wine by the color

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Finally, excitement in the skies!

I was delighted to receive the travel equivalent of a golden ticket this morning – an e-mail notification that I had been upgraded to first class. Whenever one is traveling across country (in this case – to Phoenix), it’s extra special to get the bump.

So after an uneventful arrival and check-in at EWR, I settled into seat 4A and put on my headphones. Moments later, a short, elderly man walked down the aisle and settled into seat 4C.

“Holy crap,” I said to myself. “That’s Henry Kissinger.”

And indeed it was.

Given my general apathy toward all things political, I must pat myself on the back for even recognizing the man. But there was no question in my mind that it was him, which was confirmed when several people walked by and addressed him by name.

I’m not unaccustomed to encountering famous people, but for some reason this sighting really fired me up. I think it might be because I felt I was sitting next to an embodiment of American political history. That doesn’t happen every day. Sports stars and actors are one thing, but this is a man who has had a front-row seat to events that shaped our nation.

Except for a brief exchange regarding a dropped item, I did not speak with him. I didn’t want to bother him. Several people stopped and asked for autographs as they walked past.

For anyone who might be curious, Dr. Kissinger did not take advantage of the complimentary Continental headphones to watch “Dr. Doolittle 3.” Smart move. I wish the person in seat 4A had been so smart.

He did, however, read the sports sections of both the USA Today and New York Times. He also read the dining section of the Times. It’s good to be well-rounded.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day 6 of Glasses Gate...

Apparently, the Springsteens have had quite enough of the speculation about the state of their union, so yesterday Bruce put an announcement on his web site to put a stop to it. I'm quite happy that Bruce and his Jersey Girl aren't splitting up, not that it's any of my business. I will say that I can't imagine having the kind of fame where you have to deal with this sort of thing. I would not enjoy that. Outside of Paris Hilton, I don't know who would.

What does amuse me about this is the reactions of fans on various Springsteen forums. People are so belligerently angry at the NY Post and Page Six for starting the whole mess that they are organizing boycotts and angry-letter writing campaigns. People. This is what the NY Post does. It's their bread and butter. Facts be damned.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Losing some things can be a minor inconvenience. The temporary disappearance of my watch, for instance, was a little thing, and one I could easily work around.

My glasses, however, are another matter altogether. I have been without them since last Wednesday, I don't have a clue as to where they are, and it is a royal pain in my ass. I have the case, but not the actual glasses. It's like they disappeared into thin air. Based on the timing, I don't think I can pin this one on the crazy nephews. They're just gone.

And I have left no stone unturned in my search. I looked in the oven, for christ's sake. My grandfather used to store his wallet in the refrigerator, but I didn't think I had absent-mindedly taken to storing personal items in large kitchen appliances. I haven't.

So as you might be able to tell, this whole situation has made me somewhat cranky, which has in turn limited my interest in shtick.

In the meantime, enjoy this. I know I did.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

If this is true, it would certainly explain why Patti was absent from the tour for much of the summer. So much for the First Couple of NJ Rock 'n Roll.

But speaking of marriage, this news has significantly reduced the likelihood of me ever tying the knot.

I don't read Bill Simmons as regularly as I used to, but there was a real gem in this week's Mailbag:

Q: Whether you like it or not, the "Caddyshack" remake is going to happen some day. There's no fighting it. So at least tell me how you would cast it, and do so before the real thing happens and they screw it up.--Dave, Portsmouth, N.H.

SG: What do you mean, there's no fighting it? I will absolutely fight it and organize protest Web sites, viral anti-marketing campaigns and opening-day boycotts if this happens. Nobody under 45 years old wants to see a "Caddyshack" remake with Dane Cook as Ty Webb, Haley Joel Osment as Danny Noonan, Ben Stiller as Carl Spackler and Alec Baldwin as Al Czervik. Repeat: Nobody.

But here's what would be acceptable: "Black Caddyshack." Couldn't we take it in another direction with Snoop Dogg as Ty Webb, Bernie Mac as Judge Smails, Sam Jackson as Al Czervik, Jamie Foxx as Carl Spackler and Beyonce as Lacey Underall? With the right cast, I might give "Black Caddyshack" a chance.

That's a movie I would definitely see. Another flick I will be seeing is "Invincible," the based-on-a-true-story tale of a 30-year-old Philly bartender who wound up playing for the Eagles. You can bet I'll see that. I'm a complete sucker for the "everyday Joe does well in sports" cinema. I still get worked up every time I watch "Rudy." Or "The Rookie."

