Fun Times with Ryan

The Death of an Icon

Yesterday the musical icon known as Prince passed away.  His style of music always amazed me and his personality intrigued me even further.  I have such an interest in men and women in the arts that maintain a self of extreme uniqueness and in some cases what just appears to be crazy to the rest of the world.  It makes me feel that what they bring is on a whole other level.  (Please note that Kanye is excluded from this list, as I believe he is faking crazy).  I did not cry when I heard the news, but I was moved and saddened to hear about the loss of such a powerful musical front man.  I wanted to take a moment and share a story I have about Prince. 

 

Growing up I listed to a wide array of music.  My dad listened to everything from Beach Boys to Kiss, while my mother would listen to Elvis, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler on loop pretty much every day.  My musical taste stemmed from there and expanded, as I grew older.  I remember first hearing prince in the middle school.  1999 was approaching and people played the song non-stop.  I started listening to his other music and was instantly hooked.  As I entered college it became ritual.  I listened to Prince every day (Which I still do).  I made friends listen to songs at every ultimate tournament we went to.  The song Pussy Control became my karaoke go to song and sexy motherfucker was played whenever I was getting ready to go out. 

In 2009, Michael Jackson passed away and I felt a huge hit.  I remember being in talks to try and find a way to get out to see a show of his upcoming tour because he was one of a series of musicians I had still yet to see live.  Upon his death I made myself a vow to see as many of my favorite musicians as possible because life is short and you never know when a moment such as that can be lost forever.  In that time I got to see amazing groups like George Clinton and P-Funk, Hall & Oates, Stevie Wonder, and Justin Timberlake but I still needed to see Prince.

I believe the change finally occurred in 2011 when Prince was playing a show at MSG.  The cheapest tickets were around $100 and I was unable to find anyone that wanted to join me.  I bought myself a ticket and decided to roll solo to the concert.  The part that sticks out to me the most from the event was not the amazing show (which it was) but rather my experience getting my will call ticket.

As I walked into the madness of MSG I bee lined it to the will call pick up.  During my walk I passed by Quest Love and the Roots, which instantly put me into a state of celebrity shock.  I jumped on line thinking just how awesome this show will be.  It took about a minute on line before I heard a familiar voice behind me.  I turned around and discovered that Craig Robinson was standing right there on line as well.  I instantly blurted out “ Oh my god, your Craig Robinson” to which he replied kindly and simply “yes” I asked him why he was on line and he responded “how else am I suppose to get my tickets to see Prince” we chuckled at the line and I asked for a photo to which he obliged.  I thanked him and went on my way.  I sat through the entire show rocking out by myself to his hits and just thought how much of an impact he has on everyone whether they be a normal kid from Westchester of a famous comedian or even another influential musical group.  He transcended boundaries and reshaped what music was. 

I am so glad I went to that show, because as we now have come to realize, life is extremely delicate and short.  Take advantages of opportunity as they arise and never 2nd guess your self.

Apple picking at Fishkill Farms

**The photos above are a slideshow so you can see more by clicking the picture to the right**

This past weekend a bunch of us went up to Fishkill Farms where my lovely friend Kerry B. works and went apple picking.  One thing I was completely unaware of was that this is PRIME apple picking season.  There were around 17 different types of apples that currently could be picked and not enough room in my stomach to decide which of those 17 were my favorite.  I went with my go to apple Fuji and then filled the bag with an assortment of other apples.  What made the day great was that it was Clovers first time apple picking so it was a special memory to share with everyone. 

P.S. There was also a small pumpkin patch which Lilikoi and Becca enjoyed greatly

Amsterdam

For about 3 months I have had listed on my to do list "Blog about Europe trip".  Sadly I have failed so far.  Luckily no one really reads this blog so I am ok.  However, with the little free time I do have, I was able to make a panaramic photo of the Amsterdam sign which is one of the typical tourist photo spots.  Our group decided to pose in a couple different letters and we would then later combine them all.  Below is the finished product.  Hopefully once I have a free moment I will be able to do a full write up of my European adventure.

