Tuesday, April 30, 2013

CCP's Did You Know? Fact #24.


This week's post details the weekly public observing events at the Van Vleck Observatory. Situated in the middle of Wesleyan's campus, the Observatory plays host to a variety of astronomy-related events. From the Observatory website:
Organized and hosted by the Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford (ASGH), this is a great opportunity to view the sky through our beautiful 20" refractor. Refurbished in recent years in honor of Walter Scott "Scotty" Houston who used this instrument many nights, we can now share this telescope with the public on regular occasions. For details please visit the ASGH website.
2013 Schedule for public observing on our 20" refractor:
May 11, 9:00pm-11:00pm
May 24, 9:00pm-11:00pm — Friday Commencement/Reunion Weekend Observing
May 25, 9:00pm-11:00pm — Saturday Commencement/Reunion Weekend Observing
June 15, 9:00pm-11:00pm
July 6, 9:00pm-11:00pm
August 3, 9:00pm-11:00pm
September 14, 9:00pm-11:00pm
October 12, 9:00pm-11:00pm
November 1, 9:00pm-11:00pm — Friday Homecoming/Family Weekend Observing
November 2, 9:00pm-11:00pm — Saturday Homecoming/Family Weekend Observing
November 9, 8:00pm-10:00pm
December 7, 8:00pm-10:00pm
January 4, 2014, 8:00pm-10:00pm
Van Vleck Observatory sponsors day and evening group visits to our institution. Daytime tours (usually reserved for school groups) consist of a brief lecture on current astronomical events that can be viewed from one's back yard, a slide show, and a walk through of our facility. Evening tours are usually held on a predesignated evening, which may or may not coincide with Wednesday Public Observing, and are of a rain or shine, open-house nature. To schedule a group visit to the observatory, please contact Roy Kilgard. For Saturday observing, consult the ASGH website. For Wednesday observing, consult the Middletown weather forecast."

South Fire District Budget Balloting Today

The 2013–2014 Budget Vote will be held Tuesday, April 30, 2013 from 6 AM to 8 PM,
at the Firehouse on Randolph Road.

Home Energy Efficiency Program

Russell Library’s Hubbard Room
Saturday, May 4, 2 – 3:30 p.m.

The City of Middletown is helping its residents reduce their energy consumption, save money on their utility bills, and support the Middletown Tree Planting Fund by encouraging participation in the Home Energy SolutionsSM program.

Wild Boars Reaching New England -- Popcorn by The Colonel #42

Giant Wild Boar Shot in Conroe, Texas
State officials are scrambling to deal with an invasion of roaming behemoths that rototill fields, 
dig up lawns, decimate wetlands, kill livestock, spread diseases, and attack humans.

International Jazz Day - Buttonwood Performer on WWUH

In celebration of International Jazz Day, WWUH Tuesday Morning Jazz
host Chuck Obuchowski will air an interview at 10 a.m., April 30 with
Israeli-born pianist Alon Nechushtan. Listen locally at 91.3 FM or
online at www.wwuh.org.

Nechushtan's trio will be making its Connecticut debut on Saturday, May
4, 8 p.m., at The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main St. in Middletown. More
details at www.buttonwood.org or 860-347-4957.

Pianist Nechushstan composes music that combines cutting-edge
improvisation with postbop and classical elements, as well as Middle
Eastern folk forms. WWUH listeners will hear some of his trio music
during Tuesday's interview.

WWUH, a community service of The University of Hartford airs jazz
programming Monday - Friday, from 9 am - noon, and Tuesday - Friday,
from 9 pm - midnight.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Highland Pond Preserve Highlighted in Hartford Courant

The Hartford Courant published an article today about hiking forgotten trails along the Meriden, Waterbury & Connecticut River Railroad.  My 7th grader regularly reads the paper, and the picture included with the article drew his attention this afternoon:

"Hey, Mom - someone killed the swan on the pond," he called out to me.

"What?  What pond?"

"Our pond - you know the one we go past all the time?"

We live within walking distance of Highland Pond, and we regularly drive down Sawmill Road and Bell Street to see the waterfall and the swans on the pond.  I walk that route whenever I can.  My son showed me the picture of a lone swan on Highland Pond, and the caption noted that local residents told the reporter that someone killed the swan's mate recently.

