Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Events, Early November

I'll try to get these events in early before I go on my trip:

Oct 31 and Nov 1: a couple of good movies at the Avon Theatre Wed and Thurs: My Kid Could Paint That and Darjeeling Limited.

I'll mention this Nov 14 event because the deadline to sign up is Nov 6:Wednesday, Nov 14, 6– 9 pm. Event sponsored by My Time for Me. "Go Ahead, Make My Day, I Dare Ya! An evening At The Shooting Range." At Forest & Field in Norwalk. $70 per person plus ammunition. You have to be over 18, and RSVP by Nov. 6 to or 203-554-7046.

Now THIS is crazy!!! Basically, you learn to shoot guns. A "mommy and me" sounding event that's all about firing weapons? Cool.

Sat Nov 3: David Brumberg at the Palace Theatre. According to Stamford Center for the Arts' Website, "According to The New York Times David Bromberg "has such control of his audience that he can, at one moment, hold it in his hand with a tender, touching yet funny anecdotal song, and then set it romping and stomping with a raucous bit of raunch. He is electrifying." Sounds like a good review to me, and something worth seeing. Tickets are shockingly reasonable at 25- 35 $.

Friday Nov 2-Sunday Nov 4: Dark Star Festival. I don't even know what to make of this: According to the Fairfield Weekly: "The Northeast's biggest annual electro/synthpop/EBM/industrial music festival. Performers: Subliminal; Absynthesis; Rename; Necessary Response; Code 64. DJs: JET; STALAGMIKE; REXX ARKANA; MOTHRA." It gets weirder: It's held at the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa. It's 27 $ for one day, and 85 $ for all three. It looks like Goth music, which I don't even know what that means. I'm just going on stereotypes here.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tully Health Center: FIXING YOU UP!

Shout out to the Tully Health Center for being a mix between an emergency room affiliated with Stamford Hospital (that's what its Immediate Care Center is) and a nice walk-in clinic (that’s what it feels like- but with the benefit of taking most insurance).

THC, thank you for making my day better. (Husband, thank you for driving me there and doing all of the logical things- phone calls, thinking, decision-making- to determine that I should go to THC).

Yesterday I ran my foot/toe into a wall. I couldn't walk on it, and I was freaking because I'm going to South America tomorrow for two weeks. Picture lots of crying, self-blame, and hysteria; this trip is my honeymoon. I needed an x-ray so I could stop worrying- I had to know if I was fine, and that I didn't just ruin my own honeymoon, or if I would be crutching it around Rio de Janiero with a funky boot on. My regular doc said it would be faster to go to an emergency room. I didn't know if I should go to Greenwich (super-nice) or Stamford (probably not as nice), so I looked online at both places.

I called G'wich and they sounded pretty friendly: "Yup, you can go to either Greenwich or Stamford- which ever one you want." Well shoot, why doesn't everyone just go to Greenwich? They have that nice piano in the lobby. Then I felt elitist and superficial, so I called the Stamford Hospital Emergency Dept. A brash New-Yorky lady answered; she sounded busy, and I heard lots of noise behind her. I immediately felt like a poser with my sore toe.

"Ah, um, I think I need a foot x-ray, but uh, I'm not sure if- ah, I saw online something about 11 am to 11 pm, something about Fast Track-"
"Oh yeah, Fast Track, that’s at Tully. Hold on." A disinterested girl answered (not a good sign), and I said, "I saw something online about fast track-"
"Oh, Fast Track?" she interrupted. "Hold on." She transferred me lightning-quick, and a chipper woman answered.

Me: "So, um, I think I need a foot x-ray, and I was wondering, um- should I go to Greenwich? I've been there before- or- should I come to you guys?"
The chipper woman giggled and said, "Well, we of course think you should come here! If you come now, it's not very busy."
“Do you have x-rays?”
“Oh yes. We have everything! We’re like a walk-in, but we’re part of Stamford Hospital.” Friendly people and x-rays? I’m in!

We went, and it was great. Nice doctors, nice nurses, nice check-in lady- they let me drink my Dunkin Donuts in there! I thought it would be like a library- no food or drinks!- but they were very relaxed. They were discussing cookies when I left, yet I got great medical care. The whole experience was way better than the G’wich e-room would have been.

Why go to a scary emergency room when you can go to Fast Track at Tully? Fast Track is what they call the Immediate Care Center, where you go if you're only a little sick or hurt. You know, your ears hurt after a bad cold, or your ankle is killing you. Those things are problematic but not incapacitating, but your regular doctor can’t see you for three days, while in the meantime, you have an ear infection or a hairline fracture. Stamford Hospital fixes that with their dual system. Thank you for giving us a walk-in where we don't get totally screwed. (Knock on wood, haven’t seen the bill yet.)

Good news, it's only a little bone chip, and I should walk more easily soon. Elevation, Ibuprofin, etc.

