Sunday, September 9, 2012


Spoiled is what I was. H-Man, who this blog is named for, was not only a swell fellow but he knew people. Or rather his dad did. His father's best friend was the late Abe Pollin. That man owned the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. So what did that mean to me? It was all the concerts and basketball games I could go to for free. Heck, I could do that. So it was time to go see Bruce Springsteen back in 1979-1981. Sure I would go to those shows for free. I loved the "Boss" But temptation took me over. H-Man would pick the lock on the owner's liquor box and I would indulge. Or rather over-indulge. Twice for Springsteen, I passed out by drinking too much. Oh, well, I was young back then.

Now being respectable in my middle age, I bought Springsteen tickets for Eileen's birthday in July. We went with another couple on Saturday night at Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. Not free tickets; not even close. And no liquor box to pick open.

So we drove down to Chicago and met our friends who were staying at a condo. We went out for a quick dinner and then caught two trains to Wrigley Field. Made it in time to beat Springsteen on stage. Of course he was terrific. We didn't hear Glory Days nor the haunting River but he played everything else. It even rained hard but the Boss never moved. He played from 8 p.m. to well after 11. The sound in the ballpark was terrific.

And here I thought I was burned out by the songs from Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. Not a chance, and in better news, I was able to walk out under my own power.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Catching a cab in Chicago

It was a time thing. If the boys and I caught the 10:30 night train back home from Chicago, we could get home before midnight. Or soon after. Miss that train and we were stuck in Union Station until 12:30 a.m. And that's late.

So we were at Soldier Field watching my Redskins take on the Bears. And the Chicago team was hammering my Skins. But my watch said 9:40 or so, and it was time to leave the park. By the second half, most of the so-called stars had hit the bars and we were left watching second string folks who were destined to find real jobs.

So we departed for the street. And went looking for a cab. No such luck. All the taxis drove on by. Some woman yelled from a car for us to look for a light on the cab. All lights were out on this night. Hey, it was getting late. Some other stranger said hang by a hotel and a cab will come by.

It was getting really late. I was worried about the boys getting home at 2 a.m. And then out of the blue this non-looking cab stopped. I told him my tale. We needed to get there in about 5 minutes. He was up for the challenge. It wasn't like he was speeding. We got to the station. We ran downstairs. Using non-verbal communication, we headed for the Fox Lake train. It was just ready to leave. We got on board with seconds to spare. And then Brady looked on his phone to see my Redskins had actually taken the lead. Eileen mentioned later that she knows how to hail a cab in Chicago. Well, now you tell us.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Anatomy of a Beer Snob

I wasn't born this way. In fact because I had better things to do growing up than getting drunk, I didn't taste my first beer until I was 18 years-old in Maryland. And that was the legal drinking age. I think it was a yummy Schlitz beer in a can at the quad at the University of Maryland.

But by the time I was a senior, I had left behind the big breweries of the United States. I had gone foreign. Heineken, Molson Ale and Carlsberg Elephant were my choices. I can recall the rush on the local liquor store. There were fellows pulling out cases of Elephant for $9.99. And that was an excellent brew with plenty of alcohol.

By the mid 80s, I was brewing my own beer in my apartment house in Georgetown. It was a mix and it wasn't bad. A few bottles would blow up in the closet but so what. I now talk about my last two bad beers. It was the summer of 1992 and I drank two Coors beers in Nebraska. They quenched my thirst but that was the end of that. I was all microbrews all the time.

On the honeymoon, Eileen and I went from great beer place to another collecting glasses. But that meant we had to drink the beers and I grow weary from all that drinking. We do have the glasses as souvenirs in hand even today.

HMan set me up for a beer tasting on the last DC visit. I did quite well, thank you. But there are some problems with being a total beer snob. You can't drink on a moment's notice. So you have to be prepared to say no if the selection isn't up to standards.

The good news is I don't have to drink. In the good old days, I was a three beer man. And then a two-beer man. Now, I'm a one-beer man. And it better be a good one.

