Reno in Summer (Day 1)

So maybe my luck is changing.  I have long-chronicled my luck as being, well, rather poor.  Specifically with travel.  My first time to see Ash, it *snowed* in Las Vegas.  Not to mention the blizzards they were getting up in Reno.  When she came out to Virginia, it was 95 and extremely humid.  Plus there were delays, etc.  Now, before even coming out to Reno, two things were happening.  1)  Tahoe was on fire.  2)  The day I arrive, the temperature was set to jump over 100.  Well, it did set a record yesterday at 106, and it’s supposed to be hotter today.

Not only this, but I had my flight change a few times, and it ended up with me having a 27-minute layover in Tennessee, which I was NOT looking forward to.

So how is my luck changing?  Fenk let me crash with him, a nice gesture.  Some wine later, we all crashed around 2:45am.  My flight was at 6:29am, so I set my alarm for 4:02am.  This would allow plenty of buffer time, what with London blowing up and so forth.  So I crash for my hour and a half of sleep.  I wake up, not to my alarm, but just because I woke up, and the clock read 5:50.  As in 39 minutes before my flight LEAVES!

I pee and, having not changed, literally run out of the house down the street.  I was planning on calling a car service, but there wouldn’t be time.  I tried to flag a taxi, but he was full.  Suddenly, a service car (not a taxi) pulls up and tells me to get in.  Surreal.  I tell him to get me to the airport as fast as he feasibly can, please speed.  He gets me there in about 8 minutes (Laguardia, and Fenk lives in Queens).  I run inside and there is no line (thankfully).  The NWA representative (no, not Ice Cube) very slowly calls the desk to see if it’s even worth me running to get the plane.  She tries THREE times.  I’m thinking, “Just let me run and hope!” She checks me in and says they’ll have my bording passes there, but I need to run.  So I run, very tired and with two super-heavy bags.

As I am boarding (the last person to board), some woman runs up to me, “Is this yours?”  My license had fallen out of my hands.  Thankfully, she brought it back.  Good karma to her.

So I hit the plane as the last person, and they take off.  Now I have two hours before I have to worry about my 27 minute layover.  To cut this exposition short, that was NO problem.  I actually was in my plane 15 minutes before it took off.  No issue there.

I get into LAX with almost two hours’ layover.  So I re-go through security, get some lunch (mmmm, double bacon cheeseburger) and change my clothes.  I have time to kill.  I read some books, text some people.  At a half hour until my flight leaves, I go for my boarding pass.  Gone.  Same with my license (again).  I mentally retrace my steps and remember I left it at security while I was putting on my shoes.  I go back, and a very aged man delicately (read: slowly) goes over to a room to get a key.  He can’t get the lock open.  They both ARE in there (thankfully again), and he methodically writes my drivers license and has me sign for them.  I go back to my gate, and they’re announcing my name over the loud-speaker.  That can’t be good.

They are on final boarding there!  D’oh!  I get on (again, last person) and find my seat next to this lovely young college girl with a thoroughly unpronounceable name.  We chatted the whole time until I landed, seeing Gene Simmons get up and unboard the plane.  If I wasn’t so rushed, I might have noticed him as soon as I boarded, as he was the first one on.

Anyway, I’m in Reno, sweating off my increasing body fat.  We went to a large outdoor festival type thing, which was characterized by not having real food and a poor turnout.  But it’s all good.  I’m with Ashley, and that’s why I’m here.

LiCkAtHoN aBbReViAtIo 2007

For those of you clicking on something called “Lickathon” and being sorely disappointed by my lack of pictures and my insistence on talking about disc golf, I apologize.  But on we go:

LiCkAtHoN was cancelled this year back in January, due to numerous reasons.  I was sadder than a maimed seal, but I soldiered on, because I understood why it was cancelled.  So when Lick posted that the tournament was going to happen, and he only gave us 1 1/2 days notice, I had to get my butt up there, shirking my very pressing professional deadlines.  It’s LiCkAtHoN, and Mitch wouldn’t be there.  I had a chance for glory.

I drive up with the Disc Devils, and after putting us in Massachusetts (oops), we show up 4 minutes before teetime.  We started at Wickham, a course I traditionally don’t shoot less than 59 on (but shot 55 last year during a major tournament).  With NO warm up, we start on the three longest holes on the course, hole 18 and two temp holes (one of which was 1200′ and had a fairway of less than 30′ by the end).  Needless to say, I started with some ugly holes, including a horrific double-circle (out of bounds) 10 on the aforementioned long hole.  And that was with two great drives.  I just decided after those two good drives to start hucking my disc indiscriminately out of bounds.  I was playing with good friend and perennial dollar-better Cromwell (who I had beat in the two previous LiCkAtHoNs), who took a 7.  Already, I was down three strokes.

