Thursday, December 27, 2007

Our Christmas...In Technicolor!!

My Mom and Edgy got me and Jamie a digital camera (among many other things) for Christmas. Click HERE to look at some of the great photos we took... (For the best experience, click on the "slideshow" and enjoy.)

We hope you all had as wonderful a holiday as we did! Rest assured that we'll (we'll = me) fill you in on all of the festive details!

Best wishes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007


According to the NY Times, the following list details the top 100 books of all time. The green links will take you to the NY Times website for a chance to read the reviews and buy the books from Barnes & Noble.

I've highlighted in red and bold typeface the books I've read. If it sounds interesting to you, do the same and post it on your blog.

1. "Ulysses," James Joyce

2. "The Great Gatsby," F. Scott Fitzgerald

3. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," James Joyce

4. "Lolita," Vladimir Nabokov

5. "Brave New World," Aldous Huxley

6. "The Sound and the Fury," William Faulkner

7. "Catch-22," Joseph Heller

8. "Darkness at Noon," Arthur Koestler

9. "Sons and Lovers," D. H. Lawrence

10. "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck

11. "Under the Volcano," Malcolm Lowry

12. "The Way of All Flesh," Samuel Butler

13. "1984," George Orwell

14. "I, Claudius," Robert Graves

15. "To the Lighthouse," Virginia Woolf

16. "An American Tragedy," Theodore Dreiser

17. "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," Carson McCullers

18. "Slaughterhouse Five," Kurt Vonnegut

19. "Invisible Man," Ralph Ellison

20. "Native Son," Richard Wright

21. "Henderson the Rain King," Saul Bellow

22. "Appointment in Samarra," John O' Hara

23. "U.S.A." (trilogy), John Dos Passos

24. "Winesburg, Ohio," Sherwood Anderson

25. "A Passage to India," E. M. Forster

26. "The Wings of the Dove," Henry James

27. "The Ambassadors," Henry James

28. "Tender Is the Night," F. Scott Fitzgerald

29. "The Studs Lonigan Trilogy," James T. Farrell

30. "The Good Soldier," Ford Madox Ford

31. "Animal Farm," George Orwell

32. "The Golden Bowl," Henry James

33. "Sister Carrie," Theodore Dreiser

34. "A Handful of Dust," Evelyn Waugh

35. "As I Lay Dying," William Faulkner

36. "All the King's Men," Robert Penn Warren

37. "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," Thornton Wilder

38. "Howards End," E. M. Forster

39. "Go Tell It on the Mountain," James Baldwin

40. "The Heart of the Matter," Graham Greene

41. "Lord of the Flies," William Golding

42. "Deliverance," James Dickey

43. "A Dance to the Music of Time" (series), Anthony Powell

44. "Point Counter Point," Aldous Huxley

45. "The Sun Also Rises," Ernest Hemingway

46. "The Secret Agent," Joseph Conrad

47. "Nostromo," Joseph Conrad

48. "The Rainbow," D. H. Lawrence

49. "Women in Love," D. H. Lawrence

50. "Tropic of Cancer," Henry Miller

51. "The Naked and the Dead," Norman Mailer

52. "Portnoy's Complaint," Philip Roth

53. "Pale Fire," Vladimir Nabokov

54. "Light in August," William Faulkner

55. "On the Road," Jack Kerouac

56. "The Maltese Falcon," Dashiell Hammett

57. "Parade's End," Ford Madox Ford

58. "The Age of Innocence," Edith Wharton

59. "Zuleika Dobson," Max Beerbohm

60. "The Moviegoer," Walker Percy

61. "Death Comes to the Archbishop," Willa Cather

62. "From Here to Eternity," James Jones

63. "The Wapshot Chronicles," John Cheever

64. "The Catcher in the Rye," J. D. Salinger

65. "A Clockwork Orange," Anthony Burgess

66. "Of Human Bondage," W. Somerset Maugham

67. "Heart of Darkness," Joseph Conrad

68. "Main Street," Sinclair Lewis

69. "The House of Mirth," Edith Wharton

70. "The Alexandria Quartet," Lawrence Durrell

71. "A High Wind in Jamaica," Richard Hughes

72. "A House for Ms. Biswas," V. S. Naipaul

73. "The Day of the Locust," Nathaniel West

74. "A Farewell to Arms," Ernest Hemingway

75. "Scoop," Evelyn Waugh

76. "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," Muriel Spark

77. "Finnegans Wake," James Joyce

78. "Kim," Rudyard Kipling

79. "A Room With a View," E. M. Forster

80. "Brideshead Revisited," Evelyn Waugh

81. "The Adventures of Augie March," Saul Bellow

82. "Angle of Repose," Wallace Stegner

83. "A Bend in the River," V. S. Naipaul

84. "The Death of the Heart," Elizabeth Bowen

85. "Lord Jim," Joseph Conrad

86. "Ragtime," E. L. Doctorow

87. "The Old Wives' Tale," Arnold Bennett

88. "The Call of the Wild," Jack London

89. "Loving," Henry Green

90. "Midnight's Children," Salman Rushdie

91. "Tobacco Road," Erskine Caldwell

92. "Ironweed," William Kennedy

93. "The Magus," John Fowles

94. "Wide Sargasso Sea," Jean Rhys

95. "Under the Net," Iris Murdoch

96. "Sophie's Choice," William Styron

97. "The Sheltering Sky," Paul Bowles

98. "The Postman Always Rings Twice," James M. Cain

99. "The Ginger Man," J. P. Donleavy

100. "The Magnificent Ambersons," Booth Tarkington

So, dear friends, I've read 27 of these 100 books. I thought I would have read more but, apparently, I'm not as well-versed in modern literature as I had thought. What are your results?

Donner versus Donder

In a recent post, I named Santa's reindeer as follows:

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.

I was "corrected" by Michael that the name is "Donder" not "Donner". Although he is technically right, he should have also told me that it's "Blixem" not "Blitzen" (at least according to the first published version of the poem entitled "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

Let me quote the Donder homepage:

In the initial publication of the poem, Santa's last two reindeer were called "Dunder and Blixem". Later publications show the names "Donder and Blitzen". Martin Gardner, editor of The Annotated Night Before Christmas, points to a handwritten copy of the poem, written by Moore in the year before he died, in which he calls the reindeer "Donder and Blitzen". It is clear that Moore himself wanted the reindeer named Donder and Blitzen.

One hundred and sixteen years after Clement Clark Moore first named the reindeer, the name "Donner" replaced "Donder" in the publication of the 1939 story book Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, written by Robert L. May. A decade after the book was published "Donner" was further cemented into American consciousness when Gene Autry recorded Johnny Mark's song Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

"Donner" is Thunder and "Blitzen" is Lightning in German. So, I understand how the mistake occurred. Nevertheless, the poem was readily available to refer to in libraries across the country.
Now, although I completely respect the poets intention, I must let you all know that I think this debate is retarded. Donner and Blitzen make more sense! Thunder and lightning match perfectly well with the other reindeer...ESPECIALLY with the inclusion of Rudolph who, added in 1939 (WWII anyone?), was an (as far as I'm concerned) obvious attempt at commenting on the, then, current state of affairs with the Germans (read: Donner and Blitzen origins). The "red" nose and alienation possibly played into this thinking as well.

Henceforth, although acknowledging my Beefy Cat Angus friend's correction, I will continue to call "Donder" "Donner"...even though Mr. Clement Clark Moore MIGHT have intended it to be the other way around.

(Oh, by the way, did you all know that the current image we all know as "Santa" was originally made popular by Coca Cola and the aforementioned poem...almost exclusively?!)

"And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle."


In the spirit of Christmas, Jamie and I are having Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for dinner tonight.

Mmm...Rudolph stew.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Hi, I'm a Mac" vs. "Hi, I'm a PC"

I'm getting a little frustrated with technology.

We purchased a digital video camcorder at work for the sole purpose of making teaser clips and "movies" to post on line via our website, blog and YouTube. The camera is great, but...

Apparently one needs a Firewire to download the video to the computer. That's fine for the Mac computer I have on my desk but not for the PC. (What's the problem, Joe, if you have both types of computers?!) Well, the problem is that all of my music is on iTunes on my PC that won't transfer over to my Mac. Furthermore, I have to convert most of the images I have on my PC so the iMovie can read it.

Perhaps this isn't as confusing as I'm making it sound but it's really freakin' frustrating me to no end!

