Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Awesome People

Do you ever have a random memory pop in to your head about someone that did or said something awesome? You are chopping veggies for dinner and you are thinking *green peppers...don't cut your finger...If it wasn't for Mrs. Klingel  I would never have known how much I love Edward Hopper...what kind of lettuce is this again...*

Without knowing it, people you interact with on a regular or random basis, play a role in your life. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Sometimes big, sometimes small. Maybe you are inspired by a song or a tv show. Maybe the lady that sells you your morning cup of coffee brightens your day by remembering your order. Maybe your grandma turned you on to crochet and you love it. 

I'm starting a new feature here at the Pierogi to find people that I think are awesome and ask them five questions. Maybe they are famous. Maybe not. Maybe they are from Cleveland. Maybe not.  The criteria is that I think they are awesome.

In my example of Mrs. Klingel, she was my art teacher in high school.  The one thing about Brunswick High School, there were tons of really, amazingly talented kids. I was ok. I tried really hard and I loved it. One day, Mrs. Klingel was working on a fundraiser for the program. Selling buttons of artwork for a buck or something. I found one with Edward Hopper's "NightHawks" and asked her a million questions about him.  It may have only been through the class period, but I went on and searched out his other works. I saw his work in the Boston Museum of Art and a great show in Indianapolis. 

That conversation changed the way that I looked at art, and I'm proud to report, I never had a Monet print in my dorm room because of it. 

Check back over the next few weeks as I follow up with awesome people.  I hope that by acknowledging how one small act of kindness can grow and transform, maybe, just maybe, someone will be encouraged. Maybe more people will, in the immortal words of Mr. Patrick Swayze, be nice

Share in the comments who is awesome to you. 

Room by the sea, Edward Hopper.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cleveland Movie Review Mega Post

I have been on a bender of seeing movies in an *actual movie theater*. The crazy par is that all three of the movies I have seen all had some sort of Clevelandish connection. 

Enjoy browsing my opinions on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Draft Day and Bad Words.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up two years after the battle for New York and Captain America is trying to get back to civilian life while deciphering the modern world. The story revolves around Steve Rogers (Captain America) and his SHIELD interactions with Black Widow and Nick Fury, which would be Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson to you.

If you are from Cleveland, you will enjoy picking out locations from the city as well as painful flashbacks of an hour being added to your commute every day. Ok, that last part may just be me.  For all movie goers, it is a well conceived, action packed story, giving back ground on what Captain America has lost.  And.more importantly, what all of us will lose if he doesn't succeed in his mission.

I don't want to reveal too much, but I will say this is one of my favorite Superhero flicks. Marvel has done an amazing job interweaving the franchise movies and Agents of SHIELD TV show into a giant story.  Each movie and show gives a longer glimpse of the "big picture."

Who do you trust? Is the theme for the movie. 

If you love action, a little intrigue and blowing stuff up, this is the movie for you. 

As with most flicks these days, stay through the credits. There are TWO additional scenes. Yes, TWO.

Kevin Costner as the Browns General Manager.
First reviews out about Draft Day announced that it is the next Bull Durham. The next great sports movie for generations to come. 


For the public at large, Draft Day is not the next Blind Side or Rocky. Maybe more Angels in the Outfield. 

Draft Day follows Costner as Sonny Weaver, the Browns General Manager as he tries to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. In 24 style, the day is a dizzy blur of personal issues and Browns greatness. 

As a Cleveland fan you will cheer and laugh and wonder why Costner was driving around in circles to the facility. If you are a general football fan, I wonder if you will go to the movie more than once. I wonder if outsiders will know and understand that those really are Cleveland fans in the movie. 

Part of my problem with the movie was trying to keep clear in my mind what was fact or fiction. As a Browns fan, I want to believe that my General Manager is out there making the amazing trades and pulling off something fantastical. At the end of the movie you are ready for the Browns to go to the SuperBowl. 

This really is Costner's movie with everyone sprinkled in like tasty cheese on a salad. Not necessary, but appreciated.  

Will I watch it again? Sure. Draft Day will end up on a rotation on WTBS or WGN and I will watch it like I watch Angels in the Outfield. Every. Time. 

Is it going to change your life or win an Oscar? Nope.

Was it fun to watch? Yup. 
Bad words, kitty, bad words.
Oh my.

I don't think I really knew what I was in for in Jason Bateman's Bad Words. Bateman starts as a 40 year old man that has found a loophole in the National Spelling Bee and causes mayhem by entering the competition. 

