Friday, February 29, 2008

Beautiful Bracelets I'll Never Wear

This is a sore subject for me, but I'm too tired to finish up my immigration post about a xenophobic crusader. Instead, I want to show you some lovely bracelets that would make a great gift for any woman. The bracelets are at a new glass shop on Beford Street called Artistic Hand Blown Glass.

The store, obviously, is full of glass. There are all sort of huge expensive statues, funky little animals, and 100 $ salt and pepper shakers (adorable, unusual shapes), but the best bang for your buck are the $ 80 bracelets.

We looked at these before Christmas, but tragically, even the smallest size was too big for my wrist. I really, really wanted the clear bracelet. I don't even like talking about this. So, goodbye.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Café Moja, You Are Soooooooo Out of Control

Clearly Café Moja was feeling left of out the Stamford restaurant gossip circles. Some patrons decided to take matters into their own hands to ensure that Café Moja made headlines. There was (another) melee outside the restaurant/club late Tuesday night.

I previously featured Café Moja on Stamford Talk in November-- "Café Moja, Seriously! Gunshots?"-- when someone shot at police officers who came to break up a fight outside the club at 2am.

Café Moja also made headlines in the blog in October when the owner’s brother was arrested for selling drugs out of the resto, which the Advocate says informants had described as a haven for drug dealers. See "Would you like a Drug Deal with That?"

Has anyone been to this place? It’s right at a key intersection near Crabshell. If there was a melee, it was in the street, not just in front of the club. Cafe Moja is not looking like an asset to the Southfield/Waterside neighborhood.

However, as I point out in a related post, "Southfield Area: Diversity, Boats, Hoods," it's important not to stereotype part of the city and the people who live there. In that post, I describe the Southfield neighborhood, its contrasts in wealth, its new development, and a my spectacular rollerblading wipe out near Dolphin Cove.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stamford's Napa and Co: Information Blackout?!?

Listen to the drama I uncovered recently: You are not allowed to post about Napa & Co., one of Stamford's most popular restaurants, on Chowhound. Why could that possibly be?

People obsessed with food go to to talk with other foodies. A recent thread asked about good burgers in the FC. I posted, "I heard Napa & Co has a good burger." Within a few hours, I got an email from the Chowhound moderators saying they are “no longer accepting postings about Napa and Co.” HUH????? I can't mention the name of one of Stamford's hot new restaurants? This seemed absurd.

I emailed back and asked why, and if someone at Napa used to work for Chow or vice versa, but Chowhound moderators said, “Sorry, we can't go into details for security reasons. However, we can tell you that no current Chowhound employee or volunteer has any professional or personal association with the restaurant industry.” Da-RAMA!!!!!!!!

I can only think of a few scenarios:

Were Napa friends and family posting fake reviews, so Chowhound axed the resto? I doubt it. Everyone likes Napa. We don’t need fake reviews to convince us to go there.

Did Napa and Co. ask to be taken off the site? Unlikely. I’ve only heard and read good things about the resto. I’ve read those good things in Zagat's and local papers, who evidently are not aware of the information blackout imposed by Chowhound… or perhaps they know about something called "the first amendment."

I can't discuss this mystery with local foodies on Chowhound, obviously. I can only hope some of them find this blog and help me solve this mystery. I recently read Inside the Private Eyes of a PI, a book by successful Stamford PI Vito Colucci. If we ordinary residents can't get the dirt, maybe we should pool our cash and hire a professional PI.

I'm sort of afraid that Chowhound is going to hear me gossiping about them and ban me from the site. Well guess what, Chowhound, I'll just come up with a fake name.

Until then, Napa and Co. fans, consider this blog a safe zone for your comments.
Click here to read more.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Friend Christopher Expounds on Oprah, Cute Dresses, QVC and the Power of Women

I feel justified sharing this non-Stamford related post because I met the author during the same year in which I made my first intentional foray into the city of Stamford. Christopher is a ragingly brilliant actor and radio talk host in Minneapolis. He’s not a Stamford resident, but he is a core member of the Stamford Talk inner circle. His most recent post will, I hope, shed light on why he is my friend.

Christopher and his wife were my neighbors in Rye, NY, the first year I moved up here. Their apartment was across the hall from mine. We were best buddies for 6 months until they moved to Minnesota; they may have moved because I was at their place non-stop. Our adventures included spying on the Olympic swimmer downstairs, drinking lots of coffee, and taking the train into the city to see Christopher in Henry V. His wife and I participated in all sorts of hi-jinx behind the scenes. The two of us gossiped about the other actors, crept around the theatre, and once accidentally stumbled into the spotlight behind a well-known actress.

The three of us also made a zine together. I'd bring my computer across the hall to their apartment and type. People who'll write poems and articles at my bidding = my kind of peeps. We also put together a dossier on our gold medal-winning neighbor. Do you think I’m joking? The funniest part is that the dossier was totally not my idea. I dream- dream- of having neighbors like them again.
Click here to read more.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Stamford Day Laborers= Criminals?

Two months ago I got a police survey in the mail. One section put me in a tizzy: Now please rate the Stamford Police Department on how well you feel they resolve each of these community issues. Please X one box for each. Issues ranged from Assault, Robbery, and Gang Violence to Loitering, Traffic Flow, Litter, Homeless/Vagrants, and Computer Fraud. Two of the last “community issues” mentioned were skateboarding in public places and… day laborers.

