Life: April 2005 Archives

The Producers


A great thing about living in Hoboken is that New York City is right next door - with so much to do and offer us.

Last month was Lisa's birthday, and my present to her were tickets to The Producers. I hoped she could find a nice guy to take her.

Fortunately, I was that guy.

Before the show we made plans to meet up at 6:30 and grab dinner before the show. She was nice enough to send me a few links on city search - and had me choose one.

What to choose. What to choose.

I chose Cascina Ristorante on 45th and 9th. It was a simple restaurant, and I chose a table outside, it was brisk enough to make me wear my jacket, but I love to people watch.

Lisa arrived a little while later, and we had some wine and shared each other's dinners. The restaurant was good enough and certainly i'd recommend eating there before a show.

As we arrived at St. James Theater, the buzz that exists at a Broadway show hit me. Its something, to me, that is surreal. The palpable excitement that was in the air was very cool, and you kind of feel like "you are part of something". A show like this, and the feeling of sitting in the theater is like watching a rocket launch. You get the giddy interest of the anticipation of the start of the show - and once it begins you have a sense of relief and awe.

Maybe that is just me.

The show itself was simply goofy, campy and fun. Richard Kind played Max Bialystock, and he was fabulous. Richard nailed his role, and charmed the hell out of the audience. Alan Ruck played Leo Bloom and he was very average. I don't think he did a poor job, I just didn't find his acting very believable - I kept watching Alan Ruck acting rather than watching Leo Bloom performing.

One other interesting actor to note was Brooks Ashmanskas. He played the fruity "common law assistant" Carmen Ghia and was simply hilarious. He drew the hardest laughs from the audience, and I from the angle of my seats I was able to watch Richard Kind trying to maintain his composure during Brooks scenes. You know when you are doing a good job when your fellow actors are having a hard time not laughing at your routine.

Was this Broadway at its best? Well, The Producers isn't Hamlet. Its simply a live-action musical based on a movie and I think its good for New York nightlife. Glengary Glen Ross is now a show and Spamalot is also on Broadway. I say bring more entertainment to the masses this way. Much like Harry Potter will turn on a new generation of book fanatics, shows like The Producers will get a new generation of Broadway fans - some who may delve into more intellectual plays.

I asked Lisa to check out TKTS during her lunch breaks - maybe she can snag some mid-week tickets and a fraction of the cost of what people pay for advance tickets and we can see some more shows.

Cheap People Are Annoying


Ever go out to dinner with a group of friends?

Everyone has a few drinks, some appetizers and the entree. Some drink more than others. Some order more expensive dishes than others.

In my world, and the friends that I keep, we normally just divide the bill into guesstimates and call it a night. Those people that ate/drank less we knock it a few dollars down and those that ate/drank more we knock it a few dollars more. Its my belief that over time - eating out with friends will even itself out.

Every once in a while I get someone who joins my friends out that annoys the piss out of me - the cheapies and the moochers.

The cheapies are the people who analyze the bill down to the last penny, muttering things like "Oh - I only drank WATER and ordered a SALAD! I owe $9.32!" This is fine. I have no problem if I am ordering filet mignon and boozing on 10 captain and cokes to adjust how the bill is split. What annoys me are people who analyze the bill to the last penny. Heck, if the bill is $70, where I out drank/ate - i'd throw in $50 and have them throw in $20 and call it a night. I wouldn't expect someone to split it $35 each. But what I hate seeing is someone turning into Earnst & Young and calculating everything.

Or you get the other extreme, the "moochers" - the people who order the cracked crab and lobster, washing it down with five mai tais and a cheesecake and coffee dessert - then ponys up $30 for their share of the bill. When I eat out I do keep a mental tab of what i'm eating and drinking - i'm always making sure that I pay my fair share. The moochers are always forgetting taxes and tip - and cry "But the menu said the cracked crab and lobster was $27!"

It kills me.

I see the same thing in the bars of Hoboken. You go out for drinks to your local pub and see the regulars that are around the bar. You know them - and you know there are some cheap ass motherfuckers who are more than happy to pipe up when you are buying a round and some other jerkoffs who rarely buy you a drink.

I know some cheap people who tell me their tales of woe, describing how they don't have a good job and can't afford large bar tabs. My advice is - stay home and drink at your place. Get drunk and then hit a bar. Its what I did in college and I would have 2 or 3 beers at the bar then go home.

Some of the cheapness can be seen in the tippers at bars, too.

