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Photos: Beat FSU

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Categories: entertainment, florida, Miami Gardens, South Florida, sports, UM news, University of Miami | Leave a comment

Disappointment all around

It was a beautiful sunny day outside today. Unfortunately I spent most of it stuck inside doing laundry, and then I decided to go out and go out and do something productive. In fact, I pretty much bolted out of here as soon as the machine buzzed; you know Carpe Diem and whatnot.

I took the fifteen minute walk to the circulator stop, and I looked at my watch realizing that I had a lot of time on my hands. As I looked up again the bus was just pulling in, and surprisingly enough there were still a few seats left towards the very back. See, this wasn’t so bad.

I get off at Inner Harbor and walk into The Gallery. I knew what wanted, I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to get it at a dollar store. Heck for a dollar, I could get anything else I wanted – yah for wanton spending!

I get behind an angry woman yelling at her restless toddler. I finally get up to the cashier, put my 4 items on the counter and the bored looking woman rings it and it comes out to just under $15.

“Huh, four items is $15? I thought this was a DOLLAR store.”

She rolls her eyes and gives that same “you’re a moron” look I get from every retail clerk. She then points to the price column on the receipt while shoving my bag to the side and calling the next person in line.

She clearly had this conversation more than once today, but I didn’t feel like letting her ennui ruin my day. Not to worry, I would have other opportunities for that as the evening continued.

I look down at my watch and it was just after 5pm. I cross the still barricaded Pratt Street and make my way to the Banner stop at Conway Street where I quickly discovered that the barricades blocking off most of Light Street as well – including the stop.

Fortunately, they had cleared up enough space for a stop two blocks south at Lee Street, and as I was walking it I felt drops slowly falling on my head – good thing I left my umbrella at home. One Purple Route came then another one and finally after 15 minutes of waiting in the rain, the Banner Route finally showed up and it was empty and remained so for most of my journey.

I arrived at a rain-free McHenry Row at 5:45pm and immediately made my way to the Green Turtle on the main corner. I opened the door (which had a large colorful sign on it advertising “$3 Game Day Apps”) and about five staff members were just sitting there at the maître de stand. Finally, one of them looks at me skeptically and asks if I wanted a table.

I was tempted to say smart to their stupidity, but I was not about to piss off someone who can spit in my food. The maître de grabs a menu and leads me off to a booth with a view of the dark sky and completely dry patio.

The waitress does arrive, and I as her about the $3 appetizers.

“Actually, if you look at the sign, you’ll see that it says ‘Saturday and Sunday only.’ Today is THURSDAY.”

“Great,” I said trying (and failing) to match her enthusiasm (mom always said I can’t be disappointed in something that is my damned fault). “I guess that means…uh…full price….what a deal.”

“Yep, now what can I get you to drink?”

I order an iced tea, and a sandwich. I felt somewhat bad about not ordering an appetizer, but truthfully I really wasn’t hungry for one anyway. Besides, if it were as bad as my sandwich then I made the right call (usually I like their food).

She drops the bill off on the table, and I felt bad again. Then I realized, it was 6:25pm and I didn’t have time for pity. I was on a schedule, and I was determined to keep to it. I left the bar as the southbound Circulator zoomed by which meant I wouldn’t be waiting too long for a northbound bus.

It took just under ten minutes for the northbound bus to arrive, and I rode it all the way back to Oderbein where I got off in time to be caught in a sea of people heading over to the Orioles game (that I seriously forgot was going on tonight) and the various street vendors that serve them. Yes, having a Light Rail station at Camden Yards can be so convenient at times.

I walked over to the ATV and swiped my Smartcard. When I turned around, an empty “Penn-Camden” train was just pulling into the station. I get on, and as I’m checking FB on my phone, the operator comes by talking on her phone. She stops in front of me, points at me and says “where are YOU going?” Her tone sounding more like an accusation than a question, but I told her “Everyman Theater” and she walks off mumbling about “not knowing where THAT is.”

I was about to tell her when I noticed the northbound Hunt Valley pulling into the station. I remembered that normal MTA trains (non-Penn-Camden) have priority on this line so I crossed the platform and waited for the fans to get off before talking one of the few empty remaining seats on my two stop journey.

