Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Big League Fun In A Minor League Park II @GSOHoppers

For the first time in a long time, Em and I took up our local Minor League Team (Greensboro Grasshoppers) on their "Money Off Monday" promotion. Every Monday home game comes with the treat of $1 hot dogs, beverages (beer / soda / water), snow cones, and $5 lawn tickets. It's a deal. A deal that was made even better by the fact that we didn't have to pay for our tickets due our winning of a Twitter contest a couple months ago (box seats, score!).

With all of the rain we've had in central NC lately, the Grasshoppers were forced into playing a doubleheader, so by the time we arrived, they were already halfway through the first game. The thing is, this worked out in our favor as we sat down with our "dinner" just in time for all of the drama. The Grasshoppers wound up losing the first game, 6-2, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Em remaked, "That was the best themed restaurant we've been to," and I couldn't help but agree with her. The weather was perfect, my company was great, and the hot dogs were...hot.

No complaints from me.

Every time Em and I try to burn off a set of tickets, we always wind up getting our hands on some more. Not surprisingly, another set dropped into our lap yesterday when the ticket attendant accidentally printed off tickets for today's game instead of Monday's. When we went back to fix the error, we were told that we could keep the Tuesday tickets. Go fig. Unfortunately, they went unused as today's game started at 12:30p -- a fact I totally missed until today when I was about to hop in the car to drive down to the stadium to give them away to someone standing in line. Whoops.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taxis Ain't Cheap

Having lived in southern, medium (or small) sized cities my entire life, I've only been jealous of my peers in larger cities for one reason - the ability to use cheap - or at least somewhat affordable - public transportation on the regular. Prior to this weekend, I had only ridden in a taxi in four different cities - Chicago, New York City, Savannah (GA), and Los Angeles. I've used buses, light rails, and subways in countless others, but never in the city where I lay my head. What a shame too, because if I could our social calendar would change dramatically.

Last night Em and I scored very cheap tickets ($2 each) to our local minor league team, tickets that came with open bar wristbands. Sure, there was no liquor, but there was all the beer and wine we could consume. Knowing that this was a deal to not be missed (and I really didn't want to be DD), we called for a cab. Now I've got no complaints with the cab company we used. For a taxi in Greensboro, NC, it was fairly clean and service was quick. But damn, $15 for a 5 mile ride? Geesh.

Now yes, the $30 we spent was infinitely cheaper than the expenses that would have come from getting pulled over for driving under the influence, but it would be nice to have some other options for when we both want to catch a game, throw back a few brews, then grab a late dinner afterwards. Had we not gotten the cheap-o tickets and free beers, we would have easily dropped a $100 last night. While we both make decent money, it's not that good. Do not be surprised if in a few weeks time I'm writing a post about how nice Greensboro Transit's Bus System is. For a $1.50 one-way fare, I'm willing to give it a shot.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Truthful Tuesday: I Don't Know How I Feel About The Zimmerman Verdict

Since the verdict was read in the Zimmerman case, I haven't been able to come to a conclusion on how I feel about it.

Being a rational human being, I want to be upset. I should be angry. A grown man shot and killed and unarmed teenager and was allowed to walk free. Mind you, this whole situation could have been avoided had George Zimmerman simply followed the instructions that were given to him. This whole situation could have been avoided had he not confronted Trayvon. This whole situation could have been avoided had he had an ounce of honor. Seriously, everyone knows that it's a bitch move to shoot an unarmed person. Who cares if you were getting your ass beat in a fight, shooting a person who doesn't so much have even a knife is a coward's way out. If Zimmerman had run away, that would have been more honorable.

But I digress...

Then I look at how the case was presented. This is America and you're innocent until proven guilty. (Supposedly.) Well, the prosecution did not do their job of doing just that. You can say that they overcharged, you can say that their case was flawed, whatever. At the end of the day, the prosecution did not prove that George Zimmerman was guilty of second-degree murder. They also failed to prove that he was guilty of manslaughter. Mr. Zimmerman stood by his claim that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Say what you will, but this is the system that we have. This is the system that 'worked' for OJ Simpson. This is the system that 'worked' for Casey Anthony. Compound that with the lack of physical evidence, the lack of witnesses, and the only account of that night being that of the defendant's, and I can't say I was completely surprised with the outcome.