I just wanted to get this off my chest! Thank you.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great (and not so great) in your world. You already know that asking friends is the best way to find restaurants, dentists, hairstylists, and anything local. Yelp makes it fast and easy by collecting and organizing your friends' recommendations in one convenient place.

So, click HERE and check it out. Register and start leaving reviews. It's fun!!

Here's my first review on Yelp for Michael Anthony's Diner in Hamburg, NY:

In the "old" Bob Evans location is this new diner style restaurant. Conveniently located near the Holiday Inn and Red Roof Inn, Michael Anthony's Diner should fare pretty well.

I drive by this restaurant twice a day (to and from work). I was curious as to what kind of place this was going to be - after all, its former occupant was a well known chain. The dining room is huge. How could a newcomer "fill the shoes?" Pretty darn well, if you ask me.

At first glance, I was pessimistic: the menu is enormous! They serve Breakfast all day and, from what I can tell, you can actually order anything off the menu at any time! (In truth, it is reminiscent of a Denny's or Perkin's restaurant-style menu.) The place was full and people seemed to be enjoying their food. We ordered our beverages (how nice to see that freshly brewed iced tea still can be had) and delved into the novel-sized menu.

I ordered off the breakfast page: three eggs (scrambled), hash browned potatoes, sausage, and sourdough toast. My friend ordered the Chicken Parm with Spaghetti. My Grandmother ordered their House Burger (sauteed mushrooms and cheddar cheese) with french fries.

Here's how the meal went:

Three Eggs etc.: The eggs were fluffy and perfectly cooked (if not a little on the cool side), the hash browns weren't quite brown but had a nice FRESH taste with lots of onions, and the sausage was wonderful. (Side note: although I ordered sausage, I was given a piece of ham as well.) I expected a teeny breakfast-style sausage but received two plump pieces of...real sausage. It was a nice surprise. The toast was dry and cold. No butter. Only two "packets" of jam accompanied the four halves of toast. (No big deal though...there was more than enough food on the plate.)

Chicken Parm: This is my friend's "test" for a new restaurant. He says, "If they can't get Chicken Parm right, I doubt they can get anything right." He LOVED it. I have to say that the platter they presented his food on was gigantic. There were two huge chicken breasts pounded out to the size of a normal dinner plate, nicely breaded and topped with sauce and toasted mozzarella cheese. The spaghetti on the side was properly cooked and the whole thing was topped with (what tasted like) homemade marinara sauce. He ate the whole thing and said, "They definitely got this right."

House Burger: My Grandmother isn't picky. She ordered the burger medium and that's how it came. It was a very, very large hamburger. The roll was soft and "very fresh tasting." Atop the meat was sauteed mushrooms and onions, and on the top half of the roll was REAL shredded cheddar cheese, lightly melted...another surprise! The lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle were on the side along with a heaping portion of french fries and a huge onion ring (nice touch.) She took home half of her meal but said that she'd definitely order that burger again.

The service was attentive if not a little too laid back for my tastes (it is a diner, though.) The restaurant was clean. It would have been nice if all three of us had napkins and utensils before our meals came but, no big deal. Also, our ketchup bottle was empty. (Am I being too picky?)

All in all, we had a nice experience. If I could make a recommendation it would have to be: smaller menu, smaller portions. Although people love the "wow" factor, sometimes less is more. In addition, make sure condiments (and silverware) are on the table before the food will save the servers time!

I will return to this restaurant in a few weeks. They DID just open and I'm sure that they're working out any kinks they might have. I have no doubt that this place will be a five star diner...just not quite yet.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ode to Wegmans

All Tops and Martin's markets were recently purchased by Morgan Stanley Private Equity for $310 Million. I say, "Good luck, fellas."

I am a dedicated Wegmans shopper. I LOVE their stores. We have two Tops Markets close to our house but we still drive the extra distance to shop at Wegmans. Why, you ask? Well, I will tell you why.

After working all day and dealing with annoying people, the last thing one wants to do is go into a crowded/disorderly/messy/bright store and deal with more annoying people. WhenEVER I go to Tops, this is what I feel like I'm walking into. Honestly! There is no homey feeling - no sense of respite for the weary. It actually feels like a chore: get in, get out. Have you seen those commercials for the credit card companies? Like robotic consumers walking in unison, paying their bills with a swipe of their card, and seamlessly moving as if possessed? Like the "It's a Small World" ride at Disney? That's how I feel when I'm at a Tops! Like a mechanical tool.

Now, when I walk into a Wegmans store (especially the newly refurbished one near us), I feel like I'm entering a farmers' market: people are smiling, they're answering questions, the lighting doesn't blind me. I can (and do) spend hours just walking around and ENJOYING my shopping experience. I don't feel rushed. I do feel comfortable. I can linger and enjoy.

Friends and family members tell me that Wegmans is "too expensive" or "too big". Then I ask them when they last shopped at a Wegmans and they tell me "I just told you they're too expensive...I don't shop there!" I laugh and end the conversation...more Wegmans for me, I think. But then, their stupidity festers within me until I burst out and tell them how ignorant they actually are!

Tangent: I used to be one of them. One of the nay-sayers. When we lived in West Seneca, I would grocery shop at Tops and Jamie would grocery shop at Wegmans. I told him that he's "wasting money" because I was certain Tops was cheaper. Although I didn't necessarily like my shopping experience at Tops, I wasn't going to spend more money just to be comfortable. Then he challenged me! He put together a list of things we needed, two identical lists to be exact, and told me to get these items at Tops and he would do the same at Wegmans. (Just so you know, we weren't being extravagant...the list contained things like "dog treats, one yellow onion, a quart of milk, and paper towels"...we needed these things.) I went to Tops and, trying to be sneaky, bought store brands of the items I could...I KNEW my total would be far less than his. Well, needless to say, I was mistaken - by almost 20%!

Regardless, I hope that Morgan Stanley opens their eyes and makes some big changes within the current Tops organization (or lack of). Trust me - even if you've never stepped foot inside a Wegmans store, you'll want Tops to take some advice from their biggest local competitor.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Christmas Survey from LaLaLudwig

My friend Lisa sent this to a whole bunch of people via e-mail. I enjoy silly surveys. Feel free to share this...and Merry Christmas!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper with lots of ephemera (bows, bells, etc.)

2. Real tree or artificial? I love a real tree but we have two artificial trees.

3. When do you put up the tree? The weekend after Thanksgiving (this year we were a week late!)

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog? I used to but now it makes me gag.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Atari.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes! My mother made it in ceramics class and gave it to my Grandmother. She handed it down to me and I cherish it!

8. Hardest person to buy for? Everybody. I HATE Christmas shopping. I think I buy the stupidest presents!

9. Easiest person to buy for? Me and Jamie. We normally buy things for the house. Kitchen gadgets, etc.

10. Worst Christmas? I don't remember having a bad Christmas.

11. Mail or email Holiday greetings? Mail. I still like that bit of the good ol' days.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? "White Christmas"

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The weekend after I get my Christmas bonus from work. Normally two weeks prior to Christmas.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes.

15. Angel on the tree top or Star? Neither. A silver bow on one tree and a pointy looking ornament on the other.

16. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Homemade pierogies (I'm making them this year) and Christmas cookies.

17. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Well, our two trees are themed: one tree is red/green/clear lights & ornamants; the other tree is blue/silver lights & ornaments. I like to say that one is our Christmas Tree and the other is our Hannukah Tree.

18. Favorite Christmas song? "I Want a Hippopotomus for Christmas"

19. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? I go to my Mother's house in the morning for breakfast, her Mother's house for brunch, my Dad's Mother's house for dinner and sometimes my Dad's house the week before/after.

20. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixon, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Stressing out about money.

22. What I love most about Christmas? The cozy feeling I get from the lights, scents, sounds, and being with my family.

23. Best Christmas? I don't know if this is the "best" but it certainly is the most memorable: My sister and I woke up early and opened our stockings in her bedroom (it's a tradition!) We noticed that the stairway leading down to the livingroom was baracaded off with bubble wrap (this really peaked our interest and anticipation of what HAD to be down there!) My Mother and Stepfather told us that it was going to be a "light" Christmas because money was "tight". We understood but couldn't justify the bubble wrap on the stairway. We thought they HAD to be teasing us. Anyway, we woke them up and we were told to wait upstairs until they called us! We did. Finally, after a few minutes, we were allowed to come down but we had to stay solely in the living room. We saw LOTS of presents beneath the tree. (Money was tight...ha!) Well, it turned out that all but THREE presents under the tree were for my Mom and Stepdad. Well, to make a long story even longer: the two presents under the tree were garbage cans for each of our bedrooms and one box of can liners to share!! We were VERY and visually upset...whining like babies! The strangest thing was that the presents we bought for each other weren't even under the tree! Needless to say, we were told to go turn on the Christmas lights to "celebrate the day" and, begrudgingly, we did so. It was to my amazement that my sister started screaming. I ran to her and saw our "Florida Room" FILLED TO THE BRIM with presents for me and Katie. We stopped pouting immediately.

