Friday, January 20, 2017

Kids Arts 2017 Summer Registration packets are available now!

The City Arts & Culture Office/MCA Kids Arts 2017 summer arts enrichment camps - the Children's Circus and the Creative Arts Workshops - are accepting registrations now. All the details on the programs are laid out in the brochure. Get yours now and plan your Summer early.

The packets were delivered to the neighborhood schools on January 19th so be on the lookout in your child's backpack or school papers.

If you prefer, you can fill out the form on your computer by downloading the PDF version from the City website on the Kids Arts page. The packet is also available at City Hall.

We're looking forward to a super Summer and your children make that happen! Sign them up now!

(photographs courtesy of Kisha Michael ©2015)

Tonight: Bill of Rights Performance in Wesleyan Memorial Chapel

Neely Bruce, Professor of music at Wesleyan, wrote an acclaimed composition that set the United States' Bill of Rights to music. This composition was premiered in Wesleyan Memorial Chapel in September 2005.

On Friday 20 January from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. some singers who have done this piece many times, along with a handful of instruments, will hold an OPEN REHEARSAL of this piece, as a reminder of this precious text.

WHAT: Rehearsing "The Bill of Rights," singers and auditors welcome (music will be provided) 
WHERE: Wesleyan Memorial Chapel
WHEN: Friday 20 January, 2017, from 7:30 to 9:30

Neely writes:
If you would like to be cheered, please join us. Perhaps some of you would like to sing along. ... I would love it if you could help me spread the word. This is not a performance, but some folks might like listen. But participation, and celebration of the Bill of Rights, is the thing. It seems to me, and my fellow singers, that this country needs to be CONSTANTLY reminded of this text in the next four years.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Buttonwood Tree Hosts Comedian Mark Normand Thursday

It's a FUN and FULL weekend, loaded with talent at The Buttonwood Tree!

Thursday 1/19:   MARK NORMAND  (presented by Paul Gregory)
Comedy with 3 other comedians, Doors at 6:30 8 pm show (no intermission)

So far, Mark has done a Comedy Central HALF HOUR special, has appeared on TBS’s CONAN 4 times, Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Showtime’s “Live at SXSW”, INSIDE AMY SCHUMER, TruTv, Best Week Ever, MTv, Last Comic Standing, @Midnight and released an album with Comedy Central records titled “Still Got It” (it’s not bad). This year, Mark took first place at the Great American Comedy Festival competition. In 2013 won Caroline’s March Madness competition, beating out 63 other comedians. And this is a real shocker for all of us, but he was also voted Village Voice’s “Best Comedian of 2013”, I know, right? In 2012, Mark appeared on “John Oliver’s New York Standup Show” on Comedy Central, and in 2011 was picked as one of Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch.”
                                                 watch one sample   
Reservations suggested!!

ALSO Thursday 1/19:
Shaking the Tree Gong & Sound Meditation - to be held at MAC 650. 650 Main St.  - plenty of space to lay down, unwind and get balanced, soothed and recharged. 7-9 pm, $15 at door cash/check only.

Friday it's the interesting and informative theatrical skits by the Free at Last Players - sponsored by Gilead Community Services. Jan 20th,  8 pm, by donation.

Saturday morning, get yourself in balance listening and asking questions - Aligned with Source Interactive  Workshop and Guided meditation.

Saturday night  - Warren Byrd has assembled a mighty quartet to lift up Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  8 pm   Only $10!!

DO reserve your seats They will be assigned, so if you have more than 1 reservation, please let us know so we an seat you together.  Thanks!

 The Buttonwood Tree
605 Main St
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4957

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Urban Environment Program -- Tuesday January 31, 7 p.m.

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ MIZZY!!

Cat Tales Cat of the Week!

Meet Mizzy... 

Gender: Female
Breed: DSH
Color: Torti
Age: 10 years old

My owner was put into a nursing home the day before Thanksgiving. His family decided to dispose of me by throwing me outside on the streets to fend for myself. I was in this house all my life since I was a kitten and had never been outdoors. I was so confused, sad, cold and hungry. I waited and waited but no one ever came for me. I'm thankful to be warm and fed at Cat Tales but I do not know why I am here. I really would love a quiet home with a patient person who will love me and allow me to come around on my own time from all this major disruption. I am very sweet & affectionate and I do like be held and cuddled. I've been through so much so please give me some time to get used to my new environment. If you are a warm hearted person with a big heart, come to Cat Tales to meet me. 

