Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

A Taste From The Past

 

by Kimberly Pena

For over a century, Avery’s Beverage has proven to be a soda company that has flourished by using its old manufacturing methods. Sherman F. Avery began making soda in a red barn on Corbin Ave, New Britain, in the summer of 1904. Ever since, Avery’s has continued to produce its organic sodas the same way.

The company starts by making its soda with 750 pounds of real cane sugar mixed with water. It then adds flavoring to the syrup mix, which is poured into the bottles with carbonated water. Shake the bottle and the soda is ready to go.

As simple as this may sound, it is hard labor. All the machines are old-fashioned and manual. Yet, the employees feel it’s an honor to work in such an historic barn.

Manny Ramirez has worked at Avery’s for five years as its soda labeler. In an average day, he labels from 1,440 to 3,000 soda bottles. He loves doing it.

“I love working here,” said Ramirez with a smile. “I can’t really ask for nothing better. Customers come in here asking for you, making you feel right at home. Not many people my age can say they do what I do.”

When you first walk into the business, it does not look like a contemporary store. The lights are dimmed, but the countless colorful soda bottles brighten the room. On the far right side, the company’s machines are laid out, and the bottles clink against one another as they are being sterilized for production use.

The barn’s original appearance has not changed. It seems as if you are entering a store of the past.

“Coming in here is like coming to a time capsule, like whoa, it’s pretty cool,” said Ramirez.

Avery’s Beverage only location is here in New Britain, however, the company sells its soda around the United States and Canada. It typically sells to candy shops, restaurants and retail stores such as, Stew Leonard’s.

According to Rob Metz, the current owner of Avery’s Beverage, the company offers more than 50 flavors ranging from blue raspberry to birch beer.

Customers from all around love the soda and try their best to come buy whenever they can.

“It is the only soda company that has organic soda,” said Anthony Franco, a regular Avery’s customer. “I try to come here four times a week or as much as I can.”

Single soda bottles are sold at one dollar, six-packs are sold for five dollars and a whole case containing 24 bottles is sold at $16.

Every Saturday the company invites children and adults to come into the business and make their own soda. A minimum of five people and a maximum of 20 people can come in and invent their own flavors and name them. Afterward, they bring three soda bottles and their own soda maker’s apron back home. It costs $11.50 per person.

Much of the sodas and names the children have come up with has been used for the business. “Dog Drool” and Toxic Brain-Juice” are a couple of the notable sodas that have come about from this Saturday program.

If you are interested in planning a visit, Avery’s Beverage is located at 520 Corbin Ave, New Britain, CT 06052. To make an appointment to invent your own soda, you can contact them at (860) 224-0830.

59th Grammys Recap: A Year of Firsts

by Matt Balogh 

While Connecticut had a very snowy and hectic weekend, the biggest names in the music business were preparing themselves for the 59th Celebration of the Grammy Awards.

This year, the beloved James Corden had the honor of hosting, bringing his usual comedic elements featured heavily throughout his late-night show. During his introduction, Corden demonstrated his comedic style by falling down the stairs as the opening song progressed. In a shift of feeling, Corden began to rap a summary of upcoming events planned for the night, accompanied by a beat for his well-rehearsed itinerary rap.
The show was filled with many exciting moments, but also had its fair share of technical difficulties and political influenced speeches. Being a celebration of music, the show was jam-packed with performances from many artists, including some of the nominees.

After Adele’s show-opening rendition of “Hello,” many artists followed with their acts such as Daft Punk with The Weekend, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Chance the Rapper. Some performances were more minimalistic than others, such as Ed Sheeran’s stripped-down looper pedal performance of “Shape of You.”

Sheeran had used the guitar pedal technology to record live loops on the spot, and built them up as he sang and played guitar over the backing, making for a very interesting display. As for the more elaborate performances, the widely acclaimed artist Beyoncè had a massive display, paying tribute to themes such as motherhood, love and civil harmony. The act brought out over two dozen back up dancers, and featured special effects to bring a surreal element to the imagery of the routine.

