September 2006 Archives

Mr. Ultimate Philadelphia Sportsfan

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This is a must-listen to any Philadelphia fan, absolutely hilarious:

http://www.wmmr.com/upload/jaxon/budlight1.mp3

Thanks to Mel for the email!

Arts Festival 2006

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Another year, another Arts Festival. This one was different in which a "real" band was booked (We love you Nancy Sinatra, really), The New York Dolls. Some may say that maybe if this were 1980, it would be more of a buzz, but if you ask me, they sounded fantastic on Sunday. After listening to them today, i'm definitely going to buy their CD. Some cool shots I got of the band, the naked cowboy and some other things that caught my eye:

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I just wish that Hoboken would bring more HOBOKEN BANDS into the music festival. Just set up one stage for local talent, is that asking too much? I know plenty of bands that get denied each year to play by the powers that be. Very annoying.

All Layla, All The Time

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Dog. Laser Pointer. Friday Night. Picture Time.

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Need I say more?

Tivo Series 3

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If you haven't read the news, the new Tivo Series 3 was launched on September 12th.

What's so different about the Series 3? Well, it can record in HD, for one.
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If you have been keeping up with my blog, you will know that I got a new Panasonic plasma TV a few months ago. When I got the HDTV I was seriously excited and 85% of my TV viewing is just watching the HD channels. Occasionally I will slum it and go back to "regular tv", like record "The Alternative" on VH-1, which is an hour's worth of New Wave videos from the 80's and early 90's. Love that show.

Anyhow. My old Tivo, the Series 2, I connected to the plasma and it worked...sort of. The HD picture was smaller when I watched TV through the Tivo, since the Tivo couldn't support the higher resolution. "Regular", or 480i, TV was ok, but its like listening to a record versus a CD.

One of the abilities I really liked was that the Series 3 has two tuners. So, I could record a show on one tuner, which uses a cablecard, and watch another show on another tuner. With the Series 2 - you were stuck watching a show while it recorded. I also liked the fact that I could transfer my "lifetime membership" from my old Series 2 to the new Series 3. The "lifetime membership" transfer is listed here. It does cost $199 to transfer, which sucks, but paying $13 a month for the service, it's a simple question of "WIll I be using a Tivo for more than 15 months?" Considering I had my Series 2 for 3 years, I would say that is a big fat "Yes".

The Series 3 has some serious downsides. First is price. At $800, this was a serious dent in my plans when i'm trying to "save" money. In the last 6 months I bought a plasma TV, a new Canon camera and now a $800 Tivo. Maybe I should shut up about my PSE&G problem, if i'm single handedly trying to jump start the US economy. Second, you can't order Pay-Per-View or Video on Demand through the Tivo. That sort of sucks, but since I have my old Series 2 (which has an internal DVD burner), I can just order it on the common room TV, burn it to a DVD and watch it upstairs. Third problem is that Tivo-To-Go is disabled (for now), so I couldn't take anything that the Series 3 records and put it on an iPod, or other device to watch. From what I understand, this might be available in the future.

The way I see it is that I don't have many expensive hobbies (I only golfed 5 times this summer), and the new TV season is starting this week, i'm fairly good at being frugal in other areas of my life and I do work a second job bartending (by the way, Mikie's was so packed last Saturday that we had a line at the door. It was a good night for me!). With shows like "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy", and countless others that I want to watch, along with hitting the gym 3 times a week and there are lots of nights that i'm simply not home - I need this to make sure I don't miss my favorite shows.

Yes, I have issues.

I have a technician from Cablevision coming on Tuesday morning to connect and configure my cable cards. I plan on doing a write up next week on "How To Install A Tivo Series 3 In Hoboken". I disconnected my old cable box and connected up the Series 3 last night, and it only recognizes the "regular" TV, and won't display any channel past 100 right now. I'll probably just suck it up and wait until Tuesday, I just don't feel like reconnecting everything again. Planning on taking my old Series 2 and using it on the common room TV, since it isn't HD.

Gizmodo has a cool review of the Series 3 here, which you can read to see what else it offers.

Rita's 400th Store Opens In Hoboken

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Last night I was walking uptown on Washington Street, when I saw a familiar face. It was the red and white striped awning of a Rita's, serving their famous Italian Water Ices, Gelati and Custard.

