Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Back From Tampa With A Tan

November 19, 2007

Hey there Jerseycool is back from a much needed vacation down south in Tampa where the temperature is a hot 40 degrees higher. We make an aside to thank the newly wedded Jeff and Julie McCloskey who were the blessed instigators of said vacation and wish them well on their honeymoon, marriage and endeavors afterward.

Now, to the food. We come bearing recommendations to all of you frozen folk here in the northeast who may be flying south for the winter.  In terms of good eats if you are in the Tampa or Clearwater area you will do no better than Frenchy’s, a four-restaurant chain in Clearwater beach that has the friendliest staff and makes the meanest Grouper sandwiches on the gulf. Our personal favorite was the Buffalo Grouper, which was pretty darn spicy in its mild flavor but was topped with a cool, blue cheese dressing. C was also fond of the Grouper Takitos, a highly recommended special that we are hoping becomes a staple on the menu.

We stayed in Clearwater Beach for a week but made it north to Orlando for a day where we were unfortunately unimpressed with Universal Studios. Nice idea but there needs to be a bit more uumph to the proceedings. Other than the Mummy ride, we found ourselves twiddling thumbs an awful lot. Oh, and someone needs to do something about the lines at the Jaws ride.  There you have it.

Rollarcoaster fans need to put Bush Gardens Tampa on their list. We suffered from a bought of insanity and rode the Shakra roller coaster not once but twice.  The coaster, which features a 90 degree drop is an intense experience that unfortunately made the rest of the coasters in the park feel a bit like a booger.

For beer lovers don’t miss the daily beer tastings where you can sample some of Anheiser-Bush’s finest beers (no kidding, remember the company owns brews around the world like Tiger Ale) and get a lesson on pairing beer with foods and how to spot a “beer-ready” glass at a bar.

OK, locals so that’s what Jerseycool did on his vacation so now that we’re recharged look for some upcoming reviews on local haunts like Orbis, Giamboto and Lalezar in the near future.

JC

Excitables Father’s Day Edition

June 15, 2007

It’s Father’s Day this weekend so we know many of you will be out there celebrating with a barbecue but there are a lot of ways to honor dad besides cheap ties and cologne.

For the sports Dad. How about spending some quality time watching the Yankees and Mets play this weekend? It’s been a reversal of fortune for the two teams as the Bronx Bombers have the major’s longest winning streak at nine while the Mets have lost five in row coming into Friday’s game.

If baseball isn’t dad’s game the U.S. Open golf tournament is under way and Tiger and all of his merry men are hacking away in Pennsylvania.

For movie Dad. There’s no better man movie than The Longest Day, the 1962 classic that chronicals the D-Day invasion from both sides of the fight. Robert Mitchum, check; Henry Fonda, check; John Wayne, check; Eddie Albert, check. OK, Eddie Albert doesn’t belong here but you get the picture.

If you want something more appropriate, check out Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy. Yeah, it’s an Adam Sandler movie so you know how things will turn our by the end of the opening credits. But we dare any of you to hold back the tears during the final courtroom scene. It’s Sandler sentimentalism at it’s best and the movie has it’s funny parts as well.

For hungry Dad. Jerseycool will be at the in-laws this weekend cooking up a batch of ribs but for those of you that lack the chops to work a slow grill we suggest Montclair’s Indigo Smoke as an alternative. The ribs live up to their Kansas City reputation so take Dad out if you can. Bonus points if you can get a Sunday gospel brunch reservation.

For music man Dad. There’s a hopping Bruce Springsteen live set of his Dublin concerts last year that feature his folk-inspired Sessions Band but there’s also a great Traveling Wilburys collection in stores that brings the 80s group to CD for the first time ever. Handel that one with care.

Excitables for the Weekend of May 11-13

May 11, 2007

It’s all about Mom this weekend as families give Mom a break and head out in droves to brunches throughout the area. If you haven’t made reservations by now you’re probably out of luck and will be condemned to wait in line at the local pizza parlor for a table. Better to head to any one of a number of NJ farmers markets and pick up some fresh ingredients to cook mom a Sunday meal better than any you could find in a restaurant.Georgia Rule

Or if Mom is a cinema fan the new Jane Fonda-Lindsey Lohan-Felicity Huffman “Georgia Rule.” Lindsey plays a rebellious teen, Huffman her put-upon mother and Fonda the strict grandmother charged with shaping Lindsey up. You’ll probably be better entertained at “Spiderman 3” but the material suits the holiday. OK, you might be better off renting “On Golden Pond.”

Elsewhere this weekend:

Horse racing – inspired by last week’s Kentucky Derby? Slate your thirst not far from home as Monmouth Park opens on Saturday. Call 732-222-5100 or visit www.monmouthpark.com for more information.

Munchmobile – speaking of NJ.com, the Star Ledger’s Munchmobile is all over its front page today. The newspaper of record for the Garden state kicked off the latest incarnation of the summer eats series with a barbecue on its parking deck. The paper has made it part of the Friday morning experience launching its readers into heated arguments and “Why didn’t they go there?” questions.

