Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Also at A.J. Wright

Tupac kicks. I nearly bought them. I might still.

Million Dollar Shoes

Don't know if I blogged this, but Mariella bought me a pair of these for Christmas from A.J. Wright (the poor man's T.J. Maxx.) They're totally awesome. I get comments everytime I wear them - some are even compliments.

I was at A.J.Wright today and ironically they're now on clearance.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Shopping with the ladies

Mom needed a new dress for the wedding, so I suggested that we go to The Winner in Sharon, PA - "The world's largest off-price fashion store."

My family has been there before. I believe with were originally drawn there by Reyer's "The world's largest shoe store." Sharon is the land of Superlatives apparently.

It's only about an hour and 20 minutes away, so I figured it would be a good, short trip. Mom, Grandma and Mary joined me on this adventure. We got there easy enough. Mom was showing off her phones GPS capabilities.

Upon arrival, I kept with our tradition of taking a stupid picture of Mary in front of any monument we could find. Our conversation usually goes like this (spoken in our own patented, dopey, faux-enthusiastic tone):

MARK: Oh boy, Mary, do you want your picture in front of _____________?

MARY: Sure.

With that out of the way we got down to shopping. We saw this mannequin on the way in.

Unfortunately the photo doesn't truly depict the terrifying nature of the wig.

Inside, you are greeted by matching golden lion statues on either side of the door. Tasteful wasn't on The Winner designer's checklist. Directly in front of you is a beautiful vintage Jaguar convertible. I tried to convince Mary to get in for a picture but she was chicken. It was a bit peculiar because there was a Club (anti-theft device in the back seat.) I found that odd because (a) it wasn't being used and (b) why would you need one in a display vehicle inside of a women's fashion store? If you don't notice a ne'er-do-well hotwiring your car besides the rack of pantsuits, I'm guessing he's not going to be able to get it out the front door without you noticing.

The winner is 3 floors of dresses (and bizarre native American sculptures) There's a bank of 3 elevators. One of the elevators is staffed by an employee b/c as we later learned it could only be operated from the inside. I guess most men don't find the place as interesting as me which is why there's a Men's Lounge.

Notive the keg-r-ator, the popcorn machine and the rack of clubs for sale. I was intrigued enough to do an internet search at home that revealed that The Club is made by Winner International. So their business model revolves around off-price women's fashion and manual automotive security devices. The men's lounge also contained some guy reading a newspaper, a bench that looked as though it were a refurbished church pew, a space heater and a TV (I think it actually had knobs.) I didn't partake in any of the refreshments. I did find it odd that the men's lounge was on the first floor yet the men's restroom was on the 3rd floor.

On a side note: There are signs posted throughout the winner that cameras and picture taken are strictly prohibited, so the following images are highly illegal. Enjoy.

A number of the dresses made Mary and Mom thankful that Mariella doesn't enjoy big sequins.

If your wedding theme is Chipotle burrito or Hershey Kisses, I suggest you shop the Winner.

Mom and Grandma both found very nice dresses and we stopped to eat at Nico and Lou's Coney Island restaurant, located conveniently next-door to the Winner. We popped into Reyer's and learned that if their being the largest shoe store in the world doesn't apparently translate into volume discounts. They was some pricey kicks.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Amusing artist

Lilly McElroy does some pretty funny work. She has one project where she literally throws herself at men. The pictures are rather interesting.

I also enjoy her video work. There's one where she draws a square in chalk on the ground on some city street and guards the territory. Eventually a pedestrian begins to help her police the space. And some of the interactions she has with the public are really great. In another piece she hugs strangers on the street.

I think she might be related to my family because she has another video that's her and some other girl trading punches on a sofa. It's called "one for one" and seems like something Mary and I would do when we got bored.

Awesome hats found at Marc's

We didn't buy them.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Things that went wrong in Duluth

Our hosts tell us that we were staying in the newest hotel in Duluth. We later learned that they were wrong. There is in fact a newer hotel.

The first time I went to the front desk was because I couldn't figure out how to turn on the bathroom lights. There was a switch directly outside of the bathroom that didn't do anything. I later learned that you have to turn on the two switches by the room's door in order to activate the electricity for the rest of the room. There was no sign explaining this procedure. That's fine but why would you put the light switch for the bathroom outside of the bathroom? Had that been the case when we were vacationing as a family I can only imagine how many times we would've turned the lights on and off to annoy the person using "the facilities."

