Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You're Hanging From the Balcony Upon the Riverboat Glass

Yesterday was Memorial Day so the OFOMOL and I decided to head to the Queen of American Watering Places, Cedar Point. We originally scheduled this trip for two weeks ago, then again this past friday, but both days were overrun with bad weather so we settled on the holiday yesterday. As it is quite a drive from the EL to the Point, we awoke at the ever-so-pleasant time of 6:30 to allow enough time for travelling. A quick stop at McDonald's for some coffee provided a prime chance for MOL to complain. Going through the drive-through, an order of two coffees and a OJ was ordered. We sat in line and got to the pay-window. We waited more and pulled up to the get-the-food window. I notice the minimum-paid worker just pouring the OJ then I see her making some coffee. She then mentions "I just had to make some more coffee. It is going to be a few minutes. Please pull up and I'll run it out to you." OK, this place is McDonalds. It is 7:30 A.M. and you are out of coffee? Didn't you foresee this coming? I mean, isn't it someone's sole job to make sure there is always hot coffee ready? C'mon folks! So then the coffee is a *bit* hot. By bit I mean, it was a solid (no joke) 45 minutes for the coffee to reach a temperature to drink.

Anyway, we took some crazy roundabout way to get there and didn't end up in the park until 11 or so. OFOMOL has never been here (well, duh), and the last time I was at CP was CWRU Senior Week 2002 (that was a fun time!). It's been a few years. The weather was hot and the sun was out. SPF 45 was applied liberally to prevent this poor redhead from looking like a lobster.

We started out with a ride on the ride that seems to get crappier every year, Disaster Transport. I liked this one a lot more when it was Avalanche Run. Then it was the first intense ride of the day, Wicked Twister. This is probably one of the underrated rides at the park. The linear induction motors provide quite the rush as you head straight up and down. We walked onto the Corkscrew for a nice ride going upside down a few times. After this we wound up close to Top Thrill Dragster. We stopped and watched in awe as the trains sped up and over the 420 ft hill. We checked the wait -- 1.5 hours max. After a bit of persuading, I convinced her to go on.

The line went fairly quickly, but the sun was bearing down on us. As we approached the platform, OFOMOL was getting a bit nervous about the extreme conditions we were about to undertake. The fact that the US Measurment System (yay English units!) means nothing to her, didn't help. I tried to do the conversions in my head and estimated the height at ~130 m and max speed of 200 km/h. The nervousness increased and repeat statements of "I'm not going to do this" were spoken. I did my best to reassure her -- the whole ride only lasts 17 seconds! We were next to ride when they had to release and re-do the lap bars 3 times on the riders prior to us. We got in and I told her I'd hold her hand and tried to distract her. She was not looking forward to this ride. Then it was our turn and the next thing now we were headed at 120 mph up the monster phallic tower and then back down. It was quite the rush and afterwards the OFOMOL mentioned how fun it was.

We took a break on Paddlewheel Excursions. This attraction is just an excuse for the workers to tell corny pun-filled jokes. The irony of it is that I remember hearing the same joke when I was 12 years old when I was there with my dad. No joke. Another walk-on ride at the Gemini. I notoriously lose on this ride, but OFOMOL chose the red train and we won! Yay! We pondered taking a break by hitting one of the water rides. Since White Water Landing has been removed for future expansion, our only choices were to get absolutely soaked by the ever-so-clean CP water. I talked OFOMOL out of it, and even though it was a hot day, we were much more comfortable not having to wear damp clothes the rest of the day. We hit Mean Streak and Wave Swinger in the back of the park.

Due to whatever reason, Millenium Force was not in operation yesterday so we rode the triumverate of Mantis (not the most fun on the legs/nether regions), Iron Dragon, and the Wildcat. Heading to the Wildcat, OFOMOL asks "isn't this a kid's ride?" I reassured her and as we rode it, she enjoyed it a bit. She enjoyed it so much in fact that we rode it a second time before we left for the night! OFOMOL was geting a bit overwhelmed. We took a break on Cedar Downs and the Turnpike Cars. She didn't realize she could actually steer the car! That was a fun time. The Blue Streak and Raptor were next before our dinner break.

It was around 6:30 or so and we were plum tired! I told her I wanted to ride Magnum (it's my favorite) before we left and we headed to that area of the park. You never have a bad time on that ride and she asked "why didn't we do this one earlier?" I recalled to her that we could have but she opted out of it. I rode the Witch's Wheel while she sat and we hit the Magnum again.

