August 29, 2013
Wrapping up my recaps of my trip to Wisconsin with the main reason I went: Reds @ Brewers, Sunday, August 18th.
I think this may have been my first tailgate for a non-Penn State game, certainly my first baseball tailgate. Brewers tailgating seemed different than what I saw at a Phillies game a few years ago. This is something they’ve always done, not just when they got good, because, well, the Brewers haven’t had much of a run.
For the tailgate, we had some brats along with the previously mentioned Bavarian mustard. The nice family next to us even came over to chat. They were very Wisconsin (the accent) and I guess noticed that we weren’t very Wisconsin.
When it came time to go in, I had only half finished my Gatorade, we also had some brats left. My friend said to just take it in. What? My bottle was already open, and it’s not water. Sealed bottles are the only type of beverage I’ve heard are sometimes allowed in stadiums. I was assured it would be no problem. And it wasn’t. Nobody questioned me on my way in.
I had posted previously that during August home games, the Brewers were giving $10 vouchers to everyone and they could be used on food or merchandise. With the tickets being $15 on StubHub, that is altogether a pretty good deal.
The first reaction, even from the outside is how large it is with that retractable roof. Inside, you get the feeling that they didn’t go cheap on putting this thing together. I believe the only other retractable roof stadium I’ve been to is in Seattle, where they spent a fortune since they had to secure it against earthquakes.
Everything else is standard fare for the new stadiums. The seats are all great and there is plenty of space to walk around on the concourses.
Another thought, and this applies to many newer stadiums, is the open views in the outfield when there isn’t much to be seen. The other similar one is Kansas City. I guess having seats out there doesn’t make a lot of sense, smaller cities have trouble filling what they have. Still, I like the upper levels to connect via walkway.
Bernie’s Slide – I did get to see a Brewers home run and I did get to see Bernie go down the slide. Hats off to Bernie. He’s always standing out there, ready to go as soon as a ball clears the fence.
Sausage Race – It was a relay the day I was there. Kids as mini-sausages were ready for the hand-off. I think the excitement level would have been amped up if I had a favorite in the race.
Ice Cream Helmet
Here’s where it all fell apart. My friend already has a Brewers Ice Cream Helmet. So I didn’t consider it being a problem. In line, I didn’t see any helmets. Then I started seeing people getting ice cream in dishes. I saw someone at a closed register and went up to ask. He was very knowledgeable and said that they don’t have them any more. My only option was a huge helmet filled with nachos. Don’t have them any more? Were people not happy with them? Did they cost too much? This should be a ballpark staple. If you are cutting costs that much, just keep some around and charge an extra dollar.
I went around the whole stadium to see if maybe there was a stand left. I came across one stand that was ice cream only, but they didn’t have them. I was tricked by old Dippin’ Dots stands that are now used to sell popcorn or nuts. So much for the future, eh, Dippin’ Dots?
The current list of helmet fails: San Francisco, Oakland, LA (although that may have been a ticket issue), and now Milwaukee.
Can I call a meeting of stadium owners so they can start to make an effort on lines at these stadiums? The only excuse to not have enough concession lines that it never gets more than two or three people deep, is a lack of space. Miller Park is not suffering from this issue. More lines means more revenue. The markup on these concessions makes the expense of paying someone next to nothing. There has to be solution. I’d like to see more attempts at trying different approaches. One item per stand? Try it. Separate lines for cash or exact change? Pre-purchase vouchers for items, or have machines to buy the vouchers so credit cards don’t take too much time? Just try something.
Overall, I liked the stadium. I’m not sure there is a bad stadium left in the majors. The Twins and Mets have newer stadiums (I didn’t like the old ones) and I didn’t mind Tampa Bay. It is hard to differentiate yourself at this point. You can only do so much with the in-game experience if your team has been out of the playoff race most of the season.
August 26, 2013
Remember the Titans @ Camp Randall
The first item on the agenda after I arrived in Madison was to catch a movie. A movie that would be shown on the video board inside Camp Randall. What a great idea. You’ve got this really nice video board. A huge stadium that is only used a few times a year. It doesn’t even have natural grass, so you can sit on the field with no one concerned about the grass. We had a spot in the middle of the end zone, right in front of the goal posts.
I hadn’t seen Remember the Titans in a long long time. It has never been one of my favorites but people always seemed to love it. After seeing it again a few things stood out: 1) I hadn’t realized that my friends repeated so many lines from the movie that I probably heard the entire script, just on shuffle, on a daily basis and 2) having now been to Alexandria, VA a few times, it makes the movie a bit more shocking, given how it’s affluent DC suburb these days. The rest of the movie was typical football movie, which is fine and something I’m all for in this setting. There would be few better choices.
