Roadtripping with Mario #3

So after our adventure to U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Mario wanted to go to Hartford, Connecticut to see his beloved Hartford Whalers play, and for the chance for him to interview his favorite player, Andrew Cassels.

What? Interview a player? How does that work?

Well, back in those days I was the publisher of a little minor league hockey rag (fanzine, really) called "Hockey Talk" that started as a radio show. And soon failed.

But more on that in a future "Blogging Up The Past" episode I'll call, for now, "The Hockey Talk Years."

But, to quote Dr. Phil, "It ain't about you."

And he's right:

This is about Roadtripping with Mario Part III Visiting the Hartford Whalers.

When I first met Mario and he found out I was a hockey fan, we nearly did not become friends when he told me that he loved the Hartford Whalers.

The who?

Yeah, you know them now as the probably-going-to-go-to-the-Stanley-Cup-Finals-Carolina Hurricanes.

Coached by Peter Laviolette. Who got his start behind the bench as the coach for the Wheeling Nailers. ECHL Reference in da' house, bitches. (Sorry.)

Back then, they were the Hartford Whalers. In addition to them sucking, badly, they were the annual clearance isle for players at the trading deadline.

Any other NHL GM: "Hey, Hartford, I'll give you, um, some broken sticks and a guy with three bad knees for your best player."

Hartford GM: "Um, what kind of broken sticks? If they're Koho's, sure."

Other GM: "Yeah, they're Koho's. Sure they are. (Hey, subordinate go paint KOHO on those sticks we got from the high school hockey program.)"

Case in point: March 4, 1991: Pittsburgh gets Ulf Samuelsson, Ron Francis and Grant Jennings for Zarley Zalapski, John Cullen, and Jeff Parker going to Hartford. The Pens won two Stanley Cups. The Whalers made the playoffs the next two years, exited in the first round both years, and never returned to the post season, eventually leaving Hartford to become the Carolina Hurricanes at the start of the 1997-98 season.

But back to Roadtripping with Mario Part III Visiting the Hartford Whalers.

We take off for Hartford we drive through Waterford, New York, after an ice storm. It's beautiful. The interstate goes through the city, built up in the hills. Everything, including the road, is glazed over. We're scared, but we arrive safely at our hotel.

The same hotel the players are staying at. We get there just in time to check in and walk through the connecting walkway to the Hartford Civic Center. Home of the Whalers. For a game against Detroit.

We were there the night Chris Osgood scored a goal against the Whalers. Osgood was, at the time, a goalie for Detroit. The date: March 6, 1996.

He was a dick after the game. With a dead-fish handshake. I've had girls give better handshakes. Pre-teen age girls.

But while I was trying to talk to Osgood, Mario was on the other side of the building in the Whaler's locker room and press area. He was talking to Paul Maurice, the Whaler's coach. And that night, on NESN, if you watched the press conference, you saw a very large, very red-haired, very pale guy ask Paul Maurice a question in the press conference. Mario said that tape was one of his favorite possessions. Yep, he was in heaven.

And the next day, there was no game. There was, however, a wicked east-coast snowstorm that blanketed the area. And us? We drove to NYC in a blizzard. No idea where we were going, or what we were going to do when we got there. So we got there. Saw a couple of big buildings, bridges and the NYC Police told us that a weather emergency had been declared and we should go back to wherever we came from. So we turned around and went back to Hartford. In a bilizzard. On iced-over roads. Took us for-fucking-ever to get back. What a good way to waste a day. NOT.

We did stop to shop at some mall where Mario was hoping to find a good jersey. He didn't. We did spend like an hour at this cool-ass hockey store though. Then went to the food court. Had some food, went back to the hotel and played floor hockey until we fell asleep.

The next night, Thursday, Toronto was in town. We went to the morning skate before the game. THAT was cool. Watching the guys you see on TV in practice, having fun, joking, laughing, annoying each other with sticks to the skates, pretend fights ... it was a lot of fun.

Mario collected some ice from the arena down near where the Zamboni tunnel was. He put it in a film canister and decided that he would put it in a glass bottle and always keep with him as his little bit of Hartford.

And Mario got to meet, talk with, and interview his favorite player, Andrew Cassels. To this day nobody really knows why Cassels was Mario's favorite player. Nice guy. Humble. But nowhere near a star, let alone a superstar. But hey, you like who you like, and he liked Andy.

Me? I went over to the Toronto locker room to interview Tie Domi.

And turned into fanboy.

I tried to talk to him for about five minutes about hockey and basically wasted his time with three stupid questions that even had him looking weird at me. He was standing next to Mats Sundin, who was looking weird at me. Finally, I realized I was being a tool. I apologized and turned to leave. He saw that in my camera bag I had a CD from a band called the Alarm that I had purchased at the mall the day before. It was a bootleg of the (since legally released) King Biscuit Flower Hour performance from Boston in 1985 where Mike Peters talks about teaching Bono how to play acoustic guitar.) I was listening to it while watching the morning skate. And then Tie said "I'm a big fan of the Alarm. What CD is that?"

So I pulled it out. And he said he didn't have it. So I gave it to him. Then we started talking about The Alarm. How they stayed at Tie's house the last time they played in Toronto. How he got them tickets for their first ever hockey game. How totally fucking cool Mike Peters is. And how they're such a great band that was unfortunately kicked into the shadow of U2 and they never escaped.

