Tuesday, July 25, 2006

California Dreamin'

Ok.. so two weeks later.. and still no laptop. I am working on it though. I promise. There have been a lot of crazy developments in the past two weeks. Some really exciting, some extremely disappointing, but.. life goes on. And in the end God, my family, and my friends will see me through all of this.

I had a short little jaunt out to Los Angeles earlier last week. I say short, because I didn't have a lot of free time, except for the day I spent with my dad at Disney World. Ooops.. I mean... LAND. There is something just really magical about that place that just takes you away from whatever it is you are dealing with in life. Maybe its the five year old kid in me.. but.. I still love that place and get excited when I make that first turn down Main Street USA. I must say though, for those that have visited both Disney parks (in Orlando and Anaheim), the castle in California simply does not do a Disney princess justice. Think about it rationally. The castle in California is supposedly owned by Sleeping Beauty, while the one in Orlando belongs to Cinderella. Personally, I don't get it. Sleeping Beauty is a princess, and marries a prince, therefore, it only makes since that their castle be bigger due to their combined income. Cinderella on the other hand comes from the ‘hood and marries a prince, yet her castle is practically five times bigger. (As they say in Shrek, "Do you think Disney was trying to compensate for something?") If that doesn't show the radical inflation of land prices in California, I don't know what does. Seems to me its time for the Beauties to pack up their things and get out of dodge before the property values take any further of a dump.

Other than that the day was pretty cool, despite the outrageously and uncharacteristically hot southern California weather. Welcome to global warming at its finest folks! I went on the "newly revamped" Pirates of the Caribbean, and when I say newly revamped I mean they stuck a few Captain Jack Sparrow dummies in the ride, called it brand new, and made a bundle off of Johnny Depp’s good looks. Damn corporate pirates. If they were really smart, they would shut down the ride and completely revamp the thing before the third movie comes out. Make it much more hard core and up to date with the movies. Then again the last "scary" ride Disney put out (Alien Encounter) didn't bode well with the little kids, and ended up being replaced with Stitches Great Escape. Hmm.... Adrenaline rush.. I am thinking no. Still, I am all for (**SPOILER HERE FOLKS**) putting in the Kraken and all the crazy monsters from the second movie... maybe some undead things from the last one. With Universal upping the ante with rides like the Mummy, it seems like Disney needs to bring something new to the table. Just my opinion.. for what its worth. Space Mountain seems like it got a hell of a lot faster since the last time I rode it, either that, or I am just getting too old for that kind of stuff.

And Splash Mountain remains the most fun, yet irritating ride there: You go through these dark places with animals all laughing at you, the stupid people, because you are on a ride that will leave you with reclaimed-water-soaked underwear the rest of the day... and they have the gall to play that happy music at the end while you sit in cold air-conditioning? Where does it say that being in wet clothes the rest of the day in hundred degree heat is magical? Oh well. My dad was never a big fan of Disney, but he tolerates Land because he said that they have better crowd control, and less walking. Still, I think he insists his favorite ride is the tram to the parking lot at the end of the day, and that if I ever wanted to methodically torture him to death I could put him on "Its a Small World" with a loaded pistol and a six pack of beer on continuous loop. I think that ride is any parent’s worst nightmare. We left the park pretty late, which made for a long day... but all in all it was a good trip. I couldn't help but want to sing on the way out (in mouseketeer fashion)...

"F-S-U.. see u real soon. C-O-W.. why.. because I have to go back to school.. G-I-R-L-SSSSSSSSSS." (Yeah.. I know.. I am so lame.)

The rest of my time was spent doing a lot of business. I got to go to some pretty cool places though for some of my meetings, one of which was the back lot at Universal. Sure, I think we could've been arrested for trespassing in Ancient Egypt, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Besides, we had a pass, so technically we had permission to be there. I did manage to find my car.. or what was left of it after it met the aliens in War of the Worlds. Universal has one of the huge crash scenes on their back lot tour. If you haven't been... you must. It’s a completely different experience than the one in Orlando, and personally one of the reasons I don't mind hopping on the four hour plane ride out to the west coast. I also saw "Warrick Brown" of the CSI Vegas fame. That is one of my all time favorite shows.. What I wouldn't give to be a dead body on that table. In the show.. I mean.

