Out in the West Texas town of El Paso

Bowling, Gambling, James family, My-Sugar-Na, Naughty businesses, Restaurants, Vacation

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Mid-2010s Lightning Round

Blogger's Clip Show, Bowling, Coffee, Cooking, HBO, Las Vegas, MASL, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, Patriotism, Poker, Riviera Lanes, School Board, Soccer, Star-Spangled Banner, Television, US Cellular Arena, USBC, UWM Panther Arena, Vacation, Vier Pogo Squad 51, West Allis, YouTube

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Scott Grapatin Memorial Fund Raiser for Soft Tissue Sarcoma Research

Bowling, Local news, Reno, West Allis

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Now THAT was a Super Bowl

Bowling, Football, Gambling, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, NFL, Poker, Restaurants, Super Bowl, Television, Vacation

First, let me offer that I am appalled at my lack of a Super Bowl pick this year.  Shame on me.  However, this is who I had picked...

("What the heck was that!?!?" says you, the Dear Reader. "You went to Las Vegas to bet the Super Bowl and you didn't invite me?"

“Yeah, that’s unfortunate” I respond).  My 1-1 record this year lowers my overall record since I’ve been making picks to 10-7.

It all started in the halcyon days of yore... namely Thursday, January 15.  I remember it like it was just a couple of weeks ago.  Frontier Airlines ran a one day sale, $29 one-way tickets from about a dozen airports.  

On a whim, I noted O'Hare was one of the airports.  Continuing on, Las Vegas was one of the destinations. Further whimming revealed that Super Bowl Eve was available. Finally, a mid-week return trip redeye was $69, putting a 3-day impulse round trip at an impossible $98.  My poker buddy, Scott (who works with me) called his wife and jumped on it.  Knowing that My-Sugar-Na couldn't be away from work that long, I checked the cost of a redeye return on Sunday night, which was $109, making my round trip $140. 

Although I can be a goofball, and sometimes make questionable decisions, I am rarely too impulsive.  But the Vegas geek in me got caught up in how cool it would be to find a real bargain, and just say "What the Hell?" and do it like some college kids. I picked up the Bat-Emailer and contacted My-Sugar-Na, and the conversation went like this...

(SNH) - "Are we doing anything Super Bowl weekend? We could go to Las Vegas together."

M-S-N - "You and me together?"

(SNH) - "Sure.  Got $140?"

M-S-N - "Sigh, I don't have $140."

(SNH) - "OK, how about this…

Fly out at 9:30 Sat 1-31 PM, arrive at 11:30 PM.

Watch the Super Bowl

Leave at 1:00 AM on Monday morning (the redeye Sunday night) and get to O’Hare by 6:30 AM, home by 9:30.  You could either go to work in the PM, or take one day off.

We put the flight on our credit card, I’ll find a one-night comp room.  We eat at Caesers with our points.

Scott and his wife are planning on going, but they will come back later in the week."

M-S-N - "You're serious?" (Side note; Didja notice that she didn't say no?)

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Her name is Reno, and she dances at the Sands

Bowling, Gambling, HBO, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, Poker, Reno, Restaurants, USBC, Vacation, YouTube

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Reader Mail

Bowling, Coffee, Development, Gambling, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, Restaurants, Soccer, Television, Vacation, Weather, YouTube

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Poker Trip - Take 5

Bowling, Craps, Football, Gambling, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas, NFL, Nostalga, PBA Tour, Poker, Restaurants, Vacation

I do love my Vegas, and I love when I can get work to pay a portion!

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When will the world be saturated in advertising?

Bowling, Football, Free market, Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers, Star-Spangled Banner, Television

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Creative title - "I didn't lose all my money"

Bowling, Gambling, James family, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, Poker, Reno, Restaurants, USBC, Vacation, Weather, West Allis

I am a very traditional guy.  I wear my britches up where they belong, I take off my hat at Mass, and I give you the vicarious thrill of my yearly trip to Nationals.

Ready to be vicariously thrilled?

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GEICO PBA Summer Swing - Spoiler free Wrap-up

Bowling, PBA Tour, Television, USBC Masters, YouTube, West Allis

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In memory of one of my best friends

Bowling, Gambling, Las Vegas, Reno, West Allis

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May is gonna be a very busy month

Bowling, Craps, Injuries, Las Vegas, Milwaukee Wave, My-Sugar-Na, PBA Tour, Poker, Reno, Restaurants, USBC, Vacation, West Allis

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Catching up

2012 State Fair, Blogger's Clip Show, Bowling, Brewers players, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Wave, MISL, NFL, Nostalga, Soccer, State Fair, Television

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So, how did that bowling dealy go?


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Supporting youth bowling in the Milwaukee area

Bowling, PBA Tour, Restaurants, USBC, YouTube

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Day 9 - State Fair Blog done (Sponsor's Name Here)-style

2012 State Fair, Bowling, My-Sugar-Na, Restaurants, State Fair, West Allis

Presented by Bowlers Pro Shop, because large boulders are no longer effective in the modern game.

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Day 3 - State Fair Blog done (Sponsor's Name Here)-style

2012 State Fair, Bowling, My-Sugar-Na, Restaurants, State Fair, West Allis

Presented by Bowlers Pro Shop.  From bowling balls to advice to Mittens, you can find it all from Joe Cerar and his staff.

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This week at the movies

Bowling, Gambling, MLB, Nostalga, Patriotism, Soccer, Television, Movies

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Blogger's Clip Show, Bowling, Brewers players, Cooking, Free market, Gambling, James family, Las Vegas, Local news, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Wave, My-Sugar-Na, New Orleans, New York, Nostalga, Poker, Reno, State Fair, Television, Vier Pogo Squad 51, Weather, West Allis

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What a week it was

Bowling, Gambling, My-Sugar-Na, New Orleans, Religion, Restaurants, USBC, Vacation

Usually when I write a vacation trip report, I try to do it timely.  Nothing worse than reading about something that happened a few weeks ago, when references to weather, the ball game, etc., seem dated.  But that's gonna happen with this one.  I was on the road for nine days, and even though I've only been back for a few, the start of the trip was a long time ago.  Keep in mind that in links with photos in which the URL begins with "media.jsonline.com", the photos were taken by me or my wife.  All other photos in links were found on Google and repurposed for my convenience.

