Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Options

I'm sure there are many New Year's options in the FC, but a few have jumped out at me because they were either featured in the newspaper, are gigs by my friends, or... I'm on their mailing list.

1. The Terryl Lee Band, which includes my friend Jeff, is playing at Seaside Tavern at 9pm. Psych OK that gig is actually Jan. 31st, which my addled brain thought translated to New Year's Eve. Sorry. There's a lot going on here in Mississippi. Oh well that's good, means I can go to Jeff's gig in Jan.
2. Fairfield County Happy Hour Club is having a closed party at Monster B's. I'm invited to the FCHHC party because I'm its facebook friend... I'm not sure if they'll have a guest list at the door? I'd email them if you're curious. Their email is not on their new website, but maybe you can email them from their facebook page. I've very much enjoyed the HHC events I've attended.

3. Also, the Advocate informs me that Howard Stern regular "the Rev." Bob Levy will appear with former "Saturday Night Live" regular Colin Quinn at Hibernian Hall on Greyrock Place. See article for details. My internet access is sucking so I am not going to attempt to locate and add other links right now!

4. My friend Beth and a few other musicians are performing at SoNo Caffeine in Norwalk if you're looking for a more mellow vibe. I featured Beth's CD on Stamford Talk last year.

Please comment if you know of any other good options for New Year's in Stamford or nearby!
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stamford Talk's 2008 in Review

This year didn’t start off well for the city. Marco Paoletta was killed on Vine St. on Jan. 3 and the murder remains unsolved despite there being a photo of the suspect on the surveillance camera at the JCC.

In February, the reality show Kitchen Nightmares filmed at Sabatiello’s, a foundering restaurant on the corner of Bedford and Forest. I signed up to be on the show and it was a hoot.

March was a little dead, but I ate a lot, and reviewed Market, Napa and Co’s $24 burger, and steak options in Stamford (note: Dunn's Loft now closed). March also included posts about immigrants, crazy soccer moms, headless chickens, cheese spills on I-95, robberies at Stamford Mall, "Stuff White People Like," and the TV show Lost. Hmm. I guess a slow news cycle leaves more time for writing fun posts.

In April, star sightings began in earnest: DeNiro, Isla Fisher, and movie sets all over town. Fatigue with the school redistricting mess set in.

Mid-May, I finally spotted stars myself. I got to watch DeNiro on set, then I saw the stars of another movie strolling on Summer St.
Meanwhile, Trump Parc was being constructed on Wash Blvd. Evidently it felt like its spotlight was being stolen by movie stars, because the next day, we had the FIRST of of a series of 4/5 falling debris incidents.

June kicked off a very successful Alive at Five season with a crowded Blues Traveler concert. We had our second Trump incident- more metal stuff falling 20 or so stories onto a vehicle.

In July, we had, unbelievably, another Trump incident. Malloy shut down the site until it put in some better safety measures. I took some photos of the new measures, which worked pretty well for, oh, just over a week.

In August, Trump delivered its fourth and fifth debris incidents in grand fashion. During a heavy storm, my friend’s car got hit by debris and a mail truck got skewered by a piece of lumber. I mean, that's just silly.

In September, we had our second murder. In October, a fancy cupcake store opened. Yes, Stamford is a city of extremes.

In November, the Sabatiello’s episode of Kitchen Nightmares made it to television, and I made the cut. Readers had very strong opinions about the show. Stamford got new blue holiday lights- to mixed reviews- and my husband’s favorite restaurant burned down. It was arson, but it was not me. I have an alibi.

In December, Sabatiello’s bit the dust. Trump almost managed to make it to the end of the year without another incident, but on Dec. 22, a plank of wood fell 15 feet into the street below. Fifteen feet is better than 15 stories, but it still could have hurt someone. I'm sure the people at Trump are not trying to kill us on purpose, but getting bashed in the head by accident would still be pretty UNCOOL. I was pulling for Trump Parc to get itself together, but I guess we've got to keep looking out for ourselves in the new year.

In 2009:
--Will we get a Stamford Dog Park?
--Will we get more movies filmed in town? Or will the bad economy/actor's contract problem ruin one of my biggest sources of frivolous excitement in Stamford?
--Will Trump Parc redeem itself by going incident-free and/or throwing us a big party/open house with free wine?
--Will Barcelona Tapas and Wine Bar open on Summer?
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wes Craven Movie

A reader emailed to let me know that Wes Craven was filming two weeks ago at Westhill High School, right in the middle of the school day. Movie trucks and trailers were there, and he used the courtyard and pool areas. I'm a little curious how common it is for movies to be filmed in the middle of the school day, but whatever. You've got to have some fun in life. I also wonder if Westhill got paid to be a venue.

A March article for Channel 3 says that Craven was using an old Tolland school building for filming; I bet Westhill's pool and courtyard were 2 more venues that Tolland didn't offer:
The former Tolland High School building may be used in director Wes Craven's horror film, "25/8," to be released in 2009. Craven, known for films like "Scream" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" told reporters that "25/8" is less gore and more thrill. "The scenes portray the average comings and goings of everyday life in an average high school," the movie's production company said in a letter...

Wikipedia entry about the film:
Production on 25/8 began April 14, 2008. As of April 11, 2008, the movie is being filmed at the old Tolland High School in Tolland, Connecticut. The cast currently includes Max Thieriot, Denzel Whitaker, Shareeka Epps, Emily Meade, Jeff Ward, Nick Lashaway, John Magaro, Zena Grey, Paulina Olszynski, and Raúl Esparza. As of May 2, filming is taking place at the Bulls Bridge section of Kent, Connecticut. Also they are filming on Terrace Place and Carl's Lane in New Milford CT. For a couple days, it was filmed at Arena Gymnastics and the Tully Center in Stamford, CT. Currently filming at Westhill High School in Stamford, CT.

Since there are mostly teen actors in this films, I have no interest in stalking the set. I'm only interested in the big names and/or good-looking actors much closer to my own age.

For a complete run down on the big highs (and current lows) I experienced with Stamford movie sets, see the "Movies Filming in CT" category of posts.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

When Snow Tries to Kill You

I like the fact that the Greenwich Time's editorial today is about shitty drivers. Specifically, the thoughtless ones who don't clear snow off the top of their cars.

I'm going to admit, there were probably times I didn't clean off my car fully. In the South, we rarely had to worry about this, since snow only accumulated a couple of times a year. When I got up here, I don't think I understood right away that the snow can melt a little, freeze, and then form a horrifying sheet of ice that can peel off as you're roaring down 95.
I understand why people don't clean off the top of their cars. After you've dug your car out of two feet of snow, and cleaned off all the windows and lights, sometimes you just need to get going to work. And, if the ice and snow has already frozen, it's really hard to get it off the roof of your car.
So, I'm not saying that all people who leave snow on top of their car are homicidal maniacs, but I've lived here long enough to understand how dangerous that leftover snow can be.

I've had the bliss of a garage for the past 3 years, and that luxury has spoiled me enough so that I can now judge other people who do it. "Ugh! Why didn't that idiot clean off their car!" I say as snow smashes in front of me, or as snowy mist blinds me on 95.
Well, because it's human nature. We're in a rush, we don't think clearly, and we just think the snow will blow off and not cause a problem.

The Greenwich Time ends with the only possible conclusion: we have to watch out for ourselves. We're not going to be able to ticket everyone who leaves snow on their car, so we just have to drive defensively and stay far from vehicles with snow on top.

