Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Week in the Sticks Part 2

Continuing on with my vacation adventures, I have to mention that throughout all these “adventures,” there was considerable time for watching daytime TV.  One of the staples was “Tru TV,” (formerly “Court TV”), which featured lots of shows like “The Worlds Dumbest Hillbillies Part 4,” The World’s Dumbest Partiers Part 17,” and “The World’s Most Shocking Videos Part 785.”

Talk about a profitable production… all they have to do is mine YouTube for people breaking things and hitting each other with various implements, find some of these clowns to talk about what happened, and BANG, they have a TV series.

They probably ought to just rename their channel “Lowest Common Denominator TV,” and call it a day.  Not that it wasn’t entertaining, mind you.  But there are only so many times you can watch someone crash into something with a tractor.  Anyway, onto the rest of the week.

When I used to live there, we used to go to this little Mexican place called Loma Linda’s.   To say that it was unimpressive from the outside, would be a vast understatement.  It was basically a shack with some tables and a bar.  But the food was awesome.

This is Loma Linda’s, as I remember it. Yes, I even remember it in black and white.

When I worked for the record store, my manager and I used to go there for lunch, for a massive burrito and extremely stiff margaritas.  Of course then he’d send ME in to tell his assistant manager that he wasn’t coming back to work.  Meanwhile, I’d seek out a hideaway in the back room for a siesta.

So after missing out on the $1 taco special on Tuesday, I was primed for Mexican, so I suggested to the guys that we hit Loma’s for lunch.  They completely remodeled back in the mid to late 80s, so now it shares very little with the earlier version, but the name and location.
The newer version.

The food is still good, so I came out of there packed.  I didn’t try the margaritas though.  Had to save some stamina for later in the day.  It had already been a pretty alcohol-intensive week so far.

On the way home, we passed our old house; the one where we had The Barn.  The place looks good, even though they seem to be running some kind of business out of it.
 They put up a fence, I presume to keep people like me from seeing what was going on with the barn.
I can still see they did a lot of work on it, putting up new siding, a new roof, and new vent stacks, the latter of which is probably necessary for the meth business.

I might have liked to get out of the car and creep up closer for some better pictures, but that would have ruined our alibi for what we were doing.  If anyone challenged me on taking pictures of this house, I was going to shout out, “Google Maps!” and tell the VP to punch it.

Having been packed with meat and bean products, the VP and I retired to his place for the afternoon, to watch “house movies.”  By that, I mean Roadhouse and Animal House.  Gotta appreciate the classics.

Of course, we did take a quick trip to the Tavern during “intermission.”

This was the day I was looking forward to… the day of my annual trip to my old college pizza joint, Myles Pizza.  It’s something we do every time I visit.  These pizzas are massive; a veritable orgy of meat, sauce and cheese.

We had to wait until 6:00 PM, until the CFO’s daughter got off work.  She met us at the VP’s house, then we headed down to Bowling Green, where the CFO and his son joined us.  As usual, the pizza was amazing.
Totally worth the trip.  To Ohio.

The worst part is waiting for them to cool.  The sauce is like 7000 degrees.

That kid from “Mask?”  That wasn’t a birth defect; he bit into a hot pizza and got splashed by the sauce.

After the pizza trip, there’s usually no room for beer.  Instead, the VP and I poured some Jack on ice, and watched the Bruce Willis movie “RED,” with the CFO, who hadn’t seen it.  Of course, he had to go and ruin the whole movie for us by pointing out that someone saluted improperly, because the “salutee” wasn’t wearing a hat.  Because that was totally the most unbelievable part of the movie.

The VP spent the day smoking a turkey.  And here I was sure he’d never find rolling papers large enough.

No, we weren’t actually “smoking” the turkey; he put it on the grill about 10:00 AM, with low coals and wet wood chips, and just let that baby roast all afternoon.

It was stuffed with onion and Tony Packo’s hot dogs.  Klinger would have been proud.

We had to pull the grill into the edge of the garage, because we had a pretty stiff rainstorm roll through.  The weather channels were going nuts, as usual, but it looked worse than it really was.

Ohio storms are very dramatic-looking.  All this for a little rainstorm…

Everything cleared off by evening, paving the way for our high school’s “All Year Reunion,” which is really just a big block party outside one of the two bars in town.  It wasn’t like they were checking class rings at the door.

