Monday, June 30, 2008


A couple of weeks back,the Top Chef finale came on. It recorded on a Wednesday night, but we saved it for Saturday so that we could make wine and food and watch the show. This is something of a tradition for us, but then again we make food every weekend whether or not the show is on, so maybe not. But if you are a foodie like we are, you need to be watching this show - no excuses. That week, I had avoided TWOP and TV Guide so that I wouldn't accidentally see who won - it was a close competition this season between Richard, the best chef they have ever had on the show, and Stephanie, who probably could have won seasons 2 or 3, and could probably only win this year if Richard somehow blew it.

Well, that Saturday night was also the night that Tiger Woods was kicking ass in the US Open, holing out on 17, draining the putt on 18, etc. The phone was ringing - Steph, Cullen, Frank. So, after it is all over, I call Stephanie to recap what Tiger had just done, and was going to mention that she needed to watch Top Chef because we were about to watch the big finale. Here is how that part of the conversation went (warning, spoilers ahead!):

Me: "Steph, there is no reason that you don't watch Top Chef!"
Steph: "I know - I am so happy that Stephanie won!"

Now, she doesn't even watch the show, but somehow was just able to completely spoil what I had waited all week for!!! Well, it wasn't as bad as it seems - it is pretty obvious halfway through who was going to win. (And it still doesn't change the fact that Richard was the best chef ever on this show, with all due respect to Harold.) But still - nothing sucks like when those moments are ruined for you. I have been thinking since then to try to determine the times in my life where I found out the surprise ending to something too early. Books, movies, TV shows, sporting events. I was able to come up with 3 that were the worst for me:

3. HP5 - Entertainment Weekly. I was always slow on reading Harry Potter, and even at book 5 I was still a couple of months behind the rest of the world. HP3 was coming out at the movies, and EW had a large section of an issue about it. Now, it is my fault because I still read the issue, but there was a sidebar in the magazine marked with a "Spoilers ahead" section. Of course, it was not really well marked and I just opened the magazine to one particular paragraph in the spoilers section, and there I read that ****** ***** dies in HP5. I was just livid - I actually ripped up the magazine and threw it across the room. The big ending didn't even remotely have the same impact for me that it should have. Then again, I just should have read it. I mean, I love Harry Potter, but it isn't Proust or anything. I knew that when book 6 came out, I was just going to read it asap, before I even had the chance to have it ruined for me dammit!!

2. HP6 - Seriously, it comes out at midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning, so I go buy it at Meijer. I bring it home and start reading it that night. However, I wasn't going to hole myself up or anything, come on. When I went back to work on Monday, I consciously avoided anything remotely connected to Harry Potter. That morning, I am on the Fark message boards, because the Supreme Court made some sort of decision about something, and seriously, honest to God, on the message boards, someone just posts: ***** kills **********. Just as plain as day, completely off topic. I think I threw up in my mouth a little. It actually made my stomach hurt. It occurred to me that if someone had said that to me in person, I really might have punched them, because I think that it wouldn't be a crime to do so (can I get a ruling on this?). It significantly diminished my enthusiasm for reading the book, to the point that I had already seen an alternate interpretation of the big secret ending that really added a lot to how I read it.

(PS - I finished Book 7 in 3 days. I didn't even go online that Monday.)

1. The 1996 World Cup of Hockey. I was working at Grady's at the time, and was really into hockey at this moment of my life. Up until 1996, this tournament was called the Canada Cup, but this was the first such tournament since I started watching. Well, the finals were the US and Canada, and the final game was on a Saturday night in September. I couldn't get off work, so I set it to tape (actual VCR tape, not TiVo). Well, when I got to work, I basically told anyone who would even remotely care to not tell me who wins the game. This wasn't difficult, being that not that many people watch hockey in Memphis, TN. But everyone knew I watched it, so hopefully they wouldn't tell me if they found out. You know, out of respect. I lucked out because it wasn't even on the TV at the bar, so I couldn't just accidentally see it or anything. Well, the shift was a busy Saturday night, but finally things started to slow down, and I was basically done. I was going to go to the bar to say hi to Jack Speed and order some food to take it home to watch the game. Somehow I had done it - I knew it wouldn't be too difficult to avoid the score, but I was bouncing off the walls in anticipation of going home to watch the game in its entirety. I think I may have even given someone a couple of bucks to roll my silverware so I could go home. Then, I walk up to the bar, and Sean Wiseman is sitting at the end of the bar and turns to me and says, "Hey - did you see that the US beat Canada in the World Cup?" Really, just devastating, only because why is this guy even aware of something that wasn't on the bar TV? Why would he tell me - did I not ask him already to not tell me?

