11. two weeks.

From now through Nov. 28, one state will occupy an inordinate amount of my time and energy.


One week from today, Ohio State plays its final home game of the season against Michigan State. In recent years, the game against Sparty has been the biggest one on the conference schedule, at least in a practical sense; there are teams I want to beat more every year — hello, Penn State — but this one has become the game of year. Besides being good, there are some losses to State bad enough — and recent enough (B1G title game two years ago, and the 1998 Reason Why I Hate Nick Saban Game) — that this one will always have my attention.

Plus, it’s fun to see we can make Mark Dantonio look even grumpier than usual.

The annual game against that other school from that state — The One Up North — has lost some luster recently, because TTUN has been, well, bad. It turned down the intensity of the rivalry a bit and, worse, it damaged the reputation of the conference, because one of it’s marquee schools wasn’t playing up to standard.


I want cake now!

And then this guy came back. And he has his team playing … better.

Why do I hate Jim Harbaugh? It goes back to this, a thing that even colored my opinion of him when he coached my 49ers:

I’ll tell you more about what I think about Jim Harbaugh and that team he coaches when the time comes. Until then, let’s all be sure we remember this:


That’s where the bar has been set, boys and girls. And that’s a thing for the schools in Michigan to keep in mind.

6. not yet.


I look a little bit demented in this picture, but the happiness on my face is genuine.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last.

I took that selfie outside of one of the two shops that worked for more than two weeks to restore my Element to its former glory. It had been pronounced fixed earlier on Friday; I left work a bit early, drove out to the ‘burbs to drop off the Charger and pick up my car.

And, man, I was happy to see it.

But there wasn’t much time to stand around and admire my 10-year-old, 245,000-miles-on-it Element; I was on the way to Columbus to help out with tomorrow’s Minnesota tailgate party. I needed to get some gas and get myself on the Parkway West.

Once on the highway, it still took a while before I noticed anything; as any good yinzer knows, rush-hour traffic in Robinson tends to not rush anywhere. But once I got on I-79, it was easy to tell: the Element wasn’t fixed. The moment I accelerated, the check engine light came on and the engine hesitated sharply. It struggled to get up hills. And by the time I got to the Washington County line, I knew I couldn’t stick it out all the way to Columbus; I had to turn around and head back home.

And. I. Was. Furious.

There were issues all week with something to do with emissions; the check engine light apparently was persistent all week long. But: It eventually passed its annual emissions inspection and the folks at the body shop said they fixed one final problem emissions problem this morning.

I wonder if anyone at either professional automobile service business bothered to take the car out on the highway. I’m guessing they didn’t.

Mrs. Crappy has work stuff to catch up with and I can’t leave her without a car for the weekend. So, instead of being in Columbus, helping my folks with the tailgate party and seeing the season’s penultimate home game, we’re stuck in Pittsburgh. And I am frustrated beyond words.

1. hey.


I used to do this as a matter of course.

But it’s been years since I’ve regularly written stuff here, much less successfully completed a National Blog Posting Month month. I’m not sure why I’ve neglected a tool that I used to appreciate so much — perhaps it’s because my jobs came to too closely resemble what I used to do here — but over the last several years, that’s what’s happened.

So I’m going to try to have some fun with Uncle Crappy — the blog — this month. NaBloPoMo used to be a thing I did regularly; I even remember approaching that first November with some trepidation about mustering one post a day for an entire month … and then coming up with something like 36 posts in the course of a month.

NaBloPoMo_2015I have no idea whether I have 36 posts in me this month. I have no idea whether I have 30 posts in me this month. And, frankly, I have no idea whether NaBloPoMo is even still a thing these days. (If you read this and you’re doing it too, leave me a comment, willya?)

But I’m going to give this a try.

Folks who have been reading here for a long time will know some of this stuff. For the rest of you: By way of an introduction, here are 10 things you might read about during the course of the month.

Weather. I’m kind of a freak about the weather. And we’re solidly in the middle of my favorite time of year, weather(and other)wise.

Diabetes. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is a new development. I’m doing pretty well with my goal of not letting diabetes define who I am, but there are moments of frustration, like the one I experienced today: Hungry, standing in a Sheetz in eastern Ohio and understanding that there is basically nothing in the entire building that I can eat. I get that from time to time; in other instances, I’m able to convince myself that a bowl of raspberries and plain Greek yogurt is every bit as good as a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Of note this month: As we approach the holidays, the diabeetus is going to make things interesting.

Food. No, I’m not trying to be funny. I love cooking. I love eating. And the fun part of my diagnosis has been searching for healthier alternatives to replace some of the crap I can no longer get away with eating. My favorite so far: Whole wheat flatbread pizza with onions and turkey pepperoni.

Beer. This is also a challenge, given the diabeetus, because I still need to keep up with my professional obligations. On my own time, the solution is easy: Drink much less, but drink much better.

