Nason Meets Coral and other tales of wonder

Some random notes that I’ve been compiling…

-I had another brush with “celebrity” Saturday night as I met the infamous Coral from MTV’s The Real World. She was in town for Reality TV night with the local Arena Football 2 team, the Manchester Wolves.

(Side note: My creative tag team partner Ben and I actually pitched the idea for Reality TV night with the hockey team three years ago and were basically laughed out of the room because it wasn’t as good as Mullet Night. Huh.)

Thanks to the persuasive skills of Manchester’s real Brady-Sullivan duo, Coral was persuaded to hit up a post-party at which yours truly was a celebrity bartender. I even raked in $10 in tips! My two interactions were to tell Coral I would set up VIP service at the bar for her if she came to the party (“F**k your VIP line!” she joked) and mixing her a horrendous vodka and tonic after she asked for a Grey Goose and tonic. Apparently, she thought the apartment doubled as a real nightclub. Overall though, she was really nice, hella hot and nothing at all like the bitchy person that everyone has made her out to be through the years.

However, calling her a celebrity seems like a bit of a stretch. She was on a show that personifies the exact opposite of reality and thanks to the youthful, viral institution that is MTV, she is now well-known for simply living and having people around to tape it and air it. However, what skill does she, or any reality star, have actually qualifies them for fame? None that I can tell. Yet, I’m sitting here writing about it and most of you will find it marginally interesting on some level. Add in the tremendous amount of people becoming famous by being themselves on tv and the true definition of the word celebrity has truly changed.

Someday, someone will write a college thesis on the social ramifications of reality tv stars in the Hollywood culture and it will change the world.

-As we were walking past a reality tv casting call on the concourse, my friend Brady and I got to talking about how we were bummed out that The Real World casting has a 24-year-old age limit. Apparently, anyone older just isn’t cool. Seriously though, I can’t think of a better situation for which complete chaos is virtually guaranteed. Unleash 7 people in their late-20’s (who have actually been toiling away in the actual “real world”) into the Real World environment for six months. Now, THAT would be worth watching. Hell, even six days could provide enough footage for a season if alcohol, cameras and hot people were involved.

-From the “I Forgot That Detail” dept.: While in Vegas last month, we were watching a cover band inside Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville when I turned to my friend Ron and said, “I bet the next song is either by Bon Jovi or Def Leppard.” Within a few seconds, the familiar strains of “Livin’ On a A Prayer” started cranking out. To this day, I can’t figure out how I knew, but I just did. That should be a power for the second season of Heroes.

-“I Forgot That Detail” pt. 2: After the four straight home runs at last week’s Sox/Yankees game, I attempted to text/call some people to just revel in the amazement. However, 37 thousand other people chose to do the same thing apparently as the lines were actually jammed for a good 10 minutes. Others around me were experiencing the same problem. I mean, does that ever happen anymore? And really, what did we ever do before cell phones?

-My 100th blog post is within sight. I’m trying to think of something cool to do, but have been coming up blank. Maybe retire?

-Look for a baseball-only blog to be started by yours truly very soon. Details to come, but if you’re interested in writing for it, drop me an email.

-The holy day is this Friday as Spider-Man 3 finally opens. I don’t think it’s possible for a human being to look forward to a movie this much. In general, there’s a lot of stuff that I’ve wanted to see but haven’t got the chance (300, Shooter, Blades of Glory) and even more that I definitely will see this summer (Transformers, 28 Weeks Later). In scanning over a list, there seems to be something for everyone coming out this summer like the next Die Hard flick, The Bourne Ultimatum, Shrek 3, Pirates of the Carribean 3 and the latest Dustin Diamond sex tape.

-There are people out there that have watched every single minute of the near 12-hour NFL Draft. There are more people who have spent at least that amount of time analyzing said draft and actually doing mock drafts. That is amazing to me.

-Easily one of the creepiest/strangest commercials in recent memory. Sorry that the quality sucks.

-If you have five minutes, check out this Will Ferrell bit. I love Southern California more by the day.

-Ya know, it’s pretty bad when you hear songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” and think KFC, “Blister In The Sun” and think Wendy’s and “Who Do You Love” and think Sam Adams.

-A month ago, I wrote about the “What Happens In Vegas…” tagline being amazingly overused. I think it’s safe to say that “bringing sexy back” has now moved into that pole position. Enough already.

-Finally, it’s awesome to be a Boston sports fan these days when the weekend wrapup consists of the Sox taking 2 of 3 from the Yankees (5 of 6 in the last week) and the Patriots acquiring Randy Moss. Thrown in the upcoming NBA Lottery and there’s no shortage of topics to discuss. And then, there are those Monarchs who advanced to the 2nd round of the AHL Playoffs for the first time in team history. Guess I was the curse all along.

thanks for reading,

Best. Night. Ever.

