Glenora Getaway

 If you’re looking for a break from your day-to-day routine; maybe a little getaway not too far from home, consider the Finger Lakes wine country. Whether you make it a trip with just a couple of friends, or a wine tour with a larger group, the west side of Seneca Lake is packed with wineries waiting for your visit. Most are open from 10am until 5pm daily, and welcome you with smiling faces and uncorked bottles. 

My wife and I recently took Rte.14 south out of Geneva on a Saturday afternoon and worked our way through some spectacular wineries along the way. Our first stop was at Fox Run Vineyards. After sampling several of their wines we took advantage of their small bistro/deli and grabbed a bite to eat. Their Arctic Fox white wine was fantastic, as was their turkey panini sandwich. Just a bit further down the road was Torrey Ridge. This is always one of my favorite stops because of its delicious Niagara wine. It is just like a green grape bursting in your mouth! Torrey Ridge is introducing two new wines with a fun flare and great taste. They are Redneck White and Redneck Red. Both pack a fruity, grapey taste; perfect for that small get together or kicking back on a weekend. 

The amazing thing about the folks along Rte. 14 is how they support one another. Throughout many of our conversations with the proprietors I’m always astounded by the way they suggest that we try stopping by a “competitor’s” winery. You don’t see that happen in many sectors of business. Another stop on our Sunday was exactly one of those suggestions. How the Seneca Shores Winery ever eluded my wine-radar, I’m not sure; but boy am I glad I found it. Rachel and I were blown away by the fantastic taste of several of their wines, along with the knowledge of how each was prepared.

Anthony Road Winery was another stop we made. Tony’s White (formerly named Poulet Rouge) is a great table wine, with a very nice taste and body.  The Thirsty Owl is a fun winery. Home of the great tasting- Liquid Wisdom. It is a white wine with a fun, grapey flavor. I think it is a perfect wine for a summer night sunset or lounging by the pool. Another winery that we hadn’t visited before was Miles Winery. Housed in a majestic, haunted mansion, perched overlooking Seneca Lake, Miles Winery was a neat place to visit for some wine sampling. 

At many of the locations we visited we were told over and over again that we should absolutely stop at the Lakewood Winery. Many of the people that we had conversations with grew to know that we preferred a semi-sweet wine, and maybe an occasional Riesling. They emphasized how good Lakewood was. And when we arrived, we were not disappointed. Their Niagara was fantastic! 

Our last stop, and final destination, was Glenora. Their winery is one of the most spacious, and offers an enormous selection of great-tasting wines. After a sampling of their Cayuga White, our favorite; Rachel and I checked in at The Inn at Glenora. Upon check-in guests are served a glass of sparkling champagne… Nice touch! When we got to our room we found the mini-fridge stocked with bottles of water and a bottle of wine. Another nice amenity. Our accommodations had plenty of room, with a sitting area, work station, and comfortable bed. The bathroom was very nice and clean. Perhaps the nicest part of any of the rooms at Glenora is their view. Every room at The Inn at Glenora comes with a lake-view of Seneca Lake. The rooms on the 1st floor have patios, while our room on the 2nd floor had a balcony.  Though the balconies aren’t huge (probably somewhere around (8’ x 5’), they offer up spectacular views and two comfortable chairs to relax in. 

For dinner we made our way to Veraisons, Glenora’s incredible restaurant. I would have to say that in my travels, Veraisons setting and atmosphere is one of the finest. Overlooking the grape vines and Seneca Lake, the restaurant has a warm, rustic setting. Though the room is quite large (able to be divided for private gatherings), you never feel lost in its size. Its cathedral ceiling and exposed beams add a sense of warmth and comfort. Make sure you bring your camera the first time you visit, so you can get a few pictures of the enormous and fabulous stone fireplace at Veraisons; it is breath-taking!  My “Trio of Pulled Pork” appetizer was fabulous. Served on mini Johnny cakes with apple chutney- wow! For dinner the chef prepared “Coq Au Vin Rouge” for me. Now typically if I can’t read it, or understand it, I’m not going to eat it, but boy am I glad I did. The braised chicken in red wine, dressed with bacon lardoons was amazing. Perfectly prepared and packing a tremendous taste. And on weekends, Veraisons is known throughout the Finger Lakes region for having one of the finest weekend brunches around. 

