Many thoughts on gifts and giving!

Stuff to do this weekend

Santa Speedo Sprint

Santas. In Speedos. On Lark Street.

These are the days that can sometimes be too busy to fully enjoy. So between the shopping and wrapping and baking and crossing off holiday to-do lists, find someone you like (or a bunch of someones) and pick something fun to do and savor it together.

After the jump, a long list of fun options from Speedo sprinting to holiday shows to outdoor skating. Doing something you don't see on our list? Drop it in the comment section so everyone can see.

And whatever you're up to, bundle up and have a fantastic weekend.

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Deliberations in double murder trial, NY AG says he's suing over net neutrality rollback, Pearl St venue's liquor license suspended, the teen who saved his sister from a fire

Mero double murder trial
The jury is now deliberating in the trial of Edward Mero for the deaths of Megan Cunningham and Shelby Countermine. During closing arguments, the prosecution argued there are too many details pointing toward Mero for them to be coincidental. And the defense argued the prosecution lacks hard evidence connecting Mero to the deaths. [News10] [TU] [Spectrum]

Republican tax plan
+ John Faso is "likely a 'no'" on the latest version of the Republican tax plan being worked out between the House and Senate, while a spokesman for Elise Stefanik says she's "pleased it's moving in a positive direction." [TU]
+ The tax plan's cap on deductions for state and local taxes has some people in New York asking if they can pay their 2018 property taxes before the end of this year. [TU]

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Albany's apartment boom matches up with some national trends

park south redevelopment mixed-use

Apartments going up in the Park South redevelopment project.

The city of Albany is currently experiencing a mini-boom in new apartment projects, as both old buildings are being redeveloped and new buildings are being constructed.

The agenda for the planning board meeting this month (Thursday night) alone includes five large projects that include residential. Those projects represent more than 700 new apartment units.

These projects -- and others like them -- have gotten all sorts of responses from people, ranging from enthusiasm to opposition. If anything, though, it seems there's just a lot of skepticism about what's going on. Why so many apartments? Why are they so expensive?

It turns out that a lot of what's happening in the city of Albany fits in with some broader national trends. That's one of the things we took from a new report out this week, which includes a bunch of interesting bits that shed some light on Albany's apartment boom.

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A chunk of downtown Albany for a dollar

Mike DeMasi has an update on what's up with the former convention center site in downtown Albany -- "the parking lot district" -- it looks like it will be turned over to Capitalize Albany for redevelopment. [Biz Review] Earlier: Here's the latest outline of a plan for redeveloping the former convention center site in downtown Albany

Holiday gifts: Josh Coletto

Josh Coletto.jpg

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we're again asking people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present, charities -- and wishes for the next year.

Josh Coletto, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, began his career in some of Portland, Oregon's top restaurants. Upon returning to upstate New York, he was integral to the opening and success of several prominent restaurants.

Recently he has earned praise for his pop-ups, including the popular Rock N Roll Brunch series. He is currently working on another series of family style meals at Peck's Arcade.

Josh is an active member of the Chefs' Consortium and works with the catering company Heirloom Fire. He holds true that local, seasonal ingredients are the best inspiration and frequently collaborates with other area chefs and farms that share this belief.

When Josh is not cheffing, he is found foraging with his dog, playing in bands, or selling real estate.

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The popsicle test

Over at Curbed, Patrick Sisson has an interesting look at a new report focused of making cities more kid friendly -- and all the benefits, for all sorts of people, that come along with that. But this test of an area's walkability from the report's authors caught our eye: "Can a child safely walk to a store, buy a popsicle, and return before it melts?" [Curbed]

There's still time to get a flu shot

NYS DOH flu seasons 2017

The number of confirmed flu cases in New York State by week for the last four flu seasons (including the current one). / chart: NYS DOH

There have now been confirmed cases of influenza in 54 of New York's 62 counties, the state Department of Health reported this week. That total includes all four of the core Capital Region counties.

It's still early in the flu season, and who knows for sure what direction it's going to take -- it's kind of like the weather that way. So it's still a good time to get a flu shot. (And a new shot is required each year because the flu changes from season to season.) From DOH:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts studies each year to determine how effective the vaccine will be in protecting against influenza-related illness and while the effectiveness can vary from year to year, studies show that the vaccine remains the most effective way to protect public health. Additionally, studies show that the influenza vaccine can make the illness milder in certain cases where an individual was vaccinated but still contracted influenza.

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Where to get a custom pint glass?

pint glass on barSean emails:

Do any of your readers know of any local places where I could have a pint glass etched with a custom logo? There are tons of websites out there that do this, but I'd love to go local if possible.

These sorts of custom glasses are so common now, there's gotta be at least one local place that can do this.

Got a suggestion for Sean? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a place can be helpful.

photo: Deanna Fox

Albany police probe overnight shooting, Cohoes Dems back Morse, suspect in Blessings Tavern crash back in jail, $85M in REDC grants

Albany shootings
Albany police are investigating a shooting near Dove Street And Hudson Avenue that occurred late Wednesday night. The victim says he was attacked by four men who stole his wallet, punched him in the face and shot him in the foot and elbow. [WNYT][APD]

Albany man charged in shooting
Albany police have linked a Schenectady man to a Clinton Street shooting that took place on December 23 of 2016. [TU]

Morse
The Cohoes Democratic Committee is backing Shawn Morse in spite of allegations of domestic abuse against the mayor. Morse held a closed door meeting with committee members on Wednesday night to discuss the allegations as well as economic development issues. [WNYT][Spectrum][TU]

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Capital Region economic development grants: sewer systems, The Palace, Cohoes Canal Square Park, Capital Roots, and more

Albany waterfront connector route plan under 787 rendering

Albany's plan to build a connector between the Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail and the Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail got funding.