My review of Nashville, TN

Below is a list of reviews of various places I had the opportunity to vist on my trip to Nashville, Tennessee.  Hopefully it will serve as a usefull guide for anyone that heads down south.  Enjoy

 

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack

Amazing food but you should definitely call ahead if you can.  They make everything to order, so if it is busy, you could be waiting there for a while.  Sadly, we ended up waiting for over an hour for our order, but it was well worth it.  Definitely the best fried chicken I have ever had.  The reviews are also accurate in that the medium is more than hot enough.  Don’t think you are a tough guy and get the hot, unless you plan on starting a war with your body.  The place is a little hood but it was a nice change of pace to see something other than a bunch of people in cowboy boots and hats line dancing.

 Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is a staple of Nashville and truly an impressive theater.  I, for one, am not a huge fan of country music, but this trip to Nashville left me with nothing but the utmost respect for these musicians trying to make it in Music City.  Everyone that performed was insanely talented, and it was fun to know that it was part of a live radio broadcast. 

 Jackalope Brewery

Attended the tour, which was probably one of the more entertaining beer tours I have taken.  They went into detail about the business side and not just how they make beer.  The beers were all tasty and had clever names.  It was great to hear about the growth of the craft beer community and how the breweries stick together and help each other out. 

 Yazoo Brewery

This brewery seemed like the place to go on a Saturday afternoon.  The place was filled with people inside and out enjoying samplers of Yazoo Beer.  Sadly, the tour was sold out so we were unable to see what they had to offer, but there was not a bar in Nashville where you couldn’t enjoy a Yazoo beer.  My personal favorite was the Dos Perros.  Very Tasty.

 Loveless Café

This place is an experience.  It is located in what I can only describe as Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee.  It is around 30-40 minutes outside of Nashville, however as soon as you see the sign, you notice the huge parking lot full of cars and tons of people hanging around the restaurant.  The wait was pretty long, but Loveless does everything possible to keep people entertained.  There were guys playing corn hole, some kids drawing pictures on the ground with chalk, and a cute elderly couple enjoying the day in a set of rocking chairs.  There is also an array of small shops that you can check out.  Once we got in, the food was absolutely amazing. It lived up to the hype of every previous review.  I practically was rolled out of the place because my ambition got the best of me and I went for a platter including ham, meatloaf, fried chicken and a couple sides.  I probably shouldn’t have eaten so many biscuits before the meal.

Robert’s Western World

Drinking in Nashville will lead you to some interesting places.  While wandering down the strip, I saw a busy-looking bar with a bouncer in front sporting a ZZ Top beard, and a drink menu promoting a recession special: PBR and a friend bologna sandwich for $5.  I was sold. We clawed our way to the back and got seats at the bar where the bartender made sure my drink was always full.  She poured with a heavy hand (which I will never complain about) and the Don Kelley Band rocked my f’n socks off, which was an impressive feat since I was in boots. 

Wildhorse Saloon

This spot was probably the most touristy thing I experienced on the whole trip.  It was a huge space with insanely overpriced drinks (You do however get a sweet mason jar souvenir).  The venue promotes free line dancing classes, which would have been great if the dance floor wasn’t flooded with older women wearing gaudy cowboy hats who could barely keep their feet moving at the speed necessary for the song.  A little after the intro, a band came on to play, and it was the first time during my trip to Nashville that I heard a band I did not enjoy. 

Jack Bar B Q

Made a pit stop here for lunch.  The food was good, but by this time “good” had started to become the baseline for Nashville’s cuisine.  They did have a wide variety of BBQ sauces, which made every bite a new experience.  As per usual, I ordered way too much food, but it was well worth it.  Another nice feature of Jack’s is that they have outdoor seating.   

Jed’s Sports Bar and Grill

I made this place a pit stop because I really wanted to play at a trivia night while on vacation, and this one fell perfectly into the schedule.  The bar was surprisingly large with multiple floors (trivia was played on the 2nd floor). Trivia occurs Thursdays at 8pm and was entertaining. 

Bluebird Café

This is such a fun little stop in Nashville.  It is highly recommended that you call ahead to reserve a table, however if it is already sold out, you can show up early and wait on line.  They keep a number of seats at the bar and in pews open for people that day, but you still need to show up an hour early to have a good chance of getting a spot.  We were able to sit at the bar where the lovely Martha served us drinks and told us about some of the go-to spots in Nashville.  The live music was absolutely amazing and it was really great to hear the stories behind the music as well.  

