January 2006 Archives

Nap Time

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I remember when I was studying in Italy they taught us about the "siesta". Small shops and businesses would close during the day for a 2 hour break. People would go home, have lunch, take a nap and go back to work. I seriously am living in the wrong country & century. I have little doubt that my italian ancestors were the biggest proponents of this idea.

I'm not designed like other "normal" people. You know those people. They can go to bed at midnight, wake up at 6am and put in a full day of work, all happy and cheery like.

Um, well, I must have inherited the sleep gene from my father's side of the family.

First off, unlike the "doctor recommended" 8 hours of sleep most people need, I need like 11 hours to feel normal. Otherwise I wake up cranky and will stay cranky for a good 2 hours until I wake up. I actually tell my coworkers that. I tell them not to bother me until 11am, when I wake up - unless it is an emergency. The first two hours of work are really like 2 hours of trying to do anything BUT work if I can help it.

During spring 2003, I got really bad with my sleep habits. It was when I was bartending on Monday nights, playing darts on Tuesday nights and bartending every fourth Wednesday, along with my weekend shift. On the nights I bartended, I would get out of the bar by 2:30am and have to be awake for work by 7:30am. Tuesdays I was finished playing darts by midnight. I know people in my life that somehow, without the need for drugs (not counting caffeine) can survive on little sleep. I'm not one of those people.

My solution was that I would take hourly nap sessions. I work in midtown, and there was no chance I could fall asleep anywhere in the office. So I had to go outside. I spent weeks scouring the area, looking for a public place where I could zone out without attracting too much attention.

One day, I was walking in Central Park. I don't go there very often, but it was a nice spring day, with a warm sun shining. People were feeding the ducks, walking around the trails, sitting on benches and lying on the grass sunbathing...

In Family Guy's Stewie Voice: Sunbathing? Oooh. Well, well.

Inspired, I went out and bought a beach blanket. I would put it in my messenger bag (also derided by my female friends as the "man-purse"), and go out for my lunch break to Central Park. I found a nice grassy area with a lot of trees, and other sunbathers. I would roll out my blanket, take off my shoes, put my messenger bag under my head and doze for about 30-40 minutes. I didn't even set an alarm - for whatever reason my body wouldn't let me oversleep more than 30-40 minutes. I knew I had to go back to work, so I think my subconscious would wake me up after it got that nap kick start.

Once winter hit, two things happened. One, I lost my job bartending. Two, it was tempting to attempt to get a sleeping bag & disguise myself as a homeless guy and sleep on a warm city grate, but I just stopped. I joined a gym. I stopped smoking. That helped a bit.

Why am I writing about all of this? Beacuse the other night was typical for my body sleep clock. I got home from work at 7pm and I was really tired but know its a bad idea for me to nap at 7pm it just throws my entire sleep schedule into flux. I got a new book "Maury & Me" and started to read it. I got a few chapters in, and I wanted "just a quick nap". My digital egg timer is next to my bed (don't ask), and I set it for 20 minutes.

Those sped by in a flash, the beep-beep-beep rouses me from my slumber. I re-set it for another 25 minutes. I don't recall what happened after that until I woke up at 11:30pm!

Oh boy, was I awake! I wish I felt this good in the morning.

I try to fall back asleep, but my body will have none of it. I turn on the computer and play video games until 3am. I start to feel tired again. I go back to sleep, and sleep thru my clock alarm until 8am. I'm really late. I'm up like a flash, cursing myself the whole time and skittering out the door.

It's like a constant battle, sleep and me.

She's The Man

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Dude, what the fuck is with Hollywood?

I know that the creative juices of people like Pam kick ass, but the only movies i'm seeing now-a-days are either crappy 80's TV shows that are made into movies or similar-plot-themed movies that are remade.

I wrote about Annapolis a few weeks back which was an obvious rip-off of Officer and a Gentlemen. Well, we now have a new entry - She's The Man.

Watch the trailer on Apple.com and anyone else starting to remember a similar movie from 1985? I certainly do. A movie called, "Just One Of The Guys". It starred Joyce Hyser, and the only reason why I remember this movie is the scene at the end. Joyce, playing Terry, ripps off her top to reveal easily the best pair of breasts my 13 year old eyes ever saw. It certainly left an impression on a boy had raging hormones and a lot of spare time.

"Just One Of the Guys" is about Terry, who is as aspiring journalist in high school. No one will take her seriously because of her pretty looks and she switches schools, and decides to change genders to prove she has the talent to become a writer. She meets befriends Rick, while dressed like a teenage boy and falls in love with him. But can't reveal her secret to him, and there were a lot of jokes and gags about a girl playing a guy.

Fast forward to 2006...

In She's The Man, Amanda Bynes plays tomboy Cheryl. Her twin brother skips town and needs her to go to school in his place. She somehow agrees, and is so skilled at socccer that she is on the guy's soccer team. She meets a fellow soccer player and falls in love with him...there are a lot of jokes and gags about a girl playing a guy.

