Friday, May 21, 2010

TBG Travel Diary: 10 Things I Learned Last Weekend

I Don't Hate Disneyland Anymore -- In late December 2006, just before Jalen's third birthday, Mrs. Bootleg and I took the boy to Disneyland. You... might've read about the experience. This time, we didn't go during any of the standard "California-kids-are-out-of-school" stretches like Christmas vacation, spring break or my home state's three-dozen randomly scheduled and ill-defined "teacher workshop" days. In addition, Jalen's watched enough National League baseball while living in San Diego and better appreciates extended waits for something -- anything -- to happen. As a result, he was much more accepting of an occasionally moderate line for a ride. Most importantly, Mrs. Bootleg took her figurative foot off the gas pedal and refrained from her usual attempts to force "family fun, fun, FUN!" down our throats.

Disneyland is Infinitely MORE Fun with Two Families -- Mrs. Bootleg intentionally scheduled this trip on the same weekend that my Oakland A's were playing the hated Angels just a few miles from The Happiest Place on Earth. She even pre-stamped my kitchen pass and OK'd two evening outings to Angel Stadium, including a Friday night game that started at 7:05 PM. This posed a problem, as I felt a tinge of guilt over abandoning my family to meet m'man Smitty. Thankfully, one of Mrs. Bootleg's girlfriends drove up from San Diego that afternoon with her twin boys (and Disneyland season passes) in tow. I got my baseball game and the wife got her all-day (and most of the night) theme park excursion. Win-win (assuming one throws out the final score of the baseball game).

Disneyland's Coffee is Crazy Good -- I didn't have a chance to make a pot before we hit the road last Friday; so I ordered a cup of coffee with my lunch at an island-themed restaurant called "Pizza Oom Mow Mow" over on the California Adventure side of the park. (This was authentic island cuisine that included descriptive words such as "cowabunga", "tubular" and "Big Kahuna" on the menu. And, served pizza.) The coffee was richly roasted, strong but not bitter and hotter than Hades. I'd put it amongst my top five coffees, alongside the dark roast from Dunkin' Donuts, the Pike's from Starbucks and "the coffee from that one place that no one knows about that's SO much better than the 'corporate coffee' running all the independent brewers out of business!" That about cover it, coffee snobs?

I'll Soon be Blogging about my Bad Back -- There's a ride at California Adventure called
Mulholland Madness. On the 10-point roller coaster scale of crazy, it's a solid "5": no loops, a few dips, some crazy-sharp turns and very kid-friendly. We rode it twice. Here's the face that Mrs. Bootleg was making during the first fall. Here's what Jalen had to say after our second ride: "It made my penis feel funny." It's been a week and my back is still barking a bit. A weekend filled with long car rides and cramped ballpark seats didn't help, so for those of you who continue to respectfully inquire "what ailment are you going to incessantly b*tch about THIS year, p***y?", now you know. Wait a minute...that's not respectful at all!

There is Nothing "Live" About Seeing the Oakland A's Offense Live -- On
Friday night, our cleanup hitter entered the game with two home runs. Our number three hitter was slugging .402. Our designated hitter was a 24-year-old rookie with just 24 career plate appearances under his belt. Joe Saunders and his 6.19 ERA took the mound for the Angels. In just a tick over two hours, Saunders -- whose ERA was 8.31(!) in his previous four starts -- shutout the A's on four hits. Smitty and I weren't entirely sure the sun had completely set as we left the stadium.

We Can't Let 'Sick Jalen' Infect Another Vacation -- I inexplicably beat Mrs. Bootleg and the boy back to our room on Friday night. Jalen was exhibiting all of his usual "'bout to catch a cold" symptoms: machine-gun sneezes, dazed lethargy and quarts of congestion. Mrs. Bootleg doesn't always like to fill Jalen full of drugs, but...well, y'see...I'd already paid for two tickets to Saturday night's A's/Angels game. I needed a reasonably-healthy Jalen to at least give me five innings (an official game!) so that Mrs. Bootleg could get a break and so I could realize some return on my sleep-inducing investment. In summary, we drugged Jalen up pretty good on Friday and then bought more meds at a CVS on Saturday morning.