This was the third one of these I’d been to, and I still haven’t met anyone I knew from high school.  Although this time, I did see a couple of my brother’s friends.  I approached one guy and made a comment about one of his (and my brother’s) high school exploits.  He just kind of looked at me and went “And I know you from…”

I said, “Barn.”

He said, “Bluzdude!

I saw one other guy I knew from college, who coincidentally, I mostly remembered from his luring me to cut class by seeing if I wanted to go in on a Myles Pizza.  As I always say, I can resist anything except temptation.  Pizza trumped History of Broadcasting every time.

This was my departure day, but not until 7:40 PM.  We didn’t have to leave for Detroit until 5:00, so there was time for leftover pizza and a movie.  We watched another action classic, Geena Davis (the action hero) and Samuel L Jackson (comic relief) in “The Long Kiss Goodnight.”  I pointed out to the CFO, that this movie was totally believable, because no one saluted anyone else improperly.

The trip back was uneventful, even though I was packing 6 slices of foil-wrapped pizza.  You never know what the TSA is going to find objectionable.  They may have thought I was going to burn through the cockpit doors with scalding hot pizza sauce.

After enjoying “For Those About to Rock” while landing in Detroit, I was somewhat alarmed when my MP3 player cued up Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend,” taxied to take off.  Sounded like a bad omen to me, but luckily, I had the correct ball cap on, to counteract the mojo.

Winging my way back home.

Once again, many thanks to my buddies for the hospitality and putting up with my BS for a week.  Until we meat again…

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Week in the Sticks, Part 1

First, I have to apologize for the line in the My Apologies post where I said I’d have the next post up by the end of the weekend.  I had all day Sunday, but just didn’t feel like it.  It was probably due to the hour and a half I spent downloading and editing the mountain of pictures I shot.  Granted, almost all the pictures consisted of food, storm clouds or kids playing ball, but I still needed to process them.

This was my annual pilgrimage back to the small northeast Ohio town in which I grew up.  I’ve been going back every summer since 1998, to see my best friends, the VP of Hell No and the Chairman of Fuck Off (aka the CFO).

This time around, my trip was almost derailed before I even left.  Thursday night, when I was eating my dinner, (a chicken tender), I managed to break off a piece of a tooth.  At first, I thought there was something in the chicken, because I didn’t feel anything break.  I spit out the mystery chunk and saw that it was unmistakably dental.

I checked my lowers in the mirror right away but didn’t find anything missing, which I found to be quite un-nerving.  If it wasn’t MINE… bleah! 

Then when I went back to eating, I noticed a sharp edge on a lower molar.  With further investigation, I found that a piece was broken off to the inside of a filling.  It didn’t hurt though, so I didn’t figure it would be too serious.

I guess I didn’t give up the Diet Coke soon enough.

I called the VP and asked him to contact my old family dentist, with whom this story took place.  (It’s his dentist too.)  I wanted him to arrange an appointment so I could have a professional make sure there was nothing seriously wrong and to just get me through the week.  I could have my current dentist make any permanent repairs when I came home.

As I waited at the airport gate Friday morning, he gave me the options of getting to see him that evening at 5:15, or Monday at 10:30.  Because I’d be getting into town about 1:00, and we usually went directly to the local tavern, I opted for the Monday appointment.  I didn’t want to show up with food in my teeth and reeking of beer and bar.

The only problem, as I discovered over the course of the weekend, was that sharp edge was cutting the hell out of the bottom of my tongue.  It would scrape every time I ate, drank or spoke, which happened to be the three things I went there to do.

Have you ever bitten your tongue really hard at night?  You know how sore it feels in the morning?  That’s how I felt all weekend.  I had to start issuing disclaimers that I wasn’t necessarily drunk, I just couldn’t speak properly.

It was kind of a blast to see my old dentist though.  His place was exactly the same as I remembered it… same magazines too, I think.  He remembered me, my family, and even where I lived.  It was nice to catch up.  I even told him that story I linked up above, about how I used to try to huff his nitrous oxide.  (I didn’t ask for it this time.)