The night also paid tribute to recently passed musical artists George Michael and Prince. Adele led the George Michael tribute with a performance of “Fastlove,” to which she had requested to restart while looking rather disappointed in herself. Later on, Bruno Mars had collaborated with The Times to bring an energetic dedication to Prince.

In a more political influence, A Tribe Called Quest took the stage with Anderson Paak, Consequence and Busta Rhymes to both pay tribute to their fallen member Phife Dawg, and to use their performance of their song “We The People” to slam President Donald Trump. In an excellent message of equality, they made the message clear to resist to “President Agent Orange.”

There were some interesting collaborations throughout the night, most notably the Bee Gees tribute and the unusual pairing of Lady Gaga with Metallica. In a medley of the Bee Gees’ classic hits, Demi Lovato, Tori Kelly and Little Big Town set the stage merging all their own styles, blending the segments fairly well. On the other hand, the chemistry with Lady Gaga and Metallica felt rather forced, and very odd. Their performance of Metallica’s new song “Moth Into Flame” made Gaga look like a winner of a “Sing with the band” contest, as it unraveled itself as more as a karaoke tribute. James Hetfield’s mic had not been working, adding to the uncomfortable environment of the situation, however, Gaga at least maintained very high energy to keep the song going, appropriately ending with a stage-dive at the song’s end.

The Awards themselves brought history, as there were many first-time winners and records set. One of the more interesting of the winners was Chance the Rapper, a fully independent artist that took home 3 awards last night. Considering Chance releases all his music for free, this meant that he had been awarded more Grammys than the total amount of songs he has sold.

Chance also beat out Kanye West for Rap Album of the Year with his mixtape “Coloring Book.” First time winners Twenty One Pilots had accepted their award for best Pop Duo in a peculiar fashion: with their pants off. Singer Tyler Joseph had explained to the audience that they had promised themselves that ever since they once watched the same event on TV while dressed in a similar outfit. David Bowie had certainly left his mark on the musical world, as he posthumously won all 5 awards that he had been nominated for. Many different artists and family members came up to accept his awards in his honor.

One of the most anticipated face-offs of the night went to Beyoncè and Adele. Both highly acclaimed artists, but went head to head on several awards. While being widely praised and essentially hyped up over everything she does, Beyoncè was expected to have a clean sweep through all of her 9 nominations. However, for both Record and Album of the year, Adele had claimed victory, but tearfully gave a shoutout to Beyoncè as she felt that her album had deserved it instead.

The night had been a very shocking and entertaining collection of artists, certainly made for an interesting event.

Budget-friendly Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

By Kayla Murphy

As Valentine’s Day approaches, you’re stuck in a sticky situation. You forgot to make a reservation at your girl’s favorite restaurant. Or you forgot to buy your man a special gift. As college students, we all know we’re “bawlers on a budget”, so dates that’ll cost less than $15 sounds perfect. If you’re looking for something fun to do, check out these four possible date ideas.

Go ice skating. The Veterans Memorial Ice Skating Rink will be open to the public from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday February 14th. $8 for residents. $10 for non-residents. After ice skating, enjoy the rest of the night with a warm home-cooked meal, some cozy blankets and a romantic movie.

 

 

Observe an art museum. The FA Art Gallery located on the 2nd floor of Maloney Hall is free to the public. Enjoy the current art exhibit Echo: A collection of photography by Sabrina Staires. Exhibit open from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Another art exhibit to check out is the New Britain Museum of American Art. Open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Free admission with Blue Chip I.D. If you don’t have your Blue Chip, the tickets are $15 each. After an enriching artistic experience, settle the night by working together to cook an Italian cuisine. Don’t forget dessert.

 

Attend a local concert. Go see the Honky Tonk Tuesday featuring The Delta Blues Boys. The concert is located in The Outer Space on 296 Treadwell Street, Hamden. Tickets are at the door. The doors open at 5:00 p.m. and the music starts at 7:00 p.m.

