Good News

‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ Promotes Real Meaning Of Jesus’ Life

23355096039_92ff22c3b9_zIt may a generational thing, but I never heard of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever before watching the play in Richmond on Saturday, Dec. 12. The play, based on the book, is a simple story designed for children, but as is often the case in simple stories, the message applies to the young and old alike.

The Story

The story centers around the Herdman children. They are the “worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids.” After these children are accidently invited to church, they decide they want to be part of the Christmas play — and all the church children are too afraid of the Herdmans to compete for the starring roles. So the Herdman children become the mother of Jesus, Joseph, the wise men and the angel announcing the birth of Jesus.

What the Herdmans do though, is ask the hard, albeit comical, questions surrounding Jesus’ birth. Through their innocent, yet harsh questioning, the true meaning of Christmas begins to appear. By the time the play is finished, it is the roughhewn Herdmans that teach the Christians the true message of Jesus.

Local Performers Excel

In the play performed at the Richmond Civic Theatre, all of the actors — which is a largely a young cast — performed their lines and scenes flawlessly. It always amazes me the quality of shows produced at the Richmond theater. It is truly an asset to the region.

Although each of the characters brought the story to life, four of the actors really stood out in Saturday’s play. Moving the narration forward nicely — with a considerable amount of lines — was 6th grader, Mallory Bolser. Mallory shared the stage with her mother, Leslie Bolser. Leslie brings to life the pure exasperation her character, Grace Bradley, feels when given the last-minute task of organizing the annual Christmas play — with the added burden of having the Herdman children steal the lead roles.

In her first Richmond Civic Theater performance Ava Ansorg portrays Imogene Herdman — mother Mary in the church play. Because of Ansorg’s strong performance, including how she handles the doll representing the baby Jesus, one can feel the shift in Imogene’s understanding of the story of Jesus.

While Imogene bring the thoughtfulness to the play, it is the young Gladys Herdman, played by Addison Gulley, that delivers the humor. Gladys, who plays the Angel of the Lord appearing to the shepherds, just doesn’t understand why the Angel is so coy when telling the shepherds where Jesus is. Gladys prefers a more direct, flamboyant and less cryptic method and wants to use her favorite word — pulled from comic books — Shazaam!

When Gulley delivers her big line to the shepherds near the end of the play, the crowd erupted into laughter. The third grader definitely understands comedic timing and is not the least bit burdened with stage fright.

Final Shows

If you have never watched a performance at the Richmond Civic Theater, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, is definitely a great one to start with. The performance will have you thinking, laughing and you may even shed a tear or two.

The final three performances of the play are Friday, Dec. 18, Saturday, Dec. 19 and Sunday, Dec. 20.

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Ohio Judge’s Unusual Tactics Reduce Repeat Offender Rate

cicconetti-honorable-michael-aIn the United States, two lines of reasoning for dealing with criminal behavior has existed since the country was created. On one side are those that believe in the Old Testament edict of an ‘eye for an eye’ and on the other side, the idea that behavior can be modified (which some call liberal, others call Christ-like).

But an Ohio judge gives individuals in his court the option to choose between the two approaches. The deal: jail time or a punishment, the judge feels, is more in line with the crime. His tactics, although unusual, have worked since the percentage of repeat offenders in his court is 10 percent compared to a national average that is as high as 75 percent.

Walk or Jail Time?

For one teen woman, it meant choosing between 30 days in jail for stiffing a cab driver or walking 30 miles (she chose to walk). And for a woman who left her dog alone for a week inside a home overfilled with junk, the choice was 90 days in jail or 8 hours at the county dump picking up trash (she took the latter).

In an era where it is simpler to ‘follow the law,’ and hand down the acceptable sentence, the tactics of Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti are definitely unusual. But, in an interview with ABC, Cicconetti explains why he takes such an unorthodox approach to sentencing,

When you talk about state prisons and federal prisons, their problem started way back here with my court, with municipal courts, with the minor offenses. Most people don’t start out with a felony case. It starts small, and it gets bigger, so my whole train of thought here is that we have to stop them or prevent them — that conduct — from going further at the beginning stages. They get in jail. They get smarter criminally, and as they get smarter criminally, the offenses become greater.

Painesville is a city of about 20,000 located northeast of Cleveland. You can view the ABC interview below:

Categories: Americans Who Got It Right, Funny Stories, Good News, Ohio | Tags: , , , ,

Paper All Wet On MLB Switch-Pitcher Debut

18455083029_e901306de0_mWhen I heard about the Oakland A’s ambidextrous pitcher debut the other night one of the first things I wonder was: Does he switch gloves between batters (I didn’t watch his debut). You know wear a right-handed glove, then a left-handed glove.

Turns out Venditte dealt with that issue when he was a kid.

When (Pat) Venditte was 7 years old, his father, who was teaching him to throw with both arms, searched for a glove he could wear on both hands. Greg A. Harris, the only other pitcher since 1894 to throw in a major league game with both arms — he did it in 1995 — connected Venditte’s father with Mizuno. Harris already wore one of their six-finger gloves. The glove Harris wore in 1995 is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In his Friday, June 5 debut, Venditte entered the game in the seventh inning and threw both left-handed and right-handed. He also pitched the eighth inning. During those two innings, he allowed one hit and struck out one — a quality performance for any MLB rookie pitcher. After the game, though, Venditte tried to soften the spotlight’s glare by noting,

Whatever attention comes with it is fine, but we’re here to win games,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m pitching with both hands or one. It’s one effort.

As a switch-pitcher there are rules that applied only to him and since he is not the first ambidextrous MLB pitcher the rules were already in place. When you watch the clip, you will notice Venditte signaling to the umpire. This is because the rules state,

A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate.

Although all went smoothly for Vendette in his first game, he did not fare as well in at least one newspaper. Because ambidextrous pitching is so rare, one paper erroneously ran a headline referring to Venditte as the first amphibious pitcher.

Categories: Baseball, Good News