baseball. hot dogs. apple pie. and beer.

We depart tomorrow morning for a fabulous weekend in Cleveland, ostensibly to watch the Indians and the Pirates. We — meaning Uncle Crappy, The Wife, HP and the Drunk Dude — have tickets for Friday’s game, and the ladies and I may go to the Saturday game as well. DD will be out of commission on Saturday night, as DD’s band has an engagement to play a private gig.

I initially thought we could get away with carrying in DD’s gear and claiming we were with the band. HP and DD agreed that in most circumstances that would be with no problem, but in the case of Saturday’s party — a class reunion for an all-boys private school — it might not be such a good thing. I agreed; I don’t like my own reunions that much, so why in the world would I go to someone else’s?

So. Friday, we drive to Chagrin for a stop a Chuck’s, the ungodly beer and wine store there, and then head to Strongsville to an Indians team shop at the mall there to stock up on cold weather gear for Friday night’s game. I offered The Wife the use of a nice, heavy Cleveland Browns sweatshirt, but for some reason she refused.

I’m not sure what’s on tap for Saturday, but I imagine beer will be involved. Possibly baseball too, and in that case the hot dogs will be present as well.

But we’ll probably skip the apple pie.

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helpful.

A question, via Yahoo:

“Does A.J. Palumbo serve beer?”

Hm. I can find no information about Mr. Palumbo — you’d think the website of Duquesne University would at least say who the guy was, since they went to the trouble of naming both a gym and a business school after him — so I have no idea if he would be in favor of beer or not.

If you’re talking about the gym that bears Mr. Palumbo’s name, the answer is yes, at least for concerts. Horrible shit, too — I think all Miller products. Yuck.

Thank you for calling the help desk. Have a nice evening.

housekeeping.

There’s been a lot of stuff I should have been keeping track of in the last few days, but as I noted before, I’ve been pretty tapped out, from both an inspiration standpoint and an energy standpoint. So as I am wont to do, I offer you the patented Uncle Crappy Catch-up Synopsis:

* The First Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Contest ended, fortunately, in a three-way tie among Fred, Mr. Burns and yours truly. And despite the fact that Mr. Burns didn’t technically pick George Mason to make the Final Four — he merely accepted the picks given to him by me — there will be Fabulous Prizes as promised to all three winners.

* Baseball season has begun, and the Indians are 5-1. Ahhh….

* I got to see Keller Williams in Pittsburgh about 10 days ago. If you have a chance to see him, he comes with the Uncle Crappy Seal of Approval. Keller’s definitely hippie-friendly, but his one-man jam band approach is definitely unique. Pacing around onstage between a bass, a bunch of percussion toys, a keyboard and about a dozen guitars, Keller uses digital loops to build his own backing band from song to song, and then sings and solos over the loops. Infectious. I got to see him do a set with Larry and Jenny Keel, bluegrassers from Virginia who backed Keller on his most recent CD, Grass — very cool stuff, ranging from fairly straightforward bluegrass to covers of Steve Miller’s “Take the Money and Run” and, believe it or not, Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Night.”

* Uncle Crappy’s very existence has been validated. I’m writing a monthly beer column for the entertainment tab my paper has been publishing for about a year. The column is just two months old at this point, but the editors seem to like it and the feedback that’s dribbled in so far has been fairly positive, so I’m hoping that means I won’t be getting shitcanned anytime soon. The magazine isn’t online yet, but I’m told that’s coming sometime later this year; if you’re interested in reading — and you haven’t already tired of hearing me pontificate about beer — send me an email, and I’ll pass out a link as soon as it’s up.

* In my last post, I mentioned the stuff that’s been going on in my personal world. Without going into too much detail, I can say that across the board things are headed in the right direction. John, the author of Life in Alaska — one of Uncle Crappy’s new favorite blogs — offered me some advice as a response to Friday’s post: “Breathe slowly…!”

John, you’re exactly right. That’s something we should all keep in mind. Thanks.

ass, kicked.

Oh, we did well this weekend. Ethel, who was expecting a quiet birthday dinner with Fred, Uncle Crappy and The Wife, was very surprised and quite pleased when she came around the corner and saw 15 friends waiting at the table in the Arena District Buca. She was even more pleased when she found that everyone had followed up on Fred’s advice to bring a bottle of wine as a gift. If you’re still trying to come up with a gift idea, I’d suggest a wine rack.

We also heard some nice stories about Ethel from everyone who showed up. Father of Uncle Crappy, who hasn’t known Ethel long enough to have a personal tale, instead gave her a bit of advice, in the form of his recipe for his Manhattans. Here: Six ounces of bourbon, preferably Maker’s Mark. Three ounces of sweet vermouth, preferably Martini and Rossi. A couple shakes from a bottle of bitters. An hour in the freezer (although if you don’t have an hour, a couple minutes in a shaker will do the trick). Serve with a maraschino cherry. Sit back and watch your problems slowly dissolve. Repeat.

We then returned to the folks’ house, where HP and DD, who drove down from Cleveland for the Coochie Doctor’s wedding, were well into the stash of beer they brought along. The Wife and I did our best to dent the stock as well, and we ended up staying up far too late and giggling way too much.

After a mellow Saturday afternoon, we loaded up in the new ride and headed to the wedding. The service was really nice, especially because of the pastor at First Country Club, who said some really cool things about love and marriage while largely keeping Jesus at arm’s length. At the start of the reception, we heard some wonderful things about our friend — wonderful enough that we were wondering if this was actually the same person we grew up with. And when the beaming bride walked up to our table, and Juan and I suggested that we get a turn with the microphone, the saintly Coochie Doctor grinned and said:

“There’s no fucking way that’s happening.”

She always was smarter than the rest of us.

thoughts.

@ When a group of citizens gets together because they’re concerned about something, how come they can’t ever come up with a better name than “Concerned Citizens of (Insert town name here)?”

@ Punkin Ale from Dogfish Head is the best pumpkin beer I’ve ever had.

@ And I intend on having several more.

@ Tonight.

@ I love October baseball. Even if it’s still September (but is starting to feel like October…).

@ My birthday is in 15 days. 39. Holy crap.

@ I’m hoping I’ll finally get an iPod. That would help.

@ It’s trash night, and The Wife just asked if I’d mind taking care of the trash. I said, “Are you sure that’s the question you want to ask?”

@ It wasn’t.

@ If you’ve done something bad and you don’t want to see it in the local newspaper, probably the last thing you should do is call a reporter and tell him about it.

@ It’s even worse if you tell the reporter he’d ruin your life if he writes something. And then you proceed to threaten the reporter. “Yeah, it’ll be in as soon as possible, fuckwad, because I’m not the idiot who got drunk and tried to buy a blowjob.”

@ Nugs.net is the coolest web site ever, perhaps behind only the internet archive. I mean, check this shit out…

@ This is a good weekend to have no meaningful football. I can think about something else for a change.

@ Like, say, baseball.

@ Or the fabulous anniversary dinner I’m going to make for The Wife on Friday.

@ Time to go — I promised The Wife I’d take the trash out before I went to bed.

@ I just didn’t promise I’d be happy about it.

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.