Monthly Archives: October 2012

Even Storm Sandy Can’t Keep A Good Party (Or Parade) Down

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As Connecticut cleans up and plugs back in  following Hurricane Sandy, the partying around here doesn’t miss a beat.

This weekend includes a host of choices ranging from the state’s premiere women’s forum and upscale tag sales to awards dinners, fundraisers and the Veterans Day Parade in Hartford.

On Thursday, the annual “Business Women’s Forum,” the longest-running, full-day annual conference for women, will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center.

Featured speakers at the event include Elizabeth Vargas, award-winning ABC 20/20 anchor, former Disney exec , author and motivational speaker Dennis Snow and UCONN coach Chris Dailey. Theme this year is “Winning Strategies for Business Professionals” and includes workshops and a luncheon. Call 203-757-0701 for ticket information.

The Urban League of Greater Hartford,Inc. will posthumously honor its former president Dr. Bill Brown at its Equal Opportunity Day  “Stompin At The Savoy” dinner Friday at the Hartford Marriott. Also being honored is the Iron Workers Local No. 15. Information: 860-527-0147.

Also on Friday , the Wadsworth Atheneum’s POSH sale opens at the Design Center in Hartford, a high-end tag sale featuring exclusive clothes and accessories with proceeds benefiting its  Costume & Textile Society’s programs. Friday’s private party is for members who pay the $60 sneak peek admission, but is then open Saturday and Sunday for the public. Admission is free. For more information go to www.wadsworth.org   

On  Saturday, it’s  Gifts of Love “Fire and Ice Gala,” a fundraiser benefiting the organization’s food and nutrition programs as well as other programs for families in need. The event will be held  at the Ethel Walker School in Simsbury and includes wine and beer tastings, gourmet food stations, dancing and a fashion show. Tickets are $75 a person. For information go to giftsoflove.org.

New England’s largest salute to veterans will take place Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the 2012 “Connecticut Veterans Parade” in Hartford. The 13th annual parade will step off near the State Capitol Building.

“This parade is a very poignant tribute to the dedicated servicemen and women of all conflicts who stepped forward so we that can continue to enjoy our freedom,” said Paul F. Pendergast, President of the Connecticut Veterans Parade and a U.S. Air Force veteran. “We encourage people from all corners of Connecticut and beyond to come line the streets and say ‘Thank You’ for their sacrifices.”

There will be a  1:30 p.m. Moment of Silence when the parade pauses in observance of veterans who died while serving their country. A Wreath-Laying Ceremony to remember veterans will be held at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at 11:30 a.m., before the parade. the 2012 parade grand marshal is Lt. Col. Michael Zacchea of Brookfield, a veteran of the U.S. Marines who runs the University of Connecticut’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, and is director of veterans’ outreach and support for UConn’s Graduate School of Business.  The three honorary grand marshals are Capt. Dori Zink Freer of Shelton, flight officer Connie Nappier of New Britain and Maj. Frank A. Tantillo of Tolland.

 

 

Cancellations Begin For The Week in Hartford

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Canceled because of Hurricane Sandy:
The launch of the Connecticut Health Council – slated for Wednesday, October 31 –  It will be rescheduled.
Shaping Connecticut’s Future: 2012 Manufacturing Forum on Tuesday, October 30.
The CT Veterans Parade Essay Program Ceremony at the Capitol is canceled but Sunday’s paracde is still on!

If You Are “Sandy Stuck,” Eats Out Are Possible

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While everyone  is consumed with hunkering down as Connecticut prepares for Sandy (as everyone should be) there are those who will get stuck in hotels  tonight  because of work, etc. or who live downtown in places including Hartford or West Hartford and may lose power.

Right now, a couple of restaurants insist they will do everything possible to be open tonight despite the storm, restaurants that ideally are within walking distance of hotels, condos, apartments etc. and can provide for those in need.

