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Entries tagged with "michigan"

It was Christmas a few years ago the first time I heard about it. Something casually dropped into the conversation, that not many people think about.

I was home from DC at the time, over at my friend's house for a Christmas get together... which basically consists of drinking beer and raging bonfires. My friend AJ was there. In high school he was one of my best friends. We had lost touch since graduation so it was an unexpected surprise that he was at the party. We sat for a bit and caught up and that's when he told me about it.

"So what are you doing these days?" I asked him, in the casual tone that friends do.

"Right now, I'm in broadcasting school. Looking to get into the radio and, hopefully, get my own show" he answered. Then he hit me with it. "Have you ever heard of This American Life? It's out of Chicago and I'm looking to do something like that."

"This American Life, eh?" I say. "Nope, never have."

That started it. I looked into the show and started listening to the back episodes on their website, getting into the radio show a little more each and every week. It was good, the stories were always entertaining and managed to keep my attention - which is a rare thing with radio shows - and... well, there was just that special bit of "magic" that came along with Ira's voice every week. I was immediately hooked.

The reason I bring this up is, on Saturday night, I bought tickets for Alexis to see Ira Glass give a little talk at Eastern's Pease Auditorium. I had no idea what to expect, with the exception of Ira being on stage.

We arrived a bit later than planned (dinner ran late) and could tell the place was packed already. After taking our seats in back of the balcony we heard the spiel about all the great things Ira's done. Then the lights dropped and a shadowy figure could be seen walking in the back and taking his place at the desk sitting in the middle of the stage. The crowd erupted. After we calmed down, a snippet about gang members is played for about 2-3 minutes while we sat in darkness. We hear Ira jump in at the end of the quote and say "OK, let's bring the lights up." Again, the crowd goes crazy as if applauding the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

He leads with his past mistakes, playing snippets of his early days with NPR. Laughing along with us at the report he filed on the corn tortilla shortage in Mexico after being in the business 8 years. He's very self-aware, poised and, surprisingly, hilarious. His timing is impeccable and he knows hows to deliver a punchline. He entertains with his storytelling.

For two hours he held a captive audience of 1,500 people with just his voice. He taught, he laughed, we clapped. Was the talk worth it? Let's put it this way, I would go anywhere possible to see him again.

I don't know how to put into words the respect and admiration I have for Ira Glass. Maybe that's the highest compliment I can pay him.

In my last post I made reference to the fact that I'm redesigning this site. That process has been started but, with the launch of the new site lurking - and not to mention the conference - I haven't had much time to work on it. You'll see where I'm going with it when I launch but it's definitely different than this blog format. I'll get into more details later.

So on that note, let's go to the usual bulleted list of things that I've done:

  1. The wedding. It's over! Not like I had much to do with it being here, but I don't have to hear about it anymore when chatting with my mom. Arynn gave a great speech (ha), Alexis looked stunning (per usual) and the happy honeymooners missed their flight in the morning to... well... their honeymoon. Check out the pics here and here.
  2. Michigan-Ohio State. I was in Indianapolis this past weekend for the Michigan-Indiana game. It was freezing but worth it. With about a minute and half left, the "Beat the Buckeyes!" chant started. Oh wow. I had chills. As if the game isn't big enough...Scotty, Dave, Vinny and Gerbs are all coming to Chicago to watch it with me. Duffy's opens at 7am. We'll be there are 6 (I hope).
  3. The Tigers. Well, it ended. It was bound to at some point. I have a whole long post I've been writing up about this year (I'll post soon, I swear). It was a great summer though. I could never say enough good things about them. Probably the high point of my last 6 months was the day they closed out the Yankees (we beat the Yankees) and Michigan blew out Michigan State. It was a GREAT day! I can't thank them enough and in no way was this year a failure because they lost in the Series. They revived baseball in Detroit - something they desperately needed - and for that, I cannot complain.

To Be Continued... So, as you cal tell, I've been kinda caught up with sports lately. It's been a great fall. I'll get back to this blogging thing soon.

My sophomore year in college I took my Graphic Design II class, which was all about typography. There was one exercise where we were given a printout of a typeface and a sample paragraph. We would grab our roll of tracing paper and trace the letters, while kearing the paragraph. We'd then critique each other's work (3 hour studios are LONG) and go back to get another paragraph. This went on for a couple weeks. You either loved the routine or dreaded it. I hated themonotony of this exercise. I loved the working with type. I think it was at this point that I started to fall in love with letter forms.