Angry parents, contest officials and 8th graders are no match for Bateman as he stomps up and down on their ambitions of spelling fame. 

If you read Spelling Bee and think that this is a great movie to take your kids to, you deserve every new word they will learn from the movie. This is *not* for kids. There are kids in the movie, but this isn't for them. 

Bad Words is hilariously inappropriate and is unapologetic about it. 

How refreshing. Politically correct words have no place in this film. 

Watching Bateman psych out 8th graders is cringingly awesome. Well worth my *$#*ing time.

Oh, if you are wondering the Cleveland connection...you will know it when you see it. And it is glorious.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tribe Opener Events

Take me out to the ball game...

The Tribe home opener is right around the corner and here are some specials around town for what is an unofficial holiday in the city of Cleveland. 

Before I continue, let me just say, don't be an idiot. We are grown ups and if you can't handle your adult beverage, please switch to diet coke. I would prefer you don't arf all over my shoe on the home run porch. 

Downtown is going to be, how the kids put it, cray cray. Consider car pooling, having your mom drop you off, or take the RTA. It is $5 all day, and in my opinion, the best way to get around. Click here for more information.  The RTA is also hosting the Rally Alley for Opening Day, starting at 1 pm. If you have never been, it is fun and there is usually a chance to snag a free tshirt. Woo. Hoo. 

Here are the specials around downtown:

Gateway Plaza (that space between the Jake and the Q)
Noon - 3pm

There will be the Bud Build-a-Bar on Gateway Plaza from noon - 3, last call at 2:45.  This was pretty fun last year. 

Barley House - 1261 W. 6th Street
Opens at 11. 

Before the game, CAARRLLOOSSS BAEEEERRRGGAAAA will be signing autographs from 11-1. 1st one is free. There will be 8x10 pics for sale and 50% of proceeds of the 8x10s will go to the Leukemia & Lymphona Society.

FREE RTA trolley goes from there to E4th. 

See more at: http://www.barleyhousecleveland.com/#sthash.FS0sMx9r.dpuf

City Tap - 748 Prospect Ave E
For the early birds... ahem... City Tap opens at 9. 

Special drinks include $5 24 oz Miller Lite, Bud Light and Yuengling cans. $3 Bud draft. 

I have to admit, City Tap is one of my downtown favs. They have wifi and if you are nice, the bartenders will plug your charger in without being jerky about it. Big plus in my book, so don't blow it. 

More info here: http://www.citytapcleveland.com

Harry Buffalo - 2120 E 4th

$6 pitchers anytime and Happy Hour starts at 3. 

More info here: http://www.harrybuffalo.com

Also, if you forgot your cool Tribe gear, the Fresh Brewed Tees truck will be there! They also will have only at the truck some amazing custom Chuck Taylors with a Wahoo feather on them. They are fantastical and if anyone out there would like to buy them for me, I will accept them.

More info here: http://www.freshbrewedtees.com

Tilted Kilt - 21 Prospect Ave
Opens at 10 am. 

There will be $4 16 oz Throwback cans of Miller Lite and they are having a season-long contest for a chance to throw out the first pitch. 

If you have never been to the Tilted Kilt, yes, the server are in school girl outfits...and the male bartenders and bar backs are in kilts. Ahem...something for everyone kids.

More info here: http://www.tiltedkilt.com/events/

Other fun downtown locations that will likely have specials as well. 
Call them for details. 

Clevelander Bar and Grill - http://www.clevelanderbar.com
Flannery's - http://www.flannerys.com/operationHours.php
Panini's Bar and Grill - http://www.paninisgrill.com/locations/cleveland-gateway/
Thirsty Parrot - http://www.thirstyparrot.com/Events/Default.aspx
Wilberts - Open at 9 am  http://www.wilbertsmusic.com
Winking Lizard - http://winkinglizard.com/our-specials.aspx

Ohio City Fun 

Great Lakes Brewing Company - 2516 Market Ave (Ohio City)
Open at 11 am. 

For the Ohio City kids, GLBC will have the Rally Drum Red Ale named for the awesomeness known as John Adams. If you get there early enough, you can get nachos in a helmet you can keep! Baseball themed menu. 

The Fatty Wagon Shuttle will start running at 1 and will run for 2 hours after the game. If you are taking the RTA downtown, you can get off an Ohio City and it drops you in the middle of fun, near the West Side Market. 

More info here: http://www.greatlakesbrewing.com/events/3600

TownHall Ohio City - 1909 W. 25th Street
Open at 11 am. 

