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!!