Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pete + Elda's Review; Part 2 of 3

Listen up everyone. There was a technical glitch a couple of weeks ago that resulted in my computer mistakenly saying that George, the owner of Pete + Elda's (also known as "Carmen's"), in Neptune City, NJ, was "ugly." 

I don't know how in the world that could've happened, especially since George has bought me drinks in the past and would've probably continued to do so in the future had that computer malfunction not occurred, but I'm here to correct it. 

I've called in a team from Microsoft and I think they have the problem under control.

Here's a picture of George.  As you can plainly see, he's quite the handsome man:
 Many patrons at Pete + Elda's mistake George for Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp (am I laying it on too thick?  The drinks there are really good...)

As I mentioned previously, I will provide a full-on review of Pete + Elda's in the late spring or early summer.  It's an excellent place, my favorite Italian restaurant on the entire Jersey Shore.  This is a bit of a mini-review to get me back into George's good graces to give you a heads up before the summer crowd starts rushing in. 

See that surfboard-like sign in the background with the puppies on it? It's above George's big head to the left.  He promised that to my sister, a serious dog lover, just as soon as he gets something else to hang in its place.  I'm just putting this in writing so that he doesn't forget.  Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp reportedly have bad memories.

Pete + Elda's is a great spot from just about every perspective.  The food is delicious, especially the pizza, and the atmosphere is lively, warm and fun.  If you're at the Jersey Shore, stop here for a meal or you'll only be cheating yourself.  I should mention that the bartending staff is top notch.  Here's a portrait of Mike and Tanya:

I really only wanted a picture of Tanya, but Mike wandered into the viewfinder just as I was about to click away, so it seemed only polite to get him in there.  Just kidding Mike!  No need to water down my drinks!

Here's our friendly and attentive server, Melissa:
Mike, Tanya and Melissa all deserve big raises; they're the cream of the crop in restaurant personnel at the Jersey Shore.  I hope cheapo George is reading this. 

What's this, you may be asking. 

That baby is the Xlerator, a super-high potency bathroom blow dryer.  This photo was taken in the women's men's room at Pete + Elda's (you can't prove that I was in the women's room so just drop it.) 

My sister and her friend Gail are responsible for these hi-tech wonders being in the bathrooms.  Maria and Gail badgered George into buying them to speed up bathroom visits -- so that women could more quickly get back out to ogle George.  You can also give yourself a pseudo-shower under the sink (even washing your hair) and dry yourself off with these things.  I've never done that, of course, just heard about it.  Really.

Here's a picture of the menu at Pete + Elda's/Carmen's.  I know, you were expecting a look at the inside of it so that you could see the list of delectible offerings.  Just go there and look for yourself, stop relying on me for everything.
Finally, here's a picture of Tanya and Maria.  She's the most beautiful sister that I have  (there are only two kids in my family.)  And Tanya is the most beautiful bartender at Carmen's (sorry Mike).

So that's it.  This was just a short "teaser" post to whet your appetite for a great meal at the Jersey Shore.

Hopefully I'll be allowed back in now that I've set the record straight!

Also, on Wednesday not only will Geo's high school graduation photo be unveiled, but we'll have a complete posting on him.  Wednesday is Focus on Geo Day, be sure to check it out!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Cousin Jimmy (He's A Lot Like Your Cousin Vinny)

Here's a picture of my cousin Jimmy, with his very lovely bride Gena, leaving the church after their wedding.  As you can see, Gena is looking back into the church. I think she wanted to preserve a mental picture of the last place that she was single and happy, before making the mistake of tying the noose knot with Jimmy.  Either that, or she was checking to see what happened to the friend who she paid to yell "I object, I object!"  Since it didn't happen, I hope she got a full refund.  I would've done it, but I didn't feel it was my place.  Our side of the family was lucky to be marrying him off.

Jimmy is another person about whom I could write and entire book, but I'll only give you this one story for now.  It's Saturday and I don't want to be on the computer all day.

Jimmy had his bachelor party in South Beach (Miami) in June of 2008.  I'd show you pictures but, according to Jimmy's rules, nobody was allowed to take photos.  I violated those rules, however, by taking an unsanctioned video with the help of Cousin Sal. 

REMINDER: Coming Wednesday:  Geo's Hight School Graduation Photo from Mt. Penn High School in Reading, PA will be posted.  It will be well worth your effor to come back!

We're holding on to that video to supplement our retirement funds.  We'll sell it back to Jimmy when the time is right.  We used one of those $20 disposable jobs that you can buy at CVS, and we're expecting at least a 5000% return on our investment.  But I'm digressing...

Sal and I flew down together.  Jimmy arrived in Miami a few hours before us with his Barely Adequate Man.  I refuse to use the term "Best Man" in reference to someone who said he was going upstairs to use the hotel room bathroom and fell asleep for the night at 10 pm on the main night of the bachelor party, Saturday.

When we got to the hotel, at about midnight, I called Jimmy's cell. 

"Hey, man, you gotta come meet us at this bar!" he said breathlessly.

"Where are you and what kind of bar is it?  We're both wearing shorts and casual shirts.  Can we get in?  Is it a bar or a dance club?  I'm guessing it's a dance club, it sounds loud."

"No, no, no way," Jimmy assured me. 

Knowing Jimmy as I do (unfortunately), I said, "Make sure.  We're not getting in a cab and wasting time and money to come to this place if we can't get in.  Some South Beach places have dress codes.  Check with someone at the bar, I don't trust your opinion." 

He said he would, and put me on hold for about a minute.

"I just checked, the dude said you could get in with shorts.  No problem," he said.

