Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

A Year’s Output of Our Planet’s Chromium MInes Visible Here: Motorcycle Mania 2011

August 12, 2011


Thousands of motorcycles with their drivers and passengers. plus thousands more spectators filled the entirety of Main Street and some of the surrounding streets with a sea of chromium and brilliant paint. This was Motorcycle Mania 2011, an annual event in Middletown, Connecticut for the past several years. Follow are a sampling of photos from the event.

I don’t know what motorcycle they rode in on but I am pleased they agreed to be photographed (obligatory eye candy)!

Note: Click on any photo to enlarge

There were a great variety of machines on display including Harleys of every description, Honda comfort bikes, Spyder trikes, and conventional  trikes; also spotted was a single Ducati and a Victory. There were quite a few female drivers but always solo and of course the usual pairing of guy driving and gal holding on in back.

No motorcycle rally would be complete without a cast of colorful characters and this event was no exception:

Bikes and more bikes:

The End (time to partay!):

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The Hazards of Restaurant Reviewing – Why Amateurs Fail

August 11, 2011

A Pan Seared Sea Scallop

The following review of the Mattabesset Canoe Club restaurant in Middletown by Matthew F. Donahue appeared recently in Middletown Patch:

Wandering the shops of Main Street, my path lit by the glowing neon open signs of local eateries, I often find picking a venue to indulge in Middletown’s latest gustatory creations difficult with so many options. One night I found myself wandering the beaten path of Main Street, venturing down the off-shooting street, deKoven Drive, heading toward Harbor Drive and happening upon the old Harbor Park Restaurant.

As it has recently opened under new ownership as the Mattabesett Canoe Club, I decided to give the new place a peruse.

As I walked through the park toward the restaurant with one of my closest friends, Kaila Madera, the outline of the Canoe Club’s exterior came into focus and it was evident at once: the entire building was renovated and business was looking up, as seen by the crowded parking lot. Pleased with the aesthetic changes to the exterior and sunset in the horizon lighting the Connecticut River with golden rays, we approached the door with excitement; we aren’t the type to skip a meal and seafood always tops my list of favorites.

The hostess greeted us with a warm smile, asked us where we would like to sit and led us upstairs to sit at an outside balcony table. Guided by the light of a flickering candle centered in the table, we perused the menu and found ourselves crippled with indecision. As the waitress approached, we both looked blankly at the menu and by the time she arrived, we decided to order multiple menu items, splitting each dish. Sampling never hurt anyone, right?

Starting off with some shrimp and a couple of fresh oysters, we were ready to tackle the rather large meal about to arrive. We started off with seared sea scallops drizzled with a balsamic reduction glaze served over risotto. After getting past the idea of the origins of sea scallops, I thoroughly enjoyed the lightly grilled wonders, noting the nice contrast between the sweetness of the risotto and tartness of the balsamic reduction.

After nearly licking my plate clean and prodding my seafood-apprehensive friend to be a little more adventurous, we welcomed our second course: pan-seared swordfish served alongside a fresh mango gastrique, served over a house-made succotash that featured snow peas and roasted vegetables instead of lima beans.  The mango gastrique, a sauce composed by carmelizing sugar and then adding vinegar, fresh fruit and juice, highlighted the perfecly cooked swordfish steak’s robust flavor, while adding a tangy kick at the same time.

Even more pleased with the pan-seared swordfish steak than the other dishes, we both agreed that it was a great combination and a must-have the next time we happened at the Canoe Club.

Taking a break from seafood, we took a breather and then sampled a small piece of slow-cooked braised pork shank, sitting atop a parsnip puree and served with slender and tender asparagus shoots. The pork fell off of the bone with ease and its tender meat was welcomed with warm hungry mouths, but the four to 12 hours of cooking did not prove as satisfying as first thought, although perhaps this was because our portions were merely samples of the entire dish.

About ready to burst, but ready to tackle another plate, we savored the taste of an unlikely pair, rosemary and blueberry, in our next dish: salmon toasted in rice paper served over a blueberry and rosemary red wine sauce. Apprehensive how the strong flavors of rosemary and blueberry would mesh, we slowly forked small bite-fulls into our mouths. I was pleasantry surprised how well the rosemary complemented the blueberry and red wine reduction, while contrasting with the crispy crunch of the salmon’s wrapping and cool cucumber chunks.

