Page 38 of 38

16. best week of the year.

001078618

If you grew up in Columbus, you understand the title of this post. And even if you’re not a native, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that things in my hometown kind of come to a halt for the next few days.

It’s Michigan Week.

During the 1990s — when the guy who led Ohio State’s football program wasn’t really sure what to make of this phenomenon — we kind of dreaded Michigan Week. There were too many times when we should have won the game. And there were too many of those when we appeared to be a step or two away from a national title, but gagged away that opportunity because we couldn’t beat Michigan.

Things are different now.

The new guy — who just coached his 100th game as the leader of the Buckeyes — does understand this week. He knows the history. He knows how important it is to the program, to Columbus, and to the rest of the state.

He gets it.

Unlike his predecessor, he doesn’t shy away from the challenge. He doesn’t try to downplay the importance. He never says “Well, it’s just another game.”

I’m betting he even knows about the parallel between this year’s game and what might be the biggest upset in the series’ history. And if he knows, the team will hear about it too.

I’ll tell you about that later this week. For now? Let’s start to get ready. Start thinking about being in the parking lot — early. Start thinking about the walk to the stadium. Start thinking about the special roar for Ramp Entrance, and the Tunnel of Pride, and Senior Day.

Start thinking about those ugly winged helmets on our field. Maize and blue on OUR FIELD. And start thinking about sending them back north. After a loss. Again.

2. no stinkin’ badgers.

getfuzzy2040678040914.gif

When I really took a look at the home schedule for this season, this was the game.

Many of the preseason magazine guys had picked Wisconsin to finish atop the Big Ten. If we were able to squeak past Penn State, this was to have been the next big test.

And then the season began, and nearly every one of those “experts” looked sillier and sillier with each passing week. The Badgers did their part, struggling against nobody non-conference teams and then collapsing, in a tough game at Illinois and in a laugher at Penn State.

This season, that kind of weirdness isn’t unusual. It’s caught just about everyone.

Except us. And that’s what’s bothering me.

I watched parts of Wisconsin’s games against Illinois and Penn State. I can see the potential, especially of their offense. The Badgers’ defense, however, was supposed to be the fearsome unit, especially based on their performance late last season, and they’ve looked awfully average, at least when I’ve been watching them struggle against the Illini and the Happy Valley Kitties.

And still. I’ve felt this before. We didn’t have a great team in 2004, but we were good enough that we should have had little trouble with Wisconsin when they came to Columbus. But the Badgers held us to 10 points — a kick return and a field goal; no TDs by the offense — in the first half and shut us down the rest of the way.

And that’s how it was in 2001 in Columbus … and in 1999 in Columbus. It’s a little misleading to point this out, because the teams don’t play every year, thanks to the Big Ten’s rotating schedule … BUT THE LAST TIME OHIO STATE BEAT WISCONSIN IN COLUMBUS WAS IN NINETEENNINETYFREAKINGSIX.

And that’s why I’m concerned about tomorrow’s game. History doesn’t have to repeat itself — but stranger things have already happened this fall.

crappity. crappity. crap.

The fact that OU beat Pitt helps me deal with the fact that Ohio State should have beaten Texas pretty easily. And the fact that the Browns are going to be as bad as I expected. Kewyson: If you don’t get that chip removed by the time you’re 25, it’s permanent. I checked with specialists during the last couple years of John Cooper’s reign.

i’m sorry. what?


Uncle Crappy is a little distracted this week. Partly because it’s a short week, and I still have a ton of shit to get done in three days instead of five. Mostly because of the Ohio State-Texas game on Saturday. We’re planning an 10-hour tailgate party that will wrap up an hour before the game starts at 8 p.m. Why? This is like a freaking bowl game in September, and we have to be ready.

Remember this picture of Jim Tressel after the 2003 Fiesta Bowl? The Texas game is almost that big. Almost.

Actually, the Ohio State game is the one I’m most certain about. There are two others of importance: OU has a good shot at beating Pitt in Athens Friday night, mostly because Pitt is still reeling from getting stomped by Notre Dame last weekend. And the Browns might even beat Cincinnati on Sunday.

But I’d trade both of those for a win on Saturday.

bovine.

The beauty of a bar band is that on any given night, you can walk in, grab a seat in the back and for a cost of a few bottles of beer, you can see a performance that will change your life, the kind of thing that caused Jon Landau to start raving when he found a guy named Springsteen playing in clubs in New Jersey in the early 1970s.

Or you can go to the Greenville Inn in Chagrin Falls and see Skinny Moo.