They're more talented. More approachable. And better musicians. Yet they couldn't sell records in the US. Because of U2. Matters not now. Betamax was better than VHS. Mac is better than PC. Autumn Under Echoes is better than just about anyone else out there and the list goes on.

ANYWAY we talked about the Alarm. And that was very cool. Tie said he'd send me some bootlegs he had when he got back home to Toronto.

So he took my card (business cards rule).

And ya know what ... he actually sent me two bootlegs of the Alarm. On cassette. Which was very cool.

And we traded a couple of other shows, too.

Which is better than most guys trade when it comes to Tie Domi.

The Albanian Assassin on Ice Skates is one of the NHL's most feared enforcers.

Luckily for me he's a cool dude. With good musical tastes.

Because I totally fanboy-ed out talking to him before we started talking about music.

And I did embarrass myself.

And I did learn a valuable lesson even when you fanboy, sometimes good things come out of it.

Gotta love road-tripping with Mario!

Eventually, we'll have Roadtripping With Mario Part IV Hershey Park and the American Hockey League All Star Game USA vs. The World.

Where we met Barry Melrose.


Bruce - Shut Up and Sing.

I've posted now 16 days in a row.

Yay me.

(Yeah, whatever).

I'm sick.

I'm tired.

I'm drugged (NyQuil, we love you, you great big fucking Q).

Daily Show is a repeat.

I'm sure Colbert is too.

So tonight Bruce Springsteen played in Columbus. This is the first tour I've had zero interest in seeing.



Three reasons.

1. Shut up and sing. I can forgive you for supporting John Kerry. I can forgive you for dissing Reagan. And Bush 1 and 2. But move on. Shut up and sing. Your leftest agenda didn't work in 2004. Sorry 'bout that. Shut up and sing.


2. The new album - a tribute to Pete Seeger. I understand. I just don't like it. And the band? I have no desire to see the whole 16-member band on stage. Or hear them.


3. $92.50 plus TicketBastard fees? And pavilion only? Fuck that. That, to me, is 18 to 22 shows of bands that need money. That need support. That need fans. Good for you for being able to charge that. And good for for not caring if you sell out the show. As for me and my $100 (ticket, fee, parking) ... I'll give it to bands who like you once did, are struggling like hell to make it in the world. I have the money for your ticket, I'd just rather support 18-22 headliners and another 36-44 opening and middle acts who need the money, exposure, and fans.


Oh, and I did some more updates on my website ... click here to see it, and some other Craig Lyons video, a couple of Swig Tooth (Autumn Under Echoes) videos. And cool pictures. And other stuff.


I see Klaus coming. The coma is imminent.

This has not been spell-checked for your protection. Deal with it.



Song of the Day


Heading out to a Memorial Day Cookout with Cammi, and the lovely and talented Kara and her wonderful family.

Got around to updating my calendar. Man, I'm a busy guy.

Wanna hang out? Click on my profile (don't have to be a myspace member to view the profile, so click here) and check out the goings on.

Good thing I have a superduper fun girlfriend who loves adventures, eh?

And while you're at it ... check out Patty Lynn ... she's from Columbus ... and a singer/songwriter ... and twangy ... and talented ... and worth a listen ... and she's at the Columbus Arts Fest on Saturday, July 3rd at 5:15 p.m. ... I'll be there. You should be, too. She's good.

And ... in honor of Memorial Day and those who gave their lives for the freedoms many of us often take for granted ... here's the Song of the Day:

Some Gave All

I knew a man called him Sandy Kane
Few folks even knew his name
But a hero was he
Left a boy, came back a man
Still many just don't understand
About the reasons we are free

I can't forget the look in his eyes
Or the tears he cries
As he said these words to me

All gave some
And some gave all
And some stood through
For the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all

Now Sandy Kane is no longer here
But his words are oh so clear
As they echo throughout our land
For all his friends who gave us all
Who stood the ground and took the fall
To help their fellow man

Love your country
And live with pride
And don't forget
Those who died
America can't you see

All gave some
And some gave all
And some stood through
For the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all

(Yeah, that's Billy Ray Cyrus. Shut it. You know all the words to Achy Breaky Heart ... but you should know this song. The guy got it right.)


Evil Genius Idea #894

Thursday after we returned from the face rocking in Pittsburgh by Autumn Under Echoes, the lovely Kara and I headed to Adobe Gila's for some face-rocking cover band named Rockhouse.

In the latest, and final, incarnation, Rockhouse was comprised of Matt Massey, Chris Skrobot and Mark Nye. (Yep, that Chris Skrobot and Mark Nye, both of the X-Rated Cowboys and Autumn Under Echoes).

As we left, after having some incredibly overprices, under alcoholized and horribly tasting beverages, we were talking about how since Friday afternoon's Rockhouse performance at the Dam Jam 2006 was the last show, ever, for these three as Rockhouse.

And that we should somehow memorialize that event.

And Evil Genius Idea Number 894 was born.

I bounced it off Kara.

She said, "That's truly evil genius. We must do it."

Friday morning we woke up and got moving. We headed out to get the necessary supplies.

After sufficiently stocking up, we headed to the casa de kara to create.

And we created.

And it was genius.

Evil genius.

Pure evil genius.

At such a level we could not stop laughing.

All day long.

We drove over to Shawnee Hills and showed up at Dam Jam, albeit looking a bit out of sorts. Kara looked the more normal of the two of us, as she was wearing her nearly always present zipped up hoodie.