That progression seemed odd to me. Parking, Litter, Skateboarding, and… Day Laborers? On the survey, I scrawled: How is that an issue? What do they do that is bad? I added, What do they do that is criminal? Are you assuming they are illegal immigrants?

I understand that many—not all-- day laborers are undocumented immigrants. However, Stamford police have no authority to enforce federal immigration laws. Danbury is the only CT city taking part in the program that gives police that authority. (Read this informative yet delightfully understandable article from the Stamford Times.) If the problem is illegal immigration, that’s a national issue, and Stamford Police can’t do much. So... what is the survey asking?

I don’t think it’s asking how well police are resolving issues faced by the day laborers themselves, such as having unsafe working conditions or not getting paid.

I’m left to conclude that the question means what it says: that the day laborers are an issue. These people are a problem. Why? I’ve only seen day laborers standing off exit 9 acting quite pleasant, so explain to me what the problem is. Are they committing crimes? If so, say, “crimes committed by day laborers” or “public urination off exit 9.” This survey question bothers me because it implies that we all have a basic understanding of why day laborers are a problem in Stamford. I see why litter, assault, and credit card fraud are problems, but being a day laborer is not a crime. Not paying a day laborer is a crime, but I don’t think that’s what the survey is talking about.

I think the survey is asking, Are these people bothering you?

The police have to mention day labor because it’s a hot topic in this city, but they only succeed in implying that all day laborers are criminals. Their vague attempt to address the issue reflects the complicated nature of discussing immigration. At heart, most of us are ambivalent. We can all talk about immigration policy in the abstract, but it’s hard to look at a person standing off exit 9 and declare, You should be back in Mexico.

What is our day laborer issue, and is there anything the police should do about it?
Click here to read more.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Urgent: March Madness Restaurant Week(s)!!!

Stamford Downtown's website brings fabulous tidings of affordable food. Yes, it's Restaurant Week(s)!

Essential info: A Winter Restaurant Celebration in Stamford Downtown will take place Sunday-Thurs, March 2- 6 and March 9- 13. Restaurants will have special prix-fixe deals during the week, meaning you can try out new restaurants without going broke. We need to hit this event full force and eat our faces off.

The poster calls the event "March Madness," which is pretty clever, since it will be a feeding frenzy. I'll post prices below, but visit Stamford Downtown Special Services District's site for more info.

SDSSD does awesome events like Resto Weeks and the Alive at Five summer Thursday concerts, but I am having significant trouble mastering their name. I suppose we can shorten it to "Stamford Downtown Association" or "Stamford Downtown Services," but those names don't reflect the entertaining nature of the concerts, parades, farmers markets and street celebrations. I'm going to humbly suggest "Stamford Downtown Entertainment." Their blog is called "Stamford Downtown Events," so that could work , too. Even "Stamford Downtown Events and Entertainment" (SDEE) would be a big improvement. Sure, people want services, but entertainment usually wins out!

Speaking off entertainment, I'm off to another day of the Avon's Oscar Film Fest- as usual, I am proudly supporting SD!

- - - - - - -
March 2nd – March 6th & March 9th – March 13th
(Sundays through Thursdays only)
Prix-fixe lunch & dinner at these incredible restaurants

$10.08 LUNCH & $15.08 DINNER
Black Bear
Fin II Japanese Restaurant
Kujaku Sushi & Hibachi
Remo's Brick Oven Pizza Company

$15.08 LUNCH & $25.08 DINNER
122 Pizza-Bistro
Capriccio Cafe**
Republic Grill Asian Bistro
Tigin Irish Pub
Zody's Café

$25.08 LUNCH & $35.08 DINNER
Bennett's Steak & Fish
Columbus Park Trattoria
Dragonfly Restaurant & Lounge
Emme of Capri
Il Falco Ristorante

*Lunch only **Dinner only
Click here to read more.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Day Laborer = Illegal Immigrant?

Stamford residents, diverse as we are, have at least one thing in common: we’ve all seen the day laborers standing near exit 9 waiting for work.

I’ve talked to quite a few area residents who have expressed shock at the sight. “Can you believe that?" Uh, yeah, I can. People want cheap labor to build their houses and clean their lawns. The day laborers want to make money. I’m not surprised people are standing by a dirty, smelly highway hoping to be whisked away by a man in an SUV.

Other residents are outraged that illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans. I’m not so sure that the men off exit 9 are taking jobs from good, wholesome citizens, and I’m not even sure they are illegal immigrants. Maybe they’re all legal. Why not?

I don't know, and that’s why over the next week I’ll be doing several posts on issues relating to immigrants in Stamford. I want to learn more.

I don’t have any decisive opinions about the topic yet, but I'm leaning toward the "show some kindness" side. There are some people in this area who do seem fanatical about "illegals," but I need to learn more before I rant- I mean, write- about them.

In the meantime, I'll post this weekend about my indignant reaction to a police survey that mentioned day laborers.

Let me know what you think about the presence of day laborers, and tell me of any interesting experiences you’ve had with (maybe illegal!) immigrants in Stamford.
Click here to read more.