The second time I contacted the front desk was b/c my message light was on. The Sheraton has this tremendously annoying voicemail system that you need to set up before retrieving your messages. That took about 5 minutes to get through and then I pressed 1 to listen to my messages as I was directed. And the recording said "To leave a message press 1..." So I called the receptionist. No one really knew where I was staying so I wasn't expecting any messages. She said, "That's a new one. I've never heard of that happening." And that was as helpful as she could be. So for the rest of the weekend my message light flashed.

The Sheraton also has this lovely soap in the bathroom. It's delightful. It smells like mangoes or kiwis or something. And apparently it's packaged to survive nuclear attacks, because it took me about 5 minutes of pulling and gnawing to get the damn thing open. I finally did and was whisked away to a steamy lavender (or maybe it was sandalwood) holiday. One of the other judges admitted that he too had to open it with his teeth because he hadn't packed his tin snips.

The best part was that it's a fairly sizable bar of soap and it would take me several weeks to use the whole thing but I returned to my room to find an entirely new bar in its ironclad package.

The people in Duluth were lovely enough although we didn't really do much except judge and eat and look at a lift bridge from several angles. In fact, they gave each of the judges a gift basket of Duluth treats. One of the gifts was a jar of spaghetti sauce from a restaurant called Grandma's. Not thinking I packed it into my carry-on (I had no choice as I didn't want to check baggage for a four-airport adventure.)

Just a note to any would-be terrorists: don't even think about trying to get through security at Duluth International Airport. They were really excited to see my out of state ID. They even pulled out a manual to make sure my Ohio license was authentic right down to the hologram placement. They also ensured there would be no weapons of pasta destruction by making me throw away my gift of sauce. My computer bag got tagged for an additional search. I love the question "is there anything sharp in here that will cut me?" Do you mean besides the rabid badger I keep with my laptop? They found a small sample sized aerosol can of axe deodorant that I had managed to unknowingly smuggle through 3 airports on the way into town, but you can be damn sure it wasn't coming home with me. To add to this joy consider all of this was going down at 5am and I didn't sleep much because I kept waking up to check the clock to ensure I wouldn't be stranded in Duluth.

The Minneapolis Airport was even better because I had to repeat my two-tram-ride-terminal-hoping adventure and once again go through security. I got tagged again for a bag search but this time it was my clothes bag that contained my non-threatening gifts. The guy searching my bag, judging by his accent was fresh to America. I didn't understand a lot of what he said. He did ask me if there was liquid in my bag. I told him no and he said there was. I said, "No, there's not."

He said, "They said there is."

"I packed it myself and there's no liquid."

My bag was neatly packed but not for long. He kept pulling items out. He held up the bag of bread mix that my hosts have given me and asked what it was.

"Bread mix." He didn't understand. "It's flour, to make bread," I explained.

He kept feeling the bottom of the bag for dampness but found only linguine (another gift.) He made a half-hearted attempt to put it back together and then left it for me to figure out. My gate number totally summed up my feelings for the whole air travel situation.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The view from my Duluth hotel room.

That's Lake Superior and the bridge that serves as Duluth's local landmark. You might notice steam coming off the water. With the wind chill it got 41 below 0. Brrrr.

Terror Alert: Orange. Annoyance Alert: Red

So, I'm in duluth, MN to judge their ADDY show. I booked my flight a while ago on midwest airlines. I was originally scheduled to go from cleveland to milwaukee to duluth but the airline decided to stop flying to duluth. so my trip went from cleveland to milwaukee to minnesota to duluth. that's 4 airports in one day. my last leg had me switch carriers and terminals in minnesota. so I had to go through security twice. which is the pinnacle of annoying in the winter. I needed 5 of those bins for all my stuff. it's only one degree in duluth so I had a number of layers.
and could airport security be more of a waste of time? does anyone feel safer? three ounces of hair gel is ok but four ounces and I'm taking down a plane. it's insane.

hotel room learnings

aquamarine is the worst movie ever. seriously.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What is wrong with people?