I've created a few typefaces in the past, one was even shown at the ATypI conference in 2003, but ever since getting my feet totally immersed in web design, my "typophilia" has been put on hold. It's not something I'm proud of, it's just I never had to time actually start caring about type on the web. I would define my "font" attribute in the CSS and that was that.

It's mainly out of this frustration that I've decided to redesign this site with a greater focus on the typographic elements. This is a blog after all, a place to read content. It's not going to be big type (aka Shaun's new redesign) it's going to be more focused type (it'll also include a few new features). Maybe this time I'll get around to that About page as well.

And that's where I've been for the past month.

Seeing as my last trip entry was incredibly long, i've condensed my past weekend in South Bend to 125 one-word sentences (hey, 37s says stay simple).

Michigan Beats Notre Dame 47-21
chicago . driving. uneasiness. nd. elkhart . elhart. elkhart . hiseys. bar. drunk. sleep. wake. uneasiness. breakfast. casserole. shower. driving. uneasiness. keg. groceries. driving. nd. tailgate. drinking. eating. football. drinking. walking. walking. bar. drinking. lunch. uneasiness. kickoff! eating. interception. TOUCHDOWN! bearhugs! winning. eating. interception. dammit. touchdown. tied. henne! mario! TOUCHDOWN! PAT. missed. dammit. winning. drinking. henne! mario! TOUCHDOWN! bearhugs! oh. my. effing. god. drinking. fumble! recovered! hart! TOUCHDOWN! bearhugs! holy. sh!t! henne! mario! TOUCHDOWN! bearhugs! wow... wow... again?! defense. DEFENSE. touchdown. dammit. halftime. smoking. drinking. hydrate. drinking. kickoff. uneasiness. drinking. uneasiness. rivas. good. uneasiness. rivas. good. uneasiness. touchdown. dammit. leon. INTERCEPTION! over! breath! breath! breath! fumble! TOUCHDOWN! bearhugs! officially. over. wow... drinking. walking. walking. tailgate. dave. wet! boxers! driving. hiseys. eat. highlights. drinking. sleep. wake. smile. driving. chicago.

Just three notes here:

  1. I hate Notre Dame. Have for a while now. But here's what surprised me... the fans there were incredibly nice (nothing over the top to 12 guys cheering for the other, hated team). It's like we've all come to a community hatred of Ohio State. Well, that or the game wasn't really close so there's wasn't much for them to say.

  2. My god. South Bend is in the middle of NOWHERE. I knew it from the '02 trip, but this just reinforced it.

  3. That defense I saw, was unbelievable. I haven't seen such a strong showing from a Michigan defense in years.

3 down, 9 to go.

It's funny... There are some things in your life that you think will remain constant. To me, Ann Arbor was one of those. I spent basically 23 years of my life there. When we skipped class in high school, we'd go to Ann Arbor. I went to college there. I grew attached to it in a way I couldn't with any other city. Yet, there I was, 3am Sunday morning at NYPD, ordering a slice of pizza and telling my friends "I'm too old to be here right now."

It was Michigan-Ohio State weekend. All my friends from college were back (and even one from high school). It was supposed to be a great meet-up in between Vegas and Tampa New Years. It was a trip we'd planned since the last Michigan-Ohio State game in Ann Arbor two years ago. All the fixings were there for a great weekend. Yet, somehow, it didn't turn out that way.

We had our plan all set. Our favorite bar on Friday (Good Time Charley's) would lead to a night of drunk debauchery which would flow into Saturday morning's tailgate which would prempt a Michigan win. Well, that's how it was supposed to go but, in fact, it did not.

Friday's "drunken debauchery" lead to a near fist fight between the bouncer at Charley's and a few of us. See, we had "greased" the guy a $100 for our table. This was done without most of our knowledge but we ended up paying for it. So we're nice enough to pay for A TABLE AT GOOD FREAKING TIME CHARLEY'S! Anyone who'se been to the bar realizes how inane this is. Anyways, we did it and so be it. You'd think this would get us on the bouncer's good side, right? Well no, it actually made him have a vendetta for us. After a few more friends show up, we had a nice group of maybe 15-20 people there. All drinking and having a good time catching up and reminising about the old times.

