Wednesday, October 31, 2012

There Is Still Time For Pumpkins

My Bob Feller pumpkin.
Now that the storms have blown Halloween trick or treaters to the weekend, you still have time to carve a pumpkin for your front porch. An added incentive is that the pumpkins are all marked down and you have a great family event. Admit it, boggle was getting old.

The first thing you need is a design. The Cleveland Indians were having a contest on Instagram for the best tribe pumpkin and I decided to give it a try. I downloaded a black and white Bob Feller patch to work off of. I printed one off that was about the size I wanted for my pumpkin. Big design = big pumpkin.

I stopped off at Marc's to get some pumpkin gutting tools.

For under a buck, they had these lock picking dental looking tools and a little exacto knife. I also spent a whopping .59 on a turkey foil pan to dump all the pumpkin guts in to.

I cleared off a spot on the table and spread out a garbage bag to work on. Pumpkins can get a little messy.

I don't have any shots of getting the pumpkin ready because of my adorable cat Bernie who was constantly in the way. First step was to take the pumpkin guts out, which I will not lie, was gross. I cut through the top and with a metal spoon, scooped it all out and dumped it in my .59 turkey pan.

Next, I pinned my Bob Feller design in place on the pumpkin. Eye it like a tattoo, to ensure it is in the right spot. Then, I took the dental pick things I bought at Marc's (you could also use a nail or a push pin) and poked through the paper to make an impression of the design on the pumpkin. Don't be slow with this step because the moisture from the pumpkin comes through and makes the design icky.

After poking enough holes in the pumpkin to give an outline for your design, take off the paper and start carving away. I used a grapefruit knife (.97 at Marc's) to start carving the design.

You can do what you want, but I did *not* cut all the way through the pumpkin. I just carved away on the outside until it looked good and then took a teaspoon and smoothed out the design. If you put a candle inside, it looks like you cut away the design, without the trauma of worrying that you cut away too much and the thing is a goner.

One word of warning. I forgot to take my "C" pumpkin in and it got chomped my squirrels. I have since moved the pumpkins into the garage until it is time for all the trick or treaters to ohh and ahhh over my pumpkins.

111 days until pitchers and catchers report...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Horse Poo At The Horseshoe

I admit, I enjoy gambling. I think more cultured people refer to it as gaming. I love roulette, craps, black jack and my personal guilty pleasure at the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland is the Clue video slot game. Usually, I call out slot players for being whimpy, but it really is a great game.

The last few trips to the Horseshoe have been less than fun. Last trip, I had to endure Rosie & Rocco's Meatball Fiasco. I need to add, that after reading my blog post, Chef Rocco contacted me, apologized for my sad meatball tragedy and wanted to make it right with his restaurant. Perfect and fair response.

Today however, I am frustrated beyond belief with the Horseshoe and the lack of customer service.

After brunch, I stopped by to partake in some Clue. Seriously, it is a fun game. After playing for awhile, I realized I was there well past the 30 minute mark for the "free buffet" and thought it would be great to invite my aunt down. I played for another 20 minutes or so, and wandered down to redeem my voucher for a free buffet and to call my aunt. I stood in line, swiped my card and nothing. I swiped again and it sneered that I needed more tier points. I finally found someone downstairs to explain it to me and she said that it may not register yet and I could go up to one of the Total Rewards lines. So, up I went to the first line that snaked around and around. A staffer told the line that there was another counter upstairs. Silly me, I figured that line might be shorter. Imagine my surpise when the line upstairs was twice as long as the one downstairs. Ugh.

I went back downstairs and stood in line again. After a few minutes another staffer walked the line and was calling for different levels and told everyone to have their ids ready. This was the point that my eye started to twitch. I followed her, and when I caught up to her, I rattled off the issue with the tier thing to which she told me I could check it myself.

Looking at her like a deer in headlights, she took pity on me and showed me how to check my own balance, to which she said yeah, you are 2 points short. The look on my face showed my confusion and she explained I needed to spend another ten dollars or so.

