Thursday, March 26, 2009

A comedy of minor tragedies

Remember in the Coen brothers' mob drama, Miller's Crossing, when bad guy Gianni Kaspari whacks one of the other bad guys Eddie (The) Dane over the head with the fireplace ash-shovel, as The Dane is strangling good guy Tom Regan? And the oaf known as "Drop" starts hollering, "Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuggggggggghhhhhhh..."?


Well, go watch that film and when you hear Drop hollering, you'll have a sense of what has kept me away from updating this thing.

I should have been able to punch out a happy report (on Sunday) of all the pleasantries from the road trip of the day previous. That trip, coupled with the suffocating sense of dread over our country's future, has had me near catatonic except for the occasional Drop Johnson impersonation.

The genesis of the entire plan was the scheduled Tea Party at the Capitol in Raleigh. Then, because of its proximity and recent fame, I decided to have lunch, beforehand, at the Roast Grill. The plan was to park there, eat Greek hot dogs, walk to Capitol and observe Tea Party.

Also during the planning, I learned about a "Big Rock Show" at the Carolina Theatre, and a UNC vs. Duke baseball game. Okay, I thought, it could all mesh together seemlessly.

The obvious (read "obvious" to anyone who's ever heard of Murphy's Law) flipside to that meshing together business, is that if one domino in the chain got twisted, absolutely none of it could "mesh". I believe it was more than just that one domino askew, because it seems now that forces were acting in concert to prevent the Big Plan from coming off.

I made sure to set the DVR to capture the Carolina vs. LSU game, and got started out perhaps 15minutes later than intended. The 2.5hr drive to Raleigh was more encumbered than expected, and we (I picked up the FCB at her house, and made sure that she also DVR'd UNC's bball game) arrived at The Roast Grill 30 minutes later than planned.

There was a video crew on the scene from the Travel Channel, filming interviews with patrons as a follow-up to the recent Man v Food episode, and its being there drew a crowd, which meant the actual dog dining took way too long. The dogs were pretty good. You can get them "burnt to a crisp" which is the only way to cook 'em at my house, and you can have a freshly squeezed Budweiser with them (which I did). You can't, however, carry your Bud outside "to-go"-like. Plus, there's no real parking at the Roast and I was parked in a tow-away (even on Saturday) lot. The chili wasn't thick enough for my tastes...

The day's schedule should have gone about thusly:

  • 11.30- roast grill

  • 12noon- tea party

  • 1.30p- leave for baseball game at UNC

  • 2-5p- UNC whips Dook

  • 5.45-7.59p- UNC basketball, NCAA tourney

  • 8-10p- Arrogance reunion show

  • 11 until- maybe watch DVR'd replay and hang with party aminals

Since there wasn't adequate parking at the Roast, we left looking for something closer to the Capitol...only to learn...this is classic...the St. Patrick's Day parade, rescheduled due to bad weather from the weekend prior, had gummed up all the roads around and to the Capitol. We had just come from the place closest to the Tea Party, and already behind schedule, and with the daunting prospect of finding a parking spot (and some subliminal stick-in-the-mudness from the FCB), I abandoned the Tea Party, which was the whole original purpose for the trip, to get back on schedule by heading on to Chapel Hill. It was almost 1PM then, facing approximately 30 minutes to campus via I-40.

Get back on schedule? Au contraire, mon frere...

Something on the interstate had westbound traffic...not just slowed, but...stopped. Hey, no problem. I went baja to catch an almost-missed exit ramp and directed FCB to punch up some detour request from her TomTom, which she had luckily (yeah, right) brung along. I wasn't a fan of TomTom, or any GPS navigator, but here was the perfect opportunity for one to prove its worth. Let's just say, since TomTom helped get us to the stadium in 1.5 hours (instead of 0.5 hours), I'm even less of a fan now. When we got to our seats, it was the bottom of the 2nd, and the Diamond 'Heels were down 3-zip. If we'd have gotten there in a timely manner, I'm convinced I could have willed away at least one of those Dookie runs. That sounds unpleasant, doesn't it? "Dookie runs"...heh...

The Tar Heels made a valiant comeback, but 4 errors (bad luck all around that day) were insurmountable.

