Sunday, January 25, 2015

CIFF Get Shorty Giveaway Winner




Thank you to everyone that entered the CIFF Get Shorty Giveaway. 

The winner has been contacted!

There is still time to buy tickets here


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

CIFF 39 - Get Shorty Giveaway



Cleveland is full of amazing and awesome things to do. One of my favorite events is the Cleveland International Film Festival. Much like Cleveland sports, there is something for everyone.

The 39th Annual Cleveland Film Festival (CIFF), features over 350 films during the March 18-29 run. The majority of the films will be screened downtown at Tower City Cinemas, however, and this is an awesome however, CIFF will take the show on the road and have some screenings at neighborhood joints like the Beachland Ballroom, Cedar Lee Theatre and the Akron Art Museum.  

Get Shorty, in its 12th year, is part of this year's Film Feast line-up sponsored by Hyland. The Film Feasts are a way to connect with the community, rev up some new film buffs and have an all around good time. 

Get Shorty is one of the most popular events because YOU get to see some short films, vote on your favs and have a say in which short films are shown at CIFF.  Get Shorty takes place on January 29 at the Capitol Theatre. Attendees can enjoy tasty food and beverages provided by Culinary Occasions before the films. 

You can purchase your tickets here for $100 each OR you can win a pair from me!


Want to win a pair of tickets? It is super easy, and since it is super easy, make sure you follow directions. I let a computer pick the winner, so make sure to comment on this post after you complete each task. 

1.  What movie do you watch over and over and over?
2.  Follow CIFF on the Twitter and Facebook.
3.  Follow CIFF on Instagram.
4.  Follow Cleveland Chick on the Twitter and Instagram.
5. Tweet the following: "I want @clevelandchick to send me to @CIFF's Get Shorty Film Feasts! #CIFF39 http://bit.ly/15vXEQL"

Winner will be selected on Sunday, January 25 at noon because that's easy. 

Remember, you can tweet once a day, so get chirping.


Disclosure: I was provided a pair of tickets to Get Shorty to give away and a pair for my own use. Words are all mine and are fueled by sparkling red raspberry spring water and Combos. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Johnny TMZ

Johnny Manziel getting his party on as shared by TMZ. 
I was working at East Tennessee State University when I first heard about a kid in Knoxville that was the next big thing. Peyton Manning played for the Tennessee Volunteers and was all that anyone talked about. I moved to Indianapolis right before Peyton graduated, so I followed the 1998 draft closely to see where Peyton ended up.

That year, the debate was who was going first...Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf? The Colts had the first pick and interviewed both men. Well, tried to. Manning showed up with a notepad full of questions for the Colts. Ryan Leaf missed his interview. 

Many thought Ryan Leaf had greater potential than Manning. The San Diego Chargers put it all on the line for the future of their franchise with Leaf. The night after the draft, Leaf flew to Vegas and partied like a rock star. He barely made it to his press conference in the morning, yawning his way through it. The drama of Ryan Leaf continued, his career nothing more than a disappointing foot note with an asterisk tagging him as the greatest bust in NFL history. 

I was spoiled as a Browns fan living in Indianapolis. I saw Manning as the model of what an NFL quarterback should be. A strong arm, a little cocky, dedicated to the team and the city and most importantly, an understanding of the game and what it means to be in the NFL. While other quarterbacks were crashing their motorcycles and being reckless in other areas of their life, Manning wasn't. In an interview, Manning said he doesn't join in a pick up game of ball or snow ski to avoid injury. He said, "I feel like you have an obligation to your teammates, your coaches and the fans. These people that buy season tickets want to come see you play and want you to be out there. I feel an obligation to be out there."

Little league Johnny. 
That brings me to Johnny Manziel.  

Finally, with the draft, the Browns were going to be relevant again, and not for the sports fail reel or that jersey with all the names of all the quarterbacks on it. The picture of Johnny Manziel as a little leaguer in Indians gear circulated.

It is meant to be!

The autographing scandal, missing Manning Camp meetings and being tossed out to bar room brawls.  Didn't matter.  Arrests, angry tweets, Mercedes driving, Cabo vacationing. 