Me ... however ... I looked like a homicide bomber looking for a crowded marketplace. (Sorry, all you politically correct people. Suicide is a solitary act. You kill yourself. When you take out others wearing a homemade bomb or some other device, you are a homicide bomber. You've killed others.)

I was wearing jean shorts ... shoes ... and a zipped up jacket.

Two sizes too big.

And it was hot.

And I was looking uncomfortable.

So uncomfortable, in fact, I was half-suspecting that the Dublin police in attendance would approach me and ask me to open the jacket.

That's how bizarre I looked.

So we got there, had an overpriced soft drink because I hate to drink beer out of cans or plastic bottles.

We met up with Mark and talked for about an hour. Our jackets never left the fully zipped position.

And Mark, Kara and I had our usually stimulating conversations about life, stupid people and their entertainment value. We rehashed some of the Autumn Under Echoes songs, performances and road stories and laughed at the band on stage and their pathetic performance.

Matt and Chris soon joined as we stood there discussing the pathetic nature of electronic drums ... as the band had such a drum kit.


So they (thankfully and finally) finished and headed off the stage.

Rockhouse got things setup and got ready to rock. Kara and I took our required position in the front and center of the stage, because WeAreThatFuckingCool, Inc.

Rockhouse opened up with "Undone" by Weezer.

And then went into a Stone Temple Pilots song.

It was time to make our move.

We turned our backs to the stage.

We took our jackets off.

We showed our t-shirts.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

When Mark saw the shirts ... he started laughing in mid-lyric.

Yep, we broke up a singer, on stage, in mid-line.

When Matt saw the shirts ... he laughed out loud.

When Chris saw the shirts ... he laughed out loud.

Shaking his head at the evil genius that is us.

I have to say that my half of the idea was to make Rockhouse shirts. After all, why not make a t-shirt for a cover band that has announced its final performance, ever?

Then Kara said we have to put R.I.P. on the shirt.

See how our evil genius-ness feeds off each other?

Throughout the night, several people we never met before commented on the shirts, both at the Dam Jam and Andyman's Treehouse.

Because we kept the shirts on for the X-Rated Cowboys / Autumn Under Echoes / The Whiles show at Andyman's Treehouse.

As Dan from Autumn Under Echoes entered, the first words out of his mouth were "I heard about that shirts. That's genius."


Because, after all, WeAreThatFuckingCool.



Greatest. Show. Ever.

So that picture of me ... there on the right? That's the old me.

The new me, or I should say, the new us, is tired.

We are tired physically.

We are tired mentally.

(Hey, what's with this "we" crap?)

Um, my face, and my body, have been, quite literally, rocked in half by the most amazing Swig Tooth show I've ever seen. There were moments where the crowd singing their songs back to them was louder than the band.

There were times when I thought Dan Crean on drums was going to break through the floor.

There were times when I thought Chris Skrobot - who, by the way, is my mother fucking hero this week - was going to spontaneously combust.

There were times when I thought Mark Nye was going to split his bass in two by pounding on it.

And there were many times when Aaron Tashjian realized, like his Wilco-adpated addendum to "Clutter" that music is his savior. He was named by rock and roll.

Because, like the Wilco addendum, everyone in the Treehouse on May 26, 2006, for the Swig Tooth show, was maimed by rock and roll.

Pieces out. (that's a literal take on Peace Out since I've been rocked in half.)


Chris Skrobot - My MF'n Hero

I don't know if you've ever had food poisoning.

I have.

It's brutal.

You go to the bathroom.

You don't know which end to put down first.

And it doesn't matter.

The same stuff is coming out of both ends of you. And you're too sick to care. You notice, but you don't care.

And you don't feel better when you're done ... at either end.

Wednesday as we rolled into Pittsburgh, up Penn Avenue and into Bloomfield for the Swig Tooth show, we run into Aaron, Mark & Dan outside the bar. Aaron tells us there has been a change and that the "headliner" ... Venice is Sinking (or, as we renamed them, Venice is Sucking and/or Venice has Sunk) is going on first. And Swig Tooth is playing last. And there's another issue we'll discuss later.

But first, let's talk about Venice is Stinking.

They're from Athens.

They're on a label.

Therefore they make the rules?

Well ... apparently.

Let me explain:

As we were sitting there waiting for them to start, the sound-guy dolt of the day said, "Why don't you guys play your first song so we can get the vocals set right."

Lead singer for Venice is Stinking says "Our first song doesn't have vocals."

Kara said, "Oh, that's not a good sign."

And the drummer reminded me of Corky from Life Goes On.

And drummed about as well.

But that fit the band. Allow me to explain more:

They were this mix of people who obviously met at high school band camp:
  • Corky on drums. Too loud. A lot of noise.
  • Keyboardist also played trumpet, too. And smoked. And looked like a young Bob Hite.
  • Guitarist sang. Kind of. The sound sucked so bad that you couldn't really tell.
  • Bassist ... well, we never really saw the bassist. He was in the back.
  • And the best part? The lead singer/viola/flute player.
That's right. Lead singer played viola and flute. That's rock and roll. At least when she picked up the flute I could make the "now it's time for some heavy metal" joke. Too bad she was a total cunt. Good luck finding a job when this whole music thing you're trying stops working.

Because it's obviously not fun for you.

Musically ... it was an interesting, if not relaxing, almost-lullaby-like sound I can classify as ... shitty background music for banquet halls.

Lyrically, however, it was worse. They might have had a good line or two, however, when you repeat that line, over and over, it sucks.