I hope you can learn from my bumbling and avoid the e-room if Tully's ICC is an option for you. Tully is the nice-looking building on Strawberry Hill and Fifth. I thought it was just a light-weight physical therapy place, because I knew it had a gym where you can go for free if your doctor says so. That's essential for people who need to exercise but are either poor, unmotivated, or find real gyms intimidating. So, I knew the place had something cool going on, but now I know it is part of the hospital and probably has other good things besides the ICC and that gym. (However, I hope not to need those things, whatever they are.)
Click here to read more.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Greenwich Nanny Craze Creeping into Stamford?

The Stamford Times just published an article about, a website that encourages parents to spy on other people's nannies and then post about it. You may recall that I wrote about the same site last month on Stamford Talk under the title "Blog for Paranoid Parents Across the US." I linked to a post on a Sept. 26 sighting at Stamford's very own Crabshell Restaurant, right on the border of Old Greenwich. It turns out that the site is run out of Greenwich. Big surprise. If Greenwich is not the nanny capital of the world, please tell me what is. The Stamford Times article has some details and interviews that reveal even more about how crazy the site is... parentpaparazzi! Click here to read more.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Would You Like A Drug Deal with That?

Stamford, like I've said before, you are full of surprises. Friday's Stamford Advocate reports that a man got Tasered at the police station; he'd been arrested for "selling drugs out of his brother's bar, Cafe Moja, a place several informants said was a haven for drug dealers." Oh. That was the restaurant, listed as having West Indian and Southern food, that I was thinking of trying for lunch. I wasn't in a big hurry though, because I knew it wasn't in the nicest part of town. It's the intersection right before Crabshell, which is- I don't want to say sketchy, because that's insulting to the people who live there.

I've driven through that area hundreds of times; I lived off Southfield Ave, a quarter mile past Cafe Moja, for four years. I've observed that area a lot. The houses are rundown, 3 story, and many are divided into apartments or rooms. I once saw a man, hand on his forehead, beside his car, which he had somehow driven into a house. He had destroyed one side of the wooden steps, which he was now sitting on. I felt bad for that man. If you're driving your car into a house, something is probably not going well for you. Just past my old place are million (plus or minus) dollar houses in a gated community, right on the water. Stamford, you are so weird.

One more thing about not judging people who live in a "sketchy" area. When I drove through the Cafe Moja area at 7am, I saw people dressed nicely and men in paint-covered clothes with their lunch bag/cooler, headed for the train. When I saw that, I would always chastise myself for having a stereotype of that area. Not every one who lives in a rundown area is a criminal, and it's pretty elitist and ignorant to think so.

Note: I'd give you the link to the article, but for some reason it is not on the Advocate's website. The organization of their info continues to stymie me, and it's why I am forced to get the actual newspaper. Don't get me wrong, I love the Advocate. Their website just- OK I just checked the RSS feed and it's not there either. What the heck? This is why I started Stamford Talk! How are we supposed to get info in this town???

Hey- I think I still want to try that restaurant.
Click here to read more.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Stamford Weekend Events Oct 26: Not Much

Two notable events: 1) Friday--Jimmy's Seaside: release party for Lima Charlie's CD, 5 $. The Advocate weekend section makes it sound pretty cool. 2) Saturday-- top comics from "Last Comic Standing" at the Palace Theatre, tickets 31-37 $. Other than that, this seems like a movie/bar weekend. There's jazz at Long Ridge Tavern Fri and Sat, and a Georgian Dance Company at Stamford Center for the Arts on Sunday. Tickets are over 30 $ for that. I don't understand why they don't lower ticket prices so more people will attend. Click here to read more.

Hell = Michael's/Old Navy Parking Lot

If you've ever been in that parking lot, there's little left for me to tell you. If you enter it from one of the two left turns coming south on Summer, forget it. Put your patience cap on. Feeling irritable? Don't use the entrance close to Starbucks. All the dumb people are in that little lot, and they're backing out really slowly while traffic backs up behind the car waiting for the spot. Traffic like, 5 or 6 deep, because some people actually believe they can find a spot in that lot. Meanwhile, that line of traffic contains 5-6 people who are getting really pissed off, because they wanted that spot too. Are you people new to Stamford? Go use the lot/garage by Staples, connected to the Stop and Stop lot below.

Whoever decided to put 4 big stores (Michael's, Marshall's, ON and Party City) and 8 small ones in a place with only 150 parking spots was not thinking clearly. Save yourself the trouble and don't enter from Summer. Enter from Bedford going north. Did I say 4 major stores? That's because I didn't count Bed Bath and Beyond and Staples, since they are closer to the bigger lot by the parking garage, which is where you should be parking.

When I went to Party City yesterday, I didn't even bother entering the little lot. I parked on the street. I only go through that lot if I am coming from Bridge Street. Now that I think about it, I should turn right off Bridge, go left after Starbucks, left on Bedford, and just go into the BBB lot from Bedford. It might be 30 seconds longer, but you won't have to wade through cars waiting for spots and blocking intersections. I mean, you'll get some of that near BBB; this is lower Fairfield County, where 60 % of people drive like total a-holes.

Note: You can get a spot at 3pm on a weekday. 9 am on a weekend? Maybe. 9:30? No way in hell.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Duo, Red Sox, Sake!

