wine by the color

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I forgot to mention that I recently added a new feature to Wine By The Color ... a section for photo galleries. Someday, I may get the Hawaii pictures together. There are just so damn many of those. For now, I've got a few other things posted including, as of today, a gallery of shots from Monday night's football game.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Adhering yet again to my mother’s premise that 'if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,' I offer the following statements regarding Week 16 of the NFL season and the efforts of the three teams I support:

-Charlie Frye, the Browns' QB, was sacked eight times, but only suffered a mild concussion

-The Packers had a chance to win their game.

-The Packers and Jets both technically remain alive in the Reggie Bush Sweepstakes.

-Last night’s tailgate was an excellent, excellent time. Four hours of meat on the grill and enough beer, wine, blackberry brandy and egg nog to render most folks unconscious.

-I feel like we were there for a small part of sports history, the final Monday Night Football game. Yes, I know there will be games on Mondays in seasons to come, but they will be on the Evil Empire, so that just won’t be the same.

-I learned it's fairly easy to procure a replacement ticket at Will Call should you leave yours at home in a holiday-related frenzy.

-Vinny became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw a TD pass in 19 consecutive seasons when he connected with Coles in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, I was almost home by then. The game was bad. BAD. The final score was 31-21, and it was nowhere near that close. The Jets didn't get a first down until the third quarter. The Patriots’ first two touchdowns were caught by a linebacker (a linebacker from OSU, but still, a linebacker). By the end of the third quarter, we’d had enough. It was windy and cold and the game was awful, and we left.

The Jets' beat writer at the Daily News offered this fantastic summary:

Delivering the worst prime-time show since "My Mother The Car," the Jets added another miserable chapter to their crazy, rotten season, falling to the Patriots, 31-21, last night. A television era ended, as "Monday Night Football" concluded its run on ABC after 36 years and 555 telecasts. It should've been stopped after 554.

The suckitude was actually spread out over three days, as the Browns put their best foot forward with a 41-0 loss to the Steelers at home on Saturday, and the Packers followed that up with a 24-17 loss to the Bears Sunday night. Forget the Twelve Days of Christmas. This was the Three Days of Stench.

I thought this line from the round-up of the Packers' loss was curious:

The Packers (3-12) are well on their way toward their first losing season in the Brett Favre era. With one game remaining, the futures of Favre and coach Mike Sherman remain in doubt.

Well on their way? I'm no mathematician, but I think they're a bit past 'well on their way.' Unless there's a way to get nine wins in the last weekend of the season...

Friday, December 23, 2005

A few things almost knocked the Christmas spirit right out of me today...

This really raised my hackles. O'Connor's has been an institution in these parts for as long as I can remember. Tonight should have been a sentimental farewell for a place that served the local community for almost 35 years (a place, it's worth mentioning, that doesn't want to close but is being forced out of business because the landlord wants to build high-priced townhouses on the land).

To quote Otter from Animal House, "what a shame that a few bad apples had to spoil a good time for everyone."


I've got no problem with nuns. On general principle, I love nuns. How can anyone harbor ill will towards nuns? However, I don't think many people will argue with my assertion that nuns should not be allowed to drive in the left lane of NJ's highways during the height of the holiday shopping season.

Then, speaking of shopping, my brother and I braved the local Toys "R" Us this afternoon, after Crazy Nephew #2 announced his allegiances were wavering from Elmo to Ernie. We found an appropriate item and arrived at the cashier, where we were the second customers in line. The man in front of us wanted to buy two gift cards, which seemed easy enough. But not for 'Adam' of Toys "R" Us. He was simply unable to complete the transaction and finally the man indicated, nicely enough, that he'd just come back another time. My brother then handed over his intended purchase, and Adam immediately apologized for the delay, offering the following words: "I'm so sorry. It's my first day."

Who puts someone working their first day at Toys "R" Us on the cash register two days before Christmas? We expressed our sympathies and surprise to Adam about his predicament, and he seemed a bit dismayed to be at the register. As he said: "I thought I'd be stocking shelves or something."

Fortunately, I rallied thanks to a terrific dinner outing with my parents and my oldest and dearest friend. And not to mention no traffic whatsoever on 287 and the Parkway during rush hour on a Friday, which is like a Christmas miracle in itself.