It was about this time where The Girl finally makes her appearence. I spot her outside with her friends coming over and run to the front to let said bouncer know "Hey the three of them are with us. Can they get in without waiting in this monstrous line that wrapped aroud the place?" His response "No." After calming explaining to him which table we were at, he gave me "It'll cost you another $20 for the two of them" (One of the Girl's friends had worked her way up in the line and got in.) WTF?! I paid this guys $100 for a table and he can't let two of my friends in?! I was pissed. I called the manager over, calmly explained the situation and he agreed with ME! After the manager went over and argued with this asshole (pardon the language, I'm still steamed over this) bouncer, they STILL weren't let in! So they wait, I'm complaining. But finally The Girl gets to the bouncer. After letting in the few people in front of them with no problem, this guy stops her and STARTS YELLING AT HER! Now, I didn't see this because I was talking to the manager at the time. But when she made it in an told me the story, I was PISSED. I ran over to the guy. If he wants to yell at me, fine. I'm the one asking for the favor, but you yell at her, who was completely innocent of any wrong doing in this, is just plain wrong. I went off. I'm not a fighter, but I was about 5 beers deep at this point and thought I could take on this massive black man. Luckily, The Girl pulls me away in time after some words were exchanged and we went back to our table. That was my incident. My friend Ben also had to be torn away from from punching the a-hole bouncer (complete seperate story). If this guy was out to ruin our night, congrats dude. You did it. Friday was a wash.

Saturday we awoke to new hope, hopefully a better time and some tailgating... at 6AM (thanks Scotty!). It was great. We deep fried turkeys, drank beer, threw the football around, played some games. The perfect tailgate. Everything seemed like it was set for a Michigan victory. Even the schizophrenic weather was tolerable with the sun shining and in the mid-40s! It had all the makings of a win. As we settled into our table for 6 (which, of course, we sat 10 at) at the bar, right next to a group of Ohio State freshmen, we all felt good... yelling and cheering in order to initiate these kids into the rivalry.

I won't recount it for you but somewhere around the middle of the fourth quarter I said "You know, it's good that these little freshman to lose this game. It'll make them hate us even more." I think that hexed us. Michigan went into the prevent defence - which they seemingly ran all day - and couldn't run the football to take time off the clock. The rest is history.

Walking down State Street, I was seriously concered for Vinny's well being. The boy was unhappy, bordering on suicidal. As we kept walking, it was erily quiet in the city. I've NEVER, in all my life, heard it so quiet. It was then I realized, it wasn't just Vinny that was suicidal, it was the whole city. Oh, how I hate Ohio State.

Luckily, Jeff was motovated Saturday night and we all went out to The Arena then some went to Rick's. I stayed behind and talked with a couple of my friends, closing down the Arena. This lead me to NYPD where, surrounded by drunk, loud college kids, I had my realization. I'm too old for college. It's passed me by and I didn't even know it. Oh sure, I can still find plenty of fun in Ann Arbor. But those college days are done. We've all taken Ann Arbor with us and it'll never be the same.

The Girl and I spent Sunday doing things more our speed: Cafe Marie for breakfast, catching Capote at the Michigan Theater and doing a little shopping.

And so, on November 20th, 2005, Ann Arbor has forever changed for me. All I can say is thanks.

It's officially Michigan-Ohio State week. That time of year where Columbus, Ohio residents (Columbians?) get prepared to fill up the Ohio River with their tears from another Wolverine whooping. Ahhh, college football.

In honor of the trek I'll be making to Ann Arbor this weekend - where's there not a hotel within ten miles but luckily we've got two IN A2 - I thought I share a little Michigan tradition with everyone.

It's widely know throughout the free world that Michigan's uniforms are the coolest in all of sports. But where did that unique winged helmet come from?

Let's take a trip back in the old time machine to 1938 when Coach Herbert O. "Fritz" Crisler took the head coaching job in Ann Arbor. It had been four years since Michigan's last national championship. The program needed revamping. So what does he do to get a stadium named after him? He paints a unique yellow pattern on his players leather helmets. "Michigan had a plain black helmet and we wanted to dress it up a little. We added some color (maize and blue) and used the same basic helmet I had designed at Princeton." 1938 captain Fred Jahnke:

Just before the opener, the old black helmets were replaced with a wing type of today's style; form fitting wool pants allowed freer movement and the old "M" jersey became the tear away kind.