There had been a vote for which movie to watch, the options were: Despicable Me, Oz The Great and Powerful, Friday Night Lights, Remember The Titans, and The Avengers. I was surprised they weren’t all sports movies and two of them were PG-13. Remember the Titans won and I don’t think it was a close fight.
If they pick Little Giants next year, I might have to fly back.
The Way Way Back
We caught this one at a normal theater. Mostly normal. First, the theater was in a mall. We used to have theaters in malls but they all moved out years ago. This was a new mall theater and really nice. The strangest thing was that when we bought our tickets at the box office, we had to select our seats. Assigned seats!
A lot of people haven’t heard of this movie, so here’s the trailer. Or just trust me, cause the trailer covers a lot.
I loved it, you have to see it. I’m calling it my favorite movie of the summer. Keep in mind it’s the only movie I’ve seen this summer. In case you didn’t watch the trailer. It focuses on a teenage boy spending the summer with his mom at her boyfriend’s beach house, along with the boyfriend and his daughter. Steve Carrell is the boyfriend and he is awful, in a good way. So crazy because he is always nice. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the teenager is awkard and doesn’t get along with Steve Carrell. So he wanders off and makes his own friends, which is where the fun begins. Also in the movie, Allison Janney, is the neighbor and should be nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Also, there needs to be some sort of comedy acting Oscar, so Sam Rockwell could win it.
The movie was written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who are both in the movie and you should already know them because the won the Oscar for The Descendents screenplay, and because Jim Rash is the dean on Community. The Descendents was adapted from a book, this one is all theirs. I will see there next three movies, even if the next two are terrible, I’d still give them a third shot.
Mighty Ducks 1 & 2
Random, yes. My friend took me to some of his friends’ apartment warming party with a theme of food from Minnesota & Wisconsin. I thought it would be an outdoor BBQ and escalate quickly. Instead it was indoors and we wound up watching the first two Mighty Ducks movies. They had the box set, but everyone was too tired for the third movie.
Have you seen Mighty Ducks recently? Grab some friends and do it. The first one holds up pretty well. I hadn’t remembered the super cheesy sound effects and that one of the Ducks lines was called the Oreo Line (yes, in a kids movie). I also got to revisit the nickname ‘cake eater’ which when I was little I always felt I didn’t understand so it must be super awful, but no. The first time he heard it, Banks should have just said, ‘you have a problem with cake?’ and it would have been done with. The second one is pretty much the exact same movie. The Ducks become the junior national team, and they only add five outsiders, all from the south!
August 22, 2013
Did you know trivia games aren’t cool anymore? That’s what the guy at the game store told us.
My friend was having some school friends over for a game night while I was visiting. He wanted to play Trivial Pursuit, but didn’t own it. He said he had attempted to procure it recently with no success. It’s one of the most common games, it shouldn’t be hard to find. We headed to ToysRUs.
All ToysRUs had was Trivial Pursuit Party edition. Party? That sounds like watered down Trivial Pursuit, which it was, and we had no interest in that. Trivial Pursuit is a ruthless game where you don’t just want to win, but the goal is to demoralize your opponent while you beat them. Is that just me? Anyway, there was very little else to choose from related to trivia in the board game isle of ToysRUs.
Same deal at Target, just a whole lot fewer games.
I found a game store in Madison so we headed over there. I’ve been to game stores before, I like them a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything, but I always come close. Game store employees are more helpful than any employee at any other store. If you know what you are looking for, they will help you find it and anything similar. If you don’t know what you are looking for, they will ask you twenty questions to find something you might like. If you don’t want any help, they’ll leave you be, and may just head to the back of the store (they are very trusting as well). This one also had a game room in the back and on the back wall were some framed game boards, which is an idea I like very much for future room decorating.
When we first got to the store, we said we were just browsing and after a few minutes of not seeing Trivial Pursuit, we asked for help. This is when we were informed that trivia games weren’t popular anymore. The guy at the store said that the only people who like them are the one person who is good at trivia and always wins. My friend said he was that person.
I guess I can see the point of the trivia games going away. You need a group of people and game combination that makes everything fair. The game has a limited shelf life. I’ve played my parents Trivial Pursuit before, the answer to every question was Reagan (oh, the 80s …).
We wound not getting a trivia game. There weren’t a lot of choices. There was a geek focused trivia game, but like I said about having the right group, I am the only one who would have enjoyed that.
