"Nice Game Pretty Boy!"

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Well, Sorry I Missed That, Uh, Charity Thing. But This Was One of Those Truly Glorious Hampton Weekends That You Always Hear About."


In the vein of the title of this post, I apologize for waiting almost a week before posting something new. Yes, I was, in fact away during the long weekend at the Summer House we rented in East Hampton. As you probably know, the weather was pretty much perfect, so the weekend went quite smoothly. The only glitch is that we did not have our cable hooked up yet (happening this Friday), so I was unable to catch any of the Mets-Marlins series, and was forced to get scoring updates by listening to the FAN in my car or stopping at The Blue Parrot on the way back from the beach. Still, missing s three-gamer against the worst team in the NL was a small price to pay for a mini-vacation. A few thoughts on a Wednesday afternoon that inexplicably feels like Tuesday (yes, yes, I know, "Tuesday has no feel!" "Monday has a feel." "Friday has a feel.")

1. Some leftover thoughts on the Lost Finale: (a) Mr. Met made a great point in the comments--it's difficult to believe that Walt would just allow Michael to flee after learning of what he did in order to procure their release from Camp Others. Unfortunately, Mr. Met also referred to The Mind of the Married Man as a "pretty good show," so he loses some points there. (b) If, as we discovered, the Button is "for real" and pushing it does prevent catastrphe, then why slow up the world-saving process with requiring the Numbers to be entered before the button is pushed? Why can't they just press "Execute" every 108 minutes? (c) Most people seem convinced that (F)Henry is the leader of the Others. I was actually under the impression that (F)Henry was merely the "ranking officer" (as EW.com put it) on the dock, but that there is still a "Him" out there that he is reporting to (FHenry did refer to a "Him" when Sayid threatened to kill him in the Hatch). I guess we'll see.

2. Very happy to see Lastings Milledge on the Big League club. I had the pleasure of watching him up close and personal in St. Lucie at Spring Training this year. From what I could see, he looked like a star in the making. Of course, I was probably 3-deep into 24 oz. Kirin Ichiban oil-cans, so my scouting acumen may have been somewhat compromised. As others have noted, 'Stings's swing looks professional, though to me, the rest of him still looks like the 21-year-old kid that he is. ,Notwithstanding, 'Stings should provide us fans with hours of summer amusement.

3. Speaking of the Mets, with Mrs. Bookie off to downtown pilates this evening, and Mr. Bookie (me, that is) feeling a little under the weather, I look forward to a relaxing evening of watching Pedro duel it out with Arizona phenom Brandon Webb. Should be a big-time match-up. Maybe for the occasion, Keith Hernandez will even decide to wear something that doesn't look like he slept in it the night before.

4. Back to the beach, for a moment, it really was a great weekend. With the rainy week that preceded, the pool was still a little too cold for any long-term swimming activities (and the ocean was positively freezing), but I still managed to get in the water a little. Thanks to my non-resident parking parmit (only $250 for us City Slickers), we were also able to visit some East Hampton beaches. I felt very big-time to learned that the non-resident permits have sold out, so the rest of the riff raff (yes, we are part of said riff and said raff) will be kept at bay for the duration of the summer. We also checked out a new restaurant/lounge called, appropriately, 27 (the old Napague Stretch in Amagansett) and The Stephen Talkhouse, which now boasts a $25 per person cover on Saturday and (Holiday) Sunday nights. I mean, the band was good and all, but paying $50 before I walk in the door just doesn't seem right to me. Does anyone have a connection or know some guest list I can get on? I'll have more to report as the summer wears on, but for those interested in the latest on life and gossip of the East End, check out a blog called "The Beach" which is brought to you by the same folks who produce Curbed (a NY-centric real estate blog). Hat tip to Mr. Maybe I Can Help, who turned me on to it.

***Update: Congratulations to The Skipper, on the birth of his baby boy, Noah!! We all knew you (literally) had it in you, Skipper! A hearty Mazel Tov from BookieD!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"I want you to have this job. Of course..."


Ahh, nothing spells the end of spring like the season-ending cliffhanger. I don't have a lot of time to recap, but I would love to see some chatter. Could the photo to the left be the key to the entire story behind Lost? Through a series of flashbacks, we learned the story of Desmond, the love of his life, Penny Widmore, and the years he spent in stewardship of the infamous Button (and a portion of which, in the company of Hadley, the sadistic prison guard from The Shawshank Redemption--no wonder Des obeyed his orders; he wouldn't want to end up like that Fatso guy at the beginning of the movie). Turns out, not only is the button "real," but Desmond's failure to mind it, if only briefly, may have been the cataclysm that resulted in the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. We also learned (in no particular order): (i) that the along the coastline of the Island are the remains of a gigantic statute of a person with four toes (resemlbing the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World); (ii) that the pneumonic tube into which the Pearl Station notebooks were placed, lead to a vacant field somewhere on the other side of the island, and the notebooks themselves appear not to have been read by anyone, (iii) the Others' camp on the north side of the island was fake (we had already figured that one, though); (iv) (Fake) Henry Gale is a figure of importance among the Others (though it still remains to be seen if he is the one they call "him"); (v) the Others keep their word when striking nefarious bargains to recover kidnapped comrades; (vi) Libby was once married, or at the very least, she once owned a sailboat named after her (the "Elizabeth"), which she gave to Desmond after hearing 10 seconds of his heartbreaking love story; (vii) Charlie is not very compassionate or mournful after two of his friends appear to have been incinerated in the Hatch; (viii) the Others are taking Jack, Kate & Sawyer "home" with them; (ix) while there does not appear to be a conventional way to sail away from the island, there may be one particular course you can sail in order to escape it (assuming (F)Henry is telling the truth; and (x) there are two gentlemen who speak Portuguese and are stationed in some remote, frigid locale, keeping an eye out for electromagnetic irregularities at the behest of Penny Widmore, presumably to locate Desmond.