Over the next series of holes, we battled back and forth, not really changing score.  By the end of the round, we bad both amassed a pretty poor score, but I managed to put a few birdies together at the end, and I ended up beating him in the round by two strokes, even with the ten.  (I shot a 60 on the actual Wickham course, while Cromwell shot a numbing 66)

Scarily, I realized I left my expensive digital camera on the course, and I didn’t realize this for about 9 holes.  I was very bummed, assuming I’d just lost a hefty chunk of change.  On the last hole, while waiting, I asked the group behind us if they’d seen it, AND THEY DID.  They had it on them.  Good karma.

From there, we headed over to Panthorn, a course I have only played during other LiCkAtHoNs, and one I have never broken 30 on.  I start out taking a three on a very tough hole, and proceed to birdie a very simple hole that I have never, for some reason, birdied.  I’m feeling good.  I did take an unfortunate 5 pretty early on (most of my shots on the hole were good, but I hit blind trees that I couldn’t see from where I was shooting), but battled back with a few smart deuces.  Overall, I took a 29, my best score there.   Only three people (including me) shot below 30.  The problem was one of them was Cromwell, who came in at a very good 27.  So we were tied, going into LICK’S LINKS!

Now Lick’s is usually the highlight of the tournament, with 10 holes, pools, jello-shots, rooftops (heh heh)… but since this year is the aBbReViAtIo, it was going to be VERY different.  We only had two baskets, and three tees.  In groups of 8 or 9, we would throw from one of the tees at one of the baskets (hoping to avoid totally arbitrary “fake lava ponds” that I strung up.)  So LiCk’s Links was only 6 “holes”, all of which were two-able (actually… aceable).  In fact, on Cromwell’s first throw, he hit chains.

Anyway, I started with a deuce, as did he.  Second hole, he deuced and I just missed my 30 foot putt.  Third hole, it all came undone.  He took another deuce, and I threw about 40 feet away.  I threw a very good putt which hit the top of the cage and bounced up.  It caught an edge and (somehow, in thick grass) started to roll towards the OB.  It looked like it was gonna be saved by the thick grass, but it rolled OVER a disc that was on the edge and out of bounds.  So not only did I take a penalty stroke, but I had to putt from the OPPOSITE side of the lava.  I made the putt, but the damage was done.  Down three strokes with only three holes left?  I birdied the next hole to Cromwell’s three.  Second to last hole, Cromwell throws a decent drive, but still a longish putt.  I was gonna play “safe” (over the house), but I decided to gun my Buzzz straight at it.  CHING!  Nicks some chain, but it flies 50′ past.  We both three.  An ace would have tied me.  Instead, I was down two still.  Final hole, I birdie, but Cromwell’s par puts him ahead by 1, and our overall bets resulted in me owing him $2 (though we thought it was $1 – I owe ya a buck, buddy)

I ended up coming in 6th place (my first cash at LiCkAtHoN), and had a good time.   It was something of an “eh” feeling, as it didn’t really seem like LiCkAtHoN aside from the shenanigans and Lick himself.  Not that it was bad, it just wasn’t the drunken revelry and stupidity of years past.  But I already have a ticket stub for 2008’s LiCkAtHoN, and I am already counting down the days.

Oh, and why are there no pictures?  I left my camera either at Lick’s or in the van that drove me there.  Karma shmarma.

An apology

I have been terrible updating the website.  For a while, I was waiting for the relaunch (which has been delayed because Jay actually has a successful career.)  Then it’s just been that I’m waiting for extra time amidst the hundreds of facets of putting a play up in the Fringe festival.  Now it’s a combination of both.  When the new site is up, it’s going to get updated far more often, that’s for sure.

So if you talk to Jay, thank him for doing this site.  Unless you hate it.  Then blame your parents for raising you wrong.

Virginia Open – Day 3

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Now well out of it, and riding the DFL train all the way to Suckville, I headed out just to save face. I was starting again on the difficult Darkside course (where my personal best was a 59, and I had just tumbled off a 75). Ash, who had really started to enjoy playing, decided to follow the women’s group to watch them play and see the differences. I thought that was great. (She incidentally learned quite a bit and enjoyed waching the women more than watching me projectile vomit all over a course, apparently)

I started the third round with the exact same beginning: 4-3-4 (on not particularly impossible holes) I almost cried. Then over the next three holes where I went 4-5-7, I ended up going 3-2-3, and within six holes, I was already 11 strokes better. Nothing flashy. In fact, my upping/putting cost me a total of at least 5 strokes that round. I came in with a respectable (if not amazing) 57. That’s an 18-STROKE-SWING! That must be a record. So far, though, I still hadn’t hit a putt outside of the circle. I’ve never done that in a tournament. And my ups with a putter were abysmal (I TRULY need to learn how to do that)

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Anyone with a basic grasp of physics can tell you that won’t go in

After a quick lunch of PB&J (energy food for the impoverished), I met up with Ashley for the last leg of this Putridathon. We kept to our very staunch tradition of not taking any decent photos of the two of us. Case in point:

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She’s cute, though she looks uncannily like her sister here

The final round was back at the Sunnyside, where last year I salvaged one decent round with a 54. Could I duplicate it? Not with a 5 on my first hole, including a missed 8-FOOT-PUTT! My whole card struggled. Here are some of the DFL troopers. Here’s Chase… putting in weeds… from thirty feet away… above a ridge… on arguably the easiest hole at the entire Grange.