We've lived in Westfield for 10 years now, and one of our favorite spring sights is the swan on her nest and the cygnets when they hatch.  My excitement over seeing my part of town highlighted in the paper was quickly squashed by the sad news, and it has bothered me all evening.

If anyone has any information about this, please be kind enough to email your information to the Westfield Residents Association (westfieldresidents@gmail.com).

Thank you.

Jennifer Mahr
Chair, Westfield Residents Association

Michelle Agresti '14 talks to Ronald Kuivila about MiddletownRemix Festival (May 11)

Take a Deep Breath and Open Your Ears
A preview of “Rainforest IV” and “Lighthouse, beside the point”
Wesleyan University Professor of Music Ronald Kuivila,
reconstructing David Tudor's "Rainforest IV" (1973) inside of 635 Main Street
in Middletown in preparation for the MiddletownRemix festival on Saturday, May 11.

Michelle Agresti '14 talks to University Professor of Music Ronald Kuivila about MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm, in this entry from the Creative Campus blog. The world premiere of Professor Kuivila’s sound installation commissioned for the festival, "Lighthouse, beside the point," will be located in the glass pavilion atop the Community Health Center at 675 Main Street. Professor Kuivila and Wesleyan University music students are also reconstructing David Tudor's "Rainforest IV" (1973) inside of 635 Main Street.

For MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound on Saturday, May 11, Wesleyan University Professor of Music Ronald Kuivila will be premiering his sound installation “Lighthouse, beside the point,” as well as realizing  David Tudor's sound composition “Rainforest IV.” To interview Professor Kuivila, I visited the future site of “Rainforest IV,” which is in an abandoned storefront on Main Street. I watched with curiosity as Ron briskly strode across the unfinished floor, past the roughed up dry-wall, and in between bare pipes stretching from the ceiling, setting up a speaker. While I followed him with my recorder, Ron explained his vision and purpose for the installation.

Aletta Brady ’15 talks to DJ Arun Ranganathan about MiddletownRemix Festival (May 11)

DJ Arun Ranganathan
Music & Public Life Intern Aletta Brady ’15 talks to DJ Arun Ranganathan about MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm, in this entry from the Creative Campus blog.  Arun has been commissioned to create a 30-minute remix based on the sounds of MiddletownRemix, which will be performed live at both 2pm and 4pm on the main sound stage outside of It’s Only Natural Market at 575 Main Street, interspersed with remixes by Wesleyan student DJs.

I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Arun Ranganathan—also known as DJ N.E.B.—a local hip hop artist, producer and DJ from Middletown’s North End. DJ N.E.B. will be dropping beats on the main stage during MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound on May 11. A beloved member of the Middletown community, he told me about his work, and why he’s excited about the upcoming festival. Here are some excerpts from our interview:

Five Good Reasons to Support the School Budget

Ed McKeon is a resident, and member of the Middletown Board of Ed.  This post reflects his personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Board of Ed in general, or any other individual members of the board.

On Tuesday, the residents and taxpayers of Middletown will have the opportunity to comment on the school budget proposed by school superintendent Pat Charles.

As a father of two boys in a city elementary school, and as a member of the Board of Education, I urge all residents to support full funding of the budget as requested, and here are five reasons why.

1.     The Board of Education Budget is more open and transparent than ever before.  In the past, the public, and the Common Council have complained that budgeting and spending at the Board of Education was cloaked in secrecy.  This year, under Superintendent Pat Charles, the Council received the budget request earlier than they ever have.  They have had the chance to examine it and question expenditures.  They mayor, and his financial advisers, have been part of budget development from the beginning, and all have been invited to attend Budget Committee and Board meetings to join in financial discussions, though few have. 

In the past five years the Common Council has granted only minimal increases to the Board of Ed.  These minimal increases have meant that the BOE has not been able to reasonably keep up with inflation, contract obligations, loss of state and federal grants and state mandates (it must be noted that Middletown teachers, have, during that period, given up expected raises).  This also means that after five years, we are trying to dig out of a deep hole. 

The Board asked Superintendent Charles to develop a budget that would allow us to deliver all services to students that we now deliver, with no loss of teachers, no increase in class size, and with a modest increase for teacher development.  That realistic budget was delivered and it would have meant an 11.6% increase (an increase of $8,413,411 from 2012-2013.)  As a board we knew that it was too large an increase for a single year, so we asked the Superintendent to create a budget that would serve students at a very basic level.  That budget is the one before you, asking for a 7.1% increase ($77,722,558 total, $5,172,558 increase). 

