Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cleveland: Where Kids Eat Free!

You know what I always say, road trip blogs are always fairly easy to write. This one will be the Cleveland trip to where we rolled eight deep, piled into two cars and made a day trip of it. Needless to say, I was in a coma by the time I got home late that night, but I went to work the next day like a champ, no biggie. I was excited for this trip and it turned out to be a good one. I better get to breaking things down, don't want any impatient blog readers coming to slice my tires. Before that, a quick tease to what will be included. Here's a few topics: hanging with Ralphie, rap on the ride, buying snuff can save you in gas money, mac n cheese shakers, NBA action, my 64 tourney predictions, a movie review, and whatever else we feel worthy to throw in for your enjoyment. Or maybe there won't be any enjoyment, I guess we'll find out when I get things underway... starting.. now!

Who was along for this trip? It's roll call time. Car #1 featured Matty Cakes at the wheel, Kari, and the baby-expecting couple of Ozzie and Maria. If you haven't done so thus far, make sure you send the baby congratulations to Ozzie and Maria as they recently got word that sometime in the fall will make my Uncle Jeff into a grandpa. That will be good times indeed. Technically I can't be an uncle until I get married and we know that's ages away if ever, so all of my younger cousins hopefully will continue the tradition that Jill started with her kids of calling me uncle. I get a kick out of that for some reason.

Car #2 I took charge of and had Spank, Cork, and Trev all doing their thing. I've always mentioned, I'm not the world's greatest driver, so you never know what to expect on longer road trips. On the way up, it was smooth as all gets. For as many times as I've been to Cleveland, this is the first trip that I went north to get there, as that would be up I-79 and through Pittsburgh. Normally I'd go west and hit Route 50 and then straight through to I-77. Matty Cakes and Kari are veterans of the game of driving to Cleveland, so they suggested the north route is about a half hour quicker. I'm down for that and it wasn't a bad drive across the turnpike. I think I still prefer going on Route 50 because it seems 85% of that drive is in the middle of nowhere. Both ways are easy drives though and we didn't have traffic. On the way home, I'm terrible at changing lanes and Spank knows this for sure on road trips and he just kind of shakes his head at some of my moves. I didn't see this one car coming and about whipped it into his lane and took us out, to which Cork said "You've almost hit three cars on this trip." As they always say, almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Fortunately, we made it home safe and I always am thankful for a safe trip to where no problems go down. We were all successful on that end.

I don't get a ton of road trips where we have a car full of people that agree that rap is the way to go. We switched between old and new and that was a big part of our ride. You can't really go wrong with that if you ask me. If it wasn't rap, we had sports radio on, especially after the tournament selection later that night. More on that part later of course. Also, between Spank, Cork, and myself, we were all going through Call of Duty withdraws and would picture things in real life to imagine how that would translate to COD along the ride. I need to buy an adapter so we can play on my screen in the car, then we'd be set. We stopped at a gas station along the way, not sure of the exact area, but they had a promotion that I've never seen. I've never even seen it in my redneck area, let alone up north. Apparently if you buy a can of snuff of a certain kind at that store, you save three cents per gallon of gas. I kid you not, it was on their signs. Maybe they don't do that promotion in my area since every store would be losing money on their gas. Not like it's not already jacked up and overpriced, but that goes without saying. I always say, overpriced or not, it does no good to complain about gas prices. Sure, you can be tough guy and say you're going to walk, ride a donkey, or take a bus, but when it comes down to it, the majority here aren't going to do that. You're going to pay that gas price and like it. It's only going to go up as the weather gets warmer, just how it goes.

As we're driving along, we get closer and closer to Cleveland. Spank and I were saying this might be the only time we've went to the town together and didn't have some Bone Thugs playing in honor of the city. It's just a tradition with us, call it weird or not. Speaking of Bone Thugs, later this month I should have a nice Facebook topic on Eazy-E to gain some comments. My Biggie post seemed to have opinions from all over, I liked that. Anyways, we were going through this one area and it smelled awful, sulfur water style but not sure if it was that or what and it was in a rough section. Trev then said the line of the trip as we called it while driving in this area, "I can't see why LeBron would ever want to leave this place." That needed a picture to go with it, but maybe it was just one that you had to be a part of, but we all thought it was pretty creative.

Back to LeBron in a second, but let's take a detour. Part of the basketball trip was also to check out Ralphie. Yes, that Ralphie from A Christmas Story. Like it or love it, you all know it as the movie they play ten bazillion times during the Christmas holidays. I personally am a big fan, but not quite as obsessed as Kari is with it. This was the reason she wanted to go on the trip, the basketball game she could take it or leave it. Not far from the arena, we went to see the Christmas Story House and museum. They do half hour tours and the tour guide tells you all kinds of interesting things from the movie and how they filmed the movie in that area. All the outside shots were done at the house we were at and on that street. The inside house activities and department store scenes were done in Canada, but they restored the Cleveland house to make it pretty much exact. At the museum and gift shop, you could buy just about anything associated with the movie. The leg lamp? Sure, all sizes are there for that. The bunny suit? Yep. The Flick hat? You know it. I could go on and on. If you go to that area, it's well worth the stop, I enjoyed it.

