ETCETERA - Dixie native's husband to bring comedy act to Hermiston Jan. 28

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Dixie native Kirsten Kaaen Brannon's husband, Nathan Brannon, will bring his take on the world to the Melonville Comedy Festival at 8 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Hermiston Conference Center. He will perform alongside nationally touring headliners Roy Wood Jr. and Chris Alpine, he said in a release.

Nathan and Kirsten met in Walla Walla in spring 2009 when he performed at a comedy show here.

As an interracial couple, they've had experiences perfectly honed for a comedy routine, Nathan said. "We come from two different worlds," but boy does it give him a wealth of material for his act.

For example, "Her dad killed a bear, which blows my mind. It takes me two pairs of shoes to kill a spider," he quipped.

The Brannons say their differences strengthen their relationship. "She is my other half; my manager, my second-toughest critic, writing partner and best friend," Nathan said.

Facing these differences helped them deal with adversity that surfaced later.

When starting out, Nathan contended with ulcerative colitis, a condition that caused him to nearly bleed to death numerous times, he said. Subsequently having his colon removed saved his life.

Kirsten helped him make a full recovery and develop a new outlook on life and love.

"She drove all the way to Portland (from Walla Walla) when I had to have my colon removed and stayed the entire night with me, curled on a couch," he said. At the time, Kirsten was studying to be a registered nurse at Walla Walla Community College.

Kirsten, now a registered nurse, and Nathan live in Portland.

Nathan is touring as a professional comedian and has opened for celebrities such as Maria Bamford and Dave Attell. He was also given a small part on NBC's new hit television show "Grimm.".

Nathan's humor comes out in stories, punch lines and shadow puppets.

"He brings smiles and hilarious anecdotes to the stage every time he grabs the microphone. Nathan also added this sentence because he needed a higher word count," he noted on his website.

Nathan has participated in the San Francisco and Seattle International Comedy competitions. He was a finalist in Helium Comedy Club's "Portland's Phuniest Person Comedy Competition" in 2011 and won the Yakima Valley Comedy Competition in 2010. Nathan has participated in comedy festivals nationwide.

On his website, www.nathanbrannon.com, Nathan also describes himself as a motivational speaker, blackout specialist and ethnic unicorn.

He played Wildhorse Casino Jan. 5, will be back in the area Jan. 20-21 at Jack Didley's Comedy Club in Kennewick and then on Jan. 28 in Hermiston.

•••

Shayna Colunga, husband Pedro and children Camrin and Juliet left Walla Walla after Christmas for a new adventure in Washington, D.C., where Pedro was transferred with the U.S. Army.

The local AMVETS Jonathan Wainwright Post 1111 will especially miss Shayna who filled the posts of first vice commander and adjutant, according to the post's newsletter.

"Shayna has been very active in the post while Pedro was serving in South Korea for the past year." Fellow post members gifted Shayna with an AMVETS life membership as a token of their appreciation. "Hopefully they will choose to return to the ‘friendliest small town in the USA' someday."

Currently, officers are Larry Cunnington, commander; Norm Graybeal, second vice commander; Arnil Hoffarth, finance officer; Bob Radke Sr., provost marshall; Jim Harting, judge advocate; and Don Schack, chaplain.

The post is responsible for flying flags downtown on special days, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 16; President's Day on Feb. 20; Armed Forces Day, May 19; Memorial Day, May 28; and Flag Day, June 14.

Periodically, as they take a real beating the wind and weather, the American flags that fly around town need care and attention.

The post noted that Walter's Upholstery, 758 W. Langdon Road, repaired the post's large flags and TNT Suds, 929 S. Second Ave., cleaned them.

In addition, many businesses and individuals in town contributed to supporting the post's flag efforts.

Curious about this group of 94 members that was chartered in 2000? It will meet for a potluck dinner at 6 and meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Golden West Estates Community Room, 1425 Jasper St. See www.amvets-wallawalla.org for more details.

•••

‘The Big Waste," a Food Network TV special, captured Walla Wallan Lynnette Brown's attention recently.

She was particularly concerned by the high volume of food that gets thrown out every year, simply because it's imperfect.

Lynnette gave as examples a tomato with a split caused by too much water, an apple with a small blemish on its skin, a freshly butchered chicken with a broken wing and a fish returned by a customer.

"One person commented that we have trained the American consumer to expect perfection," she said

"Since I shop at the Farmers Market and had a subscription from Welcome Table, plus my mom had a garden as I was growing up, I know that not all produce is perfect but that doesn't mean it doesn't taste good," she added.

On the program, chefs Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli formed two teams, collected the food from a variety of sources readying to toss it out, a food safety expert inspected it and the chefs used it to make a meal for 100 people.

Lynnette wondered why such food isn't being donated to food banks or homeless shelters and soup kitchens. She said some of this was at the farm where 40 to 50 percent of what they grow is never sent to the market because they know it won't be purchased.

"I know that there is a local gleaners organization that gleans food from fields and orchards that allow it but how many of our local grocery stores donate items that are not spoiled but they know won't sell because of a blemish or bruise or because it is one date from expiration?"

"As a consumer I would be willing to frequent only the businesses (such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries and butcher shops) that do donate items like this to our local food bank or homeless shelter," she said. The special will air on today. See www.foodnetwork.com for more details.

•••

Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, said the Washington House of Representatives is looking for teens ages 14-16 from the 16th District to apply for its legislative page program in Olympia.

Students in the page program spend a week in Olympia learning about the political process and helping deliver documents for legislators and their staff. At the end of the week, students present their own mock bill they have written throughout the week in a mock committee hearing.

"This is a unique opportunity for students to learn about their government by watching it happen in front of them and interacting with their lawmakers," Maureen said in a release.

"I know it's a long trip for most from our district in Eastern Washington, but this is the chance of a lifetime, and an experience that students take with them forever. Several legislators have been pages, too."

Students who wish to apply for one of the nine weeks the Legislature is in session should apply as soon as possible.

They must have the permission of their school and parents, and be sponsored by a state representative or senator.

Those students who live a distance from the capital can stay with host families in Olympia. To find out more about the House and Senate page programs and to print the application, see www.leg.wa.gov/

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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