In the quite-likely event that I don't post for the new few days, I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you may celebrate. May everyone's holidays be filled with family, friends and goo times.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I snuck away to Vermont for a few days of skiing and couldn't do any posting because of technical difficulties (say it with me: "DIAL UP"). It was a lovely few days on the slopes and in Vermont, which ranks quite high on my favorite places meter. We had fantastic conditions (actual powder on an East-coast mountain) and a great time overall.

There was one spectacular crash by yours truly on the first day. I slid down the trail for so long (KT approximated it at 40 feet; I felt it was closer to 40 yards) that I had plenty of time to enjoy an internal dialog about the situation. Mainly, the phrase, "hmm, I wish my left arm weren't trapped behind my body like that" was repeated about 20 times. I couldn't lift my arm Tuesday morning but still skied. I've had much worse injuries than that. It's much better today.

But something happened during the trip that worked me into a real frenzy...

After skiing all morning Tuesday, we headed into the lodge for a quick lunch. I stood in line in the cafeteria area to get water for hot chocolate, and while waiting, a man pushed me and damn near knocked me over as he rushed to the cashier with his cheeseburger. I threw him a puzzled look with a fairly friendly "excuse me" and he reciprocated with a hostile sneer. Upon returning to my seat, I was about to mention this to KT when I realized the man was sitting directly behind us.


The man took two bites of the cheeseburger he needed to assault me to get. Then he started coughing. Then, he upped the ante and started spitting. Then, after another minute or two, he put his head between his legs and threw up on the floor. At this point, KT and I made a speedy move to a spot about 17 tables away.

WHO DOES THIS? If you know you're going to be sick (which this man must have, thanks to the introductory hacking and spitting), don't you make some sort of effort to remove yourself from a public area? Not to mention, a public area where others are eating? He was no more than eight feet from a trash can, 12 feet from a door to go outside, and maybe 50 feet from a restroom. But he seemed more than happy to sit right where he was and empty the contents of his stomach on the floor.

After vomiting, he went right back to eating his cheeseburger. Sitting right above the mess he had made on the floor.

(deep breath...)

Thanks to the trip, I've been a bit lax with the sports news, which is good because from what little I've read, things apparently really hit the skids on Monday night in Baltimore, Chrebet just officially retired and alcohol will not be sold at Monday night's Jets-Pats game. Considering that our tailgate will kick off at 4:30, I don't think it will much matter if they sell beer in the game or not.

The Good Doctor forwarded me web site, which is an entertaining look at some of the biggest blunders in sports media during the year.

And finally, while I was wracking my brain trying to come up with a song title for the Good Doctor, I came across this web site, which lists one-hit wonders by decade. An excellent time waster, for those currently undersubscribed at their places of employ.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

After a hearty night of drinking, for me there is no better breakfast than a McDonald’s sausage biscuit, hash brown and a Coke.

Should you notice any typos in upcoming posts, it’s not because I’m hungover. The ‘d’ key fell off my laptop. That is going to cause problems. I can’t type ‘good times’ without the d. ‘Goo times’ just doesn’t have the same effect.

Fortunately, ‘Tom Cruise is Crazy’ will not be a problem.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I made my final trip of the year when I flew to and from Palm Beach a few weeks ago. To pay homage to this happy occasion, I put together a summary of my life on the road in 2005. With the exception of the total number of air miles I accumulated this year (because some of those were a combination of business and personal travel), this only encompasses business travel, which is why ‘strangest injury’ is not the broken nose I suffered in Hawaii. Otherwise, that would be the runaway winner.

So, to wrap up the year…

Air Miles Traveled:

States Visited (17):
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah

Best (Nice) Meal:
The Yard House in Palm Springs, Calif. – outstanding food and no less than 150 beers on tap. Went with my friend Anthony, a Denver-based writer. Sat at the bar and had the orange peel chicken, along with some Belgian beer and red wine.

Honorable mention: Morton’s Steakhouse (Las Vegas); Bardenay (Boise, Idaho), Atlantic Seafood Company (Atlanta)

Best (Unexciting) meal:
The seven or eight times I ate at Noodles & Company while in Denver for two weeks. Yes, I ate the same thing every time – buttered noodles and parmesan. We’ve GOT to get one of these in Jersey.