Last night in Stamford was a success for many, many people, including the Red Sox.
Me: Went to Duo with a friend. Our bill was only 87 $ with two beers, a glass of wine, 2 apps, 2 special rolls, and dessert! Holy Cow! I won't go into how fantastic all the food was, but I'll just tell you, I tried all new apps and entrees. 87 bucks?!? I checked the bill twice to make sure nothing was left off. That price, for a decadent, all-out meal in Stamford, is nothing short of a miracle. Duo’s full for Saturday (the place was mobbed last Saturday after the insanely positive review in the NY Times), so call your reservation in for Friday ASAP. Tip: If you foolishly didn't leave room for the chocolate dessert, try the green tea ice cream for $ 4.50.
My friend: Went to Bobby V's and watched the Red Sox beat the Rockies. He said it was a riotous good time, which is probably an understatement, considering that it was riotous this summer in a regular season RS/Yankees game. He said there wasn’t a bad view in the bar, as all screens had the game on, except for two with sumo wrestling (?). People were dressed up in RS regalia, and I quote, “It was $%$@ awesome.” SO, consider World Series games at Bobby V’s a DEFINITE option for a night out this week!

Note: This same friend went to Duo on Tuesday and thought it was great. He also wanted me to append a previous post about drinks last Thurs at Duo, saying, “You said it was a whole bottle- it was one of those small bottles, not one of the big ones. C'mon..." Well, I'm no sake connoisseur, but it was beer bottle-sized. That seems like a lotta sake to me!
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Me, Duo, and the New York Times Critic

Yesterday I ran into a friend while walking at ridiculously pretty Tod's Point.
"I can't wait for dinner tomorrow!" I said; we set up a date last week.
"You better get reservations! The New York Times just reviewed it."
I raised my hand for a high five.

Yes! I am so happy about Duo's positive review in the Times! One, because I love the owners and staff, and this review is going to kick their profile up with the other top Stamford restaurants. Two, because I was proven right. I went to Duo the week it opened in early September, and I have been writing glowingly about it ever since. I posted yesterday morning's dessert review before I knew about the Times review. I'm not saying that reporter (I mean, famous food critic) stole my ideas, but aren't her words about the dessert awfully similar to mine? Disclaimer: kidding.

I also wrote about Duo twice on the nation's premier restaurant discussion board, Chowhound. I was the first to write about it, and I bet Patricia Brooks visits that board occasionally to make sure she's on trend. I don’t want to say I started the trend, but I hope I kinda pushed that trend-ball in motion.

I'm going to Duo tonight, and I am already pondering what to order based on the critic's suggestions. Damn, now I totally feel like a food critic too! It's just that Brooks happens to be a way, way, way better better writer than me, and probably has a way, way, way more impressive resume.

I must say, on a non-self-centered level, I am very happy to have seen the restaurant grow from a few customers on a weeknight, to packed on the weekend 4 weeks later, to pretty much the talk of the town. I like seeing nice people win.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Small Notes and Corrections

*Socrates Cafe does NOT happen at Chez Jean-Pierre- it's now a meetup group.
**Jimmy's Open Mike on Wed. is now hosted by Rev from Soldog.
***I heard there's a scary as hell Halloween maze up in Brookfield CT. (Eavesdropped on trainer and his client at the gym. I also watch them for new exercise ideas. It's like having a trainer for free.)

Click here to read more.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Duo's Fabulous Chocolate Dessert

My first time at Duo, I got the Buddha roll- fantastico. My second time, I got the sweet and sour roll... enh. However, that second time, WE GOT THE CHOCOLATE DESSERT. Yes I am shouting at you. I want you to hear me. It's the best dessert I've ever had. Capriccio's lemon cake is great, but that's casual. This dessert is FANCY. AND DELICIOUS. (But only 9 bucks!) If you have ever had the Chocolate Molten Cake at Morton's, let me tell you, this matches their molten cake and does it one better by adding a chunk of hazelnut mousse and scoop of strawberry sorbet.

Side note: If you are a single woman, go to Morton's around 6pm on any day of the week, sit at the bar, and be near 50 men, some of whom might be making millions of dollars. While you are sitting, I suggest that molten cake. Go to the gym, eat a salad at home, then go to Morton's and get that cake. If you are not looking to pick up men, go to Duo.

This iPhone picture does not capture the beauty of Duo's artfully composed plate of a molten chocolate cake, a big round chunk of hazelnut mousse, a macaroon with strawberry frosting, and a curl of strawberry sorbet. After you have it, you'll no longer settle for a chocolate cookie at Panera, or even their fancy brownies. Forget it. Just forget it, do yourself a favor, and save your chocolate calories for something meaningful. I no longer care about candy bars, because I have seen the light.

I went to Plateau last Thursday for dinner. Plateua is the Thai sibling of Euro-Japanese Duo. During dinner, I absentmindedly ate a spring roll appetizer, and my mind was only half on my salmon entree. I was thinking about Duo's dessert. When the meal ended, I tried to sound casual: "So, we should go next door and get that chocolate dessert at Duo." Most of my dining companions had to go home- one rises at 5:15 to catch the train, and another lives in Norwalk and takes the train. I was left with two mostly willing companions. I rustled them next door after I made it clear that I would not be sharing my dessert. We sat at the bar. My husband ordered Bailey's on the rocks, my friend got a (whole entire) bottle of the sweet saki, and I got the chocolate dessert. ***YAAHHHHHHHHH***! Again, unbelievable. I also had a very good glass of pinot noir, but I have to say, I think it distracted me from the dessert. When you get the CD for the first time, save the alcohol until later.

