The Speech

There were several people at my brother’s wedding who told me that I did a great job with the best man speech. I appreciated the applause, there were a lot of laughs, and thank you to everyone for the post-speech support.

However, I’m hypercritical of myself.

I’m not going to cut and paste the entirety of the draft on here. A speech is a speech, and it should be designated as a you-kinda-had-to-be-there moment. Some of the key talking points were as follows:

  • Emphasizing my being older, emphasizing my looking younger.
  • Talking about my brother’s Jeff Goldblum-like nervous laugh as Erin walked toward the altar.
  • Davy Crockett hat.
  • “My brother always dressed well. He wore a suit of intoxication to his semiformal.”
  • Bonding while being “grounded” for two hours at a time.
  • How/When they met. How he kind of annoyed her.
  • That my brother is a romantic at heart.
  • That Erin has the baton of officially taking care and looking after him.
  • Thanking my parents and Erin’s parents.
  • “It’s about damn time.” (Because the priest wasn’t there.)

Still, I don’t think I did enough justice, and I don’t think I gave my brother enough credit. I was nervous, and that fact was fully admitted at the beginning of my oration. Although it wasn’t my first best man speech, it was blissful to realize that I cared about what I was going to say and how I was going to say it.

Mike is my one-and-only brother after all, and I’d do anything for him.

Due to nerves, I didn’t read my speech fluidly. Thoughts in the beginning, middle, and end were shuffled. Some things that I wanted to say were left out. Since they were left out and not read in-the-moment, I may as well continue here.

There was no desire to be comical either. I took some real tidbits and mentioned them. There were no elaborated or embellished stories about getting injured or drinking or anything crass or anything grossly tongue-in-cheek. I’m not a stand-up comic and neither are many people I know. The ones who are comical, have a natural wit. The others, those who try to be funny and adhere to the culture of modern slapstick and embellished humor, fail with flying colors.

It’s about being honest.

Without further ado:


Now that Erin and Michael have gotten married, Tara and I can be grateful that the pressure is taken off of our shoulders for a little bit longer. Although most of you are thinking that the pressure is actually still on and/or as pressing as ever, you might be wrong. Where our friends might be the source of this so-called pressure to find someone and get hitched, we won’t be hearing it from our parents.

No. We won’t. Since this wedding was so beautiful, the bar has been set pretty high. The memories of this will be reflected on for years and years to come. Even if there are three or four years as a buffer, there will be a lot to live up to.

But this isn’t a competition, of course. It’s an expression of love. Every wedding and moment is definitive as each is an expression of love.


Mike and Erin know how to throw a party. Between their 2TG (2nd Thanksgiving) and Parade Day Brunches, there really are no comparisons to how these days are celebrated. For those who are regular attendees, you understand and realize why you keep coming back. For those who have attended twice or thrice, you want to keep coming back and you pinch yourself when no one is looking. For those who attended once, you should feel lucky … and there is probably a good reason why you keep forgetting to come or why you were never asked back. For those who have attended, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

It’s clear that there are large families here. It’s difficult to get everyone together when they’re dispersed all over the country. In order to entice everyone to make the trip, this couple decided to go big. They sat around one night and thought: “Hey, why not have a wedding? That will get people to come.”

They’ve been together for 12 years. They could have gone another seven years easily.


If you don’t know these two people, well, just watch for how they look at each other. Then you’ll understand.


There were several moments where I think my parents liked Erin more than my brother. This may be one of those moments. However, regardless if it is or isn’t one of those times, they now and officially have her as a daughter.

[Look over at parents] You guys can rest easily now.


This love is the yield of living ‘through thick and thin’ and patience and acceptance and arguments and resolution. This is the relationship that I’d like to have.


‘And the tide …’ & Other Random Thoughts

I was writing an update at the end of last week, and there was hope to post it on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the piece was taking a turn as a rant, propelled by negative feelings and disdain toward various instances, which suddenly decided to glob together and congeal into something ugly and spits fire. Instead of forcing something, it was set on the back burner for maybe another day. But to keep up with updating each week, well, I’ll resort to my ol’ Sunday routine.


And as the tide pulls me to west, I extend my arm with a grasping hand. And after fingertips continue to graze, I give up and accept the drifting.


