Friday, February 27, 2009

Thoughts on Church Music: I Like It

I don't mean to be profane, but are this Advocate article's headline and lead not terribly funny?

Campaign for Catholic confessions kicks off
from Stamf Local News by By Devon Lash
STAMFORD -- Now that the Lenten season has begun, the Diocese of Bridgeport is trying to make it more convenient for Catholics to confess their sins.

Actually, I think the title is funny. The lead is just sort of... sensible.

I have never enjoyed confessing my sins, but if some people find that part of Catholicism important, I do think it should be easy to do so. Sitting in church and listening to music is the easy part; why make the stressful part harder?

Incidentally, I love church music. I stole a hymnal a few years back, and when I had more free time, I'd play the harmony on my keyboard and sing along with the melody.

Now that I think about it, I think I took the hymnal from someone else who stole it. But that person is really religious, so I feel OK about the situation.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NY Times: Primates are BAD Pets

A NY Times article just seems to confirm that primates make terrible pets. The article features people who, despite being bitten and attacked by their pet primates, kept them. I can only hope that the media coverage of the Stamford chimp attack will make people realize they are crazy to take on an animal that can live 40-60 years and that can very often become violent.

This photo reminds me of a long story that involves an escaped kangaroo in Philly, my friend Mark, and a very angry monkey with very good aim in throwing peanuts.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

March Restaurant Weeks: Go Eat!

This and next week, Stamford restos offer prix fixe menus. (I pronounce that "pree feeks" OK? That's how the French would say it. Not "price fix" or "pricks fix." ) Click here to see participating restos. Don't bother with the cheap places; those are cheap all the time. Go for a nice place: a few that jump out at me are Market, Duo and Ferrante's.

I will warn you, you should look at the price to see if it's worth it. For example, Duo's $30 prix fixe offers two choices for soup/salad: warm mushroom salad or double boiled chicken consomme. I would never purposefully choose either. For entree, they offer oxtail (what is that?), salmon, and lamb. If you are a chicken/beef person, that might not be your cup of tea. I don't mean to bash Duo; it's one of my favorite restos. But their dinner prix fixe menu does not appeal to me. I don't want you going there for the first time for dinner and getting a bad impression. Instead, try their $20 lunch menu, which looks better- and cheaper! Or, go for dinner and get whatever you like, which probably won't cost you much more than $30.

My point is, take a look at the menus on Stamford Downtown's website before you go.

For cheaper options, Republic Grill's $15 dinner is not a bad deal, but again, you can get their house salad and pad thai for like, $16 or $17. House salad and mango chicken will usually run you closer to $20, so that's a better deal.

Related Stamford Talk posts:

--March 25, 2008-- Restaurant Review: Market
--September 7, 2008-- Mitchell's Fish Market: Enh
--March 13, 2008-- Remo's Pizza, Peeps, Red Wine, Weight Loss
--October 24, 2007-- Me, Duo, and the New York Times Critic
Click here to read more.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Stamford Hospital Quietly Transferred Victim

I had a doctor's appointment at Stamford Hospital last Thursday, and a terse parking guy directed me to do a U-turn away from my usual parking area behind Wittingham Pavilion. "We have a situation," he said. "You can either wait 20 minutes, or go park out front." I wondered if it was chimp attack-related, but I didn't see any media or reporters. I just read an Advocate article that leads me to believe it was related to moving the victim, Charla Nash:
The arrival of a medical transport team from the Cleveland Clinic on Thursday afternoon raised the speculation that Nash may be a candidate for such a face transplant. Nash was transferred Thursday from Stamford Hospital to an awaiting Beechjet 400 at Westchester County Airport...
"We were notified well in advance of our trip," [Dr. Daman Kralovic, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Medical Transport Team] said. "We looked for an opportunity to get this patient here confidentially without any media attention."

I'm proud of Stamford for getting that done. There were two cop cars parked behind the hospital, but that's it, and there was no hubbub anywhere else outside or inside that I noticed while walking through. Charla Nash and her family certainly deserve their privacy and I'm glad there were no cameras there.

