Sunday, July 26, 2009

Crazy Lady

3am is early. No matter what time you fall asleep 3am is never a good time to wake up. 3am is not my favorite time to wake up. Last night was NO exception.

Being as pregnant as wifey is; it is impossible to sleep through the night without having to pee at least once, maybe more. 3am is when wifey had that call to go, so up she went. Rarely do I even stir when she rolls herself to her feet to waddle her way to the bathroom. When she woke me up, a million things are running through my head. Especially while she is leaning out of the bathroom yelling at me to wake up. The suprarenal gland kicked on and I could feel the adrenaline surging through my veins. I ask what's wrong.

She hears a noise.

A noise. What kind of noise?

Just then it started back up.

For those who don't know the layout of my condo, I am the meat of the condo sandwich. I have a 2 story condo and all of my walls upstairs are accessable from the roof of my neighbors' ranch style condos.

The noise was coming from the wife's closet. It sounded like someone was sawing their way into my home. An eerie thought at 3am when you're tired and have a natural drug that can bring someone out of anaphylactic sock surging in your veins. I got out of bed and walked down the hall and looked out another window. I didn't see anyone, but I could hear the noise. Wifey got freaked out, so I told her to call the non-emergency number of the police station. No reason to dial 911, it mean, if I saw some dude, call, but it was just a noise. Could have been a bird, or raccoon or something.

The police came about 3:30am, or about 3 minutes after I called them. One great thing about the burbs is that the police response time is amazing. I could see the officer walk up my driveway from my bedroom window and there was a flood light drenching my entire building in light. He was making a close up inspection with his Maglite.

I met him at my back patio door and explained to him what I was hearing. The noise had stopped at this time so we chalked it up to an animal that was trapped and got away. There was no one on the roof.

By the time our heart rate slowed down and we were in a place we could go back to sleep, it was nearly 4:30 or 5am.

6am my ears woke me up as it delivered to my brain, the noise. Again. At 6am.

I grabbed my phone and tromped down the stairs. The noise was back and as I went downstairs, it got louder and louder. I ran outside to make sure no one was outside, and then that is when it hit me. It was the crazy neighbor. The one who said I planted a "sound effect machine" in her apartment that emitted a high pitched vibration that got into her head.

She was banging on the walls, and yelling so loud, I could hear it in my condo, through a wall. I was so aggravated. I went upstairs and told Jenn that it was her, and I was pissed off. It's one thing to blame me for something I am not doing, but to create such a disturbance at those hours of the day, is just unacceptable.

By 8am my landlord was awake and called me back. She was furious. She said that I should call the condo association people and have her come down and hear it if it comes back. I did one better. I recorded it with my trusty BlackBerry.

I e-mailed it over to her within seconds. By 10am I was on my way to work, and my landlord was on her way to the police station to file a restraining order against her for harassment. In Ohio landlords must file on behalf of their tenants, or so we thought. The condo association President and Secretary were going to talk to her to tell her to stop it.

By 12pm she had called me back and said that there was nothing she could do because there was not property damage, but said that I can file a complaint and send a registered letter to her that basically said, stop the banging, don't ever call me, and stay away from my family. It was my problem, not my landlords problem, until property damage happens.

I was home by 7pm today and without incident until about 9pm when I was pulling dinner off the grill. The noise came back. Enough was enough.

I called the police [non-emergency] and let them know what was going on. This woman has gone so far as to stress my wife out to the point she jumped out of her skin, and she is not comfortable sitting on her own couch.

The police came and talked to her. She invited the officer in and he inspected the house looking for this "device". She told him, "Can't you hear it?"

All he heard was the dim hum of her refrigerator. He told her, I am sorry ma'am, but I don't hear anything. After he left there, he stopped by the house to hear what I had to say. I gave it to him from the top. Once he took in what I said, he told us, she has got some problems. He wasn't an expert and by no means was diagnosing her, but he's seen the ugly side of schizophrenia and I have seen what it can to do a person. It isn't pretty. Paranoia, hearing things, irrational actions. All of these play into the ugly animal.

He said that he instructed her to knock off the banging and that it is causing a nuisance. He left after I shook his hand and thanked him for coming out. He said if it persists, then I can file a formal criminal complaint.

Within minutes of the police coming, the condo association called wifey. She apologized and gave Jenn the low down of what THEY are going to do to help control this woman.

At this point there is no question that this woman needs help and she needs it fast. Unfortunately, in the State of Ohio, only family can have someone committed. This woman did not have a family that they knew of. No emergency contact information on the association forms. So what are they to do?

Tuesday we shall find out. Until then, I am to call the police when she bangs on my walls at whatever hour of the day and then I have to file a formal criminal complaint. If she bangs on the walls after that, well, then she can be arrested for harassment and once she is under detention by the police, she could get a psyche consult.