 

Go see a local comedian show. The Sea Tea Improvs Valentine’s Day Special featuring Romantic Baby located on 15 Asylum Street, Hartford. Starting at 8:00 p.m., bring your date to this all-women comedic improve show. Tickets are $10.

SNL Goes for Spicer and DeVos

by Lorenzo Burgio

Saturday Night Live has continued to receive a mixture of reactions from their consistent political sketches, imitating individuals such as President Donald Trump, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos.

Melissa McCarthy played the role of Spicer last Saturday, Feb. 4, in a sketch imitating a press conference where he was bombarded with questions regarding the Muslim ban.

“I’m also concerned about Steve Bannon, a lot of people are saying he is behind this Muslim ban,” asked Cecily Strong, who was playing a reporter.

“When it comes to theses decisions, The Constitution gives our President lots of power and Steve Bannon is the key advisor, okay and our president will not be deterred,” said McCarthy as Spicer.

Kate McKinnon played secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos in the same sketch, where she was asked “I don’t think we ever got a clear answer on this, how do you value growth versus proficiency and measuring progress in students,” by Alex Moffat who played a reporter.

“I don’t know anything about school, but I do think there should be a school- probably a Jesus school. And I do think it should walls and roof and gun for potential grizzly,” responded McKinnon as DeVos.

Alec Baldwin continued his role at President Trump, and started off the sketch in the Oval office asking if his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner were still there, which they were.

“Perfect. When the Jews are away the Goys will play. Send in Steve Bannon,” responded Baldwin as President Trump, while the Grimm reaper, Steve Bannon, begins to simultaneously walk in the room saying, “Hello Donald, I have arrived.”

In a video interview with US Weekly, Spicer responded to the sketch about the press conference and the many other that were aired about President Trump.

Spicer said he said the sketch about himself the next morning, but focused more on the skits with President Trump in the interview.

“I think, you know, he [Baldwin] has gone from funny to mean and that’s unfortunate. SNL used to be really funny and I think there’s a streak of meanness now that they have kind of crossed over,” said Spicer.

“It was cute; it was funny. I’d rather talk bout the issues that the president is so committed to helping Americans on, but it’s part of American culture,” said Spicer to Fox News in a video interview, when asked about the skit.

The ‘Unapologetic’ Spoken Word Artist

by Kayla Murphy

On Tuesday Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. in Devil’s Den, Central Activities Network (CAN) hosted part one of a four part poetry series program. Over a hundred people attended to hear poet Ashley Haze perform.

“I thought her performance was very powerful,” said freshman elementary education student, Lyndsy Ignacio.

“She touched on very important topics and I thought she did a good job connecting with the audience,” said Ignacio.

“I was ten years old when I picked up a pen and a piece of paper,” said spoken word artist Ashley Haze.

“Every day after school I would write for an hour,” Haze said.

Haze had said that writing and performing poetry was her dream, but she realized that she would need a steady job first and then she could focus on her career.

Laughing, she said, “I work nine to five, and then from five to nine I work on my dream. It’s a good balance and practice to have.”

Haze’s pieces focused on many different aspects of life such as feminism, celebrities, Saturday mornings and cultural enlightenment of African Americans. Haze said that a lot of inspiration for her poems comes from current events and movies such as, “The Help” and “Alligator Bait.”

“I really liked her poem about body image,” said freshman nursing student Sarah Allen.

“Haze made good points about when people say she has a ‘pretty face’ but implying that her body isn’t. I like how she empowered feminism and talked about being beautiful inside and out,” Allen said.

In one of her poems, Haze responds to the idea of feminism with, “I can be eye candy and soul food because I can multitask.”

Damar Britto, a junior technology and engineering education major, said his favorite poem by Haze was “Saturday Mornings.”