Remember, though, even a week after a storm, cars might have snow left, and sometimes it's hard to see the snow left on top of tall vehicles like the Pathfinder and the big Lexus SUV. Just a reminder for you in your holiday travels... and a reminder to make sure your car is cleared off.
Click here to read more.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mobile Snowman Shops at Stamford Mall

OK, so the mobile snowman was spotted at the MALL today! How did he get the day off work to go shopping is my question. Thanks to reader RN who sent in this photo! You'll note the snowman is dressed a lot fancier than he was on Friday night, when my friend spotted him nearly nude off exit 9. He must be heading out to a party tonight.

In the interest of public safety, I'm going to assume that the cold weather makes the snowman unmeltable, and that the snowman's driver is a professional snow sculptor who knows how to make unknockdown-able structures. Because if I were say, walking on a sidewalk, and that truck turned the corner and fell on me, I'd be mad. I do not mean to rain on, and melt, that snowman's parade... but I'm into safety, OK?
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Camp Bow-Wow in Stamford for Pet Lodging?

"Hello," says my husband in an extremely formal voice leaving a message for our vet, "we're looking to put our dog into Camp Bow-Wow..." I giggle from my spot on the couch, where I am lying because my entire body hurts today. "...so we need a copy of her vaccinations..." I start to giggle louder, because hearing my husband say the words "Camp Bow-Wow" is suddenly the funniest thing I've ever heard.

By the end of his message, I'm crying, because hearing him throw around terms like "All Day Play Day Care" is just so wrong. Our dog is totally no-nonsense. She does not play, or fetch, or chase, unless it's a small rodent. Her favorite activity is lying on the couch. The last thing she wants to do is play and participate in camp-like activities, but our Bull's Head Pet Hospital lodging is full, so we've got to lodge her elsewhere. This afternoon we have to take her to meet the Camp Bow-Wow people at the Hope St. location, because she has to pass a doggie interview to be there.

Don't get me wrong. The place sounds amazingly attentive. I have a feeling she'll be well taken care of (even if she weren't the most human-like, independent dog on the planet). But hearing my husband read aloud from the website that our dog will be getting:
* All Day Play, Snooze The Night Away®
* Large Indoor & Outdoor Play Areas
* Spacious Cabins with Comfy Cots
* Live Camper Cams
* Bedtime Campfire Tasty Treats
* Certified Camp Counselors®
was too silly-sounding for me to handle. And he was reading it as if it weren't funny; I think that's why it was funny.

Has anyone sent their pet to Camp Bow-Wow? What can you tell me about the Hope St. location? Or, do you recommend any other pet lodging in Stamford? We've done Best Friends in Norwalk and thought it was fine, but we'd like to stay in Stamford if possible.

Update, 5 hours later: The dog totally passed her interview/trial play session, but she spent the entire 2 hours of her trial there standing atop a platform in an attempt to avoid the other dogs. Because pretty much, she doesn't think she's a dog. The staff at Camp Bow-Wow was really nice, and the other dogs seemed quite well-behaved. I did try to explain that our dog would probably be happiest if left for long periods in her cabin, chilling on her comfy cot, but you know, I think this is gonna work out fine.
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Funny Photo of Stamford Snowman

My friend took this photo of a snowman riding in the back of truck at a gas station off exit 9. I do not endorse people or snowmen riding in the backs of open vehicles. If for example, that snowman were to take a tumble, I'd be highly pissed if he fell on my windshield.

"Way to rain on that guy's parade!" said my friend when I told her the snow sculpture didn't look very safe. But you have to be careful driving around with crap on top of your car, whether it's a mattress, a Christmas tree, or a couch, you better make sure that thing's not gonna fall off. I'm assuming that snow man was just there for a very short ride, and that the driver drove very slowly, taking the utmost care of the vehicles around him. Because that's the way most people drive in the snow, even if a few punks do go too fast.

I will admit, it's a very clever way to have fun with the snow. The funnest thing I did with the snow was to take some pics of the dog "playing" in it (my hound does not really play) to email to my nephews in mostly snowless Mississippi.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Gettin' Ready for the Storm

I made it to the grocery at 8:30 am, just before the rush. I didn't actually leave the store until like, 9:30, because I ran into fellow blogger Always Home and Uncool and talked his ear off, plus, I was sort of enjoying people-watching. Best sighting: slim guy with long white hair, in jeans, boots, a black leather jacket... and a Santa hat. I leaned over to him in the cheese aisle, and I think I said, "Your outfit is absolutely adorable." I know that's a totally stupid thing to say to a biker dude, but I didn't sleep a lot last night, so I'm a little giddy and nonsensical.

I forgot to get Wheat Thins, so I ran back into the store at 9:30, but lines were long, especially the ten items or less. People were holding it together, but I could tell they were getting a little tense, so I hightailed it out of there. We'll either do without cheese and crackers tonight, or the husband can buy crackers on the way home from work. We've got fire wood and S'mores making materials, and that's what really matters.

I'm going to clean my hellhole house and do some online shopping, since I have only bought two gifts so far, and I have ten family members to buy for. How 'bout you? What'll you be doing?

Drive safely, everyone, and have a nice snowy Friday!

My favorite post from Always Home and Uncool: Her Body, My Self
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Fireside Arson: Whoooooooooodunit?

I cannot believe someone burned down Fireside. I heard on News 12 that a A K-9 detective doggie located 3 separate places in the resto that suggested accelerants, and tests confirmed it. That is so, so creepy, to think of someone doing that in the middle of the night while tenants slept upstairs.

Yesterday I kept turning to my husband at random times and saying, "I cannot believe someone burned down your favorite restaurant." At one point, he implied that I did it, since I constantly complained that the place had no healthy food options. He's my alibi for the night of the fire, so I hope to stay on his good side so he does not try to frame me and get the 2,500 reward that's offered.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Connecticut Arson hotline at 1-800-84-ARSON, the Stamford fire marshal at 203-977-4651 or Stamford police at 203-977-4407. Or, you could just post it here and we could gossip about it.

Advocate article on the fire: Police offer reward in Fireside Restaurant arson

Previous Stamford Talk post on the fire:
--Nov 21, 2008-- Fireside Restaurant Burns Down?!?!?

(Aren't my paparazzi-style drive by shots of the fire aftermath pretty spectacular? After a year and a half of doing this blog, I'm really good at photographing things from my car. Maybe I'll post a series of my paparazzi shots on my flickr page. I'll let you know when it's up.)
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Biggest Loser Finale on Tonight!

Set your DVRs, or TiVos, because this is the most important TV event of December: The Biggest Loser Finale! One of my coworkers* and I are completely addicted to the show, and since she lives in the city, she always stays over with me on Tuesdays and we watch the show together (usually while eating Oreos, ice cream, or mac and cheese from a box). She saves a day of commuting, and I get girl time and a Biggest Loser fan who is as emotionally wrapped up in the show as I am. Actually, I think she's more wrapped up than me. She cries during the touchy-feely parts that I usually fast forward through if I'm watching it by myself.

If you haven't watched the show, I hope you try it. I apologize in advance for the contestant named Vicky. She's mean, rude, stupid, annoying and vengeful, and she almost ruined the season for me. She's one of the three finalists, but so is my favorite Michelle, and I hope Michelle kicks her HEINIE. In the photo above, Vicky's on the far left and Michelle is beside her.

Click here for a short article about the finale, and here for a more detailed one about the game play involved in last week's episode.