In the end there is nothing anyone can do. A part of me wishes she stops, but over the past few months her behavior has escalated quickly, so maybe by me calling the police and keeping them involved, she might be able to get the help she needs. It makes me nervous, but I am confident that if she were to try something completely irrational, I could defend my family if needed, which I hope doesn't happen. There is a certain surge of strength that comes through you when put into extreme situations. I hope that on Tuesday they find her family and I don't have to get the police involved or get involved myself.

I just don't want her to hurt herself or anyone else, especially my family.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It hit me

You can feel it. It's that elusive thought. That next great idea you have. You spend your days thinking about that single thought. It's like sitting in your room all day thinking about how you are going to spend you lottery winnings before you win them. You see the end, but never see what it would take to get there.

This week is a week that makes you question why you do what you do
. [Thanks @muse012]

I have just gotten back to work from a lovely 4 day weekend. It's always hard bouncing back from more than 2 days off. It's like your body adjusts to not working, so by the time you get back you are tired. I'm not sure it is that I am tired, or that customers at work are really as pissed off as they have ever been. It's not very often to get a customer to tell you that they think you are lying, but to have back to back to back customers say the same thing? That's eerie.

So it's weeks like this that makes you think to greener pastures. There is nothing like cleaning up a mess that you did not create to help you think about doing something else with your life.

Truth be told, every job I have held I have started to feel that 3-4 year itch. Is there something better I could be doing? Is there something that has a better work/life balance? It's just past my 3 year anniversary with my company now, and with a inundation of customers who feel it necessary to take out their frustrations on me, it got me thinking again.

After a few blog posts later, a friend of mine offered a suggestion. She recommended a book. I took her up on her advice and started to read. She was absolutely correct. It struck a chord with me. I find inspiration in the words in this book. It makes me think that somethings CAN happen, but I need to find MY thing first.

So tonight while I was walking the dog, it hit me. I have been trying to write a book for sometime, but every time I start writing, I lose that scent. I have equated writing something longer than a blog post to finding lost children in the woods. But this is different now. I have written the better part of a book already and didn't realize it. I went back and looked at all my blog posts. If printed it would represent 250 + pages of 8 1/2 x 11 paper.

That is a ton. But the book I am now working on isn't just printing my blogs. It's about telling story. I have come together and started reading what I have, oh and by the way, I have officially written three times more than any other idea. I have so much material, and it has been at my finger tips the whole time. It's like the dude who invented the little plastic tips on shoelaces must have felt when he came up with THAT idea.

I will let you know how it goes. I haven't had this much inspiration before and it hasn't been so easy to write before. I find myself constantly coming up with the next part of my story.

When it hits you, it knocks you down. Just wait, you will want to buy this book of mine. So if you are, or know someone who is, a book publisher, literary agent, or otherwise, let me know. I will pitch you my book idea.

Until then, I have to announce that my latest guest canceled on me, so I am scrambling to put together the next podcast. Julie gave me the best idea and since some other people seem interested in helping me out, I will open it up to YOU.

Next Thursday July 30th I am going to be calling fellow Twitter pals, Facebook Pals, and blogger pals and I want you to tell me a true story in 2-3 minutes [this isn't a hard time limit]. I am going to record it and edit it down to a show. If you live near me, we can have you over and you can do it right here in the Couch Potato Studios. If you are interested, let me know via e-mail [it's on the right hand column of the blog] and we can set up a time I can boot up Skype and call you or you can stop by and sit down and hang over some beers. I am off all day so I got nothing but time on that particular day. If I get enough material or volunteers, I can sut it up and use it in multiple shows through out the rest of the season.

The inspiration never ends.

In other news. At least for today, you just read a blog written by the #1 Sales man in my district at work. I am in the top 10 in the whole state of Ohio. At least for today. It makes me feel good.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jesus sat next to me at the Black Jack Tables

There is nothing like watching the Catholic Religion contradict itself. The Catholic Church forbids the support of gay people, and as a result are boycotting [not sure about all of you, but because I know a Catholic that does, I'm pigeonholing you] Disney world. I couldn't tell you how many times I saw the Catholic Church outside of the Casino's in St. Louis when I lived there telling the patrons that they needed to "repel the grip of Satan" by leaving the Casino and going to church. [click on the photos to make them full size]

Last night I saw all of those policies take a backseat to a good ole, Catholic time. Remember, principals don't put food on the table.

We attended the St. Agnes Catholic Picnic. It's a public picnic held on the grounds of St. Agnes Catholic Church in support of the parish. It's located near Bellermine University in Louisville, KY. There is nothing like an outdoor picnic rich in gambling games, carnival rides, and sipping the Picnic Holy Water [Budwieser] to get your heart going.

I had never been to one of these picnics, but Wifey has been attending these outings since she was Audrey's age, so of course, she had been prepping Audrey for about a month. Audrey saved her dimes so when she got there, she could win something.