Saturday, Feb 18 - This was a travel day for me.  Due to My-Sugar-Na's previous back issues, we didn't think she'd want to start the trip with a 1000 mile drive, so we bought a one-way plane ticket for her and she left the next day, while I left before the sun rose.
Driving is just driving, but some points along the way that took me along I-94 through Chicago, where I picked up I-57 into Missouri, then I-55 to the evening respite in Grenada. MS...
  • The first 120 miles were no problem, as I drive to Chicago often.  The trip did lag through most of Illinois, though.  Even driving through cities like Champaign and Matoon... you aren't driving through them as much as you are driving around them.  I did make it all the way through Illinois and into Missouri before I needed to fill the gas tank, though.
  • All along, I had considered breaking up the drive and relaxing at a casino along the way, though I just figured I would do it in Tunica, MS, which would be just a short bit out of the way.  As I am driving through the bottom part of Missouri, though, I see a sign for the Lady Luck Casino in Carruthersville.  The sign looked like it was .5 miles off the freeway, but was in reality 5 miles.  But since I had gotten off the freeway, I figured I would continue on.  It was a riverboat on the Mississippi River, and a couple of hands of blackjack and a couple rolls of dice later, I was ahead $30 and decided to take my profit and hit the road.
  • I arrived in Memphis, TN and my planned dinner stop at Neely's Interstate BBQ around 6:00 PM. As stated on my pre-trip blog, I had seen this place on the Travel Channel's Barbecue Paradise, and wanted to try the BBQ spaghetti.  Since I hadn't bothered to stop for a proper lunch, I ordered the sampler platter that had pork ribs, beef ribs, brisket, pulled pork and a hot link.  It also came with a side of the BBQ spaghetti.  Unfortunately, the spaghetti was nothing to write home about. The pasta was the consistency of Spaghetti-Os and was overrun with the BBQ sauce.  The meat, however, was a highlight, especially that hot link (in which both the waitress and cashier refused to disclose who makes it or how I could buy some).
  • Having previously stopped at a casino, I decided to bypass Tunica on the trip down and ended at the very comfortable Motel 6 in Grenada.  This used to be an EconoLodge, but the property seemed to be quite new and it was a very nice room for $35.

Sunday, Feb 19 - After a stop at the Waffle House (and a pecan waffle, with hash browns Scattered, Smothered and Peppered) and a drive of the last 300 miles or so, I met my wife at the airport and the vacation began.  We had planned on staying in Slidell, but right before I left I Pricelined (Side note; Look!  I made a verb!) a hotel at the same price and was given a nice Courtyard by Marriott in Covington, LA, about 30 miles from downtown New Orleans.  So with the wife in tow, we headed across the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway to the hotel, unloaded her, the luggage and the 30 bowling balls that I brought with me, then headed to the first vacation stop.
The first stop was the Crescent City Steakhouse for dinner.  I was tipped to this place first in an episode of Treme, and when I read this blog (the ultimate companion piece for each Treme episode) it mentioned the 75+ year history of the place, linked to this article and I was sold.  The atmosphere was almost as good as the steak, as I had reserved one of the booths with the privacy curtain.  I also had a Sazerac (the Official Cocktail of New Orleans) which tasted strikingly like lighter fluid (Side note; props to Mr. College Girl for that one).  Having a drink of the locals in Sazerac, I was then free to drink the drink of tourists (Hand Grenades and Hurricanes) for the rest of the trip.
After dinner, we joined the slow-paced gridlock towards the location of St. Charles Avenue for which our grandstand tickets were located.  At first when My-Sugar-Na suggested we buy reserved seats ($40 per ticket for Sunday's sole parade and $60 per ticket for Tuesday's four parades) I thought that it was too much.  I was dead wrong, as it allowed us a seat without having to arrive four to ten hours early, and we could move around freely within that cordoned off area (the private bathroom didn't hurt, either).
At one point, we had been stopped in traffic for about five minutes when we saw a hotel advertising $50 parking.  We considered it, but moved on and found a garage that advertised $40 parking, but only charged us $20.  We walked to our grandstand and waited probably 15 minutes, but for what seemed like hours.
The parade routes are roughly 4 to 5 miles long, and we were at least 3/4 from the start, which meant the 5:15 parade got to us at 8:15 or so.  In talking to a few parade veterans, they said that especially these highly anticipated parades (if which the Krewe of Bacchus certainly qualifies) the parade moves more slowly to make a big deal of celebrity king in the first float.  The parade could be seen down the block, but it seemed like it would never get to us... until it did, and then the first float moved so quickly that it was like Will Farrell was shot out of a cannon.  I got one photo of him - and you can't tell it is him - and it isn't a very good one.  Well, at least I know it is him.
As the people in our section moved around, my wife and I found ourselves down front, hugging the barrier... I couldn't have asked for a better location.  After each float (containing 10-20 costumed Krewe members throwing all manner of beads, doubloons, cups, stuffed animals, etc) was a local high school marching band.  However, in the 20 bands that passed us, I don't think any actually played.  Just the drumline keeping a beat.  At one point, the parade came to a dead stop with a float right in front of us.  After a few minutes, one of the Krewe members asked if I was hungry, and I said "I am 300 pounds, I am always hungry".  So he threw a box lunch to me with a ham and cheese sub, Krunchers chips and a white macadamia nut cookie.  These ain't no July 4th parades.
After the nearly 3-hour parade ended, we drove back to our hotel and examined our loot.  Pretty impressive, but that was just the beginning.

Monday, Feb 20 - Lundi Gras (translated, means "Only one more day before Mardi Gras ends and we have to become good Catholics again") started with us sleeping in a little, then packing the car again.  We had previously paid for two nights in the Warehouse Arts District (about a mile from the French Quarter) but didn't want to pay for the Sunday night (I'll pay $200 a night for two nights.  Wasn't gonna do three.) 
We had considered eating breakfast when we instead decided to go right to Willie Mae's Scotch House for lunch.  You can read some of the history here and here, but the short story is that this house in the rundown Treme neighborhood has been serving fried chicken almost forever.  Hurricane Katrina damaged the restaurant but the food world wouldn't let it die so they helped rebuild it.  From that point, both the Travel Channel and Food Network have made it into a tourist destination.
So much so that while we stood in line - outside - for almost an hour just to get in line inside, we talked to our line mates and found none were actually from New Orleans.  Represented right around us was Annapolis, MD, Cleveland, OH, and San Jose, CA.  
Of particular note was this couple from San Jose dressed in purple (Side note for those of you new to my blog; these rambling stories are key to my trip reports because, well, I like stories).  She was Asian, about 30ish, 5'2" and maybe 100# soaking wet (I'll call her "Fried Chicken").  She wore a short dress and knee-high purple boots, and had long, flowing hair that she was constantly brushing and adjusting in her hairband.  She just could not stand still.  Not in a jittery way, but more like that she had to be moving, talking, talking, moving, adjusting, moving and talking some more.  She was very attractive, but clearly very high maintenance.  Her boyfriend was just the opposite.  He just stood there.  He talked to her, but he was as stoic as she was in constant motion.  But they were very friendly people, and are even in this photo with us.  We talked to a number of people in line, but they made quite the impression.
We finally get seated inside Willie Mae's and order the (expensive) fried chicken.  You get two choices... a leg, thigh, wing and one side for $10, or a breast, two wings and a side for $13.  We weren't going to cheap out on vacation, but it is clear that the tourist-clientele is reflected in the pricing.  Lunch comes, it is delicious and well worth the hour wait.  The crispy batter shattered in your mouth, then dissolved like cotton candy.  Meanwhile, Fried Chicken and her boyfriend are at the table next to us.  He is picking the chicken off the bone with a fork and not eating much of the skin.  When he is done, he gives her the entire plate and she picks up the bones and finishes them off, then eats every piece of the skin he left. But she doesn't stop there.  She licks her finger and dabs at every single crumb on the table; it is like she had never eaten before.  The way she packed that food away, there is only one way she maintains weight.  Boyfriend just looked at us and said "As long as she is happy".  That tells me that behind closed doors, she makes him happy, too.
But enough about them.  We finish up our delicious meal and head to Harrah's New Orleans, as that is where some of my bowling buddies Pin Hacker, his dad Almost Birthday Boy, The Dealer and The Female Dealer. had said to meet them.  We didn't gamble, but just used Harrah's as a starting point to walk through the French Quarter, and more specifically Bourbon Street.  We start walking around and I notice that I don't have a drink in my hand.  I am not a big drinker, but I am in New Orleans on Bourbon Street and I am not holding a drink... I felt out of place.  I goad everybody into having a Hurricane, but the group never really loosens up.  We last around two hours with them, and with a packed Bourbon Street, they kind of lose interest.  I think The Female Dealer would have lasted longer, but the three guys seemed to have had enough.  Not me. We bid farewell to those four, and after a brief break, My-Sugar-Na are back at it.
She had reserved a spot on a vampire tour that started in the French Quarter at 8:30, so I dropped her off there and explored New Orleans on my own.  Bourbon Street seemed to be for the younger crowd, so I took a longer-than-it-looks-on-a-map walk to Frenchman Street, where the live music clubs are... thinking live music would be more for us old-timers that wouldn't mind sitting in one spot.
I get to Frenchman Street (Side note; Think Brady Street in Milwaukee, only the smell of heroin is more pronounced on Frenchman Street).  It is kind of icky there, so I find a nice club and ask when the music starts.  Finding out is starts in two hours, I buy a glass of beer to go (a very underrated aspect of vacation) and walk from club to club and listen to the music outside before deciding to go in.  The party that night was definitely outside, as the clubs seemed only about half full.  I finally find a club with a band that sounded pretty good and I order a Hurricane and dinner (a crawfish quesadilla which - if it had been grilled instead of microwaved would have been phenomenal) and listen for awhile.  When the band takes a break, I decide to get back to where I had dropped my wife off.
As I am walking back, it starts raining - pretty hard - for about two minutes.  This rain served to turn the BUB into a slurry... you had no way of knowing what you were walking through.  The brief shower didn't stop the party, though, and once My-Sugar-Na's vampire tour was done, we took a cab back to our hotel (Side note; even though it was only a mile, I was very surprised that the cab ride was only $10.  Being at midnight the day before Mardi Gras, I kinda figured it would be $20 just to get in the cab).

