Sunday, July 4, 2010

Breakin' The :Law!

Ready to go: bamboo sparklers and some sort of Cone of Death. . .

It being July 4th, I figured what better lessons could I teach my sons in Being An American than these:
  • Ignoring laws you don't agree with;
  • Buying stuff from the Chinese.
Apart from the big spectacular firework shows we'd piled in the car to see on various Fourth of Julys, the dudes have had little experience with fireworks close up and personal. Until this year, being off work the evening of the 4th was a pretty rare treat, so it seemed like the right time to be a Right-Thinking American dad and load up on some "safe and sane" fireworks for a little evening pyrotechnical display. Nothing too extreme--sparklers, a pack of Roman Candles, a few firecrackers, and some Black Snakes.

I drove over the county line into Parker County--since fireworks aren't legal in Tarrant County--to a big steel building in the country jammed with fireworks and presumably Tarrant County residents loading up for the big day. They were doing a. . .wait for it. . .bang up business. I was curious to see a Tarrant County sheriff's deputy directing traffic. . .surely he had to know that pretty much everyone leaving the parking lot with their booty was headed south, back into Tarrant County!

It's our right as Americans, I guess, to just ignore the laws we don't agree with. And I found nothing wrong with setting off a few blasts before loading the family off to the Trinity River in Fort Worth to watch the evening firework displays. But first: let's light off a sort of double-ended rocket around 5" in length that would spin around, rise "around five feet" off the ground (according to the girl at the fireworks store) and spew sparks, smoke and noise. The kids were enthralled--it looked like a damned UFO. But then it kept rising, still belching fire--15, 20, 30 feet. . even 50 feet, and it headed right off our property to land on the neighbor's roof. Hopefully, their roof was fireproof!

This wierded the kids out. On one had, I. felt the display was "way awesome!" but E. was a bit concerned about dad ending up in jail for not only torching the neighbor's home, but for violating the anti-fireworks ordinance.

Saw the fireworks downtown. It was about average as firework shows go. I promised the boys we'd light off some stuff when we got home, but it was pushing on 11pm and they were sleepy, and E., well, he was now deadset against my breaking the law and suggested we throw away what was left of the $20.96 in fireworks I purchased earlier that day.

His demeanor changed when I broke out a few sparklers. Now he had a big grin and he and brother spun and twirled around the back yard spewing multi-colored sparks. Sprinklers aren't as I remembered them--now they're bamboo instead of galvanized wire you'd be sure to either step on in the lawn or burn yourself with afterwards. And, like everything else fireworky, made in China.

But they were still fun. Even though E. won't sleep easy tonight, dreaming of a father behind bars.

I. lays out a trail of fire. . .and he's lovin' it!

The ever-serious E. takes a more traditional approach to sparkler handling.

Our Night of Living Large. . .

Here we are, sealed in the Rangers Ballpark aquarium called "The Cuervo Club"
. And, man, am I filling out that fine leather chair!

Mary and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary Saturday night. Since we're not the Jet Set (we're more the Chevro-let set, as George Jones once sang), we didn't fly off to Cancun or Vegas or Oklahoma City to party with the hoi polloi. Not that we didn't think about it--actually, we considered flying to Chicago for a weekend and maybe splurge for good seats to a Cubs Game, but that was too pricey for us as well (understandably with two kids and 1.1 incomes).

So we decided to stay at home, and take in a Rangers game from some high-priced seats (we'd entertained a night in a fancy nearby hotel as well--if any of those exist in Arlington--but couldn't swing it as I was unable to get the next morning off of work).

So, I dropped a hundred bucks a seat each on Stub Hub for a pair of plush, leather recliners in Row One of the Cuervo Club, back of the 100 level behind home plate. It's a de luxe setup. The aforementioned leather recliners, air conditioning, seat-side service, an included buffet, etc., all behind thick windows to keep out the heat.

The all-you-want-til-the-fifth-inning buffet.

Certainly was fancy enough, but there were only a handful of butts in the seats, and I'm guessing most of the patrons weren't the ones who own the season tickets on them. We sat next to a 60-ish couple from Tyler, who bought the seats on line; apparently our seats are owned by a wealthy east Texas physician who releases many of his seats for sale on Stub Hub. Behind us were a couple of young moms with a toddler along.

The buffet was nice, and all-you-can-eat, but plastic plates and forks. There were a couple of gourmet foot selections, the rest being cheese, crackers (not crackerjack!), fruit, salads and as you'd expect, hot dogs, nachos and brisket "sliders". We certainly made a few trips to the buffet line before it was taken down in the 5th inning.

Like I said, nice, but something was missing. . . such as the participation of those in the Club with the game. The glass was thick enough to keep out nearly any of the sound from outside. It was like watching a 150" high-def television three feet from your face with the sound off. The Rangers radio broadcast was piped into the club, but it just wasn't the same.

We both agreed: what's the point of going to the game if you're not experiencing what makes live baseball so great. We missed the sound of the ball on the bat, the roar of the crowd, other spectators getting up to get food and blocking your view. We missed the kid behind us tapping our seat with his foot, the smell of the beer, the cramped seating, and yes, even the wave.

Sure, it was a nice view from behind the thick glass. .

And we missed the heavy, humid evening air and the way it wrapped around us.
As Mary said, she felt like she was in an aquarium!

In the top of the eighth inning, with the Rangers up 3-0, and closer Frank Francisco headed to the mound with runners on first and second with no outs, we decided we'd had enough of the muted, detached ambience of the Cuervo Club and snuck out the side doors, into the thick air, the smells and the roaring crowd, and settled into some seats a couple sections down third base.

It was great. We watched Frankie throw a couple of key strikeouts and next inning our man Neftali Feliz breeze through the last of the White Sox batters for the save. THAT was the way baseball is meant to be watched.

I guess if you're not a fan, or like creature comforts, or want to impress dates or business clients (lord knows I don't have to impress Mary after 10 years!), then the Cuervo Club is fine. But put my ass in a hard plastic narrow seats, and me knees into the back of a stranger in front of me--and I'm a lot happier.

THIS view was better, down the first base line. Not only the view, but the ballpark ambience as well. . .

Oh Yeah, The Anniversary!

Yep, we made it 10 years. Knew we would. I'm committed to Mary and our family, and I'm here for the duration (whether she likes it or not!). Here's a few photos of our wedding on July 3, 2000, taken by my friend and fellow storm-chaser, the late Eric Nguyen. The only thing that hasn't changed is my hairstyle. Except that it's grey now, not blonde!