If you aren't familiar with Rita's, let me introduce you. It was founded in 1984, by the Tumolo family in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Bob Tumolo used his mother's recipie, to create a smooth and delicious "Italian Ice" (Or as those in Philly call it "Italian Water Ice". "Italian Ice" is a fruit flavored frozen treat, made with slushy water, real fruit and fruit flavoring. It was a huge hit around the Philadelphia and South Jersey area, and Rita's expanded their operations until they eventually franchised their name and were bought out by Pittsburgh-based McKnight Capital Partners in May 2005.091906b.JPG

Today, Hoboken gets the 400th store in their chain, owned by brother and sister, Shereef and Laila Hammad. I met with them both last night and we talked for a good 30 minutes about their store and their excitement to be part of the Hoboken community.

Part of that excitement includes a Grand Opening Celebration on Wednesday, September 20th. The CEO of McKnight Capital Partners is arriving to kick off the opening, along with Mayor David Roberts and the store is hosting an Italian Ice Eating Contest at 11:30am! There will be 400 free Rita's shirts given out, along with 400 free Regular sized Italian ices.

Shereef and I talked about Hoboken411's article about Rita's about a week ago. I asked him about the high costs of renting on Washington street and would this be a major obstacle in his store making a profit. He said that certainly the costs are a concern, but he and his sister have many years of experience in operating their mother's Rita's store, and know exactly what they are getting into. He feels that his experience will be the difference in making this a successful venture.

Rita's is more than just water ice. They have old-fashioned frozen custard, which is so amazingly sinful and delicious. Try the frozen custard. Then try any ice cream store on Washington street. You will absolutely see how Rita's is so delicatable. Want the best of both worlds? They also have "Gelati", where they alternate layers of Italian ice and their custard and create a tasty frozen dessert. Maybe in the mood for a cool shake? They make "Misto Shakes" which is a blend of vanilla or chocolate frozen custard and your choice of Rita's Italian Ice or Cream Ice. Oh, what's "Cream Ice"? For those with lactose intolerance, this might be the treat for you. They use a non-dairy creamer to make a tasty treat "without that heavy feeling". Plus, they have a sugar-free Italan ice on the menu for those looking to moderate their caloric intake. They also have soft pretzels and bottled water, along with Rita's Squeezers - a 6 pack mixture of of the italian ice (Cherry or Mango) and creamy vanilla customer swirled together in a easy to eat package.

Shereef and Laila were interested to hear that I was from Philadelphia, and they expressed shock about how many Hobokenites weren't familar with their brand. I told them that was the same shock I had when I moved to Hoboken when people didn't know what a "Tastykake" or a "Hoagie" or a "Yuengling" were. Only over the last decade have Philadelphia-based foods and drinks have made inroads to Northern Jersey. There are a lot of ex-pat Philly natives around here who are very familiar with Rita's, but they certainly want to get the word out to those who aren't familiar with their product. I watched over the night as Shereef and Laila explained to each new customer their menu, and offering free samples to people. 091906a.JPG

I joked with Shereef that it was like the old anti-drug commerical from the 80's. "At first you give it our for free, and then they come back to buy more." We both laughed about that, because we know that once Hobokenites start getting hooked on this they will love it much like many Philadelphia natives loved growing up eating it, too.

If you haven't tried it, why not go down to the store today? It is located on 121 Washington Street, 201-880-1767. You can email them at ritas.hoboken@gmail.com.

I sat down at Mulligan's bar, ready for a good football game on Sunday. We had a decent, crowd of about 40 people at the bar. I didn't expect a tremendous showing since the game was on national TV and a few of our friends would be going to the home game.

In walks an older couple, who look to both be in their 50's. They walk around the bar a bit, and seem a bit out of place. I ask, "Are you Eagle fans?"

The gentleman scrunches up his face and makes a "Psstch" sound, like air blown out of a tire. "Eagles? No way! Giants!"

I jokingly tell him and his girlfriend that they are in the wrong bar, that this is the Eagles bar.

They basically pooh-poohed my suggestion to change bars and they seemed harmless. Of course they sit down at the bar right next to me, and are mostly very nice to everyone around the bar, so i'm thinking its no big deal. They cheer a bit when the Giants do good but also come off as not very knowledgable about the Giants. They know about four players - Shockey, Manning, Barber, and Strahan. They are homers, born and raised in New Jersey. They didn't know much about the Eagles. They asked me about some of the players and we joked a bit with each other during the first half.