Tuesday, Feb 21 - The Krewe of Zulu parade started at 8:00 AM, but again, we were going to be well down the parade route so we took our time through the hotel breakfast.  As we are getting ready to go, the local TV station is broadcasting the parade near the starting point, and is showing the float of the Zulu Queen.  She is resplendent in her white feather costume, and I'm getting giddy about it.  Here I am, little ol' me, about to go to a real live Carnivale parade ON MARDI GRAS DAY.  How cool is that?
We get to our grandstand location a few blocks away from Sunday night's spot, and we no sooner arrive and the parade starts.  I will let this and this and this and this and this and this photo do the talking, but  this parade takes almost three hours, and I am having the time of my life.
The Krewe of Rex parade immediately follows (so much that we weren't sure when one parade ended and another started).  Rex marches on and on (Side note; Other than the gorgeous floats and the pageantry surrounding it, the truth is the parades all have the same pattern... float with costumed people throwing stuff, a marching band not playing anything, then another float and so on).  The crowd in our section of grandstand starts thinning out, and who do we see down our row?  Fried Chicken and Boyfriend!  They don't notice us at first, and she is acting just as she had done the day before.
The Rex parade ends, and My-Sugar-Na has had enough (what? At only the 5-1/2 hour mark?)  She convinces me that she is OK to walk back to the hotel while I stay for the Krewe of Elks Orleanians parade.  This was the same but different.  The previous parade floats were pulled by old John Deere or International Harvester tractors.  The Elks Orleanians floats are all pulled by big trucks, and there are no marching bands.  They just pass one float after another.  The good news is that by this time, the crowd has really thinned out, so the thrown-stuff-per-parade-watcher ratio is close to 1:1, but the bad news is that I've had junk thrown at me for almost 7 hours and I don't even bother trying to catch stuff any more. This doesn't affect Fried Chicken and Boyfriend though, as they keep me company during the Elks Orleanians parade.  They end up with four bags of stuff... I wonder if they forget that they have to carry all this stuff back to their car or hotel, and how are they going to get it all on the plane back to San Jose?
I already had been wondering what the chance is that in a tourist town on a mega-tourist event, that two sets of tourists would be at two completely separate events, within speaking distance of each other, when it occurred to me;  Maybe I was being tailed by the Feds, and they were in charge of keeping us at hand.  I don't believe in conspiracy theories, but if Fried Chicken and Boyfriend would have ended up at Mass the next day in the same pew, or bowling in Baton Rouge a couple of days later, I might have had to rethink that.
I walk back to our hotel with our bag of loot and we plot our course for Mardi Gras evening.  I had tried to talk to some locals about what they do on Mardi Gras evening, but I couldn't get a straight answer, just basically "Well, you won't find us in the French Quarter!".  One police officer did say that a lot of locals have house parties with friends and families.  That said, since we didn't have a house, nor friends or family in town, we were going to go be a tourist again.  But instead of Bourbon Street, we were going to go back to Frenchmen Street and listen to some music.
We started our walk to the Riverfront Streetcar with a slight side trip to Mother's Restaurant (and another touristy-wait) for my first real-life Po' Boy.  And after having one?  Well, it is just a glorified sub sandwich. Good, yes, but there was no real secret ingredient that gave it that zazz that I was expecting.  We both had the Famous Ferdi, which is roast beef, ham, "debris" (the ends and bits of the beef that come off the roast and end up in the au jus), mayo, lettuce, onion and Creole mustard.  I had expected the meat to be hot, but they were the temperature of cold cuts.  Only the debris was hot, which gave a weird sensation of cold meat and warm juice.  Dinner's done, on to the music.
The Riverfront Streetcar stop is about three blocks from our hotel, and will drop us off about three blocks from Frenchmen Street.  The problem is that I couldn't get a square answer as to the last return trip of the streetcar.  One part of the transit system website indicated special Mardi Gras times that went past midnight, another part indicated that Mardi Gras day would be on the Saturday schedule, and the conductor said the last streetcar would leave Frenchmen Street at 10:00 PM.  Not wanting to risk it, we used 10:00 PM for the end of Mardi Gras.
I found out that the Treme Brass Brand was playing at d.b.a. (Side note; I hate when a proper name is lowercase).  They started at 8:00 and took a break at 9:30, which perfectly allowed us to get back to the streetcar for the (possibly) last trip back towards our hotel.
One of the traditions of Mardi Gras day is that at the stroke of Midnight, the police chase the tourists off the street (that time being when Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season begins).  When we were back in the hotel, it occurred to me that with as immersed as I was in Mardi Gras, I didn't take it to the end.  But that's OK, including the all day drive on Saturday, it was a long four days.