Strangest injury:
One July day at a tournament in Ohio, I put on my shoes and socks and noted, without much fanfare, that I had 10 toenails. I then walked almost two full rounds (30 holes) on a ridiculously hilly golf course. When I returned to the hotel that night and removed my shoes and socks, I had nine toenails.

Somewhere along the way, I mashed my foot into my shoe so badly that I lost a toenail. Good times.

Worst flight:
Boise to Salt Lake City to Newark in March. I flew to Boise on a Wednesday and had what I thought was a cold by the time I arrived. I then sat in an arena all day Thursday, watching four NCAA basketball games. I was so sick by the end of the day that I needed to visit the medical center Friday morning instead of attending the meeting that brought me to town (basketball games aside, of course). Due to fly home that afternoon so I could be home for my birthday, I had the following exchange with a physician after he diagnosed my sinus infection:

Him: "When are you supposed to fly home?"

Me: "In about five hours."

Him: "Is that really necessary? You probably shouldn't be flying right now."

Me: (offer explanation of birthday, etc.)

Him: "Well, I'm not going to prohibit you from flying, but you should know that it is going to be painful. Particularly when the plane descends."

Me: "Ah, I'm pretty tough. But thanks for the warning."

That dirty rat bastard was right. It was awful. And I got to do it twice, as I had to make a connection in SLC. My ears didn’t pop for three days.

Most interesting outing:
The July evening I spent in Minneapolis visiting a childhood friend. My friend’s had a rough year, going through a divorce, with young twins. I told him I’d take him out to lift his spirits. There were a lot of spirits lifted, all right. The next morning, I had a matchbook in my purse from a place called Rick’s Cabaret. And by cabaret, they didn’t mean lounge singers.

Longest day:
June 15. The day after walking 36 holes at a complete circus of an event at a golf course outside Pittsburgh, I got up at 3:30 a.m. to catch a flight back to Newark. I was in the office by 8:30 a.m., worked for four hours, drove home, repacked, and was back at the airport by 3 p.m. to fly to Denver.

Most notable seatmate:
En route to Savannah from EWR, former NBA all-star Jayson Williams (who has since his playing days become more famous for more infamous reasons).

Most surreal moment:
This happened on my last trip. I was seated two tables from Donald Trump at a swanky reception at Mar-A-Lago, which is lovely and surprisingly understated given his usual style (see: Taj Majal, Atlantic City).

I marched up to him and introduced myself because I had to get a closer look at the hair. I needed to assess whether it really looks that way in person.

It does. In fact, it’s even better. It’s magical, in a horrifying sort of way.

And yes, I continue to kick myself for forgetting to bring my camera to the event. Bad, bad job by me.

Most surreal moment 2:
The flight I took from Newark to Cleveland with members of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). The highlight: when the entire crew cut in line at the airport to head to the front of the check-in counter and a 90-year-old man started screaming at them. The lowlight: a frightening Ric Flair giving me a “hey baby, how you doing” leer.

Most surreal moment 3:
Having my photograph appear in the NY Times, steps behind a golf wunderkind and an Ohio state trooper.

Favorite place:
The Oregon coast. Just lovely.

Least-favorite place:

Houston Intercontinental Airport. Perhaps the most hateful location in the country.

Most impressive driving feat:
I consider this to be one of my stronger areas of skill, so there are a lot of candidates. Let’s go with the late-night trip I made from the Atlanta Airport to Chattanooga, Tenn., in August, when I traveled 122 miles in 93 minutes. And that included a stop for dinner.

Honorable mention goes to the tap dance I gave in Reedsport, Ore., a month ago to get out of a speeding ticket I most definitely deserved.

State with the least regard for speed limits:
Georgia, hands down. You can be going 90 mph on Route 95 and people will be blowing by you.

And so ends the 2005 travel season. I can promise that 2006 will have its share of adventures, since I have two events in Oregon, one in Washington, another in Arizona, one in speed-happy Georgia and another in Rhode Island, which requires driving the entirety of Connecticut, one of the most loathsome states in the nation when it comes to vehicular maneuvering.

Tom Cruise just giveth and giveth.