24. Plans this year? Same as past years. Read answer to #19.

25. Yearly Special events or traditions? Read answer to #19

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Holiday Cheer

Click HERE to see me, Jamie, my sister and her husband elves!

It's very funny!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If you Google the following, you'll get here!!

OK, so I totally stole this post idea from my friend Michael. But, it's totally so much fun.

The following phrases were typed into a Google search and it led the searchers to THIS blog. How funny is that!??!

Here are the top ten phrases from the past two weeks:

1. Paddywhack and Ubersetzung
2. Owl Knick Knacks
3. I'm giving very serious thought to eating your wife
4. Hitler Childhood Videos
5. Do I need an American stamp for the return letter from the North Pole
6. Drinking Photos
7. Blood in the Moonlight
8. Emerald Green Glass
9. Putting Up a Storm Door

And my most favorite:

10: Norm Sham

Wasn't that fun??

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"Oh no, you di'n't..."

Uh huh, I did. Yes, indeed. I met Rosie O'Donnell tonight at the Miami International Book Fair.

I'm here for the Americans for the Arts Marketing Project convention and I saw that Mrs. Ro O' was going to be here and I HAD to meet her.

She is, honestly, a wonderful speaker and an heart-warming soul. She spoke to a group of about 1,000 people and answered various questions. She then stayed and signed her book! It was wonderful.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My thoughts...

What can I say, friends & family? I am a content and happy person. Life is good. I can't complain! How many people can say that?!

Without boring you all to death, I must ramble for a few minutes. About...just things.

Today was a wonderful, lovely day. I woke up this morning and had coffee with Jamie and Grandma Dem (who came over to drop off something.) It was nice (although I'm not a morning person.) I then went to take my suit pants to the tailor for some alterations. After that...well, just the normal Saturday afternoon stuff.

What I really wanted to talk about is Jamie's Grandma, Louise. We went to see her today.

The lady is 89 years old (90 in March, I think) and she is just wonderful. She's the one I told you all about a few months ago - the one who said we needed knick knacks. Well, she's been in and out of the hospital the past few months and I'm sure she's very lonely. We sat with her for a few hours tonight. I took out a bunch of her photographs and we sat there and I watched her reminisce. It really made me SO very happy.

Long story short: she told me she had something to give me. I was curious. She took her walker into her dining room and gave me six antique green-glass finger bowls and two antique salad bowls. (She knows I collect green glass...although, apparently, they don't constitute a knick or a knack.) I was, honestly, very touched. She explained that the finger bowls used to belong to her late husband's (Jamie's Grandfather's) mother and that they were very old and very special. She wanted to give them to me because she knew that I would appreciate them, treasure them, and take care of them. It really meant/means a lot to me!

So...needless to say. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes hoping that this post isn't too boring for you, dear reader. I just had to get that out there. I was touched and very, very moved...

An 89 year old lady giving her "other grandson" (her words, not mine) family heirlooms. Both the sentiment, the "other grandson" thing, and the memories are breathtaking...honestly.

Life is good and I am, for now, speechless.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

American Legion. Fun.

I've been going to the American Legion in Hamburg, NY a lot lately. I like it there. The people are nice, drinks are cheap, and they have Patsy Cline on the juke box. Keep in mind, please, that most of the people are also quite old. I like old people.

Sometimes, I'll be sitting there nursing my Seagram's 7 and a "new" person will approach me. They always do so in a "who is this young whipper-snapper" way. I don't mind. Inevitably, some "fella" a few barstools down will say, "That's Demerly's kid." Now...hahaha, I know that they're thinking of my Grandfather. They think I'm my Dad. They'll ask me my name and I'm immediately welcomed into their clique. After a while, I'll politely correct them and tell them that I'm Bryan's son Bryan's son. You catch my drift?

Oh...and sometimes they get me confused with the funeral home people in town. Then that's a whole 'nother story. I explain that they are second or third cousins. But then, just for my own amusement, I tell them that my Dad used to work in a funeral home in Pennsylvania (he did for many years). They'll say something along the lines of, "Yeah, that's what I said. I TOLD you that he was the funeral son's kid."

But wait!! It get's better!!

My Mother's father also frequents the joint. They call him "Kell". Just when they think they can't get more confused than they already are, I say, "You know that I'm Kell's grandson too!" By this point, they've all had about a gallon of cheap Genny and they give up on me...until I stop in the next time and, since they're CERTAIN they know me (even if they don't know how), they'll buy me a drink.

Oooh!! When my Dad comes to town, this can really be lots of fun!! I love the Legion.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Need a Halloween Costume??

Click on the video above...if you're still looking for a costume!!


My Dad.

My Father apparently reads my blog but doesn't know how to comment. He's a very smart man. He works at one of the busiest airports in the country...but he can't figure out how to post to my blog.

So, Daddy, here are some fool-proof instructions:

Step One: Click on "Comments" below.

Step Two: Leave a Comment

Step Three: Click "Anonymous"

Step Four: Click "Publish Your Comment"

You're done! It's as simple as that.

So, dear Father, I expect to hear from you very soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Meme from Michael

My friend Michael tagged me with the following fun meme created by playwright Marisa Wegrzyn...

List 5 things that certain people (who are not deserving of being your friend anyway) may consider to be "totally lame," but you are, despite the possible stigma, totally proud of. Own it. Tag 5 others.

1) I listen to "old-school" Christmas carols all year long in my car.

2) I still dress up for Halloween and try to scare the children when they come to my house for trick-or-treating.

3) I call our dogs (and even Jamie) silly names. For example: Doogie, Jezabel, Bubalah, Chita, Lisa Ludwig, etc. (Honest!)

4) I have exactly seven half-read books on my bedside table and I can still "pick up where I left off" in each book.

5) I write letters to companies complimenting their products and/or services in hopes that I get free things.

OK- I have to tag 5 people. I don't know five bloggers who didn't already receive this request.

Well, I will tag the following:
Rosie O'Donnell
Ross the Intern
Perez Hilton
and my sister Katie who no longer has a blog.

Monday, October 15, 2007


I think I might be somewhat loony-toons. Really. I mean, not just right now, all the time.

Jamie tells me I am. But I don't think I even need his kind reassurance. I am kinda bizarre.

Take right now for instance: I went to bed early after reading 1.5 chapters in Rosie O'Donnell's newest book; I woke up at 1:15 a.m. and made some tea; I watched Desperate Housewives and didn't fast-forward through the commercials; I decided that I wanted iced tea instead so I poured the just brewed HOT tea over ice; I read some old blogs and decided it was time to post again; instead of sitting in our warm house, I took the laptop outside on the cold front porch and I am typing from there.

Does that make me bizarre? I don't know. I'm just, how do you say, odd.

Anyway, I thought I'd do a journal post. Write about what's going on or what I'm thinking about. (After all, I can't sleep now.)

It's almost Halloween and I still haven't decorated our house. Granted, I have a few things scattered here and there inside the place but none of our fancy, spooky things are outside yet. I suppose that I'm on track though. I think I STARTED decorating ON Halloween last year. We have some orange light-up trees that one can stick in the ground...but one is broken. We also have a ghoul and a strobe light that makes "him" look scary. There are other things that I'm obviously forgetting. I think I'm going to make a homemade spiderweb and hang it from the porch. Yes. I will. I just decided.

Speaking of spiderwebs!! I heard on the radio that if your dog or cat gets hurt and starts bleeding, you can temporarily stop the bleeding with spiderwebs. Apparently they clot the blood. But, I hate spiders so I'm afraid Jesse and Dodger will just have to wait until we get to the vet's office.

I think there's a spider on the porch. Honest! I'm going back inside. Hold on...