Duo is a great place to go later in the evening for drinks and dessert with a date. Previously, only the Greenwich Hyatt met the "drinks and dessert in a quiet and somewhat romantic" standards. Now, we have Duo. Take that, Hyatt!!!
Click here to read more.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Affordable Shopping in the Area

I am so not a shopper, but the Advocate has a great article on cheap clothing brands in the area, including the only store in Fairfield that sells Sarah Jessica Parker's brand Bitten: the Trumbull Mall, very conveniently located right off the Merritt.

Other places are (obviously) Target (I got my best-fitting bikini ever there) and Kohl's. They don't mention the upcoming H & M store in the mall, which all women I know in the area are salivating over. I might even go to opening day for that, just so I can report on what I know will be an absolute frenzy. I gave up shopping to save for my trip to Ireland, and I haven't been able to shop since, to the point where it's almost a phobia. But I'm ok with that. I do enthusiastically shop for fancy dresses at Lord and Taylor, and when I'm feeling in shape, I'll hit Havana Jeans.
Click here to read more.

Stamford Events Oct 19-23

Stamford!!! You have so much to offer this weekend and next week!
* Craft Fair and Tag sale by the Over 60 Club. Often boring-sounding things turn out to be the most interesting. 10-3, Senior Services Building, 945 Summer. Looks like it's right near the YMCA just south of Tiernan’s. 349-1228 or 324-6584. Today and Sat.
* Author Talk and Book Signing at the Ferg. How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill. 2pm, Free. Fairfield Weekly tells me it’s going to be a movie with Tom Hanks. Evidently the guy lost his job and his wife and… I’m not sure what Starbucks did for him after that.
* "Surf Nite," Jimmy's Seaside, 8:30 p.m. It’s not all surf music, thank goodness. Beach Boy-style music makes me want to throw up- I mean a literal feeling of nausea- as does the music of Jimmy Buffet and an a cappella group from my college- I can’t explain it. The FW mentions psychobilly and rockabilly (whatever that is), and a burlesque dancer performs between bands. 7 $ cover charge, I think. 964-9225.

* Kid Event: Harvest Festival at Stamford Museum and Nature Center.
* CT Grassroots for Obama '08 mobilization meeting at the Yerwood Community Center at 90 Fairfield Ave. He's having fundraising meetings in a private home, and his campaign doesn't have the Yerwood Center on the agenda, but some people are hoping he'll show up anyway...430-7, free.

* Jazz and Poetry Open Mike at Bradford’s.

* Movie “Who the #$% is Jackson Pollock?” at the Ferg, 12:10. I’ll check this out; I’m not sure who goes to movies at 12 except for retirees and unemployed, and maybe some moms, and, I suppose, the self-employed, like me. The Ferg’s summary: “A feisty 73-year-old crusades to have a $5 garage sale painting certified as an authentic Jackson Pollock.” Cool. 75 min.
* Documentary night at the Avon Theatre. 10 $ for non-members, but you get wine and cheese at 6:30! The movie looks really cool.

* Haunted House at Stamford Museum and Nature Center.
* Play: Rounding Third at Stamford Theatre Works. Sounds funny; it involves two little league coaches arguing. Tues-Sat 8pm, Sat 4, Sun 2. Goes until Nov 11.
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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stamford School Controversy Part 2

An article in yesterday's Advocate said Republican Board of Ed candidates oppose the current plan to redistrict Stamford's schools. That plan includes the closing of Toquam Magnet School, one of only four schools in Stamford to meet No Child Left Behind standards. That obviously looks like a bad idea, but an Advocate Letter to the Editor (scroll down) questions whether the BOE candidates have any better ideas for balancing the demographics (race, income, ESL students, test scores) of Stamford's schools. I learned a bit about the plan in researching my previous post on the topic. It’s a complicated issue, as is the redistricting plan. I like that the letter's author demands to know exactly where the BOE stands on some very important questions, both philosophical and logistical. See her letter for a list of damn good, controversial questions. If I had a kid in the school system, I’d be all over this issue.

The BOE meets tonight, 6:30 at Westhill High, and will discuss the plan. A huge crowd is expected. On Oct. 30, 7pm at Westhill High, there will be a meeting where residents can comment. Now that's gonna be interesting! Even if you have kids under age 5, you should go; the plan contains pretty drastic changes.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Vow Against Road Rage

I was driving around Stamford today: CVS, doctor, post office, gym. Driving often involves parking, which involves the give and take of waiting for other people. Today a truck tried to cut around me- directly into my path- as I was turning into a spot. It was a big, threatening, shiny new truck, white with silver chrome, and he was right on my heinie. He stopped abruptly, and I imagined he was probably PO'd, but all I felt was calm. I have taken a vow against road rage. I'm not going to do it anymore. I was a little stressed this spring and summer, and I was driving like a b*&$@. Recently life has calmed down a bit, and I have the time and positive mindset to be nice to people.