Among them, Salute in downtown Hartford where the  stellar words are “rain or shine” and Barcelona Wine Bar and its Bartaco, both of which, as of this morning, also plan to be open for the day.

“Let’s show Sandy who’s boss,” is the challenge from Barcelona/Bartaco chef Adam Greenberg.

Tyler Anderson said his  Millwright’s  in Simsbury is closed today, Monday,  as usual but promises “we may get creative on Tuesday” depending on when the storm subsides.

Angelico’s Lake House in East Hampton has also brought in heavy duty generators and plan to be open tonight.

All Grants restaurants are closed today but plan to reopen Tuesday.

In anticipation of massive power outages, many restaurants are checking and double-checking generators, already preparing for hungry people in need once the storm subsides Tuesday but call ahead.

Bob Steele Takes On Gambling in ” The Curse”

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For most in Connecticut, the name Robert Steele conjures up the image as a former Congressman who unsuccessfully ran again the late governor Ella T. Grasso, the well-spoken politician whose dad, Bob Steele, was a radio icon.

These days however, Robert Steele is an author. His debut book, “The Curse,” is a novel, a family saga that begins in the 17th century and morphs into a contemporary tale of the arrival of casino gambling in Connecticut, complete with historical references, mobsters, politicians and business moguls looking to get rich quick. Steele, a one-time resident of Ledyard, lived next to the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, affording him a front row seat to the state’s emerging gambling industry. Why he wrote the book and how he did it were some of the topics he discussed when he Spilled the Beans with Java.

Q: You were such an intense politician in your heyday so I was surprised you wrote a novel rather than some “think tank” non-fiction about the evil of gambling. Why do it this way?

A: I came in touch with this story in many different places. I played Little League baseball in Wethersfield within a mile of the Pequot attack. I served in Congress so I knew the political aspects and the players and the chiefs of the tribes. And then I lived on edge of the reservation for 21 years till 1998 and as I watched this develop it seemed this was one of the most fascinating stories in Connecticut. Here was this region that was hit out of the blue, something that had an enormous impact on its economy and culture. People who don’t live there can’t begin to grasp the impact of casino gambling. The more I thought about it and trying to link it to my experience, it seemed to me the whole story of the past and how it happened was a fascinating one. I knew there were three factual books already written on the subject so I saw no reason to try that but decided to do it from a different direction and to a broader audience. I think a good story is always made up of what is most interesting. I think it is an absolutely intriguing story and even more intriguing as I tell it from a fictional character point of view.

Q: Clearly you have a personal interest in that you represented that area of the state. Given the name of the book, was writing it a way to unload your pent-up anger or a gentle way to teach a lesson?

A: I hope people will find it a fascinating story. I hope it will serve as a cautionary tale about bringing gamble casinos into their towns and communities. Every week we read about economy and jobs and I am most concerned as the gambling monopoly ends, what happens next? The best independent economists and analysts say the cost benefit ratio of a casino is 3 to 1, that’s three dollars spent for every dollar in benefits, money spent on things like social issues, broken families, gambling addiction. Ct has been in a more advantageous position because more than half of these gamblers are from out of state but that is going to change as other states add casinos. Now our governor is saying double down and we should be a leader in internet gambling.

Q: I take it you don’t agree with that?

A: There is a double concern. It’s terrible. I think it is time for some leader to step forth as Gov. Weicker did and say more gambling is not what this state needs.

Q: The story line of your novel pretty much boils down to greed and what seems to be politicians and slick business people who use their positions to undermine others and that never-ending battle of money somehow circumventing common sense. Or did I read it wrong?

A: It comes down to public policy and where are our leaders? There is another new book that will scare the daylights out of you by an MIT professor called “Addiction by Design.” It’s about how today’s modern slot machines are addiction delivery devices that are designed to maximize the time people are on the slot machines. Liberals and conservatives agree it is an aggressive tax that goes after people who are susceptible. Internet gambling which would put a casino on everyone’s Smartphone. Somebody has to ask ‘is that good?’The book is intended to entertain as an engaging gripping novel and be a cautionary tale about where America is going.

