Sunday, March 4, 2018

Birthday weekend for Papa

Birthday weekend at Universal with the kids!

Unfortunately they advertised it in 11 different sizes. Even little Wyatt wore Happy Birthday Old Man.

Nikki and Steven and Cole and Grace came in a day early so we spent the day with them at Animal Kingdom on Friday. The place is very cool. One note of interest: Dede took Grace to see the hippo asleep on the bottom of the big tank, Every so often he would raise his head above the water and then sink back down.

Dede felt certain that the hippo was one of those robotic creatures Disney uses in their parks. She insisted the hippo was fake even though we all told her that this was REAL animal kingdom ... not FAKE animal kingdom. 

She finally approached one of the staff in the gorilla exhibit and asked the question. "Is the hippo in the tank real?"
"Interesting question. Although some of the creatures are not real in Disney parks, the hippo is real."
"OH ..."
"But I have a question for you. Do you know what kind of fish those were that swim around the hippo? They are scavengers who ....."    Oh no ... Dede found a new friend.

That became the running joke of the trip: Real or not real?

When we got back to the hotel to wait for everyone, we rented an outdoor man cave. It was a cabana that had everything: TV set, phone, drinks ... you name it.

It even had its own beach by the pool right out front.

Had dinner at a really cool place in the hotel that had a great atmosphere and served some killer drinks like a tequila old fashioned. 

After a couple of those ... I really forgot what we ate ... some kind of seafood dish  ... oh yeah ... paella. Good stuff!

The next day we started out early and headed to Universal. Well we tried to start out early but with three kids, and a whole lot of bags and carts ... it takes a little while. 

But we made it to Harry Potter World. Have to admit I was impressed. Never read the books or saw the movies but liked the butter beer and rides. It stretched between Islands of Adventure and Universal. 

A train connects the two ... you have to see it. 

Wyatt wore his hat on Saturday and became an instant hit with the 80 year olds.

Not to be outdone with headgear ... Alissa did her best Unibomber impression.

Beer was the drink of choice all day. (especially because there were lots of adults to watch the kids and Moms and Dads deserve a break now and then).

Nate and Josh competed to be hailed as the new king of Guitar Hero. (Must be the only time that Alice Cooper gets airplay any more).

Minions were a BIG hit.

These THINGS were a big hit too.

Surprise bonus: It was Mardi Gras in the park ... food, music, floats, beads ... very cool!!!

Papa is a very happy man. 

So lucky to have this much love in one great weekend. Thanks Dede ... Thanks Lawvers ... Thanks Cohens and Thanks Mombergs!!!! Love you guys.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Went to Italia Mia the other night.

Tony, the owner was holding  court in the kitchen. He was talking to one of the customers who stood on the other side of the counter.

We were in a booth on the other side of the restaurant but could CLEARLY hear every word. Just a guess but I think they were both talking about the old days ... in Jersey. Reminded me of the old Abbott and Costello routine, "Who's On First?" except that they never got off first base.

" Hey Tony ... remember Aldo?"
" Yeah."
" Yeah. Aldo  ... remember?"
" Yeah I know Aldo."
" He worked in the restaurant right?"
" Who?"
" Aldo."
" Oh yeah. Aldo."
" At the pizza place right?"
" Aldo?"
" Yeah."
" Yeah at the pizza place."
" Hey ... did you know Gianni?"
" Yeah. I know Gianni."
" I thought you might know Gianni."
" Gianni."
" He had a brother right?"
" Who?"
" Gianni."
" Gianni?"
" Yeah ... I think it was Mario."
" Mario?"
" Gianni's brother. Mario."
" No."
" No?"
" No. Don't know no Mario"
" What do you mean? He was Gianni's brother."
" I don't know no Mario."
" He was Gianni's brother."
" You mean skinny Mario?"
" No Mario wasn't skinny. He was fat."
" That's him ... Skinny Mario."
" No ... fat Mario."
" Yeah. We all called him Skinny Mario."
" Why did you call him Skinny?
" I don't know."
" He was Gianni's brother?"
" Maybe. I don't know."

At this point in the conversation, Deb and I were cracking up. Tony saw me laughing. He looked over at me and said. "Hey Joe (always calls me Joe or just HEY) You know this-a guy?"
" Which one ... Aldo, Gianni or Skinny Mario?"
"No ... this-a guy."
"He drive-a me crazy this-a guy. Always bustin my chops, this-s guy"

We all have a laugh together and after a few minutes, Tony's friend says ..."Hey ... you remember Little Paulie?"

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas Vacation Part 6

On our last night in New York, with the temperature dropping to 11 degrees, we shuffled into the Brooks Atkinson Theater to see Waitress.