The Cheesecake Factory Should Only Serve Cheesecake -- I've probably eaten a half-dozen meals at The Cheesecake Factory and I've never once been impressed. The food's eminently edible, but it's not worth the crazy-long wait for a table (usually more than 60 minutes here in San Diego). We stayed within walking distance of a Cheesecake Factory in Anaheim, so we did Saturday lunch there with no wait. The picture above is all that remained from my 10-inch breakfast burrito. On my "TBG Eats" scale, it was probably a 2 or 2.5 -- filled with an unexceptional chicken chorizo that had the look and texture of

I was starving, though, so I swallowed it whole. The Key Lime cheesecake remains my go-to dessert here: creamy green in color, tangy and tart in taste. It might sound like I'm describing an infectious disease, but...y'know, I really have no retort here.

I'm a Good Father! -- Jalen was about 80% when we left for the ballpark late Saturday afternoon. When we arrived, we stood alongside the first base line as A's third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff warmed up by running in short bursts back and forth from foul to fair territory. He came over to sign for the small crowd of fans and Jalen gently pushed and shoved his way to the front of the group. Kouzmanoff not only brushed off the usher's "tut-tutting" of Jalen's exuberance, but he happily complied with Jalen's freaked-out request to sign the ball in ballpoint, not Sharpie ("Use MY pen!"). As Jalen turned to leave, I gave him the standard "now, what do you say?" prompting, to which Kouzmanoff responded, "Oh, he said 'thank you'. Don't worry, you're a good dad. You taught him well." AIEEEEEEEEEEEE! (After the game, another dad who'd brought his kids to the game and sat right in front of us, walked up to me and said, "You did a great job with your son, tonight." Since he's not playing for my favorite team, his words meant a little bit less to me.)

I Can Predict the Apocalypse -- The A's starting pitcher for the evening was supposed to be Justin Duchscherer -- fresh from the disabled list after injuring his left hip in late April. I watched him play long-toss with catcher Landon Powell before the game and noticed that his long-tosses were coming up a few feet short. I didn't think much of it and Duchscherer was introduced during the pre-game with the rest of the A's starters. Then, as the A's took the field in the bottom of the first, rookie reliever Tyson Ross took the mound -- Duchscherer had been scratched with a flare-up of his hip injury. I'd never, ever, ever been more certain of a
blowout loss and said as much to Jalen. Sure enough, A's manager Bob Geren left Ross in for an inning too long and Chad Gaudin was tasked with "taking one for the team" in a long-relief appearance so bad that he was DFA'd the next day. 12-3, Angels. But, I did a great job with my son, tonight. Can I trade that for 10 more runs?

Don't Schedule "Little League Day" during a Dodgers v. Padres Game -- After two ballgames in Anaheim and a trip to Disneyland, Mrs. Bootleg was convinced that we could drive back down to San Diego in the morning and make the 11:30 AM Little League parade around the field at the Padres' Petco Park (which would precede my third game in three days). Players from every Little League team from every Little League district in San Diego County comingled with the usual 30,000+ that a Dodgers v. Padres game brings. When we were told that no more teams could march; Mrs. Bootleg threw our group into the moving queue of kids, practically daring security to stop her. The scene inside was equal parts family picnic and prison riot (Dodgers fans, represent!). I still managed to grab one good mug shot, though.


Mrs. Nicka said...

The back, the finger... You really need to move closer to a good physical therapist.

Aaron C. said...

Hey, I'm still waiting on our Rockville, MD division to make their "once every three years" offer to me. (I'll have to check how close to Connecticut that is :)

In the meantime, I start physical therapy on my finger next Thursday. 45-60 minutes, twice a week. For my finger. This...won't end well.

SHough610 said...

Ah Dodgers fans, the Oakland Raiders fans of baseball. They make Dodgers Stadium the only stadium where getting stabbed is a legitimate threat.

Elena said...

Your back's unlikely to get better without a bit of help, but you might be able to do it yourself: Go to and click on the 'Exercise Body Map' link. That'll bring up three (quite creepy) diagrams of a man's body, and if you click on a region of the body it'll take you to a list of stretches and strengthening exercises for that area. Stick with the stretches for now. (I should probably mention that I'm a massage therapist, so this isn't just some-guy-at-the-bar advice.)

If you have any specific questions, feel free to shoot me an e-mail. Hope you feel better soon!

Aaron C. said...

Thanks! I just so happen to work with a fitness and strength fanatic and she's been telling me about the benefits of stretching for awhile.

Now, that I've recovered from my 700 AM full-frontal wake-up call that was included in those three images in your link, I can start the un-pretzel-my-back process.