This week's edition has us sitting down with possible America fan and Phoenician accountant, aHorseWithNoName.
Before answering any questions, let me introduce myself. Yes, "aHorseWithNoName" does have a name: Eric Stucki. So, with that out of the way…
While we're all much more than just being Royals fans, it is the tie that binds us. What brought you to the Royals' front stoop knocking on the door to be let in? Perhaps more importantly, why did you stay?
Well, I was born in the Royals’ second year of existence and grew up in the Kansas City area. Somewhere, there is a picture of me as a baby with my parents and grandparents at a game in Municipal Stadium. Basically, the summers of my youth were spent listening to Denny and Fred call games on the radio. I was "in" almost from the beginning.
Why did I stay? That’s a good question. After the strike in '94, I was almost out. Despite living in KC at the time, I probably only went to 2-4 games from '95-'98. Starting in '99, I started to gradually make my way back to being the fan I was before the strike. I guess that I love/enjoy baseball in general and the Royals in particular too much to give them up forever.
It sounds like your family played a part in your being a Royals fan. What was your youth like?
Yeah, I suppose that’s true. It also didn’t hurt that the Royals were starting to become really good at the same time that I started following them on my own – which would have been 1975-1976.
Well, my Mom was an accountant that worked for the City of Lawson, and my Dad was a high school teacher and the track & cross country coach at Excelsior Springs H.S. So I was basically a good kid (I had to be) who was expected to do well in school (and I did). In the summer, there was a lot of riding around on bikes and playing baseball. There were enough kids around where I lived that there was almost always someone to play catch with when we weren’t practicing or playing summer ball. There wasn’t much else to do.
So were you an only child?
Nope. I have a brother who’s eight years younger. He lives in KC and is also a big Royals fan (very rarely posts as "stook" on RR). We also have a half-sister (our father with his second wife) who’s 21 years younger than I am.
Did you share your father's passion for running?
Not even a little bit. He used to go out and run a few miles when it was below freezing outside. He would also run in 5K and 10K road races on a regular basis (ran a couple of marathons too). Both seem crazy to me.
Standard dating profile questions: Age? Sex? Height? Hair color? Marital status? Kids?
I’m 45. Male. About 5’11". Dark brown. Single. No kids (or pets).
While many choose not to define themselves by their job, what do you do to make ends meet? For how long have you been plying that trade?
I’m an accountant. Currently, I’m only working part-time so ends are barely being met. As for "how long", I’d say about 12 years, although if you count the years that I was in the airline industry (which I don’t), the number goes up to 21 years.
Were you in accounting in the airline industry, or were you otherwise employed? Did you use the perks that come with employment in that industry to their full advantage?
I’ll try not to get too complicated here. At TWA, I worked in international section of the Passenger Interline Accounting department at the Kansas City Administration Center (on the other side of I-29 from the Overhaul Base). Remember back when you had to have an actual, physical ticket to fly on an airline? Those flight coupons were billable documents that airlines would process and bill to the ticketing airline (ticketing airline collected the fare money). It’s a complicated process with the rules contained in a manual the size of a phone book. When I taught the training class for this, I wrote a training manual that clocked in at about 100 pages. Trust me, this is the short version. We didn’t really use debits or credits, make journal entries, or make financial statements, so I don’t really consider this to be real "accounting."
I didn’t go crazy flying around to places. My brother and I went to Boston to see a Red Sox game. My mother, brother, and I flew into Atlanta before driving to Auburn for a cousin’s wedding. At the end I flew to Phoenix to see about my next job (more on that later).
Have you done much traveling in addition to that?
Most of my traveling was done when I was a kid – family trips. We visited St. Louis, Chicago, L.A., Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and probably a couple of other places that I’m forgetting. Several of these trips were to visit family that happened to live in the area.
Since moving to Phoenix, I’ve come back to KC a handful of times, where the rest of my family lives, and taken one trip to Washington D.C.
Are you part-time by choice, or are you feeling the lingering effects of the recession?
It just sort of happened. The owner of the company that I was working for is nearing 70 and sold his accounts to another company. Some of the employees were retained, but they already had accountants. I had been helping out at a company owned by one of his friends, so when my job ended, I just started working there. I guess part-time beats no time.
What is your educational background/area of study?
I have a B.S. in accounting from Northwest Missouri State University. Go Bearcats!
Where do you live now, and where did you grow up?
Since 2001, I’ve lived in Phoenix, AZ (Valley of the Sun!). I grew up in a small town called Lawson in Missouri. It’s a few miles north of Excelsior Springs (which is a few miles northeast of Liberty) if that helps.
What took you to Phoenix? Were there pitstops between Lawson, Maryville, and Phoenix?