I got off at Baltimore Street and took a moment to get my bearing as I’d never been to Everyman’s “new” venue (it opened last year to HUGE fanfare). I look left, and as I turn to head right I nearly run into a man standing a few inches in front of me.

“You don’t understand how bad of a night I’m having,” he pleaded. “All I ask from you is some change: 10-cents, a dollar, anything you can spare. Please I’m begging you.”

Yep, that’s me the default ATM of Baltimore’s poor and disenfranchised. Every time I leave my apartment…but on the plus side, it was nice to hear other people having problems. With him gone I was able to find the theater in peace…and wandering all the way to UMD Hospital without seeing it I finally pulled my smart phone out, checked the map and realized that I had just walked three blocks down the wrong street. I made it to the theater with twenty minutes to spare, and a damn near miracle they still had seats left. All that being said…

There is a certain amount of irony in being disappointed by a play about disappointment. Unfortunately for Everyman, I hate irony… almost as much as I hate sitting here trying to justify why I disliked a show with no “objective” flaws. Sometimes I hate this job… but then again I’ve always been, as one of the characters in the play said: “a good Christian martyr.”

After a seeming eternity in the theater, the show let out after only 90 minutes (it felt like a lot longer) – just in time to get caught up in the wave of people coming out of the Orioles game. In fact, the first train was completely full. The second one, which arrived about 4 minutes later, was crowded, but there were still a few visible seats near the back.

Yah, I was going back to the apartment. I could rest, unpack my shopping bag and begin coming up with reasons to not hate this evening…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, Inner Harbor, light rail, locust point, sports, theatre, transportation | Leave a comment

Pregame antics

The Baltimore Blast are a professional indoor soccer team that plays at 1st Mariner Arena. More importantly, they are NOT a theatre company – in fact, that’s the main reason I go to their games. That and the fact that the arena is directly across the street from the light rail station.

The arena is across the street, but it is the BACK of the arena. The front is a trek through a line of parking lots and downtown bus stops, and the people who populate them (for better or worse). Tonight, it was an unusually bad experience, but the results are the same as every other time I venture out into the city.

I’ve encountered scalpers at Blast games before, but this one was definitely this was the most aggressive. This one practically attaching himself to my hip the second my foot hit the curb and following me all the way to the entrance to the arena shouting

“Yo, check this, man, out,” he said casually pulling a grey ticket from his jacket pocket. “$20 for a center row seat. $20! They’ll charge $25 inside, but you can have it for $20! Yes, $20 for the GUARANTEED BEST SEATS IN THE FUCKING HOUSE!!!”

I ignore him and try to press forward towards the arena.

“No, seriously,” he said waving his ticket in my face. “The $25 they charge inside is a RIP-OFF, I’m offering you a DEAL – just $20 and you can skip the gate and go directly to your seat.”

He sees that I’m STILL ignoring him, and he punches my arm. “PAY ATTENTION!!! I am offering you a DEAL!”

“Leave me alone,” I said firmly, throwing away punch.

“Fine, fine, $15 – final offer.”

“I have no idea who you are talking to or why you’re PUNCHING me, but leave – me – alone.”

“I AM TALKING TO YOU! ARE YOU A FUCKING RETARD? YOU ARE FUCKING CRAZY PERSON. FUCK YOU! I TRY TO GIVE YOU A DEAL, BUT NOO YOU ARE A FUCKING RETARDED ASSHOLE.”

Same insults, different day. You would think these sidewalk psychiatrists would use some new jargon, switch things up a bit… but they don’t.

I however do know better than to argue with legitimately crazy people, and decided to let him make a scene. It’s better for him to be seen as a bad guy than me.

“LEARN SOME FUCKING ENGLISH,” he continues. Ironically, I don’t understand that statement at all. “FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING MENTALLY RETARDED ASSHOLE!”

“MOTHER FUCKER, YOU’RE CRAZY, CRAZY FUCKING RETARDED ASSHOLE,” he continued shouting as he disappearing somewhere in the distance.

