<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Dining, shopping and nightlife]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:34:14 -0500 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:34:14 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Penguin Plunge 2015]]> Sun, 25 Jan 2015 10:29:28 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/InRqkioJQfzifZusldOx-2-1232971963000.jpg

Multiple people plunged into icy cold water Sunday in support of Special Olympics Connecticut.

After raising money for the cause, participants ran into the cold lake at Winding Trials in Farmington, kicking off a series of six plunges statewide.

The Penguin Plunge is the "largest grassroots fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut," according to the organization's website.

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<![CDATA[Target Launches New Plus-Size Line]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:51:24 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/240*120/AVA+VIV+Header.jpg

Target has announced plans to unveil a new clothing line designed specifically for plus-size women.

The line, expected to arrive in mid-February, was designed by Target's in-house design team and features "stylish basics along with trend-driven statement pieces that fashionistas will love," the company said in a release Wednesday.

Similar to Target’s other apparel line, the new AVA & VIV clothing will be updated monthly, with prices ranging from $10 to $79.99.

“Target is synonymous with great design, and with the launch of AVA & VIV, we’re stepping up our fashion game for our Plus-size guests,” Stacia Andersen, senior vice president of merchandising, apparel and accessories at Target said in a statement. “From stylish original prints to the attention to detail and fit, this line is meant to impress and we can’t wait to share it with our guests.”

As part of their latest line launch, the Minneapolis-based retailer enlisted the help of a blogger who once called for a boycott of the company. Chastity Garner, along with fellow plus-size bloggers Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason, were hired to help promote the line and give feedback on the newest collection.

Last August, Garner announced she was boycotting Target after the company released their Altuzarra for Target collection.

"Year after year, season after season, you put out these gorgeous designer collections and you almost never include a plus range. Every time each of these collections is about to be released it feels like a slap in the face," Garner wrote. “You may ask, ‘Is there any way I will take you back?’ I will take you back, when and only when, you include true plus sizes in your designer range collaborations. Until then, I will take my money elsewhere."

The line will be available on Target.com on Feb. 22 and will arrive in stores mid-February through March, the company said.



Photo Credit: Target
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<![CDATA[Sad Monkey Consoled by Pal]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:08:30 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/012215+comforting+monkeys.jpg

Think you had a bad day? Try trading places with this sad little monkey.

In this adorable clip from Miami's Zoological Wildlife Foundation, Angelica, a capuchin monkey, lands herself in timeout. And clearly, she is heartbroken over it.

Jessica Soto, an assistant with ZWF Miami, tells NBC 6 that Angelica is a 2-year-old capuchin monkey, and Toby is almost 4. Together, the pair were both playing with a Yorkie puppy when Toby pulled on the pup's leg. The two were scolded, and Angelica took off running to hide. As a result, Soto says both monkeys were put in timeout.

In the clip, we can see Angelica inconsolably rest her head in her hands, looking truly heartbroken over her predicament.

Thankfully, her good friend Toby was there to make their time in timeout more bearable. 

In the adorable clip, Toby can be seen putting a caring arm around his pal, offering some friendly chatter, and even giving her a few sweet scratches to the head.

The caption on the @zwfmiami Instagram page says,"Toby consoling Angelica, who's on timeout," along with the hashtag "#almosthuman."

Soto says capuchin monkeys are highly intelligent and are often used as service animals, as is the case with Angelica and Toby who are the service animals of a ZWF guest.

Thankfully, Soto says Angelica was not kept in timeout very long, but just long enough to capture the sweet moment between two friends on video.



Photo Credit: ZWF Miami/Instagram
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<![CDATA[Linkin Park Cancels Mohegan Sun Show]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:08:51 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Chester+Bennington+Edited.jpg

Linkin Park has canceled its national "Hunting Party" tour, including its Connecticut stop, after lead singer Chester Bennington injured himself.

The band had an upcoming show scheduled for Friday, Jan. 30 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, but the performance has been canceled.

“Linkin Park regret (sic) to inform their fans they must cancel the remaining dates of The Hunting Party tour through February 14th, due to a leg injury of lead vocalist Chester Bennington," the band said in a written statement. "The injury requires immediate medical attention making it physically impossible for Bennington to perform."

Bennington also issued a personal statement.

"I'm really disappointed this injury has made it impossible to continue with this tour," Bennington said in a statement. "The first couple of shows were just magical. We will truly miss not being with our fans for the next few weeks. Hope to see you again soon."

Ticket holders will be reimbursed.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CT's "American Sniper" Helps Vets With Film's Success]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 09:10:39 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kevin+Lacz+Edited.jpg

A Connecticut resident who starred alongside Bradley Cooper as himself in box office smash "American Sniper" is using the success of the film to help veteran causes.

Middlefield resident Kevin Lacz, a former Navy Seal sniper, befriended Chris Kyle, the sniper Bradley Cooper portrays in the film, while he was serving in Iraq. Clint Eastwood's film took in $105 million and is based on the true story of Kyle, now well known as the most lethal sniper in United States history.

"Him (Lacz) having all this success and doing what he's done with Navy Seals and so far with the movie's success, it's just been incredible," said Joe Branciforte, who has been close friends with Lacz since high school. "Nothing really surprises me when it comes to Kevin."

Kyle died in 2013 at the hands of a veteran he was trying to help. Branciforte said Lacz is continuing Kyle's work by supporting veteran causes.

"He wants to give of himself. He's not looking to benefit from this. He wants to take that success he has from his career in the Seals and the movie's success and put it towards veteran causes and help veterans," Branciforte said. "That was Chris Kyle's dream and now it's become Kevin's dream."

Lacz will be back in Connecticut in February, holding a charity reception and auction on Feb. 8. Connecticut Trees of Honor and the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit and Auction are two charities that the event will benefit. 

Branciforte said it doesn't surprise him that Lacz is giving back.

"Anything he can do to help vet causes...he's all about it," Branciforte said. "That's what his goal is now and what he wants to accomplish most."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oreo Dresses Up for Valentine's Day With New Flavor]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:00:44 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/222*120/oreo+red+velvet+1200.jpg

Oreos are dressing up for Valentine’s Day.

The treat dubbed “milk’s favorite cookie” has a new look and flavor, one that is popular among foodies—Red Velvet. The chocolate cookies are now red and have a creme cheese spread between them.

They will hit stores on February 2 and be around for only six to eight weeks.

Eager Oreo lovers can enter for a chance to win free samples before they hit shelves — 20, 250 people will be selected to try the cake-like treats.

According to a taste test by Today.com, the Red Velvet cookies have garnered mixed reviews. Some call it too sweet while others think they are simply delish. 

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<![CDATA[Head to Mohegan for Sun WineFest This Weekend]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 15:33:59 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/wine_bottles_generic.jpg

It’s all about wine, beer and celebrity chefs at Mohegan Sun this weekend. The 12th annual Sun WineFest gets underway on Friday and continues through Sunday.

Guests will be able to sample more than 1,000 varieties of wine and beer. If you’re a foodie, you won’t be left out. You can sample signature dishes from several regional restaurants.

On Friday, there will be a bourbon tasting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can also sample cigars and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $90.

The grand tasting scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday is already sold out. It will include demonstrations by celebrity chefs, including Todd English.

From noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, there will be an Elite Cru tasting, where you can taste vintages from around the globe and meet the winemakers.

From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., watch celebrity chefs prepare their signature dishes at live cooking stations, paired with premium wine or beer. Tickets are $200.

