Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum

First, 39 words of explanation: Baseball is a sport, a type of athletic competition. Bats are used to play baseball. Louisville Sluggers is a brand of bat. 62% of MLB players use this particular brand of bat. Hence, Louisville Sluggers are important to baseball.

The factory is the anti-Miller Brewing factory. It is much smaller than you would ever think. The entire Slugger factory is in one room. All bats made for Major League Baseball are made on one machine. (whose machine? MY machine) It seems like Louisville Slugger should have graduated from this setup somewhere around 1950.

Also- part of the old school feel of the factory... You walk right through the factory on the tour. There are no glass partitions or dividers of any kind. You can pretty much walk directly up to any of the machines.

How do those machines work? The machines make a bat in 30 seconds flat. They also have a machine for commemorative and personalized bats. In our tour guides words: "If somebody famous comes to town, we get them a bat." They make bats for the hall of fame, world series, and presidents. One bat we viewed was designed for the host of this reverse game show. What is Jeopardy?

They burn all the writing on wood bats directly into the bat off of a hot template. In fact, in the factory, they have all of the autographs of every major league player who has ever used a Louisville Slugger. This is awe inspiring and colossal... but it is kept in this tiny mail-room type cabinet. It's basically the genie in Aladdin: Cosmic powers, itty bitty living space. The cabinet, however, is not voiced by Robin Williams.

A few words about the Museum:
  • It's very interactive, and one particularly cool thing is "Batter Up!" which shows you the delivery of a particular pitcher and the actual speed at which his fastball comes. Hint: they're fast.
  • They also have an exhibit with some attempted bat redesigns through the years. Some of my favorites were the double knob bat (designed for choking up), the bent handle bat (designed to increase torque), and the counter weight bat (which has a gigantic handle, and is supposed to balance your swing).
  • Outside of the museum, they have what appears to be Paul Bunyan's bat. It's a bat, standing on its side that must be six stories high. or so. I am not really sure how tall a story is. It's tall. just take my word for it.
I leave you with one last quote from Hank Aaron:
"The pitcher's only got a ball; I've got a bat." Let awesome quotes like that be reason number 7,832 we root for Aaron over Bonds.

By the way... now I have a bat. A miniature one that they give out on the tour... so if you've only got a ball, watch out.

My Old Kentucky Home

A few preliminary words about Louisville: One thing is that the “Quality Inn” in Louisville is apparently an ironic name. The second thing to know is that it’s hotter than a tea kettle in a sauna here today (sorry about that- the southern effect on me…) It’s 100 degrees everywhere we went today.

Churchill Downs – The home of the Kentucky Derby

This place is surprisingly elegant for a sports venue. Actually, it’s elegant for a house. It’s surrounded by gardens and the outside porch looks like it belongs to a Savannah mansion. I could see someone named Ella Mae enjoying a mint julep out there. In fact, we enjoyed some mint juleps. Mint juleps are the famous drink of the Kentucky derby, and here is the recipe: bourbon (a lot) and some mint. Ice makes it cold.

Churchill Downs was very similar to the Indy Speedway museum of yesterday in that it seemed like it would be breathtaking… if you cared about the sport. Which we didn’t. As it was it was pretty great.

Other parts of the grounds:

  • They keep a retired horse on the grounds. There’s a sign that says “Caution: Horse may bite.” Yeah horse… well, I might bite, so – step off.
  • We didn’t have any beefarino to feed the horse
  • Speaking of horses on the grounds. Four Kentucky Derby winning horses are buried at Churchill Downs. Barbaro was nowhere to be found, though.
  • All Kentucky Derby winners’ names are on plaques on the walls surrounding the racetrack. That’s 1875 winners- 2007. Am I crazy or is that a lot of years? That’s a lot of years!
  • The track itself is just dirt/ mud. I am not sure why I would expect it to be any more than that, but somehow I did.
  • The seats in the stands, even the track-side seats, are just regular metal folding chairs. Attending the Kentucky Derby gets you that same level of comfort that shalosh seudos in Darchei Noam gets you.

There are a few other things I think you want to know:

  • They measure horses by 4 inch lengths called “hands.” Good to know that somewhere the tefach is alive and well.
  • 100 of the 133 Kentucky Derby winning horses are from Kentucky. Kentucky is to the Derby, as Kenya is to the New York marathon.
  • 156,000 people attend the derby. 100,000 of those stand on the “infield,” the inner circle of the track. There is also 25 million dollars in betting that day. If I was a hick from Kentucky… I’d get involved in at least one of those two.

Overall, the Derby seems like a great event, the museum and tour are fun, and the mint juleps are a little too alcoholic. Churchill Downs, however, goes down just right.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

20 Hours in America

Indiana is the most random place on earth. It edges out Pee Wee’s Playhouse by one ear of corn. Accordingly (and because I should go to sleep), I am going to try to breeze through the day’s highlights in a much quicker fashion than normal.

Giant Woman’s Leg Sundial
That was what was typed on our itinerary. I was not sure whether this was a giant statue of a woman’s leg that was used as a sundial, a giant woman who posed her leg for the greater time-giving-based-on-the-sun good, or a regular woman who happens to have a gigantic leg, who happens to pose that leg in sundial formation, in Indiana.

It turns out it was the first option (but again- Indiana… random… all possible) and it was a giant statue. But there is one detail of the statue we have not quite shared yet…

It’s in a nudist colony.

Yeah, a nudist colony. A colony of nudes.

We had no idea what to expect when we went into this place, but one thing we were pretty confident about: this was the beginning to a movie. We weren’t sure whether it would be a porn movie or a horror movie, but that someone was filming us was undeniable.

As it turned out – the morning was pretty bleak and stormy meaning two things: 1) There was no sun to shine through to be potentially dialed. 2) We did not see any naked people. This, by the way, worked out very well for us, based on all the clothed people we saw.

The most naked thing there was the giant sundial. It was voluptuous and tempting. It showed just enough leg to make me wonder what is covered underground.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Quick hits:

  • The Speedway is much longer than other sports stadiums. I will learn that this is because the track itself is two and a half miles long. Now you have learned it.
  • The parking lot for the museum is located smack in the middle of the racing track. That’s awesome. I know, I was there.
  • There is an actual sign on the door to the museum that says: “Shirt and Shoes Required.” I guess they’re not actually providing a service in the classical sense, so they needed a variation on the sign.
  • The track is nicknamed the brickyard because its original paving was done in brick. The start/ finish line is still in brick to this day. Honestly… who would think driving on brick is a good idea?
  • The stands are interesting. I would say that there’s really no such thing as a bad seat. All the seats are close to the track, but the downside of the track’s length is that no one can see the whole race, you can only see what’s in front of you. The other downside about the stands is that if you are in them, you are watching auto racing.
  • The custom of drinking milk starter with race winner Louis Meyer who drank buttermilk, not to celebrate his victory, but because it was hot out and that’s what he drank to refresh himself. This confuses me. It is my understanding that in situation where it is so damn hot, milk is a bad choice.
  • Race cars used to be shaped like penises. I can’t explain it better. Look it up.
  • The first race cars went ten, ten miles per hour. And usually when they were pulled over they went to the side of the track, not the middle.
  • There are only three races a year that take place on the Speedway; Seems like a waste is all I’m saying.

NCAA Hall of Champions

  • It’s located in this one great area in downtown Indianapolis. There is one big park facility and within it are: the hall of champions, the Indianapolis zoo, the Indianapolis State museum, a native American art museum, gardens, the White River, the Imax, and fields and picnic areas. Across the street are the RCA Dome (home of the Colts), and Victory Field. Within 5 minutes are Conseco Field House (the Pacers) and the capitol building. Dear Indianapolis, Your city is very convenient. Love, Etan.
  • One weakness in our planning – we got there about 20 minutes before closing
  • One strength in our planning- they had already shut down the register so we went for free.
  • It was very interactive- more so than any other museum we have seen, including:
    • Watching clips of many NCAA championship games
    • Listening to different school theme songs
    • Trying on different sports equipment
    • A pitch area with mile-per-hour measurements. (mid to low 60s, in case you were wondering our range)
    • A basketball court you can play on that also marks the spot of famous shots such as Bryce Drew, Christian Laettner, Jordan and Tyus Edney.
  • It’s really a fun place… If you ever end up there, give it more time.

