Thursday, September 27, 2007

Creig Northrop is a Zombie

If you watch TV, drive, or even walk in Columbia you know who Creig Northrop is. Additionally you know all about the Northrop Team and wonders of his Real Estate Empire. Unfortunately this guy is scary looking, and his mug is on every one of the Long and Foster "For Sale" signs. This guy is so scary that the runner up in Columbia is a guy named Pat Hiban, who isn't scary looking but his name is only a few characters short of Hymen. High School must of been a bitch for that guy. But I digress, every time I see a picture of good ole Creig (why can't you spell is the easy way), I think of an old movie. That old movie is Night of the Living Dead, cause this guy looks like a zombie.

Just in case you don't know Creig, here is a picture:

and here is a picture of a Zombie

I believe the proof is obvious.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Baltimore-area Vendors That Rock

Cranky and I frequently use this blog to rant about the lost art of customer service. We've bemoaned the incompetence of Kinkos, the laziness of contractors and the dearth of fine dining in suburbia. Finally, we have something good to report!

If you read the Kinkos fiasco you know that we were in the throes of planning a wedding. This is a daunting task, because no matter how much time, money and emotional fortitude you throw at the "Wedding-Industrial Complex" the "machine" will find a way to demand more...More...MORE!

Eventually you realize that you are powerless. You gave up any semblance of control the day you signed your first wedding-related contract. You no longer have the option of refusing to pay for stuff you never knew you wanted, or needed. You no longer have control over when or why you use annual leave; it's now commandeered for countless vendor appointments, often with last-minute re-scheduling, at times that are invariably only convenient for the vendor. Worst of all, family and friends suddenly decide that it's open season on the engaged couple; launching a volley of suggestions, excuses and complaints, as though the event in question were really about them, and not the couple getting married.

We had some interesting problems with our wedding. More vexing than any of the suggestions, and/or complaints we received from loved ones were the things we did not receive from our vendors. These things came mostly in the form of services paid for, but not rendered. For example, we did not receive a refund on our $3000 deposit, paid to one now-defunct charter company by the name of Clipper City Tall Ship, LLC. I also did not receive a call from Columbia Bridal & Tuxedo to cancel my dress fitting; instead they let me find out the hard way that my dress was not ready on the day that I was scheduled to come in for a fitting (there goes another half day of annual leave...).

To say I was an unwilling participant in planning my own wedding is an understatement. Cranky often had to console me as I shook my fists at the sky and declared that I hated "The Wedding." However, in retrospect, I must say that the actual affair turned out beautifully. Everything was special and lovely and magical and...dare I say, perfect.

This was all thanks to a couple of fantastic companies that actually did their jobs. Finding them wasn't easy, it literally happened by accident.

The sheer effort of finding a place to have a wedding in the Baltimore-Washington area took a lot out of Mr. and Mrs. Cranky. The thought of plunking down major coin for a four-hour extravaganza just didn't sit right with us. Yet the traditionalist lurking within crumbled when both sets of parents (who wisely chose to elope) said "Oh, a wedding will be so much fun!" I had one requirement: waterfront. So we started looking for a suitable waterfront venue that didn't require a Hollywood pocketbook, but wouldn't result in Styrofoam containers and paper napkins. This was far more challenging than I ever imagined.

What I should have done is gone straight down to the Inner Harbor and asked for Laura Givens at the USS Constellation museum ( Laid-back, friendly and competent, Laura made us feel at ease about moving our event from the ill-fated Clipper City to the much classier Constellation. She also has a good relationship with Charles Levine Catering, whom we had already retained through Clipper City.

Charles is an event-planning genius with culinary skills to match. He took care of the flowers, the staffing, the bar, the cake, the tables and chairs, the linens, the music and the food. He read my mind on all of those things without me having to do the work of figuring out how I really wanted the wedding to look, taste and sound.

His crab cakes were all backfin, with just enough filler to hold them together. The wedding cake was the closest approximation to a Snickers bar I could imagine possible. Then there was Joel Holmes, a Peabody Conservatory-trained jazz musician with an entourage of talent that includes his violinist wife and a congo player to make Tito Puente proud. Nothing beats dancing to the rhythms of Latin jazz under the stars and the rigging of an authentic tall ship!