wine by the color

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I wonder if His Holiness would like to carry me around this way in celebration should my bag actually arrive, which my friends at Continental Airlines are confident will happen tonight.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Quick pop quiz...

Guess the current location of my wayward duffel bag:

a) Newark Airport
b) In my possession
c) China
d) Whereabouts unknown

Here's a clue - think moo goo gai pan.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Why, thank you, Continental Airlines. I really did need some shoes. I particularly love the new sandals, which I needed to attend tonight's dinner function.

Another day, another $100 from my friends at Continental. Today, we (and when I say we, I mean me and my Continental-based funding) replaced some shoes and a few cosmetic items we forgot yesterday. Tomorrow, when my missing bag will no doubt not magically reappear, I believe we'll use day four's 100 dollars to replace some of the electronic components I'm missing - most notably the charger for my cell phone.

Thank god, however, I put the USB cord for my camera in my backpack instead of in the bag that has gone into the abyss. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to share tonight's sunset...

When dusk started to fall, we were treated to phase I, which I thought was pretty impressive.

But then, the sun started to disappear behind the mountains...

And I'll let the pictures describe what happened next, for mere words just won't do...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My dear friends at Continental Airlines continue to push the limits of my friendly patience. Two days later, still no bag in my possession, and an airline with no clue as to its whereabouts. They do not know if it left EWR. They seem vexed by the fact that my other bag, which was checked at the exact moment the lost bag was, arrived without incident. They also are perplexed by my accurate assertion that I checked said bags one hour and 40 minutes prior to the flight. I believe they find this fact discouraging because it negates their standard argument that ample time was not given between the checking of the bags and the departure of the flight.

So in the past 36 hours, I have answered the same questions on seven different phone calls - color and size of the bag, tags, contents, etc. I did laugh out loud once, when between phone calls six and seven (I can't count it as an actual call because no assistance was provided) I was informed their computers were down.

On call four, I politely expressed my displeasure with the current situation, at which time the customer service representative offered me a $50 allowance of sorts to buy some replacements for the items they have temporarily (they hope) misplaced.

On call seven, several hours later, in which I used a non-hostile yet perhaps pointed tone, I again expressed my frustration with their lack of information, at which time they doubled their offer to $100.

So what would you do with a c-note and a complete lack of toiletries? That's right - you go to Target.

Eighty-six dollars and seventy-four cents later, there is much rejoicing. Hair will be washed and conditioned, brushed, dried and styled. A face will be cleansed and moisturized. Legs will be shaved. Ears will be Q-tipped. Armpits will be freshened for the greater good.


Mind you, there are many weekends, not to mention camping trips, on which I'll forego the bathing function for at least a day. But, in immortal cinematic words once uttered at a Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night, that is by choice. This has been forced upon me, thus making the lack of personal hygiene much less desirable. I'm sure my co-workers would agree.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My enthusiasm for this current trip is admittedly low (and if you read between the lines and determined low to be a fancy way to say non-existent, well then yes, we are on the same page). It has been a long year. The long-ago mentioned horseshit in my office has continued to simmer under the surface. There has been a spate of bad news concerning the loved ones of some of my closest friends in the past month, including (but not limited to): the death of one's grandfather; the second (failed) attempted suicide of another's sister and the diagnosis of cancer for the father of another.

Given all this, what I'd really like to be doing is hanging in the Garden State, spending time with family, friends and my couch.

Instead, I returned to EWR this morning for a midday flight to Phoenix. I spent almost six hours sitting next to a woman who engaged in a trifecta of my least-favorite airplane behaviors: 1) wearing too much perfume; 2) allowing her largesse to spill over into my seat; and 3) leaning over me to look out the window.

So I didn't step into the sizzling Arizona heat in the greatest frame of mind. Particularly considering I stepped out sans one of my bags (although that did lessen my load as I boarded the shuttle bus to pick up a rental car, so thanks to Continental for that consideration).

After engaging in some retail therapy, I headed for my home-away-from-home for the week. While driving, the sun started to set and the moon, a perfectly large sphere on this Arizona evening, started to rise about the mountains.

