Sunday, April 26, 2009

Flag Football












Flag football is considered very popular attracting men ranging in ages 20-40.


This sport involves many players that have football in thier backrounds and love the game. Being a supportive team member is important since raising money is a big deal. One particular team The Young Gunz from New Britain, had to raise money to go to Virginia, a championship game they needed to attend. The team rented out a Papas Pub and held a Smoker. They were able to raise 2,000 dollers. Food, drinks, and poker games all night.


Being a flag football player is serious to these men. They do anything and everything that needs to be done to better the team. Sunday mornings at 10 o'clock, the Young Gunz get together at Osgood Park in New Britain for practice. They start by stretching and then running a couple laps before going through the plays. The guys seem enthusiastic getting ready to play against two teams Omni Fitness from New York and the Silver Backs from Rhode Island. You can check out thier website .


Flag football looks like an easy sport but it is not. The sport is tough and the men do not go down easily. When watching them play it almost hurts to watch. They push hard, fall down on thier knees, sometimes they forget that it is not supposed to be tackle football.


All in all the sport is loved by many and these guys do have fans. Friends and family, watch and cheer at every game. The Young Gunz are in third place right now and are fighting to get to first. It is serious to the team to try to get there, but it is also important to have fun in the same time.







Friday, April 24, 2009

Transitioning from Relaxed/Permed hair to Natural hair

Deciding

People go natural for all kinds of reasons. For example: their hair can be damaged, they've learned to embrace their natural hair or it just may be more cost friendly than using chemicals.

Whatever the case may be, it's not all that simple, the uniqueness of the hair can determine how time consuming the transition will be unless the person is daring enough to start from scratch and go for the big chop!

Relaxed hair

When hair is relaxed/permed it has been chemically changed and the texture of the hair is no longer the same, and will never be the same unless it has been given time to grow out. Some say it is possible to have relaxed hair and still have healthy hair, but in fact, relaxing hair is only stripping hair, which is not healthy.

What many people don't know is that straightening your hair with heat also causes chemical changes. The more you use heat the more it changes the texture of your hair, which is why most people choose to stay away from heat when they go natural.

Acting

Many people start the transitioning process and come to find out that it's not as simple as it seems.

These are the different options:

1. Braiding the hair until the new growth reaches a desired length, and then cutting off the relaxed/permed ends.

2. Venturing different styles, and finding creative ways of disguising the natural and chemically changed textures.

3. The big Chop-cutting off your hair and starting fresh.

With plenty of patience and time, transitioning can turn into a good thing or bad thing. Just because hair is natural does not mean it shouldn't be cared for. There are individuals who choose to go completely natural and not put any kind of chemical products( shampoos,conditioners and etc...) in thier hair. Carol's Daughter is a new and wonderful hair product line that tackles this goal.

When a person has grown thier desired length of natural hair they may think that they do not have enough styling options, but to the contrary there are hundreds of natural hair styles. Braids are the most common because the natural hair is strong enough to handle the braids compared to relaxed/permed hair, which would break easier if braided.

For style tips Youtube is an excellent source, check it out! There are many individuals who have posted their journeys through transitioning, and they give advice about what works and doesn't work.

Remember any decision should be a concious one, so make sure you go natural for you and no one else, whatever your reason may be.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

“24 hours in New York w/ out a hamburger”

The average college student’s visit to New York is spent in the brightly lit and jam packed region of New York City known as “Time Square,” with thousands of other flustered tourists from around the world trying to do so much in so little time.

According to barrypopik.com the phrase “Big Apple” was created by The New York Morning track writer John J. Fitz Gerald in the 1920s. It means “‘The big time,’ a place where the big money was to be won, and for that reason many immigrants wound up merged together in one little place called NEW YORK city.

Through out the years these immigrants shared with the rest of America and the world what their rich cultures have to offer. For example, immigrants from countries such as China, Italy and many West African countries like Senegal.

With so many diverse cultures more students from America who visit New York should explore the vast traditions that the cultures have to offer rather than spending a whole trip partying, shopping in Time Square and grabbing a burger from the Infamous McDonalds, with its huge golden arches, visible throughout parts of not only New YORK city, but across America.

I decided that my next trip to NY City with my best friend Tamika Harvey, a typical college student at Central Connecticut State University who takes occasional trips to “Big Apple” just to shop, would be different. This time around we decided to encompass each meal of the day around the different cultures that NY City has to offer.

Breakfast
For breakfast we ate at the “Dumpling House” located on Canal St. in China Town. It is a tradition in China to eat Dim Sums for breakfast, lunch or brunch. Dim sums are fried or steamed dumplings with the choice of chicken, pork or beef.
Our order: Pork steamed Dim Sum, chicken fried Din Sum and 2 cups of fresh brewed Green Tea.
Price: about 20 dollars


Lunch
For lunch we decided to go light and head over to Little Italy where we each indulged in a simple pasta salad. Little Italy was full of great Italian restaurants, but because we wanted to go cheap and save some money for dinner we kept it simple and ate at a simple Pizzeria.
Price: about 20 dollars

Dinner
For Dinner we headed to the West African inspired community in Harlem, and salvaged some Senegalese food at the African Kine restaurant.
Order: Peanut butter sauce with chicken and rice, which sounds a bit intimidating, but Harvey loved it. Divinely seasoned shish kabobs with a side of fried plantains, seasoned onions, and specialty made hot sauce and 8” inch long bread. Also, we ordered two Bissap drinks. Bissap is a juice made from the pedals of dried hibiscus flowers
Price: about 35 dollars

After our 24 hour journey of stuffing our faces, Harvey and me caught our train and discussed the great adventure that we experienced. By the way, she was so focused on stuffing her face that she forgot how bad she wanted to stop at the Chanel store in Time Square.
5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
ABOUT THE AFRICAN DIASPORA…

Wait! Wondering what that even is? Don’t worry you are not the only one.