Oh! Guess what, dear readers? Rosie O'Donnell (my pretend best friend) replied to one of my questions on her blog!! I was very excited. You see, I told her that I'm going to Miami in November for an Arts conference and I wanted to know of some nice restaurants. She told me to go to Tuscan Steak or China Grill. I looked them up and, if I do go there, I'd have to refinance my - thanks but no thanks!

Oh yeah, Miami. Although I'm excited to go, it's not going to be anything of a vacation. Three of us (myself and two women from Buffalo) are going to a marketing conference. There are about 25 different seminars we have to attend and, since nobody can comfortably be in two places at one time, it's going to be very busy for all three of us. I'll elaborate more when I have all my ducks in a row. For now, though, let's just say that I'm cautiously excited. I hate flying but Miami in November sounds nice, no?

Hehe...speaking of Yiddish-like-talking...did anyone watch Desperate Housewives tonight (Sunday?) It is a great show. I can't get enough of it!! (That's a lie: I missed half of last years episodes and bought the DVDs recently but I haven't "caught up" yet. It almost seems moot now, seeing how I'm watching the current season and all. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.) Oh no, I can't tomorrow! I have to decorate for Halloween. Well...maybe.

I'm sitting in the living room now admiring our furniture. I recently bought a mirror for over the piano and it's nice. I put two candelabras in front of it with the AMAZING bleeding candles from Yankee Candle Co. They actually BLEED when they burn. They're spooky!!

I love Yankee Candles! They smell so good.

Hmmm...I think it's about time to stop rambling. Food Network is having a Pilsbury cook-off contest right now and I think I have to watch it. I'll tell you who wins.

If you didn't think I was nuts likely agree that I am, indeed, a but "touched." It's OK though. I know.

Is it too late/early to have a cocktail? Probably. Maybe I'll put my iced tea in the microwave. I'm too lazy to boil more water.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

On Golden Pond

Jamie and I had the sheer pleasure of seeing O'Connell & Company's ON GOLDEN POND this past evening and it was...spectacular.

Without a doubt, it was one of the best productions I've ever seen.

I will post this now in hopes that both of you who read this blog might go and see the final performance of it tomorrow (today?), 10/14 at 2:30 p.m.

Call 716-839-3949 for tickets.

I'll elaborate on this "review" tomorrow. I just HAD to get the word out there NOW!! It's THAT good!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007


I am determined to make some fabulous side dishes and desserts for Thanksgiving this year. Let me just get that out there.

For a few months, I have been collecting recipes, buying lots of cookbooks*, and borrowing (stealing) as many cooking magazines from my Grandmother's house and work that I possibly could. My stomach is growling right now in anticipation of the delicacies I shall prepare.

* The cookbook fascination started a few years ago but recently I was made aware of a really neat website called "The Good Cook." (Have I already posted about this?!) The Good Cook is sort of like the old BMG cd sales thingy. You order four books for only a dollar and you have to purchase two more books over the course of a year or so. The catch: you will be sent their monthly selection automatically unless you deny it on time. (I've been good on denying them on time.)

Jamie and I have cookbooks that cover the globe but those covering (or soon to be taking over) the dining room table primarily have to do with "Family Gatherings", "Celebrations", "Pot Luck Suppers", and "Holiday Feasts." I am excited.

I think I will make my Pecan Crusted Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake for sure. And maybe something with kumquats. Nothing with mushrooms, though.

I hate mushrooms.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

THRILL ME has left Buffalo.

"I'm not going to be within a million miles of you ever again!"

Saturday, September 22, 2007


...did you visit my blog?

Let me know in the comments section below.

I've always been curious as to who, why, and how people come upon this blog and, if you'd indluge me in leaving a comment, I'd appreciate it.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

The curtain's finally up!

For those of you who know anything about Buffalo Theatre and the multitude of venues the city has to offer, you know that a grand season opener is a big deal (for the theatres and theatre-goers at least.) Well, this past Friday was the official Curtain Up! here in the Queen City and I have to tell you that I'm happy it's over.

Although we theatre-trash consider Curtain Up! the official "new year", it does get a bit tedious in preparation. Ideally (and usually) each participating theatre officially opens their season the night of CU. All curtains rise at 8:30 (preceded by a huge gala dinner on the stage of Shea's Performing Arts Center) and the evening is concluded with a big street party in the theatre district. As you may imagine, it's a stressful time.

Now, on a personal level, those who work full-time in a professional theatre AND choose to star in a production have an even more stressful experience. You's not the best decision. Especially taking into consideration that one can not be in two places at one time. Let me demonstrate how my CU went: I woke up, picked up my Grandmother and drove her to work with me. We worked until 3ish and then I drove her back home. After a brief nap, I got up, showered, shaved, and drove back into the city to pick up my co-star and the musical director for my show. Then, after performing, dropped my co-star and musical director off at their desired locations, drove back to my workplace (The Kavinoky Theatre), changed into my tuxedo, and joined the cast at their opening night party. Immediately afterwards, Jamie, Geoffrey and I drove to Studio Arena Theatre for Artvoice's "King and Queen of Curtain Up!" celebration. I played the question and answer game to see if (once again) I would be crowned King (or Queen). I wasn't. We had a drink or two and then drove home. This sort of scenario has been and will continue to play out for the next three weeks...(without the whole King and Queen thingy, of course!)

Now...this doesn't sound too bad, right? I mean, everybody has a job and if they're in a show it does add significant strife to their psyche. Perhaps I just wanted to vent. Perhaps I feel guilty that I'm not exclusively at my theatre. Perhaps I just want sympathy. It's ridiculous.

The most important thing...and the reason that we all do what we that the curtain is finally up and Buffalo's Theatre season is, once again, officially underway!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Thrill Me...

I am, indeed, still alive. It's just been a very busy few weeks for me.

THRILL ME: THE LEOPOLD & LOEB STORY by Stephen Dolginoff just opened at The New Phoenix Theatre this past Friday and we only had seven days to put it all together! It was a grueling, hot, voice-losing process but it all paid off!

If you don't already know, The Phoenix chose to mount this phenomenally dark musical with me and the playwright/composer, Stephen Dolginoff. Michael Hake serves as musical director and accompanist and Bob Waterhouse directed.

It runs through September 29th...every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. (except for the "Curtain Up!" performance on the 14th which begins at 8:30.)

Mary Loftus saw the show last night and had this to say about the show:


I knew Manny Fried's production would be terrific. I was less sure about Phoenix Theatre's production of the story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, not only because it was the "Crime of the Century" back in 1924 (and still resounded in the years in which I was growing up) - but because the author dared to make it a "musical"!!!! Yeah, that's right - a musical. OK, I said to myself, what chance could this thing have? Well, hell, let's go see. I persuaded my friend, Jill Beck, to go with me, poor innocent that she is.

Well, let me tell you (and I will whether you let me or not) THRILL ME is one very compelling production. You cannot take your eyes off the two actors up there, whether they are just talking or going off into a totally generic musical piece. There are no big intros to any of the songs - which just insinuate themselves into the action and are entirely in keeping with the action. No disturbing or disrupting the action.

And Joe Demerly works completely against type or anything I have ever seen him do - and makes the most of it!! He's terrific as one of the most skanky guys you might ever meet outside of an asylum. Somehow he makes his insanity seem just outside normal. Great job Joe!!! And nice suit!!!!

The author of the book, music and lyrics of this improbable show, Stephen Dolginoff, superbly brings to life the poor schlemiel so in love with Richard Loeb that he has no will of his own. I have to wonder about the mind that could dream up such a "musical", but he is an utterly charming and apparently sane individual. And a wonderful actor and singer. He also deserves applause for writing music and lyrics that add to and carry along the book. No huge crescendoes for Mr. Dolginoff. Simple melodies that hold you and underline motivations.

If you don't know the story of Leopold/Loeb, I don't know where you have been, because there have been at least two movies and many books about it. In light of local murderers like our very own Bike Path Strangler, their crime might not seem like so much today; but in 1924, it was as though the doors of hell had opened and earned a defense from no one less than the legendary Clarence Darrow.

Dolginoff does not spin off into the court proceedings, wisely keeping us mesmerized with the two characters and their tangled minds.

Director: Phoenix stalwart, Robert Waterhouse, assisted by Dechen Dolkar. Wonderful job.

Very simple but atmospheric set by David Butler. How wise of him to keep the set to a minimum. But we all know he is a genius.