Anyway, he concluded that I just needed a new crown, and it could wait until I returned home.  More importantly, he sanded down the sharp edge that had been cutting me, and by the next day, I was ready to resume some heavy-duty tongue action.

So here’s how the week played out:

As is my custom, I flew into Detroit, where the VP picked me up.  It was cool when, as we were coming in for a landing, AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock” came on my MP3 player.  We were just touching down as the song came to the part where the cannons start going off and all hell is breaking loose.  It felt like I was landing in some bombed out war zone, which of course, I was.  Because, you know… Detroit.

After the aforementioned Opening Day Lunch at Shawn’s Irish Tavern, we retreated to the VP’s garage, to drink beer, play loud music, and entertain the neighbors with embarrassing stories about each other.  The CFO’s daughter, (and muse for some of my best posts), hung with us too, and even stayed the night after her daddy left.

My favorite bit from the night was the VP’s neighbor talking about how young kids should have a roster of Aunts on stand-by, at all times… an “Aunt Farm,” if you will.

Recovery day.  The VP spent the afternoon grilling a pork roast, and holy hell, was it ever good.

 We put a real hurtin’ on that bad boy, and the VP cut up the remainders for pulled pork sandwiches for the next two days.  Took a late trip to Shawn’s, Saturday night.  (No, it wasn’t any more exciting than it was on Friday afternoon.)

I spent most of the day with the CFO, at his place.  He grilled some burgers, the kind you get with the cheese already inside them.  You know… for people that are too busy to add that additional slice on top.

We added cheese anyway, because that’s the kind of guys we are.  (Cheesy.)

That was just lunch.  Later on, he whipped up some amazing pasta and sauce.

His oldest daughter came by for about 20 minutes, with her two kids, her new man, and his kid.  (All were between 2 and 4 years old… not including the new man.)  So it went from “quiet afternoon” to “circus” real quick. 

After my visit to the dentist, the CFO and I headed about 40 minutes out of town to see his son play in a freshman basketball camp tournament.  It was pretty amazing; these kids played five 34-minute games that day and three more the next.  No idea how they did it.  I guess it’s been a long time since I’ve had that kind of energy.

 After we got back from the tournament, we headed straight out to a “legendary Toledo Mudhens” baseball game. 

 We always try to get out to a Hens game once during my stay.  At $10 per ticket, it’s a good deal, to see guys playing who are one step away from the majors.  And it’s a nice park, too.
We had seats four rows behind the dugout.

The “female” Mudhen mascot, “Mudonna” spent some time over on our side.
Hey kid, does this costume make my butt look big?

I wanted to go to this particular game because after Monday, there was rain in the forecast every day.  And over the previous weekend, both games were fireworks games.  The problem with going on fireworks night is that the bus we take to the game won’t leave until the fireworks are over, making it a much later night for us and cutting into our drinking time when we return.

During the game, the VP leaned in and said, “Did you ever notice how this announcer sounds like he’s DJing at a strip club?”

It made perfect sense to me.  I could just hear it…

Ladies and gentlemen, warming up in the bullpen, right-hander Steeeeve, ROG-errrrrrs.  And nowwww, on our main stage, put your hands together for the lovely DES-tineeeee!

This time around, the Hens lost 4-2 to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton RailRiders.  We were able to get back home (meaning “to the Tavern”) by 10:30. 

Went to see the CFO’s boy play freshman baseball that afternoon (after he played 3 more basketball games), and followed that up by watching his daughter (from Friday night) play co-ed softball.  Thankfully, that game only lasted an hour, so we got plenty of time back at Shawn’s.

We had so much time, in fact, I texted my blog friend Sherry to come meet us.  She was just returning from her latest adventure in testing one’s boundaries, so the timing was perfect.  This time, she was spending time in various bars, forcing herself to talk to guys there and trying to get a phone number.  (Kind of like “Speed Dating for Barflies.”)  At least when she got to Shawn’s, she was “off the clock,” and could just enjoy some low-stress gabbing.

I had been looking forward to the $1.00 taco night special, but was so wrapped up in talking to Sherry, I didn’t try to order until she left.  (I also didn’t want to talk with taco filling in my teeth.)  Problem was; I missed the 10:00 cut off by ten minutes.  Gah!

