Archive for July, 2008

I think I saw Figment on Bourbon Street

Posted in Baseball Roadtrip with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2008 by manydn
Wow. There are actually two stupid purple dinosaurs.

Wow. There are actually two stupid purple dinosaurs.

By Daren Many

ORLANDO, Fla. — As this trip creeps towards its end I’m reminded how fast time moves and how quickly things change.

One minute I’m riding around with Figment and a bunch of kids at Epcot Center and two days later I’m drinking copious amounts of alcohol on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

As we passed out of Florida and turned towards the West and the eventual end of this trip I was reminded once again how fast time has passed. I started thinking about some of my childhood memories when Mom would pack me up and take me to Florida every summer.

Then it hit me. Where the hell is my blanky? 

One of my earliest childhood memories involves a nameless blanket that went wherever I happened to go — whether I went to the living room or Florida. I immediately realized we had passed through the state where my blanket has been held hostage for some 24 years.

I know this because during the summer when I was 4 we returned from a Florida trip without it. Now, I realize that it would be slightly awkward if I were still carrying this blanket around at the age of 28, but I found myself wanting some answers. I called my mom and demanded she explain what happened two and half decades earlier that caused me to lose my first love.

She said that during the summer of 1984 I was probably getting a little to old to be carrying around a blanky. Something needed to be done.

“Well,” I replied, “did anyone consult me about what I thought of this change of plans?” It turns out there was more than one party involved in this coup. And although the story is a bit fuzzy, it went something like this.

We had some family friends who had a place in Florida. These “friends” also thought I was too old for a blanket — a blanket that provided comfort, security, and warmth on cold nights.

My mom and our “friends” had come up with a brilliant plan to remove the blanket from my power. They had crafted a bedtime story which they were confident would change my mind. Now I can’t quote the exact story, but it read like a horror novel from Stephen King.

The story told of some kind of magic kingdom in Florida where blankets went to live at a certain age. I was very skeptical of this story at first. My blanket was not as old as they were saying, but I listened on.

Apparently this was the last time my blanket could be free. If I left Florida and the magic kingdom of blankets behind, it would never be free.

“Well, when you put it that way I guess I should leave it. I can get a new one when we get home though, right?” Apparently not. That was the last I ever saw of my blanket. I hope it’s still doing well.

If you touch my blanket you long nosed son of a bitch I will kill you.

That's me talking to Pinocchio: "If you touch my blanket you long-nosed son of a bitch, I will kill you!"

It’s still amazing to me how time seems to elude me. How could this trip be almost over? It’s a 75-day trip! Also, by the way, where the hell did my childhood go?

 

Troy insisted we go to Epcot Center because he remembers his parents taking him there in the fifth grade and being absolutely mesmerized. As you can imagine, it wasn’t quite the same the second time around. We walked around Epcot in a sort of confused state wondering what had happened to us all those years ago. Our ride in Spaceship Earth didn’t hold the same mystique as it once had, but we both enjoyed ourselves. 

 

We have mentioned that this might be our last big trip and it signals the end of our youth. I’ve changed my thinking since then. I feel completely rejuvenated about life since starting this trip. I may be getting older, but I’m never going to stop having fun and being goofy.

 

The people who think we are too old for this actually are too old.

 

On that note, I dressed up in a puma outfit last night at the Houston game and it was one of the best times we have had on this journey. Much more to come on that subject, but for now we still have two games left and many more miles before this thing is over.

 

I dont know if your a horse or a dog but dont touch me you freak.

Here's me again, at age 4, talking to Goofy: "I don't know if you're a horse or a dog, but dont touch me you freak."

A big thanks to Nicole and Kevin for putting us up in St. Petersburg. We had a great time with you guys and I never thought I would have that much fun at a Rays game. I know you guys never thought you would have that much fun going through a KFC drive-thru. Hope we see you again someday.

Mets: Still in first but barely holding on.

(There’s more on this and our other adventures at BaseCrawl.com.)

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Quiet down everyone! I’m watching the scoreboard

Posted in Baseball Roadtrip with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2008 by manydn

By Daren Many

MIAMI — I found myself riveted to what was transpiring as I took a sip from the Bud Light I had just smuggled into the game.

It was a showdown for first. Mets vs. Phillies. All tied up at 1 in the eighth inning. I could hardly wait to see what happened next as the Mets came up to bat in the bottom of the frame.

Did I mention I was sitting at Dolphin Stadium watching a Marlins game and was only 13 rows back from home plate?

So, anyway, when the Mets scored two runs in the bottom of the inning I did a small fist pump, which must have looked strange to everyone sitting around me. Nothing had happened at the game that was actually right in front of me.

