Sunday, September 27, 2009


The Colonel has watched a lot (probably too much) football in his lifetime.

He's always been a Brett Favre fan, and has even given grudging respect when #4 has led the Packers down the field to beat us in the final two minutes too many times to count.

But I have never seen a final touchdown pass like that one.


Friday, September 25, 2009

The EETs of San Francisco

First Night: Clam Chowder at Alioto's. Quote the Blond, "It ain't from a can!"
We found this guy on Pier 39.
The Colonel was pretty excited about the French combo meal.

"I'll have the Crepe, FRIGHTS, and a Soda, please!" He gleefully announced. Later, the Blond quietly hissed, "It's pronounced FREET, moron."
After eating too many "freet", the Blond insisted we get some fresh fruit.
She chose well.

The Colonel, on the other hand, preferred a place called "Chocolate Heaven."

It was.The Blond did get into the Chocolate Groove at Ghiradelli. After picking out a pretty nifty chocolate-filled cable car, she sent the me up to the counter to pay for it.

The Colonel noticed a 10% off coupon sitting by the cash register. A normal human would recognise that a previous customer had just used it, but being a Moron, I scooped it up.

"Hey!" can I use this?" I gushed.

The clerk regarded me much the way a potato would.

"Is it yours?"

"Well...yeah. I just FOUND IT!"She grumbled something unintelligible and rang up the discount.With all this food, it is fortunate that the California Euphorians have placed these ECO-FRIENDLY, self-cleaning (really) facilities almost EVERYWHERE. Of course, they have a plethora of Silly, Big-Government Rules and Policies, like "Only One Adult Allowed in at a Time."

Now, the self-cleaning idea might seem pretty cool, but in fact it's kind of gross.

Then again, what kind of idiot would actually video the inside of one of these things? This is true: The video ends abruptly, because as I activated the automatic door, there was a very large man waiting outside with a "What the heck are you doing?" scowl on his face.

Unfortunately, when I REALLY needed one of these facilities, there wasn't one to be seen.

Most businesses on Fisherman's Wharf have signs that say their version of "Rest Rooms are for Customers, Only!"
One very inhospitable place in particular actually made you get a token from the front counter. This establishment happened to be the only one within striking distance when my moment of need arrived.
So I had to buy a Cheeseburger.
We made up for that Faux Pas by having breakfast at a more reputable site.Wednesday Night: Cioppino's. (Think Valentini's on Steroids, but not in a good way...)Out on the Bus Tour, we encountered "The French Laundry." Apparently, this is the "Best Restaurant in the World." Seriously. Reservations are only available MONTHS in advance, and even then they are hard to get. There is a person on ebay who gets reservations and then sells them for $200.00. No food, just the reservation. The food runs about $500-$700 per meal.The tour guide must have not realized that we wanted to eat there, because he just drove right on by, and we had to settle for snapping this picture. We had a nice picnic instead.
Final night...out of money...corn dogs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Left My Shoes in San Francisco

The Colonel awoke to a day full of promise.
"Oh, boy!" he thought, "Today we can tour a WWII submarine, climb some hills, see some cool stuff...this is going to be GREAT!"
"Not so fast," intoned the Blond, "If we are going to see "Wicked," there's something we absolutley must do first."
No...please. Not that. Anything but THAT!"
A few minutes later we were Cabling down to Market Street.
She calls it Shopping.
I call it Torture.
Look how happy she is.
Now, to her credit, the Blond was able to find the ONLY shop in Union Square where the dresses don't start at $2000.00
The ability to find reasonably priced apparel does not translate, however, into the ability to choose resasonably priced apparel.
I mean, it was all reasonably priced in the store she found, but then the woman needed to make a DECISION.
As the hours flew by, I checked my e-mail, chatted with a security guard, found a rest room, read War & Peace, ignored a homeless guy, and watched the day slip away.
Finally she found it. The perfect dress. Good price, nice lines. Even the Colonel--who knows less about fashion than the previouly mentioned homless guy--knew she had located a winner.
Now, finally we could go?
I could have wept.
Much later, after strapping on a hundred different shoes in an attempt to find, not only the perfect pair, but (this gets a little technical) the perfect pair in her size, we had made thirty minute MUNI commute back to our hotel room, and were preparing to salvage what was left of the day.
Knowing that our foray into the valley of the retailers had at last reached its conclusion, I was feeling a bit giddy.
"All right," I said benevolently, "We might as well see how all this looks together."
The Blond got as far as putting on the shoes.
"Hmmm, why don't they feel right?"
She looked inside one of them. Then she looked inside the other. Then she did it again.
"Uh-oh," She said.
"Uh-oh? What do you mean, Uh-oh?"
"These shoes are two different sizes."
When we got back downtown to exchange them, the Homeless Guy just looked at me and said, "You again?"
All this, just to go see a play in a mostly darkened theater.
On the other hand, she does look pretty Wicked.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Confusion by the Bay

The Colonel is not one of the brightest points of light on planet earth—in fact, he’s like, second from the bottom—but if there is one skill he does have it is Urban Navigating.

