Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dreams?

Tommy C in Minority Report
I've never thought of myself of a dreamer. At least not in the sense of having dreams that I remember or are stunning or significant.

Last night however, I had a doozy. It was so bizarrely random that I can't make much sense of it. The beginning of the dream was me in some room somewhere about to meet Sheryl Crow. I remember feeling grouchy because for whatever reason, I didn't actually get to meet her.

Then cut to some horrible dive apartment building from some apocalyptic movie. I was in a bad area but seemed blissfully unaware. I had a sense of dread, but was unable to share it with my dream self. I was walking in and out of these seedy buildings and I ended up in a dank quickie mart type of place. There I met some girl that was what I thought to be a meth addict.


My new "friend" was trying to make sauerkraut out of one of the canned hams that David Letterman used to challenge an audience member to eat. I offered to show her how to make the sauerkraut out of her canned ham. She kept looking around as if she were giving me some cue to run for it.

I then ended up in some apartment that reminded me of Minority Report when Tom Cruise woke up after he got his eyeballs swapped out.

When I woke up, the only thought going through my head was that I should avoid the New Year's Eve party I was invited to.

So...there you have it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shame On You Mike Holmgren

Colt coming to. AP
The Colt McCoy Concussion Conundrum continues. Colt McCoy was cracked in the head on December 8th and he *still* isn't clear to play.

Let me tell you now, that makes me angry. Very, very angry.

I'm not upset at Colt, let's make that clear. The kid is doing the best that he can.

I'm frustrated however with Coach Pat Shurmur. Whenever he is asked about the hit or anything to do with the medical follow up, he is a mumbling, bumbling fool.  He is either a callous and uncaring man or galactically stupid. He is in over his head and being angry with him is like being angry with the puppy that piddled in the corner.

Which brings me to Mike Holmgren. I am angry with Mike Holmgren. This guy knows better. He was brought on to the Browns to provide stability. The team was going to learn from his wisdom and championship experience. He was supposed to be the leader.

When Holmgren came on board, and even when he putted by me in his golf cart at training camp, I was rooting for him. For the love of all that's holy, Browns fans are sick of losing. We want to win. We want someone that can show us what a champion looks like. It has been far to.long in Cleveland for anyone to remember.

The fact that Holmgren claimed that he didn't see the crushing hit on McCoy is ridiculous. How no one on the sidelines, no coaches or trainers saw it is a problem. A hippopotamus sized problem. A hippopotamus in a tutu dancing an Irish jig in the middle of the living room kind of problem.

What was he doing besides watching the game? Was he in a suite? I can tell you, if he had been, there had to be at least 3 or 4 tvs around him. Didn't anyone poke him and say, "holy crap your boy just got his clock cleaned"? No reporter, bystander or cookie cart lady said anything? How is that even possible? The guy didn't see his quarterback on the ground?

Holmgren is no spring chicken. He has been around the NFL long enough to know that hit on McCoy could have been career ending. The kid has three conclusions under his belt already. From here on, each one becomes more serious. Ex-Colts player Ben Utecht is 30 and is already suffering from frightening memory loss. He had 5 concussions in his career.

There is no way that Holmgren took the Cleveland job thinking it was going to be a day at the beach. Turns out the Big Show is nothing but a Big Disappointment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Z
This past week, NBA player Chris Paul set off chat about ring chasing. He finally got his wish and the New Orleans Hornets traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers. He now wants to be a winner and thinks that the only way to get that is through LA.

Craig over at WFNY posted his thoughts about the situation here, which I recommend reading.

Here in Cleveland, we know a little about ring chasing. We had two players leave the Cavaliers to the Miami Heat, and one was welcomed home to thunderous cheers and the other is lucky he hasn't gotten a car battery chucked at his head.


I'm of course talking about Zydrunas Ilgauskas and LeBron James. These are two very different men that illicit very different responses when they return to the Q. This weekend I was at a Cavs scrimmage game and when Z popped his head out, the crowd cheered louder than for any player on the court. Heck, I was strong arming my Cavs ticket rep to get an autograph for me. I promise you that the reaction for LeBron would have been the polar opposite.

But, why?

Why is it that I'm ok with Z chasing behind LeBron to Miami in a quest for a ring but LeBron and his race makes the vein in my forehead pop out?

I think it comes down to attitude and intent. LeBron promised and swore he would bring a championship to Cleveland. The self-proclaimed king made us believe. That is until he didn't want to win in Cleveland anymore. Conspiracy theories abound, but a popular one is that LeBron tanked game 5 so he could go off and play with his buddies in Miami. Whether he purposely tanked the game or just forgot that he was supposed to shoot with his right hand, I don't know.

What I do know is that when LeBron left, he had no intention of returning. He didn't want to leave a legacy in Cleveland. If we are honest with ourselves, LeBron very easily could have had a statue outside of the Q. Fans making pilgrimages to take their pictures with the once mighty king. When LeBron left Cleveland, it was like the coyote rammed a stick of dynamite in his rear. He didn't care about the fans. When LeBron left, LeBron did what LeBron wanted to do for LeBron. He left the city of Cleveland to witness the chalky dust in his wake.

Z, well, Z in my mind is a different story.  I'm not happy he left for the Heat. But, I couldn't begrudge the man for chasing what was his last shot for a championship. LeBron and the Heat looked like an easy score. Z was honest about that. He was gracious and grateful to the fans of Cleveland. He even talked about returning to the city.

I guess that is really the difference. That is why Z's number 11 with be retired to a packed house of Cavs fans and LeBron's number never will.