Kaila disagreed. Not a huge fan of rosemary and fennel, she thought the blueberry sauce was overpowered by the rosemary; however, upon completion of the dish, she still deemed the dish satisfying and even stabbed a few fork-fulls of mine!

Cleansing our palette with a fresh summer salad, we were about to throw down our napkins and call the meal a done deal when our waitress recommenced their new pineapple crème brûlée and we could not resist the temptation. We were not disappointed, either, even though we were definitely full, we somehow found enough room to eat the entire crock of crème brûlée, dipping small pieces of biscotti into the custardy delight.

Fresh pineapple chunks proved refreshing and a nice alternative to a dish that usually remains rather bland with just a splash of vanilla.

Accompanied by an acoustic show, a great view and the best of company, our night out at Mattabesett Canoe Club was one to never forget!

Pork Shank, Parsnip Puree, and Asparagus

Our response:

Matthew Donahue, our young scout on the prowl for gustatory delights, just happened upon the Mattabesset Canoe Club while venturing on an “off-shooting” street. The ghost of the Middletown Yacht Club loomed as though reborn and aesthetically changed, the fleeting rays of sunlight reflected off the river enhancing the enchantment. Scout Odonahue and his companion were hungry and hardly ever known to skip a meal.

They were escorted to a balcony table by a smiling hostess. The table with its center candle provided the perfect atmosphere for a couple’s dining pleasure. The menu was presented and, what to their wondering eyes did appear but a plethora of visual and gustatory delights for eye and palate. They perused and perused but could not decide so when the moment of truth came our intrepid scout declared; “We’ll try everything, sampling never hurt anyone, right?”

And so it went, course after course, sample after sample, tidbit after tidbit, on and on with the balsamic reductions,mango gastrique, the rosemary and blueberry sauce until our explorer was about to lick his plate clean while simultaneously bursting.

Our explorers were about to throw up…or rather throw down… their napkins. but the meal was not quite “a done deal yet” because the waitress “recommenced” their new pineapple crème brûlée. (I don’t pretend to know exactly when the Canoe Club “commenced” their pineapple crème brûlée but I am pleased that it is being offered again)

Feeling “definitely full” our brave pair “… somehow found enough room to eat the entire crock of crème brûlée”

Moral: Food writing and restaurant reviews are fine fodder for satire, and even ridicule, which of course was not our intent.

Amatos Toy and Hobby – 70 Years in Middletown: A Look at a Man’s Hobbies and Some History of Railroading in CT

August 1, 2010

The photos in this post were made July 25, 2010 in Middletown CT at Amatos Toy and Hobby store on Main Street. (click to enlarge any photo) The event is described in an article in The Middletown Press:

“MIDDLETOWN — More than 150 members of the National Lionel Operating Train Society attended a private showing of a 3,000-square-foot train exhibit at the 70th Anniversary celebration of Amato’s Toy and Hobby Store Wednesday evening.

The train exhibit includes seven operating model train layouts and local railroad memorabilia along with the never-before displayed, extensive pre-war Lionel train collection of Amato’s owner and founder, Vincent Amato.

“The visual of what everyone has put together is really neat,” said Diane Amato, Vincent’s daughter and coordinator of the event. “When you see this room, you will be amazed….”
www.middletownpress.com/articles/2010/07/14/business/doc4…

Amatos Toy and Hobby is located at 395 Main Street; Middletown CT 06457

In addition to the wonderful layouts of operating model trains of various gauges there were showcases of Mr. Amato’s collections of trains and other toys. Also, much memorabilia and information about early railroading in Middletown. So, I have included some historical photos and information later in this post.

Vincent Amato, Prop. and Train Collector Extraordinaire

O'Rourke's Diner - Main Street, Middletown

One of the seven model train layouts

Model Train Layout with Winter Motif


Mr. Amato's Personal Collection of Lionel Standard Gauge Trains

Shipyard Scene in Miniature

A few words and photographs about early railroading in Middletown and central Connecticut: From the late 19th century and well into the 20th Middletown was a busy railroad center with several North/South and East/West lines passing through the city. In 1888, for example, 29 passenger trains passed through here on a daily basis. Even though all passenger service was discontinued by the middle of the 20th century there is still active freight service in the city. The most interesting reminder of the glory days of railroading in Connecticut Valley is the iron swing bridge connecting Middletown with Porland. This bridge was constructed in 1884 to carry the so called “White Train” of the New York and Boston Airline RR across the Connecticut River, and thence through the rolling hills of eastern Connecticut to Massachusetts and on to Boston. (see photo below)

