June 2008 Archives

I Know, I Have Been Lame...

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Sorry for my lack of updates. I don't have any real excuse, just been busy.

Today is going to be a random thought day, with everything that's going on in my life and how I see things.

I wrote a lot about my diet and working out, and i'm slipping back to my food-fixation mode again. It's not fun. I start to get anxious about what i'm eating and making sure to avoid sugar, alcohol and fat. Sure, it's healthy, but I also just hate trying to figure out what I want for dinner and nixing 90% of the take out in Hoboken because there isn't a healthy option. I can't wait for Energy Kitchen to open up. They really need more healthy choices in Hoboken, and after a day of work and an hour at the gym, my interest in cooking just hasn't been the same.

I also am a big fan of Lidia's Kitchen on PBS. I love watching her cook. Reminds me when I was in college I would watch Bob Ross making happy trees with happy squirrels. I actually ordered her cookbook, i'm a huge cookbook whore...

Some people can cook by taste or just throwing things together...that's not me. I need a methodical plan with exact ingredients and temperatures. I hate those cookbooks that are vague about the temperature. I also have issues with leftovers. I was talking to a friend of mine about this, and we concluded it is about how you grew up. When I was growing up rarely we had leftovers. Oh, sure, the occasional sausage & pepper would be stored in the freezer for a next day snack, but I just rarely, if ever, had leftovers. Now I find today that I don't enjoy eating leftovers and I find it hard to just cook for one person. I have tried looking at various cookbooks for "cooking for one" or "bachelor's cookbooks" (which are really stupid, they dumb down the menu like 'Trog The Barbarian' is eating dinner). On my "things to do when I am a millionaire" is making a good, healthy, fast cookbook for single people.

Beach house is chugging along, but here's a story for ya. I was at the house on Saturday, it was a great beach day. The weather channel said that Sunday would be a washout, and I was torn. Do I get drunk and sleep at the beach house on Saturday night - driving back Sunday morning or just stay mostly sober & drive home and sleep in my own bed in Hoboken on Saturday night (maybe even hitting the bars before the 2am one-way-door)?

Twice I have chosen the latter option. I love my bed & the shore has been fun, but the people there I really don't know so well, and i'm not really jonesing to go out to the meat market bars at the shore. Waiting in lines? Paying covers? Blowing a ton of money at bars that don't give a shit? Not my style....

On that front, I went to The Shannon for the first time since they renovated. I bought a Grey Goose with Red Bull & a Bud Light. Cost? $16. Dude - FUCK THAT. Now people ask why I always go to Mulligan's (Jimmy, Tommy, Craig behind the sticks always take care of me) or Moran's (Kevin, Chuck and Lenny are class acts) - cause I don't have to spend a fortune to go there and drink.

Case in point of being a good bartender. I went to Cafe Elysian for brunch last Sunday - very impressed. I had the Eggs Benedict AND Amaretto French Toast at the bar with Patrick the bartender serving me. Nice guy, I had three Grey Goose screwdrivers and he comped a drink for me when I got my bill and I made sure to leave him a good tip. I have to say that Elysian would be a place i'd go to more if it was just closer to my condo. I find that the farthest I liked to walk is about a 4 block radius from my condo if i'm hungry.

To me, if you put a quality product out there - consistently - it will make people return again and again. I been to Elysian for dinner, and was pleasantly satisfied with my dinner also. There are very few restaurants in town that I really enjoy (Court Street is one), and Elysian could be my new #1 restaurant in town.

Also went to Zack's for lunch a few weeks back. It was a Sunday around the same time that I was at Elysian and there were only two tables seated. They are the same owners as the now defunct
Ted & Jo's. It was average at best.

I tried Legal Beans for brunch again. When I first moved to my condo, I loved it. LOVED IT. But something has gone massively downhill with the place. My last experience there, around fall last summer was the straw that broke the camel's back (a post for another day).