Once we got into the gambling spirit [I guess that is when the Holy Spirit dips into the bank account] Jenn started plunking dimes down on the table for a cake. Nothing like gambling to win a cake. After going through about $3.50 of dimes on numbers 25, 38, 59, 79 [they were in a line on the table] the wheel stopped on 79. We won a cake. Yay! There is nothing like baked goods to get me to gamble away some dimes.

We watched Audrey ride the carnival rides for a bit and it was time to go. We through the rest of our dimes down on the cake booth, again. We won another cake. I mean Rainman wasn't this good with the wheel! Audrey had to blow the rest of her dimes as well. She put them down on numbers 25 and 26. Wouldn't you know it, she won too! We need to take this gal to Vegas!

This trip to Louisville has been delightfully eventful. Regardless of what the Catholic Church stands for, they still know how to throw one hell of a picnic. 2 cakes and the carnie smell later, it was time for bed.

After the cake of course.

Friday, July 17, 2009

We've lost cabin pressure

It was 8pm by the time we got on the road. The sun was setting in the West, the hunger in the belly was growing, and the road was calling.

It was a bonafide road trip.

It wasn't long before the kids were asleep in the back seat. They had assumed their positions.

Traveling with the kids is not as difficult as one would think. The wifey and I have been traveling with Audrey for sometime, and I am proud to say we have created a seasoned road warrior. She always has her own bag that SHE can pack in what ever way she deems fit. It usually has a coloring book with crayons [markers have been outlawed in the car] , her blanket, and her cell phone with her headphones, and 1 DVD. It's always there.

Now I have blogged about my road trips before. There have been some interesting situations that have come up over the years, but this trip was a different kind of animal.

About a year ago, when I was driving down with my best friend Pat for my wedding, we experienced gridlock about 45 minutes outside of Louisville due to a car wreck that involved a car carrier, 5 cars, a bridge, and what is a car wreck with out an insanely intense fire? We watched a movie on my BlackBerry to pass the time. After the movie Transformers, we were on our way again.

During our road trip for Thanksgiving, Jenn wanted to take the scenic route, through a ditch, and well, ice, plus Jenn, plus snow, equals nothing but pure entertainment.

Then back in May we were driving down for our anniversary, when a deer strike stopped traffic and we sat there for about 15 minutes.

These incidents are just the last 3 times we drove to Louisville to see Jenn's family. It's always an adventure.

Well this trip down was no exception. It was about mile marker 60 on I-71 south when we decided to stop to top off the gas tank, take potty breaks, and let the dog out. Our plan was to stop again in 90 minutes for Jenn to take another break. When we travel Jenn knows all the places to stop for clean bathrooms, because for girls, this is really important. For guys, we would just stop on the side of the road and take a leak.

After we stopped we dug in. Audrey got herself situated again. It was just about 10:30pm by the time we got back on the road. I finally got my earpiece in my ear so I could listen to NPR on Stitcher on the good ole BlackBerry, Jenn leaned back in her chair and put on a movie on the portable DVD, and next stop was 90 minutes. About 3 minutes after getting on the highway, traffic started to get closer together. By 10:45pm traffic was at a stand still. When the truck drivers put their rigs in park, put on the hazards and open their doors. You'd better be comfortable, you are going to be there a while.

I am no stranger to this. Since the last few times I have driven down, this exact act happened before. I rolled down the window and asked the Big Rig driver parked next to us what was happening. In the world of BlackBerrys, GPS systems, auto traffic updates, and radio; CB radio is still more reliable than all of that on the open road.

Word has it that a few miles up the road there was a cargo plane that landed on the highway and hit a few cars. We could hear the CB radio crackling in his cab. Bodies were all over the highway, there was a fire. The equation of a car wreck on the open road is coming together. The Ohio Department of Transportation [ODOT] closed the highway south bound. We assumed we were at mile marker 58. The wreck was at mile marker 50 according to reports.

So we were stuck in an 8 mile back-up that wasn't moving. So here we sit. A child, dog, and pregnant lady stuck in traffic. It had the potential to become very very bad very very quickly. When you are timing out potty breaks, a hold up is not something that is not welcomed.

After quickly assessing the situation, I got out and looked at the median. I checked to see how deep the grass was. Was there any potholes? Are we able to make it, in the event of a turn around? I got back and said we should be ok, then I watched a Suburban, Tahoe, and then a small Explorer make the move. They went, no problems. The rain started to come down, so I made my move before the rain too my opportunity. We went for the median, and made it across to the Northbound lanes We saw a mile marker 53 immediately. We were within 3 miles of the wreck. Jenn went into the hormonal pregnant lady cry.

"Oh my god, if we didn't stop we could have been in that wreck."

However true that is, I believe everything happens for a reason. My grandfather taught me that.

