Archive for April, 2009

Philly Part II: Brandon Jones Travels Through Time

Photos © 2009 Brandon Jones

When our heroes woke up they found themselves to be … slightly hungover! It appeared that the adult concoctions brewed by Barkeep Jones were a little stronger than advertised. But, after a Katie bagel run and super-long showers in a Philly shower, we were all feeling well enough to go check out the area surrounding the Jones’ apartment.

Just a block away was Rittenhouse Square – a small park that reminded me of JMU’s quad as it was filled with people laying on blankets, people playing guitars, and people reading. Oh, and there were crazy people giving out “free hugs” to try and initiate some wacko religious conversation. Everyone out in the sun enjoying the nice weather. We continued to walk, stopping only to take the obligatory photo beneath the Philly version of the Love sculpture in John F. Kennedy Plaza.

As scenic as these stops were they were mere obstacles in the road towards a need that demanded to be satisfied: this gentleman required sustenance!! Squire Jones led us to Reading Terminal Market – essentailly a giant warehouse filled to capacity with mini restaurants and vendors. It’s a lot like Faneuil Hall except larger and way more of a swap meet feel. The place was super crowded both with people and restaurants, loud, and presented a real smorgasbord of different foods. It was the perfect place to find my much needed, hangover-curing food.

Brandon, Katie and I selected rib sandwiches dished out by some Pennsylvania Dutch servers, while Cassandra – usually frozen at the sight of a mere menu – was completely overwhelmed at the sheer selection in this establishment. She wandered off by herself for a while, ultimately coming back with some type of fried clam dish. The food was good in a trashy kind of way and there was only one real story of note: Katie got up to hunt for a bottle of ketchup, finally finding one several restaurants over from where we were sitting. Right when she put it down on the table to use, a man who had followed her for her entire trip back to us said he had to make sure it ended up back at his restaurant. Katie used a little … only to find out it was hot sauce 🙁

We regrouped back at palatial Jones Manor and then set off for Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Baseball-phile, Brandon, had secured four tickets to a game versus the San Diego Padres. Or at least he thought he did! We took an uneventful ride on the Philadelphia subway (whose Subway maps looks way more complicated than New York’s) and walked along an open road decorated with giant sports sculptures. I avoided the blatant homo eroticism in the aforementioned artwork and headed towards the entrance of the stadium.

Legendary announcer Harry Kalas had just died the previous week and there was a fan-created memorial being held directly outside the entrance. It was a bizarre sight, but another interesting look at the Philadelphia culture (I love cities that have a personality … unlike, say, the Northern Virginia area). Brandon divvied up the tickets and we approached the crack team of stadium security guards.

I gave my ticket to an old man who was manning the ticket scanner. The machine was connected to a turnstile very much like the DC Metro system – where you push the ticket in, wait for a green light to appear, take the ticket out and walk through the turnstile. The first scan didn’t work. The second didn’t either. So the man started doing all these crazy origami folds to my ticket in an attempt to get it to scan. Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Brandon – his chinflap at half mast.

“Uh … I accidentally got tickets to tomorrow’s game.”

One embarrassing second passed … and then Jones sprang into action! He located the ticket sales windows where we were informed there were still seats available for purchase. The tickets we all had could also be recycled into tickets for different games (I think Brandon eventually turned them into pairs to 2 games against the Nationals or something … blah who cares it’s baseball). Although the price for these new tickets was somewhat higher, the seats were amazing; we were just to the right of home plate and maybe 20 rows back. We all gorged on ballpark food, enjoyed the antics of a riled Philly crowd, and cringed at the pervasive layer of cuteness provided by it being a Kids Game special.

When the game was over (Phillies lost, by the by) we returned to Brandon’s photo pad and watched a Tivo-ed Game 1 between the Mavericks and the Spurs. I don’t know how I lucked out with that one … I guess Brandon’s Tivo just must have realized it was superior programming and decided to record it by itself. I certainly didn’t demand it be recorded. Nor did I then annoyingly create a situation where Brandon had to rewind to the very beginning without me experiencing any spoilers. But the Mavs amazingly won and I was in such a good mood that we introduced Brandon to “jowling.”

We were physically, mentally, emotionally and now, jowl-ingly exhausted and began the preparations for sleeping. However, just as I was about to finally slip into unconsciousness my heart began to pump with extreme anxiousness. I suddenly realized that in less than 12 hours I was to meet Toine and his new girlfriend, Joy. I had spent the entire day distracting myself from this very idea with food, games and jowls, but I knew I would have to face the truth in mere hours. I fell into a fitful sleep.

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TWITTER: Mavs Advance!

It’s been three long years … but the Mavericks finally win a playoff series!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 Goodnight Spurs 🙁

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TWITTER: The Gig

Re-listening to my first ever gig. 10 years ago and time has not made it any easier to experience …

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TWITTER: Liquid Diet

Attempting a liquids-only diet today … hey, if it was good enough for Wilt Chamberlain it can’t be bad for me, right?

