Jamaica - Jared and Dre's Wedding

First and foremost - I must congratulate Andrea Bergtraum (Dre) and Jared Margulies, two top-notch individuals and friends who got married this past weekend. As a couple, they compliment each other and are always an absolute pleasure to hang out with. I wish them a lifetime of health and happiness - which they certainly deserve!

Their wedding took place in Montego Bay, Jamaica - mostly to avoid random wedding attendees like "Jared's mom's neighbor" (direct quote from Rehearsal dinner) Amy and I certainly subscribe to that viewpoint and it was refreshing to hear that we're not alone. What was also refreshing was the crew who was part of our weekend experience. Hanging out was fun, easy, and memorable. The resort was great - especially the pool - and the weather (for the most part) behaved.

In Dave Letterman style, here is a Top 10 random thoughts from Jared and Dre's Jamaica weekend:

10) Hellers head-shaving coming out party was a big hit (Speaking of hits - quality job on the Pool Mix, the Chill mix, and Party mixes. Poker crew wants the Party mix CD sent to them please.)
9) "Ya Mon" can be trusted 50% of the time -- but expect it to take a while.
8) Danny Cohen is easily on my top 3 funniest people I've ever met list
7) Strow is the luckiest poker player I know (but as he says, Poker is 65% luck... so he's got that going for him ... which is nice)
6) White Chedder - the under-rated omelette cheese ... Great call JP!
5) Tuna Glantz is officially a metro-sexual (although this doesn't mean I love him any less)
4) In Jamaica, the bare ass is fully part (and a large focus of) the standard sweedish massage. I'm not complaining, just was something different...
3) Tequilla shots = drunken fun (Warning may cause black-outs and hangovers) (Great call Nicole and Tuna)
2) Rain during the outside wedding reception was actually a positive thing. It clearly took the night into a unique, unforgetable evening!
1) Fun and high quality people, in an exotic location, for a happy life event makes for an amazing time.

Congrats Jared and Dre and thanks for a memorable experience for not only yourselves, but for the peeps who've got love for you as well!


Can't-Stop - Won't Stop, Weekend

Like most summers, the weekends seem to "fill up" quicker than ever expected. July is wedding month for us, but this weekend we punched in for extra-time. Ally is on my moms side of the family, but her parents have also kept a friendship with my father, which meant that both my parents would be going to the same wedding for the first time since Jills. It also meant that they would both be up here for the same weekend, plus My Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin, add Steve's birthday, and Isabella's Christening - and you've got the "2006 BG-AT Can't Stop - Won't Stop Weekend." Check it...

My cousin Snorin Lauren came into town for our cousin Ally's wedding. Lauren lives on the Left Coast and world travels as her day job (no joking), so it's not so often we get to see her. She landed on Thursday afternoon and so we met up for dinner with my sister and Fred. We went to a restaurant that opened 1 day earlier called Japonaise. (It comes by way of the Windy Cindy with a lot of hype) The overall atmosphere was pretty cool - and we were psyched that there was no "hype" drama. Amy got drunk on her 2nd martini and we all had a pretty good time. Food was touch and go and service was pretty bad - but- that is totally expected on day 2. (I'd go back there in a few months) JP came to meet us towards then end and we then went to Under Bar for a drink where my boys from high school (some visiting from FL) were randomly at. It was a great surprise - and was an overall great way to start off the weekend.

My friends from Florida were up this weekend mostly to hang with Steve - who celebrated his 30th bday on Friday. (As I told Steve Friday, he fits the saying "30 is the new 12) We started out by going to a small, family owned Italian joint for dinner. It was a great call - where the 14 of us were able to eat a good meal, hang out and celebrate Woodle's birthday. After dinner, we went to a GREAT FIND spot. Due to the desire to keep it under raps - let's just say this place was at The Nexus of the Universe. What I mean by "great find" is a cool, lounge spot that played great hip-hop, wasn't too crowded nor too empty, and had reasonably priced drinks. We partied and danced till 3 AM (Amy, Lauren, and I left before a few others, though). Overall was a great night! Pictures to prove it are available.