I usually don't remain friends with people who are cheap. I find that i'm very generous with my money and don't like to be around other people who are not. That's just me.

My advice? Go out one night and as soon as you walk in a bar say "Drinks on me!" to your friends. Do it once a month. Heck, do it more than once.

Next time you go to your regular pub - overtip one night. Tip more than you usually do. Just do it like once a month. Trust me, the bartenders notice.

Ever go out to dinner with friends? Pick up the tab one time. It doesn't have to be every time. Do it for special occasions - like birthdays or anniversaries or just for the hell of it. I do it all the time. You don't have to be taking your friends to Balthazar, just do it at Cafe Michelina one night - its a BYOB restaurant and they have reasonable prices.

Or how about making dinner for your friends? I have been learning how to cook and I usually make more food than I can eat. What do I do? I give it to my roommates. They love it. Jon eats my leftover likes a human vaccuum and Kristen is always asking "You cookin' tonight??".

I'm happy to share my food with them because I know they got my back. Kristen likes to iron - so she is cool and irons my shirts for me when I ask. Jon helped me with that PC problem I had a month ago - my car battery died when I was trying to transport my PC to the Wizard to fix it. He hopped in a cab, with my pc, went to the wizard's office and dropped it off. I was busy waiting to get my car jumpstarted from AAA.

Generousity comes in all forms and sizes. Being cheap doesn't just mean about money. Its also about actions. I may have friends who don't have very good jobs and can't take me out to dinners - but I know they are generous in other ways. I recognize this, and I do know those people who are the cheapies and the moochers in my life.

...and I avoid them at all costs.

Top 5 Things I Learned From NROTC

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While in Villanova, I was in NROTC (Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps). 'Nova, at that time, had the largest NROTC unit in the country with about 225+ midshipmen and midshipwomen. Both my brother in laws were Naval Academy graduates in 1990, one was an officer on a "boomer" (nuclear missile submarine) and the other was an officer on a "Oliver Hazard Perry" class frigate. Both told me about the best qualities of being a naval midshipmen: leadership, responsibility and getting laid like a champ. Come on. With movies like "Officer and a Gentleman" and "Top Gun" on heavy rotation on local cable channels, it was getting naval recruits laid across the country faster than you could say "I got no where else to go!" or "I feel the need. The need for speed." My parents were very supportive also. At first I thought it was because they liked the idea of military training to instill a sense of discipline into their half-feral child. It quickly dawned upon me that the money they would save was probably the real motivating factor. I joined NROTC on a whim, actually. It was my first day of school, and we were walking around the campus and they were handing out flyers. I spoke to some of the midshipmen, and the officers and they were extremely friendly - even the Marine enlisted Gunnery Sergeant was smiling and chatting amiably. I was a fairly easy sell - the only downside is that since I joined late I didn't have a scholarship I would pay my own way for the first 2 years of school and if I made "Advanced Standing" in my junior year I would get a partial scholarship for my final two years. Once I graduated I would be a commissioned officer. In some respects, i'm happy I joined - I instantly had 225+ friends on campus in the unit. On the other hand, what a dreadful way to begin college.

Travel Around Europe

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While I was studying in Florence, Italy, during my first semester junior year in 1992, I had the chance to travel around Europe. My parents purchased for me a Eurorail pass, which basically gave me free reign to travel anytime in Europe for free. Here are a few cities that I had the chance to visit...

Prague - In 1992 Prague was just emerging as a democratic nation and the people loved Westerners. I arrived in Prague extremely early in the morning, and it was really dead on the streets. Old women were hanging around the train stations, offering rooms in their homes for people like us to stay. I was using my "Let's Go Europe" book and decided to stay at a hotel in Prague.

Prague was a city frozen in time. Like many communist nations, the original archeticture of the city remained constant, untouched by modern development that was rampant in Western cities. Prague was gorgeous, absolutely stunning. I would walk around marvelling at the cobblestone streets and rejoicing in the strength of the dollar. It was a students paradise, with cheap beer, inexpensive food and an European mystique that only Prague captured.

I tried goulash for the first time in Prague, which was a stew of beef and vegatables, seasoned mainly with paprika. I washed it down with "Budvar" - the original Budwesier beer from Prague. The people were very friendly to westerners, and the city was alive with a new sense of freedom. One local man told me how they have a "Saint of Democracy" now.