Whatever.


With a promise to Wreck This League, the Browns drafted Johnny and whipped the fan base into a frenzy of tshirts and Johnny F-ing Football beer mugs. 

He was brash, smiling flashing up his money sign to the crowd, something more out of the play book of rock star Gene Simmons than an NFL quarterback.  That is what we wanted...Cleveland wanted a *reason* to be cocky. A Heisman trophy winner fills that empty hole in our collective heart. 

Right?

Sure, he liked to party. But, so did Joe Namath. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is not a bad place to end up.

Then, Johnny went to Vegas and hung out with Gronk. In his start, he flipped off the Redskins bench...on live TV.

Ok.

He bought his Heisman trophy a Rolex.

Johnny's Heisman's Rolex. 
The kid has swagger.

But, then came the parties, the booze swigging while floating on a swan,  the hugging scandal

We all make mistakes. 

Right?

Manziel had a hamstring injury and he told the media he wanted to take things more seriously. He is going to be around more in the offseason and work hard to be the guy. And, a few days later, he threw a party that caused him to miss a meeting (sounds like the Manning Camp all over to me), and Josh Gordon to be suspended. Allegedly.

The next announcement was he was going to be accountable and stop "looking like a jackass."


I shouldn't care. 

Really. 

I shouldn't.

But, for some reason, Manziel makes me irrationally angry. I understand that if he snorts a line grape Pixie Stix off center court at the Q while wearing a Yankees cap with Drake, it plays zero role in my life. I'll wake up the next morning, and go about my life. 

I'm bothered by the fact that this guy has the skill to be great. He could help the Browns win. With each Instagram or TMZ post, I see him fade in to distance in the rear view mirror. I don't think he cares a bit about the City of Cleveland or the fans. Why does it aggravate me so much? I want him to do his job to the best of his ability. Maybe I'm just a demanding person. If I'm paying someone, which, we can argue that by buying Browns or Manziel gear and tickets, paying taxes, etc, we are paying his check, I want them to do their job. If I go out and order a gin and tonic and I get a gin and soda, life will go on, but I assure you, I will be cranky. If it happens a second time, I will be grumpy. If it happens a third time, I will just switch to coffee. 

Right now, Manziel is acting like a defiant 22 year old kid. 

Yes, he is a 22 year old,  one with a crap ton of money and advisers. 

When will he listen to his advisers and get serious? Maybe he needs to take time to visit with Ryan Leaf.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Holidays in Retail Land - Marc's


Marc and one of those darn birds. 

Every Christmas Eve, I have an intense, blinding flashback of my first job. 

My first gig was at Marc's in Southland, and if you have never been there, picture the largest garage sale on Earth.  Weird chotchkies and cookies labeled in Korean mixed in with everyday items were common place. 

Marc's was the perfect place for teen me. The weekend and evening staff was nothing but high school kids, and not a single one was from my hometown.  Keep in mind, this was before cell phones and Facebook. The internet was something your Uncle Fred set up after one too many Miller High Lifes to catch an unsuspecting rodent in the basement. 

It was a weirdly wonderful place, with Marc's mom as my boss. She walked around the store and collected money at the end of the night with birds. Yes, birds. I hated those damn birds. Calling them birds isn't a fair description. Feathered pitbulls with beaks of ninjas is more accurate. If you came near her or the money, they would squawk and peck at you, always going for your eyes. 

Aside from Back To School season, Christmas Eve was the most awful time to work. There was no online shopping, so you had to actually go out into the world to purchase gifts. No gift cards - honest to goodness presents. 

This particular Christmas Eve of my nightmares was especially cold and dreary. When we arrived to work, the parking lot was already full of people waiting to get in. The customers were a mix of last minute frantic shoppers trying to get a bargain on Liz Claiborne Eau de Toilette or lonely people with no plans other than to look for a bargain on aluminum foil.

After a few hours of frantic cash register ringing, I started to feel woozy. Everyone complained about the smell. We all had headaches. There was a gas leak in the store and the managers ran up and down the aisles announcing we had to evacuate immediately. One of the guys was driving the fork lift in the warehouse with the forks up and punctured a gas line. Oopsie. 

