This Week in New Haven (November 9 – 15)

A rich, interwoven cast of characters rides into, or simply across, New Haven this week. There’s a celebration of a famed rationalist scientist, but also a book talk by a popular spiritual doctor. There’s a meet-and-greet with a successful businessman, but also an unveiling for a business turned non-profit. And there’s a subversive play performed behind a vintage market, while a subversive musician performs in a historic playhouse.

Monday, November 9
On this day in 1934, the late Carl Sagan—the academic, novelist and television host who became a science ambassador to the masses—was born. To celebrate, the Yale Humanist Community’s organized a free 7 p.m. get-together with Nick Sagan, Carl’s son. A writer himself (of sci-fi novels and television episodes), Nick is set to discuss his father’s work and influence, as well as his own “memories of growing up” with Dad. Preceding that is an introduction delivered by distinguished Yale astronomy professor Debra Fischer, whose research echoes that of Ellie Arroway, Carl’s extraterrestrial-seeking protagonist in his beloved novel Contact. According to Fischer’s CV, she’s “discovered hundreds of extrasolar planets” and is currently developing technologies to more precisely “detect Earth analogues that will be targets in the search for life on other worlds.” Linsley-Chittenden Hall. 63 High Street, Room 102, New Haven.

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Measure for Measure at Long Wharf Theatre

Tuesday, November 10
Startup Grind New Haven—the local chapter of a loose, global “community of entrepreneurs designed to educate, inspire and connect”—is putting on a “fireside chat” and Q&A with Yale business professor, noted game theorist and Honest Tea co-founder Barry Nalebuff tonight at The Grove (760 Chapel St, 2nd Fl, New Haven). Lasting from 6 to 9 p.m., the first hour is for general networking, with refreshments; the second features Nalebuff; and the third offers more networking. $15.

Wednesday, November 11
With percussive indie pop that pops even more percussively in person, the dual-singing, dual-playing, nationally known duo Mates of State—whose married members, Kory Gardner and Jason Hammel, live in Stratford and often take in shows at local venues—tops the free 9:30 bill at BAR (254 Crown St, New Haven) tonight. Before that happens, opener Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, a warm, dreamy, folksy alt-rock endeavor, sets up an interesting counterpoint to Mates.

Thursday, November 12
At 7 p.m. inside the Omni Hotel (155 Temple St, New Haven), in an event organized by Madison-based bookseller R. J. Julia, spiritual/alternative medicine guru Deepak Chopra speaks about his new book, Super Genes. Co-written with Harvard neurology prof Rudolph Tanzi and released just this past Tuesday, the book promises to show readers “how to shape your gene activity,” claiming that genes respond “to everything we think, say and do” such that lifestyle choices can have “unparalleled impact” on “prevention, immunity, diet, aging and chronic disorders.” Tickets, which include a copy of the book, cost $35.

Friday, November 13
If you start at the end of Rosemary’s Baby, then remove the satanic intrigue, then add the banality of everyday domesticity, you’re in the neighborhood of Smudge, a “pitch-black comedy” by former The Daily Show and Parks & Recreation writer Rachel Axler. Directed by Deena Nicol-Blifford, the New Haven Theater Company—in its home towards the back of the English Building Markets, or The NHTC Stage @ EBM, as it’s been dubbed—birthed its own production of Smudge last Thursday, which picked up again this past Wednesday and continues through tomorrow. All shows, including tonight’s, begin at 8 p.m., with tickets running $20 apiece.

Saturday, November 14
Best known for fronting the psychedelic, technocratic art rock band Tool, Maynard James Keenan’s always embraced a low-brow streak at odds with the pervasive tonal seriousness of that project. Witness Ænima, Tool’s breakout antecedent to masterwork Lateralus, named after a portmanteau of “anima,” a Latin word referring to the true self beneath all the inward and outward deceptions each of us perpetrates, and “enema,” which I assume needs no explanation. There’s also a chilling song/performance piece on that record called “Die Eier Von Satan,” wherein an aggressive, violent voice speechifies in German to a stadium-sized audience over a cycling industrial soundscape. Innocent listeners are likely to think it’s an emotionally visceral rendering of a Hitler-type, and a commentary on the extremities of politics and of humanity’s depressing tendency to worship bad men. But a little research reveals that the words amount to an eggless cupcake recipe, and that the title, translated, means “The Eggs of Satan.” Oh, and eier, for “eggs,” is common German slang for “testicles.”

Puscifer, a solo project which engages a rotating cast of musicians, is Keenan’s outlet for engaging a less mitigated sort of juvenility, where albums can have titles like “C” is for [Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference Here] E.P. and Donkey Punch the Night. Mitigation is still present, however, with gothically serious songs powered by driving, often electronic beats; Keenan’s exquisite, dexterous voice; and, in tonight’s case, by the choice of venue, the Shubert Theater (247 College St, New Haven; 203-562-5666), where Puscifer headlines an 8 p.m. show. $40-55.

Sunday, November 15
For 30 years, Hamden’s Best Video (1842 Whitney Ave; 203-287-9286; pictured above) was a movie rental shop with uncommonly deep shelves—and, equally uncommonly, its own cafe and performance space. As of last Sunday, BV is now the Best Video Film & Cultural Center, signaling the move from for-profit to non-profit, and ushering in a new way to rent. Members now have the option to take out one, two or four movies at a time, switching flicks in and out as often as they like, for a monthly fee of $10, $20 or $30, respectively—a lot like snail-mail Netflix, just without the snail mail, and without the heavy limitations of Netflix’s on-demand selection. To celebrate the change, BVFCC is hosting a free “Grand Opening Celebration” today from 3 to 5 p.m., inviting visitors to “enjoy some fun, family-friendly tunes and eat, drink and be merry.”

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. Readers are encouraged to verify times, locations and prices before attending events.

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Dan has worked for a couple of major media companies, but he likes Daily Nutmeg best. As DN’s editor, he writes, photographs, edits and otherwise shepherds ideas into fully realized feature stories, helped in no small part by a small team of dedicated contributors.

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