This has become a common occurrence of late. I spend a lot of time scoreboard watching even though I’m in a ballpark I have never been to in a city that I most likely have never seen. This brings me to my point. I’ve seen a lot of baseball, but none of it holds a candle to baseball in New York. Of course I’m biased because of my love for all things Mets but I find myself daydreaming about our time in New York. A lot. If you don’t know what I’m talking about let me try to explain.

First of all, let’s not be confused. There are cities and then there’s New York. Let’s say you grew up in the country and you’re taking your first big trip to the city. You tie old Bessie up to the fence post, plop on your straw hat, and say goodbye to the misses.

One of two things is going to happen when you roll into New York. You will either fall in love and want to move there or you will crap your pants and look for the first place to pull a u-turn and get the hell out of Dodge. Of course in New York you can’t pull a u-turn without dying, so you’re pretty much screwed. I’m of the former group.

It had actually been a while since I got to see New York like it’s meant to be seen. I spent my whole youth going to Giants and Mets games but rarely got to see any more of the city. As we were walking through the streets of Brooklyn with our own personal tour guide, I couldn’t help but feel awed to be in a city that has some real stories to tell. One of those stories is baseball, and boy does it have a lot of them.

While I was watching the Mets at Shea I started feeling sad. I had sat in that stadium more than 19 years ago with my Mom watching my first game. Now I was watching the game with my friends for the last time in the place were the Beatles played their last-ever concert. I started wishing we could spend the rest of our trip in New York.

I could hear the conversation:

“Well, Troy, I’ve got good news and bad news. I will be watching 11 more games to finish out our basecrawl. That’s the good news. The bad news is I’ll be watching all of them at Shea Stadium.”

Of course we also saw a game at Yankee Stadium and while I have much less allegiance to baseball on that side of town, I felt more sadness thinking how so much history would be nothing but rubble by the start of next season. The fans in New York care about their teams. They show up in droves to support them.

Later in our documentary, we hope to talk to an actual sports psychologist to help us explain why fans are so loyal to their teams. Why should we even care? How come I feel such a strong connection to my team? Why does my mood immediately brighten when they win, and why does my stomach actually sink when they lose? How come, in 2006, when the Mets were one game from the World Series and lost — how come I didn’t have any appetite for three days?

New York baseball fans are like this, and it makes baseball in this city awesome to watch and be a part of. I felt a similar feeling in Chicago and I realize there are some great fan bases out there. But it’s not the same. I apologize to the other 28 teams, but New York is king here.

The day after the Marlins game, Troy and I relaxed on a beach outside Miami and symbolically waded in the Atlantic just to say we had done it. I was thinking about a lot of things, but of course not far from my thoughts was the fact that the Mets now stand alone in first place. Baseball may rule in New York but a new section of the country has taken over first place for hospitality and just plain good times on this trip.

If you look at our interactive map you will see a stretch of our crawl that started in Asheville, North Carolina and ended in St. Petersburg, Florida.

I’m actually not going to say much about it because Troy is working on a blog that will explain what went down in Georgia, but I can speak for both of us when I say we will remember it for the rest of our lives and it stands out on a trip that has become so epic I cant imagine us not capturing it on film.

Thanks to the Rice family (Marshall, Maureen, Emily and Jake) for putting us up and putting up with us. I don’t know if I’ve seen a more beautiful setting than we saw in the mountains of northwest Georgia. I’m sad to leave it behind, but like Shea Stadium it has been good to me and I will always have the memories.

Mets: Up one game. I have to mention that this is not the same team that I saw at the beginning of the year. This is the 2006 team all over again. They have fight. They know they can win every night and they have showed it lately. We could have folded against the Phillies after the game 1 loss, but we went back out and punched them in the mouth. I have a good feeling about this team.

(There’s more on this and our other adventures at BaseCrawl.com.)

ở đâu Là Xe jíp (của) chúng ta?

Posted in Baseball Roadtrip with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2008 by manydn

By Daren Many

WASHINGTON D.C. — Have you ever found yourself wondering how astronauts measure lunar shockwaves caused by moonquakes?  Me neither, but I found myself deeply involved in all things space at the Air and Space Museum in D.C. yesterday.

All of my newfound knowledge about seismometers, solar cells, and converting solar energy into electricity couldn’t help me figure out why our Jeep got towed. As Troy and I we’re walking down Constitution Avenue towards our vehicle outside the Natural History Museum, I was thinking about a lot of things.

I was thinking about how we were going to protest outside the capitol building the next day. I was thinking about exactly how many beers it would take to protest outside the capital building. I was thinking, “Why the hell would the Wright brothers take off on that piece of crap?” 