The message hit me kinda funny when I first got it: “Nase, it’s McKenna. Give me a call back. It’s an emergency. Call my office number if I don’t answer my phone.”

Initially, I got that little bit of trepidation in my gut, especially since I had randomly missed a phone call from another friend that I never hear from. Did something go wrong? Did something happen? As it turned out, exactly the opposite. The emergency was to ask me whether I was free Sunday night for a date with three friends two rows behind the New York Yankees dugout
as they took on Daisuke Matsusaka and the Boston Red Sox. Needless to say, my light schedule cleared quite quickly.

If you’re a Red Sox fan, I certainly don’t need to recount every detail of the experience since you already can figure it out. I will hit on a few points though, including some celebs I met later on. (See, that’s what they call a hook in the writing biz. Bore through the crap to get to the good stuff.)

*Why do the Arab cashier ladies at the Sullivan Square parking lot never seem to want to talk, not even to acknowledge that you gave them money?

*The T going into Fenway? Awesome. The T going out? Horrendous. Would it kill them to run one more train on the Orange Line?

*There isn’t a better feeling that walking down, down, down and more down to your seats for a Red Sox game. I’ve never been so close to a Sox game in my life, sitting just two rows behind the Yankees dugout. The best way to describe it is that it’s so high-def. Players go from being guys you see on TV on SportsCenter every night to actually being real, just a few short feet away from you. You could see the crispness of the uniforms, the precision-crafted effortless movements of men that have come as close to perfection of a craft as humanly possible, the purpleness of A-Rod’s lips…

*Remember Dice’s K’s first start at the Fens when a big deal was made about all of the flashbulbs going off? Well, it happened again as he battled the Yanks for the first time ever and honestly, TV doesn’t do it justice.

*Did I mention we were two rows away from the field?

*While the Yankees will always be evil in a very Soxian sense of the word, it’s interesting to note that a little guy in the first row was given two balls during the game by the dreaded Evil Empire. However, the kid didn’t look overjoyed by the fact this happened. I chalk it up more to the fact he was a Sox fan than that he was a child of affluence. Either way, I stole his Twizzlers.

*I’ve read a ton about baseball over the years, but I’ve never read a piece on when players are trained to stare right into the dugout after coming on the field. I mean, even when they glance up, it’s not like they’re actually looking at anything. I need to hear more on this.

*It was almost intimidating to be close to the Yankees that I struggled to come up with any good barbs other than to yell ‘Purple Lips’ to A-Rod. You might laugh, but seriously, it’s tough. Except for Miguel Cairo. I hate that f***in’ guy.

*I can sum up experiencing the back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs in one single word: surreal.

*The Japanese influence surrounding Fenway is undeniable. There is Japanese lettering everywhere, program hawkers include Japanese headbands (like this one, proudly displayed by CK) with sales and there were random Japanesers (is that a word? It is now.) handing out translation cards. Nothing says Fenway like yelling out, “Auto tore, Daisuke!”

*If you had asked me two months ago if having Jonathan Papelbon leave the rotation and go back to the closer’s role was a mistake, I would say it was a mistake. After Sunday when he retired the heart of the Yankees’ order with little to no effort, I can honestly say I was an idiot.

*If I was a baseball player, I can’t figure out why anyone would NOT want to play for the Sox. Being so close to the onfield action gave me a unique perspective of exactly what these guys truly experience. With a full house, it’s like you’re in a giant cube where everyone is right on top of you observing your every move and quirk. As someone that has been a Red Sox fan for over 20 years, I can honestly say that after Sunday night, I feel I understand a little more about what’s it’s like to play at Fenway. I can see why guys that play there for the first time are in awe.

*Finally, the celebs! As myself and the three amigos parted ways, I headed into the T station to prepare for the inevitably long wait for the Orange line. I got on and waited for a few minutes when a couple boarded that I recognized. The gentleman, dressed with a certain youthful image in mind, had Slash-like hair and the lady that accompanied him sported dark red hair and equally trendy threads. He looked at the train chart and then turned to me, asking if I knew if the T went near the water (as in the Seaport). I mentioned I was from New Hampshire, so I probably wasn’t any good to ask. She then asked where I was from and I said, “Manchester.” She said, “I’m from Concord.”

I then asked, “Aren’t you Annie Duke, the poker player?” I turned to the man, “..and didn’t I see you on The Shield a few weeks ago?” I was talking with actor Joe Reitman (recently a porn shop owner on the season premiere of The Shield) and pro poker player Annie Duke, well-known as one of the top personalities in the game. We chatted for a few minutes and then, I let them be a couple. Surprisingly, they weren’t really noticed by others and I felt like I didn’t want to burden them with a conversation, despite the fact others have said I should have asked them about poker and other items. To me, I had my brush, said hello and let them go upon their business. I have my story and that’s what is important to me.