Superhero Museum
I have little to say about this only because it is pretty mediocre right now. The museum (read as “one weird room in the back of another weird room”) opened in April and is still pretty small. It also only commemorates Batman and Superman right now. If there’s anything I learned from watching super hero movies it is not to piss these people off. They should think about enshrining many more people ASAP.

They have a lot of television and film memorabilia, so if you are a big fan of Lois and Clark, Smallville, or the 1960s Batman TV series… this may be the place for you.

That’s all for Indiana, I just want to try to give you a visual of it. Indiana looks like Indiana but with less houses and more corn. Hope that helps.

Wednesday… Louisville

Dialing up "The Cell"

The Cell (US Cellular Field) – Kansas City Royals @ Chicago White Sox.

I need to divide this post into 3 parts. 1) Our awful seats, innings 1-3 2) The Bullpen Bar, innings 4-6 3) Upper deck behind home plate, innings 7-9.

1) Our awful seats, innings 1-3
We came in with extremely low expectations from hearing very poor reviews on the stadium. The outside was nicer than we had thought, and the front of the stadium reads Chicago White Sox/ World Champions/ 1906-1917-2005. For some reason- that made me laugh. I am just not sure that I would have made the choice to brag about that.

We got inside to watch the game, which was a matchup between two pretty poor teams, but we got the best possible pitching match: Buehrle vs. Meche. (and no Buehrle isn’t Pines.)

We had awful seats, out in right field. These were terrible. In truth, the seating is very bad in the stadium. There are basically only two tiers, a field level and an upper deck. There is no loge or mezzanine level; everything in between are luxury boxes. Additionally, the first row of the upper deck starts where the last row of the field level ends. There really are no close seats outside of field level.

In our awful section, there were two groups seated. One was some Jewish shul-type group. The other was a minority rehab group. Kudos to whoever put this together.

2) The Bullpen Bar, innings 4-6
Behind the Royals bullpen, past the right field homerun fence, there is a bar that you can hang in. It’s a great, spacious bar but it’s basically a regular sports bar. You can look into, but can’t hear the stadium from inside the bar. There are other sports games on the televisions. We didn’t even see the homerun in the sixth. Av and Hal played a few innings of 2K7. (It was Mets vs. Yankees – you can imagine how this ended)

As I mentioned, though, you can see into the stadium. We sat for two innings right behind the Royals bullpen on ground level, staring into the stadium. Firstly, that is a great view of the game; I’ve never before seen the dirt kicked up as play ensued. The other great thing was that Scott Podsednik hit a fifth inning homerun into the bullpen, directly in front of us. If not for a plexi-glass window, we could have caught it. Well not Abie, he’s not very athletic.

3) Upper deck behind home plate, innings 7-9
This is obviously a much better view of the game. It really was nice from up there and good work by the White Sox for having cool pinwheels and fireworks for homeruns.

One last detail about this game: Bobby Jenks was going for an amazing record. He entered the 9th inning tied for the all time record with 41 batters retired in a row. He needed to retire the first batter to set an all-time record. Well, you may know, Joey Gaithwright led off the ninth with a single breaking up the streak. The stadium then stood up and saluted him, he doffed his cap, and moved on with the inning.

The only thing was…we didn’t have any idea about the record. The scoreboard actually flashed the fact that he had retired 41 in a row but it seemed like a general statistic about his career. We assumed he did it in 2005 or 2006. So from our perspective, a White Sox pitcher gave up a single and received a resounding ovation for it. We supposed that non-New Yorkers really are nicer…

I can’t possibly explain how bizarre it is to be at some sort of historical moment, only to find out that it was historical afterwards. It’s probably like seeing Kurt Cobain in his last performance before he killed himself. The significance of the moment is only understood after the fact. It’s weird for something to become more important in your mind based on facts you learned afterward.

I bring you a poem, composed by Butch and Abie in the Bullpen Bar to sum up our experience:

Each Town,
A New Stadium.
Always Fun
And Good Times

It’s their imagery that gets me. Their words are more powerful than Bobby Jenks.

It's Miller Time!

Miller Brewery

The opening sign was a harbinger of extremely good things to come. It told us two things: 1) The Miller Tour was free. This was exactly the right amount of money for them to charge. Good thinking. 2) It also said “Bring your ID and your LOVE for beer.” I brought my driver’s license but accidentally left my love for beer in the car. I quickly got it… and the tour was off.

The tour started with an amazingly over-the-top, cheesy video. And it all revolves around Miller Time. There are a few things you need to know about this. All of these facts were learned from video:

  1. In the Miller Brewing Company, it’s always Miller Time
  2. Miller Time is defined as “that point in the night when you see that special someone and the night goes from good to great.”
  3. How important is Miller time? “From the beginning, man has longed for Miller Time”
  4. In that sense, two facts are to be understood:
    1. Since it is always Miller Time at the Miller Brewing Company, we’ve “arrived at the epicenter”
    2. Therefore, the Miller Brewing company “is a salute to everything that’s right with your world.”
I see nothing in all of those facts that I can argue with. Well said, Miller.

We drink a lot of beer:

  • In this specific brewery (there are four other ones- some produce more) they produce 500,000 cases of beer every day. All Miller Breweries produce 53 million barrels a year. By our math, that comes out to almost 3,000,000 cases of Miller daily.
  • And they only produce beer that’s already been sold….
  • And this is only Miller, no other companies.
  • America drinks so much more beer every day than I ever would have guessed.

Other Lessons:

  • The city of Chicago consumes 40% of the 500,000 daily cases. I love Chicago.
  • The shipping department covers the size of five football fields, and can be stacked eighteen feet high.
  • The cost of beer is about 80% advertising. The actual cost of any individual beer: 10 cents.
  • At all stages until it is bottled, beer smells very very bad.
  • Sunset Wheat (Miller made) beer tastes like Fruity Pebbles
  • When we told this to the brewery guy, he said: “Oh, for sure, especially the smell”
  • As long as we all know that….

In summary, this is a shitload of beer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The pictures

Finally, your wait is over. I can't imagine how any of you survived the week without these, but they are here now.

Road Trip pics album 1 and album 2. Now... With Captions!!

Irish Fest!!!!

Irishfest is the kind of experience that is hard to explain. You really need pictures and video to appreciate it. Unfortunately, Butch decided to combine Irish Fest and jogging… and no one else brought the camera, so it seems it will go eternally unappreciated. Irish Fest is a Jewish mother.

I will try and describe it, but – keep in mind that I had seven Irish-style micro-brewed beers in succession upon getting there… so all of this may or may not have happened. I should just channel my inner Tim O’Brien and describe this blog post as a work of fiction.

The Highlights:

  • We tried out the sport of hurling. This is played with a baseball-like ball, and a wooden bat that looked like a baseball bat plus a fake shark fin on the end. We aimed to hit the ball through a tire- anyone who could do it got 5 bucks from each of us. Av got extremely close, Harold and I couldn’t do it, and Butch and Abe couldn’t hit the ball.
  • We went to the genealogy tent to trace our Irish roots. Alas there were no Bednarshes, Oppenheimers, Sinenskys, Rosengartens, or Suttons to be found in old Ireland. Harold summed it up best: “I’m not Irish.” Lesson learned.
  • We missed the tug of war competition from earlier in the day. To repeat- at a festival where beer distribution points were never more than 20 feet away, they also had tug of war. I can’t explain how good Irish Fest was.
  • The Irish band playing on the main stage (yes, there were plenty of side stages) explained that one song “was off of their new album.” It made me feel better for not knowing it
  • Abe, Hal, and I participated in six figures of Irish set dancing. I know what you’re thinking, but-no- set dancing is different from Irish kailey dancing. Abe got a teacher for his partner, Hal got 7 knowledgeable circle participants, and I got a drunk girl who I needed to drag around to the different positions. She had to call it after 4 figures due to dizziness. Ah, alcohol…
  • Av and I were not allowed to take our beers out of the fest, and the woman at the door made us throw ours out. “I just wasted beer,” cried Av. “I hope your happy.” I know we weren’t.