Answering the second part first – When I was working at TWA, I lived in KC, just off of I-29 a few miles south of what is now Zona Rosa. Not counting a couple of places we lived just after I was born, that’s pretty much the list of places I’ve lived.
I was pretty devastated when American Airlines acquired TWA, but it led to me getting recruited by a company named Navitaire. It turns out that some airlines outsource the interline accounting function, and that was something that Navitaire does. While the home office is in Minneapolis (brrrr!), they also had an office in Phoenix that did the interline accounting for an airline based in Las Vegas. They specifically wanted me, and I was available (this was Mar-Apr of 2001). Unfortunately, that airline did not survive the financial fallout in the wake of 9/11. Almost everyone in the Phoenix office was let go as soon as that airline went belly up (early 2003?). I managed to hang on for almost another year before I was let go too. Since I didn’t move all the way down here just to move back after three years, I decided grind it out and make it work.
It seems like you like Phoenix well enough. What should the outsider know about Phoenix? What Spring Training tips might you have to help the out-of-towner have a good time while away from the Spring Training facilities? Are there any facilities to avoid? Any outside of Surprise that are particularly nice for Royals fans to check out?
I miss all of the green grass and trees of the Midwest, but I do NOT miss ice and snow. I’m OK with never having to scrape ice off of my windshield!
The Phoenix metro area is pretty spread out. There is a light rail system, but it is pretty limited in scope. I’ve never used it, but I don’t think it gets anywhere close to any of the Spring Training parks (I think there is a stop very near Chase Field though). If ST is what you are coming down for, you will need to get a car. Also, it can get a little cool at night; so don’t just pack t-shirts and shorts. You will need pants and a sweatshirt / jacket.
ST tips for out-of-towners? First, avoid the Mon-Fri rush hour at all costs. You’ll want to be at your destination before that hits the fan. If you’re into all sports, you can try to line your trip up with dates that the Suns and Coyotes are in town. The Suns are busy tanking the season (and are brutal to watch), so there should be plenty of seats available. The Coyotes are currently out of playoff position, but are at least playing entertaining and competitive hockey. The hockey arena is located in the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale – there are a multitude of eating options there. Really, outside of Surprise, you should be able to locate something good to eat without working too hard. It all depends on where you’re at and what kind of foods that you’re into. Surprise seems to be full of chain restaurants, which are OK I suppose – but I doubt people travel down here just to eat at Applebee’s.
There aren’t any ST facilities that I’d avoid. Tempe Diablo Stadium (Angels) and Hohokam Park (A’s) are the oldest, I think, and are showing their age. Salt River Fields (D-backs & Rockies) is very nice, and I like Scottsdale Stadium (Giants) too. I’ve heard that the Cubs’ new ST complex is nice, but I’ve never been (and its very difficult to get tickets).
With the understanding that obviously baseball and the Royals are an area of interest for you, what other hobbies and interests do you have?
I’m a huge geek that collects comic books. I’m mainly a DC guy for those of you that know what that means. I had read a few comics when I was young, but I really started collecting when I was in college. It started as a way to take a quick break from reading accounting textbooks (booooring!), and I got hooked. I also collect baseball cards, but I’m not really hardcore about it. I just like buying and opening occasional packs to see what I get.
Comics can be a pretty expensive hobby. Do you try to keep up on a monthly basis, or do you wait for the trade paperbacks?
It is an expensive hobby, and I’ve been trying to cut back. As I am both a reader and collector, I keep up with comics on a monthly basis – I do have a few trade paperbacks, but they just aren’t collectable. To illustrate, all four issues (first prints) of The Dark Knight Returns will run about $200 in near-mint condition. You should be able to easily find a TPB of the series for about $15 (or less), and, since it is a popular story, DC will always keep the TPB in print. The TPB is not going to go up in value while the original comics will.
Who are your favorite comic book writers and illustrators?
Frank Miller and Jim Lee do pretty good work, but there are a lot of good creators out there. I don’t really buy comics wholly based upon who wrote or illustrated it.
What drew you into the DC Universe rather than Marvel? Are you strictly DC, or do you just lean that way?
I just really liked Batman and Superman when I was growing up, so that was the universe that I gravitated towards. I’d say about 85-90% of my collection is DC. So, I do step out here and there. Star Wars is back at Marvel. Buffy the Vampire Slayer continues at Dark Horse. The X-Files is at IDW. Those are a few non-DCs that I’m currently picking up.
How do you feel about DC's mixed foray into television and film? What would you have done differently if you were in charge?
"Mixed" is the word for it. Other than the Arrow / Flash / Legends TV shows, nothing else is connected. Smallville wasn’t connected to anything. The Bale Batman movies aren’t connected to anything. Gotham isn’t currently connected to anything. The Green Lantern movie (thankfully) isn’t connected to anything. Supergirl is alone on an island (they obviously can’t "use" Superman or even the official "S" shield which makes it awkward).
