Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Terminal Tower Tour

From my seat at a recent Tribe game. Terminal Tower in the corner.

When it was built in 1930, Cleveland's Terminal Tower was the fourth largest building in the world. The city has had significant changes since then, but the one thing that has remained constant is this integral focal point in Cleveland's skyline.

The Observation Deck of Terminal Tower has been closed off and on to the public. It was closed off to the public in 1976 when a gunman stormed a conference room. Yikes. It was later re-opened, only to be closed again after 9/11.

It has been open on weekends for a couple of years now, and I finally made it up to the 42nd floor.

The color splash is the Sherwin-Williams bball court.

On a clear day, you can see 30 miles around the city from the Observation Deck. You can get tickets two ways - you can either go online here or you can buy them day of. If you get them the day of, you save yourself the processing fee, but you have to go on what feels like a snipe hunt trying to get your admission ticket. You can buy your ticket from the Tower City Information Desk, and then go back to security to go up the tower.

The views are, of course, spectacular.  I was surprised that there wasn't more of a wait for the elevators, and I was also surprised by the amount of spiders.

OMG THE SPIDERS!


Ok, the spiders are not *inside* but they are outside some of the windows and they were HUGE and had icky webs. I couldn't help but wonder how many generations of spiders it took to get to the top

*shudders*

The Lake. The Browns Stadium. A beautiful day.
For five bucks, it was a totally Cleveland way to spend about an hour from start to finish. On the deck, there are a few historical things to look at and there are volunteers selling Cleveland books.

Before you cough up your hard earned coin at the Casino, take some time to check out the city from a new view.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I'm Still Angry At Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong trolling everyone with his jerseys.
Yesterday, I was enjoying a perfect Cleveland day. I stopped in Tremont for a tasty breakfast, took a tour of our city's treasure, Terminal Tower, and then stopped off at The Harp for an adult beverage on the patio looking out over the lake.

The only way the day could have been more Cleveland is if I had a pierogi dinner while watching the Browns.

I was as content as I could be. Well, until I saw one of those familiar yellow rubber bands on the arm of a young man. Years ago, those dollar bands were going for five bucks on eBay. Nike and Armstrong hit a gold mine...and a nerve. I don't know of anyone that doesn't want cancer eradicated. I'll bet even Lefoolio hates cancer. Livestrong bands are no longer a fashion statement. These bright yellow bands are worn by those with cancer, fighting cancer or people supporting their loved ones.

The young man not only had a wristband, but he had the bright yellow case for his phone.

That is when I started to get angry.

I have this shirt. I now only have good days and great days.
Armstrong and his Foundation with the help of Nike has done amazing work. As long as Armstrong kept fighting, the money kept flowing in. And then he had to talk to Oprah.

I am not sure how it is possible, but after explaining his case to Oprah, how he was a cheater and liar, he came off even more unlikeable. His plan of throwing himself on the mercy of public opinion backfired. Armstrong tried to convince everyone he was a changed man and he had to tell the world because of what the lies were doing to him and his soul.

I truly wish he would have died with the lies. Yes, I know, he ruined lives. That is not lost on me. He could have easily with his power and wealth set the karmic scales back in balance. It would have taken work, but he could have privately atoned for his sins on others.

The problem is, once he admitted his wrongs, people had to back away. Nike stopped supporting the foundation. His yellow gear went from the front of the store to the sale racks. After the 2013 holiday season, it will be gone. Armstrong's relationship with Nike brought in over $500 million. That is HALF A BILLION dollars.

It may sound harsh, but if he spent the last of his days struggling with the last remnants of his soul being consumed by his lies, that is fine by me. He gave (and I'm sure still does) millions of people fighting cancer hope. His offering of hope was accompanied with a shower of corporate cash. That was all taken away because he felt bad.  He wanted to feel better about himself so he said, "sorry" and moved on.

Wah.

I hope he feels better in his mansion, knowing that he has taken away so much from people.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Orange is the New Black - Worth the Price of Netflix


Cast of the Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black.
Every season, there are new television programs that are called critically acclaimed. These shows are tagged with lines like "Must See!" and my personal favorite, "The best program you aren't watching!" Whenever I hear a critic say that, I immediately think of it being a snoozefest and flick on Big Bang Theory.

