Terryville ‘Roo’ Needs Your Vote, Eat Cake With Miley

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terryville_ct[1]And in the “this and that” world of Java land…

Terryville High School, or rather its kangaroo mascot “Roo” needs your votes.

Apparently the high school’s unusual mascot is a finalist in a USA Today online competition featuring “America’s strangest, most interesting and just plain comical mascots.”

“Roo” has already been voted best mascot in the state, beating out some other schools and mascots in the state including the Avon Old Farms Winged Beaver, the Berlin Redcoat and the Kingswood-Oxford Wyvern in West Hartford.

As the state winner, Terryville High’s marsupial is now pitted against the Morse High School Shipbuilder, from Bath, Maine, in the Northeast Region contest. Voting on the regional level ends at 2 p.m. April 17.

If Terryville’s “Roo” wins that contest, it moves on to the national voting round which begins April 18 and continues through April 25.

Last year’s winner was the Centralia, Illinois Orphan.

The athletic department of the winning mascot’s school will receive $2,000.

To vote for the Terryville High School mascot, go to contest.usatodayhss.com.

This is for Miley Cyrus fans.

The controversial singer/performer is coming to Foxwoods Grand Theater on April 25 with her provocative Bangerz Tour and to welcome her and her followers, there are some special deals.

There is the Miley Meet & Greet and Seat Upgrade Contest, which gives concert goers a chance to meet Miley or win a seat upgrade for two by submitting and posting a photo of the Grand Theater stage via Instagram or Twitter. There are also exclusive Miley Cyrus hotel packages like the $899 VIP hotel package including a deluxe room overnight stay at the Fox Tower and two premium seats or the $699 package that includes two standard seats and an overnight stay.

For those of you planning to dine at Foxwoods that night, there will be limited edition desserts at restaurants throughout the property including the “Wrecking Ball” – a hard chocolate ball with a chocolate Miley Cyrus silhouette sitting on top of the ball and of course, two Miley Cyrus inspired cocktails, the Bangerz Martini and The Miley Shooter. Go to foxwoods.com for information

New Reporter At Fox CT

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Laurenvictory Lauren Victory  has joined Fox CT as a General Assignment Reporter.

Victory comes from WPTZ in Burlington, VT where she worked as a video Journalist/Reporter for the past three years.

“Lauren is a talented reporter and will be a strong addition to the FOX CT news team. Her solid reporting and passion for storytelling will be a benefit to our viewers,” FOX CT News Director Coleen Marren noted.

Victory graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL with a degree in Journalism and Political Science.

Hartford Is One Of The Happiest Cities In The USA, Honest!

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Hartford-Most-Productive-Cities[2]In case that ‘Husky High’ and all that is basketball-related  is starting to wear off Hartford, there is more good news!

An online site called “CreditDonkey” has posted a story claiming Hartford is one of the 10 ‘Happiest Cities’ in the United States.

Drawing conclusions from a mix of data including unemployment rate, average wages and a ”frustration index,” the report claims Hartford comes in at a qualified  # 3 “largely because the salaries and benefits are so high there – if you can find a job.”

The story also gives Hartford big props for amenities including  a more manageable commute and low-frustration offices.

Coming in at #2  is Buffalo, New york  and at #1 Rochester, New York.

For the complete story go here.

‘Know Your Value’ Hartford Conference Panelists Announced

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Lisa color.2The Raben Group PortraitsLucy Danziger for SELF MagazineMore female star power is coming Hartford way in May as part of the first “Know Your Value” conference for women on May 16.

Joining the headliners, former CT newscasters-turned-celebrities Gayle King and Mika Brzezinski, will be a threesom  you may recognize.

They include Lucy Danziger, well-being life expert and former editor-in-chief of Condé Nast’s SELF magazine, Lisa Hughes, vice president and publisher of The New Yorker and Melody Barnes, CEO of Melody Barnes Solutions LLC, a domestic strategy firm, and former Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Conference topics include “Lessons Learned,” “Leaning Back and Leaning In,” “At the Bargaining Table” and “Your Best Self,” addressing stress, health and sleep. The daylong program will be held at the Hartford Marriott Downtown.

