wine by the color

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Last Sunday I had a rare day with no plans, so I went to the store and bought four newspapers. As far as I'm concerned, there is no better way to spend a quiet Sunday morning than slowly pouring through a newspaper (or four).

I spent a fair amount of time in the greater Denver area several years ago and always read the Rocky Mountain News instead of the Denver Post. My then-boyfriend was friendly with several of their writers and I preferred their columnists (not to mention its tabloid format). I once wrote one of their columnists a letter that ambled on for 1,167 words (he was a fellow OSU alum who wrote about the hiring of Jim Tressel and I took exception with some of his thoughts. He actually responded to my crazy rambling and did not use the words, "I have contacted the authorites," for which he should be commended).

So, even though the entire newspaper industry is in disarray, this week's news that the Rocky would cease publication 55 days shy of its 150th anniversary (making it, according to several sources, the oldest business in Colorado) was shocking and heartbreaking. The Rocky is (was) a damn good paper, one with some 225,000 subscribers. Earlier this week, the paper's sports section was honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors as one of the 10 best in the nation, a huge honor.

Its employees were told on Thursday that the final paper would be printed Friday. They then, in an incredible display of professionalism and dedication, put out a final paper and a 52-page commemorative wrap-around section.

It makes me wonder how our local paper, for which I have written on and off for 15 years, which I have been reading since it was an afternoon paper in the 1970s, and where I have met many of my closest friends, some of whom continue to toil there, can continue to exist. It's a depressing but increasingly imminent possibility. I know I spend a fair amount of time bitching about the local paper, but that bitching is almost without fail referring to the business side of the paper. And that's what is killing newspapers around the country. The business model is failing.

There is a video on the Rocky's site about the paper's demise and eventual death. It's long, and hard to watch, particularly for those I know who have made journalism their life's work. But it is certainly worth watching.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I don't know about you, but I am pretty tired of looking at that damn bathing suit. My apologies.

No, I have not forgotten I have a blog. But I have been having trouble finding time for it and that's not going to get any better anytime soon...

For the last few years, I have used a back door to bypass the office network's firewall to access my personal e-mail. That ended Monday, when the powers-that-be slammed that door shut. So now, in addition to not being able to blog while in the office, I can no longer check personal e-mail. (As an aside, I understand why this is and am not arguing with it. It is just an inconvenience.)

The result of this has been that when I get home at night, I have to deal with e-mail instead of dazzling my countless readers with witty, insightful commentary. Now that I don't check e-mail throughout the day, I realize just how many messages I actually receive each day. Thanks to a social outing Monday night (and might I note, staying up until 2:30 a.m. on a Monday night is not the most responsible way to start a week, although it was lots of fun), I went from Monday morning to Tuesday evening without checking e-mail and I had more than 50 messages awaiting me when I finally got around to it.

But I am going to free up some time in other ways. For instance, it has taken less than a month for me to determine that CSI without Grissom is not worth watching. That's one more hour free per week.

Several hours I will continue to waste are those I spend watching Mike and Mike in the Morning. Several times each morning, two commercials are played repeatedly. The first is for something called the Slap Chop. This guy is so annoying I want to reach through the television and punch him in the temple:

The other commercial is for something called the Magic Jack. I can't find a video of that one, for which you should be grateful. Incredibly irritating.

Yes, I laughed heartily upon seeing this picture. I'm sure that makes some sort of statement about my maturity (or lack thereof)...

(For the record, the caption was: A Celebes Crested Macaque, left, looks back on Thursday Jan. 29, 2009 in Singapore where its national zoo is actively involved in the conservation and education of wildlife reserves.)

By the way, I can't believe it's almost March. Where the hell does time go...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

First, there was the bikini. Then the tankini. Now, the monokini. Or, as I'll be calling it, the what.the.fuck-ini:

This does not look comfortable or functional. Or good. It is unflattering, even to a model who probably weighs 120 pounds and is a size 2 and certainly did not have wine and cheese doodles for dinner last night. But enough about me.