Quick Questions (feel free to add some more):

1. We still don't know if there is any connection between the Others and the Dharma initiative. The two things that make me wonder are (i) (F)Henry's telling Locke that the button does nothing and (ii) "Tom" (a/k/a the Guy with the fake beard) quoting Alvar Hanso to the group during their initial encounter in the jungle. Also odd is that (F)Henry did not appear terribly concerned about that giant flash in the sky.

2. Are Desmond, Locke and Eko dead? I doubt the writers would kill of such popular characters, but on Lost (like on Oz), you never know.

3. Does Desmond's "causing" the planecrash refute the theory that the castaways were somehow purposefully brought to the Island?

4. Do (F)Henry and the Others care that they kidnapped the castaways' only doctor? (I'm probably the only one who cared about that.)

5. How are the Widmores connected to the Hanso Foundation and the Dharma Initiative? Did Widmore seek out Hanso before or after he ran the Newport Group, fathered an illegitimate daughter, married Julie Cooper and died of a heart attack as Caleb Nichol on The O.C.?

Again, that's all I can do for now, but there are many, many, many more questions. If you need inspiration, please remember the following quote, by "someone a whole lot smarter than us":

"From the dawn of our species, Man has been blessed with curiosity. Our most precious gift, without exception, is the desire to know more--to look beyond what is accepted as the truth and to imagine what is possible."--Alvar Hanso, address to the United Nations Security Council, 1967.

Thank you and Namaste.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Ohh-my-God. The Queen is dead."

Is this our 2006 American Idol? Based on what we heard tonight, I think the answer is an emphatic "Yes." Taylor started by working the room with Stevie Wonder's "Just Enough for the City," which for me was the highlight of the entire night; then showed his tender side with a little Elton John, and closed with a gawd-awful American Idol single, "Do I Make You Proud," on which I thought he did an okay job, but seemed to greatly impress the judges. All of this appears to have been enough to put Taylor over the top to be crowned our first male American Idol since Reuben Studdard back in Season 2. What kind of Idol he'll be, is another story. Every time I hear Taylor sing, I feel like I'm listening to the Adult Contemporary station. The songs are nice, and he is fun to watch, but it all seems like something I would enjoy sipping a drink in the lounge with my parents, and not something that is going to have your average teenager donning a black concert t-shirt and asking for a ride to the local arena.

Katherine, God bless her, wasn't bad, but really didn't step up and grab the moment. Katherine suffered from some poor decision making--choosing to resing two songs she performed in the month of May really sucked a lot of the poignancy and spontaneity out of what were otherwise fine performances. I mean, her "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was terrific, but we just heard it last week!! As soon as she started singing, I immediately lost interest and cranked up the PIP to check out the Mets-Phils game (what a finish!! Great comeback. Recap here). Even worse for Katherine, was some bad luck in the form of her Idol single, "My Destiny" an unremarkable bland ballad, into which Katherine could not inject any life, notwithstanding her earnest "Aw Shuks" smiles into the camera. My wife doesn't agree with this, but I find all of Katherine's on-stage emoting to be insincere and calculated plays to the camera. This, combined with her total incredulity every time a judge says anything negative, makes me think that she's just not that nice of a gal. Of course, I don't know her from a hole in the wall, so I have no idea what she's really like. But aren't those sort of shallow judgments are part of the Idol voting process (it certainly seems to factor into shows like The Apprentice).

In any case, I thought the real losers tonight were the Idol viewers and fans. First, we are forced to sit through retreads of songs that the contestants already performed. Why not something new and exciting? Why not let each contestant pick any song, by any artist from any era (subject, of course to clearance)? However, the real disappointments were the Idol singles themselves, which were supposed to be the show-stopping culmination of each contestant's journey though the contest. I don't know what it is about the show's songwriters that drives them to compose these saccharine-filled boring ballads as each contestant's debut single, but I think therein may lie the explanation for the disparity between the unparalleled success of the TV show and the tepid response each recent Idol winner seems to receive from the public when off on his or her own as a recording artist. If I heard either of last night's songs on the radio, I would immediately change the station. The situation is particularly troublesome in the case of Taylor, who made his Idol reputation as a hyperkinetic stage performer who ignite a crowd with his energy. By introducing Taylor Hicks to America as a newly-minted pop star with a klunker like "Do I Make You Proud," the shows producers are sending him up to the plate with a two-strike count. Can a stint on The Surreal Life really be far behind?