We headed to leave and she mentioned that I promised her to win something for her. You know those games. The workers make it look so easy. Then you dish over a couple bones to try. You get oh-so-close and convince yourself you can do it. The next thing you know, you've spent $20+ for your $5 mini Brian. I said a quick prayer as we headed to the games area. I chose an easy-looking bball game. $2 for a shot. Why not. I took two shots and made one -- got a mini basketball. Not necessarily what OFOMOL wants. So I forked over another Jefferson and nailed the shot. We upgraded to a pink stuffed dog -- her favorite color and animal! The day was complete and we headed out right around 8.

The whole experience for OFOMOL was pretty intense. The parks over in Europe are not like this and there are maybe 4-5 rides to go on. Not the 13 (+2 repeats) that we did yesterday. She was amazed at the sheer height, speed, ups, downs, and twists of all the rides. She used a new english word that she learned to explain it -- megalomania. That was very apropos. I did explain to her that Cedar Point is not the typical amusement park. My analogy (that she understood quite well) was this: You can run 100 marathons, but none of them are as good or quite like Boston; You can visit 100 amusement parks, but none of them can measure up or compare to Cedar Point.

Coming soon: a discussion on milk!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Make Me a Witness

This isn't supposed to be happening. No not to us. Cleveland sports fans are made with thick skin to survive the cold winters of discontent. Those years when the Browns finish at 7-9, the Cavs steeped in mediocrity of Mike Fratello teams that can't decide if they want to make the playoffs or the draft lottery, and all those years of Indians perpetually losing.We've endured the worst kinds of defeats that have defined HOF careers (The Drive, The Shot, The Catch); we've endured losing in the most spectacular of ways (The Fumble, 1997 World Series); and we've had one of the the most storied NFL franchises taken away from us. We're a tough bunch. More accustomed to losing then any Boston [hey, you had the Celtics and Pats (coached by whom?) to cheer for] or Chicago (those Bulls won a couple of rings, didn't they?) fan. These events have made us resilient to defeat. It has even made some of us (me) so cynical that even in the event of a major sports championship, we won't accept that something catastrophically bad hasn't fallen on the team.

But maybe things are changing. Three years ago the Cavs limped (with their awful uniforms) to the NBA draft lottery and somehow (SOMEHOW!) scored that magic ping-pong ball to secure #23 himself, LeBron James. Good things are not supposed to happen to Cleveland sports teams. Two seasons (and two coaches) falling just short of the playoffs ensue. Add to that new ownership who got off to quick a rocky start, and things aren't looking up. Then year three comes and the Cavs, playoff rookies for all intents and purposes, are picked to struggle with a "playoff experienced" Washington team. In six games, LBJ and Gilbert Arenas put on a magic offensive show. The young, upstart Cavs take the series 4-2.

Here we are in the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs against the Detroit Pistons. The same Detroit Pistons who have gone to the past two NBA finals, winning in 2004. The same Detroit Pistons who's success had been defined by no superstar player but an emphasis on fundamentals and teamwork. Those same Detroit Pistons who were picked to beat the Cavs in 4 or 5 games. But what happened to those Detroit Pistons? Somewhere in game 2, the Cavs started beating the Pistons at their own game -- team work and defense. Yes, these games have been ugly and we're now lucky to see a game go into the 90s. But the Cavs have turned it up and are now in control of the series. Their bench has totally outplayed the Pistons bench (which consists of who else besides Antonio McDyess and Lindsay Hunter?) and players such has Anderson Varejao have given the team a spark. I was happy to have won one or two games -- a good 'ol moral victory but not anymore. This team, LeBron and company, can take this series. The pressure is all on Detroit now. Gund Arena is going to be INSANE friday night. Louder then any of us can imagine.

Comparison have been made to LBJ and MJ. Early in his career MJ had the foil in the Detroit Piston Bad Boys. We see the same thing with LeBron. But the difference? LeBron has a chance to beat Detroit the first time around. Yes we are all witnesses. We're not witnesses to the next Magic or the next Jordan. No, we're witnesses to the one and the only LeBron James.

I've added another Cleveland sports blog: Mistake by the Lake Sporting Times. Be sure to check it out as they've deciphered the Witness commercials and ID'd all the locations. They also go stat-crazy with their analyses.