The nice thing about The Inn at Glenora is that they have several packages that guests can choose from. Whether it is including a sailing adventure to your stay or a complete dinner and breakfast for two, Glenora will accommodate your desires. Located at the southern end of State Route 14, just north of Watkins Glen in Dundee, Glenora is the perfect getaway destination any time of year. Don’t think that wine touring is an autumn thing. It can be a wonderful experience throughout the year. 

For more information or to make reservations at The Inn at Glenora, call 1-800-243-5513 or visit their website at www.glenora.com .

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Super Bowl XLV Sim has Steelers as Champs

Every year since the Madden video game has been in existence, I’ve always run a simulated game of the upcoming Super Bowl. Having never been exceptional at playing the game, as my son or the computer would always win at least 75% of the time, I figured going the sim route would be the most realistic. For the years in the 80s and 90s, I would run through the sim-results on my weekly radio show. However during the past decade I’ve kept the results relatively quiet, sharing them only as conversation pieces amongst friends. PS- the sim that I run has picked the last five Super Bowl winners.

So now, after a 10 year reprieve, I’m prepared to share with the world, or those that care, my sim-results of the upcoming Super Bowl XLV between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. For the simulated game I used the Madden ’11 video game for the Nintendo Wii gaming platform. I also set the host stadium of Dallas Stadium as the backdrop for the big game. I programmed the game to have all typical NFL rules apply, and away things went!

The opening coin flip was won by the Packers. As QB- Aaron Rodgers led the Pack in their first possession, it appeared that Green Bay would move the ball fairly well, until a catch by WR- Donald Driver and subsequent fumble at the 20 yard line gave the ball to the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger quaterbacked the Steelers in their first possession but after a half-dozen plays they were forced to punt. The first score of the game came with about 5 minutes to go in the first quarter when the Packers’ Rodgers connected with WR- Greg Jennings for an 18 yard TD pass. The Steelers answered that score with a field goal of their own by Place kicker, Shaun Suisham. At the end of the 1st quarter it was the Packers 7- Steelers 3.

The second quarter saw Roethlisberger start to catch fire with a balanced running attack from RBs- Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore.  The Steelers scored twice in the quarter with a 8 yard TD run from Mendenhall and 32 yard hook up between Roethlisberger and TE- Heath Miller. Before the Packers knew it, it was Steelers 17 – Packers 7. The Green Bay offense seemed to struggle most of the first half, but with under a minute to go before half, Rodgers connected with Driver for a 25 yard touchdown, making the halftime score: Pittsburgh 17 – Green Bay 14.

Now if I really wanted to add to the real life experience of America’s special day, I could have logged onto YouTube and played a Black-eyed Peas video during halftime. But instead I got a fresh Diet Pepsi, and settled back in to view the final half.

The Steelers opened the second half by scoring on the fourth play of the half on a Mendenhall 54 yard run. The play put the Steelers up 24 -14. After a couple punts the Packers had the ball and seemed to be driving until Steeler defensive specialist Troy Polamalu picked off a Rodgers pass and returned it for another Steeler TD. Score: Pittsburgh 31 – Green Bay 14. The Pack did get a 45 yard Mason Crosby FG in the third quarter, but after three the Steelers held a commanding 31- 17 lead.

With a lot of running by the Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall, the black and gold controlled the clock for much of the fourth quarter. With only seven minutes to play in Super Bowl XLV, the Steelers seemed to ice yet another Super Bowl ring for the historic franchise when Mendenhall found the end zone again giving the Steelers a 38 – 17 lead. The Packers  converted on a couple fourth downs and managed a Rodgers to Jordy Nelson TD just before the 2-minute warning, making the score 38 – 24. After not recovering an onside kick, the Steelers ran down the clock and punted with under a minute to play. Green Bay’s last play of the game was a completion to the 5 yard line, as the clock hit 0:00. Final score: the Pittsburgh Steelers 38 – the Green Bay Packers 24.