No Dogs / No Children

Free Screening of "Merchants of Doubt" Documentary February 6th

Organizers of The Elements: An Environmental Film Series present a free screening of the documentary film MERCHANTS OF DOUBT on Monday, February 6 at 7 pm at the Goldsmith
Family Cinema on the campus of Wesleyan University.

Inspired by the acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, MERCHANTS OF DOUBT takes audiences on a satirically comedic, yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin. Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals topharmaceuticals to climate change. Using a professional magician, the film explores the analogy between these tactics and the methods used by magicians to distract their audiences from observing how illusions are performed. The 90-minute film was an official selection of the Telluride, Toronto, and New York Film Festivals and was a 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

The screening is free and open to the public and takes place at The Goldsmith Family Cinema in Wesleyan University’s Center for Film Studies, 301 Washington Terrace, Middletown, CT. For additional information about the screening, please visit or call 860-347-0340. For additional information about the film, visit

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series was launched in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and College of the Environment.

Xavier Graduate and Navy SEAL Kevin Lacz to Speak at Russell Library

On Thursday, January 19, at 6:30pm, Russell Library will host author Keven Lacz, who will read from his new book, The Last Punisher.

Kevin Lacz's book is a New York Times bestselling on-the-ground memoir from a Navy SEAL who was part of SEAL Team 3 (known as The Punishers) with American Sniper Chris Kyle.

After graduating from Xavier High School, Kevin Lacz joined the SEALs and served alongside Chris Kyle with SEAL Team 3 during the Battle of Ramadi (which is the focus of the book). He also went on to serve as the technical advisor to Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood for the Oscar-nominated American Sniper film and ended up playing himself onscreen in the movie.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Happy Birthday, Martin--Thank you, WESU

A Balm in Gilead

The times are particularly discouraging for many of us in our nation, where our understanding of our future leadership is uncertain and our estimate of how we can possibly move forward is beyond comprehension.

So today, it is an unexpected bright spot for me to be at home in Middletown, on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and listening to WESU. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be able to listen to WESU's extensive programming in honor of Dr. King. Stevie Wonder singing "Happy Birthday, Martin!," over and over, as backup to Saturday night's broadcast of some of Dr. King's speeches made for a joyful tribute to Dr. King and his life and times, his thoughts, his words.

A Way Forward

I admit that it's hard to have faith and hope in the future, I admit I feel adrift, vulnerable, and slightly unhinged by the events of the past few months.

But listening to Dr. King speaking, preaching, remembering, and encouraging us, I am AMAZED and exhilarated:
  If Dr. King was able to sustain his hope and faith, that gives me a feeling of hope and I won't give up.
Let's give it a chance. Let's hope for the best. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Piracy Report “Greenwashed” -- The Colonel Carries On #66

By Abigail Presterjohn and Maria Vaughan-Trapp  

Epigraph: “If nothing is verifiable, all news is fake and the only criterion is what you like, hence cocooning.” --Binyamin Britten-Bradlee

πŸ’ͺ January thaw; full moon. Maureen Dowd says there’s a bipartisan consensus in Washington that it’s time to flip out.

πŸ’ͺ Blurbs from the cover of “Red Rum: A Backwards Murder. An Alexander Archipelago Mystery” by Zagonna Fall:

πŸ’ͺ “You’ll laugh the spilkes out of your genechtagazoink!” --Linda Richman

πŸ’ͺ “Heartwarming!” --Webster’s Dictionary

πŸ’ͺ One of life’s little mysteries is why there’s no short word for “verbosity.” You have to to go to great lengths to describe it: circumlocution, diffuseness, garrulity, logorrhea, long-windedness, periphrasis, prolixity, redundancy, windiness, wordiness, and more.

πŸ’ͺ At the other end of the spectrum, there’s “pith.” And vinegar.

πŸ’ͺ Hawaii may be the remotest archipelago in the world. Before waxing prolix (or surfboards) about Hawaii, a word about the etymology of “archipelago.” Sit down, this will fascinate you.

πŸ’ͺ “Archipelago” is from the Italian “arcipelago,” literally “the Chief Sea,” referring to the Aegean Sea, considered “chief” because of its many islands.

πŸ’ͺ The Ancient Greek is ἀρχι- ‎(arkhi-, “leading,” as in “archdeacon” and “archangel”) +‎ πέλαγος ‎(pΓ©lagos, “sea”). Then the word was extended to mean any sea with many islands, then to the islands themselves, the present meaning.