I waited months and months before deciding to sit down and eat. I find their coffee is fantastic and the corn bread is just fabulous. I tried going back two more times and the food is just terrible. I have tried the egg, bacon, potato with toast platter and it's almost unedible. So very disapponted, because last year it was so much better.

First Street Deli makes the best breakfast sandwiches in Hoboken. Period. Exclamation point. Question Mark. Yes, it's true. Go there and take the "Philly2Hoboken.com Challenge", I dare you to get a double bacon egg and cheese on a bagel (I get an egg bagel myself). If you eat one, and then know of a better place within a 4 block walk - you let me know and I will happily take your advice and check it out.

I have off from work all next week and a family reunion this weekend in PA. Might be quiet on the blog for a bit. I hope this will hold you over.

FatMuscle and Hat Guy

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January 2006, the Saints were playing the Eagles in the NFC playoffs on a Saturday night, and I watched it with my Eagles club at Mulligan's bar. The bar was packed with Eagles fans, proudly wearing their green and white jerseys. There were other patrons at the bar, some even wearing Saints gear, but the mood was festive and fun.

Well, until we lost.

Everyone was fairly down, and understandably so. It was a very close game, and a tough loss for Eagles fans who saw another season of promise lost, and the window closing on us again.

One of the guys from the bar, part of the Eagles club, urged me to say something. At first I didn't want to say anything, I was fairly pissed. Finally after a few more pleas from him that I should say something to the crowd, I stood up, and hoarsely said a few things about having a good year...glad everyone made it out...better luck next year...etc.

While i'm saying this, two guys (not in Eagles gear) walk out of the bar, and one wearing a Yankees hat passes me, looks at me and says, "Dude, you can shut up - the Eagles lost."

The guy was about 5'10, medium build and I am 6'3, 225 pounds angry Eagles fan who just got insulted at Mulligan's, in front of my friends, after a major playoff loss, and I have been drinking a bit. What do you think is going to happen?

I grab the guys hat and pull it off his head, then stuff it into his chest. I said to him, "Yea? Well, why don't you go fuck yourself?"

Eloquent as always.

The guy wanted no part of this and made that look that guys make when they have nothing quippy to say, and can't sneer very well. It is the way they purse their lips together, look away and make a "spffff" sound as to say, "Whatever".

His buddy is behind him, and he definitely could be a problem. While his Hat Guy walked out of the bar, this guy approached up to me. He's balding, has a tribal tattoo on his arm, and is about 5'8 and easily 215 pounds of fatmuscle. You know "fatmuscle" - he's the typical short armed burly guy that probably was on the football team...10 years ago, but only about 4 years ago in his mind. He's the guy who can bench 300 at the gym, but is built like George "The Animal" Steele - and of course is wearing an Ed Hardy T-shirt.

He watched what happened to his friend, but calmly says to me, "Ya know, my buddy don't like to swap paws, but I like to swap paws."

Seriously. Swap paws he said.

I lean down to him, so I can look him eye to eye.

"Fine. Hit me.", and I point at my chin, giving him a clear shot at throwing a punch.

"Hit me. Just start the fight. Hit me!", I growl at him.

My guess is that this guy was just smart enough to realize that throwing a punch at an Eagles fan in his Westbrook jersey, in the middle of a bar with about 80 other Eagles fans there, would be a very bad idea. Oh, i'm sure if this was a dark alley and it was me and him, that he would have gladly thrown a haymaker.

But he backs down, walks out of the bar and my Eagle friends are all clapping and patting me on the back. We do some shots, laugh about it, and now we....fast forward.

Now it is a few weeks later and i'm at Club H. I'm lifting and just waiting between sets when I see The Hat Guy and FatMuscle from the bar benching together a few seats over.

I couldn't believe it. Yes, Hoboken is a small town. No, I didn't ever remember seeing them from the gym.

I wait for one of them to recognize me, but they never said a word to me. This goes on for two weeks, until finally I have to say something.