Friday was the first chance The Wife and I had to see DD’s cover band, in part because we wanted to see them at the Greenville, a classic dive bar not actually in Chagrin Falls. Putting a bar like the Greenville in Chagrin would be like opening a salvage yard in UA: “Hm. We don’t approve of that kind of thing around here…”

DD plays the keyboards. The lead singer is Jay, who is as adept as Juan at making up lyrics on the fly. The guitarist seems like a quiet guy, belying the fact that, from what I understand, he has played in every single metal band in the history of Northeast Ohio. The bass player took prodigious grief because he had been hit on by a guy at a recent gig. And then there’s the drummer, Chaz, who was delighted by the surprise birthday party held for him before the show began. I’m told he turned 67 on Friday, although he doesn’t look a day over, say, 43. And maybe not even that.

Skinny Moo sells themselves with the tagline “funk ‘n stuff.” And that’s about as dead-on a description as anything I could come up with. A good bunch of old funk — Sly and the Family Stone showed up in the set list a couple of times, I think – some Stevie Ray Vaughn, some Motown tunes, a few more recent things. But the really cool thing is that the Moo isn’t content to play covers — they like to fuck around with arrangements and segues, coming up with some bizarre combinations that actually work. My favorite was using an AC/DC song – “Hell’s Bells,” I think — as a segue into, say, a Sly song.

Look — I can’t get into a ton of specifics because Friday night was a little hazy. But here’s the truth about all that fucking around: It takes good musicians — and a good band — to pull it off, and Skinny Moo pulled it off all night.

And then there was the drinking. My night didn’t start off with dinner, despite the fact that I was pretty hungry when we arrived at the bar. Instead, it started off with a shot of Jagermeister, while HP and friends drank an assortment of shots: lemon drops, straight Jager, Jager bombs, cherry bombs… The Wife seemed to be the only one to forgo the liquor, instead settling for a steady diet of Dortmunder Gold, which was in abundant supply. That first shot was my only, but I kept up with the beer until it became clear that I was going to be driving the HP’s truck home from Chagrin.

But not before the table dancing — my first since an ugly night at my one and only sorority formal in Nelsonville. I was having Hanger Five flashbacks all night long.

We stopped at White Castle on the way back to Lakewood, and ate dinner on the HP/DD front porch at 4 a.m. The ladies went to bed first, while DD and I stayed up until about 5 just talkin’ shit. The four of us had a killer breakfast at The Place To Be and while HP left for more drinking at Kamp Krusty and DD melted into the couch, The Wife and I took a spin around Lakewood’s arts festival and then headed home.

Actually we headed back to Chagrin for a stop at Chuck’s, a beer and wine shop we found last summer. We stocked up, got back on the turnpike in time to see an ugly-looking cloud that could have been in the area of the nuclear power plant a few minutes west of where I work, but was instead a fire at a magnesium-processing plant near New Castle. (Kind of a bummer for the folks directly involved, but later on it seemed to produce the coolest sunset we’ve noticed all summer…) Since we didn’t have to worry about a holocaust in western Pennsylvania, we settled down with some fancy beer on our porch. We didn’t hurt ourselves too badly this weekend — not like we did when DD and HP visited Pittsburgh, at any rate — and Uncle Crappy can confidently give his stamp of approval to Skinny Moo.

proof.

A SPECIAL POST FOR THOSE OF US WHO WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL TOGETHER (although the rest of you are welcome to read as well…).

Eighteen to 20 years ago, a language was created by a friend of ours, known on Uncle Crappy as Kewyson. This was a language that was only occasionally witnessed and difficult to recall — mostly because those of us most likely to bear witness years later were in the same state of intoxication Kewyson was in when he began speaking on tongues.

Evidence of this language is extremely rare. Until now.

For those of you who might have missed it, Kewyson and Uncle Crappy traded fishing stories yesterday, based on my post about the upcoming fishing tournament in Pixburke. But at the end of Kewyson’s initial comment, he lapsed into the SECRET KEWYSON LANGUAGE:

Well, no such luck – it was a 12 lbs. markrel – as we trolled by his area he was defengin – who aid, ew always wanted tl gove her away onfriday – but where do owr keep the reet? Thee fish was harpooned on the sid of its boday – That would oule not fo what wee neede.

We ended up not buying a boat afterall-

Rember, yell loud and proud, ‘ Fish On’ )

Wow. “…where do owr keep the reet?”

Kewyson, helpfully, offered a translation a few minutes later, blaming the problem on something that a father of two young children could logically claim: A lack of sleep.

Well, no such luck – it was a 12 lbs. Mackerel – as we trolled by this area he was defending, the hook speared the side of this poor fish just below his fin. When Dr. Koi tried to reel him in, he was being pulled sideways (hence the inaccurate estimates of size). Well, that was the only fish landed that day – and he didn’t even take a hit at the bait!

We still didn’t end up buying the boat – we did, however, take home some mighty nice mackerel, which went for close to $50 a pound that day.

Fish On!

I don’t want to pick on Kewyson — I certainly am eligible for abuse over an occasional lack of coherence — but I read his first post and was overcome by a wave of nostalgia, for the hot tub, for A-Team parties, for Buffett concert preparations, for the actual Buffett concerts … you get the idea.

Thanks, Kewyson, for keeping all of us young.