Westerns from the East West and inbetween – The Loews Theater in Jersey City is quickly becoming the place for watching old movies in their big screen glory. This weekend’s “East Meets West(ern), Western Meets Spaghetti” theme is a great example.

The theater will be showing Sergio Leone’s “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” tonight at 8 p.m., Akiro Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai” Saturday at 2 p.m. and a screening of “The Magnificent Seven” at 8:30 p.m. While it’s always nice to see Clint in his prime on the big screen and the Magnificent Seven is very important in the Western cannon of film, Samurai is the star here. The film is newly restored with newly translated subtitles. There will also be several demonstrations of Japanese culture before the movie. Visit the Friends of the Loews site for more information.

Have a good weekend everyone.

JC

Excitables for the Weekend of April 20-22

April 20, 2007

It’s Earth Day — springtime finally hits the northeast just in time for Earth Day. Without getting to crunchy folks it’s a good time to break out the bikes, dust off the planters and hit those hiking trails people.

Jerseycool’s personal favorite hiking spot is Ramapo Mountain, but there will be events in just about eRamapo Mountainvery local community on Sunday including Lewis Morris County Park in Morris Township and Washington Lake Park on Saturday. Check your local papers for events closer to home. NJ.com also has a listing of events.

Yankees-Red Sox; Mets-Braves — the first real set of baseball weather also brings with it the first two marque matchups of the baseball year. Yankees and Red Sox will meet in Boston for a three game set with a prime time matchup on

ESPN slated for Sunday night. Not to be outdone the Mets host their long time rival the Braves, who are off to a hot start this year.

If you’re the type to have a few amongst friends when watching the game today’s Star Ledger has a roundup of Garden State sports bars. You can also find the article on NJ.com.

In the cinema, Anthony Hopkins reprises his role as Hannibal Lecter…oh wait, that’s a different movie. Anyway, Hopkins breaks out his creepy persona to chew up scenes (no pun intended) in the courtroom drama, Fracture. Fans of the indie hit Shaun of the Dead probably already have today circled since Hot Fuzz, a send up of action flicks by the same comedy team of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright hits theaters.Hot Fuzz

Vacancy is the other big release of the weekend. Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale get trapped at a homicidal motel. Resemblances to Psycho are purely intentional.

Have a good weekend everyone,

JC

Excitables — The Easter Edition

April 6, 2007

There is probably only one person who can outshine the Easter bunny this weekend, Tony Soprano, and he returns Sunday night at 9 p.m. on HBO. Yep, after a long…long weight there will be nothing finer on Sunday than wrapping up a visit with thTony and Carmelae family than with a visit with THE FAMILY. Easter is a time of reflection and our pop-culture souls are coming to grips with the fact that there are 10 weeks of Sopranos left in the world.

Still, the sadness is tempered somewhat in the knowledge that all things come to an end and, by and large, the Sopranos has not disappointed during its run. So, those of you who only order HBO during Sopranos season put down your egg-coloring kits and get on the phone with your cable operator because there’s no resurrecting this series once it’s gone. TheStar Ledger has been running daily catch-ups, which you can find on NJ.com and EW.com has a nifty slide show that can get you up to date in two minutes.

Elsewhere this weekend.

Easter — Did we mention it’s Easter this weekend. This is somewhat tempered by the fact it’s 40 degrees outside but NJ.com has a list of events including Easter egg hunts, bunny hops and parades. Goody, goody.

Entourage– Somewhat lost in the Sopranos hoopla is the return of Vincent Chase and his merry men to the haunts of Hollywood. When last we left the boys, Vince had just fired his agent Ari but since Jeremy Piven has been prominent in the previews we think he’s coming back into the fold in some capacity. When HBO announced this pairing over the Winter we called it one of the strongest nights of programming in the channels history and we stand by that statement. Don’t call us on Sunday nights for the next 10 weeks.

GrindhGrindhouseouse — Quentin Tarantino and Rober Rodriguez’ double-feature is one of the more interesting movie projects this year. Two movies about killer zombies and serial killers based on exploitation films of the 1970s. The movie comes packaged with an intermission and faux trailers of other low-brow fair. Certainly not a film to take the family to over the holiday weekend but we expect it to do killer box office anyway. Elsewhere in movie land, if you’re interested in exploitation someone pulled a fast one on two-time Academy Award winner Hillary Swank getting her to star in The Reaping, a horror flick based on biblical plaques. Yeah, we can smell that one from here.

Lest we forget, Ice Cube stars in Are We Done Yet?, a sequel to 2005’s Are We There Yet? We didn’t know there was pent up demand for this sequel but there you have it.

The Masters — In our opinion the only golf event worth watching. The Masters coincides with Easter this weekend, which could make for interesting viewing on Sunday.

Happy Easter people,

JC

St. Paddy’s Day Wrap Up

March 19, 2007

We spent our Saint Patrick’s Day over at a very crowded Tierney’s Tavern in Montclair where locals were out in force. Much of our time was spent downstairs which was loud but warmer than upstairs where the band was playing. Hand it to Tierney’s by 5 p.m. when we walked in they had three bartenders patrolling and the wait for drinks while long was manageable.

