Sunday, February 23, 2014

Best Picture Nominee Marathon - Day 1

I spent yesterday sitting in a movie theater watching movies for over 10 hours.   If you had told 14 year old me that I would have thought that would be nothing but a slice of heaven.  As I mentioned in some posts yesterday, AMC has been doing these marathons for several years now.  I've always been interested but the stars have never aligned for me to take advantage of that before yesterday.

I was very cautious going in, to 43 year old me it sounded like it might be closer to hell than to heaven.  I had some ideas on how yesterday would go and as I documented, I was dead wrong on almost all of them.

I was surprised by the crowd.  There was a really good turnout in the biggest capacity screen in the theater.  I thought there were going to be like 12 people there.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  The people there were looking to have fun.  They came prepared and were in a very good mood.

I got a kick out of the fact that they brought pillows and blankets.  What I noticed later was that a lot of them had laptops as well.  I wasn't the only one blogging the event.  During Philomena the crowd was laughing a lot and I think that helped my enjoyment of the movie.  It was a lot of fun.

This experience is something that's been going on for awhile.  The laptops and stuff reminded me of what the Steve Jobs Apple presentations must be like.  Everyone there seems to be broadcasting to an unknown amount of people across the internet.  Movie marathons aren't new but they were to me.  The Ain't it Cool News butt-numb-a-thon that happens every December in Austin, TX has always intrigued me.  24 hours of all kinds of movies. 

I'm pretty sure I couldn't survive that but yesterday made me think I could.  One thing I had going for me was the movies themselves.  I hadn't seen any of them and they were all very good.  My buddy Ken Stevenson posted that this was nothing compared to a Star Wars marathon.  While he's right that 6 movies are longer than 4, my thought is, I've seen the original 3 so many times, I'm not sure I could make it through.  I love those flicks but watching on TV is much different than in a theater.  I can distract myself at home with phones, iPads, bathroom breaks, etc.

The theater is such a different experience, you have nothing to distract you so the movie has to be good and having not seen them is key for me.  I get bored quick these days.  I know I couldn't watch the newer Star Wars flicks back to back in a theater, those things drive me nuts.

I have to give AMC credit, they had some fun trivia games set up and the dinner break was really cool.  I was able to run to a bar next door and had a really good meal.  Oh, some beers too.  That was nice.

If the stars aligned again, there is no question I would do it again.  I'd need to have the time which is doubtful once I re-unite with my family.  I think it also helps that I hadn't seen any of them before.  Not sure it would line up like that again.  Also, I'd like for Angela to be there, it would have been really cool to discuss the flicks with her.  No offense to you lone blog reader but I would have preferred to debate the movies with her than type on my phone about them like I did yesterday.

So, with 2 nominees left to see - here is how I'd rank the 7 that I've seen:

1. Philomena
2. Captain Phillips/Dallas Buyers Club
4. Gravity
5. Wolf of Wall Street
6. American Hustle
7. 12 Years a Slave

I might have 6 and 7 as a tie, I'm not sure.  As I mentioned last night, I'm not sure 12 years got a fare shake from me but that's where I am with it now.  That surprises me to be honest, I really expected to love that one.

I'll probably see Nebraska in the next week since it's available to rent, not sure about Her though, it doesn't appear to be available to see in the week before the Oscars.

Overall, yesterday was a whole lot of fun, if you have the opportunity to do it, it's a lot more fun that I ever would have thought it would be.  I was expecting an Iron Man Triathalon type event for lazy movie geeks.  Turns out I was wrong about that too. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Marathon Concludes

Going into these 4 movies I sat through today as part of the best picture marathon, had I ranked them based on what I thought I'd like, I would have been dead wrong.  Turns out, my list is completely opposite what I thought it would be.  I would have had 12 Years a slave as the preseason #1, hands down.

Perhaps it was because 12 Years began 8 hours and 15 minutes into my day in the aisle seat 4 rows from the top at the AMC Promenade in Weatminster, Colorado.  Perhaps it was because it was the 4th film of the day, maybe because it followed 2 beers and a hearty meal.  Perhaps it's because it was the movie that got the least reaction from the large crowd.  Perhaps it was the cat nap I took 2/3's of the way through the movie.  Perhaps it's the uncomfortable nature of a movie about the horrors of slavery.

I'm not sure exactly but the fact is, it was my least favorite movie.  Of course it's horrific and hard to sit through but for some reason it never hooked me .  This may be the ultimate best picture winner but if I had a vote, right now my vote would go to the one film I assume will get the least amount of votes, Philomena.  I dug that flick.

12 Years also was the first film of the day where my bladder couldn't take anymore.  45 minutes in I had to make a bathroom break.  That was probably more the beers than the movie.