I would follow that section with lowlights, but there were none. I want to live in Irish Fest. Not Ireland, though. Seems too weird. See “Highlights” for explanation.


... and we start with Miller Park for Reds @ Brewers.

We stayed in Milwaukee for over a day, and the whole time it was cold and anywhere from overcast to pouring. I would characterize it as a bad fall day… in August. So keep that in mind for all Milwaukee posts.

The stadium is very cool, but a little funny looking. Miller Park has a retractable roof, and it was on because of the weather. With the roof on, the stadium looks like it’s covered by a green hairnet. It’s not the prettiest thing but at least there won’t be hair in our meatloaf. Even though the roof was on, there are a lot of glass windows and it gives the park, even when it’s covered and indoors, an outdoorsy feel.

Other interesting things about the stadium are the Bernie Brewer slide for homeruns (of which there were many), and the fact that the homerun fence in left field is a scoreboard itself. This strikes me as the kind of idea someone came up with when they were high. (“Dude… no, no scoreboard… it’s on the field man… the wall isn’t a wall… it’s a video, man.”)

The stadium also had one particular thing in common with PNC Park in Pittsburgh – the appeal to children. The slide obviously works for that. There is also a little kids Sesame Place type play area in the upper deck concourse. (No, they wouldn’t let me into the ball pit. Yes, I need to shave so I can pull off the six and under look.) You can text message the stadium and they put selected ones on the scoreboard. Lastly, and amazingly, in the bottom of the fourth, they had a Jr. public address announcer, calling out all those who came to bat.

You have to wonder what the Jr. Announcer can get away with. Can s/he ad lib a little? Comment on a nice hit? Give a nickname for a player? How far can the Jr. Announcer go before losing his/ her microphone? Sometimes the questions are better than the answers.

Game Notes

  • I would like to judge a mustache contest between Bernie Brewer and anyone else in the world.
  • The main sponsors for the Brewers are Miller and Valvoline, beer and cars. I couldn’t explain Milwaukee better if I wanted to. And I do want to, I just can’t.
  • The Sausage Race went to a replay, photo finish. The sausage race is up there with a world series game, the 18th hole of the Masters, and the Super Bowl for sports events you need to see live.
  • Many teams have some other song that they sing after “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch. The Brewers’ song is “Roll out the Barrel!” This is the most ridiculous song I have heard since the Ketchup song (not you, Ketchup), and it actually includes the lyric “Zip! Boom! Tar-rar-rel!” If I remember correctly, Tar-rar-rel was Superman’s Kryptonian father.
  • They played hava nagilla as a stadium pump up song three times. Jews run everything.
  • Relief pitcher Brian Shouse was played in to the game with Tears for Fears’ “Shout.” Milwaukeeans pronounce Shout in Ashkenazi.

Second City

For those who don’t know what Second City is – it’s worth it to wikipedia them now. It has been an unbelievably successful comic training ground for 50 years. Many comics you know have walked to their current success through Second City’s doors. This includes older actors like Alan Alda, Alan Arkin, and Ed Asner; veteran SNL alums such as John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner; recent SNLers Tina Fey, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows, Mike Myers; and generally hilarious people such as Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Adam McKay, Dan Castalanetta, and Trey Stone. Let’s just say… Second City has many leather bound books.

We saw a show called “Between Barack and a Hard Place,” and let’s just say: it was a very high notch. I wouldn’t say they were significantly better than any other comedy shows I’ve ever seen, but they were trying to do something in a significantly different way from the United Citizens Brigade, for example. They tried to do individual sketches, disconnected from sketches before and after. There is a reason so many SNL stars come from Second City. What they do is the closest thing I have ever seen approaching anything that is Live from New York.

The Actors – I haven’t wikipedia’d them so I have little information on them. I think the only reason I am writing this is on the off chance one of these guys makes it.

  • Joe Canale – Butch liked this guy
  • Ithamar Enriquez – Solid
  • Molly Erdman- she’s the woman form the Sonic commercials. That’s kind of cool
  • Brad Morris- Hal and my favorite
  • Amber Ruffin- mediocre
  • Brian Gallivan – they call him the Bri man
  • Mark Swaner – he’s funny cause he’s bigger than regular size

Some Selected Punchlines/ Jokes
“Attention Surplus Disorder”… IRA is pissed at radical Islam that no one is afraid of them… Sequels always suck, don’t buy the New testament… Why are you smoking? To keep my unborn baby small so it’ll be easier to push out… terrorists watching the local news to figure out how to pull off an attack… Thanks to Islam and immigrants- “It’s good to be black”…

That looks like the inside jokes written on the back of the Second City sweatshirt. If anyone can come up with a design for the front side, let us know…

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Sears Tower

Believe it or not, on our way there we actually confused the Sears Tower for a completely different building. We almost went to the John Hancock Center (I mean, the Herbie Hancock Center) in downtown Chicago. And I don't put all the blame on us. For reasons unbeknownst to me, there are two huge black towers in Chicago. I guess this is a chicken and the egg thing (unless that is irrelevant), but whichever building came first should have had jurisdiction on having a huge black tower.

The Sears Tower building was the tallest structure for 28 years, but it was surpassed. Now it is like that High School sports hero who everything in the town was named after, and was a local celebrity until thirty years later, all his records were smashed. We know this guy... his identity is entwined with this record, so he starts making up reasons he should still have the record. "In my days, we didn't have this new fangled equipment." "I had to do it against better defenses." Well, the Sears tower is now that guy. In a video, one developer claims "Well, we still have the tallest antennas in the world." Let it go, Sears, let it go...

That said- the tower is great. And it's different than "the top of the world" (check out post numero uno for that one) in two ways: 1. It's a hell of a lot closer to the top of the world. 2. The building is interesting as a structure and not just as an observation deck. Take a second to learn about how it was built: 9 columns, different heights, pretty cool concept actually.

That's not to say that the observation deck is not great... it is. You take a minute elevator ride from LL2 (let's assume that stands for Lindsay Lohan who operates on the lower level.) to floor 103. Your ears actually pop on the way up. Some of our fellow riders seemed uncomfortable by the packed elevator. They have clearly never exited the number 1 train at 181st street.

The observation deck really is an incredible view. On a clear day, you can see 15 miles in every direction. We got a great view in every direction and we actually have a good mental picture of downtown Chicago. I assume this will help us never.

How good was the view.... A number of people were able to see into the Wrigley bleachers and view the lack of bikini top. The Sears tower is pretty cool.

A word, if I may

Those who have consulted our itinerary may have noticed that I am a day and a half behind on this blog. Well, to quote the All American Rejects (and I apologize for that but I haven't been allowed to listen to any pop music for a good week now), it ends tonight. Tonight is the night, is the night of love. And tonight will also hopefully be the night we catch up. Posts to come... Sears Tower, Second City, Miller Park, and Irish Fest.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wrigley Field

I have to break this one in to a few subsections. The titles of those subsections will be underlined. It's fun to explain things.

The Feel of Wrigley Field

Av quoted Joe Green to me (I assume that this is not the Mean one, nor the Clue Professor) that Wrigley is “baseball tahara (purity).” There is a lot to be said for that. Wrigley feels like you are just going to a baseball game. In Pittsburgh we were headed to a Mets game, in The Jake- it was about the luxury suite. Wrigley was about the game of baseball.

