Saturday, August 23, 2008

Grammar. Slammer.

I can relate to these grammar vigilantes, but I don't think I'd go quite that far. What drives people to such lengths? Maybe this.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The rest of the days – a hurried wrap-up

It’s been a crazy time for the Crustodio Camp (more to come on that), and I apologize for leaving the rest of my Ohio trip to your imagination. Then again, if you’ve been imagining my trip to Ohio, you probably should take up a hobby. May I suggest curling, collecting bunny chotske or possibly stalking a stranger?

The rest of the trip was lovely, thank you for asking. The remaining highlights:

Day Three – My brother takes me back to the in-laws’ home. A perfect lazy day, including lunch at Doogan’s “Home of the Slider Bucket” – thanks, pop-in-law! Neither I nor Crustodio Jr. dared the bucket and fared well on regular burgers. Lots of laughs with the family too. We even ended up at Doogan’s again in the evening. My just-turned-21 nephew works there, so he was bombarded by one uncle, two aunts and his mother as we took over a table in the bar and had our fair share of cocktails. Aunt Denise was thrilled to see it was the first night of state-wide Keno, and walked out $50 richer, thanks to her admitted addiction to gambling. The trivia question that haunted our table for the evening – “what band recorded the song Hold Your Head Up?” Big brother came through with a text message to put our minds at ease. On a side note, every time we go to Ohio we hold a Bob Seger Count, meaning we see how long it will be until we hear a Bob Seger song. He must be losing his touch, as we didn’t hear his golden voice until this evening. A new record, to be sure. Thankfully, Turn the Page came on and kept our provincial view of our home state intact.

Day Four – A seriously lazy day. If I’m not mistaken, we left the house twice – once for a trip to the local custard stand and again to see the new Batman movie. Both ventures were muy delicious.

Day Five – A huge golf outing with my brother at his club. I met a former NBA star, played in a group with a golf pro and had a freaking blast. Of course, breakfast, drinks, dinner and more were included. I am truly spoiled. The weird part – having a “running caddy.” They don’t carry your bags, but help spot balls, give you distances to the pin and help you read the greens. One caddy for our foursome. Again, spoilt like a nasty child.

Day Six – Another day of golf with my brother. Just the two of us merrily strolling through 18 holes of pure beauty. I could spend just about every day like that. Yeah, I know, so could about 27 million other guys. We followed it up with shopping (How cute! Brothers that shop together!) then, heading home. The real bonus of the day came when we got back to the house where free tickets to the Browns preseason game were waiting for us, courtesy of a super-cool neighbor. After dinner with the brother’s family, my family, my Dad and stepmom, we headed for downtown Cleveland (We'd all like to flee to The Cleve!) and the stadium. After a serious rain delay (which we avoided almost entirely by heading out late), the action started with Brady Quinn at the helm. I tell you – he is the man. Sorry Derek. I know you made the pro bowl and all, but the kid from Notre Dame is our future. We left early to beat the crowds and finished up at a bar by my brother’s house. Stellar freakin’ day.

Day Seven – Another easygoing day at the in-laws. We fit in Pineapple Express before we headed to sister and brother-in-laws for a fire pit beer gathering. Very very very nice.

Day Eight – We head home, sad to leave our families behind, but thrilled to be back in the Crustodio Compound.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'll Take Manhattan

Another great Primer from the Onion AV Club on another of my all-time faves, Woody Allen. On the last page they sum up with the 5 essential films: Annie Hall, Purple Rose of Cairo, Hannah and her Sisters, Bananas and Husbands and Wives. All great, but I would lose one of the last two to make room for Manhattan, my absolute favorite of his films, and in my top 10 of all time. The final scene when he rushes back to Mariel Hemmingway is so beautifully written and played. The wistful little smile on his face after she says "Not everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people." is priceless. Cue Rhapsody in Blue!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day Two: I am in the company of millionaires

An early rising leads to a beautifully quiet morning in my brother’s home. Coffee, paper and smokes out on his front porch. If there was ever a constant in my Ohio travels, this has become one. His neighborhood is lovely, if not a little Pleasant-Valley-Sunday-ish. I feel right at home.

The adventure is to start shortly. As many of you know – and to both the amusement and scorn of Pete – I am a huge golf nut. I play for shit, but LOVE it. Watch it on TV. Read magazines and books about it. I would officially go gay for Tiger. Have I made my point?

So, after a light breakfast and a change of clothes, we are off to Akron and the Firestone Country Club, host of the Bridgestone Invitational, with two other friends, including the golf pro from my brother’s club.

Holy hell, this is heaven. A gorgeous day. Pristine fairways. The best greens I have ever seen in my life. A hospitality suite by the 18th green with an open bar and scads of food. And the TOP FIFTY (plus qualifiers) PLAYERS IN THE WORLD*.

First thing, we wander to a tee box and promptly watch Colin Montgomerie hit one out about a million miles. Couldn’t see where it went, but he sure looked grumpy as hell. Seeing as he was about eleventy-pi over par at this point, I don’t blame him. Still, this dude is like the all-time Ryder Cup American killer. So he’s got game. Just not this weekend. Weird detail: his caddy was super-young. That surprised me.

We make it to the hospitality suite. Sat out in the really really no seriously really fucking hot sun and viewed the first few groups as they walked up the 18th fairway. Weird detail: The camera does put on a lot of weight. No lie there. Most of the dudes are seriously in shape and the guys that look pudgy on TV look ripped in person.