Well, I went home and watched it anyway, and I knew the final score was 5-2, but really until the last half of the third period, it was 2-1 Canada, so yeah, there was the slightest chance that maybe he was wrong. But then the US just reeled off 4 goals to pull away, and it was horribly anti-climactic.


Post script - I can think of 2 times that I have been the culprit. Once was when Mom was making Ron watch Steel Magnolias, and I walked into the room and just flat out said, "Is this the one where Julia Roberts dies at the end?" Really, totally out of spite, because let's just say that I knew that Mom had seen it, so I wasn't spoiling it for her. But the other time was pure luck - Stephanie and I went to go see the Sixth Sense, and we knew there was supposed to be this "big twist" at the end, so I turn to her right before the movie starts and flat out say the following - "I'll bet the big twist is that Bruce Willis is dead the whole time!' Really though, it was entirely a guess - I had no idea. Midway through, Steph is like, "I really think that you are right!" It saved us the $7 that we would have had to spend to see it again to see how we missed it at least.

What about you? Anything along these lines where you were told the ending when you didn't want to hear it? People who know me well - am I missing anything?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Carrie's birthday adventure

For Carrie's birthday on Saturday, I kept what we were doing a surprise until that day. When I woke her up, I gave her an envelope with instructions inside as to where she was supposed to go, then everywhere we went I gave her another envelope with more instructions. It made the day a little bit more mysterious, and we had a good time. I figured I would post with the notes and include some footnotes of my own to tell you how the day went.

Envelope 1:

Happy 30th Birthday!!!!

You have a number of things planned today for your birthday, but they will be revealed to you over the course of the day.

First off, get ready, get dressed, and go to Kerrytown,* where you will receive further instructions…

*Kerrytown is the part of Ann Arbor where we had the wedding reception. Also, the notes I gave her did not have hyperlinks.

Envelope 2*:

Welcome to Kerrytown for the first time in your 30s! While here, you need to do the following:

Go to the Farmers Market, pick out some tomatoes!** (If there are any good ones…)

Go to Cake Nouveau and get a free birthday cupcake!*** (You know, if they will actually do that for you. Take your ID.)

Go to Zingerman’s for your free bagels. At Zingerman’s, you will receive further instructions.

*OK, so somehow this envelope got left behind, but I was able to recite it to her almost verbatim, since I had typed it out maybe an hour before.
**There weren't any good tomatoes yet. I am hurting for some heirlooms.
***Chick who runs this place is hot. The big check she had from winning on Challenge on the Food Network recently was out for all to see. I always wondered if you actually got another check, or if those things were legal tender.

Envelope 3:

While here at Zingerman’s, let’s grab some lunch! I am starving!*

But don’t get dessert, because we are off to Ben & Jerry’s and Stucchi’s for some free birthday ice cream. After that, you will receive further instructions.**

*Yeah, I knew I would be hungry. I had the sandwich I always get with pastrami and corned beef and two types of bread, and Carrie got something with brisket and cole slaw, and we had some mac and cheese on the side.
**These two places are literally right next to each other downtown. Most Ann Arborites only go to Stucchi's. True Ann Arborites go to the Washtenaw Dairy, but we got free ice cream here so whatever. Although, we were still full from lunch.