*At this point I should probably just refer to her as my friend, since we've worked together for 9 years and are basically surrogate sisters, but we met at work.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

SUV Craze, Scary Moms: I Get It Now

We're expecting a baby in March, so we're car shopping. We pretty much need a wagon or an SUV, because I don't want the dog in the back with the baby. God forbid there's any sort of collision, I don't want our hound's claws scratching out the baby's eyes.
I've driven teeny cars for the past ten years (current car = Honda Civic), so I figured I'd be happy with a little wagon, like maybe the Subaru Outback or VW Passat, or perhaps, in my dreams, a used BMW 3 series. I've always said I didn't need a big car. Well, now that I've test-driven the largest wagon in existence, I'm relishing the thought of myself in a huge car. I want to menace the drivers around me who've been menacing me for the past 10 years.

I finally get why people buy big cars. When you have a teeny baby in the car, you want your car to be something that other people avoid. That punk in the Toyota Tacoma this morning, who came awfully close to me as he whipped around me as I was waiting to turn into Village Bagels? I bet that $&@&head would have given me a little more space if I'd been in the 4600 pound, steel encased Mercedes R450, which is the wagon we're eying that's basically the size of a mini-van. Used, it's a pretty good deal, possibly because it resembles a hearse. When I see that thing on the road, I can barely distinguish it from the Mercedes SUV. That's what I want: a big-ass car that's slightly terrifying to others.

I finally understand why all these moms in SUVs act so bitchy and aggressive. They're like mother bears protecting their young. They're going to run us over before we can hurt their babies. I say "we," but who I really mean is men. Women drive cluelessly, but men drive fast and dangerously, and we women don't like that. We want you to be careful. We buy big cars to try to scare you into keeping away from us.

Moral of the story: I've gone over to the FC dark side. I've always self-righteously driven a small car, and talked trash about how pompous it is to drive a big one, but once I was offered a 2-ton vehicle, do you think I shed a tear about giving up my Civic?
When I could only afford a Civic (although actually my Civic only cost 10,000 less than the wagon/hearse), I had to be happy with it.
However, if my husband wants to float me and this gestating baby a huge car, I won't protest. I might feel a little pang to let my Civic go, because that was the car I bought just before my first nephew was born, and a year before I met my husband. That car was with me in the best 5 and a half years of my life.
But, uh, this new car has heated leather seats. And I hate the cold. Yes, I'm ready to upgrade vehicles- for the baby's sake, of course.

In an ideal world, we'd all drive fuel-efficient, yet snow-safe, little cars. We'd drive cautiously, and respect each other on the road, and never take our anger out on other drivers by whipping around them if they're driving slightly below the speed limit.
But this is the FC, and we all hate each other, so big cars make us feel safer. I think I've finally accepted the way the FC works, and this big car marks my transition from nice Southern girl to FC alphabitch.

Maybe. I don't know. I'm still pretty nice and I'm not sure I can shake that.

But just to be safe, watch the hell out if you see this car. --->
Click here to read more.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stamford Paint Gun Officer: Vote for Me!

This letter to the Advocate just reminds me why I, along with maybe the Stamford cops, need to receive authorization to shoot obnoxious drivers' cars with paint guns. The paint will be designed to wear off after one week- maybe two. That way, your car is not permanently damaged, but everyone around you, including your gossipy neighbors, will know that you were driving like an a-hole who thinks that where you're going is so much more urgent than where everyone else is going.

To the editor: The surprise in the Dec. 7 letter regarding the small dog being run over by the speeding car is not that it happened, but rather that there are not more letters with the same kind of story every day.

Quite simply, drivers are out of control in Stamford. They drive three or four times the speed limit, pay little or no attention to stop signs and less attention to the no-right-turn-on-red signs - all because they have little or no fear of being pulled over because we do not have enough police cars on the road at any given time.

Just today while walking my dog, I had to wait for the one millionth time as not one but two cars made a right turn on red off Summer onto North Street - where there is a sign saying no turn on red. To top it off, they barely even slowed down.

This year I have been to Israel; Canada; Lexington, Ky.; Las Vegas; Columbus, Ohio; and Atlanta, and there is no question that the worst drivers I have come across are right here in Stamford. I don't know if there is an arrogance to a lot of us here. I don't know if it is we think the rules don't apply to us. I don't know what it is. But it is a problem our elected officials need to address. We could probably avoid tax increases for years to come if we had enough police to write tickets.
Robert Stiskin-- Stamford

Yeah! Unless there's a woman in the car about to have a baby, don't turn right on red if the sign says not to, and don't cut off pedestrians in the crosswalk, punks. I'll admit, I myself occasionally drive like a bit of an a-hole. Not as much of an a-hole to where I blatantly endanger people, but I might speed, or I might not stop to let a pedestrian cross. (I'd never cut one off who's already in the crosswalk though- that's psycho, and those are the drivers I hate and want to shoot with my paint gun.) I'll submit myself to this plan; that's how strongly I feel about it. If I do something dangerous, my car should be shot with a paint gun, too.

Here's my original paint gun post:

I'm sick of Stamford people pushing me around. I might have to start fighting people. No, I wouldn't do that. I will, though, think about asking the Stamford police for a special dispensation to carry and fire a paintball gun in public. Did I ever blog about that? I got that great idea in August. I'll blog more about it later, but it involves me being a trusted public servant who gets to shoot a paint gun at say, cars who are rude to pedestrians, or people who kick my seat on purpose at the movie theatre. That way, I get the pleasure of physically assaulting people without actually hurting them, and mean people get the message: "That was mean. I saw you. I don't like you. This is your punishment. Don't do it again. Be nicer."

I really don't see what the problem with this plan would be. Will you sign a petition to get me certified to be a Stamford Paint Gun Officer? I'm the perfect person for this: level-headed, fair, fearless, nice but a tiny bit bitchy on the inside.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sabatiello's is Closed: What Should Replace It?

I heard from Streets of Stamford that Sabatiello's looked closed, and an article in the Stamford Advocate today confirms that and adds some juicy details, like that the rent of the property is $100,000 a year. Someone commented that a Sabatiello's Pizza just opened in Riverside, and Lunch Break Chronicles has the photo that confirms it. On Kitchen Nightmares, Sammy said he was a million dollars in debt. I wonder how he got the money to open the new pizza place so quickly. So, who's going to be the first to try the pizza?

Back in Stamford, looking forward, the bigger question is: what do we need next in Sabatiello's old spot?

One commmenter on the Advocate Topix site mentioned a sports bar. I sort of agree, because I don't find Bradford's, a few doors down, very cozy. But we already have Bobby V's, a classic sports bar, and Black Bear, both a few blocks away on Columbus Park and both with great booths.

Maybe Mexican? Even with yummy Spanish tapas resto Barcelona coming to Summer St., we could still use an affordable (but nice!) Mexican place in Stamford. Ole Mole on High Ridge is too tiny to eat in comfortably, plus, I'm not wild for their food. Boxcar Cantina in Greenwich is a hike, and the tacos are like 16 dollars. That's insane. I can't picture a Mexican place in the old Sabatiello's spot, though. A Mexican eatery in the upstairs of a tremendously expensive property?

Dunn's Loft, with its great steak and fun pool table, couldn't survive the high rents on Summer, so I even doubt a nice steak place would work in that building.

What kind of place could survive in that spot? I'm at a loss, but I'm pretty eager to see what comes in there.

I'm also super-eager for Barcelona to open, because while their food has struck me as odd both times I've eaten there, the sangria is magnifico!
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Stamford Artist Profile: PennyCraft

My friend Kate found this local artist online and offered to write a profile, so here it is! Come on, that baby sock bunny super hero is adorable.
One way to help Stamford's economy is to let residents know about the goodies being created in their own backyards. Jen Rice of Stamford turned her childhood love of sewing into a career on two fronts. By day, she is a costume designer teaching design and sewing at Long Island University. In her spare time she creates unique and fanciful creatures and clothing. Operating as PennyCraft, Jen hand sews most of her cuddly crafts.

