Friday, September 26, 2008

Chuck the Writer and the Elbo Room Trivia Touranment - Week 4

My one-man wrecking crew team, "Street Academy," picked up another point for finishing in third place in the Elbo Room Trivia Tournament, so Week 4 is in the books. Two other teams garnered first and second, so I actually gained a point on everybody else.

So here's the standings in Elbo Room's tournament as of today:
  • STREET ACADEMY - 9 points
  • Woo Hoo a Go Go - 6
  • Tres Hombres - 5
  • Big Red Machine - 5
  • Mayhem - 4
  • Stern Fans - 3
  • Donna Martin Graduates - 3
  • 40 oz. Bounce 1
Since the top eight teams get into the tournament, I'm aiming for a goal of 20 points in the preliminaries, that would certainly secure me a spot. Then all I have to do is go into the finals and do my best. That's all anyone can ask.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chuck the Writer and the Schaefer Beer Clock

Replaced the light in the beer clock last night - but the light wouldn't go on. So now we've got some other issues with the beer clock light - and this will now involve a higher power than me.

That higher power would be Lake Electronics in nearby Colonie.

I took the beer clock over there this morning, they're going to replace the plug and cord (which really needs it, part of it is being held on by aging, brittle electrical tape), and they're also going to check out the power switch. If they can't get the light to activate after that, that's all they can do - they told me that they can't replace the power transformer, and it would be dangerous to put another type of light source in there, as a different type of heat or light would melt the plastic or start a fire.

So the Schaefer Beer Clock is now in the hands of Lake Electronics, I'll see what they can do to bring this baby back to life.

Chuck the Writer and the Elbo Room Trivia Tournament

I'm currently participating in a $2,000 trivia tournament against the top trivia teams in the Capital District. My one-man team, "Street Academy" (my wife comes along, everybody needs a rooting section) is currently in the lead in this season-long tournament. Each team gets 5 points for winning trivia for the night, with 3 points for second place and 1 point for third. The top eight teams go to the finals, for one night of intense trivia.

So what are the scores right now? Here are the scores right now.

STREET ACADEMY    8 points (5 points for winning Week 2, plus 3 points for a second-place finish last week)

Woo Hoo a Go Go    6

Tres Hombres    5

Mayhem    4

Stern Fans    3

40 oz. Bounce    1

Next trivia run is Thursday night at Elbo Room in Albany. Here we go!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chuck the Writer and the Schaefer Beer Clock

Among the several items I bought at the recent beer and breweriana auction was a fine looking Schaefer bar clock. Schaefer, in case you're not familiar with the brand, was an extremely popular brew from the 1960's and early 1970's, and was best served ice cold for the best beer taste. It also had one of the most politically incorrect advertising slogans out there - "Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one." In other words, if you're going to get shit-faced, get shit-faced with Schaefer! In fact, here's a link to a vintage Schaefer Beer commercial on YouTube.


The bar clock is in halfway decent condition, but it needed a few things... Mostly TLC and a new internal light. The light inside was a 12-inch, 8-watt "T5" flourescent bulb, and luckily Home Depot had the same bulb available for purchase - I picked up two of 'em this morning, a regular flourescent and a "cool white" version to see which would work better in the clock.

I'll probably install them tonight, take pictures of the final project, and upload them in the next post. I also need to make sure the plug wire is up to code - Lord only knows what kind of condition that plug is in after 40+ years.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chuck the Writer Repairs his Grandmother’s Photograph

It was a bittersweet day yesterday. My wife and I, along with my daughter Cassaundra (who had just come in to Albany the night before from Seattle) drove up to Boston to meet with my Aunt Elaine, for the specific purpose of visiting my grandmother's resting place.

My grandmother lived a solid, long life, but she passed away in March of this year. Without a doubt, she was one of the only older relatives I had that ever cared about me or supported me. So when she finally entered eternal peace after a long illness, I was devastated. I drove up immediately for the funeral, but there wasn't enough time to make arrangements for my wife and daughter to join me.

Eventually everything was taken care of, and we all drove off to Melrose, Mass. for a special remembrance. Elaine, who owns an antiques shop in New Hampshire, drove down to join us.

After our private ceremony, Elaine gave us some photographs of my grandmother, including a great one of her from the 1930's, just before she got married.

Unfortunately, the photo is marred by what looks like a red stained square. So what do I have to do to fix this up?

I scanned the photograph into my computer, and used my Corel PhotoPaint 9 to split the image into three separate color pictures (red green and blue) and then deleted the green and blue filters. I readjusted the color of the remaining filter to black and white… and got this:

Which I think looks much better. In a day or so I'll try to "clone out" the crease running down the middle of the photograph.

My grandmother was a good woman. It's nice to have a photograph of her like this, to always remember her by.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chuck the Writer and the New York Eagles

I was thinking about this yesterday. Back when I was a teenager, around 1979 or so, Albany had no real professional sports franchises to speak of. We had the Albany Metro Mallers football team, but that was a "semi-professional" squad. There was the Albany Twilight League amateur baseball season, but how charged up can you get for a Sons of Italy / Oppenheimer Post matchup?