And really, what's with the boogie board? As if. She'll be lucky to walk four feet in that get-up without a wardrobe malfunction. She is not engaging in any water sports dressed that way.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The 2009 Self Challenge, a program designed to track eating and exercise, started yesterday so I signed up yet again. This is an annual dance - I sign up, participate for several weeks, tracking everything I eat and all of my workouts, then give up after a month. But I have truly been making more of an effort lately so I decided to give it another go.

I can only imagine what the system thought when I entered last night's dinner: a half-order of white cheddar mac and cheese, with a side of sweet potato fries and three Guinness. It should be particularly impressed when I make a visit to Steve's tomorrow night...

Speaking of food, there is another blog on the Genius list. I met Sarah through a mutual friend and always enjoy hanging with her, which we don't get to do enough. She is writing about the challenges of being a hard-core foodie on a diet at Confessions of a Foodie.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The good folks at The Big Lead brought a gem of a web site into my life last week: This is why you're fat. As far as I'm concerned, web sites do not get much better.

That I have an affinity for culinary crap no doubt helps my enjoyment of this site and I have to admit that some of the things on this web site look terrific. Personally, I would most likely eat some of the dessert items, such as the Deep Fried S'more on a Stick or 60-pound Rice Krispie treat.

My brother, who eats almost anything, really enjoys this site. He estimated he would eat 90 percent of the items featured, including the Garbage Plate and Loosiana Gator Dog. Our favorite was the Meat Ship. Just click on the link. You won't regret it. Be sure to take note of the hot dog rudder.

That is not to say these are all winners. Some are awful. In particular, people do some terrible things with bacon. And this is just wrong.

The full archive of artery-blocking wonderment can be found here.

But "This is why you're fat" is not the only new addition to the list of Geniuses...

Back in the day, I was friendly with a girl named Kelly - she lived around the corner and we played hoops together and attended a shady basketball camp in the Poconos one summer. Then I went to public high school and she went to Catholic school and we completely lost touch. For about 25 years.

Then Facebook (and some classic photos of us with highly questionable mid-80s hairstyles - Annie-perm for me; a tail for her) brought us back together. It didn't take long for me to realize that she is one of the funniest human beings I know. Not a giggle or witty anecdote here or there funny. Sides hurting, worried about wetting myself funny. And now, she has a blog.

Her 2008 Christmas letter, which she actually distributed, will give you a nice glimpse into why I almost pulled something due to laughter while conversing with her earlier this week. It has also provided an inspiration and I assure you I'll be stealing that idea later this year.

These two additions were part of a minor overhaul to Wine by the Color. You might notice that a new category has been added - Sleeping Geniuses. I am not giving up on these five bloggers completely, but considering that their last post dates were Nov. 4, Sept. 22, July 16, June 2 and Feb. 13 (of last year), I don't expect much from them anytime soon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

When I was constantly traveling for work, I did not have a great appreciation for the concept of a three-day weekend. My irregular schedule featured lots of working weekends on the road, and because I often had random days off as a result of the travel, also made working a full work week a rarity.

But now that I have a regular schedule for the first time in 13 years, although I am very much enjoying my new job, I find that weekends actually mean something and the three-day weekend is something to be particularly savored.

And that is exactly what I did this weekend. I caught up with lots of friends for a few entertaining social gatherings, including a Valentine's Day luncheon with the girls, saw a tremendous hockey game with my brother and cousins, went shopping with my sister-in-law, got in a few runs on the boardwalk and enjoyed some arcade time with the crazies (during which, I feel it is important to note, I broke the 200,000-point barrier on Galaga for the first time ever).

A few pictures...

Matthew, like any Jersey shore boy, really loves his air hockey...

I'm starting to teach him how to play hoops. He's short, but scrappy...

Perhaps the next Brett Favre? I mean, was His Holiness scoring this like at age 5?

