Saturday, May 30, 2009

Road Trippin': The Shot That Saved Cleveland

It was road trip time last weekend and this one should be filled with stories coming to you from all angles. I think Spank said it right, this was probably a top 5 road trip for our crew of all time. Today's blog takes you from the hills of West Virginia into Cleveland, Ohio, the land that LeBron simply is a god of. Even if you're not a basketball fan at all, this edition is going to have a little something for everyone, the point of every blog I write or that's the plan anyways. It really doesn't even have that much basketball talk, but I'll fill your brains with such things as Waffle House, driving through random neighborhoods, druggies out of nowhere, pineapples on burgers, another brush with greatness, and a whole lot more.

I took the driving duties for this one and along for the ride were Matty Cakes and Spank. I'm not the best driver which I've admitted before, but I guess these guys don't mind having their life at risk. Luckily, I brought everyone back in one piece and didn't make any dumb wrong turns or near crashes. I'm always down for a trip if given enough time to get something in order, especially if it deals with NBA. A downfall to the trip was that my Sirius radio was messing up and people have been having problems with that last weekend. Now it's back in order and everything appears to be fixed. We still got a good bit of sports radio and rap cranking to last the trip up and back.

After starting the day right by playing some Punch-Out in Shinnston on the Wii, it was time to roll out. We planned to bring the Wii in the ride with us to play on the screen, but I need to buy a plug-in adapter of sorts for that to work. Maybe that's an option for the next trip. We left around 1:00 and ended up getting into Cleveland at around 5:30 on Friday evening. This is one of the few trips that I didn't have any Bone playing as I pulled into Cleveland, always a tradition for me to go into a city on a road trip and play that city's rap music to get the feel. Yes, I'm a dork, but it's something I will admit. For being Memorial Day Weekend, the traffic wasn't too horrible, which half of our trip is straight up in the middle of nowhere, an easy drive in my opinion.

We get there and have a nice hookup from Matty Cakes. Due to the joy of flying miles, he gets us a free hotel room, so major props are sent to his direction. When we get to the room, it's a pimp setup and we are fans of it instantly. We were on the top floor and this place had the highest ceilings I've ever seen in a hotel. Instantly I see a ledge of the wall separating the beds and the living room that stood about 3-4 feet high. I test out the durability of the bed and what else should a person do? As I say, I'll never grow up, I had to at least attempt some dives onto the bed. I stand up on the ledge and get some major air and start leaping onto the bed. If someone would've walked in, they wouldn't have known what to think of someone 30 years old that still does this, but hey, it's entertaining to me. I'm easily pleased. Cakes got the idea to get a picture of it and it turned out that it's my favorite pic in a long time. Most have seen it on my MySpace and Facebook pages and have had some funny comments to send in. I wanted to attempt a backflip off the ledge, but I was too chicken and scared that I'd crank my head. This is an issue I have on flat ground too. I know I can pull a backflip off, but still in my mind I'm feeling that I would mess it up and crank my head. Even for an old guy, I'm still as agile and flexible as ever, so I hope that doesn't falter off anytime soon. As a site note, the pillow cases here had me laughing. They said either "soft" or "firm" on them. I liked the touch, but even a dude like me with no common sense can tell which pillows are soft or firm. Good times.

Before the game started, we had a little bit of time until the gates opened. That of course gave us time to go to my favorite place in Cleveland to eat, Alesci's. It was so good we ate there twice in the same night. Looking at the place, you wouldn't think it's anything special, but looks can be deceiving. I've written about this place before and it's top notch. I ended up getting a calzone with some sauce which was amazing and then ate half of Spank's stromboli. That might be the first time Spank has given me food. Usually when our crew goes out to eat, I'm the one giving everyone else food and they love that. It's just a small Italian type food/deli place, but it gets rockin' and that place makes a killing. If you're in Downtown Cleveland, you won't be disappointed at all. Ozzie likes it so much that he's been known to say that it's worth it just to drive there, eat, and drive back if he really had to. Cakes texted him and told him we were there and Ozzie's reply? "That place rules." That's high praise.

Finally, it's time to hit up The Gund (The Q, for Quicken Loans Arena as it's known now, stupid name changes) and get inside the arena. Our seats were in the upper deck, but we lucked out and had a great view. We were midcourt and I'd take those seats again for sure. Within minutes of being in the place, we had already more than gotten our money's worth for our ticket price. I've seen several LeBron games already before, but this was my first NBA playoff game and it's a completely different animal. The way those fans worship him has to be seen at least once in person to appreciate it because TV doesn't do it nearly enough justice.