"Alright, we'll be there in about 20 minutes."

Keep in mind, this story is absolutely, 100% true.  I am not making up any of this.

Sal and I got into a cab and headed over.  Admittedly, this is not an exact photo of what we encountered at this "bar," but it's pretty damn close:

Women were all dressed in tony evening wear.  Men were in expensive suits.  The bouncers gave us icy, "Don't even think about it scumbags," looks.  We felt like deliverymen at the yacht club formal.

Feeling extremely annoyed -- a typical emotion when dealing with Jimmy -- I phoned him.

"What the ***** are you thinking?!  This place is clearly a nightclub, it's not even a close question, and there's a dress code and we can't get in!  We just wasted time and money to come here!"

"Oh, really?  The guy said you could get in with shorts," he replied timidly.

"Really?  Really!  Who did you ask?  What guy?" I demanded to know.

"The guy in the bathroom, the attendant."

I swear that's true.  

The Best Wings in NYC

Folks, I didn't go to the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, Texas.  Oh, wait, make that Paris, France. See, I really didn't go there.  

I didn't even attend Hamburger U., McDonald's famous school for burgermeisters.  I'm just an Average Joe consumer.  But I've previously introduced you to the best sushi and pizza in New York City.  Now I'm going to let you in on the secret of the best chicken wings.  Well, among the best anyway.  I haven't tried every single wing joint in this town, but I feel sure that I'm going to turn you on to one of the top spots.

This is Molly's, it's on the east side of Third Avenue between 22nd St. and 23rd St.  Doesn't look like much from the outside, but, then again, neither do you. 

It's what's inside that counts, same as with you (hopefully that last line will keep you from abandoning The LG Report.)  You are very pretty on the inside.

Pete is the owner of Molly's, and his lovely wife, Sheila, is one of the servers.  They are both warm people and great hosts.  Both are from Ireland originally.  Here's a picture of the most excellent wings in action:

The server didn't expect her hand to get into the photo, as she delivered the second shot of bleu cheese, but I'm sure she's quite happy to get some big-time blog exposure.  Like all of the other servers at Molly's, she was very friendly and efficient and her name, which I forget, was Irish sounding.  

This is a great place for burgers, wings, Irish whiskey and most other pub offerings.  Dark inside with sawdust on the floor, it's also a good spot for rendevouzing with a close friend (or illicit lover)  I didn't say that.  

That's it, a very pithy LG Report today, sometimes it's like this.  Enjoy, and get yourself to Molly's for wings and burgers ASAP, and to Luzzo's for pizza and Yama for sushi.  Until next time...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Martha Stewart Show - Part II

As promised, today The LG Report was in the studio audience for The Martha Stewart Show's annual all-male audience Super Bowl Show.  Attending with me were Dannie, Geo, Jimmie and Amadeo.  Yes, they went willingly.  

We had the absolute worst seats in the audience, top row, far left.  Here's a picture of the boys in their seats:
If inches of forehead were money, Dannie would be richer than Bill Gates.  They say it's a sign of great intelligence.  Geo is wearing his great grandfather's shirt/sweater combo, which was bought from the wardrobe department of "My Three Sons."  Jimmie could be a hand model for Lancome Press-On Nails.  And Amadeo's expression clearly says "Damn, I think my picture at The Martha Stewart Show is going to be on a blog, I'd better try to contort my face beyond recognition."

Shortly after this photo was taken, Martha called Dannie, Geo, Jimmie and Amadeo down onto the set to participate in a male make-over.  Here's how they looked after the stylists got done with them:

Compare the two pictures: don't they seem happier and more attractive after the makeover?  Martha's stylists really work miracles.

After a 20-minute wait on the sidewalk to get in, we were herded into the audience room, where we waited with about 120 other guys for an hour.  Then it was time to be seated in the studio.  Here's what the audience waiting room looked like:

Technically, audience tickets were only available to men between the ages of 18 and 40, although nobody checked IDs.  It's not clear as to why this age restriction was imposed, given that men of all ages watch the Super Bowl.  The production assistant said that I looked to be under 18 years old, but she let me in anyway. 

All of today show's guests were men (the episode airs on Friday, February 5th; check your local listings.)  Kerry Rhodes of the New York Jets joined Martha in the opening segment to make nachos.  He was personable, funny and did a good job.  Here's Kerry at some fancy-schmancy event:

Luckily for Kerry, he didn't wear that white outfit to make nachos, which, as you know, is a messy endeavor.  Smothered with cheese, peppers, chicken and a lot of other tasty ingredients, the nachos looked delicious. 

Martha commented that she absolutely hates it when not every single nacho is covered with cheese or some other topping.  She says she feels cheated.  I would think that when she remembers that she has a net worth in excess of $1 billion, some of that ire of being cheated by a naked nacho leaves her.

One of the frustrating things about being in the audience is not getting a chance to sample all the scrumptious-looking food.  We all have our crosses to bear.  Kerry is bearing his in this photo as a matter of fact.

Geo inadvertently walked in front of Martha while she was trying to show off a family photo on the set.  She was saying how it was her most treasured picture, and she started to cry before forcing this smile.  Geo was wandering around looking for the men's room and didn't realize that he was in front of Martha and on air:

Geo was immediately handcuffed and whisked away to the Interrogation Room.  Instead of merely waterboarding him, the security guards Perrier-boarded him.  Meanwhile, filming resumed.

Martha answered audience questions after filming was completed, as seen below.  I raised my hand and cooed like Horshak in "Welcome Back Cotter," but to no avail. 