The Player of the Game was awarded to Steeler RB- Rashard Mendenhall. He rushed for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns. Roethlisberger ended the day passing for 215 yards and 1 TD. On the Packers stat sheet, Aaron Rodgers passed for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns, with the green and gold running backs rushing for only 78 yards.

In the end, the EA Sports Madden ’11 sim game has the Steelers collecting their NFL-record 7th Lombardi Trophy, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger solidifying himself as one of the game’s most succesful QBs to ever suit up.

Four and a Half Stars for Two and a Half Men

When you think of CBS primetime television, you probably think of its CSI team of dramas or Survivor. But sitting in their Monday 9pm timeslot is the comedy-monster-sitcom, Two and a Half Men

Starring Charlie Sheen, as Charlie, Two and a Half Men continues to entertain its current and new viewers with its growing popularity. Its writers are extremely witty and funny. But think about it, how much fun could you have with a divorced father of a teenager living with his older, playboy brother? Add to the mix a demanding mother and overbearing ex-wife and you’ve got the recipe for a successfully funny sitcom. 

Sheen plays a free-living songwriter who has taken in his younger brother, Alan (Jon Cryer), who is recovering from a messy divorce from Judith, played by Marin Hinkle. The ex-couple remain in contact through their son, Jake (Angus T. Jones), whose humor just about always steals the show. Both brothers live with the ever-present shadow of their powerful realtor-mom, played by Holland Taylor, lurking over their every move.

 Whether it’s Charlie trying to juggle two dates in one night or Alan agonizing over if he’ll ever get his life straightened out, the storyline of Two and a Half Men is thirty minutes of non-stop dry one-liners and sharp, witty humor. Sheen proves that he can deliver the funniest of lines without cracking a smirk, while his nephew in the show, Jake, comes up with ‘tell it like it is’ comments that will leave the viewers’ sides splitting in laughter.

 If I can’t watch Two and a Half Men at its regularly scheduled time, I absolutely make sure it’s ready to record on my DVR to watch at a later time. That’s how good Two and a Half Men is. From its male chauvinistic, womanizing angle with Charlie, to its portrayal that today’s families come in different shapes and sizes, Two and a Half Men is smart, fun, and just a plain old good time. In fact, Two and a Half Men is so good you can now also watch reruns on many cable channels.  

If five-stars is the top of the bar, then I have to give Two and a Half Men four and a half stars. It continues to hit the mark for CBS, even with Sheen’s off-screen troubles. As far as I’m concerned, I hope Sheen and the cast of  Two and a Half Men continue to show up to the set, sober or not, and keep producing he funniest show on primetime television.

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

From mid-November until the New Year radio airwaves, malls, and homes are filled with sounds of the season. And for those five weeks every year people stop to enjoy, sing along, and reminisce about the their favorite holiday songs. I’m no different. Though there are very few holiday songs that I turn away from (Feliz Navidad and Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer being a couple of them), I definitely have several that put a smile on my face, bring out the American Idol performer in me, and help me remember moments frozen in time. So as my gift to you, here is a list of my Top 5 Holiday Songs of All-time, with an honorable mention to start.

Receiving an Honorable Mention award for my Holiday Top 5 is Kenny Loggins’ Celebrate Me Home. Released in 1976, this song gets Honorable Mention because though it has become a song heard more times around the holiday, it really is a song that could be played any time of year. Only peaking at #27 on the Billboard charts in ’76, this Loggins classic has gained in popularity over the years.