One more observation, I noticed a half dozen people leave the theater during Wolf of Wall Street for what I assume was the obscene nature of the film.  All 6 of those people were back for 12 Years a Slave and they all stayed through the whole film.  I really wanted to ask them how on earth Wall Street was more offensive to them than what was occurring in 12 Years a Slave.

Overall, I really enjoyed the day.  I didn't like my chances of making it through all the films but it was actually pretty easy.  I'm glad I did it, that was a cool way to spend a "I have nothing to do Saturday". If the same was true next week, which it is not, I would consider coming back for the remaining 5 films.  I'm working so it's not an option, plus I've seen 3 of the 5 they are ahowing next week.  I lack only Nebraska and Her.  

Break time

Alright, I survived the longest flick of the day.  No exploding bladder and it went by pretty quick.  Once again color me surprised, maybe I'm not as old as I thought.  

I liked the flick even though there wasn't much to like about the story or characters.  Lots of boobs and stuff.  Didn't realize Matthew mconnaghy was in it, so I had a double header with him.  Couple those films with true detective and I've seen that dude snort a lot of Hollywood cocaine lately.  He's got to be an expert at that by now .

Several people left about halfway through the movie.  I'd like to say maybe they were just hungry but I think it has more to do with the fact that the content was pretty crazy.  I'm not sure how at this point that surprised anyone, the movie has been out a long time now.

We've got an hour between movies so I ran out quick and bellied up to the bar at rock bottom brewery next to the theater.  I got lucky and grabbed the last seat before the entire theater tried to get in.

So, I'm having a beer, burger and some clam chowder before 12 years a slave.  I've really enjoyed today, I'm guessing this next flick won't be so pleasant.

My rankings of all the nominees I've seen as of now:
Captain Phillips/Dallas buyers club
Wolf of Wall Street
American hustle

Getting hungry

I'm officially hungry after the 2nd flick, so I bought a snack after Dallas buyers club ended.  It was a much different movie from philomenia.  Darker but really good.  It was not what I expected.  It's actually a pretty good companion piece to philomena.  Surprisingly, they have some tie ins to each other.

The real test comes now, wolf of Wal street.  3 hours.  I'm expecting lots of boobs, my back is getting a bit sore so perhaps the boobs will help.  There is an hour break after this so ill probably go to the bar next door for some dinner when it's over.

The mood in the theater is much more somber than after the first movie.  I guess that's to be expected.

Let the madness begin

    1. I have to admit, I thought walking into a movie marathon that was going to take over 10 hours would be filled with nothing but loners and the biggest of movie geeks.  I also thought there would only be about 20 of us in the theater.  I was very wrong.

    2. At least about most of that.  There are over 300 people in the theater.  Most if who came armed with blankets, pillows and the extra large popcorn, which I just discovered have free refills.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only lone wolf in the joint.  Most people have found a like minded fool to do this with and everyone is in a pretty great mood.

    3. We all got cool lanyards and programs when we walked in.  There is an mc who announced there would be trivia between flicks.  The first flick, Philomena started right at 12.

    4. This one surprised me, the crowd is here to have a good time and really enjoyed the dry, Irish humor. I really enjoyed this flick.  I've now seen 4 best pic nominees.  I'm pretty sure my 3 favorites are this one, captain Phillips and gravity.  Pretty sure in that order.  American hustle is certainly #4 on my list.

    5. We have a 20 minute break before Dallas buyers club.  Not sure about this one but I hope it's good.

    6. Probably the best news from the first flick is I didn't fall asleep and my bladder held out.  I did have to rush off to the bathroom as the credits rolled, so I missed the trivia this time.  Bummer.  The movies only get longer from here, wish me luck.

What Else is there to do on a Saturday?

It's been quite awhile, almost 3 years since I've written one of these blog things.  So, it appears today I'm coming back with a vengeance as this may be the first of 5 posts today.

Here's a brief synopsis of why that may be the case:  I'm currently working in the Rocky Mountain region, spending most of my time in Denver.  My family is still back in Jacksonville until the school year ends in June. 

Today is the first Saturday I've had off in several weeks, I think maybe this year.  I already watched the US lose to Finland in hockey today and that was disappointing.  So, what else should I do? 

Every year AMC has a Best Picture nominee marathon.  Angela and I have always talked about going but life and kids have never made it possible.  Today with none of that in my path, I thought I'd give it a try.  I mean why not?

Well, some of the reasons not to do it all revolve around the fact that I'm not as young as I once was.  I'm not sure I can sit through 1 movie anymore much less 4.  My bladder, attention span and hind quarters all protest much quicker than they used to.