But more than being angry or sad, I think I'm just flat out disappointed.

I'm disappointed that we have yet another name and scenario to add to this seemingly never ending list. I'm disappointed in the behavior and words and actions of many people - on both sides of this case - after the verdict was read. I'm disappointed in the racial undertones that this case has been mired in from the start. I'm disappointed in the double standards that not so secretly exist. I'm disappointed in the lack of good judgement on that fateful night last year. I'm disappointed in the general lack of respect that people have for each other.

So what do I feel? Anger? Sadness? Disappointment? Confusion?

I think it's a bit of all of above. Unfortunately, with all of those emotions mixed up in there, it's been difficult for me to pull the proper lesson(s) from this. Sadly, I'm sure that I'm not the only person who feels this way.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Best Place To Watch A Game? #POLL

From 2000 to 2009, I hardly missed a Clemson home game. During that span I think I only missed the 2004 game against Wake Forest and the 2006 contest against Louisiana Tech. That was almost a solid decade of spending most of my weekends tailgating with friends, sitting outside in the sun (or rain in the case of the 2009 season), and watching my Tigers win more than they lost. Life was good.

In 2010, I was unemployed, living with my parents again, and consequentially, didn't go to any football games. However, I did get to watch tons of football games on television. Where I was previously giving up 12 hours of my Saturday to follow one game and all of the activities that accompanied it, I was now following five or six games with no problems. Honestly, outside of the whole living at home thing, this wasn't a bad setup. By the time 2011 rolled around, I was employed again and while I wasn't able to go to all the Clemson home games due to distance I was able to go to a couple. I also managed to work in a few trips to go see Duke, Wake Forest, and Ohio State play. Last year was a repeat of the same, minus the trip to Ohio State.

While the last two years have been fun and I've really enjoyed getting out and going to the games, part of me missed the simple fun of the 2010 season. There was something to be said about being able to watch every game, including the marquee ones, instead of just the one you're at. Then there's the expense factor. Even though I wasn't working, I was able to come up with enough cash to buy a 12-pack and some meat to grill. I could have a blast for less than $20. Going to the games is great, but when you do it six to seven times a season, it adds up fast. Gas, tickets, lodging, food, and beer don't come cheap, then there's the hard to measure aspect of time. Believe the hype, time is money. Still, nothing beats being at a game in-person. College football season might as well be a four month long reunion. Every week is a chance to catch up with friends and family that you probably haven't seen since last football season. Old memories are recalled, bad decisions are made, and as a result, new memories are created. Have I ever shared with you how ridiculous that trip to Columbus in 2011 was? No? Well it was awesome. Have I ever told you about all the fun I had in 2010? No? That's because there's nothing to share. Being social has its perks.

Ohio State beat up Indiana that weekend. Our crew beat up downtown Columbus.

With the 2013 season quickly approaching, I've been trying to decide how I want to spend this season. Do I want to hide inside my apartment for 4 months, only to overdose on football? Do I want to go full bore the way we have for the much of the last 13 years? Or do I want to split the difference and check out a game or two in person while catching the rest from the comfort of my new recliner?

What are your thoughts? Where do you prefer to watch a game?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sunday Night Selections: The Top 25

Since my blog's inception, I've tried a few different themed posts. Some good, some bad, but the one that I surprisingly stuck with the longest was Sunday Night Selections. I wrote my first SnS post way back in April of 2006 and somehow, someway I managed to crank out over 160 of them. With so many of them under my belt, I felt now was a good time to revisit some of them and pick out my top 25 songs. Since these posts try to be more about the music than me rambling, I'll cut the chit-chat and start with the music. This week's entry...