Orange is the New Black was different.

It came out in July and I don't recall seeing anything about it. I heard about it on social media and from friends. When a friend tells me something is a must see, I will give it a look. It is also different because it is a Netflix original series, that they release by the season.

Orange is the New Black, is based on the best-selling novel of the same name, by Piper Kerman. The novel chronicles her time spent in a minimum women's prison. Kerman was sentenced for transporting drug money.

After hooking up Netflix through my Wii, I settled in and binge watched the entire series in a day and a half. A day and a half. The program is *that* good.

Here is a description of the series from Deadline.com:
Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, the 13-episode series stars Taylor Schilling as engaged Brooklynite Piper Chapman whose seemingly perfect life is turned upside down when she must serve time in a federal women’s prison, Jason Biggs as her well-meaning but long-suffering fiancĂ© and Laura Prepon as her drug runner ex-girlfriend. The series’ ensemble also includes Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne, Pablo Schreiber, Michelle Hurst, Danielle Brooks, Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox and Taryn Manning.
The show is fantastic.

I will go so far as to call it brilliant. The only other programs I would put in that category would be The Sopranos, Fringe, X-Files and the early days of ER. The story telling is compelling in a thoughtful, dramady (that would be drama/comedy) fashion. As the series progresses, the viewer is taken into the world of each character, building on their background story. In the first season, you see *most* of the end stories for the characters - how they landed in prison (I personally am waiting to see Kate Mulgrew's tale).  Each episode you are hoping for a little more, and a little more.

Netflix has done something amazing here. This program, is based on well written stories, led by a predominantly female cast of little knowns. Sure, some of the women have had great success, but when was the last time you saw Captain Janeway in anything quality?

There aren't enough positive words I can throw at you to get you to watch. I suggest signing up for the free trial of Netflix and give it a watch.

You won't be disappointed.

If you have made it through the whole series, please join me in nodding at the picture below:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Patrick Swayze Has a Question For Jeff Fisher

Mr. Patrick Swayze in Road House.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, is upset with Cleveland's hero, Bernie Kosar.

The quick like a bunny version is during the Browns v. Rams playoff preseason opener, Bernie was highly critical of the Rams players, even going as far to say that he "can't stand to watch" their quarterback play.

The Browns won that game, 27-19.

When I read all of the anguish that was vomiting over the social media world, one man came to mind.

Mr. Patrick Swayze.

In the 1989 classic, Road House (nsfw clip with a little naughty language), Mr. Swayze plays a philisophical cooler (bouncer), taking a new gig to clean up the blood bath known as the Double Deuce.  There is a scene in which Mr. Swayze is giving the staff new rules to live by - number 3 is "Be nice." A smart mouthed fool asks "What if" someone calls his momma a "whore"? Mr. Swayze's questions back, "Is she?"

That is how I feel about Jeff Fisher.

Bernie, the *Browns* color commentator, made comments about a playoff preseason game. A game that the Rams LOST. Clearly the Rams players were not getting the job done and have vast room for improvement.

Could Bernie have been more tactful as to not hurt the delicate flower feelings of the multi-million dollar athletes? Sure.

BUT WHY?

I expect the Cleveland commentators to have a Cleveland edge to their broadcast. I want Bernie to point out the flaws in the other team. This may be shocking, but I was never an NFL quarterback. So, I will freely take the analysis of one of Cleveland's best in breaking down a game.

Respectfully to Coach Fisher, if his team played well, there wouldn't be anything for Bernie to say that would make him so sad. Maybe if he focused his energies on the Rams, this won't happen again and he can save the little feelings of his star players.

Bernie Kosar and Dan Marino.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pierogi Book Club - Sum It Up

Jake Gyllenhall reading. And yes, he was.
I determine what to read next based on recommendations of friends or interesting snippets online. For this latest book, I was looking for something smart, uplifting and maybe a little sporty. Most people came back with Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.  It is still on my list, but I can't tell you how glad I am that I went with Pat Summitt's Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses and a Life in Perspective instead. 

