Monday, March 06, 2006

The Weekend in Review
"Baby, You Can Drive My Car" Edition

Highlights from the Cleveland Auto Show

I was offered a free ticket to the Cleveland Auto Show at the last minute Saturday. The Auto Show was held at the fabulous Internation Exposition (IX) Center. (Emily, I know I just put the IX Indoor Amusement Park jingle in your head. Best. Jingle. Ever.) Some highlights:
  • There was a general entrance, and an entrance marked "Exhibitors, Employees, and Chrysler Tickets." Chrysler sent out tickets to all local Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge owners, including my Grandpa (a Pacifica owner). Somebody put a lot of money into this car show.

  • I was standing around in the foyer for a bit when I saw Brian Brennan and his wife walk in. He looked at the insanely long line to buy tickets, and walked over to the Exhibitor/Employee/Chrysler line. "Yeah, I know one of the dealers here." He was let in. By the way, I believe his wife is some sort of fitness instructor. Brennan is about 6'0 even, his wife about 5'3, and together they probably weigh as much as I do.

  • I was walking by the Pontiac area when I noticed two cars that looked a little too nice to be Pontiacs. Well, they weren't - they were Lotuses. Loti? Apparently, there's a Lotus dealer in Bedford, OH, one of the nice southeast suburbs of Cleveland. I'll have to check it out some time, or not.

  • I'm sure Klondike isn't surprised, but Jeep had the coolest setup by far. There was a kid's rock climbing wall, complete with a vertically-suspended Wrangler. Also for the kids was a Jeep Power Wheel racetrack. For the big kids, there was the obstacle course. At first I thought it was a roller coaster-type track system, or that a Jeep employee. Nope, it was the regular show-growers who were driving all types of real Jeeps by themselves. There were about seven Jeeps - Wranglers, Liberties, Cherokees, and Commanders - going simultaneously. You started out by going over two sets of logs set up as a bridge. Apparently all Jeeps have the same axle width (assuming that's the correct term). Next was a four-foot hill designed to be taken on two wheels. Then was the big test - a thirty-foot hill. But not just any thirty-foot hill. It was about a 45-60 degree grade, both uphill and downhill, made out of steel grate. Of course, none of the Jeeps had trouble. Finally, it was over a normal wooden bridge and into some water. Then, you turned your Jeep over to the next person waiting in the 30 minute line. (No, I didn't try, partially because of the line.)

  • The Jeep area also featured a road rally-style concept car that you were allowed to take pictures in front of. Grandpa and I stopped in front of the car whilst plotting our next move. The Jeep/auto show employee saw us and asked, "Do you want a picture?" Grandpa explained to the employee that he had no need for a picture of himself, as he already knows what he looks like. However, he said, he would have been more than happy to accept a picture of the employee, an attactive young female.

  • The basement held the "Classic Car Show," populated by cars with private owners. Most cars were from the 50s through the 70s, with one or two from the 30s or 40s. Then we got towards the end of the line of cars. The second-to-last aisle featured a DeLorean. I didn't realize it until then, but the Delorean's exterior is unpainted stainless steel. I also didn't realize that Grandpa got to drive a DeLorean a few times for work.

  • But wait, the Classic Car Show got better. Remember the car Steve Urkel drove? (The one pictured below.) Well, we moved past the DeLorean into the next aisle, and there it was. The car was actually produced, by BMW no less. It's the Isetta, with a motorcycle engine and a chain drive. See, you learned something today.