My friends Dan and Dave and I go looking for these wonderful establishments that sell fantastic ales. We have some great adventures in the great world of American craft breweries.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Land of Waterparks

Third time the charm? The first visit to Wisconsin Dells with the family was lowlighted by a ride on the Ducks. A big vessel took us over land and water and then in the middle of the woods, the young driver stopped this vehicle and made a speech about how he needed cash for his college education. It was an old fashioned hold-up. He passed hit hat around for tips. No, I didn't spit into it.

On the second visit with the family, I broke down and bought myself a fancy camera. No, I didn't know how to use it properly. I took some photos and then left the camera somewhere. I called weekly but either one of patrons or employees now is the proud owner of my camera.

So was I looking forward to the Cougars baseball trip to the Dells? Well, maybe not. That town gives me the willies as maybe it was just built up in the middle of nowhere. It has a little Atlantic City to it with the fudge shops and souvenir stands.

The resort (Chula Vista) was very nice. It was clean and the room was plenty big enough for Brady and me.

The Cougars parents are nice bunch.

It's still interesting the dynamic of a 14-year-old baseball team. All the parents are rooting for their team, but in a year or so, those kids will be competing against each other for spots on the high school team. And maybe things will be different.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

At the Stadium Club

I will admit it, I'm a bit spoiled in the baseball world. Even back in 1979, Mr. Lind took me to the first game of the World Series in Baltimore. It was rained out but we dined on lobster and assorted goodies in the press box. And then came my stay with the Orioles and all-expense trips to Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

But last night at White Sox Park was delightful. The Stadium Club? Who knew it was there. Mr. Morand took Brady and I into this great place and with no lines and we feasted on a truly great buffet. Not the standard greasy stuff but fresh salmon, rice with duck, pot stickers and tons of fresh vegetables. No one was getting fat.

This fine dining room hides out down the right field line where we watched a homer and some fine defensive plays. And then we ordered this enormous ice cream dish (The Landslide) for the four of us. Coffee ice cream, chocolate ice cream with syrups and candy. Now this was fattening. I'd say 60 calories for each spoonful and 20 spoonfuls is oh, never mind.

It was just the fifth inning when we moved to our real seats. They were all of six rows back of third base. We saw an excellent game and naturally ordered nothing from the vendors. Yes, I'm still spoiled in the baseball world.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

We paid good money for this?

We thought we were cool. We weren't going to settle for Jimmy John's for the early lunch, we were going to a cool barbecue place in West Chicago. And we actually found the place a good 20 minutes before it opened. Fine, we will have our meal and get back in time to watch more baseball. The boys had a football and tossed it around.

The cool barbecue place had electrical problems on a sunny day and the owner came out and apologized. It wasn't opening. Heck, what about us?

The nice guy at the closed cue place told us about a nearby pizza place (not as fun) but when we drove by it was closed. Screw this. We settled for Subway. Actually we could have taken a ride on the New York Subway and got better service than we got. If we weren't so famished, we would have dashed out of this place screaming.

This is what you do when your boy signs on with a traveling baseball team. We got up at 5:30 a.m. for this 1 hour trip. Our team took some lumps. You root for everyone on the team but you live and die with your boy's ups and downs. Please don't have my kid be the goat.

There were games at 8 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. In somewhat better news, we went out for ice cream at a Mexican ice cream joint. Rice water anyone? Actually the boxes said Ashby's so they didn't make it but truthfully the sugar in the pralines ice cream woke me up enough to drive home. Oh, well, let's have a better game next time.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

On Eighth Grade Graduation

It's a big deal out here. The kids get dressed up and march in alphabetical order. The speeches were great and we all had a fine time at Brady's graduation ceremony held at Lake Zurich High School.

How did I handle the pomp and circumstance at my 8th grade graduation? No such thing of course. Have no memory of it in fact since the schools in my day could care less about eighth grade graduation.

I don't recall anything significant at all about eighth grade. That's enough about this. We are glad Brady got a hair cut and behaved himself at the event.

Grandparents showed up and we all ate afterwards at the Wild Onion Pub in South Barrington. It was half-priced craft beer night so I ordered the Hopfest beer. The waitress said that wasn't half priced because it was too high in alcohol. Yes, that's called bait and switch. I said nothing and drank the one high alcohol brew.

Congrats, Brady. This means in another four years, he'll be a high school grad and another four years, a college grad. Why, he was just a baby not that long ago.