This trailer wasn't as bad as Annapolis, and I found it to be funny. Three things may make this movie work. First, its target audience was born after 1985, so to them this will be a fresh, new idea. Two, I haven't seen "Just One Of The Guys" on cable for years, so I doubt many other people recall that movie. Three, David Cross is involved in this movie and it instantly gets a slight kudos because he is a genius.

Hey, who cares. It seems that all entertainment is having a terrible time trying to be original.

...And So Drama Begins!

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Furey's note: This happened a good 6 months ago, and I wrote it about week after it happened. I wanted to wait and see what kind of fallout would occur, but fortunately, none did...read on, I changed some names a bit here to protect things...if you happen to deduce who i'm talking about - hey congrats, but keep it out of the comments! ;)

Once again, drama has to show up and rear its ugly head. Of course, it has to happen the first night of The Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken is to gather at the bar.

The night started so innocently...

XGame, MUDS and Online Worlds

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In 1985 I had a Commodore 64, with a 300 baud modem. A new service was out called "CompuServe", it allowed your computer to talk to other computers on a private network. The network was the precursor to something like AOL is today, except it was all text driven, with no pictures or graphics.

I was thirteen, living in my isolated world of Gwynedd Valley. There weren't neighborhood kids that I could hang out with. I was going to Germantown Academy, and really didn't become friendly with anyone there. From time to time I would go back to Richboro and visit my old friends, for a weekend sleepover. We would play Dungeons and Dragons all weekend, in between watching movies, eating microwave popcorn and drinking Mountain Dew.

Online I met a lot of other people, using my original online name of "Thrasher", from the old Skateboarding magazine. There was a Dungeons & Dragons forum, and a chatroom. I entered one of the forums where 3 people were chatting.

D.M.> As you come upon the sarcophagus, you see a bright blue light that shines down upon it from a crystal suspended in the air. There are spidery etchings on the coffin that have a faint green glow...
Thrasher> Hey, whats up?!
**DM tells you> Game in progress, please do not disturb.
D.M.> The room is dusty, obviously it hasn't been used it years and you two are the first to enter this room in ages.
Dolzan> I check for traps.
D.M.> Roll 100
Dolzan> **Die roll 94/100**
D.M.> Dolzan, you notice one of the tiles of the floor in front of the sarcophagus is of a slightly different color than the rest of the tiles around it.
Esgar> Good work, Dolzan. I stay away from that tile, and inspect the blue crystal.

And so on. I watched these guys play D&D online for 2 hours on a Sunday night. Instead of sitting together, they were located in far cities. The D.M., or Dungeon Master, was from Birmingham, Alabama. Dolzan was from White Plains, NY. Esgar was from West Virginia.

They didn't know each other offline. They never met in person. They just met reading the CompuServe forums, when the D.M. posted a board post about looking for players for his online game. Dolzan and Esgar joined up, and right after watching that session - I joined up, as Bathir, the human monk.

Hole Again

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Everything went well with the surgery.

The doctors removed my titanium bolt from my leg on Thursday and I spent the weekend recovering at home. Most of the pain is gone and there are a few aches & what-not now. I have a hole in my bone from the bolt, and the doctor said it should heal fairly quickly. I'm supposed to use the crutches for 6 weeks.

I'm guessing i'll use them for a week. I'm not saying that to stick it to my doctor, just my leg feels fine. I'm well aware that it's weaker, but I don't plan on jumping around on my leg. I'll play it by ear.

After the surgery I found out that i'm not supposed to do any activies on my leg for 3 months. I asked my doctor about golfing in March and he said, "Well, that is 2 months away, you really shouldn't...but I suppose me saying this isn't going to stop you."

No. It won't.

On Saturday my mother came by to my apartment. This was her first visit to my apartment since I lived there in 7 years. Yep, 7 years. Don't be too astonished, my father was very home-centric with his ways - he very much liked to people visit him than him visiting other people. Now that he passed away, my mother has a lot of free time and a new car equipped with a tracking system called "Dora". My mom isn't the best with maps or navigation, but her and Dora get along swimmingly. She made it to my apartment with only one semi-concerned phone call that she was confused if I-95 and the NJ Turnpike were the same road. I assured her it was.

It was nice to see her, and she brought me up a old coffeetable she was going to give away (trust me, its nice) and more food than I can ever hope to eat in a week. On Saturday I also had a Fresh Direct delivery, so i'm in big trouble. I don't know if I will be able to eat all the food before it spoils. My roommates are coming out like kings & queens in this situation.

Mom did what she does best - she started to tidy up the kitchen. My idea of "clean" would be good in certain prison kitchens but for mom, well, she was happy to improve on my crude attempts. She told me an interesting story while she was cleaning and I was chowing down on a sausage and pepper sandwich she made for me.

