December 2007 Archives

Amateur Night: New Years Eve

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Well it's upon us again.

New Years Eve.

It is a hyped holiday that never lives up to the promise. For years I would always do the same thing: Go to my local pub, see my mates and have a few drinks. Midnight comes. Midnight goes. I go home.

Well, here's a New Years Eve story that will make you laugh at my misfortune.

I honestly don't remember the year. I'm thinking it was New Years Eve 2003. It was the first time I was dating Lisa, and we were about 5 weeks into dating...the relationship stage in between dating and being exclusive.

For the backstory on Lisa, she was someone I met through a mutual friend. She was six feet tall (yes, she played basketball in college), blonde, with a body that would turn heads as soon as she walks in a room. She was smart, worked for a global investment banking and securities firm, and 25 years old (while I was a few years older). On paper she was perfect, but the bottom line is that we didn't have that "right chemistry". We didn't have common "mundane" interests. Sure, we had the same outlook on life, but she was "Sex In The City" and I was "The Matrix". She was the kind of girl that loved to get dressed up and go dancing and I was the kind of guy that liked to play darts in a dive bar. Our conversations were, for me, a bit forced. You know when you just are with someone where you can talk for hours about anything - I just didn't have that with her.

At the time, however, I was psyched to be dating her. Who wouldn't?

She suggested that for New Years Eve 2003 we go to a trendy club, to celebrate. It would cost $125 for an open bar and hang out with some of her friends.

It sounded fun. It would be my first REAL New Years Eve party, rather than just going solo to a bar with friends. I'd get to spend it with someone special, and in the city, dressed to the nines (which, I don't mind every once in a while) and having a blast.

Well, that was the idea.

We started off with a house party on the West Side. It was Lisa, her two roommates, her sister and her friends. Our relationship was still a "new thing" so I small talked with her friends, but the party was a bit of a drag. It was about twelve people, standing in a one bedroom apartment, with wine glasses and some chips and dip, with music playing from a boombox. Eventually, we headed down to the club around 10pm, running late because when ever you try to organize something with more than four people, you always run late.

We get to the trendy club, which had the whole bouncers, velvet rope and guest list. We signed up early, but still had to wait in line for a good 15 minutes, because a big crowd formed outside. We get inside after a bit of a wait in the cold, and the place is jammed with people three deep to the bar, and we can't find a place to sit, so we stand off in the corner.

I get our drinks, and it's more small talking and not much dancing because the music sucks and the vibe of the club isn't fun. It's just loud music, with no one dancing, and sipping their drinks, with a large ring of people surrounding the open bar trying to get their drinks...fast.

Time progresses. We drink. Chit-chat. I'm hoping it will get better, but it's not. Just feels like a night out in a place that I don't regularly hangout at with people I don't really know, with a girl that i'm digging, but i'm competing for time to talk to her with her friends. Lisa is definitely the center of attention and a big fan of these trendy kind of places. I forgive her, because almost every girl at 22 to 26 years old who moves up to New York City gets into that "Sex In The City" mentality with needing to go to the "It" places.

I continue to drink, get drunk, and midnight comes fast - I kiss Lisa when the ball dropped and that was the highlight of the my night.

Drink, drink, drink. Trying to get my $125 dollars worth. It's around 1am, and the bar is still somewhat full. The bar area was on the other side of the club, away from where we were standing, and I went for another round.

I got the drinks, and i'm holding them in both hands. Even as a big guy, i'm usually very polite about getting past people. I always say "Excuse me" or "Pardon Me" and 90% of the time I get a glowering look from the person like i'm the bad guy for being nice. While I was walking back to Lisa and her friends, I try to manuver around some people who are at a table. Some are standing and and some are sitting. One of them doesn't move, and he trips me. I fall face forward, both hands holding drinks into a glass table. Fun.

The glass table shattered, and sent the candles on top of it flying with hot candle wax, glass pint glasses & broken tabletop glass spraying all over me and some other people.

Somehow i'm ok and get up, yelling at up the guy who tripped me up. The bouncers are there before I can get four words out. The guy protests and yells back at the the bouncers. The bouncers see me in my sad state, and toss the other guy out of the bar.

Candle wax in my hair, my goatee, my pants are soaked from beer on the floor mixed with cigarette butts. I'm completely embarassed and my only saving grace is that my new girlfriend didn't get to witness this. I get another round and go to the bathroom to wash up. I notice that my hand has a small cut from the glass, and I even see some shards of glass in my hair. I brush them out and return back to the party, not bothering to mention what happened, out of embarrassment. It was 2 or 3am and i'm really hating this place.