1 In fact, you are a product of it whether you’re a user of its resources or you consider yourself from the African Diaspora.

2 Reality Check: 85 percent of the world’s resources come from Africa, so imagine the world with out Africa’s rich minerals and cultural influences from its foods to its customs.

3 Diaspora means the dispersion of indigenous peoples, and African Diaspora is the dispersion of African people across the globe through many years and still to this day.

4 Examples of Places brought up by the dispersal of African peoples would be: The Caribbean, United States and Brazil just to name a few.

5 Most importantly, there is only one human race, so simply judging a person by their looks will not help you distinguish if someone is part of the African Diaspora.

The main lesson to take away from this is that knowing yourself is an important asset in your life, and being proud of who you are is even more important.

CULTURE SHOCKED




I am part of the Africana Students Organization at Central Connecticut State University. Every spring we have our Culture Shock Show and this year we really made a spectacular event.


For those of you who don’t know much about the African Diaspora, ASO does a really good job of portraying the fundamental nature of it.


Many Students at Central Connecticut State University were blown away by the eventful “Culture Shock” show put on by the Africana Students Organization.


Members got together and wanted to incorporate the true “Africana” essence in this year’s show, so this time they left the crowd not only entertained, but informed about the different cultures


that Africa has influenced and still continues to influence.


The Culture Shock exalted a tropical them with warm colors and fanciful decorations, which were all inspired by the CCSU Design club. There were lit pineapple center pieces and scattered palm trees giving the illusion that you were on a tropical escape.


Food was provided by the CCSU catering company, Sadexo, whom tried to encompass a menu that would represent the different cultures. There was everything from Indian samosas to fried plantains and pita bread with hummus.


The main events of the night were the performers. The Island Boys Band consisted of Steel Pan drumming, Caribbean and African inspired dancers. GiGi Neama blew away the audience with her Egyptian inspired belly dancing moves. Rapper Decipher and poet Jelan represented the Hip




Hop culture with their smooth and thought catching lyrics. Latin band, Karibe Mambo and Salsa dancer Alisa from “Alisa’s House of Salsa” got the crowd involved in a friendly dance competition.




Last, but not least was Husky Bhangra, a traditional Indian inspired performance with a twist of hip hop.




Throughout the night students and faculty continued to enjoy themselves.


“It was very professional,” said William Forthergill from the Counseling and Wellness Center.


“I was honestly impressed by the student effort that was put into the show, it really showed in the final product,” says Gabbie French, a senior at CCSU


“I was very impressed and happy to see that the Culture Shock focused on the Diaspora. It was so diverse and that was the point. It was truly a Culture Shock!” says Masem Enyong, also a senior at CCSU.




The night finally came to an end with a fashion show. Another aspect of the show put together by the Design club. “The fashion show was all about taking some traditional fabrics and creating a modern twist!” says Tamika Harvey the President of the Design club.


Overall, the show was a success and if you missed it, no worries, there is always next year, so look out for ASO’s next spectacular Culture Shock.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

March To The Pentagon: Travel Piece



“No justice, no peace. End the war in the Middle East!” rang the voices marching in unison. Looking around the chaotic cluster of people while snapping photos, my morning ran through my head like a running dialogue.

Passing by the homeless shelter as we arrived in Washington, D.C, a line snaked its way up and down the sidewalk; residents with backpacks in tow waited patiently for the doors to open. It was eight in the morning, and I sat inside the bus, rubbed my eyes, and continued to stare out of the window.

After our bus driver stopped for breakfast, I boarded the bus again, sipping my burnt coffee in hopes that it would make up for the tossing, turning night of cramped sleep in that window seat; the Progressive Student Alliance trip to Washington had left Central's campus at one in the morning, having drove all night long with just a couple pit-stops.

As fliers were handed out to students, voices filled the air about socialism and unions. Looking down at the piece of paper, it mapped the streets and locations where the march to the Pentagon began and ended; the march was an anti-war demonstration marking the 6th anniversary of the occupation of Iraq.

While everyone chattered around me, I had nothing to speak about; I felt uninformed, invisible. It wasn't long though until Marissa Blaszko, a fellow Central student, introduced me to the entire clan. Lamens terms didn't really seem to apply to the subjects that Blaszko and other students were rapidly firing at me; I felt as if I needed an Activism for Dummies handbook at my side so that I may have thumbed through the definitions to understand a little more clearly.

From a completely novice view, all I could really comprehend was the fight for unions to be recognized, and the general distaste for the government. Some students were socialists, like Jeremy Radabaugh, a Kent State graduate whom worked for unions in Ohio and Connecticut. Jeff Bartos, a medic from the Iraq War, was a Veteran against occupation, while others were either from Youth for Socialist Action, or unaffiliated; merely going to enjoy an activist movement.

A few slight detours later due to cycling marathon, we shuffled off of the bus; one individual was handing each person picket signs that read different slogans: “Stop U.S Wars,” “Occupation Is A Crime,” and “Fund Jobs and Human Needs.”

Taking a long winding walk towards the Mall near Lincoln Memorial, we passed the Federal Reserve, and the Washington Monument began to appear in sight. The cherry blossoms were in bloom, and framed the old architecture beautifully.