The guy in the gray suit, which has somewhat of a sheen to it, and that completely clashes with the plastered sheen of his matted-down, parted-on-the-right coif.

He doesn’t smile. He keeps pivoting on one foot before taking one step-by-step-by-step, and he’s slowly moving to wherever the hell the barista is bringing his coffee (but four steps or so behind). His odd walking makes the rest of the coffee shop think he has to fart or he has a stick shoved up his ass.

I prefer to think the latter, because he keeps petting his tie. Two fingers, pointer and thumb start at the top and right below the knot, and they slide down both sides of the tie. He keeps doing so, looking around and still not smiling. It’s as if he is being watched or being filmed and he wants to be.


The contemplation of incorporating plastic vending machine rings into the wedding ceremony. Might fly with some, not others. Best to tread lightly …



OK. Let’s shave, and let’s see how long it takes to grow back into a comfortable shadow. And then, the specific number of days before the wedding I won’t shave. If it doesn’t look good — clean shaven might be the right approach, and that can be decided morning-of — the stubble will have to go.


Finding a parking spot when you don’t have to. Finding new language when you have to find a parking spot.


What’s with the slowed traffic, I think. As my car edges closer to the next, it’s soon clear to see that a mother duck and her five little ones are crossing Genesee Street in Auburn.

Panic went through my head. Desire to stop the car was there, desire to step out and assist, but there was fear of scaring the animals and — sigh — tragedy. It’s not tragic in the sense that they’d get hit — the cars were very aware of the situation and, surprisingly, very patient, but there was a sickening feeling she would leave the ducklings.

People exited Hunter Dinerant, and they almost stepped into traffic. Hands covered mouths in awe. Fingers pointed.



Ghosting: The beauty of ignoring and letting a relationship fade into nothing. No Swayze, no Casper. It’s supposed to be guilt-free. But how can it be when guilty of it? Just don’t do it. Cut it, cut it out.


Of all the things to spot, a heart-shaped leaf in the middle of the road. Out of everything to pick out during a night run, a heart-shaped leaf in the middle of rolled-out lamplight. It’s slightly shredded, so being careful is necessary.

I laid it down in another spot and out of the way of traffic, in a spot I could easily remember and return to. After finishing the loop, the Heart of Nature I picked up and ran home with it.


Cliched truth: But, oh! Her eyes! She speaks softly, but her eyes shout.


The reflection of light dances, jitterbugs, in her eyes.


When perfect sleeping weather hits the snooze button for you. Waking up to a fizzy foggy haze of morning light, and there is nothing but birds whispering to each other. And there’s a cat cuddled up in between your calves.

When did I start sleeping on my stomach? It’s probably one of the best changes I’ve ever made.


I almost second-guessed and dismissed her falling: the older woman, late 70s. Amidst Thursday’s pouring rain, she took a tumble outside of Doug’s. Her husband struggled pulling her up.

I almost second-guessed helping her, but I paused the interview I was conducting, and ran over. After finding the husband in the Skaneateles restaurant, I helped him pick her up, and steady her, and we made sure she was OK. She said she was.

I almost second-guessed acting. Why? Proof that listening to my gut is a great thing.


Part Four: Chicken and waffles. Cookie Dough Pancakes. Fancy beverages. Birthday celebration. And 16 years of friendship celebration.


Meticulous Mannerisms

Last Two Saturdays ago, the rainy day was a bit distracting. To cure it, the best bet seemed to go see a movie. The Landmark Theatre had kicked off its summer classic film series, and seeing a flick in an actual theatre was more than fitting, and it could not be resisted.

Running into fellow improvisers, Stef and Matt, well, validated my decision and the ability to choose wisely. It’s reassuring to have those little nuggets of reassurance now and again (but not to the point where you’re spoiled and become dependent).

Breathless is a 1960s French film by Jean-Luc Godard. Petty thief and antagonist, Michel, is the Humphrey Bogart-obsessed character I grew to love and despise. After a rash decision to kill a police officer, he finds himself on the run and dealing with the trickling in of public, media clues that he’s a wanted man.

The writing was very well done to generate those feelings, and actor Jean-Paul Belmondo played the role fittingly and with a cigarette hanging out of his seemingly blistered lips the entire time. The cigarettes are thick and obtrusive, but they look flimsy aside staying balanced.