Later we cruise to an excellent spot by the green of the signature par-4 3rd hole (see photo above). Watching these guys hit over the water to that tiny green was both inspiring and depressing. It must be said and acknowledged: I will never play like that. Ever. Saw all the big boys*, including Vijay, Trevor, Phil, Stuart and Padraig.

Finally we make it back to the 18th for more food and beer. Feeling inspired, we leave early, hoping to get some golf in ourselves. Listen to Vijay win it on the radio on the way home.

After drop offs, brother and I hit the course for “just a few holes”. Of course, I think we ended up playing 11 or 12. Game is looking bad, but some good shots arrived in time for me not to quit the game.

We have dinner at the club, keeping me spoiled rotten. Life is good.

Next: Home of the sliders & keno

*No Tiger. The only bad detail.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The trip, part One

It’s been a serious whirlwind. One of the few vacations that seemed longer than it actually was. Not because I didn’t love it. I did.

I’ll admit it, I wasn’t really in the mood for Ohio in August. When you live across the country from your hometown and families, it kinda sucks “wasting” vacation time travelling there, instead of, say, someplace with beaches or palm trees or different languages.

As always though, truth called bullshit on me and I had a great time. In fact, some serious firsts – and a ton of fun.

Day 1 – Saturday: Arrived in the morning, picked up the rental car, a Nissan Xterra. I know. I know. I know! Sorry, love driving an SUV when I’m on unfamiliar roads. Plenty of room for bags and one can actually see where one is going. Headed to the in-laws house in my wife's hometown. Hugs and power nap followed.

Proceeded to my hometown to meet up with dad, brother, sister-in-law, sister, brother-in-law, nieces, dad and step mother for a great dinner, then a “concert” on the village green. Lots of evil classic rock and a barrel of laughs. Bro and I snuck off to the local tavern for a beer, more laughs, and a much-needed pee.

Ended the evening at my brother’s club (he lives in a killer Nicklaus golf community) at the end of a huge dinner. Many drinks and we had a lot of fun marveling at a lifestyle that is so different from ours. Added bonus: both my boy and I (he’s 16) enjoyed our evening sojourn to MILF Island. Turns out that money brings a lot of babes. Who knew?

As the night finally wound down, I stayed at my bro’s, and wife and boy cruised back to the in-laws.

Next: A happy trip to rubber city

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Top 30

I've resisted doing this for years, but here it is. My top 30 favorite rock acts. See next week for my top 30 hip hop artists.

The Beatles
Cheap Trick
The Kinks
Tom Petty
Robyn Hitchcock
Pink Floyd
The Beach Boys
The Rolling Stones
Big Star
The Byrds
Bob Dylan
The Who
The Monkees
The Velvet Underground
Neil Young
The Clash
Elvis Costello
Electric Light Orchestra
Jonathan Richman
Elliott Smith
Liz Phair
Guided By Voices
Yo La Tengo
The Replacements
Bruce Springsteen

Interesting, now that I lay it out. You have the seminal 60's artists: Beatles, Kinks, Beach Boys, Stones, Dylan, Byrds, Who, VU and Neil Young. And The Monkees, my first love.

Then the cult 70's power-poppers: Big Star, Cheap Trick, Electric Light Orchestra, XTC

The mainstream heavy-hitters: Pink Floyd, Queen, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen

The palatable punks: The Clash, Elvis Costello

The college rock mainstays: R.E.M., Robyn Hitchcock, The Replacements

The 90's alternatives: Elliott Smith, Liz Phair, Nirvana, Guided By Voices, Yo La Tengo, Wilco

And then whatever Jonathan Richman is, God bless 'im.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame Yankee Foxtrot

A somewhat surreal appearance by Jeff Tweedy and Wilco at a recent Cubs game. I guess after headlining Lollapalooza, the next step is stadiums....

While we're on the subject of music and baseball, our buddy Marty (also known as the drummer for Los Estimlantes) is on a somewhat quixotic road trip: 10 Games in 10 Days.

Thanks to PopCandy for the video.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Men & Aging

Nice piece on aging by Generation X author Douglas Coupland:

"I have this theory about men and aging. We have two ages: the age we really are, and the age we are in our heads. Most men are almost always about 31 or 32 in their heads — just ask them. Even Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons” is 31 in his head. One of the most universal adult male experiences is of standing before a mirror and saying, "I'm sorry, but there's been a horrible mistake. You see, that's not really me in the mirror there. The real me is tanned, throws Frisbees, and kayaks the Columbia River estuary without cracking a sweat."

Hipster alert!

Hey Pabst lovers, there will soon by a new old beer to ironically embrace - because Schlitz is back!

For some reason, I have warm memories of drinking Schlitz, but according to the timeline it would have been during the decline and fall of the Foamin' Empire. Maybe it's that vintage Schlitz poster I've had forever, with the suburban 60's dad drinking a brew and flying a kite with his tow-headed son, that gives me the warm and fuzzies. Ah, kite flying - is there a more iconic image of parent-child funtime? I remember going to fly kites with my dad. The kite was actually shaped like a blimp and he kept muttering about the Hindenburg, but it was still a good time.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Goodbye, Chester

I was very sad to learn that Chester Yeom passed away last night. He used to own the convenience store by my old house in Westmoreland. He was a friendly and positive guy and he always greeted me by name whenever I stopped in. We used to say, "Hey, I'm walking down Chester's. Need anything?" It wasn't like going to the typical ratty bodega. He really felt like part of the neighborhood. He took polaroids of all his customers and hung them on the walls.

A year and a half ago he filled in for a friend at another convenience store on Belmont and was shot during an armed robbery and was paralyzed from the neck down. It was a real tragedy. It's always tough when one of the good ones go...