While enjoying that view (which would be significantly more impressive if I knew how to operate my camera in anything beside broad daylight and bars), I happened to look in the rear-view mirror and realized a spectacular gold and rust striped sunset was happening behind me.

So, things aren't all bad here.

They'd just be a lot better if I had a toothbrush...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's been three whole days at home and you know what that means ... time to hit the road again.

I'll admit I'm not eager to make the drive to EWR for the 23rd time this year. It's been a long year, I'm more than a little burnt out and the weather here is currently stunning, which makes me less than happy to fly to a state that has averaged 99 degrees during the past five days.

But speaking of that part of the country...


After leaving the Painted Desert two weeks ago, I headed east for the Land of Enchantment.

Admittedly, my first impressions of New Mexico weren't very enchanting. Because I stayed at the Painted Desert so long, it was dark by the time I arrived in the state. The moment I drove across the state line, the clock on my cell phone went forward an hour.

The prearranged plan called for me to stay in Gallup, N.M., which is apparently famous for being both on Route 66 and in the song "Route 66." What it is now is a glorified truck stop.

Upon arriving in Gallup, the first priority was food. I drove up and down Route 66 for 20 minutes before realizing that my supper was going to either include the phrase "Would you like fries with that" or come from an eatery with this sign:

Obviously, I went with this. But I made damn sure to stay away from the seafood. And the Mexican. And the Greek, steaks and ribs. I figured I couldn't go wrong with cheese ravioli. When they first arrived, they were meat-filled, but the extremely apologetic waiter who spoke broken English quickly rectified that. And the house chianti was surprisingly good for $3.50 a glass.

And that leads us to the lodging. I couldn't find a Marriott property so I needed to find an alternate. I won't name where I stayed, because I'm sure every hotel along this stretch was the same -- sketchy -- so why single this one out.

I think the worst feature of the hotel was that the door opened to the outside, essentially right onto 66. That made me nervous enough to block the door (after double locking it) with the large chair in the room. Other unusual moves included putting my sweatshirt on my pillow (lest some unseen creepy crawlies were festering) and wearing my flip flops while showering.

That said, the hotel did have free wireless. Barricading the door vs. easy internet access. It's a toss-up.

But that is the last negative thing you'll hear me say about New Mexico.

For New Mexico is indeed enchanting. The drive from Gallup to Albuquerque/Santa Fe is simply stunning. This is the view for most of the drive:

I decided to visit Santa Fe first, then return to Albuquerque. I had no real plan except a) visit Santa Fe and b) visit Albuquerque.

En route to Santa Fe, my plans were almost derailed when I saw the following mileage sign:

Santa Fe 41
Las Vegas 103

Despite having visited 43 of our nation's states, I am still not the most geographically astute individual. It seemed logistically impossible but it said Las Vegas, and I thought, well, now that would be a worthwhile side trip.

Fortunately, that thought quickly passed. Fortunate because the Vegas I know and love is in fact more than 630 miles away. In the other direction. Apparently, there is a Las Vegas, N.M.

Upon arriving in Santa Fe (nickname: The City Different), I drove through town for a while before arriving at the Plaza area. I wandered through some galleries and boutiques before deciding it was time for lunch.

I came across this place, which was completely deserted except for the bartender. This is the mango chicken with a black bean empanada. This is the "before" picture. The "after" picture features an empty plate. Really, really good.

It was also accompanied by Blue Corn's Honeymoon Wheat Ale, which reminded me that one of my least favorite parts of growing up is the lack of opportunities to enjoy a midday cocktail. Just sidling up to a bar in the middle of the afternoon and throwing back a few is such a simple pleasure. Consider that added to the to-do list once my season ends.

From there, it was back down to Albuquerque, another charming city. While there, I chatted with some local candymakers, made a beaded bracelet, enjoyed another local brew and took a leisurely walk through some of the beautiful architecture.

I enjoyed New Mexico - simple, friendly and beautiful - so much that when I walked out of my hotel the next morning and found a completely flat tire on my rental car, it didn't bother me one bit. The fact that a local garage arrived to fix it within 35 minutes only served to strengthen my impression of the state.

Enchanting indeed.

I will be back.

Monday, September 24, 2007

You thought I would let this go unmentioned? You obviously don't know me very well.

