ouch (in advance).

Fred and Ethel are on their way for our annual Get A Room In A Downtown Hotel So There’s No Driving Involved Weekend. This year’s itinerary includes:

Three Rivers Arts Festival. Gotta buy some more $800 purses.

The 12th Annual Pennsylvania Microbrewers’ Festival, at Penn Brewing. Thirty breweries. Three hours. Sweet merciful jesus.

Pirates vs. Dodgers, PNC Park. Because we didn’t have enough food and beer at the festival.

I’m predicting Sunday will be a bit sluggish, boys and girls. And since no one asked what I did Thursday (you guys suck, by the way…), you’re probably going to have to wait a couple days to find out.

buncha.

These updates are just too easy.

  • We’re getting ready for a weekend in Columbus, the first time we’ve been home since, I think, February. It’s shaping up to be a nice, low-stress time — pizza with the folks on Friday night, an iPod/iTunes lesson for my father, mother and The Wife, and then a take-out Mexican feast — in honor of Cinco de Mayo — at the home of Fred and Ethel on Saturday. That’ll be good.
  • We’ll also watch the Kentucky Derby while at Fred and Ethel’s. I haven’t picked my favorite yet, but I’m leaning towards Any Given Saturday, which at the moment, carries 12-1 odds. He has a great name — probably a reference to the Derby, but how can you not like the link to college football? — and a great post position — third — and in his six previous races, he’s never finished out of the money.
  • Penndemonium, the second in a line of new strong beers from Penn Brewing, is completely awesome. A tip for the Floridians: The brewer told me they sent some down your way.
  • The Wife and had another nice beer-related discovery over the weekend — the apparent resurrection of Church Brew Works. In our visits in the last two years or so, the beer has been decent-to-fair, which, for them, is disappointing. The last time we were there, a manager actually told us they had been busy enough with setting up a bottling system that the actual brewing part had been a little neglected — and we weren’t the only ones to notice. But on Friday, along with our always-excellent buffalo cheeseburgers, we had really yummy IPAs, a great dunkelweizen and a glass of one of their staples, the Pious Monk Dunkel, which, to us, was better than it had been in years.
  • This afternoon I found a really nice copy of Phish’s Big Cypress show. For the uninitiated, that was their New Year’s Eve 1999 show, held on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in the Everglades. They played for more than nine hours, and a brief part of the show was simulcast on ABC’s live coverage of the events that night. In preparation for the broadcast, Trey told the audience that the band would give a short message of peace — which turned out to be “drive in the right lane, pass in the left” — and then play a short song. At the end of the tune, which was “Heavy Things,” Trey said everyone should chant the word “cheesecake” instead of clapping. I don’t remember watching on TV — we were too busy firing shotguns from Juan’s porch — but on the recording it sounds pretty freaking funny.
  • I get to tour a nuclear power plant on Friday morning. Should be pretty interesting and colossally terrifying, all at the same time.
  • While trying to help one of The Wife’s co-workers, I found this site. It’s a couple of years old — another shining example of Uncle Crappy being slow on the uptake — so you might have seen it already. If you haven’t, though …jesus, it’s hysterical. Ask him to make you a chicken sandwich.

OK. I’ll make my official Derby prediction sometime on Friday. Get those juleps ready.

ahh.

Prompted by a discussion I heard on ESPN radio a couple weeks ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about this time of year and how completely awesome it is in terms of sports. You may be surprised to hear that a college football freak like me looks forward to spring as much as I do.

The question was fairly simple — name the five annual sporting events you look forward to the most. My first thought? Ohio State’s first football game, its second game, its third game, etc…

But that’s not really true. My list would actually look something like this:

5) Kentucky Derby. An odd choice for someone who doesn’t care about horse racing, but the derby has always been a thing for me. It helps that I’ve actually attended one, in 1990 when I was stationed just down the road at Fort Knox. Drank 14 mint juleps that day, so it’s a little surprising I remember much of the day at all. The race is on…

4) The Masters. I’ll probably never get a chance to attend this one, but I feel like I know all of Augusta’s nuances just from watching every year. Next weekend, boys and girls.

3) Baseball’s opening day. It helps when the Indians are good, but that actually doesn’t matter — this is about anticipation of the long summer ahead.

2) NCAA men’s basketball tournament. I’ll concede that this may be moved up one spot because OHIO STATE PLAYS IN THE FREAKING FINAL FOUR IN JUST THREE FREAKING HOURS, but March Madness is always high on my list. College sports are always better.