Yoga. If there’s something on this list that should define me, it’s this. It’s been a tough fall, because work and our trips to Columbus have really taken away from the time I would spend in the studio, and I notice the absence, physically and — especially — mentally and emotionally. That’ll get better this month, because we travel only two weekends … and man, I need it. I am a different person now than I was 18 months ago because of yoga and the things that come with it, and I can’t wait to really jump back in.

Football. Mrs. Crappy and I are Ohio State football season ticket holders and in the fall, traveling back and forth to Columbus kind of overshadows everything else. We love it — especially the tailgate parties, which we manage for my folks — but by this point of the season, it can be exhausting. You may also hear about my long-tortured existence as a Cleveland Browns fan. My mostly successful plan for enjoying the current NFL season: Caring less means more fun.

Football (other). I had a brief flirtation with Aston Villa a few years ago, but that was based on common ownership with the Browns … so, naturally, that turned out to be a disaster. Over the past two years, I’ve undergone a more organic Premier League selection process, which has reached this final, carved-in-stone conclusion: Liverpool. On the domestic side, this process has been much easier: Columbus ’til I die.

Music. I can’t overstate the importance of music in my life, from the chill stuff that Kristi plays in her yoga classes to the hippie music that has occupied a huge portion of my life since, uh, junior high school. Coming this month: bluegrass, Johnny Rotten, the annual return of Christmas music and a buildup to a Keller Williams show in early December.

Pittsburgh. I grumble about Pittsburgh during football season, but the secret is that I love being here: the places, the social life and especially all of you. And here’s a not-so-closely-held secret: Pittsburgh during the holiday season is magical.

Mrs. Crappy. I saved the best one for last.

you did WHAT?

flaky brick

Lookin’ good.

After I posted stuff about my new tattoo over the weekend, one of the biggest things I was curious about was the reaction of my parents. On Tuesday, Father of Uncle Crappy emailed this:

Couple of afternoons ago, I was in the kitchen chopping celery for a meat loaf and Pat asked, “Guess what YOUR son has done now?”

After thinking of a few possibilities, she said it was a tattoo. Hmmmm.

I considered a few possibilities … A big U of M “M” with a screw going into it … the scores of the Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon games … and my fave: a tank with the gun blazing with a pithy slogan like “Guts. Glory. Tanks.” or perhaps “Give War A Chance”.

Then she said it was a brick from Athens.

Perfect, I thought, a tribute to the ancient writer/philosophers like Plato and Socrates.

Then she said it was Athens, OHIO. Hmmmm.

Why not? You love Athens and OU. I think it is cool.

I came very close to getting a small USMC tat … one less person in line at the parlor at Oceanside and I probably would have one.

I’m anxious to see it (and you guys!)

Love, Dad

And now I’m thinking about a tattoo of Plato. Hmmmm.


As mid-life crises go, getting a tattoo is way less expensive than a sports car. And when you’re working with a print-journalism salary, that’s kind of an important thing to consider.

But once that decision is made, you’re faced with another: What’s the tattoo going to be?

I’ve known for several years that I wanted to get one, and I realized late last year that I didn’t care to follow the original plan, which was to get one in observance of my 50th birthday.

Nope. Not waiting. But then — what’s it going to be? Ohio related? Yes. Something football? Nah, that’s too easy. A design featuring the state’s borders? I’d never come up with one as cool as Bethany’s. Something related to OU? That’s closer, but still — a green paw print didn’t seem distinctive enough, and I wanted something to emphasize Athens rather than the university.

And then I came to the things that have always served as my favorite icon of the town that still feels like my spiritual home, the thing that we’ve given to friends as wedding presents and that we’ve used as decoration around our apartments and houses. They’re pretty much ubiquitous in town and, since I left town, they’ve even spawned a merchandise line.

athens street

If you’ve lived in Athens, these will look familiar. They pave the main streets Uptown, and you don’t have to look hard around the rest of town to find them (like, say, in the lightly traveled alley across the street from my apartment on West State at Shafer — which is definitely NOT the source of Athens Block bricks I’ve relied on for several years. Ahem).

With that in mind, I set out to find a Pittsburgh artist who, based on a pretty vague description from me, could draw a convincing, detailed brick on my arm. And as it turned out, I didn’t have to look far — Erin at Kyklops was recommended to me by a couple different people, and because I knew her a little bit already, the decision was easy.