Of course, in 7 hours or so, we could find out Katherine won, and the whole thing will moot. Kelly Clarkson survived "A Moment Like This" to have a terrific career, so maybe Katherine could withstand "My Destiny" and become a hit as well. We will see.

"It's a Marathon, You Know. 26 Miles! I Need to Get Some Sleep!"

Back in the office and completely exhausted, after a brief 45-hour stay in Las Vegas. I flew out Saturday evening for some meetings, a conference and a couple of parties, and flew back last night, arriving home after 2:30 a.m. Unfortunately, I had to appear in court at 9:00 a.m. this morning (for work, not as a defendant), so I am pretty much running on fumes. I thought I would write a very quick recap, mostly because I just want to get that stale Lost photo off the front page. I did learn a couple of things in my brief stay:

1. At some point in the near future, I must live large and stay at the Wynn Las Vegas. My friends were there over last July 4 and reported excellent things about the place (particularly the pool). Now I have seen it for myself, and I want in. That being said, I am speaking strictly about a trip for business or fun with the wife. For bachelor parties, it's still all about the Hard Rock and even though they treat me like a redheaded stepchild piker, I would stay at The Palms on those weekends where there is a major event happening (which is pretty much every weekend).

2. Speaking of the Wynn, I also learned that for my next trip, I MUST procure a table at Tryst (the lounge at the Wynn). I was there for a private party this past weekend, and was totally blown away by the space. The club boats a giant waterfall with outdoor lagoon, gorgeous cocktail waitresses, a hip, hip crowd, and banquets ensconced in--yes it's true--velvet! Also on my list: Mix (at Mandalay Bay), Pure (Caesar's Palace, still haven't been there), Tao (Venitian) and Rehab (Sunday party at the Hard Rock Pool). The next wave of Vegas nightlife is upon us, and I am woefully behind schedule.

3. Maybe I'm woefully behind schedule because I love the Hard Rock scene so much. After doing the networking party circuit, we ended up at Hard Rock for "center bar" time, some clubbing at Body English and some craps at the casino. Even Sunday night, the place was rocking. It really is a casino scene unlike anything else.

4. For the third time in about 12 trips to Vegas (I am officially losing count), I came out ahead money for the trip. No, IRS, if you are reading this, the winnings were not substantial and I am still behind on the year, but it was still a nice bonus.

5. I am such a Vegas geek, that I enjoy reading about all the wacky shows, acts and concerts happening around town. One day, I really want to go out for a week and see as much as I can--the cheesey lounge acts, the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, Wayne Newton at the Stardust, that Rat Pack tribute show at one of the random casinos, something called Hypnosis Gone Wild (something I remember loving on the Howard Stern show in the early 90's), those Showgirls-esque psuedo-strip shows, at Luxor and Rio, at least one of the ever-growing number of the Cirque du Soleil shows (I hear they now even have a Beatles-themed) and countless others I remember reading about.

6. Speaking of being a Vegas geek, I also got to spend a little time downtown at the Freemont Street Experience, which lives up to its motto, "Over-the-Top Vintage Vegas." It's just plain fun to walk around the arcade and do some people watching, as people resembling the Randy Quaid character from Vegas Vacation wander around drinking yard-sized fruity cocktails, marveling at the Vegas lights and sounds (this also happens outside on the Strip, especially those little shopping marts that dot the area between the Aladin and the MGM Grand). An added bonus for me, was the country-music party happening there on Sunday in anticipation of tonight's Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand. They were even giving out free cans of Dr. Pepper. Quite the little slice of Americana.

I have thousands of other thoughts about Vegas, which I'm sure I will share at varying times throughout the future, but on a total of 6 hours sleep over two nights, they just don't seem to spring to mind at the moment. Now, it's a couple of days to rest, watch the Idol and Lost finales and get ready for my first weekend of the summer in the Hamptons. Good night.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"I'm Not Through Here, Jerry. I'm Gonna Keep On Investigating. This Thing is Like an Onion. The More Layers You Peel, the More it Stinks."

Well, we are getting closer to answering the questions we've been asking lo, these many episodes. This week's installment of Lost featured a flashback that took us back to that fateful day a fortnight ago, when Michael left the group (locked in the armory) in search of Walt. Between the flashbacks and the "current" story, we learned a great deal about what happened to Michael while he was gone, and what motivated him to do the horrific things he has done since he returned. As for us viewers, we learned a few things, and, of course, raised some new questions:

1. Michael wasn't lying when he described the Others' camp. From the flashbacks, we could see why Michael would genuinely believe Zeke and Company to be a bunch of burlap-clad renegades living in tents with minimal firepower (of course, it also appears that Michael's description of the camp was the only truthful statement he made since returning to our castaway friends.). Okay, so if Michael did see what he described, and we also know that the Others wear elaborate costumes that give the appearance they are a bunch of wacky hillbilies, are we now to believe the Others would go so far as to create an entire fake campground with at least a dozen of them running around in burlap just to mess with Michael's head?

