Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cooperstown, NY

Stacey and I traveled to upstate NY to hang out with her brother (who lives in Potsdam, NY) and the rest of her family who flew in from California. Potsdam is a 4 hour drive from Albany and we had two minivans to take the group of 10. Since Cooperstown is only about an hour and a half from Albany, and "kind of" on the way, I did my best to sway the minimum number of people to go with me so I could indulge in what may be a once in a lifetime side-trip.

Due to a late start we didn't arrive in the quaint village of Cooperstown until almost 3pm. This left me about 2 hours to look around, which to be honest was about 2 hours to few.

In the time I was there I was able suck in just about everything I wanted to. It all starts with some information about Cooperstown itself which was great since I had always wondered why the National Baseball Hall of Fame was in such a remote area of NY. It turns out the explanation was simple, it's the birthplace of baseball! One of the first things you read about in the museum is about the origin of baseball and how after a 3 year investigation by the "Mills Commission", a group organized by the founder of Spalding sports during the turn of the 20th century, they found Abner Doubleday (1819–1893; Major General of the U.S. Army and Civil War hero) to be the founder of baseball in Cooperstown, NY. Apparently this is still debated to some extent but if it's good enough for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it's good enough for this guy.

There's way too much for me to mention about the details in the museum, I guess that's what going to the museum is for, right? Here are a couple highlights, oddly enough these first three pics were taken at the Ted Williams exhibit which I found to be one of the more intriguing parts of the museum.

Me, Hanne, and Ted: No explanation necessary.

Being a man of a science and engineering this was by far the most intriguing thing that I saw at the museum. Ted Williams was a hitter and at one point he got so into the science of hitting that he made this matrix of 77 baseballs. The matrix is the approximate size of the strike zone and on each individual ball he assigned a batting average and a color. This was based on the batting average that he thought he would be able to achieve if each pitch were thrown in a specific part of his strike zone. For example, if each pitch were thrown high and in the middle he could have a .400 BA, if each pitch were low and outside his average would be a mere .230. Pretty rad stuff if you ask me.

Here is a picture of what Cleveland would do whenever Ted Williams would come up to bat. We see this sometimes in modern baseball too but I think this is one of the earliest occurrences. There was a quote nearby, I think it might have be by Stan Musial but I'm not sure, that basically says- I don't know why he doesn't just have the sense to knock one into left field when they pull that crap. I guess if he could have perhaps he would but I thought it was all interesting just the same.

A bit more recent history... If you are a fan of ESPN's Sunday night games like I am you'll recognize Joe Morgan. Hall of Famer and co commentator with John Miller and they make one hell of a good team together. I'd listen to anything they'd call, they could possibly even get me to watch or listen to a basketball game, who knows.

When I was in Jr. High I just couldn't get enough of the Oakland A's. McGuire and Conseco were just the ultimate for me. In fact, I still have my "Bash Brothers" poster! So, this little corner pays homage to the entire A's team of that era. Conseco and McGuire were joined by Dennis Eckersly, and Ricky Henderson- just to name a couple. Good Stuff!

A really blurry picture of Curt Schilling's bloody sock, you all know the story ;)

That about wraps it up. If you every get the chance you should not pass by an opportunity to head out to Cooperstown and take in some nostalgia...I'd go again in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Orange County Choppers

I've been following the American Chopper series on Discovery Channel for several years now. Of course what I am drawn most to is the fabrication. I always loved seeing the bikes go from the start with the first client interview, through fabrication and paint, all the way to the finish assembly. The coolest part about it was seeing them work from the ground up, everything was made from scratch.

Well, here we are years later and we find OCC in their new who-knows-how-many-square-foot facility, with stardom and endless supply of production workers. There's no question they have built quite a business for themselves. I am sure it's equal parts serendipity and skill that has got them there but I believe they have paid the ultimate price for it.

I have a few peeves that I'd like to shake down.

1. Let just get this out of the way. Jason Poole is the designer of the bikes, he can't be more than 25 but he acts like a retarded teenager. It's beyond me how they've kept him around as long as they have because he's about as annoying as they come. To make matters worse he's been getting a LOT more camera time lately and they've also been letting him into the shop to help fabricate. Jason is ruining the show, he's way too goofy for as much camera time as they give him and it's time for it to stop. He's enough to make me stop watching the show by himself.

2. The show has become much more about a sales pitch than about building bikes. Whether it's a pitch on OCC or on the companies they build bike for, it's still just a pitch.

3. Fabrication is now out the window. Since both Pauls are now so busy maintaining their egos and stardom they have all but stopped doing any actual CUSTOM work on these projects. They used to begin with making the frame, they now start with a pre made frame that's not even being produced in house, one that's made by rolling thunder. They used to make their own tanks, now they grab one off the shelf. This same pattern follows for just about everything on the bike these days. from the engine right down to the headlight.

I stopped recording the series last year sometime when this all started getting too me a bit too much. Sunday, for the first time in a year I decided to watch an episode... Much to my dismay this episode focuses on my least favorite personality, Jason, and to make matters worse what little custom fabrication actually gets done is executed by Paul Sr., Jason Poole, and Jim Quinn. After watching the circus act for a little while they finally roll out the finished product. This one happened to be for Sikorsky Helicopters and to be frank they got ripped off. They got a "custom" bike built by the "B" team over at OCC. Truth be known it was really a production bike with a custom primary cover, air cleaner, and wheels. They basically got a Harley Sportster with custom paint. It's pathetic.

These guys don't deserve to be watched if it's the best they can do...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Domino's Oven Baked Sandwiches

I declare that they are "friggin' good" just as the commercials say.