I've tried to talk myself out of going for a couple weeks but have decided with much pushing from Angela to go ahead and try it.  So, I'm about to head to theater to watch Philomena beginning at 12, followed by Dallas Buyers Club, Wolf of Wal Street and 12 Years of Slave.  I haven't seen any of them, hopefully they are good ones.

My plan is to blog between movies.  They probably won't be much in the way of reviews, more likely they will be State of the bladder addresses.  Join me, won't you?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Change Was Made Uptown

September 12, 1985 and July 10, 1984 were often thought of as the best days of my life prior to getting married and having kids.  Even now it's hard for me not to look back on them as they may still be atop that list.  July 10th was the day my sister, Todd Taylor, Phil Harris, their brothers and I hopped into a car and went to see Van Halen at Reunion Arena on the 1984 tour.  It was the time of our lives and little did we know that would be the 2nd to last US show the original Van Halen would perform to this day.  That night was all about rock and roll to the hilt, everything was louder, bigger, sensationalized.  It had a huge effect on 13 year old Bob.

September 12, 1985 was the day my father turned 40.  He has told me since that was the toughest birthday he ever had.  I had no idea.  I was a distracted 15 year old who was on his way along with my sister, Eric Gabriel, Steve Harmon, Chris Hoff and his girlfriend to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX.  My Springsteen obsession was maybe 2 years old at this point.

Eric's brother Billy liked Springsteen so I went into my Dad's collection and pulled out Nebraska, the album Bruce did by himself on an acoustic guitar.  It was good but it was no Van Halen.  I remember thinking these are really good stories.  I listened to it a lot mainly as a source to paint pictures in my head of the guy leaning over a dead dog, poking him with a stick and the Mansion on the Hill.  It was missing something though, I needed a punch to my music at the time.

A few months after I discovered this dark world I had never even thought of, Dancing in the Dark came out.  I watched that video on MTV and thought that's a sea of people, one I'll never see in a live audience.  I liked the song but it didn't seem right to me that it was the same guy who did Nebraska, this was cheesy keyboard music.  I had never even seen Bruce before, he wasn't anywhere to be found on the artwork for Nebraska.

Then my dad brought Born in the U.S.A. home.  I had a hatred for keyboards at the time but putting that album on and then the keyboard and bass drum come booming through the speakers, WOW!  The next thing I notice, there is a story here, an incredible story.  Every song on the album jumped out at me as an incredible tale that I had never come across before.   There was a punch to Born in the USA, but it still wasn't AC/DC, Van Halen or even the Rolling Stones (my top 3 at the time).  I eventually came to terms that not everything had to have a punch to it and just dove into the songwriting.  I then started pulling out Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town and it was one great song after another.

Eric and I tried like hell to see Bruce at Reunion Arena in November of 1984, but we couldn't get tickets.  By the time he announced two shows at the Cotton Bowl in September of 1985, there was no way we were going to miss this one.  We camped outside of Sears for 12 hours to get tickets.  We were able to get 6 seats and September 12th couldn't come fast enough.

By the time the show finally arrived, I had memorized every record from Born to Run on.  I knew them like the back of my hand, I felt there was nothing I didn't know about Bruce.  I was ready for this show, can you believe it will be 4 hours long?  No way!

The tickets said 7:30 but he didn't come on until well after 8 which was driving me insane.  Then, the lights went down and out he came with an American Flag behind him.  The stage was on the other end of the football field from me, I was on about the opposite 10 yard line.  So, I'm figuring he was about 100 yards from me.

To this day I can recite the set list from that show.  I knew all but one song that he played and I had the time of my life.  The thing that struck me from across the stadium as it began, the big ol' flag and the big ol' dude next to him in the white suit.  I knew that was the Big Man, Clarence Clemons.  I knew he played Saxophone.  That and the fact that Max Weinberg was on drums was all I knew about the band.

I can still see that glow of that white suit in the twilight from that evening.  They started with Born in the USA and I couldn't sing along loud enough, I friggin' loved that song.  I felt it was speaking for the veterans of this country even though the only vet I knew (Uncle Bill) had never once spoken to me about the war at that point.

From Born in the USA, they went right into Badlands, and that's when my life changed.  Literally.  Everything I felt I knew about Bruce was wrong.  He wasn't a man who had single handidly changed the way I think about music, thinking I needed music with heavy guitars and drums.   Bruce was a member of a band, and oh my what a band it was, and holy crap did they come with a punch!  When Clarence stepped center stage in the white suit and started the sax solo in Badlands, the Cotton Bowl erupted.  It was much louder than when the show began.  It was like God had just walked to the mic.

I couldn't believe it.  Saxophone player seemed like the easiest gig you could get in a rock band.  I mean, you only played for a few seconds every other song, but this guy ruled the stadium.