We detoured around the wreck on some back country roads with the aide of my GPS system on my BlackBerry [yet another testimonial story to sell the navigation feature at work] and my Magellian-like abilites to navigate and we found the highway again; 1 exit AFTER the wreck. It was eerie merging onto a highway with ZERO traffic behind you. I spent the rest of the trip scanning radio stations on my Blackberry, FM radio, and AP news wires to see what happened. Nothing.

It was 3am before we arrived.

When I woke up this morning I scanned the Google news sites for news. I found this:

Patrol: Semi left scene after hitting woman on I-71

Not as bad as I thought, but it certainly was not good. The road was still closed by the time we got to our destination.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pizza Burgers for 20 somethings

The sleep wipes from my eyes just like a bug on a windshield. It just makes a mess. I have been waking up these past few days, getting ready for work, wishing I could do something else besides work the endless grind of customers that is retail.

People in general look down at a retail employee. Regardless of what they say, how they act, and how they hold themselves to standards. People automatically think that just because I work in retail that I somehow couldn't hack it somewhere else and this was my "back up" job. You know that job only the mindless can do.

My job is far from mindless and it requires a certain level of skill to do what I do well. Yes you need to be able to talk to people you wouldn't otherwise talk to, but you need to have some concept of body language, tempo, and timing. When to say the right things, when to lean a certain way, and when to try and close a sale. People pigeonhole me into car salesman, when they say I work 'retail'.

So last night, when Audrey got home from vacation with her mom, I decided to try something different with dinner. I decided to try pizza burgers. I watched this on a segment on the Today show and knowing my love of a hamburger, I had to try it. What better time to do it than on an occasion to do something different than Audrey coming home?

So I sent a text to wifey and told her what I planned. I gave her the ingredients list and away she went. Pizza sauce, pizza dough, hamburger, and mozzarella cheese [shredded].

To make these things, it's not too tough. Cook a burger the way you like it. I like mine medium rare, or medium, but what ever you like is cool. Once that is done you divide up the pizza dough and sauce the cheese. To do that, you just take a LITTLE sauce and just make sure your shredded cheese is covered slightly. I recommend a bowl and not the original packaging for the cheese. Place the cooked hamburger on the dough, place a generous portion of sauced cheese over the burger, and pinch the dough over the hamburger/cheese mixture. Make like a little pocket.

Then make sure you grill is greased all the way up! I recommend using the PAM for grills on this one. Just brown up the dough on each side and away you go. Pizza burgers.

This was my first attempt so I used store bought ingredients [look for future blogs about this using more homemade ingedients, and maybe fresh mozzarella]. Now as I was preparing this last night I was secretly longing.

Longing to live my life in a different career. Working in a kitchen is something that intrigues me. There is something about comrade that just sucks me in. I know I know, it's hard work and not for the faint of heart, but if you do well, you can make a very good living, but the cost is your family time.

So later that night I was sitting on the couch, thinking about what I wanted to do. This past week has been a whirl wind of activity. From the new Podcast to the fact an old boss from my radio days wants a demo for me, it's been delightfully stressful, but yet, that stress has got me thinking of other avenues for my life. It always happens. I get bogged down at work, I have no time to think and I start wishing for something different.

So as I sit here at work, typing this out on my blackberry during my lunch break, I am thinking about how I can make it all better. I can make my current situation better by changing my style, do things differently to spice it up. I can make more money if I start to play that game again. Tell management what they want to hear. I will make more money, I will drink more Kool-aide and it will get better once I am out of the subordinate role and into the manager role [again]. I loved being a manager, but my boss didn't like me and she made my life a living hell. I am also thinking about desired careers. Chef, radio announcer, professional voice over actor, and maybe a writer. Here is the problem with all of that.

I don't know how to make a rue, blanche, or how to create delightful combinations, and the time it would take to learn that would be mind numbing. I can be a radio announcer if I am willing to leave Cleveland and go somewhere else, but leaving Cleveland means I could potentially be leaving Audrey and that is NOT an option. So I guess trying to get a job in the MOST volitile job market [radio] is not smart for the family. Professional Voice-Over actor would be out of the question because it requires a good agent and the market is so saturated with those. Being a writer is tough. It requires time to sit and be creative, and I have been trying to write a novel for sometime. Right now, I am about 1600 words into it and I have nothing that resembles a usable story. Just a ton of words tossed together.

So this leaves me at an impass. So here is the solution I came up with. I am going to learn how to cook better than I can now by pushing myself to reach outside my comfort zone. I am pulling out a recipe from a cook book and learning a new technique every month, and I am going to work on it until I get it right. I am going to keep up on the Podcast because that is honestly the only time I really feel alive anymore is chasing down interviews, following up on stories, and actually having my friends over to do a show. I am going to keep writing this blog because, who knows, maybe someone that has the opportunity to change my life is reading and thinks I might be interesting.

Short term, I am just going to end this post, but not before I tell you that I just got an e-mail from the 20 Something Blogger Community. I am now a card carrying member

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let the new Season Begin!