Mayor To Present Awards To City Residents At Ball

From the Mayor's office.
Mayor Daniel T. Drew announced yesterday that he will present the City's first humanitarian, corporate citizen and community service awards at the 8th annual Mayor's Ball on June 1, 2013. The following recipients will be receiving the awards:
  • Betsy Morgan - Mayor's Humanitarian Award for her time and dedication to Middlesex Coalition for Children, School Readiness, Hunger Task Force for Children among others.
  • Frank Marchese - Mayor's Community Service Award for his involvement with the Italian Society of Middletown, St. Sebastian Church, Middletown Youth Soccer and help with the creation of the city's new soccer fields.
  • Tom Byrne - Mayor's Corporate Citizenship Award - Owner and operator of Connecticut Rental Center for his generosity with donations for various events in the community.
This year's ball will benefit  the Amazing Grace Food pantry, and “Letter from Italy, 1944", a soldier's story told in music that will be performed by The Greater Middletown Chorale at the premier on Sunday, April 28, 2013, at 4 p.m. at the Center for Performing Arts at Middletown High School.

The Mayor's 8th annual ball will be held at the Elks Club on Maynard Street. Tickets are still available at $100.00 per person, through the Mayor's office. The price includes a five course Italian-themed meal, wine or beer during cocktail hour, and music for dancing by Prelude Band. Dress for the event is black tie/evening attire. Bill De Kine from De Kine Photo LLC will be onsite to capture images of the evening that will be available for purchase after the event.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

CCP's Did You Know? Fact #23.

For the past couple of years, New England has seen some pretty wicked weather. Between snow storms, hurricanes, power outages, and the like, a group of first responders known as CERT (also known as) C-CERT came through with aid.

From a Post-Nemo article on C-Cert:

"Wesleyan’s Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT), made up of trained Wesleyan staff and faculty members, activated three times after Winter Storm Nemo. While Wesleyan’s grounds crew and grounds contractor Stonehedge worked to clear snow from the main campus pathways, sidewalks and parking areas, the C-CERT team worked to inspect and clear all emergency exits near academic and administrative buildings. C-CERT members also assisted Wesleyan staff and faculty on Feb. 13 by directing them to open parking spaces. With a parking ban in effect, employees were not allowed to park on city streets. Wesleyan’s Transportation Services offered shuttle rides for those parking away from campus."

Sunday Is Lacrosse Day

Happening Right Now: Free Computer and Electronic Recycling at MxCC

Middlesex Community College is holding its fourth annual free “Computer and Electronics Recycling Event” TODAY (Thursday, April 25) at the lower parking lot at 100 Training Hill Road in Middletown from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Anything with a cord or battery (except televisions) will be collected including computers, monitors, laptops, modems, toners, printers, fax machines, telephones, cables, server racks, batteries, Walkmen, and iPods.  Green Monster ecycling of West Hartford will dispose of all materials in an environmentally friendly manner. This event is part of the College’s Earth Week celebration.

Pho Mai Closing (For Now)

In case you haven't heard, Pho Mai, the Vietnamese restaurant that's been a staple of dining in the North End for a decade, is closing.

Signs posted in the restaurant thank their patrons and say that the owners are seeking a new location to reopen the business.  Sunday, April 28th is apparently the last day to get a bowl of hearty soup at the current location.

A new Vietnamese restaurant, Lan Chi's, opened in the neighborhood recently, but that doesn't seem likely to have played a role.  As multiple online reviews attest, Pho Mai built a loyal following offering good food for an affordable price in a friendly, no-frills ambiance.  (Scuttlebutt is that a bank is taking over the building where Pho currently rents and wants it tenant-free for some reason... but that's just hearsay.)

One less eatery in Middletown may not seem like a big deal.  But personally, I think it's a shame to lose a place like Pho.  It attracts a mix of hungry locals, out-of-towners, and Wesleyan students--just what the North End needs.  Also, I find the food delicious and the  BYOB restaurant a good buy.  The family who runs the place makes sure the service is friendly and efficient.  I hope they find a new location in town.