She told me a story about a friend of hers, Mary Lou, who's mother would come to visit. Her mother would come and clean or do laundry - help around the house with things like that. At first Mary Lou was a bit upset, thinking that her cleaning wasn't good enough and her mother was embarassing her by doing this. But as her mother explained it, it was a way of expressing her love. She didn't have money or other skills to help her daughter, but she was good at helping or cleaning around the house.

While Mom said this I thought it was very nice of her to explain her own actions in that very same story. I, myself, did feel a bit abashed that my home wasn't quite up to par. I did a spit shine job before she arrived, but like I eluded, my cleaning skills have regressed to a 4th grade level.

I was happy to have her up for the weekend, and Jon and I look forward to her next visit when she cleans our bathroom.

I kid! I kid!

It was nice to see you, mom. Thanks again.

Spamalot & My Tourist Moment

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Rainy wind roars at me
My umbrella will not yield
Bother someone else.

I went to see Spamalot last night with a friend. I went to meet her at Grand Central, so we could walk together to the Shubert Theatre. When I entered the terminal I had a "tourist moment".

Normally, when walking around New York, I have learned the quintessential art of looking like I belong. Step 1, is having my "angry face" look - which, if you have seen this look, is a typical "don't bother me, i'm local" (What About Bob?) look. Step 2, is never looking up at the buildings or your surroundings. Step 3 is walking much faster than everyone else, and being annoyed when someone blocks your path.

All those rules went out the window when I entered Grand Central. I turned into tourist newbie for about a solid 10 seconds when I started to gawk at everything. I was transfixed at its beauty, with its spartan main hall of marble, soaring arches of steel and glass and a ceiling vault displaying painted constellations of the zodiac.

I could feel the seething anger from the people around me, as I started to block their paths, and I quickly regained my composure and scurried to a corner to discreetly take quick peeks at the surroundings. If you are an avid people watcher, like me, Grand Central is loads of fun to watch everyone walk by and wonder what "their story" is - I saw the crazy types, the forlorn lover types, the throwback 80's types, the beautiful people, the tourists, the euros, the office secretaries and paranoid homeless guy (who could be just undercover cop guy, who knows?).

Also, being from Philly, I couldn't help but look at Grand Central and feel like I was in Penn Station. Plus the paralellisms in the city are apparent - Grand Central, is, well, grand. Penn Station is such a shell of a terminal to Grand Central, much like Center City is a dreary half-brother when compared to New York. Don't be a hater, let's call a spade a spade.

After picking up my friend, we went to the Shubert on 44th and watched "Spamalot", the broadway musical from Monty Python's The Holy Grail. I, personally, was expecting more play and less musical, so after the first half I was a bit disappointed in the whole thing. The second act was very witty and by the end of the play I was impressed and delighted with the performance. They take the best elements of the movie (The Rabbit scenes, Black Knight, Knights Who Say Nee!, The Wizard named "Tim", The prince(?) who just wants to sing...) and create skits and dance numbers to intertwine the story. For someone like me, who easily has watched the movie like a Rocky Picture Show fanatic, I found it very creative with what they did with the interpretation of the movie into a musical.

Tomorrow I go under the knife to have the bolt from my leg removed. For those just joining this conversation, go back and read my trails and tribulations of how not to warm up for softball. I'll be out of the office Thursday and Friday and returning to work Monday. Not really looking forward to this, but its like getting a cavity filled, I just have to do it. I really have no interest in having a metal bolt in my leg for the rest of my life, and want to put the whole thing behind me once and for all.

Also planning a birthday party for myself. Yes, pathetic, but this is what I have done for the last, oh, 13 years - invite people out to get drunk with me. Planning to hit BowlMor for bowling and then Merc Bar for drinks afterwards in a few weeks. I'm sure details and pictures will follow, along with a possible police report & star sighting.


Sushi and Me: Review of Maru Sushi

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I, myself, was not in a family of sushi lovers. I used to be one of those people who would laugh at the raw fish eaters and part of my ignorance was because I was never properly introduced to sushi.

My first experience with sushi was in Ocean City, NJ, on the boardwalk at some hole in the wall establishment run by people who were as Asian as me. It was terrible, I hated it and it just reaffirmed my hatred of raw fish for many years. In 1999, my brother and his wife moved to New York, in an apartment on Duane Street in SoHo. They, being the quintessential yuppies, loved sushi and decided to formally get me interested in it - by taking me to a proper sushi bar.

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They decided on Tomoe, on Thompson. If you haven't been to Tomoe, well it certainly ranks up there with one of the better sushi bars in the city. What it lacks in decor and size it certainly makes up for in fish quality and deliciousness. It began with much trepidation, but my fears were soon allayed and I was hooked (no pun intended).