Well, after a ton of work, and very stressful moments, Season 2 of the Throwing Podcast is now upon us.

As you can see, some things have changed on the blog. The look has been updated thanks to my lovely wife and her amazing skills of taking my vision and making it a reality. I couldn't have asked for a better logo and header images. Please leave some comments so she knows she is totally awesome!

Next, we have a packed show. We have 3 different bands on the show today.

The first artist is Adam Taylor. I blogged about him not too long ago, and now you can hear his music. The title of the track is called 'Painting the Leprosy (Untitled)'. Folk-pop has made a resurgence, and he is one of the fresh new voices.

The second artist Auralis. A band from right here in Cleveland, Ohio, I first heard about them through Allan Fee's Twitter page when he tweeted about this band at a private party he attended. I heard their first track and was shocked that I haven't heard of them before. They have a great sound!

The last artist is Ryan Humbert from Canton, Ohio. My guest mentioned this guy on during our over the phone interview, and once I started listening, I had to put him on the show!

Now, onto the special guest.

Her name is Alexa and she writes a blog called, Cleveland's a Plum. She writes about Cleveland and she has got to be one of the most fun people to talk to. Full of energy [and Uzzo, she's Greek] we called her and we let the insanity ensue. She is tapped into the Cleveland food scene and also the social scene here in Cleveland, and I was so glad we were able to get her on the show. Check out her blog, and I do suggest to make regualr visits to her blog, because it's funny, fresh, and fun.

This podcast has become a labor love, and I hope you enjoy.

Mobile readers can click here to get it on their Blackberry's or download the stitcher application for your Blackberry or iPhone here and search their podcasts for 'Throwing Quarters' and you can get it there.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Date Night at Bar Symon

Finally, after less than a week of being open, I couldn't stay away any longer. I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Was Michael Symon just another celebrity chef who lent his name to a less than stellar restaurant experience? I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I wanted to experience a dining experience you couldn't get at a T.G.I. Friday's [or is it just plain Friday's now?] with it's 13 or 14 pieces of flare. I wanted to go to a restaurant in my hometown that wasn't Italian [Fratello's and Stella's] and I didn't want to go where we always go.

I am always up for adventure. My marriage with Jenn is much like a Yin and Yang of life. I like to live on the wild side and explore what I have been too scared to eat. Jenn usually plays it safe with her choice of cuisine, where as I will gladly try a fried plantain on a prime rib sandwich with chipotle mayo. I am willing to take the road less traveled just to see where we end up, rather than play it safe on the highways. This was apparent in our drive on our honeymoon.

So what was Bar Symon all about? It's a beer joint, plain and simple and that is thrust right in your face as soon as you walk into the restaurant. Just to the right you can see all 40 taps staring at you, daring you try every single one of them. There isn't a hip tour [Winking Lizard] surrounding the beer selection which is something I knew would be absent, and for good reason.

Now, before I get too far into the guts of the restaurant, I want to just make an observation about the location. The new Bar Symon sits in a carcass of a once thriving part of Avon Lake. Since the implosion the Tops Supermarket chain, that part of my hometown has never been the same. Many places have tried to hack it in that plaza, but somehow they fell short. Now with Bar Symon, it's nice to see cars in the parking lot and people walking through the doors. I really hope that this is just the beginning of a revitalization, rather than another failed attempt. I think my rose colored glasses look great on me. [We'll get back to this.]

The wait ran up to a 60-90 minutes, which is something I was expecting, so we put our names on the list and ran to Wal-Mart to get some things for the baby's room. It also helps to know the hostess, which I did, because she was ready for us when we got back about 45 minutes later. Perfect timing, or knowing someone? I would like to think it's because I knew someone, but then again I am more than likely wrong about that.

We sat down near the kitchen in the back of the house, away from the bustling bar which had a certain electricity to it. Not really loud, but it wasn't quiet. I guess it's just plain old fashion atmosphere. The servers were attentive, the bus boys invisible, and most importantly, everyone was polite. I may not be a food critic, but I am certainly a critic of service. I work in sales for a living, and a big part of sales is customer service. I was not disappointed in this, although it must be mentioned that our server did forget the bread and butter, but then again, I didn't know I was getting it, so until he said, "Oops, I forgot..." I wouldn't have known.

Jenn and I both ordered the same meal. The Bar Symon burger. Jenn knew that a burger wasn't going to mess with her delicately balanced machine of a baby incubator. I have no doubt that after the baby is born, Bar Symon will play host to many more date nights, and maybe double date nights, [Carrie and Josh; Shelly and Chris; Julie and Dave; I am talking to you]. I said in a previous blog, I love a good burger so I would be a fool to pass up this burger.

It took me longer to order my beer [the list is HUGE] than it did to make a decision on dinner. By the way, I ordered a Great Lakes Brewery variant called Grass Roots. Delicious. Sweet. Paired with the Burger perfectly. The beer played off the rosemary in the fries. Oh yeah and it's brewed right here in good ole Cleveland, Ohio.