When the cigarette is out of his mouth, Belmondo’s Michel runs his thumb back-and-forth over his closed lips. He clearly does this in times of critical thinking, when he is surveying the area or thinking of a person. In the latter case: Patricia (played by Jean Seberg) ends the movie with the same gesture, as if there was some understanding and melancholy after … Well, there will be no spoilers.

Technically, because of her actions — in light, she did the right thing — and the conclusion proves that Michel would do anything for her, save the fact that he was at fault.

At the same time, there is reasoning for Michel’s actions as he is a fan of Humphrey Bogart. Where his standing in front of a movie poster for The Harder They Fall may foreshadow the conclusion, the admirable antagonist constantly imitates the movie star.

In Scrubs, Dr. Perry Cox, played by John C. McGinley, has a habit of touching his nose and then crossing his arms. I forget which season it is, McGinley explains in the behind-the-scenes segment that he developed the habit for his character after Paul Newman’s Henry Gondorff in The Sting.

It’s the go-ahead sign that Gondroff shows, saying that everything is right on target — on the nose? — or that the “con is on.”

Cox uses it a little differently, almost as a preemptive notion to let J.D. or any of the other characters that he’s listening and understanding, an “OK, go on.” But that nose touch could precede an infamous Coxian rant and a forehead vein bulge or the seldom blatant reassurance that he gets whatever is going on in the scene.

Even in the movie Face Off, Travolta’s character touches/caresses the face of his son and loved ones. But that gesture of endearment is what it is. It’s as tactful and clear-cut as John Belushi’s zit routine in Animal House or Michael Keaton’s crotch grab in Beetlejuice. 

And then there is Colin Farrell’s character, Ray, in In Bruges. He quite often touches his face with his fingers, moving the skin around his mouth and jaw. The in-pain hit man shows his vulnerability, adding to the fact that he’s not cut out for the life of a professional killers.

His two extremes of defense mode emphasize innocence and quick to retaliate. He cannot come to terms with the accident at the beginning of the film, and when it comes to matters of the heart — love. There is a clear understanding of his knowing the difference of right and wrong.

He’s a natural on and off the job. Could Ray’s character be the perfect human being? Might be a stretch to say, but it’s entertaining to consider.

I have tendencies to touch my face, my mouth — “pull a Ray” (for lack of a better phrase). I’ll also rub my fingers in times of nervousness, or break eye contact. Sometimes I’ll contemplate shaving later that day.

In times of admiration, my hands will make their way into trouser or jean back pockets.

As for others, sometimes it’s difficult to tell nerves from satisfaction from irritation. You have to really look someone in the eyes.

Sure, the girl sitting (practically lying) on the couch as she is participating in a date may not be too enthralled to be on it; her following and walking him out may be out of pity. The person looking down into the deli counter may simply be indecisive despite not making eye contact. Perhaps the person talking through their hands could be holding back a vomit.

A woman may express interest by teasing and twirling her hair, but maybe her locks are greasy and she really does enjoy sliding the follicles through her pinched fingers.

We take what we are given — writers. How can we utilize what’s around us, what we see, the interactions to find their way into our work and characters. At the same time we critique and criticize ourselves.

In the moment, a reaction and action could manifest itself. It could be something new and unique, and  this is all depending on how the situation plays out. It depends on how we’re moved.

However, eye contact does say a lot. Answering a question honestly and confidently, directly at an interview. The hesitation before the first kiss that may or may not happen. The painful look of a child’s teary-eyed gaze when they scrape a knee or know they did something wrong. What the road looks like when you look up from texting. Yeah, all of this is important.

What are your mannerisms?


The Wegmans Showdown (or) All Coffee, No Donunts

I get cranky without coffee. It’s rare that I go a day without a cup.

The conversation that I had with the woman at the Wegmans in Auburn, NY, was a short and interesting one.

Frankly, the banter was not that interesting. It was interesting to me, however. I’ve told the abridged version twice thus far.

The time was just after 5 p.m., and no traces of coffee could be found in my system. That’s what my brain was reminding me, going off like a dissonant red-numbered snooze bray.

Out of desperation and passing by the Dunkin Donuts, the decision was made to opt for the grocery store than the chain. Essentially Wegmans is a grocery store chain, but the Rochester-based knowledge and comfort of it being a quintessential supermarket is the lesser of two corporate evils.