How were the fans in my area? Both good and bad. The guy directly to my right, I was ready to put in a crossface chickenwing and have him tapping out, but I decided against better judgment and figured that'd get me kicked out of the game, so I kept my cool. This is the type of guy that doesn't have any buddies and wants to try to be your best friend. I'm all about talking to whoever to get random conversations going, but not like this. He would get 2 inches from my face and start talking. Cakes and Spank picked up on this idiot and were giving me a hard time about it. After a while, I couldn't really acknowledge the guy and tried to keep my distance, although that's tough when he is doing that garbage. He also is one who thinks he knows it all on sports, when actually, he doesn't have a clue. The good thing? The fans in the rows in front of us, great comedy. Picture a mini And1 group of fans that storm the court after a big play and after every LeBron dunk or big play, they'd go bananas. This one guy, who we hate not getting a pic of, would stand up and flex everytime LeBron would do something of note. Then two other guys in front of us were selected for a halftime competition to where one ended up getting $500 worth of new tires and his buddy got a free tire alignment. They were treated like celebrities when they walked back up to our section, which had me cracking up.

With a minute to go, it didn't look great for the Cavs and they were on the verge of going down 2-0 in the series. People actually started to leave around this point (what!?!), even though it was just a few point lead for the Magic. First off, you don't leave games early. People think they can beat traffic or whatever, get out of here. I can be at some bum game and still want to be there till the very end, but a playoff game where you pay big bucks? It's a no brainer, you stay. Turkoglu hit his big shot with a second left to put the Magic up by 1. With one second left, the fans needed a miracle. Inbound pass to LeBron at the top of the key for a three, he hits it and pandemonium goes down inside The Q. I don't think I've been part of a better crowd moment ever when it comes to sports and I've been to a lot. As for now, this is the shot that LeBron will be known as that you'll see a zillion times already for the next 20 years. The Shot That Saved Cleveland.

After the game, we made our way to the TNT set where none other than Ernie, Kenny The Jet Smith, Reggie Miller, and the great Charles Barkley were doing the postgame. Security let us walk right down to their area, no questions asked. We got some great pictures of that and were literally right beside these guys at a few points. Barkley has to eat it up with the heckling the fans give him during this. Cakes' dad texts the next morning and asks if we were near Barkley and the guys after the game. We were wondering why he asked that and come to find out, apparently we were on TNT for a short period when they would show the crowd in that area going insane. I guess that's our minor brush with greatness. We wished Ozzie could've went on this trip, but he wasn't able to make this one. When he saw our Barkley pics, and that's one of his childhood idols, he was hating himself. It happens.

The night isn't over. When we finally got out of the arena, the town was an absolute madhouse. After walking a bit, I found a spot in the middle of town to sit down on this wall. Here it is, 1:00 in the morning and three rednecks from West Virginia are in Downtown Cleveland sitting on a wall. Why you ask? You see characters from all walks of life. What better spot than to just sit back, watch the action, and talk to a few of these randoms? Of course I was in for that. Things went in cycles. We'd have a new character stop by every few minutes and would keep the night going. Want some examples? One dude came over wanting to sell us weed and he had this big spiel all lined up to sell. We just looked at him and let him ramble without saying much in return. Get down the road you druggie, but it was funny for a few seconds as he busts the weed out of his pocket right on the street like it was nothing. Then comes a drunk chick by herself, stumbling around. She was obliterated and looking for a ride to come pick her up. In all of this, she was trying to talk to her ride and direct them to the area we were in. After navigating them to the point, she stumbles around and finally sees a truck to pick her up. Inside? 4 dudes and her being the only chick. Chances are, she ended up in someone's home video that night. It made for a good 5-10 minute chat with this girl though who you could've told anything to and she wouldn't have had a clue what was up. I'm not a fan of being around drunks much, but for a few minutes, they can be funny as long as you're not the one babysitting them. It was continuous action like that all night. That's free entertainment and I could keep going with the idiots we encountered.

So Saturday rolls around and it's time to prepare to head back to WV. The drive back on trips are always a bit more depressing, but we make it happen. First, we had time to kill. I just started driving around Cleveland on the outskirts and to see what kind of neighborhoods we could find. We ended up getting into some fairly ghetto places and that always makes for interesting sights on a road trip. I'm always down for that. Spank got this idea of how he wanted a pic in front of some random house. As he was there, I saw these two kids riding their bikes a few blocks away. I put two and two together and why not ask those guys to be in the pic? For no reason, we ask these kids if they want in the pic and they didn't know what to think. After a few seconds, they didn't care and we set up the mean muggin' pic, one of my favorites of the trip. In the pic we had a whitey from WV, a black kid, and a latino. That's some good random diversity, nice to see. It was time to get out of Cleveland and off to Waffle House we went, the trip isn't over yet when that is still on schedule.