Then I started thinking, how come our Jeep isn’t where we left it?

Then Troy, as if he were reading my mind, relayed the exact same sentiment. “Well,” I said, “it must be up another block,” although I new damn well that it wasn’t.

Apparently you’re not supposed to park on Constitution Avenue during rush hour in D.C. or so we were told. Even with all my newfound technical knowledge of all things aeronautical, I couldn’t figure out why in the world this could be.

Aren’t people going home during evening rush hour? Why would they need a parking spot? At any rate we raked in ticket No. 2 on BaseCrawl. You may hear more about the towing incident from Troy at some point — or after we finish the documentary — but I have a lot of things to catch up on.

Since my last blog we have been to the booming and cultural centers of Cleveland, Toronto, Cincinnati, Louisville, Philadelphia, Hobart, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh and D.C. We have stayed with a lot of great friends and family and we have racked up a ton of awesome stories. I need to thank these people as they deserve to be mentioned, as well as apologized to.

Eldon (Chicago): Sorry I lost your White Sox tickets, Eldon, but it has been one of the better moments of our documentary so far. Thank you for the contribution. I enjoyed all of Eldon’s stories and he made our stay in Chicago unforgettable. 

Melanie (Columbus, OH): Sorry I took your house keys without leaving them under the mat. I will be mailing them shortly. I couldn’t have been happier to see a friend on this trip. She was a great host. She cooked us dinner and took Troy and I on a walk around the OSU campus. We needed the exercise so thanks, Mel.

Mom (Charlottesville, VA): Sorry mom for the time I threw that party my junior year. I didn’t mean to puke in your mixing bowl. We are currently staying with mom for a second round but as always mom is there to cook, do our laundry, buy us beer, and help offer advice about women. Thanks mom, I love you.

Grandma and Grandpa (Hobart, NY): Sorry for leaving half our stuff at your house so you now have to make a trip to the post office. Grandma and Grandpa Many are almost like a second set of parents and being home makes me wonder why I’ve been gone all these years.

Dad, Barbara and Raja (Hobart, NY): Sorry we kept you up both nights when you needed to work the next day. Relaxing on the deck with a beer to all hours of the morning was just what we needed before heading to NYC. Watching Raja chasing cars also never gets old.

Raja

Raja

Becky (Brooklyn, NY): Becky, sorry for making you listen to me and my ramblings about the Mets for 6 innings. Apparently Becky got a trivia question right the other night about baseball and I feel directly responsible for this, so maybe I’m not sorry. At any rate I feel like the couple days we spent in NYC were the best so far and its all because of Becky. I should also mention Troy’s friend Jenny. I kept wishing the four of us could hang out longer.

Carrie (Boston, MA): There are no apologies for Carrie. She should apologize to me for letting me drink so much in Boston. Honestly I had a blast with Carrie in Cambridge and she offered us a place to stay several times. For that I thank her.

Corey and Scott (NYC and Boston): I wish these two guys we’re on the whole basecrawl with us. They were a blast and were always in a good mood. Sorry we had to sleep on your floor guys but I’ll remember our time in Boston forever. I never thought I would want to hang out with Yankees and Braves fans at the same time.

Mark (Pittsburgh, PA): Mark, sorry we made you sweat out our arrival to PNC Park. Those 10-hour drives with a hangover are nasty. Thanks for the tickets, hotel room, and conversation. I can’t imagine what our stay in Pittsburgh would have been without you. Actually I do. It would have sucked.

The Guy Who Cut My Hair (Ashburn, VA): Sorry I don’t speak Vietnamese. When I walked into his shop he asked me, “Ban muon mot su cat toc?” and I replied, “Just use scissors man and don’t cut my ears off.” I don’t know what kind of barber schools they have in Vietnam but luckily this guy passed all his classes. I once thought I heard a grizzly bear in Wyoming and I once wrecked a motorcycle. But that haircut was the scariest moment of my life.

Aunt Rena and Uncle Scott (Ashburn, VA): Sorry we ate all your food, used your electricity, created more laundry, used more water and basically did nothing in return. What are families for?!  You guys have always made me feel welcome and I hope to return the favor some day. Disclaimer: I don’t own a house or rent an apartment of any kind at the moment but when I do I’ll let you know.

Mets: Only .5 games back. Going into our game tonight in Baltimore the Mets have a chance to take over first place. It’s unbelievable. I talked with a police officer at the capital yesterday that’s a Phillies fan. He couldn’t believe it, either.  As I was holding this sign up at the capital I couldn’t help but look over my shoulder to see if he was un-holstering his weapon.

(There’s more on this and our other adventures at BaseCrawl.com.)

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