The great Michael Hake on keyboard provided the accompaniment. Sound, Tom Makar. Lighting and stage managing, Kurt Schneiderman, backed up by Aubrey Zich; Art and Graphics by Mike Klemm.

So, should you see this show? ABSOLUTELY! It is a wonderful production. You'll be sorry if you miss it.

But visit the comfort station before the show because it is without intermission.
I hope you can check it out too! Let me know what you think...

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Yesterday marked the eighteenth anniversary of my Grandfather's death. The first of August is always a day I'll remember...August 1, 1989 to be exact.

My sister and I had just arrived at my Dad's house in Swoyersville, Pennsylvania for our annual summer "vacation". We just finished dinner and, after helping clean up the kitchen, went into the living room to watch tv. I can picture exactly what the furniture looked like and the brand new lamp shades my stepmother recently purchased (still covered in plastic.) I remember Marla being pregnant with Bryanna. I can still feel Braxton laying next to me on the couch. I can still hear the telephone ringing and see the look on my Dad's face. I remember Katie and I knowing instantly what was wrong just by the way Daddy looked at us from the kitchen. We started crying.

We all got back in the car and immediately drove back to Hamburg, NY. The last thing I remember before the funeral itself was my Mother answering the door at 2 a.m. in her pink nightgown...crying.

Grandpa "Dem" was, to me, the best! He always smelled like cigarettes and Old Spice aftershave. I remember riding the lawn mower with him when he cut the grass; I remember sitting next to him at Christmastime...opening his gifts. His birthday was (is?) two days (and many years) before mine - we used to share a birthday cake. I was the first grandson (first grandchild) so I was his favorite...he told me so (he probably told everybody that.) I remember his pet toad that lived in the cracks of the sidewalk. I most vividly remember the time he and I had "breakfast" together:

It was early morning and I don't know whether anyone but Grandpa and I were awake (or even in the house for that matter). The sun was shining through the windows and I sat down at the breakfast table next to Grandpa. He was drinking his coffee and smoking a cigarette. He looked at me, smiled, and asked if I wanted to have a contest with him. He went to the counter and returned with two packages of Auntie Anne's Cinnamon Twists - one with pecans, the other plain (he knew I didn't like the ones with nuts). Our contest was to see who could eat a cinnamon twist the fastest by unravelling it. I think we ate both packages and I remember laughing harder than I'd ever laughed before. I don't remember who won.

The day of his funeral, albeit a bit fuzzy in my mind now, was, of course, a very somber day. He was only in the hospital for 39 days before he died so, although we knew he was sick, it was rather shocking to everyone. I was still too young to really understand "why" he died - I just knew that he was dead. I remember what he looked like. I remember touching his hand and telling Katie how weird it was. I remember everyone saying how "great" he looked (which was very strange to me.) I remember crying my eyes out. I remember the "Grandchild" flower arrangement with seven white roses - one for me, Katie, April, Justin, Danielle, Geoffrey & Christopher and one red rose for the future Bryanna (the colors may have been the other way around but this is what I remember.)

Yesterday, when I went to visit my Grandma, I noticed her eyes were swollen and red. Although I knew what day it was I was still surprised that she had been crying so much. She told me it was due to her eyedrops but I secretly knew better. We were chitchatting when she started to tear up again.

Remember how I told you that my Grandpa had a pet toad that lived in the cracks of the sidewalk? Well, for years and years after he died, we (Aunt Eunie, April, me and Grandma) would see a huge toad outside Grandma's side door. Every once in a while I even saw a toad outside my own side door. This always put a smile on our faces because it reminded us of Grandpa. I even liked to pretend that it was a reincarnation of him.

Monday night, when Jamie and I were installing the dreaded screen/storm door, "Grandpa the Toad" was sitting there the whole night, watching us. He didn't seem afraid. The big toad just sat there and watched us fix "his" house. I kept joking with Grandma about it! I even teased that we should fix the frog a small cocktail...preferably a screwdriver. (Grandpa wanted to "feel" the vodka, not taste it.)

Grandma finally told me why she was crying earlier in the day and why she started crying again just then:

Yesterday morning, after making coffee and getting dressed, Grandma walked outside to get the newspaper. Of course she knew what day it was but normally she reflects quietly and fondly to herself. While walking down the cracked sidewalk she looked down and (in her own words) "started sobbing" - on the sidewalk, on the morning of the anniversary of my Grandfather's death, was a dead toad. "As strange and messed up as it sounds," she said "it felt like that day all over again."

As strange and messed up as it sounds...I believe her.

I'm going to visit the cemetery afterwork today. I like to every once in a while. I water his flowers; I pull the weeds; I lean back on his "neighbors" headstone and have a cigarette with him while discussing current events.

Maybe I'll see a toad.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

South Park Joey

Interviewed by Rion.

My new cyber friend, Rion, has a fun game on her blog. It's a sort of blog interview in which friends, family members or strangers can ask you questions. The rules (and her interview) can be found on her site HERE.

These are the questions Rion asked me to answer:

1. If you were asked to write a 10-item modern addendum to the Ten Commandments, what would you Command?
Ooh...this is a toughy. After some careful consideration, I hereby command: Thou shalt not do the following six things: judge, kill, steal, serve me mushrooms, intentionally hurt someone (physically or emotionally), force your beliefs/habits onto another. Thou shall do the following four things: be happy, love, mow your lawn, perform random acts of kindness.

2. Since Tammy is no longer on the air, what is your deepest, darkest television guilty pleasure?
I have always tried not to watch too much television but now, with the enormous variety of cooking/cooking themed television programming, I must admit to watching "Top Chef", "The Next Food Network Star", "Hell's Kitchen", and "Dinner: Impossible" addition to whatever looks appetizing on the Food Network. I also regularly watch Desperate Housewives and the occasional game show (especially "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?")

3. Sending your blog question back to you: do you knick knack? What is your favorite type of knick knack, and why?
Although "knick knacking" may not be the appropriate term for it, I do display green and cranberry glass, antiques I've purchased at Gently Used and garage sales, and lots and lots of books. I also like mirrors. I hope to one day have small framed mirrors throughout our living room (in place of photographs or paintings.) My favorite types of knick knacks are those that are tastefully displayed, i.e. Hummels on a symmetrically designed hanging shelving unit.

4. Okay, I'll bite Mr. English Major. What is the one book everyone should read but won't enjoy?
That's a really difficult question to answer! A book everyone should read but won't enjoy? That totally depends on their taste, I think. In do you define "enjoy"? OK, OK...let me just answer the question. I think the book that everyone should read but will likely not enjoy is either "The Joy of Cooking" or "The Bible".

5. Number 5 is a challenge. Video blog the simplest recipe you can think of, if you dare. If you choose Truth instead of Dare, tell us the celebrity you'd like to go to Tahiti with for magical calorie-free cocktails and etcetera.
OK, I'll totally do the video blog dare when I get home but I'll also answer the truth question. I would love to go to Tahiti and drink loads of calorie-free cocktails with Rosie O'Donnell. I think she would be tons of fun...not to mention she knows lots of Broadway show tunes.

Here are the rules...but click on the link to Rion's blog anyway.
1. Leave me a comment saying "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

I am going to "tag" and interview Michael.

How to put up a storm door.

After dropping off my Grandmother's car yesterday (and waiting for Jamie to come pick me up), I decided that I was going to rearrange her furniture. She wasn't home and I had nothing better to do.

I took her fish tank to the basement (it was empty but still sitting in the corner of her living room), moved her jewelry cabinet into the bathroom, dragged her rolltop desk from the dining room into the living room (yes, she had it in her breakfast room), strategically placed a lamp from the upstairs bedroom atop the desk, took all her pictures off the entertainment center, dusted, replaced the pictures that weren't over ten years old, positioned some floor plants, fluffed the pillows, and made myself a cocktail...all in about 25 minutes.

Just when I went outside to have a cigarette, Jamie pulled in the driveway to pick me up. He got out of the car and I asked him if he wanted to help me install the new screen/storm door that Uncle Brian and Aunt Helen just bought for Granny. I could tell he didn't want to but I also knew his hesitance was waning because he secretly wanted to prove to himself that he (we) could actually do it. I pushed him back into the car and sent him home to get some power tools and (just in case) super glue, thumb tacks, my steel-toed boots, and my overalls.

I was ready. I was prepared. I was buckling a tool belt around my waist when Jamie returned.

