For Starters

A Rockland Comedian makes his New Year’s resolutions; a luxury pet hotel for Fido. Plus Shop Talk and Hudson Valley Heavens.

For Starters

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A high-living hotel for pets; introducing the Butter Cutter;

pharmaceutical art in Milan

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A Palatial Pet Palace

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Planning a winter getaway, but worried about leaving Fido and Fluffy behind? Make a reservation for your best friends to have a little getaway of their own at a new luxury pet hotel at Middlehope Veterinary Hospital in Newburgh. This Club Med for the kitty-and-canine set is a totally cageless facility that houses your pets in “suites” with tempered glass doors, flat-screen plasma TVs, Web cams (soyou can check up on the little critters while you’re away), custom beds,and multilevel cat condos (or, ifPuss prefers, a private kitty“villa”). And just like any fineresort, there are plenty of special amenities. After enjoying movie night with complementary popcorn, your pampered pal receives tuck-inservice along with a gourmet snack. Prices for a night’s lodging in these swanky digs range run $35-$55 for dogs, $25-$38 for cats. Better not let them stay too long, though — you may have trouble getting them to come home again. — Polly Sparling

Middlehope Veterinary Hospital, 845-562-7861 or







Planet Fitness Makes Noise


You’re going to be hearing a lot of noise from us,” Mike Grondahl told a reporter upon completing his $10 million purchase of World Gym late last year. Grondahl, the 42-year-old CEO of New Hampshire-basedPlanet Fitness, seems to enjoy noise — so long as he’s the one making it. The club’s “no grunting” policy drew plenty of attention last November after a manager at the Wappingers Falls facility expelled a state corrections officer for grunting too loudly while exercising. The story made the rounds on the evening news shows, NPR, and the front page of The New York Times. The buzz among rival club managers in the Hudson Valley was that Planet Fitness didn’t exactly discourage the publicity. Certainly the numbers would bear out that theory. According to Dave Lakhani, Planet Fitness’s corporate spokesperson, membership at the Wappingers Falls facility rose by five to seven percent in the month after the incident, “which is above what wouldbe expected,” and “there’s been a bump in overallmembership nationwide.” Lakhani says publicresponse to the grunting incident ran “85 percent”in support of the company’s policy.“We don’t throw people out for exhalingloudly. If a member complies with a manager’srequest to keep it down, that’s the end of it,”said Lakhani. But there’s no question PlanetFitness isn’t looking to sign up serious lifters;its gyms cater to novice exercisers (specifically,the target group is women ages 25 to 40). So isthe company’s recent purchase of World Gym aneffort to expand into Real Man territory? Would,say, Albert Argibay, the Wappingers Falls grunter(who declined to comment for this story), be welcomethere? “Absolutely,” said Lakhani. “That would be the perfect placefor him.” — A.J. Loftin










Buttering Up


We’ve all seen those late-night infomercials for specialty products that promise to slice, dice, chop, mince, drain, strain, and otherwise fragment our food. The latest addition to this lineup — the One Click Butter Cutter — comes to us courtesy of Kent, Putnam County resident Paul Wilhelm. A combination butter dish and slicer, the device delivers perfect butter pats — five per tablespoon — with the firm squeeze of your hand. Although the gadget looks simple enough — pressing the vertical tube forces the stick of butter downward, where it is sliced by a small stainless steel blade — it took 10 years to morph from interesting idea to finished product. Wilhelm’s light-bulb moment, he recalls, naturally came over breakfast. “I thought it would be convenient just to reach into the refrigerator and be able to cut off a slice of butter onto a hot muffin or piece of toast.” After developing 60 different prototypes and almost as many plastic molds, the patented gizmo hit the market last year. So far, close to 1,000 butter cutters have been sold to wholesalers, and Wilhelm is eagerly anticipating the product’s star turn on the QVC shopping channel sometime this month. The 55-year-old Einstein has worked as a math teacher and in the construction industry, but says he “always wanted to have my own product that would be useful and successful. Luckily I have a wife who is behind me — and can support me.” — P.S.


The One Click Butter Cutter costs $19.95 and can be ordered by phone at 845-225-6630 or on-line at



Funny That Way


West Nyack comedian Brett Eidman is mighty proud that his song “Ode to Scruffy” quickly became the number one requested song on the nationally syndicated Dr. Demento radio show. It seems his little diddy about his dead dog appeals to… well, the type of people who religiously listen to the Dr. Demento Show. You know who you are. Eidman’s fans will be happy to know there is more where that came from: he recently released his first CD, What’s So F#@k’n Funny? But buyer beware: if sophomoric humor is not your thing, stay away … far away. Eidman works hard at offending everyone from the Jews (“Don’t Marry the Jew”) to the Catholics (“Priest Molestation Hotline”) to homosexuals (“Homo Depot”), and there’s even a Bush-bashing song thrown in for good measure. And of course, there’s sex, sex, and more sex. (Did we mention sex?) Let’s just say this is potty humor on steroids. Eidman, a regional stand-up comedian who has had guest stints on Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central, is currently writing a oneman show with National Lampoon writer/producer Jeffrey Gurian. He says the show, which will tour next year, features “new material, a whole different deal, very true, very real.” Let’s hope it’s very funny. So, to keep his comedy skills sharp, we asked Eidman to outline his top-five New Year’s resolutions for living in the Hudson Valley.



My New Year’s Resolutions

By Brett Eidman


5. Start appreciating the beauty of the Hudson River while sitting in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge.


4. As a community service, avoid riding the Ferris wheel after eating at the Palisades Center food court.


3. Reveal the truth: the Hudson River manatee was actually a fat kid from Poughkeepsie.


2. I’m going to stop swimming in the waters off of Indian Point — even though it’s so nice and warm.


1. Stop selfishly promoting my new CD, which is available in stores, on Amazon, on iTunes, or at


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