“I could relate to her piece about immigration and housework because my great grandmother was a housemaid as well,” Britto said.

In her poem, Haze mentions about how she would clean spotless with her mother on Saturday mornings and how her grandmother was a hotel maid in Chicago.

Haze said she was taught that “cleanliness was close to godliness.”

For the next few months, students can join C.A.N in the rest of the poetry series. The next performer is Gabriel Ramirez: On What it Means to be Black, on February 1st at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall.

On Feb. 13, at 8 p.m in Alumni Hall, “Kyla Lacey: On Her Experience of Domestic Violence and Abuse” is the third part of the series. The final performer is “Ebony Stewart: Selfless Spoken Word Artist,” on Mar. 21 at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall.

Think Twice Before You Speak

by Analisa Novak

I remember when I was growing up I was told that as a girl I had to have tough skin to survive. This is something that I am constantly reminded of when I hear people make the ever so cliché “stop being a girl” comment.

I hate these comments because they stereotype something that I am and something that I am proud to be as negative. I try to just brush it off when it is said to me, I grit my teeth and smile at times when I hear it being said to others in class. But I recently came to notice that I was doing the exact thing that I hated so much to a different group of people: the LGBQT community.

I am originally from California, where there is a strong gay influence in our communities. While not perfect, I do believe that California is one of the most accepting places for LGBQT. But even with this, the saying “that’s gay” somehow came into my vocabulary and stuck.

I had not even realized how it has become a huge part of my everyday talk. When my friends made a joke, I would say, “That’s so gay, stop.” I was throwing that phrase around like it was a vowel.

The realization that I needed to stop came as I started talking to more people who are gay. Never once did someone correct or yell at me for using the term; in fact, no one ever commented at all when I said it in front of them. It wasn’t until one day when I was trying to make a friend understand the point I was making about how women have to accept demeaning comments. That is when it dawned upon me how unaware I have been this entire time.

I asked him, “Don’t you get mad when someone says ‘that’s gay’ about something?”

He responded to me, “No, you just have to have tough skin.”

The thing that I, as a female, was being told my entire life was the same thing that people who are gay had been living by as well. We are expected to allow these offensive comments to be said because society is telling us that we need toughen up. That’s the problem – society thinks we are the problem and is forcing us to adapt. Had one person ever told me, “hey, watch what you say, that’s pretty offensive,” I would have instantly stopped.

I didn’t notice the impact of my words and how something that comes off as a joke to some can also deeply offend others. To say “that’s gay,” or “that’s such a girl thing,” is offensive and needs to be stopped. This word vomit needs to be addressed and corrected, instead of being suppressed by the people it affects.

Johnny Depp Captivates Audience in “Black Mass”

By Dillon Meehan

Over the past decade, few actors have had their careers dwindle more than Johnny Depp. Apart from the Pirates of the Caribbean series of the mid-2000s, the majority of Depp’s movies have fallen short. That trend ends with his performance in Black Mass. Depp stars as notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Buldger.

Depp’s performance as Buldger is Oscar-worthy. The appearance is eerily spot-on, which is no surprise for Depp, who at times becomes a shapeshifter when he takes on certain roles. But it is more than just the make-up; It is how Depp carries himself throughout the film. Nearly every scene, minus a few minor subplots, involves Depp in some capacity. The role is something he has never taken on before. He is evil and his brutality is shocking at times throughout the entire film.

Despite Depp’s phenomenal performance, it is the rest of the cast that struggles. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Depp’s brother, Senator Billy Buldger. When they are in scenes together, it simply does not work. There is no chemistry between them. The two could not look or act less like brothers. Cumberbatch’s appearance was left untouched, which is strange considering the transformation Depp went through. During the handful of scenes they share together, their interactions are bizarre. Cumberbatch’s British look combined with the Boston accent just misses its mark entirely. It is more a product of poor casting than acting.