Some dancing goes on, and I try to get into it, but i'm just not. Lisa and I leave around 4am, taking a taxi back to Hoboken. We were so drunk that by the time we got back home we just passed out in bed together.

I learned that for the "Amateur Nights" (New Years Eve, St. Patrick's Day) I prefer a pub with a dartboard (or pool table), playing good music and my friends.

That's the problem, I guess. It was a night that I was with her - and her friends. Her with me and my friends. One of my many faults is that I hate being in a situation where I feel out of place. I like going to my same old bars, because I like knowing the bartenders there, the regulars and feeling like it's a second home. In the right circumstances I like trying new places, but for something like New Years Eve, my advice for people who feel the same way as me is to just do something local, with friends, at a place that you normally haunt. You will be much happier.

As for Lisa, we broke up a few weeks after that night. We dated again. We broke up again. She met a new beau (the next guy that she dated after me, actually), married him and moved to San Francisco.

icanhascheezburger.com

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funny pictures
moar funny pictures

These crack me up. Happy Holidays!

Maybe Things Happen For A Reason

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It was another night at the bar, another slow night, where we did what we had to do, and finished early. I did my sidework, cleaning glasses and wiping down the counter. I counted my tips which were meager, but considering it was a slow night a few days before Christmas, I was happy to have the extra money.

I checked the time, and it was half past one in the morning. I had another thirty minutes to possibly go to another bar, and see old friends.

I thought about two friends I didn't see in a long time, Brendan and Claire. In my years, my early years, these were two old friends that I had stories that have been lost over time and many a drink to the point that even trying to write about it now would be a futile effort. Suffice to say they were very good friends that were sadly lost to the rift that developed when the story of Tori and Jim ended.

Jim and I ran into each other a few weeks back. We talked. Said things that should have been said long ago. We knew things could never be the same again, but also accepted that we should move past what happened. I knew in my heart that it was a simple issue, really.

Every relationship is based on trust. I don't care if it's your family or your wife or your boyfriend or your dog walker. Trust is the foundation to everything. Once that trust is lost, well, its like a cracked foundation. Sure, you can repair the foundation, but that crack is still there.

As much as Jim and I said our words, tried to move past what happened, that crack - the rift - is still there. I will never really feel comfortable again unless he and I rebuilt our friendship. For now, we are cordial, and there's no anonymisty between us at all. If anything its the people that surround us that make this more of an issue than we feel ourselves.

With that being said, I thought about going to the local pub to see if Brendan and Clare were there. Even with Jim bartending I figured we patched things up and it would be ok...but I decided against going there and went down to Moran's.

On my way walking there, I see a gang of seven people walking towards me on Garden Street. I hear someone bellow, "Sean!!!!"

Lo and behold it is Brendan himself. Along with him is Claire, Muhammad and a few of their friends. I'm surprised, and happy to see them. They were at Moran's and were headed to the local pub. They grabbed me by the arm, spun me around and led me back to Washington Street, insisting to join them for a pint.

We get to the old local pub and it being a slow night, they called their last call. We turned around, went to Moran's and had a drink there.

We ordered a round, and settled into Moran's, which had a lively crowd for a night that was slow at other pubs. Brendan and I make some small talk, asking about our jobs and what-not when he says, "Where have you been? You don't lump me into that whole Jim situation, do you? He's my best friend, but I still think you are great, I hope you don't think that I never liked you. I always did, you are one of the funniest people I know."

It's funny how complicated things can get in Hoboken.

Jim and Brendan were best friends. Before Jim and I had our "rift" with Tori, it used to be that on any given night that Brendan, Claire and other "regulars" at the local pub would spend hours together every Thursday, Friday or Saturday. It all fell apart, and the local pub that I once considered myself welcome became a place that i'd avoid to keep the status quo amiciable.

After talking to Brendan and Claire for a bit, and realizing that it has been far too long that we have been away from each other, we wrote down phone numbers and said that we should go out sometime with each other.

Maybe it was the Christmas spirit....or some other spirits...but I felt good that night. It felt good that I just happened to run into them on the street on the same night that I was thinking about going to the local pub to see them. Maybe things happen for a reason, sometimes.

Eagles Christmas Wish List For 2008

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If you asked me in August how I thought the Eagles would do this year, I was thinking 11-5. The NFC was weak, and our team was stacked with good players, and our only question mark was WR.

Turns out that question mark should have been a huge exclamation point.