As the first set progressed, it just kept happening, he'd step to the center and blow out a solo that would bring the house down.  The final song of the first set was Thunder Road (a song I love as much as just about any song there is now, but at the time for some reason was one I didn't know too well).  I had listened to that album, but I listened to the side that started with Born to Run - Side 2.  Side 1 just didn't get as much play I guess.  As the song began, I wasn't sure what it was.  Then when the crowd sang along with the lyrics "you ain't a beauty but hey your alright," and I was floored.

That was nothing.  When the sax solo came, again, I couldn't believe what I was seeing, and the solo, kept building and building, it just kept getting bigger and bigger.  As it hit the crescendo, Bruce ran across the stage, sliding at the end right into Clarence's arms.  The Big Man bent over and gave Bruce a big kiss.  My jaw dropped as this huge black guy was kissing the Boss in front of 70,000 people who let out a huge roar.

I had no idea what to think, it freaked me out.  I spent most of the 30 minute intermission saying, they didn't really kiss did they?  Chris Hoff even suggested they were gay.  Huh, what?  No way?  I must admit, I didn't understand it at all.

As the show went on the party just continued and my admiration for the E Street Band and really Clarence Clemons was just beginning.  Clarence came out in a big red suit as they went on to play hit after hit and I just couldn't get enough.

The rest of that year, I no longer spoke of Bruce Springsteen, it was always Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  The more and more I thought of that kiss and listened to the music, I realized it didn't have anything to do with sex, it was about family, brotherhood  It took me years to realize it, but as I did, I began to appreciate my family and friends much more.  I have held my friends dear as much as possible.  I pretty much still have the same friends I had that night in 1985.

As the years passed and Bruce broke up the band, the outrage came from all over and surprisingly, I was amongst them.  I saw 2 shows on his "solo" tour supporting Human Touch/Lucky Town, and I had fun but something was missing.

What Bruce built with his audience from the beginning, and with me that night in Dallas, was a bond between a band and the audience.  He stenciled out the picture but it wasn't complete until Roy put the Piano down, Danny came over the top on the Oregon, Max and Gary kept the rhtyhm, Nils and Stevie playing guitar and then came Clarence to top it off.  You take those elements away, and the songs are still great, but something was wrong.

In 1989, I left Texas Tech to join my family in California.  I had been there maybe two weeks when I drove up one December night to Ventura to see Clarence Clemons and his band play at the Ventura Theater.  It was a really small place and I had great seats about halfway back, right behind the sound board.  This was about 2 months after Bruce announced he had broken up the E Street Band.

I went into the show thinking, poor Clarence.  It was a good show, but I didn't know most of what they played.  I kept thinking to myself, this is cool, but it's just not right.  During the encore, Bruce came out and I went bonkers.  They played 3 songs together, Cadillac Ranch, Glory Days and Sweet Little 16.  I remember singing so loud during Cadillac Ranch the sound guy turned around and looked at me like I was the Boston Strangler.    What a glorious night that was.  It both infuriated me and made me happy.  It upset me that he'd break that bond but then made me think, they aren't split up for good, they are too good together. 

The reunion shows in '99 and 2000 proved it to me.  The E Street Band was a family that I loved.  I didn't know those guys, but I felt like they were a significant part of my life, a significant part of not only who I am, but who everybody else in the arena is.

That kiss in 1985 was about a bond, and I realized that during that '99 tour.  Every time Clarence would step to the mic to sing the lines "Now There's a Beautiful River in the Valley Ahead" from If I Should Fall Behind, I'd tear up.  It's true, he had that incredibly low voice, it was just awesome.

There is a danger when speaking of people you've never met to romanticize them, to make them more than they are, to overstate what they mean to you.  My sister has often kidded that when Bruce dies I'll be a wreck.  I've often thought that might be true.

I knew this past week that Clarence had been sick, and that things weren't looking good for him.  It bummed me out but not as much as it would have 10 years ago.  Not because Clarence and the E Street Band mean any less to me now, in fact, they may mean more.  I think it's because they taught me how to be a good friend, how to enjoy the hours we have together and to appreciate the sound of great music coming from a great band.

Last night when I heard that he had passed, I was sad.  I didn't cry, but the thought of never seeing the E Street Band again with Clarence Clemons is one that I'm never going to come to terms with.  Every time I hear 10th Avenue Freeze Out I get excited when "A Change Was Made Uptown".  Alone in my car I holler after it's announced that "the Big Man Joined the Band" and that quick sax lick erupts.
I'm sure going forward I will still holler, except now I imagine it will be with a heavy heart.  I typically laugh when people say they are going to miss celebrities who pass away, take Heath Ledger for example.  We will always have the Dark Knight and Brokeback Mountain.  I didn't know him, I don't miss him because I had no idea what he would have done in the future.