Very cool show. Jason Mraz was in it and was a surprisingly good actor. The music was good and the cast was very talented.

But truly, the guy who stole the show was an actor named Christopher Fitzgerald. He played the boyfriend of one of the waitresses and was so funny that he had everyone in the theater laughing so hard,

Well ... time for bed (and heat) and then off to the airport and home for the rest of the holidays. Happy New Year to all!  (eventually).

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Vacation Part 5

It is COLD!

I'm inside now trying to feel my face ... man. It's 20 degrees and wind chill is zero. LOOOONNNG way from Florida.

Yesterday was pretty cold too.

We took the subway to our Matinee play: Come From Away. It's the play about all the 9/11 airline passengers who had to land in Newfoundland.

It was a musical.

I wondered before we got there ... how do you make a musical out of Newfoundland residents and airline passengers in a stressful situation?

My answer came soon after we sat down in the theater as the band took their places.


The cast was real. They looked and acted like townsfolk and like displaced passengers. The dialogue and the music was spot on.

Made you move to Newfoundland.


After the show ... we went to dinner. (all we have done is eat!). This time it was Gotham Bar and Grill.

We had a corner table and another excellent dinner. Another winner.

This time ... they had a message for Debbie.  (Just because they can't spell anniversary ...  nobody's perfect)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Vacation Part 4

I admit I was skeptical.

The restaurant we had reservations with last night was in Brooklyn. We had to sign a contract way before we came. I promised money, my first born child, sent my last three pay stubs .... okay, maybe I exaggerated. It was only my last two pay stubs. 

Anyway, it was touted as one of the best restaurants in the world. Pretty heady stuff, right?

Well ... It WAS all that and more.

The River Cafe sits at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and overlooks Manhattan. We had a front row seat ... a window that had the most magnificent view of the city you could have asked for. When we walked up to the restaurant, I took a picture of Debbie in the courtyard.

Breathtaking ... and the view was nice too.

It was cold last night ... in the 30s. But you didn't notice it with that background. The restaurant was beautiful inside ... intimate, warm and not at all stuffy and arrogant (I guess I was kinda expecting it to be cold and formal and pretty full of itself ... what a great surprise).

The wait staff was perfect.

They were attentive but not in your plate and hovering. Deb noticed they were all attractive and very polite. They didn't rush you but were there whenever you needed them.

Then came the best surprise.

The food was incredible.  It started with our chef sending out a duck appetizer, followed by oysters for me and smoked salmon for Deb, followed by goose (duck duck goose) and gnocchi. Deb had the Wellington for her main course and I had the Lobster.

They were all presented beautifully and the flavors were incredible!

Melted in our mouths!

I can't say enough about this place. You have got to go there next time you're in New York. I can see now why you have to reserve a table waaayyyy in advance and why you have to commit to giving up your first born child if you don't follow through.

By the way ... The dessert was pretty cool too. Trio with a chocolate Brooklyn Bridge in the center.

And of course it was our Anniversary ... again!


Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Vacation Part 3.5

Just a quick update.

Because it’s Christmas Day there’s not much open. We were supposed to see a Knicks game but it didn’t work out (which was fine because we needed some time to shop and dine). This trip is costing me a fortune.

I found two great places to shop and to dine this afternoon.

I told Deb to spend whatever she likes.

Christmas Vacation Part 3

Christmas Eve morning at Radio City was a cold blast from the past! The line stretched around the block ... it was worth the wait.

Incredible production ... even 3D of Santa flying in to Manhattan  ("There is a Santa Claus ... There Is a Santa Claus" Said the little Jewish boy yesterday.)

The Rockettes haven't lost a step (haha). They boarded a bus on stage and took a ride through Times Square.

Then it snowed.

Not outside ... inside. That's right it snowed all over us with little flecks of white paper.

It's a Christmas miracle ... I didn't take pictures of the manger and the camels and the sheep and that stuff. Debbie took 734 shots of that if you want to see them.

I took the important stuff ... like Santa and his friends.

We took the subway back to the hotel ... changed clothes and then went to a cool place ... One if By Land. Two if By Sea. It's actually Aaron Burr's Carriage House. I kept singing "I am not throwing away my shot" (from Hamilton) in my head. This was quite a romantic spot for dinner!

Food was delicious and the atmosphere was great. Throw in a couple of roses and a few candles and you've got yourself another romantic night out on the town!

I should know being Mr. Romantic (as Debbie calls me ... not). But I was last night. This is the second night we celebrated our anniversary (12/21). We have a few more restaurants to go.