Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lost Vegas by Paul McGuire

I got mine in the mail today! Can't wait to read it. Did you get yours yet? It's over at - search for it - Lost Vegas - by Paul McGuire.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gentile Summit 2010 - A photo essay with word and stuff

Welcome to my fly-over state. Welcome to Minnesota!

I really am quite proud of my state. It's breathtakingly beautiful. We get to enjoy all 4 season. I really do enjoy all of them (if I had to rank them: Fall, Spring, Winter, Summer - more on that later).

RamaRama was organizing a meeting of the annual Gentile Summit. If I'm not mistaken, this usually occurs in Chicago, or there abouts. While Chicago is fun and all, Minnesota had something new to offer: Target Field. The new home of the Minnesota Twins. Did you notice over there on the right, their magic number is 33 at the time of this writing? Not that I'm counting or anything. Lightning36 will never forgive me if I highlight the Twins lead the Central division by 3.5 games over the Mighty Whites (The Chicago White Sox).

How could I not participate in a blogger gather here in the greatest state in the Union?

Honey? Can I borrow the minivan, drive to Minneapolis, get a hotel room, drink beer, go to Target Field, watch a Twins game, drink beer, drink beer, photograph the city, drink beer, sleep, go out for a so-so breakfast, think to myself "I'm never drinking beer again", fill the minivan with bloggers and a girlfriend, drive to the golf course rated in City Pages as "The Best Golf Course To Hide A Body", go golfing, fear finding a body when my drive goes deep in the woods, drink more water then there is in any one of the 10,000 lakes, drink a little more beer (I can't so no forever...), say good bye and drive home? Pleeeeaaaaassssseeeee?

I love you honey!

The memories I have from this weekend are those of great friends and great times. What a blast.

My first day of the long weekend went something like this.

  1. Get my self and the kids up like any other work day Friday. Listen to the moan and complain about not wanting to brush something. Yada yada yada. Just like every other day. Only, I didn't seem to care so much. I just wanted to get going. I need to be at the office for 4 hours and then BOOM! I'm out of there. 4 hours...
  2. Get to work. Realize I'm completely out of Give A Sh!t. Holy crap - 4 hours is a friggin' lifetime.
  3. Hate twitter cuz people are talking about Summit things. 
  4. Notice that time has stopped.
  5. Call help desk and ask why time has stopped.
  6. Clocks reset.
  7. Time is moving slower then ever. FML.
You get the idea. I killed 4 hours at the office and the like a rocket, I was out of there. Get in the car, pick up the kids. Go home cuz I'll be damned if go to Minneapolis today in a suit. I have some dignity. Drive to my home town, dodging severe thunderstorms. This time of year, we don't usually go more the a few hours without sauna level humidity or a severe thunderstorm. Did I mention, welcome to Minnesota? Anywho. Drop the kids off at Grandma's Weekend Daycare and Spa.

Did you know that most traffic laws are optional if there's cold beer waiting at your destination? I didn't either, but I convinced myself that it had to be true. That theory was working great until I ran into the worlds longest construction zone. In all honesty, Minnesota has two seasons. Winter and Construction. From Hastings to Cottage Grove was under construction. FML.

I break free from the construction zone and speed into the heart of the metro area. I'm free! I'm free! To come to a crawling pace cuz it's now 3 in the afternoon and metro drivers suck. For the love of Pete. I'm never going to drink beer. At this speed, I figure there's no reason not to send a text message to RamaRama and Drizz:
Now I remember why I hate driving in Minneapolis.

Pulling off the interstate I entered Minneapolis at around the University area. 7 corners to be exact. I remember thinking to myself, this would be a great area to meet for some beers. There's some legendary bars here. Ha.

I get to the hotel, check in and immediately text Drizz, "I'm here." "Great! We are heading over to Old Town Brewery. Meet us there. You might want to drive."

WTF? I just drove 2 hours to get here. I look up Old Town Brewery my phone cuz it really sounded familiar. Sure as shit. It's back in 7 corners.

I'm not driving. I have beers to drink, so I grab a cab. Look what was waiting on the other end of a $10 cab ride. It's a thing of absolute beauty.