There is something about red meat, bacon, cheddar, and an egg on an English Muffin that gets me energized. The fries were seasoned with rosemary and had a great ketchup with them. Delicious isn't the word, but it's close.

The yolk of the egg drenched the hamburger meat and fries in the basket below; It was a touch of rustic, yet the flavor of the refined. It's like wearing and Armani sport coat while rocking a pair of worn out Levi's. Maybe an overstatement, but you get the point.

I smashed that burger, and finished the fries and the server didn't have time to come back and ask if it was cooked correctly. I have the line from Ratatouille going in my head, "Just don't HORK it down..."

Well that's what I did. The hostess said when she seated us that we needed to same room for dessert. That is one thing you don't have to tell a pregnant lady twice. I made a decision on dessert about as fast as I did with dinner. Leave it to Bar Symon to serve Guinness Ice Cream with Pretzels and hot fudge. Jenn ordered the strawberry shortcake and made quick work of it. Like me, with the burger, Jenn is, with desserts [First trip to Kentucky with Jenn I witnessed her family condoning dessert with breakfast, and also dessert AS breakfast].

So what is the over all verdict? It is very very positive. Call me overly enthusiastic but, you would not be disappointed to visit. Jenn's remarks on dinner were, "The English muffin was so much better than a bun because it was less filling and delicate, but hearty enough to hold a burger. The portions were perfect, not too much, not too little." I do want to mention that she thought the Strawberry shortcake she ordered for dessert could have been bigger, but we need to take this with a grain of salt because let's face it, she's pregnant.

After the entire night, we ordered two burgers, two desserts, and a beer, and our bill came out to about $42.00 with a generous tip. This was less than the last trip we made to Red Robin. The food was way better.

Now on the drive home, I shared with my brother that I visited Bar Symon. I told him it was fantastic. He asked if the food was really that good or was it the name that I was admired with? He said that he wasn't impressed with Michael Symon. He said that he was greedy. The only reason he moved Lola downtown was because of the money. He, 'turned his back on Tremont, the area that made him'.

This must be his Cleveland pessimism coming out of him again, because where others saw greed, I saw opportunity. Why wouldn't Michael Symon want to make money? Isn't that what it's about. Principles don't feed your family. Instead of thinking like it was greed, look at what it has done to the Cleveland Food scene. We have a lot to thank Michael Symon for.

I thank him for putting a bright light in a dark plaza, and for a great meal with my wife. I will expand my ideas about the Cleveland food scene in the next Podcast, ready to air on July 14th. A local Cleveland foodie will be joining me this Sunday to record it.

Too long of a wait!

I first off want to apologize for not posting this earlier. I finally have a few minutes to post up some new material.

This week has been crazy. From work, to podcast things, to just getting ready for the baby, I have been burning the candle at both ends. This post starts way back on Friday, July, 3.

It felt like electricity in the air. Anticipation. It's what happens when you are excited to go somewhere or do something. Something you haven't done in a while. That is how I felt all day Friday. It was go time at 8pm when my shift ended and my friend Julie showed up bearing a Venti Iced Coffee from Starbucks. It would be my evening fuel.

Now once we got to Beachland Ballroom, it was time to party, or so we thought. The web said that the doors opened at 8, shows start at 9. Well that's one thing that irritates me about going to local shows. They rarely start on time. About 9:30 or 9:45-ish in one part of the venue, Adam Taylor started his set.

This kid has the authenticity of a folk/pop singer, the feel of a established act, and even the musical chops to push the boundaries of his genre. His music has attractive hooks and an upbeat sound, with a few melancholy tunes, and overall he was wonderful. I was so impressed with his tunes that I e-mailed him from my BlackBerry as I sat in the back grooving and asked for an interview. I haven't heard back, but then again, who would want to come on a podcast in Cleveland? He had bigger fish to try. Cleveland was just the first stop on his journey to play Summerfest in Wisconsin. What I loved the most was that on the way out of the show he had free music to give away. I will assure you that I plan on making his music a part of the podcast so I am patiently waiting for his permission to play his tunes.

After his set, we went back to the other end of the venue, to listen to another band called, The Hot Rails. A Punk fusion with tight harmonies over punk. Not too bad. Although as I watched them, they had a decent crowd, but didn't seem to hold too many people's attention as the crowd was transient. I tuned out and saw Mike, the bassist for the band I was really there to see, The Ohio Sky, and I talked to him for a bit. I am proud to say that as a result of our conversation, we have a solid date down for a session on the podcast. I have been prepping for this interview and writing questions, and putting together stories for it. Look for that soon, but with the show at hand, the Hot Rails finished a set so we went back to the OTHER part of the venue to see what was going on over there.