The Cleveland Clinic's jet sounds amazing:
The jet, cruising at altitudes of 38,000 feet, contains all of the equipment and surgical capabilities found in a fully equipped intensive care unit at a hospital, including an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO, a heart-lung bypass machine, which pumps blood for a severely injured trauma patient.

In the eight months since the Cleveland Clinic has added fixed-wing aircraft, its surgeons and nursing teams have picked up 90 patients from elsewhere around the country to as far as Kuwait, Greece, Italy, Panama and Portugal.
It's pretty spectacular to have a jet like that available.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

No More Chimps in Our Neighborhoods

There's an editorial in the Greenwich Time from Thursday called "Ban the possession of wild animals." It's obviously about last week's chimp attack. I totally agree with this line: Keeping a wild animal poses a threat to neighbors, none of whom signed up to share a street with one, and -- as this case showed -- police, who would be the ones called when something goes wrong.

There are many terrible aspects to the chimp situation- I most think about the injured woman, the dead chimp, and his owner who must be devastated- but it's maybe more important to think about the other people who could have been hurt by the chimp who weren't even given the option of avoiding him. The chimp's owner was keeping him in a residential area- an area where children play. When Travis got loose last week, and probably on other days, he could have hurt someone who did not even realize he lived nearby. I heard from a North Stamford parent who had been playing outside with his kids when he saw the cop cars; he'd had no idea a chimp was living a few streets over. That's just scary.

Not only was Travis a wild animal, not made for domestic life, he was huge. At least a dog that gets loose will weigh less than Travis' 200 pounds; a parent would have a chance in pulling it off their child. It's insane that the state let someone keep a large animal that's known to be violent when it hits puberty.

I, like many people I know, am trying not to think about the chimp thing too much- it's overall a very sad situation. I think all we can do is move on and try not to let this happen again; banning exotic pets is a basic step in that. No one in a residential area should own a chimp, a poisonous snake, or any animal that can hurt a person.

And I just have to say, poor Travis. I obviously feel worse for the people involved, but when I look at pictures of the chimp, I feel bad he met such a violent end. He was living in an environment for which he simply was not intended. He was a wild animal, not of a species like dogs or cats whose aggression has been bred out for thousands of years. From what I read, his aggressive behavior was pretty normal for a chimp. I hope people will learn from this and stop keeping animals that are not made to be pets.

Like the Greenwich Time editorial suggests, go to the shelter and get a dog or cat if you want to nurture something. If you're looking for an unusual thrill... go skydiving. Don't get a monkey, or a prairie dog, or an alligator; they probably do not want to be with you, and it's not fair to do that to them.

Added 2/22: Advocate article: State: No primates registered in Connecticut

Connecticut officials said 11 permits have been issued since 2005 to state residents to own non-domestic animals, and none have been requested or issued to own a primate. But neither the state nor municipal animal control officers know how primates may be illegally owned statewide along with pets such as crocodiles, poisonous snakes and other exotic animals, said Edward Parker, chief of the state Department of Environmental Protection's natural resources bureau.

Nine of the state permits since 2005 went to licensed wildlife rehabilitators who wanted to own and care for raptors; one was for a licensed rehabilitator in Winsted who wanted to care for a bat... Connecticut state law prohibits ownership of certain types of exotic animals without permits, including those in the bear and wolf families and large members of the cat family such as tigers and jaguars. "People who possess these animals generally do not request a permit, and that is one of the problems that underscores what we have to deal with," Parker said.

Nope, not an easy job, because careless people are everywhere, and some of them think owning odd animals is a good idea.
Click here to read more.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Want the Advocate to Ditch Topix

If you are reading this blog, you are probably aware that the Stamford Advocate has a feature where you can comment on articles. It's through an aggregator called Topix. You don't have to be on the Advocate site to access the articles, so Topix attracts a wide audience, many of whom appear to be dumb and racist. Part of the problem is that Topix is anonymous and poorly moderated. Any article with a Hispanic name in it attracts a dozen "Go back to Mexico" comments. I've also seen articles about local people that turn into a series of comments bashing that person. A couple of times, discussions have gotten so crude that I've emailed the newspaper editor to give him a heads up that there is graphic sexual content up! The Topix format is really annoying, because it dilutes the ability to have productive local discussions online. The less inflammatory subjects (construction, human interest) can usually produce some decent info, but often, Topix threads are junk.