The White Train commenced operations in 1891. Popularly known as the Ghost Train. It was made up of gleaming white coaches trimmed with gold. The parlor cars’ interiors were finished in mahogany and furnished with velvet rugs, silk curtains and upholstered plush chairs. The train’s schedule was so well advertised that people came from miles around to wait at stations or crossing to see it go by. The fast express was replaced in 1895 by the Air Line Limited.(see 2nd photo below) The Airline Railroad fell into decline because of the need for heavier equipment and longer trains which could not navigate the steep grades and numerous curves. Although the name Airline Route gives one the impression of a straight and level roadbed, this was not the case here.

Airline Railroad Swing Bridge Connecticut River-Middletown to Portland

The White Train or Ghost Train

Four of the early Middletown Train Stations (none remain)

Railroad Man and His Dog - Middletown Depot

Lots of Tea and a Drop of Life

April 13, 2009

After the various Tax Day Connecticut Tea Parties you might want to check out this free Earth Day  presentation at Wesleyan:

https://i1.wp.com/h1.ripway.com/johnbrush/Earth%20Day%20Event.jpg

More information about film maker Shalini Kantayya

From Kantayya’s blog (4/11)

To mark World Water Day, I am launching the a DROP of LIFE Campus Tour, to bring attention to the world water crisis. Designated in 1992 by a United Nations General Assembly resolution, World Water Day is an international observance and call to action to bring attention to the problem of insufficient access to clean, safe drinking water. Using my film a DROP of LIFE as a spark to inspire discussions about the world water crisis, the tour celebrates World Water Day, Earth Day, Women’s History Month, and Asian American History Month.

Shalini Kantayya

Shalini Kantayya

Uganda Echo at Willimantic Co-Op Feb 14 2009

February 15, 2009

29 Cakes for Willi Co-Op Birthday

Valentine’s Day 2009 was also a birthday celebration at the Willimantic Food Co-Op in Willimantic (CT). This is their 29th year and the organization appears healthy and active. The February 14 shindig featured food displays and sampling, music and dancing, and 29 special cakes. We were able only to catch the first hour or so of the party but had fun photographing the crowd and making the following video:

Below is an earlier video with most of the same personnel:

Let Them Eat Cake....

Let Them Eat Cake....

Bo Diddley Gone But The Beat Lives!

June 2, 2008

Rock and Roll pioneer Bo Diddley passed away today at the age of 79 in Archer, Florida. Although inducted into the R & R Hall of Fame (1987) along with Chuck Berry and Little Richard he never achieved the financial success of Berry and Richard. He was an ingenious craftsman as well as a unique musician. He would build his own guitars that combined unusual musical effects and he played guitar more like a percussion instrument.* A 2003 NY Times profile is one of the best articles about him that I have found. There are many videos of his performances; here is a good example.

*He did not treat the guitar gently. ”I couldn’t play like everyone else,” he said. ”Guitarists have skinny fingers. I didn’t. Look at these. I got meat hooks. Size 12 glove.” He came to approach the guitar as if it were a drum set, thrusting the music forward. ”I play drum licks on the guitar,” he said. The result was an unusual sound — later played on his hand-built, exotically shaped guitars — that evolved into a distinctive backbeat, described by music historians as the meter of ”shave-and-a-haircut, two bits.” In the background he added maracas, which he built from toilet-tank floats, giving the music a Latin texture, and he gave more rhythm to the drum beat. The lyrics were often delivered staccato, adding to the pounding rhythm.

More bio here.

Feet to the Fire Festival: More Info….

May 8, 2008

The Wesleyan community will explore its environmental impact through an eco-arts festival called “Feet to the Fire” on May 10 that will feature food, music, art, theater and a premier by a world-renowned choreographer Ann Carlson (pictured above).

Running from noon to 5 p.m. at Veterans Park in Middletown, “Feet to the Fire” will combine the variety of arts performances, interactive exhibits and a farmers market with food from Connecticut vendors. Exhibits coordinated by the Jonah Center for Earth and Art will highlight energy conservation, sustainability and resilient communities.

Ann Carlson, award-winning choreographer, launches a new series of performance works, Planet Next, that envision life on a future earth. The first of these works, “Green Movement,” uses elements of humor and surprise while challenging the audience to intimately confront the realities of their present day existence.