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Colt McCoy - To Play Or Not To Play?

After watching the Browns play on Thursday night, losing to the dreaded evil Pittsburgh Steelers, I am once again angry.

I am angry about losing.

I am angry about losing to Pittsburgh.

I am angry that Colt McCoy was put back into the game after receiving a devastating helmet to face mask hit by James Harrison after being on the sidelines for only two plays. I understand that football is a rough sport and guys are going to get hurt. But what Coach Shurmur did was irresponsible and idiotic.

This past year, the NFL started to take concussions seriously after being pulled in front of Congress and being whacked with a lawsuit by over 120 former NFL players. The players were claiming that NFL was not doing enough to protect them from and inform them about the potential brain injuries they could suffer from concussions. The players were claiming that the NFL didn't care enough about their safety. I don't know if that was true or not, but after seeing the game on Thursday night, I firmly believe that Coach Shurmur doesn't care about player safety...that or he is painfully ignorant.

Shurmur claims that McCoy told him that he was OK and wanted to get back into the game. Shurmur took him at his word and put him in. It doesn't take any medical knowledge to look at McCoy after the hit and see he got his bell rung. His eyes were glassy and he looked out of it. That is what I could tell from my couch in Cleveland. How the training staff on the field didn't see that, I don't know. I'm sure that like math, their jobs are hard. Trying to determine if a player is fit to go back or not. The pressure of trying to win a game. Trying to win a game against Pittsburgh.

In April, a news story circulated that players were sandbagging their concussion tests so that they could play. Even the future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning admitted he has tanked the tests so he could play.

With the weight of this game and the season on his 25 year old shoulders, did it not occur to the trainers that McCoy might want to compete so badly that he would say anything to get back into the game? 

The training staff are professionals. I understand that, but can they truly properly diagnose a concussion in the course of two plays? Not to sound crass, but the Browns were not playing in the SuperBowl. For crying out loud, it wasn't a playoff game. Was it worth the risk of Colt McCoy's career for this one game?
AP Photo


Sunday, November 27, 2011

LeBron The Philanthropist?

LeBron returns to Cleveland. (Joshua Gunter/The Plain Dealer)
Last week, it was announced the LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony hooked up with Google+ for what they were calling the Homecoming Tour. The idea is that these guys will travel to four cities - their hometowns and woo the NBA starved fans. The best part is that the proceeds of the tour will go to each of the players foundations.

There are those out there that think this is a good thing, that LeBron is doing something positive with his vast wealth.

I however, am skeptical.

I'm not going to quibble on what "proceeds" mean. Since he has seemingly now found a philanthropic soul, I'm going to assume that he is paying for his own travel, the travel of his posse, food, hotels and entertainment.

Like I said, I'm skeptical. 

Before I continue, and in the interest of full disclosure, I am a fundraiser by profession. I try to get people to part with their money for a charitable cause. Since I am a fundraiser, I know that the reasons that people give to charity are as varied as the charities themselves. I was at a recent conference and a new study showed that the number of people that give for purely altruistic reasons is something like 5%.

People give because they feel the need to help others, they want to make a difference in the world, they want to feel better about themselves, their PR agent tells them to...you get the idea.

I am skeptical of LeBron's motives because in general, he is not a philanthropist. Let's take the situation called the Decision. Before that event, LeBron had not had any sort of relationship with the Boys and Girls Club in Cleveland. I can't think of any charity that he supported during his time in Cleveland. This is the guy that just for example in 2008, made $40.5 million.

But then he found God or a new PR team and used a bunch of kids as human shields to deflect the slings of questions on his integrity while making his decision to move his family to South Beach.

I found his decision to use a bunch of kids as a prop despicable. The ad money from his venture with ESPN went to the clubs instead of him. Yay. Good job. I would have been more impressed if he said he was going to match it with his own funds.

That would have been something.

Now, this brings us back to the current day. This Homecoming Tour, charity basketball games with the ticket sales going to each player's own foundation. Games that are nothing more than street pick up games at NBA prices. And for this, all should be forgotten and forgiven?

Friends, I am not impressed. Maybe I would be more impressed if the players took their tour to Iraq and played for the troops, maybe bringing them something from home.

With no publicity.

But does my opinion matter? Should I question LeBron's motives? Ultimately, if by this fool and his friends playing a little game in front of a crowd of suckers, helps make the world a better place, so be it. If the charities are well run and give back to the community, good for them. 

I don't have to like it. These guys don't need my approval to do whatever it is that they do.

Because, at the end of the day, I'm going to wake up tomorrow and have the same life I had when I woke up today.

And so will they.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day

The ever so famous Peanuts gang.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Things I am thankful for:

My friends and family

The new job

Cookie Monster cupcakes

The new kittens that purr and purr when I say hello

Cooking shows so I don't have to

A well poured Guinness

And this clip from WKRP. If you can watch it and not laugh, you are dead inside.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'm An Angry Cleveland Fan

I am so very, very angry right now.

Maybe I'm angry because I had to get a chicken pox shot AND a flu shot that hurt like a son of a bazooka.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm angry because I'm sick and tired of Cleveland teams losing.

Hmm...I think it is the Cleveland teams losing thing.

Yup...that is indeed it.

I'm tired of the Browns losing.

I'm tired of the Cavs losing.

I'm tired of the Indians losing.