Stacey and I gave them a shot on Tuesday and ordered one Italian and one Chicken Parm. We ended up splitting them in half and each taking half of each kind so we could try em both. They exceeded my expectations, so much in fact that we did a repeat tonight...Same flavors and everything.

I encourage everyone to try one....

Friday, January 16, 2009

The good life...

I have been thinking a lot about how much my friends really mean to me. We all have those people in our lives that we are close to but don't often see or talk to. I am no exception. One of my best friends of all time is John Tanner, he and I studied together for a summer in Jerusalem in '96 when he was fresh home from his mission and I hadn't left for mine.

John and I chat from time to time but I'll bet it's been going on 18 months since I've seen him face to face or talked to him on the phone. He's busy and I'm busy and it's not that we don't care enough about each other to call once in a while, it just doesn't happen that often. Yet when we do see each other it's as if we hadn't gone a day without chatting. I appreciate friendships like this, not that I don't want to see or talk to him more often, it's just that I appreciate the fact that there's no awkward "catching up" to do even if it's been years.

Cheers to good friends who contribute to my already blessed and high quality of life. And to John- who I know will never read this, I love you pal, my life is better with you in it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Black and White Night

Well it's been over a year now since I blogged about the Horse Woman. She still haunts our pasts but we need to move on.

I recently bought Roy Orbison and Friends "Black and White Night" on Bluray Disc. I have seen parts of this before on a PBS fundraiser but never the entire thing. I woke up last Sunday morning a little earlier than usual and decided to break it out.

It was filmed in LA for either a Cinemax or HBO Special, there's conflicting info on that online. What makes it cool is the all star cast of people who are on stage with him. He was backed by The TCB Band who backed Elvis from '69 til '77 when Elvis died. Among the TCB band is James Burton, the lead guitarist- I'll come back to him later.

Other solid stage presences included JD Souther, who co-wrote many of the most popular eagles songs, Tom Waits, who is as strange as they come but a great musician in his own right, Elvis Costello, and Bruce Springsteen, who had apparently been an Orbison fan for a long time. There was also Jackson Browne, Bonnie Riatt, and KD Lang. There were also some all stars in the audience including Billy Idol, who is also a big Orbison fan.

The setting is intimate, tables and chairs with white tablecloths and people enjoying drinks during the show. It looked like a genuinely good time. This was shot in '88 IIRC and all in black and white which adds a nice grainy touch to it all.

My favorite part was the interaction between James Burton, Roy Orbison, and Bruce Springsteen. It was an excellent show to say the least. Bruce would come share the mic and sing with Roy with an obvious cohesion of energy. James Burton would trade solos with Roy and Bruce and they were all VERY well done. During the song Pretty Woman, Bruce Springsteen and James Burton have a guitar solo dual that's fun to watch. It's obvious that James Burton has more chops than The Boss but it's still fun to watch.

I can't say enough about James Burton. Before I watched this movie I wouldn't have known him from adam. He had such command of the guitar, he was playing a Telecaster which is a classic for country and rockabilly and he had added a great country sound to the mix, he contributed a ton. Apparently he started playing semi professionally by the time he was 13 and has been working as a studio musician, on touring musician, and producer. He Played with John Denver for many years and he also toured with Elvis Costello on and off for about a Decade.

If you haven't seen this movie, it behooves you to check it out!

Here are some pics, the first one is
James Burton, Elvis Costello, and Bruce Springsteen. Number 2 is
James Burton, Number 3 is The Man himself, RIP Roy...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

How Would Our Lives be Different Without the Horse Woman??

My boy Dave, or the "ConDogger" as I like to call him, mentioned some Top Gun references in his blog recently. Of course much of what he said is a direct result of our spending a lot of time together and having all sorts of endless conversations about what most would consider a pointless and complete waste of time. No doubt there is also the handful of people who understand our obsession with the sometimes unvisited corners of pop-culture though even that small handful may still find topics like "November 5th" a little off the wall.

I am comfortable saying I have watched Top Gun over a hundred times, I don't think that is unreasonable. Having said that, there are times that I watch it and just kinda zone out and there are times that I pay very close attention hence the Nov 5th crap. So, today, on my fancy in-car dvd player I threw it in just for fun. What did I walk away with this time?...certainly nothing that hasn't crossed my mind before. The Horse Woman.

I have always found Kelley McGillis objectionable. I am sure that in person she is very nice and has some very redeeming qualities, but I think Mr. Ed has more sex appeal and a slightly shorter face. My issues are not with her as a person only with her being cast as the leading lady of Top Gun when there were clearly better choices. There could have been any number of reasons for her being in the movie, maybe since it's such a "dude-centric" film they couldn't afford to have a hot woman taking away from all of the gay innuendos and sweaty beach volleyball scenes ("woah-oh, pl-ay-in with the boys"), . On the other hand, had they cast someone who was truly hot for the role guys everywhere would still be talking about her, like the young Carrie Fisher in Jedi. She may not be much to speak of now but I'm still wiping my drool off the floor of Jabbas lair.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

I Heart My Baby Goats

Many things I like, some things I love but my goats really have a special place in my heart. They have such cute personalities, always running around the yard, having adventures where they go have a taste test of everything they can find, and finding anything they can to climb on.

So, here is a quick tribute to our twin sister goats who will be a year old in april. Such nice goats! BTW, I was really dirty from working all day when these pics were taken. Just so ya know, it wasn't the goats that got me dirty. I pick them up in my Church clothes all the time.

Here's to Chewy and Gabby!