Bottom line is that I may be an Eagles fan, but I don't think I view the team as a homer. The Eagles have issues, and in no particular order, here is my "Christmas Wish List for 2008":

1. Need a playmaker WR. Owens & Stallworth proved that we need someone explosive at WR. The old adage that the West Coast Offense is fine with average WRs, is bullshit. The Eagles playbook is based on big plays, especially early in the game. Either through free agency or the draft this has got to be a priority.

2. LJ Smith had his shot, and Brent Celek is the future. Not really a wish, except i'm hoping i'm right about what I see from Celek.

3. I'd like to see Donovan get another year at QB. Far too many Donovan haters in the world will be eating their words when we run another star out of Philadelphia and he does better on another team. Too many angry "armchair coaches" Eagles fans are our own worst enemy.

4. In the draft, here's my first three picks if I'm the Eagles (in no particular order, but based on quality):

4a: WR: We took a shot on Freddie "Fred-Ex" Mitchell, and lost big time. We have to take another shot, even if it means trading up.

4b: TE: LJ Smith is a bust. Look around the league and see how many great TEs make a team much better (Jason Whitten, Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark). We simply don't have that, so if our WRs are average, and we don't have a go-to TE - then who gets the ball? Westbrook.

4c: S/CB: Dawk still had a good year, but we have to start grooming a sucessor. If anyone thinks Sean Constandine is the future they are on crack. I like Lito and think Sheldon is ok. Otherwise, who is in our secondary that is scaring anyone? Who do we have in nickel and dime packages? A bunch of scrubs. We severely need help in our secondary.

Aside from those three, we certainly need more depth on our offensive line and defensive lines, but I feel that those can wait for later round picks.

5. Don't fire Andy Reid. Philadelphia needs a coach like Andy. He's a coach that doesn't say much and takes his lumps. We can't use a firebrand coach that stirs the media and the fans. He is the perfect coach for Philly, and I think with the right tools the offense clicks. I'd give Andy two more years to turn things around before thinking about firing him.

6. Get McNabb into a time-management class. It goes like this when you have to go 90 yards and have no timeouts: Pass for 15 yards in the middle, run up and spike the ball. Pass for another 20 yards, run up and spike the ball. Screen pass to Westbrook for 12 yards, run up and spike the ball. Get the idea, Donny? Don't run up, look around, call an audible, wait some more, run a play and then blow 25 seconds off the clock doing this. You have 4 downs to get 10 yards, just spike the ball every time you get a first down.

7. My last wish for Christmas is simply that Dallas doesn't even make it to the Super Bowl. I'll take any team, even the lowly Giants, to go into the Super Bowl over Dallas. If Dallas makes it to the Super Bowl, I will switch conferences and root for any AFC team to win - including the Pats, who I think are slime.

Searching For Scotch Whisky Online

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Over the last year I have started to experiment with single malt Scotches. It started last year when at Mikie Squared they got a bottle of Macallan 12 year old. The owner handed me a glass, asking what I thought. It was smooth, a bit smokey and I liked it more after I cut it with a few ice cubes.

Later, Mike got a bottle of Johnny Walker: Blue for the bar. Very different than what i'm used to from other blended scotches, and very enjoyable. Don't know how often i'd be ordering that at $25 a glass. We got an Oban, a Lagavulin and The Glenlivet which I had a chance to sample. Sometimes more than once.

Eventually, to make sure Mikie's didn't go bankrupt, I wanted to buy my own bottle, but wasn't sure which to buy. Single malt or blended scotches can be expensive, especially the better ones, and I saw prices from $39 for The Macallan to $140 for Johnny Walker Blue at the local liquor stores. 121207a.jpgI knew a little bit about some of the bigger name whiskys (Glenlivet, Glenmorangie) but also knew that whisky can vary greatly - much like wine. I didn't want to get stuck buying an expensive bottle of whisky and not like it, and I didn't want to buy a inferior quality scotch because I wanted to save money. I decided to buy Johnny Walker Green, figuring that a blend of single malts would be the way to go. It cost me about $80 from a local liquor store.

I first tried a glass neat. I tried one with a splash of water. Then another glass with ice. I enjoyed the Johnny Walker Green, but it wasn't that great, and for $80 a bottle, I was expecting more. I drank a glass from time to time over the last year, and also bought a no-name Scotch whisky for about $35, which was so-so. Last Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law brought over a 12 year old Glenmorangie (Sherry Cask) for Thanksgiving and we popped it open after gorging ourselves on turkey. I really liked it a lot, with a bit of ice, and when I got home I went to a local liquor store and purchased one for myself. It cost $57.99, and finished it in about 10 days. I bought a second bottle, and while at the store, looked at the various other scotches.