Meanwhile, if you want to get a last (or first) taste of one the city's fine restaurants, you have a few days.  Cash only - they don't take credit cards.

Drug Take Back Program Saturday

Our City's Police Department will be participating in the Drug Take Back Program.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Middletown Police Department
Room 209

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day which will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of those medications.

In the five previous Take-Back events, DEA in conjunction with our state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners have collected more than 2 million pounds (1,018 tons) of prescription medications were removed from circulation.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Monica M. Tinyo ’13 on "Peony Pavilion" (Apr. 25-27)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talked with Director Jeffrey Sichel, S. Dylan Zwickel '14, Alma Sanchez-Eppler '14, and graduate students Gabriel Kastelle and Huan Li about this weekend's Theater Department production of "Peony Pavilion"  in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

I found out very quickly that Director Jeffrey Sichel is true to his word. Mr. Sichel is a specialist in Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Performance Practice and Theory who holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Columbia University and is working toward his Doctorate in Performance Studies from The Shanghai Theatre Academy. Within a couple minutes of talking with him about his collaborative, process-driven ideology, he extended our interview to include the entire ensemble, or what he calls the "brain trust," insisting I stay for part of the rehearsal and talk with each and every ensemble member.

Two hours later, I emerged from the intimate setting of the theater and realized that I had experienced something unique, something I wouldn't have grasped from interviewing just one member of the ensemble. The specialty of the ensemble's work lies in the safe but energized space that it produces; the play is a product of close-knit collaboration and a genuine eagerness for new modes of acting and thinking.

Peony Pavilion is a 400 year old Chinese opera that has been transformed, seemingly by magic, into a story of love, death, and empowerment that is as simple in essence as it is aesthetically beautiful. "Part Romeo and Juliet, part Orpheus, and part Edgar Allen Poe," the narrative is "weirdly relatable, in the way that musical theater is relatable. There are these people that are doing these things that they wouldn't do in real life, but it makes sense why they are doing them in the context of their world," explains S. Dylan Zwickel '14, one of the three student dramaturges.

Mr. Sichel goes on to explain the work is "not experimental, or even particularly strange, its just the other." The work is intercultural in theme and style, but it is not what we think of as experimental from a Western perspective; it is more formal in narrative and structure than most plays performed at Wesleyan and in contemporary professional theater, but unlike anything most people have seen before.

As part of their intercultural learning process, the ensemble learned Chinese acting methods that forced them to learn characters “from the outside in, rather than the Western method of learning characters from the inside out.” The actors learned traditional choreography as well as masculine and feminine physicalities before they learned about and developed the characters, which made them see the characters in a different light. The students were surprised that they “noticed specific physicalities in the characters, but not gender.”

The actors in the all-women ensemble explain that although it is an “all female cast, it is not a specifically feminist play; Chinese traditional culture is heteronormative and we did choose to have an all-woman cast, but gender is not important in the play. The all-woman cast allowed characters emerge in which gender doesn’t matter.” Alma Sanchez-Eppler '14, the student dramaturge who took on the daunting task of adapting an almost 400 page manuscript, explains that the play is a story of self actualization and empowerment of a female protagonist, but is more about a character’s journey than dichotomies of gender.

With the support of her ensemble and incredible stamina, Alma narrowed the script to 40 pages, extracting the love story that follows the protagonist. Although she was not initially expecting a job of this magnitude, part of Jeffrey’s talent “is forcing a project to be everyone’s project and pushing [ensemble members] into roles that [they] would have never imagined they could do.”

The play is accompanied by a live music ensemble with original music by Gabriel Kastelle, a Wesleyan graduate student of experimental music and composition. The music was able to incorporate melodies from the score of the opera. The journey of the score is as epic as the protagonist’s journey in the play. After finding the score and receiving Wesleyan Library funding, another graduate student, Huan Li, was tasked with picking up a version of the score from China that had been poured over by scholars and meticulously translated from the ancient notation to the more legible, modern Chinese notation. He almost giddily explains, “I have fallen in love with lyrics; they are so urgent and earnest to communicate. Lyrics want to share, want to communicate and get out—I love handling that.”

His original compositions mirror the passion he and the rest of the ensemble have exhibited throughout this process. This fervor will surely be translated into the performances that run from Thursday through Saturday.