Alright, so a teacher from my high school (the same school that my father spent 40 years working tirelessly at) has been arrested on charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, illegal use of minor in nudity oriented material, sexual battery and pandering obscenity with minors. Fantastic. He wasn't teaching there when I went to school there.

This has me going through a whole range of emotions, mostly anger though. The alleged actions of this teacher have put a black mark on the entire school community. A school that myself and my five sisters graduated from. A CATHOLIC school. A school that my dad dedicated his life to. A school where many of the teachers have been at for decades. The story was on every news channel in Cleveland and I assume will continue to be thanks to the salacious content.

Details of the accusations haven't been released yet but how the hell can a teacher get into that situation and think nothing will happen? Then again the man hasn't been proven guilty yet. But event has already damaged the school's image. There had to be something that wasn't kosher to even warrant these charges.

The Diocese of Cleveland might want to reconsider their media plan. Notice the ad that popped up at the bottom of the TV stations website containing the article about the incident:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Punching Terrorists in the Face

I bought these boxing gloves at Marc's for $4.99. If you're wondering what the hell I'm going to do with them, you're fairly normal. I got them because our ADDY awards theme is boxing this year. And I'm debating getting the Apollo Creed trunks to match for when I make my opening remarks. Pretty patriotic, right? Wrong!

Here's the fairly amusing warning label. Note that they can't withstand the power of adults and the hotmail address of the state-side distributor. Also of note is the fact that they're made in I.R.O.P. aka the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I've probably just gone on some FBI watchlist as a result of my closeout find.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The what the hell were they thinking/bad taste award goes to

Some Italian casket maker for their annual girly calendar. Enjoy this year's edition here. From here you can peruse past years and find gems like my personal favorite Miss September 2005:

What the hell is this?!

From the looks of the site, they are an actual company that makes some fine looking caskets and some questionable calendars.

Go LeCavs!

The Cavs seem to be playing much better of late - then again, they are playing the NBA cellar dwellers. But Mariella, myself, Vince, Carli, Kev, Jill, Mary and Joan saw them beat the Hawks last week.

My favorite part was when they had an on-court promotion and the prizes awarded were an oil-change and an 84-month battery. Jill pointed out that they could've just said 7 years but that's marketing for you. I was really hoping to win some wiper blades myself.

Family Portrait Fun

While everyone was in town for the holidays, we went to have our family portrait taken. It started out pretty civil and quickly went south.

We learned that if Sammy really likes his top button to be buttoned. He'll hold that collar closed if he has to.

Zeke is kind of scared of our entire family (me in particular) and kept wandering off or screaming if we wouldn't let him.

Henry lost his patience with the whole ordeal.

It got pretty funny when the photographer went all art school on us and wanted a shot of the family lounging in front of a white background.

This might actually be the best shot of Zeke from the whole shoot and it was sheer luck. Mary was throwing him in the air and this is him descending.

$9.99 Shoe Palace

If we lose weight at our Monday weigh-ins, Mariella and I "cheat" by rewarding ourselves with Chipotle. And I typically "punish" Mariella by making her go to the Parmatown Marc's. On the walk to Marc's you'll pass the poorly named "$9.99 Shoe Palace."

Weight Loss Update

Over Christmas, I put on 3.4 pounds. Which when I stop and think about it is not super bad. I actually weighed the same thing on Monday this week, which kind of shocked me. I was pretty sure I had put on weight thanks to eating at Michael Symon's Lolita's on NYE, at Mariella's parents on New Year's Day and various and sundry other locations.

It's really hard to count points when I'm not at work. So my total weight loss is 16.4 lbs. Which is good but I was a mere .2 lbs away from the 20 lb. mark. So I've got some making up to do.

No time for bloggin'

Holidays, blah, blah, blah. It's been busy. So get ready for a post bonanza. Hopefully it's enough to pacify Jill when she's goofing off at work.

Merry Christmas from the Tribe

A few days before Christmas, I had an AAF event at the Terrace Club inside Jacob's Field. Someone had put a small tree up at 2nd base.

It was the first time I've been inside the Club. It would be awesome to watch a game from in there.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Chloe and her handbag twin

This is Chloe posing with the dog-shaped purse I got Mariella for Xmas.