And now that it’s done? The decision seems even smarter now than it did before. With just one brief meeting with our brick — and the previously mentioned vague set of instructions from me — Erin came up with exactly what I had in mind:

FullSizeRender (6)

Answers: No, it didn’t hurt, until Erin finished up with some detail stuff right at the end; beyond that, the physical part of getting a tattoo is just kind of annoying, an irritation. No, I was never concerned about getting one, not from the standpoint of any kind of risk (seeing the attention paid to cleanliness at Kyklops actually reminded me of being in a doctor’s office, with much more interesting stuff on the walls), and not from the standpoint that OH MY GOD YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE THAT ON YOUR BODY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE — which is why I was certain about the design, the shop and the artist. And yes, I’m probably going to get more.

FullSizeRender (5)

A final word about Erin: She’s really good, and she’s fun to hang out with for a couple hours while she pokes at your skin. I will go back to her; if you’re in or around Pittsburgh and you’re looking for an artist, you should go see her too.

In the last few months I went from having a vague notion that this would be something I’d do in a couple years to realizing that it was kind of dumb for me to wait this long. This is the kind of outward expression of who I am that I’ve always done — this version is just a little more permanent. It feels right to have this on my arm. And it will feel just as right to get a couple more.

taucnffc (btybb) tipoff.

Another year, more happy Dayton people.

Another year, more happy Dayton people.

On or about this date every March I post what is inevitably the longest post of the year. And that is this one: the one where we go through each and every entry in the Tenth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought to you by Bocktown).

(Except for the ones that I miss. But we’ll get to that in a little bit.)

So. Let’s start with me:

Generally, I don’t need no stinkin’ Badgers, but in this case, I think the B1G champs are one of a select few that has a reasonable shot at beating Kentucky. Thusly:

Wisconsin beats Kentucky, Gonzaga beats Virginia. And Wisky downs the Dogs in the final, 68-65.

My immediate family members are sitting out TAUCNFFC, but Fred and Ethel are like family, so they’re up next.


Butler v. UNC, Louisville v. Iowa State

Final: UNC v. Louisville

Winner: UNC

Total points: 137

(Banking on UNC winning it all in honor/memory of Dean Smith)


Final Four: UK v. Arizona, UVA v. Iowa St.

Final: Arizona v. UVA

Winner: Arizona

Total Points: 96

And now, the rest of yinz guys, in no particular order.


Kentucky beats Arizona, Iowa State beats Northern Iowa, and the Cyclones beat Kentucky in the final; tiebreaker is 142.

Dana Bee:

ok, let’s do this

Final Four:
Iowa State



Tiebreaker: 143


Final Four: Butler vs. Wisconsin, Michigan State vs. Gonzaga
Championship game: Wisconsin vs. Gonzaga
Champion: Wisconsin
Tiebreaker: 123 (64-59)


Final four: Kentucky, Duke, Arkansas and Louisville. Final two? Kentucky and Louisville. Winner KY. Points? 134.

Father Spoon:

Final Four – Kentucky, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Robert Morr… I mean Duke
Championship Game – Kentucky vs Duke
Champion – Kentucky
Tie Breaker – 132

While I still have a broken heart over Ashley Judd not taking me up on my offer to stay at my place for the NIT a few years back, I still have to pull for her team.

Work Kelly:

Wisconsin beats Notre Dame, Iowa State beats Louisville.

Wisconsin beats Iowa State, 72-65.

Starts with Dish:

Final Four: Arizona over Kentucky, Virginia over Utah
Championship: Arizona over Virginia
Tiebreaker: 121

The traditional annual Duke upset will be Utah over Duke, with America united in support for a thrilling Utah squad defending America’s honor against those evil blue devils. U-S-A!!!


Kentucky (Midwest)
Arizona (West)
Virginia (East)
Iowa State (South)

Kentucky over Virginia
139 Total Score

Bonus upset pick for everyone: #14 Eastern Washington over #4 Georgetown and #14 Georgia State over #4 Baylor

Curl Girl Michelle:

Final Four: Kentucky, Arizona, Villanova, Duke

Finals: Kentucky vs. Duke

Winner: Kentucky

Tiebreaker: 132

Chris Humpherys, AKA SportsChump:

Kentucky over Arizona, Duke over Virginia, Kentucky over the Dukies. Combined final score in the big game = 149

Newcomer Jim Hollenbeck (welcome!), who should know that $50 would get him a lot of excellent food at Bocktown even without a single beer (but the choice is his, of course).

OK Unc. Here some picks as good as a teacher’s key…
Final Four: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Villanova, Duke
Semi: Kentucky vs Villanova
Wiener: Kentucky
I’m a recovering alcoholic… So I won’t be going to Bocktown…send me a PB&J sandwich instead.

