Thursday, October 29, 2009

London, baby! Part II

Here are some examples of conversations I have had with Heidi (who is traveling abroad for the first time) leading up to our trip:

Heidi: "my friend Susan told me that I should call my bank and credit card company and tell them that I will be out of the country so that they will know that my cards are not stolen when they see activity coming from London."
Me: "Yeah, I've heard that, but I've never had any trouble before."

Heidi: "I am going call my bank today."
Me: "okay. I'm not going to do that, though."
Heidi: "Really? I read that we should."
Me: "I'm not worried. But you can."

(At the airport in New York.)
Heidi: "Oh, there is an exchange place. Should we exchange some money now?"
Me: "You can if you want, but I'm just going to get money from the ATM at the airport."

Heidi: "I called my bank and credit card company, so I'm all set for the trip!"
Me: (thinking 'Good for you!')

We get off the plane in Heathrow. I head straight to the ATM to take out some money. My card is denied. I figure they are just out of cash. I go to a different ATM, where my card is denied again. I go to a third ATM, and my card is denied for a third time. Heidi has to pay for our cab. Once in the city, I try the ATM of a bank that is partnerned with mine in The States, figuring that the problem must be that my bank card is not recognized by their ATMs. Again, denied.

I call my bank, on the verge of swearing up a storm, and am told that they saw some suspicious activity on my card and put a hold on it.

Me: "WHAT??"
Heidi: "Told you so."

(Can I just add that in 2009 alone, I have been to Rome and Montreal twice and have not had a problem?? Grrrrrrr......)

Guess which one of us is Joey (super excited) and which one of us is Chandler (Westminster crabby) in this scenario.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Number Nine -- Conan O'Brien

This is short, but sweet. JM shows up around 2:40.

London, baby!

So, tonight I leave for London, and it got me thinking about the other times I have been there. The first time was many years ago and it was the first of several fun trips that Esther and I took together. She was planning to go to visit her friend, who was doing a study abroad program there, and invited me. She was traveling from Washington DC and I was traveling from New York, so we had to meet up there, obviously, where we would stay two nights at her friend's place. When I got off the plane and went through customs, the guy looked at my passport and found that I had a visa from the time that I lived in Norway. He asked if I planned to stay in England for a while, as I had in Norway. I said no. He asked where I was staying. It wasn't until this point that I realized that I had absolutely no idea where I was staying. I was being picked up at the airport by Esther and her friend. I started to wonder what would happen if, somehow, we did not find each other. I didn't have an address, a phone number, didn't know which school she was at and didn't even know her last name! All I knew was that her name was Becky, which may or may not be short for Rebecca. This was not very smart of me, and yet pretty typical. Fortunately, they were at the airport waiting for me as soon as I got out of customs, and it was the beginning of a super fun week touring the UK.

The next time I was in London was just a stopover on my way to Ireland. My former roommate, Julia, had been in Ireland all summer, once again for a study abroad program, and I came over at the end of her program to tour the countryside with her. My plan was to meet her at the dorms where she was staying in Cork, and this time I had all the information -- address and phone number. But somehow, I left all the information safely posted on my refrigerator at home. The bigger issue is that I missed my connection from Heathrow to Dublin and had to call her to let her know that I was not going to be there until the following day. As luck would have it, at that time, Julia and I had a subletter, who happened to be Jason, recently of my Montreal postings' fame. I called him from a pay phone to get Julia's phone number. Since I did not even have a pen on me, I had to use my eyeliner to write the number down. Talk about being prepared! It all worked out, though, and again, we had a fabulous time.

Trip number three begins tonight. I am traveling with Heidi, who befriended some Londoners who were in NYC for work some months back. They decided to do an apartment swap. So, once again, I'm traveling to London with no idea where I'm going or where I'm staying. I just hope she remembers to bring the information with her!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Glee quote of the week -- 10/21

The plot line between Noah and Rachel is my second favorite of the series so far. (my favorite was the one when Curt "auditions" for kicker and later comes out to his dad, all while being accompanied by "Single Ladies.")

I also loved that Sue fell in and out of love in one episode, giving us the little treasure of Will & Sue dancing together, before turning back into mortal enemies after she gets dumped.

The other great number is the Thong Song, which will always remind me of a conversation I had years ago with Esther after she first heard the song. I totally did not believe it was a real song, and kept saying, "Are those the real words?".

So, my quote belongs to Finn, who says to Curt, right before throwing the slushie in his face: "I know how picky you are about the products you use on your face."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

30 Rock quote of the week -- 10/22 -- That's a Dealbreaker!

So many quotes, so annoying to have to take so many notes while watching TV.

Liz, after having an altercation with the book store guy: "Blammo! Another successful interaction with a man!"

Frank: "If your man collects action figures? That's a dealbreaker? Last week, I picked up this girl after practicing Jedi moves in Prospect Park..."
Liz: "Also a dealbreaker."
Frank: "... took her back to my house on the handlebars of my bike..."
Liz: "As is that."
Frank: "... snuck her inside past my mom..."
Liz: "Whoa! That's four!"
Frank: "... she sees my mint condition Hellboy figurine and starts quoting your book!"

