A corkscrew hazelnut sits outside the back door in its winter glory. All the other plants and shrubs are looking pretty chastened, deceased even, awaiting their Easter resurrections. But this jaggedy hazelnut cuts a fine figure against the snow, having long-since jettisoned its drab, unkempt cover of leaves. Its electric personality is now fully exposed in its branches with all the manic excitement of a Kramer, a Harpo Marx, a Harry Lauder.
Oh? Never heard of Harry Lauder? Don’t worry. Almost no one has. The Scottish comedian/entertainer died in 1950, and the memory of him has faded — except for his funny, crooked walking stick. The fame of Sir Harry’s odd and ever-present stick has been secured, among horticulturists anyway, by the corkscrew hazelnut, which is known in most garden centers and catalogs as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick.
It was many years ago, but contralto singer / songwriter Sloan Wainwright and Newtown musician Cadence Carroll both have similar memories of how they met. Music lovers may recognize Sloan Wainwright as part of the Wainwright dynasty in pop and folk music which includes brother Loudon Wainwright III, neice Martha and nephew Rufus Wainwright, and Lucy Wainwright Roche of The Roches. She will be the headline guest February 8 when the Flagpole Radio Café returns to the Edmond Town Hall Theater. Carroll, who has been playing, singing and writing music all her life, and is now a music and drumming instructor, counted herself in her younger days as one of Sloan Wainwrights most enthusiastic followers.
Once again Ridgefield Theater Barn is warming up the winter doldrums with a special festival of eight short plays that showcase a wide assortment of local talent and keep the audience laughing. Fitting eight “plays” into a time slot normally geared for two acts means that each work must be really short — more along the lines of a television comic sketch, than a complete dramatic work. The assortment of uniformly well acted and crisply directed “shorts” can better be thought of as scenes rather than skits, because between them they have enough depth and substance to make it worth going to. “An Evening of One-Acts 2014” continues only until February 8, on weekends only. The limited run is a shame, considering the talent on display, and the effort so clearly put into it by all concerned.
Last year Hartford’s TheaterWorks mounted a delightful production of Mark St Germain’s "Becoming Dr Ruth," a one-woman dramatic monologue about how an orphaned Holocaust survivor became America’s most popular sex therapist. St Germain’s grasp of human character and his ability to write crisp, incisive speech, which made that play so absorbing and entertaining, are once again on display in his two character prize winning work, "Freud’s Last Session." TheaterWorks is presenting what it calls “the profound and deeply touching play (laced with humor and insight) about two men who boldly addressed the greatest questions of all time” until February 23.
In November 2004, Paul S. Lux, a longtime Newtown resident, sent a Letter to the Editor to The Newtown Bee containing his suggestions of the best things to do in town. “I originally sent in the list for people in town to add on to,” Mr Lux said recently. The list is uniquely Newtown. It includes activities and locations people may look past in the hustle and bustle of the daily routine. And they are experiences other towns simply cannot offer: marching in the Labor Day Parade (the only parade in the state on that holiday); walking through natural gems including the shore of the Lower Paugussett State Forest or Orchard Hill Nature Preserve; eat a sandwich on the front porch of Newtown General Store; swim at the town pool and beach; feed the geese and ducks at Ram Pasture in the warm weather, and return to ice skate in cold weather; or visit Edmond Town Hall to appreciate the murals by former resident David Merrill, among other suggestions. Did Mr Lux forget anything? Readers are encouraged to share their "must do" Newtown experiences.
Look out oat bran, acai berries, and coconut water. It’s little, knobby, and gnarly, but fresh turmeric is the food world’s new darling. Once difficult to obtain, turmeric, widely used in Indian cooking, is being touted in magazines, blogs, and alternative medicine sites as the be-all and end-all to so many ailments, that it is hard to keep track. Natural foods supermarkets are now stocking the ginger-lookalike root, along with the more familiar powdered turmeric root. Native to South Asia, turmeric has been used for thousands of years there to alleviate the symptoms for which it is now gaining popularity in western culture. It packs a wallop when it comes to antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, as well.
Heidi Schreck’s "The Consultant," currently receiving its world premiere at New Haven’s Long Wharf, is billed as a comedy. That feels slightly misleading. Similar to "Nurse Jackie," the Showtime series for which Schreck served as a scriptwriter, "The Consultant" has moments of humor buried in some very serious discussions. The play is about a handful of millennials caught in the crunch of the great economic downturn of 2008-09. It is filled with snappy patter delivered by over-educated young people trapped in a world where their jobs are demeaning, even as they are haunted by the shadow of looming unemployment. It offers a lot of questions but very few answers.