Don’t you hate it when your stomach is all set for one thing, and then you have to eat something else?  Me too.  So I made do with their fried haddock nuggets.  Which were wonderful.  I lived.

On deck: Going Mexican, smoked turkey, movies, pizza night, and street drinking.

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Apologies...

I know I haven't posted in over a week, but I've been on vacation.  If you were amidst a steady stream of grilled pork,

smoked turkey,

lunchtime beers,

Massive pizzas,

and assorted youth sports events, would YOU have the will to post?

I'll have a full rundown by the end of the weekend.  Meanwhile, I'm taking Whitehouse, Ohio by storm.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Toys Were Us

I was talking with a friend the other day, and the subject of our favorite old toys came up.

When you want to look at the massive changes between now and say the 60s and 70s, one peek at kids toys and games will tell the tale.  Our games were the model of simplicity, often using nothing but basic properties of physics and chemistry.  Very few things lit up, unless you were playing “Operation,” or had an “EZ-Bake Oven.”

I never see kids now playing with anything that doesn’t move, blink, light up, make noise, or appear on a screen.  Granted, all that stuff is pretty cool.  But I kind of feel sorry for them, that they missed out on the simple pleasures of childhood.

So I figured I could make a nice post out of remembering some of my favorite games, from Back in the Day.  But as I look over my list, one thing sticks out… We never actually owned many of these.

Much like Pop Tarts, soda pop and sugared cereal, we weren’t allowed to have the cool toys.  I’m pretty sure Mom made us play with toilet paper tubes, broken glass and dirt.  At least that’s how I remember it…  So the only time I got to play most of these games was when they belonged to someone else.  Neighbors, friends, cousins, they seemed to have all the cool stuff.

In formulating my list, there seemed to be some natural divisions, so I’ll stick to that format.

Basic Games

 Battling Tops

This one was just physics in action.  Two or more people would pick a top, wind the string around the stem, snap it into the starter gate, then pull the string.  The tops would circle around the “arena” and eventually bump into each other until only one was left standing.  I don’t know why I was so entertained by watching things spin around… maybe that’s why I liked playing records so much.


Another game based on basic physics.  The discs were stacked on the three poles, with the little guy balancing on the top.  You’d spin the spinner, then use the plastic “fork” to remove that color of disc.  Whoever made the little guy fall, lost.


This one is still around, but has gone through various incarnations, plus a major motion picture.  Each player places their ships on the grid, and then they take turns calling out grid coordinates to where they think their opponent’s ships are.  It’s kind of like blind, reverse bingo. 

The biggest problem was cheating.  If your opponent called out a square that your ship was on, you could lie and say it was a miss, or you carefully move it to another location.  I had a friend who used to stack four of his ships on the aircraft carrier.

I think they had to make this game electronic, just to deter cheating kids.  It was either that, or the game had to come with a proctor.


This was a simple stacking game.  You took turns stacking up these oddly-shaped blocks, until someone couldn’t place the next piece without toppling the tower.  I think we mostly liked it because there was a piece shaped like a butt.

Sports Games

The mack daddy of old sports games, Electric Football

We first got this one in the late 60s; our teams were the Packers and Browns.  My brother and I used to spend ages arranging the players into various formations and conceiving of trick plays.  Then when we’d turn on the switch, they’d mostly just spin around in circles.  I don’t think anyone ever completed a pass, or made a field goal, with those little felt “footballs.”  Ever.

The companion piece to Electric Football: Table Hockey (Source)

We had this one too, and it might be the same version as pictured.  I think our teams were the Leafs and Canadiens.  At least this one worked like it was supposed to.  Of course the puck always seemed to end up in that one square inch where no player could reach it.

My brother and I really liked these last two.  It’s no surprise to me that he got both of them for my nephews, even though the players still don’t do much more than spin around.)  I wonder if he ever gave the boys a turn?

My favorite out of all of the sports games were the “Stratomatic” games.

 Strat-O-Matic Baseball player cards

Strat-O-Matic was like the forerunner of fantasy football and baseball.  With the baseball, every player had a stat card.  You’d put your team together and roll some dice.  The stat cards told you what the player did for that dice roll, and you’d chart the game on a board, or a piece of paper.