And one more from Devin (Will Arnet): "It was a year ago that you kicked me to the curb. I started plotting my revenge that very day. I knew that I had to align myself with something more powerful than GE, and since American Idol is not on till January, that left the US Government."

Yes, I will be saying "Blammo!" from now on.

Number 10 -- VH1 commercial

John Mayer has a new album coming out November 17. To get in the spirit, I'm going to post my top ten JM TV moments. Here's number 10.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall treats

Everyone has been posting their fall photos, so it was time for me to get on the ball and post mine.

On Saturday, Heidi, Kathy and I rented a car and drove to a farm in NJ. I got 15 pounds of apples. Yes, FIFTEEN pounds.

The two animal lovers.

Afterwards, we stopped by Princeton University to take a look around. The whole time, we commented on how it just doesn't compare to the beauty of BYU. ha ha.

so homesick afterwards. *sniff*

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cupcakes -- Montreal take two!

Last time I went to Montreal, my efforts to try a cupcake north of the border were thwarted. This time.... we were able to get cupcakes from THREE different bakeries. Stop #1 was a place that J had not tried yet called Les Glaceurs. It was next to the Notre Dame Basilica and it was a winner!

Above is my cupcake (Vanilla/Vanilla) which was beautifully decorated. J and Kathy both got red velvet with cream cheese frosting piled high. I may have stolen a bit of their frosting because there was a lot of it and it was really good. They didn't have a big selection of cupcakes, which is usually fine for me, but I was in the mood to try something different. Also, it may sound strange coming from this New Yorker, but their customer service really left a lot to be desired.

Next up was Petits Gateaux, which is the place closest to J's apartment. We went there with low expectations, but a plan to get a dozen minis so we could taste all of their different options. I had high hopes that at least one of those options would be maple flavored. We should have known better. When we arrived, we found that all their options were sold out for the day... except for these three. Only one flavor of mini remained and two flavors of regular cupcakes. Our favorite turned out to be the Tea Cranberry Violet (the purple one on the left). The Vanilla/Vanilla one on the right was pretty good, and the two mini ones in front were so unremarkable, I don't even remember what that flavor was. Vanilla cake with some weird spongy frosting with some other fruity thing baked in. When you touched the frosting, it didn't move. I don't know what that whole thing was about.

The following day we hit the mother lode when we went to Cocoa Locale! We went early to be sure we did not suffer the same fate as last time. We met the owner and I might have said something like, "I recognize you from your website!" like she was some celebrity. They have three flavors, Lemon coconut, Vanilla/Vanilla and Chocolate Chai. All three were delicious and really blew the other two bakeries out of the water. Honestly, that Vanilla/Vanilla is definitely top five in my book (although my photography is not). The cake is the perfect moistness and the perfect density. Actually it reminded me of Magnolia in flavor, but the texture was different. The frosting is the perfect sweetness. Some people complain if there is too much frosting, but I don't think anyone would complain about the amount of frosting on these cupcakes, even someone that thinks the cake is just a necessary evil to get to the frosting (like me).

I don't always go for chocolate because often it is too rich for me. These Chocolate Chai cupcakes were really good, and yes, really rich chocoalte with a hint of spiciness, so after my sample, I left them for Kathy who thinks "why bother?" when dealing with desserts that are not chocolate. The Lemon Coconut was also to die for, even the next day, it was the perfect moistness.
I look forward to my next trip north.... which will not be happening until after winter!

The Office quote of the week -- 10/15

Dwight: "Criminals are like raccoons. Give them a taste of cat food, pretty soon they will be back fo the whole cat."

Friday, October 16, 2009

30 Rock quote of the week -- 10/15 season premiere

I'm thrilled that my favorite show started last night and it did not disappoint! Of course, my quotes of the week have to do with the real America/fake America argument that Tina Fey has been mocking since she first donned her Sarah Palin wig (and probably before that).

Jack, raising a glass, "To TGS! We'll trick those race-car loving wide-loads into watching your lefty-homoerotic propaganda hour yet!"
Liz Lemon: "You don't like anybody, do you?"

Jack: " We have lost touch with the heartland consumers....with real America."
Liz Lemon: "That's a nonsense term. All of America is America."

Jack: "Our new mammogram machine is called 'The Git-R-Done 2000."
and I can't forget Jack's reference to "Comrade Obama"!

plus, here are two from Tracy:
"I can't eat this! I'm a foodie." (that one is dedicated to Heidi. I, however, would probably like the hot dog wrapped in pizza.)
"Have I lost touch with my roots? I better talk to Rabbi Schmuley about this!"

Glee quote of the week -- 10/14

Within the first few minutes, I was pausing my DVR to write down funny quotes. But then I was too tired to keep watching and I knew I didn't want to miss a thing, so I waited until Thursday to watch the whole thing. Here's the first:

Jacob: "Have you been reading my blog?"
Rachel: "Of course not. You're a gossip monger and your blog is nothing but trash and lies, many of them about me."
Jacob: "Well, you'll be happy to know, the one I'm working on now has nothing to do with you or your rumored lust for Jew 'fros."

