Saturday, September 08, 2012

Adventures In Baltimore 2012: Day One

I got a job.

Against all odds, I wound up getting a temp gig in April, and I’ve held it to now. I’m making a decent wage, and I’m getting closer to feeling like having an actual semblance of a life. Of course, it does play havoc for my annual big trip to a big comic book convention.

I made a token effort to get a ticket to Comic-Con International in San Diego, but that didn’t come close to panning out. I didn’t get an airline voucher for my birthday, so Toronto was out. C2E2 in Chicago? Too early in the year for me. In the end, I elected to go back to the Baltimore Comic Con this weekend. It’s a two-day convention, but I can save on travel by driving down there from Staten Island. What’s a few hours on the road? And I figured that I would try to do the tourist thing while I was in the area. To that end, I sat on my thumbs and debated on hotels before paying a little too much for two nights for a hotel room near the con. Today’s plan? Get up early, hit the road, get into Baltimore, hit the local aquarium and/or the local sports museum, and have fun.

Did I succeed? Well, I am in a nice room, and I’m near the convention center . . . but I had hitches. Lots of hitches. It wasn’t like last year in Toronto, where I felt like I had been kicked in the groin multiple times. Today was more about getting hit upside the head a lot.

The first problem came when I woke up later than scheduled. I hurried in packing and prepping. I was ready. I got in the car. I turned on the ignition. I looked for my EZ Pass.

Oh. Fuck.

Yep, I lost the EZ Pass. I dug through the couch and checked a few of the usual places. Instead of hitting the New Jersey Turnpike, I went in the opposite direction, looking for my mother’s car in the hope that she had it there. And then I found out she had parked her car in a different location. So I wasted more time getting there. And nope . . . she didn’t have it. So now I had to have my wallet out for all the tolls I hit along the way.

Luckily for me, the biggest problems I had were hitting traffic and misinterpreting my GPS. It took about four hours, but I made it. And just for the hell of it, I decided to call the Baltimore Orioles’ ticket office to see if there were any seats. Normally, this would be easy, since the O’s have sucked eggs for years. Even with the Yankees in town and their obnoxious, knuckle-dragging fans heading south to cheer their guys, tickets would still be an easy “get.” But when I wasn’t looking, the Orioles got good. Really good. Tied with the Yankees for first place good. Seriously, what the hell?

Anyway. I make a call, and I wound up getting a ticket. Since it was a “Prime” game, I had to pay extra. And this was done through Ticketmaster, so I had to pay more. And since I was doing all this a few hours before the game, I had to print out the ticket. Of course, I didn’t have a printer with me. So I wound up going online at the hotel, hitting my e-mail account and printing it out. Easy, right?

Once again, I got smacked upside the head. First, the printers had no paper. When somebody finally loaded it up, a business document got printed out. Over and over and over and oh my friggin’ GOD, somebody printed out roughly a hundred copies of the same thing. And this guy didn’t bother asking for paper, so I had to burn time waiting for my ticket to get printed. And I was fuming. The guy’s name, address, phone number as e-mail address kept coming up, and it took personal strength to not grab a copy and give this asshole the business.

By the time I got to the Inner Harbor, I was out of tourist options. I figured that I needed a few hours to burn through the aquarium, and I didn’t have the time. U.S.S. Constellation? They were close to closing up shop, or pulling up anchor, or however you want to see it. And the Sports Legends Museum was out. It wasn’t urgent for me to go somewhere, but I figured that I’d feel like less of a geek if I actually did tourist stuff beyond hitting baseball games in the area.

Luckily, I stumbled into a museum dedicated to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! This was ironic, given that my mother got a deal on the one on 42nd Street in Manhattan. After finding out it wouldn’t take long to tear through, I bought admission. It was fun . . . small, full of bizarre exhibits and interactive stuff. Ever want to see images engrained on rice through a microscope? Done. Portraits of Bill & Hillary Clinton with hamburger grease as a medium? Bam. How about a giant penny made of thousands of pennies? Done and done.

*deep sigh*

At this point, I would go into detail about attending a game at Camden Yards that actually meant something to the hometown fans, against the most hated of teams. Well, not tonight.

Remember what I said about getting smacked in the head? Well, when I asked for a room with a queen-sized bed instead of a double, it didn’t occur to me to ask about getting online. I assumed there would be an Ethernet connection. I thought wrong. Of course, my laptop has no Wi-Fi capability. Or maybe I can’t get it to work. After several calls, I found out I was in a room with no physical connection to the Internet. Next thing I know, I’m packing up all the crap I had spread out in my room, making sure I leave nothing behind, then get escorted to a room six floors higher to a room that’s more convenient to me, because fucking around online in the lobby after midnight was not an option. Did I mention my escort was a uniformed guard? It’s been that kind of day for me. And since I haven’t been online all day beyond getting the ticket earlier, I’m ending things now. The short story is that the Yankees jumped all over the Orioles, the O’s tried to bounce back, but it was for naught.  The Yankees won, 8-4, and their fans were as annoying and obnoxious as you’d expect. I got the scorecard, and I’ll go over what happened in the near future. Right now, I just want to go online, fiddle around with the TV (Comedy Central! Lewis Black’s new comedy special!) and get some sleep.

And guess what? Turns out I can fit into a double bed. Ironic, huh?

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