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I also threed

Mike hitting a gap. Not a regularity on this weekend.

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I also threed this very deucable hole

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See?

When all was said and done, I came in with a total of 250. That’s 56 strokes worse than the winner, and 18 worse than last year, which wasn’t particularly good then. I did not throw a single TIKI ace this year (in 10+ rounds), despite hitting plenty of metal. I didn’t drink and party at the Grange. So did I enjoy The Virginia Open?

You bet. If I have my druthers, I won’t ever miss this tournament. The people are great, the courses are fantastic (even when they kick your ass), and it’s just a great time.

Seeing Ashley was really particularly great. We both are living our lives as if we’re not dating someone in another part of the country – meaning we both aren’t sitting there pining and moping. But when we’re together, it makes us realize how hard (stupid?) this situation really is. I don’t regret doing it the way we are – it makes weekends like this seem otherworldly. I only wish they were otherworldly more frequently. Only five weeks until the next visit.

What happened to my game? I don’t know. I could blame my career and how much is on my mind. I could blame the girl in my life. I could blame the fact that I just don’t have the blind dedication to it that many others do. I could blame the fact that I have not thrown a single practice putt in over a year. But I won’t. I don’t know why I’m not playing well. And judging by how little I’m going to play, I won’t get any better any time soon. But I’ll still play, and hopefully get a little lucky here and there.

And now, the walking away.

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(I didn’t deuce this easy hole either round)

Virginia Open – Day 2

After getting maybe an hour of sleep in our deceptively cold tent, we awoke and got ready to play THE VIRGINIA OPEN. Last year, I shot these scores: 59, 60, 59, 54 (the first and fourth score were the Sunnyside – the easier course – and the second and third round were the Darkside.) My goal was to do better than those scores.

But first, PHOTO OPS!

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Can you spot me? I can’t.

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I’m READY (I hope you can spot me now)

I tend to forget just how beautiful The Grange is. I didn’t take enough pictures of it last year, and sadly not again this year. Thankfully Ash stepped up and took this gorgeous shot of Sunnyside 16’s basket.

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Well, the first round on Sunnyside was painfully close to last year’s uninspired first round. I missed nearly all of the birdie holes (of which there are many). While I didn’t take anything worse than a 4, I only took three birdies (all drop-ins). It was an unsatisfactory round indeed. I ended one worse than last year at 60. Pretty much if I had a putter in my hand, it didn’t go well (especially when it was out of putt range – I MUST learn to use a putter off the tee).

After a quick lunch, THE WHEELS CAME OFF THE WAGON. I will state right now that the second round was the worst round statistically I’ve had in the three years since joining the PDGA, and actually, I’d venture to say it was probably worse than anything I shot the year before that. I lost my ability to play, my drives, my putts, my ups, my mental game… etc. I had a total of two good shots the entire round. (I have a photo of one). The whole day passed and I had not made a putt outside the circle, and I had not thrown one satisfactory long-shot with a putter (I REALLY need to learn how to do that.) I carded a 75.

Let’s put this into perspective. Not only was it an 813-rated round (roughly 15-22 strokes worse than a typical round for me), but it was beat by many many many people that day. In fact, of the pros playing that day, only two did worse (one of the pro women and one of the masters – an over-40 player). Going even bigger, if I include the ams, who played it earlier, I beat a total of 14 players. 1 pro woman, 1 pro masters, 8 advanced women, 1 advanced man, and 3 intermediate men. That’s it.

After the first round, I was angry, upset, and pissy. I had a few great moments, but not enough to make me happy. By the sixth hole of the 2nd round, I was having a blast. How can you go mad when you throw 4-5-7 on three consecutive holes, throwing four out-of-bounds in the process?

Ash showed up just for the last five holes or so (thank GOD she missed most of it) and snapped me with one of my two good drives on this hole, modeled by Chase.

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It’s a 350′ uphill hole with a narrow fairway. I threw an ACE run, and it got smacked down 9/10 the way there by that weird crooked tree you can see in the picture. And no, with a bad deflection, I did not get the deuce.

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Ah, fittingly, I just noticed that with the clothes I’m wearing, this was NOT from the 2nd round, but from the 3rd round. So I only had *one* good throw that round, which was not filmed. But it was on this hole.