That's why I was surprised when it was announced that Albany would be getting an American Soccer League franchise, the New York Eagles, for the 1979 season. At first I thought, why in the world would Pele and Rodney Marsh and the NASL come to Albany? That was before I realized that there was the North American Soccer League, with all the international stars, and the American Soccer League, which was essentially Division II.

Don't get me wrong, the New York Eagles were fun to watch from 1979 to 1981 (they took the 1980 season off for financial reasons), and games against squads like the Cleveland Cobras, Detroit Express and New York Apollo were exciting matchups. Especially if Vogislav "Billy" Bolevic was in the lineup, the guy could score almost on will. He scored 25 goals in 1981, earning him the league's Most Valuable Player award. The Eagles made the playoffs each of their two seasons of play, but were knocked out of the first round each time.

The other thing I learned about the Eagles was that although the franchise at the time was populated almost completely with Yugoslavian nationals, the team suddenly developed internal factions once the team started playing in Albany. Suddenly the Eagles weren't Yugoslavians; they were Serbs and Croatians and Macedonians and five other ethnic nationalities. And the Serbs wouldn't pass to the Croats, and the Croats would not talk to the Macedonians, etc., etc.

Years later, after the Eagles dried up and moved away, Albany had some other professional soccer franchises, including the APSL's Albany Capitals (who I worked with during their final season, in which they made the APSL championship game), the NPSL's New York Kick (one of several sports teams in the Knickerbocker Arena's early years) and the USISL's Albany Alleycats (the less said about them, the better). About the only souvenir I still have of the Eagles is an enamel logo pin, which is parked on my home computer desk.

That, and about a dozen memories of Billy Bolevic turning goaltenders into crybabies.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chuck the Writer Does Nice for his Wife

Let me state for the record that I'm just as guilty of being a pack rat as anybody else.

However, my wife Vicki is notorious for saving virtually everything. And that includes every photograph she has ever taken in her life. It can get extremely overwhelming, especially when one goes on a two-week vacation and brings home 36-48 reels of 35mm film that need to be developed, and then the prints need to be put in binders, and then the binders need to be stored somewhere. You got the time to do all that? Me neither.

So, in an effort to "streamline" our life (and that means getting rid of stuff we don't need), I have undertaken a few different things to help Vicki maintain and manage her photograph collection.

1. I bought her a digital camera. Being a proud Nikonian (I currently use a DSLR D70), I got Vicki a Nikon Coolpix camera and a 4G SDHC card. Now all her photos are digital – no more film processing costs. Yay!

I moved her digital-burned photos to a solid state disc. I really like these Simpletech solid state storage discs, and I got Vicki a 250GB disc of her own, with the expressed purpose of storing her photographs. Since most of her "un-filed" photographs were developed by Sam's Club, who also places a complimentary CD copy in the envelope with the 4x6 prints, I simply transferred the files from the disc onto the solid state media, in a directory that is named after the date the photograph is taken.

3. Her non-CD photos will be converted to CD. Ritz Camera offers a service where they will scan 250 photographs for $50. I haven't yet started to use that offer, but I may in the future.

Once Vicki has all the photographs on the solid state disc, she can then go through and organize which photos go where, rename, relabel, etc. And then all I have to do is transfer the files from her SDHC chip onto the Simpletech disc.

All in the effort of streamlining our lives. One small step. That's all it takes.

Chuck The Writer Buys Some Beer Gear

Over the weekend, I visited the Jon Lee Auction Gallery in Latham, N.Y.; they were having an auction of collectible breweriana and beer advertising. This person had amassed a nice collection by going into a bar, buying a round for everybody, then asking the tavern owner or barkeep if there was a figural advertisement or bar sign or bar light that he could take. And most times he got to take some choice pieces.

Unfortunately, after he passed on, most of these items were stored in a basement - and of course, basements in the Capital District are subject to humid and/or damp conditions.

A lot of dealers and collectors snapped up the choice pieces, including a reverse painted glass clock advertising Beverwyck Beer (one of the local brands), but I did pick up a few things - I mostly concentrated on advertising memorabilia of beers that the average Capital District drinker might purchase in the 1960's and 1970's - Ballantine, Utica Club, Schaefer and Hedrick's.

In the end, I walked away with some choice pieces, including an O'Keefe thermometer, a Ballantine Beer wall sconce (with two twinkle lights), a Schaefer "bubbling" beer mug (for those of you not familiar with Schaefer, it's the one beer to have if you're having more than one), a small collection of Utica Club beer coasters, a Beverwyck bakelite pull knob (for the bar tap), and some other electronic signs and advertising kinetics that were tossed in a "box lot."

I had checked out most of the items at the sale (I passed up a Utica Club lighted clock because the clock neither lit up nor told time), yet even though I did pick up some swank pieces, I know I'm going to have to replace the electrical cords on most of these - and swap out 40-year-old light bulbs for some LED lights or compact fluorescents.

I'll let you all know how things turn out. This might be a nice little project for me.