Here is a round-up of the wacky year in entertainment. As expected, a few moments from the "Tom Cruise is Crazy 2005" Tour are included.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thanks to the fine folks at Romenesko, I found the following web site this week. These wunderkinds, who will immediately be added to my list of Geniuses, track daily corrections from a bevy of newspapers.

This reminded me of my favorite-ever error in our local paper. I used to work there and have friends who still do. In 2001, when Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed, the paper had a huge, bold headline on the cover with an unbelievable error.

I did a little investigating and then sent the following e-mail to friends and former colleagues from the paper…

From the front page of today's Courier-News, in a screaming headline:

McVeigh showed no quilt

I took the time to look up the word "quilt" in the Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary, and there is but one meaning for the word: "a padded bed covering."

I was perplexed. Did Mr. McVeigh spend his last few months knitting? Did he have a very special quilt from his grandmother that he didn't want to show anyone?

So I thought I'd better call the
Courier News to investigate.

The conversation went as follows:

Her: "
Courier News, how may I direct your call?"
Me: "Yes, I'd like to speak to the department that puts together the front page of the paper." (Sidebar: me laughing inside, as I know damn well who's responsible.)
Her: "Oh, are you calling about the quilt?"
Me: "Why, yes I am. Have you had a lot of calls about that today?"
Her: "You can't imagine."
Me: "Well, I'm just curious, as I'm something of a grammar aficionado. Is there a new meaning for the word quilt, or..."
Her: "Oh no. That's just a typo. A really bad one."
Me: "Ah. So is it supposed to be 'quit'?"
Her: "Actually, they were going for 'guilt'."
Me: "Well, that's good to know. Have a good day."

So for anyone who wonders why I still purchase and read the
Courier News, now you know. The humor this has provided me is worth so much more than the mere 35 cents I slipped into the paper box this morning...

Shortly thereafter, I got my hands on a letter to the staff from the editor, which I won't run in its entirety but did include this:

Today we published an absurdly incorrect headline on the Page 1 lede story. Its existence, apparently uncaught for makeover, should underscore for all news staffers the importance of the basics - and of checking, double-checking, and triple-checking.

To my amazement, two paragraphs later, there was a noteworthy grammatical error. In the midst of a memo detailing the importance of attention to detail, there was a bad typo. Delicious.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I got the following e-mail from my friend Annie over the weekend (which has been slightly paraphrased) …

Hello everyone,

As some of you know and some of you don't - I volunteered with the Red Cross to go down south to help with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. I got called yesterday and will be leaving for the New Orleans area tomorrow morning, December 12 and hopefully returning about December 27. Yes, I will be missing Christmas at home but I keep thinking, who am I to complain. Most of these people don't even have a home anymore.

Everyone who knows about this has been unbelievably supportive. I really want to thank you for that. Hope to see all of you at the Holiday Open House.

Take care,

That certainly gave me some perspective as I worried about whether or not I'd have enough time to do the baking, card writing and shopping during the home stretch to the holidays.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A few notes from the sports world...

Yes, the Mets are still dead to me. But two things caught my attention this week.

First, Mike Piazza was not offered arbitration, meaning his career a Met is over. This did not come as a surprise, but is depressing nonetheless. I should probably have the Sandman on a suicide watch. It's hard to believe Piazza has only been a Met since '98. It feels like forever. Admittedly, his skills have diminished slightly (not that he could ever throw the damn ball to second), but he is by far my favorite Met and I'm saddened to see him go. Perhaps I'll go see a Twins' game next season, so I can wear my Piazza jersey there.

Then, the Mets offered a two-year contract to Julio Franco. Who is 47 years old. I'm awful at math, but the first three paragraphs of this story make a whole lot of sense even to me.

Turning our attentions to football, it was mentioned to me this morning that I haven't posted this week about the state of affairs in the NFL. There's a simple reason for that. Things ain't pretty where my trifecta of teams is concerned. The Jets just plain out suck, but not enough so to be the leader in the clubhouse for the Reggie Bush Sweepstakes; the Browns are their usual sorry selves (they're playing the Bengals this weekend, and I could give a crap); and the Packers ... well, the Packers. Things aren't good in Green Bay. Favre is under fire. The Good Doctor forwarded me this earlier, and several salient points are raised (not including, of course, the completely possible scenario where Brooks Bollinger is concerned, particularly considering the current weather conditions here)...