Taking a deep breath, I explained that I played for about 50 minutes and the signs and billboards said it was 30 minutes. Her response? "Yeah, that is really misleading and people complain about it all the time." I tried to fight my case but she said it was just how they did it and walked away.

Let's stop for a minute here. At this point, my frustration rolling off me in waves of alternating annoyance and crankiness, the staffer could have tried to make the situation right. Call for a manager, apologize, sympathize with my frustration, anything. But instead she walked away.

Not the best move in my opinion. I have worked in the service industry the majority of my life and the one thing I know for sure is if you are crappy to people, they will not come back. Whether gaming, tacos or car parts, there is always somewhere else to go.

At this point, it was not about the buffet. My goal was to have a piece of cheesecake and chat with my aunt. I walked away, trying to find someone else to talk to and when I came back there were now two different staffers at the end of the line. I politely asked for a manager, and the woman responded, that is me.

Oh boy.

I started the conversation by saying I was a little ticked, and went into the story again. The manager's counterpart turned away and wanted no part of the conversation, which was not cool, but I'm sure she told him as such later.

The response from the manager was that it was easier to market the promotion by just saying play 30 minutes get whatever free than to go into the additional requirement of tier play 9the amount of money you are spending). My right eye started to bulge a little and I could hear the blood pump through my head. I pleaded my case at how ridiculous and misleading it was that the ads say one thing, but the requirements are another. She again told me how it was easier to market the promotion and that it "usually works out" because if people are playing for 30 minutes that they will spend a certain amount.

Taking a deep breath, I repeated what the ads said and she again repeated what the marketing department did.

The end result was her looking at me repeating the line of what regular game play was and me asking why bother come to the Horseshoe when I can go to one of the slot places in strip malls.

I walked away, frustrated and I may have even flung my arms in the air in frustration.

Once again, this all could have been solved with an apology. Maybe saying, "I can see how that would be frustrating" something. But instead, they did nothing.

Now I have to ask myself, why deal with the headache of parking, the drive downtown and crappy service when I can go to the Lucky Penny in Brunstucky where they will at least give me a hot dog? This isn't really about the buffet or free parking or a tshirt or other knick knack. This is about treating people appropriately and doing what you say you will.

At the very least, the Horseshoe needs to either change their marketing or arm their staff with the tools they need to take care of customer service issues.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Welcome to October...a month filled with football, crunchy leaves and breast cancer awareness.

Recently, I told you all about an opportunity to take a Chevy test drive (which raised over $1300!) to support the Gotta Love Chevy NEO American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. 

You still have a chance to make a difference. For each new like on the Gotta Love Chevy NEO facebook page, $1 will be contributed to the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program. A pretty easy way to make a difference.

As a thank you for the Gotta Love Chevy NEO fans for helping spread awareness for breast cancer, they are giving away 3 makeover experiences. 3 winners will get makeovers complete with hair, makeup, lunch and a personal shopping experience and will be featured on Fox 8 New Day Cleveland. Enter here and snag me a pair of new shoes! Make sure to tweet with the hashtag #like2endcancer.

Good luck!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

No Excuses Pat Shurmur

I really hate to be the one to call for someone to be fired. I know that everyone has a family and bills to pay, but I have reached my shattering point.

I am so incredibly angry over today's loss that I am not sure what to do. I am the kind of angry that is reserved for when you drop your car keys into a full porta potty, fish them out only to remember that you are out of hand sanitizer and then you slam your own hand in the car door.

The amount of excuses that have been floating around are both ridiculous and sad. It is sad that we have accepted margins of mediocrity for success.

Here are a few of the usual excuses and my thoughts:

We are getting better. My response: WE LOST. We have been using this one every year since 1999. We are not getting better. We are just finding more spectacular ways in which to lose.

We are a young team. I DON'T CARE. Put toddlers out there. It can't get much worse. This is the National Football League. These guys are professionals. Get some one in there that knows how to do the job.

