Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Russell Library Closing

From the mayor's office:

Please be advised that the Russell Library will be closed effective immediately until further notice due to discovery of bed bugs in the library. This is being done as a preventive measure. The City is quarantining the library until further notice, hiring an exterminator and preceding with their professional recommendation.

Please place library materials in a sealed plastic bag before they are returned to the library. This is a preventive measure that the city will be taking to ensure that the public exposure be minimized.
From Karen Swartz: I was in the library when the announcement was made over the intercom system that the library was closing due to bedbugs. I asked the woman who made the announcement if bed bugs had been found in books, or where they were found. She stated that they were found in one of the chairs in the computer area, and in one DVD case. She also said that some fumigation was started yesterday.


Casey Carle’s ‘Bubblemania’ – Comedy, Artistry, BubbleOlogy takes the stage at Oddfellows Playhouse on Saturday August 4 with two performances, at 11am & 2pm.    Bubblemania! will mesmerize  children and adults of all ages.  Tickets are $10. 

Based on his professionalism, talent, and proven success as bubble artist, scientist, entertainer and consultant, he has made a historic soap bubble debut at the acclaimed Lincoln Center in New York City as a Principal Performing Artist for "The Little Orchestra Society" under the musical direction of Maestro Dino Anagnost, been chosen by Cirque du Soleil to act as their consultant on soap bubbles and featured on The Discovery channel.

Casey Carle grew up in the woods of Greene, NY. He graduated cum laude from S.U.N.Y. Geneseo with a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in Drama and also from The Ringling Bros. Clown College with a B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fun Arts!). Casey has worked professionally in theatre, on and off stage, since 1985. In 1990 he went solo with BubbleMania!

For more information on programs, to register for classes or to purchase tickets to performances, call Oddfellows at (860) 347-6143 or log onto www.oddfellows.org. 

Popcorn by The Colonel #3

Aggressiveness; Motivation; Censorship; Olio

0 According to an official Internet site, the political class of all nations is descended from alien reptile shapeshifters who laced their DNA into ancient Babylonian kings. From them, the aggressive characteristics needed for political success have come down to our time. It sounds improbable, but it’s right there on the Internet, so it must be true. The recent revelation of the Middletown mayor’s ancestry by the Godfrey Library said nothing about such genes. Conspiracy? Relatedly, The Colonel is watching the race to succeed Senator Lieberman with great interest.

1 Some people in Middletown don’t like motivational posters in workplaces. The Colonel likes them, and demotivational posters, too, and inspirational sayings, including Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong, it will,” and its redundant corollary, “at the worst possible time.”

“To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid; one must also have good manners.”

--Voltaire, old-school motivational poster writer

2 “Teamwork. Excellence. Discipline. Service. Accountability. Attitude. Focus. Integrity. Imagination. Engagement. Leadership. Collaboration. Optimism. Trust. Courage. Opportunity. Vision. Diversity. Success. Innovation. Perseverance. Strength. Change. Challenge. Determination. Quality. Enthusiasm. Brilliance. Clarity. Achievement. Confidence. Synergy.”

--motivational poster, “The Thirty-Twofold Path.”

3 “Lead the way. Be the light. Make your mark. Walk the talk. Make it happen. Be the bridge. Dare to soar. Believe and succeed.”

--index card: “Three Little Words: Executive Success in Brief” (Don’t overlook the arresting image of the soaring bridge.)

4 More favorite Middletown workplace posters:

• “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?”

• “Big Brother Is Watching You.”

• “Loose Lips Sink Careers: Keeping Trade Secrets is Everybody’s Business.”

• “Leaders Are Like Eagles: Not Found Around Here.”

• “To Get to the Top, Kiss a Lot of Bottom.”
• “You are Unique, Also Spelled ‘Fungible.’”

• “J     Is Coming. Look Busy.”

• “Some Dream of Success. Others Live to Crush Those Dreams.”

• “4 Days Without a ‘Hostile Environment’ Claim.”

• “Remember: Never Ask ‘Are Those Real?’”

5 “Keep Your Eye on the Ball, Your Shoulder to the Wheel, and Your Nose to the Grindstone. Now Try to Work in that Position.”