3:00 pm Friday: CT has declared a snow emergency. That means, stay home and relax. The snow has stopped and my road looks decent, but still predicts snow and ice all evening. Tell your boss about the emergency, then tell him or her that you have a really steep driveway, which means you need to leave right now to get home before the freezing rain starts.

I haven't left my home at all today. I'm from Virginia, and I drive a teensy car, so if it snows, I throw in the towel. My driveway slopes, so I don't even try to leave for fear that I'll slide into the side of my own house. I had a bad experience up here, one in which I could not get out of the parking lot at work because the exit is a long slope. I thought I'd lose my mind- getting stuck in the work parking lot???

I woke up early and watched traffic jams on I-95 at 5 am. I hope none of you were involved in traffic. (Although if you do have any snow-related gossip, post it here.) Get home, take your shoes off, and ask the person in your family who was brave enough to go to work to stop and get S'more makings on the way home. If you don't have a fireplace, a coil burner can work, too, but don't tell any fire officials that I said that, and triple-check that you turned it off.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gordon Ramsey, Cleavage, Me, and a Kitchen Nightmare in Stamford

Stamford will give you what you want if you look.
I want culture, and I want excitement.
I went on Saturday morning to the Avon Film Festival (culture) and stumbled upon the reality show Kitchen Nightmares (excitement).

I’d never heard of the show, but the premise is to take a failing restaurant and turn it around. Despite zealous protests from my husband, I got our name on the list for Tuesday.

After signing our model release form and getting our pictures taken, we were the first ones in the downstairs eating area. We were met by a nervous waiter, soon followed by Gordon Ramsay, who wanted to know what we thought of the gaudy waterfall sculpture on the wall. “It’s nice!” I said. When I’m nervous, I smile and make cheerful conversation.
G: “No it’s not, it’s hideous!”
Me: “Well- it doesn’t match anything else in the restaurant.”
G: “It’s hideous. You’ve got to tell the owner to get rid of it.”

After a few minutes, I got used to the 2 men in black looming over me with a large camera and boom mike. We weren’t given any instructions on how to act, so I just acted like a person eating dinner. It seemed to go over well.
When a course arrived, or even a bread basket, the cameramen swooped in. They were completely silent, so I figured I wouldn’t talk to them either. We each pretended the other didn’t exist. From what I’ve seen of reality TV, that’s what you do. I really like reality TV: Supernanny, America’s Next Top Model, America’s Biggest Loser and Project Runway are all on my TiVo.

In my reality TV debut, I ignored the cameras, flirted with my husband, swilled my Metropolitan, and cleaned my plate.

The camera spent a lot of time on a brunette with enviable cleavage.

Actually, I just this second went to chowhound, where I posted,

I think I was sitting right across from you... were you the blond, or the brunette with the great cleavage? (If you're the blond, maybe you have great cleavage too, it just wasn't facing me.)
Gordon was adorable- hot, even. The beef special was well done on the outside and almost completely raw on the inside. The meat itself was tasty though. I got some good 'camera in the face' time, but I'm not sure if my husband's and my awkward conversation will make for a good TV clip.
My waiter was wonderful despite the cameras following him around. The owner was nervous but attentive, not in a terrible, annoying way. He seemed very likable. I hope this show helps the restaurant.
I think my favorite part of the evening, besides a very nice Merlot, was when Gordon Ramsay insisted on carrying a baby carriage up the stairs-- with the sleeping baby in it.”

Rather than try to write a clever entry that flows well, I’m just going to post this. It’s short, it’s honest, and I have to get ready to go to the Oscar Film Shorts at the Avon tonight!

A, if you are not the cleavage-bearer, let me know. Or, if you want me to take mention of your cleavage off the blog, email me. I’m assuming since you wore the shirt, you are proud of your cleavage. I would be!
Click here to read more.

Gordon Ramsay, Trivia: Stamford Rocks the FC

I had so much fun last night that I’m not even sure what to say. I’ll keep it brief for now. Doing Kitchen Nightmares was entertaining and awkward. I met Gordon Ramsay. He is a big, good-looking man.
After dinner I was pumped up on fame and adrenaline, so I talked my husband into “just one drink” at Tigin. Well... I joined a trivia team, recruited some more strangers, and we had a blast. I have no idea why this many people are out on a Tuesday, but it was a thrilling sight.

This morning I woke up and went out to get milk and coffee. It’s a beautiful sunny day. The cops were at Liz Sue Bagels (rumored to be the best bagels in Stamford), my convenience store owner was friendly, I held the door for a man, and I thought to myself, It’s going to be a fantastic day. We’ve got film shorts at the Avon tonight, a lunar eclipse, and I’m doing lunch with a friend at Duo. I’m happy bordering on ecstatic.

I also had lunch at Fin 2 yesterday, knocking one more restaurant off my “eat at every single restaurant in Stamford” list. The food was excellent, the freshest I’ve had in this town except Duo. Yup, Stamford continues to offer us many, many ways to enjoy life.

I know I'm being insanely positive (actually Gordon Ramsay commented that I was a very positive person) but I only have good things to say about yesterday. Even the Marshall's/Bed Bath parking lot was tolerable, and I noticed cars letting pedestrians pass more willingly than usual.