We have new ownership, give it time. All due respect to Mr. Haslam, I DON'T CARE. I am old enough that I heard this one before. Respectfully sir, you have a short leash.

But, Clock Management is hard. Yes, and so is math, which is why I'm not a friggin mathematician. Buy the man a gosh darned watch. Hire an intern to poke him with a sharp stick.
Whatever it takes. Why Big Daddy Holmgren has never stepped in I will never know. Oh wait, yes we do...

Ok, but good coaches take risks, give Shurmur a break. Hmm...well you first learn how to ride a bike before you pop a wheelie and jump your bike over the other neighborhood kids. Know what happens if you just try to be a trick rider before your training wheels come off? A lot of little kids go to the hospital and angry parents chase you with baseball bats. The man needs to get the basics down before he takes risks.

The team is showing improvement, you have to admit that. Yes, you got me, they have climbed from the bottom of the full outhouse to about the toilet seat. Sure it is an improvement, but guess what? Still stinks.

What about the draft next year? I heard there is a great QB crop. What about I kick you in the cookies until you cry? That is what I think about next year's draft.

I'm beyond my limit with the excuses for this team. I will always be a fan, but that doesn't change the fact I want to be attached to a winner. Just once before I die.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An Open Letter To Jimmy Haslam

 Dear Mr. Haslam,

Welcome to Cleveland! Throughout the city, not only Browns fans, but Cleveland fans as well are looking forward to getting to know you and your family better. You made enormous contributions through out Tennessee, so we are looking forward to the same generous spirit in our community.

Cleveland sports fans are like a family. As with any family, we have our moments. We have that uncle that isn't allowed to drink at Thanksgiving anymore (such as the young man that dunked his head in unmentionables for $450), the crazy cousin that chases cars barking down the street (most of the dawg pound), sometimes we throw things when upset (we are the reason no one gets the bottle at games anymore) and we also have the wise elders that remember what it was like to actually *win.*

I don't know if you have noticed it yet, but the city has not had a winning team in a very, very long time. We cling to any morsel or fragment of winning like the last drop of stadium mustard. We have had so much in the sports misery column that the networks have been kind enough to create a Cleveland sports fail reel. Don't bring this up to Clevelanders though, we all know it exists, but we don't talk about it, maybe it will go away.

On that same note, you may have heard about some troubles we had with a certain member of the Cleveland Cavaliers leaving for sunny South Beach. The only thing I have to say about that is what most Clevelanders will say, it isn't so much as he left, as the manner in which he did so. Mention his name very carefully, as you will get a chorus of boos and grumbles, whether you are in a sports bar or a business meeting. No one likes a quitter.

There are a few other important things to know about Cleveland that I would like to share with you.

1.  We love Bernie Kosar. He hasn't worn a Browns uniform since 1993, but there are pets all over the city of Cleveland named in his honor. My cat included. Bernie Kosar and Jim Brown, as kooky as he may be, are the closest we have to football icons in the city. Did I mention we love Bernie Kosar? Because seriously, we do.

2.  Always watch the weather with Dick Goddard. The man has a weather phone to the heavens. His name is also associated with rescuing animals and woolly bear caterpillars, so go with it.

3.  Drew Carey is a favorite son. Take a picture with him and people will go crazy. He was much funnier in his show than on the Price is Right. But we will never begrudge his success. We are also insanely proud of Michael Symon. Watch the spirit he has when he talks about some favorite treat from Cleveland on one of his many Food Network appearances. We all feel that way and get giddy when we see him talk like one of us.

4. We hold grudges. Best to not mention any previous Browns owners. And I really can't emphasis enough how much fans dislike that guy that took his talents to South Beach. Not proud of this one, but it is true. Love hard, lose hard.