We managed to successfully remove the old door without a hitch; we unfolded the instructions (printed in four languages...English being the most indiscernible); screwed some things in. Then, six hours later, came the hard part: we had to install the automatic closer. Sounds easy, no?

Needless to say, we were unsuccessful at our first seventeen attempts. A few too many holes drilled into the door later, we had what looked like a properly attached air-pump hingy thing. The door opened and... We adjusted the thing. The door opened and slammed closed. We adjusted the thing again. The door wouldn't open. We adjusted the thing again. The door opened and closed as per instructions. We put the tools away. We tested the door again and it opened but didn't close. Our nerves were wearing thin. I started yelling at Jamie (for no reason at all.) We tested the door again and...miraculously - it worked! It opened and closed. open and closed!!! We were happy (although still have the other air-pump hingy thingy to attach today after work.)

All in all, the door looks great! It is beautiful; it functions properly; we didn't break anything. The fact that it took us the better part of a day is beside the point.

Moral of the story: an interior decorator does not a small contractor make...even if you're wearing the right outfit.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Hank Williams: Lost Highway

A Toe-Tapping Musical by Randal Myler and Mark Harelik

September 14 – October 14, 2007

From the same creative team that brought you ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE, The Kavinoky Theatre is pleased to announce a spectacular musical biography of the legendary singer-songwriter frequently mentioned alongside Louis Armstrong, Robert Johnson, Duke Ellington, Elvis and Bob Dylan as one of the great innovators of American popular music. The play follows Williams’ rise from his beginnings on the Louisiana Hayride to his triumphs on the Grand Ole Opry to his eventual self-destruction at twenty-nine. Along the way, we are treated to indelible songs like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Move It on Over” and “Hey, Good Lookin’,” which are given fresh and profound resonance set in the context of Williams’ life.

“The best example of a musician’s bio put on stage that I’ve ever seen. Wonderful…delightful…marvelous.” – NY Post.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I'm reading...

I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS by Josh Kilmer-Purcell and I love it!

My friend, Michael, turned me on to the book and I am so glad that he did!! It is a great read. Here's what "they" have to say about it:

I Am Not Myself These Days is a darkly funny and brilliantly written noiresque memoir by a young New York City advertising art director by day/glittering nightclub drag queen and amateur beauty pageant contestant by night, who finds himself struggling to keep his high heels grounded during a doomed romance with his penthouse-living, crack-addicted, male escort boyfriend.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Burgerfest and Bicycling.

I woke up this morning happy knowing that I had nothing to do today. Jamie was taking my car down to his Dad's for the weekend, I got to sleep in, and the weather was gorgeous.

I decided that I wanted to go to Hamburg's Burgerfest 2007. I had never been and I wanted to see what it was all about. (Although I had a pretty good idea: food vendors, arts and crafts, lots of kids and a beer tent.)

I showered, changed and walked the mile to get to where the festivities were. I bought my tickets and decided to order...a burger. After some walking around (I watched some MC play "Simon Says" with a bunch of kids), I decided to order...another burger - this time however it was a "Buffalo Chicken Wing Burger" (which means it was a cheeseburger with a hot sauce/bleu cheese dressing mixture slathered on top.)

While browsing the different non-food vendors, I purchased two cookbooks and called it a day. I walked on down to Murphy's and had myself a Blue Moon beer while browsing through my newly purchased books. Then was the time that I also decided that I was going to walk to my Grandmother's (remember, I had no car.)

She lives about 3.5 miles from where I was and I trekked along like a trooper...until the last 1/4 mile. I was sore and tired and sweaty. Needless to say, I made it there and had a nice chat with Granny. In addition, I decided that I was going to take down an old bike she had, wash it up, and fill the tires with air. I said to myself, "You've been a good boy today. You've walked nearly 5 miles and visited your Grandmother. Keep it up, boy! Ride the bike home." Which I did.

I haven't rode a bike in a LONG time! At first it was fun. Then it was work. Then I was in pain. Then I got home.

I don't know who out there reading this rides a bicycle on a regular basis but, if you're one of those people, answer me this: after riding a bike, do you suddenly lose your ability to walk down stairs? I know I did! I came into my house and had linguine legs. My walking looked like Bernie's in "Weekend at Bernie's" - honest to God!

Oh...and the bicycle seat. The most poorly executed invention of all time if you ask me. My ass is still numb.

I never realized how painful physical activity is. I'm going to rub some Tiga' Balm on my sore muscles and go to bed.

RIP Tammy Faye

Tammy Faye [Bakker] Messner died this evening after a long battle with inoperable cancer.

I used to watch her various television programs and teasingly make fun of her dark mascara but I want to say, honestly, that I learned some things from her. I don't want to elaborate but if you find yourself browsing the web...Google her and find out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pandora Online Radio

As my friend Michael posted on his blog, I too have discovered Pandora.

I don't listen to music at work on a regular basis because my tastes of music are not what you'd call commercially popular. What this amazing website does is pretty incredible.

Here's what they say about Pandora and the Music Genome Project on their website:

On January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came
together with the idea of creating the most comprehensive analysis of music

Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each
individual song sounds like.

Since we started back in 2000, we've carefully listened to the songs of tens of thousands of different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.

It has been quite an adventure, you could say a little crazy - but now that we've created this extraordinary collection of music analysis, we think we can help be your
guide as you explore your favorite parts of the music universe.

We hope you enjoy the journey.

Check it out, type in your favorite artist and get a free, continuous, commericial free radio on your computer. (I think you can even use the service on cell phones and iPods.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

RE: God, Racism and Recipes

It's weird to me how everyday life really gets one thinking.

I was in Tops this evening (I despise Tops...I was only there because I had a hankering for ice cream and I didn't want to drive to Wegman's) and a man handed me a religion pamphlet. He was very polite about it and he actually took me off guard. We were simply walking into the store when he turned around, smiled and handed me the "brochure". I actually started reading it while walking to the frozen food section.

I am not a religious person. I am a SPIRITUAL person who refuses to be a part of a cult-like setting where people chant and submit to zombie-like kneeling, standing, shaking of hands, banging of chests, etc. (Please don't take this the wrong way. I used to be an altar boy. I am NOT suggesting that organized religion is any way whatsoever! I am simply sharing my views on what organized religion looks like to me.)

Although I don't attend church, I miss some of the things that go along with it: meeting new people, congregation picnics/holiday parties/fundraisers, bingo, the free wine.

I believe in God. I try to obey the Ten Commandments. I pray...but does the fact that I don't go to church make me a bad person? Does the fact that I disagree with many things the bible "preaches" make me bad?

Moving on...

You have to watch the new GSN (Game Show Network) program called "Without Prejudice?" - it is really interesting. A group of panelists sit and listen to five strangers and judge them based on: first impression, occupation, beliefs, etc. They then vote one of them "off" until only one remains. This person gets a check for $25K because they're the least hated. It's unbelievable! I first thought it was going to shed light on serious issues but I was wrong. What it essentially does is highlight the stupidity of many and the intelligence of few...with music. I know that I'll keep watching it. (Hey...I said it was INTERESTING not good.) recipes. You'll notice (if you're observant) that I've added a link to my "Diversions and Delights" section: My NEW Recipe Blog. I have copied the recipes I previously posted on this site onto it and I plan on adding more. I hope it's interesting reading...if not, at least I have a virtual recipe box.

(I'm sitting here trying to think of something witty to say. I have nothing. The end.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Regular Joe vs. Diet Joe

I think I'm about to go on a diet. The sort of diet that makes one lose only belly fat. I sure hope there's a diet that can do that!

I know that I'm not fat and I know that there are lots of people reading this who think I don't need to lose any weight. (I don't really think I need to lose weight - I just want to lose my belly.)

Now...I already know what my problem is: in addition to my messed up intestines due to an over zealous doctor who prescribed horse tranquilizers following a very routine and simple surgery over two years ago, I've come to the healthy realization that I indulge in liquid libations far too frequently. I like Seagram's 7 and Seven-Up. I like it to a fault. I named my blog in honor of it. Need I say more?

I'm not suggesting that an occasional cocktail is verboten. I'm saying that I can't single-handedly keep the Seagram's people in business anymore. (Not to mention I don't even get stock options or complementary bottles for my support.)

Folks have told me that the trick is to reduce my caloric intake while increasing my calorie burning activities. I thought that was easily doable. However...they didn't mean for me only to drink (thus reducing my food calories) and walk to the liquor store twice a day (thereby increasing my exercise.) So I have to go back to the drawing board.

