My gift wrapping skills fall far below acceptable and though I have honestly tried to be a little more careful or at the very least a bit more uh, neat I guess, my conclusion is that once a youtube demo fails you any hope for a major change dims considerably.
Years ago when LSC Lil and I resided in the GR area I would call on my oldest (longevity not chronologic) friend Henry who for whatever reason was a true wrap artist. Maybe he got it from his Mom who I recall from childhood as being considerably creative, but he was most definitely a master.
I’d give him a call and bring over a couple of beers that we’d split while he went to work, never once measuring the gift up to the paper just cutting and taping. There was a rhythm to it, a kind of freestyle flow to his movements as he would finish one off then eye up the next as he began to cut again never moving the gift until the paper was laid out.
These days I have attempted to give it a go since I only see Henry a couple times a year and a bi-annual card game is hardly the place to be bringing over gifts for him to wrap.
Here’s the thing. Lil ( a woman of strikingly superior patience) wraps really really well. She certainly matches Henry in quality if not in pure showmanship. This ability is a great thing when I am on the gifting end of other people and can enlist her services.
However gifts for her need to be self-wrapped (I’ve asked if she would do it but she won’t budge on this) and when my futile attempts rest under the tree alongside of her wistfully wrapped wonders the scene can look a bit, I don’t know... unbalanced I guess.
This year I once again journeyed the paper trail and took a stab at attempting to make my gifts look more like inviting and non-wrinkled packages and less like the upshot of a scotch tape assault on the holiday itself.
Results have been... well… mixed, I guess. Easier things that have even corners have gone well but few of my gifts seem to fall into that category and none seem to have the appropriate dimensions for a box or gift bag. I’ve been advised before that my gifts could be a bit less ‘offbeat’ but I’ve found fun rarely comes neatly packaged.
There’s still too much tape involved and my reticence toward waste (along with perhaps a parsimonious predisposition) creates an occasional patch of unmatched paper over a tear but we can live with that.
Despite some shortfalls like leaving a gap or two and a couple of way too wrapped pieces it felt good to try. After all if it’s truly the thought that counts when it comes to the gift should not the wrapping be equally regarded?
So there, quality of wrapping aside, it's the thought.
And the primary thought yours truly put into this whole process as he does every year?
“Where in this weary world is Henry when you need him?”
NEAR NORTH CHRISTMAS SNAPSHOTS
The Mayor’s Tree.
For many years the Christmas tree that graces the lobby of the entertainment jewel known as the Dogwood Center has been the creation of James Rynberg who also just happens to hold the office of mayor in the fine city of Fremont.
This year’s version provides a gentle and snowlike look, highlighting the artistry involved in the detailed decorative decisions.
Well done Mr. Mayor.
We’d call it “nearly perfect”
Suggestion Box: Ramp Up The Revelry!
We at N3 World Headquarters & Christmas Decoration Domicile are of course knee deep in holiday celebratory state of mind these days. It is, the final weekend before Yuletide weekend. With the Big Day coming on a Monday this year it becomes a bit like those 3 day holidays such as Labor Day Memorial Day, Presidents Day and Columbus Day (remind me again why on Earth anyone celebrates Columbus Day).
Except it’s not, of course. The fact that Christmas lands on a Monday might mean some folks have Tuesday off or that Christmas Eve services fall on the same day when other church type services are already in place, but as a holiday it is truly like no other.
Love it or hate it (and many do indeed hate it) you can’t ignore Christmas like you do, say, Columbus Day (again, why?). It starts getting traction at Thanksgiving and picks up considerable steam through the month of December. Now we are in full blown, Santa driven, present purchasing, carol crooning Christmas mode and there is no stopping now.
Friday from 6-8 is Christmas in Croton with a slew of activities at the Croton Campground that begin with a 6pm lighting of the tree. Bring the fam and get the weekend kicked off in Santa style as Mr. C.will be making an appearance for last minute requests.
The Joshua Davis Trio is at the Dogwood Friday night and his concerts always deliver on the promise of good times and good music. The box office is open from 10am-2:30pm today and will reopen from 5:30pm to 7:30pm when the show begins.
Ever been to Tamarac? The staff of N3WH (& CDD) are semi-regulars at this emporium of good health and fitness (the steam room is outstanding) and can often be found going through the paces of a workout or two.
Well, Tamarac has turned 10 and this weekend to celebrate there will be a community open house from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.on what they are dubbing “Super Saturday.” Fitness instructors will offer free and highly popular classes open for everyone, including non-members, to try, ranging from knockout and spinning to yoga and aquatics exercises in the pool. Tamarac is also offering a host of specials for both non-members and members.
If you read the Charles Chandler piece (see our home page) on MB Woodworks a good time to visit the latest retail gem to hit downtown Newaygo would be Saturday when beginning at 12 noon Santa (fresh from last night’s Croton appearance) will be stopping in for some photo ops and gift wishes.
Further afoot if you’d to commune with a few sleigh carriers up close and personal head to the Hackley Public Library in Muskegon and meet the gang who will be gathered on their front lawn beginning at 2:30pm
And speaking of libraries,Fremont Library is having a Christmas Craft making activity for young folks Saturday beginning at 10am.
