Monday, February 7, 2011

Rooting in Silence at 37,000 Feet

Yesterday was painful. We had a great time in Portland, OR on a business/leisure junket, but missing the Super Bowl was agonizing for this lifelong Packer fan (see yesterday's post at I was tortured even more when I discovered that the game that was promised to be aired on Frontier Airline's DirectTV screens was unavailable. Apparently there was an "upcharge" payment required to show this game and neither DirectTV nor Frontier Airlines chose not to make this payment. However, 27 out of 28 channels were available, including ESPN2 and their broadcast of the Women's National Billiards Championship from Niagara Falls. This I watched, while you settled onto your barstool and readied yourself for a thriller. I had little knowledge of which woman won the pool tournament as I was transfixed on the little scrollbar on the bottom of the 4" screen. This little blurry bar was my only window to what was happening in the game.

I'm generally a quiet guy, but when I saw that score trickle up in the Packers' favor, I would give a little fist pump and muster a hushed "Yes!" Even though I was sitting in a slender aluminum tube 37,000 feet in the air, it was like being back in time 75 years - rather than hunched over an AM radio by a fireplace, I was squinting at a tiny screen with my tray table up and my seat in an upright position. By the time we landed in Denver, I knew the Pack was up 21-10 and I was feeling pretty confident.

In Denver, we had about 45 minutes to watch the game. Clearly, most people there were Packer fans as they audibly groaned as the Steelers regained momentum in the 3rd quarter. I was not feeling anywhere near as confdent when they made us turn off all portable electronic equipment for the flight from Denver to Milwaukee - a flight which had neither WiFi nor DirectTV. The score at turn-off time? Packers 28, Steelers 25. It damned near killed me to board this flight.

Once aboard, the attendents were asked, "Will the pilot be announcing the final score?" The answer came back "No. We were admonished on the last leg because people are recording the game and don't wish to know the score."

About halfway home, a flight attendent got on the PA and said, "We know the score. If you'd like to know, please let us know as we pass through the cabin."

I wanted to know. We wanted to know. And as the attendent passed, I said "Psst. We want to know," and, in silence, he opened up a sheet of paper near my face to show me the final score. Without blowing it for any of the recording passengers on board, I clenched my fist, bent my elbow, pumped, and gave a whispered "Yes!" I looked at my wife, "We won the Super Bowl!!" [My recreation of the attendent's handmade final scoreboard is pictured.]

Once we landed I discovered what a thrilling classic the game had been. I was truly bummed to have missed nearly the entire game; however, when I look back years from now, I'll remember what a great time we had in Portland and what a unique way it was learn about and celebrate the Packers winning Super Bowl XLV!

I promise to watch next year's victory Packers. Go get another one!!

Go Pack Go!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I'm an Unlucky SOB

I am a Packer fan - always have been, always will be. It started when I was about 8 years old when my family moved from Milwaukee to a town about 35 miles north of Green Bay [Oconto Falls/Lena]. Once I got hooked, I got hooked bad. Every Sunday was a like a holiday - I didn't do anything without planning my day around the game. Many of them were watched with my friend Robert and his older brother Jim. We'd go ice fishing and Jim would hook a small TV to his car battery and route it into the shanty so we could watch the game.

Over the years I've missed nary a game. I have, for sure, but if I had to count how many in 35 years, I'd guess I missed about 10. Technology and the invention of the DVR has been great, because now on beautiful autumn Sundays I record the game while my wife and I do something else [usually golf]. I'll come home and see my neighbor and quick yell "Don't tell me! Don't tell me!" as I rush into the house to watch the recorded game.

Now comes the Super Bowl.

A few weeks ago, a customer set up a meeting at their Portland, Oregon based facility. I thought, "Great! This will be a nice place to visit and my wife can come along with me." A nice little winter getaway in the Pacific Northwest. I booked the flight about the time the NFL playoffs were starting. At the time, I didn't realize that the Super Bowl completely by overlapped by return flights home, let alone that the Packers would be in it! As the Green and Gold continued to advance through the playoffs I recognized that there was an increasing likelihood that they would make it to the Super Bowl and, alas, they did!

I called Frontier Airlines and looked at alternative return flights, but no other return options would suffice without bullocksing up our entire weekend or costing a fortune so we decided there's more important things than watching the Super Bowl. And that's true! Except, as we finally board our flight tonight (the one from Denver to Milwaukee), that will be of little solace. We are going to miss the entire second half as we cruise home at 37,000 feet.

All these years of watching unimportant Packer games and they finally make it to the big one and I am going to miss it!

I am an unlucky SOB.

[JK - everything above is true, but I really am not unlucky. I did have a great time with my wife in Portland. Good food, good drink, and surprising entertainment made for a very enjoyable weekend. See yesterday's post for proof. Nonetheless, missing the game stinks. Go Pack Go!!]
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'm a Lucky SOB

I am lucky. I'll admit it.

Curiosity compelled me and Kay to follow a stream of people into a building in Portland today. We were standing near the end of the line and an usher(ette) said, "Are you here for Jackie Greene?"

Us: "Um. Who? What? We don't even know where we are!"

Her: "C'mon in! There's a few seats left. Enjoy the show. Jackie'll play about 35 to 40 minutes."
And away we went into the unknown ... and what a fun surprise it was!

Jackie Greene, heretofore unbeknownst to us, performed at the Bing Lounge - a live concert venue for KINK - FM radio station. KINK - FM has been playing Jackie Greene's music for years and apparently he's a fast-rising singer songwriter. The theater was perfect - the fidelity was crystal clear and you could hear every note. Jackie played last night in Portland and was on his way to Seattle for a show there tonight - so his time was short.

Jackie plays the kind of music I really enjoy - a bluesy, heartfelt version of Dylanesque songs. It was great! How'd I not know of this guy before?! Apparently he plays with his brother a lot, but his bro wasn't around for this gig. A KINK - FM DJ interviewed him in between songs (now on KINK-FM's website Jackie Greene -
We completely enjoyed this surprise and look forward to seeing Jackie again when he plays Milwaukee. Give him a listen by checking out his website ( or by viewing the video below.

Update: my luck didn't run out at noon either! We left our hotel last night about 8 o'clock and heard a ruckus up the street. "What the heck's that? Let's check it out!" we said and we discovered the most fun street band I've ever seen - All the Apparatus. What fun! People dancing in the drizzling mist to this incredibly large but entertaining band! I am probably doing them a disservice calling them a "street" band - they're just a band who hasn't hit it big yet, but they're knocking on the door. They remind me of a Los Campesinos! meet Arcade Fire with a dash of The Decemberists. Great stuff.