I had what I thought was an excellent question: Did she realize that when divided with different spacing, the name "Martha Stewart" could be "Mart Haste Wart?"  If you were in a hurry to buy a wart, you would go to this store, or mart.  It could be a new product line for her, the Martha Stewart Mart Haste Wart. It would compete with Target and Walmart.  Don't be so quick to dismiss it. 

Seriously, think about it. 

Martha's full name is also an anagram for "Heats Warm Tarts."  It's true, check for yourself.  See, The LG Report provides useful information sometimes after all!

We were the recipients of a very generous parting gift from the show, a $350 (retail, but who really pays retail?) Breville Smart Grille.  It was used in a segment on grilling sandwiches for the big game. 

Because it was chilly today, Dan planned on taking his grill home and sticking his feet in it.  It's a versatile machine.  

I tried to jam Geo's head into mine (to get out the excess water from the Perrier-boarding, of course) but it wouldn't fit.

On the way out, I said to Dannie, "What's your favorite TV program of all time?"  Without hesitation he replied: "I'll show you!"  This is what he did:

Perfectly understandable; "Green Acres" and "F Troop" never gave Dan a Smart Grill to warm his feet in.

Another happy camper was Amadeo.  He was off to make some more calls on multi-billion dollar investment funds for his employer, but not without an essential piece of new hardware on his suit.  He said it would probably impress prospects and help him close a number of new deals:

For our final picture of this posting, I'd ask you to pay special attention to the contrasting emotions here: Dan's joy and Geo's pain.   Allow me to explain.

After the show, the three of us decided to share a cab.  As it pulled up, Geo quickly jumped into the back seat and scooted towards the far end, thinking that he had assured himself of not being stuck in the middle.  Dannie, a cagy veteran New Yorker, ran around to the far door and pulled it open just as Geo was leaning his body against it, nearly causing Geo to fall out onto the street.  Hearty laughter ensued!! 

For two of us, anyway.

I captured this Kodak moment for you, dear readers. Don't thank me.

So that's the recap of our visit to Martha Stewart's studio, Part II.  Hope you enjoyed it kidz...see you tomorrow.

A Night Down Under

I'm a little late with today's post.  It's now tomorrow's post.  I apologize to the loyal readers. Non-loyal readers, I don't care about you so much.

I met up tonight with some friends from Chicago and New York at the Australian Bar on West 38th Street here in Manhattan to watch the Villanova - Notre Dame basketball game.  Here's what the outside of the bar looks like:

My friend Ben, from the Chicago office of a large international law firm, chose this place because it advertises itself as a Villanova bar.  He's a University of Illinois grad and roots for the Illini, DePaul and Notre Dame.  Despite all of that, he's a good guy.

I have more to say, but nothing more about this picture of the exterior of the bar, so I'm just typing this to fill space.  Consider this to be the equivalent of those styrofoam peanuts that infest the box of everything you order on the internet.

Here's Ben (left) and Brett.  They were already at the bar when I arrived.  Brett's wife thought he was still in the office at this time, so please don't forward a link to her.  Actually, since it means another click for me, go right ahead.  Do you notice that out-of-place black section of Brett's tie, on the right side of his neck?  I think we busted him with a clip-on. 

Here's the menu at the Australian bar.  The food is actually very good for a pub.  If you can read this picture of the menu without your glasses, you must be in good health.  You'd probably order that turkey burger for eleven bucks.  Don't ask me what those kangaroos are doing to the sign at the top.  It's none of your business.

This is Matt, the owner of the bar.  He's from Australia.  Matt knows a former Villanova basketball player who was on a professional team in Australia, hence he's a fan.  Here's his better side:

That's my kind of fan; he shows his Villanova pride (by the way, the Wildcats beat Notre Dame 90 - 72).  The Australian Bar is a fun place with good food; it has The LG Report's endorsement.

Dan, the big-shot managing partner of this 800 lawyer international law firm, was supposed to join us, but he was too busy "putting out fires" to hob nob with the little people.  Here's a picture of us missing Dan:

That would've been Dan in JC's embrace on the right.  Actually, in real life, if Dan were with us JC would've been too afraid to say anything to Dan, never mind embrace him. 

We played a bar game, the details of which are too complex (and boring) to explain here, but it involved JC having to pick a U.S. state for his answer.  When I asked him to name a state, JC's reply was (I swear this is true): "What are my choices?" 

I started reciting the 50 states in alphabetical order, but then JC realized the folly of his answer.  Luckily, his mental error will only be paraded before the 34,544 and 1/2 people who read The LG Report.

Here's big-shot Dan, the guy who was too busy to join us:

I'll bet that tie was a Christmas present from the mother-in-law.  What else could explain it?

Rumor has it that Dan bought his mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a Christmas present one year.  The next Christmas, he bought her nothing. She said to him "What's the matter Dan, don't you love me anymore?  You didn't buy me a present this year."

His reply: "Why should I? You still haven't used the present that I bought you last year."

I copied this photo off of Dan's law firm profile.  My guess is that he'll have it removed from there tomorrow.  A day late. 

Overall, it was a great night out in NYC. Too bad Dan missed it.  Oh yeah, few more points before I sign off.

This is Ryan.  You might suspect, from the look on his face, that he's hiding a bong, but he's not.  Just a bad photo.  Ryan should be made a partner at Dan's big-shot law firm.  The LG Report endorses Ryan's candidacy.  Also, we don't have a photo right now, but rising star Alex B. (we don't use last names on The LG Report) in the Albany office should also be made a partner.  Alex works hard, which is why he's not in any of these pictures.  