We had a football version as well, but the stats were team-based rather than play-based.  One year my brother and I decided to play the entire NFL schedule.  We never finished the first game, because while he was in the bathroom, I peeped on his card and saw that his defense couldn’t stop one particular play no matter what was rolled on the dice, so I ran it every time.  Yeah, it was kind of a dick move.

Building Toys

Tinker Toys

I loved these!  I don’t think I ever built anything slick, like you’d see on the box.  Instead I’d just build these giant gizmos that only made sense in my head.  It was like, if I could use every piece, I won.

They’re still around, but are now made out of plastic.  Bah!

The Erector Set

We got this one when I was in 6th or 7th grade.  It was really nothing but various beams, plates, nuts and bolts, and a small motor.  Best thing we built was a fully functioning model of a Pittsburgh Incline.  Worst thing was that the nuts and bolts ended up everywhere but back in the box.

I know Legos are still around, but I am no longer impressed.  My best memory of Legos was playing with a giant tub full of miscellaneous bricks and platforms.  When you look for Legos now, they’re all sold in specialized packages, meant to build one particular thing.  I suppose you could just combine a bunch of disparate packages together, but then you’d end up with a tractor-trailer with helicopter blades.

Whenever I think “Legos,” I also think Lincoln Logs.  But I was never too keen on those… there wasn’t much variety in building subjects.

Oh gee, another log cabin!

They at least should have come with a miniature, wooden Abraham Lincoln.

Hot Wheel track and connectors

Hot Wheels were cool!  Granted, my brother and I probably spent more time beating each other with the track than playing with the cars, but still, we put on some serious tournaments.

We had a neighbor who also had Hot Wheels stuff, so we’d combine our assets.  First of all, we rarely used the curves, loops or jumps, because the cars almost always sailed off the track.  So we’d go outside and construct a long straight-away down the hill in our front yard.  The neighbor had a starting gate contraption, for fair starts.  So we’d take turns picking cars, then stage a round-robin tournament until we crowned the Hottest Wheels.

The biggest problem was that after a few times, we all knew which cars were the fastest, so we probably spent more time arguing over who got which car, than actually racing.

Creepy Crawlers

(I’m including this in the “Building” section, because they were something we created.  Same with Hot Wheels… we built the big race courses.)

Creepy Crawlers were the little boys’ version of the EZ-Bake Oven.  You’d put the “goop” in the molds, in any number or combination of colors, put it in the little oven, and in a few minutes, you’d have a rubber bug.  (Eventually they made an edible version.)
The finished product.

I remember the first time I made some… I brought them home to show Mom and ended up chasing her around the house with them.  She was NOT amused.  And that’s probably why I never had a Creepy Crawler set of my own.  (Dirt doesn’t hold up as well, in the oven.)  And because I couldn’t have my own Creepy Crawler set, I found I could chase her around with discarded cicada shells instead.  I suppose it’s no wonder I wasn’t allowed to have nice things.

Board Games
We got a lot of mileage out of the Big Three: Monopoly, Life, and Clue.  We got Monopoly when I was in 3rd grade, and we played the hell out of it clean through high school.  Not sure we ever actually finished a game, though.

Hey, let me ask you… did you ever use “Free Parking” as a kitty to win all the various fines and penalties called for by Chance and Community Chest?  That was one of our “House Rules.”

We also liked playing “Life,” mostly because the bill denominations were so freakishly high.  It’s been ages since I’ve played that, so my memory is a bit hazy, but I’d like a chance at redesigning that game.  I could think of a number of ways to make it more realistic, in the short loop through college, alone.

We didn’t have a Clue, so we had to play it at a neighbor’s house.  (“Sorry.”)  (Oops, that’s another game we didn’t have!)  And when we wanted to get into Trouble, we had to go to Grandma’s, because we didn’t have that game either.  (The best part about Trouble, was that the dice was encased in a little bubble on the middle of the board.  You’d push the bubble down and it would bobble the dice.  That was one game where we never lost the pieces.

I do remember the first time I played Clue, though.  I was convinced that the deceased was killed with the lead pipe.  How did I know?  Because the pipe game piece had a bend in it.  Forget deductive reasoning; I had physical evidence!  Sadly, the grownups I was playing with were unmoved by my logic.