Peony Pavilion by Tang Xianzu
Directed by Jeffrey Sichel
Thursday, April 25 & Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8pm
Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 2pm & 8pm
CFA Theater
$8 general public; $5 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/students, non-Wesleyan students; $4 Wesleyan students

“Nightmares & Streetscapes: An Evening of One Act Plays”

Oddfellows Playhouse’s Teen Repertory Company
presents Nightmares & Streetscapes: An Evening of One Act Plays

Middletown, Conn. –  Oddfellows Playhouse’s Teen Repertory Company will present Nightmares & Streetscapes: An Evening of One Act Plays.   The evening features comedies and dramas by Edward Albee, Christopher Durang, Eric Lane and Peter Tolan and runs May 3-4, 9-11 at 7:30pm.

The evening consists of four student directed one-act plays, including the dark comedies “The Actor’s Nightmare” by Christopher Durang, “Dancing on Checker’s Grave” by Eric Lane and the light hearted “Pillow Talk” by Peter Tolan.  The evening is appropriate for high school students and older, with some of the plays touching on mature themes and humor.  The project is the first time in several years that members of the Teen Repertory Company have had the opportunity to direct.  The process has been guided by director Ken O’Brien.

The Teen Repertory Company is comprised of students in grades 9-12, from 10 different towns throughout central Connecticut.  The Teen Repertory Company brings to life challenging and fun theatrical productions appropriate for audiences of all ages.  

The production runs Friday and Saturday May 3 and 4, 2013 and Thursday through Saturday May 9-11.  All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for Adults and $8 for Students/Seniors.  Anyone brining a canned food item for Amazing Grace Food Pantry will receive a $2 discount on their ticket.  Tickets are available online at www.oddfellows.org or by calling 860-347-6143.  

The production is made possible by major support from CT State Department of Education, Middlesex United Way, The Stare Fund, Pratt & Whitney, the Middletown Commission on the Arts and Daphne Sebolt Culpeper Foundation.   Media support is provided by WESU 88.1FM.

The Annual Rant

Brian Stewart, associate professor of physics at Wesleyan University, will give his "Sixth Annual Earth Week Rant" on Thursday. It will be devoted to questions of energy and society, and this year will consider the role debt is playing in the current and future flow of energy.  The talk will be held in Exley Science Center room 58 at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 25.  Refreshments will be available beforehand.

Farmers Market Today At Wesleyan

Date:  April 24
Time: 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Place: Usdan Courtyard, off of Wyllys Street

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Liberty Bank Awards Grant to Oddfellows

The Liberty Bank Foundation has awarded a $5,000 grant to Oddfellows Playhouse to support its Neighborhood Troupes and Arts Explorers programs.

This highly regarded program provides free, weekly, after-school interdisciplinary arts classes for at-risk young people, in grades 1-8, in the area. The goal of the Troupes program (grades 1-5) is to use theater and related arts to help these youngsters grow up to be more successful adults by building essential life skills such as creativity, confidence, communication, empathy and discipline.  The Arts Explorers program (Grades 7-8) provides students with mentorship and instruction from professional artists for an entire school year, where they learn new artistic skills, and also financial responsibility.  

“The Liberty Bank Foundation has been a tremendous partner for many years in this program.  We are grateful for their consistent and continued partnership to bring high quality theater programs and experiences to our community’s youth,” said Elizabeth Bobrick, Chair of Oddfellows’ Board of Directors.  

Since its inception in 1997, the Liberty Bank Foundation has provided almost $6 million in grants to nonprofit organizations within Liberty Bank’s market area. The foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for people of low or moderate income by investing in the areas of preventative programming for children and families, affordable housing, and non-profit capacity building. In addition, the foundation is providing support to address basic human needs during these difficult economic times. Along with its grantmaking, the foundation strives to foster the convening and collaboration of nonprofits, funders, business, and government to address community issues.

Judge Awarded Bullet And Stab Resistant Vest

Officer William Maio’s K-9 partner, JUDGE will receive a bullet and stab protective vest after a nationwide Groupon Event raised over $155,000 in eight days. The organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc sponsored the event. This is a Grassroots effort to outfit police K-9s with
bullet and stab protective vests. Police Departments had to submit an application to receive one of the vests purchased with the donations.