2. Walt is alive and (at least physically) well, though not exactly wecoming his new Others-overlords. From what I could discern, the Others have been doing some type of intensive study of him. Walt complained about being put through"tests," about which the mysterious black woman said"we're not going to talk about that." Walt also said that "these people are not what you think they are," but we already knew that. What have they been doing with Walt?

3. The Others have a particular interest in four of our favorite castaways: Kate, Jack, Hurley and "James Ford" (I chuckled when Michael didn't recognize Sawyer). Why these people and nobody else? Why not Locke, of all people?

4. We met some new Others and saw some old friends--In addition to the bearded man a/k/a "Mr. Friendly" a/k/a "Weird Beard" a/k/a "Zeke", we saw the mysterious black lady, the young guy whose name I missed and the woman we all know as Rousseau's daughter, Alex. It also appears that Alex is still sympathetic to our friends, and even concerned about Claire and the baby. Who is the mysterious black lady? Could she be "him"?

5. So, Sayid is the only person hip to Michael's scheming. I found it a little hard to believe that Jack would cede control of the plans to confront the Others to Michael so easily. However, maybe Jack's confidence has been undermined by his realization that he was completely wrong about (F)Henry. Either way, it seemed obvious to me that Michael has been behaving irrationally. Then again, I got to see Michael gun down two innocent hotties in the hatch, so I guess that I would have reason to be skeptical, huh.

6. Is there any chance the Others will really let Walt and Michael go free if Michael delivers them the Fab Four? Will they really give him their little boat? I sincerely doubt it.

7. Speaking of boats, from where did that boat appear at the end of the episode? It looked like a relatively small vessel, not something that would be sailing around in middle of the South Pacific. My personal theory is that it has something to do with Desmond, whom we have heard will be appearing in the 2-hour finale.

BTW, for the third Wednesday in a row I was out doing some drinking prior to the show, so my memory is once again sketchy. Still, I thought it was another excellent episode. The writers seem to have caught fire during the home stretch.

***Update: The Entertainment Weekly recap is available here.

In other TV news, America has once again spoken, and this time it is Elliot Yamin who was sent home from the American Idol finals. However, unlike most recent Idol exits where everyone debates the merits of the loser's elimination, most people actually felt positive about Elliot finishing in third place and gave him his due. This is probably because Elliot was such a long-shot to begin with (with his bad haircut, bad teeth, uncomfortable stage presence) from such humble beginnings (Yamin noted last night, "I'm just a counter clerk at a pharmacy. I've been waiting my whole life for a shot like this.''), that we were all glad to see someone get so far on vocal talent alone. According to FOX, the votes were split almost exactly even among the three contestants, with 33.06% going to Elliot and the two other contestants receiving 33.26% and 33.68% (we do not know whether it was Taylor or Katherine who garnered the additional 0.42% of the votes). Entertainment Weekly is skeptical of this, but assuming for the moment that it's true, then I would like to proffer this conspiracy theory: Tuesday night, my wife felt Elliot could use some help, so we both tried to call all three of the 866-numbers available to vote for Elliot on our Verizon cell phones, only to receive a recording telling us Verizon cannot complete the call. Could it be that knowing Idol is sponsored by Cingular, Verizon is preventing us from calling? Could it be that the Idol producers wanted Elliot gone in favor of the more charismatic Taylor and sexier Katherine? Could our votes have given Elliot the 0.20% he needed to get over the top? How many other people were blocked from voting for their Idol favorites Tuesday night? Could the whole thing be a mind-game being played on us by The Hanso Foundation or The aforementioned Others? This whole thing Stinks, I tell ya!

Finally, speaking of things that stink, the Mets lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to the Cardinals, wasting a gem of a pitching performance by Steve Trachsel. To add insult to injury, the final outs came with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th, when Jason Isringhausen struck out David Wright and got the ice-cold Cliff Floyd to ground out to first. Very depressing.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"What are You Starting With Me For? You Know This is My Crazy Time of Year?!"

Sorry I haven't been blogging the past couple of days. After spending much of the weekend drinking and eating my face off while my wife was away in San Diego, I now find myself very busy at work. Hopefully, I'll have a few minutes at lunch time to recap Blair Perrone and the weekend. BTW, I finally saw the "Conflict Resolution" episode of The Office yesterday. I literally couldn't stop laughing. The best part about it was, that I was watching on my computer using iTunes with an earphone, while Deb sat next to me watching the season finale of Grey's Anatomy. While she watched the poignant melodrama of Seattle's favorite surgical interns and their love lives unfold, I was having a laughing fit watching Jim propose that he and Dwight take their employee ID pictures together ("It makes sense; we walk in together every day.") followed by Michael Scott reading a list of Dwight's grievances against Jim, compiled over the years. Ultimately, I was banished to the bedroom. Totally worth it. Great, great episode. More to come soon...

Friday, May 12, 2006

"I was Free and Clear! I was Living the Dream! I was Stripped to the Waist, Eating a Block of Cheese the Size of a Car Battery!"