5. Cleveland is the rock and roll capital of the world. We will tell everyone that will listen. We also wear our pride for the rock hall and all things Cleveland on our t-shirts. From the CLE Clothing Company to GV Artwork and Design to the Fresh Brewed Tees boys, we proudly support our city through our love of tshirts and rock and roll.  

6. Bob Feller was an Indians icon. His statue is in front of the Jake. The Jacobs sold and the rights and it is now Progressive Field. People still call it the Jake, so I don't know how effective of a purchase it was for Progressive.

7.  The only way to eat a hot dog is with stadium mustard. Either Bertmans or the stand by, Stadium Mustard will work, but if you like yellow mustard on a hot dog, only do so in private. Trust me, you don't want to be answering questions about mustard for the next year.

8.  All of our sports fails were given names.  The Drive. The Fumble. The Shot. The Decision. Never give any play or game a name. It never turns out well.

9.  Whether you are at a backyard picnic or a major sporting event and Hang On Sloopy comes on you must yell, " O  H  I  O" while making the letters YMCA style. It is similar to "Rocky Top" for UT games. If you want to win points with the fans and to have everyone collectively lose their marbles, I suggest trying it. Not only is it fun, but it may wipe away some of the bad karma from that team to the east.

10.  We take our teams so seriously, because for many, it is a part of us. I remember begging my parents for a Cleveland Browns Kardiac Kid t shirt with my elementary school's name on the back. I can't tell you the advance on my allowance that took. I remember crying when Ernest Byner dropped that ball. So do many other people. People plan their weddings and family events around Browns games. Just something to keep in mind.

Mr. Haslam, I look forward to running into you at Heinen's or maybe at a Browns game. I will be the one in a Phil Dawson jersey. Maybe if you have time, I can treat you to lunch to say on the behalf of Clevelanders near and far,  thank you and once again, welcome to Cleveland.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Browns Are Pushing Me

1964. Browns QB mobbed after beating the Colts 27-0. Plain Dealer Files.
Yesterday, the sports talk world and social media was ablaze with rumors of TJ Ward missing practice. The rumor on the radio was very mysterious, the announcer sharing that he was ok but was unexcused from missing practice. Then, the Browns claimed that the rumor was false and he was at practice. Then, it was rumored he had to call someone to pick him up and he missed the majority of practice and showed up for the tail end. Then, he went on twitter to share a picture of his honey on his lap. Then, the Browns denied, denied, denied.

Then I heard a sharp, loud crack and my patience  splattered like a giant pumpkin chucked off a bridge onto the pavement below.

 The internet became divided, pleading for patience as the  about Ward's show or no show sneak out. My response was a quick NO. This Ward thing wouldn't have even started if there was nothing to it. And with the Browns playing the semantics game, clearly shenanigans were in place.

And that friends, is part of the problem. There is no accountability with this team. No one cares. The agenda for the day is to have a good time and collect a pay check.

Am I wrong?

Joe Haden goes off to Vegas and takes some high schooler's ADD medicine so he can party a little longer in Vegas. But, but, he made a mistake the apologists whine. Guess what? I DO NOT CARE.

Greg Little spending more time on his post catch moves that he ignores the fact that he needs to CATCH the ball. But, but, the pass was off. It was Weeden's fault his fans moaned. To which I say, I DO NOT CARE. Catch the friggin ball and I might care.

TJ Ward partying it up and wandering in late, if at all. But, but, he has a cast on the fans whimpered. Again, I DO NOT CARE. If he can lift a glass he can lift a page of the play book.

 I could go on and on, but I won't. I'm, starting to feel the vein in my forehead pop out. There is no leader on this team. Shurmur has no control and no respect of the players. Holmgren, is he even still in Cleveland?

If the team is winning, they can chug Cristal out of diamond encrusted red solo cups for all I care. But these guys aren't winning. There is no frustration on the part of the players, except maybe Phil Dawson when he is trotted out to make a 60 yard kick.

I'm sick and tired of being the laughing stock of the NFL. So, today, on the last game of the Learner legacy, how about we do something whacky and win a game?