Fast forward seven years and i'm now in Hoboken, where I eat sushi at least once a week. My trips to Tomoe are few and far between, and I find myself trying various establishments in Hoboken over the years for my sushi fix. In recent memory, our town has seen an explosive growth of sushi or Japanese restaurants: Sushi Lounge, Sushi House, Robongi, and Illuzion to name a few.

Before the sushi purists read the rest, I will save us all time. Don't email me and or add comments about how Hoboken sushi can't compare to New York. Yes, I know this. New York rules. But for Hoboken, and my standards, the quality of the fish I have discovered has been pleasantly surprising..

Up until lately, I would usually dine at Sushi Lounge every Wednesday, at the bar around 7pm. I would sit down and order the same thing every week - a bottle of Sapporo, an order of edamame & a sushi deluxe (Sushi Lounge calls it the "Sushi Rock"). When I eat sushi, I add only a small bit of soy sauce (with wasabi mixed in) to the edge of the sushi. Pet Peeve Alert: I really hate people who DUNK the entire piece of fish into their bowl and saturate the entire thing. Why not just drink the soy sauce, people?

Anyhow, that was my routine for a few weeks. I liked being able to sit at a bar, order sushi and have a drink. My only thing that I didn't like about Sushi Lounge is that the Sapporo was $7 for a 16 ounce bottle. Sure, I understand the whole cost/drink ratio of bars and restaurants, but $7? The beer was ice cold, and I loved that, but paying over $20 for my food and 1/3 of that was for 1 drink - it would always annoy me when I got the bill. But I would pay my 20% and still would walk away satisfied.

If I didn't want to sit down for sushi, I would normally order from Robongi. When Robongi first opened, I hated it. I would constantly find scales in my fish, and whoever the head chef was, didn't do a good job. But, as of the last year, Robongi has been delicious and the scale problem disappeared. This is the place that I would order takeout, and enjoy eating at my apartment.

Yesterday some people were talking about sushi on Hobokenchat, and we talked about our interests in sushi. It was Wednesday and I was jonesing for some raw fish, but didn't want to walk in the rain (I forgot my umbrella) to Sushi Lounge.

Instead, I went home and thought I would try Illuzion for the first time. I went to the 7th and Park liquor store and bought a 6 bottle pack of Sapporo, for $8.50. $8.50! I stopped by the dry cleaner to get my clothes at Sarah Cleaners. The girl who works there (is it Sarah? Or is Sarah the owner and she doesn't work the place?) is Korean and extremely nice. She has the most adorable Yorkie named Asia, that I love to play with each time I go in there.

I was holding my six pack and she said, "It has been a long day I need a drink too!" I replied, "Yea why don't you come back to my place and I will give you a cup of Furey..."

I kid! I kid!

No, I mentioned how I was going to order sushi and the first thing she said was, "Maru!" and gestured towards Washington Street.

Ah, yes, Maru. The red headed stepchild of Hoboken sushi. Before the recent influx of japanese restaurants, Maru has always been the quiet favorite amongst the established Hoboken resident. I never really went there because i'm your typical Gen X - we like the trendy looking places over the non-trendy. Sushi Lounge was, well, cool. Flat screen TV's and black glossy bar with a great soundsystem playing house music. I was drawn into that place like a fly on sugar.

Maru was stodgy and old. Like the defunct Tamura II - it just didn't visually appeal to me. So I never went to that restaurant. In the last year or so, I noticed that they actually renovated their interior, and it wasn't on the same level as Sushi Lounge, it looked much nicer inside.

Once Sarah (?) mentioned Maru, I decided to give them a try again.

I did go to Maru once before. The first time I tried Maru I was passing by the restaurant one night and dedided to try it. I saw an absolutely gorgeous girl sitting in the window, who was waiting for sushi and talking on a cell phone. I wanted her - and I wanted sushi, so I went in to order. Sadly the cell phone girl was engrossed in her conversation and I didn't get to chat her up. My second strike was that this night that one of their chefs called out sick. I literally sat there for 30 minutes for a takeout order of a sushi deluxe. I wasn't happy on both counts and I really wasn't impressed with my sushi order.

But I usually give restaurants a second chance. I learned in my days of restaurant reviews for Hobokeni - that you really shouldn't go to a restaurant once and try to write a review. Businesses are like people - they can have good nights or bad nights.

I went home, iced down the Sapporo and ordered from Maru over the phone. My order was delivered 30 minutes later, and i'm trying to think the best way to describe this...

It was absolutely fucking God damn ridiculously delicious.

Yes, I just took the Lord's name in vain. I'm sorry, it had to be done.

Holy shit (there I go again), what the fuck just happened? This was dee-lic-ious (that's three syllables people). I was in 7th Heaven with that takeout order, drinking my $1.50 Sapporo and watching TV while tapping my feet and wolfing down the fish.

Farewell, Robongi! I loved ya, babe, but I have a new takeout lover in my life.