The Capital Region scored $85 million in the state's annual Region Economic Development Council awards/game show porktacular on Wednesday. The region was a "top performer" for the second year in a row, and again landed the second-highest total of grants.

Here are details on the specific projects getting funding in the Capital Region are below, along with a bunch of that caught our eye. There are also region-by-region totals for the awards.

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High Mud Comedy Festival 2018

mike birbiglia

The High Mud Comedy Festival is set to return to MASS MoCA March 16-17. Tickets go on sale this Friday, December 15. (The museum's website doesn't list the price, but a two-day pass was $42 last year.)

This year's headliner is Mike Birbiglia, of My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, Sleepwalk With Me, Don't Think Twice, and This American Life fame. He's made multiple stops in the area in the past, many of which have sold out.

Also announced for the festival: singer/songwriter/comedian Nellie McKay. More acts will be announced later.

The festival is, according to the blurbage, "stacked with comedy-club kings and queens, funny film, uncommon workshops, half-brewed beer tastings, mocking museum tours (and whatever else we can think to poke fun at)."

photo: Brian Friedman

John Legend + James Taylor at TU Center

John Legend and James Taylor

The Times Union Center is holding a "grand re-opening celebration" January 26 and the event is headlined by John Legend and James Taylor. Tickets go on sale this Saturday, December 16 -- they're $62 and up.

The event will also include a performance by Moriah Formica. And it'll be hosted by Jim Belushi.

John Legend is, of course, very popular and has won a ton of Grammys. And James Taylor is an icon who sells out multiple shows at Tanglewood every summer. So, there's a good chance this event will also sell out.

Earlier: Gawking at the TU Center's new atrium

John Legend photo via John Legend website | James Tayor photo via James Taylor Facebook

Bon Iver + TU Dance at MASS MoCA

bon iver 2017

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.

Bon Iver is set to play MASS MoCA March 24 and 25 as part of a collaboration with the dance company TU Dance. Tickets are on sale now -- they're $25 ahead / $35 day of.

Bon Iver is, of course, the singer/songwriter Justin Vernon. And TU Dance is a company from Minnesota. Show blurbage:

Repeat Grammy Award-winner and endlessly influential balladeer Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, visits MASS MoCA to perform a work-in-progress score alongside dance company TU Dance. The company's co-founder and "incredible polyrhythmic genius" (Star Tribune) Uri Sands guides his troupe through movement that lilts and tumbles alongside Vernon's expansive sound.

There's a good chance these two shows will sell out, so it's worth getting tickets sooner rather than later if you'd like to go.

The show are part of the winter/spring slate at MASS MoCA, that also includes:

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What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: testifying, women's suffrage, the Albany Theatre, a principal monument, a snowy walk, Christmas, gifts not wanted, mountain biking, High Peaks, brick chicken, beer, and musical memoir.

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Arts Center Studio Sprouts in-post ad

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Holiday gifts: Roni Choudhury

Roni Choudhury

"I just want to make people happy."

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we're again asking people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present, charities -- and wishes for the next year.

Today we meet Roni Choudhury.

Roni is a native of Boston and Chicago who has lived in the Capital Region since 2012. He can usually be found writing software for his day job, discussing warp engines, playing retro video games, or eating something.

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Gillibrand v. Trump, Morse denies new allegations and refuses to step down, David Sweat on hunger strike

Gillibrand and Trump
Kirstin Gillibrand called Donald Trump's Tuesday morning tweet about her a "sexual smear." Gillibrand has called on Trump to resign over allegations of sexual harassment, and Trump's tweet, some say, is giving her some useful limelight. [NYT][Specrtrum][TU]

Shawn Morse
New allegations of harassment and abuse against Shawn Morse have been leveled by the roommate of a former girlfriend.. Some officials are calling for his resignation, but Morse denies the allegations and he announced on Tuesday that he has no plans to resign. His announcement, met with applause from supporters. [Spectrum][Record][WNYT][TU]
[Spectrum]


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Nutella bacon bagel at Wired Coffee

wired coffee nutella bacon bagel

By Deanna Fox

There are certain foodstuffs that really only exist for those moments when you just don't care about life anymore. Those items that make it hard to believe the eater actually places value on their health, life expectancy or general well-being.

For those moments when all hope is gone, there is the Nutella Bacon Bagel from Wired Coffee.

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That's a 5-point shot, right?


UAlbany's Ahmad Clark was working on extending his range ahead of Tuesday night's game at Memphis.

(The game is on ESPNU at 9 pm.)

Scanning the 2018 Tanglewood season lineup

wait wait dont tell me on stage

Wait, Wait will be back in June. / photo: Ryan Muir/NPR

It's cold and snowy, but summer will return. Eventually.

With that in mind, we were looking over the schedule for the next season at Tanglewood. A few of the announced-so-far dates that caught our eye:

June 21: Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me

June 24: Boston Pops and Audra McDonald

June 29: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

June 30: A Prairie Home Companion with Chris Thile *

July 3-4 James Taylor (these shows always sell out)

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Holiday gifts: Alexandra Stafford

Alexandra Stafford

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we're again asking people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present, charities -- and wishes for the next year.

Alexandra Stafford is the author of Bread Toast Crumbs, a loaf-to-crumb bread baking book. She writes the blog Alexandra's Kitchen and contributes weekly to Food52.

She lives in Niskayuna with her husband and four young children.

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Recent Comments

It's a definitely a start. Liking the thinking. The innovative redevelopment of unused/underused spaces only stands to benefit a city and its region, serving as an inspiration to others around the world. Mix that in with the addition of more parks, greenery and public spaces and you've got a higher quality of life across the board. ...

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