On Sunday, there will be another grand tasting event, from noon to 5 p.m. For $70, you can taste more than 1,000 wines and beers, as well as some spirits. You can also watch demonstrations for celebrity chefs.

Are you going? Send your photos to us at shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.


 



Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>
<![CDATA[Students Can See "Selma" For Free This Weekend]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 17:54:14 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/%27Selma%27-Best-Drama.jpg

Connecticut movie theaters are offering some students a chance to see the new movie, "Selma" for free this weekend.

The movie traces the 1965 Martin Luther King-led civil rights march from Selma, Alabama to the State Capitol in Montgomery.

The free tickets are being offered as an educational opportunity, according to a release. Students from seventh to ninth grade are eligible for the free tickets for shows from Friday through Monday.

Participating theaters are:

  • AMC Loews Danbury 16, Danbury
  • AMC Loews Plainville 20, Plainville
  • Bow Tie Cinemas Majestic 6, Stamford
  • Bow Tie Cinemas Plaza 3, Greenwich
  • Bow Tie Cinemas Royale, Norwalk
  • Cinema City At The Palace, Hartford
  • Cinemark Buckland Hills 18 + IMAX, Manchester
  • Cinemark Connecticut Post 14 + IMAX, Milford
  • Cinemark North Haven 12, North Haven
  • Showcase Cinemas Bridgeport, Bridgeport

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<![CDATA[100 Cases of Beer at Your Door? There's an App for That]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 16:54:01 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bud+Light+App.jpg

Some Bud Light lovers can now get beer delivered to their door with the tap of a smartphone screen.

With two weeks to go until Super Bowl Sunday, Anheuser-Busch has introduced a new app offering home delivery of Bud Light in less than an hour.

The free app "Bud Light Button" made its debut in Washington, D.C., this week. It provides Bud Light during the legal hours that alcohol is allowed to be sold in the city. The company said a "nominal" delivery fee will be charged, but did not specify the amount.

As of Thursday, D.C. residents of legal drinking age were able to order between one and 100 cases of beer with just the touch of a button.

The app is part of Bud Light’s "Up for Whatever" campaign to encourage customers to have spontaneous fun.

David J. Hanson, professor emeritus of sociology at the State University of New York at Potsdam, said the app follows a broader trend of dry counties becoming wet and blue law prohibitions against Sunday sales of alcohol declining.

"I think a lot of people will be willing to pay the extra fee for home delivery. Hopefully it will decrease the number of drinking and driving injuries as well," said Hanson, who has researched alcohol and drinking for more than 40 years.

He hopes to see the app spreading to all 50 states, predicting that it will do well if the company sees people vote with their dollars... or with their pointer fingers. 

The app is currently only available on Android-powered smart phones; an IOS version is coming soon.

For more information on how to download the app, click here.  

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<![CDATA[Delta Makes Flight With 2 Passenger]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:26:27 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Empty-Plane.jpg

Legroom wasn't an issue for one Brooklyn man who was lucky enough to be one of two passengers on a flight from Cleveland to New York City Monday morning.

Chris O'Leary, editor of beer blog Brew York, tweeted a photo of himself on the otherwise empty plane before the jet turned back to the gate to pick up a second passenger, according to his Twitter feed.

"They rebooked everyone but me on another flight to LGA, so I am literally the only person on this plane," O'Leary said in one tweet.

In another tweet, O'Leary said that a second passenger got on the plane just as his plane was about to push back from the gate. The two passengers then departed for New York City.

Several other Twitter users expressed envy at O'Leary's presumably peaceful flight.

"Talk about leg room. No babies crying. And, no fighting over the arm rest. Play the lottery, you're sure to win," tweeted Kesha B.



Photo Credit: Chris O'Leary via Twitter @ohhleary
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<![CDATA[Hartford Band Nominated for 2 New England Music Awards]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 08:45:09 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/West+End+Blend+Edited.jpg

Positivity and inclusiveness, not exclusivity, is the West End Blend way.

That is evident not only in the size of the 11-piece up-and-coming Hartford-based band, but also in the fusion of art it incorporates into its music – self-described as an “Afro-beat,” funk, dance and “jam collective,” also drawing from jazz, hip hop and other art forms. The group is nominated for best new band and best song for the upcoming New England Music Awards.

Drummer Sam Horan, 24, of Guilford, and guitarist Jesse Combs formed the group in November of 2012 when most of the band members were living within a few blocks of each other and attending the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at The Hartt School in Hartford.

“We basically had this vision of creating a band where we can just kind of let loose and have fun and kind of have no egos attached to anything that’s going on. And we saw a lot of other talent around us, whether it be dance, art, painting, graffiti, poetry, everything,” Horan said after the band played its original song “What It’s All About” on NBC Connecticut News Sunday morning. “What we wanted to do is create a band where we can use all of it and have anyone come and join us in a collaborative effort.”

Jazz is a main layer in the group’s musical blend, but singer Erica Bryan, 22, of New Haven said that each artist in the group brings their own “flavor,” from R&B and soul to hip hop and funk.

“Anything that gets people dancing,” Horan said.

Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Biggie Smalls, Steely Dan and Diana Ross are just some of the musicians and bands who inspire their music and whose songs they cover when they’re not performing their own.

“We kind of go through the eras of groovy music,” Horan said.

Sometimes artists can be selective about who they perform with in the music industry, but Horan said West End Blend doesn’t turn anyone away from playing with the constantly growing band. The band is “breaking the cliques” and “welcoming all forms of art and ideas," he said.

It’s that inclusive and open mindset that puts the blend in the Hartford West End band’s style and its brand, according to Bryan and rapper Tangsauce, 23, of Hartford. Its logos, posters and band art, painted by a group member, draw in the visual arts.

West End Blend keeps it positive and accepts any ideas, but one thing the group stays away from is profanity.

“You can get a message across without that, you know?” Bryan said.

Plus, Tangsauce said the clean lyrics keep their music “radio-ready.”

The band released a three-song EP, or a sampling of its music, called “What It’s All About” in September, titled after the hit song nominated for “best song” in the New England Music Awards.

“We have about four or five different songwriters in the band right now,” Horan said, including Bryan and the band’s keyboardist, saxophonist, bassist and artist, and everyone gets a chance to write music. “It contributes to the blend aspect of it all.”

Rehearsal allow for creative freedom in the band’s process of making music.

“We just kind of start to jam and see what happens from there,” Bryan said.

And for the band, that’s what it’s all about.

West End Blend is working on recording its debut full-length album. They’ve also collaborated with several different groups and are hoping to do a lengthy tour in the future.

West End Blend's EP is available for purchase on the group’s website westendblend.com and westendblend.bandcamp.com, where you can also find more information about the group and its upcoming performances.

Other members of the group include Alex Heaton and Andrew Cusanelli on percussion, Tom Sullivan on bass, Paulie Philippone on keys, Mike Dipanfilo on guitar, John Mundy on trombone, Mike Bufando on trumpet, Mike Oehmen on tenor sax and Vicky Medieros on baritone sax.

Correction: West End Blend originally told NBC Connecticut the band is performing at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford at the end of January, but the venue reached out to say that hasn't been finalized and that the event is private. The story has been edited to reflect the update.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Dave Matthews Band Comes to Hartford in June]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 13:30:46 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/181*120/Dave+Matthews+Band+Sleep+Train+9.5.14+%2839%29.jpg

Dave Matthews Band will be making a stop Hartford this June during the summer tour.

DMB will be at Xfinity Theater in Hartford on Friday, June 12 for one-night only.

