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Saturday, April 27, 2013
Mill Mountain Theatre stages comeback
The opening performance Wednesday of "The Marvelous Wonderettes" marked a marvelous return to center stage for Mill Mountain Theatre. The musical's premiere was also the theater's entrance back onto the Trinkle Main Stage in the newly renovated Center in the Square, and, fingers crossed, marks its debut onto solid financial footing.
All looked bleak in 2009 when Mill Mountain Theatre abruptly shut down all but its children's program amid debt and disappointment, neither of which now cloud its future. Bravo for making it through to the second act.
Driving with Siri is as risky as texting
If the most dangerous part of driving and texting is that the driver's eyes dart from the big picture to the small screen, then it seems logical that a technological fix might help. What if Siri or her electronic mates could handle the swiping and typing for drivers? That ought to make texting and driving as safe as talking on the phone and driving. Which is to say, not very. But don't take our word.
Researchers at Texas A&M Transportation Institute had drivers navigate a closed course without a cellphone and then using voice-to-text applications and manually sending text messages. Drivers' response times to a changing traffic light were twice as long using both methods of text messaging than when they were not texting. And they took their eyes off the road with voice texting just as often as with manual texting. But the drivers felt safer with the voice texting. They weren't.
Virginia drivers tempted to count on Siri once a harsher texting-while-driving law kicks in July 1 would do well to resist.
A gift of historic significance
Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder, a man of his times. And, as author of the Declaration of Independence, he was a man for all time, planting at the birth of what was to become a great nation the founding principle "all men are created equal."
America had to grow into the broad meaning of that bold assertion, to bring in all races of men and, finally, women. The resulting growing pains have been a big, but often untold, part of the country's story.
A $10 million gift by David Rubenstein, billionaire co-founder of The Carlyle Group private equity firm, will go a long way to help Americans, today and in the future, understand their history more fully and honor its struggles faithfully.
The money pledged to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation will help restore family living quarters on the second and third floors of Jefferson's Monticello, and recreate two buildings on Mulberry Row. That's where many of the workers - free and enslaved - lived and labored to keep the plantation running.
What more wonderful tribute to an American genius than a gift of knowledge?
Patterson Avenue's Villa Sorrento restaurant closed 13 years ago, but loyal customers can still hear the opera music and smell the slow-cooked sauce and the hand-sliced garlic.
When owners Joseph and Rosa Provenzano retired after four decades in business, they took the abalone shell crucifix over the cigarette dispenser home with them. The plastic grapes were hauled down from the latticework and transported by the new owners to a new location on Williamson Road, but that restaurant later closed, too.
We wish we'd thought to ask for one of those bunches of faux grapes for a souvenir, but fans of Villa Sorrento still have a chance to pick up a momento. Thirteen panels of the restaurant's elaborate murals were saved when the building was demolished. Artist Jerry Myers, a friend of the Provenzanos, took 10 years to complete the paintings of gondolas, moonlit gardens and market squares. Now gallery owners Bill Jones and Dorsey Taylor are hoping to use the murals to raise money for the West End Center.
Sadly, most of us would have trouble prying the 10-foot-tall paintings into our living rooms. We'll just have to settle for daydreams of Villa Sorrento's ravioli and pizza pie.
Weather JournalMany very icy despite 'bust' claims