Has anyone seen the South African pitcher playing in the Little League World Series? You can find him here, towering over his opponents. At 13 years old, he's already 6'8". He looks like El Duque pitching against my nephews.

And finally, I'd like to thank the fine folks at Yahoo News for the headline of the week.

It doesn't take much to amuse me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I don't want to be one of those people who's always talking about the weather, but damn, is it nice in N.J. I love being able to turn the AC off and sleep with the windows open. I just got back from an hour-long bike ride, and I almost feel guilty for not staying out longer. But I've spent a lot of time outside during the past few days - baseball games, parties, bike rides, golf, softball, running - so I don't feel so bad about settling in for a little quiet time with Mr. Couch and Miss TV tonight.

While I've been peaking lately with the outdoor activities, I've been woefully unmotivated where the indoor activities are concerned, for which I offer no apologies. I'm still waging the time-change battle, and I'm still losing. I'm no longer up until all hours each night, but I just cannot hoist my ass out of bed in the morning. And after all the outdoor running about, I've got no energy or enthusiasm for blogging. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have managed to compile two new photo galleries. One is from my Oregon travels and I'll warn you - there are a lot of pictures. A gratuitous amount, one might think. But there was no end to the beauty in Oregon, so I'll subject you to it all. The other gallery is a mélange of pics from the last few weeks in Jersey - trips to the 4-H Fair, a Brooklyn Cyclones game and the driving range with Crazy Nephew #1, to name a few.

But here's one you won't find in that gallery. Last Thursday, Kerry and I met in Trenton to drive to Philly to watch the Mets beat the Phillies (which we did from a corporate box, which I'd highly recommend you check out if the opportunity presents itself, if only for the free Yueng Ling). After the game, we decided to have dinner and a few more cocktails at Kat-Man-Du, the only bar of merit in Trenton.

When I credit Kat-Man-Du as meritorious, it's based on a few factors: there is ample outdoor seating, it's right on the Delaware and it does not really require going INTO Trenton. We're not talking about a super hot club here. It's a passable way to spend an evening if you happen to be in Trenton.

Which is what made this sign outside so ridiculous. This is a list of 13 attire options that are not allowed within the confines of Kat-Man-Du. Some of them - no ripped or offensive clothing, for instance - are fine. But then you get to some of the ones I've highlighted below, and you really have to wonder what sort of uptight asshole is running the show down there along the banks of the Delaware:

-No Oversized Shirts or Pants
-No Low Hanging or Baggy Pants
-No Long Shirts, including Polos (that hang below pant packets)
-No Extra Long Shorts (that are below top of calf)
-No Hats, Brimless Headwear, Bandanas, Head Bands, or Wraps
-No Plain White or Black T-shirts (i.e. no pocket or logo)
-No Athletic Wear or Sweats of any kind
-No Hooded Sweatshirts or Jackets
-No Athletic Jerseys
-No Tan Work Boots (or footwear that looks like tan work boots)

Is it just me, or do some of these seem incredibly particular? Not to mention, targeted toward certain, shall we say, ethnic groups?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

At this morning's softball game, one of the hot topics was last night's tribute to the '86 Mets at Shea, which was terrific, despite the absence of Davey Johnson, Ray Knight, Roger McDowell and Lee Mazzilli, all of whom should have figured out a way to be there. Dwight Gooden being a no-show can be forgiven, in light of his current incarceration.

So I was chatting with one of the guys over our shared Mets-fan status, and he asked if I have been a Mets fan for a long time. I jokingly responded, "I have probably been a Mets fan longer than you've been alive."

He then hit me with: "Well, I was born in 1986..."

That hurt.

For god's sake, some of us could DRIVE in 1986.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

There's little that gives me more joy than booking airline tickets for a girls' weekend in Vegas (which was done this morning).

Unless it's news stories like this about celebrities. I can't even pull a favorite line out of this one. Ok, maybe this...

"Baby please," Dick repeated six times. "Put in something nice," he said after urinating in front of the horrified journalist in his dressing room and offering her cocaine.

Finally, there is an answer as to why Brett Lorenzo Favre is back in uniform this year, and apparently I have Phil Simms to thank.

When I was home between trips in mid-July, the crazy nephews slept over. The next day, I couldn't find my watch. I didn't have time to look for it, so I was without a timepiece for the next three weeks. When I saw the boys Monday night, I asked Matthew if he knew where it was, as he has a habit of hiding things. He assured me with a sweet smile that he did not. Last night, as I straightened the pillows and cushions on my couch, I found my watch. Right on top of it? One of Matthew's nuks. Draw your own conclusions.