     6 The Colonel loves plagiarism, but  hates censorship. For example,  xxxxxxxx xxxxxx  xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx flying pigs xxxxx xx xxxxxxxxxxx kumquats xxxxx.   

Arline Rich, Exemplar Of Democratic Engagement

Arline Rich died on July 20th, after a two month illness. With her passing, the city has lost one of its most dedicated participants in civic governance; Rich was a decades long observer of municipal boards and commissions, and unafraid to do what she could to influence their deliberations. Her dedication, knowledge, and participation impacted land use decisions throughout our city.

Rational and Reasonable
Rich's mode of participation was thoroughly non-partisan, in countless discussions of city projects with her over the course of nearly 15 years, I never learned which candidates she favored at either the local or the national level. If she had an agenda in her opposition or support of any proposed land use, it was never pro- or anti-development, she simply wanted all development in Middletown to be rational and reasonable. For her this meant that every developer should adhere to regulations which are themselves rational and reasonable.

Rich paid more attention to more developments than anybody outside of the City Planner's office. She closely studied all proposals in Westfield, and many in other parts of the city. For nearly 20 years, she clipped the agendas of city meetings out of the newspaper, and if there was a subdivision on it, the Planner's office would know to expect her in the office. She would pore over the developer's plans with a ruler in one hand, and the zoning regulations in the other. No discrepancy would get by her, she paid attention to set-backs, to lot frontages, to the City's Plan of Development, to anything that impacted the city's wetlands, public safety, traffic, or tax base. She would carefully document any discrepancies with Planning and Zoning, and request that each one be addressed before approval was granted.

Recognizing the importance of the zoning regulations and the Plan of Development, Rich spent many hours reviewing any proposed changes to them. Bill Warner, head of the Planning Office, could count on her to point out not only the typos and misspellings, but also the gaps and inconsistencies in the regulations. Our city's current regulations on land use are better for all the work she did on them.


Her persistent attention to the technical details was one of Rich's greatest strengths, and earned her respect from developers and planners alike. She was no "Not in my backyard!" activist, concerned only about one particular subdivision which might ruin her view. She consistently applied the principles of reasonable and rational to every proposal, whether it was in her neighborhood or not. Developers would often present their plans to her at Westfield Residents Association meetings, knowing that their chances of approval were immeasurably better if they got the Rich imprimatur.

One developer angrily and bitterly fought Rich's ultimately successful efforts to reign in his trash dump, which had been cited for violations by the state. Ten years later, when he had a separate development under consideration, he tried to woo Rich with cannoli while showing off his new plans. She enjoyed the cannoli, but they had no effect on those eagle eyes, which were not going to overlook any details in the plans.

Official Honors

Rich served in an official capacity with the city on two occasions. In the early 1990s, after the Kennedy family donated the land on Country Club Road to the city, Rich served on the building committee for what would become Smith Park. As usual, she paid attention to details. In an era before widespread cell phones, she insisted that there be a telephone in the park, and after the park was finished she regularly checked to make sure the phone was working.

In 2008, the mayor appointed her to a committee of residents tasked with finding an alternative site for the Army's training center. She brought to the committee her immense experience with land use, her fairness, and the respect she had earned in the city; she played a critical role in the ultimately successful resolution of the conflict between the Army Corps of Engineers and the City.

In 2006, Rich was given one of the city's highest honors, the Mayor proclaimed an "Arline Rich Day", and she was given the Keys To The City, in recognition of all she had done for Middletown.

A Lesson And A Legacy
In my opinion, there are several reasons for the outsized influence that Arline Rich had in our city.

She was completely focused on the practical. She paid attention to the regulations and the process by which developments are evaluated, and applied them to every proposal. She achieved universal respect with informed discussion of setbacks and lot sizes, something that would have been considerably more difficult to generate if her focus had been on more abstract, quality of life issues.

She was utterly unafraid to speak her mind, and unafraid to change it. After having studied an issue, she would come to a conclusion and let all of those in charge of making the decision know what she thought. But though she was determined, she was never stubborn to the point of closing her mind. She listened carefully to alternative opinions, and if persuaded was willing to modify her position.

