Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Hello, Cleveland!"*

Way back in September, my best friend (wave hi Christine) called me up and said, "If I buy tickets to see Duran Duran four days after your birthday, will you come visit me?" Um, hellz yeah, sign me up! [n.b. We saw them play twice in 1988/89 in Atlanta and I haven't seen them since.]

I flew out to Cleveland on Wednesday afternoon before the show that evening. It was my first time flying Southwest, which is a little interesting. It was my first time at BWI airport, too. I'm not a fan - it's very difficult to find a bathroom there. The flight itself was short and easy, even though we were delayed nearly an hour taking off. Not really a fan of Cleveland's airport either; I swear there is not an arrivals/departures board anywhere in the airport.

For dinner before the show, we went to Bricco, which is directly across the street from the theatre. We had an appetizer of goat cheese in spicy marinara with fried pita and the bartender recommend a great wheat beer (Weihenstephaner) to me. I had the risotto for my entree and my friend had the parmesan crusted tilapia. All of it was great. Then we headed across the street.

The band was playing at Playhouse Square, in the State Theatre. Playhouse Square is the largest performing arts complex outside of New York City, with eight stages, 1000+ performances a year and over 1,000,000 visitors. The State Theater was built in the 1920s as a movie house and is the largest of the theatres at Playhouse Square. We got to our seats just in time to catch the end of the opening act, a band I have never heard of and that wasn't really my style. Duran Duran, on the other hand, is just my style and they sounded exactly the same as they did in the 80s. They played a great mix of their older hits and newer songs.

The next day, we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. after lunch at Great Lakes Brewing Company. There are a lot of microbreweries in Cleveland and I think I had more beer while I was there than have all year (I tried the Dortmunder Gold, to go with my bratwurst and pierogis. We were in the museum for about four hours and seriously could have spent another two hours. They have thousands and thousand of pieces of memorabilia from the roots of rock and roll in bluegrass, gospel, jazz and blues all the way through a stage costume worn by Lady Gaga last year. You could spend a hour or more just watching the multimedia production that tells about all of the inductees.

For dinner that night, we went to Lolita, which is a Michael Symon (of Iron Chef fame) restaurant. For me, the highlight of the meal was the Big Board, a selection of house cured meats. Holy cow, was it good. There was prosciutto, sopressata, a lamb pate, a chicken liver mousse, a shredded duck packed under duck fat and a cured sirloin. I also had a good beer here, called White Rascal, from Avery Brewing.

Even though it was gray and raining horizontally, I could tell that Cleveland is really a pretty cool place to live. Friday night, there was a great happy hour party at my friends' house, with homemade pumpkin beer. We will have to go back in the summer for baseball and to see the art museum, natural history museum, zoo and the Great Lakes Science Center as well as all the parks that we missed on this trip.

* Bonus if you know where I got the title for this post.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Crossing One Off the List

Today I did something awesome. I paid off the last of my credit cards and scratched that off of my 101 Goals list. Now, I have two that I can use for emergencies and one that I use and pay off every month. It feels great!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Adventures in Commuting

Left Work - 5:30 p.m.
Got Home - 8:15 p.m.
Total Commute - 2 hours, 45 minutes
Normal Commute - about 1 hour

It's been awhile since I've written a blog about interesting things that happen on my commute. Today's was a doozy. Shortly before 5:00 tonight, someone fell or jumped onto the tracks at the Clarendon Metro station and was struck by a train. [Update - Metro authorities are reporting that the person intentionally jumped in front of the train. He was rescued from the track and taken to the hospital.] As you would expect, this created havoc on the subway system. Trains were not running between Rosslyn and Ballston - this is the way I go home.

Trains were running to Rosslyn where Metro was shuttling riders to Ballston by bus. I got on an Orange Line train to Rosslyn, only we didn't stop at Rosslyn because the station was so crowded that they were not letting anyone else off. Instead we were diverted to the Blue Line to Arlington Cemetery (6:17 p.m.).

I catch a train back to Rosslyn and get off there and we are informed that due to overcrowding, Rosslyn Station is now closed. Furthermore, the escalators are all out, which looks like this, so I walked up the longest escalator in the metro system (6:29 p.m.). Many people were in serious distress by the time they reached the tops and several ambulances were called to the station.

I finally get outside, but every bus is jammed full and not picking up any passengers, either the shuttle buses or the buses that normally stop at the Rosslyn Station (6:42 p.m.). At 6:56 p.m., Metro employees said the station was reopened, so I headed back inside.

After nearly fainting and sitting down in the middle of the aisle of the train, someone got up and gave me a seat. I just got way too overheated and stressed out. At 7:41 p.m. I finally got a break when I got to Dunn -Loring and the bus pulled up right when I got outside. One bus ride and a short walk later and I was finally home at 8:15 p.m. You can read more news coverage here.