Kicking off my Top 5 Holiday Songs of All-time is Nat King Cole’s 1953 classic, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts). Written in 1944 by Mel Torme, The Nat King Cole Trio first made this a hit in 1946. It wasn’t until years later that Cole himself created it into the Hall of Fame hit that it now is. Torme states that he remembers jotting down various lines like: ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’, ‘folks dressed up like Eskimos’, and ‘jack frost nipping at your nose’, and realizing that he may have the start of something when he first began to write the song.

 At #4 on my list is the 1994 hit from Mariah Carey, All I want for Christmas is You. This Carey single reached Billboard’s Top 10 all around the world, and is considered one of the most significant additions to the holiday classics catalog in quite some time. I recall in my radio days of the 90’s that when we received this single and played it, the phone lit up like a Christmas tree! A mixture of Mariah Carey popularity and a well written song had success written all over this release.

In 1998 Vanessa Williams and Bobby Caldwell release a much-covered Christmas standard, Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Originally written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, Baby, It’s Cold Outside started to be released as a holiday duet nearly every year starting in 1949. Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark took it all the way to #4 that year on the Billboard charts. Since then, duets from Sammie Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae, Barry Manilow and KT Oslin, as well as Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey have all solidified this song as one of the best written of all-time. Perhaps the best chemistry of this release can be heard from Williams and Caldwell though. The playfulness in their voices and easy harmony make this a wonderful song to listen to.

I guess the sentimental and romantic side of me comes out as I delve into my two favorite holiday songs of all-time. At #2 is the 1970 release from the late, great Karen Carpenter; Merry Christmas Darling. This song made it to Billboard’s #1 Christmas position in 1970, 1971, and again in 1973! Though I barely remember it then, I do know that it made an impact on me in my college days of the early 80’s. During that time my college girlfriend and I would be apart during Christmas Break, and this song hit home. Now years later, with me being lucky enough to have a wonderful wife, son and daughter,  I can’t help to think of others that are maybe missing someone special to them during this time of year, and in turn are writing a Christmas card or email by starting “Merry Christmas Darling”.

Finally, time to divulge my favorite holiday song of all-time. Dan Fogelberg, who recently passed away too young, was a prominent singer-songwriter with many hit songs in the 1980’s. My #1 holiday song was written in 1981, and became an instant holiday classic. His release Same Old Lang Syne went to #9 in 1981, and is often linked to this time of year based on its storyline. Same Old Lang Syne is about two former lovers meeting for the first time in many years in a grocery store on either Christmas or New Year’s Eve. The song has them chatting and reminiscing back to better days when their lives were easier and their love was strong.  During the song, Fogelberg weaves some powerful lines. “We laughed until we cried” and “she said she married her an architect who kept her warm and safe and dry…. would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn’t want to lie” are two sets of lyrics that magically set the tone of this song. At the end, with the melody of the original Old Lang Syne (heard often at New Year’s Eve) playing, the characters find that it’s time to leave and go back to their lives. The words, “…and as I turned to make my way back home, the snow turned into rain” puts a sense of finality and closure to their former relationship, with the snow representing happiness and innocence, and the rain sadness and that finality. For many reasons, this song has always moved me. There is not one person that can say they haven’t thought of running into former relationships, and wonder what they would do when and if they did. I love the storyline along with the ebb and flow of emotion. For all of these reasons that is why Same Old Lang Syne is my favorite holiday song of all-time.

Though this list serves as only an opinion, and everyone can come up with a list of their own, I hope we all can agree that this time of year is a magical season, full of wishes and hope. Please feel free to leave your own Top 5 message, if you’d like to share.

From me at AS I SEE IT, I’d like to wish you and yours a magical Christmas, and a hopeful New Year!

DJ Hero 2 Improves and Impresses

Activision just released its latest edition of player participation games in its new DJ Hero 2 video game. Building on 2009’s award-winning success, DJ Hero 2 expands the gaming experience with new features and gameplay modes. Players now can let their creativity explode as they can mix the grooves with two turntables and a new vocalist mode.

One of the key features of the new DJ Hero 2 includes over 80 new and exclusive mixes from such artists as Lady Gaga, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and the world’s hottest DJ- Deadmau5. The Freestyle Control feature allows players to inject their own special touch of musical creativity.