They asked me about the Eagles fans and I went to tell them how the football is more than just a game to the fans. Its a sense of identification. Around here people enjoy football, but its not the game for a Philly fan. We love football much like Yankee fans love baseball. Losing a game is not just watching a team lose, but can sour the mood for most fans for days. Winning a game can be like a natural high. Compound that with living in Hoboken and working in New York City - any time we play any New York team we really want to win. They are interested about what I have to say, we talk a bit more and one Eagle fan remarked next to me, "They seem nice enough." I reply back, "Yea, that's because we are winning the game."

The bar is having a great time for the better part of the game. The Eagles looking great, we are cheering with every score, and doing our normal chanting and singing. Its the Eagles bar, I explain to the Giants fans, we come here as an oasis from the other bars in town. We celebrate in our victories and console in our losses.

The fourth quarter arrives and the game slowly starts to change. Our once dominate team looks like a deer caught in headlights. My once quiet Giant fans become rambunctions and loud. I can feel my blood start to boil, and i'm just watching the game get from bad to worse. I listen to their comments next to me, and its simply irritating. If I wanted to be next to Giant fans I could choose about 57 other bars in Hoboken. I get enough grief listening to every co-worker come up to me with a jab about Eagles football during the week.

The game goes into overtime and the couple next to me are drunk and happy with glee. The fans in the bar are subdued, but not quiet. We can feel another monumental collapse coming. When you are a Philly fan, you can see these things coming. Someone commented to me in overtime that I looked like I was angry. Hell yes, I was angry. Not only was my team losing, but I have to sit next to two Giant fans for the entire game.

The game ends with the Giants beating the Eagles in overtime, after coming back from 21 points down. The Giant fans are cheering, clapping and making obnoxious hoots and hollers. It was only the two of them. The other assorted 40 people are Eagle fans. The Eagles fans are quiet and saying their goodbyes to each other and the two Giants fans still continue clapping and high fiving - for a long enough period of time that it starts to go from them being happy to them being obnoxious. I had few drinks in me by the end of the game, and simply couldn't stand listening to it anymore. I turn to them and say, "OK, you had your fun, now get the fuck out of the bar."

They both are wide eyed with shock and their jaws drop open in mute surprise.

I can't say this was my finest moment, but I was upset not only for me, but also for the other Eagle fans who had to listen to these two nimrods.

I continue my rant with the vitriol of anyone who sat in the 700 Level, "This is an Eagles bar. You wanna watch the Giants game? Go to another fucking bar. You got your win, congrats, just don't sit here and rub it in our faces. Everyone here are Eagle fans, I told you that when you sat down and still wanted to watch the game here.", I gestured to everyone around the room, "You had to watch the game HERE. You couldn't go to the room on the other side of the bar or another bar in town. No, you HAD to watch it amongst the Eagle fans and when you won - you had to whoop it up and make us all feel lousy even after we feel bad enough for losing the game."

The woman shot back, "Oh, you are just a sore loser."

I reply, "Nah, that's not it. I take my wins and leave it at that. There is a fine line between good natured heckling and rubbing it in someone's face. You are simply throwing salt on our wound and enjoying it."

She countered, "The rest of you were clapping and cheering earlier, when the Giants were losing, how is this different?"

I replied, "This is the EAGLES BAR. I told you that when you sat down. Everyone here is an Eagles fan except for you two. We come to one bar for that reason, it is a haven from the rest of the rude and obnoxious Giant fans."

The manager of the bar, Jim, who was bartending, and incidently a Jets fan, was watching this had come around before I started my tirade. He approached us both and put his hand on her shoulder, saying that he agreed with me. He said that he also felt that they crossed the line from cheering to making the people there feel bad over the loss. I'm guessing that Mulligan's may have some experience in passionate fans having to nurse a loss amongst opposing fans. I thanked Jim and ended my conversation with the two Giant fans, turning my attention to saying good-bye to friends and watching the closing interviews on the TV.

I'm not proud about what I said to them, I might have been a bit rougher in the wake of the loss. But I do write, warts and all, what happened. I know that some people are going to read this and not understand how someone can get so upset "over just a game". I think the only people who could understand are people from Philadelphia or true Boston Red Sox fans. It was a bitter, ugly defeat. It's not like we are talking about a loss to the Bengals. It was the Giants. At Philadelphia. After a game where for the first 3 quarters we looked like a Super Bowl team. The Eagles sacked Eli Manning 8 times. I was already looking foward to going to work for that week. It was going to be great to read perrenial nay-sayers about the Eagles, like Cris Collinsworth and Deion Sanders, have to praise our Birds. I could already see us being 4-0 and headed to the Dallas game with a chip on our shoulder.