Now this band that took the stage in the Ballroom wasn't very good. When I say not very good I mean, the drummer could be seen counting to stay on beat. Julie dubbed them, 5th Graders on Parade, but their real name escapes me. That just proves that its a crap shoot when you attend local shows and not touring acts. The sound for the Ballroom was on the band, whereas in the Tavern, there was a professional sound guy. So the level of professionalism was drastically better in the Tavern.

After the 5th graders, the Guile took the stage in the Tavern. Good music? Not bad. Great Stage presence? Absolutely. The lead singer gave out beer tokens, chugged beer, and at one point asked the drummer not to play the next song because it was new and he was drunk. He came out into the crowd and literally got in your face while he was spitting lyrics that were in your face. The literal meets the figurative. I had a great time listening to these guys.

After that Julie and I took a break and stepped out into the night sky. It was not hot but not cold. It was like the little bear's porage. As the Ohio Sky set up, I decided to snap some photos in the lobby, just because playing with a 35mm camera is fun. You hit the button and you can hear the film move. It's something I haven't experienced in a while. It was fun, and the photos of me aren't worth showing.

As I heard the Ohio Sky sound check start, we ventured back inside. Now the Ohio Sky definitely has the swagger of an established act, and are hands down the best band in the building that evening. Once their show started, what was left of my ear drums were gone I think. Their set always blows up the room! Loud yes. Properly mixed? Yes.

They kicked off the set with a metal instrumental. No words, just a killer riff! I have never experienced a band that ran the gamut of hard metal to chill acid rock in one set. They were the like the ADD of rock, but believe it or not, every song they did held you.

After the show, my god, I couldn't hear a damn thing. Julie and I were out way past our bedtime, but we had a great time.

I can't wait to have the Ohio Sky on the show. We will get an up close and personal look at what makes the Ohio Sky tick.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pictures to follow soon

I have a monster blog cooking. I don't have time, nor do I have the photos to do it justice. Until I can get the proper props to make this post a success, here is just a TASTE of what the blog post will be.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Super Sized Baby Making Dinner

Settle down. I will explain the title.

It seems as though my days off [well in the case of July it's just 'day off'] I have had a habit of doing projects around the house and while I do it, I watch some sort of documentary. Netflix and the S-Video cable that my friend Pat bought has come in handy. Now I can interface the computer into the television and 'project' my video onto the big screen [read: not that big].

In the morning I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Ever do that? Yeah I know. You wake up, rub the sleep out of your eyes and meet yourself in the mirror for a good scare. The ghastly pallor glow of my skin is something you can get if you never see the sunlight, which is something I have been lacking. Getting a house that is 100% not baby ready into shape to handle a newborn is really tough work. It also keeps me indoors on my days off.

Nothing like a good scare in the mirror in the morning to get the blood going. I noticed something incredible. I am not young and skinny anymore, but more older and tubby. My wife says that I am not fat, but a bit out of shape. To a guy, that means, you're fat. Just like women, guys can be just as self conscious with their weight and image. Now for fear of being called a [add in your homosexual slur here] I am going to leave it there and move on.

So with what I am looking back at, into the mirror, is an older paunchy self. Not happy with what I see, I begin looking at ways to explain the additional weight. I chalk it up to the wifey being pregnant, and I move on.

So project 1 was to get a crib from Babies R Us. Now it seems pretty straight forward right? No. It's not that easy. I logged onto our registry and tried to see if I could order the crib online and pick it up at the store. The answer there is no. So I said, screw that, I will just order it. I was met with a $75.00 shipping charge plus $25 in tax, easily adding $100 to the crib. So in a last ditch effort, I called the store. I should have recognized the Omen when the woman answered the phone and called it quits, but I love being punished I guess.

I talked with the woman on the phone and she asked if I had an 'item' number. I read the 5 digit number to the woman, and she said that it needs to be 6 digits. So I added a zero and repeated the number back. Still nothing. So she said she could pull up the registry and read it from there, and so I spelled the last name, and of course, she didn't listen and misspelled it. So when she couldn't find the crib I got a bit angry. She realized her mistake and spelled the name correctly and like some sort of Christmas miracle she finds the LAST crib in stock.

By the time I got there, 3 hours later, they still hadn't moved the crib up, and once again, they were searching for a crib. I tell the woman how to spell my last name, again, and again, she types in what she feels like, and after 20 minutes of searching, they find the crib.

Now why didn't I just leave? Because the wife wanted THAT crib. If I didn't get THAT crib, it would force me to go to ANOTHER store and walk around and pick out ANOTHER crib. Not to mention the wife would be upset. So it's a matter of hassle.

Now that the crib was finally bought, back home to get the house ready for dinner.

We had some friends come over last night for dinner. The laundry had to be put away, dishes had to be washed, and chicken to be skinned and seasoned.

The evening's menu was pretty simple. Grilled garlic chicken, hot dogs, roasted red skin potatoes, and sauteed green beans with cole slaw.