Elliston Soda Shop

Elliston is such a cute little place, walking distance from the Parthenon.  I stopped in based on the recommendation of a friend and just ordered a chocolate malt shake.  It was a perfect little pit stop, and the wait staff was very friendly.  The owner even noticed that I checked in on FourSquare and thanked me for doing so.  Sitting in the restaurant, I realized just how much I love the look of retro-style diners.  

The Parthenon

This place is an amazing attraction and a must see in Nashville.  It is truly breathtaking.  The artistry that exists in every piece of the architecture is remarkable and a wonder to know that something like that existed in ancient times.  There is also a full museum in the Parthenon explaining the history of the replica in addition to its correlation to the original Parthenon in Greece.  You will also be able to see a collection of artwork donated by James Cowan.   It is only around $6 for full access and there is so much to see and learn.  My enthusiasm for this really stems from my Classical studies in college, but who doesn’t love Greek mythology?

Arnold’s Country Kitchen

While researching my upcoming trip to Nashville, I quickly learned that Arnold’s is a place everyone needs visit, and that impression could not have been truer.  We got to Arnold’s pretty early, but there was already a line out the door of hungry people waiting to sink their teeth into some comfort food.  It has won a James Beard award and is your standard Meat & Three style restaurant.   The food was well worth the wait, and I left feeling completely satisfied.  Suggestions: Try the Collard Greens and always get the pie.

 

Tribeca Film Festival

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the red carpet premiere of the film Summer of Blood at the Tribeca Film Festival.  While discussing the festival with my friend, I realized that I have attended the festival every year since I have moved to the city.  It is truly a great event that occurs annually in New York and a wonderful opportunity to see unique films.  In a world where almost every major film produced now is either a sequel, remake, or based on a comic book, it is refreshing to see something that has a plot line that strays away from the norm.  The director and star of the film was funny and extremely witty.  His banter afterwards and his general appearance was very Galifianakian (Not a real word but I hope you know what I mean).  Everyone should go to the Tribeca Film Festival and experience the culture that surrounds independent film and the hard work that these filmmakers put into creating their vision.  It is remarkable.

Ryan and the Game Show

I recently competed on the NBC game show Million Second Quiz, which was a crazy experience to say the least.  It consisted of hours upon hours of tests and waiting in rooms just hoping that you would get picked to be on the show.  After finally making it through all the paperwork and testing I was informed that I was going to be on Million Second Quiz to compete. 

The concept of the show for anyone who is unaware is that players compete in a head to head battle where one of them is in the “money chair”.  That person is making $10 a second for the duration of his time in the chair.  His goal is to make enough money to become one of the top 4 contestants, where they would then go into the winners circle.  It was a very ambitious concept for a game show and was something that has never been done before.  As I waited for my turn to go on, I saw people coming out of the room with their head down looking defeated.  I asked what happened and it seemed that the person in the chair was a former champion of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.  Not only that, he was one of the biggest winners in the shows history.  Needless to say that shook my confidence.  When I finally was called into the room I saw Ed still in the chair.  At that point he had already racked up almost $80,000.   It was a 500 second bout and each question was worth 1 point. 

The first question was asked and I had no clue what the answer is.  To be honest I do not even remember what the question was.  I just remember seeing it and thinking, “FUCK, FUCK, FUCK.  I am way out of my league” I guessed incorrectly and he took an early lead.  After that, we both keep answering correctly until a question came up asking which film was not adapted into a Lego play set.  Options were A) Lone Ranger B) World War Z C) The Hobbit or D) Star Wars.  He guessed Lone Ranger, getting it wrong.  I answered the correct response of World War Z to tie the game up.  We remained tied until the final 20 seconds of the match where I guessed wrong on two consecutive questions, giving him a lead that could not be regained.  Afterwards we shook hands and he told me that I really had him worried.  That alone made the whole thing worth it.

Another Drinking Around the World success.

 

For anyone that has never heard of Drinking Around the World, it is a wonderful challenge that takes place at EPCOT in Disney World.  People will travel from country to country, not only tasting some of the fine cuisine represented at each station but a cocktail or beer as well.  To drink around the world a person consumes 12 different beers throughout the day. 