There is no video board anywhere in Wrigley. As such, there are no replays. There are no in-between inning games or entertainment of any sort. It’s even difficult to find who is up and what the count is. You are there to watch the game. And the feel is so old-school. The out of town scoreboard is still changed by hand. The ivy and the brick are so simple, and so classy. It had the awe inspiring feel of an ancient relic while still being very much alive with baseball, directly in front of us.

If the Field of Dreams would ever take place in a baseball stadium in America, it would happen at Wrigley. If it would ever take place not in a baseball stadium, it would still be on a farm in Iowa.

Life in the Bleachers
Well, for the first time on this road trip, we split up. New Harold and Booch sat 6 rows above the first base dugout and Av, Abie, and I sat in the bleachers. The bleachers at Wrigley felt like getting a hug from a grandmother you’ve never seen before. Even though it was new, it felt both familiar and warm. The atmosphere was fantastic.

There are no assigned seats; you just call out for an opening. No one treats you like Forrest Gump when you are seat searching. Everyone is immediately friends with everyone else. The guy behind me yelled “Anyone need sunscreen… I have some” The guy to the right spilled some beer on the seats in front of him, but we all just helped clean it up. After all, there’s no sense in yelling at a friend.

It’s the perfect place to watch a baseball game. If Wrigley is baseball purity, than the Bleachers are the inner sanctum. (Yep, “sanctum”)

Cards vs. Cubs
As baseball fans, we are well aware that this is a huge rivalry. We are familiar with Red Sox-Yankees. We knew what to expect. Accordingly, Abie and I wagered a little beforehand… the price: Your Soul! Well, your Cubs soul… the loser (read: Abie) had to wear a Cardinals hat to the Wrigley Bleachers. We did not expect him to leave with all of his appendages.

It really wasn’t as crazy as we had assumed for two reasons: 1. There were a ton of Cardinals fans at this game. There were Red seas around the stadium. 2. I don’t know if it’s a mid-west vs. east coast thing, or a history of the team things, but the rivalry, although great, is much less mean spirited than it is in New York or Boston. You got the impression that the whole thing was in good taste, and that even the “Hitler was a Cubs fan” shirt was tongue in cheek. Note: I did not have a chance to wikipedia Hitler to see if the shirt was factual.

So Abie wore a cards hat, but the worst thing that happened to him was me getting patted on the back for making fun of him. And him getting the “asshole” chant once. This chant, though, came from Av and I. So in that sense, it was the same as every other day of the road trip.

By the way – to counter Abie, Av and I played the roles of old time Cubs fans. Double play? “Same Old Cubs” we yelled. Ah, the agony of being a Cubs fan for one day.

The Game
This was an old style ball game. This had great pitching, good defense, and smart ball playing. The only runs were a solo homerun by Albert Pujols, (according to a t shirt outside the stadium, the Cards take it in their Pujols) and a two run homer by Jaque Jones, giving the Cubs the victory. There was also a great catch by Jaque Jones when he crashed into the ivy to save an extra base hit and some runs. We hope he doesn’t get a rash.

Some of the kids may want to earmuff the rest of this. The other significant part of the game was that I have no idea whether the fifth inning happened. I am assuming that it did because I saw both the fourth and the sixth, but there is just no way to be certain. I didn’t leave, nor was I temporarily blinded. Rather, a Cards fan, with significant sized (very significant), medically enhanced, breasts entered our area of the bleachers. I would say that she was wearing jeans and a bikini top, but that is an insult to bikini tops. She was wearing the kind of top that would have been allowed in the SI swimsuit issue.

Two bleacher sections stood up and turned to watch her for an inning. Men, Women, children, vendors, animals, ball players, people further away with zoom on their cameras, planes overhead, and aliens from other planets all paused their activities to stare at this woman’s chest. Trying to fit in with my fellow Cubs fans, I said “Now that’s the kind of Cardinals fan, I don’t mind.” The response from a row below: “I’d rather kill myself than suck on those.” In his defense… that guy was clearly gay.

In summary – Chicago residents enjoy breasts, Cards-Cubs is a fun rivalry, and you should try and see a baseball game at Wrigley Field in your lifetime.

The 49er Drive-In, Valparaiso, Indiana

This drive-in was the most American thing any one of us has ever done (except Harold. Harold thinks his step father’s mustache is very American). Every family there drove a pick up truck or SUV and they all had five kids and each kid had blond hair and blue eyes. Which makes sense because each parent had blond hair and blue eyes, as well.

They sell coke by the 130 oz. (we know cause we had), and popcorn by the tub. Not popcorn tub, tub; bathtub tub. Oh, we also learned the answer to the age old question of “Why do they sell those fold up chairs at Target/ Wal Mart if the only people who use them are kids in camp?” The answer is – hicks at drive ins use them as well. So they are cornering two markets.

There is a beep song. I can’t explain this further really because I was just as confused as I assume you are now. But there is a song that they play before the movie, whose tune sounds like it was composed by Uncle Moishy. During this song, all the kids go to the driver’s seat and honk their horns repetitively and annoyingly. It’s really great. And by great, I mean terrible.

Blared out by the “Beep your horn for long, annoying periods of time” song, and wished again later was a message over the PA wishing “Happy 50th Birthday Harold from the Thread.” I think it took the second listening to believe it was referring to us. But it was. Harold’s name turned 50 on Thursday. He looks good for his age, still has his sense of humor, eyesight and boyish good looks. Kudos to Danny Groner for the wishes. The best part of the happy birthday was the length it took to pull this off. For the whole story, email Danny. Watch out for that first email, it’s a Doozy!

They also start the movies with the National Anthem. This was a huge slice of Americana. After this experience, I think I am voting Republican. And buying a gun. And having five kids. And a dog.

As far as the movies… We saw Ratatouille and The Simpsons. I bring you Harold Rosengarten’s brilliant reviews of each:

Ratatouille – “I don’t even remember, I though it was okay. I learned that not only can rodents sew dresses, but they can do a whale of a job cooking.”

The Simpsons – “I am looking forward to Spider Pig 3”

I am looking forward to Harold fun facts 2…

Friday, August 17, 2007

Notre Dame

We have more to say about Indiana as a whole, but we'll see if we can get there....

The campus was totally empty, which was unappreciated. They really should have brought some people in for us. We did get a chance to see the football stadium, touchdown Jesus, “Number 1 Moses,” and the Golden Dome. The Golden Dome seemed to be one of the most chilled out religious structures I have ever seen. First of all, Jesus atop the dome seems to be giving a “low five.” Secondly, there is a beach volleyball court right next to it. I’d like to see that at the kotel. Actually, I just remembered what the kotel ladies look like. Let’s keep them shrouded in black…

Harold went in to the touchdown Jesus building, supposedly to pee. I am going to assume that is a euphemism for baptism.

One other note- the golden furred squirrels in Indiana are the equivalent of pigeons in New York. This squirrel crawled right up to Av without fear. Only after Abie explained that on his many travails he had met one of his kind called Ko-Jo did the squirrel let us go. Consider this fulfilling our promise to tell stories of his compassion.

The campus is gorgeous. It’s sprawling with huge lawns, lined by trees, and interspersed with murals and monuments. It must be ridiculously beautiful in the spring and fall. There is also a lot of Latin. If only I had gone to the School of Rock to learn it.

College is amazing. You know… hypothetically.
YU Sucks.