Saturday started the "Full Family wedding weekend" portion of the program. Brunch with my moms and Ron during the day, Amy-Lauren girly wedding preparation in the afternoon and then wedding at night. Another great time! (The Trifecta) Ally is a year older than me and went to Michigan - so - I happened to know a lot of people besides my family at the affair. Mix Free Booze, a reason to celebrate, and a bunch of friends/family - and that's why weddings are fun (versus the one's where you don't know anyone or aren't quite sure why you're there) . Of course, with our wedding planning in full-force (and having respect for Ally-Lee taste) Amy was on full detail-patrol. Well, I should say until she got her drink and dance on.... We ended up sweating most (but not all) of our liquor out by dancing (yes - i got down to some white music). Although I was talking a big game to go out afterwards (it was 2 AM), I was glad we went straight home -- I had a big Sunday planned that didn't include Home Depot or Bed, Bath, and Beyond....

The first day that I woke up feeling a bit hung-over. (I had to decline brunch with my dad and about 9 others) A quick shower, cup of coffee and a bagel and Amy and I were off to Long Island. Isabella Danielle Fornaro got christened yesterday - which marked my first personal Christening experience (outside of TV and movies). Sure, there are times when I'm in a church when I obviously feel out-of-place, but for the families involved it is a very nice thing. Different from my experience with Catholic weddings, I was happily surprised with the 20 minute service (which encompassed 5 babies). From the church we went to The Elder's for eats and hanging out. It turned out to be a great day - although given how cute Isabella is - there really wasn't much time with her.... BUT ... Nic and Fab seemed very happy and that's why we were there. Turned out that Amy and I got some quality baby hangin time when we got back into the city to hang out with Syd Stern... She's cute everyday - but was extra cute yesterday with me finding a full-proof way to make her laugh! We hung out on the roof of my sisters building for about 4 hours (included ordering in pizza and salad) with my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. After that - I was pooped... End of weekend....

Except - given all the plans, Amy and I were unable to really hang with my dad -- so we'll be doing that tonight...

After that - strict CHILL policy on the next 2 nights ... Gotta rest up for Dre and Jared's wedding in Jamaica..... Can't Stop, Won't Stop .....
(More pictures to come)


Guest Blogger - Jamie Brown - Please Seek the Truth

BG: From time-to-time, readers of this blog often say things like "I'd love to have a blog, I just don't have that much to say that often." In which my response is, "Well, you can always guest blog on mine if you ever are passionate enough on a topic." Well - Today will mark the first time someone has taken me up on the offer.

Below is Mrs. Jamie Brown's guest blog entry titled:
Please Seek the Truth

JB: My memory of last night should have been nothing but pleasant. I went to an adorable restaurant in the West Village with camp friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, enjoyed good food, and great sangria. I even got to my apartment 30 seconds, literally, before the thunderstorm began! All was good…until I turned on the television.

Earlier in the day, I had been switching between MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN in an effort to get the most comprehensive reporting on the crisis in the Middle East. I guess the last channel I had been watching was CNN because it was Anderson Cooper’s face I saw when I turned on the TV. I don’t watch Anderson Cooper enough to comment on his reporting style and/or bias. However, I do know the reputation of CNN among pro-Israeli organizations, and last night confirmed for me what substantiates that reputation.

There he was, Anderson Cooper being guided through Lebanese war-torn rubble by none other than the Hezbollah Press Officer. This terrorist (and that is EXACTLY what he is!*) was being featured on CNN at 10pm, just when Americans are catching up on the news before the go to sleep, ranting LIES about how Israel has targeted missiles at Lebanese civilians, has been ineffectual at destroying the Hezbollah infrastructure, and is too “cowardice” to come fight them on the ground!