The 2015 North American tour will kick off on May 13 in Austin, Texas and each show with have two full sets, according to a news release from Live Nation.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 13, but they will go on sale online this Thursday at 10 a.m. for members of the DMB Warehouse Fan Association.

Citi card members will have access to presale tickets beginning February 9. 

Dave Matthews Band is doing several shows in the region this summer.

On June 9, they will be at Nikon at Jones Beach Amphitheatre in Wantagh, New York. On June 10, they will be at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey.

On June 13, they will be at XFINITY Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts and two shows are planned, June 26 and 27, at Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey.

The tour ends Sept. 13 in Phoenix, Arizona.
 



Photo Credit: Alex Matthews]]>
<![CDATA[French Bulldog Struggles to Reclaim Bed From Cat]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 09:04:34 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2015-01-07+at+8.33.42+AM.png

It's a dog-eat-dog world.

In a video picking up steam on the web, a French bulldog named Pixel adorably struggles to reclaim its bed after a calico cat stole it away.

Despite the 10-week-old puppy's efforts, the cat shows no intention of leaving.

Despite the tug-of-war match, Pixel and the cat can be seen sharing the bed in a photo posted on an Instagram account made for the dog.

The video was first noted by Jezebel.


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<![CDATA["Flat White" Added to Starbucks Menu]]> Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:08:22 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/0105-2015-FlatWhite.jpg

The "flat white" is going mainstream.

Starbucks introduced Tuesday its own version of the flat white, a specialty coffee drink popular in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K, but until now relatively unknown in the U.S.

"This coffee connoisseur's choice combines ristretto shots made with Starbucks signature Espresso Roast and freshly steamed whole milk with microfoam, expertly handcrafted for a genuine Flat White experience," Starbucks explains on its website.

It may be hard for some to distinguish between a cappuccino and flat white.

"It’s about two ounces of espresso and covered in four ounces of milk, with less than a centimeter of foam,” said Chromatic Coffee co-founder Otessa Crandell in California's Bay Area. Crandell's San Jose-based shop has until now been one of the few in town to serve a flat white.

Crandell said the hard-to-make drink is similar to a cappuccino or could be considered akin to a condensed latte.

"Incredibly quick in preparation and it also is really delicate so if you stretch it [the milk] even a little bit too much, essentially you have too much foam,” Crandell said.

"You get more of the sweetness from the lactose in the milk, and the sweetness in the espresso really shines through as well,” said Chromatic Coffee co-founder Hiver van Geenhoven.

The flat white has been on Chromatic's menu for more than a year, but few customers have had it.

"If Starbucks is going to launch a flat white, what that means for us is that we're going to get even more customers that are excited to taste something they tried, and they want to taste it elevated even more,” Crandell said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Emerge Festival Comes to Hamden]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 15:56:16 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Emerge+Festival+Logo+1200.jpg

For the last two years, the Emerge Festival has raised money to help Connecticut touring musicians, but the annual live music event is moving to a new venue and funding a different charity this year.

This year the Emerge Festival will move to The Outer Space and Outer Space Ballroom in Hamden on Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 and the acts will perform on two separate stages.

The third annual event will benefit Interval House in Hartford, as well as the organization’s partners across the state, to help raise money to battle against and raise awareness of domestic violence.

Festival organizers have announced the first acts included, including Brooklyn’s EULA, which will hold their CD release party, and Heather Fay, the 2014 Connecticut Music Awards nominee; The Meadows Brothers; Lizzienrose; Space Orphans; and Funky Dawgz Brass Band on Friday night.

On Saturday night, the acts include The Backyard Committee; hip-hop act Political Animals; Connecticut Music Award winners, Oh, Cassius!; and other Connecticut-based acts, including Straight To VHS and Laundry Day.



Photo Credit: Emerge Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Titanic Exhibit's Journey Ends Today at Mystic Aquarium]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 12:37:42 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/KNSD_Titanic_Exhibit_to_Open_020912_41_mezzn_722x406_2194773727.jpg

Monday is the last day you can see a Titanic exhibit that has been at Mystic Aquarium for over three and a half years.

"Titanic - 12,450 Feet Below," which has been at the aquarium since April 2012, features the tragic story of the sunken Titanic and information on Dr. Robert Ballard's discovery of the RMS Titanic wreckage in 1985, Mystic Aquarium officials said in a news release.

"Mystic Aquarium's Titanic exhibit gave us the opportunity to showcase the story of the Titanic in association with the 100 year anniversary of its sinking," Mystic Aquarium President and CEO Stephen Coan said. "We are honored to have been able to educate our guests and to showcase one of the highlights of Dr. Robert Ballard's work."

As the Titanic's journey halts at Mystic on Monday, construction is slated to begin for the next exhibit in the space at the United Technologies Exploration Center, according to a news release. Ballard's Ocean Exploration work will be a part of the new exhibit, Mystic Aquarium officials said.

Tim Delaney, a former Walt Disney Imagineer, designed the exhibit in collaboration with the aquarium and Ballard "to bring Titanic's timeless history to life and real and poignant ways through captivating imagery, breathtaking recreation, emotional soundscapes, hands-on activities and thrilling entertainment," Mystic Aquarium said in a news release.

Visitors can "touch an iceberg, hear the warnings of the Morse code," take a look through Ballard's digital archives and watch videos showing the "Titanic's resting place" and feature the "tale of her discovery," according to Mystic Aquarium.

More information is available on Mystic's Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube.

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<![CDATA[Ring in the New Year in Connecticut]]> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 07:56:43 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/champagne-generic-web-722.jpg

Are you ringing in 2015 in Connecticut? Cities and town statewide are getting ready for New Year's Eve.

If you're looking to go out, there are a slew of bars and restaurants in New Haven hosting special parties with New Year's Eve menus that will keep the champagne flowing.

There's also a First Night celebration in Hartford featuring artists, music, performance groups and exhibits at places from The Wadsworth Atheneum and the Old State House to Hartford City Hall. Tickets are on sale now.

Westport and Danbury have similar First Night celebrations.



Photo Credit: NBC Local Media]]>
<![CDATA[Couples Night Glass Blowing Demonstration in Riverton]]> Fri, 26 Dec 2014 09:43:12 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Glass_Blowing_Generic_722x406.jpg

Are you a glass half full kind of couple?

Well, on Friday night, couples can enjoy a glass of wine while learning how to make glass itself at Greenwood Glass in the Riverton section of Barkhamsted.

After a 20-minute glass blowing demonstration at 7:30 p.m., you'll have the chance to make your own glass paperweight or flower in a workshop in a 10- to 15-minute session.

During the workshop, participants will choose glass canes and the couples whose canes add up to a total length of 11 inches will win a free workshop to make a glass flower.

Hors d'oeuvres will be provided and there will also be music and dancing.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the event costs $12. The entry fee includes a glass of wine. The workshop is optional and costs $48.

Reservations are required, as the event has a 25-person minimum. Call Pete or Christine Greenwood to RSVP at the studio at 860-738-9464.

The glass blowing studio is located in a historic stone church in Riverton at 3 Robertsville Road.

More information is available on Peter Greenwood's website.

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<![CDATA[Prankster Gets Surprise After Giving Homeless Man $100]]> Wed, 24 Dec 2014 22:03:05 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/Homeless-Man-money.jpg

A prankster got a big surprise when he tried a social experiment to see how a homeless person would spend $100.

YouTube star Josh Paler Lin, whose channel has more than 711,000 subscribers, followed the destitute man after giving him the cash.

"It's nice meeting you," Lin said before walking away from the man. "I hope you have a good use for the money."