Wednesday, Feb 22 - Another touristy thing that needed to be done was to have an order of beignets and a cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter.  Beignets are basically doughnuts, with an insane amount of powdered sugar on them.  We again hopped the Riverfront Streetcar and were at the cafe in a few minutes... again waiting in line.  Apparently we are not the only ones to get our dining ideas from the Food Network or the Travel Channel.
The line wasn't too long, but there wasn't anybody to seat us... it is kind of like we're standing in line on our honor, and when someone leaves the next in line takes the dirty table.  I wasn't crazy about that at all, and when it was our turn to grab a table, I just stood over it.  It took a few minutes for this tiny Philpino waitress to come around and she told me to sit, but she didn't clean the table.  When she finally did get around to it, she took a Handi Wipe and turned this insane amount of leftover powder sugar into a sludge that got all over my arms when I finally did sit down.  Not cool.  The beignets were fine, the cafe au lait was good too, but the dirty cafe took a shine off of this TV treasure.
The next stop was to the St. Louis Cathedral a couple of blocks away for Ash Wednesday Mass.  I didn't realize the significance of this church, but the Archbishop of New Orleans said the Mass in front of a standing-room only, um, crowd and a bunch of news cameras.  We just missed being on TV, though, as we were in the pew right in front of the bald, black guy getting ashes at the 0:33 mark.
The last "destination" dining locale was next, at Johnny's Po Boy Restaurant, which was a couple of blocks from the Cathedral (and another opportunity to stand in line).  Another Po Boy was on the menu, but since it was a Holy Day and a day of fasting, I sacrificed and my Po Boy with fried shrimp.  Again, I don't see the knee-buckling fascination with Po Boys.  It was a good sandwich purchased and eaten in an historic location, but it wasn't better than anything you could get from any sub shop around here.
Back to the hotel to get the packed car, and we headed the 75 miles west to Baton Rouge for why I am told we traveled to Louisiana... to bowl the National tournament (Side note; You might have noticed that this report has been quite long to this point.  The good news for you, Gentle Reader, is that most of the notable "stuff" happened on the first half of the vacation, and the back half isn't quite as, well, notable.  The rest of this will go relatively quickly.)
After checking into our Baton Rouge home, we had a quick dinner at the Picadilly (Side note; Picadilly is a cafeteria-style family restaurant.  You get your tray then ask the lunch lady to give you your food.  The special this particular day was "Parmesan crusted fish", but none of the three lunch ladies we asked had any clue what fish was crusted in Parmesan.  But being vacation, I grabbed one of them with a side of turnip greens.  Good eatin', huh?) then met most of the bowling buddies to bowl the 40-Frame Game, which is a tournament with one continuous 40 frame game, with each frame having a special hook... 9-pin tap frame, a strike being worth 10 bonus pins, cash for a strike, etc.  It was also the first hint that we'd have approach issues, as they were so tacky that they actually brought out a floor buffer to try to make them slidable. 
I bowled the best of our bunch (but not sure if I bowled well enough to make any money) but with only four of us, we bowled pretty quickly and were warm and sweaty when we left.  We opened the exterior door of Circle Bowl and it was like walking into a sauna.  The same front that brought a few inches of snow to Milwaukee brought in a storm that increased the temperature and humidity... it was like the middle of summer.  It was horrible.  We went right back to our hotel and cranked the air conditioning.

Thursday, Feb 23 - A couple things related to the USBC Open Championships fell into place nicely for what could have been an advantage to our group.  After Hurricane Katrina, the River Center in Baton Rouge was used as a rescue center for those evacuated from New Orleans.  The damage from this repurposement allowed for a remodel and expansion of the building.  Among the things allowed for were four "Showcase Lanes" which could be rented for practice at $90 an hour for ten people ($9 an hour is not a lot to pay for practice) and the practice was on lanes with the same lane condition, pins, etc. that the were used for the tournament.  In other words, for $9 bucks a guy, we get a preview of what was waiting for us in the tournament.
What was waiting for us was the toughest lane condition that I think I have ever faced.  Only nine of us showed up for practice, and not one of us said we ever found a comfortable line during that hour.
That continued when we began our Team event that afternoon.  I had my lowest three game series in at least five years, and none of the rest of us bowled significantly better (Side note; remember in years past, when I would detail how I bowled?  Not this year.  Night terrors.)
With our collective tails between our legs, we went to Parrain's Seafood Restaurant for a team dinner.  It was really cool to get together with everyone and NOT talk about bowling (much).  As a group, we had some fantastic gulf seafood (including an great seafood gumbo and an entree of andouille crusted Mahi-mahi on a bed of shrimp, crawfish and onions).
Evening came and morning followed, the sixth day.

Friday, Feb 24 - We bowled the Nationals doubles and singles events in the morning.  All I need to say is that for the previous four Nationals (36 games) I had averaged 197.  This year?  168.  I hate bowling.
In addition to bowling like donkey dung, I had already bowled 13 games (and maybe about three more during the practice session) with sticky approaches (humidity can really wreak havoc with plastic approaches) and my knees were in pretty rough shape.  So what did I do?  Right.  Promised My-Sugar-Na that I'd bowl a doubles tournament with her.  But first, I needed some lunch, so we met Bowling Uncle UJ and Ain't B at the Cheesecake Bistro by Copelands (think Cheesecake Factory).
Lunch was good but unremarkable, but that Butter Pecan Cheesecake. OMG! (a shoutout to the youngsters still tuned in).  I am not a huge cheesecake fan, but the cake itself was light and airy, with huge pecans, and this warm buttery carmel topping.  Sigh.  I could take one right about now.
We wish my aunt and uncle a good trip back (they, too, are driving instead of flying) and we head to Metro Bowl for the Bowlers Journal Handicapped Mixed Doubles tournament.  In short, I still hate bowling, now my wife hates it, too, and my knees hurt even more.  What could make it better?  Right, cramming into a Ford Focus for a six hour drive to Tunica!
We head north on US-61, and after a few hours we realize that we hadn't had dinner.  But it is after 9:00 PM and we kinda just want to get to Tunica, so we find a gas station for some schnecks. Rick's Express (my new favorite gas station in Shaw, MS) at that time on a Friday night serves only to sell its clientele 40 ouncers of beer for $1.99 a bottle.  But as we are looking for a soda and bag of chips, I see this little old lady way in back over a flat top grill.  I ask her if the grill is open, and she asks "What do you want, honey?"  I love this place already.  I ask for a grilled cheese sandwich (it is a Friday during Lent, you know), she asks how I want my bread grilled, how much cheese, and butter or margarine.  Meanwhile, My-Sugar-Na is hiding behind my skirt as one, um, barely legal teen after another comes in and buys a bottle or two of beer.  She said that she feared for the car and the stuff in it... out of state plates and all, but would be more afraid of being outside in the car with out of state plates.  After a couple of minutes, I had my sandwich and we were back on the road.
She asked me how the sandwich was.  I said it tasted like hamburger, chicken, bacon, etc.  Might have possibly have been the best sandwich ever.