PennyCraft prides itself on seeing beyond the original purpose of unwanted items like sweaters and baby socks to make them useful once again. Her creations range from cozy hats to adorable bunnies – all with an artistic element setting them apart from standard industrial fare. There are superhero bunnies ready for action with a mask and cape, flocks of stylized bluebirds singing from the trees, and psychedelic bunnies dressed in rainbow colors. PennyCraft offers authentic handmade crafts that are friendly to both kids and the environment - plus - they're made right here in Stamford.

PennyCraft creations are available at etsy.
Note: PennyCraft creatures may include small parts unsuitable for children 3 and under.

Stamford Talk's note: Whatever this baby's selling, I'll buy it. That's one cute baby.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ode to Darien and Its Amenities

Someone recently suggested, in a conversation about home prices, that what I should really do is try to buy a little house in Darien, because the schools are really good.
Well, no doody. I should also really ask for a tripling/quadrupling of my salary so I have a smidgen of a chance of affording the cheapest house in Darien. Median income there is one of the highest in the nation- Darien and New Canaan were one and two in a recent report- at around $230,000.
I don't think I could ever afford Darien, but I'm oddly fond of it. I lived there for two years when I first moved up here, and I still go there a lot.

Top 10 Reasons I Love Darien
1. My doctor, dentist, and podiatrist, all of whom I really like, are in Darien.
2. Elements Yoga studio by the Noroton Heights train station.
3. Barrett Bookstore- great independent book store- also by the NH train station.
4. Lanphier- my favorite hair salon. They'll fix the highlight disaster caused by the salon in Stamford, two weeks before your wedding.
5. Post Corner Pizza- I love their pizza and chicken souvlaki.
6. Coromandel- best Indian from Greenwich to Norwalk. Oh sure, they just turned Dakshin into Coromandel, but parking's easier in Darien.
7. Noroton Heights train station off exit 10- good place to meet up with people if you need to carpool, especially to Cove Beach.
8. If you happen to be the work-at-home type who needs to get out of the house, the Darien Library-Darien Starbucks combo is a good alternative to Greenwich Library. Parking at Stamford Library/Starbucks is always a pain- unless you are one of those young whippersnappers who live in a downtown condo or apartment.
9. Trader Joe's is a fun little specialty grocery store right on the Norwalk border. They've got good meals in boxes. You know, rather than mac and cheese, they'll have some fancy Indian dish that's easy to make.
10. That's all I can think of. Anyone else want to add anything?
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Darien Whole Foods To-Be: Good Enough for Me

I am thrilled that there's going to be a Whole Foods in Darien. It is going to cause the worst traffic hell you've ever seen in your life, but I'll just go there at odd hours, you know, when I want to pretend I am an organized enough person to live an ascetic, clean, organic life. Yes, I go shopping at Whole Foods when I need to feel like I am a better person.

The new store will be beside the BMW dealer off exit 11, on the old HoJo's lot they're currently clearing. Yeah- that tiny access road! I know, I'm sure they'll fix access, but an incredibly popular store right on Rt 1 by 95... oh, it's gonna be bad. It couldn't be worse than Greenwich though, could it?

You may recall they proposed a Whole Foods right by the Stamford Lord and Taylor. I think this Darien spot is a much better location. We Stamfordites can reap the rewards but not deal with the extra traffic.

I do suppose we're missing out on some yuppie prestige... sigh.
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Stamford Hospital Rocked My World

I went to see a doctor at Stamford Hospital about this cough on Wed., and I left in a daze because everyone I encountered there was so nice to me. It was weird. I wondered if I just looked especially appealing (I did take the time to shower and put on a cute outfit), or maybe sounded pathetic (the chest congestion made it hard to talk), or if the staff at Stamford Hospital is just nice. I have to go with the last option. I was there for four hours, and I only experienced kindness and patience.

Parking lot attendant: super nice.
Registration people: pleasant, knew right away that I was the last minute, squeezed in X-ray patient.
Registration lady: insisted on wheeling me to my chest X-ray because I said I was short of breath.
X-ray Lady: super-nice to me, walked me to elevator after the X-ray.
Pulmonologist secretaries: super-pleasant, and you know secretaries aren't always super-pleasant.
Pulmonologist: nice, got a lady to hold my hand when I was freaked out by the naso-laryngeal swab he wanted to do.
Hand-holder: super nice.
Back to registration for blood test: nice, almost awkwardly so, because I had an embarrassing coughing fit when I tried to talk.
Blood-taker: super nice.

Granted, my standards for nice aren't that high. You just have to act like you don't hate me, and maybe smile and tell me to have a nice day. But in this busy world, people don't always even bother to do that, so when it happens, it's remarkable.

My second antibiotic has kicked in quite nicely, so now I'm just trying to make sure I don't overdo it, because it feels so good to feel good after feeling bad for 5 weeks! Still coughing some, especially at night, but I don't feel like dog doody every second of the day, and that's something to feel very happy about.
Click here to read more.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Baby! Happy Greenwich/Stamford Story

Wow. This is the nicest story I've heard in a long time. A soldier in Iraq got to see the birth of his baby boy at Greenwich Hospital via video conference. If I wasn't trying to get to work early today, I'd take a few minutes to cry my eyes out. The dad is actually from Stamford, and the video conference was courtesy a nonprofit called Freedom Calls Foundation.

From the Advocate article: Established in 2003, Morristown, N.J.'s Freedom Calls Foundation is a nonprofit organization that connects military families in the United States by video conference with their loved ones for milestones such as the birth of a child, graduations, weddings and parent-teacher conferences. It makes 2,000 calls, paid for with donations.

"We are able to meet a little bit better than 35 percent (of troops' requests) only because we don't have satellite centers on the ground in every military base in Iraq," [Director of Development Kathryn] Hudacek said. "But with every dollar donated, we're able to put more up."

Centers cost more than $150,000 to build and maintain annually. One hour of connection time costs $1,000. The service is free to military families.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Day Dinner in Stamford?

An Irishman emailed me to ask about nice places in Stamford for Christmas Day dinner. I'm a former O'Brien, so I've got to help this man from my ancestral home. (That's Ireland to the right, in a photo I took on a trip there 2 years ago. The country is out of control pretty.) I've never really done Christmas in Stamford proper, but I put together a short list, and I am hoping more knowledgeable readers can add info. The criteria: sophisticated but traditional fare at $50-75 a head including wine. Possibilities:
Telluride- new American, upscale yet cozy, good quality food.
Napa and Co- like Telluride, it's right downtown, likely to be open, and has excellent food. It's pricey- if you do drinks and appetizers, it will run easily to 75.
In Greenwich:
Greenwich Hyatt- probably open. Nicest hotel in the area, so might be the priciest option.
Ginger Man- good food, less expensive than Telluride and Napa, but food not as interesting. Ginger Man is cozy has a nice fireplace.

I don't hear great things about Long Ridge Tavern, I don't love Mackenzie's food... so this is all I can come up with who might have a nice Christmas dinner!
Click here to read more.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Layla's in Stamford: Falafal and Liquor!