FatMuscle was the one I saw the most at the gym, and I say to him while lifting next to the guy - "Do you remember me, from Mulligans?"

He shakes his head, says, "No, why?"

I could have just said nothing, but I was curious. "Well you and I nearly got into a fight."

He laughs and says, "Yea, well that's not surprising to me. When did that almost happen?"

I told him the story, and he shrugs it off, didn't really remember it, said he was drinking a bit that night.

I left it at that - and would stiill see the "hat guy" at the gym. Weeks become months, and I never approached Hat Guy. He's always at the gym, wearing his hat, and chatting up FatMuscle.

Last Thursday i'm at Mulligan's and watching the Phillies. It is the end of the game and Hat Guy walks into the bar with about 6 friends. I'm fairly well buzzed at this point, and finally say something to him with the "Do you remember 2 years ago..."


I keep on telling the story. I try to describe Fatmuscle.

He smiles, and says it wasn't him & said that he didn't know what I was talking about, and laughing at the story. He's saying that if I did pull his hat off, that there would be no chance he would have walked away from me - even going so far to ask his friends, "Guys, what would happen if someone took my hat off my head and stuffed it into my chest??"

They all laughed, like an inside joke - I guess Hat Guy takes his hats seriously.

I felt bad, apologized that I was wrong and also telling him how I would see him at Club H - and for years thought he was the guy from that night. He found this hilarious, and he bought me a beer. We talked a bit more, and turns out that he's a really nice guy, albeit a Giants fan, but he went to Penn State, and we talked a bit about that.

Him and his gang were planning to hit up Green Rock, and I made an Irish Exit, and slipped out of the bar a bit later.

Just another day in my life.

First Full Weekend At Bradley Beach

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I took a 3 day weekend for no good reason this weekend. Friday I went to the Phillies Club and was pleasantly surprised to see about 10 Phillies fans at the bar to watch the Phils steal a game from the Braves. Then headed with some friends to the Farside, an old stomping ground. I haven't been there to drink in at least two years, but it was nice to see some old faces. Had a cigar with a few more people in the back bar (Haven't had a cigar in a solid 7 years, reminded me of days at Ocean City with the old man), drank Macellan scotch and even shot some darts until close. Which, at the time seemed like a good idea until I woke up Saturday feeling like ass.

Saturday, drove down a bit more hungover than I cared to be to the Bradley Beach shore house. It was my first "full" weekend, aside from Memorial Day when I was just down there on one day.

People have been asking me about the house & what I thought. It's basically like a fraternity house, with very few frills. It is a bit run down, but serves the basic purpose of our common needs. There are window mounted A/C units in each bedroom. We are about 1/2 block to the beach. It has cable TV, and a nice backyard where we all gather to drink, eat and be merry. So far everyone I live with are cool enough, and yes, they know about my blog. We have 5 full shares and 6 half shares in our house, with two people in a bungalo in the back.

I'd definitely spend more money to get a nicer place, but that is something that didn't present itself this year.

The drive is fairly good. Without traffic it is an hour door to door. With traffic, I found a nifty trick. Most "normal" people drive from Hoboken to the NJ Turnpike then the NJ Turnpike to the Garden State Parkway.

I found that the Hoboken to NJ Turnpike has always been quick, but the GSP is a parking lot. On my way down on Saturday, it was a mess. The stop and go traffic was zero fun. I asked my house mates on a better way to get back to Hoboken to avoid the GSP. One mentioned that I could take Route 9 to Route 18, then taking the NJ Turnpike back. It worked like a charm, and I left Bradley by 3pm and home by 4pm, using my old trick to avoid Holland Tunnel traffic: Hoboken's Secret Entrance.

If the weather is nice, i'll get down to the shore house again this weekend, and hopefully be motivated to get out and check out some of the bars along the shore. I heard that the local bars in Bradley are a bit boring. A friend of mine keeps telling me to check out "Jenks" (Jenkinsons) - it's about 30 minutes away, so we will see if I want to make the journey out there. I heard other bars to see from my house mates, like Parker House or Edgars. We will see.