A Hartford Courant writer- Colin McEnroe- has an interesting post up about how Topix is being ordered by a judge to give up the names of some Topix posters who libeled someone. I'm glad to see Topix involved in a lawsuit, because I think Topix has some serious problems that need to be addressed. Sometimes, bigger is not better; I'd like to see the Advocate with a more locally-run discussion board. I am all in favor of free speech and people expressing opinions, but I don't want to see graphic, racist, sexist, or ignorant comments when I try to read my local paper's website. A smidge of moderation would be nice.

McEnroe's post also talks about how Topix is owned by three big media companies, including Tribune, which used to own the Advocate. I've complained on this blog numerous times that the national, anonymous nature of Topix makes it a very bad place to discuss local issues. McEnroe's post adds some interesting info and opinions to that general idea.

I understand that the Advocate editors may not have any decision-making power about what discussion forum their site uses; I bet they find Topix about as annoying as I do.

You can read about Topix at its About Us page.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thumbs Down to Trump's Styrofoam Debris!

Yeah, Advocate! I love your sassy new "Thumbs Up/Down" feature. Life is just too short not to get in little jabs, and I am happy my local paper is getting on board the opinion express. I was pleased with a recent installment:
Thumbs down to Trump Parc. Police last Thursday [Feb. 12] investigated reports that a piece of Styrofoam blew off the unfinished luxury apartment building. There were no injuries in the incident, and police reported that an inspection of the site showed that that items were properly secured...

That's all good, but the incident was an unwelcome reminder of the rain of debris that fell from the building during a relatively short period last summer, all of it much harder and hazardous than Styrofoam. In those incidents, inches or minutes meant the difference between mere incident and catastrophe. Let us hope the latest incident does not portend a return to the bad old days.
I am glad the Advocate took on the mantle of reminding Trump of that. Trump got really lucky no one was killed, and they need to not forget it.

It still pisses me off that I have to think about possibly getting my head smashed in when I drive by Trump. I am not nearly as worried as I used to be, but I still worry. A construction site towering over a very busy road-- well, that's how things are if you want development! I hear people saying-- well, Trump itself proved why that was a bad idea. The string of debris accidents was just absurd. You cannot run a loosey-goosey operation like that OVER A BUSY ROAD.

Honestly, it was like the Trump workers were taunting us, right? Crap was flying off that building left and right- wood, metal, leftover lunches- and each time we thought, Surely this latest case of a car getting smashed will be a wake up call, another incident would occur. Either the site was badly run, or the workers did not care. I do not know how else to interpret all of those incidents.

So, I agree with the Advocate: looks like Trump has shaped up, but we'd be stupid not to still worry a little.

Also, a Stamford Talk Thumbs Up to the writing style of the Trump Thumbs Down. I thought it was very succinct and descriptive. I appreciate that.
Click here to read more.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Seems Funny But Is Actually Sad: Stamford Chimp Attack

Thanks to the reader who tipped me off about the chimp attack in North Stamford. Here's what sounds funny (from article): A pet chimpanzee - who had appeared in TV commercials and shows - got loose at a home at 241 Rock Rimmon Road in Stamford Monday afternoon, according to Stamford police. And it was not his first time.

Here's why it's actually sad: The 175-pound animal attacked its owner's friend, leaving the victim with severe facial injuries. She was taken to Stamford Hospital. Police do not expect the person to live.
I mean, that's just awful.

The chimp ended up dead- stabbed, then shot: The Stamford Advocate reports the primate's owner called 911 and then tried to stop the attack by stabbing the chimp with a butcher knife. An officer shot and killed the animal when it tried to get into his police cruiser, said police. The animal was reportedly named Travis and had issues in the past. On October 19, 2003, Travis escaped from his owner's SUV and went running through the streets. More than a dozen police officers chased around after him at the time.

I feel bad for the chimp, too. The poor thing was clearly crazy, right? He sounds like he should not have been around people.