Some people ran out of the store, yelling and shouting like they were being chased by the 4th horseman of the apocalypse. We had to forcibly remove other people because they refused to leave empty handed.  They wanted that Prince BatDance cassingle

After we emptied the store, we all went to the Arby's parking lot and waited. And waited. We couldn't go home and had to go back to work once it was safe. Word was passed around that anyone that didn't come back would be fired. 

When we returned to the store, there were still people in the parking lot. Some folks had never left. Those people were angry, cold, hangry and angry. So very, very angry. 

High from gas fumes, we ran around the store for an hour, trying to put away all the items people left all over the store. The place was a disaster area, between panicked customers and emergency personnel. Once we opened the doors, people ran in like it was a race. Some people were grateful. Some swore that we ruined Christmas. 

Some came in looking for a chicken pot pie for dinner. 

Working retail, you gain a keen understanding of people. You see the good and the cranky. If there was one thing that I learned from that job, it was the concept that there are not little elves that stock the shelves or make my dinner. Lots of people work hard to make my life easier. 

I also learned that if you tell someone that the 25 dog bones that she grabbed were 25 for $1 and not 25 for 99 cents, she might throw each one at your head. 

Ahem...




Friday, November 14, 2014

Be Kind Without Strings


My blog, my thoughts. 
Pay it forward. 

Random acts of kindness. 

Unless you have lived in a wifi-proof cave for the past few years, you've heard the stories. The Starbucks line that went on for hours, each customer buying coffee for the person behind them, the guest that leaves a $1,000 tip on a buck cup of coffee so the waitress can fulfill her lifelong dream to backpack through Europe. The community that came together to build a house for a family that lost theirs to a fire.

I firmly believe that people want to do good things for others; some people may have selfish or have sketchy motives, but I'm ok with that. The public pressure to "do good" may form a habit or change minds...or at the very least, encourage someone else to participate in a positive action. 

Let's say you buy coffee for the next ten people. Maybe one guy at the coffee shop gleefully took your gift of a free coffee and then told a coworker what a sucker you were. Fine. But maybe that coworker told her daughter about the small act of generosity gifted to a stranger and then that little rug rat decides instead of toys for her birthday, she wants friends and family to buy gifts for the local animal shelter. You never know how one small gesture on your part can impact the community around you. 

Along that thought, I want to propose something radical. This may honk some folks off, but stay with me for a second.

The next time you go out and the cashier says that your coffee is free or a secret santa paid for your layaway, here is what I want you to do...accept the gesture, say thank you and let them be nice to you.



Let that sink in for a second.

On your way to pick up the kids at practice, you buzz through the drive thru and you are told your coffee is free. Say "thank you" and drive off.

Later on, pay it forward and do something nice for someone else, be a little crazy and do something special for two or three other people. Make it your own. Your way to pay it forward might be buying tacos for the office. Maybe it is finally cleaning out your closet and donating all your old suits to a return to work program.  Let the person with 3 items go in front of you at Heinens when you have a full cart. Finally show your uncle how to work the iTunes. Brush the snow off the cars next to yours. Put a quarter in the vending machine (ladies, you know what I'm talking about).



It doesn't have to be all about money. That super awesome barista that remembers your order every morning and tells you, "have a great day!" tell his manager. If it is a chain joint, tell corporate. Trust me, your tweet or Facebook post will be appreciated.   

Be kind without strings. 

One snowy day, I went into my local coffee shop after reading about one of those coffee lines that went on for 8 hours, and I paid for the next 5 coffees. All smug with good intentions, I sat and waited.

I was a giggly school girl when the first person came in for coffee. The little old granny came in and was incredibly confused about the free coffee, but still took it, all the while questioning her friend, "why would anyone do that?"  Two construction workers came in next and took the free coffees without a word. The remaining two coffees went to some one in the drive thru. 

I was crushed.

No one bought anything for anyone else. There was no chain of awesomeness.