Well, not exactly liquor, but wine and beer. If you don't know Layla's Falafel, it's well-priced, well-made Middle Eastern cuisine. There is one in Fairfield, one on High Ridge, and a new branch opening in downtown Stamford in Dec or Jan. My husband and I got lunch at Layla's on High Ridge today, and the owner gave me the excellent news that he is applying for a liquor license for the new Layla's. My God, a glass of white wine will go so nicely with the chicken Shawarma wrap. A NY Times review praised that wrap last year as "a textural delight that is worth the wait." Note: see Chris Preovolos' informative post about Layla's, which I must have missed because it was from the day I first started feeling under the weather... almost five damn weeks ago.

I got a sneak peek at the downtown Layla's menu, and it has many more items than the current menu. I'm looking forward to trying some new dishes. I think the new Layla's will be double the size of the one on High Ridge, and I wonder if it will be a little more upscale, or casual like the other two. (Casual is fine with me!) There will be outdoor seating, so when the weather warms, you can enjoy a quick but high-quality meal with your people-watching. Layla's downtown will be a nice alternative to Black Bear (not great food) and Market (expensive food).

Today I got the falafel pita, but, as the owner showed me one day last summer, you should really get the falafel on the lavash wrap, because then they grill the wrap for a few minutes and it turns out so much tastier. Here's a photo of that wrap; I apologize that I took a bite out of it before I remembered to take a photo. It was fantastic and very filling. It's always a challenge to save room for the baklava at Layla's, but you should. It's the perfect end to a flavorful meal.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Heroes: Not as Translatable to Stamford as Lost

Over the last week, my fourth with a horrifying cough, I made it through two seasons of Heroes. Unlike when I watched 3 seasons of Lost over a period of two months, I can't really apply any Heroes lessons to Stamford. I tried to use flame-shooting power (see photo) on my husband when he refused to go shopping with me this morning, but nothing happened. I did think I might be getting super-hearing when I heard phlegm crackling in my throat (a crackling sound in the lungs is a sign of pneumonia), but the doc only heard wheezing yesterday; no crackling. No super-hearing, no flame-throwing, no flying. I certainly don't have super-healing power.

I suppose there might be some among us who have super-powers, but I think it's more likely that there are just bad people hidden among us, like robbers or plain old mean people. The guy who wears bat ears downtown... I don't think he's got a super-power. I can't think of a single person in this town who I suspect of having a power.

With Lost, I could apply lessons of mystery, determination, and seeming coincidence. With Heroes, I got nothin'. I can't even tell what time period Peter is jumping to any more, and Hayden Panetierre's bad acting is getting old. I am interested in figuring out how Gabriel becomes a good person, but he just blew up the world, right? (We just saw the fifth episode of season 3 last night.) Or was that the future, and it didn't really happen? The story lines are getting convoluted. So now there are three Nikki Saunders? Who's the third? Nikki is dead, now we have Tracy Straus, who's the third? Because Jessica was just a split personality right, not a real person? And did her doctor say he gave Tracy powers, she wasn't born with them?

Don't get me wrong; I'll be following Heroes from now on. I like a good multi-character drama with a sci-fi twist. But Lost is still my favorite. The actors are more fun to look at, the mystery more focused, and the pacing less frenetic. Only 7 more weeks until the next season of Lost.

Me to husband just now: Did you put the laundry in the dryer?
Husband: Uh... I have done it in the future.

Hmmm. Good attempt to apply Heroes to daily life, but it's not enough to capture my imagination.

Related Stamford Talk post:
--March 4, 2008-- Mystery, Power: Stamford and the Island of Lost
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blue Holiday Lights Downtown: I Like 'Em

It took me a few minutes to get used to Stamford's new blue lights, but I'm OK with them. Obviously, I like the fact that they match my Stamford Talk theme. At first I missed the classic white lights, but blue is cool. As my husband says, "They're Christmas yet Hanukkah." He believes that holiday lights should be colorful. He shot down my all-white light Christmas tree idea the first year we lived together, then totally took over and proceeded to put together a great-looking tree. I'll admit, I'm a convert. I now see the appeal of colored lights.

However, I wonder if the all-blue lights will get old after a couple months. I wonder if I'll start to feel like I need a little variety. The blue is very blue, with no break. I wonder what other cities have all blue, and if people tolerated them for long periods of time. The nice thing about white is that it's very standard. Household lights are white, so having all-white lights in the trees year-round is no biggie, and it's pretty.

But see, this is where my husband would say holidays are for fun, and for different. I see his point... which is why I am OK with the blue lights. Et tu?
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Could Rampaging Turkeys Happen in Stamford?

It's Thanksgiving Week, people. You know what that means: be on the lookout for wild turkeys. Not to shoot them or anything, but just to appreciate their ugly beauty. I've spotted these hideous yet regal creatures in Old Greenwich, near Perrot Library, twice. As I wrote in a last year's wild turkey post, "They don’t seem scared by my car; they strolled nonchalantly around someone’s yard both times I drove by. On first glance, the turkeys are ugly and a little scary, but I think they are beautiful. I like how they walk around, head high, with an 'I don’t give a shit' attitude."

I have not seen any wild turkeys this year, but a blog post by my friend Christopher got me thinking about them. In "Food News: Are Turkeys Mobilizing?" he recounts several terrifying, inspiring incidents of turkeys performing feats of daring including stopping traffic on the Triborough. In my wildest dreams, I'd witness this, but I'll settle for a simple sighting.

My friend Christopher blogs out of Minneapolis, and he's beyond funny. When I lived in Rye, I became best friends with him and his wife Wendy. We did all kinds of crazy things, including spying on our neighbors and eating way too much McDonald's. When Christopher was in a play at LaMama in the city, Wendy and I tried to sneak inconspicuously to our seats, and instead, got stuck in the spotlight behind the biggest name in the cast. (We didn't know she was going to enter from the back of the theatre!) Another time, we were late coming back from intermission, and we got stuck backstage with the actors. We huddled against the wall, hoping that if we closed our eyes, they wouldn't notice us. Then, like all my good friends from my first year up here, they moved away. We've kept in touch, and I am so glad, because they are amazing, amazing people.
Recently, staying in touch has gotten easier, because they both started blogging over a year ago. Christopher's Blog Harbor has hilarious random opinions about turkeys, his daughters, and college sports. His hyperactive personality shines through in his writing. Wendy blogs at My Green Side about how to live in little ways that are better for you and better for the environment. Her mellow personality shines through.

Fave Blog Harbor Posts (the blog covers everything, but these posts about his daughters made me laugh out loud):
The Simple Language of Parenting and Football Coaching
Demando and Commando
Can Two Sisters Control the Universe?

Fave My Green Side posts:
Green Shopping for a White Christmas
Cleaning Green
Fabric Softener
Click here to read more.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fireside Restaurant Burns Down?!?!?

Oh nooooooo! This was not what I was expecting as the top item on my google reader this morning! Fireside, the restaurant on Hope St. I've been dragged to once a month since meeting my husband four years ago, was destroyed last night in a blaze reported at 1:30 am. I'm not going to miss their food- well, maybe their excellent french fries- but my husband and his friends love/loved this place for its wings and casual atmosphere. I certainly hope the resto will rebuild.

Last night, Fireside and Capriccio were the two dinner options presented to me. My husband loves Fireside, but I always end eating an entire burger and fries smothered in ketchup, then I feel gross. We went to Capriccio, since I was meeting up with fellow bloggers downtown anyway. I got the penne arrabiata- red sauce made with spicy peppers, yum!- and it was outrageously good. (The not-huge portion makes it healthy.) Still, I feel a little bad my husband did not get to go to Fireside one last time. He loves their ribs, wings, and burgers... but would it be creepy to have the food of a burnt-down resto in your bowels? A little creepy, right?