Arriving earlier than anticipated, a few of us decided to wander in and give Mr. Lincoln a visit. The reflecting pool didn't look in tip-top shape, but then again, the dead grass surrounding it was typical during the month of March.

Gathering information cards on the monuments from the information desk, we chatted with the older lady at the booth for a while as we watched robotic runners fly by in their striped running shorts, and looked above to see planes overpass every few minutes.

People from all over the country began flooding the Mall; booths filled with literature about socialism, anti-occupation, to going vegan were lined up in rows. Specific groups were in attendance: from the Pink Ladies to Veterans of War, interesting signs and demonstrations were happening at once. One accessory that adorned many necks of protesters was the kaffiyeh, a Palestinian scarf consisting of black and white stitching.

As groups approached us and handed out pamphlets, there was also a massive stock pile of different picket signs for anyone to grab. As a small army of individuals moved a giant banner displaying the words “Stop All Wars: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted,” a petite, older African-American woman sang into a megaphone, “What are we fighting for? This is a rich man's war.”

Among the other interesting sights was an older man with a beret and sunglasses in a motorized chair, holding a sign saying “The Pentagon Pillar Pillage Horror,” in heavy red marker, a group of artists with abstract drawings symbolizing some of Picasso's work, and fake coffins draped in flags representing those who have died due to occupation, whether civilians or soldiers.

Fast forwarding a few hours later, there were thousands clustered, listening to an array of protest speakers: bereaved parents of deceased soldiers, rappers and preachers, and even foreigners protesting the building of U.S Military bases in their countries. Around 30 speakers and a couple hours later, the crowd was growing impatient; they were ready to march.

Aligned a few feet away from the Mall were seven horse mounted police officers. Ignoring them, the crowd passed the Lincoln Memorial and over the bridge en route to the Pentagon. Empowered fists pumped signs into the air, many helped carry the coffins together, and megaphones lead vocal testaments to the grief and frustration fueled alliance of bodies.

“Who's streets?” questioned the loud amplified voice. “Our streets!” replied the crowd.

Adrenaline filled my body as I snapped photos of these twisted faces of defiance. Stepping to the side to glance back as we walked further, a massive serpent-like line of bodies twisted back as far as I could see. Media helicopters flew above our heads, and then we found ourselves running up a hill to a highway overpass to get the ultimate view of the event.

Running back down and continuing further, Blaszko began to yell into the megaphone. This caught the interest of a Palestinian woman and her three small boys. Looking over at the woman, Blaszko held out the walkie-talkie device attached to the megaphone up to her and said, “Go ahead, say anything you want.”



“Free Palestine!” declared the woman. Offering it to the boys, one of them took it and piped up, “Stop killing children!” A chill went down my spine.

The march wasn't actually to the Pentagon, but it was passed by; instead we were on our way towards the headquarters of a building that manufactured guns and artillery to protest outside and lay the coffins beside it. Passing into Arlington, Virginia and into the downtown streets, people peered out of their apartments and skyscrapers to catch the commotion.

Riot police were everywhere lined up on the streets in full combat protective suits; even a cop in a tank made an appearance. Nabbing some free bread from a group of anarchists, we arrived at our destination. People swamped the entrance of the building, or as much as they could, for the riot police convened and began attempting to push everyone away.

The coffins were placed, but not even moments later the police began walking over, even kicking them. Threats were surfacing about the potential threat of tear gassing, to which my phone rang. “Get out of there,” said Blaszko. “Head back towards the street!”

Fortunately enough, this did not occur; the march was finished. Sunburned and sore, the group reconvened at a restaurant to regain some strength in the form of noodle cuisines. After eating and regaling our individual experiences, we sluggishly boarded the bus to return home.

Conversing and playing word games with everyone on the bus, we all participated and laughed at absurd jokes; albeit once intimidating to me, they were a thought-provoking group who included me and treated me kindly. Pre-departure, it was a mystery, but now it was an enlightenment.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Profile

"Weasley cannot save a thing, he cannot block a single ring, that's why Slytherins all sing, Weasley is our king."

This is the boisterous chant of the Slytherin team, J.K Rowling's depiction of the bully-based squadron whose primary goal in the Harry Potter series is to rub Gryffindor's noses into the ground every conceivable moment at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Breaking it down for those who have not bothered with the collection, the chant is derived from what escalates during the fictitious Quidditch, the school's seasonal sporting event, where flying brooms are mandatory and one specific player, the Seeker, must grab a flittery-winged small golden ball to win the match.

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Rowling should be thrilled: Quidditch has now become an actual sport. Brooms and snitches don't elevate from the ground, but that doesn't stop these imaginable Potter fanatics from attempting to live out their storybook glory.

As the fan base strengthened in numbers over the past decade, so did the potential of establishing the earthbound variation of Muggle Quidditch.

"A lot of people don't realize is there's this whole underground scene," said Jennie Steinberg, a resident of Los Angeles, on the phone. A student shooting for her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at CSU Northridge, interested in Harry Potter, wanting to play a fake sport?

Just as other groups associate their flockings with the addition of '-head' onto a word that's spoken most and widely known - indeed, Mr. Potter has captured the young spirited hearts of every country, establishing themselves as Potterheads.

"If you're a Potterhead, you get the same response when bringing up Harry Potter in non-Harry Potter circles, 'Oh yeah, I read book one and it was okay, and I've seen some of the movies and they're alright,'" said 25-year-old Steinberg. "That used to be my response too."