As I sat, drinking my hazelnut coffee in full pout, a kooky concept occurred to me. We want to be a part of something awesome, I get that. We want to point to our friends and family that we are good people, and we can prove it because we were a part of some big movement.  But, if someone buys coffee for me, and then I buy coffee for the guy behind me, all I did was buy myself coffee.

Be kind without strings. 

No kind gesture goes unnoticed. With the holidays in front of us, I encourage you all to be considerate of those around you. Try doing something thoughtful or just plain nice for others once a week. Find something you are passionate about and share that. Here is an example - it was important to me to help others in Northeast Ohio find work in my field (nonprofit and marketing), so I started a email listing. I don't get paid for it and I don't know the majority of the peeps following the listing. I would bet that less than ten of the 500 or so following it couldn't pick me out in a line up.

And you know what? That's ok. It is my small way to give back to the community. It costs me a few hours of my time a week.

Whether you knit hats and hand them out to the homeless or you buy pizza for the guys in IT, we can all make a difference with what we have.

I challenge you. How are you going to be kind without strings?




Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Carving 101

Cats are always boss. 
Halloween is almost here and pumpkins are on sale, making it the perfect time to post a pumpkin carving tutorial.

Here's what you will need:

Spike and my first pumpkin. 
A pumpkin (duh) big enough for your design.  Some folks carve craft pumpkins so they can use them year after year, but I like a real pumpkin. The size is up to you, I went with ones large enough for a design the size of a sheet of paper.

Pumpkin carving tools available at most stores. 
Tools. You can either get a packaged set of carving tools, which work just fine. No judgey pants here if that is the way you want to go. I find it useful for the little saw inside to cut the top off, but that was about it. Much easier than a butcher knife. 
Cheap wood carving tools from Michael's craft store. 
This is the first year I sprung for wood carving tools. It was a 4 buck investment that was well worth it.  Much better than the exacto knife I used in previous years. And, so much less dangerous. 

You will also need a trash can handy to empty out the pumpkin guts, a covering for your work surface (I used a trash bag), a ball point pen, something pointy (push pin, skewer, etc), a metal spoon and your design. 

Brian Hoyer and Cleveland (Photo: ESPN Magazine Instagram)
After you pick out your pumpkins, you need to decide on your design. This year, I made a Cleveland Browns pumpkin, a Cleveland Indians pumpkin, a Cleveland Cavaliers pumpkin, and my alma maters - Iowa State University and University of Akron pumpkins. 

A quick Google search will get you almost any design you want for your pumpkin.  You can also do an image search for black and white logos or pictures to use. 

You can use photoshop and take the color out of your photograph or just use one of the many free online tools. I found a site that turned photos into black and white stencils. 

Now, for the gross part. 

Cut the top of your pumpkin and scrape the guts out. If you are snazzy in the kitchen, cook the pumpkin seeds for a tasty family treat. I'm not so snazzy, so I tossed mine in the trash.

Now,  time for a pumpkin ale. 

Spike with my Brian Hoyer picture and tools. 
Once you have your design, pin it to your pumpkin (it's ok, the pumpkin doesn't mind), and use your sharp tool to poke through the paper leaving a outline of dots on your pumpkin. This is time consuming, but very important. It allows you to carve just about any design you want!

Connect those dots with your ball point pen, shading in areas to be cut out. Using your woodworking tools, start carving away at your shaded areas. If you are carving a face, it may look weird. Don't worry. 

Carved Brian Hoyer Cleveland Browns pumpkin. 
Some folks carve all the way through the pumpkin. I don't because I don't want the icky guts to show through and I'm afraid I will cut something I don't want to and then I will be in the creek of poo with no paddle. 

You will want to carve pretty deep, scraping and shaping your design. If something goes wrong, turn it around. You have another side. Don't stress. It is just a pumpkin. 

My finished Brian Hoyer, Quarterback pumpkin.
This was the finished product. I'm pretty pleased with it. I lit the inside of the pumpkin with flash lights because it was all I had in the house at the time. 