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After some delicious dinner from the 2 Days in May Cafe, I decided I would feel better with some TIKI, hoping to reprise the glory I found last year by creeping into the Sweet Sixteen tournament. Who was my competition the first round? BRYAN SKINNER!?! WHAT!?? Skinny holds the record by the PDGA as the highest rated round ever (coincidentally on the course where I shot my 75). Not only that, he went on to win this year’s Virginia Open. So how did I fare?

Just like my 75, miserably. I was elimiated after just 7 holes. And still no aces. We threw another bunch of rounds. No aces. What is wrong with me?

Finally, exhausted and sore, Ash and I decided to Hot-Tub it and go to sleep early again. We weren’t the most social people there, but hey, when you get to see your Significant Other once every two months, you’re allowed some hermitism.

Virginia Open – Day 1

Well, it’s that time again: THE GRANGE. Definitely one of the best times in all of disc golf. Mike Trapasso and company put on one hell of a tournament, still with unrivalled amenities and great party atmosphere. Oh, and TIKI! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

So SaxMike heads down to my place the night before, and he doesn’t show up until 1:30am, already a promising start. We get up at 7 and head on out, hoping to beat the traffic. And we do. Ish. Once we hit VA, it STOPPED. It took us 4.5 hrs to get to VA, and another 2 1/2 to get the remaining 45 miles. *sigh* By the time I finished setting up the tent, I only had time for some tiki in preparation. No aces, though I played even.

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Sax showing how blurry his knee surgery has made him

He ended up withdrawing from the tournament after one painful round to preserve his knee (which had come out of the cast ONE WEEK AGO) I give him all the credit in the world.

From there, I drive to Reagan Airport to pick up the lovely Ashley, whom I hadn’t seen since leaving Reno in early March. w00t! After a detour to the Macaroni Grill, we hit the campsite and immediately played some TIKI!!! The girl’s got some MAD SKILLZ. Her first three throws were with my putter, and they were straight, flat, and necessarily far (she was in the center of the fairway and the correct distance on the tiki holes without putting more than 40% into it) Here she is, not playing disc golf.

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MySpace-worthy

Without much partying, and very fatigued, we hit the tent before 11pm and were getting ready for some serious golf. After all, I had 5 months of miserable play to erase.

Now, since I don’t have many photos from this first day, here are some photos from a party at Jeff’s house a few weeks ago. (I just never posted them)

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Cops HATE me

So, ignoring the well-chronicled Stick Incident of ’99, I have managed to pile up some recent heated stories between me and the men in blue.  In fact, all three of the following stories took place within a half-mile radius in my hometown, Elmwood Park, and all in the last three weeks, so maybe just the EP Police hate me.

1) I’m rushing to get to the train station, and I’m stuck behind a bus.  The bus is at a street corner waiting for kids to board – kids, I may add, who must have been coming from other counties.  The bus was there LITERALLY three or four minutes waiting for running children.  Also at this corner was a police officer, blocking off the side road where the kids were running.  Some joker behind me honks his horn.  I’m looking nervously at the clock, hoping to make my train.  Finally the bus goes.  The two cars behind it go, and then I go.  The cop walks IN FRONT of my car and starts pointing at me and yelling at me.  Unprovocated.  He’s saying “Why are you honking your horn?  Huh?”  And I’m yelling back, “I didn’t honk my horn!”  He finally lets me go after some more finger-pointing and yelling.

2)  On the same street, I am driving back FROM the train station a few days ago.  I’m going the speed limit 35, and as I’m driving, a cop on foot is crossing the street in the middle of moderate (not stopped) traffic, NOT IN A CROSSWALK.  I hit my brake fairly hard to let him go.  He literally starts yelling – I’m not sure which he was saying –  either “Why don’t you slow down?” or “Why did you slow down?”  Either way, I thought it was a pretty silly question, since I was *again* not doing anything illegal.

3) Last night, I’m driving on Market.  There’s an admittedly annoying and confusing traffic mess that consists of two sets of lights and a RR crossing, all of which are tied together (so when the train goes by, the lights turn red just as a precaution.)  So last night, I’m driving by there, and there’s TONS of lights.  There are two cop cars stopped by the tracks (blocking one of the two lanes in my direction and the lane in the other direction), and the RR lights are flashing (though the bars are up).  The traffic light then turns green.  So I’m confused what to do: there is an open lane, but there’s intimidating lights everywhere.  I am relatively new to the area and don’t really know a good detour to get back home other than going straight.  So I go up to the cop cars (on MY side of the tracks) to ask what to do.  Nobody in them.  I see three cops standing on the other side of the tracks.  I drive up to them and they all RUN over to my car, shouting, “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING!?”  Here’s the conversation as best I can remember it.

ME. I’m sorry, I wasn’t sure what was going on.

FUZZ. [sarcastically] And all those flashing lights didn’t maybe make you think that maybe you shouldn’t go through?