The conference is being produced by Brzezinski and two well-known Connecticut media personalities, Duby McDowell, president of McDowell Jewett Communications and Diane Smith, president of Diane Smith Media.

For more information go here.

Goodspeed Opens 2014 Season With Sox-Twisted ‘Damn Yankees’

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gspeed13While the Red Sox and Yankees were duking it out in the Bronx on Friday, the pinstripe vs. Beantown rivalry was also going on in East Haddam as Goodspeed opened for its 2014 season with the musical classic, “Damn Yankees.”

In deference to a state that is divided between the two teams, the 1955 Broadway show, originally pitting the Yankees against the Washington Senators, was tweaked a bit with the showdown featuring the Sox instead.

And that change meant setting the proper stage.

Entergspeed11 well-known Goodspeed supporter Mike Chaiklin, also a Red Sox diehard, who not only arranged for the Red Sox “ball girls” and Wally the Green Monster mascot to stop by, but also the Sox 2013 World Series trophy, to make sure the audience knew well-ahead of time that this production of “Damn Yankees” was going to be something a bit different.

“He wouldn’t have minded, I think he would have been proud that people are stills singing his songs,” said Janie Ross Coulter, about the change-up in the play that features songs including “Heart” and “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets.”

Her father, the late Jerry Ross, wrote the musical score for the original Broadway production in 1955 gspeed14with Richard Adler. “The songs in the show are simply joyous,” she said.

For many audience members who remember the former tv show “Moonlighting,” the evening included a bit of double-take, especially at the after party. Among the cast members in “Damn Yankee” is Allyce Beasley, who –plays “Doris” in the Goodspeed production, but was easily recognized as the ditzy  Agnes Dipesto, office receptionist in the popular tv series that starred Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis.




White Coat Gala On A Husky Blue High

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uconnwhite4uconnwhite3You would be hard pressed to find a happier crowd than the one at the Connecticut Convention Center Saturday.

Those at the UConn Foundation’s annual UConn White Coat Gala were still on a “Husky High,” basking in dual NCAA championships and celebrating three honorees who have gone above and beyond when it comes to support UConn Health.

“There is a lot to smile about tonight,” said UConn president Susan Herbst, who traded in UConn blue and sports tee shirts for a slinky black sequined gown. “It’s a greauconnwhite2t time for the health center and the university.”

Selected for the 2014 Carole and Ray Neag Medal of Honors were philanthropists, Atty. Richard and Jane Lublin, UConn Auxiliary Health Center president Irene Engel, and Cigna, represented at the gala by Dr. Dick Salmon.

“I went back to work at UConn when there was no UConn Health Center. I worked as a nurse in the McCook Hospital,” recalled Engel, referring to UConn Health Center’s  first home in Hartford.  A cancer survivor, Engel sported a garduconnwhite5enia wrist corsage, a sign, she said, from her late husband.

“He always gave me gardenias on special occasions,” she said. “A friend of ours insisted I must have one for tonight and I feel like he is with me.”

The Lublins, founding title sponsors of the White Coat Gala, are well-known for their uconnwhite1philanthropy.

“We just wanted to do something to fight cancer,” said Richard Lublin about the couple’s tireless financial and personal commitment to UConn. “It is hard though, shoveling so much money to find a cure for cancer and still not making progress,” he said. “But we will keep giving because my desire is to see it wiped out forever.”

The sold-out crowd was treated to “up close and personal” look at the championship trophies and to round out the party, there was WTIC broadcaster, Joe D’Ambrosio, better known as “the Voice of the Huskies.”

“The dual win was so unexpected,” said the tuxedoed D’Ambrosio who emceed the event. “But it feels so good.”

For more pictures go here.