If you haven't tried Maru, well, make sure you try it soon:
Hours - (Please confirm) Mon-Thu 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-10:30pm, Fri 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-11pm, Sat 12noon-11pm, Sun 12noon-10pm
Address - 219 Washington St
Telephone - (201) 798-3311

Free Advice: Never order fish on a Monday. I always get sushi on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday for good reason - that is usually when you have the best chances to get FRESH fish.

What I'm Up To...And A London Story

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I get lots of the same questions from emails and phone calls, I figure maybe I should follow up on some past stuff & my random comments...

1) PSE&G situation - submitted my request weeks ago for the BPU to test my meter (had to pay $5 for this). I haven't heard from them yet. Called PSE&G and they are aware of my situation and still aren't trying to chase me for that $8,000 bill. Every single person I talk to has the same reaction, "Don't pay a single cent - they can't do this!". I agree, and i'll do whatever I need to do to fight it. I'm currently reaching out to friends of my family who are lawyers for help here, also.

2) Leg situation - i'm getting the titanium bolt removed from my leg on January 19th. My left leg is great, except it simply isn't as strong as my right for as much rehab I have done on it, it just is a slow progression. The bolt could stay in for the rest of my life, and the doctor said it is really a personal decision if I want to keep it in. Personally, I just want it out. I think i'm still going to have an active lifestyle, with the exception of jumping off pitcher's mounds, and I don't want a metal bolt in my leg while this is going on. My fear is that I twist or turn my leg the wrong way - and snap! The bone breaks along the metal line. My doctor confirmed that my fears were accurate, if I put enough stress on the bone, that the bone could be more fragile due to the bolt. I plan on snowboarding in the future and I don't want to have to worry about the bolt when i'm 45. Since i'm relatively young and not 55, I will remove it. My recovery should be 2-3 months per the doctor....not sure how long it will keep me off my feet.

3) Myrtle Beach...planning to hit Myrtle Beach with some friends in March for a golf vacation. It is a bit bittersweet, because a lot of the guys we used to go with are all backing out from the trip for various reasons (saving money, time conflicts, etc). I need to make some new single friends who have time on their hands.

4) Bartending - still chugging along with rumors that the bar has been sold. Of course the bar has been for sale for 2 years, it is only a matter of time before the rumors become reality. Offically - IT HAS *NOT* BEEN SOLD. Just the same rumors are flying around. From what I heard the new owners are going to "re-interview" the staff. No idea what that means for everyone working there, but either way the last few months has been a win-win. I got the Eagles club to the bar & I got to bartend again. Of course I enjoy bartending, but its not the end of the world if I have to stop.

5) Going to see Spamalot next week. I decided to buy tickets to see the show, the mezzanine seats were all filled so I opted for a balcony seat. I want to see the original cast before they get replacements.

6) I'm not sure why but my interest in going to the gym & cooking have completely nosedived. I was chugging along for 2 years and it seems that once I started bartending my interest level in working out tailed off. I'm not sure why, but certainly being around a bar and drinking I think screws up the whole diet (sugary Captain and Cokes didn't help). Thank God for my irish metabolism, I really haven't packed on pounds but I just feel like "blah". I used to eat 5 "meals" a day, and now I just eat breakfast, lunch and find that i'm skipping dinner (damn you, World of Warcraft!)

7) Completely psyched that NJ will ban smoking in about 90 days. One of the hardest things about quitting is being AROUND smokers. This will tremendously help people who want to quit. I was a Court Street on Sunday at the bar. Dining room was packed, and I sat down at the bar to have wine & dinner. Next to me, on either side, were smokers. Puffing away the whole time. I was thisclose to asking them to put their cigarettes out while I ate, but I let it go. I figured that in 90 days they would have to stand outside while I enjoyed my meal in smoke free peace.

8) Funny side story. I left Court Street and a couple left the bar at the same time. The guy looks at me and says, "Hey, don't you bartend at that bar?". I tell him yes but that I didn't remember serving him. He told me he used to come there when we first opened like in 2002. I said, "Well what happened, where have you been?!" The girl pipes up, "Uh, that is my fault." So true. If I had a nickel for the amount of people that get into a relationship and completely disappear from the bar circuit I would have a lot of nickels. I completely understand it, heck, I know i'd do it also, but it just makes me laugh. Makes me laugh even more when they get dumped and suddenly they have a lot more time to hang out with me again.

8) I want to go somewhere this year. I'm leaning towards London. I was there when I was 16, which leads to a short story...

My brother was studing in London in 1988. I was 16, a skaterat and during my Easter break my parents were kind enough to let me visit K for 10 days. I never travelled abroad before, and to boot I was flying alone. I certainly had PLENTY of airplane experience, and being the youngest of four children, I was easily given a lot of responsibility at a young age because of my birth order (parents are ultra careful with their first children, less so with as they have more).