They might have had a good line or two, however, when you repeat that line, over and over, it sucks.

They might have had a good line or two, however, when you repeat that line, over and over, it sucks.

They might have had a good line or two, however, when you repeat that line, over and over, it sucks.


And they were the second best band of the night. And they sucked. Hard.

Pleasure Technicians was the middle act. They sucked. Hardest. Like Morricone Youth sucked. So bad I was totally disinterested.

I'm still not sure of a single song they played, or a word they said, other than sending out songs to the two dozen people that came to see them.

And cheered.




And in something that nobody I've spoken with not connected to the band understands ... seemingly enjoyed.

Chris Skrobot played in a cover band called Rockhouse who's final performance was tonight. He played a solo during "Blue on Black" that was absolutely a bazillion times better than anything Pleasure Technicians did. That's how bad they sucked.

But let's get back to why Chris Skrobot is my Mother Fucking Hero of the Week.

Not for his amazing guitar solo during "Blue on Black."

And no, it's not his ability to be friends with strippers.

It's because of this line:

"We're here. Let's go do what we do."

Let me explain why those eight words make him my Mother Fucking Hero of the Week.

Chris caught a batch of food poisoning.

And Wednesday in Pittsburgh was Day Two.

Two days of cramping.

Two days off puking.

Two days of shitting some of the most odiferous substances ever to pass your asshole.

(That's all based on my experience with salmonella. Twice. And something I got from some bad chili. Once. I didn't ask Chris about the substances coming out of his orafices.)

There are very few things worse than that combination. You can't eat. You can't drink. But you have to to avoid dehydration.

All you want to do is be left alone. In the dark. With the softest toilet paper in the world. And an exhaust fan. On high.

I've never played guitar on stage in my life, but I'm sure that with that combination of things going on, the last thing you'd want to do is go rock out.

In front of, initially, two dozen people.

(At the end of the show it was me, Kara, Corky, the "singer" from Pleasure Technicians and their drummer. And the sound-dolt. And his girlfriend. And the bartender.)

And yo sure as hell don't want to be three hours from home.

Playing rock for a handful of people.

Chris could have easily said, "I'm too sick to play."

He was given that out by Aaron.

Aaron stood there, on the sidewalk, before any equipment was trucked up a flight of stairs, before the door was slammed on him by a bitch on her cell phone during load-in, and before the cunt viola player from Venice is Stinking pushed him back against the wall during the load-out while his hands were full of equipment and her hand was full of a cell phone, and told Chris it was his call.

Chris had been on the phone with his insurance company trying to find out if they'd cover his emergency room visit. He wasn't able to get anyone on the phone because it's after business hours.

He's sick.

He's frustrated.

He's sweating bullets.

He's paler than Jim Gaffigan.

He's been puking and shitting for 36 hours.

And he looks at Aaron, Mark & Dan and says, "We're here. Let's go do what we do."

That's why Chris Skrobot is my Mother Fucking Hero of the Week.


Swig Tooth Rocks Pittsburgh

We're in Pittsburgh.
Our faces were rocked off.

But before the face rocking:

1 - We had Tessaro's burgers - the best burgers ever -
Yuengling - the best beer ever - on draft.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

2 - We went to Mount Washington where a
nordic lesbian took a picture of us
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

3 - Then We had our faces rocked off.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

More complete details later.


Things not to miss

By the time we got to the X-Men III Sneak Preview ... it was, in the words of the Teletubbies, all full up. So to quote Carlito ... that's not cool.

But I'll pull a Stephen Colbert and review the movie based on the trailer - Oh, they wanna cure mutants? Cool. Cure the homeless and unemployed, too.
Oh well. That sounded funnier in my head. Really.

So I'm spending my Tuesday night home. Studying for my Server-Plus test I'm taking Friday.
Because the rest of my week is busy.

I'm on vacation.

So rather than sit home and enjoy the weather, I'm going to Pittsburgh Wednesday to get my face rocked off.

And I'll be back in Columbus Thursday to get my face cover-band-rocked-off.

And I'll get an early start to my weekend on Friday getting my face again cover-band-rocked-off.

Before getting it demolished on Friday, late.

Here's the musical lineup for the rest of the week. Join me. Kara will be there. Others have said they will show. It'll be fun.



Roadtripping with Mario #2

So after our adventure to Toronto, Mario wanted to go to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. I'm sure some of you weren't ever aware there was such a place.

Well, there was.

Yes, that's the proper usage of the past tense of the verb "to be."

Because it closed.

On May 12th, USAHockey announced it was closing the hall in Eveleth, Minnesota, the birth place of hockey in America, and moving the exhibits somewhere else. Like Minneapolis. Or maybe even somewhere that people live.

That's not Eveleth, Minnesota.

I've been there.

With Mario.

Which is why today's Eric Broz Rerun or Blogging up The Past is Roadtripping With Mario, Part II The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

In Eveleth, Minnesota.

Which is a long-ass drive from Warren, Ohio.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was a long-ass time to be in a car. Even longer when you have stops along the way that take you off the suggested AAA TripTik route.

We left heading out west, to Detroit, because Mario wanted to get some Detroit Junior Whalers merchandise. And we stopped in Toledo for me to get some Toledo Storm stuff. Like a new hat.

This trip was before internet shopping was perfected. Before you could buy anything, from anywhere, at any time, with a few mouse clicks. And we made it through Detroit without getting shot. Then again, we're not rappers, and nobody back then was really targeting overweight white boys for sport shooting.

