I haven’t spent as much time this week doing much for the ole MAC football blog at MACFootballBlog.com because I had to get truck my way through a short work week and catch a 5AM flight so I can later find myself in Portland, Oregon for the weekend. The girl I refer to as the love of my life has many longtime friends from high school and one of them is is getting married this weekend with their favorite person ever. Pretty awesome excuse to go out West.
This is my first time being out in Oregon. The last time I’ve gone West was when I was in middle school. My dad’s more invested in Hot Wheels than I am into MACtion. He’s been to damn near every Toys R Us, KB Toys (rest in power), K Mart (the last one in MI is closing down), Wal-Mart, Target, and Gibralter Trade Center that Michigan has had to offer since I’ve been alive in search of two things: 1. under-appreciated Hot Wheel models that would look better in one of his many display cases — if the size of the four display cases that used to hang in the living room were a television, they’d be one of those big screens that are ideal for hosting Super Bowl parties — and 2. Hot Wheels that he think he could do his own custom paint jobs on. Yes, he’d buy the Hot Wheels, take the fat thumb-sized cars totally apart (he has more spare parts than you do in physical, family photos), strip the paint, re-paint things with his air brushes, hand brushes, and stencils, wait a day or so to let the paint to properly dry (this process is exponentially more tasking in the cold winter months) and put things back together to his likings. He sells and shows off his customs online and is really one of the OGs on whatever the relevant message boards are for his space. Twice a year he goes to these big, international Hot Wheels conventions to boost his brand, buy some Hot Wheels, sell more than he buys, and meet the greats. Chip Foose, Mark Wood, and Phil Riehlman are to him what Bruce Gradkowski, Sutton Smith, and Travis Prentice are to us.
An aside: Think about how big two-bed hotel rooms can be. We’d sometimes need the second bed to make room from Gary, a fellow Michigander that went to these things too, but everybody’s hotel room (literally every room in every hotel these things would involve) turned into makeshift stores that took up every piece of furniture in our rooms. There was no time or space to take a midday nap, and hundreds of pounds worth of little car toys were brought from Michigan to California for only one of two purposes: for sale or for show. Maybe one or two toy cars are used for Funny Car races, but that’s it.
The October conventions are always in Irvine, California. When I was in elementary school, I’d sometimes went with him to these bi-annual conventions and have made it out to California two maybe three times. I want to be perfectly clear here: Hot Wheels conventions are the only reason I’ve ever been to California. The conventions are so big, and so global, and so involved, and so packed with shit to do that these trips didn’t really allow 10-year old me to go out and make it any further than the hotel’s basketball and tennis courts where I’d usually hang with this one kid name Jordan. He’s from Aurora, Colorado and thankfully enjoyed talking about baseball as much as me. It was nice to have a go-to friend whenever the Hot Wheels took our dads.
We had some time to kill this morning, so the love of my life and I walked around at a few state parks out here in Portland, the first place I’ve flown out West to since the Hot Wheels conventions. We went to some state parks along the Columbia River Gorge, walked around some trails and found a lot of pleasure from the Latourell Falls.
I say all of this to say that tomorrow is gameday for many football teams, including a dozen that I honestly care about in a dozen, varying degrees. This is the first Saturday with a lot of scheduled MAC-on-MAC crimes to be had and I don’t 100% know how much of it I’ll be able to watch. I do know that whatever the answer is, it’ll end up being way less than half. Games start at 9 AM where I’m at which is going to be a really nice change of pace for me. I’m so used to waking up at whenever the hell AM to get ready, watch (or not watch) College Gameday, and finally plot out when I’m going to a friend’s house to watch games or wait for them to come over. Instead of having a bunch of screens up in front of me to watch too many games in real time, I’ll have two screens. I’ll have the hotel TV (which will stay on Georgia-Arkansas 99% of the time) and my laptop to see one of two other MAC games, and I have a feeling I’ll watch more Western Michigan at Buffalo than I will Toledo at UMass. The wedding isn’t until 3 PM, so there’s plenty of time to actually enjoy some of the football while I iron my clothes.
While I like to at least have a good idea of what I’ll write about for my weekly Power Rankings post (or any other post I want to whip up) by actually watching all these games unfold in front of me instead of relying on the box scores after the fact, this just isn’t going to be the weekend for me to capture the knowledge I try to strive for.
No, I’m not complaining about fall weddings. I love football and hate missing it. I also don’t work for ESPN. I’d probably love working for ESPN, which would make me go watch all the football my stupid, little heart could desire, but working for ESPN would force me to sacrifice fun, getaway weekends like these. So if you’re reading something on Monday by me and you angrily react to something I said and wonder “did this dolt even SEE the game?!” just know ahead of time that the answer is no.
I also want you to know that Oregon is a very pretty state. And I know that from only seeing less than 1% of this state’s landscape.
An aside, pt. II: I regret to note that I’m unable to score the long-awaited appointment Portland beers with one Bryan M. Vance. If this name means anything to you, then that means you’ve been reading my stuff for a VERY long time, and for that I thank you.