But prepping this, I needed to listen, because watching is usually impossible. So I threw on a documentary. Super Size Me. I had not watched it at all, and had only heard about it.

So as I watched the movie and worked in the kitchen, I watched Morgan Spurlock stuff his face with McDonald's for 3 meals a day for the next 30 days. I'm sure he wanted it to be disgusting and in your face, and that is exactly what he got.

It is also what we needed. He argued that there was a fundamental current instilled in our children at a young age. He proved his point by showing pictures of our first president, Jesus Christ, and then Ronald McDonald. Most didn't name the first 2 on sight, but 100% knew who Ronald McDonald was. Disturbing.

As I prepped chicken and was revolted by my growing belly, it got me thinking all about the decisions I make in my daily life, that could look wrong to a child. The running to McDonald's when I am running late to eat, or being too lazy to cook and getting something from a drive thru, what was this doing to my daughter? It's no secret that we go out to eat often, but we often go to restaurants that serve fresh food. There is always vegetables, no soda, and protein, except when we hit McDonald's. After watching Morgan throw up a quarter pounder with cheese and 42 ounce Coke, I was done. No more, for a long time.

Just before our friends showed up, I put on another documentary. It was called, 'The Business of being Born'. It was a Rickey Lake documentary that argued that modern day Obstetrics is nothing more than a trained surgeon trying to cut you open and take the baby out. It also argued that natural child birth is a right of passage and incinuated that if you do not take this journey, then you are not 'woman' enough to have children. They argue that all the drugs they pump you up with are designed to make you forget about child birth as well as not feel it.

This kind of agrument makes about as much sense as the phone call we got from our neighbor today requesting we take the sound making machine out of her house that we planted there to bother her and her dog. This is a whole other story for a different day.

But, in my opinion, Rickey Lake's left wing feminist, bra burning grand standing really has no basis. They cited growing 'C-section' rates among women in New York. I, also, have asked the question, isn't it alarming that women are just cutting themselves open to have kids? Yes, it is, but there is also a reason. One thing Rickey Lake didn't cite was the ages of all the women. As the 'C-Section' rate climbed, so did the rate of the ages. 20 years ago the average age of women having kids was in their early 20's. Now that average age, dispite teen pregnancy, has gone UP in age. Women in their mid to late 30's deciding to stop their careers to have children has grown. I think omitting this point in this documentary is just wrong.

Women are given such conflicting information about what is 'right' and what is 'wrong' that Jenn has decided to stay as ignorant as possible. She has stuck to 1 book that gives you advice, but not rules about child birth. It gives her some things to expect, and what she needs to look for, but it isn't a seris of book designed to scare her. Jenn knows what to expect, and she just wants her instincts to take her there, with guidance from her OB/GYN. Her OB isn't telling her what she needs to do, but just answering questions and letting Jenn decide what she wants to do.

I can tell you that it's not a pure natural child birth. Jenn has no problem with drugs. We were both born to mothers who had pain kiling IV's. We are fine, except that I am crazy.

Child birth took up most of the dinner converstation with our friends, and I can't say that it wasn't all that bad. The food was good. Conversation was spirited at times, and we all came to the conclusion that Rickey Lake is crazy.

So in 24 hours I have decided that fast food needs to be cut back on in my diet, our baby is coming faster than we thought, and dinner was fantastic! Jenn is starting to get a little supersized her self, but then again, pregnancy does that! I can't wait to post pictures!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Weekend Approaches

This week is the 4th of July week. In Cleveland that means hosts of carnivals, fireworks displays, and other completely random types of activities. So what is on the agenda.

Unfortunately I cannot attend the opening of the new Bar Symon today. Work gets in the way of a night life all too often. But I am sure it will open to a packed house and rave reviews. I got up early this morning to read up on some of my favorite blogs, and since posting my blog yesterday, I met some very cool people who share my affinity to Cleveland. Check my profile to see some new ones on there. They are all definately worth the read!

I am also excited to see one of my favorite bands on Friday night at the Beachland Ballroom. The Ohio Sky will be rocking it, and it will offer an opportunity to talk to the band 1-on-1 to get a solid date in the books for an appearance on the Podcast. I hopefully will be able to book a few more musical guests as well. On my wish list is a Columbus, Ohio band called Philo, an acoustic band from Florida coming through Cleveland today called Boyce Avenue, Carrie Sample from the Papyrus Records Record 'Portable Words vol 1', a local metal band Morality Check, Zach Watt also from Papyrus Records, a new band to Cleveland Vendetta Point, and The Doctor Teeeth.

Its a large wish list, and if I could land even 3 of these bands, I would be happy. If I land all of them, it would be awesome, but very unlikely considering Boyce Avenue is in town today and leaving tomorrow and they have yet to return any of my phone calls. I also have a HUGE interview planned, but with whom will have to wait until it gets closer.