So what were your favorite toys and games of Olde?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mind the Gap

As my Summer of Bluz weekends go, this last one was pretty full… ballgame and a movie. 

Saturday, I went to see the Orioles, on Manny Machado bobblehead day.  This was my last Pirates/Orioles rainout ticket exchange, which I picked up a couple of weekends ago.  What I didn’t know was that the game was directly opposite the Belmont Stakes, in which California Chrome was going for the Triple Crown.

I was only mildly disappointed… after all, it’s just a 2-minute race, versus a whole day of sunshine, beer and baseball.  Plus, I was sure I’d be able to find it on a TV screen, somewhere.

Normally, I’d have seen it from my usual haunt, The Bullpen.  Post time was scheduled to be at 6:50 and the O’s game didn’t start until 7:15.  The problem was that it was a bobblehead night, and the place would be packed.  Only the first 20,000 would get the coveted bobblehead, so I expected the lines to be long.

As Sitcom Kelly and I once told the owners of the place, “Cheap Ass Beer is more important than another free t-shirt.”  (Because their slogan is “Cheap Ass Beer,” we thought they should have put our suggestion on a t-shirt.) 

However, it’s not more important than a bobblehead.  I wanted one.

Last year, when I went on Adam Jones game jersey day, there was a line halfway around the ballpark, 3 hours before game time.  (They usually let you in 2 hours prior.)  So I was expecting close to the same on Saturday.  I figured, I’d get down to The Bullpen about 3:00, do some power drinking and watch the line from my spot at the end of the bar.  As soon as I saw the line begin to get serious, I’d head over.

So there I was, two-fisting it at the bar, when in walked… well, someone…  It was hard to tell, because she was seriously backlit by the light coming in the front door, but she piqued my curiosity when she sat down at the end of the bar, two stools from me.

All I could tell was that she had long, straight hair, and was pretty nicely put together.  She looked to be about my age, or at least within shouting distance. 

The fact that she was by herself was in itself, a rarity.  I admit I look for women to talk to when I’m out and about, because you never know.  But I’m the first to admit that a ballgame does not provide a “target-rich environment.”  (A Little League game, maybe, but not a pro game.)  I’ve found that women generally go to baseball games under two circumstances, either with a guy, or with a pack of girlfriends.  Neither scenario is conducive to chatting them up.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman out to an Orioles game, by herself.

She ordered a Bud and while she was paying the bartender, I had the chance to scope her ring finger.  It looked to be occupied by a couple of rings, but I wasn’t sure.  There was a stone, but it didn’t look like a diamond.  Still, I figured she was waiting for someone, so that would be that.

I had been talking to the couple on my left, when during a lull, she began talking to me.  She said that a male friend of hers gave her money to come down to the game, buy a cheap ticket, and pick up a bobblehead for him.  The problem was that he sent her down the night before, for the wrong game.  D’oh!  So she was back again today, and a little edged by it.

So she WAS here by herself, after all.  It seemed odd to me that if she was married, she’d be running down to the ballpark for some dude, by herself.

She wondered about where her seats would be, so I asked to see her ticket.  I have a pretty good grasp on what’s where.  (I won’t be getting flimflammed by any more ticket hustlers, that’s for sure.)  When she spun toward me to discuss her seating arrangement, that’s when I saw it.

Granted, the lighting was still very bad, and I still couldn’t see her with any clarity, but there was no missing what she was missing.  And by that, I mean at least 2 or 3 of her bottom front teeth.  Girlfriend could eat a hot dog without unclenching her jaw.

Remember a season or two ago on Survivor, when that woman had to take out her bridge at Tribal Council?  It was like that.

 Can I pick’em or what?

I considered buying her another Bud, just for shits and giggles, because she obviously wasn’t rolling in dough.  I mean, dentistry aside, she’s running bobblehead errands for some dude.  She probably had an interesting story.  But before I could do anything, she finished her Bud, headed out the door and took off for The Yard.

I had anticipated joining the line around 4:00, but to my surprise, there still wasn’t one.  I got in at least another half hour of Cheap Ass Beer before I finally saw the line start to form.  Ended up talking to a father and son in line, which turned out to not be very long.  They opened up about 4:45.  Good thing too, because I really had to pee.