I cannot say for certain what is going on here, but I'm pretty sure Sweetie Pie Princess is using her finest little girl profanity...

Say it with me ... TROUBLE...

Look everyone - we are getting along!!

I can't wait until summer when I will actually be home every weekend. I am already excited at the thought of spending weekends at the shore. While I loved the travel and the perks that came with it, that has been a serious downside to the last eight years...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In my 38 years as a rabid sports fan, I can point to three true highlights...

-the Mets' last two victories over the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series
-Ohio State’s national championship victory over Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl
-the 10-day stretch last fall during which the Jets beat the Patriots in New England and the then-unbeaten Titans in Tennessee


Since the season ended, several people have asked if I was sorry the Jets had ever signed Brett Lorenzo Favre.

No. No I am not.

Did he turn out to be the Jets' savior? No. Did he carry them to the top and ride off in a blaze of glory? Um, no. But I didn't expect those things.

What I did get was to watch the Jets improve from 4-12 to 9-7. I got to watch them win two games they would not have won without Favre. I got to be excited to be a Jets’ fan, if only for a few weeks.

More than anything, I had the opportunity to watch my favorite athlete of all time play on my favorite team. On opening day, I sat in a Wisconsin bar and watched every local in the joint root for Favre and the Jets. Eight times this year, I got to sit in the stands and watch His Holiness in action. Knowing it was likely it would be a one-season fling, I took special care to savor every moment he was in the game. I watched tap his feet to the stadium music while sitting on the sidelines. I frequently borrowed Mikey’s binoculars to get a closer view of him working the huddles.

And yes, I drove by his house.

All that said, am I sorry to see him retire now?

No. No I am not.

From here, I think things can only get worse. I don’t see Favre lifting the Jets to the Super Bowl anytime soon. I can, however, picture him limping off the field after yet another interception, hanging on too long and forever soiling the reputation he worked so hard to build. The last thing I want is for the image of a broken-down star playing past his prime, particularly in a Jets uniform.

So yes, I’m okay with how it all worked out. Would I have preferred the Jets had won more than one of their last five games (particularly the one against Seattle, during which I said some hurtful things and flung my #4 jersey across the room, two things for which I am deeply apologetic) and made the playoffs? Sure. Would I have preferred that Favre not throw a league-high 22 interceptions? Of course. Would I rather he had been out in the front yard the day I drove by his house? No doubt.

But overall, you’ll hear no complaints from me.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Okay, let's recap our vacation before my tan fades completely...

We departed from Bayonne, which was great for two reasons: we did not have to go through the hassle and expense of flying the entire crew to Florida, and the departure provided some spectacular views of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at dusk...

But the northern departure meant a few cold, somewhat bouncy days at sea. So during our first few days, we entertained ourselves with a variety of activities. I caught up on a lot of reading, as did Sweetie Pie Princess, first with her older brother...

Then doing it for herself...

(While I'm pleased by her choice in reading material, one can only hope she didn't notice the horrifying error in that week's issue ... WHO'S GAME IS IT? ... I can't even talk about that ... for crap's sake, you're Sports Illustrated, you're supposed to be better than that ... let's move on before I lose focus.)

Meanwhile, their brother ate his way through the cruise, scarfing escargot and caviar like a seasoned foodie...

We finally made our first stop, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Our whole crew left the ship to stretch our legs with a walk around town and a little shopping...

From there, it was on to St. Thomas, where we visited an aquatic zoo. You'd never guess that the face on the left was vomiting on a bus (while sitting on my lap, such adventure!!) two hours earlier (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the caviar and escargot)...

It was then on to the Dominican Republic, which brings us to the crab. Shortly after our arrival on the beach, this litte guy scampered right up to me. And I have to admit, I was excited. Despite many years on many beaches in many places, I have never seen anything like this.

Not surprisingly, he disappeared just as quickly, never to be seen again. But the Dominican Republic provided a lot simple beauty like that. What little we saw of the country was lovely. I would like to return to do some fishing and biking.