My initial reaction was, “How much Sangria did I drink?! I can’t possibly be seeing the television straight!” But as the denial gave way to reality, the shock turned into anger, disgust, and sheer disappointment in the media. I get that the media has to air the crisis from both sides of the conflict, but since when are terrorist groups recognized as a legitimate entity in the world community? This segment was blatant contradiction to the message the U.S is trying to disseminate regarding terrorism. How can we say we don’t tolerate terrorism and then show the Hezbollah Press Officer in the spotlight at prime news watching hour spewing anti-Israel propaganda?! It is a joke, and a very dangerous and irresponsible one at that!

Naturally, what CNN horribly failed to mention in the segment was the TRUTH! They left out the fact that Israeli fighter planes dropped thousands of flyers on Lebanon, a nation which is split between those who blame Hezbollah for inciting this crisis by kidnapping the Israeli soldiers and the terrorist group’s supporters, warning civilians that if they go near Hezbollah installations it will be at their own risk. Which brings me back to the images... Anderson Cooper was airing of what appeared to be apartment buildings. For all anyone knows, and what is most likely the case, is that these seemingly benign residencies were the site of “Hezbollah installations.”

Israel has been very clear and transparent with the world regarding their strategy in this crisis- To destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure, which, contrary to the Press Officer’s claims, they have completed 50% of their mission, and safely return the Israeli soldiers to their families. Israel DOES NOT want to occupy territory or escalate this crisis. Israel is strategically executing its power in such a way to minimize casualties, both of Israeli soldiers and Lebanese civilians. This, of course, is the REAL reason for not sending in ground troops, not cowardice.

I could go on and on about the absurdity of what I saw last night on CNN, but I will leave you all with this last message. PLEASE, seek the TRUTH about what is going on in the Middle East and then engage friends, family, co-workers, even strangers in conversation about the seriousness of this crisis. Undermining the misleading images and biased accounts shown in media must be a grassroots effort. Don’t think this conflict is “their” problem, it is “our” problem and we should all do whatever we can to alleviate that problem.


* According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Hezbollah, whose name means “party of God,” is a terrorist group believed responsible for nearly 200 attacks since 1982 that have killed more than 800 people.


Atlantic (Sh)city

This past weekend, I had a friends bachelor party. Although I didn't know many of the other 10 or so guys that attended, they all were cool and everyone got along just fine. Overall, the time had was good with no major complaints regarding typical bachelor party drama. My one major complaint is with the "destination" known as Atlantic City.

I've now been there more than 5 times (which gives me enough experience to make the following claim). The place is a terrible place to visit, vacation, and especially throw a bachelor party. Considering it as an option over to have a bachelor party over Las Vegas is like choosing who you want on your basketball team - ME or Dwayne Wade....

Why do I feel this way?
First, the place is an overall DUMP. I've been to atleast 3 hotels there, and they are all a small step above a Motel 6. Take out the Casinos - and that's what you have... (Note: I have yet to go to The Borgata). The hotel pools are nasty, the beaches are ghetto, and the streets don't really scream "walk here late at night" alone...

Secondly, the people in Vegas are young, vibrant, and all about having a good time (cuz we all know what happens there stays there). There are 2 kinds of people in Atlantic City - Retired folks (I lost count walkers and wheelchairs I had to pass while finding a craps table) and New Jerseys finest "meatheads." (You know the jacked dudes who wear the snap-in-the-crotch shirts that look like they have a half of inch of sleeves).

Thirdly, the entertainment options were better when I was 13 thanit is there (minus the casino). The clubs are awful (I've already discussed what the crows is like), the staff in the casinos had no personality, and the "adult entertainment" options are good for one thing - and that is as a penalty for losing a bet. I don't know about you, but I really don't want to have to pay unattractive smelly women to dance in bathing suits anywhere near me.

And finally, it's not like it is right around the corner from NYC. With NO traffic, it's 2.5 hours to get there. It took us 4 hours this weekend, and it took other guys 6 hours who left a little after us...

I am slated to go to Atlantic Shitty in 2 months for the World Championship of Fantasy Football draft. But after that -- I'm really going to make the attempt to never return...