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Philly Part I: Death Aboard a Megabus

Philadelphia is land of the free, home of the brave; the bra strap where the awkward fumblings of a beginning nation began! However, there is also a seedy underbelly to this fabled city; a secret society of malcontents who have been festering with rage since way back in April of 2007 – the last time Brandon mentioned he was going to update the B-Log’s look (update: there has been no change to his site since his 2007 post). Ironically, it was to see this very man that Cassie and I braved exiting Manhattan last weekend. Our journey would be met with much resistance, imprisonment, and even a meeting with the new Dohwoman, but we would come out of it as richer, wiser people. Well, at least we’d escape with an amazing picture of Anthony falling asleep inside Independence Hall!

The weekend was such an eventful one that I’ve decided to break it up into three parts scattered into separate posts. Come along with me as I retell this tale … if you dare!!!

When we travel outside of the city, Cassie and I usually board the BoltBus … a nice, upscale ride with large seats, wi-fi internet and electrical outlets. I’ve never had a bad experience with the organization, even when it was 45 minutes late one time in the freezing winter (we got to stand in a warm, nearby pizza joint). For some reason, though, Cassie wanted to save some money and try Megabus – a competitor just one rung down in class than Bolt, but provides an awesome double-decker bus.

Well, we managed to locate the bus stop (an experience not unlike a scavenger hunt when it comes to New York City) just a few minutes later than we had planned to do so. But, we could’ve taken our ol’ sweet time as our bus decided to mosey on in an hour late. Luckily, that time spent waiting wasn’t wasted as we chomped on our Wendy’s (a decision which would turn out to be quite fortuitous) and I was asked to donate money to some charity or other by the very same guy who asked me to donate money to some other charity a year ago. Since it was obviously just a bullshit scam, I messed with him a bit. It was a nice stress reliever and I felt bad seeing some kids giving him money just to have him leave them alone. I’ve really started to learn to keep my bullshit radar operating at tip-top shape since moving here.

The line of people that had been waiting for who knows how long slowly piled into the double-decker bus. Cassie and I made our way to the second level (it felt like it just had to be a more interesting trip up there). As we settled down in our seats we sighed … finally we were on our way to Philadelphia for the weekend. The stressful bus stop hunt and subsequent terrible, long wait were behind us. Now we just had two hours of relaxation (I brought along the Motley Crue biography, “The Dirt”) and we’d find ourselves in the arms of Brandon Jones.

Right?

Well, about 10 blocks into the trip (yes, ladies and gentlemen, you read that right: 10 blocks) we ran into some heavy traffic. And I do literally mean “ran into” traffic. A Fed Ex truck came up on the right side of us and knocked off the passenger-side rearview mirror. The bus driver immediately pulled over to the side of the busy street … and then proceeded to do nothing for an hour! Rumors were flying around as to what was happening but finally our intrepid captain came up to the second level and announced three extremely annoying facts:

  1. She was unable to drive us anywhere until the mirror was put back on by a licensed mechanic.
  2. She was not allowed to let any of us leave the bus as the doors opened up into moving traffic.
  3. She had forgotten she had a second level on the bus and had told all of this information to the first level an hour ago!!!!

Naturally, people started to get annoyed and some even angry. Someone on the lower level engaged in a yelling match with the bus driver but received just as good as she gave (our driver was of the sassy sort). I felt like there really weren’t any options so why worry about it, but this reasoning seemed to be of the minority opinion.

Finally another bus pulled up beside us. We had heard that this one was going to be a regular sized bus (no second level) so not everyone would be able to get on it. Thus, with that challenge, Cassie and I primed ourselves to get our asses onto it as fast as is Melnikow-ly possible. Well, readers, we made it safely aboard and enjoyed a rather uneventful ride into Philly – finally arriving to our destination a full 3 hours later than scheduled.

An extremely quick cab ride later and we arrived at the Casa De Jones: an impressively large (for a city apartment) living space furnished in a style I’ll call: throw out anything ever owned by Brandon. Well, except for Brandon’s office/corner in the living room which looked more like a Bond villain’s TV-wall in which Bond’s progress through the death traps is monitored. We all gabbed like little girls for an hour or two thanks to Brandon’s mixed drinks (he tends a mean bar!!!) and then Katie retired for the night. Unfortunately, this left three ex-heavy drinkers to their own devices and we quickly devolved into a heated debate about the legalization of … everything, really.

When Brandon held a dollar bill in his chinflap I realized the night was over. Besides, I was drunk and I had barely made it out alive of the evil Megabus. Perhaps this baptism of fire was going to prepare me enough for the remainder of the week: traveling in time to get to a baseball game and the main event of meeting Toine’s new girlfriend, Joy. Or perhaps not, but hope remained even as I lost consciousness.

Stay tuned, dear readers, it’s a good’un!

Current Mood: Ready for the weekend emoticon Ready for the weekend

TWITTER: NBA Radio

I can’t get Mavs-Spurs game 3 on tv … time to listen to my first NBA radio broadcast.

