Sunday, February 26, 2017

Miami Beach Dreaming for Our 2017 Vacation

It started off as a Christmas Vacation to Tampa or to Mexico.  But life got in the way and we had to postpone to February vacation.  And the destination changed too.  Just a couple of hours south and east to Miami Beach.  Let's get started judging the days and nights of our 2017 vacation!

Saturday.  Our Allegiant flight from Portsmouth was uneventful.  And when I say uneventful, I meant long and uncomfortable.  The airport was small - but we didn't have to pay for parking - and there was really nowhere to go for eats or drinks, nor were there any places to sit.  That affected Mom more than me since she could not drink her fear away and her bad back was not cooperating with the floor.  Not to be outdone, the sight of all of the military personnel returning home was unnerving to me.  After a three hour flight of trying to read/sleep, we finally arrived in Fort Lauderdale.  Even though it was midnight, we did like our hotel in Oakland Park.  This night was a success.

Welcome to Miami...I think it says.
Sunday.  We drove our rent a car from Fort Lauderdale to Miami Beach to see our hotel.  It was a beautiful spot, the Fontainebleau on the mid beach.  Situated on Collins Avenue and 45th Street, the hotel was instrumental to many movies, TV shows and music videos.  Scarface, Frank Sinatra, Miami Vice, the Bodyguard and the Miami Sound Machine all filmed here.  The hotel elevators reminded us every time we took one to our room.  Now the Fontainebleau is our home away from home.  But first things first, we check in and immediately take our rental car and go see the University of Miami play a baseball game.  While this game is subject to another journal entry, suffice it to say, it was a good time seeing what life might be like for C or G if they go here.  We return for the first of our dinners at Pizza and Burger, quite frankly the only restaurant that we could afford.  This night was a success. 

Monday.  This was the first day where we were able to enjoy the pool and the beach.  I started the day walking along the boardwalk toward South Beach while Mom and the kids hung out at the pool; we decided that we would go to the Keys for dinner.  It was a relaxing day, although it seemed that G was relaxing a little too much.  To our chagrin, his temperature was high too.  The flu?  We weren't sure, but we decided that the Keys were a little too far, so we would drive to a restaurant nearby.  Or would we?  We walk over to the valet and after a 15 minute wait, we start getting uncomfortable.  I see our car, but everyone seems to be buzzing around.  "Sorry, we can't find your keys.  Do you need a ride somewhere while we continue to look?"  Jesus, really?  C and DLG are excited to drive around in the hotel's house car (remember, G is in bed sleeping his flu away), but I just worry about the fantastic prices were going to have to pay to Hertz.  We get back from dinner and the keys still were not found.  Jesus, really?  This night was not a success.

Tuesday.  DLG and I go for a walk to get breakfast and carpet cleaner (unfortunate Gatorade accident from the night before) and we come back to find out that the hotel still has not found our car keys.  And the elevation begins.  First to the Valet manager, then to the front desk, then to an account manager.  Finally, one of the staff gives us the COO's email address.  Email written!  Granted we were sitting by the pool sipping on cocktails while we were fighting the hotel, but still.  They lost our car keys.  And even though we were not going very far since G could not really get out of bed, it was still painful to be stuck in paradise.   Finally, during our second dinner at Pizza and Burger, the Hotel Manager comes to meet us and gives us the moon and the stars.  I guess their Yelp and TripAdvisor ranking would suffer?  This night was a success.

Sunset after the 5 inches of rain
Wednesday.  Mom and I go for a 5 mile walk down to the Lincoln Street shops to get Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts - there are only 2 Dunkin Donuts on all of Miami Beach for God's sake - sadly, we get back in time for the heavens to open up on us.  Monsoon rain and 40 mile an hour winds.  (Shaking my head).  We go to a place farther north to eat lunch and watch the kids play pool.  We then let the hotel drive us around to get some souvenirs and drugs.  By this point, G just has a cough, but can get out of bed.  We bide our time at the beach when the sun finally comes out toward sunset and go to Pizza and Burger one more time.  But this time, Mom and I just had a drink and watched the kids eat.  We were going out on the town.  To Havana 1957 for some Cuban Food.  Two Uber rides, 4 sangrias and two meat and rice meals later, we can say that we had our Cuban food.  This night was a success.

Thursday.  Long flight home.Zzzzz.

So of our 5 nights in Miami, we had 4 successful nights and 1 unsuccessful night.  Not too shabby considering we lost our car, had a sick child and lost an entire day to the weather.  And the hotel told us to come back again and they would take care of us.  Anyone want to go back?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Why is Kevin Durant a Cupcake?