Saturday, Feb 25 - This part happened at midnight, but it kind of goes hand in hand with the checkout, so I will put this as a Saturday thing.  Harrah's Tunica casino is about a half mile or so from the Harrah's-owned hotel that we had been booked in.
When we checked into Harrah's Veranda Hotel in Tunica, they didn't have the room that had been comped for me.  Although in the big picture it wasn't a big deal, after a week on the road, crappy bowling and a long ride, I wasn't in the mood.  But what took the cake was the absolute un-heartfelt apology from the clerk.  I would have just rather that she said "Take your free damn room and go to bed".  I told her that she can apologize until she is blue in the face, and I swear, she apologized again!  I had to go to the car and let My-Sugar-Na finish checking in because I was besides myself.
So about 10:00 AM, we plan to check out, then gamble a bit, eat brunch, gamble some more, then hit the road towards St. Louis.  When we go to check out, the clerk (a different, equally helpful soul) tells us that they can't comp the room since we hadn't gambled at their property.  Besides the fact that the confirmation didn't say that I had to gamble to be comped (I had over 40,000 points on my card, which is well more than needed for the $25 room) I was stunned that after staying less than 10 hours, I had to travel a half mile and gamble just to check out.  It didn't make any sense.  Fuming, I did go down the road and put exactly one point on my card, then went to the VIP Host and made him check me out from his office.  I could see if the casino was attached to the hotel - it wouldn't be that inconvenient to earn a point - but no quarter was given because of the relative locations.
So once we got the check-out complete, we went to non-Harrah's properties to gamble for awhile. Showed them who's boss.
Soon we were on the road to Harrah's St. Louis, and the first thing out of my mouth upon check in was "Don't treat me like they did in Tunica".  And check-in (and check-out the next day) couldn't have been smoother. 
We had dinner at Kelly English Steakhouse at Harrah's, and for the first time with a $35 steak, I wasn't happy.  I ordered it medium rare and received it well done.  I sent it back (and watched My-Sugar-Na finish her steak) and then mine came back out.  But it was way over seasoned, and wasn't very good.  I didn't want to send it back again, so I grinned and beared it.  They did buy me a beer for my troubles, so there is that... (Side note that I probably should have included above, but oh, well; I have developed an affinity for Abita Purple Haze, which is a wheat beer with raspberries added.  I had considered buying a case to bring home, but I wimped out.  Their website says that I can get it from Discount Liquor, I'll have to check.)
After getting my kiester handed to me in the casino, we went to bed, and tucked myself in the last hotel bed of the trip.

Sunday, Feb 26 - I don't have much.  We checked out and drove home.
I do want to give props to my Gas Buddy app on my Android (it is also available for the iPhone and here).  I saved a ton of money on gas along the way.  You tap the center icon that says "Find Gas Near Me", then it gives you a map with all nearby gas stations and their reported prices.  The map is interactive so that you can slide down the road and see what is up ahead.  The best example of savings was as were leaving Missouri.  Gas had crept up to about $3.56 as we headed into Illinois, and at that point all we saw was gas in the $3.75 range... made me wish we had gotten gas in St. Louis.  But I pulled out the phone and found that about 50 miles up the road, gas was still at $3.51.  We did get gas there, and it was (by far) the lowest gas price we found in all of Illinois.

I still hate bowling.  But next year's Nationals will be in Reno in mid-to-late-May 2013.  
I may try it again by that date.

On the road again!

Bowling, Cooking, Gambling, My-Sugar-Na, Restaurants, Vacation, New Orleans, USBC

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A day in the life of a couch potato

Bowling, Fantasy Football, Football, Fox 6, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, NFL, PBA Tour, Poetry, Poker, YouTube

(This blog will be continually updated on Sunday 12-11-11, as long as I have something interesting to say.)

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This and that

Bowling, Catholic church, Cooking, Football, Free market, Green Bay Packers, James family, Las Vegas, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Wave, MISL, My-Sugar-Na, NFL, Patriotism, Religion, Soccer, Television, Weather, West Allis

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So many potential names for this entry

Bowling, Brewers players, Gambling, My-Sugar-Na, Naughty businesses, Nostalga, Riviera Lanes, West Allis

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Life as a single man

Poker, Bowling, Craps, Gambling, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, Reno, Restaurants, Vacation

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Franklin's 5th district Aldermanic race

Bowling, Nostalga, They Came to Bowl

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Zoo interchange

Nanny State, Bowling, James family, Local news, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nutjobs, One Idiot is Offended, Taxes, West Allis

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Am I finally noticing my mortality?

Blogger's Clip Show, Bowling, Injuries, James family, Reno, Uphill (both ways), West Allis

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New Orleans won more than just a football game

Football, Bowling, Green Bay Packers, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, Vacation

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Everyone likes a quicky

Football, Blogger's Clip Show, Bowling, Craps, Fantasy Football, Free market, Gambling, Green Bay Packers, James family, Las Vegas, Local news, Milwaukee Wave, MISL, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, NFL, Reno, Television, Vacation, YouTube

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I. Can't. Wait. 'Til. Saturday.

Poker, Bowling, Football, Gambling, Las Vegas, NFL, Reno, Restaurants, Vacation

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Just a column full of rants

Nanny State, Barack Obama, Bowling, Coffee, Fantasy Football, James family, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, Restaurants, Taxes

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So much going on, so little to say

Bowling, Free market, Gambling, Milwaukee Wave, Brewers players, Nostalga, Other blogs, Television, West Allis

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2nd Quarter Lightning Round

Barack Obama, Bowling, Brewers players, Craps, Free market, Gambling, Las Vegas, Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers, PBA Tour, Restaurants, Taxes, Television, Vacation, West Allis

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Wither thee, Tomasino Italia?

Bowling, Free market, James family, Restaurants, West Allis

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A couple of articles caught my attention this morning

2008 Presidential Race, Barack Obama, Bowling, Gambling, James family, Reno, Vacation

First, it looks like Madonna died a week or so ago.  Someone forgot to tell her soon-to-be-hubby.

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There is no Peter Lugers in Las Vegas. I checked

Bowling, Craps, Gambling, James family, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, Reno, Restaurants, Television, Vacation

I've never been known for my brevity, so here goes...

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I. Can't. Wait. 'Til. Sunday.

Bowling, Craps, Gambling, James family, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, Reno, Restaurants, Vacation

Vegas, baby!

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2nd quarter Lightning Round

Bowling, Brewers players, Craps, Gambling, James family, Las Vegas, Metallica, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Wave, MLB, My-Sugar-Na, Restaurants, Riviera Lanes, Television, Vacation, West Allis, Xtreme Soccer League

I am not going to Opening Day for the first time since 2004, been to 16 overall since 1985... Predictions are impossible this year.  Gallardo = 2008 Sheets, Parra = 2007 Gallardo.  The key is if there is the opportunity to get an ace before July... I had a 300 game at Riviera Lanes a few weeks ago, it was my 16th... Leaving for Vegas in two weeks to bowl the USBC Open Championships, aka Nationals... The bar has been set, and it won't be topped this year... Wisconsin bowlers tend to do well at Nationals... Not gonna eat my way through Las Vegas... Don't think I can eat steak for three meals a day for six daysTry me... Copper prices are going up, is the recession almost over?  Oil is going up, so it just may be... Maybe not for the captain, but the first thing I thought of when I read this was "Cool"... Still looking for bloggers in West Allis to write about issues... But don't look at me, I've got more important things to write about... Metallica is in the middle of a month-long marathon on XM42, it goes through Monday... (Sponsor's Name Here)'s Offical Son, Mitten, was the starting pitcher for his Rufus King High School JV team on April 8th.  He and another pitcher combined to no-hit Bay View High School 17-4 (side note; 17-4 and a no-hitter?  Yeah, it was JV)... Mitten's fastball was clocked as Thursday... It can't be that hard is it to make sure your van is empty first... Or to put your baby in a crib... Or keep your beer truck on its tires... Way cool... So is this... And this... My-Sugar-Na thinks I have too many blog links... Blame Mark the Editor, he showed me how... My-Sugar-Na's new shoes give her blisters... Hey, bbear, quarter craps (but only 10x odds kinda stink)... The Milwaukee Wave managed a 10-10 record with a bunch of guys you've never heard of.  Next year should be much better if they can retain their stars... In one of the other indoor soccer leagues, the PASL-Pro, the Stockton Cougars won the championship, were sold, then fired their head coach... In the third indoor soccer league, the Baltimore Blast will face the Rockford Rampage in Baltimore this weekend for the NISL title... Happy Easter, y'alls!

