wine by the color

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

From the "It Doesn't Take Much to Amuse Me" files...

Our local paper runs daily news updates on its web site - breaking news or random local stories of often-questionable interest. Today, this gem appeared amid dazzling headlines like "Eating club qualifies for tax-exempt status" and "Romney, 'Today' host apologize for not wearing seat belts:"

CENTRAL JERSEY: How well do you understand black bears?

The BEAR Group, based in West Milford, is beginning to hold monthly meetings in other counties to educate residents about black bears, better unite its membership and to attract new interest.

With black bears sighted in Bridgewater, Hillsborough and other Central Jersey towns in recent years, knowledge about black bears can be very beneficial.

And so on...

Under each news bulletin, readers have the opportunity to post comments. There is usually little to no commentary, and this story was no exception, with just one comment.

But oh, what a comment it was...

Gee, I dunno. I've never had the opportunity to "bond" with one. I'm sure they have goals and feelings and challenges in life like we all do. I hear that their employment opportunities are limited - being furry woodland creatures and all - but it sounds as though there's a positive movement going forward to mainstream them...or shoot them...or something. Right?

Kudos to this reader. I need to know who this is. I should be hanging out with this person.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend as much as this little lady did. Her aunt certainly did.

It was an action-packed five days ... a trip to New Jersey's adult playground ... a golf outing that resulted in a career low ... dinner with friends from Holland (seriously, how often do you get to say that?) ... successful completion of the five-miler (how I have no idea) ... lack of pain after said completion (even more shocking) ... a sleepover on our boat with the crazy nephews ... a rollicking backyard party, highlighted by an incredible thunderstorm ... pizza on the boardwalk at 1:30 a.m. ... bike rides ... and lots of family and friends. Good times all around.

As a public-service announcement, might I recommend you never fall asleep with HBO on? Because you could fall asleep to "Wedding Crashers" and awake to something called "Kinky Sex Club."

I did an imdb search for "Kinky Sex Club." It didn't recognize that title, but it did give me some alternate options, one of which was "The New Mickey Mouse Club."

Um, no.

Friday, May 25, 2007

If I was able to complete a 45-mile bike ride despite a double whammy of bronchitis and a sinus infection, isn't it be reasonable to think I can run a five-miler tomorrow despite a two-fer of bronchitis and a viral infection?

Anyone want to talk me out of that?


(And no, I haven't had bronchitis for five weeks. I had it, got rid of it, and it just returned. Perhaps I'm allergic to athletic competitions. Or maybe this is what I get for eating healthier, drinking less and working out more. I should probably just go back to the days of Fruity Pebbles, White Castle, cocktails every other night and little to no exercise. I don't recall constant bouts of bronchitis and various infections during those days.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I added a new genius to the list last week. My friend Mary Ellen has started a blog where she'll be listing recipes from her culinary endeavors.

This is somewhat humorous because Mary Ellen used to be the only person I knew who made me look like an adventurous eater. We used to sit in some of this country's fanciest restaurants while traveling together for work and eat fries. While in Denver on business many moons ago, we visited a Taco Bell in a stretch white limo. We haven't worked together in almost 10 years, but still meet every few months for breakfast at Sneddon's in Lambertville, where shredded home fries with melted cheese always finds its way onto our plates.

But we've both come a long way and have expanded our acceptable foods list exponentially. Among other things, I now eat red meat (after abstaining for 12 years) and Chinese food (after just saying no for 35 years); she eats all sorts of meats (formerly a no-no for her). She's become rather experimental in the kitchen and has decided to share the results of her efforts.

Irony aside, enjoy her culinary masterpieces. We'll be enjoying some risotto and white wine tonight along with the two-hour season finale of Lost. And celebrating the fact that I don't have to work again until next Tuesday.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Many people have a Life To-Do List – things they'd like to accomplish during their time on earth – and I'm no different. I've tried to be realistic and simplistic with my list, which as a result features just three main goals:

1 – visit all 50 states
2 – visit as many countries as possible
3 – sky dive

For the purposes of today's discussion, let's focus on the lead item on that list, although exciting news is forthcoming about another of those items.

Thanks to my travels involved with more than a decade of various employments, I've made substantial inroads where #1 is concerned. When I visited the Lovely Lady of Sheboygan's hometown last December, the state with a motto of “Forward” (?!?) became the 39th state I've crossed off the list.

But I've hit a bit of an impasse. The remaining states – Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota – aren't ones I expect to happen to find myself in for any reason, so I'm going to have to make a concerted effort to work this list down toward its desired terminus.