We made it through Detroit, and Ohio, into Indiana. And Illinois. And drove past O'Hare International Airport. Now if you've never been to Chicago, and never driven past O'Hare, it's quite a site.

O'Hare is the busiest airport in the continental United States. It averages one take-off or landing every thirty seconds. The air is full of low-flying planes coming seemingly from all angles. Actually, there are well-known approach and departure vectors, and the men and women who manage the air traffic for that airport are fucking amazing.

Kara don't ever go anywhere near there. Trust me.

(Kara hates low-flying aircraft that appear to just hover there in the sky)

So we get past that and approach the Wisconsin line. And see the most amazing site just over the line. It was the largest adult emporium we'd ever seen. I'm talking Barnes & Noble sized. Right next door to a cheese shop. And a beer distributor. That, as my friend Kym who lived in Milwaukee said, sums up all you need to know about live in Wisconsin save hunting and fishing: Beer, Porn and Cheese.

So between the beer/cheese/porn emporium and Milwaukee, lies the Bong Recreation Area.

True fucking place.

And Mario being the stoner he was, we had to stop.

So we stop, piss, grab some snacks and we're back on the road. Driving through an August thunderstorm in Wisconsin's cow country reminded me a whole lot of the scene in "Twister" where they saw a flying cow. And another flying cow. "Nope, same cow."

Anyway no flying cows. Just us. And we're driving and we're tired. So we stop and spend the night in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Not Claire Danes, who I'd love to spend a night, or at least an hour in. Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

That's all I have to say about that.

We got up early the next morning, like when the rooster crows early, figuring we were still about six or seven hours from Eveleth, barring any traffic in Minneapolis ... and our motel was having a big-ass farmer's breakfast that all the townsfolk from Eau Claire loved and visited daily.

We were told this at check in by the blonde girl. Who had that midwest cuteness that makeup can't match.

So we get up before 7 a.m. and make the kind of "hey we're tourists" entrance that two fat pale white guys from Ohio make while trying to blend in with the farmers in August in Wisconsin between my allergies and his total lack of pigmentation, everyone could tell, to quote Drew Hastings, just by looking at us, we were farmers. "Kitty stay.")

And in talking to one of the locals, she told us that if we went north on Route 53 we'd knock three hours off the trip by not having to go to and through Minneapolis. We would be there by noon if we left at 8, because there were no real speed limits, and no cops between Eau Claire and Duluth. That bit was added by the sheriff who was having breakfast with us.

So that's exactly we did. Hauled ass out of Eau Claire, and averaged between 80 and 90 driving up Wisconsin Route 53.

And saw two of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my life.

First was a bald eagle eating some road kill. From a distance, I thought it was a small bear. It was that big. As the car got closer, it took off. I nearly wrecked the car watching that sucker fly.

Now if you've only ever seen a bald eagle at a zoo, sitting on a branch, with its wings tucked, you might have wondered "Why the hell is that our national bird. It's not that impressive."

When you see one of them take off and fly away, or if you're lucky enough to see one in the wild, as I did when I was in the military, you realize you're looking at a bird with a wingspan of 4-6 feet, razor sharp talons and a beak that can pluck your eye out. In flight. Very impressive.

Eventually, we neared the Wisconsin/Minnesota state line. We knew this because the road signs kept saying "Duluth" and the miles next to Duluth kept decreasing. decreasing. And I know Duluth is in Minnesota.

So as I wonder how much further we have until Duluth, and why we have yet to see as much as a suburb of this impressive city, we drove over the Bong Bridge.

It was one of those bridges that appears out of nowhere. And you can't see what's on the other side. You're going up. And up. And up.

And then, we reached the top.

And it was absolutely fucking beautiful.

Lake Superior, which is said to never give up her dead when the skies of November turn gloomy (Shout out my Canadian Brother Gordon Lightfoot. Eh?), exploded on the right hand side. Like there was nothing but bridge one minute, the next was a big lake that encompassed everything as far as you could see.

With a town built up into the mountains behind it.

That's Duluth, Minnesota. It's beautiful.

That view was so amazing we turned around once we got over the bridge, drove back into Wisconsin, and drove back over the Bong Bridge to see it again.

And it was just as nice the second time.

I've got to get back there with Cammi.

So after that, in about 35 minutes, we make our way to Eveleth. And the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. After all, that's why we were in Minnesota. Since stalking Bob Mould wasn't on Mario's agenda.

And we arrived. Excited. Anxious. And, as we pulled onto Hat Trick Lane, we saw a restaurant and immediately looked forward to having dinner after a full day of exploring the history of hockey in America at the Stanley Cup Café which was located right next door. The Hockey Hall of Fame in Canada featured dinner at Gretzky's. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame will feature dinner at the Stanley Cup Café.

We pull in just after noon and park. The woman at breakfast was right. Like 4 hours on the road, not counting the 15 minutes to make the bridge crossing twice.

And since it was a Thursday, there were not too many other cars there. Like two. Cool. No crowds. (Turns out there were never crowds. The place averaged about 10,000 a year. It needed 30,000 a year to survive.)

Anyway, we walk up, plunk down our $6 and walk in.

And 45 minutes later we were back where we started.

Back at the beginning.

We blinked.

This is a dream, right?

We obviously missed something, right?

A lot of somethings, right?

So we walk through again, map in hand, making sure we see all that there is to see regarding the history of hockey in America.

