wine by the color

Thursday, November 30, 2006

What sort of divine intervention would be necessary to make it so that the week I've traveling to Lambeau to see His Holiness in action, he's on the cover of SI as the face of football? It's like they know.

People, I am FIRED UP for this trip. I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve. I may watch "There's Something About Mary" tonight to throw myself into a further froth (although, as a sidebar, that may be the worst movie ending in cinematic history. Who in their right mind would pick Ben Stiller over Brett Favre? Puh-lease.).

Just as exciting as the reality that my arse will be seated in Lambeau mere days from now is the knowledge that The Lovely Lady of Sheboygan will be sitting with me. GOOD times!

Let's do a quick check of the weather, shall we? Specifically, what will it be like Sunday for the game?

Bring it on, Mother Nature. Bring it on.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Apparently, it's a good idea to put a cover over a jar of cheese when you heat it in the microwave.

Live and learn.

My brother and sister-in-law are having a bit of a time getting my 3-year-old crazy nephew toilet trained. He has no problem standing at the bowl when nature calls for a pee, but he simply refuses to sit on the toilet for what we'll call a "longer visit." It's been going on for a few months and he's holding firm (not to mention holding it in). After a few accidents, my sister-in-law brokered a deal with him, whereby he tells her when he has to poop and she puts a diaper on him. It's not a perfect solution, but given the arrival of the (sure-to-be-crazy) niece in the midst of this process, they decided to let it be for the time being and work on the situation after the holidays.

After finishing dinner on Thanksgiving, we went around the table and everyone offered something for which they are thankful. Most folks mentioned things like being together for the holiday, or the food, or good health.

And then we got to the aforementioned nephew.

My brother: "Matthew, what are you thankful for?"
Matthew (without looking up from the table, or missing a beat): "Pooping in a diaper."

My mom laughed so hard I thought she might drop my niece, who she was holding at the time.

That wasn't Matthew's only highlight Thursday. He was a comedic tour de force all day, particularly in the kitchen - eating turkey as it was being carved, licking whipped cream beaters.

Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend, even if you did wait to eat off plates.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

There's no finer example of why I love college sports than this...

The man with the sword is Rutgers' senior fullback Brian Leonard, and for those unfamiliar with his story, you can learn all about him here. It's a lengthy, but excellent read.

So Todd A and I went to the Rutgers-Syracuse game yesterday. As the Knights rolled over the Orangemen in front of a packed stadium on a glorious, sunny afternoon in Piscataway, I thought about how great this season must be for the Rutgers' seniors, a few of whom were freshmen on the 1-11 squad in 2002. To be enjoying such a successful season, playing in front of large, noisy crowds, has to be extremely gratifying. Particularly for Leonard, who set the Rutgers' career scoring record with a TD late in the game, and for whom "Bri-an Leo-nard" chants were repeatedly heard throughout the day. Hearing 40,000 people chant your name just has to feel good.

After the game, the Rutgers players and coaches assembled in the end zone near the band to sing "On the Banks of the Old Raritan." But one player was missing - Leonard, who was at midfield, in the middle of an interview. So Schiano went and grabbed him and took him to the drum major podium, where Leonard led the band, players and fans in the alma mater, with the game ball in one hand and a sword in the other.

I didn't even go to Rutgers, and I found it to be a spine-tingling moment.

REALLY good times.

Not good times ... Brent Musburger. What an assclown. Had he called Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn "courageous" one more time during Saturday night's ND-USC game, it's quite probable I would have thrown a shoe at the television. What was so courageous about Quinn's performance? Did he donate a kidney five minutes before the game?

I find that highly unlikely, but perhaps I should do a little research to make sure he wasn't out rescuing kittens or putting out fires or something...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a lovely holiday filled with five of my favorite things: family, friends, food, fermented grapes and football.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Let’s take a quick break from the cruise chatter to talk a little football…

While I was on the high seas, Rutgers came from behind to beat Louisville in a fantastic, nationally televised game that I actually got to watch, thanks to the availability of ESPN throughout the ship. My three NFL teams went undefeated for the first time all season (not counting week 6, when the Jets won and the Packers and Browns had byes, which I feared might be the best I got this season). The trifecta of victories included the Jets’ first win over New England since 2002, leading to this chilly post-game run-in between Mangini and his former mentor.