Oh, and I got my bobblehead.

While it's not a great likeness, I like how they paid homage to the Platinum Glove Award he won last year.

Because there was still about 2 hours before game time, I dashed up to the new(ish) bar they put on top of the center field batter’s eye wall. 

I camped out at the bar there and talked to another couple, one of whom was a fan of the O’s opponent, the A’s.  Soon, there was another girl sitting on the other side of the couple, talking to them.  I wasn’t sure if she was with them or not, but good gravy, this girl was gorgeous.  (And about 20 years younger than me, I’d guess.)

Obviously, I waited a moment or two, before passing judgment.   She indeed had a full set of teeth, in addition to full sets of everything else.  The four of us talked together for a while, before the inevitable… the guy she was waiting for showed up.

It was a fun preamble to the game, but I was starting to get wobbly.  I probably had about 8 beers by then, so I figured I’d best just ride it out for the rest of the night.  After I went up to my usual club level section, I stopped for one more draft, and was able to watch the Belmont on the monitor there.

Yep, no Triple Crown winner this year either.  And I agree with Chrome’s owner… they need to do something so that fresh horses aren’t competing with those that have just run two long races.  If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have any horse in the Belmont that hadn’t run both the Derby and the Preakness.  One day, after I’m King…

Anyway, I settled in and watched the game.  O’s won, 6-3, in front of over 44,000, meaning there were 24,000 people pissed off because they didn’t get a bobblehead.

Arrow shows my seat, 2nd row, aisle.

As for Sunday, I went to see Edge of Tomorrow.  What the reviews said are pretty much true… it’s like “Starship Troopers,” “War of the Worlds,” and “Aliens,” crossed with “Groundhog Day.”  I liked it a great deal, even though it is a Tom Cruise movie.

In this case, his oily, smarmy quality plays well for the opening third of the movie, to show how far he develops by the end.  And Emily Blunt is excellent as his badass counterpart.  If you like big spectacle sci-fi monster movies, you’ll like this one.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Washed Up

As I mentioned last week, I recently had to buy a new washing machine.  I went to Best Buy, looked at a few models and had a done deal in about 10 minutes.

At least 5 of those minutes consisted of the sales guy trying to get me to buy fancy, metal, replacement water hoses.  I resisted, because there was nothing wrong with the hoses I already had.  I asked him if the fittings were universal, or if these new hoses had something that was unique to the model.

They didn’t.  They were just new, accordingly stronger and less likely to burst.  Even on the forms, there was a box to initial about these “required” hoses.  Again, I asked if new hoses were actually “required,” or just “recommended.”  He confirmed that they were recommended.

Because I’ve been hemorrhaging money since November, I passed. 

Anyway, I had the new washer delivered last Saturday.  I prepared my old one for removal… unplugging it, turning off the water and disconnecting the water hoses.

When they brought the new one, the first thing the delivery guy said was, “There aren’t any hoses with this unit.

I said, “I know, I have my own.”

He said, “The sales guys are supposed to make sure you buy the hoses.”

I said, “He tried, but I said no.  The hoses I have aren’t that old, and they work just fine.”

I haven’t seen this kind of pressure put on me since the high school yearbook committee girls tried to get me to stop signing the class signature page, backwards.  (I used to be able to do that.  Now, I can’t write in cursive forwards OR backwards.)  They must have some kind of Water Hose Incentive Program.  (Slogan: “WHIP Those Washers!”)

Anyway, the delivery guy said that he’s not allowed to work with any equipment that didn’t come from the store, so he wouldn’t be able to “install” my washing machine.”

I said, “I think I can handle plugging it in and going like this…” [Makes twiddling motions with fingers.]

He asked if I had any pliers (to tighten the hose coupling).  I do.  In fact I have many tools, most of which I know how to use.

So I signed off on the delivery and he left.

I plugged in the washer, and screwed on the hose couplings.  Now, the washer wasn’t pushed all the way back to the wall, so I had to lean over pretty far to reach the water spigot.  And when I opened up the cold water valve, small geyser erupted and hit me square in the face and chest. 