I have nothing to do with this large, unnamed law firm, officially, but that doesn't stop me from making partnership recommendations.  Deal with it. 

Finally, don't forget that tomorrow The LG Report will be in the studio audience for  Martha  Stewart's all-male audience Super Bowl Show, and we'll be providing a full report, replete with photos.  I'll try to get Martha to hold up the LG Report sign, but I suspect that I'll be wrestled to the ground before that happens. 

Another upcoming highlight:  Next Wednesday at noon we'll be unveiling Geo's high school yearbook photo.  It's a scream, believe me, you won't want to miss it.

Thanks for clicking in folks.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"It Comes in a Tube"

I'm sure my sister will know exactly what this is about merely by the title. 

My father emigrated to the United States from Greece in the 1950s.  His first job was working for his uncle, also an immigrant, who owned a diner/coffee shop on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.  Over time, my father learned the diner business and went on to own at least seven diners of his own (I may have missed one or two in my count.) 

Being a blue collar worker, you'd think my dad was pretty handy with tools. 

He wasn't.  Not in the least.

He was, however, very talented at running a diner.  He had all the requisite skills.  He picked good locations for his diners.  He knew shrewd strategies for negotiating with suppliers, hiring and retaining help and hiding income from the IRS.  In short, he had a special aptitude for the diner business.  He could also cook up a storm.  But, for all of his blue collar-ness, my father wasn't handy.  Whenever he assembled something pursuant to a set of directions, vital parts would, without fail, be left over. 

Who really needs handlebars and a second wheel on a bike anyway?  It's now a unicycle, enjoy!     

My father's lack of handyman skills must've been especially vexing to him in light of the fact that his younger brother, my Uncle Leo, became a highly-skilled carpenter after arriving in America.  Uncle Leo owned a successful contracting business for about 40 years.

Here are some everyday products that come in tubes:

Whenever my father came to an impasse during a repair or assembly project around the house, usually caused by his lack of expertise, his fallback remedy was to send me to the hardware store for some magical, yet-to-be-invented item that "comes in a tube." 

If you saw the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," you know that Nia Vardalos's dad used Windex as a panacea for all the world's ills.  I wish it were that simple with my father.  Keeping an ample supply of Windex on hand would've been easy.  But, no, that's not how it was in our house.

Here are some examples of how my father would invoke the Miracle of the Magic Tube.  The heavy Greek accent is hard to replicate in writing, so you'll have to use your imagination:

"Boy! Boy! [He usually called me "Boy!" reserving my real name for times of anger.]  Boy! Gee Gee Christ, this window won't open.  Go to de hardware store, they have a new thing to loosen windows, it comes in a tube." 

So, off I'd go, in search of the Magic Tube.  

Believe it or not, the hardware store never specifically had "window loosener" in a tube, but they did have some type of oil.  But that was an easy one, I'm just warming up.  Moving to the next level....

"Boy! Boy! The boat won't start.  Go to de hardware store, they have boat starter.  It comes in a tube."

That's not actually a picture of one of my father's boats, but it's not too far off.  His last boat was bigger than this, but, of course, that only meant it caused bigger headaches.  And, if you're wondering, there is no such thing as "boat starter" in a tube.  I could write an entire book on my father and boating, but that'll have to wait.  Not only until I get the time, but also until the trauma wears off.

It was, of course, embarrassing to ask for these tubes of crazy products that I knew didn't exist, but I had little choice. My father had sent me on a mission.  I eventually developed a method of asking the clerk for these item that furtively included a denial in the question.

"You don't carry a tube of anything that will repair a broken lawn mower engine, do you?  No?  I didn't think so, I was just checking, thanks..."      

My father's cure-all tube mania seemed to grow stronger as time went on.  He was never discouraged by the fact that there was never a product "in a tube" to fix his latest repair problem.  He persevered because he always knew that there was "a new thing in a tube" to handle the latest task at hand.  What perplexed me most, in that pre-internet era, was where my father was reading about these supposedly new miracle products in a tube.  I was pretty sure that advances in technology weren't discussed in the Daily Racing Form.     

Eventually, my father was sending me to pick up Miracle Tubes that could repair home appliances, fix transistor radios, fill driveway potholes, replace leaky plumbing and, even, regenerate limbs.

This mechanical arm, I believe, came from a tube. Or, rather, it would have if my father had his way.  In a perfect world, my father would've worked for G.E. or NASA in the Innovation Department.

Whenever I'd return from the hardware store empty handed  -- my father never went himself, as you've probably gathered -- the failure would be attributed to my poor search skills.  It never occurred to my father that this product didn't actually exist.  And, of course, the lazy American stock clerk's own incompetence was a contributing factor. 

That's the abbreviated story of my father and the Magic Tubes. All of this bending over the keyboard has stiffened my back quite a bit.  I'm going out to buy some Ben Gay for my muscles. 

I think it comes in a tube.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New York City's BEST Pizza

This man, Pasquale, is holding the best pizza pie in New York City.

Seventeen years of living in this town has seen me hit a lot of pizza joints, but, believe me, Luzzo's, at 211 First Avenue (west side of the street, between 12th and 13th; 212.473.7447) is the best, hands down.

Luzzo's makes the others seem like they don't know from pizza.

The LG Report was turned on to this mozzarella mecca by loyal reader Heff (again, not that Heff; ours had trouble just getting one girl, never mind 1,000...)  He said it was the best in New York, and man, he wasn't kidding. 