Finally, she was indefatigable. For years, she would prepare for, and attend, two meetings every month of the Planning and Zoning Commission. This diligence and consistency, listening to every discussion on every little Planning and Zoning issue, gave her experience she could draw upon when there was a bigger issue, and it won her the respect of everybody involved.

There are two ways that her diligence and persistence improved developments. First, she found violations on developer's plans, and ensured that they were corrected before approval. Second, everybody involved in a development was more careful, knowing that Arline Rich was going to look at their work. The developer was less likely to cheat, the planning office was less likely to be careless, and the Planning and Zoning Commission was more likely to exercise diligence.

Arline Rich does not leave behind the kind of legacy left by others who have given to our city. There is no cul-de-sac in a subdivision with her name emblazoned across it, there is no plaque at city hall honoring her service as an elected official.

Rather, her legacy is scattered throughout the city, on the land and in our neighborhoods. If the setbacks and lot lines on the development down the street are correct, if the developer followed through on all of his proposed plan, thank Arline Rich.

Summer Sounds - Kenn Morr Band, Tuesday, July 31 at 7 p.m.

The Kenn Morr Band returns to Summer Sounds and the South Green with original country-folk.

Middletown Commission on the Arts presents their annual Summer Sounds concert series on the City's South Green (Union Park) on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer. (rain location is the sanctuary of South Congregational Church, directly across the street from the Green on the corner of Main & Pleasant Streets).

The concerts are free and you are encouraged to bring lawn chairs/blankets. Food and beverages (no alcohol is permitted on public lawns) are allowed and the United Methodist Church and South Congregational Church adjacent to the Green both sell food/beverage items.
Concerts begin at 7 p.m.
For more information, call the City Arts Office at 860.343.6620 x201 or visit arts2go.org

July 31 : Kenn Morr Band (country-folk)

Aug. 7 : Shack (rock/jazz/pop)
Aug. 14 : Trevor Davis Quartet (jazz/swing with a vocalist)
Aug. 21 : Sambeleza (Brazilian jazz)
Aug. 28 : Elite Syncopation (ragtime/early jazz)
Sept. 4 : Middletown Symphonic Band (popular tunes)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mark Masselli, President & C.E.O. of Community Health Center, to Speak to Middlesex United Way Young Leaders Society

Middlesex United Way’s Young Leaders Society is holding a Learn with Leaders event at Community Health Center on their Rooftop Pavilion hosted by Mark Masselli, President and CEO of Community Health Center on Tuesday, August 14th at 8:00 am. Mr. Masselli will discuss the intersection of entrepreneurialism and human services and the characteristics he looks for in young leaders.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Around the Garden

A Tree Blooms in Middletown

The urge to put a name on every plant seems ingrained in gardeners. Sadly, not everyone has – or wants – access to botanical names, so a vast array of common names has grown up around plant life. Sadly, because those names vary from one place to another, often creating great confusion.

Some find political implications in this: Jamaica Kincaid, in one of her gardening diatribes, accuses plant collectors of Colonialism and worse, for renaming tropical plants. It is certainly true that many of us feel an increased sense of ownership when we can call up the correct name for a plant growing in our gardens.

Trees can present special problems, especially when tall and mature. A primary source of identification is the arrangement of buds and leaves on twigs and branches. Often, the tree in question is so tall that it takes a keen eye, or very good binoculars, to figure out what is growing where.

I recently came across an extremely puzzling tree on one of my rambles through Middletown’s backyards. Luckily, these trees were only about 10 feet tall, and their leaves were easily reached, but they were like no other leaves I had seen. Large and heart-shaped, they grew on reddish petioles in alternate arrangement on the twigs. The bark was pale gray and heavily lenticeled. Some trees had single stems, some were in clumps of three.

Totally stumped (as it were) I took some leaf cuttings, in addition to digital photos and spent a few hours paging through my little library to no avail.

Knowing my limitations, I emailed my pictures and a description to the indisputable tree expert in these parts: Ed Richardson of the CT Botanical Society. Ed identifies and measures trees for the CT Notable Tree list, so he almost always can come up with an identification. Doing this from photographs, of course, is much harder than doing it in the field. The feel of a leaf, the hairs on the underside or stem, minute “teeth” on the edge, the gradations of color – all can make identification much faster.