The man's first stop was a liquor store. He left with several bags and walked to a nearby park.

But instead of liquor, the man pulled food from the bags and proceeded to share it with his fellow homeless.

"My heart was crushed," Lin told "Today."

After seeing what the homeless man -- whose name is Thomas -- did with the money, Lin explained his experiment, apologized and gave him more. 

Lin also set up a crowdfunding page to raise money to help Thomas get off the streets. Donations have topped $75,000.

"People think I changed his life," Lin said, while maintaining that the video was not staged. "For me, it's completely the opposite. I feel that he changed my life."


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<![CDATA[37 Things to do on New Year’s Eve in Connecticut]]> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 18:17:39 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP73201008.jpg

Whether your New Year’s Eve calls for a night on the town or a family affair, Connecticut offers something for everyone.

Here are 37 New Year’s Eve parties around the state. Comment below with any other suggestions you’d like to share.

Mohegan Sun Arena (Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
8 p.m.: Amy Schumer Live – New Year’s Eve. Tickets are $45 and this show is for mature audiences.

Wolf Den (Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
8 p.m.: New Year’s Eve with Boogie Wonder Band

Concourse Celebration (Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
DJae Mêlée pyrotechnics display, performances by The Jat Crew Dancers and other entertainment. A piano player in the Hotel Lobby from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Party hats, tiaras and horns, which will be distributed at Summer and Riverview coat checks and Sky valet starting at 5 p.m.

The Cabaret Theatre (Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
10 p.m.: The Funniest New Year’s Eve Party in Connecticut -Laugh-in 2015 featuring Kevin Flynn, Joe Matarese & Stephanie Peters. Tickets are $34.50

VISTA Lounge at Wombi Rock (Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
9 p.m.: Music by Nina Sky. Tickets for VISTA’s party are $50, price subject to change based on availability. This party is for ages 21+ and the dress code will be enforced.

Avalon Nightclub (Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
9 p.m.: New Year’s Eve Party with DJ Enferno.
Tickets are $50 per person for the first 100 tickets, and the price will increase to $100 per person based on availability.

MIST (Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
10 p.m. party. Music by DJ Johnny Shine.
No cover charge.

The Landsdowne Irish Pub & Music House (Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
The Lansdowne Hoedown lives on with music by Branded starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include a country hat and a Budweiser toast at midnight. VIP reservations will be $30.

Maragaritaville (Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
Food and drinks. Party starts at 10 p.m.
Live music by the band Explicit

Shrine (Foxwoods, Mashantucket)
Resident DJ JD will be with us to celebrate for the ultimate NYE party!

Scorpion Bar (Foxwoods, Mashantucket)
Toast to 2015 at Scorpion Bar’s rockin’ New Year’s Eve party with DJ Jay Spring. Once advanced tickets sell out online, a limited amount will be available at the door night of.

Hard Rock Café (Foxwoods, Mashantucket)
Door opens at 10 p.m. and the party goes until 2:30 a.m.
$25 advance, $30 at the door

New Year’s Eve 2015 High Rollers (Foxwoods, Mashantucket)
Your ultimate New Year’s Eve party awaits you at High Rollers. Kick off 2015 with the full experience featuring music by DJ John Cardona, bowling, lounge tables and more.

Live DJ’s Property Wide (Foxwoods, Mashantucket)
Center Bar - Rich Money Beatz
Atrium - Melaena
Retail Concourse - Live DJ
The Box - Live DJ

2015 Comix Countdown with Jay Oakerson & Dueling Pianos (Foxwoods, Mashantucket)
Drinking and dancing until 2 a.m.
Comedy performance from Jay Oakerson and Dueling Pianos
Includes party favors, a champagne toast and a post-midnight dessert buffet

One Ticket – Two Bars (Stamford)
You can buy one ticket and attend both Bar-BQ and McFadden’s.
Ticket includes entrance, a four-hour open bar 8 p.m.-12 a.m., a full dinner buffet from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m., party favors and a champagne toast at midnight

New Year’s Eve Gala – The Country House (East Haven)
The evening includes entertainment by Local Motion Entertainment, an open bar, a champagne toast at midnight, and the meal selections below.
This event is held from 7:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. and is priced at $200.00 per couple. Tax and gratuity included.

Full Spectrum at Toad’s Place
New Year’s Eve Extravaganza stars at 8 p.m.
$9.99 with the pass found on their Facebook Page

Bridge Street Live’s NYE 2015
Bridge Street Live's New Year’s Eve Party 2015 features The Soul Sensations and includes a Large Dance Floor Center Stage, Passed Hor d’oeuvres, Champagne Toast, and more!

First Night Hartford
Families and friends of all ages can attend this alcohol-free celebration. The day is full of countless performances at multiple downtown arts and culture venues and churches. Two spectacular fireworks displays at 6 p.m. and midnight in Bushnell Park. Free ice skating in Bushnell Park until 1 a.m. Entertainment includes art displays and activities, comedy, live music, face painting, dancing, and magic. For full listing and details please visit our website.
Adults $12, youth $3, children (2 and under) free.
3 p.m. to midnight

First Night Danbury
Features more than 30 different acts and activities for both children and adults, ranging from vaudeville to outdoor ice carvings to multiple live musical performances. The annual 5K road race to help "Run into the New Year."
4 p.m.-8 p.m. Fireworks at 8:30 p.m.

First Night Westport/Weston
You can walk to all the venues in Downtown Westport and take a free bus to Saugatuck Elementary School. Venues for children of all ages. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. and end at end at 10 p.m.
Toquet Hall open until 10 p.m.
Special performance at 3 pm at the Westport Library in the Great Room!

Countdown to Noon (Niantic)
9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Explore the constellations with StarLab. Build, create, imagine with "Lets Get Building." "Crazy Science" and activities galore! Balloons drop at Noon and activities continue until 4!
Advanced registration: $5/member, $7/nonmember. Day of event: $7/member, $9/nonmember

Standup, Count Down New Year’s Eve Comedy Night (Waterbury)
Seven Angels Theater
4 NYC comedians laugh in the New Year. Two shows, 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., the second show includes appetizers and a champagne toast at midnight
With: John Iavarone, Phil Selman, Joseph Anthony and Carole Montgomery

Praise Party Celebration (Bloomfield)
Rehoboth Church of God
New Year’s Eve Praise Party Celebration
9:30 p.m. to midnight

Congregation B’nai Torah- Trumbull
NYE Party 7:30 p.m.
Sisterhood will be sponsoring a New Year’s Eve party this year, starting at 7:30 p.m. Open to all members. BYOB, $10 per person to cover light refreshments. RSVP to Robin in the office by Dec. 29.

Galaxy Roller Rink (Groton)
The Early Party
Noon to 5 p.m., $8 admission at the door or pre-sale tickets available for $7 below. Free party hats and noise makers, The countdown to 2015 with the Giant Balloon and stuffed animal drop at “Early-Midnight” (4 p.m.) The Late Party 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., $15 admission at the door or pre-sale tickets Available for $13 below. Free party hats and noise makers The countdown to 2015 with the Giant Balloon and stuffed animal drop at Midnight

New Year’s Eve Contra Dance Party (West Hartford)
West Hartford Town Hall
6:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Pot Luck Dinner
8 p.m. to 12:20 a.m. Dance

Triangles – LGBT Bar and Dance Club (Danbury)
Triangles Café is an alternative bar/nightclub in Danbury, CT. It is comprised of two rooms, two bars, a patio deck and 3rd bar open during the summer, dance floor, two lounge/couch areas, a half-dozen TV screens, and pool table. Triangles is diverse - it has that “Cheers” neighborhood bar vibe AND a hot urban nightclub experience - all under one roof!
"Girls Night Out" for TG's and their friends at a fun and friendly nightclub, each and every month!