I get out to London, and K is studying at at a college for foreigners and locals called, "Regent's Park College". This school was, in my mind, fucking awesome. It is hard to explain, but the architecture, feel and setting of the entire place was too cool. What I thought college was going to be like - this was it.

As soon as I got to his college, K introduced me to all of his American friends at a Common Room in the college that...had a BAR in it. This was novel to me. You were at the ground floor of your dorm room, with a small bar that served beer & alcohol. I was 16 and in a country that I could easily drink as much as I wanted. This was like a dream come true.

First night we get there, we order up pints and i'm drinking like banshee. We are playing beer drinking games, i'm meeting a lot of cute college girls (including K's girlfriend Megan who was super nice to me from the moment I met her), and I see someone in the pub who looks familiar to me.

If any of you happen to watch the BBC, you may know someone by the name of Rowan Atkinson, who appeared in many BBC TV shows as Mr. Bean or The Blackadder. I knew him as The Blackadder, since this was 1988, and I happened to catch the show in the states on PBS in between watching Monthy Pyton & Dr. Who as a kid.

It wasn't Rowan. But this guy was absolutely, positively looked EXACTLY like him as a 20 year old. So I had a few in me and walked up to him.

I didn't know this guy from Adam, and he didn't know me. Here I am, some 16 year old American string bean that walks up to him and said, not actually knowing Rowan Atkinson's name, but his character:
"Hey, do you know you look like The Blackadder?"

Now, before I tell you his reaction, I can only surmise that over the years he had to have heard this before. Add on top of that that some snot nosed American kid just walked up to him, while he was minding his own business drinking a pint, and said this might have made him a trifle bit upset. He looked at me with a gaze of disdain, but not anger, and said back, "Do you know you look like a bucket of shit?"

That was my first conversation with a Londoner in London. Yes, thank you America, I will be here all week, don't forget to try the veal.

I stopped from that point to continue talking to the Rowan-lookalike, and went back to my brother & his friends sitting a few yards away and told them the story. The table roared with laughter and I never really got to talk to that guy again but to this day I do wonder if he thought I was insulting him (I wasn't) or his impression of what I said to him. I really didn't mean to be rude, and I happen to get that a lot in my life, where I say something completely innocent and the person who hears it either mistranslates my intentions or misunderstands what i'm trying to say. I gotta work on that.

The next day I was completely hungover, having thrown up in the Regent's Park College bathrooms for a good 30 minutes the night before. But I was 16 and I bounced back as soon as I got some food into my body and we prepared that day by smoking pot in the dorm room (I was an old pro with pot since experimenting at 12 years old) from a makeshift bong make from a Galliano liquor bottle. That night we went to a club in London called Camden Palace.

We jump in a taxi and head over there, my head is swirling from beer and pot, i'm somehow still in remarkable control. We get to the front of the club, hop out and a black guy walks straight up to me, with dreadlocks and i'm ready to get mugged (Thank you 16 year old stereotypes!) when he pipes up in a soft voice with his accent, "Would you like to buy some hash, man?"

This completely took me off guard. First, he was really nice about it. Second, he spoke to me like he was selling me scarlet begonias, not East Turkish smack. My reaction was just as novel and simple, saying, "No, thanks not right now." Yea, like *I* was gonna buy hash - I didn't even know what hash was.

"Right, well if you change your mind, I will be out here, man!", he chirps and walks away.

What the fuck? I'm pissing off the locals and making friends with the drug dealers? What kind of bizzaro shit has my life become?

My brother drags me away from the drug dealer and we party the night away at the club. The rest of the week involves us going to Barcelona, getting ripped off by 3 card monte players and learning the essential sentence, "Mas pan, por favor!" at the restaurants (they were poor college students). I got to watch some Flamenco dancing, drink real sangria, and check out an Albino gorilla at the Barcelona zoo (that was depressing because the poor thing was kept in a cage about 10x12 for its entire life).

But the one moment that I never forgot, aside from the whole story, and something I didn't write at the beginning, was when I saw my brother, for the first time getting off the plane in London. I hadn't seen K for about 3 months, and he was really happy to see a family member. It was the hug that I remember. Never since have I felt that much love in a single expression from him. It was simply a hug that maybe people get a few times in their lives. A hug where you can just feel the emotional connection, the bond that makes you family. I remember afterwards his eyes were welled up with tears and we were just smiling through those tears and happy to see each other - so happy, so overjoyed, to be reuinited. That is what I really remember from London. Even as I write these words now I can still feel the power of that hug and it makes me warm inside.

On the other side of the Hudson, I try, in vain to explain why Hoboken is a great town to live in. Most of the reactions I get vary from feigned amusement to outright derision for anything associated with New Jersey.

I know where that is coming from. I lived outside Philadelphia and we used to think the same think about "people from Jersey". Making fun of a Jersey resident was like an Englishman making fun of someone from Poland - there was always a good joke waiting to make fun of those people because of some air of superiority that is assumed.