Luzzo's isn't fancy -- although you can fuggedaboutit if you're looking to buy a slice, it's whole pies only.  Like many NYC eateries,  Luzzo's isn't large; the layout is narrow and deep.  Here's a shot of the interior:

People tend to get nervous when famous bloggers (or ordinary Schmoes) take their photo in public, so I couldn't get a better shot than this without attracting the brass knuckle crowd.  As you can see, there's not a lot of room in Luzzo's. The entire width of the place runs from the chick in the Good-Humor-Man winter jacket on the far left, to Cousin Vito holding up the wall and waiting for his numbers to come in on the right.

Luzzo's is popular, thus, a wait is not uncommon for the precious few tables, so get there before - or after - usual mealtimes.  

Now to the pizza itself. 

Luzzo's makes a thin pie, but with a plump and tasty crust.  However, it's the sauce and ingredients that make this pizza standout from the competition like Reese Witherspoon at Rosie O'Donnell's family reunion.

Your initial bite will unleash an explosive medley of flavors.  My first Luzzo's pizza, last Friday night, consisted of their pitch perfect, mouth-watering crust, with large, tasty slices of fresh pepperoni and just the right amount of onions, mushrooms, basil and spiced Italian ham dancing on top.  I'm drooling onto the keyboard (more than usual) as I type.

The experience was so amazing that I returned again on Sunday for lunch.  To put it in terms of the movie "Analyze This," I wanted a fresh one.

The second pizza, a simpler creation with just basil, mushrooms and prosciutto, was just as good in its own way [by the way, those two pizzas were numbers 16 and 5 on the menu, respectively.]

After your first taste, you will find yourself dreaming about this pizza.  It's that good...

Here's another look at six slices of heaven:

Full disclosure: when I told self-described "sort of" owner Pasquale that The LG Report was publishing a review of Luzzo's, he sent over a couple of complimentary shots of limoncello:

They, too, were excellent; just lemony enough and refreshing.

If Luzzo's were a sports team, it would be the NY Yankees; if it were a movie, it would be "Animal House;" if it were a drink, it would be a Coke Slurpee.  You get the idea...

New Yorkers shouldn't still be reading this far down, they should be in a cab to Luzzo's, or on the phone ordering a delivery.  If you don't live in NYC, put Luzzo's at the very top of your "To See" list for your next visit.  You will not be disappointed. 

Don't forget the fried eggplant with mozzarella appetizer, it's another mouth-watering delicacy. 

And to think, I'm not even expecting any more free limoncello for this review...

COMING EVENTS: On Friday we'll have a review of Thursday's adventure in Martha Stewart's all-male studio audience for her "Super Bowl Show."  On Wednesday, February 3rd at noon we'll be posting Geo's Mt. Penn (PA) High School Yearbook photo -- it's sure to be good for some howls.  Comments, will, of course, be welcomed.  Don't miss it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Evening Leftovers

Yes, I know I'm late with today's posting, I even received an e-mail about it from The LG Report's #1 follower, Lisa.  I'm still not using last names, not until this blog generates enough revenue to cover a libel suit.  That should be sometime in 2045.   I'm sorry for the delay, but the NFL conference championship games were on today.  I also had to bring my Snuggie to the dry cleaner and take my Chia Pet for a walk.  I'm sure you understand.

You've noticed the Dollar Tree photo above by now.  I'm a big fan of the retail category known as "dollar stores."  Keep in mind, however, that there are many imposters out there, posing as "dollar stores."  In reality, many of these phonies have exorbitant merchandise priced as high as $5.00!  It's a crime, and that's another agenda item that The LG Report wants to discuss with the U.S. Attorney General when we finally get that meeting. 

Perhaps sometime down the road, we'll do a complete expose on dollar stores, but for now you'll have to make do with this condensed review.  The Dollar Tree is a solid store; it has some terrific items, and everything really is a dollar.  Candy, glow sticks, tools and batteries are among the better deals at the Dollar Tree.  I was in the store above last week and saw the cast of "Jersey Shore" shopping for many of their wardrobe items.  Mike "The Situation" had an altercation with the cashier over some item, and he was promptly sent back to "The Situation Room" with Wolfe Blitzer to cool his heels.  That's the best pun that I could come up with at this hour.

Some non-chain stores with names like "99 Cents Power," "U.S. Dollar" and "Everything 99 Cents" have a few treasures, but you really have to look hard.  And everytime you shop in a dollar store you lose a bit of your dignity that ain't ever coming back, so try to make it quick in there.  Don't talk to the other shoppers, they're creepy losers, unlike you and me.   A tip: the poor cashiers are underpaid and overworked, so try not to give them a hard time.  Especially when they yell out "Price check!" on an item in the store where everything costs one dollar.


If you're ever in the market for such a thing, here's a really good way to piss off your sister and her friends, especially when they're preparing a sumptuous Christmas Eve dinner for you: cordon off the kitchen with tape that says "Old Fart Zone."  Here's a picture of the strategy in action:  CORRECTION: There was a picture posted but I had to remove it because someone in the picture (not my sister) got angry about being on The LG Report.  I guess they couldn't handle the fame.  Quite understandable.  Anyway, so if you saw the picture before I removed it, good for you.  If you didn't, I apologize for being a tease...


Surprisingly, the emergency room physician didn't have much trouble removing the fork from the back of my neck; he said it "went in clean."  And, on top of that, KFC was still open at 8 pm on Christmas Eve -- and I wasn't even the only one in the restaurant! (I know, you never thought of it as a "restaurant" before but technically it is....)  So it all worked out well.  It was worth the laughs!  Well, sort of.  My neck still hurts if I so much as chuckle.