Envelope 4:

I hope you enjoyed or are enjoying your ice cream, which I will guess was the olive flavored sorbet with celery meringue.*

Now, go to Borders by 2:00! Hurry up so that you can see Garrison!** We will get her CD and get it signed and say Hey to her if she will let us. (Here was where I was going to give you her CD, but it was nowhere to be found.)

After we leave, you will get even more instructions! (But we have done so much already!)

*See the 30 things post about what Carrie dislikes in terms of food.
**Seriously, we forget how much we love Garrison until we see her perform. The pure acoustic is always better - just her and the guitar. There was a decent crowd there. Plus, when we went and spoke with her afterwards, I name-dropped Chip for the third time in a row meeting her.

Envelope 5:

Wow, it has been a busy day. You look like you need to relax. Luckily, you have a 3:30 appointment at the Relax Station for a “Royal Treatment” massage!! Let’s get over there!*

(Unless, we have like an hour to kill. Then we can do something else first. I just didn’t know how long Garrison would take.)**

After your massage, you will receive some more instructions!!

*Carrie enjoyed her massage and it was the big surprise of the day. Yay me!
**We totally had an hour to kill, so we went home real fast.

Envelope 6:

Now that you are relaxed, let’s go grab some coffee.* After that, we are headed out to the Wine Barrel to pick up your birthday presents!**

*It was too soon for coffee, so we got it after we picked up the wines.
**This place is in Livonia, so it is a bit of a jaunt. But we got the 1978 Cos d'Estournel, which is from St. Estephe, which we have never had, and the 1978 Lynch Bages, which is a Pauillac, which we love.

Envelope 7:

Now, let’s go back to A2 and rent a movie at Hollywood Video. It’s free you know.*

*We got coffee first, but we picked up Spiderman 3.

Envelope 8:

Let’s go home. You have a bottle of White Star in the fridge. Pour yourself a bottle and go read the Millfill blog.*

*The point of reading the blog was for her to see #30, which was where we were having dinner, at the Earle Uptown. Dinner was pretty good, but the dish we went there to get was not there! They were out of the fois gras for the Rossini, which sucked!! But the wines were stellar - we had the 1996 Les Hauts de Pontet, which is the second label of our favorite Bordeaux that we can afford, and we started off with the 2006 Pouilly Fume “Vieilles Vignes” Regis Minet. And yeah, I cut and pasted that.

So, overall the day was a success and we had a fun time. Since that took about a month to plan, I will have to start planning her 31st sometime in March.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