We wish they did a better job with food. Corned beef sandwiches were spotted but there was no place to order them other than the bar I guess and there certainly was no place to eat as tables began getting pulled out of the bar to make room for revelers early.

Thankfully Naunas across the way saved the day with their traditional St. Patrick’s Day menu. Not only did the corned beef hit the spot but who knew Nauna’s could make a pretty darn good lamb stew. Now if we could just get them to change the name of the place to McNauna’s for the day.

JC

Blow Up Santa’s Make the News

December 22, 2006

Following JerseyCool’s lede, the New York Times has a piece about blow-up Christmas lawn decorations, or blow up lawn crap as we’ve taken to calling it.

Seems there are more than a few of us annoyed with these things.

Read on.

JC

This Weekend’s Excitables, Dec. 22 Edition

December 22, 2006

This is our inaugural excitables segment. Basically, the things JerseyCool is looking forward to for this weekend. What’s gettin’ our juices flowing out here in the Garden State. So, in no particular order of importance:

1) Christmas Eve — Sunday night. We open presents on my side of the family Christmas Eve and then travel to C’s family Christmas Day. Looking forward to opening some goodies, getting the holiday season over with and enjoying the time off from work.

2) Good Shepherd — JerseyCool readers know my attachment to this film since I was an integral part of its production. Read here. Anyway, might actually travel to a theater for this one.

3) Rocky Balboa — Actually never thought this would happen but it has. Hey, the reviews don’t seem to be all that bad. Won’t take it in this weekend but pretty curious to see what the box office is like next week.

4) NY Giants vs. New Orleans Saints — It’s do or die for Big Blue on Christmas Eve. Don’t believe this bunk about getting into the playoffs as a 7-9 team. The Giants have to win out to get in. BTW, if you’re looking for something to do early Christmas Eve  day there are loads, and we mean loads, of tickets available on StubHub for the game. There are lively debates going on about whether the large number of available tickets have to do with the team’s performance or the holiday.

Happy Christmahkakwanza to you all,

JC

To Shop or Not to Shop

December 20, 2006

That appears to be the question for resident’s in Paramus, NJ. Home to two major malls, several giant box stores and possibly the most congested holiday roads in the state.

It’s a devilish barter the residents of Paramus have made, according to an article in today’s NY Times. Some of the lowest property taxes in the state, and certainly in northern NJ, exist in Paramus but so do some of the most congested roads as well.

No Ho Hos for Blow Up Christmas Globes

December 5, 2006

Christmas GlobeWe got our Christmas ornaments out of storage yesterday and C has started pestering me about getting a tree. Not one of my favorite chores mind you since I’m sweeping out pine needles from the car for three months.

Now, before you all start bombarding me with “Dear Ebeneezer” letters, I am as filled with the Christmas spirit as any other guy. I’ve been know to sip eggnog, I wrap my own gifts (poorly, I’d like to add) and I’ll crank up the Christmas tunes just like everyone else. But JerseyCool has stumbled upon a disturbing new trend this holiday season: the blow up lawn ornament.

Yes, what normally was once reserved for windowless, adult toy stores along Route 1 has been Christmasized and moved to your neighbors lawn. You know what I’m talking about and you’ve probably hit the breaks as you’ve driven past these monstrosities dotting the suburban landscape.

Inflatable Christmas characters, sometimes by themselves, sometimes encased in a giant inflatable snow glob have become the annoying lawn decoration of choice. And these things aren’t tiny. No, they’re anywhere from 6-10 feet tall.

I’ve got nothing against Christmas decorations. We get a tree every year, we throw some holiday lights on the terrace and C likes to get tinsel everywhere. I even like driving by the houses that have covered every inch of their property with a bizillion lights. Those decorations are somewhat creative, but I am not particularly impressed with someone laying down a few hundred bucks at Home Depot for an inflatable piece of lawn crap.

Yeah, these things run into the hundreds of dollars. Funds that could be used to, oh I don’t know, give to charity, maybe.

Usually the crassness of this season doesn’t get to me too much. I’ve gotten used to seeing Christmas decorations on and around Labor Day, I’ve gotten used to seeing people stampede stores on Black Friday. We live in a consumer age and you have to live in your age, but can we at least draw the line at tacky ornaments that will, in all likelihood, stay on the neighbor’s lawn until March.

Suppose this latest fad takes off. Suppose in a couple months people start hoisting giant Valentine’s Day hearts, Easter Bunnies and on Memorial Day you know there will be a pissing contest over who has the biggest inflatable flag.

If you’re thinking of going to the stores this weekend and dropping some currency on one of these things JerseyCool has a suggestion. Below are links to several charities we like around here. These are just suggestions. JC doesn’t like to tell people what to do with their cash, much less where to give it. But, I’d rather see you people give moneyto a bum who’se gonna blow the wad on some Jack Daniels and Rumplemintz.

In our humble opinion that would be more in line with the supposed spirit of the season.

Instead of Buying an Inflatable Piece of Lawn Crap

Community Foodbank of NJ

USO Cares

American Diabetes Association