What the fat cats at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel won't tell you...

Bowling, Injuries, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Riviera Lanes, West Allis

(Side note; [Extra side note; starting a post with a side note is very unique. That's what makes this writer - in this writer's opinion - very cool.  Even my mom thinks I'm cool.  Right, Mom?] the blogging software has not been running smoothly.  This blog was originally meant to post Friday morning, but when I couldn't get on the server, I saved it.  Then later on Friday I had an even better idea for a post but still couldn't get on the server.  So that one is being saved until next Friday (when you see it, you'll understand).  But obviously the server is all better now.  So sit back, and pretend I posted this Friday morning at 8:00 AM).

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The field is set for the finals of the USBC Maters

Bowling, Las Vegas, Miller Park, PBA Tour, State Fair, Television, USBC Masters

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Friday morning USBC Masters update

Bowling, Las Vegas, PBA Tour, USBC Masters

Local pro Chad Kloss has been eliminated from the USBC Masters, being contested in Las Vegas, NV.  In his first match (all matches are three games), he beat Bill O'Neill 669 - 643, before losing his second match to Mike DeVaney 690 - 609.  With the Masters being a double-elimination format, Kloss moved to the Loser's Bracket where he lost to Steve Jaros 636 - 630.  Kloss earned $2,000 for his finish.

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USBC Masters update

Bowling, Las Vegas, Miller Park, PBA Tour, State Fair, US Cellular Arena, USBC Masters

Although I don't think that there was much of anything that AMF Bowlero or the bowling leaders of the area could have done, I still feel gypped that one of bowling's most prestigious tournaments - the USBC Maters - was pulled from Milwaukee after four years.  For this reason, it seems a little hollow to be following the action as it happens in Las Vegas, while trying to convince myself it is as important as it had recently been to me.

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Sometimes it is hard to title a blog entry

Bowling, Other blogs

I just found out that a good friend of mine passed last week.  Sadly, I was unaware until Friday evening.

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America has been cool for the last 8 years

2008 Presidential Race, Barack Obama, Blogger's Clip Show, Bowling, HBO, Las Vegas, Milwaukee Wave, NFL, Patriotism, Restaurants, Television, Vacation, Xtreme Soccer League

(Subtitled:  How to begin the first Lightning Round in 2009)

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A cobbled together semi-rant

Bowling, Fantasy Football, Injuries, Las Vegas, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Wave, My-Sugar-Na, Religion, Television, US Cellular Arena, Vacation, West Allis, Xtreme Soccer League

1)  When you are driving on the freeway in the snow and the rest of the traffic is going 45 MPH, then YOU should go 45 MPH or else get off the freeway.  If you are afraid to maintain freeway speeds in the snow, park the car in the garage and take the bus.  Along those lines, JS Online had a poll question that asked what annoys people most after a snowfall, fast drivers or slow drivers.  It was a dumb question, it should have asked "which drivers are more dangerous in the snow, fast drivers or slow drivers?"  Slow drivers are far more dangerous because everyone is trying to go around them causing cars to slide while switching lanes, and causing the pokey drivers to panic and drive even slower.  I was behind a car with an easy to memorize vanity plate.  I won't call out her car here, but if I ever get stuck behind her and find that she is soley causing a traffic disaster on I-894 southbound between the Zoo and the Hale again, I will identify her.

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PBA Finals - The Ken Simard Story

Bowling, PBA Tour, Television

(All photos courtesy of www.anokijig.com

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PBA Update - The Steve Jaros Story

Bowling, My-Sugar-Na, PBA Tour

This was going to be titled "Live by the Position Round, Die by the Position Round:  The Steve Jaros Story".  But without mentioning the PBA in the title, nobody would know who Steve Jaros is.  But if you are reading this, you must be interested in the PBA; if not, the Hit-O-Meter has already counted your visit (and I thank you).  Now that you're here, set a spell and read a great story.

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Match play for the Pro Bowlers today

Bowling, PBA Tour

I am about to head to Vernon Hills to watch the match play round begin (11:00 AM CST) but I wanted to give a quick update on yesterday's results.

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PBA CLR Carmen Salvino Scorpion Championship

Bowling, PBA Tour

Doesn't roll off the tongue quite like the Midas Open, does it?

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This week's Professional Bowlers Association stop in Vernon Hills, IL

Bowling, PBA Tour

Since the PBA schedule does not include a stop in Milwaukee this year, the next best thing is the closest stop, this being in Vernon Hills, IL this week. 

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Another Professional Bowlers Association season is upon us

Bowling, PBA Tour, Television, USBC Masters, YouTube

I was going to bore everybody with a preview of this 50th anniversary PBA season.  There are significant format changes, a local player (Chad Kloss) back on tour as an exempt player for a second year, and Milwaukee losing not only is tour stop, but the stop was a "Major" tournament to boot.  As a matter of fact, I wrote numerous update pieces during the USBC Masters qualifying at this point last season.

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The Denny's PBA tour is bypassing Milwaukee

Bowling, Las Vegas, Miller Park, PBA Tour, Reno, US Cellular Arena, USBC Masters

For the past four seasons, the USBC Masters qualifying has been held at AMF Bowlero in Wauwatosa (with the finals held twice at Miller Park, and once each at the US Cellular Arena and the State Fair Expo Center).  In January it was announced that the Masters was leaving Milwaukee, and would instead be held in Las Vegas.  Although it was a blow to lose the Masters tournament, at least the Masters was going to become part of the USBC national tournament is that will be held in Las Vegas in 2009.  Unknown is whether the Masters will stay in Las Vegas, or if it will continue to follow the USBC nationals (which are in Reno in 2010, Orlando in 2011, Baton Rouge in 2012, Reno in 2013 and Orlando in 2014).

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From WestAllisNOW's unofficial travel reporter: Albuquerque, NM

Bowling, Craps, Gambling, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, Restaurants, Vacation

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Is it a dry heat, or is it monsoon season?

Bowling, Vacation

Not even the Albuquerque Journal can answer that question.

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Lightning round

Bowling, Free market, James family, Milwaukee Brewers, My-Sugar-Na, Nostalga, Other blogs, Restaurants, Riviera Lanes, Vacation, YouTube

Belated Happy birthday Sis, two years younger than me, but somehow she is quite old, while I am quite distinguished... Can someone explain that with the prices of corn and wheat, fuel, steel and copper - as well as a down housing market and scads of homeowners nearing foreclosure - how we aren't headed for a massive recession?... The Michael Buble concert on Tuesday night was way cool... My-Sugar-Na really liked Buble's opening act, Naturally 7, an a capella soul group... Since my January surgery I have been cold a lot... My elbow isn't at 100%, yet (gettin' a little worried), and thanks for asking... Derrick saved the day Wednesday... All four of my kids are well past middle age if they don't get their schtick together... My home computer won't let me blog.  Mark?... Speaking of New York City, I am flying into LaGuardia and staying in Central Islip on Long Island and just learned that Long Island may as well be on a different planet than Manhattan... No, My-Sugar-Na won't let me eat my way through New York; "The Port Authority Bus Terminal is just ONE of the sights I came to see"... I am more excited at going to Albuquerque in July... XM Radio doesn't play enough Metallica, but they are too giddy about U2 and Lenny Kravitz... If NASCAR didn't have sponsorships, left turns or sheep, it would be a park and ride... This is underrated... So is this... Guess what, Time Warner's new Navigator software stinks... Eight more months until Christmas...  The office biddies are fretting about the IBM Selectric that isn't working right, apparently it is 1978 in that end of the office...  In February, I had a trivia question and nobody even hazarded tried to guess the answer of Henry Aaron and Warren Spahn... I couldn't have said it better myself... I broke the driver's seat in my car, I now have a rocking chair... Check the playlist, then get yourself Paul Anka's "Rock Swings" CD... I'd like our dogs better if they didn't bark... The last night of bowling league was last night, I haven't bowled competitively since November and I finally get paid.... Ciao.