I was at the Cavs game where we finally broke our losing streak last year. We had lost 26 games in a row and when it looked like we were going to break that streak, the Q arena was shaking from the very foundation. If someone just dropped in the game, they would have thought that the excitement for the NBA championship. The reality was we had finally won a game after losing 26 consecutive games. 

It is a stabbing pain in my chest when I think about all of the heartbreak that this city has endured by the hands of our beloved sports teams.

I think it all started with my love of Super Joe Charboneau, later known as Crazy Joe Charboneau. He was the start of a long line of Indians heartbreak. I remember being madly in love with him and even getting a full size Joe Charboneau bat at bat day at the old stadium. Of course, he faded out quickly with stories of him opening beer bottles with his eye socket. Just my luck.

When the Indians made it to the World Series, I was living in Tennessee at the time.  To my great misfortune, the tribe was playing at the same time as the UT/Bama game. I was at the only sports bar in town and I had to bribe the bartender to put the game on. At one point during the game, a very large man stood between me and the TV. He looked at me, then the TV, then me again. He lifted up his 'Bama jersey to scratch his large, hairy belly and asked me, ""Whutchadoin?" After taking a moment to decipher what he asked, I told him I was watching the World Series of Baseball. His response was a confused look and some muttering.

That is what my expereince has been as a Cleveland fan.

Living in Indianapolis, home of the SuperBowl Champion Indianapolis Colts, it was difficult. Just finding a place to watch the game was a challenge. To top it off, I worked in Colts stadium. At the end of every game, I had to walk past the visitor's locker room, with all of the media and NFL network guys. One day in the dead of winter, I walked down with my Browns hat on. An NFL network guy mocked me. I barked at him.

From then on out, every game I walked down there I was greeted to shouts of "Hey Cleveland, looks bad again, the score is..."  I have received a great deal of sympathy over the years, like when Phil Dawson's field goal against Baltimore was challenged.

As  a little kid, I begged and pleaded with my parents for a Browns Kardiac Kids shirt. My elementary school sold them, with the school name on the back. I had to agree to spending the entire summer picking the weeds out of our brick walkway for that shirt. That summer, you could hear me muttering half way down the street.

I thought that this year would be different.

Sadly, not so much.


*sigh*

Then the whole LeFoolio fiasco.

I can't express my anger/hatred/frustration any better than this video and this post.

LeBron watched the city of Cleveland make a fool of itself begging for him to honor us with the consideration of staying in Ohio.

Before my blog readers from outside of Ohio get upset about Clevelanders hating all those that leave, keep in mind, we are building a statue for Jim Thome. Omar Vizquel returns to standing ovations.

There are very few things that I know for certain, but I can promise you that LeBron will never have a statue in Cleveland during my lifetime.  He is a different story.

I'm just so sick and tired of caring more than the players. I'm tired of people asking why I'm a Cleveland fan.

I'll always be a fan because this is my home. This is where my heart is. This is what I grew up with.

The litany of excuse is nothing more than a running joke.

Every year it is the same thing.

Injuries...I don't care. Rub some dirt on it.

New coach...hmm...still don't care.

New playbook...well...still not caring. Maybe we need to recruit scholars.

New players...I thought these guys were pros, don't care yet.

So and so was hurt...again...Really? What you did last time? DON'T do that again. No sympathy here. Is Cindy from Accounting has the flu, someone else has to step up. 

Contract disputes... I still have to work, so why can't you? These guys make more money in a game than I do in a year. Not caring yet.

I'll always be a Cleveland fan, but just once I would love to not end a season with, "Well, there is always next year."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Photo Fun - Peyton Hillis Edition


This is a squirrel.

This is a squirrel with a camera.

This is a ridiculous picture, much like the topic of today's photo fun picture.

What in the name of Elmo is going on with Peyton Hillis?

I took this pic of Hillis turning training camp.
Peyton Hillis came to Cleveland from a trade with the Broncos. In Denver, he was underutilized and was, if you will pardon the expression, a nobody. Hillis arrives in Cleveland and had an amazing breakout season. His "aw shucks thank ya ma'am" attitude resonated with Browns fans. Maybe we were just over the fiasco known as LeFoolio, but Hillis quickly became a fan favorite.

Stories started circulating about his workout ritual of strapping himself to a pick up truck and pulling it through his Arkansas neighborhood. Through fan votes, he was selected as the Madden cover boy.  According to espn, it took a total of more than 12,000,000 votes throughout the competition to get him that honor.

At training camp, Hillis was quickly mobbed by the fans. In the pic I took, he was pleading with the fans to not push and shove and he would sign as many things as he could (like my football). There was a feeling of the Browns being a contender. Maybe not Superbowl champions, but at least we were going to have a decent season.

Then, Hillis got strep throat. On the advice of his agent, he sat out. Fans everywhere cringed. Rumors started to surface...was he sick or faking it as a contract ploy. I personally think he was sick. I also think Hillis is less than Media savvy.

It was at that point that the crazy train jumped the tracks. Was he hurt or wasn't he? Were the Browns benching him to teach him a lesson (see more here)? Allegedly he went to Arkansas to marry his snuggle bunny when his team mates thought he should be rehabbing his strained hamstring. Then the blow up of all blowups...he was rumored to have blown off trick or treating with kids in Slavic Village.

LeCharles Bentley of for Browns fame and a local radio host announced on his show and via twitter that Hillis dogged out a bunch of kids...uncool.