Pictured above are Officer Maio and his K-9 partner, JUDGE. This is the Police Department’s newest K-9 team. Judge will be receiving the vest soon, as the department has received confirmation that we have been selected.

President, Sandy Marcal began working with law enforcement agencies in 2000 to coordinate efforts between various law enforcement agencies, vest sponsorships, fundraising events and the media within Massachusetts. In 2011, efforts were expanded to assist police dogs throughout the United States.

Blood Drive Tomorrow In Westfield

This Week at the Buttonwood - Sinan Bakir, Irish Traditional Music, Karaoke, & more

Wednesday, April 24

Karaoke with Deni (7 pm, free): For all ages - come one, come all! Sing your heart out!

Friday, April 25

Sinan Bakir (8 pm, $10): Rising jazz guitarist/composer with a fresh, clean sound and a highly energetic playing style. Click here for more information and to reserve your seat.

Saturday, April 26

Qigong (7:30 am, free): Renew your natural energy, feel stronger and more relaxed.
Community Yoga (8:45 am, free): Vinyasa style - nourishes the body and the soul.
"Aligned with Source" Workshop for Empowerment (10:30 am, $5): BE the Stillness

Lilt (8 pm, $10): Irish traditional music & dance, with Tina Eck on flute and Irish tin whistle, and Keith Carr on the bouzouki and banjo. Click here for more information and to reserve your seat.

Sunday, April 27
Food Not Bombs (1 pm, free): Cooking for peace and social justice! Click here for more information.

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center  
605 Main Street  
Middletown, CT 06459
thebuttonwoodtree@gmail.com | (860) 347-4957

CCP's Did You Know? Fact #22.

Have you heard of the new ENGAGE newsletter? The ENGAGE newsletter culls ENGAGE blog posts into an easily digestible weekly email.
Currently the ENGAGE blog offers up a daily selection of links that pertain to civic engagement. For those who may be unfamiliar with civic engagement, we like to casually define it as positively interacting with and changing your community, whether it be close by or worldwide. At Wesleyan, two offices work primarily with civic engagement concepts: The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Office of Community Service, which operates under the Center for Community Partnerships.
The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship works to improve the world and strengthen our commitment to pursuing active, on-the-ground involvement worldwide. The Office of Community Service, in a similar vein, fosters community building within the University and with the communities of Middletown and Middlesex County. Both offices work together to foster a sense of engagement on campus through workshops, a bevy of volunteer opportunities, talk series, conferences, and other projects. Student-created groups such as Shining Hope for Communities, which operates in Kibera, Kenya, the MINDS Foundation, which is based across India, and Possibilities Pakistan all engage our students with international grassroots causes. Since both offices contribute to the ENGAGE blog and newsletter, we urge those who are interested in their work and opportunities to subscribe!

"On My Home Planet, I Was a Deity" -- The Colonel of Truth Presents #41

(A cell phone recorder was accidentally left on.)

"On my home planet, I was a deity.

"It was a pretty good life, in the main. Anything I wanted, a word sufficed, and worshipers were glad to bring it to me.

"Then came the day when a surprisingly well-trained and equipped mob of atheists stormed the High Castle of the Deity.

"They quickly overcame the Guardians of the Deity, who are mostly for show.

"They captured me in bed with my catamite, Santo Santorum, and gave me the choice of nasty death or jumping into the wormhole in the dungeon.

"Nobody had ever come back from jumping into the wormhole.

"Still, nasty death was a known known, if you catch my drift, and jumping into the wormhole was a known unknown. You do the math.

"I said I'd take the wormhole, and though they were very committed atheists, they still kept their word, took me to the dungeon, and chucked me into the wormhole.

"I had nothing more than the clothes on my back and one azoth. I won't tell you what an azoth is because it's my ace in the hole if the eggs ever really hit the fan.

"The wormhole landed me in Brooklyn. It took all my resourcefulness to survive until I could adapt to this planet. As you can see, the apple didn't fall far from the wormhole.

"I figure either you evolved from us or we evolved from you. But even if we have a common origin, you all look weird to me, and I know that I look weird to you, even after I tweaked my appearance toward your norms.

"Anyway, I learned English, I got a place to live, I learned to drive. a cab, and I absorbed the contents of a GPS device. Handy.

"Driving a cab in Manhattan is actually the perfect job for me, for now.