I only waited a few minutes, but was joined by RamaRama, Molly, Minneapolis Tim and StB. After a few beers, a bit of food, and laughs all around as Drizz schooled Minneapolis Tim at pool. We headed back to Rama Rama's apartment. This is the view from his roof back at the city. Wow.

I think it's no secret, I love beer. Nom nom. When I saw StB tweeting about bringing a case of Yuengling, I was still at work. Crying openly in my cubicle. "There's never gonna be any left for me!" Oh, but there was. You see in the background, that's Target Field back there. I'm officially jealous of this apartment.

This is exactly how Minnesotans pass the time before a baseball game. We play cornhole for hours on end. What a great venue. Flat. Open. Lots of places to sit. Great view. Did I mention that?

This is your standard gathering group photo. To everyone reading this, I'd like to introduce you to everyone. It was wicked ass bright up there. Camera bag for a tripod, and voila! Group photo. (Back row) StB, Molly, Girl, Emet, Joe Speaker, Chad, Minneapolis Tim, Girl, Boy (Front row) DonkeyPuncher, Drizz and myself. That's everyone that attended the game.
You can't go to a Twins game without taking a picture of Joe Mauer. It's required by local code.

This is the back of the head of the lady that everyone in our group accidentally kicked in the back at least once. I may not have mentioned this but it was uncomfortably humid here that summer weekend. My beer glass is dripping from condensation. It slipped out of my hand fell straight down and splashed everyone. She was not amused. Minneapolis Tim apologized quickly for it. It really was an accident. Still, she wasn't amused. Her husband thanked us for that. My foot slipped a few minutes later and kicked her in the ass again. Oh my. She was mad. Everyone wave and say Hi! 

I love this shot. Joe Speaker is looking disgruntled as his A's can get hit at will but can't seem to touch home plate. Our token Brewer's fan, StB is just enjoying the game. Drizz is in his happy place and Molly is posing for the camera. Hi Molly!

I missed the conversation leading up to this. But I'm guessing that since it was so humid, he was taking advantage of the extra shelf space.

Ya, he's just letting it park there for a while.

You may have read in some of the recaps of the weekend, there was a priest sitting behind us with his dad. Turns out he was a big Twins fan. The father probably got that from his father. We had a great time talking with him. Outside of Drizz swearing in front of him twice in a few seconds, everyone was at their blogger best behavior. He was happy to pose for pictures with us at the end of the game.

Final score 4-3. Twins Win! Twins Win! Joe Speaker didn't take this well. It took a sanity walk and then proceeded to talk on his cell phone to everyone in the greater Oakland area telling bad beat stories about this game. Not sure if you can read it but they had 13 hits and only 3 runs. That ain't good.

I did shoot a panorama of from our seats. Great spot to watch a game!

Back at Chad's apartment after the game and more corn hole. There had been some rain making for a nicely reflecting roof.

Ah. Minneapolis at night. I'm not really sure why it is, but when I drink a lot, I figure I can hand hold night shots with my camera. I've done this for years. I crank up the ISO, take a big swig of beer and click. That brightly lit building in the foreground, that's Sex World. We didn't go, but it seems there's a geocache near there. Hm...

Drizz demonstrating his prowess at the game. I believe he won 11 straight. Ride'm cowboy!

One of my favorite shots from the weekend. Heck, I even made it my submission for the 52 week challenge I've been sucking at since January first. Check it out here.

Here are some of the guys, taking a break. Great seats.

Kind of a fun shot showing StB and Molly holding the LED lights. They worked great for the game. Also a nice effect for the shots.

I thought this was cool. Dark roof, cornhole game, big bright city in the background.

The munchies started setting in around some time after dark. I'd ceased being able or caring what time it was a long time ago. We headed over to Pizza Luce for more beer and some really fantastic pizzas.

Below is a conversation I witnessed. I believe the solved all the worlds problems. Just look at that concentration.

Much laughing. Drizz and DonkeyPuncher.

I must be thinking I can do product photos while hammered. Nice depth of field but what the hell is this supposed to mean?

Somewhere along the way, we headed over to a bar I can't remember the name. I was handed a Pabst Blue Ribbon. It looked interesting to me so I took a shot of it. I had now been drinking for almost 12 hours straight.
At some point, this next picture happened. I don't remember taking this photo. Someone else might have had my camera. I couldn't tell you. What I do know is that Drizz was not the first person to ever crush a PBR can against their head. It's what boys do in Minnesota. No one knows why.