The Blond is continually amazed at my ability to pretty much close my eyes and drive right up to our destination in any city—any state. I also have pretty good luck figuring out a city's buses, subways, etc.

So, to prepare for our most recent trip, the Colonel went into MAJOR NERD MODE, doing the google and learning all about the San Francisco Mass Transit System, including the infamous BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)

That being said, The Colonel and the Blond would like to go on the record stating that we have never experienced a city trying so hard to AVOID TELLING YOU WHERE YOU ARE.

It all began when we boarded the BART (Body Aromas Reeking Terribly) for the simple trip downtown from the Airport. Perhaps we are naive Midwesterners, but when we ride the Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis, there are bright LED signs indicating the next stops, along with a Cheery Voice clearly announcing the station name and connecting routes. “Bus…number Fifty-One…number Fifty-One.”
On the BART, we planted our tired posteriors on some old urine, sweat, and vomit stains and looked around for a station display. Seeing nothing, we confidently (I’m good at this, remember?) awaited the on-board announcement that were approaching the 1st Stop. As the train slowed to a stop in the next station, we heard the intercom crackle to life with the following nugget of information, which I now quote, word for word.

“ .”
Not to worry, all transit stations have their names posted prominently on bright,colorful signage, easily visible from the train cars.
"Ha-ha," the city quietly chuckled to itself.
While signage is not COMPLETELY missing, the following facts are true of BART.
1. The train windows are VERY darkly tinted.
2. The station platforms are VERY dimly lit.
3. Any station signs that do exist are about the size of a dollar bill, and race by your window before you can squint. And your car never, NEVER stops in front of one.
After several stations whizzed by, reveling in their anonymity, the Blond began to get nervous.
"Where do we get off again?"
"Market and Powell"
"And how do we know where that is?"
"I'm working on it..."
Fortunately, her young eyes are superior to mind, and she spotted a tiny, worn "Powell" sign just early enough for us to grab our bags and exit without being crushed by rapidly closing BART-doors.
Now, on the Streets of San Franciscotm, the Blond had one comment.
"Uh...where ARE we?"
"I think we're on Market, but where is the F-Line Stop?"
Our 7 day, Unlimited MUNI passport was in my pocket, itching for a workout. I seriously wanted to grab the connecting street car I had so painstakingly researched.
"Should we just get a cab?"
"Just let me do my job, OKAY?"
I craned my neck around, looking for ANYTHING that would indicate a station heading toward Fisherman's Wharf. We found a small platform about a half-block away, but it was clearly heading in the wrong direction.
We would still be standing there, if a younger, obviously less URBAN-SAVVY man hadn't come up and shown his utter lack of a Y-Chromosome by asking a local for directions.
"How do I get out to Fisherman's Wharf?" he asked. I was so embarrassed for him.
"Over there..." The lady pointed.
Okay, so there was a platform (more like a narrow curb), but it had NO SIGNAGE, and it just sat there, daring us to find it.
Once on the F-Market/Wharves street car, we were on our way. I have to admit, that the Driver of this mini train, actually did keep us posted on where we were. If he hadn't I am sure we would have just stayed on the tracks and ended up back where we started.
We disembarked near our hotel, thinking the toughest part of the process was behind us.
And then we walked past the entrance to the Holiday Inn three times before we found it.
Please note the complete lack of any sign indicating that this is anything other than a parking garage. I can assure you that this IS the entrance to our hotel. They just don't want you to find it.

Upon entering, we found this sign. We found the phone and called for assistance, being assured the desk person would be there in two minutes.
Twenty minutes later, after (this is true) acting as an interpreter/apologist for a group of Japanese tourists, we finally met with a desk person, who checked us in and assigned us to room 1345. Thirteenth
Hopping into the elevator, we of course realized that the hotel did not have thirteen floors. Lost again.
The Blond smartly suggested we try the third floor.
I stupidly thought I could just hit the button marked "3" on the control panel.
Find it...I dare you.
This kind of thing would continue throughout the week. We sincerely believe this city is trying to lose us.
There was the cable car operator who missed a switch:
Cheerful Cable Car Guy: "Folks, I just drove over the switch. Rather than the Powell/Mason line, this is now the Powell/Hyde line. "
Us: "But we don't want to go to Hyde!"
Even More Cheerful Cable Car Guy: "Sorry.."
He then prompted us to disembark on an unguided, unplanned walking tour of Chinatown.
There was also the Sullen Ticket Clerk at Coit Tower telling us to just "Follow the Yellow Line", which promptly disappeared after a few feet, along with the clerk.
And the very helpful Hotel Concierge, pictured here at his/her desk.
All in all, we're having a good time, but considering how the Colonel has spent most of this vacation sitting forlornly on park benches, studying Google Maps, trying to figure out where the heck we were, we are also looking forward to coming home on Friday.
If they haven't moved the Airport.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Farewell to a Really Stupid Ballpark

First Inflated on October 2, 1981.
The roof promptly collapsed 48 days later in a Minnesota snowstorm.