I went into this already knowing that I can easily accomplish it.  On a prior trip I accomplished Drinking Around the World and Back in a bet with friend.  Once again I enjoyed another amazing trip to the happiest place on earth. 

Ow My Knee 29th Annual

Recently I made my way up to Albany for the 29th Annual Ow My Knee Tournament.  I wasn't playing ultimate at all due to my upcoming surgery but I wanted to hang out with a bunch of friends and get into some shennanigans. As always Albany proved once again why I spent so long living up there.  It is always great to go back to where I spent such a large chunk of my life and relive some of the past.  Below is a short video from the weekend.  My friends are huge fans of Turquoise Jeep and decided to showcase their dance skills on the sideline.

 

Food and Drinks in NOLA

Felix's

Prior to my trip to New Orleans I did an adequate amount of research regarding the go-to food spots, and as any person who has done a basic Google search on Louisiana cuisine will see, the word "ACME" is synonymous with Oysters.  During the festivities of Mardi Gras,it came time to eat. ACME was nearby but had a huge line. We decided instead to check out Felix’s. It was the best decision I made the entire trip. I still dream about those char-grilled oysters. It was by far the best food I experienced in NOLA. The wait staff was friendly and loved playing along when my friends and I decided who was going to pay the bill via credit card roulette. I would recommend this place to anyone visiting the city. It was amazing. 

Parkway Bakery and Tavern

Best Po-Boy in Louisiana, hands down. I think during my week-long stay in New Orleans, I became somewhat of a po-boy aficionado, having more of those delicious sandwiches than I care to count. Parkway blew every other place away. The bar was awesome, and had a great history behind it. While down in New Orleans make sure you find your way to this place and enjoy what may be the most indulgent food available. 

 

Cafe du Monde

I found Café Du Monde extremely interesting. It was a huge space with tons of seating and very busy. I found this unique considering the limited menu. I could count every menu item on one hand. However from my readings this was the place to go to for beignets. They were absolutely delicious. The only qualm I had with Café Du Monde was that for a place that large, the bathroom was extremely small and had a very long line. Overall though it’s a sweet spot located right near Jackson Square. 

 

ACME

I felt ACME was a bit overrated. This is probably because I built my hopes up so high for this place and left with only a satisfactory feeling.  The food was good, but "good" is the baseline for cuisine in New Orleans. The staff was extremely thorough, and it did not take nearly as long to get inside as it seemed at first. 

 

Spirits on Bourbon

This bar had my favorite drink on Bourbon Street: The Resurrection. The Resurrection was amazing. Chances are a person would probably only need one to feel the effects of the drink. The bartenders were awesome and when we went back a few days after Mardi Gras, they actually remembered my group (still not sure if that is a good or bad thing). Either way, it was an awesome place to drop into.  They have dueling pianos as well as a barber's chair where an attractive woman pours shots down your throat - if you are into that sort of thing.

New Orleans

New Orleans is full of life, great food, and natural disasters. Two of those reasons were why I made my third trip down there to celebrate Mardi Gras. I feel I went at three very crucial points in my life that allowed me to experience the city in dramatically different ways. 

 I was 18 years old the first time I went to Mardi Gras.  I am fairly certain that all I packed that year was my fake ID and a duffel bag full of beads acquired at a local party stop. It truly was a college kid's paradise, however it is important to remember a college kid's paradise can also be bought dirt cheap. We camped about 40 minutes outside of New Orleans, where it rained constantly, and our tents floated from campsite to campsite.  During my first night there, I sadly was victim of a pretty bad car accident (not due to inebriation) which left me toothless (just front 4 teeth?). However, this did not stop me from making the most of my time there.  I spent the rest of the trip ignoring doctor’s orders and pretending I was a mute as I sucked down Hand Grenades. In spite of losing my teeth (or maybe because of it), it was the craziest experience of my life up to that point. 