Fear the Roo University of Akron pumpkin. Stencil from the University. 
Here is an example of a stencil provided by the University of Akron. I colored it in with a ball point pen because it can get confusing what you do and do not want to cut. Especially, after a pumpkin ale. 

Finished Fear the Roo pumpkin. So scary. 
I love how this one came out, you can see it from the street! Go Zips!

The start of Jason Kipnis. 
My pumpkin work area can get a little messy. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to put a trash bag down on your table. I recommend keeping your design near, after you have punched through it. Sometimes, the pointy thing doesn't go all the way through the pumpkin and you need to double check which dots connect. 

Finished Cleveland Indians Jason Kipnis pumpkin.
Jason Kipnis turned out pretty awesome as a pumpkin. 

The return of a LeBron James pumpkin.
The example of my LeBron James pumpkin shows that you can change the design up to meet your skills. I wanted to use the instagram picture that LeBron posted to announce his return to Cleveland. The name on his jersey just wasn't coming out for me, so I didn't carve it and left it plain. It is the name on the front, not the back that matters. 

Don't fret if you can't get something exact. It is a pumpkin. It is all cool. Have fun with it. 

Finished Lebron James Cleveland Cavaliers pumpkin. 
Ok, you have your carved masterpiece and now what?

If you live near squirrels, I assure you, those little jerks will try to eat your pumpkin. If you leave your pumpkin to nature, it will turn pretty gross in a week or so. There is all sorts of advice out there on how to keep your pumpkin fresh for a few weeks after you carve it. 

Pumpkin savior, Clorox clean up with bleach.
The best thing I have tried is Clorox Clean-Up with bleach. I sprayed the insides and all over the outside of each pumpkin with this stuff. It keeps away the squirrels and it keeps the pumpkins relatively fresh. 

If you don't want to use bleach, I recommend hot sauce. It won't keep your pumpkin fresh, but I promise, the squirrels will want nothing to do with it!

Good luck on your carving and share in the comments your work!

I can't forget Cy. Go Cyclones!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Club - Self-Inflicted Wounds


Jonathan Harris reads. Taken from the Awesome People Reading tumblr. 
Welcome to the book club of one.

If you aren't familiar with the Pierogi Book Club, the rules are simple. I pick a book that I like; it has to be entertaining, thoughtful or interesting. If not, I drop it like it's hot.  Ok, I don't really drop anything, but I do delete the offensive books off my tablet and on to the next one. These books won't end up on your chardonnay swilling friendly neighborhood reading list, but I enjoyed them.

Self-Inflicted Wounds
self-inflicted wound (n): a spectacularly humiliating, and often hilarious, incident entirely of one's own making. 

see also: you did it to yourself.

Aisha Tyler's book, self-inflicted wounds: heartwarming tales of epic humiliation is everything I want in a book. By sharing her memories of events most try to forget, such as trying to use the force not to wet herself are hilarious. I related to the smart nerdy girl that may have been a little too smart and brave for her own good. 

Tyler describes herself as an "African-American comedian/actress/television host/podcaster/gamer/intense lover of pancakes with such a lush and heady surfeit of fine curse words," which, if we are honest with one another, how can you argue with pancakes?

Here is an excerpt that describes a self-inflicted wound much better than I can:
  Sometimes the self-inflicted wound is entirely of your own making, and sometimes others empower or hasten it along, as if adding accelerant to your fast growing pyre of self-immolation. Everyone enjoys a spectacular meltdown, which is why we are so addicted to shows about people who extreme coupon, dress their children up like hookers, or live in a hoarder's paradise of vintage magazines and Ziploc bags of cat poop. It is supremely fun to point and laugh at the foibles of others, and if we can stick out a foot to trip someone into a murky puddle of their own damp mistakes, all the better.  
But in the aftermath of the self-inflicted wound, when you sift through the embers for the arsonist's tool, the propane canister or half-burned lighter, much like the nameless narrator in Fight Club, you discover that Tyler Duren is just a figment of your fractured imagination, that you blew up your own apartment and burned your life to the ground and you've been punching yourself in the face like a idiot the entire time. 
  Don't fight it. Accept it for what it is. You screwed the pooch. All you can do now is try to turn it into a learning experience. 
  Or, at the very least, into a killer story you can tell your friends. 