I can't decide which was the bigger shocker of the weekend - that Green Bay improved to 3-0, or that Ohio State won by 51 points, which easily could have been 75 and do not bust my chops about that. The Buckeyes' second-string QB was in the game before halftime and the third-stringer saw considerable action. For a while, I thought they might summon me to the field. Don't laugh. Thanks to my quarterbacking days in the OSU sorority league, which for one year played its championship game under the lights in Ohio Stadium, I have probably taken more snaps on that field than 105,150 of the people in the stadium Saturday.

Anyway, while I did enjoy both results, by no means do I think either squad is as good as their current records and most recent wins would seem to indicate. But I'll enjoy the rides while they last.

This, on the other hand, almost defies description. If we're looking for positives, I guess we could say that at least the Browns continue to find new ways to lose. Not entirely new, as the Raiders lost in this exact fashion last week. But new for Cleveland.

So congratulations on your semi-innovation. I guess.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Interoffice Memo

To: My Entire Body
From: Jersey Girl

I know. The last few days have been rough.

There has, as usual, been too much working. There has been a spate of carousing. There has been precious little sleep. The 2007 cocktail count has gone through the roof. There have been constant dietary disasters - eating here three times in a 44-hour period, ordering things like the Farmer's Choice Breakfast at another house of gastrointestinal delights. There was the unfortunate encounter with the fire ants. I didn't enjoy that either.

The good news is ... haven't we had fun? I mean, even you had to have been impressed with flying from Texas to Ohio on Friday for the OSU game, then Ohio to Jersey Sunday morning for a 1 p.m. Jets game. We got to see two victories, visited some old haunts, caught up with old friends, made a few new ones. We don't get much free time, so when these opportunities present themselves, we have to take advantage.

I know you're tired, but I'll warn you now - there's more where this came from. We're getting on another plane in less than three days. But the really good news is, we're almost done. Nine more days on the road and then we can put 2007 in the books.

So suck it up. We'll rest in November.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Greetings from Texas. Yep, less than 48 hours at home and it was back on the road.

But things got off to a good start here. With my favorite ex and another friend from home playing in this tournament, we kicked off the week with some hearty carousing last night. Which is at least partially responsible for the scattered nature of today's thoughts...

It took me a while but I finally read this book. I got it ages ago and have tried to read it several times but was never in a mentally good place to do so. While flying home from #43 last Friday, I decided it was time to dive in. And what a dive it was. The book made my heart ache so much I had to put it down halfway through. Finally finished it on my way here.

There's nothing like good writing.

Speaking of all things literary, why did Amazon send me an e-mail announcing the release of "Redrawing the Boundaries: The Date of Early Christian Literature (Bibleworld)?" Which previous purchase sent the message that this would appeal to me? Was it the South Park DVDs on my Wish List?

Oh, I'm sorry - did I just pass out? I mean, look at this...

The Packers' success yesterday was no doubt related to the good vibes I sent to His Holiness as my flight took off over the stadium three hours before the game started. The Giants' incredible suckitude certainly played a much smaller role in the Packers' easy win.

And as for Monday football talk, let's just focus on Green Bay's nice 2-0 start this season. I don't want to talk about the Jets. Or the Browns, despite the fact that they put up 51 points against the Bengals (who fortunately still covered).

Finally, I promise, details of #43 are coming. Soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Anyone care to venture a guess as to what this is?

If you said me standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, you would be correct.

So you're in the car for more than 250 miles (albeit at speeds ranging from 85-90 MPH, thanks to the wondrous lack of adherence to posted speed limits) and you're getting a little antsy. That pesky muscle in your right thigh is acting up thanks to sitting on it for four hours. You're a little hungry and a little tired.

But finally you reach your destination. You get out of the car and this is the sight that greets you:

This is the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona. Absolutely breathtaking. Stunning colors, and an amazing variety of views.

As much as I enjoyed the desert and the forest, I think my favorite part was the sky. A perfect blue, with clouds so perfectly shaped and so close you're sure you could touch them. When Bob Ross painted happy little clouds, I'm sure he did so with these in mind.