Over 100 people shared his tweet on their page to all of their friends. Then hundreds more after that. With nothing else going on in Cleveland sports, the Tribe off-season and no NBA season, sports talk radio was all over this like sprinkles on a doughnut. Later, after much of the day was spent vilifying Hillis, it turns out he was never confirmed for the event, and it was not even the charity's event but it was Bentley's. At that point, the damage was complete.

Hillis went from the penthouse to the outhouse. More rumors are swirling about the effect the drama is having on the team as a whole. People are rallying around him for a new contract...there are no "pay the man" t-shirts proudly worn as they were with Josh Cribbs.

If the game were at home, would fans set his jersey on fire they way they did with Braylon Edwards? I'm certainly not calling for that.

I just want the man to play football.

I want him to play football and not be a part of the Cleveland sports fail reel.

Edwards jersey on fire in the munilot.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Photo Fun #2

It was so much fun last time, I want to keep on posting. I love looking through my pictures that are just sucking up bandwidth.

The idea of sharing them is a fun one for me, so here is the second photo:


I took this pic at my hotel. Don't steal.
There is something about going to Arizona in March for Spring Training to see the Indians play. I have gone each year that the team has been out there and I think I will continue the tradition.

I enjoy the occasional beach vacation, but on those trips I just get bored. I can only bake on the hot sand for so long and then I start to lose my mind. But Arizona in March is perfect. The weather is warm, but not scalding. The sun is shining, the sky is a gorgeous blue. The mood is completely relaxed. How stressed out can you be sitting in the stands, watching a game and eating a hot dog?

The vibe is great. The players are friendly, the fans are fun. Although, I do admit, it is painfully obvious who is at the game from somewhere cold. We all have shorts and t-shirts on and the oldtimer locals are slathered in sunscreen under their layers of sweatshirts and wide brimmed straw hats.

This picture in particular was taken at my hotel. I'm a huge priceline fan, and I usually get a hotel in Phoenix near the airport. It is convenient, right down the street from Tempe and a 5 minute drive to the airport.

When I walked out of my room and into the courtyard by the pool and looked up at the sky, my midwestern frozen brain started to thaw. Looking up at the palm trees just reinforced I wasn't in snowy Cleveland anymore.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

True Halloween Story

Hopefully, we all have fond and funny memories of Halloween. I have quite a few. There was the time I was sick and my dad went trick or treating for me. I remember him coming home with a pillowcase full of candy. Little plastic pumpkins are for rookies. I remember trying to buddy up with friends in good candy neighborhoods.

After an evening of trick or treating, I run in the house and collapse on the living room floor, then dumping all of my loot on the green shag carpet where my aunt would help me go through it. She would put aside wrapped pieces to make sure that some whack job didn't put in a needle or razor blade. It was either go through this process with my aunt or my mom, and I always picked my aunt. Higher edible candy ratio with her than mom.

As a little girl, two of my mom's sisters lived with us, and to me, they were like older sisters. In fact, I used to brag about my older sisters in high school. That was a fun conversation that my mom had to have with my kindergarten teacher.

Anyway, my aunt would help me gather the "safe" candy into a giant bowl that would then go in the fridge for fresh keeping. I would also share candy with her, and only her because she was saving me from the evil people that wanted to hurt little kids by giving them bad candy. I would have a fit if anyone dared to take a piece of my candy without my expressed permission.

One thing that I was always grateful for was my aunt taking all the Three Musketeers bars. She used to put them in a special pile. She told me that they were awful, terrible, yucky candy bars and she was saving me from eating them. She told me that she would eat them, because we didn't want to just throw them away on account of the starving kids in Africa.

This went on every year. I would gleefully toss any Three Musketeers bars I found to her and I would tell my friends at school about them. That they were these awful gross things and about how my aunt was so awesome that she would take them for us.

I don't think I even tasted a Three Musketeers bar until I was in my late twenties. And I have to tell you, they aren't too bad.

Last year at Christmas I shared the Three Musketeers story with the family during a rousting game of Yahtzee. Mom yelled at my aunt and she laughed so hard she had to run from the table to avoid peeing in her chair.

Good times.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Red Onions Are Evil

Italian Chef Scott Conant, self professed raw red onion hater.
A true fact is I hate cooking. I don't find it soothing or relaxing. I don't find it some warm and fuzzy communal activity.

But...

I love to watch cooking shows. I dream of the day that I would actually order quinoa and enjoy it. I am admittedly a beer and chicken wing kind of girl, but I am intrigued by these shows. I love them all from Top Chef to Iron Chef to Rachael Ray and her 30 minute meals. In fact, I even love to watch one of the shows of my arch nemesis Bobby Flay - Throwdown. The premise of this show is that Flay goes in and tries to challenge a "pro" at whatever dish they are famous for. I gleefully chuckle when his assistants openly mock him and he loses.

Ahem.

One of my favorite shows is Chopped on the Food Network. They have taken the best thing about Top Chef and made the entire show a quickfire challenge.  Each contestant is given a basket of mystery ingredients and they must make something out of them. Round one is an appetizer, then someone is chopped. Round two is an entree, then another chef is chopped, and finally a dessert which results in the winner. Awesome.

The Chef/judges are interesting and snarky and full of themselves. But, so are some of the contestants. Some of them (like in most of these shows) think that they know what the diner *should* like. They come up with these random and scary concoctions that if the diner doesn't like it, well, then they have an undeveloped palate and they are poopy heads.

Enter Scott Conant. He is a successful chef and restaurant owner in his own right, and he is quick to give the "don't you dare give me a pathetic excuse glare." I came to love Scott when during one challenge, a chef presented him with an unholy amount of raw red onions with his appetizer. Scott railed on him for that, informing him that his palate was overpowered and destroyed by the evil that is the red raw onion. For the next course, the cheftestant thinks he knows more than Scott and gives him more raw red onions in his entree.