If you've read my Cleveland stories before, you know a few things hardly change. One is the food stop. Alesci's in Downtown Cleveland. I've mentioned this place time and time again, but it's out of this world, at least in my opinion. I've tried a lot of their items, but I'm hooked mainly on their calzones. Yum yum! It's a small Italian place that is setup somewhat like a deli. I'm telling you, you can't go wrong with this place. This is the place that Ozzie says that he'd drive to Cleveland just for their food and drive back home if he had to. If that's not high praise, I'm not sure what is. Spank did say that their sausage and peppers can't even be graded against my Mom's homemade style, so Alesci's can't hang on that end, they lose that one. As we were leaving this place, there was a bar that had a promotion going on. In front were a few guys and they'd be yelling at people walking by, telling them the deal. What was that deal you ask? They had signs and were screaming, "$2 domestics, $3 bombs, and kids eat free!" Really? You're serious? Why not hold up a sign that says, "Hey drunkies, come on in with your kiddies and get wasted out of your minds and then get behind the wheel of a car." As this guy was doing his spiel out front, he shouted the domestics and bombs part and Spank finished up the part about kids eating free and the dude was all about it. It's another one that I guess you had to be there, but another one of my favorite things on the trip.

Now it's time to get into the area. The House That LeBron Built. I can't call it the Quicken Loans Arena, nobody calls it that. The Q? Eh, I guess we can roll with that if we had to. I miss the times of arena and stadium names that had actual thought behind them instead of some corportation just paying for the rights. This is the first time I've seen my (yes, I realize I don't play for the team, but I still am saying my) Celtics in Cleveland if memory serves me right. I've seen them play in a lot of other arenas, but not Cleveland. I've been to quite a bit of LeBron games and they never get old. The dude as I've said before, they treat him like an absolute god in that city, it's unbelievable to see in person. Watching on TV only does it a bit of justice and doesn't tell the entire story. Remember the last Cavs games I wrote about that I went to? That was the trip with Matty Cakes, Spank, and myself to where LeBron hit the buzzer beater three against the Magic in the playoffs. The atmosphere that night was off the charts. That trip also featured one of my favorite all time pictures, the one where I did the big leap off the ledge in the hotel onto the bed.

The game wasn't as close as it ended up. My boys took a beating for most of it, but the actual number wasn't too far off. Cavs ended up winning, 104-93. LeBron had an "off" game of 30pts/8rebs/7asts and shot a rough 9-21. Even with that, he still had a near triple double, dude is a freak. My crew? They're good in the East as they keep it going, but aren't a contender anymore. They're old, beat up, and just don't seem to have that defensive intensity that can intimidate teams anymore and motivation of a few years ago seems to be lost. It's been tough to watch the past month or two, but I'm still along for the ride, no questions. I live for the NBA. As I type this, they're 4th in the East, although that's not saying much at all. TJ Book could round up his Shinnston Jerry West team and land a playoff spot in the East practically. Or is Big T just that good of a coach? Hmm.. Anyways, our seats were way up this time, but I'm not one to be picky for seats. When we got our tickets in December, this game was a hot one and we had to pay fairly steep to get into the building because at the time, both were contenders. Even up high, we weren't far from midcourt and had an awesome view. I'd take them again with no complaints.

One thing that surprised me was a promotion they had. I can see promotions for the Pirates baseball games I go to, that understandable. As a little piece of info, they have the most promotions in the league. They have to with the roster they put out on the field. The Cavs? They currently have the best record in the ENTIRE NBA and they pull this one off. What is it? Kids Day we were part of and when we walked in, they handed everyone a box of mac and cheese. I can't make these things up. The deal was that you were to shake your box to make noise and it'd get the arena hopping. I didn't see one single person doing this and I was glad of that. The good is that it's free mac and cheese and I can tear those up like no other. At the end of the game, there were tons of boxes just laying around in the seats as people left. I know it's not filet mignon, but come on people, were you too good to take them home? We loaded up on some extra boxes to take with us, why not? It beats throwing them away. Think of all the needy people out that have nothing and how they'd appreciate just one box of that. Remember what you have and be thankful for it, most don't know how good they truly have it.

On the way up, we tore into some Cracker Barrel in Morgantown as a group. That was the big thing of the trip I wanted was a breakfast stop to get us going. That gets the day off on the right path. I ended up getting some french toast with peaches, hot apples, and bacon. It hit the spot for sure. On the way home, we went our separate ways and Car #2 made a food run to Smokey Bones. I've never been there before, but we went on Cork's recommendation. I guess they're known for their ribs, but I didn't go that route. The place is pretty big and it has a sports bar type atmosphere. I liked the look of the place. I did not, and Spank agreed with me, care for how crazy loud it was in this place. When it comes to eating, I want some semblance of peace and not to have to scream at each other sitting in the same booth. Spank said it reminded him of a club, thumbs down. Once the food came though, the thumbs up went way in the air. I ended up getting salmon which was amazing and I'd definitely get it again here, a salad that wasn't bad, and and you guessed it, hot apples. I loved the food.