Horrible Accident On I-95

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I almost cried when I saw this picture. It is absolutely gut wrenching. It shows the importance of being properly strapped in.

A friend sent this photo of a horrible highway accident on a ramp off I-95 to westbound Woodhaven Road (Route 63). The picture may be kind of hard to take for some of you. If you look closely you can see what appear to be some survivors of the accident still in the wreckage. Although the picture is quite graphic, it makes you realize how quickly our loved ones can be taken from us.

My friend stayed on the scene to help and even though he performed mouth to mouth on quite a few of them, none apparently survived.

The picture may not be safe for work.

View I-95 Accident

You can read the news story here on Philly.com.

Snacks For The Active Hobokenite

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One of the greatest problems I had over the last three plus years is modifying my diet for moderation. Friends of mine can eat the same food, every day. I'm not one of those people. I need different, diverse foods or my taste buds go bonkers. So I try to eat healthier, and people notice this at work.

When I sit at my desk and have chips or a candy bar, someone will always pass by and look at me then cry "Oh! Ho! Look Mr. Healthy is eating a candy bar!"

Then I have to explain, once again, that i'm not on any diets. I just believe in "everything in moderation" when it comes to what I eat. I like to eat "bad" foods (candy, alcohol, chocolate, etc), but just try to keep everything in check.

I also made changes in my diet to reduce my cravings, and one of the keys was having that food at my desk. We have a kitchen at work with lots of free foods (chips, pretzels, sodas, etc). Some are good for you (fresh fruits), most are bad (has anyone tried Oreo Cakesters? Oh! My! God!).

My goal was basically to make small changes in my diet, rather doing what most dieters do - a drastic, lifechanging diet regimen and they are miserable after six weeks of eating salads and drinking diet colas.

That's not me.

Here's some foods that I eat regularly...

1. Golden Raisins. Mmmmmmm. I hate dark raisins, but golden raisins are great. Sunmaid or even Fresh Direct has these in seal-fresh bags. I have a handful of these when I feel hungry or need a pick me up.

2. Almonds - Fresh Direct has these also. I get unsalted, roasted Almonds, eat a handful for a great snack.

3. Yogurt - I like strawberry banana, usually Dannon or Axelrod. I have about 10 in my fridge, and bring one to work for my breakfast each day.

4. Bear Naked "Peak Protein" whole grain Granola. I eat this as a snack, or mix it in with my yogurt.

5. Fresh Fruit - I head over to Sobsey's Produce and grab whatever is the freshest stuff Micheal has there. I try to bring in 2 fresh fruits to work per day and mix it up each week, so that I don't get bored of eating the same old apples or oranges. Sobsey's has a great selection.

6. Soy Crisps (Low Salt). Great alternative to potato chips. Love to eat this alone as a snack or if I am having tuna fish. I wish more stores carried it.

7. Seltzer / Soda Water- I replaced most of my soda drinking with seltzer water. Maybe once in a while I may treat myself to a Coke (again, everything in moderation!). I can't stand diet soda, and even read about how diet soda may be making us fat!

8. Alcohol - I used to be a huge Red Bull & Vokda or Captain & Coke fan - but had to get away from all that sugar. The idea is just to make small changes that help me reduce my sugar/fat intake. I know that If I really wanted to keep the pounds off, I should just stop drinking. For right now, I may end the day with a beer or wine at dinner, along with a nightcap of scotch. If I am at the bars, maybe i'll drink Orange Grey Goose with soda water.

9. Beef Jerky - Awesome protein power stack, you just have to be careful to avoid those brands that have high sodium ingredients (MSG, erythorbate and sodium nitrate) or preservatives. Men's Health says : "Gourmet Natural Beef Jerky (available at americangrassfedbeef.com). It has no preservatives and is made from lean, grass-fed beef. Research shows that, unlike grain-fed products, grass-fed beef contains the same healthy omega-3 fats found in fish." I, myself, wouldn't eat this everyday - but its a much better alternative when if craving a late night snack after a night drinking over getting a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake.