Cupcakes are a lovely treat.  I like chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting myself.  I also know that these soft, delicious treats are also used to denigrate soft athletes.  Think:  That running back is s such a cupcake going down without getting tackled!

That brings us to Kevin Durant.  New flash, Durant left Oklahoma City last year to join the Juggernaut Golden State Warriors, presumably to try to win an NBA championship.  Newsflash, Russell Westbrook was really upset about it.  Now who knows how much is overblown media frenzy, and how much is legitimate.  All we know is that Durant's homecoming was coming up.  Even the boys wanted to watch the game.  I wanted to after hearing that Durant hired extra security detail for the game.

How do Cupcakes work into this narrative?  Well, when Durant left for Golden State, Westbrook posted a picture of a bunch of cupcakes, in a thinly veiled shot at Durant's "softness."  The cupcake nickname has floated around Oklahoma City for years as a way to call out teammates who were acting like crybabies.  The cupcakeKD moniker took off from there.  Honestly, I don't know how the cupcake picture took off, but here we are. 

As game time approached, cupcakes were becoming THE thing.  Cupcake T-Shirts were handed out with large cupcakes on them.  Guys dressed up like cupcakes started popping up.  Guys painted their chests into cupcake colors.  T-shirts were being made and sold.  The home crowd started chanting "Cupcake, cupcake"  Particularly when Durant and Westbrook started to trash talk each other were the chants alarmingly loud.

It wasn't much of a game though.  Golden State took the lead in the middle of the first quarter on their way to a 130-114 victory.  And oh yeah, Durant scored 34 points to overshadow a 47 point,  rebound effort from Westbrook.

Take that cupcake-hater.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Patriots Coming Out Party

It was 28-3 with 2:05 to go in the Third Quarter.  Super Bowl LI seemed like it was over.  I was figuring out if I wanted to stay up to watch the new episode of 24; I was not figuring out if this game was going to get interesting at any point.  I already knew the answer.  The kids went to bed and Mom started to get comfortable on the couch.  I was wondering if I should avoid talk radio, and the sports blogs that I read in the mornings and the TV pundits who troll fans like me to no end.  Even diehard Pats fan friends of mine were joking that the Falcons would cover the over themselves.

And then The Comeback started. 

James White Had a Day
James White (the real Super Bowl MVP) caught a 5 yard pass from Brady halfway through the third quarter to make the score 28-9.  My relief that the Patriots finally got a touchdown was tempered by Stephen Gostkowski's doink off of the right upright on the extra point.  I said to no one in particular that that might be the difference in the game.  Yeah - I chuckled too at the absurdity of that thought.

After holding the Falcons to a 3 and out to end the Quarter, the Patriots were down by 19 points to start the 4th Quarter.  Another drive into the red zone stalled after a couple of Brady sacks in the red zone.  Gostkowski FG made the score 28-12.

Shortly after the FG was converted, the Falcons' coaching staff began hatching one of the largest turkeys in NFL play off history.  On a 3 and 1, when Devonta Freeman was seemingly running at will, Ryan dropped back to pass.  Freeman, trying to take on a edge rusher (Dont'a Hightower) whiffed and the strip sack was achieved.  Patriots had the ball on the Falcons 25!  C screaming from his bedroom made me think that he was watching the game.  I myself was wondering if Ryan's arm was moving forward.  Brady proceeds to throw a couple of short passes to White and Amendola, culminating in a 6 yard slant to Amendola to make it 28-18.  A direct snap to James White was converted and now we had a game.  28-20.

Atlanta's coaching staff, continuing to hatch up a really terrible game plan decided to pass after converting a Julius Jones 28 yard tippy-toe to New England's 23 yard line.  Three rushes and the game would be over.  Somewhere Marshawn Lynch is nodding his head in agreement.  A sack and an Atlanta holding call - similar to the previous drive - took them out of FG range.

Similar to the start of the Second Half, I knew this game was over.  Just not in the way I thought.  Edelman's miraculous catch, Amendola's finger tip catch and James White's run up the middle highlighted the final TD in regulation.  Danny Amendola's 2 point conversion tied the game.  I thought that Gostkowski's missed extra point would be the difference.  I was wrong about that too.  Shaking my head, I was confident that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl.

And after winning the coin toss, the Patriots went 75 yards in 9 plays.  James White, just like Dion Lewis before him scored his third TD to win the game.  LaGarrette Blount could be seen in the picture running toward White to tackle him in the end zone, when no one on the Falcons could do it.  Malcolm Mitchell started running in the opposite direction to God knows where.  Tom Brady still had the look of someone who thought the call might be over turned.  Come on Tom!  Patriots 34-28

Now bring on Roger.