Just before I left, I was granted a final treat ... the sunset.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Well, I have been in Jersey for four days, and my contract doesn't allow any stay longer than that during this time of year, so it's time to get back back on the road. Greetings from Newark Airport. I received permission from my mother to fly despite the date, so not to worry. I will say I don't know that I've ever seen the airport more deserted.

But it has been a highly productive four days. In addition to Sunday's Jets game, I have gone to the diner twice, successfully procured tickets for both Jersey Springsteen shows, won week one in my football pool with a stunning display of accuracy (14 for 16) and spent a good amount of time the crazies:

I also managed to squeeze in a bike ride through the Duke estate Saturday morning with Freakgirl. It was nice to be on the property - it's always been a mysterious sort of place, hidden behind large gates. It is absolutely beautiful.

Before the road show continues, let's take a moment (and that is all it will take) to discuss...


Upon the conclusion of last week's tournament, I headed due south for Tulsa, Okla. I went with one purpose: to say I have been to Oklahoma.

I have been to Oklahoma.

Here is what I will say about the Sooner State:

-Oklahoma is a great place to catch up on phone calls while driving across 130 miles of nothingness. Well, as soon as you find a place with good cell reception. Until then, there's a lot of calling people back.
-While driving, I called the crazy nephews. The older one, who has shown an aptitude for geography, asked where I was. I told him Oklahoma, which he didn't recognize, but then I described it as "the state by Texas that looks like a square with an arm sticking out of it" and then he got very animated.
-Although I did not venture into downtown Tulsa, it looked to have potential.
-Upon arriving at my hotel, I came across a Pizza Hut. And I was happy to find it. Most of the other eateries in the area featured "boobs and ribs" or things of the sort.

It is no wonder that Oklahoma suffers from severe weather, including tornados. The state is unbelievably flat. The picture above is the only one I took in the state. I wanted to take others, but by the time I got to anything interesting it was dark.

I'm sure there are places that make Oklahoma a worthwhile stop and perhaps someday I will return to see some of them. I'd like to get to Norman to see the university.

But for now, you can cross Oklahoma off the list. Coming later this week, #43...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Let's play a little game of Good, Bad And Ugly.

Good - yesterday's tailgate. Outstanding. Despite the logistic challenges, we had one of our strongest-ever showings, with some 30 people present at the height of the gathering:

We also made some new friends in our adopted neighborhood. All nice folks, although it must be said that two of our new neighbors to the east apparently felt a shirt was a luxury rather than a necessity. Given their sexagenarian status, I won't subject anyone to a photo of that. I don't know who's recently eaten.

As is the case when we get together, there was a solid amount of shtick. Our new location, along the median and the main road into the stadium, provided new opportunities for tomfoolery (in this instance, The Professor distributing fresh-off-the grill meat to hungry passers-by):

Not so good: the weather. Probably the warmest Jets game I've attended. It earns a place on the top three hottest events I've attended at Giants Stadium:

1. Kick-Off Classic, August, 1993. 113 degrees. I could have died.
2. Bon Jovi, July 18, 2006. I don't know the actual temperature, but it certainly felt 113.
3. Yesterday's Jets-Pats game. The humidity was staggering. I attemped to sit completely still for 10 minutes, and was still sweating.

Not surprisingly, the heat didn't affect the group's enthusiasm for food and drink. We ran out of a good number of meats, and at least 120 of the beers were consumed, along with a melange of wine and mixed drinks.

After four hours in the lot, it was time to head into the stadium for some football.

At the beginning of each season, there's a level of excitement that is hard to recapture as the year progresses. There have been no bad plays, no ugly losses, no injuries. Optimism and enthusiam reign.

The Pats squelched that very quickly...

Bad: The defense. As BB said in an e-mail today, Lieutenant Dan could have run up the middle for six yards against the Jets' D. Just awful.

Good - Mike Nugent's leg. I was happily celebrating Nugent's newfound ability to reach the end zone on kickoffs at the start of the second half when...

Very Ugly - Ellis Hobbs returned said kickoff an NFL-record 108 yards. That was pretty much the ball game.