I have high hopes for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice movie leading to a more connected DC universe (one in which the stories all happen in the same plane of existence). I’ve read about the upcoming line-up (including a Wonder Woman solo movie and the Justice League movie) so we’ll see how it goes. It doesn’t look like they’ll be using Grant Gustin’s Flash or Steven Amell’s Green Arrow in the movies, which seems like a missed opportunity. It’ll be even better if Suicide Squad takes place in the Dawn of Justice universe too!
What's the best thing you've read in recent memory? Describe it as though you were trying to convince someone else that they should read it.
Well, the most recent thing that I’ve read is The Bill James Handbook 2016. I would say that if you have an interest in baseball statistics you should get one. However, I’d guess that most people who have that interest already have it. On the comic book side of things, Dark Knight III: The Master Race is currently coming out – it is an eight-issue series and only two issues have come out so far (issue #3 will be out by the time this appears on RR). I’d have to recommend reading the first two stories – The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again – before reading this one. DK Returns might be one of the best superhero stories ever. It’s been adapted as an animated movie for those of you that don’t want to read it.
Your screen name is obviously a nod to the eponymous song by America. Do your musical tastes lean in that general direction, or is this more a reflection of your life in the urban desert-scape of Phoenix? What's the last thing you listened to?
I’m not sure why I chose that for my screen name way back when, but every time I think of the fact that I live in the "desert," that song just pops into my head.
I’ll listen to anything from pop to hard rock from the late '60s to (fairly) current. A quick look at my iPod shows songs by ABBA and Metallica – so that’s a pretty wide range. I think the last CD that I bought was Night Visions from Imagine Dragons – I guess I haven’t bought anything for at least a couple of years!
We all have a long list of stupid shit that we've done. What's the dumbest thing you've done?
Actually, I don’t have a long list of stupid things. I’m pretty boring in this area. Hmmm…I remember driving when I was way too tired to drive. It was pretty scary opening my eyes and finding I was at least 50 yards farther down the road from when I closed them. But, I was still on the road, albeit straddling the lane line. I guess that I could count all three nights that I’ve had tequila as stupid - they all ended in puke. Tequila equals Satan’s piss in my book.
Describe yourself in three sentences or less.
I’m loyal, smart, and sarcastic – a typical Royals fan. I’m a huge geek/nerd, and I refuse to be ashamed or embarrassed about that. In addition to baseball, I’m a big fan of (in no particular order) beer, movies, and comic books.
Where are your adventures into the wide world of beer taking you lately? What can you not get enough of right now?
There are three categories of beer that I WON’T drink. 1. Light Beer – I’m already too skinny, and I don’t need any help to stay that way. 2. IPAs – I’ve hated the few that I have tried and refuse to waste any more time and money on them. 3. Wheat heavy beers – I tend to like them but they hate me (wheat allergy?). I get massive headaches an hour or two after consumption.
Other than those, I’ll try about any beer. Amber Bock by Michelob and Fat Tire by New Belgium Brewing are two solid choices that you can get just about anywhere. I also really like Vanilla Porter from Breckenridge Brewery (currently in my fridge) and 90 Shilling Ale by Odell Brewing.
Where do your cinematic tastes tend to take you? Do you have any directors you'll follow to the ends of the Earth?
I have close to 300 movies on DVD/Blu Ray. Is that a lot? I mostly go for Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy type movies. I also tend to go for current flicks – only a handful of those movies were made before I was born. I don’t really follow any directors – there are just so many variables that go into making a good movie. While a bad director can ruin an otherwise good movie, I don’t believe that a good director can save a bad one.
What are some favorites from your collection? What movies would your friends and family be surprised to see that you owned?
In no particular order, some of my personal faves are: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars: A New Hope, Goldfinger, Blade Runner, North by Northwest, Superman (the 1st one w/ Christopher Reeve), The Matrix, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Untouchables, and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Ok, the last one is cheating, but I can make (and break) the rules on my list.
At nearly 300 movies, I don’t think of any of them are that surprising. Not everything is action/sci-fi – I do have dramas, comedies, and animated family flicks too. I guess Scream 1-3 stick out as my only horror movies, and Unforgiven and The Wild Bunch stick out as my only westerns.
What Royals Reviewer would you be most interested to meet in person? Why?
I don’t really have a specific person that I’d like to meet. I know that there are other Royal fans down here – I just don’t know any of them. So, I’d love to say "Hi" to anyone from RR that can make it down for ST. I’ll be the really skinny guy wearing a Royals hat.