If you have never heard of Pat Summitt, she is the Coach Emeritus of the University of Tennessee's Women's Basketball program. She is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history - winning more games than any other men's or women's coach. In 38 years, she never had a losing season.

38 years.

I wish she coached football. 

Her accolades could take a dozen blog posts to dissect. That was reason enough to read her book. But I had more personal reasons to read it.

In the mid-90s I worked at East Tennessee State University and got my first taste of living in the South. Let me tell you something, unless you lived in the South during college football season, you have no idea what you are missing. College sports are a religion down there. They make our tailgating efforts up North look like little kids making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the back yard. During that time, a guy played for UT that you might have heard of - one Mr. Peyton Manning was their quarterback.  Rocky Top was constantly on the radio.  And my secretary, bless her heart, was horrified when I mentioned I had never heard of Pat Summitt.

She sat my Yankee butt down and told me stories of Summitt's icy stare that would scare the scent of losing out of the gym. She told me how Summitt went on a recruiting trip while very pregnant, and her water broke while she was still in Virginia. Summitt swore that no child of hers would ever be born in Virginia and she chartered a helicopter to make it across state lines. That wasn't *exactly* correct (Summitt's water broke while on a recruiting trip, which she went through with, and she was in the UT private plane, not a commando operation), but you could imagine my wonder how a woman like this could exist while not wearing a cape.

In 2011, Summitt announced that she had early onset Alzheimer's and took a step down from full-time coaching of the team program that she built. I wanted to see how the toughest bird on the planet handled such a diagnosis. I remember watching the news unfold on TV and trying to grasp how Summitt would handle it.

Summitt grew up in a time that girls didn't play real basketball. Girls teams played half court if they were lucky. There were no uniforms. There was no Title IX.  Even though she came from an incredibly humble background, her dad, a tough man that showed little emotion, moved the family so she could go to a high school that had a girls team.

While Pat Summitt was one of the best high school players in the nation, she was so shy in her first days at UT, that when she introduced herself as Patricia and everyone called her Pat, she never corrected them. Her preference was Tricia.

The key to making Sum It Up enjoyable was all of the quotes from family and Lady Vols, giving more background and adding to Summitt's stories. Her   honest recollections of sideline talks (or yells) offered a glimpse into a growing leader. She acknowledges that she had to change her coaching style if she wanted to keep anyone on her team. She was all tough no love morphing into tough and a little love.

One of the quotes from past player Becky Clark, who is now deaf, is that she can still hear Pat in her head, "Anticipate."  Summitt made sure that 100% of her players graduated.  She lead one of the mightiest programs in the country with dignity and class.

It was heart wrenching and I may or may not have sniffled a little, to read the first page of each chapter. Summitt's co-author, Sally Jenkins asks Pat questions and chronicles her feelings pre/post Alzheimer's diagnosis. By the end of the book, you can see the disease starting to take hold, Summitt needing little prompts to recall a game or player.

One thing is for sure, if there is anyone out there that can give this disease a run, it is Pat Summitt.

If you are a fan of sports, know someone wrestling with Alzheimer's or if you just want to read a book to learn about one of the most no excuses people on the planet, check out Sum It Up.  

Yoinked from the UT website. Summitt and a few trophies.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Photo Fun - View From a Ship

Grady Sizemore taking a selfie. Ahem.
I love when I find something new in Cleveland. Especially when that something new helps me love my city all the more.

I'm going to say I am like most Clevelanders and I tend to take my surroundings for granted. That is what I have done for years with the William G. Mather Steamship museum that is a part of the Great Lakes Science Center. Each time I saw what I called the 'Cliffs Ship" I was completely clueless what it was.

*hangs my head in shame*

View from the William G. Mather Steamship.







You can explore this steamship built in 1925, from the crews quarters and cargo holds to the deck with amazing views like the one above.

The tour was completely worth it for 8 bucks, if just for the views. I didn't spend a lot of time going through the exhibit, because really, I just wanted to get on the deck.

View from the other end of the ship facing the great Lake Erie.
I forget how beautiful Lake Erie can be.

This was a great reminder.