 My second trip was when I was 21, following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.  I went down with a smaller group with no set plans other than hoping that we would be able to make the most of it.  We were lucky enough this time to stay at a friend’s house in Baton Rouge. We soon realized that even after one of the most destructive events to occur to their city, everyone was still in high spirits and celebrating as much as ever. Being 21 opened up a plethora of new things to explore. We were able to go into bars without fear, we had some semblance of an income so we could actually afford to buy drinks without wondering how we were planning on paying next semester's tuition, and we were more aware of what was going on and conversed with people to find out the best places to go and the best parades to check out.

 I don't think I saw a single parade the first time I went to Mardi Gras. At the time I was more focused on trading beads with young uninhibited women. Now I am 28 and this experience was even more distinctive than the other two. This year, I rented a house for myself and my friends in New Orleans and did not have to worry about a designated driver as we planned on taking cabs everywhere with a credit card that would get plenty of use. I was able to experience some of the best food New Orleans has to offer and probably every drink as well. On top of everything, I had the honor of attending a wedding down there afterwards that truly exemplified New Orleans culture. 


 There is no place quite like New Orleans.  The variety of sights, trom the French Quarter, which closely resembles a frat party turned loose on the streets, to Frenchman Street, where you can hear some of the best live music possible, to day-trips to places like Jackson Square and City Park, makes New Orleans a truly breath taking city. I know my liver is very upset with me so I will be taking some time to detox after such a long excursion out there, but I can say without question it was (and always will be) worth it. 

1% Weekend

This past weekend I proved that I could mingle with the 1% (Or as close to it as they would allow).  My weekend started off attending a party that was located on a boat 6 miles from the Statue of Liberty hosted by the Manhattan Sailing Club.   Let me tell you that there is nothing swankier then having to take a boat to another boat that is hosting the party.  The weekend continued with other highbrow events such as tennis at Trump Tower and various labor day pool parties.  The culmination of which was on Sunday where I attended the Greenwich Polo Club for their annual Royal Salute Jubilee Cup.  Dressed in bow ties and boat shoes I enjoyed amazing whiskey while watching Polo.  The party continued as we then went to my roommate's familys house in Greenwich to continue the Labor Day festivities.  These are the things that keep me going.

 

 

 

Wildwood Recap 2012

 

Another successful Wildwood Ultimate Tournament is in the books.  This year was better than ever as Ryan West and The Miami Sound Machine not only won their division but also maintained a stellar fan base larger than most teams at all teams.  A huge thanks goes out to Stunner of the month for their sponsorship of our team.  It was something that ever member of our squad truly enjoyed as well as the envy of every team we played.  Also props to Five Ultimate for adding not only great Wildwood apparel but also creating a game that was the cause of so much entertainment during the weekend. 


Richard III

This Friday I see a show that I have been waiting for years to see.  I believe around 2 years ago I read an article that Kevin Spacey was hired to portray Richard III in a theatrical performance directed by Sam Mendes.  I immediately put a note in my calendar for 2012 to remind me that the show would be coming to New York then.  So tomorrow seven friends and myself will watch what hopefully is a breathtaking interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most twisted pieces of work.

This Sunday is Judgement Day.

Or it is at least a day that will leave me beaten and bruised.  Sunday at 8:30 am I will partake in the Tough Mudder, a 12 mile obstacle course created by british special forces. I would be lying if I said I was not nervous.  My main concern is that it is mid November, early in the morning and many of the obstacles are in the water.  I hate being cold and the idea of running these 12 miles while soaking wet is less than appealing.  I will be running this race with Kim Ryan who has been working especially hard to ensure that her body is ready for such a trying event.  (This is complete sarcasm.  She has not run more than 1 mile in training)  I plan on video taping and photographing her as my way of documenting the hilarity that I will witness on Sunday morning.  Check out the video below for an idea of what I am going to be doing.  

Bogie Nights


 

Yesterday we decided that the only fair way to figure out the draft order for our fantasy league is to head out to Randall’s Island and play 18 holes of mini-golf to determine who gets the first pick.  Obviously some people did not dress as appropriately as Liv and myself for such a high-class game of golf.  The game was close and as the pitchers of beer got in our system the game became increasingly more difficult.  Especially when Bryan Licata is acting like our own personal mini-golf windmill.  Congrats to Livingston John Ordway III for taking the W and drafting Adrian Peterson.