Fellow former Ohioan Bluzdude:

Here’s my buzzer-beater…
Final Four: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Louisville, Duke
Semi: Kentucky , Duke
Winner Kentucky
game = 124

Fellow Pittsburgh Buckeye Jaci Dean:

Here’s mine:
Final four: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Villanova, Duke
Finals: Kentucky, Duke
Champ: Kentucky
Score: 145

Joe Cernelli:

Final Four: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia, Gonzaga
Championship Game: Kentucky, Virginia
Champion: Kentucky
Tiebreaker: 125

Michael Fulk:

Final Four: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia, Gonzaga
Championship Game: Kentucky, Virginia
Champion: Kentucky
Tiebreaker: 125

Jenny Lee:

Final Four: Kentucky vs. Wisconsin; Duke vs. Villanova

Championship game: Wisconsin vs. Villanova

Champion: Wisconsin

Tiebreaker: 147


Iowa St.

Iowa St


Tiebreaker: 130 points


Final Four: Kentucky vs Arizona, Villanova vs. Gonzaga
Then it’s Kentucky vs Gonzaga
Champs: Kentucky
Tiebreaker: 136

Matt Noonan, whose East Coast, anti-college-athletics bias is showing:

Final Four: Kentucky vs. Arizona, Iowa State vs. Villanova
Championship game: Kentucky vs. Iowa State
Champion: Kentucky
Tiebreaker: 142

A team of NBA prospects beats a team with an NBA style offense to prove the uselessness of the college basketball.


short on time – no commentary –
Kentucky / Wisconsin w the Badgers prevailing
Duke / Villanova w the Blue Devils winning
Duke over Wisconsin 162

A confident Tom Bickert:

I’m going to go with Kentucky vs. Arizona (sort of Yinzer coaching competition) on the left side of the bracket, and Villanova vs. Gonzanga on the right side (because Gonzanga is the only school I see in the tourney with a Z in the name.) From there, I look for Kentucky to take on Gonzanga in the finals. Kentucky will win with a combined final score of 141. I think that covers everything. Let me know when I can pick up the gift card.


So I had a bracket all set and then you post the link to fivethirtyeight and I fell down that rabbit hole. At least I was at home and didn’t waste any company time. (And I didn’t change my original choices)

Final Four: Maryland, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Gonzaga

Final: Wisconsin, Gonzaga

Champ: Gonzaga, 176 points.

Thanks again to you and Bocktown!


this is the first I’ve reviewed a bracket and I gave it 2 min of consideration, but here we go: KY, AZ, OK and Gonzaga. AZ vs OK in final. AZ wins. 122 final combined.

I think Abby has created a new verb:

ok, I’m gonna sports now: Indiana, N Carolina, Oklahoma, Gonzaga … OK over NC. 73-64.


Kansas, Duke, UVA, Baylor. Kansas and UVA championship. UVA champion. 135 tiebreaker.


I need in on this. Kentucky, Arizona, N Iowa, Iowa St. Kentucky, Iowa St. Kentucky. 127



Jason Cercone:

UK, Wisc, VA, Gonzaga / UK, VA / UK. 151. Chalk me up on the big board, Mr. Costanza!


Kentucky Ariz Okla Iowa St.
Kentucky Okla


Butler/Baylor/Villanova/Duke, Duke over Butler 78-77


Figured i’ll throw my hat in the TAUCNFFC ring. Kentucky, Arizona, Louisville, Gonzaga. Kentucky over Louisville 89-84

Carla, whose picks might possibly include an unwritten upset of Dook by Robert Morris:

I’m in.

Kentucky-Arizona, Virginia-Iowa State
Kentucky-Iowa State


Let’s go chalk….

Kentucky v. Wisconsin, UVA-Duke




Jenn Strang:

Final Four: Wisconsin vs. Kentucky, Gonzaga e vs. Virginia

Championship game: Kentucky vs. Virginia

Champion: Kentucky

Tiebreaker: 131

Will, aka Lunchbox, aka Birdshit:

Final Four: Kentucky vs. Arkansas and Michigan St vs Gonzaga
Championship game: Arkansas vs Gonzaga
Champion: Gonzaga
Tiebreaker: 107

This information is based on almost nothing aside from the fact I like the name Gonzaga. I had the cast of Mamas Family in the Final Four before I realized what basketball was.

And as we always do, we close with Juan, oh he of very little basketball knowledge. I was able to track down the picks of Phil’s Mom this year … and they don’t completely suck:

Providence beats Gonzaga, Xavier beats Butler, and Providence beats Xavier in the final.

(No, there’s no tie-breaker. Juan will lose big or win big, and no one else will be close in either case.)

And that’s everyone’s picks, yinz guys. Standard caveat: I almost always overlook someone’s picks in the rush to get this posted; if you have suffered this indignity, let me know and I’ll correct the problem right away.

Thanks to Chris and Bocktown for their participation once again – it’s always nice to be able to offer fabulous prizes that are actually fabulous. And most of all, thanks to you guys, for entering, for reading and for enabling me to continue this thing (AUCNFFC) for 10 years and this other thing (Uncle Crappy the blog) for even longer. Good luck to all – especially me.