This sounds fun, they have Italian or Vegan Sausage Ball Park Box with fries or chips, Bell's Oberon Draft or Milkshake (!) and cracker Jacks for $12. 

If you or any in your posse are vegan, this is the joint to go to. They also have a great selection for the carnivores in the group. 

More info here: http://www.townhallohiocity.com

If I have missed something, please let me know and I will update the post accordingly. 


Monday, March 31, 2014

Indians Spring Training Mega Post

A happy little ball in the sunshine. 
This is the perfect day to post my Indians Spring Training Mega Post, full of pictures and snappy remarks. These are my personal pictures, so please do not yoink without permission. That is very uncool. 
I have gone to Goodyear, AZ every year for Tribe Spring Training since the team moved from Florida.  Just in six short years, Goodyear Ballpark has been the March go to destination. There are more hotels, restaurants, bars and all around things to do, with more options added every year. 

Goodyear Ballpark
The view from the seats at Goodyear Ballpark is stunning. Palm trees, bright blue skies and baseball. I'll take it. I especially appreciated the view since I never thought I was going to make it this year. I got to the airport and was notified by security that my drivers license was expired (you can still fly with a expired id. Had no idea). At that very moment I had to try very hard to hold in all my tears, sweat and pee. 

Thankfully, my friend that I was traveling with was able to get a rental car and be the chauffeur for the week. I was pleasantly surprised that Priceline was able to refund all my moohla except for $20. 

Practice fields in Goodyear. Swisher, Giambi and Santana.
The travel unpleasantness aside, the show rallied on. One of the highlights of the trip was just hanging out at batting practice. It is free and open to the public, so you can wander around to your heart's content. 

The batting practice field in Goodyear. 
Depending on the day of the week, there may be few people hanging around or a couple hundred, all staking their claim for a chance at a home run ball. As you walk around the fields, there may be people stationed every 10 feet or so, a mixture of kids and adults, waiting to catch a ball.  You can watch the major leaguers or the minor league hopefuls. 

Ketchup and my hero, Rik Danburg.
There is a family vibe to the practice facility, in part to this guy, Rik Danburg. Rik works for the Indians and here in Cleveland, he is the guy that tries to negotiate that home run ball from your greedy paws. He also welcomes kids for their first Tribe game. Rik follows the team to Goodyear and is the Indians Ambassador, well, that is what I call him. Everyone that comes to the practice facility is greeted like a family member by Rik. I assure you that by your second visit, he will welcome you by name. 

Scary tales about experiences at other parks floated down the autograph hound line. Hanging on the fence, you hear stories of kids being shoved out of the way and people knocked down for autographs. I chatted with some Rockies fans looking for Giambi, and after our conversation, I was certain they felt like Rik was their best friend. I don't know if the Indians truly realize what a shining star this guy is. If he was a grumpy old crank to the fans, it would be a very different experience. He has the best attitude out of anyone I have ever met. 

If you had a great experience with Rik either in Cleveland or at Spring Training in Goodyear, I encourage you to nominate him for a Hospitality Star Award from Positively Cleveland. You can fill it out here

Waiting for their turn. 
Indians practice has a fly on the wall feeling. The team is there, with a job to do, and we get to watch. You can hear the chatter among players and I will be the first to tell you, Nick Swisher has another favorite word besides Bro.

There are so many different angles that you can watch the practice from. I ran to the other side of the field, carefully avoiding what I thought were snake holes in the ground, to watch the catchers and pitchers walk by. Yan Gomes *swoon*

Grand Canyon Jeep Tours
This year, I mixed things up a little and took a side trip to the Grand Canyon, which was on my pop's bucket list. I have never been so I scheduled a tour with Grand Canyon Jeep Tours

The Grand Canyon was more beautiful and awe inspiring than I had ever imagined. You can read about my whole adventure here

The only bummer of the trip was the Indians away games were at the same stadium. Booo. Peoria was an ok stadium, but I enjoy seeing lots of other parks. I wish we visited the Cubbies new park, but what can you do?

The field was cut in a mesmerizing way...round and round and round. 

It is easy to get up close to your favorite players since most games aren't sold out. I'm a fan of wandering around the park, hopping in different, unoccupied seats.

Lonnie Chisenhall in motion. I have big hopes for Lonnie this year.

I love seeing a bit of Cleveland, with Matt Underwood and Rick Manning in the park. A favorite Goodyear Ballpark moment is when they announce the temperature in Cleveland. Ha. Ha. 