Here's why this chimp was special: In a newspaper article at the time, police said the chimp, then 10, was toilet trained. He reportedly dressed himself, ate at the table and drank wine. He could use a computer and remote control. He starred in Old Navy and Coca-Cola commercials and even appeared on the Maury Povich Show...

Even though chimps are a lot like us, they are still animals. It seems like that got forgotten. I'm looking forward to learning more, because I don't want to blame the owner without having all the facts. And I bet that chimp's owner feels really terrible right now. I feel so, so bad for the woman who got attacked.

You can read more, and see pics, in the Stamford Advocate article about it. There is supposed to be a press conference going on right now about it (8pm Monday), so I'm sure more disturbing details will emerge.
Click here to read more.

Fake Male Apologies? Obama, Phelps, Drugs

There’s an editorial the weekend’s Advocate called “Pointless apologies for victimless crimes.” Boring title, but the first few lines caught me: “American men learn early to apologize, whether we think we've done anything wrong or not. Any husband married longer than 10 days knows he's required to do this often, even if he has no clue why. Women demand contrition, even after we've denied any wrongdoing, made it clear we aren't sorry and guaranteed that the apology they're about to receive is completely insincere.”

Initial reaction: What IS this drivel?
I only make my husband apologize for very specific things, like complaining about the pediatrician interview I set up. I’m tired of doing boring grunt work, then having someone complain about my performance on that grunt work. If you don’t like my pediatrician selection methods, get off your butt and make a few tedious phone calls yourself. You’re sorry? Thank you; that takes away some of the sting of your rudeness, even if your rudeness was unintentional.

Next reaction: Oh, I see, it’s cute intro commentary about Barack Obama’s apology related to Daschle. Your point is that Barack didn’t have to apologize, but he was the bigger man and did so. Want to get on my good side? Say something nice about Barack. You can even make mean generalizations about women to set up a Barack compliment. That’s fine. No problemo.

But then, the author, UConn professor Mark Drought, goes into the Michael Phelps situation. I was actually just thinking about Michael Phelps, and how he’s just a young man, and how even though he won 8 gold medals, chances are, he’s going to do some of the many dumb things that young men do. Honestly, a bong hit is probably one of his least dangerous options, because it didn’t put his life or the lives of others at stake. When I was in college, we had several students die or get severely injured in alcohol-related incidents. Driving drunk, or getting so drunk that you fall down a flight of stairs (that happened twice at my school- one person died, one was paralyzed) are among the more dangerous dumb things Phelps could do. Drought calls Phelps' bong hit a "victimless crime." I'm not endorsing bong hits here, or marijuana use in general, but I can basically agree with that part of Drought's idea.

Drought also says that Phelps “has nothing to be contrite about.” I do not fully agree with that. Phelps should apologize. Because to kids, that bong hit is confusing.
We tell kids that drugs are bad, because, well, they often are. Drought points out that alcohol can be bad too. Right, but alcohol use is legal; you don’t have to score alcohol from a shady dealer. You’re not breaking the law if you drink alcohol over the age of 21. You are breaking the law if you are caught with drugs.

Phelps’ apology: "I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again."
Essentially, he said, “I’m young; I did something dumb. I realize I let the public down.” That’s a pretty accurate and reasonable statement. It’s dumb to do illegal things, especially around people who are going to take your picture and then sell it. I was disappointed in Phelps; not so much that he’d done pot, but that the kids I know had to see that.

I agree with Drought that Phelps does not need to apologize to adults; we know young men do careless things, especially at parties, especially when drinking. Phelps does need to apologize though, for the sake of all the kids who idolize him and now need to figure out if it’s cool for them to do bong hits, too.

I know it’s parents’ jobs to explain this stuff to their kids, but I think it’s silly that Drought seems upset that Phelps felt like he needed to apologize.

In general, I found the tone of this article to be too flippant. I completely disagree with the last 2 lines: “I have no idea whether Phelps is genuinely sorry for his victimless crime, or merely kicking himself for jeopardizing his endorsements by getting caught, like a husband feigning remorse for sins he's clueless about. Either way, the American public should get over it, and be mature enough to realize that Michael Phelps is moral enough to sell Sugar Frosted Flakes to our nation's youth.”