πŸ’ͺ Now, as the Beach Boys so memorably put it, back to Hawaii. Its presence in the middle of the gigantic and almost landless Pacific Ocean -- the Pacific being the most visible geographical feature of the planet as seen from space --  makes Hawaii the genetically remotest place on Earth in that, for its size, Hawaii has the highest percentage of species that exist nowhere else.

πŸ’ͺ Polynesian mariners arrived around 400 CE and transformed the ecology of the islands. Captain Cook and others came in the 1700s, transforming the ecology of the islands again. (James Michener said it better, but with less pith.)

πŸ’ͺ This history raises questions for conservationists and preservationists: what’s to be conserved, preserved, or restored in a place like Hawaii? When was it pristine?

πŸ’ͺ The question’s not unique to Hawaii: what to conserve, preserve, and restore in Australia, first settled by humans about 60,000 years ago: out with camels and rabbits? Out with whitefellas? Or out with everybody, Aboriginal peoples, too?

πŸ’ͺ To restore a thing to its original state, you need to figure out what its original state was. The Big Bang is a useful thought here. If you pick a non-original period as the golden age, it’s hard to come up with a rationale that doesn’t boil down to “because that’s what present elites want.”

πŸ’ͺ “MCLE” means mandatory (or minimum) continuing legal education. A company sells webinars that are “EZ” to watch anywhere, anytime, on any device. It’s Without the explanation, it’s easy to think it’s something Irish and sapphic.

πŸ’ͺ Another such outfit is “myCLE,” which is typographically disturbing, and also looks like an annoyingly weird spelling of the grand old Hebrew archangelic name “Michael.”

πŸ’ͺ Failure is not the opposite of success, but part of it. Doubt is not opposed to faith; faith without doubt is not a living thing. And beauty without a flaw is not the highest beauty.

πŸ’ͺ I came upon a delightful bit of lorem ipsum: “snorple dialectic fizz goop.”

πŸ’ͺ Edna St. Vincent Millay’s middle name was not a family name, but the name of the hospital where she was born.

πŸ’ͺ The English name “St. John” is pronounced “sin gin.” Wouldn’t “Sin Gin” be a good brand name for an alcoholic spirit? Sounds Japanese somehow.

πŸ’ͺ Turns out isn’t about disgusting things on lawns.

πŸ’ͺ  The Kenyan proverb “Any calabash with a bottom can stand upright” brings to mind a deceased entertainer associated with the following taglines:

πŸ’ͺ “It’s a catastrostroke!”

πŸ’ͺ “I’m mortified!”

πŸ’ͺ “Surrounded by assassins!”

πŸ’ͺ “Everybody wants to get into the act!”

πŸ’ͺ “Hot-cha-cha-cha-cha!”

πŸ’ͺ “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!”

πŸ’ͺ He covered “Frosty the Snowman.”

πŸ’ͺ Today's emoji is meant to condition you to think you're reading muscular prose.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Buttonwood Tree Weekend Performances

In a last minute change, The Buttonwood Tree announces that GRACIE DAY will be opening the show for Tiny Oceans. Murderous Chanteuse is unable to perform. Fortunately this talented singer songwriter is available to start our show at 8 pm tonight.  Call 860.347.4957 to hold your seat or go online to reserve on our website

Friday, January 13, 2017   

Gracie Day and Tiny Oceans
8 pm     $10

Gracie Day is currently working with her band Gracie Day and the Knights in the studio on an EP Many influences are merging to create an sonic and lyrical cohesion of Rock, Blues, Soul and Country.  Day has been praised for her emotive, soulful, sensual voice and finger-picking style.

She's played at The Katharine Hepburn PAC, Infinity Hall and many other well known venues. 

"She delivers a uniquely sweet braid of guitar and vocal melodies, supported by a voice direct from the heart that brings cutting immediacy to lyrics poignant and powerful all by themselves."
Channel 18 in Wallingford, CT

Tiny Ocean Info
  • Kierstin Sieser – Vocals, Acoustic guitar
  • Jeremy Coster – Guitar
  • Keith Newman – Bass
  • Jon Morse – Drums
Hailing from Connecticut, Tiny Ocean Formed serendipitously in the winter of 2016.  Drummer and band catalyst, Jon Morse, brought guitarist, Jeremy Coster, and bassist, Keith together with singer songwriter, Kierstin Sieser, to work on some new music she was writing and it was love at first song.  Tiny Ocean create a dreamy and intoxicating world rooted in Americana storytelling. They are currently working on their first EP
Visit their website here and their Facebook page here.