ME. Again, I apologize.  I was driving up to your cars to ask you–

FUZZ. [interrupting] With two police cars blocking off the road you still go through?

ME. There was an open lane and the light was green.  I was trying to ASK you–

FUZZ. More blah blah blah blah yelling blah blah three guys yelling…

ME. I really am very sorry.

FUZZ. Just go through!

Why do the fuzz hate me?  It must be my sporty Saturn that intimidates them.

Pinot Grigio #7

Werewolf Pinot Grigio 2005 – I’ve heard of Pinots that the good ones are very good, but the bad ones are abysmal. I didn’t bother with that sort of poppycock since even the ‘bad’ pinots I’d had were more appetizing than, say, the best cup of coffee. Well, I’ve found the stinker in the group. Now, I immediately expect to hear, “Well, you dink, it’s a gimmicky bottle of wine. It’s called Werewolf!” I will of course shoot back that one of my all-time favorite wines, Undead Red, is as gimmicky as it gets. In fact, perhaps the biggest problem with Werewolf is that there isn’t fake blood dripping down the cork.

Anyway, for wine purists, I would say ‘don’t drink this wine’. For a newbie who thinks that Pinot Grigio might be palatte-pleasing, I would say, “Don’t say terms like palatte-pleasing because you sound like a pretentious twit.” Werewolf was a weird combination of tart and unsmooth. I don’t use words like ‘smooth’ to describe wine, but if that was my normal vernacular, I would say this particular wine is “sandpaper”. It didn’t even taste like a Pinot, truthfully. It tasted like someone had a third of a bottle of Pinot laying around, and a third of a bottle of an old riesling that wasn’t very sweet, and a third of a bottle of chalk resin, and they mixed it with a rusty hand-held eggbeater.

It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever put into my mouth, as I still have coffee and tequila that dubitably take that honor, and it narrowly escaped the title of worst wine because of that one glass of Diner Wine I had, but it wasn’t good at all. Don’t be fooled by the picturesque moon on the label, or the fake ‘wolf’ scratch marks, or even the fact that it’s made in Romania and, therefore, might be ‘exotic’. It’s crap. 1.5/10.

The Seneca Soiree

Well, I’m writing about a tournament, which means I must have played respectably. And that’s what I did: not stellar, but respectable. The first round will not be discussed (see the aforementioned rule about not writing when playing like crap) That being said, I got HOSED that first round. This story is pretty much how my first round went on hole 17 (I started on 10, so it was less than halfway through the first round)
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There’s a tight little hole that’s about 260′ with two small gaps (the picture is taken from an angle so the gap looks bigger than it really is). I threw a thumber – for those that don’t know, a thumber is an overhand throw that has a very specific flight path. After it hits, it most often gets another 30-50′ of bounce/roll. So I throw it and totally hit the gap. Then if you squint in the picture, you will see a stump in the middle of the fairway. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that I hit this stump. But do you expect THIS!?

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I WAS STUMPED!

So instead of an easy drop-in after the roll, I have a 40′ putt, which I chain out on. So was my first round. On the easiest layout (easy tees to easy pins) I threw a +4 with only 2 birdies.

The second round, playing all 27 holes, I pick my game up a bit. I carded nothing worse than a 4 my whole round, and I threw 5 birdies (on the short tees to medium pins). Wonderful. The round felt good because I started crappy but ENDED strong.

Final round, another 27, this time from the long tees. I had a great group for this round, playing with guys I’d met and played with before, but nobody I really knew well. All great guys. Here’s some pics of them killin’ it. (Of course, Andrew, the one who really killed it, I somehow don’t have a picture of)

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Tom Coffin, real name, killin a drive

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Chase, color-coordinated to match the woods

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Paul, emerging from a tree
The round started mixed. For the first four holes, I was the *only* one in my card to give myself putts at 3’s. Of course, I only got a 3 on the first hole, so it was mixed. I felt like I was playing well, but the score was meh. Then I took a circle 6 on the signature hole 14. After that, I told the group to tell me how much I sucked. From there, I took very good 3’s on two holes, and followed it up with back-to-back-to-back 2’s on VERY tough holes. I suddenly felt like I could get into the cash.

Long story short, I blew up the last five holes, putting myself at +5 on those five holes. But even if I had gone -5 on them, I wouldn’t have cashed. The first round killed any chance of that. But at least I averaged “above” my rating for the tournament unnofficially. I still like Seneca. It always whoops up on me, but I enjoy playing there.

Here’s a few more pics.

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And Disc Golf Monthly TV was there, which is a fun little organization. Whenever Kevin has his camera on me, I tend to shoot very well. Here’s a five-minute run-down of the tournament, in which I make a few appearances (playing well!) Enjoy.

TOURNAMENT TRAILER

Oh, and I’m proud that my backwards-photo-taking-out-the-window-while-driving skills have not deteriorated.