While the series first debuted in 1997 and now up to date has sold over hundreds of millions of Rowling's seven books combined, Steinberg didn't start reading them till three-and-a-half years ago. "When I first started dating my boyfriend, he told me that I needed to read them," said Steinberg. "If I wasn't going to do it on my own, he was going to read them to me."

Steinberg was hooked: for the first six months or so of the relationship, her boyfriend read the books aloud to each other every night. When the final installment: HP and the Deathly Hallows came out, Steinberg joined in, and they both read the chapters.

Setting out to find others who enjoy the same, Steinberg began attending 'Wizard Rock' concerts, a new genre of music dedicated to Potter. " They
did an amazing job of drawing from not only the characters and the humor, but also the emotions and the wonderful lessons," she said. "That is what I think brings me back to the books."

From The Remus Lupins to the Whomping Willows, Steinberg started attending more shows on the quest to seek out others such as herself. "I was frustrated with my lack of Potterhead friends," she declared.

After having spent a night dining with six other fans post concert, Steinberg kept in contact with them online. A couple weeks later, she read her new friends had requested a game of Muggle Quidditch. Jennie jumped on the prospect, messaging them and insisting that they invite her.

Told to 'Bring Your Own Broom' and chip in a few dollars for a BBQ, Steinberg showed up at a house with a broom in hand. "A girl ran out asking if I was there for Quidditch," Steinberg said. "I joked, 'Nope! I'm here to clean your house.'"

Walking into the backyard, she noticed the set-up of mid-air hoops, which were really just hula hoops duct-taped to PVC pipe held up by sand in buckets. A pair of three hoops sat on each end of the yard, and people were already there scrimmaging. Using a volleyball as a Quaffle, they were thrown into the opposing side's hoops for points.

Sometimes the adaptions are interesting. "The snitch can be a moving person, or a remote control car and helicopter," Steinberg said. With attempts at Quidditch as a water polo sport and rigging up a harness to fly, Potterheads always envision new creative ideas.

Steinberg was ready to play. Chosen as a beater, her job was to throw dodgeballs at the chasers, who are attempting to throw the volleyballs into the goals. "It was very high intensity," she recalled. "There is so much going on in the game, it was really chaotic and fun."

Many U.S. universities are now involved in a Intercollegiate Quidditch Association, and several attended the 2008 Quidditch World Cup, as also the sport is growing recognition in youth camps worldwide. It even prompted Greg Gumbel to go do a play-by-play of a Quidditch tournament for CBS News a year ago; that is when the Muggles of the real world finally learned of Quidditch.



There won't be any spells flying around, either. "I may have tried to use the summoning spell to steal the bludger," Steinberg said. "Accio!"



Makeup Is An Art






When people hear makeup they automatically think beauty because it is. Everyday we see celebrities like Queen Latifah, Beyonce Knowles and Eva Longoria showing off thier gorgeous mascara made up lashes for Revlon and CoverGirl. This is what women crave, to look beautiful and you absolutely can!


Being called a makeup artist is for a reason. It is an art just like putting color on a canvas. Knowing what colors to choose for the type of skin tone and undertstanding the color wheel are the little things a makeup artist needs to know. It is not easy at first but anyone can learn and the trick is blending. Here is a link to a video that can help first timers apply makeup.


Makeup artistry is important especially in Hollywood. Makeup artist's make tons of money. For example, Kevyn Aucoin a really famous makeup artist in our time. Kevyn Aucoin became a professional at age 21 and created magic till the age of 40, where he died of liver damage. Kevyn Aucoin was a legendary icon to those who love the art. He also envisioned and developed the brand based on techniques, textures, and formulas that were tested throughout his 20 year career in professional artistry. In carrying on the legacy and vision, Kevyn Aucoin Beauty is an all-inclusive luxury brand that continues to develop "one of a kind" products that are loved around the world.


Here Katy Dixson expresses hereself in a sense where she makes people look burned, or fifteen years older. You can really see here how makeup just does not make one beautiful. The artistry is amazing you can be dead, alive and beautiful everyone needs to understand that. This is a form of art that is not even mentioned of.


Makeup has been alive from the 1930's , when the movie market was revolutionized. George Westmore is the makeup pioneer and founded the very first makeup department at Metro Pictures in 1917. He became a staple in Hollywoods makeup scene during the silent era at Selig Polyscope Studios. Everyone knows about the Westmore Dynasty and there is a museaum dedicated to them located in Burbank CA.













































Monday, April 13, 2009

Six Great Places to Visit in New Britain - Part 6

THE NEW BRITAIN PUCLIC LIBRARY

http://www.nbpl.info/

The current New Britian Public Library is located at the corner of High and West Main Street. This beautiful architectural masterpiece began in 1900 when funds donated from the estate of Cornelius B. Erwin made it possible. The architect of the building was a New Britain resident named William F. Brooks. He was a partner in the Hartford based architectural firm of Davis & Brooks. The dedication and opening were held on January 19, 1901.

But there is a long history that lead up to the opening of this amazing building. In 1853 a group of determined men started the New Britain Institute and their goal was to promote a series of lectures and establish a library and reading room. The first library/reading room was opened in the Miller block on Main Street. The Connecticut General Assembly incorporated the New Britain Institute in 1858. During the civil war the library was closed due to lack of funds. The library reopened in the Hart block on Main Street in 1869. Mark Twain gave the first lecture of the 1869 season. Some other notable lecturers at the library were Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Thomas Nast.

In 1886, the library was relocated from the Miller block to the Russwin Building on West main Street. The library remained there until it was finally moved to its current location.