I know you can't be too nice, or people can't predict what you're going to do.
It's dangerous to drive too differently from those around you. But I'm going to let people go in front of me if it won't cause a pileup behind me.

MIND YOU: I am not going to let people blow through stop signs, like the girl in Greenwich who almost sideswiped me yesterday. I honked and cursed at her because she deserved it.
I will aggressively switch lanes, and I will turn left in front of oncoming traffic if I have time. I won't let someone cross in front of me to turn if cars are coming in the other direction, forcing my whole lane to wait. It's impolite to hold up others needlessly.

Careful at the hot spots: old people at a grocery store, Elm St. near Colony Pizza (those words make me salivate) and... well, you probably know of some more places. Oh- Rt.1 near the Dunkin Donuts on the west side of town. I once got rear-ended by someone who was waving to his friend, and yesterday a Miata sped out of DD right in front of me. Fortunately, I've learned to look out for lunatics on that stretch of road. I suggest you do the same. Most days someone will zip out between the park cars and/or try to pass you even though it's technically a (wide) one-lane road. But Stamford- I'm not saying I don't love you. Your unpredictability makes you fun; you're always a challenge, and I like that. When I'm old, maybe I'll prefer relaxed Rt. 1 in Darien. But for now, we're a pair. When I can afford a house in the area, we'll cement this union.

There is a lot of construction going on today; Hope St, and near the Starbucks on Summer... so you too might have the chance to be patient today. Best of luck to ya.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mill River Park: Is it Mill River Park?

This Advocate article (this link will expire in two weeks) is about improving Mill River Park, which I'm all in favor of. It's a pretty park, but the one time I gave it a good look, the north end of the park near the Goodwill was occupied by men with bottles in brown bags (at noon). So, I'd hesitate to go there alone, especially as night approaches. However, I am now confused about where Mill River Park is.
I thought MR was the park with the ugly dam, just south of the Goodwill on Broad. But this article talked about lighting up the bridges over the river... there are no bridges at that park.

Then I thought, oh, maybe they mean the park that borders Wash Blvd, which has bridges over a river- but I think that's Scalzi park. I googled Mill River Park, and Google pointed me to a park, in the same place as Mill River, called Whittaker Park. The park with bridges over the river: Scalzi. So, ya got me. As usual, info in Stamford is patchy.

The park- uh, the one I call Mill River- really is lovely. The dam is ugly, but there are often ducks to feed. The south end, right on Tresser, has a great playground. It's on a busy road, but there is a fence. Still, I'd keep your eye on your kid.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Margot's, Open for Dinner

I'm eager to know who has tried Margot Cafe and Wine Bar for dinner. Ever since I discovered Margot's, I've been mildly irritated that they close at 6, just after I finish my cheese plate and am ready for some more good food. They've been talking about opening for dinner since September... I've called every week to check... and it's finally happened! Salads, pastas and appetizers are VERY reasonably priced. Unfortunately, all entrees are over 20$ except the rice and beans, but oh well. That cheese plate is still a great, delicious deal. And, I know I'm crazy, but I cried out gleefully when I saw they have roasted brussels sprouts as a side!!
Margot's has a great wine list. Parking is easy; it's in the Bulls Head Shopping Center. It's relatively small... probably seats just over 30... but there is plenty of space between tables. Margot's hours are a little patchy, which is bad for people like me who can't keep things straight. I THINK they are closed Monday, open 8-3 on Sunday. I think they're only open for dinner Th-Sat. During the week, T-W, they have the 7:70 to 6 hours they used to have every day. That is probably all wrong, so... I'd call ahead if you doubt me. Click here to read more.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Murder in Stamford!

I'm like a cat, stalking Stamford. You never know what this city's gonna hit you with, which is why I always bring my camera. On the way to lunch at the new restaurant Market (not open for lunch), we stopped for gas at the Shell across from the Sheraton, where my cat-eyes spotted a cop car blocking the Sheraton entrance, and a huge special operations truck and crime investigation scene van out front. Other cop cars kept arriving. It was very ominous. I snapped a pic. "What's happening here?" I asked my husband.
"I don't know, maybe it's the same thing as yesterday. I think this area was blocked off."
"Like, because of floods? I saw a crime scene van."
"Well, maybe they're practicing something." (Like terrorist attack stuff?) We peered more closely as we left the station and saw a cop walking out, and a middle-aged couple walking in. "Doesn't look like much is happening- no one looks really stressed."
"Well-" I muttered, "it doesn't look like an exercise to me." We had a crappy lunch at Black Bear and drove home. This morning I looked at the Advocate online- Murder in Stamford! It's a really, really sad article. The woman was a 21 year old from Greenwich.
Well, Stamford. I'm not sure what to say about this. Only that you should be careful when you drink, and be careful who you drink with. And I am very sorry for this woman's family. And that I feel bad for taking a paparazzi-like picture yesterday, but I didn't know what was going on.
Click here to read more.