Still to come: A drive in to Americana and a Happy 50th Birthday to Harold.... Stay Tuned

Pro Football Hall of Fame

The day started at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Some highlights:

  • A number of people showed up there in football jerseys. I wish people would have done that at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It would’ve been much more interesting to see overweight Pittsburgians dressed in David Bowie uniforms than Steelers uniforms.
  • Av’s first highlight of the Hall was reading “the major terms” of the AFL-NFL merger. Hall of Fame, “You’ve been lawyered!”
  • Without treading too much on New Harold’s feet… a merry fact from the Hall of Fame: In 1983, all five AFC East teams drafted quarterbacks. Three of those are in the hall of fame.
    Av and Harold had their Jets season tickets for this week’s Friday night preseason game with them. (It seems they won’t be going to that game. Chicago is far from New York. Oh, and Shabbos and stuff) Well, they did the best possible thing anyone could ever do with tickets to a game… They left them standing atop the Jets team shrine. I hope there are two guys going back to New York who make it back just in time to sell them on stub hub.
  • The best part of the pro football Hall of Fame was a circular room filled with all the busts of every Hall of Fame inductee. I want to pull a Dr. Tobias Funke when I get back and bronze myself in case the hall of fame calls. Oh, Etan, you’re a blowhard.
  • The bust room also had an interactive screen with every player listed and located for you. It also lets you watch memorable moments, a video biography, and a personal profile.
    Actual nicknames from players enshrined in the early years of the Hall of Fame: Red, Dutch, Curly, Blood, Bronko, Link, Paddy, Bulldog, shorty, Crazylegs, Greasy, Turk (although I am pretty sure it’s Turkleton), Bruiser, Ace, Night Train, Tuffy, and Deacon. But they didn’t have a Butch. Us 1, Hall of Fame 0.
  • They didn’t have enough interactive stuff in the non-Bust rooms in the Hall, that was its major weakness. At the end, they did have a football toss, which I am sad to say – Abie was the first one to throw a football through successfully. That was a bigger upset than when the Providence Steam Rollers beat the New York Giants 14-0 on October 11, 1925.

Indians Baseball! Yeah!!!!!

Thanks for coming. I’m glad you made it. You may recall 24 hours ago, I asked you to meet me at this blog…

The Jake is great. The baseball stadium is “The Jake,” basketball is “The Q,” the football stadium is called “Paul Brown Stadium.” We should come up with a nickname for it- Booch suggested, and we’re running with “The Poo.” It starts with a P, matches the color of their uniforms, and generally describes their level of play.

Want to know how the Browns are playing? Check the Poo…

It’s a beautiful ballpark, located in the heart of downtown Cleveland. The scoreboard is huge. It’s that scoreboard stadium add on that’s too expensive in madden games, yet they have it in Cleveland. It also has a ton of information on it. It’s a great place to watch a baseball game but none of that is what I want to talk about.

Stark got us a luxury suite for the game. This was, not surprisingly, my first time in a luxury suite. That is what I have to report about:

We walked in and there was a spread as far as the eyes can see of hot dogs, chicken wings, pizza, fruit, vegetables, beer and hard alcohol. I am assuming there were other non-alcoholic drinks there, I just don’t know it for a fact. You’ll have to ask Harold. That represented time number fourteen where this trip would have been much better if we weren’t keeping kosher.

Later on there was a dessert cart that came around that was full of greatest flowing cheeses, chocolates, and whipped cream since other dessert carts prior to that one. Let me channel my inner Harold for a second: “I had a platter of strawberries, syrup, and whipped cream. It was scrumptious and delicious. Much alacrity was had.”

The place was sick. Besides the ridiculously comfortable chairs outside, there were white leather couches inside and a flat screen tv. I can honestly say that the game looked more real on tv than it did in person.

In summary, I will never blame people who go to games, sit in luxury boxes, and leave early. I would like to do that for the rest of my life.

Because you demand it - Other ketchup related stories:
In Pittsburgh, I bought a Heinz Ketchup shirt from a guy. The reason for this? 1. The guy was helpful; 2. They love their ketchup in Pittsburgh. It’s a huge red shirt with a gigantic reproduction of the Heinz emblem. Flash forward one day to the game in Cleveland and Abie is wearing this shirt because his other one got soaked at boating. Coming into the stadium, he was walking slowly and a Cleveland cop motioned him along. “Move along there, ketchup.” He was also stopped later by a Jew who quizzed him with a non-Harold level fun fact. “Do you know what that O-U stands for?” “Orthodox Union” said Abie and walked the other way.

The game also had a between inning hot dog race where ketchup competed against mustard and onion. It’s nice to see onion getting up there, good for him. If onion can do it, mayo can. Because of his shirt, Abie was rooting heavily for ketchup (who was edged out in a photo finish by onion). The rest of us stood at the front of the box and chanted “Go Hot Dog!” Ah, comedy…

One detail on the game… Stark declared before the game that this was a code blood (even more than a code red). Stark claimed an Indian win meant the playoffs, and a loss meant that the season was over. The Indians won. Look for them in October.

A Stark Contrast

This section will make more sense to people who know Ezra Starkus. For those who don’t … he is not really a person. His main activity in life is making plans he never plans on bringing to fruition. When he says he will be somewhere, that is inconsequential. He’s not a person. Trust me.

That said – Starkus was to the Maximus in Cleveland. We stayed in his house, he got us out on a boat and jetskiing, and got us into a luxury suite at Jacobs field. He hooked us up exactly as he had said he would.

The question is- Does this cause us to change our entire Stark viewpoint? Should we conclude that he is a person.

No. No we shouldn’t. And shame on you for insinuating that we should have. He is still not a person. I submit for evidence:
He got lost on the way back from Jacobs Field to his house
He went to the wrong level of the parking garage to find his car
He informed us (read: Harold) that there was an 8 o’clock minyan close to his home. The latest shacharit in all of Cleveland is 7:30
General Starkishness and not thinking out plans.

Stark is still Stark. Cleveland is surprisingly great.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Day 3: Presidents of the United States of America had it right... Cleveland Rocks

The morning started with everyone being ready on time, a short trip ahead of us, eating Subway at 9:30 in the morning, and Jack Johnson’s “In Between Dreams” blasting into our ears. Is this heaven? No, it’s Cleveland.

We drove to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and on the way there we read a Choose your Own Adventure book. Because you asked, Harold got an operation where he got gills and lived as a member of Atlantis. He lived a happy life, but occasionally missed home. Av followed Harold’s route, lived a happy life, and never missed home. It’s weird how personalized these adventures get.

When we attempted to park by the hall of fame, we were chased from our original locale by a mustached, uniformed man. Let’s assume he works at the parking lot. As we drove on, Booch said “I hate it when mustached men tell me what to do.” “Welcome to my life…” Av empathized.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Here’s what could, but won’t, take place in this space:

  1. A discussion on the legitimacy of the concept of a hall of fame for an art form such as music.
  2. A diatribe against Bonnie Raitt’s inclusion to the hall.
  3. An emotionally fond recounting of the 1960s when rock actually mattered.
  4. A comment on what percentage of Rock and Roll inductees we (who consider ourselves big music fans) were completely unfamiliar with.
  5. An explanation of why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland.

Instead, I will ramble… seems more fun.

  • There is an exhibit called “early rock and roll influences.” Every single artist listed was black
  • There was a kiosk that played “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.” Abie and I searched for songs we hadn’t heard of (which turned out to be every song from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s); Av listened to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Never has one fact explained someone so well.
  • I was informed by one plaque that “You wouldn’t want to live in a world without Louis Armstrong’s music.” That was helpful because I was on the fence about whether I’d want to live in a Satchmo-less world until that point.
  • Frank Beard seems to be the only member of ZZ Top without a beard. Is it possible that his last name allowed him entry into the band? (not you, R&R Hall of Famer, The Band)
  • I bring you the lead singer from Sly and the Family Stone (also in the Hall):
“I have a reputation for not showing up.”
“How’d that come to be?”
“Oh, by not showing up to a lot of things.” – I guess that quote is enough reason for entry.
  • The Sex Pistols turned down the invitation to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. And they did it by writing a letter in which they insulted and cursed out the Hall. I imagine this is reproduced online somewhere. Now is probably the time for Danny to link to it from the comments.
  • One final quote, and it’s from a punk rocking female I saw on video, I am not even sure who. It goes as follows (ahem) “I hope someone orgasms from my music.” I am not so ambitious. My only hope is that someone orgasms from our blog.