30 Fun Facts about Carrie

1. Carrie turns 30 today. We have been dating since she was 21. That is a full 30% of her life. Scary.
2. Carrie's favorite birthday with me was when she turned 25 in 2003. I set up a tent in the living room of our apartment, we drank an awesome bottle of Brunello that she will say is maybe her favorite wine ever, I made lamb that was the best lamb I have ever made, and when we sat outside that night, it was 32 degrees, which was crazy since it was the summer solstice.
3. Carrie is completely unable to fold a pizza box.
4. She usually gets the lyrics wrong to every song she tries to sing. Sometimes the lyrics are the song's title and she messes up.
5. Sometimes when a song is on, Carrie will listen and not sing, but then randomly start singing midway through the song. Without fail, the first words she tries to sing on the song are wrong.
6. Sometimes, on special holidays, Carrie will not buy me a card but instead will make me one. I keep them all and they mean much more than Hallmark cards to me, even if she is ridiculously goofy when making them.
7. Carrie is better at being a teacher than I will ever be at anything I do.
8. Sometimes, either when she is really thirsty or really hungover, Carrie just wants a Coca Cola Classic. None of this Coke Zero crap.
9. I have received some awesome gifts from this girl in my lifetime, including a telescope and a bottle of 1976 Chateau d'Yquem, but I will always think that the best gift was the DVD of Run Lola Run she got me. We hadn't even been dating a week, and I couldn't find it anywhere, but already in less than a week she found it and bought it for me for Christmas. It was awesome - I still watch it.
10. Carrie and I both hate olives more than any other food. Carrie also hates salmon and other fishy fish, and celery.
11. Carrie is one of those people who would prefer her desserts to have some sort of fruit in them, as opposed to me who just wants some combination of chocolate, peanut butter, and oreos.
12. Carrie loves wine, in case you didn't know. I am studying a lot about wines, but she always seems to know even the most obscure things that I found out and try to share with her.
13. Normally, everyone loves Carrie. This is good, because I tend to be an ass if I can, but I have still yet to find out that someone from the group of people we hung out with hates Carrie or even remotely dislikes her or anything.
14. Has a surprising knowledge of art and art history. I am amazed when we go to museums and she just says some thing about the paintings that I had no idea.
15. She has 2 different laughs. One is when something is genuinely amusing, which is what I always get for my jokes, and the other which is this cackle thing she gets when something is the funniest thing she will hear in weeks. I know I have really said something funny when I get the second laugh.
16. Carrie has never had a pair of sunglasses that have lasted for more than 6 months. They either break or get lost. It is uncanny.
17. Carrie was a smoker when we first started dating, but now the prospects of smoking make her physically ill. I am happy for this change - I want her to live a long life.
18. She can clean the entire apartment in less than 2 hours, no matter how dirty. It amazes me.
19. She actually drives faster than I do, because I am old.
20. Gets more traffic tickets than I do.
21. Only has two types of clothes - nice outfits and then stuff for lounging around the house. Most of the lounging clothes belonged to me at one point.
22. In many ways, Carrie and my mom are alike.
23. She still hasn't finished Harry Potter 7.
24. Has never watched the Star Wars movies from start to finish either.
25. Likes Steely Dan. This actually causes more fights than anything else.
26. Still occasionally places The Cosby Show and Roseanne on the TiVo list.
27. Enjoys watching sports in person more than on TV.
28. Shares many of the same flaws as I do, which is cute and annoying at the same time.
29. Carrie is my rock - she remembers the things I forget, keeps me in check, inspires me, loves me, and is my other half. I am incomplete without her.
30. Carrie probably has figured it out, but she is eating dinner at the Earle Uptown tonight. 8:00!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Game 7

So, Monday morning I get an email at work from Cullen saying that he has asked his "guy" if he can get me 2 tickets for game 5 at the Joe between the Wings and the Pens, where the Wings had a chance to skate the Stanley Cup. I didn't actually ever really think it was going to happen, and by afternoon we hadn't heard back, so whatever. That night, I was on the phone calling and texting almost everyone I knew. The Wings came back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the 3rd period. They absolutely dominated. It was some of the most incredible play I have ever seen from a team in any sport. Steph called to ask how the Penguins were able to score 2 goals! I said, "Ozzie", because it is always easier to blame the goalie than to actually pinpoint the exact reasons (Lilja and Stuart).

Late in the 3rd period, everyone was on their feet - this was the Wings' coronation, their 4th cup in 11 seasons, the second since I have lived here. I remember the Wings' Cup win in 2002 - I watched several of the games after work at a local bar called "The Arena", which is now best known as the final resting place of Cullen's wedding ring. However, when the Wings skated the Cup that year, I was at my apartment watching with Carrie, who was mostly asleep on the couch, despite my overzealous exclamations: "look how they all shake hands - all sports should have to do that"; "Boo Gary Bettman - if I had that level of job performance, they would have fired me by now"; "I wonder who will win the Conn Smythe - probably Lidstrom"; "There's the cup! This is so awesome!!"

Back to Monday night - under a minute left in the game, and everyone is going crazy in anticipation of the Cup. I am quite literally on the edge of my seat. Steph lets me know later that I should remind her of the last minute of this game so that she will watch more hockey (the best sport in HD, fwiw). Then it happened. 34 seconds left, and the Pens score. The wind is knocked out of me - I try to find a plate glass window to put my head through. Game tied, 3-3. Devastating.