Hepburn’s Clothes On Display At CHS

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hepburn13hepburn11Ladies, Katharine Hepburn knew how to shop wisely.

When she found pants that fit right, she bought several pair. And as far as shoes, when she found the ones that worked best, she bought a few pair instead of just one.

Proof of those habits were part of the fun and the celebrity of the opening reception for the “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed For Stage and Screen” exhibit at the Connecticut Historical Society Thursday.

Among the lush and creative costumes from her famous plays and movies including “The Lion in Winter,” “Coco” and “Adam’s Rib,” were some of Hepburn’s personal belongings including several pair of her signature beige trousers as well as pairs of identical leather walking shoes.

But it was the costumes including the slinky red gown and ostrich feather boa from “Love Among the Ruins” and the pink gown from “The Philadelphia Story” and even the somewhat tame turtleneck and pants from “On Golden Pond” that had the VIP guests remembering and buzzing about Connecticut’s most famous and most treasured actress.

“I think it is the nostalgia of her and her movies that brought us here,” said West Hartford resident Mary Britcher who attended the reception with her husband Bill. “There were so many of her movies we loved, I don’t know what one was our favorite,” she said as the two conferred. “I thihepburn10nk “African Queen” is probably the one we both agree on.”

While the crowd was a diverse one, the movies most often mentioned and the costumes and posters most couldn’t wait to see were those from some of her most well-known movies.

“She seemed so strong-willed and independent long before women were really allowed to be,” said Vernon resident Gail Ramos who got a last minute invitation from a friend to reception. “I’m not old enough to remember her in her heyday so I have only heard my parents and grandparents talk about her and her history,” Ramos said. “But I have seen some of her classics including ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” she said, adding that she found it amazing that the  5 foot, eight inch Hepburn wore clothes that today would be a size 2 or 4. “She was such a powerful woman, and how interesting that her everyday life was so opposite of her professional life,” Ramos added. “You can see it in her clothes.”

The exhibit, owned by Kent State university in Ohio, will be on display until Sept. 13. For more information go to www.chs.org

Boys & Girls Club Celebrate Fun And Honorees

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boys12boys13boys10If you were looking to find a way to unwind at the near-end of the work week Thursday, heading over to the Connecticut Convention Center was a good option. You could get some of that energy worked out by playing a lively game of “Hungry, Hungry Hippo” or “Trivial Pursuit.” Or perhaps “Connect Four” is your poison.

The point was it was all about fun as the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford held its annual “Opening The Door Celebration,” a fundraiser that included loads of games for guests and a dinner that honored its 2014 Hall of Fame inductees.

“I haven’t played ‘Hungry, Hungry Hippo’ since I was eight,” smiled Jon Wells, an insurance underwriter who came with friends. “I was really good at it too,” he said as he approached a group of pint-sized Boys & Girls club members who invited him to play.

“I loved the Boys & Girls Club when I was growing up,” said Webster Bank’s Jay Brennan who recalled his days of playing ball at the Forestville club.  “I’ll never forget those days.”

And the honorees for the night would not forget theirs, either.

“I grew up in the Bowles Park area of Hartford with my grandmother and mother,” said Atty. Kevin Henry, one of four inductees. “Sonny Thomas, he would pick me up and bring me to the Northwest Club or camp and Joe LaPenta, he was great,” said Henry, referring to the longtime club supporters. “I am so stoked about being chosen for the Hall of Fame,” said Henry who is a partner in the Hartford law firm, Kevin Joiner LLC.

Thomas was being honored posthumously as a Hall of Fame inductee along with Darryl Thames, now the chief operations officer for the Urban League of Greater Hartford and Joe Horvath, a teacher and social worker, who loved playing basketball and football at the Southwest Club in Hartford.