Like wine, I love to try new brands, and most of my wine I buy is from $10-30 a bottle. So even if I were to buy a $30 bottle of wine that I didn't like, it wasn't a big deal. Buying scotch, on the other hand, can be an expensive endeavor and the better single malts I saw on the shelf at the store cost from $50-150.

Then I thought about how I always scour the internet for the lowest price on electronics, why couldn't I just do the same for scotch?

So I did a bit of searching and was frankly amazed. I used the following websites:

I refrained from saying which liquor store in Hoboken I compared prices, but i'm sure you can easily figure out who i'm talking about. You should also be aware that there are a few disadvantages buying liquor online:

1. There are shipping charges. Whatever money you save can easily be lost if shipping is expensive.
2. You have to have someone sign for delivery. They won't leave it on your doorstep or send to a P.O. Box.
3. There's a convience that a brick and mortar store has over using a website. Also lots of better stores have knowledgable employees that can steer you in the right direction if you aren't sure which to choose. Using a website is better for someone who knows what they want, and doesn't need it right away.

Also note that i'm writing this as of December 12th 2007. So, the prices & availibility are subject to change.

I researched the following scotches, along with their age, and their region:

After the jump, I list the results of what I found from each website.

Thinking Of Making A New (Furry) Friend

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So, i'm past that "new house" phase.

The condo is great, I really like being a homeowner, even with the increased headaches. Like the other day, a water heater broke on the 4th floor, and i'm on the 3rd. Water was everywhere. The management called me at work, and told me that my apartment "may be flooded". I ran home from work, and found that I had some water damage, but it wasn't as bad as my imagination let me believe. On another day, my closet door decided to seperate from the joint, so I need to stop by Home Depot and get some glue to fix that.

So things are chugging along. I'd like to try to cook more, but often I find that i'm eating out more. I bought a new book "The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook", which so far has been outstanding. Lots of pictures, very easy instructions and straightforward.

I have also noticed that after living with roommates for the last 12 years that i'm....

...hold on, need to check a thesaurus to get the right word here...

More "isolated". I didn't want to use "lonely", because I don't feel lonely. That conveys a sort of sadness, and i'm not sad. I just miss having friends when I get home from work to chat with, or little Layla to roughhouse.

I have grown used to the idea that i'd come home and see someone. I have had mostly good roommates and some bad apples. But I miss the interaction. I'm more isolated now, in my apartment it's just me and my PC and TV to keep me company.

I thought about it a bit, and i'm considering making a new friend. A new furry friend. A puppy.
121007a.jpg
I know that somewhere out there a red headed reader just rolled her eyes at that last sentence, but it's true. I think that dogs, some dogs, not all dogs, are good to have in Hoboken, if you have the right living situation.

I feel bad for those dogs which are cooped up all day by owners who don't pay them any attention. The owners treat their dogs like an object, and buy a dog based on a whim. They don't think about how the dog will like living in an apartment, without a yard, or without an owner who doesn't exercise the dog enough.

Which is why i'm considering it, and trying to look at all the angles to make sure if it is right for me and if my situation is fair for a dog.

My first thought was "What kind of dog should I get?"

Well, I had to think about who *I* am, my lifestyle, and my home and the kind of dog for it.

Getting a "high energy" dog would be a bad idea, in my opinion. I don't want to get a dog that needs to be outside all the time, like a Australian Border Collie. I think they are great dogs, and very smart, but not right for my situation. I also grew up with an Afgan Hound named Leia. Leia was a very gentle and kind dog, but we called her "The Living Rug". She would lie around all day, eat, shit and go back to sleep. She didn't do any real "dog" like things - fetch, play or even show excitement. She was one aloof dog. Maybe she was just a really big fluffy cat and I didn't know it. Anyhow, I don't want a dog that is just....there. I'd like a dog that has a good personality.

Then I thought of "Me" and what I like - I like being more inside my condo. Watching TV, playing video games (can you believe i'm still single ladies - wow) and I do like going outside, but I can't say i'm out rock climbing each weekend.121007b.jpg

I kind of need a dog that fits those two ideas: 1) Don't have a big house or yard, 2) Low to mid-energy, 3) Doesn't mind if I make him wear things like a Philadelphia Eagles dog collar or dog sized jersey, 4) Isn't a extremely small dog, because i'm not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that) and i'm kind of a tall guy and it would look strange if me and my Chihuahua were hanging out.

My favorite dog is a Boxer. I have liked them since I was a child, and always wanted to own one. The one negative thought is that I really wonder if a Boxer is an "apartment dog". I spoke to other owners in town who swear by their Boxers and say that they are a great pet, even for Hoboken. I feel like a Boxer is a more mid-energy dog and i'm thinking that if I had a house in the suburbs, it may be a better fit.

