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charlottesRumson’s Matt Hughes, left, appears with Maureen Torsney-Weir, Rachel Brudner and (as Wilbur the Pig) Garrett Neergaard, in Two River Theater Company’s staging of CHARLOTTE’S WEB. (Photos by T. Charles Erickson)


If you see just one spider-themed stage production this season, let it be Charlotte’s Web.

Actually, that’s not fair to everyone’s favorite wallopin’ websnapper, Spider-man, who’s facing more than his usual share of adversity as he struggles to get his $60 million-plus  Broadway baby swinging. But if you’re on the lookout for something to take the kids to here in December — something a little different from the usual figgy pudding — there’s a fine family outing ready to serve, and it’s as close as your friendly neighborhood professional theater.

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book-cover-2By TOM CHESEK

Some pig. Some spider. Some weekend.

Even the most industrious of arachnids has nothing on the folks over at the Two River Theater this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as the Bridge Avenue performing arts center continues the ongoing engagement of the just-opened Opus inside the mainstage Rechnitz auditorium.

Meanwhile, over in their black-box Marion Huber space, they’ll be hosting the acclaimed one-actor show Namaste Man as the first in a new series of Flashes of Brilliance solo pieces. Then on Sunday, between the hours of 10a and noon, the lobby reception area comes alive with area families in the keynote event to a sprawlingly spider-friendly campaign called One Book, One Community.

That book, if you haven’t guessed, is Charlotte’s Web, the classic novel for young readers by E. B. White (memorably illustrated by Garth Williams) that employed such unusual spokescritters as pigs, rats and spiders on the way to saying some valuable things about loyalty and friendship.

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Just as you can’t have a civilization without sewage, you can’t have a First Amendment without having to put up with the likes of Ann Coulter.

Yesterday, the conservative sump pump appeared on the today show in a little black dress to flog a new book. In the process, she called some of the widows of Sept. 11 “broads” who are “enjoying their husband’s deaths.” Jennifer Braun of the Star-Ledger has a page-one piece on this in today’s paper. The Washington Post quotes Coulter as saying in the book, “I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”

According to the Daily News, the book contains this gem:

“And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren’t planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they’d better hurry up and appear in Playboy…”

One of the women Coulter attacks is Kristen Breitweiser, who was living in the Navesink section of Middletown when her husband, Ronald, was killed, leaving her with a young daughter. According to the Ledger, Breitweiser now lives in New York City. Two others, Lori Van Auken and Mindy Kleinberg, both of East Brunswick, are referred to in the book as “the witches of East Brunswick.”

As many people familiar with the story of the so-called ‘Jersey Girls’ know, Breitweiser, Van Auken, Kleinberg and a fourth area woman, Patty Casazza of Colts Neck, were political naifs, and strangers to one another, when their husbands were killed at the World Trade Center. Weeks after the attacks, they joined forces to push for an investigation into why the attacks hadn’t been prevented. The Bush Administration fought the idea of a probe for months, but eventually folded. The result was the Kean Commission inquiry and report.

The basis for Coulter’s gripe with the women, she told Matt Lauer, is that she is “not allowed to respond” to the women’s critiques of the administration “without questioning the authenticity of their grief.” And yet, here she is, questioning the authenticity of their grief and doing so with all the tact of a plugged-up toilet.

“Having my husband burn alive in a building brought me no joy,” Van Auken told the News.

“I’d like her to meet my daughter and tell her how anyone could enjoy their father’s death,” Breitweiser told the News. “She sounds like a very disturbed, unraveled person.”



Ah, the poor, misunderstood Hummer H2.

OK, so it gets 10 mpg in the city, and can’t quite fit into a parking space. But it does have "water fording" capabilities. According to the official Hummer website, "The H2 can ford an impressive 20 inches of water with the throttle in 4LO locked."

So what a shame that this little piggy was confined to a tight space at the corner of Broad and Front on a recent afternoon without a puddle in sight. Then again, the Navesink is just a block or so away. That couldn’t be more than 20 inches deep, right?