Q: You sound as though you might have some renewed political plans?

A: Politics are distant in my past and I am totally sitting on the sidelines. No absolutely not. I spent a long time writing this book and I couldn’t step up any more.

Q: Any thoughts on the state of our state from a politician’s point of view?

A: I think we are doing everything we can to encourage jobs and the economy and I applaud those efforts. I like seeing the biotech and other technology growth and what seems to be a replacement for manufacturing. We should ride that, it seems to be the trend in the country. It should not be more gambling.

Q: What about the current national campaign, the U.S. Senate horserace between Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon?

A: I am still a Republican. But I look at these candidates and the arguments and one of the things that bothers me is nobody wants to tell the truth about what has to be done. There is no way there will be Social Security when my grandkids are ready unless we reform it. It is so dishonest to say ‘I will do nothing about social security.’ Everybody is going to have to get together and make these tough decisions. I don’t even want to discuss who I am supporting. Don’t want it to get mixed up with the book.

Q: Will you consider writing any other books?

A: I have a different feeling every day. It depends on how exhausted I am. I have no immediate plans. This book was really unique because I lived there for 21 years and knew the players.

Steele will disucss his book on Nov. 8, at the Essex Library and on Nov. 15, at RJ Julia in Madison.

CT Has A Cosmo Hottie, Its Own Christian

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Sick of hearing about Hurricane Sandy? Go get a magazine to wile away the hours while it storms. Get Cosmopolitan. There’s a Connecticut surprise inside, its own Christian and he loves classical music, too.

That would be  Christian Kim, a 26-year-old Yale master’s student and professional violinist who also happens to be on Cosmo’s “Bachelors 2012” list.

The hunky Mr. Kim was nominated by a friend at New Haven’s Ivy League school and had this to say about the Nutmeg State entry:

“Christian is definitely the hottest guy at Yale. He’s incredibly nice and very hardworking.”

The magazine holds an on-line contest every year to determine who is “the” hottest bachelor in the nation and while Kim was not the winner, (but talk about a coincidence, it was Louisiana’s Ryan Chenevert who won…same last name as UTC head Louis Chenevert) he fared pretty well when it came to attracting some deserved attention.

He had this to say in his magazine bio when it comes to describing what happens “when he is into a girl:”

-“I’ll just ask her out. I’m comfortable making the first move.”

And his answer to “don’t ignore his”

-“Palms. They’re really very sensitive.”

And the craziest thing he has done for love?

-“I drove all night to see a girl for 30 minutes and then drove back!”

And as far as lingerie or commando: which is hotter?

-“Lingerie.”

And if that isn’t enough, you have to admit he also plays a mean violin.

Pumpkin Speaking…What The Heck?

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What animals have decided to make my pumpkins their lunch? These poor things on my front porch were fine when I left this morning?  Will be doing some serious cosmetic surgery to get them ready for Halloween!

John O’Hurley Spills About West Hartford

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John O’Hurley is one of Connecticut’s best known favorite sons and he’s back, albeit just for a few days, but thrilled to be here. Best known as catalogue entrepreneur J. Peterman on the tv show “Seinfeld” and the winner of the Season One grudge match on “Dancing With The Stars,” the 58-year-old musician, show host, author, stage star and philanthropist plays slick lawyer, Billy Flynn, in the Bushnell production of “Chicago” with Christie Brinkley. Raised in West Hartford, O’Hurley was glad to be “home” for a few days, relaxed and personable in his dressing room just an hour before opening night Thursday as he Spilled the Beans With Java.

 

Q: If I understand this correctly, this is a significant show for you. Why?

A: This is the first time since 1981 when I left Connecticut to go to New York that I am performing in the Hartford area.

