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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shipbuilding Program Gives Kids Insights on Titanic Lore

Shipbuilding Program Gives Kids Insights on Titanic Lore
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – For a short time Friday afternoon, Fairfield Woods Branch Library was transformed into a shipyard, with kids on the job assembling boats while learning about one of the most noted ships in history.

As part of its One Book One Town program, the Library has scheduled activities all throughout March themed around the Titanic, which sank 100 years ago this April after colliding with an iceberg. “Shipbuilding 101”, led by Children’s Librarian Cheryl DelVecchio, was the first of several workshops geared to kids, and built around the book “TitaniCat”, written by Marty Crisp and illustrated by Robert Papp. For adult readers, the Library is spotlighting Allan Wolf’s “The Watch That Ends the Night.”

“TitaniCat” is loosely based on the true story of a cat called 4-0-1 that lived aboard the Titanic. The cat would have gone down with the ill-fated ship, but was removed to shore in Southhampton by a cabin boy as the cat had had kittens. The boy was supposed to have gone back aboard to complete the trans-Atlantic journey but missed the departure and was ultimately saved from almost certain death.

DelVecchio read “TitaniCat” to participating kindergarten and first grade children, then guided them on building mini replicas of the Titanic out of construction paper, milk cartons and glue. The models included smokestacks and could be adorned with accessories like waves and sea creature stickers. Children and their guardians collaborated on the work, trimming, taping and decorating the small ships.

“We thought a shipbuilding exercise would be fun,” said DelVecchio. “This is the first of four children’s programs themed around the Titanic that we will offer this month.”

While entertaining, ”TitaniCat” was also informative. Notably, every ship that sailed in those days carried a cat on board to control mice and rats. Sailors also believed a ship’s cat brought good luck to a journey.

As to the cat’s curious name 4-0-1, it related to the Titanic’s initial designation. In those days, it was a long-standing superstition not to call a ship by name while it was being built. The Titanic was assigned the number 4-0-1, which in turn became the cat’s name.

Five-year-old Luca DeMassa thought it was remarkable that the cabin boy, who may not have been more than 14, was traveling alone. Her mother Grace explained, “In those days, children went to work at a young age.”

Jeannie Ceres, also five, had a ball building her Titanic model, collaborating with her grandmother Aamparo Orban. She particularly liked the sea creature stickers. “I like the pink ones best, that’s my favorite color,” she said.

Southport Quilt Show Kicks Off with Preview Reception

Southport Quilt Show Kicks Off with Preview Reception
By Mike Lauterborn

Southport, CT, Thursday, March 1 – Dozens of people reported to Southport Congregational Church Thursday evening for a cocktail reception and sneak peak at the 10th Annual “Fabrics and Fabrications” Quilt Show.

The evening not only provided a preview of some 140 quilts on display in the Sanctuary and Chapel of the church facility, but also the many creative repurposed items in the Library, renamed the “Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice!” area.

The Fellowship Hall, where the reception was concentrated, also featured a Boutique with an estimated 250 miscellaneous handmade items, from hanger covers, mini quilts and pin cushions to needlepoint coasters, scarves and baby items – priced from $1 to $60.

While the many quilts on hand were extraordinary examples of hand-craftsmanship, on par were the Library items. Among the front runners: photography by Daniel Mosher Long, mixed media by Enid Munroe, hooked rugs by Patricia Ringston, painted tin folk art by Peter Ompir and sweater pillows by Richard Killeaney. Paper art compositions by Danielle Desplan, prints by Dalton Ghetti, book birdhouses by David Vissat and wood compositions by John Long were also extraordinary.

Perhaps most remarkable were “recycled fashions” created by Fairfield Warde High School students. These included a dress made from Twix and Snickers candy wrappers and a trash bag mini skirt.

Church youth circled the reception offering raffle tickets at $5 a pop for a chance to win one of five prizes: a Bee Attitude twin bed quilt, framed Paul Landry framed print, large tote bag from Sea Bags, a Zerega wall hangin and a $50 gift certificate redeemable at Close to Home. A drawing will be conducted on Saturday at 3:30pm.

Proceeds from the exhibit benefit three organizations this year: Make A Wish, Bridgeport’s Project Learn and Emerge. Make A wish grants the wishes of children with life threatening diseases. Project Learn enriches the lives of young people with after school programs. Emerge provides a safe environment for survivors of domestic violence and their children. 

The exhibit also honored quilt show founders Judy Reynolds and Cecily Zerega, who were presented with tokens of appreciation by Reverend Paul Whitmore.

The quilt show will be open to the public Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3, from 10am to 4:30pm each day. General admission is $10 per person.