More details on Trivia and Kitchen Nightmares later today and tomorrow, because I have a lot to say about both.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stamford's Best and Worst Restaurant Names

I’ve been yakking about Sabatiello’s reality TV debut, and I just realized that the name of the restaurant annoys me. It’s too long- 5 syllables!- and the website describes the food as “eclectic” and “unexpected.” Well, “Sabatiello’s” says “old” and “same Italian food you’ll find anywhere else.”
Names matter! Here’s my short list of best and worst restaurant names:
Remo's (sounds like Nemo)
Paradise Grill (tacky)
Mackenizie’s Bar and Grill (already a Mackenzie’s in Greenwich!)
Dragonfly (way too trendy, but 10 years ago trendy, and therefore tacky)

Republic Grill (this name does not stand out, maybe because it makes me think of the Thai restaurant Republic in Union Square)

Good names:
Duo, Market, Tigin (nice, short, communicates restaurant theme)
Saltwater Grille (despite the pretentious e, every one loves the salty ocean)
Egane (unusual name matches unusual food style- Korean BBQ)

Not great if you think about it:
Plateau (if something plateaus, that’s a bad thing)
Fin II (I question naming a restaurant the equivalent of Fin Jr. The well-regarded original Fin is in Fairfield. Why not call this one Fin also, just like there are 3 Tengdas in Fairfield Co.?)

g/r/a/n/d (good with a dash of annoying because of the slashes)
Crabshell (neutral- “shell” implies dead, but “crab” conjures visions of a summer crab feast at a picnic table)
Telluride (nothing about the menu reminds me of a ski resort, but the name is unusual and memorable)
Siena (only 3 syllables and named after a popular tourist destination)

What have I missed? And which ones do you like/hate and why?
Click here to read more.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Heads Up: "Shopaholic" Filming in Stamford

I just read in People magazine that Isla Fisher was in Stamford on Jan. 5 filming scenes for Confessions of a Shopaholic. The movie, based on Sophie Kinsella's very successful book, is shooting in CT and NY through April. If anyone sees anything that looks like a movie set, can you please email me ASAP? Maybe we can be on reality TV and on the big screen this week.

Fisher was really funny in Wedding Crashers and is engaged to Sacha Baron Cohen, also known as Borat and Ali G.

They've already done scenes in Danbury and, I guess, Stamford, although I haven't seen any articles about it. More incentive to get out and enjoy Stamford in the next few months...

The New Haven Bulletin gives an email address that wanna-be extras can use to send in headshots.
Click here to read more.

Avon Film Festival Continues, and Into the Wild

The Avon’s Oscar film festival was glorious. On five different days, the Avon is showing various Oscar-nominated films, two at a time. I went last Saturday. The first film at 9:30 was Sweeney Todd. It was OK, but after he cut the 15th throat, I was ready to move on to the next film.
Into the Wild is the best movie I’ve seen in a while. Despite the unbelieveably lumpy, uncomfortable seats, the entire audience was spellbound and still for over 2 hours. Warning: slight spoilers are coming up in the next paragraphs, so stop reading if you want to keep a clean slate.

The movie tells the true story of 23 year-old Christopher McCandless, played beautifully by Emile Hirsch. After college, he picks up everything, without a word to his family, and heads for Alaska. It takes him almost a year to get there. He kayaks from California to Mexico, harvests wheat in South Dakota, and lives with hippies in… Nevada?

He lives in the freezing cold of Alaska—

Ok here comes the only real spoiler. If you read Jon Krakauer’s acclaimed book on the subject, you know the kid ends up dying, but I want to give you one heartbreaking detail.

After a couple of months of surviving in Alaska, he decides to go home. And even though you know this kid ends up dead, you think he might make it. You want him to get home to his sister, whose voice-overs describe how much she misses him and how his asshole parents are changing for the better because of their grief and shock at his disappearance.

So. He packs up and starts walking. When he comes to the stream he crossed in the winter, it’s now, in the spring, a raging river. I felt the whole audience think to themselves, shit. At this point in the movie, you love him, and now you know why he’s going to die. He can’t get home. He’s going to starve, or freeze. You so badly want this kid to live.

Sean Penn directed the film. Visually it’s stunning, the actors are great, and even Vince Vaughan is passable as a wheat farmer- I know, weird. Outrageously, neither Penn or Hirsch are up for an Oscar. The only reason I didn’t immediately run out and buy Krakauer's book is because I wanted to savor the memory of the movie.

The next films are this Wednesday—film shorts—and Saturday— Lars and the Real Girl and I’m Not There, the Dylan biopic. I’m going to both. You should go, too. I thought it was 2 movies for ten bucks, but I think you’re supposed to pay for both. If you don’t leave the theatre between films, you can get away with only paying for one movie. I didn’t do that though! No way!
Click here to read more.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Reality TV in Stamford This Week: Let's Eat!

On the way to the Avon Film Festival on Saturday, I saw guys unloading two big trucks of equipment behind Telluride. Hmm, what's this special event? A band? I hadn't heard of anything going on. I snapped a few pics with my camera, which I always carry around Stamford, then zoomed over to one of the guys.