The other main issue with the movie is the plot. It is far too scattered, covering a span of 20 years in less than 90 minutes. The film starts out in 1975 after Buldger’s departure from Alcatraz. Shortly after being introduced to the Winter-Hill Gang, FBI Agent John Connolly returns home with a proposition: help the FBI capture the Italian mob, and in return, they will look the other way. This alliance allows Buldger free reign to go from a small time criminal to the FBI’s most wanted gangster. This provides another chance for the film to redeem itself, but once again, it falls short. The multiple decades of murder, racketeering and extortion are reduced to a couple of scenes that jump far too quickly. In a span of five minutes, Connolly has gone from relatively unknown, to a big shot in the FBI. It is the small details like this in the plot that make the film fall short.

Overall, Black Mass is a great crime movie. The plot and supporting cast lack luster at times, but Depp’s performance makes you forget about it. The role is far different from the norm for Depp, who showed everyone a new side that he is capable of showing. The 52-year-old is considering retirement, but it is hard to imagine him turning down roles following a performance like this.

Space to Maneuver

by Caity Ross

Upon entering the Space to Maneuver exhibit at the New Britain Art Museum, free with your Blue Chip card, you may be hesitant to touch the first piece you see.

Looking around for a no-touching sign for the third time you finally reach and give the Spin Cycle a gentle spin.

The eight, colored planks of wood in a snowflake-like shape that made up the Spin Cycle, rotated slowly around, a different colored circle could be seen behind cut outs in the colored planks. You feel like a Wheel of Fortune contestant and in your head you can hear that annoying game show music.

You look around after it stopped spinning to make sure no flashlight shaking security guards had heard the movement and, at the lack of a stern talking-to, you smile, reach your hand out and spin it again, harder this time. The anxiety is gone, this exhibit is unlike any other museum exhibit you have encountered — this one allows touching the art, full-on interaction with the piece. With the anxiety gone, you can finally explore Space to Maneuver by Bob Gregson.

Bob Gregson designs his pieces to be alive to the viewer.

“I feel that everyone brings their own experiences when they encounter a work of art. Some people like colorful shapes, some people like muted tones, some people like narrative art with realistic imagery, some people like abstract shapes, and that goes on and on,” Gregson explained.

“What you like is probably already inside you. It’s the artist who gives it form and brings it out -in my work I invite people to bring their experiences in a more active manner,” said Gregson.

Gregson designs his pieces to be theatrical props for viewers to use and create the experience that is his work.

“I want the visitor to first be intrigued and curious. Next, I want people to explore, when people become confident — then they can add their own ideas,” said Gregson.

The exhibit uses hanging pieces like the Spin Cycle, 2014, and The Bee Line, 201 — both solid colored wood pieces hung along the walls on the second floor of the New Britain Museum of American Art,  able to spin and change position on their mounts by viewers’ own hands.

There is a cluster of tables in the center of the room, making up what Bob Gregson has called the At Every Turn, 2009 piece. This piece is designed to become a game for a group.

“My art invites people to play together. In our world of i-phones, skype, twitter, e-mail, etc.,we have less and less physical interaction with people,” Gregson said hoping his work would draw complete strangers to play together. He wants viewers to change social rules through his pieces by taking the rules into their own hands.

“This exhibit is fun and interactive and completely against the norm of a museum,” Heather Whitehouse said with a toothy smile as she touched one of the pieces of the Slate Series 5: Snafu, hanging on the gallery wall.

As the Associate Curator of Education at the museum, Whitehouse has seen many pieces line the gallery walls.

“I love that I can come in here and venture through the exhibit one day and take away a different meaning the next time I come,” Whitehouse said, taking a turn at making a sentence with the tables of the At Every Turn piece.

“Our visitors have the ability to come into the exhibit and change it themselves, set it up in a way that is appealing to them,” said Whitehouse.

The Space to Maneuver exhibit is a playful, thought-provoking and constantly changing exhibition that creates a physical relationship between the viewer and the art. This type of physical relation requires a lot of work and maintaining to keep up with.