That night I met up with my friend Arash Markazi (one of the writers at Sports Illustrated) and took in a WNBA game with him and my dad. I must say that those women do not get enough credit for what they do. Lisa Leslie is awesome. I remember a certain play where Schumacher (of the New York Liberty) came at her after she got the rebound, and Lisa didn't just guard the ball, she gave Schumacher.. the hand and a mouth full of smack. No offense to Schumacher, but if a "sister" Lisa Leslie's size gives you the hand... it might be best to step off. ;) The Sparks ended up winning of course, and I got a chance to take part in the celebration afterwards with a few players from USC's football team and Wanda Sikes. I know... totally random.. but fun. Besides, Arash is hilarious. He and I could go back and fourth for hours talking crap to one another. Our conversations are littered with way too many obscure movie quotes, references to pop culture, jokes that push the lines of PC'ness, and double entendre uses of phrases about Paris (the person, the hotel, or city). But we would have it no other way. And the best part is, neither of us really takes ourselves too seriously, so we are often the butt of our own jokes.

I told Arash I wanted to see a little of the LA nightlife, so we (along with some friends) went to the Standard. We met up with my friend Matt Berry, who... is also one of the funniest, most sarcastic people I have met. (And I would have it no other way.) He is one of the many people, along with Will Carroll that I have met in my crazy travels that I have just absolutely come to trust and love. These guys are the greatest, and best of all they just let me be myself. Sure, hanging around the guys that night I heard my fair of "guy convo" that just isn't meant for girls ears, but they let me talk sports too, which is something I am pretty passionate about.

By the end of my trip I was pretty exhausted, yet at the same time it was sad for me to leave. There is something about the West Coast that is so addicting. Maybe it’s the fact they spend most of their lives waiting in traffic that it has created this laid back attitude that is so "So Cal." No one in Cali has that "chicken with their head cut off" sense of urgency." And that suits me just fine. I guess the Beach Boys really did get it right when they said... "I wish they all could be California girls“ because this girl sure wishes she was one of them. Who knows, maybe Sleeping Beauty's house might go on the market sometime soon... Hey, a girl can dream right? Now, if only I could find my prince charming... that would be Grrreeeeeeeattttttttttt.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A rant on My Travels: The Dirty South, Cowgirl in the City Part Deux, & The Cross-town Rivalry of "Chi-Town"

I have come to many conclusions as of late in my travels around the country but the one that sticks out the most: I seriously need a lap top, because writing blogs just isn't as effective, or time efficient on a pad of notebook paper. So, I apologize that it has taken me this long to update my blog.

For those of you who don't keep up with the gossip, I have been M.I.A. in Tally recently, and spent a lot of time traveling the country, and getting things done in Tampa. I've been shooting a lot of new stuff with a local photographer, George Salmon. He does amazing work…and is going to completely up the ante on my website pictures. The galleries that are on the way are beyond fabulous, and are really unique. I can't wait!

My first outing was actually to ATL. I basically spent seven hours in a car with the parental units to go to a Braves game with them and a friend. Turner field is AMAZING, and the people I met from the franchise like their marketing director, Brian Lapidus, were super friendly and had some great advice and ideas for me. I somehow ended up on the ten story jumbo-tron, which is a little different than the one at Doak. To call it slightly bigger would be an understatement. Besides that, my Turner experience gave me a renewed sense of why I love the game of baseball. The pants. My seats were great and the only two places I think I would have rather sat were in the dugout or right field. Gee…wonder why. I'm not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed that my Braves lost the entire series to the Red Sox, and that the number of Sox fans rivaled, if not exceeded the number of Braves.. but it was nice to have a weekend away from everything and to spend time with my family. For the most part, the Sox fans weren't too rowdy or obnoxious, and it really did amuse me that the entire stadium united in a cheer "YANK-EES SUCK!" Say what you want, but I just can't hate on a franchise for being that damn good.

The Braves just seem like they have lost the energy that made them the Braves I used to watch growing up. I'm not being a fair weather fan though; I still have faith in them. I have way more respect for a fan that sticks by their team even when their record is sub-par what it usually is, than the ones that cheer for them only when they are winning. To those people, I say a real fan sticks by their team through thick and thin. And these are the only fans that truly deserve the bragging rights when their team does accomplish something amazing.

