What is more offensive: the biggest Twins fan in Nebraska wearing a purple Rockies jersey, the little-league-sized glove, or the ripped-up blue jeans?
And so it was that a Twins fan wore a Rockie jersey. Is it Rockie or Rockies when you're talking singular? I mean, it sounds fine when someone says "Randy Johnson was a bust during his career as a Yankee" but it sounds incredibly awkward when someone says "Johnny Damon had his best years as a Red Sox". Shouldn't it be "Red Sock"? Or am I just a moron? Anyway, I committed sports adultery by putting on a Rockie, er, Rockies jersey, and I may never live it down...
While we waited for the tour to begin, I watched the Iowa game on a TV inside the stadium; finally at high noon, our tour started. This was a good thing, as Iowa was once again making football seem like soccer in terms of excitement (and this is not a good thing). As for the tour, it was nothing out of the ordinary; in terms of stadium tours, once you've seen one you've seen them all, as the saying goes. Three remarkable things, though:
1) The TV broadcast booth is completely unfinished. No drywall, no ceiling, just the studs on the walls and exposed rafters. Of course, every network uses a chroma key backdrop anymore, but you'd think they could do some basic drywall work. I mean, my garage has drywall. My freaking garage! Also, the high barstool chairs that the announcers sit in come standard with the room. This is notable because the analyst chair was cracked and broken, held together with The World's Universal Fixer-Upper Thingy, Duct Tape. Ta Da! Its Duct Tape! Why is this notable, other than the fact the Denver Broncos are too cheap to buy a new chair? NBC, and thus John Madden, did five Bronco games last year. The joke I could make there is too easy. Infer it on your own.
2) On the "club level", a giant "Orange Mullet" Bronco logo adorns the wall. I'm not a fan of the current Bronco identity, in case you can't tell. I'm sorry, you just don't take a team nicknamed "Orange Crush" and make their dominant color dark blue. Ever wonder why you can't buy the soft drink of the same name anymore? To recap: they decide to throw away years of brand awareness, a cool nickname AND derail a moderately successful soft drink. Yay, Broncos. Anyway, I took this picture of Dick making a stern face at the Bronco, and Weird Lady #3 on the tour with us exclaimed, "What was that all about?" Designers on a trip with cameras, lady. All the explanation you need. You bet.
3) On the field, we were not allowed to walk on the grass. Like a slightly more ominous variant of the "Don't Walk On The Grass" signs you sometimes see in business parks, we were threatened with a $25,000 fine if we did so. e Yo. As you can see, we got awfully damn close to the field despite this warning. Also, we got an up-close look the banners that adorn the walls, which are surprisingly well printed (sic). More interesting: the sharpie marks all over them. We all know Terrell Owens carries Sharpies in his sock to sign footballs after he scores; apparently he uses the wall as his personal "test" paper to make sure the marker works. Probably not, but do you have a better explanation?
Left to Right, Jack, Dick and Max NOT standing on the field at Invesco Field. That's right, we are totally not on the field, even though it absolutely looks like we're field level. So don't send me a bill for 25K, Broncos. More important: remind me never to stand for a photo next to Jack Bauhaus; he's freaking TALL.
A giant finger, many Sharpie marker marks, and a perspectively-small horsey. Like Max-next-to-Jack small.
A stampede of, um, Horses Backsides...ah, hell, I'll just say it. A stampede of Horses Asses!
After our tour concluded, we had to eat. HAD to. I am a person of extraordinary impatience, short fuses and project a general feeling of unhappiness before I get my first meal of the day. Usually this takes care of itself within 30 minutes of me waking up, but on this day it was 1:30 in the PM and I had yet to eat OR drink anything. Ouch. We eventually settled for our only "chain" restaurant experience in Colorado, a Quiznos in Golden, because it was the only place we could find on the stretch of highway we were on.
If you're in Golden, CO it means one thing: you're on your way to Coors Brewing Co. I mean, the street signs use the Coors font! Clearly, this is a town that respects its beer, even if I don't know a single person who lists Coors in their top ten beers. Its quite a dichotomy, Coors. On the one hand, they're the company behind Zima. On the other hand, "Smokey and the Bandit" was based on the premise of smuggling 400 cases of Coors across state lines (you didn't used to be able to buy Coors west of Texas). So this is a tough call for me. Making Zima should automatically relegate you to irrelevant status, but one of my rules is Burt Reynolds kicks ass all of the time. Would Burt drink a Zima? Of course not. Hence the dichotomy.
Our plan was to take the tour, get the free beer, and get out of Golden. The hiccup in the plan was that Dick had to be back in Denver to meet an old friend for dinner; we had 90 minutes to do a 75-minute tour, drink free beer, and make the 20 minute drive back to the hotel. Yeah, even my one-year old niece could tell you that doesn't add up.
So we took what I call the "Burt Reynolds" tour, something Coors doesn't advertise and officially refers to as the "Short Tour", probably because they couldn't afford to pay Burt. Not to be confused with the short bus, the short tour involves touring the hospitality room, and drinking free beer. And a damn fine tour it was, if I do say so my damn self.