In the single-player mode of Activision’s DJ Hero 2, players can now play in the ‘Empire Mode’. This is a pretty cool feature that allows the DJ to compete and progress from their local nightclub to the world stage, including stops in London, Vegas, Berlin, and Shanghai. This goes along with the traditional ‘Battle Modes’ that can played in competitive settings.

The new Vocalist feature takes DJ Hero 2 to a new level. Just plug in a microphone and let loose! (And if you don’t sound that good the DJ will be obliged to flood the music over your voice.) To add even more party fun, move to ‘Party Play’ and let DJ Hero 2 continue to run through the playlist and allow for party-goers to hop in and play at anytime. With this feature now anyone can be the life of the party.

Besides the basics of the original DJ Hero like crossfading, scratching, and tap icons, DJ Hero 2 also introduces some real neat new features such as freestyle crossfading, held notes, and the visible star meter.

Like all popular video games today, DJ Hero 2 has an online multiplayer mode menu. The six choices include Star Battle, DJ Battle, and Accumulator. Some of the exclusive mixes found in this new release  find Naughty By Nature’s “OPP” mixed with Jackson Five’s “ABC”, or Kanye West’s “Heartless” mixed with Lady Gaga’s “Lovegame”. Some new single remixes include Sam Cooke’s classic “Chain Gang”, House of Pain’s “Jump Around”, and club favorite “Jam On It” from Newcleus.

DJ Hero 2 will transform living rooms and dorms into nighclubs and unforgettable parties. Friends will be firing up the turntables and plugging in their mics to experience their favorite music together in an all-new way. DJ Hero 2 has it all for endless gameplay and party-power!

Rated at “T” (for suggestive themes and lyrics), DJ Hero 2’s pricing starts at $99. For more information, game hints, and the latest updates for DJ Hero 2 join their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/djhero.

Weekend Getaway- Lake Placid, NY

As Central New Yorkers settle into another autumn, the ability to venture outdoors for activities becomes slimmer, unless you’re willing to fly south.

However, situated about three hours to the north is the charming and history-filled village of Lake Placid. I typically visit this jewel to the north at least once or twice a year. Whether I make it a “day trip” or a “weekend getaway,” I never seem to tire of all that Lake Placid has to offer.

Though Lake Placid has many wonderful places to stay, my home away from home when I am there is without question The Whiteface Lodge. At first the idea of its elegance and rustic charm seem to be contradictory, but within minutes of checking in it’s easy to realize that The Whiteface Lodge is a truly unique experience. From its superb restaurant, to its indoor/outdoor heated pool, The Whiteface Lodge has every detail covered.

The rooms of The Whiteface Lodge are absolutely stunning. Whether you select to stay in a 1-, 2-, or 3-bedroom suite, the style, setting, and décor of each room is perfect. My wife and I nearly giggle with delight each time settle in. The room is so warm and comfortable I have often found myself not wanting to leave. (And now come to think of it, that may not be a bad thing.)

Found within each suite is a granite-topped kitchen, complete with stainless steel appliances, a beautiful dining room table waiting to seat six, and a leather and wood-filled living area, complete with fireplace and plasma TV. The beds are designed for “sleep-in” mornings, with their layers of comforters and piles of pillows. And oh, I can’t forget to mention that the spacious bathrooms have floors that are heated!

The Whiteface Lodge also has many comfortable sitting areas and bars situated throughout its main area. The resort’s fun is seemingly limitless, with its own movie theatre and ice cream parlor, operating three-times daily, the two-lane bowling alley, and a beautiful game room, that includes shuffle board, billiards, and darts. Outside, the year-round ice skating rink is breath-taking, as it sits in the shadow of Whiteface Mountain. Cross-country skiing is also available upon request. And as mentioned earlier, the indoor/outdoor heated pool and hot tubs round out a spectacular list of resort amenities.