Time for some serious revelry folks so get out there and get a little ho-ho-ho in your step.
“Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer.... Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously? -Bill Watterson “Calvin & Hobbes”
The 2018 edition of Calvin College’s award-winning January Series is once again at the Dogwood Center and features a solid lineup of speakers who are at the leading edge of some of the nation’s and world’s most critical and timely discussions. From Wednesday, January 3, through Tuesday, January 23, a host of nationally acclaimed speakers will continue those conversations on Calvin’s campus and viewed at remote sites like the Dogwood Center.
The January Series features one of the most influential scientific minds, a New York Times best-selling author and a former technology adviser to the White House. A few of the notable presenters in the 2018 lineup include Katherine Boo, a staff writer for The New Yorker whose work has been honored by a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant and Pulitzer Prize; Jeremy McCarter, co-author of Hamilton: The Revolution who witnessed the Broadway show’s journey from concept to cultural phenomenon; and Kevin Olusola, who is best known as the beatboxing member of the Grammy-winning vocal quintet Pentatonix.
This is a great opportunity to listen to nationally acclaimed speakers surrounding a variety of interesting topics. The Dogwood Center, a remote site for the Calvin College January Series and supported in part by the Fremont Area Community Foundation, is pleased to bring the Calvin College January Series to Newaygo County for the ninth year in a row. For the last eight years, the Dogwood Center has been among the highest attended remote sites in the nation.
The January Series lectures is video streamed live at the Dogwood Center, 4734 S. Campus Court in Fremont, from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. on weekdays, January 3 through January 23. The lectures are free and open to the public. Both the Black Box and Main Stage areas will be available for seating. Attendees may bring their lunch or order a lunch for $5 by calling 231.924.8885 at least 24 hours prior to the date. The speaker schedule can be seen at www.calvin.edu/january or at www.dogwoodcenter.com.
Little Fires Everywhere Book Review
Little Fires Everywhere Book Review
By Alexis Mercer
Admission: I am the book nerd who reads all of the lists that pop up on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter related to good books. You know the kind.
“15 MUST READ Books While Lounging On The Beach” (Who has time to read 15 books while lounging on the beach, really? But I could dream.)
“30 Books You’ll Love If You Love Harry Potter” (Yes, please. All 30 will do.)
So when Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng popped up on nearly every single list I read a few months ago, I knew it was a sign that I had to add it to my own list of future reads. It was receiving rave reviews from many people who seem to know about such things.
Page one I was hooked. Not page two or three or by the end of the chapter. But the actual first page. I was drawn into the story with the intriguing plot that Ng wasted no time introducing. Hook, line and sinker.
I will admit that very quickly I was also filled with dread. I already liked the characters by the end of the first chapter. Immediate attachment is problematic. I was about to be pulled through another story hoping, wishing and begging for the conflict to be resolved in a way that would be satisfactory for the characters I so deeply cared for.
The power of literature is unfathomable.
So it began.
The tale is set in Shaker Heights, a perfect suburb of Cleveland. The houses are enormous, the lawns meticulously groomed, the residents living the dream. Such is the home and life of the Richardson family - everything planned out from beginning to end.
And then there is Mia Warren who arrives with her daughter Pearl. They travel the country finding inspirational locations for Mia’s art, never settling in one place for more than one project. But this time it is supposed to be different; Mia promising Pearl they will stay and set roots.
Two families that are opposites in nearly every way cross paths and the result is an inferno of emotion, drastic actions and heart wrenching decisions.
Innovative, intriguing story line. Check.
Protagonist I was rooting for. Check.
Antagonist who was obviously going to be disastrous but you couldn’t help feel for. Check.
I’ll let you decide for yourself whether the conclusion was deserving of a satisfactory check or not.
Little Fires Everywhere is being added to another list. My own. Perhaps I’ll call it...
“20 Stories That Change Your Perspective On Life”
*Near North Now Readers: Flying Bear Books has copies of Little Fires Everywhere available for purchase! It would make a great stocking stuffer or gift for the bibliophile in your life (or yourself).
What’s Up This Week
A gaggle of goings-on
This is a pretty, uh, Republican county one would surmise. If you are on the county commission, or hold any other elected position in the county with the exception perhaps some areas more to the north, chances are if it was a partisan race you ran as a member of the GOP.
There are, however members of the Democratic Party here as well and they will be holding their monthly meeting Monday at One East Main in Fremont beginning at 6pm for those who might be interested in creating a true two party system in these parts. Special guest Mary Bernadette Minnick Weatherly will be giving a presentation on how to identify fake Russian Facebook accounts, handy information for those among us who tend to explore the vast regions of social media.
Great Start is the latest entity to host one of the Talk Early Talk Often programs Tuesday at 5:30pm at the Neway Center in Newaygo. If you’ve missed the vital parental pointers this program presents N3 encourages you to attend. These free workshops are designed to provide resources, tips and empowerment for parents to have conversations with their teen children about abstinence and sex.