But even working with so-so photos, Ed was more successful than I.
A few hours after I sent the pictures, Ed was on the phone, saying he thought he had it. Page 500 of The Book of Leaves, he said – and I went straight to my copy. And even though I had spent hours with this book, Ed had found what I missed: Poliothyrsis sinensis!

From there, we went to Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Plants, where the most recent edition lists this oddity, and the fact that it had been propagated at the Arnold Arboretum. Bingo – the homeowner said her brother had grown the trees from seeds he had gotten at the Arnold.

On to the Internet, where we found a an article in Arnoldia, the magazine of the Arnold Arboretum, which gave a much fuller description of the tree, including the news that this tree grew in Boston from 1908 to 1933, and then disappeared, only to be reintroduced with seed shipped from Shanghai in 1981.

Two other web sites identified Poliothyrsis variously as the Pearl-bloom tree or the Chinese Pearlbloom tree. The flowers, which opened up last week, explain the common name: each panicle consists of dozens of tiny, round flowers, in shades from white to a sort of old-pearl ivory.

Parsing the botanical name is more of a challenge. The “sinensis” part is easy – Latin for Chinese. The “Polio” prefix means gray, and certainly the bark is gray. Then comes the “thyrsis” – and whether the quotation is from Matthew Arnold, Vergil or Theocritus, Thyrsis is always a shepherd. But, lo – one botanical dictionary contains “thyrse” which it defines as a flowering panicle or inflorescence.

So, we have a Chinese tree with gray bark and flowers that resemble a lilac’s bloom. Maybe it was poetic license to turn “thyrse” into “thyrsis” or maybe that’s the plural of thyrse. Chinese Pearlbloom tree? I’ll go with the common name this time.

Go Vet's Swim Team!

submitted by Lynn Higgs

I am writing regarding the Vet's Pool Summer Swim Team.  We are Middletown's summer league swim team, and at five and a half years young, have experienced tremendous growth and success.  Founded in 2007, the Vet's Swim Team is an instructional and competitive program of the Middletown Parks & Recreation Department.  Since the team's inception, we have more than doubled our membership with more than 100 swimmers on our Junior and Senior teams ranging from age five to 18.   The team takes great pride in providing opportunities for young swimmers to improve their skills and learn proper techniques while learning to become competitive swimmers.   Last year, the team clinched first place at the Central Connecticut Summer Swim League (CCSL) Senior Championship, the first time our team has won the division title.
The Vet's Pool Summer Swim Team was founded by Coach Nick Dagenais, a Middletown native who captained the Middletown High boys swim team from 2006-2007, and swam for Boston College's NCAA Division I varsity swim team, serving as captain his senior year.
For more information on the Vet's Swim team please visit www.vetsswimteam.webs.com  or email vetsswimteam@gmail.com

Eye's editorial note:  
With championship meets a few weeks away, the team had an important Community Night Out fundraiser at Illiano's recently which, unfortunately, the Eye did not have a chance to post in advance of it happening. However, the team is still preparing for the upcoming meets and appreciates any and all of the support that it can get.
Please check out the team's website, consider making a donation, and help cheer them on! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Community Unity Day August 18th

4th AnnuaUnity Day!
WHEN:          Saturday, August 18, 2012
TIME:            12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
WHERE:        South Green-Union Park- 14 Old Church Street, Middletown, CT 06457
The 4th Annual Unity Day offers events and activities that are created with a focus on community, family, and children's well-being and offers positive entertainment, free food, raffles, face painting, moon bounces, community information, and much more for all ages and backgrounds.  Unity Day is a time of celebration for every member of the community, with fun filled family festivities, reflective moments of empowerment, performances that focus on themes of unity & peace, and renewing our community’s passion to work together.
All activities are FREE and open to the public.
Non-Food Vendor space is available for interested companies or organizations. Should you be interested, please contact the event organizer at the telephone number below very soon; space is filling up quickly and is on a first come first serve basis. 
We will be accepting non-perishable food donations for Amazing Grace Food Pantry.  For every non-perishable food item, you will receive 5 FREE raffle tickets.
Please feel free to distribute this information throughout your community and networks.  
Feel free to contact us at 860-834-1220 with any questions.  Thank you.