Tomorrow is Game 6 in Cleveland. I'm thinking it is going to be a classic and hope everyone watches it. As I'm located in the heart of the mitten state, I've proudly been wearing my blue #32 Larry Hughes jersey. Now the question begs -- do I wear it out to the bar friday night and enter directly into enemy territory?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head

Spent the weekend in C-town for the sister's graduation. Looks like she got her Master's before me -- nice job Em, I'm proud of you. The OFOMOL and I had a nice time. We went to the West Side Market and the Botannical Gardens. Of course the weather was pretty uncooperative. We were planning on hitting Cedar Point yesterday but we wisely decided to reschedule it.

Well...it looks like we've got a series here. The Cavs have pulled out two victories in C-town to draw even with the Pistons. I'll be honest, I wasn't giving them much of a chance at the beginning of the series -- probably one win. Now they've had two gritty victories over Detroit. We're all witnesses. The thing is, LeBron hasn't played that spectacularly. He's had too many turnovers, and hasn't dominated like he did versus Washington. Of course the Wizards have no defense and the Pistons' D is pretty tough so I'm not expecting him to put up 35+ every night. But somehow they've gotten it done. We'll see what happens tomorrow in Detroit. Now I'm a big LeBron fan, but has anyone else noticed that he whines too much after a call against him? Seriously. Every time there is a foul or turnover on him he has this look that says "What, me? No way! I did NOTHING wrong." There is one area he needs to mature in. For your benefit, I've included the Cavs theme song from way back when. I downloaded this over a year and a half ago so I can't tell you where I go it, but enjoy:

Come on Cavs

Since I like to give props on here to people and things that do stuff well, a friend of mine runs a fantasy football website. Mock drafts are now taking place every 10 minutes.

Thats all I've got for now.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ohh May

If you didn't know, the NFL Draft was this weekend. I'll share with you some of my thoughts:

Matt Leinart falling to 10th. This guy was the consensus #1 pick LAST year, instead he decided to stay in school and attempt to win another national championship (which he didn't), win another Heisman trophy (which he didn't), and enjoy the co-eds of SoCal (which I'm sure he did). Now he goes to the NFL graveyard that is the Arizona (nee Phoenix and St. Louis) Cardinals. Of course they have quite the potent offense and a sweet new stadium. They could be the NFL version of the new LA Clippers. But still, it's Arizona. Its surprising all the teams that passed on him -- will New York [Jets], Oakland, Buffalo, and Detroit be second-guessing themselves in a few years or is he really not that great?

Speaking of Buffalo -- Donte Whitner at #8? C'mon, you could've traded to the lower part of the 1st round and still would have gotten him plus a couple more draft picks. Or they could have had Matt Leinart.

Nobody drafted Marcus Vick. Suits him right. Jeremy Bloom goes to Philly. It'll be interesting to see what this guy does in the NFL. At least someone is giving him a shot.

Ohio State: I tell ya, Jim Tressel runs a good program there. 9 players drafted with 5 going in the first round. Not only is it one of the top programs in the country, but he produces quality NFL talent. Recruits look for two things coming out of high school: does this team win, and does the program prepare me to compete in the NFL. Sweater vest Tressel does both of these.

Now I give some analysis on the Cleveland Browns. You can never really judge a draft class until 4-5 years down the line. But I like what they did. Romeo Crennel's strength is defense. This was evident throughout the draft this weekend as the emphasis was on defense. Their free agent signings of Ted Washington and Willie McGinest give them two veterans to lead and teach these youngsters. Save from the Christmas Eve debacle that was the Pittsburgh game last year, the defense kept the team competitive in most games. I see the defense getting stronger and setting the tone for the team. Looking at the offense, there is a lot of potential in the receiving corps -- of course Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow are still unproven. Hopefully they stay healthy and we see what they can really do. The only weakness I see is the QB and RB position. Will it be Trent Dilfer or Charlie Frye leading the team? And what about Rueben Droughns/Lee Suggs/William Green? Who's going to be the lead guy and can the other two handle playing the role of backup. At least we didn't trade for Joey Harrington. Just what we need, a 3rd non-great QB to throw into the mix. We don't need a QB controversy and we don't need Tim Couch version 2.0. I'm predicting a 9-7 record next year. You heard it here first folks.

Is it me, or has ESPN kept increasing the "Insider" tag on its articles. Am I going to have to finally cave in and pay for this stuff? Yeah right!

For those that are interested here is a live action version of Super Mario Brothers. It is entertaining but gets old right around minute 3.