It was with giddy excitement that I watched Scott open a can of proverbial whoopass on the silly young man.

Scott made it very clear... as a chef, you need to listen to your diners. Listen to your guests. You don't know better than they do.

Every time I hear someone talk about a stinky office, or smell an onion, I think of Chopped and the tirade against red onions.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words, Or At Least 100

Like oh my God, smile ok?
For as long as I can remember I have loved to take pictures. Early on, I saw it as a way to remember things forever that might otherwise be forgotten. Well, at least that is the answer I gave my dad when I was 5 after he developed a roll of film that was completely of my hunky crush down the street. I think my crush was 9 and he helped me learn to ride my bike without training wheels *swoon* so I adored him.

Wow, was my dad furious. He still brings it up about once a year, and shares with anyone that will listen about the time I took an entire roll of film of Nelson down the street. This was back when you had to pay for film, flash cubes, and developing. So pops had a bit of a right to be cranky.

This was also the time that you had to make tough decisions about what pictures you were going to take. With my digital camera, I might take a *hundred* pictures in a night or at an event.

Why not? It doesn't cost anything extra and with websites like Photobucket, I can store them forever.

With actual film, you only had a certain number of pictures to take, maybe an extra one or two at the end of the roll. I remember actually having to remove people from pictures because I didn't want them in the shot. Ouch. Harsh, I know, but everyone did it. Sometimes you would even have to take a "fake" picture and get the real one later.

Now however, there is no cost to taking hundreds of pictures until you print them out. I have over a thousand pictures on my phone. I have thousands more online. I share some through social media, but the rest collect virtual dust in a server somewhere. And that my friends, is just sad.

So, once a week, I will post a picture that I took and share a little about it. These are my personal pictures (unless otherwise noted) so please don't try and snag them or post them other places without permission, because that just isn't cool.

My friends, welcome to picture one:

Bonavox hearing aids in Dublin, Ireland.
My first trip to Ireland was rainy and dreary. I went in February because the price was astronomically low and it was the off season. I didn't want to bump into other Americans. I see enough here.

When I went to my hotel, I was surprised at it. The hotel was down a winding side street in Dublin. When I got to my room and I opened the door whack the door hit the bed. I walked to the end of the bed and tah dah, I was in the bathroom. It was less than half the size of my college dorm room. I had always wanted to visit Ireland, and I was only going to sleep in the room, so I didn't care. I had a fantastic time exploring and making new friends. My first trip to a foreign country.

One night while walking home from one of the local pubs, I saw the Bonavox Hearing Aid store and I let out a little squeal. I quickly fumbled for my camera and took the picture.

For any die hard U2 fan, you would realize that this is the place that Bono's name came from.

From the Bonavox website, here is the story of Bono's name:

You accidentally became linked with U2 when Paul Hewson started using the stage name Bono Vox. Do you know how he came to settle on a wrongly spelt version of the shop's name?
Paul Hewson has a good friend, an artist called Guggi Rowan. They were school pals and Guggi was around when U2 was being formed.
Guggi, Paul and they were talking about names. Guggi had seen the name above our shop and said to Paul "I've got a brilliant name for you, it's Bono Vox, which means 'Good voice'." He got the name slightly wrong – we're Bonavox, not Bonovox.
Paul took the name Bono Vox in full, later shortening it to just Bono. That's the truth of how he got the name.
It was a great souvenir from an amazing trip.  Now you all have a random fact to share with your friends.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hmmm...

Charles Rex Arbogast - AP   


Tipping Is Not A City In China

The subject of tipping has come up quite a bit lately. From Peyton Hillis leaving a tiny tip to a bartender being left the tip of "you can stand to lose a few pounds" to a push in San Fransisco for servers to get a mandatory 25% (which has since been proven bogus).

Working in the hospitality business is tough and not for the weak or flat footed. You are at the mercy of the customer to make a living wage.

I have been a bartender and server for what seems like eons. Here are a few tips...even in a recession.

If you can't afford to eat out, don't.
Yes, I know, like Donna, you work hard for your money. But so does your server/bartender/hostess/busser. If you say to yourself that you deserve a good meal and nice night out, by all means, go for it. But, treat the tip like part of the bill. I will freely admit that there have been times that I would have loved another cocktail, but in doing so, I wouldn't be able to tip. So, sadly, sobriety had to win out.

The server that is waiting on you is making about a third of minimum wage. And then on top of that, a grumpy manager looks at their sales and requires them to tip out the hostess, food runner, busser, bartender, etc. The tricky part here is that if I work all night and heaven forbid not making any tips, I still have to tip those people out. I can lose money by going to work.

I had a table once that was a family of four. They shared meals and ordered one root beer for the table. Ugh. I refilled that root beer so much that at one point I looked under the table for a barrel that they were dumping it in.

Even though I was irritated, I was still friendly and I was pleasantly surprised that at the end of the meal, they left a 20% tip. Awww.

Yes, the server/bartender remembers you from last time
This is a true fact - I am horrible at remembering names. Terrible. I can meet you 10 times and still not have the vaguest clue as to your name. But, I will remember exactly what you ate and drank. Try it sometime. I'm a fun party trick. Likewise, if you come into a place a couple of times, the bartender/server will remember you.