We got a close-up view of our cruise ship as we returned...

and enjoyed a stunning rainbow from our balcony as showers sporadically fell all day...

And about two hours later, our ship hit something.

What it hit is still in debate. Could have been a whale, could have been some sort of undetected coral reef. But the net result was the loss of a propeller (essentially an engine), which would seriously curtail the speed at which the boat could travel. The bottom line was we would be skipping our last island and returning to NJ without a stop at Labadee.

That was a bummer, but not enough to ruin the trip. We spent the last days eating, drinking, enjoying the last of the warmth and sunshine before returning to the shores of Jersey, arriving along the lower Manhattan skyline at sunrise...

All in all, a lovely vacation...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I know. It has been five days and no vacation wrap-up. What can I say - I have been busy with work, social outings and trips to the gym. Oh, and P.S. I Love You is in heavy rotation on HBO so that sucks up a lot of time as well. Because I apparently like to torture myself.

Anyway, I will work on vacation photos this weekend. The crazy trifecta is spending the night at Casa Magnolia on Saturday so while they slumber I will work on recounting our trip. Here is another picture to whet your appetite...

In the meantime...

I probably spend too much time on Facebook. Actually, that's not true. I KNOW I spend too much time on Facebook. Time I often think I should spend reading or writing or learning something - French, how to sew, what-have-you. Instead, I get sucked in for hours at a time, catching up with friends old and new, and then feel a bit guilty about the time I fear I have wasted.

But then, something amazing happens and makes me want to give Facebook a big, wet kiss.

In college, my sorority big sister was named Missy. We were like sisters both in terms of personality - she was a little crazy and super fun - and looks. Although this picture doesn't really capture it, we looked so alike that when I used her ID to get into bars, which I did for the first 2.5 years of college (sorry Mom and Dad), I was never questioned.

We spent a ton of time together my freshman year before she left school to return to her northern Ohio town. She visited Columbus once or twice after that but we then drifted apart. She got married and I moved back to Jersey and we completely lost touch. Before the days of e-mail and the internet, that happened a lot.

I have spent the last 17 years trying to find her. Not remembering her married name made that quite difficult. But every once in a while, I would search or our collegiate alumni site in the hope she would magically appear. Just a month ago, I posted a photo of a bunch of us from the house on Facebook. Someone asked if I knew where she was, to which I replied: "I haven't talked to Missy in YEARS. I've tried to find her but have had no luck!"

Tonight, she found me.

I almost leapt off the couch when I opened the alert to learn she had added me as a friend. I quickly logged onto to Facebook, accepted her friend request and sent her a note. And thus ensued a barrage of messages, filled with catching up, laughs and memories. I cannot properly capture how happy finding each other has made me.

It was a nice reminder that my time there is not at all wasted.

By the way, I still have her old ID. It has always been one of my favorite collegiate mementos.

Cripes, I am a sap. I need to go watch some boxing or listen to some Metallica...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I was essentially computer-free for 10 days and have spent most of the day catching up on e-mail and internet reading. A few friends sent along some links while I was away, to keep me abreast of important news, which I greatly appreciate...

-Herm fired. Does this mean his Coors Light commercial featuring "You play to win the game" will air during tonight's game?

-Four people sent me this letter of complaint to Virgin Airlines. Splendid. I thank you all.

-New Jersey - The Hidden State of Culture. Excellent.

-A snowy Script Ohio. Love it. Inspiring.

And here are a few things I found while reading 10 days worth of the Internet today...

-A very good question from NJ Monthly Magazine: Who's Covering New Jersey?

-An interview with Le Anne Screiber.

-I used to read Bill Simmons religiously. I even exchanged a few e-mails with him several years ago. I don't read him as much anymore but am very happy I came across this one. A warning: grab a tissue.

By the way, the number of Freecycle e-mails waiting for me? 1,717.

Vacation chatter, including an obscene number of photos, to come soon. Here's a preview, a shot of a friend I made in the Dominican Republic...