Balls were lost against the Teflon roof, homers flew out in record numbers (before AC), foul balls hit speakers, and one high fly ball even stuck in the ceiling, never to be seen again.

Visiting managers from Billy Martin to Ozzie Guillen reviled the place, calling it the “Rollerdome” and threatening to have it blown up.

It was so bad, that back in 1984, the metropolitan sports commission coined a new motto, their own version of whistling past the graveyard—“We Like It Here!”

Yet it was also the loud, boisterous home of the only two world championships in the history of Minnesota professional sports.

It is also the place where we lived and died with our favorite team throughout our adult lives. (The Blond actually saw a Twins game at the old Met—an advantage over the Colonel for which I will forever be envious.)

And now it is closing to baseball. April, 2010 and the opening of Target Field will herald the return of outdoor baseball to Minnesota.
So this past weekend, the Colonel, the Blond, and the entire family (now numbering ten) headed downtown for one final farewell.Walking in to the pressurized, Teflon bubble, passing through the sterile, concrete concourse, we were reminded again what a lousy place this was to hold a ball game.
Designed for football, the stadium features seats that face the wrong direction, poor lines of sight, and banks of lights that drive even veteran outfielders to distraction.
But the Twins are in a pennant race once again, 3 games behind the Detroit Tigers, the team they are playing today. A win today would guarantee a series win, and moving at least one game closer in the standings.
While we enjoyed our family time in the stands, it didn’t look good for the Twins. Our starting pitcher, Carl Pavano, didn’t seem to have his best stuff. While he only fell behind by a run—the game was kept close by a solo blast by the incomparable Joe Mauer--our boys were not helping much by running out of two potential rallies, getting caught stealing twice to empty the bases.
The later it got in the game, the more it seemed that the hard-hitting Tigers would break out at any time. What we needed was a little good, old-fashioned “Dome Magic”.

It happened in the 8th. With one out already, Orlando Cabrera hit an easy, potentially rally-killing fly ball in the direction of Tiger’s left-fielder Don Kelly. Uh-oh. Another opportunity lost.

Suddenly, Kelly began to scramble about, looking confused. How many times had we seen this dance before, especially during afternoon games with the sun illuminating the already oppressive, white ceiling? Shouts of “Dome Ball!” burst spontaneously from experienced fans.

Sure enough, Kelly lost sight of the ball, recovered too late, and it bounced off his glove for a “Metrodome Double.”

That kind of event tends to take the wind out of a visiting pitcher’s sails. Three batters later, Michael Cuddyer would pound a three-run homer over the center field fence, bringing the tally to 6-2, a score that would hold for the last Twins victory we would see live at the Dome.

We are looking forward to Target Field. Indoor baseball is an evil abomination, and for almost two decades, the Metrodome has been the High Temple of that dark order.

But for today, we remember Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, Frank Viola and Bert Blyleven. We remember the Homer Hankies in ’87. We remember the greatest World Series ever played—with Jack Morris’ 10 inning masterpiece to win it all in 1991.

And we remember dome-balls. More than a few times, we have seen the home-town stadium help snatch victory from the grasp of befuddled opponents, as our beloved small-town market Twins have stayed competetive year in and year out against teams whose payrolls are far higher, and ballparks much nicer.

So it seemed appropriate, that in our last trip to the dome, that stupid, white ceiling would have such an impact on the game.

Without it, the Twins might not have rallied. Without it, Cuddyer might not have come up to bat to hit the home run that dropped ten feet from where we were sitting.
And without it, our family might not have appeared in the stands on Sports Center, with Doogie doing one, final triumphant fist pump

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Morons on Vacation

Random Conversation with the Blond.

Colonel: Don't you appreciate how hotels put the coffee maker right in the bathroom?

Blond: Yeah, with the Aeration Effect, the toilet water is everywhere.

Colonel: If you were in a hurry, you could save a lot time and get identical results just by dipping the decanter!

Blond: Stop bugging me.

Up Next: Farwell to a REALLY STUPID Ballpark.