Yes, adults are mature enough to get over it, but a 10 year old does not have the life experience to put that public bong hit in perspective. As the author himself acknowledges in the last line, the issue is the message it sends to young people. So, while Phelps is probably about as moral as the rest of us, a smiling Phelps on a Kellogg’s box doesn’t quite jibe with the image of an unshaven Phelps huffing pot. Advertising isn’t about maturity and realistic expectations of people, it’s about selling an image.

And, I just don’t think the clueless husband metaphor holds up in the Phelps situation; surely he understands why people are upset. He’s young, maybe he’s dumb, but I doubt he’s clueless.

Final reaction: at least this column was written by someone local- a UConn professor- and isn’t one of those generic national columns.

Actually, looks like Phelp did get a DUI, 5 years ago at the age of 19. Thanks, Wikipedia! So, Phelps ain’t no saint, and if that tarnishes his rep, and ruins some sponsorships, so be it. I really don’t care. But I’m OK with him apologizing. It’s OK to apologize for setting a bad example for young people, especially if you do feel badly about it, for whatever reason.

From Wikipedia: In November 2004, at the age of 19, Phelps was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Salisbury, Maryland. He pleaded guilty to driving while impaired the following month and was granted probation before judgment and ordered to serve 18 months' probation, fined $250, obligated to speak to high school students about drinking and driving and had to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) meeting. Questioned about the incident later that month by Matt Lauer on the Today Show, Phelps said it was an "isolated incident" and that he had "definitely let myself down and my family down...I think I let a lot of people in the country down."
Click here to read more.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Worth Avoiding I-95 to Go to Norwalk

I liked this post on titled "The I-95 Accident Analysis–Norwalk Stretch #1." It's actually more commentary on all the various types of bad drivers you'll find from exits oh, 11-18.
The post was based on an article in the CT Post that reported that the Norwalk stretch of I-95 is the most dangerous:
Traveling on Interstate 95 in Connecticut means taking your life in your hands on a regular basis, but if you're driving on the highway through Norwalk, your chances of being involved in an accident climb markedly. In 2007, the latest year for which complete statistics are available, 735 accidents occurred on the Norwalk portion of I-95. That number represents 10.3 percent of all I-95 accidents in the state, from New York to Rhode Island, for the year. New Haven had the second-largest number of crashes, 582, in 2007, followed by Stamford (579), Greenwich (576) and Milford (564).

Lt. J. Paul Vance, State Police spokesman, said Norwalk is a hot spot because of a high volume of traffic. "It is a melting pot, for all of the major cities," Vance said. "It is just a busy, congested area. The area has curvatures and inclines; there is no straight shot, which really doesn't help in bad weather..."

Jill Kelly, co-founder of the Connecticut Citizen Transportation lobby, was surprised to hear Norwalk was the top accident location on I-95 and offered her own theory. "When I drive the area where Route 7 merges into I-95 [in Norwalk], I really have to be aware of traffic," said Kelly. "It's very tight there and a little confusing, and maybe just not wide enough, with people merging on from Route 7 and others trying at about the same point to get off exit 14 on the southbound side."

My reaction:
1. All the more reason for me to use the Merritt; I live about the same distance from the Merritt and 95.
2. I feel somewhat justified now, for almost losing my mind the year I lived off exit 15 in Norwalk. The drive from Greenwich to Norwalk was miserable, even as early as 3:30 in the afternoon. Now, statistics prove that my commute was not only annoying and mind-numbingly boring (45 minutes to go 11 miles?), it was actually pretty dangerous.

One of the many reasons it's worth paying more to live in Stamford.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stamford Train Station Parking Guarantee?

When I heard the DOT was planning on redoing the Stamford garage, but not really planning to have any backup parking, I got a bit freaked out. How could a major train station do without hundreds of parking spaces? I just kept telling myself they'd figure something out, because who would do something that stupid, right?
Today's Advocate's "Thumbs Up/Down" has an update. Thank goodness state lawmakers are putting the screws on the DOT, so they don't screw commuters!
Text from Advocate:Thumbs up to lawmakers fighting for an "insurance policy" protecting parking availability at the Stamford train station.