For the next few days, my wife is out of town visiting friends in San Diego. This means that for basically the first time since 2004, I will be living alone in the apartment for an entire weekend (and more). As an occupational therapist, my wife doesn't often travel for work. I don't travel much for work either, but each year brings a smattering of out-of-town bachelor parties and Spring Training/baseball excursions, which require my attendance and result in my leaving my poor wife to fend for herself. Well now, the shoe is on the other foot, and I have 72 hours of bachelor living ahead of me this weekend. Because my wife fortuitously timed her trip while the Mets are away in Milwalkee, the only plans I have are a "going away party" tonight at Waterloo Tavern on the Upper East side (which basically means instead of drinking beers and shots with a few of my buddies, I'll be drinking beers and shots with a few more of my buddies). Beyond that, anything goes. If I want to continue the drinkfest on Saturday there is this Upper East Side Bar Tour, presented by our friends at Lindy Promotions. Or I could finally go see Thank You For Smoking, which I need to see now, before the Summer Blockbuster season brings X-Men 3 , Superman Returns and a bunch of other movies that will make me forget about critically acclaimed Indy films. There is also always a chance I could put together an impromptu poker game, or head out to Yankee Stadium, which, unfortunately for me is literally "the only game in town" this weekend. Or, I could stay at home and have the kind of fun that only George Costanza can have with a Glamour Magazine. I am, of course, open to other suggestions as well.

In other news:

The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons took a break from chronicling everything that nobody wants to know about the LA Clippers and the NBA Playoffs, and kept a running diary of Thursday's Mike & the Mad Dog Radio Program. Pretty funny stuff about the radio team we Met fans love to hate. I listened to the show a little bit today, but heard no mention of the article.

My roto baseball team is currently in first place, but suffered some hard luck last night when both Aaron Rowand and Hideki Matsui went down. Since we need the runs and SBs and have some pitching strength, we traded Indians RHP Cliff Lee to the last place team for Red Sox OF Coco Crisp, who is scheduled to come off the DL sometime next week. While I was feverishly preparing for a closing this morning, my co-owner, Jon, convinced me that we needed to make this deal. Now I am wondering if this move wasn't motivated in large part by his love-affair with fantasy players from the Red Sox. Time will tell, but now I have some more motivation to root for the Sox, and a little less motivation to root for the Yankees (I don't think Hideki will be back before August). At least we still have Jeetuh.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"You Know I thought I've Heard Everything. I've never Heard a Relationship Being Affected by a Punctuation."

***SPOILER ALERT*****Lot's of questions and question marks from TV last night, and unfortunately, I have no time to delve into any of them too deeply, so I have attached links to the recaps on the Entertainment Weekly website. For the second straight week, I was inebriated while viewing (this time following a steak dinner at Blair Perrone, the latest Peter Luger's offshoot restaurant (I'll review Blair Perrone, plus some of my other favorite steak joints, in an upcoming post). First, on Lost, Eko & Locke follow the trail of question marks and discover another hatch, another orientation film, another crisis of faith for our friend Locke. Back in our regular hatch, my theory proved to be wrong, as Libby died before she can finger Michael for the shootings. Michael appears to be succeeding in his efforts to start a war with the Others. For a full recap, check out Entertainment Weekly's Lost Watch here.

The other question of the night--how could Idol-favorite Chris be voted off (on Elvis week, no less)? Are we really going to have a grey-haired marrionette or an uncharismatic hobbit as our American Idol? Why, America, why? For Entertainment Weekly's take, read here.

Finally, the Mets roared back last night, beating the Phillies 13-4 behind another gem from Tom Glavine (or so I assumed, as I was too busy consuming steak and watching other TV to watch closely).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"...A Crucial Hernandez Error Led to a 5-Run Phillies Ninth. Cost the Mets the Game!"

A couple of untimely errors did our heros in last night. First, Idol-Favorite Katherine McPhee made made three Elvis-Night errors by (i) appearing in tight jeans and a bizarre shirt that somehow emphasized her stomach while de-emphasizing her greatest non-vocal assets, (ii) singing a hokey medley of "Hound Dog" and "All Shook Up" that sounded like a bad wedding/bar mitzvah band during that annoying portion of the evening when they get kooky and take on the 50's (she should have sung "Shout" from Animal House and passed out fake RayBans, while she was at it) and (iii) doing a completely over-the-top rendition of "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You." It was not a great night for her, and much like Kramer told Miss Rhode Island during her preparation for the Miss America Pageant, "If you stumble, if you hesitate, you can kiss the crown goodbye." We'll see if the voters are as forgiving.