Friday, July 27, 2012

First Glimpse of 505 Main

Middletown got its first glimpse of the new 505 Main Street building today, as the construction fence came down.  

Just 16 months ago, a snow-laden roof brought down the old 505 Main building - an event which thankfully (amazingly) did not cause any injuries, even though it blew bricks and refuse clear across Main Street.   

This week, the building's owners - the downtown accounting firm of Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski - began the move back to their old address.  I took a quick tour of the building last week, and in addition to stunning views of Main Street, the building holds two office suites (a second-floor unit of 1400 sq. ft. is still available) and a first floor space, which is reportedly going to open as a full-service Vietnamese restaurant later this year.

Congratulations to the folks at Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski!   Middletown is lucky to have a local business willing to make such an investment in a handsome new building on Main Street, when it might have been easier (and certainly cheaper!) to just find another space elsewhere.  As Mike DiPiro, one of the principals, said at the DBD meeting earlier this week, even though they were comfortable in their temporary digs at the MiddleOak Building on Court and Broad, they missed the old neighborhood.  He said that when they began to move back, "I called my wife from the car and told her - I'm headed back to the North End!"

Here's a photo of the old building at 505 Main, before the accident.

J Cherry & The Strawberries Kicking off this Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

J Cherry & The Strawberries - Friday July 27 at 8pm

 Join J-Cherry and the Strawberries for a celebration of Voix de Ville, Voice of the City, a variety show from the heart of the community, with performers of every style and sound, living, working, and creating in the city of Middletown and the surrounding area. It’s poetry, dance, song, comedy, and bits of wisdom. Where the community is the theater.

J-Cherry/ lyricist, vocals, mouth harp
Tim Sparks/ singer/songwriter, guitar, mouth harp
Phill Bullaro/ drums
Steve Far/ singer/songwriter, bass, guitar
Sympetalous/ poet, percussion
Rich Hatfield/ guitar


"Aligned with Source" Workshop for Empowerment - Saturday July 28 at 10:30am

Aligned With Source is an Inter-Active talk/workshop with a purpose of bringing understanding to life’s challenges and empowering us to deal with them. We ‘know’ that ‘love can cure all ills, create miracles and is what we must have for peace on Earth to prevail’. But do we believe this? Do we truly understand the full impact of this most powerful force? A single, gentle word with infinite facets, all bring us to a single, most beautiful space. Come share in the exploration of its depths, potential and beauty.
Annaita is a Spiritual & Holistic Healer who moved to Connecticut from India. She is experienced in applying varied healing modalities to a wide range of situations her primary focus has been to heal through empowerment.
In these inter-active workshops, Annaita shares her deep understanding of life, holism and spirituality, enabling you to rise above life’s challenges to live a healthy, fulfilled & confident life.

$5 suggested donation

Novel Writing Workshop with Award-Winning Writer and Former ABC and NPR Journalist Eileen Albrizio- Saturday July 28 at 1pm

What "Show Don't Tell"  Means in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction

One of the most frustrating phrases we’ve heard as writers will frustrate you no more! Yes, you’ve slammed into the phrase countless times and although it sounds like simple logic, when it comes right down to crafting your novel or memoir, you still end up telling the story instead of showing it. You try to be more descriptive, yet you are, again, told that the writing is telling. “How can that be!” you scream at your computer, head pounding in pain from beating it against your desk in defeat. Here’s part of the problem. Writing a novel is a long   process and much of that process is spent working to move the story forward. We spend a lot of time trying to get from here to there, moving step by step through the story to get to the conclusion. What we aren’t   doing is making each step of the journey vivid, real, tangible and engaging. This workshop will not only make sense out of “show don’t tell,” but will make the craft of showing your story enjoyable and exciting!     
$25 per person. Registration required. Call 860-347-4957, or email Eileen at EileenRain@aol.com

Alli and the Oxen Frees and Mumblty-Peg - Saturday July 28 at 8pm

Alli Millstein, singer-songwriter out of New York City will be performing with her band, Alli and the Oxen Frees. Along with Alli and the Oxen Frees, Kevin Keplacki and his band, Mumblty-Peg, an emerging folk rock group from Connecticut will be giving a benefit performance to raise money for Pathways Togo, Inc, a non-profit dedicated to supporting girls education in Togo, West Africa. By providing scholarships and small-scale community improvement grants, Pathways Togo embraces the vision: educate women, empower the world.
If you like the sound of Jenny Lewis or Beach House, you will love Alli and the Oxen Frees and if you are a fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, you will be a fan of Mumblty-Peg. So, come on down to the Buttownwood Performing Arts Center for a great night of music to support an inspiring cause.