-The Packers have scored 239 points, given up 242 points ... and they're 2-10. In other words, they creatively suck.

-I know we're not allowed to discuss this because it's Brett Favre and all, but his inexorable decline has reached the point where I expected him to throw the game-changing first-half interception and the game-ending fourth-quarter interception in Chicago last week. That's a little sad.

I'm not ready to talk about the Favre situation yet. Maybe next week...

Moving on to more enjoyable topics, there are few things as amusing as musical ventures by sports teams. Some highlights from my teen years include the Chicago Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle" and "Let's Go Mets" from the 1986 World Series champions. (As a sidebar, I checked in with Joe Pendelton regarding a video for "Get Mets-merized," and he assured me that no video was ever made. He owns the single on vinyl, so I consider him to be the highest authority on this).

I always thought those were the highlights of this genre, but Ken forwarded me this doozy recently. It's several members of the 1987 Calgary Flames, including a young Brett Hull, lip synching and fake-playing instruments through an atrocious song. Everything about this is horrific, yet completely engrossing. There is no question this was made in the '80s.

And finally, for those folks who consider drinking to be a sport, allow me to point out that the gentleman at "1000 Bars" is on the cusp of hitting his goal. Exciting stuff. I'm half tempted to show up at Pioneer on Dec. 30th, but I'm already double-booked with parties that day. And one of them is Joe Pendleton's 40th, which promises to be one of the events of the decade. So 1000 Bars is going to have to live without me, regardless of the enormity of the accomplishment.

Dearest Mother Nature,

You're completely forgiven. How particularly thoughtful of you to arrange it so that I didn't have to work on Friday.

Hugs & kisses,

Jersey Girl

I'm happy to learn I won't be going straight to hell for wanting to see this movie. If the Special Olympics are on board, I can look forward to it too.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Things like this make me apoplectic. How can a writer (or a copy editor, for that matter) for the Associated Press not know the difference between its and it's (second paragraph)? I mean, they used it correctly seven words earlier! I've had my share of adult beverages this evening and I'm still able to utilize proper grammar.

Here's the paragraph, just in case someone over there wises up and fixes this heinous error:

The Buckeyes will be making their third appearance at Sun Devil Stadium in four years. Notre Dame returns to the Bowl Championship Series at the site of its last appearance five years ago, and it’s last national title in 1989.

The above reminds me of one of my favorite internet finds, compliments of the genius at Tomato Nation. I actually have this bookmarked and refer to it from time to time.

The Good Doctor and I went to see “Capote” Friday night. It’s excellent. Philip Seymour Hoffman has mad skills. His turn as Capote is mesmerizing and should certainly warrant Oscar consideration.

You know it was good, because I stayed awake for the whole thing. As this was our first joint cinematic experience, I warned him about my proclivity toward falling asleep in theaters. But I didn't close my eyes once.

I do think he checked on me a few times, though. Which was probably wise.

Today would have been my grandfather’s 91st birthday. He passed away two days before his 89th birthday, and life hasn’t been quite the same without him. He was one of a kind. He told fascinating stories about his life and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who could spin a tale the way he could. When he was 14, he quit school and got a job as a runner on Wall Street to support his family. He overcame a lot, became successful, and got the most out of life.

When he laughed, which was often, his face would get completely red when something really got him going. My mom and older nephew, who have the same cheeks he did, do this too, which always serves as a nice reminder of good times with him.

Tonight, I’ll have a nice glass of sherry in his honor.

Mother Nature,

Thanks for nothing. Bitch.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Dear Mother Nature,

I see it’s already snowing outside, and for that I thank you. But I see the forecast calls for just 2-4 inches in our area. If I could be a little greedy, I’d like to ask you to kick it up a notch and drop a good 10-12 inches. I have a number of things I need to do at home, including but not limited to writing Christmas cards and baking cookies, so a snow day tomorrow would be groovy.

Thanks in advance for helping a sister out.

Jersey Girl

Friday, December 02, 2005

I would have been very, very unhappy had I paid for OSU-Michigan tickets and they didn't arrive. It's hard to believe that sweet-looking older man could have such a cold heart.

As a sidebar, if you look at the list of related articles at the bottom of the page, you'll note there is a spate of criminal activity in Fostoria, Ohio. No wonder they're looking for a new police chief.