The other error occurred in last night's Mets-Phillies game and was made by Met fan favorite Aaron Heilman, who pitched the bottom of the 9th, with the game tied 4-4 after Carols Delgado 2-Run blast in the top of the 9th. With the bases loaded, Heilman got Bobby Abreu (a favorite of mine and former member of my root baseball team) to bounce a ball weakly in front of home plate. Heilman tried to field the play himself and threw the ball over Delgado's head at first base, allowing David Dellucci's to score the winning run and giving the Phillies a 5-4 victory in the opener of the big NIL East showdown. The error squandered a terrific comeback for the Mets, who fought their way back into the game after pretty much being shut down the entire evening by Philly starter Brett Meyers. I'll turn the details over to Toasty Joe and Mr. Met, but I will say that the comeback is something of a silver lining for the Mets, who in recent years past would have rolled over and played dead after failing to score early and falling behind. One other encouraging Met note--reliever and internet fan favorite Heath Bell was called up from Norfolk yesterday (reliever Bartholone Fortunato was demoted to AAA). This is somewhat peculiar, in that the Mets all but ignored Bell during spring training, allowing him to pitch something like 3 innings the entire Spring. Evidently, his recent success as the Tides' closer has been impossible to ignore, even for the Mets. Maybe this will make management more comfortable handing Heilman a job in the starting rotation. Or maybe the Mets are showcasing Bell for a trade to bring in some retread starter. Knowing the Mets, it's probably the latter (I hear from ESPN's Peter Gammons that the Orioles may make Bruce Chen or Rodrigo Lopez available) , but it is still a good sign that Bell has been called up. Hopefully Tom Glavine will right the ship tonight.

Monday, May 08, 2006

"Well, You Know, I've Been Lyin' About My Income for a Few Years. I Figured I Could Afford a Fake House in the Hamptons."

Due to a busy weekend, I've been off the blog for a couple of days. Yesterday (Sunday), while nursing a wicked hangover from back-to-back birthday party drink-fests, my wife and I, along with our friend Marty, went looking for houses to rent out in the Hamptons. Yes, I am "one of those people" who spends time in the favorite summer playground of Alec Baldwin and other annoying celebrities, with whom I fortunately never have the displeasure to interact. This has been a summer tradition for me since my ragin' single days in the late 90's and early 00's, and one that, thankfully, my wife has embraced in our 30's. When I was in my 20's it was all about the share house, where you plunk down a couple thousand dollars to share a bedroom with 5 or 6 people and spend the weekend by the pool, playing hoops and/or tennis and drinking in anticipation of the big night out, which consisted of either body shots at one of the cheesier hotspots in West Hampton, Quogue or Hampton Bays, or donning your best black shirt and spending $300 for a table at one of the swankier lounges in Southhampton, Wainscott or East Hampton. Now, in my 30's, we rent a house ourselves (with money we've saved throughout the year and help from a friend or two--I can't wait to tell my future children that I squandered their college money on vacation homes). We have our own bedroom, still spend the weekend by the pool and (when the ocean warms up), the beach, but take some time enjoy some of the culinary delights of the local restaurants or get our drink on at Cyril's and the Blue Parrot for Happy Hour and see live music at The Stephen Talkhouse at night. I've also been trying to learn to surf, which, in addition to providing some comic relief to the locals, has been a lot of fun, and makes my wife very proud to tell people she's married to "a surfer" (which, anyone who could see me out there, would know is a bald-faced lie, but I let her have her fun). There are plenty of other activities we enjoy out East (eating baked Clams at the Dock House in Sag Harbor, which Keith Hernandez will tell you is good eats; back yard bar-b-q's and beachside clam bakes, where you can enjoy cheap wine and cold beer, trips to the local vineyards to enjoy some better wine (starting to see a pattern here?), but I'll spare you the details because (A) I don't want to bore the non-East End readers (B) I may need something to write about later this summer. My only regret about spending time at the Beach, is that it keeps me away from the weekend action at Shea Stadium. I will therefore have to make up for this by going to more ballgames during the week (the 7 train is jut two blocks from my office) and by continuing to read The Metropolitans and Toasted Joe. Of course, I'll also be watching Gary, Keith & Ron describe the action (and talk about chicks), but even a 13-3 drubbing by the hated Braves is a lot easier to take when watching from the pool and sipping your Corona. BEAT PHILLY!!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"I Can't Figure Out What's Going on Here. I Can't Follow the Plot. Why Did They Kill That Guy? I Thought He was With Them?"

IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS WEEK'S EPISODE OF LOST, THEN YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ ANY FUTHER. OKAY. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED. PROCEED:Amazing episode of Lost last night, this time featuring some really unexpected plot developments involving our favorite Tailies. Okay, maybe not entirely unexpected). (Actually, I have learned that Ana Lucia's fate was sealed as soon as Michelle Rodriguez joined the show, and had nothing to do with the drunk driving incident.) We had thought the big reveal from last night would be Ana Lucia's riding shotgun along side Jack's father for some madcap drinking adventures in Australia. But no, the show thew us a wicked curve with Michael turning the gun on Ana Lucia and finally shutting her up for good. Unfortunately, because I was out most of the evening at a Scotch Tasting, I was a little too inebriated to process everything that went on last night. This episode will definitely require another viewing on my part before I can properly digest all the new developments. In the meantime, the full Entertainment Weekly recap is available here. And here are the questions my friends have been buzzing about:

1. Who is the mystery woman with whom Jack's father apparently sired a daughter (and Jack's half-sister)? And who is the daugher? Could it be Claire?

2. What did (Fake) Henry (or "Fenry" as they call him on the boards) mean when he said he was coming for Locke, and that Locke was "one of the good ones"? Does this have anything to do with that list of castaway that the Talies found, which Goodwin had said reflected the names of the "good" castaways?