The next day, we went back to Pizza Luce for breakfast. We were hung over hungry. Note to self: Pizza Luce's breakfast was rather meh. My sunny eggs were a bit over done and my hashbrowns had been done a while before I got them. The are, however, big on vegan breakfast food. Um, ya.

We collected ourselves, and headed over to the Theodore Wirth municipal golf course.  Chad told us that City Pages had listed it as the best golf course to hide a body. Just recently, they had found a body there. It's near North Minneapolis. That would be the not so Minnesota nice part of Minneapolis.

The course had beautiful views of the city. A tournament had been played the same day, so it really was a bit rough out there. Not a huge problem. I hadn't hit a golf ball in about 8 years. I don't think I've hit one since my youngest was born. She's 7. Didn't matter, I was out driving everyone in my 3-some. Want to know my secret? First, I was using the Great Big Bearth II driver. From what I'm told, it has a MASSIVE sweet spot. Second, each and every time I stepped up to the ball, I had to go through the mental checklist on how to hit a driver. I had forgotten all of my bad habits. I also played 3 days a week as a young man.

~6 hours of golfing and I'm guessing 6 bottles of water for me. The golfing was done. I succeeded in not humiliating myself and shooting a 118. Not too shabby for borrowed clubs and 8 years of rust. Joe Speaker, Emet and I headed over to Runyon's for some food. I had had an awesome time. I only booked the room for Friday night. Seems several of the out of town guests aren't such big fans of the burbs so we didn't head out there to Drizz's place for cards. I decided I'd head back home for some R&R in my own bed. I'd packed a lot in the previous 30 some hours. At night on a Saturday, I figured I could probably get home in a little over an hour. As luck would have it, as soon as I started hitting full speed on I94, the tunnel is under construction and I'm stuck in bumper to bumper traffic at 11 PM on a Saturday night.

Now I remember why I hate driving in Minneapolis.

I'm so ready to head back to Vegas in December. The Winter Gathering just can't get here soon enough. I'm booked at the MGM. Getting there Thursday sometime and leaving some time on Monday. I suppose I should book a flight soon. OhCountess is waffling back and forth about whether or not she's going. It's one thing to book a room and end up going solo, it's another to buy a plane ticket.

Thank you everyone! I had a great time. I could see this weekend becoming a habit for me. Until we meet again...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Not a bad view! #GentileSummit

This is the view from the third tee at Theodore Wirth municipal golf course. The grounds are a bit rough from all the rain lately. I'm in the threesome of Drizz & B. I haven't golfed in about 8 years.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fireworks after a Twins victory #GentileSummit

Twins win! Twins win! Back to the rooftop to see the fireworks.

Poker bloggers together at a Twins game #GentileSummit

There's no poker but there is Twins baseball. The video isn't much but here's the view from the Gentile Summit.

YouTube Video

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:5th St N,Minneapolis,United States

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WBPT Trip Report: Part 4 - Pinball Hall of Fame #WPBT


I was going through the posts view in Blogger and noticed, um, Hi! My name is OhCaptain, and I'm a dumbass.

This post was from back in January. January 4th to be exact. I formatted the pictures, typed up some words, hell, I probably even spell checked (but I wouldn't count on that). But apparently, I never actually published part #4 of my WPBT Winter Classic recap. WTF? How did PirateLawyer not say something? CK...I have proven you correct again. Son of a biatch! Here's the rest in grouped link form if you need to go back and read anything...

This is probably still OK. There was no Eh Vegas! this year, and the Gentile Summit gather isn't for [looking at watch] less then 48 hours away...I got my entire recap done before the next blogger gathering..right?

Without further adieu (screw it, I'm not rewriting this. As is from the past...):

The holidays are both awesome and suck. All the time off from work rocks, spending time playing with the kids and the Mrs rocks, but this year I failed in my goal to process all the pictures I took in Las Vegas during the Winter Gathering. I do have a photo dump here that might have made PirateLawyer's day had it not been for recent entry into the Uncle's Club. Huge congrats, BTW!