Nudity in Stamford? No...

Mmmmmmm call me crazy, but I read the Advocate headline "Nutty season: Residents notice a large acorn crop" as "Nudity season." I'm sorry- I'm just looking for more in life. I was in the South of France: I took my top off, and did some peelin' back in the US. Nudity. Nudity season. Hm. Stamford does have some rocky coastlines reminiscent of St. Tropez... anyway. Maybe I don't get out enough, but I haven't noticed an increase in acorns. I'm just happy the trees still have leaves. You can talk to me about acorns later. Click here to read more.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stamford Disappoints Living Bluegrass Legend

Midway through last night’s show at the Palace Theatre, Ralph Stanley looked out at us and said, “You’re the first place we haven’t sold out in a while.” The audience was collectively embarrassed. There were 200 of us in a place that seats 1,580. Then, breaking the performer/audience relationship, he asked, “How did you all find out about this?” Silence.

“Internet,” someone called out. “Paper,” someone said. “Radio."
What could we say to the man who sang “O Death” in O Brother Where Art Thou (scroll down to listen), won Best Country Male Vocal for the song, and is named as an influence by Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Jerry Garcia?

After an awkward pause, he looked at his band and chuckled, “I guess we’re not popular in the northeast.” I almost died of shame. He picked up his banjo, played a bit, then said, “I’d give the same show to 10 people as I’d give to 1,000… because those 10 people bought a ticket and deserve to see the same show.”

Ah, Stamford? In that analogy, you were the ten people. I’m not asking you to listen to country music- bluegrass is different from country, anyway- but I will ask you to give props to one of the more important musicians in US musical history.

I look with great fondness on those of you who attended. I was tempted to personally invite you back to my house and ask the band to come too. With bluegrass, you really shouldn’t be sitting in a red velvet seat. We should have left the Palace, carpooled to my house, and had a real party in the backyard.

Stamford? I don’t blame you. I blame myself. I did not publicize this event, and the only peep I heard was from the Stamford Times online. (The ST site is completely un-navigable, so do an RSS feed.) And, I’m sure there will be nothing on the bluegrass show in the Advocate today. Just checked; nope, there’s not. Maybe they should hire a freelance writer- I'm not sure who- to cover the cool events.

Side note/rant: All I can say is, one of the local papers had better cover the Haitian Book Festival today. Don’t get me started on the fact that the Ferguson did not include the book fest on their weekly calendar published in yesterday’s ST. There was a teensy-weensy 5 sentence brief on the Book Fest in the SA today (the morning OF the event), in the “Area Briefs” section, right next to the “Library Schedules Toddler Time” brief. That’s why I started Stamford Talk .

Concert notes: Ralph Stanley is 80 and can still f’ing sing. He sounded weak on the opening song, and at the end of it, he stepped back and coughed. I felt us all get nervous. Was he old, and we were going to have to pretend he sounded OK? Was he going to have a heart attack right on stage? I watched closely, and he got progressively stronger as the show went on. Ralph’s band, the Clinch Mountain Boys, had banjo, violin, mandolin, 2 guitars, and great tenor harmony from Frank, the upright bass player. The “big fiddle,” Ralph called it. Frank has played with Ralph for 38 years.

Near the end of the show, Ralph sang a couple of songs a cappella: “O Death” and “Me and God.” I liked the line, “Me and God… you can say we’re like two peas in a pod.” Click the links above to see YouTube videos.

The audience clearly loved the show. Many were star-struck; Ralph Stanley is a big deal. He received the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship for lifetime achievement and was awarded the “Living Legend” medal by the Library of Congress in 2000. Thank you to the Palace for bringing in an unusual show. I take back any bad things I said about your ticket prices.
Click here to read more.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Weekend Events Oct 12 and Scoop on SCA

I honestly could not find many interesting events happening in Stamford this weekend. I myself am attending the Ralph Stanley bluegrass concert at Stamford Center for the Arts (SCA) tonight, and the Haitian Book Festival on Saturday. I was going to complain about SCA being expensive, but my Ralph Stanley tix were only 36 $. Still, the Stamford Symphony Orchestra tix are 70 $ for good seats and 60 for OK seats… and they wonder why young people don’t like classical music?

Maybe I’m spoiled because in college the orchestra was basically free- 5, 10 $ ? And I know many of SSO’s musicians come from NYC, and they are professionals. I get that it’s their job, and they need to be paid. That’s why the well-to-do old people subscribe to the season. But what about the regular people who just want to hear beautiful music live and don’t want to pay 1/10 of their weekly salary?

SCA does have some cool shows. There’s Last Comic Standing in 2 weeks, and speaking engagements by Ira Glass and Dave Barry next spring. George Winston and the Irish Rovers also perform this spring. I’d get tix for all of these soon if I were you.

Photo of Ralph Stanley courtesy of John Edwards 2008 on Creative Commons.
Click here to read more.