And in 30 minutes realize, nope, that first trip through - we had seen it all.

And it's not quite 1:30 p.m.

Twenty-four hours in a car. For a 75 minute visit. And we saw all there was to see.


At the aptly instantly renamed "U. S. Hockey Hallway of Fame and Attached Garage Turned into a Museum."

Alrighty then.

So to say we're feeling let down is an understatement.

We felt hoodwinked.


(Oh, sorry. Was turning into an angry black man quoting Malcolm X. My bad. Pale white boy is back).

We figured we could at least salvage the day at Stanley Cup Café.

So we pull out, go back down Hat Trick Lane, and pull into a very empty parking lot at the Stanley Cup Café.

Walk up the steps.

Gaze through the window at the dark, empty restaurant.

And notice the sign on the door that says they open at 4 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday.

And right then, as we stood on the deck, it was Thursday.

At 1:35 p.m.

So we walked back to the car.

And paused there. In the parking lot.

A thousand miles from home.



And pissed off.

How pissed? We got in the car, said "Fuck it, let's just go home."

And we did.

Driving straight through, 20 hours. Back to my Ohio (see, I got an Swig Tooth lyric in there. HA! Back to my Ohio is from "August is a Blessing." And Swig Tooth is playing Wednesday in Pittsburgh and Friday in Columbus at Andyman's Treehouse. Come out. Get your face rocked off.)

Arriving around 11 a.m.

Vowing to tell everyone what an amazing time we had and how wonderful it was and how great a trip it was.

And that, boys and girls, is the story of our visit to the U.S. Hockey Hallway of Fame and Attached Garage turned Museum.

Stay tuned for the next Eric Broz Rerun ... Blogging the Past - Roadtripping with Mario for Part III Hershey, Pennsylvania for the American Hockey League's All Star Game.

Where we met Barry Melrose.

And (as I start getting hated on by Kerry in 5,4,3,2,1 ) touched his hair.


I *try* to take the high road

Hi. My name's Eric.

And I'm a wrestling fan.

(Hi Eric.)

I started watching WWWF wrestling in 1979 when we moved to the city and had illegal cable in the apartment complex. Back then, Vince McMahon, Sr., owner of the World Wide Wrestling Federation ran Sunday events from Madison Square Garden on the MSG Network's forerunner, and the then fledgling USA Network had some shows as well like on Tuesday or Wednesday nights.

And as the eighties rolled around, Vince McMahon, Jr., bought out the old man, changed the name to the World Wrestling Federation, and started a series of syndicated shows that featured the big names demolishing nobodies in squash matches.

Every so often you'd get a title match, and if you were really, really, really lucky, they'd show footage of a title change that happened in some city, some night, in the not-too-distant past.

This was before the Interwebnet.

This was before the Pay-Per-View revolution

This was a long fucking time ago. When puppies were the oldest animals.

When I had hair.

That was blond.

And eyes that were blue.

And a tan.

But let's fast-forward to today. Satellite television rules the world. You can, with the proper subscription or pirated Bell South connection (which I have neither, thank you) watch anything, from anywhere.


In fact, a whole cottage industry has spawned with Sports Bars being able to show events from out of town that you can't see because you either can't get on television, or get tickets to the show.

And I've spent many nights at Damon's eating ribs, drinking beer, and watching two guys beat the hell out of each other (in theory) following Vince McMahon's script; or, in the case of boxing Don King's script; or literally beating the hell out of each other in Ultimate Fighting or Pride Fighting.

That, however, has ended.

Damon's ... or at least the one at NorthGate, no longer shows wrestling or boxing pay per views, because, in the words of the manager, "Damon's is a family-focused restaurant and those events are too violent."

Allow me to paraphrase the lovely and talented kara who said, "Oh, and football is ballet?"

So I tried to take the high road, and drive five miles out of my way to sit in a clubhouse and drink beer and watch guys beat each other up.

And it failed.

Now I'm resolved to drinking more beer, and staring at large-breasted women.

Because I have to go to Hooters to see those events.

And I'll be honest with you ... if you think people go there for the food, you're wrong.

The food sucks.

But since it's close to me - like walking distance close - I could sit there, get all boozed up and stare at breasts all night under the guise of watching pay-per-view's.

And stumble home.

Past Dockside Dolls.

Then again, the pay-per-view at Dockside Dolls is probably more entertaining.

(See, I tried to take the high road and avoid the Hooters or Strip Clubs. But I have no other options. So I must lower myself to the level of one of those two establishments for my entertainment.

Yep, that's my excuse for hanging out in strip clubs. You can use that. I take no responsibility for any beatings you may incur from your chosen partner)


This blog is over the top

So I saw "Over The Hedge" on Saturday. Cute movie.

William Shatner voices Ozzie, the opossum, who overly-acts each time he dies. Shatner is perfect for that over the top performance.

And that, boys and girls, is the phrase of the day.

Can you say "Over The Top"?

I knew you could.

Okay. Enough Fred Rogers.

"Over The Hedge" was good. But honestly, I'm looking forward to "The Barnyard."

Yeah, I love me some kids movies. Luckily I have an 8-year-old daughter so I get to see them all without looking like "that guy."

Because going to see a kid's movie, at my age, without a kid, is scary.

But enough about movies.

Let's talk about two of my favorite things:


And music.

(Or is that three of my favorite things?)