“The artist planned out the way he wanted his pieces set up, he explained how he wanted them hung and explained the importance of them being able to withstand touching and moving,” Keith Gervase, Assistant to the Collection’s Manager/Rights & Reproduction explained.

Keith and his team are in charge of installation of exhibits and pieces in the museum. They had to install several bases able to rotate and hold the solid wood pieces and withstand the human touch.

The Space to Maneuver exhibit holds just a few of Bob Gregson’s pieces. The New Britain Museum of American Art houses several other pieces, including several pieces from the In Your Face participatory mask collection. It also includes a Bickering Booth in the lobby where two participants enter either side of the booth, face to face. Each side contains Rolodex file with approximately 300 theatrical clichés inspired from soap operas and movies.

Space to Maneuver brings a new interactive element to the museum experience and is definitely worth a visit.

Hike to it: Cedar Mountain

by Sheridan Cyr

​Upon embarking for a quick hike up Cedar Mountain, you would never guess that it’s home of one of the best views in Newington. The hike itself only takes about ten to fifteen minutes, which makes it a great way to squeeze in some time outdoors between all of your classes, work and studying.

The hike to the peak begins immediately with the steepest part, so be sure to bring some sturdy sneakers. Then, it curves to the right and gives the hiker a moment to regroup before a second steep hill. After that, it is much more relaxing. You will be taken through beautiful foliage and intertwining trees — a gentle breeze and surprisingly few bugs this time of year.

Before long, you will find a tree right in the middle of the path with an enormous growth on it — you’re almost at the peak! Soon the trees open up to a breathtaking view of Newington, New Britain, Berlin and further. In the fall, the leaves look incredible: red, orange, yellow, as far as the eye can see. Right below the mountain, you can see the houses of Deepwood Drive and Dalewood Road close enough to still be able to see people going about their lives.

From the peak, there are a few paths that continue to different bases of the mountain. Each are all different experiences. One is a bit narrow with a faster decline, while the other is wider and a bit more dim. On the wider path, you can see that people have built bonfires here and there at different points of time. This path eventually splits in two; both lead to the bottom eventually.

If you can find just an hour of time in your hectic schedule, take a trip to Cedar Mountain with some friends. The scenery is unbeatable, and it is only about a ten-minute drive from Central. Maybe you could even spot the university from the peak of the mountain!

20 Under 20: Blackledge Falls

By Matthew Knox

Nestled in the hills of Glastonbury, Blackledge Falls, and the 80 acres of forest that contain them, are an excellent place to hike and enjoy nature during any season. At times of heavy rain and high groundwater, as many as three separate falls run off the 26 foot tall cliffs. The falls derive their name from the color of the rocks when wet. The water returns to river form after the falls to run through the forest where you may cross over it several times by bridges. Right by the falls, a log sits on the ground in a perfect spot to rest. Bring a picnic or a snack and take a break. Whether there are hundreds of gallons pouring over the cliffs a minute, or only trickling after a dry summer, the spot is beautiful.

There are three different trails that make up the Blackledge Falls preserve. The “purple” trail leads to the waterfall. In reality, it is just a line of white paint over a blue one. The trail is not difficult. There are hills and a gradual incline for periods of time, but no hiking experience is needed. The walk takes about 15 minutes at an average pace. Watch out for roots and rocks on the path in some areas.

The preserve is a tribute to nature and has therefore been left in as natural of a state as possible. Tree branches have fallen on the path in a couple of spots and they were left. The other trails in the park head off in different directions that mostly all convene before to the parking area. Walk or run far enough and you will eventually reach a large swath of open land for power lines. Beyond that you will end up at Gay City State Park. For those of you who enjoy trail running, this area is certainly acceptable. The trails are relatively clean and free of overhanging branches that could hit you.

During the semester, things can get stressful. I encourage a visit to Blackledge Falls for a much needed break when the weather permits.