Magical Mystery Tour – Beatlemania (Lakeville)
Welcome back the 60s and 70s with Beatlemania Again! This premium party event includes a dinner for two, full open bar all night, dancing to the biggest hits of all time - The Beatles, midnight champagne, and a breakfast buffet on New Year's Day.
During dinner our DJ will be spinning romantic hits from the 60s & 70s while we seat you 'family style' at tables of 8 to 10 people. Beatlemania Again! takes the stage - with three complete 45-minute sets and costume changes, taking us through the decades. Premium open bar continues, plus champagne at midnight. One night’s stay is included if you book before Dec. 10

Dancing New Year’s Eve CT (Stamford)
Sheraton Stamford Hotel: Dine, Dance & Party. A combination of a full dinner and open bar. Party to Hustle, Salsa, West Coast Swing, today’s hot Dance tracks + more with Midnight champagne toast.
Music provided by DJ’s Nino Torre & Wes Carrajat.

Amarante’s Sea Cliff (New Haven)
8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Eat well, drink well and have a night of celebration, in The Grand Ballroom, at Amarante’s Sea Cliff!
Five-hour premium open bar. Music for dancing. Champagne toast. Hats and noise makers.

Black Bear Saloon (Hartford)
$60 ticket includes a dinner buffet from 8-9:30 p.m., top shelf open bar from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., cover charge, party favors, and free champagne toast at midnight!

Billy Tee’s Exclusive 2015 (Cromwell)
6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Introductory ticket price: $35/person
Evening includes: Array of hot and cold appetizers, gourmet food stations, desserts, live band; neighborhood watch playing inside the Hideaway along w/ DJ Pons inside the Main restaurant. NYE party favors & midnight champagne toast.

Scatz Restaurant & Jazz Lounge NYE Extravaganza (Middletown)
Featuring CT’s own Rahsaan Langley and WYBC’s DJ Dame Dollar On lower level. Party goes until 3 a.m.
Price is $50 per person and $80 or couple before 10p.m. This includes dinner, dessert and champagne toast at midnight. This is a 25+ event.
$24 after 11pm for NYE after party

New Year’s Eve with Shiny Lapel Trio (Madison)
Madison Beach Hotel
4:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Option #1 - Prix Fixe Dinner in the Wharf. Four-course dinner and a bottle of wine. $120 plus tax and gratuity.
Option #2 - Dance party with open bar, champagne toast and Shiny Lapel Trio. $178 per couple, inclusive / $89 per person, inclusive.
Option #3 - Includes Options #1 and #2. $298 per couple, inclusive. Additional persons at $149 each, inclusive
Option # 4 - Includes Options #1, #2, and overnight accommodations with continental breakfast the next morning. $498 per couple, inclusive. Additional person can be added for $249 inclusive.


 



Photo Credit: Vjom]]>
<![CDATA[Video of Dancing Dog Goes Viral]]> Tue, 23 Dec 2014 12:26:24 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/635549068098100143-Capture.JPG

A clip of a happy, hopping pooch has gone viral.

The video shows a dog dancing in excitement over being picked up at a day care. The YouTube clip has already garnered 2 million views.

Watch the adorable video above.



Photo Credit: Kevin clancy
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<![CDATA[Get a Sneak Peek of Downton Abbey in Torrington]]> Tue, 23 Dec 2014 10:24:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Downton+Abbey+season+4+PBS.jpg

The new season of Downton Abbey begins airing on Sunday, Jan. 4, but some diehard fans will get a sneak peek in Middletown or Torrington a day or two earlier.

If you cannot wait to see what happens between Carson and Mrs. Hughes, what becomes of Lady Mary’s love life or whether Lady Edith can keep her secret, register to attend the event at the Warner Theatre.

On Friday, Jan. 2, CPTV is showing the first hour of season 5 at the Wesleyan University Center for the Arts in Middletown, beginning at 7 p.m., but the reservation page says this showing is sold out.

On Saturday, Jan. 3, the Warner Theatre in Torrington will show the premiere and host a Downton Abbey-themed costume contest. The event starts at 6 p.m.

Register here for the premiere at the Warner Theatre.


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<![CDATA[Fashion Trends 2015]]> Sat, 20 Dec 2014 08:35:56 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/456371972.jpg Here are some trends you can expect to see next spring.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fashion Trends: 2015's Best Looks]]> Tue, 30 Dec 2014 07:09:15 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Inner.jpg

The world of fashion is fleeting and ever-changing. With each season, trends are introduced, reconstructed, and promptly disposed.

This past year, we saw a contrast between the incredibly loud to the impeccably subtle. Within four short seasons we visited the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s.

As we moved through 2014, we tapped into our inner flower-child, borrowed from the boys, went wild for animal prints, visited the heartland, learned new ways to reveal skin, yet also satisfied seasonal classics like pastels for spring and furs for winter.

Let’s look back at some of the favorite runway looks and trends:

As much as we are enjoying the retrospectives, fashion is very much about the future and 2015 is already shaping up to look like another exciting year for ready-to-wear.

During the recent monthlong parade of shows in New York, Milan, Paris and London, international designers seem to agree on what feels like a definitive message for the Spring Summer 2015 season: 70s chic.

“It was remarkable how much solidarity there was among designers in pushing forward a new look, albeit one that was largely rooted in an aesthetic that was inspired by the easy fashion of the 1960s and a somewhat hippie vibe of the 1970s,” said Eric Wilson, fashion news director at InStyle magazine.

Its influence was overarching, evident in the fringes at Proenza Schouler and Alberta Ferretti, flared pants at Derek Lam and Celine, bohemian flowy dresses at Pucci and Etro, fur vests at Tommy Hilfiger and Gucci, and patchwork at Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino.

But, it wasn’t all peace and love on the runways. Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs, among others, went for a more utilitarian look with deep cargo pockets, tailored silhouettes, khakis and olive drab — think somewhere between military-chic and safari luxe.

There were also Japanese inspirations, asymmetrical hems, androgynous tailored suits, and denim galore.

Perhaps the most surprising trend to come next spring and summer is the fall staple, leather.

“Certainly 'summer leather' is a new category that looks promising, partly the result of technical advancements that have resulted in lighter weight materials, even perforated leather that feels cooler in warmer months, and partly the result of the fact that spring clothes now go into stores so early that they need to address multiple seasons' weather,” says Wilson.

As we brace the current arctic blasts swathed in cozy sweaters and coats, check out the gallery at the top of the story for a peek at the spring 2015 looks soon to be arriving in stores.


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<![CDATA[Tips for Making Latkes ]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:08:09 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bay-latke-chef.jpg

When it comes to holidays, there's no better recipe than the one you grew up with.

Same is true for latkes.

So, tonight, when Hanukkah begins at sundown, folks around the globe will be firing up the frying pans to create the ultimate potato pancake.

Some began cooking the Hanukkah delicacy even before the Jewish Festival of Lights began.

"We cooked 6,000 yesterday," said Evan Bloom, who co-owns Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in San Francisco with partner Leo Beckerman. "And we'll probably be making more."

The secret to the Wise Sons latkes? "We try to keep it very simple," Bloom said, adding that the real trick is to squeeze any liquid from the potatoes after grating them, so that they taste "crispy, not soggy."

And of course, he uses oil. Lots and lots of oil.