Just a few minutes afterward, one of my friends from Manchester randomly boarded the train and after the initial shock of the randomness, we had a good conversation. You never know who you’re going to find using public transportation.

In short, the entire night was one of the best nights ever. Thanks, Chris.

thanks for reading,

Planes, no trains and a whole lotta Vegas

So, here’s the scenario.

Me, still out of full-time work, looking for something fun to do. While it’s been nice to just chillax over the past six weeks, it’s starting to be a drag mentally. I know that might sound ridiculous, but trust me: every situation gets old after a while and I’m hoping that this week provides some stability in the work area. (More on that later this week.) Three friends were heading out to Las Vegas last week, when one had to pull out due to a work commitment. The call came to yours truly to join in and head to the city of Sin for what promised to be a crazy time.

Let’s review: gambling, on-street drinking, 24-hour vices all around you and me needing a change of pace, all while being with two great friends. It took me about 2 seconds to say, “All in.” But it turned out to be that the trip out West was almost as entertaining as the destination we were heading to…

FRIDAY: Myself and the Coach went to Portland’s Jetport for a 1 pm flight. We were flying stand-by, apparently a much cheaper travel option that relies on there being empty seats on a plane that you, the stand-byer, then fill up. The first leg of our journey would take us to Cincinatti and then, to Vegas, hopefully arriving around 5 pm West Coast time. Keep that word ‘hopefully’ in mind. As we checked into the departure gate, we found that the 1 pm flight was booked, meaning we’d have to wait until the 5 pm flight in hopes of getting to Cincy and then, having to catch a later flight to Vegas due to the stand-by proceedings.

After a trip back to SoPo to relax for a few hours, we lucked out on Flight 2 and were on our way. Upon arriving at the home of the Felons, I mean Bengals, we found nothing but a 3-7 off suit in our hand as the final flight to Vegas was oversold, meaning we were staying in Ohio for the night. Apparently this specific weekend was one of the busiest of the year for Delta, even moreso than Christmas. The reason? We never found out, but figured the Final Four in Atlanta (a major Delta hub) might have something to do with it. The Coach thought it was his bad luck, but we’d have a chance to prove that theory later on. We got a hotel in northern Kentucky, got drunk at the bar and prepared ourselves for the disappointing reality of heading home. Even worse, our other friend Milley was already in Vegas and was faced with the prospect of spending almost a week by himself in a city he didn’t know. Fun times all around!

One day travel. Three total states hit (Maine, Ohio, Kentucky).

SATURDAY: 6 am wakeup calls suck. We cleaned up and headed back to the airport in hopes of making a 9:11 flight to Vegas (yeah, that flight seemed a bit cursed to me too). We found the first flight was completely booked (recurring theme?), but the Coach was undeterred. He grabbed his laptop and a pen and concocted a plan so amazing, I still am impressed. “If we go from here to Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah; and then Utah to Vegas, we should be there by 5 pm. You up for it?” Groggily, I said yes and we went through the process of re-routing our flights, despite being told at one point, “You’re non-revenue passengers and we don’t have time for you right now.” Long story short, we amazingly made it to Vegas at 1 pm (jumping on an early flight from Utah) with a memorable stop to the smallest airport I’ve ever seen in Jackson Hole with one of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen. Seriously, the air tower could have been constructed in a weekend with 10 guys and a couple 30-racks.

Flying in to Wyoming made the whole ordeal worth it. It’s something about the Rocky Mountains and the feeling of isolation that was endearing to me. Even coming from a state known for its natural beauty, I was drawn in with more questions than answers about their way of life. Flying in, there were no visible stores, malls or even major highways. What do they do for fun? What drives them in life? Do they wish things were the way around? Have they heard of reality tv?

Two days travel. Six total states hit (Maine, Ohio, Kentucky, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada).

You can probably fill in the blanks regarding the stay in Vegas. Some highlights and observations:

-We kept getting asked, “Did you do this?” No. “Did you do this?” No. “Have you seen that?” No. Despite our plethora of no’s, we did a TON of stuff. The debate came up of how long is too long a stay in Vegas. I guess it all depends on what your particular set of vices are. Money is certainly a factor as stuff ain’t cheap, but you could survive for a week easily.

-We took a helicopter ride over Vegas, over Hoover Dam and through the Grand Canyon. It’s almost too big to truly comprehend, but this picture helps put things in perspective a bit.

There’s a little black speck in the top middle part of the picture. That’s another helicopter. It’s like a speck against this massive, massive natural wonder. The trip also gave myself and the Coach a chance to pretend we were Jack Bauer on ’24.’ Yes, we’re nerds, but there’s something about saying “Gredenko!” in the middle of the desert that makes you feel alive.