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  • Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 at 22:16 | #1

    During the first quarter I joined a live blog session put on by one of the Dallas bloggers. One of the other guys participating in the session gave me a link to a site where he was sharing his tv, so I actually ended up being able to watch the game!!! Pretty awesome.

TWITTER: Inhale Hair

The lady who cut my hair had to step away for a second. Reason: she “inhaled” a hair

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  • AF Tite
    Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 08:13 | #1

    Just when I thought your site was making a change for the betterm, you go and post this. Why don’t you just get it over with and get a twitter account?

  • Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 08:45 | #2

    Jeff’s right. Your site has not changed for the betterM

  • Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 09:53 | #3

    I’ve had a twitter account for almost 2 years. What would make this site “betterm” in your opinion?

  • AF Tite
    Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 16:17 | #4

    Sometimes, I’ll read your one-line ‘fragment’ of a thought and I almost find myself feeling like I’m reading a schuminweb.com update about something so utterly uninteresting. Who else do you know would post the fact that their barber may have inhaled a hair? I mean, I can even see Chris Chan uploading a YouTube video about something like that. Go back to the full blogs like the one previous to this.

  • Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 16:26 | #5

    But that’s the whole justification for the existence of Mini Blogs! When I’m struck with an interesting idea, funny experience, or awesome story that I don’t feel would be worthy or necessary to flesh out into a proper blog, I allow myself the option of just sharting it out quickly in Mini Blog form. They’re also small enough to ignore if you don’t enjoy them.

Super Slinky

I just bought a 10-pack of Ernie Ball Super Slinky guitar strings off eBay for $39.99. And, with no shipping fees, that’s $3.99 per pack! Wow … what a huge difference this is from when I first started to buy these babies. When I first picked up the guitar in December of 1996 I really had no clue there were even different types/widths of strings, much less have a preference for a specific one. However, after a long investigation process that probably lasted years I finally settled down with the strings in that manly pink dressing!

I actually thought I was going to write an entire post about my relationship with a fucking guitar string type. The only story I remember is, while spending the summer in the infamous Shack – writing, rehearsing, and recording music – I had a ton of these strings. I was so bored and kind of hungry one night so I chewed on every piece of the plastic covering the strings came in. There: only story I was somehow about to base this blog on.

Alright, I think I’ll move on to issues of a more interesting sort!!

First of all, I shall address Stever’s favorite blog category: the Fiday Catchup! Although I wish it to remain a deadline post – checking in every Friday – I’m going to retool it a bit, as well. Specifically, I don’t want to have to conform to the lists, reviews, and YouTube video template I concocted a month ago. That got really boring really fast. Instead, I’ll just update you with what’s going on … as my life has suddenly shifted into a super-busy hyperwarp.

MUSIC
First of all, I’ve now jammed twice with drummer, John, and we’ve made some serious progress. Both of us were extremely rusty coming back but we estimate our level at about 75-80% where it used to be last year (each at our peak). The relationship is a lot easier and the mood is more conducive to getting things done and having fun in the process than our previous band. There, writing music had to compete with the other guitarists’ moping, the lead singer’s micromanagement, and the wars between the two. Last night, in fact, we started work on a new song and John actually started to suggest cool things to add to the song (I never heard him utter a songwriting suggestion in the previous band). The sound between us is very straight, hard rock which is an inspiring start though I am concerned about versatility.

Ultimately, I wish to be in a band that encompasses the best parts of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (fun and funky), Radiohead (intellectual and modern songwriting), Led Zeppelin (intelligent musicianship and swagger), Guns N’ Roses (something that can get a little nasty and melodic, memorable solos), and Weezer (attitude and songcraftsmanship). I know John and I have only jammed twice, but perhaps it’s never to early to sit down and discuss where we each want to see with the band.

I’ve been on a search for a singer/songwriter to partner with as well. A couple weeks ago I met Jeff, a singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist (the role I’m looking for as a priority) whom I’d actually almost jammed with a year ago. We met at his place, traded stories, experiences, and a few songs and then I left. Unfortunately, the leaving was so abrupt that there was no real closure. I exited not really fully aware of how I felt about the situation. Ultimately, he emailed me back saying that he didn’t think our styles meshed well and I would have to agree with him. He wrote more open, cyclical U2/Coldplay stuff and I was nervous how that would fit with the hard rock John and I are birthing.

The search continues … but this post does not! In fact there are so many things that I could discuss here about my past two weeks, but I’ve got to get ready to head down to Philadelphia where I will be meeting the Joneses and perhaps the Stetses! I apologize, but I will try to make it more of a priority to check in here for you all.

Until then … make mine the SteverOnline!

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Mini Blog: End of NBA Season

Wow … the best results that could’ve happened: Mavs clinch 6th seed, just barely make it to their ninth straight year of 50 games won … and I was off losing four straight games at Zog. Ah well … sacrifice for the basketball gods!!!

TWITTER: I’m Back

It’s been 1.5 years since I last tweeted … but I’m back, bitches!!!

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