The state Department of Transportation is seeking proposals from private developers to build "transit-oriented development" around the station, a project that would include demolishing the obsolete garage there. The DOT's plan replaces an earlier one to simply build a new garage.

The department has repeatedly promised to provide enough parking for Stamford commuters before construction work begins. But members of the Stamford delegation to Hartford want parking guaranteed by law. "We need this protection in place because it would be absolutely ludicrous to remove parking for the train station without adequate replacement spots," says state Rep. Jim Shapiro, D-Stamford.

The DOT hasn't always been the most reliable or stable of state agencies. Stamford's delegation is right to demand protection for their constituents in this case.

You tell them, Advocate! I agree!
And, I like your new Thumbs Up/Down column! I like opinions!
Click here to read more.

DeNiro Downtown: Can Someone Go Do Recon?

So, a source tells me that DeNiro is downtown today doing reshoots.
On my drive-by after lunch today around 2:20, I saw 2 Stamford cops standing outside SBC on Summer St. I couldn't quite figure out where they were going to be filming, and I was too pooped to park and get out to ask the cops what the film crew was going to be up to. I knew if I stopped, I'd want to stay, and my pregnant body is just not in the shape to stand around for the hours it can take to see any movie action.
Plus, you have to be somewhat charming if you want to ingratiate yourself with the crew, and I was too tired to expend that energy. Instead, I came home and fell asleep on the couch for 2 hours. A reader reported on the previous post that they saw DeNiro at Napa at around 3pm. Anyone else have any DeNiro sightings?!?
I'll try to do another drive-by tonight, but if someone ELSE wants to go stalk the set and have fun talking to the cops and crew, I recommend it. Nothing could happen, or something awesome could happen.

If the film crew is around tomorrow, I'll try to conserve my energy earlier in the day so I can spend it stalking the movie set.
Click here to read more.

Movie Set Downtown?

I'm on the iPhone so this is not going to be eloquent. I just saw yellow set signs saying "E.F." downtown near Napa... Anyone seen Everybody's Fine filming? I'll swing by after lunch to get the scoop but if anyone can post info sooner that would be great! Click here to read more.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine's Day Guide: By Guest Blogger Mr. Z!

Writer's Note: I'm not sure if Stamford Talk has ever posted an unsolicited guest post on the blog, but apparently my generous "donation" of a giggle gift card was too much for her to pass up. Stamford Talk Note: Yes, yes it was.

Okay guys, it's here...Valentine's Day 2009. If you're anything like me, you are probably still not ready for the big event. The good news is that you have all week to figure it out. The bad news is that Valentine's Day is a Saturday this year, so there will be lots of extra pressure to make it an all-day affair. So, what do we do to make this a winning week?

First, of course, are flowers. Now, I'm told by reliable sources (Hello Mrs. Z!) that it's often a winning proposition to have flowers delivered to the place of employment (if applicable). We've already learned that Valentine's Day is on a Saturday, so unless your special someone works on the weekends, you're going to have to go with early flowers. Now, I think this is a huge opportunity: Send those flowers as early this week as possible. Not only are you likely to get fresher flowers and more reliable delivery, your love interest will be able to enjoy the flowers all week long. That's a win-win.
You may recall that a certain Super Bowl commercial told us to use Teleflora because the other places deliver dead flowers. Well, I agree about the dead part, but Teleflora's not much better. With flowers, like jewelry (we'll get there later), it pays dividends to strike up a relationship with a local business and use them each time you need a flower arrangement delivered. They'll be able to create the precise arrangement you want and will often give you a better price than you'll find online. In Stamford, options include Nobu Florist and Stamford Florist.

Next, well, let's go with chocolate. If your recipient is allergic to chocolate (Hello Mrs. Z!), you may skip this paragraph. Chocolate is a classic Valentine's Day gift. Fortunately, Stamford has you covered. If you're looking for big-name chocolate, you can pick up Godiva or Lindt at the much-maligned Stamford Town Center. (Yes, you Northies can just visit the Lindt store on High Ridge Rd.) Down on Bedford Street you can find decadent treats at Schakolad. It's still a chain, but at least it's not in the mall, right? If you're dead set against the chains, you can also branch out and visit the amazing Chocopologie. I know it's not in Stamford, but I've bumped into the chocolatier, Fritz Knipschidlt, in town, so we'll give him a pass.