The next one i'm interested in is an English Bulldog. They have a low energy level, love apartments. Fit my kind of lifestyle. Only issue is that they snore, slobber and are gassy. It would be like I invited the dog version of my brother to live with me. Also I heard that bulldogs are a bit high maintence, like cleaning their facial folds every other week to prevent infection. I like the Bulldogs, and if I found a good litter, I may consider it.

The last one is a French Bulldog. 121007c.jpgI think they are just adorable, with their bat ears and small, compact frame. From what I understand, they have a great temperment, if a bit stubborn, and also they can be extremely expensive to own because of problematic health issues.

I mentioned this idea to a friend and they mentioned about using the ASCPA or a "dog rescue". I think this is a fine solution for the right home. My sisters have adopted dogs, and I think in the future i'd look into this. Just isn't a consideration right now, because of my living situation. I really am interested in a specific breed of dog, and also interested in getting a purebred puppy that I can train from the start, rather than someone else's dog. I certainly think that rescuing a dog is a noble cause, like Oscar from Hoboken411! Adoption just isn't part of my plan right now.

Again, i'm just thinking of it. Much like any big decision, I try analyze it from all angles. My main concerns about getting a dog right now are the following:

1. I have to recognize that i'm nearly 36 and this is a friend i'll have with me for the next 8-15 years (depending on breed). Sure, right now i'm single and in an apartment...does that change in the next 3 to 6 years? Who knows?

2. I lose a slice of independence. I have a new family member that will depend upon me to walk them, feed them and be there. I dread the idea of walking up every morning for a walk, since i'm NOT a morning person. Others have told me that they simply have gotten used to the routine of dog walking.

3. I'm kind-of-sort-of trying to save money. Dogs can be expensive. My financial situation has stabilized (thanks to a bonus from Corporation X in October), and i'm trying to knock out some bills (PSE&G, mortgage, etc). None of those issues are "urgent". I keep thinking that maybe I should wait another year or two, but then keep thinking that it would be one or two years that I was without a puppy. I'm trying to balance those thoughts.

In the end I don't know a lot of dog owners that regret owning a dog. They bring a lot of love, fun and merriment into people's lives. Kristen remarked to me, "It's funny - it is hard to remember what my life was like when I didn't have Layla in it. I love her so much!"

What do you think?

I95 Hates Me

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It was just another weekend in Hoboken for me.

I had plans to visit Tori and her husband in Mamaroneck, NY on Friday for a birthday dinner. Tori is now a New York City police officer, and loves her job. She would still be in Hoboken if it wasn't for the rule that New York City cops must live in New York or a surrounding county.

I never drove up to Mamaroneck before, and had my handy MapQuest guide to show me the way. It was a bit complex, with the directions taking me into New York City, up the West Side Highway, then to 95, then to I87, then Cross Bronx and a few other roads. It was listed as a 53 minute drive and it took me about 90 minutes. It wasn't too bad, I remember way back in the day my father always warning me about driving in Philadelphia. He was adamant about being "extra careful" because of the way that other people drive. How city driving is much different than suburb driving.

Even now, when I drive into New York City, I have a dull undercurrent of stress about it. It doesn't make me nervous, but I can almost hear my father's voice about being extra careful. I laughed it off when I drove up there, and still can't believe that at thirty five i'm still the sixteen year old driver deep down somewhere.

We had dinner, with lots of laughs and jokes. Tori invited up some current and old friends and it was like old times, for a while. It was like nothing had changed, we just pick right up from where we left off.

I got into my car and drove back, around 1am. I decided to just disregard MapQuest and take I95 to the George Washington, get off there and take River Road back to Hoboken. I figured it was easier to deal with and at that time of night i'd hit little traffic.

On my way, not much happened, until I see a huge pothole ahead of me. I knew in a split second that it was going to be bad for my car to hit it, and I was in the left lane, with a car in the right lane blocking any chance for me to swerve.

"BOOM! BOOM!", was the loud sound of my front and rear tires hitting the pothole. My 1993 Volvo rattled and shook after it, and all I could think was "Please, please get me back to Hoboken."

I got back, and checked out my front tire, which I was sure would be deflated. After looking at it, it seemed fine, and I was very happy that I didn't break down on I-95 at 1am on a Friday.

On Sunday I had plans to visit Brad to watch football, see his kids for the first time. Tthey are a year old and I have only seen pictures of them - {insert sarcasm} i'm a great friend.

As soon as I got into my car, I knew something was wrong.

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