The boys with the winged helmets went out that day and beat Michigan State 14-0. They finished the season at 6-1-1. The offensive stats soared from the season before. The team was winning. The helmet stuck.

There you have it. Well, I'm ready for some football! Michigan pride I guess. Go Blue!!!

The initial email was sent. Activities were discussed. Things were planned. Hotel rooms booked. It's official. We're headed back to Ann Arbor for the Michigan-Ohio State game November 19th.

Actually, we booked a couple rooms at a motel - notice the "M" not "H" - a few miles south of campus. Anyone know of any open hotel rooms within walking distance of campus? We're still looking but the city seems to be booked. Meaning tickets will be non-existent. Meaning we'll be at a local watering hole watching the game. Which is all fine and good with me.

This is one of those great weekends that come every couple years and give you stories to last until the next time it comes around. We're still talking about the game last year (and in all likelihood will be repeating the 5am keg at Elbel). Pub golf has already been discussed. It's just a matter of narrowing the list down. Oh man, liver, get prepared.

The date is circled. I would pack my bags now but I, most likely, will be wearing SOME of those clothes before then. I'm excited. Game on!

Happy Birthday America! Today was the day that everyone breaks out their red, white and blue, throws on their false sense of "national pride" and all get along together to watch fireworks. Or it's just everyone is wasted and no one wants to be the "downer" guy at the party that starts talking politics. Either way... you're 229 years young today America but you don't look a decade above 200.

I spent this thrilling day in Michigan, as part of a weekend long romp through metro-Detroit for my little sister's graduation party. The weekend started off well enough with a 45 MINUTE WAIT on the tarmac at DTW. I'm not sure how they spent $1.2 BILLION on a terminal with 80 GATES yet here I am, on my little flight at 1030 on a Friday, sitting on the tarmac for the better part of an hour, waiting for one said 80 gates to open. Makes perfect sense to me.

Saturday was party day. Errands, basketball, bocci ball, croquet, small talk, small talk, small talk, small talk, clean up. And that's how it goes. Highlight: seeing Mr Messmore who looks amazingly good. If there's one teacher that has helped mold me into something I want, it's him. Great man.

Sunday was full of BBQ's. First, Eric's family get-together, that got crashed by The Girl and I, and second was meeting The Girl's friends Julie and JM3. Who I've heard plenty about and, all of which, seems to be quite true. They are some very cool cats and I'm glad that while I'm away from The Girl she's in very worthy hands.

Today was a whirlwind. Ummm... not so much. It was a family BBQ, that involved me cooking the ribs as Dad's BBQ skills are a bit shaky (ie Labor Day 1999... a story that I will sit down and share with everyone soon). I thought we'd be a bit rushed getting back to the airport, but as it turned out, I made it to my gate with well over a half hour left, ended up sitting on the runway at DTW for ANOTHER half hour (although this time, our flight attendant decided to share a little merlot with everyone... something that every flight should entail), got to DCA and spent an hour and half getting to my car. Phew... what a weekend. Very busy. Very fun. And I'm done traveling... for at least two weeks... till Vegas!

As I lay here in bed, on the eve of game 7, I started thinking about all the crazy things sports fans do for their teams to win. Some successful, some... not... so... successful.

I'm not superstitious about anything. I don't believe in psychics, ghosts or lucky rabbit's feet. I have stepped on cracks and my mother's back hasn't broken yet. I've walked under ladders, let black cats pass in front of me and have never wished on a shooting star. But when it comes to sports, I'm as superstitious as they come. I HAVE sat in uncomfortable positions for upwards of 2 hours because my team was playing well. I've stood in crowded bars, in the middle of the busy thoroughfare, because my team was winning. I've worn the same shirt every game day. I've grown beards. I've shaved. I've not showered. I don't watch if they play well when I'm not looking. And when I played... yes, I didn't wash my underwear because we were winning. I'd do anything for a victory.