Q: And the kick is?

A: I have not been at the Bushnell since 1967 when Strawberry Alarm Clock was in town with The Turtles. It was my first concert. WDRC with Dick Robinson sponsored the concert. Robinson was rock and roll in Hartford at the time. It was great.

Q: You grew up in West Hartford so are you nervous or excited about performing in front of friends here?

A: It’s great. Kingswood-Oxford, where I went to school, is bringing a whole group to the show Friday and it is wonderful they are coming. It really is great to be back here. My footprints are all over this town.

Q: And what footprints have you revisited since you’ve been back?

A: Well, I did come back to West Hartford many, many times because my parents lived here up until seven or eight years ago. My dad was chief of staff at St. Francis. I got in at 3 p.m. and went to Max’s for lunch. I plan to do my morning run at the reservoir in West Hartford. I’m having breakfast Friday with my dear friend Jim Battaglia. He was a buddy when I was PR director at Waterbury Hospital and he was at Hartford Hospital. We are close friends.  I was also PR head at the Red Cross in Farmington.

Q: Interesting career path.

A: I lived backwards.

Q: What do you like about your character Billy Flynn?

A: I love this character. He fascinates me. He is one of the more complicated characters, elegant and  dangerous and there are moments of paternal quality in him. If you play him just as a slick lawyer he is a one note character but if you look at the script very carefully there is evidence of a deeper, more complicated personality. He is a Johnnie Cochran, you have to get into his mind.

Q: How did your life in Connecticut contribute to your success as an actor?

A: I happened to grow up around a lot of successful men so when it came to doing something that was as dangerous and questionable as entertainment, I went into it to be a success. I was able to fall back on the examples I saw in West Hartford.  Beyond being an actor, a husband and father, too. West Hartford was an enormously important part of my growing up, the experiences there contributed to a sense of success, refinement and deeper value.

Q: You and your wife have a five-and-a-half year old son. Would you like to see him go into acting?

A: He just did his first performance! He dancing with his kindergarten class to Katy Perry’s “Fireworks.” he danced with his class to Katy Perrys fireworks. My wife posted the video on Facebook and he ran into my office the other day and said “Daddy, 26 people LIKED me!” that was the most important thing to him and he was so excited he went into the hallway and performed the dance for me. This was the first time he performed and I think he was enchanted and really excited about it. It was one of the things that burst him through his shell. He was so shy so this was his coming out party.

Q: Would you do a Seinfeld reunion?

A: I would but am sure they won’t ever do one. Larry David attempted one.

Q: Best memories of West Hartford?

A: West Hartford was the safest place in the world and I remember being in second grade and able to roam freely around downtown. LaSalle Music was the center of rock and roll and that’s where you went for albums and equipment. I took my guitar lessons there. It was an amazing time.

Q: Something no one knows about you?

A: I was 14 or so and my brother and I got our bicycles and rode to the Massachusetts border and back. We lived near Bishop’s Corner at the time.

Q: Why?

A: Just to say we did. We never told my parents.

“Chicago” plays at the Bushnell through Sunday. For ticket information go to www.bushnell.org

CT’s O’Hurley, Always A Treat

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West Hartford’s John O’Hurley was ready and relaxed as he counted down the minutes until opening night of “Chicago” at the Bushnell Thursday.

O’Hurley plays calculating lawyer Billy Flynn in the musical that also stars Christie Brinkley.

Best known as “J. Peterman” on the tv show “Seinfeld,” the former hospital pr guy, Kingswood/Oxford grad, author, composer, musician, actor and humanitarian was practically giddy over the fact that he was “back home” on a stage he hadn’t stepped on since he was a teen when he attended a WDRC Dick Robinson emceed concert featuring The Turtles and Strawberry Alarm Clock. (I think I was at that one too!)

Java spent some time in his dressing room before the production began and among other things he had to say was this  shout out for his CT and WeHa hood: