my tail has been gated.

I haven’t been doing such a hot job at regular posting lately. I’m choosing to blame football, which kind of sucks a big chunk of time and energy from The Wife and me every week: Sunday is tailgate recovery, and for me, work. Monday is kind of an autopilot day, mostly because we’re still both recovering from the weekend. By the middle of the week, I’m trying to get caught up with my big Sunday story, and we’re starting to talk about when we head to Columbus for that weekend’s game and what we’re doing for the pre-game festivities. Thursday is a mad scramble — I’m finishing the Sunday story and everything else that’s piled up on my desk before I’m done for the week; I also try to pack for the weekend and get some of my housewifely duties done before we drive on Friday.

Saturday: Up early to make coffee for The Wife. Loading the truck (If I could find employment as a tailgate party truck packer, I’d be fucking golden, folks). Setting up outside the College of Pharmacy, mixing the morning’s first bloody marys… It makes for a looooonnng day.

Understand: I’m not complaining, at least not much. There have been plenty of highlights in the first three weeks of the season, especially during the 11-hour Texas party:

  • The county cop who motioned to Fred and Uncle Crappy as we headed over to St. John’s around 10:30 a.m. to watch a bit of College Gameday: “Guys. Please. Just take it easy today. The game isn’t until 8 tonight…”
  • The state liquor cops who showed up in our lot for the first time since Ohio State started its tailgate drinking crackdown two years ago. We gave them food and water and chatted for a while, and the only potential problem was MY FATHER, THE MAN WHO IS SUPPOSED TO TEACH ME ABOUT RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY, WHO KEPT MUTTERING GIVING THEM DONUTS…
  • Miraculously producing enough food to feed like 25 people, after brother-in-law-of-Uncle Crappy showed up with a horde of drunken, hungry friends…

For Iowa this weekend, I know we’re having shrimp cocktail and mimosas, because that’s what mother-of-Uncle Crappy wanted to have. I’m a little sketchy on the other menu items, but I’m sure it will all become clear in the next couple days.

And after that, there is a two-week break. Next weekend, The Wife and I will do something to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary, which is actually this Sunday. We’re not sure what that’s going to consist of, except it won’t consist of driving to Columbus. And the following weekend will be busy, but it will be busy in Pittsburgh: A special thing I’ve arranged for The Wife on Friday — more about that later — and a trip to Sharp Edge on Saturday night to watch Ohio State play Penn State with a bar full of Pennsylvanians — not too many knuckleheads, but right in the middle of the enemy’s den nonetheless.

I’ve been lovin’ the tailgate parties so far. And I’m going to be lovin’ the break just as much.

i’m sorry, so sorry

1. Apologies to Google. Uncle Crappy keeps popping up and dropping off because of my inability to post regularly.

2. Apologies to The Wife. Thanks to a total loss of ability to correctly pick NFL games (not that I ever would have called it a talent), I’m not even coming close to being competitive in the annual football bet. We pick winners, straight up, of all pro games and all Top 25 college games, all the way through the Super Bowl, with a correct pick being worth a point. The loser takes the winner out to dinner at the restaurant of the winner’s choice. I’m already 20 points down. I mean, she usually beats me anyway, but this year the bet’s going to be over before the Michigan game, for crying out loud.

3. Apologies to anyone who reads this and has noticed a lack of nifty typeface features, links or the previously promised cat pictures. See, when the computer folks at work decided that anything having to do with Blogger was “chat” — and, of course, “chat” is bad — I’ve been posting — occasionally — from home, on my tired old iMac. The Bondi Beast needs some help — a memory upgrade, OSX, a supplemental hard drive and a CD burner, to start with. As it is, I’m lucky to be able to find a browser that is both A) compatible with my machine and B) supported by Blogger. And until I get OSX, it appears that cat pictures on Uncle Crappy are out of the question. I’m also sorry that I can no longer find a spell-checker — I can’t access Blogger’s, and the one on my machine vanished years ago. Mind you, I’m not necessarily apologizing for that — I’m just sorry as hell that I keep having to look stuff up in the dictionary.

4. Apologies to the cat (see above). I promised I’d make him famous. He got an agent and everything…

5. Apologies to anyone who has reached Uncle Crappy after searching for stuff about a radio show that goes by the name of Schnit. I had no idea such a thing existed (the show, dumbass, not the radio…). My schnit came from a two-year-old Simpsons desk calendar.

6. And apologies to the author of California Bloggin’, found at http://www.todaysissues.net/words/ (Yes, that should be a link. See No. 3) I noticed a while back that Uncle Crappy had been added to her list of reads. I was flattered. I noticed today that apparetly I’ve fallen out of favor. Uncle Crappy is still on the list, sort of. Anne left the link there, but CROSSED IT OUT (I’d demonstrate, but again, I refer you to No. 3). Um, Anne? What did I do? Do I offend? I try to be a nice guy. I enjoyed your “100 things about me” list, except that I hate peas and I’ve never much cared for the Bills, although I live not too far from Jim Kelly’s hometown (East Brady, Pa., as you probably already know.) And I honestly admire anyone who actually can sit down and complete the “100 things about me” list — I’ve tried like three times and have never been able to finish. And jeez, you’ve been doing this regularly for almost three years now. Making regular posts for that long is an accomplishment in itself. Maybe I’ve breached some kind of blogging etiquette? Maybe you just think I’m a moron? You wouldn’t be the first to draw that conclusion. Whatever it is, please, let me know. How do I get back on the list? Anne? Can Uncle Crappy come back?

busted.