Comedian Engvall Dances His Way To Foxwoods Saturday

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BillEngvall.10-25-12You may remember comedian Bill Engvall as part of the successful “Blue Collar Comedy” concert films, or on “The Jeff Foxworthy show” or as a finalist in last season’s “Dancing With The Stars.” But you will surely remember him. The well-known comic and American Comedy Award winner is coming to MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods on Saturday and he is bringing a lot of laughs with him. Engvall also starred in his own self-titled sitcom on TBS for three seasons and recorded an album, “Here’s Your Sign” which went platinum on Billboard’s Comedy Chart for 15 weeks. Anything but a redneck bumpkin with a shtick, Engvall was smart, motivated, funny and sincere recently when he Spilled the Beans with Java.

Q: The obvious question at this time of the year and given your past performance, are you watching this season’s “Dancing With the Stars” and who are you rooting for?

A: I was actually at the show last night because I wanted to see my little Emma (Slater.) I think she got the shaft dancing with Billy Dee. He shouldn’t have been out there. I give him credit though for going on the show. Honestly, when they called me I thought you danced for an hour or two and you did a show. When I finished up and got eliminated, I figured it all up and realized I spent 13 weeks, 6 hours day, without a day off, practicing. I started the competition with a 35 inch waist and left with a 32 inch waist. I haven’t been that small since college. I’m rooting for Drew Carey because he is a comedian. I don’t think he is getting the scores he deserves. I didn’t. They never give the comedians high scores. They don’t know what to do with us. It is really not a dance competition.

Q: What do you mean it’s not a dance competition?

A: The original concept of the show was that it was supposed to feature people who did not know how to dance and see how the progressed and got better. But it was supposed to be people who never danced. Now you have Olympic gold skaters who dance, and entertainers who have danced. In my mind, it should have been me and Leah (Remini) as the finalists my season. We were both non-dancers who learned how to dance. You look at Val (Chmerkovskiy) and Meryl (Davis) this season. When you have judges saying they are in a class above everyone else, you know it’s not an even playing field. But they won’t win. I didn’t get as far as I did in the competition because of my dancing ability. It was because I was America’s regular guy and had fun doing it but took it seriously.

Q: Do you still dance?

A: I still dance. If the show called me today and said ‘We need you tomorrow,’ I would be there. It was so much fun. I thought dancing was for sissies. But it was harder than most of the things guys do and I would raise my hand in a man meeting and say that. It was the best work I had ever done in my life. I told my son, ‘you need to get in a dance class now. Straight male dancers get women you and I are not allowed to see.’

Q: Seems like your comedy gig has turned out well, and it seems good comics are the ones getting the late night show jobs now. With David Letterman’s announcement about a 2015 retirement, would you have any interest in a nighttime show?

A: I think it would be fun but no one has approached me. It is weird in this business. It’s like they get a weird idea. “Blue Collar Comedy” is what got me out there but it is also a curse because it has branded me. That’s all people see me as, part of “Blue Collar Comedy.”That is one of the other reasons I did “Dancing.” I was not turning my back on “Blue Collar” but wanted to show fans I could do something else. I think there is a tendency in this country to label everything. We get billed as country comics. But if Letterman comes calling, I am there in a heartbeat.

Q: As a comic, who do you most identify with?

A: I think I am a lot like Bill Cosby. I love him. I think he is the reason I try to do my show the way I do. I do it with a sense of you are not really going to just see a comedian, but rather a funny story teller. And that’s Bill. If you just sit there and relax and listen, you will laugh. The show is about stuff we have all done and basically about life. I am not the guy wearing overalls and chewing a piece of grass. I am a husband and father and there’s funny in all of that. When people leave my show want them to think my life is not that bad. Nowadays life is such a downer, I just want to provide some light.

Q: I know you are good friends with another comic, Jeff Foxworthy, and he is now on “Shark Tank,” the business investment reality show. Would you ever do something like that?

A: I shouldn’t say I wouldn’t do a reality show but I wouldn’t do that one. I’m not giving anyone my money; I work too hard for it.

Q: So what reality show would you do?