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Hyzer Creek Pictures

I won’t blog the details of this tournament, mainly because I vowed not to blog about a tournament until I play respectably, so here are some pics from the tourney. Enjoy.

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2nd place winner Scowbag showin’ how it’s done
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A blurry Kurt (the TD) makes a SICK tree-putt from 40′

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“New” hole 17 at Hyzer

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Fats and Cromwell: version 19402485
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Everyone’s favorite, Bobby “Brown Guy” Jones

Merlot #1

twin fin Merlot 2003 – This is just bizarre.  Countless wines into my column and I’ve only NOW picked out a Merlot.  It was out of desperation, I assure you – I was headed to a poker game where the only beverage there was this chocolate beer that tasted rather like licking the moss of a damp inactive turtle.  At a small store like I went to, I wasn’t thinking of finding a malbec, and I still will shun the Yellow Tail brand of wine, since I like good flavors.
I paid $9 for this wine at a not-so-cheap liquor joint adjacent to a bar, so I wasn’t expecting much (I imagine this California wine retails for about $6 in a normal wine store).  I was pleasantly surprised, or rather, I was NOT unpleasantly surprised.  I expected very little, and I got a little, which is better than I had thought.

I always considered Merlot’s the Minnesota Twins of the wine community – sure, everyone knows what it is and everyone’s seen it at some point, but does anyone actually LIKE it?  It’s the generic wine.  This was indeed generic, but I have to rate it slightly above a middle grade because, although I could not taste the advertised “dark cherry fruit, mocha, and smoky oak”, I could taste a slightly above average red wine with no punch to the face and no aftermath.  Just a solid wine.  5.5/10

Gewürztraminer #1

Hogue Gewürztraminer 2005 – Before I dip into this flavorful white wine, I will need to make a concession.  I will not be typing out Gewürztraminer again.  In fact, I have been cutting-and-pasting it just so I didn’t need to figure out the shortcut to an umlaut.  Instead, I will call this wine something more palatable on the keyboard: Pauline.  That’s right, I sampled some fine Pauline the other day.

She was not entirely unlike another German favorite, Reisling.  This particular Pauline, however, was imported from…. what the…. from WASHINGTON STATE!?  There’s a bloody umlaut in the name!  How is it from the Columbia Valley in eastern Washington State?  Bollocks!

Anyhow, this is not your typical dry Pinot-type wine.  No, this is definitely a fruity beverage, as if the better portion of an exotic garden had an orgy and you are enjoying the remnants.  Further, the bottle goes on to say that it is a “perfect match for hors d’oeuvres or spicy pan-Asian cuisine.”  I believe I drank it with some popcorn as I watched a baseball game, and I gotta say, pan-Asian or not, it seemed to wash down the popcorn just fine.

The alcoholic effects, like the Reisling, seemed to be non-existent even after a few glasses, despite boasting (warning of?) a 12.7% content.  However, this appears to be as close to a desert wine as any Pauline might be, so it’s probably not the type of liquor you’re going to drink to make the girl you’re dating seem any more attractive.  This might be the one you’ll ply her with if you want her to sleep a little sounder so you can get on with paint-detailing your Star Trek miniatures.

It gets a 6.5/10.  This may seem low, but I’m wary of anything from Germanshington State.

Chianti #1

Piccini Chianti 2005 – Aside from being a fantastic name for an eccentric Italian film producer, this wine, featuring a distracingly bright orange label, conjures up many images.  For me, it basically reminds me of Thanksgiving dinner, growing up and getting tiny samples of wine as a treat.  I’m pretty convinced that chianti was my father’s red wine of choice, and at $8.99 a bottle (pre-discount), it would fit right in with my father’s overall “Dutch spending” (I mean that fondly – I haven’t paid more than $14 for a bottle of wine yet.)

Anyway, chianti itself is an interesting red; it’ll slap you in the face like a zinfindel, yet gently caress you afterwards like a merlot afterwards.  Yup, chianti is the overbearing yet apologetic mother (not necessarily yours).  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you like getting slapped around.  Variety is the spice of life.

This particular chianti was middle of the road for me – I didn’t want to throw out the glass, but I wasn’t rushing to get a second.  Therefore, it gets a middle of the road rating.  5/10

The Austin Lounge Lizards

So these guys are one of my favorite bands, and I’ve seen them a few times (in FL, PA, and last year at their first show in NJ ever in their 27 year existence.) They were playing a few shows in the area and I went.

Friday’s show – at Bodles (inexplicably pronounced ‘boodles’) in Chester NY. This is a small bar setting, and it’s right up the Lizards alley. They played a very similar show to the other shows I’d seen, which is by no means a bad thing. It was a great time. The opening act Carla Ulbrech started it off with some good musical comedy in the Christine Lavin fashion (if I know my audience well, I just named a woman nobody’s heard of and compared her to another woman nobody’s heard of). Then the Lizards took the stage – they know me by now, mainly because, as Hank put it once, “You’re not really in our demographic.” I was not the youngest one there, but I might have been the youngest one there not immediately related to someone older there.