OK, we've got flowers and chocolate out of the way, so let's move on to dinner. Stamford has no shortage of excellent restaurants, and our friends at Chowhound and OpenTable can be of assistance here. I'm an unabashed Napa & Co. fan. Chef Bill Taibe creates simple, fresh, and delicious dishes that will please the most finicky date. Reservations at Napa might be hard to snag at this late date, but it's worth a try. If Napa isn't an option, two nearby restaurants are more than suitable replacements: Market, winner of the "2008 Best New Restaurant in the FC", has a great, lively, atmosphere and offers up excellent entrees. It's really hard to go wrong there. Just around the corner from Market is Duo, a Chowhound and ST darling in 2008. It's a small restaurant that offers good sushi and an innovative "East-West" menu. ST just posted a review of Duo's new offerings, so check that out when making your decision. Another of Stamford's classic fine dining establishments is Telluride. I've always thought Telluride has a more casual, country feel than the other places downtown. It's got plenty of fans in town, so have no fear. Steak lovers can choose from The Capital Grille, Morton's, or locally-owned Bennett's Steak & Fish. I haven't tried any of these myself, but check out Chowhound for reviews. There are a lot more restaurants that we could write about in Stamford, not to mention the excellent options in towns like Wilton, Norwalk, and Greenwich, but we'll consider this a good start. Finally, if there's a restaurant you really want, but can't score a table for Saturday, you can always build off the early flower delivery and try a night earlier in the week. There's nothing wrong with making Valentine's Day a week-long affair.

Alright, we're off to quite a good start here, and you surely could wrap up a very successful Valentine's Day with just chocolate, flowers, and dinner. However, some of you might feel the need to show your affection with a little something extra, so let's close up shop with a few quick tips from the Stamford Talk archives: 2008 Holiday Shopping Guide, Beautiful Bracelets I'll Never Wear, and Bookstore Guide for Stamford Readers. A few minutes of reading and you'll find some excellent ideas... There's a mention of the Noelle Spa, where you can pick up a gift certificate for a "Spa Relaxation Day". There's a tip on unique jewelry at the descriptively named Artistic Hand Blown Glass store. If your special someone is into reading, ST gives props to Barrett Bookstore, up in Darien (we're straying again, but it's only 1 exit past Stamford on I-95). If wine is the thing, make a reservation for one of the Monday evening wine tastings at Napa & Co. They offer a new class every week where you'll learn lots of interesting facts and have a chance to taste 5 to 7 different wines. Of course, finding the right gift can be hard. If you just can't come up with an idea, take one last stroll through the Stamford Town Center and maybe you'll find something nice for the office, kitchen, or family room.

Now that I've spent all this time dispensing advice, I better go get going on my own list! If you think I missed a good tip, please share...

Related Stamford Talk post:
--FEB 12, 2008-- Valentine's Day=Food, and Stamford Restaurants Do Not Disappoint
Click here to read more.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Avon's Oscar Films, My Stroller Obsession

I kicked off the Oscar season yesterday by seeing Happy-Go-Lucky at the Avon. As part of the lead up to their Oscar gala, the Avon shows many of the more obscure Oscar-nominated films. That's how I got to see the captivating, Sean Penn-directed, Into the Wild last year. HGL was cute but not as captivating- it should have been 20 minutes shorter. Go to the Avon's site for full film schedule.

There are 2 more Oscar events I want to go to:
1. Animated and Live Film Shorts on Wed. Feb. 18. The live action are at 6, the animated are at 7:45. (You only have to pay once.) Bring a butt-cushion and stay for both. (Or, did the Avon redo their seats yet? I was in the small theatre yesterday, and those seats were fine, but the main theatre is notoriously uncomfortable.)
2. A documentary about New Orleans called Trouble the Water- that's on Sat, Feb. 21, at 11:00am.
3. I reeeeeeeeeeally want to go to the Oscar Gala, where you dress up and watch the Oscars on the Avon's Big Screen, but that's $350 a person. Forget it; that's over 1/3 the price of the $900 stroller I've been coveting since my trip to giggle in Greenwich. MUST- HAVE- BUGABOO.