Me: Hey, what's this? A band?
No, a reality TV show.
Me: TV show?!? Which one?
Kitchen Nightmares.
Me: What's that?
It's by the same guy who does Hell's Kitchen.
Me: Which restaurant are they doing? Republic Grill? Telluride?
No, the one on the corner.
Me: Sabatiello's?

Are you a reporter?
Me: No, but I have a website about Stamford. So when are they filming?
Sorry, that's all I can tell you.

Exciting, right? Well, here's the best part: WE GET TO GO TO THIS!!!!!!! Zobot posted this essential info, which I'll pass on to you:

Fox's Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay is shooting at Sabatiello's Italian Grill in Stamford CT Sunday 2/17-Wednesday 2/20. Diners are needed to fill the restaurant each night and be on camera as Gordon walks the dining room.

Sunday & Monday diners will receive a $20 appearance fee to apply to the cost of their meal. Menu ranges from $10-$30.

Tuesday & Wednesday participants cover the cost of their meals. Menu items are Gordon Ramsay creations.

Please email ( or call Dina at 323-326-6045.

Thanks Zobot, and see y'all at Sabatiello's!

I am such a paparazzi. Click here to read more.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Stamford's Opinions: YOUR Turn!

We need to step it up and make the Advocate's Letters to the Editor a more exciting place. There's some decent gossip in there, but overall, it doesn't deliver on its potential as a repository for all of our hopes and dreams for this city.

Some letters are about national issues (boring! that's not why I read the Advocate!), some about school funding (I don't have kids), and some about political figures (I don't like politics). Where is the juicy gossip? There are two interesting letters this week, one about firestation conflicts and mistrust and one about the mayor not being upfront about expenditures.

However, I want more. I want more local drama, more local opinions. I've done my part; I got a letter published a couple of months ago. Now it's time for you to do your part. I challenge you: submit a letter to the editor. It's so easy! Just email it! I'll post it here when it gets published.

My suggested topics: I don't know, I can't think of anything. Be creative. Write about the movie theater at the mall. Write about class wars in Stamford.

Don't write about parking. That's boring. I don't recommend talking about your Toter; that subject is pretty old unless you have a funny story about how it knocked you over. I don't recommend criticizing the Advocate; there have been several recent letters criticizing their coverage and/or proofreading. Don't talk about that priest that got arrested recently; I skip over those letters.

Good luck. I know there is something in your life related to Stamford that will make for a witty, passionate letter. Take advantage of the opportunity to express your opinion to a wider audience... it's fun.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stamford Events Feb. 14-18: Movies!

Happy Valentine's Day, I've got strep! No romantic dinner for me, but report back if you go somewhere nice. I'm not bitter.

Entertainment suggestions this weekend and next week:
Today, Thursday: If you're single, go to SBC Brewery on Summer St. for some Valentine's Day karaoke. Why the hell not? Or, go there after your V-Day dinner. I called them; karaoke is on. TiVo Lost and go out tonight.
Saturday: Two fun Oscar-nominated films at the Avon. I'm going to both. Sweeney Todd at 9:30a.m. and Into The Wild at 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday the 20th is a big day in Stamford. We have the eclipse at 8pm at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. We also have the Academy Nominated Shorts Program at 6:15pm at the Avon. Animated Shorts are at 6:15 p.m. and Live Action Shorts are at 8 p.m. I am so going to that.

More from this weekend:
There’s a play at Stamford Theatre Works that I’ve heard good things about. It plays through Feb. 17. It’s a mystery/drama called Bee-Luther-Hatchee Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; matinees Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets $25 -$43.

Not in Stamford:
Friday Feb. 15: Regina A. Quick Center, Fairfield University, Fairfield. 254-4010.: "Mardi Gras Celebration" with singer/pianist Marcia Ball and Grammy-winning BeauSoleil, Avec Michael Doucet; 8 p.m.; $35, $40.

Sunday Feb. 17: Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge Ave., Ridgefield. 438-5795.. Buckwheat Zydeco 8 p.m., $58.

For a full account of this weekend’s and early next week’s events, check out my google calendar or visit the Stamford Times or Advocate. Enjoy, have fun, enjoy our sparkling city. If it’s nice, walk down Bedford, probably the prettiest city-scene in Stamford.

The Stamford Times has Stamford highlights and the Fairfield County Calendar. It also has a list of some of the library's events.

I'm not giving you the Advocate's link, because if you go to the site, you will never find the events calendar. Go ahead. You go look. Don't look under "entertainment" or "calendar." It's not there. I actually called the Advocate last summer to ask where the calendar is, and I was informed I'd find it if I typed in "weekend happenings" in their search form. Oh, how intuitive. Who wouldn't guess they should try that? Hm... how about you just give me a link that says "Weekend events?" Rrrrr!

Ahhhhhhhrrrrrrrrr! I just went back to the Advocate to give it one more chance, thinking, "maybe it's under this other calendar tab..." No. No, it's not. I don't mean to complain, but affronts to basic organization and communication principles bother me.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

City of Stamford: You're Sorta Complicated

There's some interesting chit-chat going on over at my fellow blogger Mr. Stamford's site. (Does that make me Ms. Stamford?) He asserted that Stamford has no identity, which I of course disagreed with. After some comments back and forth between a few of us readers, I think our general consensus is that Stamford has the extremes that go with a city. Stamford is complicated, and maybe that's its identity.