-We hit up Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville about 532 times in the five days we were there. The Coach is a huge fan of Mr. Buffett’s music and thus, was a kid in the candy store while at ‘Ritaville. The show with the lady coming out of the volcano and diving into the giant blender didn’t hurt either. I also ordered a pina colada at one point and got mercilessly mocked by the guys and even the bartender. Somewhere, Josh King sheds a tear.

-I’ve been to Vegas before, but I was still amazed at the grandiose, over-the-top nature of everything. As the Coach said, “It’s the epitomy of Western civilization” or something like that. The week was filled with one liners that we’d refer back to, this being one of them. Another one was “So you’re into heavy lifting?” but that story will stay in the desert.

-The night before we headed home, we decided to watch the water show at the Bellagio (boring, especially after a longer than expected wait) and then walk up and down the strip in search of a steakhouse. This task should have been a lot easier than we thought, but because of stubbornness and hunger pains, we ended up eating at a less-than-desirable restaurant in the Mirage. The lesson we learned? If they say it’s a 30 minute wait, just wait. There was a bit of disappointment that our last night fizzled out in such a fashion, but it definitely whetted our appetite for a return visit.

-Despite the overloaded tagline of “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” I think there’s a bit of truth to that in terms of appearance. Seriously, I saw more cleavage in five days than in all Scarlett Johanssen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jessica Simpson movies combined. But it wasn’t limited to just a certain age set or type of girl, but rather almost all of them. Vegas is known as a place to simply let it all hang out (no pun intended) and I was amazed at how much people take that to heart…or is that chest? It also seems to be easier to approach girls because you have the automatic entry line: “So, where you from?”

-Nothing beats staying up so late that you can call your friends on the East Coast as they’re going into work. It’s also great when a fight between two black prostitutes takes place during that call and you happen to see one of those ladies later walking into your hotel with some random dude who has no idea she was spit on by another hooker.

-Even though we ripped it up, I got a sense that it’s impossible to make a dent in the city that is Las Vegas. It’s just too massive a ideology and mindset of those that live and work there to even think about coming close to making a real impact. I thought of just how many varying types of people and personalities that bartenders, dealers and other workers come across. Does anything shock them anymore? Does anyone stand out to them? On the copter trip, the pilot said 6000 people a month move into Vegas. It seems like a huge number, but there is obviously a huge number that moves out. I can’t imagine working and living in Vegas simply because of its overbearing nature. It would absolutely tear me up. I’d like to meet some people after they leave just to see how they re-enter normal society after living in such a surreal place.

-Milley and I joked about how when the casino owners want something done, money is seemingly never a concern. “How are we going to pay for this?,” Milley said, imitating an owner. I paused for five seconds and said, “We just did.” For example, Steve Wynn’s new resort pulls in around $3 million in profits a day. $3 million. If you break that down, it’s $35 per second. I now understand why he has a Ferrari dealership downstairs.

-While the Mirage location was good, a less-than-effective air conditioner and somewhat suspect room smell (it was a smoking room) did cause a bit of issue with at least one of the roommates, who proceeded to call down to the front desk at least 8 times about varying issues. It was a running joke that the staff had their own odds going as to what the next complaint would be. “I’ll give 2:1 odds that he asks for a vacuum cleaner!”

-I think I’ve said this before, but flying is just a horrendous experience for everyone involved. The personnel can’t seem to stand it, you’re squeezed into small seats (but given a wide array of snacks) and you’re always running somewhere. Throw in the constant threat of delays and the overbearing security restrictions and you wonder why it has to be such a bad time.

-Overheard at the hotel bar in Kentucky, “Yeah, I ordered you a pizza. Half cheese, half pepporoni, half mushroom.” Uh-huh.

And what story wouldn’t be complete without the actual travel back! We got a 5:30 am wakeup call (zoiks) and were at the airport in time for a 7:30 am flight back to Cincy. We arrived with no problem surprisingly, but there was a little wrinkle waiting for us back in New England in the form of a winter storm. As a result, the 1 pm flight to Portland was oversold as people were moving up their travel plans, screwing us in the process. The Coach, visibly frustrated and tired, worked another plan for us to fly to LaGuardia Airport in New York and then, fly into Portland.

This would have been great but the FAA shut down LaGuardia to just one airstrip, so we were delayed in getting there and then, even more delayed in getting out. On a day when we should have arrived at 5 pm, we touched down and left the Jetport around 12:30 am, spending near 16 hours traveling.

Grand total of states hit? 8 (Maine, Ohio, Kentucky, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New York).

And I can’t wait to do it again soon.

thanks for reading,