Despite a flurry of activity at the end of regulation, the game goes to OT. Speaking of a "Fleury" of activity, 3 OT periods later behind the best goaltending ever, the Pens score to win after a Jiri Hudler penalty, and I am tired. I text my buddy Mike Ferguson, who is a big hockey fan, and basically threaten Chris Osgood's life and call for the Wings to call up Jimmy Howard to start game 6. Mike points out again that it really wasn't Ozzie's fault, and he is right. But still. Ugh.

Work on Tuesday sucks - I am exhausted, everyone is pissy and really just wants it all to be over. Because it should have been. Most of us had just assumed that it was over, and game 6 really feels like it should never have had to take place. We feel cheated out of the feeling that we all had up until 34 seconds remained. I can't believe we have to go to game 6 in Pittsburgh. I am thinking, I don't care if I get tickets to game 7 back in Detroit, I just want the Cup!

Then, so help me God, I get an email from Cullen saying that we have tickets to game 7 back in Detroit.

Let me put this in perspective - there are only 2 other situations that a sporting event would be as big as a home game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals for the Red Wings. They are just my team! The others would be: the Titans in the Super Bowl, and Michigan in the BCS championship game. (Actually, if Marshall somehow made the BCS title game, I would sell a kidney for tickets. Then I would let Mom go. Then I would sell my other kidney for 2 tickets - one for me, and one for the dialysis machine.) The only way that I could handle a game 7 for the Wings is if we had forced it by winning game 6, coming back from some sort of deficit.

Immediately I am torn, despite what I had just said about not wanting a game 7 - did I actually want there to be a game 7? The opportunity for the defining sporting moment of my lifetime? Or do I want my team to win and get it over with? I mean, the momentum would fully be on the side of Pittsburgh and Sydney the Kidney. (2 kidney references! I should call this my nephro-post.) The crowd would be more nervous than excited, and an early Penguins goal would have destroyed us. Monday night during overtime, I actually had to put the garbage can in front of me because I thought I was going to puke - no hyperbole, it is just when your heart rate is that elevated for that long, these things can happen. So, I didn't want to puke on anyone at the stadium if we ended up going on Saturday.

Opinions varied - Carrie thinks that having Cullen come up so we could go to it would be so awesome that she doesn't understand why I wouldn't root for it to happen. Mike said that he didn't care if he had seats on the bench for game 7, he would just want it to be over in Pittsburgh. Seriously though - Monday night, my heart rate was roughly 150 for 4 straight hours at least - I don't know if my body could take it again, especially in person.

Ultimately, I decided to root for my team to win and root against a game 7, and just keep the knowledge that even if worse came to worse, it would still be awesome. And with a 3-1 lead late in the game, it looked like the whole thing was a non-issue. Until Jiri Hudler again took a late penalty, and the Pens score with a minute and a half left to cut it to 3-2. Then so help me God, as time expired and the game and the hockey season ended, the puck was actually loose in the crease! It took a minute for me to process what had just happened and that the game was really over, and we had won! My heart rate went down from 230 to a more manageable 120 I think.

So the Red Wings won their 11th Stanley Cup in team history on Wednesday. I didn't get to see the Cup in person, and I didn't get to have the defining sporting moment in my life. But I don't care. I am so happy that we won and I am so happy that it is over. The texts were flying that night - me texting Mike about how awesome Ozzie was, then hearing from Steph about how she made Chip watch it all because it was all so fun, hearing from Cullen about how happy he was that he didn't have to come up this weekend. I even talked to Bill Bernard, the man who made me a Wings fan so many years ago. I think this may have been the first time I saw the championship team in a sport in person the year they won the title (thanks again to Cullen's ticket-getting abilities we were able to go as part of my bachelor party weekend, which still remains the best experience I have ever had in sports).

So I didn't get to see it all in person - I did get to watch it at my apartment with Carrie, who was mostly asleep on the couch, despite my overzealous exclamations: "look how they all shake hands - all sports should have to do that"; "Boo Gary Bettman - if I had that level of job performance, they would have fired me by now"; "I wonder who will win the Conn Smythe - probably Zetterberg"; "There's the cup! This is so awesome!!"