So The Wife and I are in Athens over the weekend, celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary (which falls on Sept. 25, so y’all can remember the cards and gifts in the future). On Friday night, after the first of three meals at Casa Nueva, and several pints of Great Lakes’ Nosfaratu (a kick-ass hoppy red ale that, well, kicked my ass), we head to The Union, which is where I lost most of my brain cells during college. There, as the nostalgia washes over us, we commence to drunk-dial several of our friends who lost nearly as many brain cells at The Union as we did.

And here’s where the busted part comes in: Our first call was to Joe and Mindy Mahr, Joe being the Pulitzer-Prize winner of the group who is referenced a few months ago in these very pages. I never successfully reached Joe on the phone in the days after he won, so this was the first opportunity I had to actually speak to him. And the first thing that rat bastard says to me when he gets on the phone?

“Is this Uncle Crappy?”

Now, I wasn’t so drunk that I didn’t come up with a decent comeback, something along the lines of “Exactly how much time do you spend Googling yourself, Mr. Pulitzer?” And then we had a nice talk, the substance of which I don’t completely recall.

We made a couple of other calls, one to B., whom we did not reach, and one to another friend who lives in Columbus and seemed less than pleased to hear that we were having fun in Athens and she, at home with what sounded like a major cold, was not. The dangers of drunk dialing, right there in a nutshell. Sorry, Tricia.

The rest of the weekend went like this:

We drove through Marietta on the way to Athens, and much of that town is closed down as everyone cleans up after last week’s flooding. We drove through the commercial district on Route 7, and the water marks on the buildings hovered around six or seven feet high. Yikes.

As I mentioned before, we had three meals at Casa – outstanding foodwise, but a bit rough on the old gastro-intestinal tract. Denholm Elliott, from “Trading Places”: “It gives me the winds something awful…”

We took a 20-mile bike ride along the Hockhocking-Adena Bikeway, a beautiful paved rails-to-trails stretch that runs from East State Street in Athens all the way to Hocking College in Nelsonville. We didn’t make it that far because our asses hurt too much.

There are still people in Athens who know us. We ran into Cindy, perpetually of the Burrito Buggy, and Bob, formerly of Casa who now owns a hot dog shop on West State Street, in the newly expanded bar at Casa prior to Friday’s dinner. They’re both good friends with Fred and Ethel so we spent a little time filling them in on their activities.

(A side note: Cindy once paid me about the highest complement I’ve ever received in journalism. Just before I finished my second senior year, I wrote a column challenging students at OU to take some chances while they were in Athens, in an environment that accepts and even encourages freaks. Cindy said it was the best thing she’d ever read in The Post.)

Did the alumni thing, which is our code for buying OU shit in the bookstores.

Actually attended an OU football game. Even more startling, attended an OU football win. We found, however, that the faithful in Athens has absolutely no idea about supporting the home team, at least not compared to the folks in Columbus. No crowd noise, and when we yelled, people looked genuinely surprised.

As we left the game (OK, we only stayed through the third quarter), we came across Maya Lin’s “Input,” the installation that serves as the centerpiece of OU’s new Bicentennial Park. It’s probably a couple acres of grass and concrete rectangles, some sunk into the turf and some that rise about two feet above it. Lin, who grew up in Athens, has said the overall installation is modeled after those old IBM computer punch cards, the rectangular ones with seemingly random spaces punched out. But the piece is also a non-linear map of Lin’s memories of Southeast Ohio, and those words, which she wrote with her brother, are little snippets that people who spent any time in Athens are bound to recall, stuff like the band and farms outside of town. Our favorite? “Beer at The Union,” naturally.

(Another side note: There is a ton of new public art around campus and the town. We didn’t come close to seeing everything, but it would be worth a weekend there to check it all out.)

The night before we left for Athens, we checked out the tributes to the late Frank Henderson, a political science professor at OU who died in December, in the university’s alumni magazine. We had it in our minds to stop at Lucky’s, one of Dr. Henderson’s Uptown haunts, to have a memorial toast, but when we stopped in on Saturday, we found, to our horror, that the bar had been re-done and was overrun with frat boys. So we were tickled to death later on when we finally got two seats at the bar in Tony’s and discovered that we sat down exactly where they had placed a small plaque, engraved into the bar, in Dr. Henderson’s honor. We did the toast, right then and there.

Miscellany:

  • We attend OU football games with the exact same frequency as Aaron Marshall.
  • There’s at least one cool person working at the Columbus Dispatch.
  • We stopped at Redneck Heaven – the new Cabela’s Monster Store outside Wheeling – on the way home. Wow, is about all I can say. Being in such close proximity to that many West Virginians and that many guns all at one time gave me a hellacious case of the heebie-jeebies.
  • We discovered that although we are still capable of pulling off a college-style weekend bender, it now takes a lot longer to recover. Check back, say, on Wednesday, and I’ll tell you if I’m feeling any better.