Sue also had several good ones, for example:
as Will approaches her in the hallway, "I thought I smelled failure."
"I know I'm not like the rest of you hippies, caring about kids feelings as if they're real."
"I love minorities so much, I'm thinking of moving to California to be one."
...and of course... "I don't trust a man with curly hair. I can't help picturing small birds laying sulphurous eggs in there and I find it disgusting."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

140th anniversary

This past weekend was the 140th Anniversary of my agency. It sounds like it was a great reunion!

Montreal 2.0

I made my return to Montreal over the Columbus day weekend.

... hung out with Jason.....

.... enjoyed the city....

... and the food...

(remember Poutine? below is the 3 meat version -- sausage, bacon and ground beef-- which still contains the french fries, cheese curd and gravy. yes, it's delicious.) (a crepe with strawberries and Nutella. yum!)

... and came home with some maple products. Thanks for giving us a holiday, Columbus!

(stay tuned for the cupcake report!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Office quote of the week -- Jim and Pam's wedding

I can think of a few people who may have thrown up themselves while watching that opening scene. Not good!

Jim, after he and Pam got secretly married on the boat in Niagara Falls: "I bought those boat tickets the day I saw that YouTube video. I knew we needed a back-up plan."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Glee quote of the week -- 10/7

1. The Bon Jovi song/routine was awesome. Is it sad that I had absolutely no idea what the other song was in the mash-up?
2. The boys routine was 1000 times better than the girls routine. All the girls did was stand in a line and move their heads around so that their hair went all crazy. That was unfortunate to me. I did like the yellow dresses, though.
3. I wish those cold remedies really gave you that much energy. I have been taking them for the past week (for a real cold) and I still could go to sleep at any time. Right now, for example.
4. Curt is definitely my second favorite character. When he said that the boys "declined my offer to do their hair in cornrows" I practically fell off my chair laughing.
5. I love when Sue talks about Mr. Schuster's hair. Last night it was a "store bought home perm," and in a previous episode she said it was so sad that he had weekly appointments to have his hair permed.

Quote of the week: "Glee club! Everytime I try to destroy that clutch of scab-eating mouth-breathers, it comes back stronger, like some sexually ambiguous horror movie villian."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Glee quote of the week-- 9/30

Kristin Chenoweth was fabulous as the boozy, lecherous, high school drop-out, April. But the episode was Sue Sylvester-lite with only tiny scene.

April to Rachel in the bathroom: "Do you have any Nyquil? I could use a little pick-me-up."

Friday, October 2, 2009

The winner is....

The poll ended up being a three-way tie, and no one liked my idea of keeping it simple with the C&B lamps. So I decided to go with the one most liked by the three people that have most recently been in my bedroom -- Leo, Heidi and me!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey

As I reported last May, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band returned to the Meadowlands for five shows at Giants Stadium before it is torn down. I wanted to go, of course, and even had gone so far as to look for tickets and put them in the "cart" before deciding to think about it a little longer. Then they announced that he was coming to Madison Sq. Garden in November and I knew I wanted to go to that show, so I got tickets for MSG and decided to skip Giants Stadium.... Until.... I was listening to the radio yesterday morning and heard that he planned to play the entire album of "Born to Run" from beginning to end during the show. This is (probably) my favorite album of all time. Months ago, I heard that he was going to do this in Chicago and I thought that was a fantastic idea and I had to be a part of it. But again, I looked for tickets and then changed my mind before I actually went through with it. Now that I heard he was going to do the same thing in my neck of the woods, that was all I needed. I got to work, found a ticket, and that was it. I was going that night! The only regret I had is that since I didn't know I was going before I left for work, I didn't bring my Jersey Girl shirt to change into (too cold anyway).

Typical things that happen at most of the shows, and this one is no different: I'm waiting in a long line for the bathroom and thus miss the band taking the stage, he starts off slow (read: boring) and ends on a high note which makes me want to go to the next show (e.g. Friday he's playing "Darkness on the Edge of Town" from beginning to end--still tempted), I sit next to annoying people, he plays for over three hours and therefore I get home in the middle of the night.

Bruce Springsteen performs his new song Wrecking Ball at Giants Stadium

Set list:

Wrecking Ball (new for this show)
Johnny 99
Atlantic City
Outlaw Pete
Hungry Heart (here's where it starts to get good, according to me)
Working On A Dream

*Thunder Road (Track one, side one, Born to Run)
*Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
*Born To Run
*She's The One
*Meeting Across The River
*Jungleland (Last song on Born to Run)

Waiting On A Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Into The Fire
Lonesome Day
The Rising
No Surrender (then Pretends to leave, but dispenses with the formality and goes straight into the encore because "it's cold")
Raise Your Hand (collects posters with song titles)
E Street Shuffle (by request)
Growing Up (by request -- my first time seeing him perform this one)
American Land
Dancin' In The Dark (pulls up an old lady to dance with on stage -- quite a difference from Courteney Cox in the 1984 video)
Hard Times

Highlights for me (i.e. the times I went totally mental): Jungleland, Thunder Road, Growing up, E Street Shuffle.