I strolled in with coffee-less delusion and b-lined it for the coffee bar. The obstacles, which were the directionless cart-toting customers, made it that much more tempting to hurdle over the food hubs to get the hot beverage that much more quickly. After all, the fastest route between two places is a straight line.

I asked her, if I could please have a red eye. She looked at me as if I had red eyes. Her head tilted, and she asked: “Um, what’s that?”

“It’s a shot of espresso in a cup of coffee,” I replied.

“That’s a pretty fancy way of saying it,” she said. “Where are you from? The city?”

“Syracuse?” I replied (as a question).

“Oh. Close enough,” she said.

I gave her a head nod up.

Thoughts wandered at that lull. Wegmans should install a saloon when its A-OK it booze and shop. This is especially true for the stores with two-level cafe areas, especially the one in Fairmount — the one I frequent. The Syracuse/Fairmount/The-Camillus-One cafe second floor has a railing that you can lean over and gawk at shoppers from above.

(Hey! Hey! You got the fake Oreos!)

It’s easy to spot someone at the coffee bar, which is diagonally located from the bakery. Calling someone yellow-bellied for opting for a beverage sans espresso could yield a shot from the hip that could slump the heckler to send them over the railing and down to the floor below.

But Wegmans would have to find room for a piano.

I wanted to make small talk, because my brain was as excited as a dog is upon seeing its humans come home. (Espresso!) Surprisingly, it didn’t take a dump on the carpet for waiting so long.

We talked about the rain and the Dannemora prison break, how Sweat was shot and captured. We both looked up at the television to see the guy, bloodied and cuffed, on the ground.

The barista: She’s a good egg. Considering — I think — the coffee station may have been ready to close up shop. So, thank you.

“The Donut Blend is fresh,” she said.

What I heard: The donuts are fresh. I wanted to say: Listen, I have a wedding that I’m standing in that is less than a month away, I don’t need donuts. My brain was infuriated. It wanted to go jack-in-the-box with a clown face, bearing burning eyes.

It’s bad enough — well, this actually isn’t a bad thing per se — that David at work is generous enough to buy The Citizen and Skaneateles Journal staffs doughnuts every Friday, and that I have to talk to the donuts as I slowly back away.

However, if I got my coffee at Skaneateles Bakery, I’d walk away with two donuts — no more, no less. There is a personal preference for the plain and coconut-coated treats. Them donuts are some of the best around, and the dunkability is a 10.

There was no way I’d be feeling guilty about consuming donuts … because it just won’t happen today.

“Pardon?” I finally asked her, breaking from my inner dialogue.

“I just put out the Donut Shop Blend coffee.”

“Ah,” I tactfully replied while looking over at the carafes. I’ve never had that. I’ve gone for Columbian or Seattle, but not the medium blend coffee, which ended up being satisfying and got the job done.

She hesitated handing me the cup. “I think I put too much in there,” she said.

Nonsense!, said brain. “I’m sure it’s fine,” I said.

The cup was filled halfway with espresso. My eyes were looking at about seven/eight ounces of espresso.

“This is great,” I said. “Thank you so much.” At this rate, I’d be going to bed around 3 a.m. (I went to bed at 1:15 a.m.)

The rest of the 16 oz. cup was filled with Donuts.



There is a photograph of a young woman, who is probably in her 30s, and she is sitting cool and collected. One can easily presume that she’s satisfied. No, she’s not naked and tangled up in bed sheets, but she’s propped up and smiling at the camera.

Regardless if the photo is in black and white or in Technicolor(!), there isn’t anything in the background or the foreground that is obtrusive or obscene or out of the ordinary, but the one aspect of the picture that really captured the attentions of the eyes is her nose.

And for that reason is why the shrink wrap was peeled off of the red notebook that’s decorated with a typewriter — silver pen included. The notebook is a kind gesture and on the spur-of-the-moment purchase from friend, Morgan.

(There is another expression-based post coming up, banking off a recent post at Stef’s blog. Look at me planning updates.)

Similar to every other notebook purchase, there was hesitation to open it and use it. Not sure why there is a personal “fear of writing” in that regard, but the pages have to eventually be used before age and weather disintegrates the paper.