On Sunday, Emily and I drove up to catch the Bengal Bouts with Dave and his family. Topics of conversation on the car ride up ranged from church to comedian Demetri Martin's appearance on The Daily Show to talk about MySpace (song here) to work to the cranial nerves that cause all of my nerdy medical problems. Also, expecting Klondike to be there, I tried to give Emily a primer on the greatest Klondike stories. (By the way, Klondike, if you don't start your own blog, you definitely need to type your stories up someday so I can post them here.)
When we got to campus, we stopped to eat at Reckers. (Fancy, I know.) We picked a table where we could watch both bowling and the random movie that was on. (I looked it up - it was Shakespeare in Love).
Walking to the JACC for the Bengal Bouts, who did we see but Mr. Schmitt and Mr. Bradley. Mr. Schmitt explained that Dave was stuck in weather and would be late. Mr. Schmitt then asked if I had Dave's cell number. I explained that I didn't have his phone, and that I wrote his number down but left it in the car. I expected Mr. Schmitt to give me Dave's number at that point, but instead he just wandered off. As Dave explained later, Mr. Schmitt is anti-cell phone, and probably doesn't know Dave's number.
We entered the JACC to buy tickets. An usher handed Emily a ticket for a free ringside seat, and I was only charged the student rate for my ticket, so we were both pretty fired up.
We entered the basketball ring of the JACC and walked around looking for Dave. Who did we see again but Mr. Schmitt and Mr. Bradley again. We sat down with them, and Michael, and Dave showed up a few minutes later.
There were some decent fights, but only a handful were spectacular. I'm personally a fan of the fists-of-fury Latino fighters who have been training their whole lives. Unfortunately, there was only one fight that featured two such boxers... and it lasted a whopping one minute and seven seconds. That's right, 67 seconds into the first round, a freshman knocked out a sophomore. Most other fights featured a tall, skinny, awkward guy (usually in the blue trunks, oddly enough) fighting a short, strong, fast guy (usually in the gold). In most cases the short, fast guy won. There was one upset, though. In that fight, the shorter guy had some powerful punches. The tall, skinny guy didn't have much force, but he technically was landing his punches correctly. Tall guy won in a split decision.
The crowd was an interesting mix. There was a rather large and organized Fisher section, and it turns out there were about three Fisher men in finals. There was a small but spirited Morrissey contingent; the Manorites also had multiple finalists fighting. Zahm had perhaps the biggest turnout. But, in true Zahm form, there was no organization - the Zahmbies were split into three sections. I take that back - Zahm might have been only the second largest contingent. The entire section next to us was a single fighter's posse - family, friends, random girls who created shirts and shorts for the fight. Emily said she saw no less than six Facebook friends, most of whom she couldn't remember the name of. As the crazy old man, I recognize no one. I take that back - Fr. Bill Seetch was there. He's everywhere.
During the fights, Emily read a Scholastic article that raised an interesting point. After this school year, Jeff Samardzija is eligible to play professional baseball. (Players are eligible for the baseball draft after their senior year of high school and their junior and senior years of college.) If he does join a professional baseball team this summer, the article pointed out, he would still be eligible to play football in the fall. Why is this? NCAA eligibilty and amateur status is by sport, according to section II.D.2 of this summary document. Samardzija would simply have to take a scholarship reduction equal to the amount of money he makes playing baseball. Why, then, was professional skiier Jeremy Bloom declared ineligible to play football. Bloom was trying to raise money to cover skiing costs by accepting endorsement deals. According to section V of the above linked document, all bets are off once you start accepting endorsements, no matter the sport.
After the fights, Dave and I went to BW3's (an awesome South Bend establishment, right Ellen), while Emily went off to visit friends on campus. Dave and I are both "weak sauce," so we ordered mild wings (just in case you were wondering). Now, Emily had been hoping all week that there would be snow on the ground when we got to ND. There wasn't any snow... until I left BW3's. By the time I met Emily on campus to visit the Grotto, the ground was covered with a decent layer of snow.
We got to the Grotto and of course lit a few candles. I knelt to pray, and when I got up to turn around Emily was talking to a student and two nuns dressed in habits. The nuns asked Emily to take a picture of the three, and she complied. (The camera was digital, and Emily later said that when she turned it on, the previous picture on it was of the two nuns and a priest at the Grotto. Apparently the nuns were a big fan of the place.) Emily handled the camera back to the one nun, and as the nun went to put it back in her back, she accidentally snapped a picture of her face. That's right, she pulled a Klondike, only not on purpose. It almost made up for Klondike not being there.
As we walked back to the car, we passed a priest coming out of Old College. Fr. Jay Steele. Morrissey rectors all over the place.
Reason #1 why I probably shouldn't do the ND round trip all in one day: I completely forgot to refill my gas tank for the ride home. As it turns out, I would have had just enough to make it to Emily's, but I played it safe and filled up at the border. As it turns out, I had 2.7 gallons left, which theoretically would have gotten me 81 miles. Emily's place was about 55 miles away at that point. Now, wasn't that the best anecdote ever?!
When we got to Emily's place, she offered me a drink for the road. Choice one was Diet Pepsi. Now, I normally like Diet Pepsi as much as Dave likes cheese, and caffeine after 6 PM usually means I can't get to sleep. Choice one was half a bottle of wine. Would have made the trip home a lot more fun. Choice three was milk. Considering warm milk is supposed to help you fall asleep, that probably would have been as bad a choice as the wine. Of course, I probably would have kept myself awake by proclaiming, "Oh milk was a bad choice!" in my best Will Ferrell voice every thirty seconds for the entire ride home. I went with the Diet Pepsi, and it ended up being a good decision. As it turns out, I don't hate the syruppy taste as much as I used to, especially considering how thirsty I was. The caffeine also did just well enough to keep me awake for the drive, but not enough to keep me awake that night. In fact, I struggled to stay awake during the Academy Awards. But, then again, I'm probably not the only one.
That's my story the end.