Good luck to Fireside! I hope they rebuild soon. In the meantime, I'll try the other resto owned by the same people as Fireside, a little further up Hope St across from Twin Rinks, called Vinny's Backyard and BBQ. I hear their pizza is good!
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Can Someone Confirm That I Saw a Dead Pig?

I just saw something really, really odd on the Merritt. It's 10 pm and I just got home from visiting a friend in Westchester. Just before exit 34, I swear, I saw, lying dead on the right side of the road, a huge pig. It was white and grey, and a tiny bit hairy.

It was not a deer. I don't think it was a dog, because it was big. Like, me-sized. It looked like it had a snout, but the head was thrown back, so I was only looking at the underside of its chin. What I mean is, I did not get a great look at this animal as I was speeding by at 60 mph, but I really think it was a huge pig. It looked sort of like this pig, but it was lighter grey.

I share this info in hopes that someone else saw the creature, or knows someone who saw the creature. It's not unreasonable that a pig could have escaped from a farm-ish place near the Merritt. I feel bad about the dead pig. I really think it was a pig.
Click here to read more.

Let's Get Rid of These Leaves!

From the Advocate: It's time for leaf pickup. Stamford residents who live south of the Merritt Parkway and north of Interstate 95 should place leaves in biodegradable bags for pickup this week and next. Collection south of I-95 will begin by Nov. 28... The city has finished collection in North Stamford.
Let's get rid of these leaves already! It's getting dangerous on my street for pedestrians, who have to walk almost in the middle of the road. That's not so safe in a neighborhood where everyone speeds. I do like the fact that the leaves are a natural traffic hump, though. When there are two cars passing each other, one car has to pull over to avoid going through leaves.

Why is the info in the Advocate, though, telling me I should put my leaves in biodegradable bags? I thought we can just leave our leaves out in the road, loose, like leaf barbarians.
Click here to read more.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stamford Talk Holiday Shopping Guide

A traffic-filled trip to a store on Central Ave in Yonkers has got me freaking out: the holidays are coming, people! Don't wait until after Thanksgiving to start planning. Start NOW, today. Here are my best tips for shopping in the Stamford area. I hope you'll add your own tips as well. Just make sure they’re geared toward lazy people who don’t like to fight crowds.

Tip 1: Go online to avoid dealing with the stressed out, perfectionist FC shoppers and their SUVs. Anyone with an iPod loves iTunes gift certificates, and I always do iPhoto calendars for my family. On Kodak Gallery, you can personalize stuff with photos. I made Christmas ornaments with my nephews' photos for their first Christmases.

Tip 2: To avoid the mall, go for some of the smaller stores in the area.
For women:
--Goldenberry in Darien- home goods store. It tends toward knick-knacky, but it's really nice stuff. I once got my cousin some stunning placemats. It’s on the Post Rd. past Trader Joe’s.
-- Artistic Hand Blown Glass on Bedford. Here's where to get something for your mother-in-law and/or the person who already has everything she needs. Last year we got my mom-in-law a blown-glass angel Christmas tree ornament. At 40 bucks, it was one of the cheapest things in the store, and so pretty. The store also has stunning glass (unbreakable, Pyrex-ish) bracelets that I’m still upset don’t fit me. They’re $80 bucks and in my semi-stylish opinion, totally worth it.
--Anthropologie has stand alone stores in Greenwich and Westport, so you can buy unusual clothes/home goods without dealing with the mall.

For men:
--My husband is impossible to shop for, but I can usually find something for him at GameStop; just ask the clerk for a rec based on a list of games he already has. Stores are on Summer St. or the mall; I know that's breaking my lazy rule, but desperate times...
--Montana for Men, a salon right beside g/r/a/n/d, has nice, expensive shaving stuff.
--Gift certificates for a massage at Noelle Spa also work well in a pinch.

For kids:
--Graham’s Kids Cuts on Greenwich Ave in Greenwich, a children’s hair salon, has a small selection of quality, unusual toys. I always go there at Christmas for my niece and nephews.
--Smart Kids Co on Elm St., just off Greenwich Ave, has a much larger selection of more typical toys like Legos and stuffed animals.
--This year I’m also going to check out Kaleidoscope Kids' Boutique in Bull’s Head, Stamford, to see what they have. I also want to try Stamford Toys. Evidently it's on High Ridge behind Kinko’s, which is why I've never seen it.

Tip 3: Big fat duh: Do not ever go to the Bed Bath Beyond complex on Summer after 9:15 am on a weekend from now on. After that, you'll never find a spot, and you'll hate everyone, because that parking lot is a nightmare. I took this photo at 8:35 last December 22.

Any other suggestions for shopping in Stamford?
I’d like to steal some ideas from you.
I have not even made my list yet, so I need to get cracking!

Related Stamford Talk posts:
--Dec 25 2007-- Stamford Holiday Shopping Analysis
--Feb 29 2008-- Beautiful Bracelets I'll Never Wear
Click here to read more.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sabatiello's Kitchen Nightmares DeBriefing

1. I made the cut. The owner serves us steak, and I, smiling like an idiot, watch my husband cut into his steak. While the steak was good, the middle was undercooked, as were many of the steaks you saw served on the show.

2. I highly doubt that being on Kitchen Nightmares will give the resto a boost as the owner hoped. The show portrayed an Italian Steak House whose chef cannot cook a medium steak. Maybe the chef has figured it out by now, but I am too scared to go back and see. I'm afraid the owner will recognize me and ask me a question about the show. If someone else can go check out the steaks and report back, I'd be so grateful.

3. A lot of commenters on the previous post thought that Sammy came across looking like a jerk, but I bet a lot of owners are tyrannical when they have a million dollars sunk into a place.

4. The only horrifying thing to me was charging high prices for food that was not the quality that was promised: selling a lower quality steak than listed, charging $29 for sole with imitation crabmeat, and reheating week-old lasagna. What's the point of eating out? I can get better food for cheaper, and I can microwave a frozen lasagna dinner at home for 3 bucks.

5. I was happy to see that the kitchen was clean-- except for the raw chicken right beside the cooked, which Gordon Ramsay freaked over.

6. I think it's awkward that the main dining area is upstairs. Even if upstairs is full, the resto will look empty if people are not downstairs. Nobody wants to risk being the only one eating in a resto; people like to see who's there before they commit.

7. The show made me nostalgic for Dunn's Loft, the steak house that had a brief, glorious, rollicking run on Summer before it went down because, like Sabatiello's, there just was not the business to offset the high rent. However, at Dunn's, the steak was delicious and the atmosphere far more celebratory.

Related posts:

--Jan 2008-- Stamford Restaurant: Dunn’s Loft... Steak!
--March 2008--Stamford Steak Awards 2008
--Feb 2008--My experience with the TV show: Gordon Ramsey, Cleavage, Me, and a Kitchen Nightmare in Stamford
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Me on Sabatiello's, in Newsprint: Is It OK?

I feel bad saying bad things about nice people, so I hope the owner of Sabatiello's is not pissed that I said- to an Advocate reporter- that I thought the food at Sabatiello's was "OK."
It's such a neat little spot and it's just a mystery why it's not more productive," Redlien (that's me!) said. "You can look out and see everyone that's going by." One explanation may be the food. In comparison to other Italian restaurants in the city, the few dinners Redlien had at Sabatiello's were "OK," she said. (See full article.)