Today the library strives to fulfill the community's informational, educational, and recreational needs by providing a wide range of materials including books, videos, and CD's. They also offer internet access and public computer access. Some of the current library programs include childrens story hours, book discussions, musical and puppetry performances, and local artists can display their artwork in the main library showcases.

Six Great Places to Visit in New Britain - Part 5

New Britain Stadium

http://www.rockcats.com/

New Britain Stadium is the home of the New Britain Rock Cats. It's located at 230 John Karbonic Way in Willow Brook Park. The Rock Cats are a double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins major league baseball team.

The stadium opened in 1996 and has had continued success. The reason for the success is that it's just a great family oriented ballpark. General admission and parking is only $5 each. All of the food is great and reasonably affordable. Cheap tickets and cheap food combined with an amazing baseball experience makes for a perfect night out for the family.

Down the left field line there is a kids play area. It has an inflatable slide, a moonbounce, a speed pitching machine and various other activities. The teams mascot "Rocky" does a great job of entertaining the kids and getting the crowd fired up.

At the top of both the first and third base sides there is an outdoor grill, a bar, and a patio open to all fans. Down the right field line there is the "the AT&T patio" that has another grilling area, picnic tables, and a large tent that can be rented to groups of 25 or more for kids birthdays or any special events.

The stadium is usually more crowded on weekends but parking is still easy. The best night to go is definitely on Friday because there is always a fireworks show after the game. The whole package makes for an amazing family experience.

Six Great Places to Visit In New Britain - Part 4

STANLEY QUARTER PARK

http://www.new-britain.net/recnpark/directions/park-stanleyqtr.html
http://www.nelsap.org/ct/stanley.html
http://www.skateboardpark.com/skateboardpark/viewpark.asp?ID=3021

Stanley Quarter Park is located on Stanley Street close to the CCSU campus. I grew up a few blocks away and spent a great deal of time there as a kid and I still do today. This park offers something special for people of all ages.

The main features of the park are: a large pond that has paddle boat rides during the summer and also has a fishing derby once a year in april, a walking/jogging path around the pond with exercise stations and swinging benches for relaxing, several tennis courts, a large hill for sledding during the winter, a large playground for kids, a soccer field ringed by a 1/4 mile jogging path, three baseball diamonds, and a skateboard park. There is also a huge fireworks display every 4th of July.

As a kid my friends and I would ride our bmx bikes to the park and spend the whole afternoon there. We would build jumps in the woods that we could launch our bmx bikes off. When we got bored with that we would try to catch crayfish in the pond or try fishing for huge goldfish. When the sun started to set or we saw the street lights coming on we knew it was time for dinner and we would all peddle home usually covered in mud and our parents would always be angry for getting so filthy.

During the winter the pond would freeze and we would all go ice skating. I remember doing more falling rather than actual ice skating but it was always fun. All of the kids from the neighborhood would meet up and we would try to have a game of hockey. Some of us had real hockey sticks and some of just had a regular stick that we found on the ground. We would place a couple large rocks that we could find about four feet apart to make a goal. After a couple years of that we created a game we called "wockey" which was a combination of wrestling and hockey. We would basically just beat the hell out of each other and we loved every minute of it. Boys will be boys.

When spring rolled around it was time for baseball. I played my first little league game at Stanley Quarter Park. Baseball was serious business in my house so me and my dad spent an exceptional amount of time there practicing hitting, catching, and throwing. I developed my skills there as a kid and went on to be an all-conference baseball player in high school and was offered a couple scholarships to play ball in college.

Today I spend a lot of time at the park with my niece Madelyn. We walk around the pond and talk about whatever is on her mind. She loves to go to every exercise station and give it a try. We watch the other people and she asks me questions about everything around her. I try my best to answer every question and be a good uncle. I hope she ends up having the same positive memories about Stanley Quarter Park as I do.

Six Great Places to Visit in New Britain - Part 3

NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

http://www.nbmaa.org/

When people think about New Britain a great museum doesn't usually come to mind. But the New Britain Museum of American Art was founded in 1903 and is notable as the first museum in the country dedicated to American Art. In 2007 it was awarded the Excellence in Art award by the State of Connecticut.

The cost of amission for members is free. While it costs $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for students, free for children under 12, and on Saturdays from 10 to noon admission is free to the public.

It is located close to downtown at 56 Lexington Street. The museum is in a beautiful part of New Britain basically in Walnut Hill Park. It now boasts more than 5,000 pieces of art from different genres such as colonial portraiture, the Hudson River School, American Impressionism, the Ash Can School, and the very important mural series called "The Arts of Life in America" by Thomas Hart Benton.

My first visit to the museum happened when I was nine or ten years old and I remember it very clearly. I went with my family and I was amazed right away. We slowly walked the entire museum and we talked about everything that we saw. My parents asked me what I liked and why I liked them. I remember basically liking everything but especially enjoyed the sculpture display that was there at the time. It was mostly abstract sculptures and for some reason they just totally intrigued me at the time. I clearly remember wanting to touch them to feel what they were made of and being told, "Dont touch" over and over again by my dad.

Later on in life I found this museum to be a great place to bring a date. I guess because I love it and it always seemed to make a great first impression. Your date might actually think you have some style and culture. It's also very quiet and relaxing so you can take your time, talk, and get to know each other while enjoying amazing art.