Good times!!

Thanks to the Evil Empire, I was also able to overdose on the hype leading up to The Game. I was actually glad I had no access to the Internets on the ship, because I couldn’t possibly keep up with all the pre-game coverage. I did manage to find this.

On Friday, the last day of the cruise, the weather was a bit crappy and the seas were a little rough, so I spent some time on the couch watching TV. And that’s when I saw the news that Bo Schembechler had died. Which made me realize what a true genius he was. He'd stop at NOTHING to inspire Michigan to a win over Ohio State, all the way to the end!

After arriving back in New Jersey Saturday morning, we made a quick stop to watch Crazy Nephew #1 play soccer and then headed to my brother’s house for two important events: CN#1’s sixth birthday and The Game.

The game was really, really good and I’m not just saying that because I graduated from OSU and the Buckeyes won (although that certainly helped). It was just a great college football game. If anyone missed it, feel free to visit as it will be in my TiVo until the end of time. The celebration at my brother's house was just shy of this one:

Sadly, there was no such celebration 101.2 miles southwest of Columbus later that evening, unless you're a Cincinnati fan. Not good times for the Scarlet Knights.

Sunday, I headed to the Meadowlands early. Hell, the Jets were above .500 after the big win over the Patriots and were facing a team with one loss. It felt like a playoff game.

At the end of the second quarter, the Professor and I were discussing my upcoming trip to Green Bay. I mentioned how happy I was that His Holiness was playing well, because my biggest fear was that he'd be benched before the Jets game in early December to give Aaron Rodgers a chance to play. We agreed that there was no way Favre wouldn't be playing on 12/3.

During halftime, The Professor went to the concession stand for beers. He returned a few minutes into the second half to find us discussing the Donovan McNabb injury.

Him: "Oh, I have even worse news for you. Favre got knocked out of the game and it looks like it might be a broken wrist and he could be done for the year."
Me: Choking noises.

That sent my fingers flying, with text messages to The Captain and my cousin to get the full story. Eventually, my cousin was able to report that it looked like a minor elbow injury and that His Holiness should be able to play this week and thus, more importantly, on Dec. 3.

I can assure you there will not be any similar fate-tempting conversations during the game this Sunday.

As for the Jets, strange thing - the game ended with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter. Yeah, they let the clock run down to 0:00. But with 6:22 remaining and the Jets trailing by 10, Mangini decided to punt from the Bears' 37-yard line. Game over.

Of course, we stayed until the end (which turned out for the best when it gave us the opportunity to watch the big dude behind us mix it up a bit with some Bears' fans in front of us), but a good chunk of the crowd was out of its seats before the punt hit the end zone. You know it was bad, because The Professor didn't scream at people to "turn their tickets in at the door" as he usually does when people leave early.

Let's review the headlines following Sunday's games:
1. Onsides Kick Fiasco A Lowlight Of Jets' Loss
2. Patriots Crush Packers 35-0; Favre Injured In Pasting
3. Browns Can't Get Grip On Winning


And on a final football note, I missed "60 Minutes" this Sunday (as I do every Sunday), but apparently Joe Namath was a guest and, during his interview, apparently expressed interest in trying to meet women for social purposes. As a result, women are contacting the television station to try to get in touch with the former Jet QB.

It's good to see that women aren't scared off by this...
The night before we left for the cruise, my parents received a notice from their travel agent that there had been some trouble with the Norwalk virus on two of our ship's previous sailings. The letter stated that although our trip would proceed as planned, they would be taking some extra precautions to avoid another outbreak on our sailing.

My mother asked me to run to Wal-Mart to get some Lysol hand wipes, so we could keep things as bacteria-free as possible. That turned out to be completely unnecessary, as the ship's crew was cleaning 24 hours a day. You couldn't go anywhere without seeing (and smelling) someone wiping down the railings, counters and walls with bleach-soaked rags.