 Hope to see you there!

MxCC Foundation Hosts Red Moon Fest to Support Middlesex Community College

The Middlesex Community College Foundation, Inc. is hosting an evening celebration of the “red moon harvest” and the bounty that is “grown, made, and created in Connecticut” at its first annual Red Moon Fest.  The fundraising event will feature acoustic music by the Lost Acres String Band, along with locally produced wine and beer, savories and sweets, and a silent and live auction. The celebration will be held in Chapman Hall on the MxCC Middletown campus, from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  Tickets are available for $50 each by calling 860.343.6914 or emailing gkline@mxcc.edu.

The MxCC Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt public charity dedicated to the support of Middlesex Community College and its students, who come from throughout Middlesex, New Haven, and Hartford counties. The Middlesex Community College Foundation raises support for student scholarships, faculty development, instructional equipment, and public lectures and programs that contribute to the quality of life here in Connecticut.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gina Ulysse Captivates Wesleyan Crowd With Performance of Voodo Doll, What if Haiti Were a Woman

Gina Ulysse, an Associate Professor of Anthropology and the director of the Center for African American Studies at Wesleyan, demonstrated just how powerful performance art can be when she performed at the campus’s CFA Hall early Tuesday afternoon. Ulysse, a highly regarded poet, performance and multi-media artist, performed her avant-garde work entitled Voodoo Doll, What if Haiti Were a Woman: On ti Travay sou 21 Pwen or An Alter(ed) native in Something Other than Fiction to a standing-room only crowd. Voodoo Doll is performance peace in which Ulysse meditates on her mother country of Haiti. The work is inspired by Gede, the Haitian Voodoo spirit of life and death, and Ulysse uses this inspiration to create a performance that combines the story of Haiti’s geopolitical history with how Ulysse identifies with the nation. Ulysse electrified the crowd on Tuesday with an exhilarating and sometimes overwhelming performance. Through spoken word poetry, chanting and signing, the professor conveyed Haiti’s rich and tumultuous history. Ulysse focused on such subjects and events as the 1803 revolution that freed Haiti from French rule, the history of its inhabitants being forced into slavery and forced labor, the migration of Haitians to the United States and the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. It was evident from her performance just how much this history has affected Ulysse and fellow Haitians. After listening to Ulysse perform, it was easy to appreciate that history. After the main performance, Gina Ulysse spent a few minutes discussing her connection to Haiti and her identity as a Haitian. She spoke about after migrating with her family from Haiti to the United States as a youngster, she felt disconnected to both cultures, saying that when she was younger, being a Haitian in the U.S. made her feel as if she was walking around with a stamp on her head that said, “Who are you and what are you doing here?” This disconnect was felt most strongly because of the differences between the career path Ulysse wanted to follow and the path her parents expected Ulysse to follow. Ulysse wished to pursue the arts, particularly singing, while her parents, similar to other Haitian immigrants, wanted her to go to school and eventually find a job that allowed her to become middle-class and start a family. Though Ulysse would abandoned her goal of becoming a singer to go to school and pursue a PhD in anthropology, her schooling helped her realize that she wanted to gain a deeper understanding of Haiti, an understanding that would allow Ulysse to teach others about her country. As she pursued this path, Ulysse has used the extensively used the arts in works like Voodoo Doll. “I am a performance artist masquerading as academic”, Ulysse said in summing up her work.

The Circus Comes to Town

24th Annual Children’s Circus of Middletown to perform August 3
Design by Jason Leinwand

Oddfellows Playhouse and the Middletown Commission on the Arts present the 24th Children’s Circus of Middletown: The Circus of Science.  The one-time-only show will be presented on August 3 at 5 PM at Macdonough School, with a rain date of August 4 at 5 PM.
The talented young performers of the Circus of Science will bounce around like molecules in an atom, explore the elements of fire, earth, air and water, and of course a mad scientist or two.  The Circus of Science will explore a range of scientific subjects all the way from the dinosaurs and marine biology to string theory.  And of course many famous scientists, or at least famous scientist clowns, will be making an appearance.