10. Turkey Burgers - boy I love me some Turkey Burgers. I used to laugh at people who ate these. Thought it was so ridiculous. Turkey Burger? Are you kidding me? Boy, was I wrong. The key is getting a turkey burger that is white meat only. Only thing is that I have yet to find a place in Hoboken that makes white meat only Turkey Burgers. Anyone know a place? I went to Zack's on 2nd and Willow Sunday and their turkey burgers were white and dark meat - disappointing.

11. Sushi - another example of something I used to mock and now eat about once a week. Robongi and Maru are my two favorite spots to eat in Hoboken. I'm always a bit careful about my sushi consumption, because of mercury levels in wild fish.

I'm sure there are other people out there, like me, who are doing the same thing. What do you eat at work or home to avoid bad foods?

Most of my Phillies watching over the years was like how I watch the Sixers - if they are playing well I paid attention. Every year up here, I would still buy Mets vs Phillies tickets each year at Shea, and one year I remember I got to watch the Phils vs Yankees in 1998 which was fun (except the score was 9-2, Yankees). I may have not been a die hard Phillies fan, but I still was a fan when they stunk.

Even though the Phillies were bad, they were "my team". Take my brother, who moved to New York in 1999 and started to root for the Yankees! He claimed the Yankees were his American League team! That was shocking to me. I couldn't imagine myself doing that. I'm Philly, baby. I'd root for the Philadelphia hopscotch team if they had one (ok, not really, but you get the idea).

If you are a die hard Philly sports fan, and live and die by our teams, then you gotta be excited this year for the Fightin's. Here's the top 5 reasons you should be watching my Phillies:

1. Chase Utley has hit 21 home runs. Chase is on pace to hit 58 homers, 26 more than his career high in 2006. The record for second basemen is 42, set by Rogers Hornsby in 1922 and tied by Davey Johnson in 1973.

2. In the last six games the Fightin's have scored 55 runs. Their bats are on fire. Only one team in the entire league has scored more runs to date than the Phillies (320) - the Cubs (331).

3. The Phils have two Most Valuable Players: Ryan Howard (2006) & Jimmy Rollins (2007), with Utley in the mix to be the MVP in 2008. When was the last time three different players from the same team won the MVP in consecutive years? Not since Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard ran off the MVP hat trick for the Yankees in 1961-63. You could be watching a historic season here, folks.

4. This year we have a deeper, more talented bullpen compared to last year. In 2007, twenty one different players threw at least one pitch out of the bullpen for the Phillies and we finished the regular season ranked 13th in the National League with a 4.41 ERA. This season? Phillies relievers entered last night with a 2.71 ERA, by far the best mark in the National League. Six of the seven arms in the bullpen - Lidge, Gordon, Durbin, Romero, Ryan Madson and Rudy Seanez - have an ERA under 4.00, and four have an ERA under 3.00.

5. The final reason is that we have a the Philadelphia Phillies Club right here in town. What? You didn't know? Here's our "Google Group" link, and it works like this - we meet up once a week at Mulligan's bar for a "game of the week" (usually a Thursday or Friday game - with the random Wednesday night thrown in). That night, we watch the game while enjoying frosty Yuenglings and Bud Light drafts for $2 each. Of course you can always go into Mulligan's, on any night, and ask for any baseball game - they have the MLB package. But our "game of the week" is just a fun way to get other Phillies fans together from Hoboken and socialize while the game is on. It's not like the Eagles Club where we are getting 100+ people a week, it's a smaller more social crowd. If i'm not at the shore, i'll be at the bar. Just pop in, and say hello. If i'm not there, just ask the bartender to turn the game on and tell them you are with the Phillies Club to get the specials.

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