Now we are 1-1. Could we afford losing? Sure. I don't know if we could afford such a disasterous loss, however. It was a demoralizing defeat, but also a good lesson learned. When you have your foot on the enemy's throat, you have got to put him away.

Another lesson learned?

Never watch the game with strangers who are opposing fans again.

PSE&G Settlement

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Well the drama appears to be ending soon.

A manager from PSE&G called me on Friday night and we talked for a bit. I told him my tale of woe, about how I lived in the building for many years and had many different roommates. He was sympathetic, but there was only so far that he could reduce my liability.

If you remember, the first offer reduce my liability 10 months, to 73, which was about $1,000 off my bill. Now, they are going to reduce our liability from 83 months to 55 months, or $8,300 to $5,500, since we owed about $100 per month on average.

I feel like its a game show. Do I take their offer now or risk taking it to court? The judge could rule in my favor or with PSE&G. If they rule in PSE&G's favor - then I owe the whole bundle. If they rule in my favor, well, who knows what I would owe.

I have talked to a ton of people about this, even people in the electric industry. Those working in the industry told me that I should never expect the entire amount to just go away. I was hoping I could get it reduced to 1/3 of what I owe, and they said at best it could be reduced to $4,000 or so.

I am probably going to go with the deal that was offered. It isn't great, but at least my current roommates, Kristen and Jon said they would pay me back, which is about $1,000. I'm going to at least ask those that lived with me to pay me the money they owe (the amount of months living there multipled by $33.33).

Of the $4,500 left, I figured that I, myself, did owe $1,833. So i'm paying about $2,667 for old roommates, those that lived with me from October 2005 to March 2001.

It's not a perfect situation, but I fought it and looking at it optimistically, I saved myself and others $2,800 in liability.

2006 Week 1: Eagles at Houston

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New Eagles team.

New Eagles bar.

New and old Eagles fans.
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Week 1 was both nervewracking and exciting, with the anticpation of so many things for me. Some of my thoughts about the Eagles: How will the Eagles respond without T.O.? Will Andy Reid shake off the losses of last season with an opening victory? How will McNabb look after his surgery? Will Buckhalter be healthy to make a difference?

I also had some misgivings about my Eagles club. Will people show up to the first game at the new bar? Will everything go smoothly? Will everyone be happy?

I can say that my fears were allayed by halftime, when it appeared that everything was moving along just fine, both with the Eagles team and our club here in Hoboken. I did an informal head-count during halftime and I counted 70 fans on our side of the bar. I was especially happy with this because it was a locally televised game, and I know some people would stay home rather than go to a bar to watch the game. Next time we do a group picture I will make sure we make an announcement a bit louder to get people who were on the other side of the bar into the picture, too.

Paul, Jim and Sara at Mulligan's were extremely accomodating to us, and a special thanks to them for their hard work.

Also a big thanks to Steve Galletta, the sales representative of Anheuser-Busch, who connected us with Mulligan's. We had the Bud-Light girls on hand this weekend giving out two footballs in a raffle to the Eagles fans at the bar. Remember that every Eagle game, Mulligan's has buckets of Bud Light beer, 4 for $10, and drafts of Bud Light for $2, pitchers of Bud Light for $9, along with other specials for our fans.

I hope to see everyone next weekend, when it is Giants vs Eagles. It was great to see some old faces and meet some new people this weekend. If I don't know you, please don't be a stranger and come up and say hello.
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You can see all the photos here:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=ya2ohxq.2z0dfs3a&x=0&y=nbaqv7

Oh, I spoke to Paul. He expects to have more seating in the forthcoming weeks.

New Camera

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I pulled the trigger and bought a new camera. Considering i'm still waiting on the PSE&G review, maybe not the brightest idea. But I wanted a new toy to play with.

My old camera was a Canon D500, which was compact and did a good job for basic stuff. It wasn't very good in low light settings. IMG_9805a.jpg
During the day time it took crisp, clear pictures. I wanted a camera for special events. Like weddings, parties and the Eagles club. I'm really looking forward to trying different things with this camera.

I have some experience with photography. At Villanova, I worked on the school newspaper. One, I really liked learning how to develop film, taking artistic pictures and it also was a fun hobby. Two, the editor of the school newspaper was named Tanya. She was on the soccer team, and just had head-turning good looks. I didn't get to know her at all, but I would look forward to turning in my photos every week just to see her.

I took some pictures on Sunday, around dusk of some interesting architecture. Some shots, like the paint peeled cross and the laundrymat I thought turned out great, if I do say so myself. You can see all the photos here.

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