Anyway, it was a great show. The highlight came during “Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs”. Live, Boo changes up the one line. This night, it was “Who’s to blame for that comedy music phase?” Corey, the fiddle player in the band who’s close in age to me, says, “DEREK!” and looks over to me. Good stuff. He only knew this because I shamelessly and tactlessly gave him a CD to listen to. Hey, gotta whore myself out somehow.

Saturday – at a church. Yes, the band who wrote “Jesus Loves Me (But He Can’t Stand You) played at a church. It was surreal. This was a COMPLETELY different show which was both a good thing and a bad thing. The good parts was they played many many different songs, including a handful I’d never heard before. The bad news is the handful of songs they picked were songs I don’t find particularly funny. Meh, I’ve seen them before, so I’m biased. I brought along a bunch of newbies who thoroughly enjoyed the show. The Lizards sold out of their new CD, so that’s great news!

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It was surreal them being in a church, and that paved the way for many memorable moments. Not only did they still sing “One True God” (There are some that call God God / but worship God in a way that’s odd / we’ll have to kill them, it’s a shame / we’ve only got themselves to blame), but they sang “Strange Noises in the Dark” (a song about adultery and infidelity), “We’ve Been Through Some Crappy Times Before” (which contains the line: those bible-thumping homophobes have got the upper hand), and they even pimped out the Austin Lounge Lizards Family Bible (which, when edited for things they don’t think are important or bits that they don’t frankly agree with, is admittedly more a pamphlet.) The night also featured the BEST verion of “Buenos Dias, Budweiser”, which featured Korey trying to translate into pig-latin on the fly.

I ended up chatting with the guys for a while, especially Korey, who was probably just relieved to see people his age. They’re class acts, though Tom is still quite enigmatic. When I found out he HATES “Anahuac” and never wants to play it, I said, “I won’t ask him about it, I’ll let him live in his bitterness,” Korey and Boo laughed out loud. Perhaps I spoke too much truth?

Anyway, the true highlight of the night came from this picture of Hank Card (one of the founding members) and Jeff DeLiberto. The resemblance is UNCANNY!

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Father and son!??!

Actual quote by Hank Card: “Wow. Jeff, I don’t say this often to a guy, but you’re a good-looking man!”

Johnny Boge Tourney & Fool’s Fest

The last two tournaments were even worse than Rutgers, which was the worst I’d done since last year.

I happened to look at the results for Fool’s Fest from 2004, when I came in 8th in advanced.  I shot the same cumulative score as I did yesterday playing PRO.  I didn’t come in last only because Dome stopped trying after the first hole of the day.  Here is my decree: I will not blog about disc golf here until I throw a respectable round in 2007.  I have not done this yet (aside from getting an ace on Thursday at Buzzy’s)  Goodbye, disc golf posts, but hopefully not for long.

Aaron’s Wedding – Part 3

The after-parties. Ah yes, the reception was in Lyndhurst at a place very special to the DeCarlo family as just about everyone with that last name has had some wedding reception there, including people just named Carl. We shlepped the bridal party in a small limo which definitely led to some legs falling asleep and one of the greatest pictures ever taken of Jason.

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We started the cocktail hour in a small room for just the bridal party. Jason’s wedding didn’t have this, and I can understand pros and cons to both ways. But MAN was that some tasty breaded shrimp. I could have just engorged myself on those all night. Anyway, onto the actual ceremony. It was a pretty prototypical reception, which isn’t a bad thing. The toasts were quite touching and funny, and there are hundreds of pictures elsewhere online of all that. I got to see lots of backs from where I was sitting, so picture-taking wasn’t exactly a fruitful idea.

Then we got to the chairs. In Jewish weddings, it’s quite common to hoist the bride and groom up on chairs and walk around with them. What’s NOT typical is dropping the bride, which did manage to happen (only once!) So the looks on their faces were when she was hoisted BACK up. And, for the record, I absolutely love this pic (which I stole from Jay – thanks!)

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We had to take the obligatory photos of people at the wedding, of course. Susan I have a decent track of one sweet photo a wedding:

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And the obligatory other married couples photo:

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And of course the obligatory late-in-the-reception “What ARE they doing” photo:tim_peggy_thumb.jpg

Peggy and Tim

Somewhere near the end of the ordeal, I realized my camera takes VERY good close up shots (right around when Jay realized he could take black-and-white photos that still keep a selected color). Here are my artsy-fartsy shot:

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And that was the reception. Everyone had a great time. Congratulations to Aaron and Julia Bell. We can definitely see how happy Aaron is about it here.
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We had to finally toast the weekend with one wild party, partially to celebrate the wedding, and we had about two dozen other excuses. There are many pictures of this event floating around, already, and I will not put them up here. I will only leave you with one thing. Paul Reisman has a tendency to leave indelible fingerprints on most of our social gatherings. Scars might be a better term. And, as per usual, he did not disappoint. Enjoy!