"Oh, sure, I audition quite a bit, because show biz is the ideal place for an exotic-looking person, as long as you're willing to be type-cast, a problem I don't have yet.

"But it's a people business, and I'm a people person.

"As they say, there's no business like show business, but there are several businesses like accounting. Ha-ha.

"No, I don't much miss the old planet. We called it Tyda, by the way.

"On Tyda, I only ever got to mix with my worshipers, and to be frank, they weren't the best company. And explaining Santo was always a slog.

"I miss him the most. I hope he's okay. I'm hoping they see themselves as having liberated him, and that he finds them good company. All aggressive atheists think they're good company, at least on Tyda.

"I wouldn't know, because being a deity, I couldn't very well hang with them.

"There are some things I miss, of course, but since I can't go back, I figure it's best to forget about 'em.

"Getting into computers here might seem like a natural step up, but having been a deity, I have my Zen right, I think you'd say, so I don't care about steps up. Driving a cab is fine.

"Also, I have no competitive advantages in computing unless I literally go out of body into the Web, and you know what? There are things that live in the Web that I just don't want to deal with.

"I'm pretty sure they would be able to tell that I'm a former divinity, and that they would assume I was trying to move in on their thing and establish myself as top dog. Or only dog.

"I couldn't take them on even if I wanted to, so I keep a low profile. They know how to wield the Ring, so to speak, and I don't. I'd be the proverbial infant encircled by wolves.

"There's no proverb about that? I thought it was just an expression. Live and learn.

"You're very kind to comment on how clean the cab is. I take pride in that. I try to get the same cab every time, but I can't always.

"Even if I do, other cabbies have had the thing in the meantime, so I have to run my 37-point checklist.

"The other guys are mostly Afghans, so I've picked up a few words and some non-Arab Islam.

"They're clean, the Afghans are, but I'm extra particular. Fussy even.

"In addition to which, I guess I'll tell you, I give every passenger a tiny mental 'push' toward noticing how clean and new-car the baby smells.

"It's just a little thing. Don't worry, I can't read minds, let alone control them. Wouldn't want to if given the choice. I told you, I'm a people person, I like good company. Robots ain't good company.

"Well, here we are. St. Patrick's Cathedral. Keep the change? Thank you.

"Oh, by the way: you will emerge from the cab totally refreshed, alert, and happy. You will remember nothing of what I said. If you ever need a cab, you will think the words 'Santo Santorum' and I will hear you and instructions will pop into your mind. Have a nice day."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shred Saturday

The City of Middletown is hosting its annual Earth Day Shred Event on Saturday April 27 at the Middletown Water and Sewer Dept. on 82 Berlin Road from 9 – 11am. No charge for shredding, but there is a limit of ten bags or boxes per participant.

People can contact the City Recycling Coordinator at 860-344-3526 or kim.orourke@middletownct.gov for more information.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Accidents Aplenty At Site of Proposed Stripmall

by Ed McKeon

When the mayor, the city planner, the P&Z and the Chamber of Commerce decided a strip mall between High and Pearl on Washington Street was a good idea, they probably weren't thinking how bad the traffic, and safety hazards already are.  Here's proof, within a week, that things are bad enough without making them worse.  One accident at High and Washington, one at Pearl and Washington, and one between Broad and Pearl on Washington.  At least four individuals taken to the hospital.  Do you want a crash helmet with that latte?



A few days ago.

The BIG DRAW is today!

This is just a reminder that Wesleyan is offering the BIG DRAW today at the Davison Art Center from 1 to 4 pm.  There are lots of hands-on art activities for all ages (include a toddler-friendly Drawing in Motion thing).

It's free and everyone is welcome!  Davison is that beautiful pink building at the intersection of High and Court St.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Around the Garden

Rafts of flowers appeared this week, some of them riveting and bold, like the flamboyant forsythia. I’m not fond of forsythia for just those reasons, but also because it seems to have no transition period. One day you have sticks, the next day you have eye-popping yellow flowers. A more charming look-alike is the Abeliophylla, which slowly produces pinkish buds followed by delicate white petals.

I like slow transitions, and I especially like a cool spring, when everything in nature seems to gather its breath, poised to shake off the doldrums of winter. The early daffodils hang on while their mid-season sisters open up, sometimes even allowing the tulips, grape hyacinths and scillas to catch up and complete the picture you had in mind when you planted them last fall.