Sydney Representin!

I have been an uncle for 6 months now, and all I can say is that my neice gets cuter every day. If you don't believe me, look below.

For those of you who tease me about "always promoting the busines in my atire" (ie wearing a lot of google gear), I wanted to let you know that I'm getting the whole family in the mix EARLY.


Answer Tones

I experienced my first answer tone yesterday. An anwer tone for those of you who aren't aware, is an alternate to the standard ring tone that all us CALLERS (rather than answerers) are used to hearing when we call people. Considering that my dad and step-mom have ring-tones (an alternate to ringing for ANSWERING calls), I'm assuming that most people know about these....

At first, the "answer tone" confused me. I called my friend and the next thing I knew I was listening to C.R.E.A.M by Wu-Tang -- for a full 10+ seconds. My first thought was that I called her while she was in the car listening to the radio and she just didn't know that the phone picked up, but once her voicemail came on I was very confused. Then I called back a little later and after about 4 seconds of the Wu-Tang joint, she picked up - and that's when I put it together.

I looked online for anwer tones for my phone, and was very tempted to buy one, but I don't want to make an impulse purchase that callers will find annoying after the first 3 times of calling me. Although I'd like to believe that I would be able to keep it fresh with different tones - we all know that reality will set-in and I'll keep the same answer tone for 4 months without even realizing.

I'm sure people will say it depends on what I pick - and there is a lot of variety. Music, Movie or TV quotes, or even voices (like a sexy woman moaning a guys name)...

So I'm still up in the air on this. The price isn't prohibitive ($0.99 monthly fee plus $1.99 per download), it is more a question of the caller experience. I mean - it won't effect me at all (other than potential drop calls).

And yes - it will be a little wierd for someone calling Brett Goffin (The Google employee) and instead of the expected ring, they hear Biggie saying "Who the hell is this.....paging me at 5:46 in the morning, crack of dawn..." (Yes - this is an available option that I'm considering)

So - I'm still on the fence, but I wanted to share. If you have strong opinions either way - I'm definitely looking for "user feedback"


Why I've fallen in and out of love with the World Cup

I've been meaning to write this post for a few days. Coincidentally, I saw that The Sports Guy wrote an article on the same topic, although I have yet to read his...

When the World Cup started a month ago, I was mesmerized. I was VERY into the US run 4 years ago, waking up at 2:30 AM to watch our team play, but this year was different. I actually enjoyed watching almost every match, regardless of who was playing. It was clear to me why the US has never been as good as the rest of the world, which in a way means I actually started to appreciate and understand what makes a good soccer team. (Much like solid defense and no turnovers wins Champions in both basketball and football).

Anyway - this love affair lasted about 10 days. There were just so many 0-0 tie games I could watch. And those games that actually featured a goal or two usually did so because someone completely FLOPPED and the ref bought it. Now, I have no idea if this has always been a part of the game, (as I'm a somewhat new "fan") but this is worse than the NBA officials drama that occured this past offseason. There is no consistancy in terms of when refs give out cards - which they NEVER seem to give to players who over-act. As I said in a previous post about the NBA, the only way players will stop doing this, is if there is a penalty in lieu of today's payoff.

Anyway... fast forward to this past weekend semi-finals, and I was back in love again. I had taken a break, and now was open to zero-zero games decided in the last 2 minutes of the 2nd overtime. I am very much looking forward to the finals and will be rooting for Italy. Not only did I think that Italians were nicer to me than the French when traveling abroad, but the US tied the Italians, which could give our players some needed confidence going into 2008. (FYI - I started the tourney rooting for the US and Argentina (por mis amigos Manu, Wendy y Lau).

Finally, I just learned this weekend that there is Fantasy World Cup. (I can't lie, I felt cheated somehow that I didn't know about this beforehand). Steve - seeing as if you're the resident soccer playa - I'm nominating you to coordinate this for 2008. Until then, back to my Fantasy Football research. ;)