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Aaron’s Wedding – Part 2

The actual wedding. We got to Aaron’s early to look good in our tuxes, mainly. Oh, and of course to play Guitar Hero. You’d think it was a theme for the weekend or something. Aaron was nervous, but hanging in there. With only a minute or two before the wedding was supposed to start, one of the readings hadn’t shown up yet. The minister asks if Aaron has a back-up. Aaron asks, “Can it be someone in the wedding party?” The minister says sure. Aaron points to me, “You’re reading.” That’s always fun to hear just before the wedding starts. But we were safe and he showed up at the last moment. He did just fine.

Julia looked stunning, and you can clearly tell that by this really dark photo of her being walked down the aisle by her father. They have the same weird mouth thing going on. It’s adorable, really.
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It was an interesting dual-religion wedding, and I think both the minister and rabbi were willing to work together. The minister even told us he thinks it’s ridiculous that most ministers and rabbis wouldn’t even consider it. Then again, he also told Brian and I that Aaron should really take a shit before the ceremony started if he knew what was good for him (his words).

Of course, I missed most of the good photo ops because I was busy clapping. For instance, while Aaron was stepping on the glass, I was clapping and then he IMMEDIATELY kissed Julia. I did manage to nab that one.

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Another mid-ceremony shot.

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Then we did a few canned photos. Peter managed to find out that the “night landscape” setting works best inside churches. Go him. Here is the complete wedding party and the happy couple.
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It was a concise ceremony and it was simple, despite the inherent complexity of a dual-religion wedding. Went smoother than most ceremonies I’ve seen in the past. And it went without a hitch, pun completely intended.

Aaron’s Wedding – Part 1

So my longtime friend Aaron finally tied the noose… er, knot, with Julia this weekend in what was a very nice ceremony. But we need to backtrack a bit. I would like to share how I met Aaron. In 9th grade, my friend Rob used to host “bored parties” on Fridays, where we’d all just hang out and watch a movie or play games or something. He invited this guy Josh over one time, who invited Aaron. We decided to play one of those “host-a-murder” type games where you all act out characters and figure out who killed someone. Having one too many people, Jay Lawton and I played the same character Scoop. Good times. Anyway, at the end of the night, Aaron says “Thanks for having me. If anyone ever has a party, invite me.” Maybe eight months pass by, and I throw a party, and I contact Josh to invite Aaron, not because I got along with him particularly well or anything, but just because he told me to. Fifteen years later, we’re still friends.

So the hijinks started on Wednesday with the bachelor party. The wedding party all went into the city to a place called Morimoto, which is highly recommended if you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you like asian cuisine.

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The Bachelor Party

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Oops, I guess this was supposed to be a smiling picture

Aaron ordered a $96 piece of steak. I figured each burp he had was worth a ten-spot. Well done, Mr. Bell. Then we headed back to my place for the TRUE party. Now I know what most bachelor parties consist of: strippers and liquor. Ours was no different, except instead of strippers, we had silly gifts and guitar hero. It started with the gift exchange. Here is Aaron modelling some of his gifts.

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The actual name of the hat is, no joke, The Black Madman

And the gift I got for him:

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And it was time for the first shot: saki-bombs!

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After that, the serious part of the party happened, and that would be Guitar Hero. We made a drinking game out of it, which primarily saw Aaron drinking alot. We did have priorities, after all. We can see what was had by all on the wall:

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The night was a success, and perhaps not as wild as a typical bachelor party, I think it ended up being just about right. I even got to be creepy, and any time that happens, you know it was a good time.

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Cabernet Sauvignon #1

Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – I have been quoted before as saying I don’t like Cabs, and I, of course, was talking about taxis.  But the same holds true for wine: I’m not a fan of that particular red.  UNTIL…  Red Diamond is easily the best Cabernet I’ve ever had in my life (having only had one other one that I enjoyed at all, and several which were the liquid equivalents of neausea.)  When I bought it, the clerk said: “Oh, that stuff is GOOD!” (they apparently had just had a tasting at the store)  He was right.  It’s good.  I think I normally don’t like Cabs because of the laziness implied by hailing one, and also by the cold detachment with which you are often transported.  The same hold true for the wine – it’s cold and lazy normally – BAD for a red wine.  But this Washington state wine was delicious (who knew ANYTHING interesting came out of Washington state?)  It was sweet, but not the point of facial recall, which does happen with certain Cabs.

At $13 (pre-discount), it is certainly affordable and definitely recommended for someone who wants to try a Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time, or for true Cab lovers who haven’t picked it up yet.  I bet it has a rating somewhere in a real wine book.  I’ll assume it matches my rating: 7.5/10.