The Banquet Beer is so tasty, you don't even know! Wooooo!
We did, however, stop by the gift shop. I submit to you the latest nominee for 2007 "Gratuitous Photo of Unpurchased Wearable Merchandise In A Gift Shop".
Better than Continental's "Texas State Flag Vest"? You decide!
Downing three complimentary beverages in 30 minutes, we made a beeline for Denver. Dick went to dinner, Jack went to the room, and I went to Coors Field. If I was going to catch flak for committing sports adultery, I was going to at least get a sweet "Rocktober" t-shirt. (Rockies - October baseball - Rocktober. Get it? Its clever, see? Never mind.)
Saturday evening, we went to the Colorado Avalanche game with one of Dick's fans from his podcast; he and Cliff Glypha are big shots now. This guy had emailed him and said, "Hey, we should meet for a beer while you're in Denver!" Dick, being the nice and decent human that he is, went one better and invited him to the hockey game. Never mind we had to buy four tickets to get the best discount, and the dude's presence would save us all money...I prefer to look at it as a nice gesture, and you can't stop me.
What is it with Denver athletic teams and the word "Rock"? Oh, the Rocky Mountains are in Denver? STOP LAUGHING AT ME
I will admit I don't follow the NHL. Hockey on TV is like listening to NASCAR on radio. At first, its fascinating, but quickly it becomes hard to follow...but in person, with a complimentary DiGiorno pizza and a beer, its damn exciting. So exciting that I can't even bring myself to write anything further about it, and will proceed with moving on to other parts of the evening in 3, 2, 1...
After the game, it was bar time. Jack Bauhaus and I started at the hotel bar, where we watched the Cleveland-Boston ALCS game with some designers from the Land of Cleves. Eventually we tired of the exorbitant beer prices and the obnoxious Red Sock, er, Red Sox fans in the bar, so we walked down the street to the Official Bar Of Saturday Night at the conference...and I wish I could tell you the name of the place. But as always, I'm terrible with names. If not knowing the name of the bar becomes a thorn in your side, ask Cliff Glypha: he actually went to the conference, I'm sure he could tell you the name.
I no more than step foot in the bar, and one of the National Board of Directors' members seeks me out. A large guy (and by large I mean bigger than my 5'-7", 165 frame which by my own admission is practically everyone older than 14 years old), he picked me up in a bearhug and called me a, quote, "SONUVABITCH". As in, "What are you doing here, you SONUVABITCH? I didn't see your name on the attendee list!"
I managed a gruff-yet-not-at-all-forceful (is that even possible?) response. "We're just passing through. On our way back to Omaha from Fort Collins!" This was technically true; the first place we'd stopped in Colorado was, in fact, Fort Collins. Satisfied, he let go of the bearhug. "Whattareyadrinkin' you SONUVABITCH!"
Frightened, I promised him I would order my own drink, and walked away slowly.
A half-hearted "ROCK AND ROLL" sign from Max Univers. In my defense, I had just been bearhugged by a large dude.
I held off on ordering that beer. Something about "Mystery Bearhug Dude" scared me away. Cliff Glypha yelled at me from across the room, did not call me a "SONUVAYOUKNOWWHAT" and did not look to be jonesing to grab me in a bearhug, so I headed his direction. Apparently there was a lovely group of ladies he wanted me to meet. "You have to meet this girl, her favorite word is 'awesome', she's perfect for you!"
He had me at "her favorite word is 'awesome'". And between her gratuitous use of Anchorman quotes, the word 'awesome' and beer drinking prowess, I was impressed. Her favorite band: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Well well well, guess who just happened to have a guitar pick from Joan Jett in his pocket? Yours truly, Max Univers! But I needed a beer, and when I asked Cliff to do me a solid and go get one for me (with my money of course) so that I could continue talking to "Not Joan Jett", he told me to go to hell. In his defense, it was pretty loud in that bar. I went to the bar, and promised I'd be back.
At the bar, I ran into some fans of Cliff and Dick's Podcast. See what I mean? Rock stars. While this was going on, "Other Dude From Nebraska" had walked over to that table of ladies and begun making acquaintances. By "Other Dude" I mean "Not Cliff or Max nor Dick".
And "Other Dude From Nebraska" spent the rest of the night talking to Not Joan Jett. A slight violation of the Code Of Gents, seeing as he's married, but what are you gonna do? He thought he was just being friendly and making conversation, just like everybody else. I mean, it was so comical that at the end of the night, as I walked back from a party at another hotel, I quite literally busted up laughing. Some things you just can't make up, because no one would believe you.
Dick and Max stop for a photo with the guy from Denver who put the entire bar tab on his credit card. Helluva nice guy, but I didn't put my drinks on the tab. Felt wrong to do it.
In any event, the three of us had a big laugh about the whole thing on Sunday. No hard feelings. How could there be with a story so ridiculous? Truthfully, of all the ways to end a trip, this wasn't terrible (although the guys could probably name two or three better ways off the top of their heads), in terms of comedic value. Speaking of comedic value...