That's it for tonight.  Some cool stuff coming up this week, including a recap of this Thursday's adventure sitting in Martha Stewart's studio audience for her "males only Super Bowl Show."  That should be interesting, if we don't get kicked out.  I'll get plenty of pictures either way.

Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you here again soon.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Epiphany School Brawl: Blue vs. White at Madison Square Garden

People constantly write to The LG Report to say, "You cover the big-time (e.g. Martha Stewart), and you cover the small-time (e.g. The Pinewood Derby), but how about covering the in-between time?  We crave coverage of small-time stuff in a big-time setting!  Bring it on!"

Well folks, we have just the thing, so get out of our grill.  Sit back and enjoy what you're about to read (if we didn't lose you already, that is...)

Today, during halftime of the Villanova - St. John's basketball game (VU won 81 - 71) at Madison Square Garden, the Epiphany School's Blue Team, coached by the incomparable William "Coach Billy" Jennings, squared off against the White Team under the direction of Coach "I Need A Nickname" Conlon.  It was quite a brawl, although score wasn't kept.  Parents of Blue Team members, however, clearly thought that the Blue Team won.  Parents of the White Team, on the other hand, fervently believed that their rugrats won. 

Checking the photo above, that's Finn "Go For the Win" K. about to dish the ball to a teammate.  He's sorely lacking the tattoos of an NBA player, but otherwise Finn has great form.  Here's a picture of Finn's teammate, Henry "Thunder Dunk" S., just after he launched a two-pointer:

That security guard in the foreground had laid heavy money on White, and couldn't bear to watch his wager slipping away.  Notice the pained expression as he hears Henry's shot swish through the net.  He'll be postponing his retirement for a year or two thanks to his bet against Big Blue and Coach Billy.  The guard may also need some Ex-Lax judging by his scrunched face.

This is a shot of Blue Team star Henry with his parents before the game.  Henry comes from a very photogenic family.  Anne, on left, used to model for Marie Claire Magazine in Paris.  Geo, on the right, is one of the top models for the AARP Magazine. 

Henry is wearing a Syracuse sweatshirt because he didn't want to risk spilling anything on his good Villanova sweatshirt (get your own blog Henry if you want to contradict me...)

Villanova grads Paul, Jimmie and Dan mug for the camera.  Between Jimmie and Dan is the lovely Abby, who is not quite old enough for college.  She does, however, have a very impressive rubber chicken collection. 

Folks, you're looking here at the original poster for the milk advertising campaign, but it was never used.  The slogan was going to be: "Got Ugly?"  Smaller text would then explain that drinking a glass of milk per day can improve and strengthen facial structure. 

OK, I'm just kidding.  NYC hosted a trade show for Out of Style Jackets today.  Geo is wearing his "Westside Story" Sharks gang jacket, John just put up a fence on the North 40, Ed is fresh off loading some containers down at the Bayonne docks, and Philip recently found his 7th grade ski jacket that he thought he left in a bar at Hunter Mountain. 

OK, kidding again.  It's Geo and his friends John, Ed, and Philip.  Pretty boring photo.  They say the camera doesn't lie.

Our final photo for this story is of Villanova fan Jimmie, and his adorable daughter Abby, minutes before the game.  Not pictured: Doreen, Sophie, Blaise and Babbette. 

You may have noticed (although probably not) that the survey button is gone from the top right corner.  We only had three votes -- the voting process was so difficult and convoluted that the blog's author couldn't even register a vote.  Results indicated that Razzles do indeed have some type of candy element to them.  I demand a recount.

Weekends are quiet here (stats show that fewer than half the normal readership shows up on Sat/Sun), so we won't ramble on any longer, you have stuff to do.  Enjoy, and we'll see you next time.  Thanks for stopping by. 

Friday, January 22, 2010


It's Friday, as you probably know, unless you've been hitting the hallucinagenic mushrooms early.

Time for a little Freitaggerie.

You probably don't know what "freitaggerie" (fry-tog-a-ree) is, since  I created the word only about a year ago, and it hasn't caught on with the English-speaking public...yet.  But you're going to help change that.  

"Freitag" means "Friday" in German.  No, I'm not German.  I just know a few words in about 10 languages.    "Freitaggerie" is defined as "recreational activities or foolishness of a kind that one might engage in on a Friday afternoon or evening."  But you needn't engage in freitaggerie only on Fridays; you can do it anytime -- just make sure you call it what it is. 

For example, "Hey, Chris, my wife is away for the weekend, why don't you round up the boys and we'll have some freitaggerie at my house?  I'll have plenty of beer, you bring the farm animals." 

Well, actually, that might not be the best sample sentence.  Let's try again:

"John and Susan blew off work last Wednesday and went down to the lake to engage in some freitaggerie.  Unfortunately, John's wife found them and castrated John."

That's not exactly right either.  Here we go, this is a proper use:

"The snowstorm closed school for the day, so Dan and his kids spent the day amusing themselves with freitaggerie." 

There, that one works. 

Hopefully you have the idea by now.  Please feel free to use this word liberally; spread it to your friends and family.  And make sure you use it if you're interviewed on national TV, like on the Haitian Relief Telethon tonight.  The one hosted by George Clooney.

And then have a little freitaggerie, you deserve it.


You might be wondering why that picture of a pizza joint named Luzzo's appears at the top of this post.  A friend of mine, who we'll just call "Heff" since everyone else does (I'm not really protecting his identity here...), told me that Luzzo's has the best pizza in NYC

I've never tried it, nor even heard of it, but I'm going to try to sink my teeth into some this weekend, and I'll get back to you with a review.  It's on 1st Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets in case you're wondering.  It's a good spot, I'm told, for some freitoggerie. 