Anyway ... at Thursday's Swig Tooth show there was this woman, who, like all those like her, shall from this point forward be referred to simply as "Friends of Chris Skrobot" who was hanging six ways out of her outfit.

On purpose.

That was over the top.

But she got topped, one-upmanship style (or could I use the phrase "double breasted style") by another concert attendee I saw.

There was this girl at the Red Wanting Blue show heretofore referred to at Boob Girl and she was, in many respects, over the top.

But before I get to her, there were a couple of other interesting characters you always see at shows (well, maybe I always see, because I look for them).

First was the token black guy there to check out white women.

How do I know he wasn't a fan? He never looked at the stage ... and his eyes never went above waist level as he walked through the crowd.

Second was the token old guy trying to pick up young chicks.Rocking out. And dancing. And he was probably closer to 50 than 40, yet there he was, out on the floor. In the crowd. With the college kids.

Who were drinking Mickey's Big Mouth?

Um, maybe it's me, but didn't that stop being cool after 8th grade when you started to develop a taste for beer and realized that Little Kings and Mickey's are more-than-likely the waste products of other breweries that spilled out over the top of the mixing vats, was squeegied up, tossed in a bottle and sold to you?

That's what I thought.

But back to Old Guy. Rocking out.

With a glass of wine.

Because nothing says "I'm a hip old guy into the college music scene" like gray hair, orthopedic shoes and Burgundy.

Now back to Boob Girl.

There's a great Canadian band called The Beautiful South (yes, capitalized article required) that has a song called 36D.

The chorus:

"36D, so what. So what.
Is that all that you got?"

That describes Boob Girl.

Boob Girl was front and center at the Red Wanting Blue show at Jillian's in Akron. She started off at the table beside us, where our eyes ... that's mine, and the two women I was with, Kerry and her friend Kelly ... were all looking at the exposed breast flesh.

Like a car wreck.

We didn't want to. But we couldn't look away. They were crying out for that much attention. And every movement was like a rock tossed into still waters - the ripples just kept going.

And like The Beautiful South song ... that was all she had. As Kelly said, "the rest of the package isn't there."

But what I can't describe in words is the fact that her boobs had movement Jello can only dream about.

But lemme tell you what else about her was over the top:

Boob Girl was initially beside us. Then during the performance of Cactus 12, a decent band from Cleveland, she moved closer to the front. And when Red Wanting Blue started, she was jiggling front and center.

And smoking.

No, not smoking hot. Smoking. Because unlike Columbus, Akron doesn't have an indoor smoking ban.

And she was blowing her smoke up right up at Red Wanting Blue's frontman, Scott Terry. (See Kerry, it's another Terry. I'm lucky that Michelle isn't a last name, eh?)

And Scott Terry has his own kind of over the top, which I'll discuss later.

But back to Boob Girl. For two reasons. No, not those two reasons.

First, the smoke she was blowing in Scott's face. Not maliciously, but let's face it she was front and center. She really had no where else to blow it.

And second ... The three of us were wondering what Boob Girl had under her breasts to give them the immense lift and over-the-top-of-her-shirt jiggly spillage. It wasn't a push-up bra, because she was wearing a spaghetti-strap like blouse. Yet she was able to keep them constrained, and the nipples covered.

We're not sure how, based on her dancing, bouncing and the general lack of coverage her outfit provided, and the massive amount of breastflesh exposed.. We're not sure if she had books underneath them, a section of 2x2, or a couple of small children or midgets.

But before I get all carried away with boobs, and let's face it, I could spend all day looking at, licking on, or talking about breasts ... lets get back to Boob Girl's other issue:

Blowing smoke.

Singers, even those like Scott Terry who smoke, love when you blow smoke at them. (And in case you're wondering, the verb in that sentence, love, is used in a highly sarcastic manner.)

Really. (And that applies to both statements in that paragraph).

See, the smoke reflects the stage lights and gives the show that hazy look that everyone loves.

Not to mention the flavor of your cigarette enhancing the air they're breathing, rapidly, between lyrics. When they need to get all the oxygen they can to sing the next lyric. Especially when it's over the top. Like Scott Terry, but more on that later.

Breathing your second-hand smoke does wonders for the voice you love.


So if you "love a band" and want to get "front and center" to show your love ... do two things:

1. Don't blow smoke at them.

2. Keep your shit off their stage.

Trust me on this one, too.

That "box" you set your beer next to could be a collection of fancy gadgets the guitar player spent his rent and food money on because he's a struggling musician. It's electronic equipment. Would you like it if he came to your house and put a beer next to your DVD player? Or computer? Or digital camera? No.

So why do you put yours on the stage. Because there's nothing as safe as putting liquid in an environment with a lot of bass, thumping drums and constant movement of people, instruments, and cords. And next to a box that a guy's operating with his feet. In a fast manner.

So show some decency and respect the bands you go to see. Keep your shit away from their professional equipment, and don't blow smoke in their faces.

Okay, rant off.

Now we're on to our final over-the-top, which will I'm sure will get me a big "Stop it" from Kerry:

Scott Terry, Red Wanting Blues' singer.

Great to listen to even though it reminds me a lot of this band I love called Rhythm Corps. Who put out one album. In 1989. Scott is great to listen to. But difficult to watch.

William Shatner gets constant grief for his over-the-top acting in Star Trek. And to call back to the beginning of this piece, fourteen pages and three hours ago, Shater is Ozzie, the Opossum, in "Over The Hedge."