Lake Erie

That whole Great Lake thing is not hyperbole. Lake Erie is awesome. Captain Don took us out on the Stark family boat for some beer-accompanied boating. We then went tubing off the back of the boat. I can’t explain tubing – I am not that good a writer. If you have been then you know how enjoyable an experience it is. If you haven’t been, then call up Captain Don and catch the next flight into Cleveland.

I got a chance to go back down, and then stomach down. Stomach down was amazing, although a little difficult on certain body parts… You guys know what I mean. Yup, my arms. It’s not easy to hold your entire body with just your arms. (There is a great video of me flipping off a tube that should be coming soon to a facebook near you)

Abie then went and claimed to enjoy it, but had a completely disgusted look on his face the entire time. He looked like someone had just insulted Syrians at the same moment as he tasted dog shit.

Booch was up next and somehow the tube broke. Apparently, tubing was a Booch plan. Tubes? Where we’re going, we don’t need tubes.

This was followed by a split. Stark, Roldie, Booch and I went jet skiing. Av and Abie made there way to the lodge, Veronica style. Jet skiing was great except for three facts which will make it sound that when I just said “jet skiing was great,” I was lying. 1) I had a lot of trouble getting the key to the ignition. I need to listen to more R. Kelly 2) It was tough to drive at a steady pace. I needed cruise control, like my grandfather needed bladder control 3) The last thing was that I totally wiped out while jetskiing, sending Butch and myself careening into the Lake below. I found this great. Butch found this painful in the hand and head area.

Meanwhile… in a different part of town… Abie and Av went to the Lodge. They reported that the wall had both a bear skin and a moose head on it. Also there was a fire going in the fire place. I wasn’t there, but it’s fair to assume that Av and Abie sipped brandy, while discussing their guns and Republican politics. They also addressed themselves as “Winston” and “Mortimer.”

I am not finished with Cleveland yet, but let me just say, thanks to Stark, Cleveland was amazing. Much better than I ever could have predicted. I think it's appropriate for me to say that Cleveland is the most beautiful city we’ve been to so far. Take that Washington DC, Baltimore, Gettysburg, and Pittsburgh. Snap. Oh, Snap.

Stay tuned for a review of the Tigers-Indians game in the Jake. Meet me back at this blog in 24 hours….

New Harold's Fun Facts from Days 1-3

1. The way Av Lincoln's hands are positioned at the Lincoln Memorial for the letters "A" and "L" in sign language. (Note to Uri: "A" and "L" are Abie Lincoln's initials)

2. Gettysburg National Military Park was visited by 1.2 million people in 2006.

3. Our 15th President, James Buchanan was born in Mercersburg, Pa, also known as the town in which Etan was pulled over (not cardiganed).

4. General John Forbes, the man for whom the Pittsburgh Pirates' former home, Forbes Field is named, was the man who named the city of Pittsburgh.

5. The last 15 games that the Pirates Jose Castillo has started have all come at 3rd base (special thanks to the scoreboard at PNC Park who granted us express written consent to reprint this fun fact).

6. The Roberto Clemente Bridge (the bridge we used to exit PNC Park) is one of 3 parallel bridges called the "Three Sisters." The others that span the Allegheny River are the Andy Warhol Bridge and the Rachel Carson Bridge.

7. Ohio is the only state in the U.S. without a rectangular state flag.

8. Eric Clapton has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 3 separate times: once as solo artist, once as a member of "Cream" and once as a member of the "Yardbirds."

9. Ringo Starr is the only Beatle not to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.

10. It would take around 11-12 days to take Stark's boat from Lake Erie to Florida (courtesy of Captain Don).

11. Abie took the longest to order from Subway. He clocked in at just over 6 minutes.

12. Etan sat in the second row of the van on the passenger side for ther first 16 hours and 26 minutes of driving time.

13. Butch was the last road tripper to drive. To date he has only sat behind the wheel for 28 minutes.

14. I have dropped 1 F-Bomb on the trip to lead the league in least F-Bombs.

15. Av has called everyone on the trip an a**-hole. He has also done so in every state.

Game #1- Mets @ Pirates, and the drive to Cleveland

As for the game itself (Mets @ Pirates in PNC Park), well it's like we're back in Gettysburg because I am shooting bullets:

  • The whiteboard attempt was in full effect, but hindered by our donning of the enemy's clothing. We took a ferry to the stadium and, on the ferry, Abie held up a "We Need Free Tickets" sign and right there, on the ferry, some woman handed him a ticket.
  • Roldie signed up to potentially be the Aramark Designated Driver of the game. For signing up, he was entered in a drawing and was awarded a free coke. At the time, I had already consumed two beers, but the deal seemed good enough…
  • This was a beautiful baseball stadium. And you get an unreal view of the rivers, the the bridge, and the downtown. I am assuming it is the best we will go to. It is elegant, and friendly; ostentatious and homely. There isn't a bad seat in the house. If Citi Field is like this, I'll be ecstatic. Of course for Citi to be like that, they need to turn the stadium around to face Manhattan. And build more intersecting rivers.
  • Tonight was Ralph Kiner commemorative coin night. This was great because Kiner is both a Pirates and a Met great. It was very considerate of them. In fact, I think the Mets should repay the favor. The next time the Pirates come to Shea, I would like to see a Bobby Bonilla giveaway night.
  • What’s Jason Bay’s at bat song? I’m glad you asked… it’s “Get this party started” by Pink. Insert your own punch line here. (the word “pink” may come in handy)
  • A day camp from Deal was at the game in PNC Park. Abie knew every person (Syrian Jews are people too) in a 4 row cut from the section next to ours. I’m assuming they were all exactly like Abie and didn’t notice him because they were playing gameboy.
  • Before the bottom of the ninth, the Pirates put up a scoreboard video in which a fat lady got up to sing an opera note. Mid- singing, the Pirates mascot (some sort of deformed Phanatic-like parrot. Think “Death to Smoochy mixed with a ninja turtle. I wish I had the Best Week Ever math capabilities…) blows up the fat lady. I am assuming, the attempt was to fire up the crowd with a new take on “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” The problem was that the opera lady had already sung. Sure, she hadn’t finished her solo, but the saying is not “it ain’t over till the fat lady finishes singing.” Even in their promotional videos, the Pirates can’t beat the Mets.
  • Last story, and it’s a Boochzy (a Booch doozy-?): Booch had a Frisbee in his bag and security would not let him carry it in to PNC Park. (fair enough… it’s designed for throwing long distances) So Booch hid the Frisbee under a garbage can at the entrance to the stadium. That’s not even a Booch plan. I think that was smart thinking. On the way out of the stadium, we debated whether the Frisbee would still be there. When we walk out… not only is the Frisbee not there, the garbage can has been removed as well. Let me just check wikipedia for one second… Oh yes, “Good Shtick.”