The next on the agenda…that wasn't on the agenda... was a trip to NYC. I had to make a quick run up there to take care of some business, so the actual fun part...really didn't last but a few hours. I was disappointed that I didn't get a chance to check out any of the NBA draft parties that were going on, or get to meet any of the NBA's newest players. Oh well, all in due time I guess. I did get to hang out for a little bit in the meat packing district, which was a lot cooler than it sounds. I hope I get to spend a lot more time up there soon…because I could easily get addicted to the shopping up there.

Then, I flew home, only to fly out the next day to Chicago. I really wasn't feeling the whole traveling or the club experience that night. But, as it turns out, I had an absolutely fantastic time. The people at Cabaret (where I worked the cheerleading event)…were so awesome and welcoming, I pretty much forgot I was working. They took me out to this fabulous place for dinner, and I got to cook my own food on a hot rock. No lie. A rock. Well, polished stone, kinda like the ones they use in curling. Hmmm…I think I found a use for them in the four year off season from the winter Olympics. The patrons at the club that night were really awesome and really great people. I even got to DJ a little bit, if you can call turning the volume switch dj'ing. Hey, you gotta start somewhere, but don't expect any DJ cowgirl mix tapes anytime soon. I might have had a little too much fun. I got to meet Ozzie Guillen, who from what I understand has to go through some kind of "sympathy" training. He recently made the news for a less than friendly comment he made toward a news reporter. From what I could tell, I don't know if it is actually working, but he seems like an all right guy. It was his son's birthday, so he and some of the Sox were out celebrating, well, as much as you can celebrate when you have to play the next day against your cross town rivals. I haven't seen such north south rivalry since the civil war. That town is so crazy when it comes to their team loyalty…its just, insane. I was kind of disappointed that I didn't get a chance to really see the city, or take in a game…but something tells me.. I haven't seen the last of the Windy city.

I did get to relax a little bit on Lake Michigan, if you can call wanting to toss your cookies overboard relaxing. I have never been a huge fan of the water…except for white water rafting for some reason. But...that day…I was just not having it. I don't care what they say…that lake has waves damn it!!! I have never felt so "lake" sick…in my entire life. I think I will stick to the land/bus tour next time.

If I have not enjoyed one thing these past few weeks, it’s the amount of time I have spent on airplanes. Maybe its the cramped seats…or perhaps the screaming children, but I don't think I will ever find this part of traveling enjoyable. But from the looks of things…I better get used to it…and fast. It doesn't help either when you have the flight crew from hell... could some of these people have any LESS personality. I will say this though.. if I was a stewardess.. I think my announcements would be a little different from the ones I have to hear on what seems a daily basis now... Maybe something to the effect of:
"To fasten your seat belt, it does not require a college degree, if you are unable to do so, the flight attendant will be by to assist you, and slap you in the back of the head for being an absolute moron. (You would be surprised how many people this actually gets). In case of a water landing on en route to Chicago (I am thinking to myself... are you SERIOUS... yeah... lets land in some tiny ass retention pond somewhere in the Midwest)...your seat cushion may be used as a floatation device. You may also use this little thing called a life preserver, which upon its inflation will make you look like a guy from a Tums commercial. You will then jump out of the plane and onto Southwest Airlines newest attraction, with a splash landing, where you will float for miles and be met by crew members and Gilligan with leis' and grass skirts. If you are still alive at this point, an alcoholic beverage is complimentary. If you have screaming children, you may stow them in the overhead compartment above you (kinda redundant don't you think... where else would an overhead compartment be?). We also offer a spacious playroom with a view on the wing. Any takers?.. In case of sudden pressure drop, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling; the first minute is free, while you must deposit twenty five cents for every minute thereafter."

So, flying isn't exactly my specialty, but I guess it will soon be all in days work. No biggie, at least I'll be doing something I enjoy, and seeing all the great sights this country has to offer me. Now.. if only I could do business in Hawaii.. or the Caribbean.. that would be greaaaaaaattt.

Anyways, I gotta get back to writing my SI article now. Hope you enjoy this weeks installment. If you have any questions, go ahead and submit them here or at Si.com to be answered in my next mailbag.

Thanks for tuning in this week. See you next week.. same cowgirl time.. same cowgirl channel. And yeah.. I know I am lame.

PS. Have a safe and happy fourth of July.. And remember; only you can prevent forest fires... or the fire you set to your neighbor’s mailbox with an accidental fireworks incident. My bad. ;) Seriously though enjoy your day with friends, family, and fireworks. God Bless the USA.. and our Troops.