I need to solicit advice. Does anyone have experience selling things on I need to figure out how it works. Casa Magnolia is in dire need of a downsizing of stuff.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

As I rounded the corner toward Casa Magnolia yesterday afternoon, Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home" hit the radio airwaves...

I had a great time in Oregon and I do love that area, but it is really, really nice to be home. Three weeks away is a long time. Perhaps the couple in their 60s sitting next to me on the flight home yesterday hadn't seen each other in a while either, as they were uncomfortably affectionate. For five and a half hours. Fortunately, I slept through most of their love fest.

For those curious, I had no problems with security at the airport. In fact, it may have been the shortest line I've ever encountered at PDX. I've often find that airport to be the most zealous in terms of its security (highlighted by the time I was groped by a security guard who would have been better suited to a prison environment) but this time I breezed through.

Anyway, upon my arrival home, I immediately headed to my brother's, where I met Emily and spent some quality time with the crazy nephews. Matthew gave me some mashed potatoes off his plate at dinner, "because I love you." That is the kind of thing that assures I will live in New Jersey forever, no matter how much I enjoy the Pacific Northwest.

There was one small blip on my way out of Portland. I could not find the damn airport. I have been to that airport no less than 10 times, and have never had a problem getting there. I can find it with my eyes closed, which is why I wasn't too worried about getting directions.

But Sunday night, after drinks downtown with Tege and her husband, I headed to the airport to check into the hotel down the road. I must have been exhausted, because I somehow wound up in Washington. Then, after turning around, I missed the airport again and ended up back near downtown. Then I accidentally traveled through the hood of Portland. Just as I was about to completely snap, my favorite song came on the radio. I found the hotel two minutes later. It was like I needed some good karma, and Led Zeppelin provided it.

Speaking of musical matters, for the past 10 years, every time I've gone back to Ohio I have stopped in various offbeat music stores and pawn shops, in search of what has become a vision quest of sorts: finding a copy of the First Light: Reggae Meltdown! CD.

First Light was a Cleveland band we saw frequently during my days at OSU – they played Skankland in Columbus monthly. I never actually owned their CD, but had a taped copy of it that I listened to no less than 300 times. Not surprisingly, the tape fell apart a few years ago. I taped it back together, which was good for a while, but it finally completely disintegrated. So every time I visit Columbus, I always search the local shops in the hopes of finding a used copy of it. No luck.

While trying to use some of the 47 iTunes downloads I’ve accumulated thanks to buying airline tickets from Continental, I typed in First Light on a whim. I never expected to find it, but figured it couldn't hurt. Hot diggity damn. There, in all its musical glory, was the entire Reggae Meltdown! disc. It has been downloaded and is being burned to a disc as I type. Extremely good times. I do love the internets.

While we’re talking about iTunes, I think I’m going to have to start a new feature at Wine by the Color: Song I’m Almost Embarrassed to Admit I Downloaded from iTunes.

This week’s runaway winner: “Escape” by Enrique Iglesias.

Oh, the shame...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When you have taken to wearing a bullet-proof vest as part of your daily attire, you know your life has taken a wrong turn.

Edited to add...

Ok, this story gets better every time it's updated. The rumor that a machete was found in the vehicle along with the four guns was a solid frontrunner for ridiculous tidbit. But then, this...

Police also found a compact disc of children's songs recorded by Ohio prison inmates that the state distributed last month to prisoners and their families.

I don't even know what to do with that.

And then...

Clarett plans to play for the Mahoning Valley Hitmen, one of five teams in the Eastern Indoor Football League.

Clarett has not signed a contract with the team yet, pending a fire marshal's inspection of the team's home field. Clarett's proposed contract includes attendance incentives that cannot be finalized until the fire marshal determines the capacity of the team's arena.

The Eastern Indoor Football League? Attendance incentives?

Sometimes, the shtick just writes itself. This reads like something you'd find in the Onion.

Except it's all true...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Hmm, Jersey Girl is finally coming to watch me play at Lambeau. I wonder if she and Megs would like to go to dinner after the game."

That's right - earlier today, the lovely Megan purchased two tickets for the Jets-Packers game in Green Bay on December 3rd. Moments later, I bought an airline ticket from EWR to ORD.

For someone who makes a living using words, I'm having trouble articulating how excited I am about this. People keep asking if I'm crazy, going to Green Bay in December. Certainly not. I have no desire to go to a Packers game in the nice weather. I want to do it properly - freezing my ass off. They don't call it the Frozen Tundra for nothing. I fully expect that this will join my June, 2001 visit to Wrigley as the apexes of my sporting experiences.