OK, it wasn’t quite that bad.  It was more like this:

But it felt more like the first picture.  My first thought was that I was so glad the delivery guy was gone.  He’d have been laughing his ass off at me.  If I hadn’t known better, I’d swear he sabotaged that hose.

My second thought was that now I was going to have to go back to Best Buy and humble myself by getting one of their hoses after all.  I know I could have gone to a Lowe’s or Home Depot, but I figured I should at least get Rewards Points for it.

First, though, I figured I’d better see for sure where the leak was coming from.  Maybe I hadn’t fastened it on tight enough.  So I kept cranking on the water in quick bursts, to try to get a look at the source of the leak.   This was hard, because the water was spraying directly up, in the direction from which I was looking.  (I didn’t have many other options, without crawling between the washer and the wall.)

I had it fastened properly.  The leak was coming from between the coupling (that screws onto the washer nozzle) and the end of the hose that inserts into the coupling.  The hot water hose didn’t leak at all.

Now, I was pissed.  The damned thing worked just fine the last time I did the wash.  Sure, the hose was 17 years old, just like the washer was, but it still looked to be in good shape.

Then I remembered that when I first moved in, the apartment complex supplied a set of hoses that I never used.  (They usually provide the washer/dryer, but I already had my own, and I don’t like those stackable combo units, so I declined it.) 

I looked up in the cabinet where I used to keep the spare hoses, and of course, they were gone; no doubt thrown out by the last girlfriend, to make room for her crap.

I sat down to read through the manual.  Maybe there was a setting that I had to use, to give the water somewhere to go.  (I know, I was grasping at straws.)  But no.  The manual just said to attach the hoses and turn on the water.  Shit.

Then I thought, “Hey, there’s one other place where she might have stashed the replacement hoses…”  I checked the cabinet under the sink, and voila!  There they were: a set of 16-year old washer hoses, in pristine condition!

I hooked up the hose and it worked like a charm.  And I didn’t have to go crawling back to the store!  Victory is mine! 

Made me so excited, I couldn’t wait to get stuff dirty!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


I went to happy hour with Sitcom Kelly tonight, which reminded me of a past email conversation.  You remember my friend Sitcom Kelly, right?  So named because we’ve been working ideas on a TV sitcom based on her life, for the last 7-8 years?  She of the basement pits full of hockey players, including one in a glass case?  And basically being one can of Fancy Feast away from full-on Crazy Cat Lady status?

Last week, I saw something online that made me think of her…

Bluzdude: Obviously you’ve heard about the “Hero Cat?”  (The cat who saved a little boy by driving off an attacking dog, and was caught on surveillance video while doing it.)  Now she’s throwing out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game.

That just made me think that we should add a Hero Cat episode to TOK.  (“That’s Our Kelly,” the name of our never-to-be-made sitcom.)  Probably something elaborate, involving all three cats.  (Which we can describe, without showing.)  Like stopping SK from being carjacked, then getting into the car and backing it into the driveway.  Or going out for treats.

Sitcom Kelly: I see the three cats carrying SK out of a burning building. (See attached.)

Her attachment:

The only things missing are “X’s” over her eyes.

BD: Because she’s drunk, or they knocked her out?  (One of our ideas involves the cats plotting against her, meanwhile, the “outside cats” are plotting against the inside cats.)

SK: Drunk is good.

BD: It would be better if they rolled her up in a carpet first.

SK: And then they put her in the trunk and we drive off to safety, but first they stop at the store for treats.

BD: We’d have to have SK describe it in retrospect.  Maybe later we find out that Kris and Matt (her two original Stockholm Syndrome pit captives) actually did most of the work. 

Jump forward to a thread from this week…

BD: Watch out… now you have The Pope on your butt: Pope Warns Married People Against Having Pets Over Children.

SK: Hmmm.  My cats will take care of me in my old age.

BD: I’m sure they will, one way or another.

SK: They’ll do whatever needs to be done.

BD: Like a black ops team… I’m picturing them with tiny earpiece mics.

SK: There will be no evidence of my existence once they’re done.

BD: Exactly.  Other than wine bottles… and a couple of 8-track tapes.

SK: And a vintage 1986 prom gown balled up on the living room floor.  With a fresh corsage next to it.

BD: And a large, heavily fingerprinted glass case in the living room.