There were other noticeable precautions. The crew didn't shake hands with anyone (except for the Turkish waiter, and I'll try to get to that later today). Every time we went to a show, we were reminded that "the best way to avoid sickness is to simply wash your hands after bathroom breaks and before eating anything." In the dining areas, no one was allowed to serve themselves at the breakfast and lunch buffets (which, while a bit of a pain in the ass, might have helped me avoid gaining any weight since I didn't over-serve myself. It's a lot easier to grab three desserts when you're quietly taking them, rather than looking at someone and saying, "Yes, I'll have a cream puff, a slice of lemon meringue pie and three cookies, please.") At dinner, there was no salt, pepper or butter on the table. You always had to ask for it.

And then, there was this...

Might I introduce you to the Germcontrol Touchless Sanitation System. These things were everywhere. In the dining areas, gym and casino. Outside the ship's theater. Whenever we reached a port, these were the first things the crew carried off. Before you got back onto the ship, you had to take a hit of Germcontrol.

My biggest regret is not immediately starting a running count of how many times I used this thing to clean my hands. At least 20 times a day. Sometimes, twice in five minutes. If you walked in one side of a buffet and then through to the other entrance, they'd make you use it again. Fortunately, because my family has a wacky sense of humor, we had some good laughs over the constant hand washing. Even though it's left my hands so dry you could lose pocket change in the cracks.

But fortunately, none of us got the virus, or the "veeerus," as our French friends called it. There were rumors of a minor outbreak and some people confined to their rooms, but we certainly didn't have anything like this. What a nightmare.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Guess who’s back…

And I have a LOT to talk about. The Turkish waiter who inquired, “Do you have husband?” The Parisian couple who taught me that French people can be quite lovely. The inadvisability of having your hair cut on a moving vessel. Why I washed my hands 273 times in 11 days. How it feels to sit at a slot machine as three red sevens hit the center line. How I found out about His Holiness’s injury Sunday while watching the Jets’ ineptitude at the Meadowlands, and the text-messaging frenzy that ensued.

And, of course, this…

Unfortunately, I have been experiencing a litany of computer problems since my return, limiting my ability to share the above tales. I hope tomorrow will be a better day and we can start to go through that list.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you to ponder this. Can anyone point out the two problems with this? Megs?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In one hour, I will be vacation-bound, heading for the high seas. I will be away from all technology – the computer, my cell phone – for 11 days.

How crazy is it that my biggest concern is how I’ll get the score of Thursday night’s Rutgers-Louisville game?

See you on the 18th, when I'll arrive home to a football game between two little Midwestern schools, meaning that two weeks of R&R will immediately disappear and elevated blood pressure will no doubt return.

Monday, November 06, 2006

It’s a good thing I’m going on vacation tomorrow. I need a break after the past few days.

The quartet of me, my best friend of 30+ years and my two college roommates was supposed to go to Vegas this past weekend but when one of us had to cancel, we decided to postpone until we could all make the trip. Instead, KJ and I opted to see if we could find some fun closer to home, in Atlantic City. We didn’t have much of a plan, figuring we’d just head down Saturday night and see where the evening took us.

If you call arriving at your hotel at 5 a.m. in a stretch limo “some fun,” then yes, I guess we did okay.

We drove down late in the afternoon, thus saving me the torture of watching the Buckeyes try to blow their game, and thus their season, against Illinois. After checking into our hotel, we headed to the Trop for some gambling, and then it was on to dinner.

I don't get to that end of AC often, as we usually either go to the Taj or the Borgata, so I hadn’t been to the Gallery at the Trop. It is really impressive. It’s hard to believe this is the same place of 15 years ago, when the town struck me as a seedy, depressing Vegas knock-off. Our little AC has grown up nicely.

After some marvelous Chinese grub, it was back to the casino and the tables. And that’s when the evening took an interesting turn.

When the guy who sits down next to you has his chips delivered in a locked plastic box and signs for them rather than handing over cash, it raises some eyebrows among the table’s other players.

His delivery? Ten-thousand dollars.

So while we went crazy with our $15 hands, he was playing upwards of a grand a hand. Truly something to see. I have expected someone dropping $100 every six minutes to be obnoxious, but he wasn’t at all. In fact, he was quite nice and in no time we were all enjoying some banter. He wasn’t hitting on us as he spoke often and happily about his wife and kids. He just seemed to enjoy the chatter and the company.