1) Ohio State-Michigan football. Well, duh. What else would you expect me to say?

That’s my list. What’s yours?

that’s nice.


It’s not unusual for western Pennsylvania to be a bit behind the times. But in the case of the vernal equinox, we’re actually not lagging too much — only a month or so.

Here’s how I can tell:

* I can drive to and from work, music playing loudly, with the windows down. No shivering involved.

* Young’s Custard stand opened last weekend, and I’ve already had my first black raspberry cone.

* I got my 2006 Indians media guide in the mail.

* I can find any baseball on TV or the radio — OK, especially the radio — and be happy.

* My eyes are burning and my nose is running. Allergies aren’t exactly good things, but they come with the season.

* The skis are put away in the basement. The golf clubs are about to come upstairs.

* Rutabagas everywhere — like the one above, near Mansfield, Ohio — are sprouting leafy green things. I understand they’re called leaves.

dedications.

That’s for HP, a regular Uncle Crappy reader, Kewyson, another regular Uncle Crappy reader, and the Coochie Doctor, who’s looked at Uncle Crappy maybe once. Hah.

That’s for Pennsylvanians everywhere, on the eve of Penn State’s Big Ten quarterfinal game against my Buckeyes.

And that’s for all of us. Because as soon as all this basketball stuff is over, baseball season can really begin.

holy crap.


I had no idea what a big freaking deal the Bassmaster Classic would be, and as a result I spent the entire weekend marveling at the spectacle. The picture here, snapped by The Wife on Sunday, is of Kevin VanDam, the dude who ended up winning the tournament and the $200,000 check that goes with the top spot. This was taken while KVD, as he is known, took a victory lap around the Civic Arena, where 14,000 people watched the final weigh-in on Sunday. We’ll come back to that.

Unless you have access to a boat — which Uncle Crappy definitely does not — you don’t really watch any of the actual fishing. Instead, you go to the fishing and outdoors show at the Convention Center and look at fishing stuff. And, you collect the freebies that are handed out at many of the booths. My favorite freebie was a shot of Evan Williams single barrel bourbon, which was being given away at a booth towards the beginning of our tour of the convention center. There were also free fishing hooks, hats, shirts, lures, beer, keychains, maps, pork rinds, energy bars (Hooah bars, developed by the military for the military — the wife tasted one and said biological warfare would be a better application). You could meet pro fishermen — in our case only the ones who didn’t qualify for the classic, because they were all, you know, fishing — survivors (Rupert, the hippie guy) and hucksters of all varieties. Trade shows like this tend to be a little overwhelming because there’s so much stuff, and this one was no exception.

Except that at about 2 p.m. every day the convention center cleared out as people made their way up to the Civic Arena to get seats for the weigh-in. This, boys and girls, is where the unsuspecting and uninitiated get a real look at what bass fishing is about. What I would easily recognize as the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins under any other circumstances had been transformed with a huge stage set, video boards, lights, a kick-ass sound system — oh, and thousands of fishing fans. I watched Saturday’s weigh-in from the floor, after my mother in law and her husband scored passes at Friday’s kickoff. The noise, the lights, the screaming … think pro wrestling with a vague smell of river water.

Each guy rides into the arena on his boat, and hauls a bag o’ bass out of the live well to be weighed. If he has a couple of impressive fish in the bag, he holds them up for crowd, which shouts its approval. (The funny thing about this tradition is that instead of holding up real monsters, like the ones they catch in the south where it’s warm enough that the fish grow nearly all the time, they’re holding up what passed for huge bass in Pittsburgh, not a single one over three pounds. I’m told that’s tiny. And I know some of the contestants looked totally sheepish to be waving these skinny little fish around for the audience.) And the guy who tallied the highest total weight over the three days — this weekend, it was Kevin VanDam — takes home the big check.

I was at work for the final weigh-in, but I got to watch the whole thing on ESPN. And it was just nuts. When the final guy weighed in — and failed to reach KVD’s total — the arena erupted, there were fireworks, exploding streamers, the victory lap. Wow.

While all that was going on Saturday, there were another 70,000 people getting ready for a concert by chinless Jimmy Buffett wannabe Kenny Chesney at Heinz Field that evening. Pittsburgh reached Redneck Critical Mass this weekend, and seemed to survive the experience. And, apparently, we did as well.