This is different.  While I still have the solo in Jungleland, I will have no more evenings with 18,000 of my closest friends throwing our fists in the air as Clarence plays the solo in Badlands.

That makes me sad, but also makes me eager to have my kids watch Live in New York City with me to see the "Little Cuties Raise Their Hands".

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Long and Winding Road

When I first met Angela coming up on 6 years ago one of the first things I told her was, "I'm a traveling sales guy, that's what I am."  Over the years I have spent a lot of time on the road.  Towards the end of my career with Madacy I still traveled but it wasn't very much, more like 2 nights a month instead of 3 or 4 a week like I had done at one point.

I started my new business life one year ago this past Tuesday.  We knew immediately that I was going to spend a lot of time on the road.  It's something we both realize I'm good at and it provides us a pretty good living.  There are benefits to traveling a lot on business, like virtually free vacations.  This past August Angela and I went to New York and Philly and didn't pay airfare or hotels. 

That really does make it alright, its tough but I am what I am.  The travel was tough last year as I had 2 different territories, neither of which included the state I lived in.  I spent 119 nights in hotels last year and I didn't start traveling until February 1st.

Angela and I both felt the travel would ease up once I got established in the territory.  The problem with that logic was that just as I was getting established the territory changed and at the end of 2010 I was assigned my 3rd territory.  Now each new territory has been an upgrade for me which means the potential for more money.

I am now the SouthEast Division sales manager for Buffet Crampon covering Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. 

Our house has been for sale since the beginning of September and we haven't had a single offer yet. 

I am finally comfortable in this job and am starting to see results.  I've been saying for a year that the money is great and it's needed, but the lack of it last year was not what kept me up nights.  The constant failure subtracted years from life and added quite a few pounds.  (OK, I know the pounds are my fault but I have to blame something).

Having recent success has helped but not quite as much as I hoped.  I left home on January 7th of this year and tonight is night 24 in a hotel.  I'm beat and it just seems like life won't give Angela and I a break.

She says it's my fault, for years I kept saying that everything was going our way and then she got put in the hospital on bed rest with the boys, I got laid off from Madacy, her grandfather died, the suburban blew up,  money got tight and I took this gig.  Right after I started with Buffet the suburban died again, Haslet got 17 inches of snow and we had to put Dusty down - all of which happened when I was away from home.

My parents moved in with us in May and they have been a great help with me gone so much.  Of course they would like to have their own place and anytime you live with anybody there are small things to overcome. 

As we try to sell our house small issues with the house seem to be rearing their ugly heads at every turn.  We had my buddy Noel and his merry band of Mexicans out recently to help fix all those things and from what I hear, he did a great job but that was an expense we could have done without.

Hopefully those changes will help us sell the house though because I need my family closer.  It will be tough on them because it will separate Angela from her family and we aren't sure if my parents will come or not.  Selfishly I want to move today which is a bit unfair to her because I'll still be gone alot, but not as much which to me is a plus but to Angela it's an empty house.

This particular trip has been a rough one on me as I've slept in a ton of different places (Anaheim, CA - Jacksonville, AL - Athens, GA - Atlanta, GA - Hattiesberg, MS - Talahasse, FL - Jacksonville, FL - Savannah, GA - Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Charleston, FL).

Our boys are getting more and more active which of course means fun, I feel like I'm missing a lot.  As I stated, I'm getting a better grasp of the gig but little things keep nagging me and I'm having a tough time with that.  All those things mean I'm tired and not as sharp as I should be.  Paying my own expenses this year means I'm trying to cut corners or ie, not eating well, so my belt is getting even looser than before which is a bad thing.

Last night in South Carolina I was taking a dealer and a Buffet trumpet artist to dinner and made a really bad decision.  I decided to make a left turn in traffic.  It was 2 lanes I was crossing, the first lane had stopped and I thought I was clear.  I wasn't and got t-boned.  I was in the company truck and it got messed up pretty good.

Luckily nobody was hurt but man do I feel like crap.  Not physically, just mentally.  It was beyond embarrassing and I couldn't help but wonder what the hell has happened to my life.  It seems to be going out of control even though I may finally be getting command of my life again.  At least there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. 

Today I drove the very wrinkled truck back to Jacksonville, FL and had all kinds of issues with the tarp that was covering the instruments in the back of the truck.  It took me less than 4 hours to get there on Thursday.  Took almost 6 hours today to get back to the office.

I'm flying home first thing in the morning (assuming DFW is open that is) and can't wait to get home.  I'm very excited about spending a week at home before I have to head out again.  I took Monday off so I can spend a whole day with my family, something I'm just damn near giddy about.

It is imperative that I enjoy Monday and get a clear head for Tuesday because I'm close to fixing things, this is no time to feel sorry for myself.