The guy talked my friend into a game he said his family loved. It’s called Say Anything. Here’s how it works: Each round, someone picks a card with a few questions on it (the person picking rotates each round). That person can pick any question they like. It’s not trivia, very open ended questions. Each of the other players then writes down an answer to the question and displays it for everyone to see. The person who asked the question secretly chooses one of them. That person can choose an answer for whatever reason they like: their favorite, what they think will be a favorite of the group, or just a random selection. Each of the other players have two chips to bid on which answer(s) they think was selected. Points are awarded as follows: 1 point to the author of the selected answer, 1 point to the owner of each chip placed on that answer (so if someone had their answer picked and had bid both their chips on their own answer, they’d get 3 points in the round), the person asking the question also gets points for every chip bid on the answer they selected, up to 3. That last bit is key to the game, the questioner has an incentive to pick the answer that will be most popular with the group.
What’s great about the game is that it’s completely open ended. So any combination of people could really play together. You have the choice about how to answer: serious, funny, completely unrelated to anything going on at the time. The visibility of the answers adds to the fun. After the first person lays down their answer the other players may not have even started writing yet. At that point you may decide to go in a different direction from that answer, or attempt to top it. I think a time limit could be useful, but we played somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 rounds and never really had an issue with time.
It was a little difficult for me, only knowing my friend, and having met the others just prior to starting the game. It puts you at a bit of a disadvantage because the others sometimes know what to say to assure their answer will be picked. That may have kept me from winning, but I didn’t lose completely. I finished 2nd to last or tied for last in each of the three games. Even finishing last, the game is still a blast. Who says you have to win? Me, except when I don’t.
August 21, 2013
You might be shocked but the National Mustard Museum was not on the planned itinerary for my time in Wisconsin. The only thing actually on the itinerary was Miller Park, which meant that the other 3 days could be filled with just about anything. So maybe the Mustard Museum isn’t that strange. Ok, maybe it is.
The museum is in a town called Middleton, WI. My friend said it was #1 in one of those best places to live rankings. We wound up there because we were in the area he needed some mustard that they only carry there. Also, I had mentioned I could go for some pie, and there was a diner next door with excellent pie (which was true).
The museum is really a mustard store – mustards from around the world, organized by category (I was unaware there were categories), mustard t-shirts, games, and whatever else you could relate to mustard and sell, and a snack bar where you could buy things that you usually put mustard on. There were also lots of samples with pretzel sticks to try it out.
The museum part is downstairs, they just ask for a donation, and includes some history about mustard (I presume, I didn’t actually read any of the signs), a mustard theater, which must just show movies that had mustard in them, and all the varieties of mustards they could pull together, organized by origin. Here is the Pennsylvania section:
Going in, I had mentioned that there is a very popular variety of mustard from State College that people love so much they ship it all over the place. Sure enough it was available for sale in the store and was represented in the PA section with a Penn State logo jar.
I didn’t mention this while inside, but up until recently I was only into yellow mustard, which I didn’t even notice on the shelves. I therefore would not even pretend to be a connoisseur of mustard. They were very friendly and I was not made to feel inferior for not knowing very much like I’ve felt in some specialty cheese shops I’ve been dragged into by friends.
One issue I have with the vast number of mustards to choose from … I don’t really care for a lot of varieties of things. Let me explain, or try to. I’m a bit of a picky eater. So when I find a food or drink (or condiment brand), I prefer to stick to it. Yes, I realize there might be something better but the road to finding something better is littered with bad experiences. Look at this store, they have hundreds of mustards. In all likelihood, you won’t know that you’ve found your favorite until you are on your deathbed. In the case you do find your favorite, the odds are high that this is the only place in Wisconsin you are going to find that brand. If you move, you’ll spend an amount of time attempting to find that mustard that the marginal taste advantage will be outweighed by effort of the search.
Which bring us to my friend and his mustard of choice. A friend of his brought it back with her from Europe for him. Which begs the first question … why did she bring him mustard? Is he a huge mustard fan? That seems like something I’d have known about him. I believe the mustard was from Bavaria. It isn’t even a domestic mustard! When he leaves Wisconsin in a few years, he’s screwed trying to find that again. Interesting that it is from Bavaria. I don’t know anything about Bavaria, except for Bavarian Pretzels. The obvious question then is … Which came first Bavarian Pretzels or Bavarian Mustard?
Tailgating prior to the Brewers game, I was lucky enough to sample this mustard with the brats. It was pretty good mustard. Not ‘I’m going to run out and find a local specialty mustard store’ amazing, but still, very good.
August 20, 2013
Back from my weekend trip to Wisconsin. I probably don’t need to explain the purpose of the trip because when someone takes a trip in the summer, Wisconsin is usually at the top of the list. I went because my friend is in a Phd program at UW – Madison and I haven’t seen a Brewers game at Miller Park yet (I was at the stadium a few years ago, but the Brewers were on the road). I’ll try and share some posts over the next few days to recap the trip.
flickr set (warning, pretty much all the pictures are from Miller Park and none of them feature people)