Six Great Places to Visit in New Britain - Part 2

WALNUT HILL PARK

http://www.new-britain.net/recnpark/directions/park-walnuthill.html
http://www.tripadvisor.in/Travel-g33847-d639799/New-Britain:Connecticut:Walnut.Hill.Park.html

Walnut Hill Park is one of many parks in New Britain where a person can spend a beautiful day. It's located close to downtown just off of West Main Street. If you want to spend a quiet day laying on a blanket reading a book in the sun, exercising, playing tennis, people watching, or spending quality time with your family then this is the perfect place for you to visit.

The main part of the park consists of a huge field surrounded by trees and a walking/jogging path. There are exercise stations placed along the path where a person can do sit-ups, push-ups, chin-ups, and a variety of other exercises. There is also two clay tennis courts, two baseball fields, a cricket field, a kids playground, gardens, a war memorial, and the "shell" that hosts musical concerts throughout the summer. The surrounding neighborhood is very safe and has some of New Britain's oldest and largest homes.

On a typical day you will see people walking or jogging around the park. It's also a dog friendly park so you will see many people slowly walking their dogs enjoying the beautiful surroundings. The playground is well maintained and families spend quality time on the swings or see-saws.
If your ever in New Britain and need a place to unwind, get a little exercise, and enjoy the sunshine then Walnut Hill Park is a must see.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Magic Hits Big At CCSU


By Billy...

--It's Feb. 25, loud music is booming, a full house is chattering away and filling the Torp Theater with a hurricane of energy. Then, all of the sudden, Norman Ng bursts onto stage, smiling bright and ready to perform.

What is it exactly that Ng will be doing? Magic of course. Before you get ready to sigh and yawn, know that Ng isn't the typical magician we're all used to. His philosophies on magic are far different than that of shock magicians like Chris Angel or the slick tuxedo wearing gimmicks of the Las Vegas magic scene.

"Most guys in Vegas are too flashy and guys like David Blaine are douchey," said Ng jokingly after a well-received performance at Central Connecticut State University.

So what kind of magician is Ng? Well, first off, he's a good one. The audience had nothing but enthusiasm for the young performer. If members of the audience didn't have their jaws dropped in amazement at his illusions, they were laughing at his hilarious stories and improvised jokes.

"I would say that 70 percent of my tricks are original, the script however is all me, 100 percent. I write all of my own material," Ng said. "That's because for me it's all about relatability. Some of my script is about my life; it's easier for the audience to get into it when you share yourself with them. What I'm going for is conversational magic, I like to get the audience as involved as possible."

Ng accomplished involvement right at the beginning of his act by offering up some cold, hard cash to audience members in exchange for assisting him in his tricks. He did the same later on in his on-stage game show.

Participation also seemed high because the audience really seemed to like him. There's a certain amount of charm in his act that other magicians lack. He injects many stories about his life and his own personal interests into his act.

"I'm an artist. My art comes all from me, my story. The best way to derive emotions from people is to relate to them. That's why I have the stories about Maine and the restaurant chain and hockey," Ng said.

As most artists know, doing what you love isn't always an easy gig. Most people entering a career in the arts face tough times, old and young.

"It's wasn't easy. Right out of school, when I was 18, I moved out to California with only $500 in my pocket and started my own entertainment company. I was living in Oakland, in poverty," Ng said. "I would recommend magic as a career to people who have a passion for it, but let me says this, it's hard. There are under 20 magicians who make a good living touring and doing what I do."

Ng knew how to work the crowd. It seemed like making people happy was the most important thing in the world to him. There's a certain type of passion we attach to soul-singers and actors, people who perform for a living. Even comedians can often times capture our hearts. Rarely would you think that a magician puts every once of his heart and soul into a performance. On Ng's face can see it from when the lights go out to when the lights go on. Instead of exiting, leaving his crowd satisfied and separate from him, he dives into the audience instead, offering answers to their questions and spending as much time as possible talking to them. Someone this passionate has a mission, and Ng's is clear, unlike the tricks behind his illusions.

"The new wave of magic is coming. It's got to be brought back, magic is cool. So spread the word, because it's my mission to help make it mainstream again. I want people to be inspired by magic," Ng said. "After all, making someone truly amazed is what magic is all about."

For more information about Ng and his magic visit normanmagic.com. 

Shippin’ Off To McGreevy’s

This past weekend a close friend of mine invited myself and a few of our mutual friends to come out to his place in Boston to see the sites. I took the opportunity since that would be the first time I visited the city outside the TD Bank North Stadium for my bi-monthly Bruins game.

We arrived at his place Friday and took the T into the city that night for what he called a ‘pub-crawl’. For those not in-the-know, a pub crawl consists of going from bar to bar to enjoy a couple beers, experience the environment, move to the next bar, rinse and repeat. Every bar that we went to seemed pretty mundane, no real difference from the last one, until we reached 911 Boylston Street.
The scruffy-bearded bouncer at the door had informed us that “we just missed out… a few Bruins old-timers had just left.” This automatically sparked my interest in the place even before I set foot into McGreevy’s 3rd Base Saloon.

Once inside, the first noticeable thing was that this bar was definitely unique and could only be found in Boston. The dim lights showed off a plethora of Boston sports memorabilia that littered the walls. One can spend an entire day looking at just the walls alone; anything from signed pucks to player’s mitts behind glass frames, to pictures of team line-ups from the golden days. The music was also interesting; it definitely set the mood of the bar. It wasn’t your normal ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ or ‘Summer Of 69’ that people are used to hearing at a bar. Instead, punk bands such as Bad Brains, Pennywise and Rancid were heard coming from the dome shaped speakers surrounding the bar.
I moved from exhibit to exhibit, revisiting my memories from when I went to Fenway with a couple of friends in the third grade. One picture in particular caught my eye; it was of the corridor right before entering the stadium. I remember the feeling of walking through the dimly lit tunnel to be awe struck by the bright lights of the immense ball field. I stood in that bar feeling like I was 8 years old surrounded by adults, until I was passed a Bud Light.