If you talk to anyone from New York City, especially Manhattan, there is a chip on their shoulder attitude that most have. They could be from Topeka, Kansas and lived in Manhattan for 2 years, but they were a "New Yorker" now because they saw Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in concert before anyone else and go to Magnolia Bakery on Saturdays, while walking their puggle in the West Village, plus talking on their black RAZR cell phone, and pushing their Peg Perego Pliko P3 Classico Stroller with their colorful "garden boots".

Can Hoboken be compared to Manhattan? Of course not. Manhattan is enormous, with so many different neighborhoods, from the likes of the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, The Village, SoHo, NoHo, Murray Hill and Hell's Kitchen. I wouldn't even dare to throw Hoboken to the wolves and think we contend.

There are plenty of negatives about Hoboken, but i'm here to list a few positives, that are things I like...

1. I like being able to go into New York and then come home to Hoboken. It is just "less busy" to me. I feel like when I walk around the New York sidewalks I need to be going somewhere.

2. I like the girls around here. Plain and simple. Every day I take the PATH train to work, go to the bars around town, or workout at the gym (ok, to be honest my gym time has been bad as of late) I constantly see beautiful women that are "my type".

3. One of my past times before the blog was writing restaurant reviews for Hobokeni. I would go to the restaurant, have a meal, pay for it and then interview the owners afterwards for a "guy on the street" perspective of their establishment. I wasn't trying to come off with phony pretenses or false airs, I was just a regular guy writing a review. I love the restaurants we have in town, there are so many great places to choose from Japanese to Italian to Indian to Chinese to classic American. Aside from Frankie and Jonnie's - I think Hoboken could use a quality steakhouse (Arthur's is very average), I dream of the day "Peter Luger: Hoboken" opens.

4. I like my car. I may only use it twice a month for a weekend getaway, but I lived without a car for years and still missed having the freedom to go where I want when I wanted. Sure, its an added expense, but try renting a parking spot in New York City, it is about triple of what you would pay in Hoboken. Or you can just park on the street, as long as if you move the car every week and it costs $10 for a year long parking pass.

5. Festivals. I can't count them all but Hoboken has about 5-6 block parties a year. Arts & Music Festival is the most popular - and that is run twice a year in the summer. We have our own St. Patrick's Day Parade, and it's a blast.

6. The People. I like everyone I meet around here. There is a great community that Hoboken has, from people who have been long time residents to the newcomers who want to contribute to the town. More often than not I find myself using the term "down to earth" when describing someone who lives in Hoboken. We get a lot of down to earth people around here, and it seems that the snobby/class A types are over in Manhattan. They can stay there, thanks.

7. One of the best skylines across the water. Hey, I love New York City, too. I just like living in Hoboken and one of the best parts of my day is my walk home from the PATH station, along the Hudson, and looking at the New York City skyline. It's picturesque, and on certain nights when the moon is just right, almost magical. You really feel like you are living next to the seat of the civilized world, what it must have felt like to been living in or around Rome 2,000 years ago.

People always ask me, "Why don't you move into New York city?". My #1 reason is that my rent is fairly inexpensive, and i'd rather use the money I save renting to treat myself in whatever way I choose. I have a lot of purchase power every month by saving about $800-1,000 by not living in New York. I can do just about anything a New Yorker can do - I can go to the same shows, plays, bars, clubs and restaurants. I have the PATH train which runs all night to take me home, just like if I were living in Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx.

When I started this website, I was going to call it The Sixth Borough, thesixthborough.com - but the variations of that name were all taken by other sites. I really do feel like Hoboken is the real sixth borough to New York, but we are like the Rodney Dangerfield of boroughs - we get no respect.

Maybe the day will change when that happens. With the standard websites like Hobokeni.com and the latest one, RealHoboken.com, I think a lot of opinions about this town are slowly changing over the years. Sure, we aren't going to be in the same stratospehere as Manhattan, but we certainly just can't be considered "Jersey". We are more like New York Jersey.

Before anyone from New York reads this and says, "Wait, New York is so much better...". Yes, you win. But Hoboken certainly is a great little town for those of us who do like it around here.

New York Times

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Looks like the syrup article was written in the New York Times, and they mentioned my blog. I'm getting quite a few new vistors coming from the NYT. Welcome!

If you haven't read it yet, read it here.

New people will probably want to read my Top 5 Things This Blog Is Not..., then poke around the Best of 2005, which are some of my more interesting entries.

In case you read this and are from my corporate office - I never write any office-related stories.

Looks like my pen name has been outed - so long "Furey".

The Fry Guy

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New Years Eve 2006.

I was very excited about working, expecting a nice big crowd, lots of shots and fun behind the bar with serving a happy customer base and walking out at the end of the night with a thick wad of 20's from a job well done.