In no time, two hours had passed and it was 1 a.m., so we decided to head back to the Quarter. Our buddy also opted to leave, for other tables, but we agreed to meet up later.

Oh, and we walked away with a $50 profit. His take was 100 times that. You do the math.

And so began the carousing portion of the evening.

Have you seen the humorous Miller Lite commercials that decree Man Laws? Saturday night, we started our own list of Lady Laws. Number one on the list: If you try to dance with a woman and she turns away from you, indicating her clear intent to not dance with you, do not wait an hour and try again. She still does not want to dance with you.

Despite this, we enjoyed ourselves, starting at a vodka bar called Red Square and moving on to a Latin place called Cuba Libre. Eventually, we met up with our new friend, but he seemed antsy to get back to the casino. We were well past our maximum sobriety level and in need of sleep, so we called it a night.

KJ and I were discussing how to get back to our hotel when he stepped in and said that he could arrange a car for us through the hotel, as he's a "fairly good customer there." We gratefully accepted his offer, and he headed back to the casino after arranging things at the front desk. We waited outside, and after a few minutes an absurdly long black limo arrived. Off we went, giggling like teenagers about the ridiculousness of our situation.

I think my favorite moment of the evening (morning?) came when the limo dropped us in front of the hotel. A man was smoking on the front steps as we arrived, and the look on his face as two people stepped out of a vehicle that could have easily transported 10 times that is something I wish I had captured on camera. Very, very good times.

After a mere four hours of sleep, I somehow managed to remain upright for five hours Sunday to watch the NFL games with the Captain and his friends at an oceanside watering hole. I'm still not sure how I managed that, and I could barely muster the energy to drive home from the shore. But it was worth it. I rarely get to park it in a bar and watch all the games via satellite because I'm usually at the Jets games, and it was a very good time, despite losses by the Browns and Packers. At least the Jets didn't lose.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I have recently been taken to task, and rightfully so, for two things: the lack of pictures of my niece and the missing fourth installment from my rant-a-palooza.

My shame with regard to the former of these issues is overwhelming. Last weekend, someone asked to see a recent picture of Sweetie Pie Princess. Imagine my horror to realize I haven't taken any since she was two weeks old. Shameful. I know she's the third kid and all, but she deserves better.

Sweetie Pie Princess smiles at her aunt as the two watch a little football together. She may be smiling now, but she and her aunt will be much less happy two hours later, when officials at the Jets-Browns game do not call for a replay on what looks like it could be a Jets TD in the last minute of the game.

And finally...

Part IV: I Want To Quit The Gym!

A few months ago, in the midst of a long road trip, I was watching television at 4 a.m. because I couldn't sleep. I can't really explain what happened next. Perhaps it was because I was exhausted, or because I had been away from home for too long. All I know is that Daisy Fuentes was making a lot of sense early that morning, so I now own this. Shut it. I know.

But it’s been going pretty well - I've been rising at 5:30 a.m. daily to do the tapes and I actually enjoy it and have started to see a difference, so I decided it might be time to quit the gym. I stopped by a few weeks ago to freeze my membership, a warm-up for actually quitting. I filled out the paperwork and was told it would be taken care of.

Two days later, the monthly membership fee was withdrawn from my checking account.

I wish I had a better ending to this story, but I don't. I called to complain and was given some rhetoric about the gym's policy requiring more lead time to freeze a membership. Honestly, I just didn't have the energy to fight about it. Maybe when I actually quit and that doesn't go well, which I'm sure it won't, I'll have a better tale to tell.

Speaking of traveling and late nights on the road, I frequently suffer from an affliction I like to call Hotel Insomnia. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, sometimes I simply cannot sleep. More accurately, I’ll fall asleep without incident, but wake up around 3 a.m. And 4 a.m. And 5 a.m.

It was during one such evening that I awoke to what seemed to be Ron Jeremy leading a talk show about what constitutes sexy. Who can sleep when that’s going on?

Eventually, I realized it was an infomercial for this. I won't say any more.

But while we're discussing disturbing things you can do to your body, might I point out this? Are there that many people who need more fat on their ass? I have my doubts about this.