Well, let me throw a little caveat in there. Your server/bartender remembers you if you were an awesome tipper or if you were a cheap jackwagon. Anyone else falls off the meter. If you are trying to build an alibi, leave a great tip.

I can point out in a crowded room a crummy tipper.

A few years ago, I was bartending at a swanky partay thrown by a law firm in Indy. I had a guy that was such a pain, ordering drinks that we didn't have ingredients for. I even, to be nice, hunted around and found a pint of creamer for his Kahlua and creams (here is another note, if you are at a bar for an event, unless the planner forked out big bucks, options are limited, deal with it). He later picked up the habit of *snapping his fingers* at me from across the bar. This from the guy that had not left a dollar all night.  Kids, nothing will get you ignored quicker and cause dirty looks to go xxx than snapping your fingers at someone.

The last tip...Servers and Bartenders are people too
In the above example, the foolio lawyer clearly thought it was appropriate to treat us like some sort of servant. Yes, I'm there to wait on you, but I'm not being paid enough to put up with your nonsense.

Maybe that is why some servers have gone to pubic shaming of bad tippers. In the above example, the bartender that received the weight loss tip, she posted the guy's name on the web and called him out. Yay. But, oopsie...she called the *wrong* guy out.

In the new world of immediate feedback, the pressure to get your order right and give you a great experience is huge. One cranky customer tweet or facebook post can send a server packing. I remember cutting off a girl once who screamed at the top of her lungs that her father owned verizon and I was as good as fired. She later came back to complain about the tall blonde girl that was so mean to her (note: I am not blonde and most certainly have never been described as tall). If that was a direct tweet to the boss, who knows what would have happened.

The point is, let's try to be nice to one another. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Peyton Hillis - A Footnote in the Cleveland Sports Fail Reel?

Photograph by Elizabeth Griffin for Esquire.com
Being a Cleveland fan continues to be painful. Right now, my biggest fear (besides of course Bobby Flay attacking me with an army of hairy spiders), is that Peyton Hillis is going to become a footnote or passing blurb in the latest edition of the Cleveland Sports fail reel.

Last season, fans were overjoyed to take a chance on Hillis. The trade with the Broncos seemed like finding a priceless work of art for a dollar at a garage sale. in 2010, Hillis became the first Browns player to be AFC Offensive Player of the Week since Eric Metcalf, almost 20 years ago.  And let's agree how fitting it was that he was selected as the cover for Madden 12...over Michael Vick.  Hero of the Dawg Pound over the Dog killer. Good against evil. You name it, we as fans ran with it.

I don't know Hillis personally. All I know of him is that he tweeted me that he would sign my football.  But, he strikes me as the "aww shucks, ma'am" kind of guy. I haven't heard wild stories of him at strip clubs or getting loaded and tearing up bars. He isn't getting in fights or cussing fans out. I'll bet he has a gun, but I would go on a limb and say it is for hunting only...during season of course. If he spends his money on anything it is a new shiny pick up truck.

Point is, he is a hard working guy that wants to play. Remember folks, this is the same guy that during the off season harnessed himself to a half ton pick up truck and dragged it through his neighborhood.

And then the games began.

Word started to leak that Hillis and the Browns were having trouble coming to an agreement on his contract.

And then Hillis got sick. Word around the water cooler was that he had strep throat. He was sent home from practice by the team. He lost 12 pounds. Then, he was too sick to play with the team against Miami. his agent claimed that he told Hillis to stay home.

That my friends is where things began to explode into a slimy mess of confusion.

Did Hillis' agent tell him to stay home because he was sick or he was "sick?" Was Hillis on his sickbed wishing his mommy would bring him some soup or was he chillin' in his jammies watching sportscenter with a teeny weeny sniffle?

Hillis is on his third agent in a year. I would humbly suggest he look for a fourth. This controversy brewed up during the bye week, which meant it was dissected and poked and prodded and speculated within a hair of its life.

Cleveland talk radio and the interwebz were burning up with angry armchair callers, furious bloggers and don't even get me going on the tweeters. Josh Cribbs tried to douse the flames of sports fail rage with a call to a local sports station. He believed that Hillis was sick and leave the man alone.

I agree.

I think Hillis was sick and couldn't play. If he did, he could have gotten hurt or dear lord, spread his cooties to the rest of the team.

Hillis took to Twitter to tell the fans what he thinks...





Whew. Controversy over. Let's play ball and win some games people.

That is of course, a dream that I have. Sadly, Coach Shurmur may have something else in mind.

For some reason known only to the Coach, Hillis barely touched the ball since sitting out the Miami game. This of course caused Browns fans to lose their collective marbles. In the Raiders game, Coach called plays for Montario "bricks for hands" Hardesty. OK, that was a little harsh, but when the guy was clearly having a tough time, get him out and send Hillis in.

Hillis was seen trying to convince the RB coach on the sidelines (watch before the NFL yoinks it), but nothing.

Fans continued to scream and throw nachos at their television sets.

In the third quarter, the Browns said Hillis was not in because of the coaches.

More nachos hit the flat screens.

Then the Browns told everyone that Hillis was injured. The Coach would later say it was in very early in the game, the first or second quarter.
A collective barrage of curses cut through the air as Browns fans everywhere were out of nachos to throw at the screen. How can we lose Hillis?

Then...
It was at this point I was screaming in the middle of the living room with my arms flailing about.

If Shurmur is trying to show Hillis and his agent who's the boss, yes we get it. You sir, are bossy Angela to Hillis' Tony. Got it. I think I speak for everyone when I say, we all got it. We understand. You proved your point.