So, I began writing about the scrunched nose:

The nose is probably one of the best accessories of the face. Scrunching the nose gives it added and wrinkled accessory to make it really stand out. The wrinkles — blatant or subtle — go and are a fit for pretty much any feeling: pain, satisfaction, embarrassment, displeasure, anxiousness.

If someone sees something horrible or the tasted food is sour or bitter or just plain disgusting: the scrunching of the nose says (almost) all.

The nose is the doorknob to the face. Many are different, some are the the same; however, a person has to look pretty hard when determining the distinct similarities when wanting to be most precise. It’s “better” and less time consuming and less weird to determine a nose in that moment. 

Doorknob to the face? What the hell was I thinking? Not all ideas are great ideas. Twisting one will only yield poor results. Sure, a game of “Got Your Nose” is appropriate with children. With adults, depending on the person, you might get punched in the throat.

However, you see a door. You look at it, you admire it, and then you find a way to get in. Usually, there is a knob or a handle attached, but sometimes there isn’t and creativity has to come into play. Knowing there is a handle of sorts helps you realize that there is a way in.

But a scrunch can showcase the feelings that the person is thinking at the moment. Maybe it is an automatic motion when smiling. It’s an additive, a bonus tell that allows the viewer or passerby to know that this grinning person is in fact happy.

The scrunch is cute, however.

Could it be that the more animated facial expressions are, the more personality someone has? They’re not afraid to display what they’re feeling. It could be a confidence thing. The potentially negative traits — boisterous, obnoxious, overwhelming — could be considered.These people could be on a lot of the time.

However, I’m unsure that an expressionless person would be a match. I couldn’t be with someone who is essentially a walking, talking Grumpy Cat meme.

If you have “so many feels,” why do you look so bland?

From a guy’s perspective, we want someone who looks like they’re having fun with their friends or whatever situation that she’s in. She enjoys company. She’s having a good time. Look how she scrunches her nose up! Oh, she just something that must taste terrible, and her nose twisted to the side. She just spit whatever she just ate on her plate, and now she’s swishing water around in her mouth.


Swan Lake Proves Magical

I grew up reading Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm. I continually enjoy Disney films, both new and old, reveling in the animated stories that never cease winning over the hearts and minds of a span of ages. The Syracuse City Ballet really did a number with its production of Swan Lake.

At the beginning of the three-hour-long performance, Executive Director Kathleen Rathbun asked the attendees on the Friday, May 15, opening night — by a round of applause — who’ve been and never been to the ballet before. She also asked people to admit if we, the audience, have or have not seen Swan Lake before. It was my first time for both.

I didn’t mind admitting and owning up to my being new to the ballet scene. I new the story of the performance, but I never really understood exactly what was to take place. There is plenty of dancing, for one and the most obvious.

As for the storytelling … How?

When it comes to entertainment, I’m a bit particular and picky and borderline snobbish. When I watch a movie, there is hope for the production to lean toward film rather than blockbuster. My preference sways to heartfelt and tangible, humorous without even having to try, and have those dramatic and realistic elements to pull on those heartstrings. I’d like to feel something. I want to empathize and sympathize, and I want to relate even the slightest to something unfamiliar.

Before the production even began and before Rathbun welcomed everyone, that red curtain draped gracefully.

It was nearly a full house. It was difficult to see what the main floor looked like, but the mezzanine was packed. I sent a text (during the first intermission) to Stephanie Dattellas, friend and Ballet Mistress, asking where she was, if she was down below or what I referred to as the “poor writer” section. She and the rest of the Syracuse Ballet staff and families were on the mezzanine as well. The seats were the way to go, she said, “You can see everything.”

She makes a very valid point. All the action, the foot work and the leaps and bounds were clear. I was exhausted for them by the end of the show. These performers worked their tails off. Abigail Morwood, who plays both the white and black swans, Odette and Odile, gave a whimsical performance. Central New York natives, Peter Kurta and Jake Casey returned home to play valiant roles.

Brandon Ellis who played Von Rathbart, the antagonist of the story, how he moved with that cape around him the entire time is a task in itself.

I was able to wear the cape during one the rehearsals. It’s much heavier that it looks. How he brought forth Odile, the Black Swan, was very tactful. Instead of taking the route of the doppelganger being his daughter, the duplicitous character was a conjured up entity.