3. Is Libby dead? As the EW recap noted, Michael's shot aimed at Libby's pevlis, which was covered by some blankets she was holding (and possibly something behind them). I have a hard time believing the writers would have built up such a mystery about Libby only to kill her off before we figured anything out. But you never know.

4. Finally, what the hell happened to Michael? Was he brainwashed? Did he make some Lando Calresian-esque deal to sell out his friends in order to save Walt? Did he just snap from all those days wandering alone in the jungle. Is he just revving up the group in an effort to start a war? Clearly that story he gave the group about the Others living in tents and wearing tattered clothing isn't true (and, from the looks of the reaction shot, Kate, who knows better, wasn't buying it).

These are just some questions based on my drunken viewing last night and some e-mails. Are there any other thoughts? One more thing, for Mr. Met. Here's a nice picture of Evangeline for you.

Monday, May 01, 2006

"That is Damn Good Scotch. I Could do a Commercial for this Stuff. Mmmmm, Boy that Hennigans Goes Down Smooth. And Afterwards You Don't Even Smell."

On Wednesday night, I will be attending The Thirteenth Annual Single Malt & Scotch Whiskey Extravaganza, presented by The Scotch Malt Whiskey Society and Robb Report magazine. The Single Malt Whiskey Society is a self-described "private membership club dedicated to the discerning appreciation and consumption of the most rare and unique of single malt whiskies; unfiltered, single cask, single malt Scotch whisky." The Robb Report is a magazine, which retails for $12 per issue and is devoted to all things luxury, from yachts, to private planes, to Italian sports cars. Drinking expensive scotch with members of Society (or, members of the "Society") is one way to enjoy alcohol consumption, but there are, of course, many, many others. As the son of a liquor lawyer, a University of Florida graduate, former frat boy and a veteran of 6 Mardi Gras, several spring breaks, a Key West FantasyFest, the Kentucky Derby, countless St. Patrick's Day celebrations and many, many other festivals, luau's, soirees, clam-bakes, fiestas and other assorted ragers, I consider myself a bit of an expert on the sauce. I therefore have devoted today's post to alcohol, and its many varieties for consumption, my favorite brands and my favorite settings for each. You see, I believe one should not limit his alcohol consumption to one particular type. Sure, you enjoy your Grey Goose & Tonic at the swank NYC lounge, but is it really appropriate for a backyard bar-b-q or an afternoon at Shea? No! Because the sauce comes in so many delicious varieties, one must have broad horizons and recognize that there is a drink for every setting and, yes, always a time too (as the saying goes, "it's 5 o'clock somewhere.")

Before I begin, please note that this post is limited to alcohol consumed in the basic drink format (as opposed to shots, funnels, shotguns, etc.). To learn more about shots, you should visit the Barcelona Bar on 8th Avenue. To learn more about funnels and shotguns, you should visit your local College or University. Also, this is not intended to be an expose on the world's finest spirits. I understand that the brands I am listing are not considered among the top of the craft. These are simply the ones I drink, given my taste and limited means. On with the fun:

SCOTCH/IRISH WHISKEY: This used to only be about scotch, but lately, I have been learning (and loving) to drink Irish whiskey. My parents, enablers that they are, also facilitated this, by bringing home a bottle of Jameson's, personally labeled for my wife and me. Now I enjoy the Irish Whiskeys right along side my favorite scotches (sometimes literally).

Favorite Brands:
The MacAllan 18 Year-Old (though I would accept 25, I actually prefer 18)
The Balvini
BushMills (The Single-Malt 16-Year Old Variety)
Jameson (the good stuff for sipping, the low-rent stuff for Irish Car Bombs)

Perfect For:
Steakhouses (after the meal), cigar bars, NYC Lounges, sipping at home after a hard day at work

GIN: I don't notice very many people my age drinking gin anymore, but there is a certain retro-sophistication about the straight-up martini (gin, of course). Being a martini snob, I don't have much regard for the vodka martinis, favored by many these days. To me, the classic martini is gin, straight-up with very little dry vermouth (if any). The olive or lemon twist are classic, but since I dislike both, I go with a lime (I call it the "Bookitini"). While I'm being a snob, two other points: (1) I don't care what it says on the menu, those sour apple and fruit punch-flavored confections are not martinis, they are sex on the beach served in a long-stemmed cocktail glass (any place claiming to specialize in such drinks usually cannot make a real martini to save its life) and (2) martinis should be mixed by stirring, and not shaking, because shaking causes the ice to melt more quickly and dilutes the alcohol; to quote President Bartlet on The West Wing, "James Bond was ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it."

Favorite Brands:
Bombay Saphire

Perfect For:
Steak Houses (before the meal); cabaret lounges, The Dresden Room in LA

TEQUILA: I am not the fan of tequila that some of my friends are (particularly those who went to Ohio State), but any discussion of liquor necessitates a mention of Mexico's contribution to world spirits. Tequila is coming on strong as a high-end liquor and, in my opinion, could be the "new scotch."