So does that mean Greenwich and Darien and simpler? I'd venture to say yes.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine's Day=Food, and Stamford Restaurants Do Not Disappoint

I'm sure many of you already have V-Day plans, but some of you, like me, may be leaving things until the last minute.
There are so many great restaurants, so I'll tell you the ones I might call today. These are based on good food and decent atmosphere for V-Day- tables not on top of each other, not too loud, and an interesting menu.
g/r/a/n/d- (heads up, might have a prix fixe menu- our service was slow a couple of V-Days ago, but it's a cool place)
Dunn's Loft- (the steak, the steak!)

(I think Telluride's too woody, Chez Jean-Pierre too cramped, and Ferrante's a little too exposed- however, they're all good backups).

Ginger Man- fire place!
Rebecca's (if you feel like splurging- my experience there was so good I feel like weeping just remembering it)

Restaurants I know nothing about, I fear are expensive, but sound romantic:
Cava in New Canaan

My first choice, I know I am crazy:
Melting Pot in Darien. One hears terrible things about Melting Pot, but I feel like doing something different. Besides, chocolate and cheese are awesome. It's true I did not enjoy cooking my own meat, but the veggies were great. The marshmallows were stale, but the fruit was good.

Oh what the heck I'm going to call Duo. They're probably full, but... and I'm trying to save money, but... anywhere in this area is going to cost 40 bucks for dinner, so why not spend $ 80 for my favorite place with the craziest food ever? I should probably say, craziest food in Stamford. Maybe I'll try Market because my husband hasn't been there, but I'm sure it's already full, too. Maybe I'll feel thrifty and go to Capriccio and get the good bolognese.

If you want something besides eating out, you may want to look into my Date Night suggestions

Not a paid ad, just opinion:
Don't waste your time on Russell Stover. Get See's chocolate, featured above, and in my mouth right now. Yeah, it's 8am.
Click here to read more.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Stamford's Very Own Authentic Voodoo Doll

You have no idea what madness is going on at the police station, but Winnie the Pooh and a human-sized voodoo doll will tell you all about it.

A recent Advocate article is titled: “At Stamford police department, every piece of evidence tells a story.” As you can guess, it’s about items stored in the evidence room, including an arrow (?) used in a murder in 1976, a shovel used to bury a body, and... a stuffed Winnie the Pooh.

I only skimmed this article because I realized there were some disturbing images to avoid… starting with this stuffed animal:
A few items [police sergeant] Rondano has chosen to keep. A stuffed Winnie the Pooh overlooks the front of the property room… Rondano tells a story of a burglary suspect returning to a house to take this bear, only to be arrested. If he had only left the bear, he would have escaped. Rondano keeps the bear to comfort children who come through on tours.

What the- you're keeping a stolen Pooh bear to comfort children? If kids are young enough to be comforted by Pooh, they are too young to be in a room with a baseball bat that was used in a beating!

The next sentence gets even darker:

Tours also include a glimpse at a variety of weapons: real, homemade and toys that bear a frightening resemblance to the real thing.
Unsuspecting kids are glimpsing frightening (but crafty-sounding!) weapons, and I’m glimpsing frightening syntax: you cannot use the words “toys that bear” right after a bizarre toy bear story. Toy bear, toy bear! I can’t even tell if we’re talking about weapons or stuffed animals anymore.

After some descriptions of murders, the article ends on a “not sure if it’s funny or terrifying” note:
Other items can be kept for different reasons. Since being found in a parking lot, a human-size voodoo statue near the entrance has remained. Rondano is hesitant to discard the statute because of its religious nature, but no one wants to take it - possibly for the same reason.
What can I even say about this?

The Stamford Police have a giant voodoo doll- a weapon of terror, really- leaning against the doorframe, welcoming the children on tours. Pooh! Help! I’m left in amazement. We live in an astonishing world, a world in which we can stumble upon a voodoo doll in a parking lot, and where educated adults choose to keep that doll around their workplace.

Our city has an officially documented doll used to cast spells. This doll is as big as we are, and the police think the best thing to do with it is show it off. I’m tempted to suggest we use it as a mascot, or as a prop in parades, but like the cop says, you don’t mess with voodoo.

I’ve got to see this doll, or I won’t be able to concentrate on anything else ever again. What does the statue look like? Is it like a shrunken head, or a scarecrow made with cloth, or a piece of paper? I think the reporter needed a lot more detail there. Did she see the doll? I don’t think she did, or she would have had more to say.

Who knows what other mysteries exist in Stamford? I am thankful to reporters for uncovering them, because this is the kind of gossip I like. Click here to read more.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I'll Take Some Cheerios with that Cosmo!

Interesting article in the NY Times style section on pros and cons of allowing strollers- and children- in bars. It focuses on Brooklyn but raises the general question of mixing martinis and crayons.

I've never had any issues in Stamford with children in bars. We probably have suburban culture to thank for that. Getting in the minivan after a couple of beers? Maybe some things that work in Brooklyn won't work for Stamford!

My initial reaction is that people should use good sense. If your kid's not bothering anyone, great. If they're crying, running around, falling down the stairs, getting hit by errant pool balls, take them out. I do think the bar's owner should be able to set his or her own rules. Is there room for strollers, is it a safe environment, is the clientele amenable to kids? I do think it's funny that people want to take their toddlers in for a drink, but if you can't afford day care, or don't want to get a babysitter... well, I think we should make room for people who are trying to enjoy life with babies.