Can we just play ball now? Please?

Yoinked from Deadspin.

Friday, October 14, 2011

NBA Lockout + Cavs Tickets = ?!?!

She really was right.
The NBA is in the midst of a lockout with the possibility of the owners and players coming together to save the season just as likely as me winning the powerball.  The fight is billionaires (the owners) vs. millionaires (the players) and I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble finding sympathy for either side.

The NFL lockout almost cost a season and more importantly the fans. The players seemed to get that, and it was not a point lost on the owners either. If you lose the fans, you lose everything.  I'm not sure that the NBA however, understands that.

Last word was there needs to be a resolution in the next day or so or the first NBA game we will see will be at Christmas.

Maybe everyone needs to sit out. Go to your corners until you can be good boys. There are several things that infuriate me about the lockout. What honks me off the most is the effect it is having on everyone else. I don't care if the owners or coaches miss a couple of paychecks. But, there are more people with something on the line. When you go to a game, look around. Look at the restaurants and bars...they brought on extra staff for the game. On your way to the stadium, look at all the parking attendants, police officers, security. In the stadium, all the ushers, ticket takers, hot dog makers, cocktail shakers. The guy running up and down the sections hawking beer and peanuts. The people in the merchandise stands. There are a lot of people that depend on the games for their livelihood.

In the current economic climate, people that are struggling to keep their homes and families together are not inclined to hear the whining of people that make more in a game than they will in years.

Keeping that in mind, I am more than a little ticked off at the Cleveland Cavaliers right now.

Let me backtrack for a moment.

If you are a regular reader, you know I have a *ahem* a few days on my hands right now.  I was downtown and I thought it would be a great time to see if I could get a Cavs locker room tour. The tours have been advertised outside of the Q and inside the team shop. I've been on the Browns and the Indians tours already, and they were interesting. The Browns was the most expensive (10 bucks I think) and the least informative. Don't get me wrong, you get to see everything, but there aren't dedicated tour guides. I think my guide was some intern during his second week.

The Indians. Whoa. The Indians have a tour guide staff that, I am confident in saying, know everything. These ladies have it down. If was in a situation that I needed to phone a friend on Indians stats, these ladies are the go to.

I figured the Cavs would be somewhere in the middle.

Umm...yeah...not so much. 

 As I mentioned, I was downtown and went into the Cavs team shop to see about a tour.

The girl behind the counter didn't have any times or information, but she was nice enough to call for me. She got transferred around and the person that she ended up with told her, "I don't know."

I thanked her for calling for me and I looked around the store. When I looked up at the flashy monitor, the number for Locker Room Tours popped up. Call! So I did.

*headshake*

I called the number and the gentleman that answered the phone seemed a bit bewildered when I asked about a tour. I repeated again that I was calling about a tour.

*note to readers, this would be the point my little buttercup that you should buckle up*

He told me that the tours were really for season ticket holders and that he didn't recognize my area code.

A bit irritated, I told him that I was calling from my cell and I wasn't really interested in tickets right now until I see how the lockout shakes out, although I had been to numerous games last season.

He told me again that the tours are really for season ticket holders and everyone was leaving for Canton but sometimes they do tours on Friday, but they are for people buying tickets and he could call me next week to talk about tickets if I wanted.

I told him that I was going to be in and out of town and I would call back some other time. He said, "ok, bye."


Let's evaluate this situation for a moment.

We are in the midst of a lockout. Fans are irritated. The Cavs had a bad season last year...breaking the professional sports record for consecutive losses. Fans are irritated. Last year, before LeFoolio made his decision, Cavs season ticket holders were strong armed to make their decision about their season tickets *before* LeFoolio. Again, fans are irritated.

With that in mind and the thought of "dear God we have yet another rebuilding season," the Cavs are playing hardball with tours that they advertised? I don't mind paying for the tour (the other teams have the fees go towards their respective foundations) and I don't mind hearing a little about season tickets during the tour.

I had considered getting Cavs season tickets this year, if for no other reason than to watch LeFoolio choke and to see the Mavaliers, but, on second thought, I'm not that stoked to see where Samardo Samuels leaves his dirty socks.

The Cavs can keep their bait and switch tour. I'll just buy tickets on Stub Hub, I'm sure it will be cheaper.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When I moved back to Cleveland, I thought I found the perfect job. Amazing mission and amazing people.

And then, well, then it wasn't the perfect job anymore.  I was presented with a fantastic chance to work for a company that not only pays more, but offers a vast array of opportunity. When I was offered the job I remember hearing the Mary Tyler Moore theme song in my head. This is my chance professionally to do what I want to do.

On Monday, I turned in my notice and thanked the company for the opportunity and offered to do whatever I could to make a smooth transition. I went to lunch and came back to find my computer locked down.

Boss came in and told me that since I work with what could be considered confidential information, that it would be best if I left now. I would be paid for my two week notice and paid for my vacation, but I should leave now.

I think I was the straw that crushed the camel. So, while initially I was shocked since this wasn't the normal procedure, I'm not surprised.

I packed up, left my projects and desk in a bit of a shambles and I started my vacation.

A new chapter is being written...hopefully this is a long one.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Housing Projects are Not Dynomite!

Good Times cast.
When I was a little kid, one of my favorite shows was "Good Times."  I would strut around the house yelling DYNOMITE! at the top of my lungs whenever I thought it fit. Which much to my parent's irritation was about 20 times a day. I remember singing along, "Temporary layoffs...Good times!" having no real clue of what I was singing about.