Once again my "situational unluckyness" kicks in. Here are some examples over the years of my bad luck:

1. Going to Vermont on the Villanova ski trip, and its a December heat wave, with 30% of the mountain open with conditions like "slush" dominating the headlines.

2. Going to Myrtle Beach for a golf trip. Brian, the organizer, telling me before the trip "I have gone 3 years in a row, and its always so nice out, we get 60-70 degree days in late March..." After I land I get how "Odd it was that this week was going to be so cold". The following year I got, "Well, this is unusually wet this year!".

3. First day of softball 2005! Broken Leg! Yay! Summer is over.

Those are just a few examples, but trust me there are more. I think it all started when I was 7 and I was at Victor's house in Richboro. His family had one of those budda luck statues, but it was easily 4 feet tall, and had little pennies on the palm of each hand. I picked one up and looked at the penny and he turned and said "Oooh! That's bad luck! You will have bad luck for 7 years!"

I think someone forgot to tell Budda to turn the bad luck off on me.

So, back to New Years. Chris is telling me how "Every year we get a great crowd, and its so much fun and we make a lot of money". This year? I think from 9pm to 11:30pm there were about 20 people total in the bar.

4 of them were friends a guy from the Eagles Club. 6 single girls were there, dressed to the nines, and a smattering of other customers. Along with the owner (Tom), myself, Billy (the owner's friend) and Chris.

Adding to our problems, our chef for the night, Noe, was missing. Hasn't returned a phone call all day. We have a $10 cover and planned to serve a 2am breakfast - but don't have a chef. We were charging people $10 for...nothing? Plus people were coming to the bar, looking in, seeing 20 people, no crowd and then being accosted for $10? They walked away.

Tom wasn't sure what he was going to do. I told him we shouldn't worry about a chef - "We don't have customers! Who is going to eat?"

I also threw in there, stupidly, that I can cook. I shouldn't have opened my big mouth because that immediately got translated to "I'll cook for everyone at 2am, Tom!"

So over the night Tom is still trying to find a replacement chef, like there is some South American illegal hanging outdying to cook for us on the streets of New Years. He is going to Benny's and to Sullivans trying to find anyone. He would come back in the bar and say, "Come on, we are like Band of Brothers we will do it ourselves!"

I turned to alcohol, my old friend, to help with this turn of events. I worked the bar and by 11:30 we got a moderate crowd, but far, far, less than I was expecting. A few drinks and shots later, by 1am, oh boy - was I ready to cook. Eggs? Bacon? No problem! Tom looks at his watch, turns to me, and says "Lets go!" Then heads into the kitchen.

I get into the kitchen and realize two things - One, I don't know how to operate this kicthen and two - I don't know where anything is. As luck would have it, the day shift cook left the grill, burner, broiler and deep fryer on. So everything was warmed up and ready to go. I started rooting around the freezer and found fries and chicken fingers. Tom had boiled chicken wings, cooked hash potatoes and sausage & peppers ready before the night began. I grabbed a few wings and saw my new favorite friend.

The Deep Frier.

Wow, these things were fun. You see how they do it at McDonalds - add fries, drop into the oil, wait a few minutes and BAM - you have some fried goodness on your plate.

I was like Mr. Fry Guy. I can see how McDonalds can stick a 16 year old on these machines and not expect even them to fuck it up. Billy and I were in the kitchen frying wings and he starts to make frittatas - eggs, the potato hash, cheese, fresh tomatoes...Billy was el fuego with that stuff. We turned on the music to the latino station and had some fun with this meng. I would slam the bell in the kitchen when I was ready to have someone pick up food. Plus we would have a few drinks to boot while we cooked.

I found out that people who were LOADED really liked fried food and I was getting a lot of demand for my stuff and from what I was told, it was delicious.

What did I do? Dip the wings in hot oil until they turned brown, added the pre-mixed sauce and made sure I took full credit for my cooking skills. It was sort of fun and sort of work at the same time. By 1am we had like 35-40 people in the bar and Chris could work it by himself while I played chef.

By 2:30, after the crowd chowed down on the food, and I sampled my own gut busting goodness. I was very sleepy. Everyone needed to go home (at least in my own mind). To my chagrin, we were open until 5am on New Years, a special little provision for that night only. They were the longest 3 and a half hours of my life. But I got through it and I was now trained as a backup fry guy.

In the end, it was certainly not what I was expecting for my first time bartending on New Year's Eve. I didn't make as much as I hoped, but interestingly enough, it was more than I expected with our small crowd. Big props to the Eagles club guys who showed up. They all know that they owe me one because they all hooked up with 3 of those cute single girls that showed up. Of course it helps that I was throwing cheap booze down their gullets. Heh.

Aside from New Years, i'm next planning a birthday bash. Yes. I will be 34 in about a month, and hope to hit up some unsuspecting bar in NYC for some drunken goodness.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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