The Children’s Circus is a 5-week, half-day program for 130 children ages 8-14 that has become not only a huge local event but also a national model for nonprofit municipal partnerships.  Over the five weeks, participants learn a huge variety of circus skills such as acrobatics, dance, juggling, unicycling, stilt walking, clowning, and visual arts.  After deciding on two areas of specialization, the participants train daily and perform for the camp at the end of each week.  For the last two weeks of the program, the participants are cast into featured roles in a circus act, and rehearse these acts before performing in front of over 1,000 people. The performance features the live circus band of local musicians led by Dirck Westervelt, costumes by Betsy Spiro, and scenic and prop design by Ro Seidleman.  
Photo by Andy Szegedy-Maszak

The Children's Circus offers an exceptionally unique program where the whole family and the entire whole community, can get involved in the making of something truly inspiring and special.  Jason Leinwand, this year’s circus director, is especially excited about the community focus of this arts program, “As the Technical Director I was fortunate to spend a lot of time building, paper macheing, painting, cutting watermelon and laughing with circus kids and their families during our bi-weekly tech sessions held in the evenings at the Remington Rand space.”  Leinwand goes on to say, “In my opinion, this is the essence of what the circus is. It's a place where everyone is welcome to participate. The circus is a place where all of our individual skills are collaged together to create an unbelievable spectacle that everyone can be proud to be a part of. We become a community of artists and over time, one big circus family.”
Photo by Andy Szegedy-Maszak

This year, Oddfellows is asking everyone to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to Amazing Grace Food Pantry.  Bring a lawn chair and enthusiasm to Macdonough School and enjoy the spectacle.  The 24th Children’s Circus of Middletown: The Circus of Science will perform at 5 PM on August 3 at 66 Spring Street in Middletown.  Parking is limited to street locations, so carpooling is recommended. The Macdonough School lot is reserved for handicapped and elderly patrons.

Tickets are available at the gate for $5 for Adults and $3 for Students and Seniors.

The Children’s Circus is made possible by the Middletown Commission on the Arts, the Middlesex United Way, Stop and Shop Foundation, Peter Abare-Brown and Courtney Antonioli and Oddfellows Playhouse’s many generous supporters.  For more information, call (860) 347-6143.

For more information on programs, to register for classes or to purchase tickets to performances, call Oddfellows at (860) 347-6143 or log onto www.oddfellows.org. 

Oddfellows programming in 2012-13 is made possible through the generous support of the American Savings Foundation, the CDBG Scholarship Program, the CT Department of Economic and Community Development, the CT Department of Education, Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Fund, Elizabeth Carse Foundation, the Fund for Greater Hartford, the George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation, the Irving Kohn Foundation, the J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Liberty Bank Foundation, Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, Middlesex County Community Foundation, Middlesex United Way, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Middletown YSB, the National Endowment for the Arts, Northern Middlesex Cable Advisory Council, Pratt & Whitney—Middletown, Price Chopper Golub Foundation, the Stare Fund, Stop and Shop Foundation, Thomas J. Atkins Foundation, Triple Frog, LLC and WESU (88.1FM).

Listening Sessions on Roadside Clearing to be Held on Monday, August 13

State Vegetation Management Task Force to Hold Two “Listening Sessions” for Public Input to the Task Force’s Findings and Draft Recommendations

The State Vegetation Management Task Force (Task Force) today announced that two listening sessions will be held on August 13 regarding the draft findings and recommendations of the Task Force. The first session will be from 4:00 to 6:00 pm; the second will be from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. These listening sessions will be held in the Phoenix Auditorium at DEEP, 79 Elm Street, Hartford. The purpose of these listening sessions is to provide an opportunity for public input into the Task Force’s Final Report.

The Task Force is chaired by Eric Hammerling of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. Mr. Hammerling will present an overview of the Task Force process and the draft recommendations at the start of each listening session. Following the presentation, the public will be given ample time to provide commentary and suggestions.

The draft recommendations will be available on the DEEP forestry webpage on or before 5:00 PM on August 6. Information on the Task Force web page can be found by going to the forestry webpage and following this link at the top of the page. Information about the Task Force, membership and meeting summaries is included on this web page. Comments and suggestions will be accepted through August 14 via email at: DEEP.Forestry@ct.gov or via regular mail at:
State Vegetation Management Task Force c/o Division of Forestry Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection 79 Elm Street Hartford, CT 06106

All comments must be emailed or postmarked by August 14, 2012.

The Task Force was convened by DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty at the recommendation of Governor Malloy’s Two Storm Panel, which in turn was formed in response to Tropical Storm Irene and the October Nor’easter. The final report of the Task Force is due at the end of August, on the anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene.

The Task Force consists of twenty individuals, each selected by the DEEP Commissioner for their expertise in a field related to roadside trees. The Task Force has been assigned the responsibility of producing specific standards and guidelines regarding management of the trees along Connecticut's roadsides.

Free parking for the public is available after 3 pm at the State Office Building Lot on Capitol Avenue. For further information or more details, please call the DEEP Division of Forestry at 860-424-3630 or email the Division at the email address given previously.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Human Megaphone Romeo & Juliet TONIGHT!

ARTFARM's Human Megaphone Balcony Scene from Romeo & Juliet WILL be taking place TONIGHT at 6:25 pm at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown. Rescheduled from last Wednesday deluge, fire & brimstone. This will be really cool, especially if YOU are there to take part. Great band afterwards -- Eight to the Bar! Arrive early because parking is a challenge (Mercy High School, Snow school, then walk in...), bring a picnic, a nice Chardonnay or perhaps a handful of IPA's ... this will be one to remember. And what a beautiful night!!!

Mark Lemaire and Twilight Review

Back for the second time, Mark Lemaire and Twilight gave a lovely performance on Friday night at The Buttonwood Tree. With a new album on its way, the duo had many songs to share with their audience. Although the mature audience was well-suited for the refined lyrics and composure of the duo, Mark Lemaire and Twilight's indie folk sound seemed entirely ageless. The most outstanding sight of the evening was Lemaire's interesting guitar style – a kind of “slap n' tap.” The words to explain the style are beyond me, but I would recommend any and all to witness Lemaire play. With a smooth blend of instrumentals and vocals, Mark Lemaire takes the lead supported by Twilight's sweet-sounding harmonies. The magnetic connection between the musicians was virtually tangible from my seat. Mark Lemaire reminded the audience how folk music is community-centered and enjoys playing at venues like The Buttonwood Tree. On folk music, Lemaire says, “a lot of people want this music, but don't know it exists.” It is through shows like Friday evening's where folk music is brought back to the people. The story-telling vibe of the performance was accompanied by a sound that even college-age students would find appealing. This California duo's music enchants listeners with an unceasing passion and cohesiveness that I have very rarely seen in pairs. Any guest of The Buttonwood Tree should pick up Mark Lemaire and Twilight's new album, which comes out this autumn.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Multi-generational Cast to Take the Stage for Holiday Production

Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater and Connecticut Heritage Productions are joining creative forces this holiday season with a co-production of A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel.  The play will perform at Oddfellows Playhouse from December 6-15.  A Civil War Christmas received its world premiere at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven in 2008.  The play is by Paula Vogel, with music by Daryl Waters. 

Summer Sounds In The Air! Phil Rosenthal Trio on the South Green at 7 p.m. - July 24

The Middletown Commission on the Arts presents their annual Summer Sounds concert series on the City's South Green (Union Park) on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer. (rain location is the sanctuary of South Congregational Church, directly across the street from the Green on the corner of Main & Pleasant Streets).

The concerts are free and you are encouraged to bring lawn chairs/blankets. Food and beverages (no alcohol is permitted on public lawns) are allowed and the United Methodist Church and South Congregational Church adjacent to the Green both sell food/beverage items.

Phil Rosenthal and son Daniel perform folk, bluegrass and more, with special guest Stacy Phillips on dobro and fiddle.

Concerts begin at 7 p.m.
For more information, call the City Arts Office at 860.343.6620 x201 or visit arts2go.org

July 24 : Phil Rosenthal Trio (bluegrass/old-timey music)

Full schedule below the jump