The Whiteface Lodge’s gated security, underground parking, and 24-hour concierge are also reasons why a stay at this resort will have you looking at “camping” in a whole different way from now on.

If you’re able to pull yourself away from the comfort of The Whiteface Lodge and all of its offerings, a visit to the Lake Placid shopping district is a must. A mile long strip in the quaint little town offers great restaurants, unique gift shops, and even outlet stores like the Gap, Bass, and Izod. I have found that starting my shopping days with my wife are easier by visiting the Goose Watch / Swedish Hill winery stores. A sample here and there pleasantly takes the chill off of the winter air.

If skiing is for you, Lake Placid is the place to be. Just a few minutes from town sits the world-famous Whiteface Mountain. Complete with dozens of trails, Whiteface has trails to fit every level of skier. For those looking for something different, maybe a visit to the Olympic Ice Stadium, where history was made in the 1980 Olympics, or stop at the U.S. National Ski Jump and Bobsled courses is in your schedule.

As a side note, from late spring until around the first of October, visitors to Lake Placid region can travel to the top of Whiteface Mountain for a view of a lifetime. With a view of nearly 90 miles, standing at the mountain’s summit is an experience you’ll never forget.

For more information on the accommodations at The Whiteface Lodge and events around Lake Placid, those interested can visit www.thewhitefacelodge.com .

Sherlock Holmes- “The Hound of Baskerville”

On Tuesday night I had the pleasure to view the Oswego Players’ latest presentation, Sherlock Holmes- “The Hound of Baskerville”. At the quaint and comfortable theatre in the Oswego Players’ building located at Fort Ontario Park, their latest effort, directed by Troy Pepper, was impressive.

Set in 19th century England, the play opens with investigator Sherlock Holmes (Peter Mahon) and Dr. John Watson (David J. Russell) being called on by Lady Agatha Mortimer (Kelly Mahon) to investigate the death of Sir Charles. While there, the duo stumbles upon the long running mystery of Baskerville Hall. The storyline twists and turns as often as the hound howls. Adding to the mystery and intrigue are several characters. Barrymore (Steve Standish) and Mrs. Barrymore (Beverly Murtha), who have worked at the home of the late Sir Charles over the years, may have reason to be suspect in the death. Jack Stapleton (Norman Berlin III), Kathy Stapleton (Tammy Wilkinson), and Laura Lyons (Quinn Etchie) are also characters that will leave you wondering what their motives are to be hanging around Baskerville Hall.

Holmes and Watson quickly realize that they must protect Sir Henry (Bobby Fontana) from whatever is threatening anyone associated with Baskerville Hall. And as the play unfolds and the mystery thickens, even the housemaid, Perkins (Erin Chetney) is not immune to being questioned on the murderous happenings.

I was quite impressed with the acting from David J. Russell, Beverly Murtha, and Tammy Wilkinson. All three played their roles well with command and confidence. Norman Berlin III and Bobby Fontana fell into their roles quite well with excitement and passion. I look forward to Erin Chetney, Quinn Etchie, and Kelly Mahon to take on stronger roles in future productions. Their presence on stage was enjoyable, but not long enough.

Troy Pepper’s “The Hound of Baskerville” is a one set play with the scenery and decore very ncely done. During my preview the sound and lighting were still being fine tuned. I would have liked it if the thunder and lightning would have faded a bit in the last scene. Keeping the sound effects loud took a little away from the pivotal scene. Starting the stormy night strong and then fading it would have still given the same effect with more attention paid to the acting.

All in all The Oswego Players have produced another successful effort. Sherlock Holmes “The Hound of Baskerville” is an enjoyable 90 minutes with good acting in a warm and cozy theatre. You can see “The Hound of Baskerville” this Friday and Saturday, October 8-9th, and again on October 15-16th at 8pm; and then for its finale on Sunday, October 17th at 2pm. To reserve your tickets call 315-343-5138, or purchase them the night of the show.

For more AS I SEE IT reviews visit https://edfayette.wordpress.com