So yes dear reader, if you made it this far, the purpose of this post is not to gain your sympathy but merely to act as a reminder to me to keep my head up and damnit, make things work.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Newhouse's Head East

I have spent a good portion of the last 15 years trying to see a game in every Major League Baseball stadium.  I've been lucky that work travel has put me near a lot of parks and the points that I earn from those trips has got me to the rest of them.  I only have 1 team that I've never seen in their home ballpark, Seattle.  The rest of them I've visited but a lot of them keep building new stadiums so I've had to go back.

I've done several "baseball vacations" before, 6 games in 7 days in 6 city type of deals.  I love them.  The most hardcore trips have been with my Dad and Stephen.  It's just something the 3 of us enjoy and have really had a good time doing.  

Since Angela got in the picture I haven't been able to do a baseball trip.  I've been able to go to a few stadiums that happen to be in the city we are visiting but never a trip.  For my 40th birthday Angela put together a baseball trip for her and I.  Obviously this is very cool but I was pretty concerned that she would hate this and with everything going on we shouldn't do this now.  

She convinced me it was something we had to do and before I knew it we were heading to New York City.  Angela wrote a pretty good depiction of what we did day by day, so head over to the triplet blog to see that.  I'll just give you my reviews of the stadiums here.

In 1999 we did a trip that took us to Boston, Cooperstown, New York, Philly and Baltimore.  It was a memorable trip for a lot of reasons and since both New York teams and the Phillies have built new stadiums on me, this seems like as good a time as any to share those with you as we go.

When we went to Shea Stadium back in 99 the game got rained out.  We were there, sat in our seats for a bit, ate hot dogs out in the lobby and watched it rain.  Never saw a pitch.

This year Angela and I arrived at Citi Field and it was raining.  I had to call my Dad as it seemed like Deja Vu all over again to quote Yogi.  We got our souveniers and some dinner and ate them right by the trash cans.  It was odd how similar the two trips were.  The difference this time was that when the clock hit game time, they actually played.  We were very lucky in that our seats were kinda under the overhang so we didn't get very wet which was key in keeping Angela happy.

The rain kind of killed the atmosphere in the park but there was still a little bit of it as the Phillies were in town and brought some loud fans with them.  I was very impressed with the stadium, it was nice in a Cincinnati, San Diego kind of way.  I mean that as a compliment, sort of.  I like all 3 of those stadiums but as the new stadiums go, there isn't much that makes them distinctive.  Citi Field had the Jackie Robinson rotunda which looked to be very cool but I have to be honest, I didn't realize what it was until we were almost out of it.

I did find the Mets Hall of Fame which was pretty cool.  I understand Daryl Strawberry was the best player on the 86 World Series team but as a guy who lived in LA and rooted for the Dodgers in the 90's I had a tough time seeing a plaque for him.  Such a hard time, I took a picture of it.

Speaking of that World Series team, I had to take a picture of the trophy and dream about seeing it here in Texas some day.


Things I look for in every park I go to - overall coolness - ease of seeing basic stats like balls and strikes - out of town scoreboard - the hot dogs - souvenier cups - home run celebrations - 7th inning stretch - various other cool stuff around the park.  What I'll do here is give each category a grade from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Citi Field
Overall Coolness - 7
basic Stats - 8
out of town - 9 - all the games were finals but it appeared to be pretty cool
hot dogs - 5 - very average
sovenier cups - 0 - they didn't have any!
home run celebration - 3 - the apple came up but it seemed kinda lame to me
7th inning - 10 - after the God Bless America and Take me Out to the Ballgame they did the tune they sing during the wedding at the Godfather - friggin perfect.
other stuff - 5 - probably better than that had I realized we were in the Jackie Robinson rotunda.

Total score - 47

The one stadium I absolutely wasn't looking forward to was Yankee Stadium.  We had a horrible experience in 99 and I wasn't looking forward to doing that again.  That experience alone is worth it's own blog post but I'll summarize - we hopped in a cab in Times Square at 5, the cabbie was pissed, got even angrier and dropped us in Harlem.  We had no idea where we were or what to do.  Found the subway and then got yelled at by just about every usher at the stadium as we tried to find Monument Park.

This time everyone told me the subway was the way to go.  For the Mets we listened to my friend Laurie and the train was fine.  Pleasant actually.  We did the same this time and everything was cool.  I still had my guard up as we milled about outside, I was waiting on those jackass ushers to greet us, much to my surprise I think they might have been nice to us.   Maybe not nice but they were helpful which was really all we needed.  We made it to monument park with no trouble at all.  I enjoyed it and Angela was a trooper but it was really crowded and it seemed to be a bit more concrete than I remember the old one being.  That felt almost like a garden to me

There is very little in this world that I despise more than the Yankees.  I really, really can't stand them.  Another thing I do at stadiums is buy myself a hat and a shirt.  I told Angela I will not do that at Yankee Stadium.  I just can't.  Every picture she took of me in that place was a struggle for her because I didn't want to look like one of those friggin bandwagon fans.  I did agree to the picture near Babe Ruth's number.  I like the Babe, I ignore who he played for.