Click here to read more.

Friday, February 8, 2008

My NYSC Latin Dancing Nemesis?

Could the dance instructor named in this Advocate article be the same one who made me cry? .........

I google-imaged his name and found nothing, but I'm certainly not going to pay good money to attend that event and find out. If you do, please email me or comment here with a description of what this dancer looks like. My NYSC torturer was 30-ish and did not look obviously Latino. He had short hair.

The words "cult following" in the article may explain why I couldn't do any of the moves. If this all sounds silly to you, I dare you to go try his class at NYSC. You can probably get a free week-membership or day pass. Really, go. One reader commented that she had the same experience as me, but I want more of you to experience the shock of finding yourself in the midst of a chorus line of skilled dancers... when all you wanted was to have a little fun burning off some holiday pounds!
Click here to read more.

Marco Paoletta Murder Case: No Progress?

Every morning- and every afternoon, and every evening- I eagerly log on to my Stamford Talk RSS reader. I head straight to the Local News tab, hoping to find something on the Marco Paoletta murder case, and every day, there's no word. I'm disappointed and a little confused.

I know the police can't reveal anything about the investigation, but I wish I could hear something. I have not read one single word about the case in three weeks. I assume police are close to something; a crime committed so boldy, and probably by more than one person, can't stay covered up forever. Maybe mentioning how the investigation is going will tip off a suspect who's under surveillance, and that's why they're not giving out any info to the public. Maybe they got a lot of flack for a careless comment they made early on in the investigation, and now they've been advised not to say anything. Whatever the case, I am sure Stamford police are doing everything they can to solve this. It was a terrible crime. All of the links above lead to my previous posts about the case if you want to know more.

Best of luck to police, and condolences to Marco's family.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Stamford Voters: Vulnerable to Bake Sales and Election Fraud

We put a lot of trust in voters. Not only do we let them choose our leaders, we let them enter school buildings full of children. In exchange for that trust, we make them feel guilty if they don't buy muffins.

Stamford schools stayed open Tuesday as voting took place in gyms and cafeterias. I was a little freaked out that I had to wander the halls with middle schoolers to find the polls, but the Advocate headline sounded optimistic: "Classes continue during voting; parking problems reported."

Parking problems, I understand that… but there were other, far more bizarre problems that I’ll gleefully share with you.

The Advocate article says: “Signs and volunteers directed voters to voting, often to school cafeterias or gymnasiums closed to students for the day.”

There weren’t signs where I entered the parking lot. (Were they not expecting any voters to approach from the south?) There were no volunteers, just teachers who didn’t seem phased to see a confused-looking stranger… dressed all in black with a puffy coat perfect for concealing a weapon. Maybe I looked like a student; they were all wearing big coats, too.

I made it through the hallways without incident. It’s a good thing I was at a middle school, where awkward teens don’t give a crap about adults. If I were at an elementary school, I would have had to deal with bake sales and field trips. Listen to these hassles:

“The election also was a good learning opportunity for some students. At K.T. Murphy Elementary School in the Cove, the polling site for District 8, some students got to see voting in action.
"We even had a third-grade class come in for about half an hour," said Chuck Alfini, the site's moderator, pointing to a thank you note the class had left.”

I’m sure those kids were super-cute, but should voters really have to face a bunch of 8 year olds when they’re trying to exercise their mundane basic rights? I don’t see why voters were fair game for the whims of teachers.

The article also mentions that some parents ran a bake sale:

“Voter traffic was good for some enterprising Wolfpit PTO parents, who held a bake sale outside the gym doors yesterday. Parents were ready with breakfast food at 6 a.m. for the opening of polls and had their tables restocked with fruit, yogurt and cupcakes for the afternoon pickup rush.”

I like snacks, but should voters-- the people who bother to register, pay attention to the card in the mail, locate the polling place, and find a time to go before or after work-- have to serve as a captive market for schools wanting to make a quick buck?

If adults can sell cupcakes, can the Girl Scouts show up, or kids selling candy for the basketball team or magazines for school fundraisers, or…. can I pass out my business cards attached to little baggies of M & Ms?

Where’s the limit?

I know Chelsea Clinton can’t chat up voters, but is everyone except campaigners welcome? Who exactly is allowed to peddle their wares or loiter outside the gym doors?

I’m not being sarcastic. I really want to know the rules. If voting is supposed to be like a big carnival, cool. Next time, I’ll bring the lattes, you bring the folding chairs, we’ll buy some muffins and people-watch! I just hope no creepy middle-aged men show up to sit and watch young children.

But you know, maybe we don’t want a party atmosphere at the polls. Maybe voting officials shouldn’t be distracted, because… know what?

I totally could have grabbed a few more ballots and slid them in the box. No one was watching me that closely when I put my ballot in. I know, because I was trying to make conversation, and the voting monitors didn’t meet my eyes. They were looking toward the gym doors. I didn’t see a bake sale, but there was a cute cop. I could have squeezed four ballots really tightly to make them look like one.