Get up, get up and get out of here... GONE!

Bowling, Naughty businesses, Taxes

The United States Bowling Congress made official today what I had predicted weeks ago... they are moving to the Dallas-area by the end of 2008.

  • 230 jobs?  Gone.
  • The income taxes and potential spending of those 230 jobs?  Gone.
  • Prestige as the Bowling Capital?  Gone.
  • The Milwaukee 7's credibility?  Gone

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Did you see me in West Allis NOW?

Barack Obama, Blogger's Clip Show, Bowling, Catholic church, James family, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, My-Sugar-Na, Other blogs, PBA Tour, Television, They Came to Bowl, USBC Masters, West Allis

I've been told that my grill/FD story made the paper this morning - I'll have to buy a paper now...  Unfortunately, my buddy trumped me... It'll be BO vs. Mc in November, I'm sure I'll pull it together and vote for the RIGHT guy...  It's cold outside...  The lunar eclipse was cool...  Watched the remake of Hairspray; very interesting...  Jesse Martin is leaving Law & Order...  Taking my first trip to New York City in May...  Family didn't die of carbon monoxide poisoning overnight...  I love my job...  I should lose weight...  I miss bowling...  I'm worried about the ice dams on my roof all winter...  American Idol is dopey...  I could spend hours looking at this website...  Trying to get over the fact that Milwaukee lost the USBC Masters...  The cost of every metal I purchase for work is skyrocketing right now...  My birthday is on Holy Saturday this year, and (Sponsor's Name Here)'s Official Daughter, Gooey, celebrates her birthday on Easter Sunday... My car needs a good cleaning on the inside...  Planning on going to Wrigley Field on April 2 or 3 to watch the Brewers/Cubs game...  Our office is buying pizza for lunch tomorrow, I get to pick the sausage off...  I felt it was a good set of comments on my Obama post, aren't you glad West Allis can talk to each other without it breaking down into this or this?

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The heartbreak of Golfer's Elbow

Bluemound Bowl, Bowling, Craps, Injuries, My-Sugar-Na, Reno

Last week Friday (January 11th), I had surgery on my right elbow.  The first time I had a twinge in my elbow was in Januray 2005.  At that time, I had bowled three nights a week for a few years, but I was only bowling one night a week for the beginning of that seaon.  I was asked to bowl in a new league for the second half of that season, and on the very first night on this new team I felt a twinge in my elbow.  Not that it really hurt, because that same week I bowled a career-high 847 series at Bluemound Bowl (which included two 300 games).

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Various tidbits that aren't long enough to merit their own entry

Bowling, Las Vegas, My-Sugar-Na, Nutjobs, Other blogs, PBA Tour, Religion, Restaurants, Riviera Lanes, Star-Spangled Banner, Taxes, Vier Pogo Squad 51, West Allis

1.  My-Sugar-Na and I stopped by Tommasino Italia' for dinner last night.  The restaurant on 74th & Greenfield (formerly the beloved Doyle's Milwaukee Inn) is owned by Thomas Doyle.  During dinner (fantastic pizza, by the way, with fresh giardinara and parmesan on the side), I spoke with Mr. Doyle.  He stated two very interesting and believable things. 

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Who IS Michael James?

Bowling, Brewers players, Fantasy Football, Gambling, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Wave, MISL, NFL, Nostalga, Other blogs, PBA Tour, Reno, Television, Uphill (both ways)

Maybe a check into some of the lists (lower right of this page, but conveniently linked in this post) would give us an idea...

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OK, one more bowling post. But this one is good. I promise


Who says that I don't have a bleeding heart once in a while?  (I just don't want my politicians to have one.)

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Final wrap-up of the 2007 USBC Masters

Bluemound Bowl, Bowling, Miller Park, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, PBA Tour, USBC Masters

Life got in the way of my posting this sooner, but I was at Miller Park for the finals.  By now, you must know that Sean Rash threw a 269 game (beating Steve Jaros' 245 game) to win the $100,000.  But here are some of my comments about the finals, and about the ESPN telecast...

  • A very disappointing turnout of 2,712 attended the finals.  While that is higher than the attendance at the previous two Masters finals (in 2005 at the US Cellular Arena and in 2006 at the State Fair Expo Center), it is much lower than the 4,303 that attended at Miller Park in 2004, and about one-third of the record 7,212 for a tournament in Detroit.  The USBC rented out Miller Park in an effort to break the record, and such a poor attendance will likely cause the entire Masters tournament to be moved to a different city.  If the tournament is moved out of Milwaukee, it would be the third time that Milwaukee would lose a pro tour stop.  It is a good thing that the pros bowl twice this season in the Chicago area.
  • As for the bowling itself, the scores were too high for the finals of a major event.  The USBC, the PBA and ESPN all get caught between a rock and a hard place.  If scores are too low, then the common bowler will say "those guys aren't that good... even I can shoot 180".  If the scores are too high, then the higher-average player can say "it's too bad that shotmaking wasn't at a premium".  On Sunday, Steve Jaros bowled an 814 series (a 271 average) and LOST.  I can get into lots and lots of technical reasons as to why the scores were too high, but this isn't the forum (this is).  Suffice to say that for a $100K prize and bowling in a major tournament should offer a challange, and that challenge wasn't there.
  • The professional bowlers are the greatest bowlers in the world.  Don't ever forget that.  I can brag about my 225 average, or my league record 847 series in the Bluemound Bowl Bob Kodel Major League, etc., etc., but in watching the pros this week, I felt very insignificant.  In the finals on Sunday, Jaros changed balls in the middle of an 814 series!  To a higher-average player, that is unheard of.  If I shoot 279 then 290 and I lose my carry, the last thing in my mind is that I need a different ball.  But Jaros made the change and struck on every ball (until he was mathematically eliminated).
  • I did have a hard time coughing up the $8 for parking.  I understand that the USBC and PBA are just renting the facility, and that the Masters is a major tournament, but I felt that I was gouged by Miller Park and the county.
  • Soon after I got home from the finals (and got back from Walgreens with a second lot of trick-or-treat candy) I watched ESPN's broadcast.  New to the announcing booth is Rob Stone, whom I've enjoyed while watching MLS games on ESPN.  He seemed to do an OK job for his first live event.  However, he did play upon the "I'm new to this and learning" angle.  Hopefully that will ease up and he will do a decent job.
  • I was disappointed in some of ESPN's camera angles.  I understand that it wasn't ESPN's job to fill Miller Park, but just about every camera angle that was not an intentional crowd shot showed about 10,000 empty seats.  The crowd was basically in three sections on both the first and second levels.  But their establishing shot was from a stationary camera in the press box behind home plate.  From that angle, there seemed like there were no fans at all.  Same with when they showed a snippet from the sausage race.  The hand-held camera caught the sausages from home plate past first base to the finish... all shot with empty seats in the background.
  • And about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's disasterous coverage... this could be (and probably should be) a post unto itself.  Early last week, I said that we'd be lucky to get puff pieces on the three previous champions (we didn't).  We barely got any real tournament info... it was like I was reading the TV Guide review of any new show.  Cursory data, a few generic quotes, and no photos.  Overall, a horrid job.  It was like Gary D'Amato was given a press pass and felt compelled to write something (while not worrying about exactly what he was writing about).  I am realistic.  I didn't expect six days of large-type, above the fold headlines.  But good grief, would a photo or two each day somewhere in the paper have been too much to ask?  Bowling has four major tournaments, and this one paid the second most and was held here!  Say what you want about the bowling vs. golf, but this tournament is the equivalent to golf's Masters.  Coverage was completely unbecoming the status that the bowling community reveres the Masters.  I would have just as soon the MJS wrote a story that said "we feel bowling is dying and isn't worth our time, effort, or real estate in the paper.  If there is a next year for the Masters in Milwaukee, I will ask MyCommunityNOW.com editor Mark Maley to secure a press pass for me, and I (a non-journalist) will volunteer to write three stories per day:  One will be a technical review of the parts of the lane and the equipment that was successful, one will be geared for the non-bowler, and one will be geared towards other stuff going on... like size of the crowd, or matches between players of interest.  Maley can put them on WauwatosaNOW (because AMF Bowlero is in Wauwatosa) for all I care.  But the only newspaper in town really shouldn't have mailed it in this past week.