The stadium itself was almost awesome.  It is really impressive.  It reminded me a lot of the new Cowboys stadium, both seem so nice I'm not sure I should be allowed to touch things as I walk through it.  That big screen was pretty awesome, the friggin thing is huge but it doesn't look like it goes, it's bigger than everything around it.

Yankee Stadium
Overall Coolness - 8
basic Stats - 8
out of town - 9 
hot dogs - 5 - very average - they were the same as Citi - Nathan's
sovenier cups - 5 - it was the oversize flimsy plastic ones
home run celebration - 0 - only because the Yankees didn't hit one
7th inning - 7 - after the God Bless America and Take me Out to the Ballgame they did something lame that I can't recall.  They get extra points because of God Bless America and it's Yankee Stadium - sue me if you disagree
other stuff - 7 - monument park is very cool and the roll call the fans in right field do for the players is very cool as well.  I was pretty excited about seeing that. but destroying the ghosts of Yankee's past for luxury suites is a sin and cost them a 10 here.  That being said, I really did like this one better than the old park but I wish I could take my boys (including Stephen) to the actual House that Ruth built and they took that away from me.

Total score - 49

We took the train to Philly the next day, that was pretty easy and cheap too.  I was real happy about cheap after visiting the House where the Ghost of George took every penny he could from me.

My trip to the old Veterans Stadium in 99 wasn't as exciting as the others on that trip.  Mainly what I recall is a crappy, empty football stadium.  One thing you should probably know about me, even though I love going to games and go a lot, I don't ever want to catch a foul/home run ball.  The last thing I want to do is let the guys on Sportscenter figure out what my little league coach did oh so many years ago, I can't catch.  So, when something is hit in my vicinity, I run like a little girl.  It's happened many times and I'm not ashamed of it.  

Last time in Philly I tripped trying to get out of the way and fell into some getting drunk frat boy who in turn fell into one of his buddies who fell into another buddy and so on.  Luckily for me drunk frat boy #1 didn't realize I fell into him and he took heat for the rest of the game from his buddies that he screwed up them getting a foul ball.

I was a little concerned as we pulled up to our seats and within 5 feet of us was the foul pole.  Uh Oh.  Angela got to the seat and said, "oh crap, I'm going to get hit by a ball because goof ball won't be anywhere near me if a ball comes in the area."  I'm not ashamed no matter what you think.  Fat boy gets out of the way, quick.

Luckily for her we didn't have one come our way but she did seemed concerned throughout the game.  Let's see, what were the biggest differences between new and old Phillies stadium.  

1. Fans - they were at this stadium - lots of 'em
2 - old stadium was a hell hole - new stadium is a little slice of heaven

That seems to sum it up.

Now, I do have to say that this was the first game on this trip where the weather was nice.  Really nice.  That goes a long way to making the stadium seem better, I realize that but suck it Yankee fans, I don't care.

Citizens Bank Park

Overall Coolness - 9
basic Stats - 6
out of town - 3 - I think there was a good one underneath me but I never saw it, so they get docked because I really wanted to see how the Rangers were doing and it was very difficult to do.
hot dogs - 8 - I'm not sure if it was really good or just ok good but I do know it was 3 points better than the ones in New York.
sovenier cups - 8 - same reasoning as above
home run celebration - 0 - only because the Phillies didn't hit one
7th inning - 5 - after the God Bless America and Take me Out to the Ballgame and then nothing
other stuff - 11 - you get points for the Philly Phanatic, he makes me laugh and the fact that the fans were a lot of fun.  Plus I had a couple beers in that aluminum can thing, I know other places have them but I never had 'em before and they were very cold.  Again, sue me.

Total Points - 50 - ok, I realize it's a 10 points scale and I gave them 11 but I can't have them tied with the Yankees.  I hate the Yankees, did I mention that?  They can't be #1 at everything, I won't allow it.

Basically, if I'm just comparing the 3 stadiums - if I lived in New York, I'd be a Mets fan because they ain't the Yankees.  If I was a rich snob and had no morals I'd go to Yankee Stadium and if I could choose between all 3, I'd want my boys to grow up going to see the Phillies, that place was cool.
We came home the next day, very ready to be home and to see the boys.  As we were getting ready to land the pilot announced that the hydraulics on the plane had gone out and that we were going to be met by emergency vehicles.  Everything was fine and I wasn't worried since no one else seemed to be but as I put on facebook, the sight below is never one you like to see upon landing.