OK is OK, right? Like, it's not great, and it's not bad? I did not say the food was good, but that's because I am an FC-trained food snob. Not a real food snob, but a food snob who can either pay 20 bucks for great Italian food (small size pasta at Napa, or a delicious pasta entree at Siena) or pay $10-15 for OK food that most people would never complain about. That's how I classify Sabatiello's based on the few times I ate there. It's normal Italian food. But that's the prob. There is so much of it already in Stamford that Sabatiello's has not made a splash.

With Capriccio just a few doors down, you have already have quality Italian food on Bedford, plus the best outdoor scene in Stamford. My husband loves Capriccio, so that's where we get our fill of Italian food at a good price. He likes lighter Italian. I actually like Siena a lot, on the other end of Spring, even though it's a bit pricey to eat there regularly. By pricey, I mean meat entrees are over 20 bucks. Siena is a pretty, romantic resto with very good food. We rarely go there because my husband likes nothing on the menu, but sometimes I can play the sympathy card and we'll get to go there.

But back to Sabatiello's. I can't wait to see the show... and maybe we can all agree to go there in the next week and share our reviews! My husband has been scared to eat at a place that has been on Kitchen Nightmares (I forced him to the reality show taping under slight duress), but maybe the show will portray a place that is clean, with good quality cooks, but that is just struggling because of slow business.

There. I think I feel better now, and that what I said was alright. OK? OK.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Comfy Shoes in Stamford at Hawley Lane

On the way home from work today, CBS 880 am said, "Get ready for the rain!" I smiled a big grin, because a) I like rain and b) I've got some adorable new rain boots. I've lived 33 years on this earth without rain boots, so I feel like the $85 dollar price tag is justified. I told my husband they were $45. My Bogs boots are thick and sturdy, with cushy soles and neoprene insulation, so I can use them in the snow, too. They come in 2 cute patterns- brown with pink swirlies, and black with yellow abstract flowers- and have handles on the side for easy pulling on.

I got the boots at my favorite shoe store, Hawley-Lane in Bull's Head shopping center. Don't think this store is only for old lady shoes, although they do have quite the selection of orthopedic shoes. They have an enormous selection of men, women, and children's shoes, many of which are very stylish. I'm wearing a slick pair of black leather boots that I just bought today. I have terrible feet, so I pretty much only shop at Hawley-Lane. They've got running shoes, Reef flip flops, heels, boots, socks, leather sprays, insoles, and now they've got purses!

The service at Hawley-Lane is incomparable. The staff is patient, so freaky-footed people like me don't feel stupid trying on 15 pairs of shoes and walking around in each pair for 5 minutes. They've got a whole wall of kids' shoes, and a whole room of men's shoes- flip flops, athletic shoes, casual shoes, and really good-looking leather work shoes. If I were a man, this is where I would shop for shoes. It's calm, unlike a harried department store.

I am currently pretty much in love with the Bull's Head shopping center. If you've got a thousand bucks or two, you can get some nice trinkets at Grunberger Jeweler. I suggest you go window shop. The shopping center also houses Margot Cafe and Wine Bar, my favorite convenience store, Zen Spa and Nails, Kam Pei (fair to mediocre Asian food), stellar Liz Sue bagels, and some other stores I don't usually go to, but appreciate knowing are there: a dry cleaner, a children's clothing boutique called Kaleidoscope, a bakery, a mattress store, and a soccer store. I mean, rock on.

I'll leave you with my favorite rain poem:

April Rain Song
by Langston Hughes

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

And I love the rain.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thursday TV: Stamford on Kitchen Nightmares!

I really hope I do not make it onto the TV show Kitchen Nightmares, which was shot in Stamford last February. A lucky convergence of events ended up with my husband and I (and other members of the Stamford blog network) eating at the featured resto post-makeover. It's awkward eating with a camera in your face, and I'm not the type who can play things cool, so I really hope there is no embarrassing footage of me. This photo is a paparazza-style shot I took of the resto on filming night.

Read about my experience with the TV show:
--Feb 20, 2008-- Gordon Ramsey, Cleavage, Me, and a Kitchen Nightmare in Stamford

Read about how I first found out there was a show filming in our city:
--Feb 17, 2008-- Reality TV in Stamford This Week: Let's Eat!

Read about Blog Stamford's experience with the show:
-- Feb 20, 2008-- Kitchen Nightmares in Stamford
Click here to read more.

Monday, November 10, 2008

CRUMBS: Not Impressing Me Yet!

I was going to wait until one more visit to Crumbs Bake Shop to pan it, but you know what, I'm still sick, and there is only so much work I'm willing to do to discuss cupcakes. Plus, I've heard from more than one person that their cupcakes were not earth-shattering. I had two problems at Crumbs last week.

Medium-sized problem: NO good system for waiting in line. When I went to Crumbs, there were only 2 other people in the store... and a guy still managed to cut in front of me! I was standing in the middle of the counter, and there was a guy near the end, by the cupcakes. Guess who the clerk went over to? The guy who got there after me!  Either he did not see me or thought I was already being helped, because he stepped right up to ask several detailed questions about cakes.  I was not feeling well, so it really pissed me off.  
I am willing to concede that this might have been a one-time failing by the Crumbs staff, but I need to be reassured that Crumbs does have a system. Is it common knowledge for cupcake aficionados that the line starts at the back of the store? Or, are customers really expected to keep track of which one, two, or ten customers were there ahead of them? That's far too much work for a mediocre cupcake... which brings me to the the larger problem with Crumbs.

Large problem: The cupcakes were not great. My husband thought the cupcakes were pretty good, but he does not have a sweet tooth like I do. My classic strawberry was basically stale. The blackout cupcake was not that chocolately, and the Hostess chocolate cake tasted bland.   I got three, and not a single winner? Where's the cupcake kapow?
A coworker said her cupcakes weren't awesome, and another coworker said that although her husband loved his German chocolate cupcake, hers wasn't amazing.  A mediocre $4 cupcake? It's not enough just to look pretty! You need to taste good!

I am sure I will return to Crumbs, but for your sweet fix in the FC, try Chocopologie in Norwalk. I've also heard good things from readers about the cupcakes at Margot Cafe and Wine Bar in Stamford.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

North-South Relations: A Poem

For the second time in a week, I’m awake at 2am and can’t get back to sleep because of coughing and congestion. It’s 3:30 now, and this poem about North-South relationships is in my head, so I might as well busy my brain for a little and type it out for you.  I have to wake up at 4:20am, anyway, because I'm catching a 6:30 flight to Tupelo, MS.

A friend typed this poem out for me ten years ago when she was at a really boring job. My friend was my roommate at the time, and she is still one of my very best friends. She’s also an amazing poet herself. When you read this poem, try not to think of George Bush. Think of like, normal Southern people. This poem is about the strengths and foibles of both North and South, but really about friendship.

(from George Bradley’s The Fire Fetched Down, 1996)

From the land of football recruiting scandals,
Barbeque and kudzu, creation science,
Military schooling and right-to-work laws,
Country of country

Music, come, old friend, to the land of mud-rooms,
Flu, and acid slush, to decaying factory
Towns and autumn foliage fanfare, pilgrim
Mores and pilgrim

Cooking, please come flying. Fly Continental,
If you must, but travel and take advantage
Of the miser’s welcome New England offers:
Taciturn greeting,

Shellfish, maple glop, and a local stab at
Wine. Alas, the syrup and wine aren’t always
Easy to distinguish, while conversation
Here and about is

Rather less mercurial than the chowder.
We must count on you, then, to keep the table
Lively. Born and bred in the South, where breeding
Matters and manners

Are a sort of spectator sport, by instinct
You will captivate the assorted neighbors
We invite to witness a rare performance,
Charming them silly

With your deep-fried flattery, served in portions
Just this side of fattening, with your gossip
Balanced on the line that divides piquant from
Legal exposure.