Gotta keep using a word if you want to learn it.


As you know, The LG Report has a new ad campaign that consists of various celebrities holding the sign that you see above.  This time it's being held by Andy Davitt, the famous Philadelphia lawyer.  If you've never heard of Andy, that just proves my point.  He's uber (2nd German word of this post) famous, but in a J.D. Salinger-reclusive type of way.  The fact that you haven't heard of him confirms this. 

Astute readers of The LG Report will note that both celebrities so far have been lawyers from Philadelphia.  We'll change that up soon, don't worry. 


Tomorrow afternoon I'll be attending the Villanova - St. John's men's basketball game at Madison Square Garden.  Geo (a blog cult figure who needs no further introduction) will be there with his son Henry, who is playing a mini-game at halftime with his school team.  I'll get pictures and will report all of the hard-hitting action right here on The LG Report, so keep an eye out.

I hope your weekend is full of freitagerrie kids!  

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Your LG Report Guide to Key West, Part II - Food + Drink

Somebody who read yesterday's post said to me, "Why don't you write the phrase 'Haitian Relief Efforts' in your blog to get more Google search hits?"

I'll tell you why: Because The LG Report has more class and dignity than that, that's why!  Just the thought of people who would stoop to such a low level for clicks makes me cringe...  (By the way, I donated to Haiti relief, and I hope you did too...)

OK, back to Key West, Part II, Food + Drink.  There are plenty of choices; you can't swing a passed-out tourist without hitting a bar or restaurant.  We'll start with the eats.  But first:

LG REPORT TRIVIA FACT:  Key West is the only city in the continental U.S. to never have experienced a frost. The lowest recorded temperature was 41 degrees back in the 1800s.  I don't know the exact date, I wasn't there.  

The main drag in Key West is Duval Street.  It runs from the western edge of downtown, near Mallory Square, to the eastern edge of the island, not far from the Southernmost Point Monument.  I'd guess that Duval is about 12 blocks long at most.  It seems longer if you're walking a bit wobbly.  

There are some outlying restaurants and bars, but most places of note are within an easy walk of Duval Street.  There's really no need to rent a car in Key West, unless you plan on exploring other Keys further north or, like Geo's friend, you want to crash into the Conch Train with its payload of camera-toting tourists.  Consequently, I won't give addresses for these places, just ask a local where they are. I'm sure that at least 50% of the time they won't steer you wrong on purpose.

There used to be a bar in San Francisco named Kitty O'Shea's whose motto was "We only cheat drunks and tourists."  That's probably true in most vacation spots.

The photos, again, are the impressive handiwork of my talented friend Stan.  I'm applauding him right now, although you can't hear it, unless you live downstairs from me (but I know she's hard of hearing, thank goodness.)

This is a photo of the outside bar at the restaurant Blue Heaven:

Blue Heaven is famous on the island for its delicious breakfasts ("brunch" for those of you from Connecticut).  The pancakes are mouth-watering - among the best you'll ever have.  However, don't mistake this for being "merely" a breakfast spot.  Blue Heaven also serves a very tasty dinner with fresh seafood selections.  Open air seating is the rule, and roosters will stagger around freely at your feet, it's part of the charm.  But if you're afraid of being too close to Foghorn Leghorn and friends, stay away.  Roosters are one of the unofficial mascots of Key West, along with cats, conch and wealthy northern tourists.  You won't go wrong with a meal at Blue Heaven.  Just don't step on a rooster, it's bad form.

Camille's, built in the same pink architectural style that we saw in yesterday's post, is another great breakfast spot.  Like most places in Key West, the dress code is casual (in other words, no need to shower first, just throw a baseball cap on.)  The house specialty is some type of scrambled egg mix with sausage, potatoes and other good stuff.  I always forget to order it, and then slap myself in the head when I see it placed in front of Stan and Gail [you probably don't know them, but I do.]

Pepe's doesn't look like much on the outside, but it's bursting at the seams with good grub and friendly service.  Yet another great breakfast spot.  Astute readers will notice that I'm starting with the breakfast places -- and there are a lot of good ones.  A wait of 10 - 20 minutes, sometimes longer -- especially at Blue Heaven if you don't get there early -- is not uncommon, but always worth it.  This is the tropics, chill out.

All of these restaurants are one-of-a-kind, sporting their own unique culinary creations and decor. The island does have a Denny's and a Waffle House, but I've never heard of anyone eating in either.  I think that they exist only so that people from Corporate can make a trip to Key West each year to audit the books.  We're on to you, Corporate.

Seven Fishes, pictured at right, has excellent seafood, but a rather boring decor.  It's also located in a residential neighborhood, kind of a weird setting.  I wouldn't recommend Seven Fishes if you're looking for a festive atmosphere, but since Stan sent me a photo of it, I felt obligated to mention it.  He must be on their payroll or something.

In truth, it's a good place if you're a die-hard seafood fan.

Personally, I don't think I'd want a "Do Not Enter" sign in front of my restaurant. Is the city warning people?

Late afternoon is Dante's time. It has a terrific raw bar, including a great deal on Stone Crab claws, and plenty of TVs to watch the game.  You can't tell from this photo, but the seating area is situated in a courtyard next to a pool.  A very drunk woman puked poolside last time we were there.  That entertained us for a while. 

The She-Crab soup is a must-try.  It's very buttery with a hint of sherry.  Umm, umm, I'm hopping on a plane now...

This is Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Restaurant.  It's a chain now, but the first one opened in Key West in 1985.  I'm not sure whether this is the original or not.  There are 18 of these babies in the U.S. and Caribbean. 