This is me peeking through one of the fences. If you are lucky, sometimes a player will just toss a ball over the fence to you. If you are super lucky, there are no little rug rats running around trying to take it from you.

The practice fields are surrounded by mountains, nothingness and airplanes. The fields up ahead are for the minor leaguers. Better chance to snag a ball from those kiddies.


Nick Swisher signing my Brohio sign. 
One of my favorite things to do at Spring Training is to get autographs. The first time, I wanted to get a bunch of baseballs signed. That bright idea resulted in a lot of balls rolling around. Now, I get one item for all the players to sign. It is a cool memento of the trip. I couldn't help it though, and had to get Nick Swisher to autograph my Brohio sign.

Hanging around and being chatty with fellow fans, you learn what players sign at practice, what players sign at games, what players ignore you. Ahem...

I got a jump start this year, and had some players sign at TribeFest. That was an awesome idea on my part. There are a few extra players that I snagged, including Kenny "grumpy pants" Lofton, Clint Frazier and Mike Hargrove.

Out of the entire major roster, I got everyone except Asdrubal. I firmly believe that it would have been easier to take a picture of a rainbow pooping unicorn than get his autograph.

Member of the Goon Squad, Mike Aviles.

Working it...
The food is meh, the beer is decent, and the sunset is spectacular at Gordon Biersch in Tempe. A great end to a great week. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

I-X Indoor Amusement Park Giveaway

There has been a lot of excitement in Cleveland over the past few weeks, and this weekend is no exception!

It is now time for the I-X Indoor Amusement Park! 20 acres of indoor fun are available to you and your family March 21-April 20.

This Cleveland tradition will be celebrating 25 years this weekend and I have 4 tickets to giveaway for a lucky winner!

The Grand Opening weekend, March 21-23, is going to be jam packed with fun for the whole family. Games, prizes, a cheerleading competition and Radio Disney Cleveland's On The Road to the RDMAs Concert Event Featuring Before You Exit and Megan Nicole!

I'm personally excited about the over 100 rides and attractions including a zip line and a water ride! Someone needs to video the ride along the zip line, only if it is safe and you don't drop your camera!

Click here for more information about ticket prices. 

But, I don't want you to have to buy tickets, I want you to win them!

This is super easy and I will be picking a winner Saturday, March 22 at noon. 

Ok, now for the YAYYY!

There are a couple of ways to enter to win tickets, so make sure you leave a separate comment for each method of entry. I let a computer program pick the winner, so if you don't comment, you lose an entry.

Bummer for you if you don't follow directions.

You can also tweet as much as you want until noon Saturday, but make sure you come back and leave a comment.

1. Leave a comment telling me what would be your favorite thing to see at the I-X Indoor Amusement Park.
2. Tweet the following: "I want to win a pair of tix to the I-X Indoor Amusement Park from @clevelandchick! 
http://bit.ly/1oI0dDe #YAYY"
3. Follow the @IXCenter on the Twitter.
4. Follow @clevelandchick on the Twitter.

You have until Saturday, March 22 at noon to enter.  Start tweeting!

Disclosure: I was given 4 general admission tix for myself and 4 to giveaway to you fabulous readers. All the words here are my own and currently fueled by March Madness!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

This Is Cleveland

"If you don't like what people are saying, change the conversation."

Mistake by the lake. Burning rivers. The Fumble, The Drive and The Decision. 

We've grimaced at all the jokes and winced at the jabs at our city. 

At the Positively Cleveland Annual meeting, the new branding campaign for the city was announced, and I like it.

Before I go any further, let's get a few things out of the way. 

During the past couple of weeks, there was much hullabaloo about the new Cleveland branding campaign being outsourced to a firm in Kansas City. To that I say, sometimes you need someone else, an outsider if you will, to point out your awesome traits. 34% of Cleveland residents will happily chatter on about the awesomeness known as Cleveland. They will tell you about Rock and Roll, the Moon Dog Coronation Ball, our World-Class Orchestra, the Arts, great restaurants and our sports teams. 

Know what? You ask any other city about their awesomeness, and they will tell you about dining and sports and the arts and spas and blah blah blah.

Same story, different city. 

Let's hop back to Cleveland for a second. Only 34% of Cuyahoga County residents (according to the research presented at the annual meeting) would recommend Cleveland to visitors. Ouch.

Clearly, we have some internal issues to take care of.

Enter the Kansas City firm.

Yes, Cleveland Rocks is familiar to us all.