My friend noticed that there was a signed bag pipe from the punk group Dropkick Murphys. I brushed it off at first because the band originated from Boston so it could be possible that they donated their instruments to add to the appeal and ‘at-home’ feel to the bar. Andrew, the Boston native that had invited us up, informed us that the bar was in fact owned by the band and could be seen drinking there from time to time.

We took a seat at one of the tables in the back. My wondering eye had to be put to a rest for the time being. Usually at a specialized bar such as this, you might as well through away your wallet. This wasn’t the case at all. When the 3rd alternate Bruins jersey clad waitress told us that drinks were only $3.50, the appeal of the bar was heightened dramatically. Not only could we have fun in a sports bar but we didn’t have to file for bankruptcy before leaving.

Enjoying my third green-bottled Bud Light of the night, a familiar song filled the bar. “Tessie, "Nuf Ced" McGreevey shouted, we're not here to mess around. Boston, you know we love you madly, hear the crowd roar to your sound. Don't blame us if we ever doubt you, you know we couldn't live without you. Tessie, you are the only, only, only.” The Dropkick Murphys sure know how to sum up a perfect night.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Five Guys Burgers and Fries: Something New, yet Old Fashioned

You should never try to be something you are not, or try to appear classier than you are; that is why you should never be ashamed to admit that the best restaurant you’ve been to in years, wraps the food in tinfoil, serves it to you in a brown paper bag, and allows your to stand up and eat circus peanuts while you’re waiting for your order. I’m of course talking about Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a good old fashioned burger joint that packs in the quantity, and never skips on the quality.


When you walk into any Five Guys Burgers and Fries location you won’t be impressed by the d├ęcor, but then again, if you’ve come to Five Guys for the ambiance, you’re in the wrong place. While you probably won’t be impressed by the industrial sized sacks of potatoes stacked in the corners, or the red and white tiled walls, your senses will be aroused by the time you reach the counter to order. The smell of fresh sizzling burger patties, and french fries will fill you with the excitement you felt before eating the perfect burger as a kid.


Although the official Five Guys website reports an astounding 250,000 possible ways to order a burger at the restaurant, the ordering process is always easy, moderately priced, and catered to the customer. There are two kinds of burgers; little and regular. The little burger ($3.39) is a single, and succulent, fresh beef patty on a warm toasted bun. The regular burger ($5.89), is two, fresh beef patties piled high, on a warm toasted bun. After ordering your burger size, customers can choose up to sixteen different, and free toppings. After completing your perfect made to order burger, just the way you like it, you have your choice of two different sizes of fries; regular ($2.69) and large ($3.89). Although the fries are a bit on the pricey side, you most definitely get your money’s worth. As a point of reference, a regular sized fry is usually enough to split between you and a friend.


After your burger is crafted into a work of art, it is wrapped tightly in tinfoil, locking in the plethora of flavors you are about to experience. After your burger and fries are placed into a large brown paper bag, an additional cup of fries is showered directly into the bag (a Five Guy’s signature). When the process is complete, a burger chef will shout your order number out into the restaurant air.


By the time you walk from the counter to your table, and open your brown paper bag of deliciousity, you will be ready to experience something new, yet old-fashioned, and nostalgic. Your first bite into your flavor packed hamburger will remove you from a world swamped with paper-thin fast food burgers, and over priced trendy restaurant burgers; and return you to a time when you were excited to get a hamburger, because it was delicious, juicy, and just the way you liked it.


Convenient Connecticut and East Coast Locations

5 things to remember when going to 5 Guys

1. Go Hungry. Besides the quality of the food, the portions are best tackled with an empty stomach.

2. Don't Wear a Tuxedo. The food isn't known for it's health benefits, your probably going to get a little grease, salt or ketchup on your hands, and then on your shirt.

3. Get the Regular burger and the regular fries. The little burger is just that, a little too little, and the large fries, well they are freakin' huge. The regular fry and regular burger are a perfect combination.

4. Don't bring a girl there on your first date, well unless she's perfect and your going to marry her. It's not the ideal meal to get to know a date over, your going to be full when you leave, and its going to get messy. Actually take her to Five Guys, if she sticks around for date number 2, she's a keeper.

5. Make sure you're afternoons and nights are open. Although this food is out of this world, its not the ideal meal to eat before trying to be productive. Think of the Thanksgiving dinner aftermath meets the cheeseburger.

Raindrops Falling From the Ceiling

"I keep getting drips on my forehead" said an older woman wearing a floppy green fisherman’s hat and blue rain slicker. "I know, yeah" agreed the woman she came with, also outfitted in a rain slicker, cap, and blue jeans. Besides that small comment neither woman seemed phased by the raindrops falling from the ceiling. Both women couldn’t stop staring at the endless rows of flowers surrounding them in the greenhouse at Elizabeth Park, in Hartford.

Despite that the weather outside was rainy, the sky was still bright and natural light lit up the greenhouse. Stepping into the greenhouse was like stepping into another world and suddenly upon entrance the room was filled with a light perfumed scent, similar to honey. The air was warm and damp, quite a change from the cool temperature outside. And of course there were flowers covering every surface, from floor to ceiling.