Arrival in Cleveland

We got to Cleveland, despite some road work. For the record, where we’re going we don’t need road work. We were greeted by Stark at his home at about 1 am. If you know Stark, this is significant for a number of reasons:

  1. Stark Exists
  2. Stark said he would be in Cleveland and was actually in Cleveland
  3. Stark lives in a house

The night was perfect – the six of us chilled in Stark’s hot tub with a few cold ones. For our arrival that night, Stark bought 36 beers. That seems like it was just the right number… Theme for Cleveland: Starkus to the Maximus. Stay tuned…

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Driving... and not driving

The Drive to Pittsburgh

I drove the interminable road from Gettysburg to Pittsburgh. For the first time in my life, and the first time for any of us in this road trip, I got pulled over. It was during a 60 mile stretch where I drove on some one lane "highway" It was one of those situations where I genuinely didn't know what I had possibly done. Officer Duchebag (his name, not mine) asked me if I knew the speed limit. I guessed 35, successfully, I might add.
"And do you know how fast you were going?" assholed the cop.
"I couldn't have been going more than 45" Etan pleaded.
"Actually, it was 46, more like 47; Wait, I'll tell you exactly- 46.8"
"Fuck You" said Etan's head. Etan's mouth remained silent.
"I don't know how things work in New York, but here we have laws…" obonxioused el cop-o

Somehow he knew that we didn't have laws. Very clever. Shockingly, he came back and issued me only a warning and not a ticket. He then proceeded to slap me on the wrist. He finished up a little easier "How long until they (Av, Booch, Abie, Harold) let you forget about this?" "We're very good about letting jokes go," Av explained.

One important car discussion to recount – What is the middle band on the spectrum between hard and soft music? We are assuming that the right wing rockiest band in existence is something we haven’t heard of or don’t know- let’s just call it Megadeth. The left wing? The softest? Celine Dion, we suggest. So- what is the middle? Here’s where we are now, but this discussion is sure to be repeated: Counting Crows. Yes, it’s soft, very soft. But…. A teeny bopper is more likely to listen to a U2 song, for example, than Counting Crows. I personally feel like the right answer is still out there…


Pittsburgh is shockingly beautiful. Downtown is an amazing area. The rivers are great. The buildings are beautiful, the bridges are astounding. I guess all my impressions of Pittsburgh are based on the fact that its nickname is steel town and repeated viewings of “Flashdance.” I guess I expected Pittsburgh to be full of hot chicks throwing fire at steel and then getting dumped on by tubs of water. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t that.

Pittsburgh is the most beautiful city we’ve been to so far. Take that Washington DC, Baltimore, and Gettysburg. Snap. Oh, Snap.

The Mets and Pirates played a baseball gfame
its coming up next installment....

A Gettysburg Address

Four hours and seven minutes ago...

Day 2’s itinerary started with a tour of the battle site at Gettysburg (for verification of that see the itinerary). Expectations ranged from “highlight of the trip” (not Av, not Etan; Harold.) to “is sleeping in the hotel this morning an option?” – Abie. Yes, Abie was the kid in camp who always wanted to play gameboy in the bunk. Basketball leagues were for Ashkenazi losers.

Gettysburg surpassed all of our expectations. (Except for Av who apparently put Gettysburg in the perfectly rated bands category. Gettysburg is in a league with Tone Loc and the Beatles) It was really great. I’ll break its wonders into a few categories:

1, History 5… Alive!
- It really felt like a living history in so many ways.
• A lot of houses and buildings from that area still stand, and there are a few houses that have live itinerary fire imprints still in them. We don’t often see musket bullet holes in Manhattan. Sometimes, but not often.
• They have trees that have stood since the civil war. They call them “Witness trees,” This is unlike Starkus and other Clevelanders who are “Witness People”
• There are 1600 monuments in total in the Gettysburg area. These monuments are great to picture where troops were in the war because the actual rule for putting monuments up is that monuments can only be erected in an area the troops occupied and held. These guys have more rules than Judaism.
• I like this bullet point because I get to mention our unbelievable tour guide, Richard “Bill” Bellamy. This guy was straight out of a science fiction movie, or he was a Trafalmadorian, basically living the civil war right now. He saw the battle ongoing as he described it to us. He did a great job of painting the scene and uttered statements like “ignore the buildings on the right, they’re not here.” Let’s just say - Where he’s going he didn’t need roads.
• While we’re on “Bill” Bellamy, despite his astute historicity, he wasn’t exactly Def Comedy Jam. He started many explanations with “what we have here…” and never followed up with “is a failure to communicate.” If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are explaining aspects of the Civil War, please – for your sake, for your daughter’s sake… reference Axl Rose.

2. You speak to each son on his own level. We obviously do not understand war.. but we attempted. Here is what we came up with:
• Gettysburg was one big Color War. The Confederates won day 1. They must have had superior squads for floor hockey, basketball, and track and field. Day 2 was close but the Union eked out a victory. The apache relay by its nature is always a tight race. Gettysburg was won on day 3, when the Union destroyed the Confederate units. Banner and Shiria were a blow out. I doubt the confederates even made an alma mater.
• Civil War cannonballs look like Mario bros. cannonballs, We didn’t see confederate soldiers, but I assume they resemble King Kuppa
• After competing in the dodgeball tournament last Wednesday, I realize I could have fought in the civil war. Wars used to be fought like 4 corner dodgeball. One team lines up and the best attacks come from both sides- across your front and your side. I’m just not sure I would recruit the Rachels to man my brigade flank.
• How did they keep you in the army? Simple. If you left, they killed you. I still think we would have gotten out of it: Av would have went to Canada (still got signed in daily and left army with honors), Abie would have answered his draft call with an “Absolutely Not!” I would have played dead on the battlefield and let the army pass by. Booch would have been dismissed for insubordination. Harold would have fought successfully, I think. A fine soldier!

3. Things you may want to wikipedia
• Pickett’s Charge- 7,000 Confederate troops died in one hour
• Daniel (-?) Sickles- If “Bill” Bellamy was telling the truth, and he was always honest in Rock n Jock competition, this guy - was a civil war general, served as congressman from NY, shot and killed Philip Key (Son of Francis Scott), entered the first known insanity plea for that murder, and as a septuagenarian, had an affair with the 80 something year old queen of Spain. I am just assuming he also came up with the slogan “Don’t worry, be happy,” showed JFK his wounded ass, and fathered a child with a girl named jenny.
• Once when asked why there wasn’t a monument to him in Gettysburg, he exclaimed “the whole damn park is a monument to me.” Sickles was so fine, he wore suits that made Sinatra look like a hobo.

4. Bits and Pieces
• Lessons from “Bill” Bellamy. Never stick your hand inside a cannon. Birds and bees are in there. As to what they’re doing in there….
• Speaking of “Bill,” we ran into him and his Bellamy in the bathroom on our way out . Um, let’s just say – “Bill” Bellamy isn’t hung like a horse. Horses are hung like “Bill” Bellamy.
• Did we meet a cute Gettysburg chick named Mandy? Did I have a great 3 am conversation with her where she explained to me why she wasn’t a hick? Did she tell me that the main fun thing in the town was drinking in Devil’s Den after Gettysburg park closing? Did she invite us for some late night Pennsylvania alcohol? I don’t know, I’ll let you decide…

I think that New Harold sums it up best:
“You know what’s probably cool? Being a civil war buff”

Pittsburgh Still to come...

We got got

As many of you may know, Danny Groner has had an intern employed in his office this summer. Due to Dan’s paranoia, we were never allowed to know her by any name other than “The Intern.” About a month ago, with the help of super sleuth Jaws, we were able to learn her true identity – Susan. Now that we had a mole in the office, it was only a matter of how exactly we would use her to our advantage in order to carry out some sort of elaborate prank against Dan.
At this point, we knew that we would be spending the first day of this trip in D.C. and decided that this would be a good time for the climax of the prank. (As you will soon see, we ended up covered in our own jizz.) Thus, when Dan requested a copy of outr itinerary in mid-July, we sent him a dummy version of the itinerary, in which we would be visiting Dorney Park on Day 1. (Abe still prefers we had gone with the dummy itinerary instead of the real one. He is bitching about it as I type this sentence.)
After some discussion and brainstorming, we devised a scheme with several steps:
1. The make a hole in a box phase: We enlisted our jolly friend Eh Steve, who has a history of impersonating senior citizens, to call Dan’s office and ask for him. He claimed to be a Korean War veteran named Paul Rodgers, and was very angry about an article Dan wrote in the most recent issue of The Beacon. His complaints were ridiculous and totally invalid, but that was the point. Dan transferred him to his editor; Steve hung up.
2. The put your junk in a box phase: A week later, we sent an email from a woman named Amy Orndorff from a fake yahoo address bearing her name. Amy identified herself as the daughter of Mr. Rodgers, whom she said was deeply insulted by the way Dan spoke to him on the phone, claiming that Dan called him an “idiot” before hanging up. (This didn’t actually occur, but Dan had once mentioned in passing that he occasionally does this and we assumed it would be impossible for him to recall if he did it on this specific occasion.) She also identified herself as a staff writer for the Washington Post and lectured Dan on the importance of professionalism in journalism, demanding an apology.
3. The get her to open the box phase: Dan responded with an apology, which led to a series of emails back and forth, concluding with a demand that Dan meet her father in person for a face to face apology to set things right. The meeting was set: 5:30 PM, Starbucks, Silver Spring.