#25: Fastball - The Way
Originally featured September 9, 2007

Fastball - "The Way"
Everyone remembers the finer details of their firsts. Their first kiss. Their first sexual experience. Their first paycheck. Those are fun and all, but who remembers the details of their first experience as a legal driver? I do. On a nice summer day in June of 1998, my grandpa and I left the DMV with more than what we entered with. My grandpa with a newfound sense of relief (or fear) and me with a freshly minted South Carolina driver's license. Now that I was the official wheelman I got to control what we listened to on the radio. With little delay I flipped the dial from whatever gospel station my grandpa was listening to Top-40 station WNOK. Fastball's "The Way" happened to be playing on the radio. While not a big fan of the group, I do like the song, so I left it there. Now as to why I actually bothered to remember that this song was playing, who knows. Maybe I thought it would be good trivia fodder down the road.

As far as the song itself, apparently there's a nice backstory to it, which makes the lyrics all that much more interesting.
'The Way' revolves around an older married couple who decide to give it all away by packing up and going driving. Along the way their car breaks down, so they continue on foot. As the song goes on, it becomes apparent that these two achieve happiness by losing touch with the world.
Fastball bassist Tony Scalzo came up with the idea for the song after reading journalistic articles which described the disappearance of an older married couple who left home in June of 1997 to attend a family reunion but never arrived. About the song, Scalzo said that "It's a romanticized take on what happened" - he "pictured them taking off to have fun, like they did when they first met."

Turning Over A New Leaf...in Animal Crossing #ACNL

(Ha, I'm not even sorry for that pun. It was bad on purpose.) 

It's hard to write a review on for Animal Crossing: New Leaf (for the Nintendo 3DS), as the game really has no purpose. It is completely what you make of it. There's no princesses to save or bad guys to kill, it's just you, your neighbors, and your imagination. Unlike say, Super Mario Bros. or Assassin's Creed, no two players will have the exact same Animal Crossing experience. It's that uniqueness that makes Animal Crossing special.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (ACNL) is the fourth game in Nintendo's Animal Crossing series. Animal Crossing is best described as "a community simulation video game series, in which the player lives in a village inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, carrying out various activities. The series is notable for its open-ended gameplay and extensive use of the game systems' internal clock and calendar to simulate real passage of time." At its core, that's exactly what ACNL is. If you've played any of the previous games in the series, you know what you're in for. Though, at the same time, you really don't. You see, Animal Crossing: New Leaf throws a new twist into the series. In this game, you become the mayor of the village, replacing the now retired Mayor Tortimer from the first three games. On the surface, this move seemed to be nothing more than a gimmick, this game's 'hook' if you will. Thankfully, was I quite wrong in making that assumption. Taking on the role of mayor breathed just enough fresh air into a franchise that was starting to get a bit stale after the less than stellar Wii iteration, "Animal Crossing: City Folk."

Much like before, you'll spend the majority of your time tending to your quirky neighbors, expanding and decorating your home, collecting bugs and fish, and cultivating your flower garden. However, in your new role of mayor, you now get to make decisions that effect day-to-day life in your village. Should you renovate the museum or dedicate resources to building a fountain? What would your fellow villagers enjoy more, a coffee shop or a night club? Or perhaps both? Mind you, none of these decisions need to be made, they're just fun to do so.

And at the end of the day, that's what Animal Crossing: New Leaf is all about - fun. Good, clean, fun. Making mayor-type decisions? Fun. Taking the time to perfectly organize your house? Fun. Filling up your museum with fossils you dug up? Fun. Jumping online to visit the villages of your friends? Fun. It's a simple, passive fun, but a strangely addictive one all the same. Once you have started a game of Animal Crossing, you will find yourself coming back to it quite often. Sometimes for only 15 minutes, sometimes for 3 hours at a time. Each play session will be completely different but comfortably familiar at the same time. This is a title you will lose hours and hours of your life to, yet you will be strangely OK with that.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf has an MSRP of $34.99 and can be purchased from various retail outlets or directly from the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Disclaimer: As a Nintendo Brand Ambassador, I am occasionally provided with products from Nintendo to review. A complimentary downloadable version of Animal Crossing New Leaf was provided for me to review. We purchased another copy of ACNL from the Nintendo eShop ($34.99) for Emily to experience and enjoy the world of Animal Crossing. The opinions expressed are all mine and not those of Brand About Town or Nintendo.