Tyler takes us through various stages of her life, with chapters titled, The Time I Almost Set Myself On Fire, The Time I Snuck Out of My Home in the Night Like a CBS After-School Special, The Bunny Fiasco, The Time I Fell Asleep on the Patio Furniture at a Birthday Party and The Hot Wasabi and the Infinite Sadness. 

"Self-Inflicted Wounds" is also a segment for her popular (and darn entertaining) podcast, Girl on Guy. She convinces famous people to share a personal story of their own epic humiliation - which shows us that famous people are real people that make the same boneheaded mistakes we all do. 

If you are even slightly nerdy or if the Calvin and Hobbes Raccoon story means anything to you, this is the book for you. As a special treat, pay attention to the footnotes. Those things are the colored sprinkles on a Donut Land donut of deliciousness. This is the first book in a long time that I have read sections over and over just because they were funny. So very, very funny. 

I've found that I learn way more from my mistakes and failures than my successes. Those mistakes are what make a person stronger, albeit while potentially whacking away at the personal medical deductible. Mistakes make great stories. No one wants to hear the valiant  tale of you working all weekend and spending a hour finding that paper jam under knob d. Nope, your friends want to hear the quiver in your voice as you recount the time you had a business trip in Vegas and woke up on a bus with only one shoe and a pocketful of glitter.


In the spirit of sharing personal accounts of crippling embarrassment, here is mine, of which if you look very closely, you can see the physical manifestation of my prideful fall from elementary grace.

Recess at Kidder Elementary in the 70s was a free for all of child mutilating contraptions; from the monkey bars cemented into the black top play ground to the child-tossing merry go round to the flesh-melting metal slide. My choice for that afternoon's play time was the swings, where were positioned over jagged, kid ankle twisting rocks. 

No matter the Generation, be it X, Y or old-timer, kids are always looking for the next great one up. That one thing you can double dog dare another kid to do that will either result in momentary playground fame or a tearful call home to mom, sobs punctuating the real or imagined injury. 

On this playground, there were two sets of swings. The easy ones, with the plastic that wrapped around your butt, hugging you in place, and the more dangerous, hardened plastic swings.  The latter, faded and cracked, were perfect for the jump off. This was a move that kids adore and parents scream when performed. We all did it. You swing as high as you can, trying to go for even with the top bar of the swing set and then you leap off into the air, flying squirrel like with arms stretched out, to the ground below.  

I loved it, and on this particular day, I was a champion. I flew higher and farther into the rocks than any other kid. 

In the playground version of the Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake dance off, I was challenged by a loud mouth little boy that, years later would eat an entire classroom's lunch serving of prunes (that is another story), to see who could fly the highest. I nodded at him, and took his dare, certain I could get one more match in before the bell rang. 

Both of us started to swing, side by side, little legs pumping, while the rest of the class cheered on their champion.  We swung higher and higher, the chains creaking with each pass. My opponent jumped into the air, thinking I was going to as well, he was too proud. He landed with a thud into the rocks below while I kept swinging and laughing. Pumped full of adrenaline and pixie stix, I swung higher, garnering more cheers and applause until I felt I won, and then I let go, gracefully landing in the middle of the other kids. A few rocks tumbling out of the way of my hush puppies.

There were so many kids rooting for me, that I didn't want anyone to be left out, so I turned around to bow to the fans behind me.

And then, the swing came back.

WHAP! 

The swing seat cracked into my head, knocking me flat on my back. Kids screamed and scattered as my blood gushed from my eye. All I could see through the fog of my tears was my teacher coming toward me, and not another soul around. I could barely hear her questions of how and why through my wails and sobs. 

My dad picked me up from school and in his dad "rub some dirt on it" fashion took me for ice cream instead of stitches, so I know have a scar on my eyebrow, where the hair never grows quite right.  

What about you? What is your tale of epic humiliation?


Calvin and Hobbes...the Raccoon *sniff*