I'm also researching flights for our girls' weekend in Vegas in early November. Currently, flights from EWR to LAS are in the $1,200 range. That can't be right. Are they giving away money in Vegas that weekend?

Also arranged was a trip to see Ohio State play Penn State in September. If anyone from my office asks, of COURSE the most convenient way to travel from Newark to Jacksonville is via Columbus, Ohio.

I've fielded a few inquiries regarding my feelings about Ohio State being named the pre-season number one in various publications. My answer: uneasy.

Admittedly, I'm a little concerned about a defense that lost nine starters from last year. The Buckeyes have a history of regenerating defensive players without missing a beat, year after year, but to lose nine, including the likes of A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, and the entire secondary, is enough to give me pause.

Moving on to Flushing, Omar Minaya again showed he's 659 times a better GM than Isiah Thomas when he signed David Wright to a six-year deal over the weekend. This may be just the push I need to add a Wright jersey to my wardrobe.

While searching for the news story about the above on the Mets home page, I came across this wonderment - David Wright's blog. That's going on the list of Geniuses. "Wright Now." Love it.

Brett Lorenzo Favre is one of two athletes to whom we give the full-name treatment around here. The other, Michael Joseph Piazza, makes his return to Shea in a Padres uniform tomorrow, and the Sandman will be there. This, along with the arrival of Emily Lynn last week, are the kinds of things that occasionally cause me to dislike all the traveling. I'd like nothing better than to be at Shea to watch the Sandman get misty thanks to the return of the love of his sporting life.

The Ledger is reporting that Curtis Martin's career might be over. Pardon my lack of eloquence, but that would suck. Can you imagine if they hold farewell ceremonies for Chrebet and Martin at the same time? Get ready for lots of grown men weeping in East Rutherford.

And finally, in non-sporting news, here's a job listing I found on Monster ... does this not seem a bit curious?

While performing the duties of this Job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel; reach with hands and arms and talk or hear. The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; climb or balance and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pop quiz - can you guess which crazy nephew is super excited about the arrival of his baby sister?

Here's another clue...

Meet Emily Lynn, who made her arrival at 3:21 a.m. Friday. Mom, Dad and at least one of her brothers are doing fine. The other one will no doubt come around.

One can only assume that the hour of her arrival will mean she'll be a night owl like her aunt. God help her.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I'll admit that I'm extremely tired thanks to a nine-mile hike today (photo to come tomorrow; my sanity to be questioned at any time). But I'm pretty damn sure that, out of the corner of my eye during dinner tonight, I saw Linda Cohn reporting on the X Games on the Evil Empire.

Didn't she leave? Is she back?

At least the volume was turned down at the restaurant so I didn't have to suffer listening to her.

In other news from the world of sport...

I wonder if I could pass for 6-13 years old. Because I think I am in need of an after-school program, if you know what I mean.

And I think you do.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Given the Sandman's reaction to yesterday's post, I know he'll enjoy this one. I visited Crater Lake yesterday, which was formed by the eruption of Mount Mazama some 7,000 years ago. It is the deepest lake in the U.S. And it is absolutely breathtaking. Pictures can't begin to capture how blue the water is.

It is also, to what I'm sure will be the continued dismay of sweltering Jersey-ites, a very comfortable climate. I considered posting a photo with snow on the ground, but thought that might be too much. It was about 60 yesterday. The temperature falls below 40 each evening.

Which should make this afternoon interesting - I'm white-water rafting on the Deschutes River. I stuck my hand in that water yesterday and it is freezing. I'm curious as to how it will feel when my entire body is in it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So I hear it's hot back home...

I'm sorry to hear that. I'm not, of course, sorry to be missing it.

Yesterday in southern Oregon, it was 40 degrees cooler than New Jersey. The wind was whipping along the coast and at times I was almost cold, despite wearing a sweatshirt all day.

But my Jersey brethren probably doesn't want to hear about that.

My tourney ended Sunday night and I have five free days until I have to be in Portland Saturday for another one. So I compiled the following plan for the week: drive and see where the rental car takes me.

Yesterday I drove south along the coast, into California, then across through a redwood forest, then up to Grants Pass, Ore. Today, I'm planning to head to Crater Lake for some hiking and then up to Bend. Maybe do some white-water rafting. Maybe sit on a rock and read.

Basically, do anything that is not work. Tough to accomplish at this time of year, but I'm going to give it a shot.