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.


The Chihuahua

I didn’t see its face until after parking and after leaving the vehicle. It was staring out the window of the SUV two spots down from my car. The Wegmans in Auburn, NY, isn’t the best parking lot in all of the land, regardless if it connected with the high-and-mighty Rochester-based grocer.

It is high-and-mighty, because it wants to be. It, Wegmans, has expectations to fill.

Chihuahua propped up on its front paws, which were resting on the plastic part above the door handle. It’s that thing with the small hole for pennies, dust, and used gum that is wrapped up in a small piece of paper.

The dog stared at me, and it wore a smug look on its face (similar to that of the picture found attached to this post, found by doing a simple Google search and at ebayclassifieds … of all places … I wouldn’t trust it.)

The site, not the dog. However, the trust in the dog is still up for discussion and determination.

It — the use of “it” is not to insult the integrity of the dog, but it’s because the gender couldn’t be determined — was wearing a sweater that his mother or grandmother probably knitted, but I was wearing a cardigan myself. It isn’t a homemade cardigan, but a light sweater nonetheless. The dog was wearing a collar — a tight little choker for such a neck-less pup — and I was donning a tie.

We both looked stupid. However, the dog had the upper hand, because I’m human.

The chihuahua was smirking because he and I were the same at the moment. The only difference was that I was outside. I was free. I didn’t have to walk up to the window and make faces at the animal. I didn’t have to do a victory dance, and The Bird didn’t have to be flipped. I just talked to it as if it could hear me.

It stayed put, looking out the window and not blinking. Chihuahua could have been dead and positioned as so.

But maybe it wanted to simply play. Maybe it wished the windows were rolled down a bit. Maybe the dog just wanted to just continually mock me, because it is catered to paw and … paw.

The nose — mine or the dog’s — wasn’t even close enough to the window to generate a foggy blotch.

As I walked away, we kept eye contact. The chihuahua still wore that sweater and that smirk. I kept my eye on the quadruped as if it was going to shoot me in the back — or, even worse, jump on my back — when I turned. There is nothing worse than little paws over both of your eyes, playing demonically possessed “Guess Who?!?”

Instead, the glimmer in its eyes spoke silently: “I will find you.”

But the SUV was gone after returning to the car. The damned thing probably drove it away.



Shaving Day

Why do we shield ourselves from the morning light?

We’re comfortable, yes, but the light is refreshing. After a long and brutally cold winter the sunlight should be embraced, grabbed for. Instead of letting the rays rip through the sheets.

Sleeping on my stomach was never a habit. It’s uncertain where that practice came from. It works, however.

The static-gelled arm hairs noticeably stick up, stretch. Then it’s my turn to shed the layers and get up, stand up, stretch.

I poked my fingers deep into the bags under my eyes to remove the spiders, which wake me from sleep (momentarily) and hider my sleep, that crawl around under my skin and around my brain. They, the creatures as much of a metaphor as they think they are, antagonize the anxiety that produces a profound amount of curiosity before bed. Staying up past the desired time can only be … be … Where was I going with this?

[Reflection rolls its eyes.]

The bags just hang there, still, now empty and ready to collect whatever should fall into them.

My fingers rub my temples, my brow, my cheeks all before the lower half of the face. The ripples of the prints trip over the stubble, sometimes valiantly enough to shoot up into my eye. (But that hasn’t happened in a while.) The skin moves easily, however, around my mouth. It stretches, but not like “Beetlejuice stretch” when wanting to create some horrific disfigurement. There is no Lydia in my life to scare, so what’s the point.

I simply scare my self. Uh, the view is hideous. And the reflection just takes a step back, and the figure places its hands on its hips and rolls its eyes and makes some movement with its mouth as if its licking its teeth with its tongue — all for the sake of disappointment.

Yet, my fingers still examine my face. The sound of friction is similar to trying to spread hard butter with a plastic knife over cold toast. The knife trips a little bit, and it makes an awful sound, similar to that of Velcro — dissonance to the ears and heavy on the brain.

The water helps a little bit. It’s heated up enough to splash on, apply. Rogue drops bead on my hair before sliding down or jumping to a Geronimo! coaxing.

The water, now steaming, heats up and readies the razor.

The second guessing begins: Should I shave today?

Here we go.

The art is to get enough coverage and buffer so the razor can effectively mow the stubble down. Under the nose and around the lips. The cheeks and jawline. It’s, in a sense, sculpting. After its tidying up the sideburns and evening up where the hair ends on the neck. We may not think of it as precision, but it is. It’s tact. It’s accepting the necessity to get a new razor when your face is cut up and scratched more than a few times.

The skin, pores can breathe.

It’s a little time consuming.

Here we go. Not so much.

I’ll go for a run first.


‘April, come she will …’

And April arrives.

“April, come she will …
… when streams are ripe and swelled with rain.”

– Simon and Garfunkel

What a better way to kick off the month with a 10-song soundtrack that spring has brought, what I’m listening to:

The Slip – Life in Disguise

Sean Hayes – Sufridrop

Wild Party – Life’s Too Short

Quarterbacks – Weekend

Kat Edmonson – ‘S Wonderful

The Roots – Dynamite!

Two Door Cinema Club – Cigarettes in the Theatre

R.E.M. – Moral Kiosk

Parquet Courts – You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Tick

Good Shoes – Wait (Bonus Track)

BRONCHO – It’s On (Bonus Track)