I did spy on my garbage men, as promised. Dragging my Toter bin out to the curb this AM went OK, despite the fact that I was also dragging a stubborn coonhound. I will say, the bin is top-heavy, and mine was not even full, so I see why people are PO'd. I was crouched near a tree when the men picked up my bin. I waved at the driver, even though I was worried the man in the back would yell, "What the hell?" when he saw there was a trash can inside my trash can. (How would they compact my can? Wouldn't it make the truck get too full?) Fortunately, no one said anything. As they drove away, I scuttled closer to the road and snapped this pic from behind a bush.

The Advocate points out that the huge bins can be traded in for smaller ones, delivered for free, but only until Oct 31. After that you have go get the bin yourself at a mysterious location. There are only 1,000 little bins available, and 200 people are already on the list, so hurry up and call 977-4117. You can buy another big bin for 60 $ by calling 977-5620.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Seen in Stamford on a Rainy Wednesday Morning

Would you believe that, at 9 am yesterday, I saw a big yellow school bus parked outside Beamers "Cafe" on West Main? I wish I'd had my camera. I hope the bus driver lived nearby and had just parked there. Are strip clubs open at 9 am? I've always wondered who goes to Beamers. I just don't imagine it's that nice of a place. Click here to read more.

Stamford School Shake Up: SOS

I love controversy. I’ll talk more about my Toter can later, but right now I’m switching focus to the Stamford Public Schools. The Board of Ed. is considering a plan to majorly shake up SPS, including closing some schools, redistributing students, and mushing schools together. They cite aging buildings, declining student population, and a desire to have more students walk rather than use the bus. Yeah, that sounds safe. Stamford drivers are so careful and respectful of pedestrians.
Gossip: I wonder how much NCLB has to do with this. One of the schools that may be closed is Toquam, a magnet school with a diverse population. It was one of only four (yikes) SPS that met NCLB standards. That law requires schools to meet certain test scores, with stigma and sanctions if they don’t. Some of the mushing is probably designed to level out test scores.

SPS also cites lack of funds in the need to close schools. Um, maybe UBS can give us some cash? I hear their traders make millions, but they probably don’t live in Stamford- bye-bye, tax dollars.

It is a very complicated issue. You can learn more at the Toquam parents’ site.

Related Topic: Today’s Advocate has a fascinating article. Also affecting the SPS plan is the June ruling of the Supreme Court that states schools can’t use race as a factor in assigning students to schools. SPS will use non-racial factors like stats on free/reduced lunch stats, income-restricted housing, and English learners. Frankly, that sounds smart me to me.
One more comment: Stamford just cut the number of school crossing guards to save money; why are they proposing more children walk to school?
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Haitian Book Festival in Stamford

I'm excited about the Haitian Book Festival this Saturday, Oct 13. It's held from 12-6 at the South End branch of the Ferguson and includes music and refreshments. I had a little scuffle with the Ferg because in late September, the event wasn't on the October calendar. The calendar was there, as were the children's story hours, but no Book Festival! Evidently the system doesn't easily let them add events until the actual month. If you ask me, they need a new system. Cool events like this need all the publicity they can get.

I was a French major, so I'm psyched to hear French and Creole, and probably understand it. If not, I'll still enjoy the sound of another language flowing past my ears. It's such a nice change to not get every word. Exercise for the ear and mind. I'd invite you to go with me, but this is the kind of event you need to go to alone, so you'll have more motivation to speak the language. You don't want to have the crutch of clinging to another English speaker, or have that person cling to you.
Click here to read more.

Blogs for Paranoid Parents Across the US

I just found the most insane- and by insane I mean psychotic- blog. I googled Stamford in Google Blog Search to see if I could find more Stamford blogs. Well, I came upon an entry about Crabshell Restaurant in a blog called "I Saw Your Nanny." I hesitate to point out the site because it seems so despicable, but I did say one of the points of this blog is to gossip. If you read the responses to the Crabshell post, let me know if you think anyone other than crazy people read that blog. Although, after I said that, I did just feel the urge to go read that blog some more. But I'm not going to. At least right now. Click here to read more.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Endorsement of Talking to Strangers

Check out the post by my friend Adam over at Adam's World. I call him friend because, while we've never met in person, anyone who believes in the power of talking to strangers is a friend of mine. Many people in this area think TTS is a sign of naivete. I think those people are afraid. "I'm from the New York metro area, I don't talk to strangers," they scoff. In truth, their blustering hides the fact that they don't know how to do it.

TTS is not for the unaggressive; it requires mental agility and fast reflexes. It is a skill set supplemented by a healthy dose of confidence. Use discretion and choose your strangers with a hint of common sense.

Last night I said to a friend's boyfriend, "Where I'm from, talking to strangers is-- it's like a sport." Who looks worth talking to? What’s your opening line? Can you take rejection? How much can you get out of the person? Are they going to be fun? I feel lucky to be skilled in this sport. Like Adam says, it gets you things. It got me pretty fluent in French.

"Yeah, but the person I talk to always turns out to be crazy!" Well, so what. Now you know you don't have to talk to them again, you big New York crybabies. One essential skill of stranger-talking is being able to say, “OK, bye!” and walk off if the person is crazy. Trust me, that works. Even in New York- especially in New York- that works.
Click here to read more.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Toter, Toter, Trash and Trouble

I got home yesterday after a 3 week trip. We rolled into the driveway and I shrieked, "The new Toter bin!!!"
"The what?" my husband said.
"Toter bin, you know, the one everyone is enraged about!"
"I have no idea what you're talking about."