I have two very close friends who, after not touching alcohol for only one month, have lost over 10 lbs. each! They eat the same amount and maintain their normal level of physical activity.

I hope to follow in their footsteps. In the meantime, I'm drinking freshly brewed iced tea sweetened with Splenda and crossing my fingers in hopes that I'm on my way to a healthier lifestyle. Wish me luck!

Perpetual Kid Website.

I recently came across a website called Perpetual Kid and I am totally enamored by it. It is a store that sells really nifty gifts, housewares and novelty items.

Have you ever walked into someone's house and seen something ingeniously clever? It happens to me all the time! And I get jealous that my friends have cool things and I don't. Well... Now I know where to get some and I wanna spread the word.

Check it out and if there's a way to tell them I sent you (so I can get lots of free stuff) let them know. me something cute so that when you visit my house you can be jealous.


I am kind of sneaky.

I have, for months, been under the impression that I couldn't post to this blog from work. At one point I could and then (apparently they found out how much time we mere workers are spending on personal stuff) <poof> firewall. I was at a standstill because break-time (lunch break, coffee break, smoke break, breaks from break) is when I was most blog-productive. Now, all of the sudden: no more.

Rest assured, dear reader, for I am once again able to be witty in the workplace...simply from e-mailing my posts directly to this site (in a cryptic DaVinci code sort of way!) It's brilliant! I am literally (I shit you not) doing a happy dance in my swivel chair!

Although I am staring the danger of this situation directly in its ugly face, I have come to the realization that this is something I must do. To sneakify my blogging practices is what I was undoubtedly destined to accomplish.

I wish I had the Pink Panther theme song. I'd totally be rocking it right this second.

Paddywack, give your dog a bone.

Jamie's Grandmother was visiting us this afternoon and told me that she really likes our house but that we need knick knacks. "This place would be much more beautiful," she said, "if it only had some knick knacks."

This got me thinking. I looked around (after giggling a little bit to myself) and realized that she's sorta right. Now...don't get me wrong. We have strategically placed "pieces" but nothing that really constitutes an honest to goodness "knick knack".

After glancing around the living room I asked her, "What kind of knick knacks do you recommend?" (I was not placating her - I was really curious.) She replied, "Oh, any kind! You know, I used to collect owl figurines and wall ornaments. Owls are really beautiful and quite mysterious. You should collect something like owls."

Owls frighten me. Seriously. My Aunt Rebecca's mother-in-law used to collect owls and I never liked to visit her house. Regardless of where I walked, it seemed like the owls were always looking directly at me...following my every move.

Needless to say, owls were out. But I was still intrigued. I mean...she is a very smart woman! She knows what she's talking about. If an almost 90 year old woman thinks I need knick knacks, who am I to argue? Even now, hours after she left, I'm still contemplating what we will adorn our uncluttered walls and tables with.

What constitutes a knick knack though? A collection of something? Does this collection have to be displayed? If displayed, does it have to be on shelving reserved exclusively for knick knacks? (If that's the case, I'm not only going to have to buy said knick knacks but shelving to boot...this sounds like a very expensive endeavor.)

OK, after looking in my Merriam-Webster dictionary I've learned that a knick knack is "a small trivial article usually intended for ornament." The plural (knick knacks) suggests a "collection of small trivial articles usually intended for ornamental display."

Upon further investigation and observation, I determined that I do indeed have a collection. I have two very specific collections: green glass and books. But does green glass a proper knick knack collection make? In addition, I've always been told never to judge a book by its cover. So it is my understanding that a book, in and of itself, cannot accurately be deemed to have artistic merit unless it is read. I am in a quandary.

Here's my question: Do you have knick knacks and if so what are they and how do you display them? I look forward to reading your answers and thank you in advance for your intelligent responses.

Back to blogging.

This is an open letter to those of you who routinely visit my blog:

I have been slacking and I apologize. There's no real excuse...other than pure laziness. Although I'm no longer physically or technically allowed to post from work, there's no real explanation. I'm sorry.

Now that both of you have read that statement, I'd like you to look at some of the minor changes I've made to this site. I have removed my photograph, my book list, my word of the day, weather links, and a few other things. I have also reduced the number of posts that show on this main page. (If you'd like to look at older posts, simply click on the link to your right called "past posts.") I also changed my background color. (Tangent: Have any of you ever said "backaround" or "backround"? I have - and I was an English major!!) Anyway, I made these changes because...well, there's no real reason. I just did.

OK, that's enough of an apology and explanation of changes made. I'm going to make myself a cocktail and find something utterly uninteresting to post next. (I have to make up for lost time.)


Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'm not dead...honest.

I haven't posted a blog in ALMOST two months! Can you freekin' believe it? I blame it on laziness and an overall sense of "nothing to report". (I shouldn't actually say that - lots of good and comfort have surrounded me lately. I'm just lazy. OK, I admit it. I do blame it primarily on laziness.)

I have to make this a short blog because I have to shower and head on over to the casino where Jamie is having lunch with his Dad, Grandmother, sister and youngest brother. (Jamie's Grandmother is a riot and she LOVES the casino. She had never even stepped foot into a casino until we took her a few months back. She was so excited and, every time she talked to Jamie, asked when she would be taken there again.) His family is really great!

I went to the BUA 15th anniversary fun(d) raising party for a brief time last night and I had a wonderful time. I saw people I haven't seen in a long time and had lots of pleasant conversation (albeit for some people who think I'm fat.)

Here's how the fat thing panned out: someone noticed how I (and I quote) "look like [I] haven't missed any meals"; another person took be off guard by saying "you look great" and then following it up with "you've really filled out"; finally...a really nice, older couple with whom I've been acquainted for nearly ten years noticed how I'm "not skinny anymore". I shit you not, people!

I also had a really nice conversation with my beefy cat angus friend, Michael. He's going to be my friend! (I don't really have many friends and to potentially count Michael as my friend will be a really nice thing.) In addition, Weezie said that she wanted to come over our house for a cook-out! I guess my new friends and a future cook-out outweigh the fat comments!

OK, time to shower and then gamble. Maybe I'll do another post/video later...for the two or three people who still look at my blog.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Video Blog #5: Joey's Ramblings = Boring

What would ya do-ooo-oo, for a Klondike bar?

Yeah, that came out of nowhere...just like this video blog.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Video Blog #4: My Grandma

My Grandma...I love her.

By the way, don't leave comments if you're going to do so's tacky and I know your IP address so it's a fruitless attempt at anonimity. I know who you are - if you have a serious beef, just call me - OK?

Did I mention that I love my Grandma?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Video Blog #3: My Cousin Geoffrey

We're a regular Amos and Andy, aren't we??

I love video blogging!

Video Blog #2: Jamie as my "Guest"

Okie dokie. This is my second video blog and "we" have a very special guest...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

100th Post = "1st" Video Blog

Check it out. A video blog for my 100th post on this site...yippie.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Did you ever want to meet a celebrity? I'm sure we all have wanted to at some point or another.

I have met celebrities a number of times (Anthony Hopkins, Patti LuPone, Molly Ringwold, Matthew Broderick, Edward Hibbard, Peter Gallagher, T. R. Knight, Whoopi Goldberg, etc.) Meeting celebrities that are simply "famous" is one thing. Meeting them because you really want to is another.

(Side bar: I REALLY wanted to meet Matthew Broderick, and I did. That situation is different from the one I'm about to suggest, however.)

I want to meet Rosie O'Donnell. Not because she's gay, or famous, or totally right on. I want to meet her "just because".

I agree with 99.9% of what she has to say and I can honestly tell you that if I had her money I would be doing exactly the same thing that she is...

Is this silly of me to want to meet her?

I don't idolize her but I sure as Hell admire her.

Just food for thought/criticism.

I just LOVE Rosie O'Donnell and I want to be her new bestest friend. That is all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Bright light city's gonna set my soul on fire!"

To say that I've been neglecting this blog is a falsehood. I have written volumes at work only to realize that I was unable to post to this blog and, consequently, have the posts deleted. My witty remarks are lost somewhere in cyber-land. Needless to say, I am refreshing my post from April 10th to let you all know what "Vegas plans" we have in mind.

