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.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ SOPHIA!! Only 2 years old and such a long haired b/w beauty!!

Meet Sophia...  She is the Cat Tales "Cat of the Week"!

Gender: Female
Breed: Domestic Long Hair
Color: Black & White
Age:2 years old

Hello, my name is Sophia. I was found on top of a dumpster in a cat carrier abandoned. Thank goodness the right person found me and I was saved by Animal Control. I am such a sweet girl and all the volunteers keep telling me that I'm so pretty and such a good girl. I really need a quiet home with a patient person who will give me time to adjust from all the chaos. I love to be pet, love attention and I will let you know!  I'd love to snuggle up with you on the couch or in your bed. I have so much love to give. I need to be the only pet in the home. Please come to meet me - call or email Cat Tales to make an appointment today!

Watch our TV commercial:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

What Makes Us Hooey R? -- The Colonel Carries On #65

By Amonna Souter-Pantsoff

Epigraph: “If you keep all your feelings pent up inside, they won’t explode, they’ll compost! Keep turning ‘em! Give ‘em air!” --Knotty Deepun

🐺Somebody Tweeted to the effect “Nobody post any more pix of their back patio with snow on it, please.”

🦊 Today is Eastern Orthodox Christmas. Merry Christmas.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Buttonwood Tree's Eclectic Weekend Lineup

Storytellers and Jazz, education and enactment of John Milton's Paradise Lost - all at TBT this weekend   605 Main Street.  860.347.4957

Story City Troupe

January 6 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm   $10
Story City is a troupe of storytellers based in the Hartford, CT area and trained by Matt Dicks, one of The Moth’s champion storytellers. Story City Troupe uses The Moth Formula: all are true, personal stories, often funny, sometimes amazing, poignant or ironic and based on a single theme for the evening. Audience members are invited to enter their name for a chance to tell their own story as well. The troupe members range in age from their 20’s to their 70’s, proving you can come up with a good story at any age.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you'll identify!

Aligned with Source: An Interactive Workshop & Meditation

January 7 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm   $5 

Hosted by Annaita Gandhy, a Spiritual & Holistic Healer from India. Annaita is experienced in applying varied healing modalities to a wide range of situations. In these inter-active workshops, Annaita seeks to empower, sharing her deep understanding of life, holism and spirituality, enabling you to rise above life’s challenges, live a healthy, fulfilled, confident life. 
This week's topic: Opening Up to Divine Grace & Joy: In this new year, welcome the Light of the Universe & allow it to fill you.

Bop Tweed – Flying Fish Sessions

January 7 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm   $10

Stephen Roane, Jason Apostoleris and Tim Barry a.k.a., BOP TWEED, are very happy to be performing at The Buttonwood Tree for the first time, and will be playing selections from their latest CD - "Flying Fish Sessions"- as well as preview some new songs they've been working on along with past favorites from previous CD's. Bop Tweed is a jazz/blues trio, comprised of Steve Roane of Madison on guitar and vocals, Jason Apostoleris of East Haddam on percussion and Tim Barry of Stony Creek on bass. They are all seasoned musicians, playing a mixture of original songs and jazz & blues standards.

John Basinger – Paradise Lost Book 1 - Live Performance

January 8 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm    Donations welcome for TBT
The Paradise Lost Performance Project - Book 1 - John Basinger started committing all twelve books of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” to memory in 1993. Since then, he has performed them at a variety of venues across the country, including; Poetry Alive in Asheville, North Carolina, 1997 National Slam Poetry Festival, The Connecticut Storytelling Festival, Bluffton University, Wesleyan University, Yale University, Three Rivers Community College, Trinity College (Hartford CT), Connecticut College, Avol’s Bookstore in Madison WI, Edgartown (MA) Public Library, Regensburg…

CHC Minimum Wage Is Now $18 Per Hour

From the Community Health Center.
The minimum wage for employees at Community Health Center, Inc., (CHC) one of the nation’s largest community health centers, rises to $18 per hour on January 1, 2017.

CHC began evaluating its salary structure approximately five years ago for entry level workers. The health center recognized that along with its mission, “Health Care is a right and not a privilege”, there was also the commitment to social and economic justice. One of the clear findings of the evaluation showed Connecticut is an expensive place to live and the entry wage needed to reflect this fact.  CHC commenced increasing its minimum wage four years ago and each year has added to that minimum amount prudently. 

“As part of our mission, CHC strives to be a voice and vehicle for social change, and we believe paying a living wage helps us achieve that purpose,” says Mark Masselli, president and CEO of CHC.

Masselli thanked the agency’s Board of Directors for its vision and support in this area and noted, “We are focused on providing world-class healthcare with a world-class staff, and encourage anyone who shares these values to learn more about us at”

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Meet Your Greens/Middletown Green Drinks January 19th With John Humphries

The first Meet Your Greens/Middletown Green Drinks event of 2017 takes place on Thursday, January 19 with guest speaker John Humphries, organizer of the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs and a member of the Governor's Council on Climate Change (GC3). The event begins at 5:30 pm at the Tavern at the Armory, Inn at Middletown, 70 Main Street. Meet Your Greens/Middletown Green Drinks provides networking opportunities for anyone interested in making connections and exchanging news about emerging environmental issues. 

An official location of Green Drinks International, this informal monthly gathering is hosted by the Rockfall Foundation. It draws people from the community, nonprofit groups and the business world together to brainstorm ideas and plant seeds for collaboration. Meet Your Greens/Middletown Green Drinks generally meets the 3rd Thursday of the month for 10 months of the year. All are welcome with no reservations or advanced registration necessary. You do not need to be affiliated with an organization to attend. Meet Your Greens/Middletown Green Drinks is free, however, food and beverage purchases are the responsibility of the individual. If your establishment would like to be a host site, or for additional information, please contact The Rockfall Foundation at 860-347-0340.

The Best Restaurants Are Here

According to the experts at Connecticut Magazine, our city has the best of almost every thing. The magazine's "Experts" put the following Middletown eateries on their list of the state's best restaurants.