On assignment, donning Von Rathbart’s cape. It’s much heavier than it looks. (Photo courtesy Syracuse City Ballet. Photographer: Stephanie Dattellas.)

The work of the staff, the training and efforts of the dancers, the intricate work of the costume designs all paid off.

Speaking of “costumes”: It was pleasing to see that the attendees actually dressed up and did not opt for the jeans and T-shirt approach. Sure, some people wore jeans, but the women wore dresses and the majority of the gents wore slacks and blazers. Some guys wore more formal attire — tuxes and black ties.

The students next to me, however, enjoyed their shorts and weekend “mall wear.” True, I can’t really blame them, but their desire to pay attention to their phones became quite aggravating. The blaring LCD screen’s light took away from the lighting on stage.

Bob Dwyer did an amazing job with the lighting. (I would have taken pictures, but my phone was secured in my coat pocket.) It’s definitely proof that every little aspect can affect the outcome of a performance. Between the day, night, and indoor scenes were lit appropriately and believably. There is definitive method to it, as the hues and colors affects the scenes themselves and the audience’s perceptions.

While talking to Rathbun, I was able to get a little insight as to her thought process, including the ending. She didn’t tell me the end of the story that she decided to use, as there are many endings. She told me to wait and see. As it was one of the tragic endings, I’m still not going to give away which specific ending.

Why? To emphasize that those who didn’t attend truly missed out. Don’t look at me for spoilers. I will reassure you that it’s a charismatic love story.

I say again: The Syracuse City Ballet fills that artistic niche. Just because you missed the two-day, three-performance window to see Swan Lake, the company will have performances this summer and winter, so it’s best to keep eyes and ears ready for the information.


The Speech That Wasn’t Heard

On Saturday, April 11, the George and Rebecca Barnes Foundation had its fundraiser, Dancing with Our Stars, at the OnCenter in Syracuse, New York. I was announced and introduced as the President of the Board for the nonprofit, and I introduced a video that we collaborated with Solon Quinn. The video is featured at the bottom of this post.

I prepared to say a few words, but I was asked — in the moment — to simply thank everyone for attending, thank Arlene Stewart for putting the event on, and introduce the video. I’m in no way bitter about not speaking for very long; However, I had a couple minutes of material that I prepared for. This is along the lines of what I wanted to say: 

Let’s begin with a quick anecdote:

In 2009, I ventured off to Italy for a nine-day trip, and during that trip the experiences were nothing short of priceless. One particular aspect caught my attention. There were several moments where we, my cousin and I, were walking and gaping holes were found in the ground.

The confused expression on my face, I guess, said a lot.

In Brescia, to be specific, Adriano told me that the transportation system was being improved. However, when the ground is being dug up to prepare for the renovations, ruins were found. When ruins are found, they are not touched or moved or destroyed. The cities find ways to work around them.

Well, it’s good to know that another quality that cities in Italy share, aside the name Syracuse, is issues with its transportation system.

The fact is that European history — aside the actual land, but considering the actual length of  — is richer than our domestic history. We can knock down our thruway, because it has reached the point of deemed expiration, and it’s not as “classic” as the now dissolved Erie Canal.

And dismantle is a scary word; deconstruct is another one. When an area in the United States cannot find a use for something, the “easiest” approach is to knock it down and build instead of work with the beautiful shell that has been given to them. In the structure’s place, a sign is put up to mark history. And that’s that.

The Barnes Hiscock Mansion was built in 1853. George and Rebecca Barnes were very proactive and progressive philanthropists who looked out for the greater good of humanity, particularly participating and propelling the abolitionist movement.

The mansion’s doors are now open to you. Like the Barnes family, we want to be proactive and participate in our community. With Dick Benedetto, we’re installing GourMelt, a cafe and gourmet/specialty grilled cheese eatery. We’re planning on revamping the rooms and increase giving tours. We’ll hold your wedding, shower, birthday party, and we’ll house interactive plays. The Covey Theatre Company performed “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” last year.

It’s important as community members to come together and support the cause, to support and keep the history of Syracuse alive.

Thank you to Arlene Stewart for putting on this fundraiser for the sixth season. Thank you to our sponsors. Than you all for coming, attending, and supporting.

Thank you to Solon Quinn for collaborating and putting together this video that we will reveal for the first time tonight.