Tomorrow begins the college basketball tourney and it's time for me to give my picks out to the world. I'm sure these will be mangled within a few hours time, but do with them what you like. Last year I was lucky enough to win Ozzie's big money pool, so I have to retain my title this year. You've all heard enough things about the tourney this week, so I won't keep you long. Here is my breakdown in a nutshell..

Elite 8: Michigan State, OSU, Cuse, Xavier, Texas, New Mexico, A&M, Baylor.

Final 4: OSU, Cuse, New Mex, Baylor

Championship: Cuse vs Baylor

Winner: Syracuse

1st Round Upset specials: Northern Iowa, SD State, Cornell, Louisville, Seina, ODU, St. Marys

Movie time once again. Theater this time and not a rental. This one to mention is Remember Me. Yes, a chick flick, I know what you're thinking already. It's not as bad as some of the guys made it out to look actually. The theater was fairly crowded and as you could guess, there were very few guys in attendance. You've all seen the previews, but it's the new Edward Cullen movie. It's the Stifler theory, he's not Robert Pattinson to me, he's Edward Cullen no matter what role in a movie he plays again. The same way in how Stifler is not Seann William Scott, you know what I mean. IMDB wasn't kind to the movie, I was a bit surprised, but they have it at a 5.8 out of 10. Cullen played his role great and made it seem he can play other parts other than Twilight stuff. Another that played their role was little kid Ruby Jerins, who was Cullen's sister in the movie. You'll instantly like the role that she plays. Tate Ellington, not to be confused with basketballer Wayne Ellington, he wins the award for biggest douche in a movie in a while. They casted him great for that because most of the movie you don't care for him, even if he's boys with Cullen. My final rating? Be ready for it because this movie was more than I expected as well actually, 8.4.

Bird's Dirty of the Week: Kristen in Florida is back action with more action for us to check out. This apparently is the "THA REAL BO$$ BITCH". I just call it as it's printed, it's there. We go to Georgia for this girl. What does Kristen think? "and while you're at's a sho' nuff dirty for ya! even from atlanta....not a whole lotta pictures, but enough to make her qualify for sure" "her pictures are of her being all nasty though" "considering there's not one where you can honestly see her face clearly yea...that's a good indication.." Check it out for yourself at

Bird's Video Moment of the Week: We're going to a kids dunk contest from 2005 at a Wiz game. The kid that can't dribble at all cracks me up, plus the fourth kid seems to have some talent. Watch him do the oop off the backboard dunk and then you get the brush off at the 1:50 mark. The only thing this is missing is sound, but it's getting put up regardless.

3 Quick Thangs:

1. Let's go with some birthdays for Thursday, February 18th. We haven't done these in a while. We start out with Yoko Ono, former wife of John Lennon, she's 77. Actress Cybill Shepherd, 60. Director John Hughes of Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller fame, he's also 60. Speaking of movies, let's go to John Travolta, 56. Wheel of Fortune chick Vanna White, 53 and still looks decent. We're going back to movies and hitting up Matt Dillon, he's 46. A guy who gets my utmost respect, the greatest rap producer of all time and also the man of the greatest album of all time in The Chronic, ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Dre is now 45. Actress Molly Ringwald, 42. If you ask me, that's a solid group indeed.

2. Want some facts? Polar bears can eat as many as 86 penguins in a single sitting. Somehow I'd want to see that to believe it.. In the weightlessness of space a frozen pea will explode if it comes in contact with Pepsi. Who knew? When immersed in liquid, a dead sparrow will make a sound like a crying baby. Yet another one I'd have to see to believe.

3. I don't have anything to end on, so I'm just going to give a basketball opinion for no other reason. Best current in-game dunker? My vote goes to Josh "J-Smoove" Smith. This guy is just so nasty, yet doesn't get his credit due. LeBron, JRich, and Amare are all up there for sure, but Smoove gets my pick.


Anonymous said...

You guys should try Hoggy's next time you're in Cleveland, that's my recommendation. It's not right in town, it's a little in the suburbs before you get there.

- dingo

Anonymous said...

also john hughes is dead, they had a big thing at the oscars for his memorial - dingo

Bird33 said...

Dingo, that menu looks pretty good there, might have to check that out.. and there goes any research I did on John Hughes, hah. I wouldn't have known him anyways other than the name, but thanks for informing the blog land.

DirtyKash said...

Glad that you guys made it home safe, but it's weird that Trev and Cork let you drive on the road trips. Ouch. Hopefully you guys don't plan any more trips for the rest of 2010, so that I can pick Cork for my deathpool list next year.

Corndog said...

Where does a polar bear find 86 penguins?!

Ive gotta go to the Ralphie house! They called me Ralphie for 2 years on the state road summer crew because this girl always said I looked like him