What I didn't know was that the show was set in a high rise housing project in Chicago.I knew the Evans family had it rough, but they loved each other and JJ was funny, so I loved it.

All I ever knew of housing projects was what I saw on television. With me being white bread from the burbs, TV was all I had to go off of. As I grew up, television showed me crack dens and drug houses, but when I heard about housing projects, I still thought of the Evans family. Like everything else on TV, I naively assumed it was an exaggeration.

And then I moved back to Cleveland.

For my job, I work with inner city youth. Not directly, but I do have contact with the kids. Every day, I see the statistics. Far less than half of the kids going to Cleveland Public Schools are graduating. The poverty and unemployment rates are staggering.

There have been occasions that I have dropped kids off and I have seen where they live. It looks rough on the outside, but still...I had the vision of the Evans family. Good Times.

And then I had to help one of the kids take some stuff into the house.

I pulled into the parking lot and briefly wondered if I would come back to it on cinder blocks. Walking up to the door, there were a few guys giving us the glare.Rough looking guys hanging out, staring. Looking us up and down like fresh meat. The kid I was walking with instantly stopped talking as we got closer. I took the cue from the kid and shut up. We walked in silence to the door. I fully admit, I got a little nervous. This was a rough neighborhood and I was sticking out like a palm tree in the arctic. The scene from Blindside went through my head...where Sandra Bullock tries to hop of the car and he tells her to stay put and lock the doors.

I had to be brave and cool though, because this is where the kid lives. If the kid can live there, I can at least go to the door without peeing myself.

When we got to the door, I looked around and noticed how everything was in disrepair around the complex. I doubted there was a handyman on site. Broken doors. Torn out screens. The lunchroom scene from Lean on Me went through my head. Morgan Freeman demanded the cage in the cafeteria be torn down. You treat kids like animals, they will behave like animals.  The kid opened the door and lucky for me I kept my sunglasses on because what I saw horrified me. The kid looked back and said they were going to run upstairs, but I knew I was being watched. Would I show my shock? Would I think less of the kid? I cracked a joke and the kid went upstairs. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut.

I lifted my glasses and my vision was blurry from the tears forming. Outside of the movies, I have never seen anything so awful. Roaches crawled around my shoes. The walls were crumbling. The curtains were a bed sheet pinned to the wall. It smelled of desperation, weed and hopelessness. The walls and floors were covered in years of filth and grime. I thought to myself that it would take weeks to clean all of the misery away, if it could be cleaned away.

The kid came back down the stairs and off we went. but I can't stop thinking about that visit.

We have kids in this city that are living in deplorable conditions, wondering if they will get dinner. I get cranky when we go to lunch late. I can't imagine being hungry, truly hungry and not being able to have a meal.

With their minds filled with a daily search for basic needs, algebra will always take a back seat.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bark and Let Bark

The Four Loko Kids burning LeFoolio's jersey in the Muni-Lot.

At the last Browns game, a man was asked to sit down in the Dawg Pound because he was cheering to much. For my non-Cleveland friends, the Dawg Pound is the end zone area with the most faithful, raucous fans. You don't sit in the Dawg Pound and knit. If you have ever heard of the Browns, you know this.

I can only assume that this directive is coming from an effort to make the games more family friendly. The Browns currently have a family section, which I have no problem with. If you want to take your kids, or have a tame experience, this is where you should sit. Browns fans are hardcore. After years of the Cleveland Sports Fail Reel, we have to be. Games in freezing temperatures, wind and rain and snow. Yup. We're there. A Browns game is nothing like say, a Colts game.

For years I worked at Colts games, including games in Lucas Oil Stadium - a snazzy enclosed stadium. The women come decked out in their high heels and bedazzled sparkly Colts shirts. In the middle of winter they complain that it is too cold...brrr...in the Stadium. I would politely tell them that as soon as they got to their seats, it would warm up. Colts fans are sweet and polite. But even at Colts games, there are some raucous areas of the stadium. If you have a family or have tender ears, you don't go up there.

Football isn't a polite sport. Why should we expect its fans to be?

Don't mistake me, I get the fact that everyone has some cash on the line for their tickets and they want to enjoy the game. But, if you are the person that has earplugs in your ears griping because the crowd is too loud, I am as irritated by you as you are of me. 

Keg bowling in the Muni-Lot.
On a home game morning, take a walk through the Muni-Lot. You have rowdy fans getting their cheer on. Hundreds and hundreds of people. Parking lot after parking lot. Fans drinking their loaded hot chocolate and enjoying some burgers, all in all, an adult event. But every game, there are people that bring their kids. Kids in the Muni. Inevitably, some little one walks by the Four Loko kids and begs their parents to let them participate in keg bowling. Or, worse. Last year, I had some Bluto try to kick in the door of the porta potty I was occupying. When I got out to have some harsh words with him, I saw his little boy standing near him, cheering his pops on. Real father of the year material. It was one of the few times I was speechless.

My point is life is about choices. If the crowd is too rowdy for you, stay home. Watch the game in the comfort of your house with your nice and clean bathroom. Maybe even take a nap at halftime. There is no shame in that. But if you look around and you are the only one in your section fuming about the drunk guy screaming at Big Ben while wearing a cape, then maybe the guy in the cape isn't the problem.

If someone is threatening and dangerous or outright offensive, I agree with giving them the boot. But if it is a guy wearing floppy dog ears barking until he goes horse, I say bark and let bark.

Braylon Edwards jersey sacrificed.