Walking in, it was hard not to notice the never-ending array of tulips that lined the center table. The tulips outnumbered any other flower and came in almost every color imaginable; groups of yellow, white, pink, purple and white, red, and orange tulips rested on the hip level metal tables. While the tulips were separated by color on the long center table, other flowers lined the perimeter of the room. Besides tulips, other flowers at the greenhouse were rieger begonias, daffodils, violets, hanging plants, and bell-shaped flowers.

Each flower had its own unique scent that spectators couldn’t help but indulge their curiosities in smelling. In between the sounds of adoration, small conversations took place between on lookers. People of all ages came out on this rainy day to admire the flowers on display in the greenhouse. Each year the greenhouse is only open to the public for two weeks in March. At the end of the two weeks there is a flower sale that takes place. Some of the onlookers were prospective buyers, selecting which flowers they would like to take home with them when the sale was to take place on March 21st, others were photographers, and others flower enthusiasts.

Walking towards the back of the hundred year old greenhouse, the light sound of fans became clearer and I could finally see the end of the tulip covered table. Beyond the tulips was an area of tropical-looking trees. These trees are part of the year round collection of plants that flourish in the greenhouse, among them are: palm trees, cacti, a banana tree, a bird of paradise, and a ponderosa lemon tree. The area of trees has an exotic feel with vines and flowers crawling their way towards the ceiling.

Making my way around the rectangular path one last time, I had a hard time letting the tranquil and fresh feeling of spring go. As I parted from the building I felt the crisp, cool air brush against my skin. With each step on the red pebble path back to the parking lot the bright colors began to fade and blend into each other, reminiscent of a Monet painting.

While I was sad to leave, I look forward to visiting the rose garden that thrives at Elizabeth Park each summer. Even if flower lovers were unable to make it to the two week showing at the greenhouse, the rose garden is open to the public all summer long. I walked away knowing I’ll be back again, and I took a little of the spring-like feeling home with me.

How to Book a Cheap Flight to London

Although spring break is made for summer-like week long trips, not everyone gets to go somewhere warm and full of sunshine. As most people were frolicking in the sunshine in their bikinis or getting a mocha colored tan in their swim shorts, I was stuck in my hometown of Wallingford Connecticut. Okay, so that isn't so bad however, the highlight of my spring break vacation was booking my summer vacation, a trip to London England for two weeks! :). Although this sounds very exciting, and in fact is, booking it was tedious and very drawn out. It took me the entire week to find the best deal. In this post, I hope to transform my experience and inform others on the crucial steps towards getting the best deal on your next flight to London and/or Europe.

The first step to booking any flight especially to Europe is check prices online and check them often. It is easy to do a search online for any flights thanks to travel websites like travelocity and priceline, but the check is your search results. You may search on Monday and find a flight for about 500 dollars, but if you do book then or you may get screwed. Simply just pushing off booking at that low price by a day may mean you can no longer get that price hours later. For example, I found a flight into Heathrow London Airport for 450 dollars on Monday, but went back Tuesday (less than 12 hours later) and the price has risen to 600 +. 600 + is still cheap, but the point is to try to get the best deal. If you find a lowfare instantly take it, but never settle for the first quotes you get, check different travel sites and again check them often.

Next beware of special offers, although they look clean cut and awesome, you need to read the fine print. Certain websites such as travelocity, hotwire, and orbitz offer deals to European destinations during off weeks of the summer season. Such offers often advertise on the home screen of the website and are in bold print, and often read something like "Special Offer: Go to London this Spring for $289 dollars out of Boston or JFK", but again never take any thing at face value. Click the link and read the terms and conditions. Fine print is crucial! The original ticket may only $289, but this does not include taxes and fees! Also, you need to pay attention to the dates the offer applies to. The offer may only available until a certain booking date and only be avalible through date to date. For example: Fly to London for $289 dollars from April 2nd-May 29th.

Always incorporate taxes and fees! Your original ticket price is never the final cost. You are going to get hit with surcharges and other fees. You need to estimate about 100-200 extra dollars in taxes and fees. A lot of airlines now have what is called "September 11th tax" that goes towards extra security and other precautions.

Consider booking a flight through an airline's website or a travel agent. Sometimes getting a cheaper flight to Europe is about going cutting out the middle man so to speak. Contact your favorite travel agent and have them do the investigative work, or even go directly to your favorite airline's site to check out their deals. I ended up booking my flight through the Virgin-Atlantic Airlines actual site and that came out cheaper overall then any other deal I could find online or even through my aunt's travel agent.

If you do book through a travel agent or even online, you need to specify which airports you are looking to go through. I found that Bradley International is about $200 more expensive for a European than Boston or JFK. Even Boston was more expensive than JFK, but you also can look at Providence or Newark, all are within a 2-3 drive from here.

Also, everyone loves direct flights to avoid the lay over hassle, but I've found when booking European flights, connecting flights are USUALLY cheaper. Changing planes in Ireland or Spain is often common and cheaper when flying into London.

Overall, in order to get the best flight to London or any European destination, if you follow these six steps, you should come out with more money in your pocket. In the end I found a DIRECT flight to London round trip for about $665 on Virgin Atlantic. Other sites also have hotel + flight package deals that are great to look into, but I luckily get to stay with my old roommate for free for two weeks. I will be in London from June 2nd-16th :)

Here's are some links you might want to look into when booking your next European flight!

www.travelocity.com

www.aerlingus.com

www.hotwire.com

www.virgin-atlantic.com

www.britishairways.com

www.orbitz.com

www.priceline.com

Good luck!