Of these, the most ridiculous inclusion is Indiana. I lived in a state that borders Indiana for five years. How did I never get there? Had I known it would still be on the list 15 years later, I'd have made an effort to drive over state line at some point. Perhaps I'll work on that later this year when I go to an OSU game. It might be worth driving the four hours from Columbus to South Bend to simply drive into town, flip someone the bird and drive back to Columbus. We'll see.

But until then, it's time to tackle the middle of the country. I have a tournament in the middle of Kansas later this year, and I'm going to use that opportunity to knock five more states off the list. I can drive down to Oklahoma during the week and I think I might fly out a few days early to tackle the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska. Outside of visiting Badlands National Park in South Dakota, I'm a bit shy on desired activities for that quintet of states, so recommendations are welcome.

Later this year, I have another tournament in Arizona, and some quick research has revealed that Albuquerque is a scant 463 miles from Phoenix, so I hope to add a few days to that trip so I can cross New Mexico off the list. I've heard great things about Santa Fe and would like to visit there as well.

Then I'll have to do a Southeastern swing to visit Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. Perhaps next January, when I attend an annual conference in Florida, I can extend that a few days. I dated someone who played minor-league baseball in Arkansas and he claims it's a beautiful state. I look forward to judging for myself.

And that would leave Alaska for the grand finale. I want the accomplishment of hitting my 50th state to be special and, not to insult any states, I really don't want to be cross over the Alabama-Mississippi state line and shout, "woo hoo, I’m in Mississippi!" I'd rather do it in a state I've been looking forward to visiting for a long time. And Alaska is tops on that list. Although a trip to Mississippi would obviously include a stop here.

Hmm. Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Last week, someone asked me why I have such a problem with the Evil Empire. I think this is one outstanding example.

I do find it humorous that the ESPN's ombudsman tackled this topic, and somewhat convincingly, just a few days before this memo appeared on Poynter.

ESPN may not be a monolith, but it often appears to be one. Especially when launching new endeavors like Arena Football or NASCAR or Major League Soccer, someone at ESPN, perhaps everyone at ESPN, should be aware of the appearance of overzealous promotion. Synergy can backfire.

You think?

While I frequently complain about the Evil Empire, I've got nothing on this guy, who is in the middle of a five-part rant about his issues with ESPN (thanks to the Good Doctor for pointing this out, because I can't say I was previously familiar with the Phat Phree).

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

How are we supposed to take Stewart (sp) Scott seriously when does a piece about a female college football player getting sexually assaulted and the ramifications of sexism in college sports when two minutes prior he was quoting Wu-Tang Clan lyrics? It's absurd.

Normally, I'd point out the incongruity of someone spelling a name incorrectly in the middle of rant of this sort, but I'm willing to make an exception here. He also misuses 'it's' in another one of the columns, which would normally send me over the edge. Again, I'll let it slide. He's too caught up in the moment to concern himself with things like grammar and spelling.

What they didn't do was make themselves more important than the coverage.

Amen, brother. This has been one of my biggest sources of irritation for years. Back in the glory days, SportsCenter was about the sports, with some shtick thrown in. Now, it's about the shtick, which often sucks, with some sports thrown in.

I'll leave it to you to click on part two to read his thoughts on Stewy. Let's just say it includes the words pompous, shameless, soulless and despicable whore.

The next two parts in the series are: Chapter Four: Due to Time Constraints From EPSN Classic to Cold Pizza to Poker: why filling 24 hours shouldn't be this hard; and Chapter Five: The Virus Spreads From to Page 2 to ESPN 360 to fantasy sports: proving that their ability to ruin a good idea isn't limited to just television.

I wait with baited breath.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Samuel L. Jackson coaching junior hockey.


On my lone trip to Wrigley, on Father's Day 2001, Chelios sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch. Hard to believe he's still playing. What is he, 53 years old?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Not even a complete drubbing could ruin a terrific day at Shea yesterday. Well, it cast a pall on it for me, but the crazy nephews didn't care so much. They'll learn.

But they were too busy enjoying an exciting day of subway rides, Mr. Met tomfoolery and a buffet of hot dogs, popcorn and peanuts. Thankfully, there was a lone appearance from the Mets' home run apple. By then I had been asked at least 20 times, "when is the apple going to come out?" So although it was useless in terms of the outcome of the game, it mattered very much to two young Mets fans in training. And to an aunt who was tired of replying, "when a Met manages to hit the ball over the fence."

Although a few people told me I was insane for bringing the duo into the city without assistance, we had a delightful, trouble-free day. Hey, we even went to the bathroom without any incidents. Matthew, on his inaugural visit to a major-league ballpark, did suffer a pre-game injury when he took a major tumble running up the ramp. But he brushed it off and carried on with his day, bloody elbow and all.

For anyone who says New Yorkers are cold and unfriendly, let me point out that when we got on the 7 after the game, as I carried a sleepy Matthew, holding Adam with one hand and a bag of treats in the other, two people immediately got up and gave us their seats on the crowded train.