And although schmaltz, the Yiddish term for rendered chicken fat, was recently touted in the New York Times as gaining a comeback, Bloom said he and his cooks tend to stick with regular cooking oil for their latkes.

"We use schmaltz in a lot of things, like our chopped liver and matzo balls, but not in our latkes. There are so many vegetarians, and so many people are afraid of it."

But there are all sorts of ways to make latkes. Here is a small round-up of some popular latke-making videos.

From upscale (with Parmesan cheese, chives and Tabasco)...

To India-inspired (with carrots and coriander)...

Lest your Bubbe should see, she just sticks to the basics: potatoes, oil, flour, salt and pepper.



Photo Credit: Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
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<![CDATA[Merriam-Webster Names Word of the Year]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:52:03 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/27167011.jpg

A nation, a workplace, an ethnicity, a passion, an outsized personality. The people who comprise these things, who fawn or rail against them, are behind Merriam-Webster's 2014 word of the year: culture.

The word joins Oxford Dictionaries' "vape," a darling of the e-cigarette movement, and "exposure," declared the year's winner at Dictionary.com during a time of tragedy and fear due to Ebola.

Merriam-Webster based its pick and nine runners-up on significant increases in lookups this year over last on Merriam-Webster.com, along with interesting, often culture-driven — if you will — spikes of concentrated interest.

In the No. 2 spot is "nostalgia," during a year of big 50th anniversaries pegged to 1964: the start of the free speech movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the birth of the Ford Mustang and the British Invasion heralded by the landing of the Beatles on U.S. soil for the first time.

Nostalgia was followed by insidious, legacy, feminism and a rare multiword phrase that can be looked up in total, in a foreign language at that: the French "je ne sais quoi."

The Springfield, Massachusetts-based dictionary giant filters out perennial favorites when picking word of the year, but does that formula leave them chasing language fads?

"We're simply using the word culture more frequently," said Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster. "It may be a fad. It may not. It may simply be evolution."

Sokolowski noted that the reasons words are looked up aren't just about not knowing what they mean. Sometimes, he said, we seek inspiration or a way to check in on ourselves. Of an estimated 100 million lookups on the website each year and a similar number on the company's app, culture enjoyed a 15 percent year-over-year increase.

Percentage-wise, it doesn't sound like much, but the raw number in that stratosphere is large, Sokolowski said. He wouldn't disclose actual numbers, though, citing the proprietary nature of that data for a company still privately held.

Sokolowski is a lexicographer, not a mind reader, so his observations about why any single word takes off in terms of lookups is well-informed but theoretical.

"The word culture's got a cultural story. We have noticed for years that culture has a cyclical spike every year at around Labor Day. That is to say back to school time during the month of September, so we've been watching this word spike at that time for years," he said by telephone from Springfield. "In recent years we've seen similar spikes at the end of semesters during finals."

But traffic throughout the year indicates that culture is a "chameleon," Sokolowski said. "When you put it next to another word it means something very different. For example, 'consumer culture' or 'rape culture,' which we've been reading about lately."

There's the "culture of transparency" in government and business, and "celebrity culture," and the "culture of winning" in sports, he noted. "It's a word that can be very specific, like 'test prep culture,' or it can be very, very broad, like 'coffee culture.'"

One standout reference that caught Sokolowski's eye in The New Yorker's December issue is from a new book, "How Google Works," which includes a description of a software fix by a few engineers that made ads more relevant on the search engine:

"It wasn't Google's culture that turned those five engineers into problem-solving ninjas who changed the course of the company over the weekend," wrote the authors, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former head of product development Jonathan Rosenberg.

"Rather it was the culture that attracted the ninjas to the company in the first place."

Before the word culture exploded, Sokolowski said, "we used to talk about 'society' a lot. Certain groups are taking 'society' out of their names now. It seems to be receding. Part of that seems to be because it's elitist. We're using the word culture more frequently in that place."

Not all lookup spikes are quite that complex. The reason "je ne sais quoi" landed at No. 6, for instance, is "dead simple," he said.

The fast-food drive-in chain Sonic, known for TV spots featuring two goofy dudes eating in a car, had them munching on boneless chicken wings in September.

"I've finally found myself a wingman," goofy guy No. 1 says of the wings he hopes will make him a chick magnet.

"Oh right," sneers goofy guy No. 2, "gonna give you that certain je ne sais quoi."

Responds No. 1: "Jenna said what?"

They mine the word play a couple more times, but you get the picture.

"Since September when this ad came out this word has been close to the Top 10 or in the Top 10 of our lookups almost every single day," Sokolowski said.

Fast-food aside, he called this year's list a relatively sober one.

Insidious, for example, received a bump early in the year when a new trailer was released for "Insidious: Chapter 3," a prequel in the horror film franchise "Insidious," out in June. The word surfaced in a big way again, on Oct. 8, when a Texas hospital released a statement on the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first confirmed Ebola patient in the United States.

The statement spoke of his courageous battle and the hospital's profound sadness when he "succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola."

Rounding out the Top 10 are innovation, surreptitious, autonomy and morbidity.

"This is a fairly sober list. It was a fairly sober year," he concluded.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tips on Throwing a Great Holiday Party]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 12:32:00 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Tips_on_Throwing_a_Great_Holiday_Party_1200x675_369885251932.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[#SantaPhotoFail: Pics of No Good Santa Encounters]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 02:42:41 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/01-santafailthumb.jpg It's Christmastime and it's that time of year when you head out with the family and get those beloved pics of the kids with Santa. Except the photos don't always turn out as you hoped.]]> <![CDATA[James Franco Talks Sony Hack on "SNL"]]> Sun, 07 Dec 2014 09:02:47 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/James-Franco-SNL.jpg

James Franco returned to the "Saturday Night Live" stage this weekend, kicking off his opening monologue by addressing the massive hack at Sony, which produced Franco's upcoming movie "The Interview."

"These hackers have leaked real, personal information about everyone who's worked with Sony," the host said. "Soon you'll know that my email is cuterthandavefranco@aol.com, my password is 'LittleJamesyCutiePie,' and this is all a huge invasion of my personal life."

Halfway through the monologue, Franco's friend (and "The Interview" co-star) Seth Rogen shuffled onstage to inform Franco that the hackers released all their personal photos.

"They also released this one of me teaching you how to read," Rogen somberly told Franco. "We were making such good progress, man."

Franco later appeared as Tad Rankin, a man miffed about losing to a four-year-old in a mayoral election.

"Tommy is a little kid!" he howls. "This town needs a mayor who doesn't get ear infections!"

The "SNL" cast spoofed NBC's Thursday-night special "Peter Pan Live!", starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken.

Peter Pan (Cecily Strong) challenged Captain Hook (Franco) to a duel while asserting "his" own masculinity.

"You heard me -- I'm a boy! The most gorgeous, womanly boy with shiny bright eyes and feminine features!" Pan proclaimed, in a sendup of the bright-eyed (and thoroughly female) Williams.

One difference from the original: Tonkerbell (Aidy Bryant), Tinkerbell's puckish half-sister, joined the cast. "Do not boss my ass around, okay, Peter? I work for myself as a reverse tooth fairy -- I fly into kids' rooms, I take a dollar, and I leave one of my own teeth."

Franco lampooned Walken's laconic delivery as Hook, whose singing was limited to monosyllabic grunts while his motley pirates did song-and-dance routines.

In the cold open sketch, Al Sharpton (Keenan Thompson) addressed the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions.

"For the first time in my life, everyone agrees with me," he said. "Folks are high-fivin' with me, invitin' me places -- this must be what it feels like to be Beyonce!"