It started young. I can remember being in the fourth grade, the 1990 Michigan-Michigan State football game was the first time I ever prayed during a sporting event. I sat in the same position for the entire second half — knees up to my chin, back arm resting on the pillow cushion — waiting for Michigan to pull away. My prayers went unanswered. Desmond Howard was tripped in the end zone, the most obvious no call that's I've ever seen (and which the Big Ten apologized the NEXT DAY to Michigan for blowing the call... but I'm not bitter), on the two-point conversion that would've tied the game. I can still remember that day as clear as anything I've ever done.

A couple years ago on a return trip to Ann Arbor for the Michigan-Ohio State game, we were crowded around the tv watching, when Scotty got up to go get more beer out on the porch. As he was pumping the keg, Michigan intercepted a pass. Scotty walked into the room and Michigan gave up a sack. So we did what any real group of sports fans would do... kicked Scotty out. Lo and behold, Michigan scored 2 touchdowns in the next 5 minutes and put the game away. Scotty completely understood and even volunteered to sit out in the freezing Michigan November weather, risking frostbite, for a Michigan win.

What is it about sports that does this to grown men? Is it the reward? The comrade? The fact that this team who you've rooted for for 162/82/16 regular season games is finally able to be the best? For me, I believe it's the last. It's a sense of pride that my boys are the best in the world. My team. My players. My city. You wake up for the next week with a spring in your step, a grin on your face and a pocketful of pride. You're boys are the best. And that's something no one can take from you.

Just look to Boston this past fall. No city has gone through what those fans did. You have hopes; you pride yourself on the success of, not your city, but your teams. You live and die with them. You go through all the ups and downs of the season and grow to know these guys. You feel like these players are your closest friends. You grow with the team, yet you know nothing about these guys. It's a weird phenomenon but one I go through every year.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have one night to figure out what'll make my Pistons win tomorrow night...

My little sister was born nearly six years, to the day, after me. My mom willed her birth back, while in labor, to October 6th so I wouldn't have to share my birthday with anyone, nor would my sister. That meant that 6 years ago this weekend, I was walking down the aisle in my high school fieldhouse receiving my diploma from Brighton High School. It also means this past weekend my little sister became the last Wassel to attend BHS.

Because of Brighton's growth in the past few years, the graduation ceremony needed to change from the football field/fieldhouse to a larger, more suitable arena. So they picked... well, an arena. A poorly planned, poorly laid out arena. I won't say where it was but I will say it's on the campus just EAST of MICHIGAN's Ann Arbor dwelling. Anyways, this place was a maze of stairs, seats, people... making life for my hobbled mother THAT much tougher. After fighting the crowds, saying yo to Eric and Heather, waiting for The Girl to FINALLY arrive, we settled into our seats for the 3 hour long ceremony — highlighted with a crazy speech by a Mrs. Cook. When I say crazy, I mean, CRAZY. Like I'm not sure she was aware of the fact there was a mic in front of her so, instead, she decided to just yell to the people in the back of the arena then go on incoherently rambling about life or something that I know ended in "May the force be with you!" Yikes... But, otherwise my little sister is not so little anymore. She's a full-blown graduate. Double yikes. So congrats little sis, I guess and also congrats on getting Mom to finally were green... Against her will... With a stupid "State" below the school name you SHOULD be attending. But whatever, we'll have years of arguments on this one...

Changing gears completely, what's better than getting drunk with your best friends? How about getting drunk with your best friends and then going to a Tigers game? Saturday was that day. We met at a bar. We drank. We drank. Howell was drunk before we left. We piled 14 of us into a van we rented. We drank. We stopped in an alley in the Deeeeetroit ghetto to pee. We got to the game an inning late. We drank. We (Eric) was the loud guy in the back the stadium making the witty puns like "ROTO-REUTER!" and "POLONCO BALONCO!" We drank. We (The Girl and I) got a nice shower from Eric's, one, hot dog and, two, saliva. We drank. We tried to start "The Wave." We failed. We tried again. We failed. We drank. We tried again. We failed. We recruited two 10 year olds to help start "The Wave." We failed. "The Wave" was started... not by us. Thus, we drank in depression. We (the Tigers) won. We drank... warm beer. We watched fireworks. We left. We piled back into the van to go back to the bar. Matt barrel rolled out of the van and into the women’s room, falsely thinking it was the men's room... twice. We drank. We left the bar. The Girl slept. I let her... then kissed her forehead. We got home after a Tigers win and have many, many more stories. As is usually the case with those boys.

Oh, and Happy Father's Day father! You're pretty great too!


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