As we drove out of the city through the tunnel, Adam proclaimed, "I love New York City," and Matthew lamented, "I'm going to miss this city." A return trip is being planned.

In other weekend news, you haven't lived until you've danced in a dive bar with a man wearing an "I *Heart* Lesbians" t-shirt to someone's karaoke version of "Runaround Sue." Good times!

After a quiet few months where news items about His Holiness are concerned, a two-fer this weekend. I was going to mention this, but then I was notified of this. I'd like to provide a statement about this, but my head is absolutely spinning after tonight's Sopranos episode.

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Even as we were grieving we thought, Man, there's a lot of humanity in this world."

I've been a Sports Illustrated subscriber since 1986 and for many years I read every issue cover to cover, word for word. That hasn't been the case for a long time (which is a rant for another day). But every once in a while, there's a great article. Usually, it's written by Gary Smith. Last week, it was this effort from L. Jon Wertheim. It's a lengthy but worthwhile read.

Also, if you happen to be dining in central Jersey anytime soon, might I recommend you visit Vicki's Diner in Westfield? I've never been there but am always happy to check out another Jersey diner. Particularly one with such a caring, concerned owner.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dear woman on the stationary bike in front of me at the gym:

I wanted to let you know I didn't appreciate the way you dismissively tossed aside the sports section as you read the local paper while exercising this morning. I realize it's not the New York Times, but there are some worthwhile articles in there. I mean, you read the section that includes tips for playing bridge, for Christ's sake. But the sports, you just tossed under the bike. Which is probably a safety hazard. But that's a separate issue.

For those of us who are weekly contributors to the section, quite frankly, your actions were a little hurtful. And no one likes to have their feelings hurt at 5:50 a.m.

Hugs & kisses,
Jersey Girl

Speaking of the local paper ... call me a softie, but I thought this story was kind of sweet. But I am curious to know why the one brother always picks the movie. In 600 viewings, has brother #2 never gotten to make the call?

That theater is once where I had a minor outburst. My then-roommate and I went to an opening-night viewing of "Billy Madison" and a group of teenagers behind us was making a ridiculous racket. They were hollering at each other, changing seats every two minutes, getting up to leave the theater constantly. Now, I realize we weren't exactly seeing "Schindler's List" and thus did not need reverent silence in the theater, but it was getting to the point where you couldn't hear the movie.

So about 30 minutes into the flick, I leaned over my roommate and hissed through clenched teeth at the crowd of hooligans, "I don't know about you all, but I paid eight dollars to get in here and I'd really like to watch this movie. So shut the fuck up."

I was worried my actions might serve to incite them even more, knowing if someone scolded me like that when I was a teenager, I'd probably have purposefully ramped up my shenanigans. They, however, did not make another peep.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Bronchitis? Check.

Sinus infection? Check.

A negligent training schedule (total pre-ride mileage = 7) due to business trips and the aforementioned illnesses? Check.

Bike New York? Sure, why not.

Despite these obstacles, my uncle (a first-timer who did splendidly) and I enjoyed a lovely day of biking throughout the city's five boroughs. We had terrific weather and an uneventful ride, albeit with a little more standing around and walking with the bikes than we'd have liked. Although the frequent stoppages were annoying, that's probably what helped me save enough energy to make this year's climb up the Verrazano the easiest of any of my Bike NY rides.

Now I must sleep.

Until Tuesday.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I love walking around in bare feet. There’s just something about the bottom of your feet hitting certain surfaces – grass, sand – that feels terrific.

That list of places, however, would not include the floor of an airplane bathroom. I can think of few filthier places. Given the tight quarters and the jostling around due to turbulence, etc., it’s not unusual to walk into the bathroom to find a wet floor. It’s to be expected, given the male proclivity toward a standing pee. I’m not judging. It’s a simple fact.

It’s so common that if I’m wearing longer pants that reach the floor, as the kids are doing these days, I’ll roll them up a bit before entering a plane’s restroom so as to not leave with soggy trousers. I’m no neat freak, but I’m extremely careful when I'm in a plane’s bathroom. Germs lurk everywhere. Particularly on the floor.

And this is why, as I exited the toilet last night on my flight from IAH to EWR, I witnessed something that made me throw up in my mouth a little. The man waiting for the bathroom was not wearing his shoes. Or his socks. That’s right. This man felt the bathroom, with its soiled floor, was a completely acceptable place to bring his bare feet.

I tried to hide my horrified expression, but apparently didn’t do a very good job. One of the flight attendants caught my sickened look and said to me after the man entered the restroom, “That is beyond disgusting.”

She'll get no argument from me.