Here's a summary of the documentary:

TROUBLE THE WATER- Nominated for Best Documentary
Beginning the day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Kimberly Rivers Roberts, an aspiring rap artist, turned her new video camera on herself and her 9th Ward neighbors trapped in the city. Along with her husband Scott, Roberts continued to film their harrowing retreat to higher ground, the dramatic rescues of friends and neighbors, the devastation of their neighborhood, and the appalling repeated failures of government.

Back to the stroller. I get obsessed with things. Right now it's the Bugaboo Cameleon stroller. I know that's a lot for a stroller, but you don't understand how smoothly and lightly it steers. Previously, I was obsessed with the glass bracelets at Artistic Hand-Blown Glass downtown. I am currently obsessed with Biggest Loser. Before that, it was Lost and Guitar Hero. I have been obsessed with the color orange since my wedding. I had orange roses, and right now, there is orange striped bedding on the baby's crib. This website actually has the same colors as my wedding- orange and light blue.

Oh, and the bugaboo? You can get part of the fabric in orange. You see why I cannot shake the bugaboo.
I understand that it might seem grossly materialistic, but I say to you, you have not pushed the bugaboo.

Husband, just now: "You realize it's just a carriage, right?"
Silly, silly man. He was the one who initially acted like we might buy it, so I blame him for putting the bugaboo in my head. I was just gonna go Graco. Now, visions of bugaboo dance in my head.

Related Stamford Talk Posts:
--FEBRUARY 18, 2008-- Avon Film Festival Continues, and Into the Wild
--JANUARY 6, 2009-- Biggest Loser Season Starts Tonight!
--MARCH 4, 2008-- Mystery, Power: Stamford and the Island of Lost
--APRIL 6, 2008-- Weddings in the FC: Not Cheap, But Doable
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stamford Recycling Survey via NYU

An NYU grad student contacted me to see if I'd post this survey on recycling in Stamford. I did the survey, and it only took me about 7 minutes. It's simple, straightforward, and the buttons were very satisfying to click. Use the link above to take the survey.

I made the grad student reassure me that the survey is totally confidential. All questions are optional, so if you don't want to answer one, don't. The NYU students won't be sharing any demographic info with the city of Stamford. The location information (address or intersection if you choose to answer that question) will only be used to determine recycling routes.

We don't recycle a ton. We drink a lot of water in this house from our Brita filter. We also have not had any big parties recently. Sigh.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Labriola Framing: Stamford Errand Success

I had a spectacular afternoon of errand-running before the roads started getting slippery around 3pm. I got a poster framed for the baby's room, bought some stamps for my thank you cards, and bought some used books at Turn of River library that tell me how to actually take care of an infant once he's here.

I must give a shout out to Labriola Frame and Art Gallery on High Ridge. They cut a mat for my poster for cheaper than Michael's, and they did it in less than 10 minutes. My decorator friend had told me to go to Michael's; I have the frame, so how hard could it be to cut a mat out? However, Michael's said they send the stuff out to be framed, so I wouldn't have it for two weeks. This baby's due in 4, and I am obsessed with having things ready for him even if he's early, so a two-week wait was not cool. Plus, I am dying to see my Neil Young/Lucinda Williams concert poster in the baby's room.
I called Labriola once I realized Michael's was not going to be convenient, and they said they could do it today. Not only did Labriola cut my mat in a jiff, the woman working there carried my frame and poster to my car once she noticed I was pregnant. Now, that's good service!

Getting my errands done so efficiently made me glad I live in Stamford. I love this place; there's everything I need here (except nice maternity clothing- I have to go to Westport for that- and a nice Mexican/Spanish resto with good margaritas- I have to go to Greenwich for that).
People still drove like punks today, but all in all, it reminded me why I like Stamford and hope to buy a house here one day. It stinks that a couple with good jobs finds it a stretch to afford a non-run-down house, but we'll see how it pans out in the next year.
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