Scott Terry must be a huge Shatner fan. The looks on his face make you think he sings every song as if his life depends on his facial expressions. In a music video, that's cool. For about four or five minutes.

And I love me the raw emotion of music. And musicians. And I feel it. In my heart.

But seeing the same pained expression every song ...

And the same run-my-fingers-angstly-through-my-hair-to-emphasize in every song ...

For two hours?

That's over the top.


Swig Tooth Rocks Youngstown

Swig Tooth in Youngstown was quite an interesting show. It was mostly a rehearsal in a bar for about a dozen people, and most of them were playing pool or watching basketball. But there were some people there who enjoyed it. Me, Craig Lyons (who opened) and an old friend of mine. I'll post pictures when I get back to Columbus or if I get a card reader for my laptop. It's an old laptop. With USB 1.1. So it'll be slow to move the nearly full 1GB card featuring two Craig Lyons videos, two Swig Tooth vidoes, and a shitload of photos.

UPDATE: Photos!

Aaron tuning up
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Mark rocking out
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Aaron playing a song that inspired Mark to say "Mark Nye hates country music."
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Chris rocking out alt-country style
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Dan keeping the beat
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Yeah, I was playing with the modes on my camera. C'mon and look through my camera. You'll see what I do.

Like Craig Lyons taking in the show
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

And Craig on stage opening the show
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

My hotel room in Youngstown is warm.

And quiet.

And close to a Cracker Barrel where I'm going for oatmeal tomorrow.

Before I do some other stuff and go see "Over The Hedge."

Random Thoughts #6

Since I've posted every day for a week now, mostly because I've had, in the words of Aaron from Swig Tooth, so much clutter in my head, might as well keep it going: This is not an entertainment blog. This is a multi-part blog. (That's a joke that nobody got. Man, when I can't even make fun of U2 I should just stop and realize my jokes are old. Like me.)

Driving through Youngstown after the Swig Tooth concert Friday night, I saw something that's made me glad I left. There was a man on bicycle on a 4-lane highway being chased by another guy on foot.

Guy on foot was holding a gun.

Running down the middle of this four-lane state highway (that's Route 7 in UpTown Youngstown, y'all.)

So guy on bike is trying to ride into the path of oncoming cars.

Why? Not sure. Maybe he couldn't ride a bike.

He was probably high on crack. Or Ripple. Or Boone's Farm.

And after nearly getting hit, twice, he finally hops off the bike.

The bike, however, keeps going into traffic.

Cars are dodging the bike and nearly hit the guy who was on the bike.

And the guy with the gun chasing him.

Me? I was in the other lane, originally sitting at a stop light, and watching this unfold while giving Kara the play-by-play on the phone. I was going the same direction as the bike. But in the proper lanes. And obeying the traffic laws.

Which as most people from Youngstown will tell you, rarely happens there.

Until I saw the guy with the gun.

And then like the bike, I wasn't stopping at red lights either.

Just send that ticket to me in the mail.

To finalize my shitty week that was, turns out I now have a couple of people who are busy hating on me these days.
For a couple of reasons. Not that I care. There are more than 6 billion people in the world. Most of them I'll never meet. But in my travels through life, I've met a lot of people. Many of them I don't care to meet again. Yet our paths keep crossing. By their choice.

(new content here if you're keeping score at home)

The first one was from a woman who gave me this line:

"I can't believe you didn't tell me."

Then all of the sudden she was telling me all about how sad she was and how much she was glad that Sue didn't quit, and how shocked she was when Sue said she was quitting in that meeting 'we were all at.'

Um, no, you weren't at that meeting. Don't revise history, you lying whore.

At one point, she was a semi-important person in my life.

Someone who did matter to me.

Someone who had a lot of pull. A lot of clout.

When my ex-wife and I were having problems, I'd spend a lot of time talking to this woman. She was divorced. She had kids. I talked to her about it to see what insight she could give me from a woman's perspective of having gone through it. Then as soon as she got a new boyfriend, she wasn't able to email me, or talk, or anything ... so I pretty much forgot about her. I hate 'friends' like that.

And when she started bitching at me last week because that I never told her, my response to her was, "Oh, you told me not to email you because your new boyfriend is a jealous guy."

She had another call. I have yet to hear back.

The second one ... a guy ... has been nothing but a dick to me the last three or four times he's initiated conversation. He'd say hi. Ask how I was, what's up, blah blah blah, then ask me for something. He's one of those guys. They're your friend when they need something.

So I finally asked him this after the latest instant message:

"Dude, why do you email me, or send me an instant message, then act like a massive penis when I don't offer to help you.

"You act like we're best friends, because you need something. Let's be real here: We've talked two times since we left school. Both of those were because you needed something and didn't want to pay for it. And the conversation ended with me telling you I didn't have the software you were looking for, and then me telling you that I use VNC from RealVNC.com.

"That's it.

"And yes, we did go to the same school together for two years, but we didn't socialize there, either. We had a couple of classes together. And in those classes, you did nothing but fuck with us on every project we did. AND were the reason for the whole blowup with Sue in the first place.

"So no, I don't want to talk to you. I'm not going to tell you anything for the sake of telling you someone else's business.

"And no, we weren't friends, as your "I thought you would have told me. I thought we were friends" line implies when I told you that I knew months ago and didn't tell anyone."

I have yet to hear a response. Then again, I don't often get responses to emails like that.

I haven't lost sleep, lost a second worrying, or made any change in my life because of them.

But hey, they can't all be winners, can they kid?