I walked across the Charles Bridge in Prague, it was strewn with buskers, entertainers and vendors. Its a very beautiful place to walk after a good meal with a beautiful girl. Lots of students would congregate on the bridge, mingling with the locals.

I'd like to go back to Prague someday - but from what I have heard things have very much changed there in the last 13 years.

Paris - Paris was in a word, stunning. Nothing can really prepare you for Paris, its very much overwhelming with its culture and history. The beauty of the city, coupled with the history of the buildings - makes you feel very, very small. I felt very insignificant while walking the streets of Paris. I also felt very alone. Its a very romantic city. You walk down the street and a couple are sitting on a moped kissing. You go into a park, and people are kissing on a park bench. Lots of love in this city.

Of course I went to the Eiffel Tower, once at the top, viewing the skyline I really wished I could have shared the moment with someone. I was with a companion, a girl friend, but we weren't "together" - so to speak.

Being the Americans that we are, we decided that night to head to The Hard Rock Cafe. That figures about right. We are in Paris, we have the chance to sample some of the local fare - we go to the Hard Rock. Of course fate decides to laugh back at us.

Que Sera Sera

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When I was young, it was easy to think what your life would be like after college.

It seems that life was a successive series of goals. When I was in grade school the goal was to study hard so that I could go to a good high school. I accomplished this by applying myself and earning my acceptance into LaSalle College High School. After LaSalle, my "reach" school was Villanova University. I accomplished that goal, and was estatic to go to Villanova. The next goal was to get a great job, one that challenged me and, of course, paid well. I worked the streets of New York, and landed a wonderful position at a great company.

Then, something happened.

I'm not sure what. I don't know how to describe it. I was doing what everyone else was doing, the series of goals in life. The next series were things like: "Wife", "Home", "Kids". These aren't things that i'm writing about in my "Dear Diary" at 13. In the back of my mind I was always thinking that i'd meet someone, get a home in the suburbs and have children. This is what we do, right? These are the goals that most of us have which have been established from generation to generation.

I think we will agree that many in our generation, "Generation X", have pushed their marriage goals out. The number one reason is that we, as a generation, are much more educated, wealthy, empowered more than ever before. We have more choices, more opportunity, more freedom.

That means that we can work, date, pick and choose what we want to do with our lives. We don't have to get married at a young age. We don't have to settle for a partner - we can be selective, time is on our side.

Our generation doesn't need to get married right away. We get our own job, dating who we want, we can be methodical to finding what is right for our us. Unmarried at thirty doesn't have the same implications like it once did.

This is uncharted territory. We are all living longer. People who are thirty today, aren't like the thirty year olds of 1975.

Think about it. The people who were thirty in 1975, many were married - heck my parents were 33 - the same as that I am now. They had 4 children. I was 3. My brother was 6. My twin sisters were 9! I'm 33, I can barely clean my own room - let alone have 4 kids, a mortgage and a wife!

There weren't many bachelors then, living with roommates, unless they were living in Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco trying to hold on to a 6 year old dream.

Today there are more single young adults than ever before. Some fall into different categories. This is the way I see it:

I'm Leaving Hoboken

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Hi everyone, you may have noticed that I haven't been updating the site for the past few days.

I have been very busy with a few things, and one of those things is a new job offer I got with my company (which I keep off these forums). They want me to move to the London office effective immediately, to head up a department there. It was an offer that I simply could not refuse, the effect it will have on my career is staggering.

It took me a long time to think about this, and I had to consider the pro's and con's to the situation. Going to London is a big step, but I figure that since I am young and single, with nothing tying me down in the states - I should take that risk and go for it.

What saddens me most is that i'm leaving Hoboken, my residence of the last 10 years. I can't believe I have been living here for so long and I have made a lot of friendships all this time. The hardest part of my decision was leaving the "small-town" feeling that Hoboken has, the friends I have made and how much I love New York City.

If someone asked me to move to any other city, I don't think I would be interested. If you know me, you know that I simply love everything about London - the culture, the music, the TV shows & movies. Plus London is the epicenter of Europe - a gateway to travelling around the other countries, and only a hop away from my favorite country, Italy. Plus I will be finally able to see Ireland, and visit another country that is part of my heritage.

I will be opening up a new blog called "" and I will be documenting my journey for all of you to read.

I really would like to take a moment to thank some Hobokenites that made me incredibly happy over the last 10 years, along with my family members....

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This page is a archive of entries in the Life category from April 2005.

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