A: Maybe something like “Duck Dynasty.’ I mean, I think we have become so jaded and so voyeuristic, reality show is the way things are going to go. And reality shows are cheap to produce and you can make a lot of money on the back end of them. “Duck Dynasty’ is not a reality show but a sitcom, I think, and it’s really not that interesting, it’s just shot to make it look interesting.

Q: Something no one knows about you?

A: Probably that I am a gourmet cook and trained myself. My favorite meal to prepare would be grilled venison with asparagus with an olive oil drizzle and Parmesan cheese, a Caesar salad and a good Cabernet.


Tickets for Engvall’s show range from $35 to $60. The show is for mature audiences only. Tickets are available at the Foxwoods Box Office at 1-800-200-2882 or at comixatfoxwoods.com


UConn Parade, UConn Gala And More This Weekend

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]uconngala2Yes,  we have two national championship teams here in Connecticut so it just follows that it is all about UConn this weekend. And so it should be!

But besides the Championship Parade on Sunday in Hartford, the UConn Foundation  will be doing some celebrating of its own on Saturday night at its Fifth Annual “White Coat Gala.”  The event will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center.

The Carole and Ray Neag Medal of Honor recipients  this year are Richard and Jane Lublin and UConn Auxiliary president Irene Engel . Also being honored with the corporate philanthropist award at the ball is Cigna.

For more information go here.

But let’s back it up a bit. On Thursday, the Ct Historical Society will host an opening  reception for its new display honoring acting icon, Katharine Hepburn.

Titled “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen,” the exhibit features over 40 costumes the Oscar-winning,  Connecticut resident wore in 21 films and six stage productions, including “Adam’s Rib,”  ”The Philadelphia Story”  and “Coco.” The display also includes vintage posters, playbills and photos and, of course, an ensemble of her signature tailored beige trohepburn-sponsorship-page-header[1]users and linen jackets.

The exhibit was organized by the Kent State University Museum and will be on display in Hartford through Sept. 13.

For more information go here.

Also on Thursday, the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford will host its annual “Opening The Door openingCelebration” at the Connecticut Convention Center. The event features the induction of the 2014  Hall of Fame inductees, Kevin Henry, Joseph Horvath, Darryl Thames and
Clarence (Sonny) Thomas.

The evening includes dinner, a reception, auctions and some surprises. For more information go here.

Also on Thursday at The Pond House Cafe in Elizabeth Park, the Interfaith Education Task Force will hold its 7th annual “Soaring for Success” fundraising party.

Profits from the party support a collaboration between Noah Webster and Rawson Schools and  the task force that provides volunteer tutors for students in need.

Tickets are $35  and available at the door.

Spgoodspeedyankeesring is absolutely here for two reasons. Baseball season has begun and the Goodspeed in East Haddam opens Friday for the season.

And its opening production is the best of two worlds for a baseball-conflicted Connecticut. It’s “Damn Yankees” with a Red Sox twist.

Opening night of “Damn Yankees, The Musical (The Red Sox Version)  includes some Sox treasures including its World Series trophy which will be on display for ticket holders before the show begins. There will also be some other Red Sox surprises including Wally the Mascot and Sox ”ball girls”  at the opening night event .

For more information go here.

And speaking of theater, “Somewhere” opens Friday night at Hartford Stage. For ticket wetstasteinformation go here.

On Saturday, you can also enjoy a dine around by attending the Wethersfield Historical Society’s Taste of Wethersfield from 7 to 9 :30 p.m. The dine-around will be held at the Keeney Memorial Cultural Center at 200 Main St. Cost is $50 per person for early admission at 6 p.m. and $35 per person for admission at 7 p.m. A host of area restaurants will be serving featured foods. There will also be live entertainment and auctions. For information go here.

On Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m., at The Studio at Billings Forge in Hartford, GLAD will honor John and Becky Glezegladn for their efforts on behalf  the LGBT community.

The couple have not only financially supported organizations like True Colors,   but have also served as activists for gender equality in the state. For more information go here.