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USBC Masters Finals field is set; BowlFest at Miller Park tonight

Bowling, Miller Park, PBA Tour, They Came to Bowl, USBC Masters

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32 bowlers remain in the hunt for the Masters $100,000 first place prize

Bowling, PBA Tour, USBC Masters

Half of the 64 bowlers that started match play at 4:30 were dismissed by 9:30 PM.

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The Masters field is now down to 64 for match play

Bowling, Miller Park, PBA Tour, USBC Masters

488 bowlers have now become 64, and match play begins at 4:30 CDT. 

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Wrap-up of Wednesday's Masters qualifying

Bluemound Bowl, Bowling, Miller Park, My-Sugar-Na, PBA Tour, They Came to Bowl, USBC Masters

I apologize for not posting an update after the second block on Wednesday.  Our internet server at work went down.  I then had dinner plans, and when I got home I was informed by My-Sugar-Na that we were part of Time Warner's service outage.  Not only was there no internet, but there was this little matter of the World Series going on.  Service hadn't been restored at home before I went to bed, but it is all better now at work, so let's see if I can sneak in a full post (and still keep my job).

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Wrap-up of Tuesday's Masters qualifying

Bluemound Bowl, Bowling, Miller Park, PBA Tour, They Came to Bowl, USBC Masters

First, the list of notable names in the top 122 (which will be the cut line after today's five-game blocks)...

  • 1st - Derek Eoff from Greenfield.  250.4 average
  • 3rd - Tommy Jones (PBA superstar that bowled in the 2006 finals at the State Fair Expo Center).  241.6 average
  • 16th - Lennie Boresch, Jr. from Kenosha.  230.4 average
  • 20th - Tim Janz from Beaver Dam.  225.8 average
  • 21st - Ralph Hibbard, Jr. from Mukwonago.  225.6 average
  • 22nd - Ben Hoefs from West Bend (who recently drilled a new ball for me).  225.4 average
  • 26th - Chad Kloss from Greenfield (and league teammate).  224.6 average
  • 32nd - Matt Stock from Omro.  222 average
  • 38th - Jack Jurek (PBA player that bowled in the 2006 finals at the State Fair Expo Center).  220.8 average
  • 41st - Ross Strand from Green Bay.  219.4 average
  • 45th - Joe Crocco from Racine.  218.8 average
  • 48th - Nick Plouff from Tomahawk.  218.4 average
  • 49th - Tish Johnson (former PWBA superstar and highest female qualifier).   218 average
  • 50th - Danny Wiseman (Masters champion from the 2004 finals at Miller Park).  217.6 average
  • 81st - George Lambert IV (amateur that bowled in the 2006 finals at the State Fair Expo Center).  211.4 average
  • 102nd - Todd Droulliard from Milwaukee (a legend in my Friday night league at Bluemound Bowl).  208.8 average
  • 108th - Jace Peterson from Elkhorn.  207.8 average
  • 111th - Mike Neau from Kenosha.  207.6 average
  • 114th - Chad Mass from Brookfield.  207.4 average
  • 119th - Joe Alivo from Milwaukee.  206.8 average

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Tuesday PM update from the USBC Masters

Bowling, PBA Tour, USBC Masters

We've reached the quarter pole... half of the bowlers have bowled half of their games.  The lanes must have opened up after the first block, as many top scorers in the first block slid way down the list.  Notable names in the Top 100 include...

  • 1st place - Tom Baker (PBA veteran of over 20 years).  238.2 average
  • 5th place - Chris Warren has slid from 1st after the first block.  235 average
  • 8th place - Lennie Boresch, Jr. from Kenosha has slid from 2nd after the first block.  230.4 average
  • 11th place - Tim Janz from Beaver Dam has slid from 3rd after the first block.  225.8 average
  • 12th place - Ralph Hibbard, Jr. from Mukwonago (with whom I have known for 20 years).  225.6 average
  • 20th place - Jack Jurek (made the Finals last season at the State Fair Expo).  220.8 average
  • 23rd place - Ross Strand from Green Bay (who bowled for a couple of seasons at Bluemound Bowl).  219.4 average
  • 47th place - Del Ballard, Jr. (longtime PBA vet and husband of 51st place).  210.6 average
  • 51st place - Carolyn Dorin-Ballard (wife of 47th place).  209.8 average
  • 61st place - Mike Neau from Kenosha.  207.6 average
  • 91st place - Patrick Allen has slid from 38th place after the first block.  201.2 average
  • 92nd place - Jeff Taylor from Madison.  201 average
  • 95th place - Dave Traber (longtime PBA vet, formerly from Cedarburg).  200.2 average
  • 98th place - Nicholas Heilman from La Crosse.  199.8 average

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Tuesday AM update from the USBC Masters

Bowling, Miller Park, PBA Tour, USBC Masters, Vier Pogo Squad 51

Everybody makes a big deal about how the USBC Masters finals will be held at Miller Park on Sunday.  But only four bowlers will be there for the finals.  What happens to the rest of the bowlers?

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You've seen my face, now look at the back of my head

Bowling, Miller Park, PBA Tour, Riviera Lanes, USBC Masters

With the United States Bowling Congress Masters competition beginning on Tuesday at AMF Bowlero (culminating with the finals in the infield at Miller Park), the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story about Chad Kloss from the Milwaukee area.  Chad earned an exemption onto the Professional Bowlers Association tour this season, and the USBC Masters is the first stop of the Tour this season.

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I feel like Oprah!

Bluemound Bowl, Book review, Bowling, Fox 6, Riviera Lanes, They Came to Bowl, Uphill (both ways), USBC Masters

(Side note:  But I think I look better than she does!)

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