This bake sale debacle might be the reminder we need to get serious about voting. Signs should be clear, people should watch me more closely, and voters should get free baked goods.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

To Vote, or To Watch the Giants Parade?

I got a good chuckle of out of this Daily Show spoof on Americans' enthusiasm for politics. Click here to read more.

Stamford Calendar of Events

I'm continuing to keep the calendar to the right updated, culling through local websites so you don't have to! I don't put every single event up, just the ones I find appealing or ones I think will appeal to many people. If you think I have missed something, please email stamfordtalk at gmail.

I don't include events on my Stamford calendar, but that's really where you should go if you are looking for fun activities in Stamford!

I don't have ongoing events listed, like Tuesday's Trivia at Tigin, because I don't want to jam up the calendar. I'm debating making a separate calendar for ongoing events, but for now, I'll add the Trivia to the Events calendar since it's the only ongoing activity besides karaoke that's worth going to on a weeknight.
Online sources I use are the Stamford Times, Stamford Advocate, Fairfield Weekly, Stamford Museum and Nature Center, Avon Theatre, Yahoo events, um.... I think that's it!
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Stamford, Vote!

I voted! I am so proud of myself. My voting place (a school gym, of course) was disappointingly empty. I know 6:45 am is early, but when I went at that time in Southfield, the place was jammed. Maybe that was a fall election, but still. I'm a little disappointed in the people of the mid-Ridges. It's possible we're a smaller group than my Southfield 'hood, but I expected to be blown away by the number of enthusiastic voters. Oh well.
Have fun voting today, and don't forget to get your "I Voted" sticker. It's fun to have a good reason to look dorky. Click here to read more.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Best Way to Meet People in Stamford!

I’ll be honest with you. The only way I have ever met people in Stamford is through I do have one friend from my gym, and I’ve had some nice roommates, but Stamford did not deliver on the friendship front until I went onto

I now have friends from my book club, but there are dozens of local meetup groups you can try. Here are some interesting ones:

  • The Stamford Movie Fans Meetup Group
  • Darien lovers of South American food
  • Karaoke Lovers of CT
  • The Stamford Scrabble Meetup Group
  • Fairfield County Board Games (meets up this Tues at 6)
  • Fairfield County Wingmen (I would think this group is a joke, except that I have randomly met the organizer, and he was very friendly. I’m not sure I’d use him as my wingman, though, as his exuberant personality might be a bit of a scene-stealer.)
  • The Fairfield County Couples Going out Group
  • Southwestern Connecticut Fun and Games Meet Up Group
  • Stamford Social, Single & New in Town 20's to 40's Meetup
  • The 35-45 Single Women's Weekend Meetup Group
  • The Fairfield County Pug Meetup Group
Obviously, there are all kinds of people around here wanting to have fun. You should try one, or even start your own meetup.

Meetup now charges organizers a monthly fee of $19, or $228 per year. Annoying, but it cuts down on junk groups so the site isn't swamped with dead groups. Usually group members help the organizer with a 1 $ donation at each meeting.

Check out Wikipedia for a history of
Click here to read more.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Stamford At Risk for Terrorist Attack?

Now why in goodness' name would a terrorist attack Stamford? The Advocate reports that Stamford is on the list of places "considered at high risk." That strikes me as absurd. I'm far more worried about being sideswiped on the I-95 access road near the train station.

If Stamford is at risk for terrorism, well, I'm just giving up. If that is really true, then this country is in big trouble. I don't want to jinx us, but I just don't think we are at high-risk for terrorism. Toledo, Ohio is also on the list. What does our Homeland Security Department know about Stamford that we don't? Would someone want to attack UBS or RBS? I suppose it is true that they're sitting ducks for any truck bomb on 95. I feel terrible saying that... but do you really think Stamford is at risk? Let me know if you know something I don't about why we are in danger.

Here's part of the article:

Stamford, Norwalk added to terrorism high-risk fund list
By Eileen Sullivan and Devlin Barrett, Associated Press
Published February 1 2008

WASHINGTON - More cities, including Stamford and Norwalk, are considered at high risk of a terrorist attack, according to a new list of funding priorities from the Homeland Security Department.

Last year the department made 45 cities or regions eligible for a competitive counterterrorism grant program. This year, the list has been expanded to 60 areas that can apply for the nearly $782 million available, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The urban area grants are one of the department's most popular - and most intensely debated - programs. The department divides the regions at highest risk of a terrorist attack into two tiers. The seven highest-risk areas - including Los Angeles, New York and Washington - will be competing for about $430 million this year. The remaining 53 will compete for about $352 million.

The department plans to release the list today.

The list has grown and shrunk in recent years, based on decisions the department says are not the result of specific threats or concerns but that reflect an overall analysis of threat data.

Some regions on the list in the past were dropped more recently. For instance, Albany, N.Y., was put back on the list this year after being dropped in 2003.

Other regions added to the list this year, in addition to Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport and the Hartford region, are: Rochester, N.Y.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Austin and Round Rock, Texas; Baton Rouge, La.; Louisville and Jefferson County in Kentucky and an area across the Ohio River in Indiana; Nashville, Davidson County and Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Richmond, Va.; Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario, Calif.; Salt Lake City; San Juan, Caguas and Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; and Toledo, Ohio.
Click here to read more.