Sharpton welcomed Peter Dinello (Bobby Moynihan), a spokesman for the Staten Island Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, and asked what it takes for a police officer to be indicted for homicide.

"Well it does happen, Al, but there are very clear rules on this," Dinello said. "The victim must not be resisting arrest, it's best if he's sleeping, and, uh, it helps if he's white."

The political skewering continued during "Weekend Update," as co-hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che lambasted a grand jury's decision not to indict the two police officers.

"It used to be you said you were racist to get out of jury duty. Now it seems like it's a requirement!" Che said. "These decisions were so bad that I might just stop avoiding jury duty. I might just show up at court and see if they take walk-ins."

Jost piled on: "Please, for everyone's sake, keep the cop trials out of Staten Island," the Staten Island native said. "We're not ready for these complicated modern issues yet. We still arrive in Manhattan every day huddled in a boat."

Joining them at the desk was Weekend Update "relationship expert" Leslie Jones, who documented her experience taking psychedelic mushrooms after joining a dating site for marijuana smokers.

"When I took the mushrooms, I talked to Harriet Tubman for like 2 hours," Jones said. "Have you ever been called a bitch by Harriet Tubman, Jost?" she barked at the bemused co-host.

Kim Kardashan (Nicki Minaj) rounded out Weekend Update, as she tried to give some context to Kardashian's skin-baring photoshoot for Paper magazine.

"Look at this photo. Do you notice anything? There's no background to the photo," she said. Then, as the background changed: "See, it was actually about about getting regular checkups from your gynecologist."

In addition to performing as Beyonce-as-the-Virgin-Mary in the "Jingle Ballerz" sketch, Minaj sang "Bed of Lies" with Skylar Grey and "All Things Go."

"SNL" returns Dec. 13 with host Martin Freeman and musical guest Charli XCX.


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<![CDATA[30 Connecticut Holiday Activities]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:50:52 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/fantasy+of+lights_new+haven+.jpg

Holiday spirit is in the air this December as local events kick off the winter festivities. Here are 30 ideas of how you can get through the chilly months without turning into a Scrooge. Add your favorite holiday events to the comment section below!

Magic of Christmas (Old Lyme), Dec. 5 – Jan. 4, Florence Griswold Museum

  • Christmastime Teas (Dec. 5 – Dec. 20)
  • Sunday Holiday Arts and Crafts (Dec. 7 – Jan. 4. 1-5 p.m.)
  • Art/Bar Happy Hour – an evening of holiday crafting for adults (Dec. 9)
  • Snow Queen’s Christmas Crafting and Holiday Party (Dec. 13)

Lantern Light Tours (Mystic)
“Set on Christmas Eve in 1876, this play unfolds through five scenes in exhibits around the Museum’s 19th-century maritime village. Both young and old will enjoy seasonal delights that include a horse-drawn carriage ride, a spirited holiday dance, the beautiful glow of lanterns that light the way and, just perhaps, a visit with old St. Nick!”

Community Carol Sing (Mystic)
Dec. 21
Free admission with the donation of a canned food item.
Led by former Ledyard High School coral director Jamie Spillane and backed by the Museum carolers and a brass quartet

A Christmas Carol (Newtown)
Dec. 5 – Dec. 14
A unique telling of the classic Christmas tale of love, sharing and goodwill toward men.

A Christmas Carol Reading (Madison)
Reading by Jennifer Munro Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.

Santa’s Crazier Christmas, Nutcracker Suite, Christmas with the Celts (Bridgeport)
The Bijou Theatre offers a variety of Christmas plays throughout the holiday season

Deck the Walls (Old Lyme)
Nov. 14 – Jan. 3
“Work by Newly Elected Artists,” group show

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (Sherman)
Dec. 5 – Dec. 28
Inspired by the film It’s a Wonderful Life.
Performed as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience.

Greenwich Holiday Stroll Weekend
Dec. 6 – Dec. 7
“Over 110 participating merchants offering holiday promotions and refreshments. Live Nativity featuring nine animals and Greenwich area churches, two different horse drawn carriage rides, horse petting station at Wine Wise, live music entertainment tent featuring outstanding singing performances, professional ice sculpture demos, the Kempo Academy Bouncy Castles, a food truck village on Greenwich Avenue, food trucks on East Putnam, Greenwich Arts Council holiday art workshops, letter writing to Santa and much more.”

Kent Gingerbread Festival
Dec. 5 – Jan. 5
“Gingerbread Houses of all shapes and sizes will be on display in over 40 beautifully decorated shop windows for one month.” Visitors can download a Gingerbread Manhunt Map and check them off as they see them.

Connecticut Trolley Museum Winterfest (East Windsor)
The trolley will travel through the Tunnel of Lights

Gingerbread Festival (South Windsor)
Nov. 28 – Dec. 13
Local artisans and bakers can make gingerbread houses

A Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman (New Britain)
The New Britain Youth Theater

Firelight Festival
Dec. 5
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Firelight Festival - featuring outdoor fires, luminaries, roasted marshmallows and chestnuts, s’mores, hot cider and cocoa, pine cone ornaments and a reading of The Night Before Christmas.

Greenwich Reindeer Festival
Nov. 28 – Dec. 24
Take a photo with Santa and see his live reindeer

Mother Goose’s Golden Christmas (Chester)
A musical comedy presented by Madhatters Theatre Company.
Dec. 12 – Dec. 14

Christmas Open Farm Weekends (Stone Bridge)
Stone Bridge Alpaca Farm
Starts Nov. 29

On a Winter’s Night Holiday Tour – Jim Brickman (New Haven)
Shubert Theater
Hits include "Valentine,” “If You Believe,” “The Gift," “Angel Eyes,” and "Sending You A Little Christmas.”

Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival
Dec. 4 – Dec. 7
Visitors can stroll through the historic Burr Homestead will be decorated by local interior decorators and artists while drinking complimentary hot cider.

The Christmas Schooner
Connecticut Theatre Company
Dec. 12 – Dec. 21
“Tells the true story of a Michigan shipping captain who braves the deadly winter weather to bring Christmas trees to homesick German American families in turn-of-the-century Chicago.”

Fantasy of Lights (New Haven)
Check out more than 60 attractions that include animated and LED light displays

Winterfest Ice Skating (Hartford)
Free skating all week on the east side of Bushnell Park

Holiday Light Fantasia (Hartford)
A two-mile winter wonderland in Goodwin Park
Drive-through admission starts at $12/car
Open through Jan. 1

A Christmas Carol (Hartford)
A ghost story of Christmas
Nov. 28 - Dec. 28

Pay What You Can: Christmas on the Rocks (Hartford)
An off-beat collection of twisted holiday tales
“It's Christmas Eve in a rundown local bar. Expecting a silent night, the bartender finds himself mixing drinks for a parade of surprising guest - children from your favorite holiday specials - now all grown up! Tiny Tim, Charlie Brown, Cindy Lou Who and a host of other favorites pour out their Christmas woes in this delightful parody.”

Holiday Artist’s Showcase (Darien)
Dec. 2 – Dec. 24
9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday
Features unique and affordable paintings by 11 of the region’s most well-known and respected artists

Boston Pops Holiday Concert (Storrs)
Dec. 6 at 8 p.m.

Wizards of Winter - A Trans Siberian Orchestra Experience
Dec. 7
“Performing Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s greatest hits including: Christmas Eve in Sarajevo, Mad Russian, Christmas in the Air, Old City Bar, Queen of the Winter Night and others plus music from our own rock opera “Tales Beneath a Northern Star.”