SATURDAY  - January 14

10:30 - noon, with guided meditation by Annaita Gandhy

This Week’s Topic is: Honoring Your Unique Self
Energy Exchange: Donation ($5)

Seat of Our Pants (SOOP)   (folk/rock concert)
8 pm  $10    Reservations suggested

Carolyn, Jeff, Mark, and Mike have the whole package with tight vocals, guitar, bass, violin, percussion, and two CDs under their belts. They deliver a fabulous combination of original material and unique covers of current and not so current tunes, with genuine ease and grace.

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center
605 Main Street / PO Box 71, Middletown, CT 06457 / 860.347.4957


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mayor Drew Announces Run For Governor

In a fund raising appeal, Mayor Dan Drew has announced his intention to run for Governor.

Below is the text of his announcement.
I want you to be the first to know, Stephen: Today, I’m filing paperwork to start the process of exploring a run for Governor.

Here’s why:
For too long, government has been focused on helping the people at the very top, while those in the middle are left behind. Connecticut can and must embrace the big ideas and bold changes we need to improve the lives of the people of our state: a dignified retirement for every senior, a great education for every child, and good-paying jobs for every worker.

I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished in Middletown. Together, we slashed unemployment in half, renewed our commitment to green energy, and lowered property taxes while improving public services. I’m confident that the approach we’ve taken in Middletown will serve the people of Connecticut well in every corner of our state.

This election is also an opportunity to fight for our progressive values in the age of Donald Trump. We must fight for a fair economy, create good jobs, and make clear that our government must work for everyone, not just the insiders and wealthy special interests.

With your support, we can make it happen. We'll have a lot do in the coming weeks, but the first thing you can do is help us get off to a fast start – will you be one of the first 50 donors to this effort?


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Superintendent Proposes Modest Increase in School Budget

At the request of Board Chairman Vinnie Loffredo, School Superintendent Pat Charles presented three budget alternatives to the Board on Tuesday night.

Based on an assumption that a state requirement forces the city to remain below a 2.5% increase in property taxes, Charles presented a stripped-down 2.5% ($2,006,829) increase budget that barely covers the costs of contracted salary and cost of living increases, and which calls for the potential loss of 8 teaching positions.  In addition, she proposed two additional budgets, one at 3.46% ($2,778,329), which would also call for a reduction of eight teaching positions and one at 4.86% ($3,900,878) which would allow the district to go forward with no reduction in teaching positions.

Board member Christopher Drake question why the board should even consider increases of 3.46% and 4.86% if the city's ability to raise taxes had a ceiling of 2.5%.

Loffredo explained that he felt it was the Board's duty to consider what was best for the students in the district even if it meant approaching the Common Council for an increase.  Loffredo explained that the tax increase cap imposed by the state was being challenged by municipalities and the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE).

Other factors will affect the Board's budget deliberations.  A projected $1.5 billion deficit at the state level portends funding shortfalls at the municipal level, and Governor Dannel Malloy's proposal to create a new school funding formula means that funding levels are bound to change.

Based on current state budget woes, in December, state Alliance Grant contributions to the Middletown school district budget were cut by $246,000 for this school year by Governor Dannel Malloy and the State Department of Education.   Malloy cut funding to education in many municipalities, but did not cut funding for Connecticut charter schools.  In addition, the Middletown district has no promise that its Alliance Grant will be renewed.  That grant covers 73 positions in the school budget, along with other expenses.

"If that grant goes away, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs," Board member Linda Synkowicz explained, noting that the $80 million the Board requests from the city does not reflect the true budget of more than $100 million which is partially funded by a portfolio of grants from a number of different sources.

"The bottom line is that there will be fewer vital services to our students and in particular our neediest students,"  Charles said.

In preparing the budget recommendations for the Board, the school administrative staff faced ongoing issues with budgetary software recommended by the city which has never performed as promised, and continues to produce reports rife with errors.

"The version we are using has been very difficult in implementing," Charles said, indicating that a report printed that day delivered bottom line figures that differed by tens of thousands of dollars.

One of the more controversial proposals for saving money in the budgets is to adjust the starting time at the High School and elementary schools to provide more time between tier one and tier three school buses so that up to four buses could be eliminated.

Charles had proposed a ten minute earlier start time at the high school and a fifteen minute later start at elementary schools, but Board members thought the earlier start time at the high school and asked Charles to consider alternatives.  Charles said that other alternatives could have the same cost-saving effect.