Of course, Cleveland Rocks, but let's be honest, if we have to constantly tell people we rock, do we? The tag line, which I adore by the way, is not bringing the travel dollars to the city.

Enter the new branding...This is CLE.

What do you think? The music is original from Cleveland band Welshy Arms, not some cover band from some place like Utah.  The implementation of the branding will be by a Cleveland firm. 

I like the new attitude because it is true. Cleveland is more than the Rock Hall. We are more than our sports woes. I used to love the Nike Witness commercials featuring he who will not be spoken. You know why? Because it showed the city. It showed us.

Cleveland is not Chicago or Baltimore or Indianapolis.

Cleveland is Cleveland.

I have lived all over the place and while I enjoyed some places more than others, none of them were Cleveland. 
One of the managers at Scotty's in Indianapolis set this up for me. 
Cleveland has an attitude and I can't believe I'm using the word, a swagger, about it that is hard to find. As much as we whine and complain about our Cleveland, the amount of pride we still have in the city is unmatched. We have at least three thriving companies that sell Cleveland gear - tshirts and such - not just sports, but the city. You know where I can get an Indianapolis t-shirt? At the airport. That's where.

As a city, we need to recognize what makes us great and how we are different from our neighbors. It is ok to be different.

Keep in mind that this is just a beginning. Read that again. This is just the beginning. We have lots of things in the coming months to look forward to, including new way finding measures (admittedly, it is darn hard to get around if you aren't a local).

If you are on social media, share your Cleveland favorites with #ThisIsCLE. Start changing the conversation and let people know the best Cleveland has to offer.

I, of course, suggest starting your journey with some pierogies.

Yes, I know, ignore the spelling and look at the delicious. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nick Swisher vs. Kenny Lofton

Nick Swisher vs. Kenny Lofton
Rumor on the playground is that current Tribe fan favorite got into a kurfuffle at TribeFest with old fan favorite Kenny Lofton. It came down to the meaning of the word "Playoffs." 

Long story short, it has been reported that Swisher and Lofton were nose to nose barking at each other because Lofton believes the Playoffs are a series, not a one and done game like the Tribe played last year.

Swisher took that as a personal affront and let Lofton have it.

Guess what? I'm ok with that. Lofton has been a serious grouch, a grumpy old man if you will, to fans for some time. He has appointed himself the defender of the 90s Tribe legacy, and doesn't want anyone else on his lawn.  He reminds me of the '72 Dolphins

I understand that Lofton is trying to hold on to his moment in the sun, but he needs to learn to play well with others...especially current Tribe players and fans. Strike one for playing well with the current players, and strike two for playing well with the fans.

I have met Lofton on several occasions. A couple of years ago, he was signing autographs at a Tribe game. I waited in the sweltering sun, tossing my new baseball in the air. I was giddy with excitement. When I got up to him, I asked him to please sign it on the sweet spot, and showered him with compliments. He didn't say a word to me, flipped the ball around and signed it on the side and grabbed the ball from the person  behind me. 

The next time I met Lofton was at this year's Tribe Fest.  I coughed up the extra cash to get autographs from Lofton, Thome and Nagy. Thome was amazingly nice and chatty with the fans. Charles Nagy was nice as well. And then there was Kenny. 

Word circulated throughout he line that Lofton would only sign the photographs that he brought. He sat behind the table, signing piles of autographs and shoving them forward so he could have as little fan interaction as possible. 

I was infuriated. There are three Indians that I accept as cranky - Bob Feller (rest his soul), Albert Belle and Rocky Colavito. Bob Feller was a true war hero and in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The man earned his right to be cranky. Belle and his bicep have always been that way. It is part of his charm. Colavito got screwed out of the Hall of Fame.  Lofton, however,  hasn't done anything to endear him to the fans to put up with his crankapotamous ways. Yes, yes, I have fond memories of the 90s, but that and ten bucks will buy me a bleacher ticket if I get it early. 

There are Tribe fans out there now that weren't even in elementary school when Lofton made his leaping catches against the wall. Who is buying Lofton shirts and jerseys? Waiting in line for his autograph? Old timers like me, that's who. 

I like Swisher's attitude. Yes, he is the Energizer Bunny on a cocktail of Red Bull and Pixy Stix, but he has heart. He wants to see this team win. Lofton, well,  all he seems to want is his paycheck at the next memorabilia signing. 

I would love for Lofton to come around and embrace the current team, and the fans again. I would welcome him with open arms if he were only a little less of a jerk.