Later, dinner done and the others gone or
Gone to bed, we heroes can strive to stave off
Sleep and reminisce for a while, rewriting
Scenes from our epic

College years together, lamenting classmates
Lost or dead, amazing ourselves to notice
Dreams we formed in youth of devoting life to
Language have somehow

Come to pas, albeit in ways we couldn’t
Possibly foresee at the time, arrived as
We now are at homes and careers and family,
Come to this present

Peace, or its simulacrum. Jay, what pleasure
Can compare to memories shared upon the
Stroke of midnight? Call it nostalgia, call it

Either way, please visit. It won’t be like the
Old days, when the hunger that pounded through our
Veins possessed us, driving us into darkened
Streets toward sunrise.

If you made it to the end of this poem, I want to brag about my friend real quick. The year before she typed this poem out for me, she wanted to be in the poetry class of a professor named Charles Wright. He gruffly told her on the phone that the class was full, but to bring some samples of her work by his office. He flipped through them and said, “Oh. These will be fine. I’ll see you Monday.” The dude won the Pulitzer the next year!  My friend is so talented, and I don't always think she realizes that.  I try to remind her as often as possible.

It’s 4 am. I cannot believe I am leaving for the airport in 45 minutes!!!
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fancy Grocery Coming to the South End

The internet is abuzz about a Fairway grocery opening in the South End in early 2010. Clearly, I am not from this area, because I have no idea why that's a big deal! I vaguely knew Fairway was a grocery, but I figured it was just a regular New York grocery like Gristedes, but maybe bigger. In researching this post, I gather that Fairway is a grocery store based in NYC that is known for its produce and wide selection of cool food stuff. Read a bunch of the rave reviews on Yelp and you'll get the idea.

According to readers on Chowhound, the new store will be in the Yale and Towne property on the corner of Canal and Market. That's sort of near where the UHaul rental place is. I hate to be a traffic alarmist, but that corner is a mess as it is. I assume they'll fix up the traffic flow for us.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the location. (See google map.) There are no other stores around there. Is the location near where Antares is putting up their new apartments/office complexes? Is that why they are putting it there? And are they planning more fancy stores? Rather than a one-stop grocery, if we're going to have a slice of traffic hell, we might as well have a few stores to hit before we head back out and block the paths of the other people who are trying to get in. (I'm thinking of the Summer St. Bed Bath Beyond mess, which I suppose is not that bad... unless it's Christmas time... which is coming soon, BTW. I'm already starting my Stamford Talk gift guide.)
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted! I’m Sick! I’m Taking a Trip!

On Voting: I hit the polls at 6:30am; it took about 45 minutes total. It was a smooth, satisfying experience at Rippowam Middle. My neighbors were very well-behaved in line, except for the guy behind me who was standing too close to my left elbow. Surprisingly, my wet, hacking cough didn't send him back a few inches.

Voting in G'wich: I was at a school in Greenwich for a work thing today, and the voting there scene was annoying. There were dozens of kids selling candies and cookies. That I can tolerate, because those little girls had the sense to stay out of my personal space. What I can’t tolerate:
-A guy right out front: “I’m so and so! Please vote for me!” I’m not even sure if he said please. I was clearly avoiding eye contact, so why did he talk to me?
-Boy scouts, blocking the sidewalk, rushing up to me with a book, a can, and an urgent plea for something or other. I was not feeling well at all, so I was not in the mood to be accosted by overeager children. I held up my hand (universal "back off" sign) and had to step off the sidewalk to get away from the kid.

On Being Sick: Yeah, it’s making me a little grumpy, because I have not felt well since Thursday. Congestion, feeling icky, now a nasty cough that’s ripping my throat up. I can’t sleep because I can barely swallow without coughing. My strep test was negative, and I don’t have a fever, so I guess this is just a virus to fight off.

My trip: I really need to be better by Saturday, because I’m hopping a plane to Mississippi to visit my nephews and niece- 5, 3, and 1. (Oh- and my sister and her husband will be there, too.) I connect through Memphis, TN on the way to Tupelo, MS, AKA Elvis’ birthplace.

They just redid the Tupelo Airport. It’s still small- one counter, one luggage carousel- but it’s beautiful. Until last year, the baggage claim was a tent outside the building, right by the runway. See pic to right. Actually, it was fun to walk off the plane and see your family standing right by the fence by the tent. I miss that, descending from the plane to a cheering crowd. Well, maybe the crowd didn't cheer.

I can’t wait to get away from the stressed-out, crowded FC for a few days.
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Meeting a Mate in the FC

Enough about politics! Let's talk about love and marriage in the FC. Before those 2 things, you have to meet the right person. That ain't easy. Take it from me. I endured 6 years of FC dating hell before I met my husband. It can be difficult to meet a mate in the FC. That's why I'm posting about it: I need readers to add tips to the few that I have. Let's pool our knowledge.

First, why is it so hard to meet a mate in the FC?
1. There aren't that many social gathering places besides bars. Bars are loud, and people tend to go in groups and not talk to other groups. Also, alcohol makes quality interactions less likely.
2. This is the suburbs. A lot of people are already married, so single people have fewer friends to go out with. Everyone knows that married people just sit at home.
3. I'm not really sure why else. I think many of us are complicated over-achievers with way too high standards.

My tips for meeting a mate:
1. Do go out to bars, even if it sucks. It's good practice talking to people. Try a fun bar like Tigin on a Tuesday, when Trivia is happening. I meet boatloads of people when I go to Trivia, but it's the single people who should be working it, not me. I look around at all the UBS dudes at the bar at Tigin and think, where the hell are the single ladies who should be all over them?
2. Work your connections. Don't be shy. Let your older coworkers know that you are dating; they might hook you up.
3. I've met nice friends on meetup.com. You could probably meet a mate through that.
4. Fairfield County Happy Hour Club!
5. Understand the role of chance, and get your ass out there. My friend once met a nice guy in an elevator at the Greenwich Library. She was checking out kids' books, he was studying for some accounting test. They were a bad match, but he was a good guy. The "friend" is actually me, but I don't want to talk about old boyfriends in front of my husband- even though he recently told me he usually only reads the beginnings of my posts, so who knows if he'll even read this far.

The "get your ass out there" method works. I met my husband randomly through a roommate of mine who neither of us was very good friends with. The roomie invited a bunch of people out for lunch after a business school test she was taking. I had nothing to do, so figured I might as well have lunch with her before going to the gym. One man showed up, a guy she'd met out at the bars through a guy we'll call "The Baker." My soon-to-be boyfriend/husband was The Baker's neighbor, and he had gone out with The Baker a few times. See why it's important to go out? If my husband had not gone out to lame Stamford bars with his neighbor, we never would have met. Also, if my husband and I had been lazy and not gone out for a possibly lame lunch, we never would have met. That's freaking scary. (Photo: The happy couple, in photobooth with "rollercoaster" background. I'm trying to make my husband wave his arms like he's on a rollercoaster. As usual, he tries to play it cool.)

Essentially, I'm telling you that you have to endure hell and loneliness to meet people in the FC, but that it should pay off in the end. If you can't wait a few years, move to Boston or NYC.

Related Stamford Talk posts:
--June 2008-- Socializing Opps with FC Happy Hour Club
--February 2008-- The Best Way to Meet People in Stamford!
--January 2008-- Stamford's Single Women: Where Are You?
--August 2007-- It's Easy to Meet People at Tuesday Trivia
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