I opened the door to the arena, found an open ticket agent and paid $23 for a seat in the far side of the arena. Maybe his ticket (if it was legit) was for a better seat, but his sales pitch sucked. I must admit, the obnoxious rant at the end rather killed my mood.

In case you were wondering, the Blast won. I was just happy that my very angry friend wasn’t waiting for me at the exit.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, sports | Leave a comment

Some Disenchanting evening

According to the internet, there are 9 so-called “alignments.” I’m a “good-neutral,” who often finds himself stuck in a “Chaotic-neutral” world. Tonight was one of those times: far from being my best night, yet not quite bad enough to be the worst night of my life either – chaotic…but neutral.

I took a shower and left the apartment around 4:45, I arrived at the light rail just after 5pm. I tried buying a ticket, but the machine was having trouble reading my Smartcard. I cancelled the transaction, tried again and suddenly it worked – same machine, same card, different result. I think I’ve just disproved that line about the “definition of insanity.”

I cross the tracks to the southbound platform just as a northbound train was approaching the station. Less then a minute later, another northbound train arrived. A few seconds after the third northbound left, I finally heard the southbound train pull around the corner.

I arrived at the Inner Harbor at 5:27pm. I had just over an hour and a half until game time – too much for fast food, but barely enough for sit down meal. I decided to go with the sit down meal anyway, and my mental calculations were correct – I left the restaurant with only ten minutes to get to the arena before the game started.

I got to the ticket counter at exactly 7pm, by the time I got past security the pre-game introductions had already started. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the Blast players are introduced in the dark through a lighted logo with flares shooting out of the “B” and the “T.” This means I’m trying to find my seat in the dark. Fortunately, it was in the first row and on the end (yes, this will be important later) so it wasn’t too difficult to find after the “event staff” shone his pen light along the row. When the lights came on, I found out I was the only person sitting in the section and the one across the aisle from me was completely vacant.

The game started out with both teams scoring a goal in the first minute of play. Obviously, the diminished weekday crowd went nuts for the home goal, and it was followed by several others over the course of the quarter. After each goal, the cheerleaders would throw Snickers Mini™ bars into the audience, they handed me after the third goal (no sense throwing it since I was the only person in the section).

I left my seat to look for something to eat, but the majority of their concession stands were closed due to the “diminished crowd.” But I was assured that the ones that were open had exactly the same “if not better” menus than the ones that were closed.

The only problem with that statement is it isn’t remotely true. I was looking for nachos and the one stand that was open didn’t sell them. I finally just ended up buying just a bottled soda…for $4.25. I literally shell shocked by the price:

“O-o-one soda costs f-f-four s-s-s-seventy-five.? …ONE soda…?”

“Four TWENTY-five,” she corrected.

“I feel b-better now…no, actually I don’t,” I sighed.

“No, I mean you owe me $4.25 for the soda,” she said removing the lid (yes, this is also important).

I return to my seat, the guy with the “spirit drum” was standing directly in front of it. The second I sit down, the Blast score their 9th goal of the night, and the spirit guy sighs, reluctantly pulls out his spirit stick and half-heartedly shakes it before putting it back in his pocket. He then pulls out his Blast towel and twirled it around his head once before putting it back in his pocket. Then just as a group of kids passes by, he takes the rubber mallet out of his pocket and…

BAM!!!!

I jump in my seat spilling my soda all over me. The kids seeing this surround my seat point and laugh at me shouting taunts like: “dumbass,” “Pant-shitter,” “you’re a fucking pussy!”

I felt like I was back in 3rd grade, except I knew if I said anything to them I’d have 6 sets of parents on my ass like *snaps finger* for being the “monster” who dared to hurt an 8-yr old’s feelings.

As they leave, I try to collect myself and one of the cheerleaders came by with the free Snickers Mimi™ bar to celebrate the goal. It wasn’t much, but she was pretty and smiled at me in a nominally friendly way.

When I left about midway through the 4th quarter, the score was 22-2, and as I was waiting for the light rail to arrive I could hear the announcer shouting about another goal for the Blast as the final score for the night to 24-4.

Categories: adventures, attractions, Baltimore, entertainment, light rail, sports, transportation | Leave a comment

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