(I need to comment on my "lost" blogs. Although I KNEW and subsequently posted about my inability to post from work, I still tried. I literally wrote 1,000 word essays on the everyday goings-on of Rockin' Joey D to no avail. I thought, "maybe this time it will work." I was wrong and utterly pissed off that I contracted carpal tunnel trying to entertain you, my loyal readers. I trucked on regardless and at least vented...if only for my own good. Rest assured that the posts I made were both creative and very, very entertaining indeed.)

Moving on...

Jamie and I are going to Vegas! I have only been there two times but Jamie has NEVER been. It seems unfathomable that a 37.5 year old man has never been to Vegas, but I digress. We're fucking going to Sin City, baby!

The first time I was there I didn't want to go. I hated the idea of actually spending CHRISTMAS in a town known for whores, booze and gambling. (To be honest, that's a lie. I didn't want to be around prostitutes...the booze and gambling are just fine with me.) Here's a letter I wrote to the place I stayed following my first visit:

OK, I thought I had the letter but I was wrong. I don't remember what computer I typed it on and it obviously wasn't this one. Regardless, it was a very nice letter describing how I didn't want to go but fell in love with the place. I won (and spent) lots of money but came away a winner and got TONS of comps out of the deal (comps that I was unable to utilize month after month). They were impressed with my letter, to say the least.

I obviously loved our vacation...with or without you reading the letter.

I wrote this letter in hopes of accruing more comps. I was planning a trip to LV with my Grandma and Aunt Eunice. I used one of the "three free nights" comps they offered me but we wanted to stay for five nights. I called the hotel/casino and lied. Yes, I admit, I lied. I told them that I had the offer for three nights at their place and another offer for two free nights at a different hotel/casino. It was a lie but they took it hook, line and sinker. They comped me FIVE nights for FREE...and the letter got me a free upgrade to a poolside $200 cash when I checked in! Letters (well written, kiss ass, kick ass letters) work!

We all went and had a nice time...although I lost all my money in the first 36 hours I was there. Needless to say, I came home happy (who goes to Vegas and doesn't have a good time??) Plus, I got to go to LA to see SueBee for two days and LOVED it.

Well...I kept getting TONS of offers for free rooms, lots of free gambling money, free this/free that. BUT...I couldn't afford a plane ticket out there. (That's that rub. They're fucking expensive!) I let my comp offers keep piling up but they all have expiration dates on them. I since stopped receiving the offers.

A few months ago, Jamie got a great job and enabled us to actually take the vacation of our choice. Although we still want to be frugal (who wants to be extravagant if you don't have to be) we chose to "do" Vegas. So, what did I do?? I wrote another letter. That one IS below:

Dear Mr. [So and So],

I am writing you today as a loyal patron and promoter of [your hotel/casino]. Although I have only been to Vegas twice, I stayed at your wonderful casino both times and was completely satisfied and overwhelmed. (The second time I came, I didn't leave your building the entire week!)

My Mother and Stepfather also stay exclusively at [your hotel/casino] (they've been there nearly ten times!) I think I've also convinced my Vegas-loving Aunt and Uncle to stay at [your hotel/casino] on their next vacation this fall.

I must share this story with you: During my first Vegas trip, I stayed up day and night gambling at your casino. I had wonderful chats with many of your staff and cocktail waitresses. There was one cocktail waitress, in particular, with whom I carried on friendly conversations. She is originally from Ontario, Canada and I live right across the border in Buffalo, New York. I mentioned this to her when I saw her name tag and we shared some interesting stories. Since I often gambled in her "territory", she learned what I drank and graciously brought me a cocktail when she saw me playing. It was always nice to see her and I gave her a hearty tip on the final day of my vacation. Six months later I returned to Vegas and saw this nice cocktail waitress again. I mentioned to her that I had met her at Christmastime and how pleasant she was. I told her that I was from Buffalo and how we had chatted about Niagara Falls among other things. She pointed to me, with a big smile, and said "Seven/Seven" (my drink of choice). I was astonished and very warm-hearted. Not only had she remembered me but also what I liked to drink! It made me so very happy and I share that story every time I tell someone about [your hotel/casino]!

My purpose for writing today is two-fold: I have been unable to afford a trip to Vegas since then. Each time I received a letter or postcard from [your hotel/casino], I was excited at the phenomenal offers but disappointed that I would not have the money or time to make the trip. Ironically, I have since stopped receiving letters or postcards from your casino but I now have the money to take a vacation. The old adage "get while the getting's good" has finally caught up with me.

I am planning a trip to Las Vegas this June. We plan on arriving June 18th and staying for four nights (through June 22nd). I have already purchased our airfare but I have refrained from making hotel reservations until I wrote to you.

The truth of the matter is, although I prefer to stay at [your hotel/casino] exclusively, I have been researching hotel deals online and I have found some attractive offers at competing hotels. (I'm sure that, had I been to Vegas and stayed at [your hotel/casino] recently, I would still be receiving your offers in the mail and it pains me that I was unable to do so.) It is my sincere desire that, as I have been a loyal supporter and an enthusiastic promoter of [your hotel/casino], you might be able extend a special offer to me for my upcoming vacation. I would hate to miss out on another wonderful time at [your hotel/casino]...and I'd really like to see if that cocktail waitress still knows what I like to drink!

It is my desire to finalize plans in the next week or so. If there is anything you're able to do to ensure my vacation is spent at your casino, I would be grateful and very excited! My contact information is below and please feel free to call me at any time should you have any questions.


OK, so...that letter worked too. Although I hadn't been to Vegas in nearly two years, the nice man, Mr. [So and So] worked me a deal. He said, and this is another quote, the following (sent to me eight minutes after I sent him the previous letter in e-mail form):

It has been awhile since we have seen you and you certainly are welcome back. Based on your casino play of 2 years ago I will offer you a room complimentary for 3 nights and the 4th night at our discounted casino rate of $75 arrival June 18th & departure June 22nd. If you would like to book I will need a credit card number.

Well, Hell's bells if I didn't ring him up and give him a credit card number. While I was talking to him (he was VERY nice...not to mention the Vice-freekin-President of Marketing for this certain hotel/casino) he told me that the $75 casino rate for the fourth night was technically a technicality that would be comped as well. I...WAS...THRILLED.

I have to say that I lied in the letter I sent him. I hadn't booked our flights yet. But I was bound and determined to get an equally exciting deal.

Moving on, again...

Jamie and I went to my Aunt and Uncle's house for some Vegas advice and we searched for flights (following my glorious display of self-appreciation). We plan on driving down to my Dad's house for Father's Day and flying out the following Monday. We searched and searched and found flights between $249 and $329 round trip, with one stop, per person. We all thought this was a good deal but I didn't book because I thought something better would come along.

A few days later I was spending my time at work searching for better deals. I clicked onto Southwest's website and found ever! My Dad lives near Washington, DC and actually works at Dulles Airport. I found a flight, NON-stop, for $99 each way, per person. I booked the damn thing immediately.

Color me happy! This trip (not counting gambling and spending money) costs less than $500. That's less than $100 per day...INCLUDING airfare!!!!!!!

Nobody believes us. They are jealous. I don't blame them.


Once I knew for certain that we were goin' a'gamblin' where what happens there stays there, I started google'n and search'n all the Vegas sites. I became a subscriber to the Las Vegas Advisor which lead me to Cocktail Doll's website which lead me to numerous others. I need to digress again...

Dollie, the woman behind, is awesome. If you visit her site you will realize that she is not only a nice girl but a VERY smart person as well. She's an honest-to-goodness Vegas cocktail waitress. She tells you how it is and what you should do. She is a brilliant writer and gets her point across better than anyone I know. Her sheer brilliance forced me to e-mail her and tell her that I adore her. She replied and we've since become unoffical "Will and Grace" friends. I have no doubt that we will marry and have many, many children...kidding (but only 50% so.)

My dear friends, I am God-spanking excited. I will write more. I will bore you to death with my excitement. For now, though, I will practice my video poker skills on Bob Dancer's newest strategy/teaching game, "Video Poker for Winners!"

Live long and prosper...and go to Vegas damnit!! Visit the sites I shared with you, too!

(By the way...I didn't want to tell you where I stayed and got the comps...that could prove stupid of me...I like getting the comps and I don't want them to read this little blog and deny me.)

(By the way again...I realized that I said I "lied" about four or five times in this blog post. Call them little white lies...I obviously spent TONS of money to be offered comped rooms in the first place. If I spend the money to EARN the damn things, the least they can do is believe my little white lies in hope that I'll return and throw more money into their ever-burning fire pit that gambling casinos promote and thrive on.).