Think maybe you don’t need it? Stop kidding yourself and arm yourself with as much information as you can. Our county is rife with teen pregnancy and attending one of these might help keep parents from becoming grandparents sooner than desired.
Dinner and Childcare will be provided.
Holiday rush beginning to get to you? Feeling a tad harried from a busy life? Well in the spirit of what this season is all about Taize services are being held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fremont Wednesday at 6:30pm. These are a form of group meditation that use repeated simple chant-like melodies, brief Scripture reading, silence, and prayer. The atmosphere is quiet and contemplative, using candlelight and icons as a devotional focus.
If you need to slow it down a bit here’s a chance to give yourself time to harvest the fruits of spiritual contemplation.
Casting Call! Tuesday and Wednesday from 6:30-9pm LionHeart will hold auditions for the play “Junie B. Jones Is Not A Crook” at the Grant Elementary Library.
As a grizzled veteran of community theater whose days on the stage ended in the early 80’s I would highly recommend anyone to get involved in such initiatives. There are a boatload of personal memories associated with these types of endeavors at Civic, Circle, the Ramsdell and other venues filled with fun times that have that 'we’re all in this together' kind of feeling you get when you’re part of a group undertaking. And if you’re perhaps not yet ready to put yourself out there to reap the praises of a grateful audience, there are many roles to be played that don’t involve being on stage. Whether props, production, a walk on part, or a starring role community theater is one of the coolest things going. Give it a shot.
The end of the week brings a much favored Michigan son back to the Dogwood Center for a Friday 7:30pm show when the Joshua Davis Trio returns. Two previous performances have been outstanding and it is the final show of the year for our beloved entertainment jewel of the Near North so if you’ve not visited in 2017 get thee to the Dogwood and support this amazing venue we are so freaking fortunate to find in Fremont.
See the ad on our home page and click on it for ticket (and Joshua Davis Trio) information.
And remember, a week from Saturday comes Festivus (for the rest of us) so get your aluminum pole set up and start preparing for the airing of grievances.
The NCCA-Artsplace Winter Community Photography Contest is a free annual contest for all ages and all levels of skill with the theme "Baby, It's Cold Outside!". The 2017 contest winners were selected by local artist Jane Stroschin.
The first place award was given to Cheryl Benson of Grant for her photograph “First Snow". Jacques Atwood of Newaygo received second place for the entry “Snowed In” and Cari Taylor of Fremont was awarded third place for “Stretching Swans”. Honorable mention went to Sandy Dekker of Fremont for her photograph "Frosted Feathers".
All entries will be on display through January 6 in the corridor gallery at NCCA-Artsplace, 13 East Main Street in downtown Fremont.
The Christmas Spirit keeps churning through our newly wintry climes this weekend with some serious seasonal celebrating on tap.
Tonight (Friday) is the Illuminated Holiday Parade in Fremont starting at 6pm. As parades go this is a very cool one and not just because of the weather. The Disney folks get it. if you’ve ever been to one of their utopian parks and witnessed an evening march you know how the evening air adds a sprinkle of magic to the event. Of course in Florida and California the evening air is generally a bit less, uh, present, I guess.
It’s a fun one and as I said before Fremont really knows how to put on a parade and this one is no exception.
Check out the live Nativity Scene being staged by Fremont Wesleyan Church from 5-7:30pm at the parking lot by Liberty Jewelers near the park.
And, oh yeah, the park. The Man Himself, the Holiday Elf, the sleigh in the sky kind of Christmas Guy….yes I’m talking Santa Claus who will once again take time off his busy schedule to greet folks at the park until about 8:30pm when he’ll be heading back North.
Saturday from Noon to 4pm head to our gateway city Grant for a little more sprinkling of seasonal fun. The Community Center will be the hub of activity with Mr. Claus returning to make another appearance but this time he will be chapero… I mean... accompanied by, Mrs. Claus.
Lots of family fun featured here so bring the kids and spend the afternoon in a seasonal setting g bound to bring out some smiles.
My short-lived stint in choir ended in 4th grade during rehearsals for our Christmas pageant when it was suggested I might benefit the group more by practicing the art of lip syncing during the concert.
It was then I felt destined for more of a solo career.
Nevertheless, Sunday at 6pm long after the Lions are done (some say they are already done) the Grant Fine Arts Center will be hosting one of the premier get in the spirit and come away with a good feeling events of the season.
The newly named but long in existence River Country Community Choir will be tossing out their annual Christmas Concert, always a really fine way to spend a Sunday evening during the holidays.
And there are still t tickets for the Roger Day Christmas Show at the Dogwood’s Black Box tonight (Friday) at 7:30pm. This is a seasonal romp the whole family will dig and is a bargain at just 15 bucks for adults and 5 smackers(a mere fin) for 18 and under.
It’s time to revel folks.
“The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature.”- Andy Rooney
NEAR NORTH CHRISTMAS SNAPSHOTS
If any word explains the season scrupulously yet succinctly it is the one lit up alongside the symbolic creche with a faraway star on the horizon at this Fremont area home.
A state of bliss, a cause of delight, or whatever else the dictionary might cite as the true definition, this well put together scene resonates its meaning in a far more impressive manner.
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- Eric Qualman