Everything seemed to be going without a hitch, until this past Saturday night, when we observed Dan spotting the intern’s name in Etan’s Gmail contacts list. We immediately reached a sad conclusion: it’s over. We later retracted this mental surrender, but this was likely partially us deluding ourselves and partially wanting to see how things would play out.

We arrived at Starbucks on time and sat in the store waiting for Dan to arrive. 5:30 came and went. As did 5:40 and 5:50. At this point, we knew for certain that the prank had been reversed on us. It was only a matter of sitting and waiting and seeing what would happen. At 6PM, a young girl, who Jaws identified as Dan’s sister, walked into the store holding a cardboard box, which she deposited with a Starbucks employee, and then walked out of the store giggling. The employee then handed us the box, which was labeled “Thread—Fragile.” We immediately went into character, desperately crying and asking “what’s in the box?” We opened the box to find 5 envelopes with our names on them. We were being Kobayashied. In them, Dan explained how he had known for approximately a week that it was us, detailing all the steps along the way that tipped him off. If you want to learn more about this, you can ask Dan to send you his manifesto. We will not attempt to do it justice by summarizing it in this space. He also included an email exchange with the real Amy Orndorff in which she confirms his suspicion: she had never contacted him; it was us.

The problem with our prank was its ambition. We went for the homerun and swung and missed. Bringing Amy Orndorff in was the move that made the prank amazing but it was also the move that caused the entire thing to unravel. Additionally, the intern was of absolutely no real help to us and did more to tip Dan off than to aid us in our efforts. As far as shtick goes, she was out of her league and was totally lost trying to perform on this stage. In short, she screwed us with our pants on. After a quick check of her facebook profile, we decided that we would have preferred that she had screwed us with our pants off.

The most amazing aspect of this saga was the commitment all parties involved had to carrying out the prank to its conclusion, especially when considering we all spent the entire previous weekend together. Kudos to all of us. In the words of a wise man, “All’s well that ends with good shtick.”


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Road Trip Itinerary

For those of you who would like to follow along as we embark on this long and adventurous trip, below is our full and complete itinerary for the duration of our travels:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Attend wedding of Craig Weitzman and Ariella Schulman – Brooklyn, NY

Monday, August 13, 2007

10:00 AM Depart New York, NY for Washington, D.C. (4 hours)

2:00 PM Tour of the Capitol--Washington, DC

4:00 PM Preparations for Danny prank

6:00 PM Prank and Dinner

8:00 PM Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, WWII Memorials

10:30 PM Depart Washington, DC for Harrisburg, PA (1 hour, 40 minutes)

Sleep in Gettysburg, PA

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

9:30 AM Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg National Cemetery—Gettysburg, PA

12:00 PM Depart Gettysburg, PA for Pittsburgh, PA (3 hours, 30 minutes)

3:30 PM Riverboat Tour of 3 Rivers?

5:00 PM Walk around Downtown Pittsburgh/Strip District and find place to tailgate/eat dinner before game

6:30 PM Walk Across Roberto Clemente Bridge to PNC Park

7:10 PM EDT—METS BASEBALL (YEAAHHHHHHH) @ Pirates (PNC Park, 115 Federal Street).

Depart Pittsburgh, PA for Cleveland, OH (2 hours.)

Sleep in Cleveland

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

10:00 AM Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—Cleveland, OH (751 Erieside Ave Cleveland, Ohio 44114 216.781.ROCK- admission is $20 each, open 9-530; buy joint tickets for Football HOF to save $)

Afternoon: Boating?

7:10 PM EDT—Detroit Tigers @ Cleveland Indians (Jacobs Field, 2401 Ontario Street)

Sleep in Cleveland

Thursday, August 16, 2007

9:00 AM Depart Cleveland, OH for Canton, OH (1 hour)

10:00 AM Pro Football Hall of Fame—Canton, OH

12:00 PM Depart Canton, OH for South Bend, IN (5 hours)

5:00 PM University of Notre Dame—South Bend, IN (Touchdown Jesus, No. 1 Moses, Fair Catch Corby, Knute Rockne's grave)

7:00 PM Eat Dinner on Campus

8:15 PM Depart South Bend, IN for Valparaiso, IN (1 hour) (We gain an hour here become of switching time zones)

8:15 PM 49er Drive-In Movie Theater—Valparaiso, IN

Depart Valparaiso, IN for Chicago, IL (1 hour)

Sleep in Chicago (

Friday, August 17, 2007

Morning: Downtown Chicago, Sears Tower Skydeck, United Center-Jordan statue)

1:20 PM CDT—St. Louis Cardinals @ Chicago Cubs

Shabbos in Chicago—Candle Lighting 7:29 PM CDT

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Shabbos Kodesh Continues

Shabbos Ends 8:32 PM CDT

11:00 PM Second City show, "Between Barack and a Hard Place"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

10:30 AM: Depart Chicago, IL for Milwaukee, WI (1 hour, 45 minutes)

1:05 PM CDT—Cincinatti Reds @ Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park)

6:00 PM Irish Fest 2007—Milwaukee, WI

Sleep in Milwaukee

Monday, August 20, 2007

9:30 AM Miller Brewery—Milwaukee, WI

11:30 PM Black Holocaust Museum—Milwaukee, WI

1:00 PM Depart Milwaukee, WI for Chicago, IL (1 hour, 45 minutes)

3:00 PM Lake Michigan and anything we missed on Friday

7:11 PM CDT—Kansas City Royals @ Chicago White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field, 333 West 35th Street)

Sleep in Chicago

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

9:00 AM Depart Chicago, IL for Roselawn, IN (1 hour, 15 minutes)

10:15 AM Giant Lady's Leg Sundial—Roselawn, IN

10:30 AM Depart Roselawn, IN for Indianapolis, IN (2 hours) (lose an hour bc of time zones)

1:30 PM Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum

3:30 PM American Superheroes Museum--Indianapolis, IN

5:30 PM NCAA Hall of Champions/The Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial

7:30 PM Depart Indianapolis, IN for Elizabeth, IN (2 hours)

9:30 PM Caesars Indiana (Riverboat Casino) -- Elizabeth, IN

Depart Elizabeth, IN for Louisville, KY (30 minutes)

Sleep in Louisville, KY

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

11:00 AM Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory—Louisville, KY

1:00 PM Churchill Downs—Louisville, KY

3:30 PM Muhammad Ali Center—Louisville, KY

4:30 PM Depart Louisville, KY for Cincinnati, OH (1 hour, 45 minutes)

7:30 PM – Dave Matthews Band concert at Riverbend Music Center

Sleep in Cincinnati

Thursday, August 23, 2007

10:30 AM Depart Cincinnati, OH for Mason, OH (30 minutes)

11:00 AM Kings Island Amusement Park

7:10 PM EDT—Atlanta Braves @ Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ballpark, 100 Main St., Cincinnati, OH )

10:30 PM Depart Cincinnati, OH for Wheeling, WV (4 hours)

Sleep in Wheeling, WV

Friday, August 24, 2007

Depart Wheeling, WV for New York, NY (7 hours)