And then there is this, which doesn't fall under any of the available categories. I have been questioned about this several times today (because, really, who wants to talk about the actual game). I didn't notice a huge amount of cheering at any point during the Chad gets hurt/Kellen goes into the game exchange. Quite frankly, given the extra hours of pre-game drinking necessitated by the parking situation, the lack of excitement in the tilt and the stifling heat, there weren't many people still alert at this point in the game.

The only thing I said at the time was that it was absurd that Pennington was put back on the field, given that the game was essentially over and there was no reason for him to risk further injury.

So, given the on-field disasters, eventually our lone source of amusement was watching the scoreboard, including the Chiefs' big loss and the Packers' unlikely victory.

Given the win, why does this man look so angry?

He's no doubt just heard Randy Moss caught nine passes for 183 yards.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

It's opening day, kids, and it's hard to capture the excitement level in words. There are old friends to see, meats and adult beverages to be enjoyed, and the hated Pats in town.

But a potentially dark cloud threatens the sunny New Jersey skies today...

When I flew home from Tulsa (#42, details to follow) Friday, the flight pattern took us directly over the Meadowlands. And that was when I was able to clearly see for the first time the spot that we have for years called our tailgating home at Giants Stadium.

And now, it is gone.

Due to various construction projects, including Xanadu and the new stadium, the parking situation is an unmitigated disaster.

Fortunately, we knew this was going to happen several months ago. So our group of shenanigan-loving fools has spent the last three months developing a plan that will ensure the 25 or so people who usually gather outside Gate B will be able to meet in a new location this morning.

This has resulted in (and I am not overstating this number) hundreds of conversations, text messages, e-mails and voicemails about The Plan. Scouting was done during a Police concert last month. Maps have been e-mailed. Cell phone numbers have been distributed. All in the interest of ensuring we can all find each other to enjoy copious amounts of cocktails and grilled meats before heading inside to watch the J-E-T-S take on the Pats.

We are not fucking around here, people.

The Professor and I are meeting at 8 a.m. and will be in the Meadowlands parking lot by 8:45. We will be carrying 138 beers.

The game starts at 1. The majority of our party will arrive around 9 a.m.

You do the math.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Schadenfreude (n) Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

I try to be a good person. Really, I do.

But what's a girl to do...

Monday, September 03, 2007

I think my mom worries about me a little as I travel all over the country.

But, clearly, her concerns are completely unfounded:

As you can see, guns are not allowed at my hotel. So I'm completely safe.

Last night, while sitting at a bar waiting to hear this man share some words of wisdom on SportsCenter, I started chatting with the gentlemen sitting next to me. It didn't take long for them to mention they were Chiefs fans.


Jersey Girl: "So, what do you think of Herm?"
Gentleman #1: "Oh, he's great. I think he's going to turn the boys around this season."
Jersey Girl: "Interesting. Fortunately, the preseason isn't an accurate indication of what the season will bring."
Gentleman #1: "Uh, no. Not at all. I mean, half their players didn't even play."
Jersey Girl: "Uh huh. And when they do play, do you think Herm will be able to effectively coach the games? Let's be honest, he's not the greatest game coach. I mean, is he the guy you want making decisions when the Chiefs are trailing by three with two minutes left in the game?"
Gentlemen # 1 and 2: Stunned silence.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Hey, is everyone enjoying the start of the 2007 college football season?

I hate to admit finding glee in the failure of others. That makes me seem like a bad person.

Well, apparently I'm a bad person.

When I arrived at the office this morning, I was chatting with two of the girls who work here full-time (unlike those of us who just blow in and out of town for the tournament). I mentioned my interest in the flag-painted house around the corner, and they told me those folks did that to their house on Sept. 12, 2001, and that it has remained that way since.

They expressed their displeasure with the display, indicating that "this is the sort of thing that makes people think we're all redneck hicks."

So while having breakfast 15 minutes later, I was reading the local paper. Although we're not in Arkansas, I think this would fall in line with the type of things they find troubling.

"I think we've delved into an area that we really have no business making a rule out of, unless somebody's been spit on or they've thrown up because they looked into a cup or something like that."


You know, it's worth mentioning that whenever I say "office," what I really mean is "golf course." But if I say golf course, people think I'm out screwing around instead of working 17-hour days, which is in fact the case. So I say office. But you know what I mean.