A Darlene Love Christmas – Love for the Holidays
Dec. 13
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love performs

Lamplight Stroll (Milford)
Dec. 5 – Dec. 6
Holiday-themed activities will take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, and again from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Attendees will enjoy free horse and carriage rides, Christmas Holiday Carolers, the Christian Cornerstone Choir, Christmas Spirit of Milford Ghost Walks, Santa's arrival via train, holiday sing-a-longs, performances by the Creative Movement Dance Company, face painting with Jammie the Gentle Clown and more.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Target Employee's Black Friday Pep Talk Goes Viral]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 20:25:29 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/target+credit+card+breach+latest.jpg

Although Black Friday can be a stressful day for bargain-hunting shoppers, it may be even more difficult for retail employees.

That is why a Target electronics department worker in Westminster, Maryland, gave his coworkers an epic pep talk ahead of the shopping holiday, as seen in a video that has gone viral.

"They come here with bargains in their heads, and fire in their eyes!" Scott Simms shouts in the video. "We're more than just a store. This is a team! This is a family! This is Target!"

The speech has been compared to Gerard Butler’s in the 2006 war movie "300,” but others say it is just marketing scheme concocted by the company.

However, Target told “Today” that it wasn’t responsible for the viral video.

"One of our favorite parts of the holiday is watching our entire Target team bring the season to life in their own way,” the retailer said in a statement. “We have long said that Thanksgiving weekend is to retail what a championship game is to sports. Scott is clearly quite a team player." 

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<![CDATA[Lia Sophia Closing Its Doors]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 19:32:44 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/LiaSophia11.jpg

The popular direct-sales jewelry retailer Lia Sophia announced Monday it will be closing its doors this month.

“We are so proud of building Lia Sophia over the past 28 years into an outstanding company that has empowered women, and whose jewelry has been a favorite of so many,” creative director Elena Kiam wrote in a blog post on the company's website Monday. “However, given the challenging business environment, we made the painful decision to wind down Lia Sophia in the United States and Canada by December 31, and cease operations by the end of February.”

Kiam’s husband, Lia Sophia CEO Tory Kiam, acquired the business from his father Victor Kiam. Victor Kiam, former owner of the New England Patriots, made a name for himself in the 1980s as president and CEO of Remington Products, famously appearing in commercials coining the slogan, “I liked the shavers so much, I bought the company."

Victor Kiam purchased the retailer in 1986 under its original name Act II Jewelry before renaming it to Lady Remington. Following the entrepreneur's death in 2001, the brand was acquired by his son Tory Kiam and his wife Elena. In 2004 the couple relaunched the brand under the name Lia Sophia.

"Most of all, we're proud to be a family company, and to see the names of our daughters, Lia and Sophia, on every box of our jewelry," the company's website states.

Lia Sophia sold its jewelry through a network of local independent sales representatives, relying on in-home demonstrations and a direct-selling approach similar to the practices of Avon and Tupperware.

An outpouring of messages to the company’s Facebook page from customers and employees expressed a mixture of shock, disappointment and appreciation for the products and jobs the company created during its operation.



Photo Credit: Lia Sophia]]>
<![CDATA[Yale Director Hosts "Night At the Museum" Film Screening]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 15:32:55 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/170*120/124950008.jpg

A Yale alumnus is preparing for another one of his projects to hit the big screen and is hosting a screening right here in Connecticut.

Director Shawn Levy, who graduated from Yale University in 1989, is hosting a special screening of his new film, "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven.

The film, starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and the late Robin Williams, follows Larry (Ben Stiller) as he is reunited with old characters and meets new ones, embarking on a quest to save the magic of the museum, according to a release from 20th Century Fox.

This is the third movie in the "Night at the Museum" film series that began with the first one in 2006, followed by "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (2009). Levy directed all three.

Levy graduated from the Drama Department of Yale University at the age of 20, and later went on to study film and the art of directing in the Masters Film Production Program at USC, according to the release. He is most well-known for directing hit comedies such as The Internship (2013), The Pink Panther (2006) and Cheaper By The Dozen (2003).

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is set to open in theaters on Dec. 19.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giant Gingerbread House Fits People]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 07:31:21 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/giant+gingerbread+house.jpg

Vermont's Woodstock Inn & Resort has unveiled a giant gingerbread house that towers above the rest. The creation of pastry chef Lerome Campbell and his team stands 9 feet tall from its base to rooftop. It's 7 feet long, and has ceilings high enough for most people to carefully stand up beneath.

"We have about 180 pounds of flour in there," Campbell told New England Cable News. "Confectioners sugar? I'm going to say about 150 pounds."

The gingerbread house was about three weeks in the making, Campbell said. It's mostly edible, but is built over a wooden frame. Campbell explained there is so much gingerbread — more than 350 shingles on the roof and 700 bricks on the walls — that it would need a sturdy wooden frame to bear the weight of the gingerbread, icing, and candy.

Campbell said he has worked on even larger gingerbread houses before. At a previous job at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, Campbell said he once helped construct a taller house than the one in Woodstock. "I always shoot for the 'wow effect' in people," Campbell told NECN.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Robin McCluskey, a traveler visiting Woodstock from the Boston area. "It's just wonderful."

"There's no detail spared," added McCluskey's friend, Kate Brown, who was marveling at the giant gingerbread house's windows, trim, and flowerboxes, which are filled with lollipop blooms and shredded wheat soil. "It's just amazing!"

This mansion of the gingerbread house world will be up at the Woodstock Inn & Resort until the start of 2015. Campbell said the wooden frame will be saved for use in future years, as a base over which fresh candy decorations and gingerbread tiles can be applied.

The Woodstock Inn & Resort has a series of Christmas events and outdoor winter activities, like dog sledding, planned for the next several weeks. For more, visit the destination's website.

For additional information on planning a visit to Vermont during the winter, visit the website of the state's Department of Tourism and Marketing and Ski Vermont.



Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Tonight]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 12:08:56 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/228*120/capitol_christmas_tree.png

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner will light the Capitol Christmas Tree on the Capitol's West Front Lawn at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday.

This year's tree, a massive White Spruce, came from Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest and will be decorated with thousands of ornaments made by residents of Minnesota children.

After Tuesday's lighting, the Capitol Christmas Tree will be lit from dusk until 11 p.m. every day through Jan. 1.

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<![CDATA[Foxwoods Ice Skating Rink Opens Thursday]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 16:25:32 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Foxwoods+external+photo.jpg

Foxwoods is celebrating the holiday season by opening a brand new outdoor ice skating rink and winter patio on Thursday.

U.S. Champion figure skater Sasha Cohen and Brian Boitano will kick off the event at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4 with a three-minute routine, according to a release from the casino.

New York Ranger Dan Girardi and "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Amber Marchese will join them for opening day. Guests can also skate with Santa, drink hot chocolate and admire the rink's 30-foot Christmas tree.

The outdoor rink includes more than 100,000 lights and is right next to the new winter patio, where skaters can warm up around fire pits while enjoying hot chocolate or toasting s’mores.

The Foxwoods Rink & Winter Patio will be open seven days a week through March 8. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for kids. Skate rentals are $5 for adults and $2 for kids.

Foxwoods Resort guests pay $8 apiece.

More information is available online.
 

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<![CDATA[Gillette Castle Decorated for the Holidays]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 15:29:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gillette+castle+18+lead.jpg Gillette Castle is decorated for the holidays as it would have looked in the early 1900s. The castle in East Haddam is open to the public for tours on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 21.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>