At least we'd get back to Durham, and the FCB's house in time for the basketball game, right?

Nay, Loki...

We (meaning not me) decided to that it'd be best to meet Debra DeMilo (she of the Fabulous Knobs fame, who would turn out later to be the highlight of the evening's big rock show) at a burrito joint. Since I knew we were DVR'ing the game and I could watch it later, I didn't kick up too much fuss. I don't remember the name of the joint, but their burritos were damn good. I knew FCB had promised Debra that she could change and prep for the show at her house, and I had no idea at this point that FCB's spare bedroom was really going to later be commandeered by the visiting Big Rock Star (effectively kicking me to the sofa), I was giving the whole equation the big 'W' for wut-evah...

Coming out of the burrito joint, I quickly got Woody Durham dialed in on the Frequency Modulated station, and we headed back to FCB's. It sounded like a royal dog-fight of a game. On arriving, she punched up the game on tv. During breaks in the action, I changed my puddled-up undershirt, and noticed how Big Rock Chick's travel and stage items didn't look especially temporary in the spare bedroom. No biggie...just my imagination...

Back I went to the remainder of the game. And what a game! I would later read Adam Lucas' account that both teams played their best game, that the point-swings were more a case of great things accomplished than due to errors on the part of one team or the other. The 'Heels had lost, I think, a nine point lead and trailed by one, and the announcement was made that we needed to go to the venue. At 7:25.


Since when do I find myself in the presence of, not one but two, females one of which is a Big Rock Star, intent on arriving...wait for it...

Ahead of schedule...?

I had already volunteered to drive, partly because I hate being left to the coming-and-going whims of others, but also to maybe have some influence on the overall itinerary. Again: yeah, right. We loaded up, and I got them to the Theatre (it was 3 minutes away), and I listened to Woody and Eric call the end of the game whilst the girls went on to their Big Rock pre-schmooze. Whew! that game was too close for too long.

I knew this was going to be a saga, but there's no getting around it. Instead of integrating the photos, as planned, I'll probably bump them to a second post.

Back to the show...Arrogance was a late-70's-early-80's NC band that most have credited with the North Carolina "Combo-Land" sound, which spawned later, more-successful, acts like REM. The adjective that kept pounding away in my head was: "anthemic" And, I'm pretty sure I had long since had enough of "anthemic" with REM's first album. At least it was a sit-down show, and folks managed to hold back on standing up to show their "homage" until about the next-to-last song. Thanks, old hippies...I mean it.

On the other hand, Debra kicked their asses. She purely tore up Chuck Berry's Little Queenie & The Stones' Honky Tonk Women. The FCB confirmed sometime during the festivities that I had, indeed, inherited the couch for the night...but no biggie.

By 10PM, I was ready to vamanoosepordelacasa for PBRs and 'Heels, but apparently there were interviews and more schmoozing to be done, so I waited in my truck for another hour and a half.


Finally, getting back to Club-FCB, I was allowed to get into the DVR'd game, and I planned to see the whole thing. But that plan lasted through about halftime, and was pulled in favor of...get this...wait for it...

Jessco White, The Dancin' Outlaw.

In-bred, multiple-personality disorder West Virginians tap-dancing and saying things like, "Woman, I'll cut yer thoat with this here butcher knife if you don't stop serving me those sloppy-slimy runny eggs."

After that was done, at 2AM, I decided to let the current take me and resigned to accept the fruitlessness of the day, embrace a few hours of slumber, then wake up, dash home, feed dog, and relax to my DVR'd game.

The ride home was uneventful, and I even decided to catch Adam Lucas' essay on the game over at before watching it at leisure. I enjoy doing that when I've got a delayed version to watch; he always has fantastic perspective and insight from courtside and knowing the immediate background on the players and coaches. Needless to say, after reading his account, I was primed for watching the game...finally...Except...

Somehow the recording did not record. No matter where in the library of recorded shows I looked, it wasn't there. My comedy of errors that started with me putting myself behind schedule for the entire day, by making sure to set that confounded DVR, had come full-circle. Call it a technical glitch or operator error, no matter. It all equals the same thing.

So you can sit back and laugh it off, or you can join me in doing like Drop Johnson,