Oscars Entertain; CT Residents Plummer & Streep Among Top Winners

Oscars Entertain; CT Residents 
Plummer & Streep Among Top Winners
By Mike Lauterborn
Fairfield, CT – The 84th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony came and went with its usual glitzy outfits, thank you speeches, corny jokes and honors for various achievement in film. And when all was said and done, two Connecticut residents – Meryl Streep and Christopher Plummer – had captured top awards.
Plummer, 82, a Weston resident, won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Beginners’’. It was his first Oscar ever. In his acceptance speech, he joked that he was just two years younger than Oscar itself.
Streep took Best Actress for her role as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”
The show was hosted by the multi-talented Billy Crystal, returning for the ninth time as the event’s lead. It was a comfortable spot for him and he kept audiences at the Kodak Theatre and home amused.
Other top winners included “The Artist” for Best Picture, Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress (“The Help”), Jean Dujardin for Best Actor (“The Artist”), Woody Allen for Best Director (“Midnight in Paris”) and “Rango” for Best Animated Feature.

Shake Shack Hosts Westport Cinema’s n’Oscars Party

Shake Shack Hosts Westport Cinema’s n’Oscars Party
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)

Westport, CT – Shake Shack rolled out the red carpet Sunday afternoon to local movie fans with an Academy Awards pre-party at the eatery’s 1849 Post Road East site. The occasion spotlighted Westport Cinema Initiative’s efforts to establish a local movie house while entertaining local residents.

Dubbed the n’Oscars (not the Oscars), the event featured movie critic Susan Granger and WEBE 108 radio’s Stormin’ Norman as emcees conducting a trivia contest about Westport actor and film lore. Gold-colored balloons and Oscar standees enhanced the environment, while student volunteers from Staples High School distributed Disney posters to patrons. Aligning with the 84th Annual Hollywood ceremony, the first 84 guests to attend the event also received “Non-Swag Bags” with area retail offers, and had the opportunity to fill out ballots guessing at Oscar winners in all the major award categories.

“We wanted to do an Oscars celebration and, with Westport being a little irreverent, we thought we’d do a pop-up event,” said Marcy Juran, on WCI’s marketing committee. “Shake Shack loved the idea and created a Red Velvet Carpet Concrete (frozen custard concoction) for the occasion.”

The WCI has made good forward progress indicated State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, who is also president of the WCI’s board. “Next month is the one-year anniversary since we started screening films,” he said. “We’ve built a great group of talented volunteers and the next great milestone is to find a permanent site for a theater. We’ve identified potential spots in downtown and once we decide on a spot, we will kick off with a fundraiser and get design plans approved by Planning & Zoning. The commissioners have expressed their general support.”

Granger thought the n’Oscars event was a fun run-up to the popular Awards night. “Everyone goes to the movies and Shake Shack is an ‘in’ place,” she said.

Shake Shack manager Dave Yearwood was glad to offer the event site. “It’s important to me to be involved in the community in which we are doing business,” he said. “We’re happy to give WCI a platform for their cause.”

While formal attire was not required at the event, two WCI volunteers donned black tie ensembles. Even patrons got into the act – Westporter “Sooo-z” Mastropietro wore movie clapper earrings, a necklace with an Oscar dangling from it and long red dress. “I wanted to have a little fun with the event, so came as a red carpet,” she said.

Others, like Pertrinea Cash, from Bridgeport, dressed elegantly, while speculating about Oscar winners. “I think the best picture is ‘The Help’”, she said. “I was watching the previews last night. It got high ratings, and won the Screen Actors Guild award. It was also the highest revenue earner. I would say ‘Iron Lady’ is a close second. I’m a fan of the ceremony and red carpet festivities. It’s fun for the Shake Shack to offer this family-oriented event.”

Museum’s Rapunzel Performance Provides Rainy Afternoon Fun

Museum’s Rapunzel Performance Provides Rainy Afternoon Fun
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)
Fairfield, CT – Jumping about with puppets, blowing a harmonica and dressing up in wash rags, a zany performer kept kids entertained at Fairfield Museum & History Center, which provided a warm haven on a rainy Friday afternoon.
Featured was Rolande Duprey, performing the tale of “Rapunzel”, or at least a creative reinterpretation of the beloved story. On loan from Purple Rock Productions, Duprey holds a Masters of Fine Arts in puppetry from the University of Connecticut, where she studied with Frank Ballard. She has taught puppetry and storytelling for the past twenty-five years and is a Teaching Artist with the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.
“We do a lot of family friendly activities during Vacation Week,” said Christine Jewell, Director of Education. “It’s great this year especially to have a performer as it ties in well with our Bravo regional theater exhibit.”
Hartford-based Duprey said she performs extensively throughout Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, doing both solo and collaborative work. “I’m a four-year-old at heart,” she smiled.
Duprey used simple props like a sheet slung over a clothesline, various baskets of washing, clothes pins, a washboard and an iron – items that evoked memories of interacting as a little girl with her grandmother on washing day – to tell her tale. A scarf became hair and puppets were incorporated into the storytelling.
Duprey’s jolly way kept children laughing and smiling, and helped chase away the dreary day.