Does he not read my damn blog? I have been breathlessly reporting on the controversy surrounding the new, city-mandated Toter-brand trash cans. Angry residents have been writing the Advocate for weeks, complaining that the bins are way too big. The new bin is- well, huge. It makes one wonder what the definition of "bin" is. My old, normal-sized bin is on the left; the Toter, obviously, is on the right. You must see the humor in this photo. Know what else? Our other old can is actually in the Toter, although my husband won't tell me how it got there.

Me: "Where's our other old trash can?"
Husband: "Uh, it's actually IN the new bin."
"Ah... it's a long story. Just- don't worry about it."

The new can arrived with directions attached in a plastic bag. My husband left the pamphlet out to rot, but I recovered it and am now letting it dry on the back steps. The Toter directions aren't necessary, as the letters to the editor give enough specific complaints to let you know how to use it. Scroll down the Advocate Letters to the Editor site, which they should really reorganize by topic so I can find the trash can complaints more easily.
Next Thursday AM, I'm going to spy on the trash men and watch what they do with the Toter bins.
Click here to read more.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Bank Robbers- Not Just in Stamford!

I'm feeling way better about both of my banks in Stamford being robbed. The Advocate just reported that a bank in Old Greenwich got robbed this morning. (By two men with silver handguns!) Another bank in OG got robbed in June. So, take that, Greenwich! You are just as dangerous as Stamford!
Uh, should we all be a little more worried as we go about our daily business? I walk around in a bubble of happiness, feeling guilty if I look at someone and judge them as sketchy. I guess Stamford is a city... but today's incident shows you're not even safe strolling around this country's highest-income areas. Pass the word on so Stamford doesn't get a bad rap. Click here to read more.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Fall: Last Days of Outdoor Dining

As summer wanes (ok fine, it’s gone) we need to enjoy the last weeks of outdoor dining. Stamford has many options, but one must consider view, food, and atmosphere.
Top choice, no contest: Capriccio on Bedford. See previous review.
Sleeper fave: Dairy Queen!!! It might not seem like it offers a good view, but as BMWs, taxis, and old Tercels zoom down busy Summer St., you see a true cross-section of Stamford life. (And a remarkable number of women of all ages talking on cell phones. Pull yourselves together and get earpieces, ladies). DQ has atmosphere galore: you and fellow lickers can laugh at a woman, 35-ish, stopped at the light, singing along to Wicked at the top of her lungs with the window open. How did she not notice the huge crowd staring at her and bonding over her obliviousness?
Other top options:
--Tigin. See previous comments. I like how their outdoor patio has a hedge that separates it from the sidewalk.
--Paradise Grill, Southfield Ave. The harbor view is pretty and the food is acceptable. The people-watching isn’t really there, but it can (emphasis on can) attract a pleasing happy hour crowd if you want avoid the sweaty mob at Crabshell next door.
--Saltwater Grille, Harbor Drive in Shippan. The food is expensive, and the view is of an inlet and an office building- but it is actual water.
More choices:
Bedford Street: Sabatiello's, Chez Jean-Pierre (nice white tablecloths), and Bedford Diner.
Columbus Park area: Black Bear, Bobby V's and Tiernan's all have outdoor seating. I’ve only been at night, but I know all serve decent bar food.
Bank Street, right near the park: Grand (excuse me, g/r/a/n/d) and Plateau each have a few tables and less car traffic.
Others: A friend said SBC Brewery had some outdoor spots. I think I should go there more. It’s already on my Oct 11 Karaoke schedule. Planet Pizza, across from Dairy Queen, has outdoor seating.
On Atlantic: Zody, which used to be Wish, and Galangal each have a few tables. This area has perhaps the worst views. Traffic backs up at the light on Main, and the cars, buses and trucks are only 10 feet away from the tables.
Farther North: Kit’s Thai Kitchen on High Ridge has good food, a nice patio, and a startling new bright green paint job. Kam Pei, beside Bull’s Head Diner, has two tables. Brickhouse, near the Avon Theatre on Hope Street, has 4-5.

A friend said outdoor seating is great for parents because they can roll the stroller right up, but outdoor areas are often full of smokers. She said Capriccio has enough space so that a smoker doesn't contaminate the whole area. I’ve only been annoyed by smoke at Capriccio once: a guy was smoking a cigar. I thought that was rude.

Winter dining review coming up, including heated outdoor spaces, and cozy indoor places.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

For Would-Be Actors or Extras

The Grant Wilfley Casting Company just opened an office in Stamford, and they're looking for people to register to be extras on locally-filmed movies. Recent films were Righteous Kill with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, and Old Dogs with John Travolta, both filmed in towns in Fairfield County. Open registration is Wed. 3-7pm. They also need SAG actors for bigger roles, some of which amuse me, especially the request for a stenographer with real stenography experience. (I'm tagging this post for singles because I think this would be a cool way to meet people.) Click here to read more.