Favorite Brands:
Patron (for drinking)
Jose Cuervo (for margaritas & shots)

Perfect For: Cinco de Mayo, a Table at PM or Lotus for $300 per bottle

BOURBON: Over the past 3-4 years, I have become a HUGE bourbon fan. Yes, we all dabbled with Jack and Jim Beam in college, but I am talking about stuff just a little better and more palatable. Because so many Scotches tend to have that smokey flavor, I favor bourbon as my rocks drink of choice in the warmer months. Also, bourbon is the All American spirit, made without assistance from our friends across the pond in Scotland & Ireland, so drinking it is Patriotic (or, at least, that's what I tell myself).

Favorite Brands:
Knob Creek
Maker's Mark (when I was in Louisville for the Derby back in 2001, everyone was drinking Maker's. That's enough of an endorsement for me)

Perfect For: A warm summer's evening, The Kentucky Derby (by itself or in a mint julep); NYC Clubs & Lounges (at least, for me).

VODKA: I am not a big vodka drinker, but vodka is extremely popular among people of my generation (and younger). Personally, I think it's because the taste is so bland that vodka blends with a variety of mixers so easily and smoothly. Further undercutting any claim of vodka as a quality spirit is this blind taste test by the New York Times, in which participants chose lower-shelf resident Smirnoff as their overwhelming favorite.

Favorite Brands:
Grey Goose
Kettle One

Perfect For: Any time you want a mixed drink that tastes like something else.

CHAMPAGNE: My wife and I are big fans of champagne, notwithstanding the wicked hangover it causes. The taste is good, the carbonation gives it a little kick, and you just feel so damn classy drinking it out of those skinny flutes (it also tastes good straight out of the bottle). While most rappers and sons of North Jersey Crime Bosses prefer Cristal and Dom, there are some moderately-priced bubblies that are quite good as well:

Favorite Brands:
Piper Heitseick
California's Korbel
New Mexico's (yes, New Mexico's) Gruet--Try this, it's good.
There is also, Andre, the preferred champagne for pouring over your teammates head when you win a championship (but never, ever, consume orally).

WINE: I am not a connoisseur of wine, but I do like to drink it. My wife and I are big fans of the table wines that can be purchased at the local vintners for under $12.00, which we consume with the delicious homecooked meals she prepares during the week. Since I know so little about actual brands, I will just throw out a few types of wines and with what or where I like to consume them:

Favorite Types:
Shiraz (with steak or for watching Lost)
Cabernet (with meat, chicken or at PJ Clarkes)
Chianti (with Italian food)
Pino Noir (giant bottles are good for bar-b-q's)
Gruner Veltiner (great outdoor summer wine)
Pino Griz (not to be confused with Pino Grigio

SPECIALTY DRINKS & COCKTAILS: There are, of course, thousands upon thousands of varieties of mixed drinks. Generally, I don't like mixing fine-tasting liquor with beverages as pedestrian as juices, sodas and creams. However, the mixed cocktail is appropriate for certain special occasions:

Frozen Margaritas, Daquiris & Pina Coladas--Normally I would never advocate consumption of such feminine libations, but there are key exceptions for sunning by the pool or beach or at beach bars specializing in such concoctions (eg, the Banana Bailey's Colada at Cyrill's Fish House in Amagansett).

The Hurricane--Rum & juice blend, the Specialty of Pat O'Briens in New Orleans. Also, enjoyable is the Hand Grenade, specialty of Pat O's Bourbon Street neighbor Tropical Isle.

Long Island Ice Tea--Most appropriate at the Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, Indiana Notre Dame during game weekends.

BEER: No discussion of alcohol is complete without beer. If beer commercials have taught me anything, it's that people drinking beer are always having a good time. Yes, there are many, many, many varieties of beer, some of which are very sophisticated and quite good. However, frat-boy that I am (or was), my beer palette is not quite that discerning, so I'm not going to write about those "fancy" beers. (For some excellent perspectives on gourmet beer, you should check out the Friday Beer Blogging at Balloon-Juice.com.) As for me, and my ordinary tastes, here are my preferences, by location (unlike the other categories here, my taste in beer is dependent upon the setting in which I am consuming it):

Perfect for/Favorite Brands:

Cold Winter Afternoon at the Pub: Guinness, or Black & Tan (on Draught, of course--love the traditional spelling)
Spring/Fall Weekday Afternoons Inside the Bar: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stella Artois, Brooklyn Lager (on Draught)
Indoor Drinking Games & Watching Sports at Blondies or Down the Hatch: Coors Light Pitchers (Miller and Bud are acceptable, but I want pitchers)
Outdoor Beach Parties and Bars: Corona Extra (and the "Crazy Corona" which is made by sipping the beer out of the neck of the bottle, puring in a shot (I choose rum, but I have seen vodka), "rolling" the bottle to mix it up, and then enjoying a beer/liquor hybrid. Mmmmm Good.
Bar-b-q's: Any of the aforementioned brands, but in bottles (or a keg).
Outdoor Ballgames, Tailgates and when Too Drunk to Consume Anything Else: Bud Light, Miller Light (or Bud & Miller, for skinnier people) all in bottles

I'm sure I have more to say about this topic, but I guess those opinions are tucked away in the brain cells I've murdered through my past consumption of all the aforementioned libations, never to be heard from again.