This time around, I seemed to have a lot of planned options for my camera. I had seriously considered hanging out with the golfing crew, but I wanted to make sure I got to the Pinball Hall of Fame and the Neon Graveyard. Without PirateLawyer organizing this, I pretty much failed at getting a big group going. I have to make a huge apology to Maigrey. She had asked me the night before to call her when we are going. I completely forgot! I'm very sorry.

This first picture is the new front of the Pinball Hall of Fame. Yeah, it's not much. From what I gathered, they moved just weeks before we got there. Yestbay had rented a car for the weekend and after a nice breakfast at Harrah's buffet, we headed over.

I'm hoping for the future of the place, they do just a bit more with the front. If we hadn't been specifically looking in this very location for the place, we would have never just stumbled upon it. The old front had a big painted window that really looked awesome. In all actuality, the inside was as I'd hoped...roomy with plenty of room to grow.

The rest of this post should be just a photo dump. Yestbay mostly played like a rock star. I kept hearing the crack of the free game on the machine he was playing. At one point, we played some doubles. I was always good for a lose of a credit, so this really helped him work down that count.

I was inspired to photograph some of my favorite games. I played a few because how could you not? But mostly, I just walked around and shot. For you photography buffs out there, I'd like in the future to bring a few things:
  • A faster lens - this place is poorly lit and all the glass makes flash photography virtually impossible.
  • A sheet or some other blocking device - there's a lot of glare on the top of the glass from the lights above.
  • A tripod - something that always hinders me in Vegas. I never bring one with because of space concerns. Next time, I might just buy a cheap disposable one or a really nice one and ship it home.
This first shot was a game I hadn't seen in YEARS. Dragon's Lair. This was pretty much the first and only game I had ever truly mastered. This was a game driven by a laser disk, think of it as a precursor to all of the stupid DVD games to come. There was only one set path in the game to the ultimate high score. Memorize this path, and you'll get there. My friends growing up came up with challenges to the game to make it interesting. Since most of the game could be played by timing and audio cues, we would play blindfolded and see how far we could get.

This year, I noticed more of the great video games. There were a few last year, but there just seemed to be more this year. I dropped a few quarters in this one. I still sucked at it, but it was fun.
The structure of the games is pretty much the same as last year, only bigger.
They seemed to grouped a little, this wall isle seemed to have old school video games on one side, old school pinball on the other.
When I was walking around, I started to really think about the art and design that went into these machines. As a kid, you mostly just think about the winning. I thought this was particularly interesting, you see that red dress? Yeah, it moves out of the way to reveal a sexy night gown. Inspiration to win the game for a teenage boy can come from my places, usually it's just the groin.
I had never really stopped and looked at this one before, I had seen it countless times, this was one of my favorite pinball machines. There are many iconic figures on this one. I'm sure at the time, Mikhail Gorbachev seemed to be a timeless character, like Marilyn Monroe and Santa, but I'd guess that any under the age of 35 has no idea who he is or could even spot him on the back of a pinball machine.
Yeah, more huge spacious isles. I think it could accommodate each and every blogger at the gathering.
Old school number wheels rock.
I took a couple hundred pictures here and might post them on Flickr later. I hoping to prove CK wrong and get all of the recaps I want to get done posted before March. Still to come, the Neon Graveyard, Steel Panther and football in lap of luxury.

Stay tuned!

{Note: I left the last paragraph in after just reading it. Funny as hell, huh? Those other posts...they've been up for months. Hehehe. I rock. #FACEPALM}

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Before I forget to show you this - thank you from Ronald McDonald House

I got this in the mail almost a month ago. I was pretty excited to see this and was eager to show everyone but then I discovered that my shiny new computer didn't have the drivers installed for the scanner. Dreading that process cuz certain Silicone Valley companies make the process of installing their stuff a major pain in the ass (NO I DO NOT WANT TO INSTALL THE FRIGGIN' Yahoo! Toolbar, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!) Whoops. I digressed into tech hate...sorry about that.

Anywho. I did finally install said scanner drivers while successfully avoiding all the crapware in the install package and got my scanner up and running. This card is for all of you that helped make the charity tournament such a huge success. From the bottom of my heart as well, thank you.

From the good folks at the Ronald McDonald House:

Way to go everyone! WPBT Give Back!