Monday, August 2, 2010

1 More Week

In less than a week I won't be a 30 something anymore. I can honestly say I'm cool with that. I've actually been saying that I'm 40 for several months now, it just seems easier. My wife on the other hand always corrects me and points out to people that I'm only 39. Kinda cracks me up.

My 30's were good to me for the most part, I can't complain. Not really sad to see them go though, there seems to be a lot of cool stuff in my future. There better be anyway.

First up though better for me to get home. I've been on the road over a week now and I'm just ready to get home. I've driven over 2700 miles so far on this trip and I'm done with it. I've still got at least one more day of appointments but mentally I'm done. I'm ready to spend the last week of being a 30 something with my wife and kids in my house. Even if it is hot as hell at home right now and currently it's 65 where I'm at now. I'll give up the great temps just to get home.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Make That 39 Major League Stadiums

One of my many "quirks" has always been my quest to attend a major league game at every stadium. I've taken many baseball only vacations to try to accomplish this. I really enjoy seeing the different stadiums, trying the hot dogs, checking out the gift shops, watching the HR presentations, the 7th inning stretch, etc. It's just part of what I do.

After thinking about it and doing a count on Facebook's Stadium tour app, I realized that today I attended my 39th major league stadium. (For those of you counting a long at home, only 24 of those are still active. Entering today I had only 2 teams that I had never been to their home stadium and 5 more that have built new stadiums since my last visit). Today I took in a game at Chase Field in Phoenix. I watched the Diamondbacks kick the crap out of the Pirates. Now I'm down to 1 team I've never seen at their home (Seattle).

I wasn't sure I wanted to go this afternoon even though it was an off day on what has been a long business trip. I considered staying in the room and watching the Masters. As I walked towards the stadium, I was glad I chose the game.

I really dug the atmosphere outside the stadium. There weren't many people there but they had a strip of bars along the outside of the stadium that looked to be a pretty cool place to be.

One of the things I always look for at a stadium is the team identity. I want to know who plays in that stadium as I walk in. The best stadium I've ever seen at this is Comerica Park in Detroit. There is no question the Tigers call that place home. I think the Rangers do a poor job of this back home. This stadium wasn't too much better but I did like this display case as I walked in with the World Series Trophy in it.

The other thing I always have to do when visiting a stadium is try the hot dogs. It's very cool that these new stadiums all have lots of food to choose from but I just want a hot dog. The first stand I approached was all foot long hot dogs. I could choose from a char dog, a chicago dog, a philly dog or an Arizona dog. I figured when in Rome, so I ordered the Arizona dog. This is what I got.

I was not happy with this monstrosity. Especially when I figured it out that it was $9 coupled with my $9 beer and I realized this wasn't a cheap experiment. The dog turned out to be alright but I really couldn't taste it through all that gunk. So, I went and got a plain ol hot dog in the 4th inning. It was ok, not worth the $14 bucks I spent on the 2 dogs though.

I got a pretty good single seat considering I just walked up to the ticket booth an hour before the game. I had a seat in the shade so that was nice as it was pretty warm today.

There weren't very many people at the game (21,000) but it was a really comfortable day. Me and one other guy shared our entire row. He turned out to be a pretty nice guy and we talked baseball all day. You can't ask for too much better than that as I quizzed him about all things Arizona baseball. (Like, did you know the mascot is a cat because the stadium used to be Bank One Ballpark (BOB) and he was the BOBcat. Probably made sense then, not so much now).

The Diamondbacks scored 13 runs in the 4th inning, I'm fairly certain I've never seen anything like that live before, it was crazy. They hit 3 HR's in that inning alone. Their HR presentation was nothing special although the pool in right center did shoot up water during it, that was pretty cool.

Their 7th inning stretch was incredibly lame. They did the now standard God Bless America followed by 1 quick run through of Take Me Out to the Ball Game and then Gloria Estefans - Hear that conga beat song. I sent out an email to Angela and Stephen asking if that was lamer than Toronto's gay Let's Go Blue Jays song they do. I still haven't decided.

Overall it was a great way to spend an afternoon. It is a very nice stadium, I really couldn't find anything wrong with it. (Holy cow did the big scoreboard have stats on it, almost too many - that's a huge plus). All that being said, I'm getting a little bored with the new stadiums. There just isn't too much different between this stadium and the new ones in Milwaukee and Houston (the retractable roof box stadiums). Is it odd for me to say that I miss the old "unique" stadiums?

As for the other 5 stadiums I need to see because they keep building new ones on me - both New York stadiums, St. Louis, Philly and Minnesota.