Shakespeare wrote about “the darling buds of May” which is odd, considering that England is usually a month ahead of us, and we enjoy fabulous buds in April. Whatever he had in mind, this trout lily and its tightly-rolled buds seem darling to me.

Today as I drove to the Wadsworth Mansion I noticed some of the Norway maples on my route had opened their buds into the fluffy chartreuse flowers that precede the enormous winged samaras characteristic of this species. If you have any doubt as to whether your maple tree is a sugar maple or a Norway, now is the time to look before those flowers disappear.

Almost every saucer magnolia except mine has unfurled its giant flower petals – which must presage a good, hard rain. Mother Nature can’t contain herself at this point in spring, routinely smashing magnolia petals to the ground for the sport of it.

Prettiest of all is the yellow-green haze of spice-bush (Lindera benzoin) which deer don’t eat. A hike through the woods at Long Hill revealed many spice-bush shrubs, and exactly one other recognizable shrub – a small American holly that deer declined to devour. Soon these pearl-sized spice-bush flowers will yield to waxy leaves that smell heavenly when crushed. Perhaps not so heavenly to a deer, but then, they have other choices.  
(Once upon a time, the woods in our area had seedling trees and shrubs, but now deer eat everything but the really unpalatable items: barberry, spice-bush and garlic mustard. The result, unfortunately, is woodlands that can’t regenerate themselves.)

Azaleas and rhododendrons are beginning to show color – some of the exotic ones are already leaping in with their clear purple flowers. Best of all is the movement of cherry trees from bare and wintry to lightly frosted with rose to a sudden blaze of clear pink. The cherry trees at left, the ‘Okame’ variety, were humming with honeybees yesterday – a cheering sign in these troubled times for honeybees.

Nature may be red in tooth and claw, and certainly she delivers us some remarkable one-two punches of weather. Still, spring offers all this serene beauty: even if there is no intelligent design behind it, I find its regular re-appearance comforting. 

The Practice of Plenitude

Wesleyan graduate Juliet Schor, now a professor of Sociology at Boston College, will give a talk entitled, "Treading Lightly on the Earth: The Practice of Plenitude." The talk is in honor of Earth Day, and is free and open to the public.

Monday, April 22, 2013
4:15 P.M.

The combination of climate and environmental threats and economic dysfunction has accelerated the search for alternative ways of living. In this talk, Professor Schor will discuss the emergence of “plenitude,” a set of new practices, networks, and ways of living that emphasize eco and carbon footprint reduction, sharing, self-provisioning, and reduced engagement with the “Business as Usual” economy.

Juliet Schor received her PhD in economics at the University of Massachusetts. Her most recent book is True Wealth: How and Why Millions of Americans Are Creating a Time-Rich, Ecologically Light, Small-Scale, High-Satisfaction Economy.

The talk is sponsored by the College of the Environment at Wesleyan.

Pot Roast Dinner Saturday

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Integrating the Local, the Continental and the International: Celebrating World-Renowned Artists at the 12th annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend

This weekend Wesleyan hosts performances by the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra, directed by Adjunct Professor of Music Jay Hoggard; the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jazz Ensemble Coach Noah Baerman, and a much-awaited, sold-out performance by the legendary South African trumpeter, composer, producer, and activist Hugh Masekela. The weekend also features a free performance by Connecticut’s own Lee Mixashawn Rozie and his "Ghostly Trio" on Saturday night, as the final event of the 12th annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend. CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talked to Mixashawn about his upcoming performance, and his personal philosophy of music and life, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

Mixashawn is “more powerful each time I hear him...” (Stanley Crouch). Internationally-acclaimed composer, performer, educator, and maritime artist Lee Mixashawn Rozie has captivated and enlightened audiences in the United States and Europe for more than three decades. His incarnation as The Wave Artist draws upon a heritage of multicultural innovation that spans four centuries, and both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In applying to his arts an ancient understanding of waves in their multiple manifestations—sonic, aquatic, percussive, and harmonic—Mixashawn expresses a reverence for the unique and universal qualities that all waves possess, and celebrates the unity of existence. Mixashawn comes to Wesleyan at the invitation of Jay Hoggard, and I had the pleasure of talking with him.