I've eaten here once or twice. It's nothing special, unless you're a big Parrot Head, in which case you should try it. Otherwise, I'd advise you to eat your cheeseburger in another part of Paradise. A substantial gift shop is attached.

Louie's Backyard may be the only restaurant on the island that requires men to wear a jacket.  And, sorry fellaz, we're not talking your NASCAR hoodie.  The food is very good, although it also carries big-city prices. 

The outdoor seating overlooks the water and creates a very romantic atmosphere.  It's a great spot to get engaged, or dump a person, whichever feels right.

Louie's backyard is not big.  I can't make any representations about his wife's.

This is Kelly's, owned by actress Kelly McGillis ("Top Gun" and a bunch of crap you didn't see.)  The restaurant has a diverse menu, nice outdoor atmosphere (indoor seating as well), and very good food and service.  LG Report Tip: don't dress like a slob.  And wipe your chin, you have something on it.

The Conch Republic is a family-ish restaurant located on the wooden walkway that runs north of Mallory Square.  It has a very nice chowder and seafood selection at moderate prices.  The average LG Report reader's annual income is $1.76 million, so you don't really care about the prices, I know.  I'm only including them in case someone is reading over your shoulder at work.

I'm not at all familiar with this place, El Siboney.  I've never eaten there, but apparently Stan has, since he took this picture. If you know Stan, ask him what the deal is with El Siboney.  I'll tell you one thing: I don't like eating at restaurants with bars on the windows.  Are they trying to keep someone out or me in?  I'd rather not take the chance...

The Half Shell is a lower-priced seafood shack and bar.  It offers a great raw bar (motto: "Eat It Raw"). The Key Lime Pie is said by many, including amateur food critic Jim Riely, to be the best on the island.  That alone is worth a visit.

Decor: there's a very extensive collection of license plates nailed to the walls in the Half Shell.  If you've ever had one stolen, check here.  And see that row of rental mopeds in front?  Don't knock it over or you'll have to deal with some very angry accountants from Peoria.

This is the nearly-world-famous Hog's Breath Saloon. It's an indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar, with above average pub grub and excellent drinks of all kinds, especially frozen Rumrunners.  I wish I had one now.  There's also a Hog Cam  (that link is live, so watch out!) that you can click on to observe live action in the bar from whatever frigid location you happen to occupy (including your bedroom).  Good live music is featured just about every night.  Warning (or Inducement, depending on your viewpoint): This is a Cougar hangout (female and male varieties.)  Ladies: be on the alert for a skeevy guy who looks like Kenny Rogers, he may leave you emotionally scarred.  Thankfully, he hasn't been spotted for many years, but you never know.  He's Key West's version of Bigfoot.

This is the Green Parrot.  I don't really like this place, but Stan took a good picture.  You won't find many tourists in here, mostly just locals who missed their last shower and wish you'd put your wallet on the bar and drop dead.  There's music, but the band members look like the offspring of ZZ Top and women wrestlers.  And the music is never good, but the patrons are all thinking about their parole hearings, so nobody cares.  Stay away from this place. Key West needs to put up one of those "Do Not Enter" signs.

This is, to me, the saddest bar in town.  It's Captain Tony's, as the sign says.  What you probably can't read in this picture (sorry Stan, nobody is perfect), is that at the bottom of the sign says: "The Original Home of Sloppy Joe's 1933 - 1937."  The real Sloppy Joe's is about 200 steps away, and does 30 times more business, at least.  It strikes me as sad that Captain Tony's tries to lure customers in based on who it used to be.  "Hi, I'm Lyle Lovett, the original husband of Julia Roberts, wanna date me girls?!"  If pathetic were a liquid, this place would be awash.  

Legend has it that the landlord tried to raise Sloppy Joe's rent by $1.00 a week in 1937, so the owner, Josie Russell, and his customers, picked up all of the place's contents, including the bar, and moved them down the street to the present site of Sloppy Joe's.  It's believed that Ernest Hemingway spent most of his nights at this location between 1933 and 1937.  Big deal, right?  No doubt, he'd be over at the real Sloppy Joe's if he were alive today. News Alert for Captain Tony's: It ain't 1937 anymore.

Saving the best for last: Sloppy Joe's.  This is THE nightlife spot in Key West (there are no glamorous dance clubs or anything of that ilk on the island.)  Look at all of those fools standing around, don't they realize that the original site of Sloppy Joe's from 1933 to 1937 is only 200 steps away?  Why are they wasting their time with this much more lively and fun imposter?

Sloppy Joe's has no discernable charm, just good drinks (especially frozen) and a rotating line-up of talented bar bands from around the country.  Some people dance, although that's not really the main attraction.  And some, I've heard, eat here, although I've never been a party to that.  Sloppy's does have a menu however.  It also has a "mercantile" shop where you can buy all manner of Sloppy Joe's souvenirs.  Sloppy's is open 365 days a year, from 9 am until 4 am, except on Sundays, when they open at noon.  The staff must be at morning religious services on Sundays. 

Legend has it that Sloppy Joe's was named after a Sloppy Joe's bar in Havana.  Hemingway himself supposedly encouraged the selection of the name.  The bar hosts an annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest, which attracts a big crowd to the island.  This year the 30th Annual will take place from July 22nd - 24th so knock yourself out.  Even if you don't win, I'm sure you'll have fun trying.
That's it for our two-part Key West overview. 

Tomorrow we'll be on to something new, I just don't know what yet...stay tuned!  And thanks for stopping by...