Waffle House! There's only two on our entire drive. When you're in this section of the country, you're few and far between from some filthy Waffle House restaurants, so you don't have many options. This isn't Tennessee, where you see them every 2.3 steps. Believe it or not, Cakes has never been to one in his life (what?!). Oh no! We had to change that immediately. That's almost as unbelievable as my laundry statistic I'll have about myself at the end of the blog. Anyways, as usual, we got some great eats. Maybe some of the best bacon and sweet tea you'll ever get will be at a WH, take my word for it. I was due for an updated WH pic for no reason other than I just have enough in the collection from the past that why not. I was trying to figure out some props to use since I've busted out the spatula, wet floor signs, etc in the past. I just straight up asked one of the waitresses if some of them would mind being in a pic with me. I don't think I've ever met a mean waitress at one of these places, so these girls were all about it. That part cracked me up. They had ideas to get most of the crew in the pic and even busted out the goofy hats for us to wear. The girl that took the pic, she was serious about people being in the right spots and all of that. People always say I'm random, but you definitely get some stories if you just talk to whoever and see what's up. After leaving, we didn't get in the car yet, we walked down a few blocks across the highway to scope out the neighborhood for pic ideas. While there, we found a cheesy van that Spank got a pic in front of, the traditional pic in front of WH, and a dog posing for a pic while he was taking a dump. Again, as I say, I'll probably never grow up on that side of things. I can be really professional when I need to be and take care of my business, but you have to have fun with things and just goof off or life wouldn't be any fun.

If you're still reading along, you're a champ and I commend you. We're winding down, I promise, but we're not finished yet. Outside of the LeBron trip, I have a quick softball story to mention. Thursday night and we had a game scheduled at 10:00 in Morgantown. Yeah, a nightcap game about 45 minutes away from my town. We had a big storm going down in the area a few hours before that and were wondering if we'd get in a game or not. With no call of cancellation, we drove up anyways. We get there and find out that the games are not on pace and we'd have to wait about 45 minutes since a game before us was just starting at 10:00. 11:00 and we get on the field. By the time it was over, it was 12:30 in the morning. This was our second loss of the year and it was a video game score of 23-19, dang. 42 total runs, ricockulous! Anyways, after taking Big Rick and Posey home, I got home around 1:30 on a work night. I showered up and of course I couldn't go straight to bed, I was bouncing off the walls. I have enough energy the way it is, but it'd be tough to go to bed then. I stayed up till 3:00 and woke up at 6:00. Lucky thing it was Friday, but I have a weird sleep schedule anyways. Monday before work I went to bed at 4:00, another dumb mistake. I went to work and did my thing, running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I wasn't tired until I got home that evening since I rarely sit down at work, but I passed on a nap. After eating Chinese and watching Ric Flair DVDs most of the night, out of nowhere I crashed on the couch at 9:30. The next thing I know, I wake up at 5:00 and didn't have an idea where I was at. As I type this part, it's 6:15 on Saturday morning and I'm pretty sure I'll go back to bed sometime to gear up for another softball game at 3:00.

Bird's Dirty Thug Ho of the Week: Speaking of Tennessee, that's where we end up for this find. A ton of pics? Check. Hot? Check. Some borderline slutty pics? Check. Not that we're complaining here around blog land.

Bird's Video Moment of the Week: This is one that comes to us from Kasher. He put this up on Lobstah a few months ago, but don't think I've used it in here. This one features Nancy Grace who scares me when she gets all mean and they're talking about the Duke lacrosse rap scandal. She wants stats on the scandal and the guy busts into sports stats. 30 seconds, but one I got a kick out of:

3 Quick Thangs:

1. As a good time killer, we all like being nosy and reading up on other MySpace/Facebook status messages. Most aren't that good, but you do find some gems every now and then that can get you laughing. It's probably just me, but I enjoyed this one considering Uncle Wilbur's temper that he can get when he blows up. He's calm most of the time, but then he can just let it go and flip out, it's great. What'd he have to say earlier this week? Here we go, word for word: "went to go swimming with the stepkids, but couldn't BECAUSE SOME ?'.$!.*#!$,'* LITTLE KID POOPED IN THE POOL!!!!" I guess that'd make anyone mad.

2. Here's one I probably shouldn't even admit, but I'm never one to really mind if people joke with me or what some opinions may be. If I'm right on this, I did laundry for the first time ever the other day. I know, that's insane to think, but it's true. Sad, but true. However, that's one more time than Dad has done it, at least while I've been alive. Most people have done that when they were like 5 years old, but I'm weird, you don't have to tell me that.

3. I'll end with a food recommendation. While at the big cookout bash for Memorial Day with the family all together, it was time to bust out the grill. Gayle was straight up rockin' the grill out like no other and threw some pineapple slices on board. He's not a fruit guy at all, but I'm huge into it. I was eating some grilled slices as they came off and that was good enough, but why not on a burger? It sounds weird, I know, but put a grilled pineapple slice on your burger and it's some high quality eats. Don't knock it till you try it. I'm running long as this isn't actually "quick", but Webster County Chrissy put sour cream on her spaghetti the other night. What in the world? Now that's bad times. She ended up not liking it, imagine that one. I won't hold it against her though. Until next time..

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