“Feet to the Fire is an extraordinary campus-wide and community exploration of one of the most urgent issues facing our world today,” says Pam Tatge, director of Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts. “The idea that so many students, faculty members, community members, and artists have collaborated to make works for the festival is simply thrilling.”

The event will also feature a sculpture garden, labyrinth, theater, dance, music, poetry, art and performances by Art Farm’s Circus for a Fragile Planet, Marion Belanger, Tom Callinan, Electric Junkyard Gamelan, Green Street Arts Center, Independent Day School, Kalimba Liberian Group, Geoff Kaufman, Jesse Karlsberg, The Middletuners, Mixashawn, Noah Baerman Trio, Oddfellows Playhouse, RJ and the On-the-Spot Jug Band, Susan Romano, Sirius Coyote, Toussaint Liberator, Wesleyan students and more.

The festival is a part of “Feet to the Fire: Exploring Global Climate Change from Science to Art,” an 18-month project that includes research opportunities for a team of students and faculty to explore first-hand the effects of global warming, fieldwork studies in art and science, performances, pedagogical exchanges in existing courses, commissioning of artists and convening of experts.

“All of us working on the Festival are united in the belief that the arts have the potential to help us see and understand the impact of climate change while at the same time assist us in envisioning a sustainable future,” Tatge says.

The project is funded in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Wesleyan’s grant is one of only eight grants given to challenge campus-based performing arts presenters to integrate their programs more organically within the academic environment.

The Festival is co-sponsored by Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts and Environmental Studies Program, the Jonah Center for Earth and Art and the City of Middletown, in collaboration with the Center for Creative Research and the Green Street Arts Center.

Feet to the Fire will take place from noon to 5 p.m. rain or shine. Admission is free and open to the public. The event is located at Veterans Memorial Park in Middletown, located off Newfield Street. For more information and directions call 860-685-3355.

Source: The Wesleyan Connection

Coginchaug River at Veterans Memorial Park (June 2007)….

Coleman Brothers Shows 2008

April 6, 2008

The annual appearance of this venerable carnival was accompanied as usual by cold and damp weather. But the season opening of The Coleman Brothers Shows here in Middletown is really a shakedown cruise and warm up for the long season ahead which takes the show on the road all over the Northeast. Next stop Willimantic. What is really remarkable about this show is how swiftly the tents are folded and the rides dis-assembled; the show open until 9 PM Saturday evening and the field nearly empty at 9 AM Sunday morn. I live nearby and did not hear their passing in the night. I made a video (6:06) which I invite you to watch; comments please.

Feet to the Fire Festival 2008: Help Wanted….

April 3, 2008

A Call for Volunteers

FEET TO THE FIRE FESTIVAL 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008, 12–5pm

Free admission

Veteran’s Memorial Park

Middletown, Connecticut

Located just off Newfield Street (Route 3)

Each of us has an impact on the world around us. We leave footprints and our footprints are changing the
planet. How can we impact these changes and imagine a sustainable future?

THE FESTIVAL

An eco-arts festival for the whole family featuring music, dance and theater performances, and a farmer’s
market with food from Connecticut vendors. Interactive exhibits will highlight energy conservation,
sustainability and resilient communities. This free festival is co-presented by Wesleyan University’s Center
for the Arts
and Environmental Studies Program, the Jonah Center for Earth and Art and the City of
Middletown with support from the Middletown Commission on the Arts and the Rockfall Foundation.

VOLUNTEER NOW TO BE PART OF THE FESTIVAL!

In the spirit of the Festival, volunteers will be asked to join the Festival team by assisting artists and
exhibitors, working on security, transportation, parking, promotion, documentation and other tasks to
create a pleasant, healthy and safe environment for Festival-goers to experience all that the Festival has to
offer. Shifts available to suit your schedule and jobs that will make a difference.

If you are interested in participating in the Festival as a volunteer, please contact Adrian Nieves at
anieves@wesleyan.edu or 860-685-2696 by April 15, 2008. We will hold a volunteer meeting shortly.

O’Rourke’s Diner Redux….

February 11, 2008

Brian O’Rourke opened his, or should we say the community’s, diner today for the first time since the disastrous fire many moons ago. According to the staff it was gangbusters from 5 Am ’till closing at 3 PM. I didn’t get a chance to interview Brian this afternoon but hope to do so in the near future.