out.

The Wife’s uncle passed away this morning, so Uncle Crappy’s going to be quiet for a few days. Y’all have a good weekend.

honey, i’m home.

Hope y’all had a nice holiday. Our Fourth was nice and relaxing, unlike the holiday of Sister of Uncle Crappy, who apparently suffered loss of vertical hold shortly after we spoke on the telephone Wednesday afternoon. She’s blaming a lack of preparation — and several yummy cosmopolitians — on her issues; she’s also proven to me that passing out on the bathroom floor is a family trait.

See, I’ve always found the bathroom to be an oddly comforting place when one reaches a certain level of, uh, toxicity. The tile floor is nice and cool, and bathmats can easily be balled up to make a pillow. And there’s no question that proximity to the commode is a plus as well. So, E — no worries. I’ve been right there with you several times.

Here in Pixburke, the Fourth consisted of golf in a light rain shower during the afternoon, followed by beer and grilled hot dogs — with all the toppins — in the evening. I also got my third fireworks show of the week, although I had to walk downtown by myself to see them. At least we weren’t sitting in the community park in Cranberry, where their show’s finale was inadvertantly set off about three minutes in. The rest of the show went off as planned, and apparently there was some confusion as to when it actually ended, since the big bang had come at the beginning.

The Wife promised one additional fireworks extravaganza, this coming Saturday at New Castle’s annual Fireworks Festival, where the town’s fireworks companies — which include Zambelli Internationale — set off a Really Big Show at the end of their community party. We’ve been before; the party isn’t anything special, but the fireworks show is spectacular. If you dig ’em as much as I do, you should make an effort to catch that show sometime.

The music component of our summer picks up this week as well. We have tickets to see Railroad Earth at the Rex Theater on Thursday, and we both took Monday off so we can head to Cleveland to see Keller and Ratdog with HP, who will have to miss part of the show because of work commitments.

So. Anyway. Kewyson’s comments aside, I appreciate the break. I’ll be fully engaged this week, so you can check back without fear of the crushing disappointment I’m sure you felt with each visit last week.

Right?

traveling.

We’re headed to Columbus for golf, a backyard cookout, a patriotic classical music performance and what had better be the first of several fireworks displays for Uncle Crappy in the coming week. Y’all have a good weekend.

sold.

The garage sale in Columbus was successful by any measure, but especially this one — Uncle Crappy and The Wife took in about $100 and didn’t have to bring much stuff back home on Sunday.

The high point clearly was the opening Saturday morning. By 7:30, a half hour before showtime, there were already several cars parked at the bottom of the driveway, and people were pacing around, ready to get started. I predicted to my dad that the early birds were there for his records, which were the only seriously collectible thing listed in the ad he wrote up for the Dispatch and the suburban papers.

I was dead-on. When we opened the garage door, Dad and I watched a replay of Dawn of the Dead — guys with graying ponytails, shuffling up the driveway with arms outstretched, moaning. “Recorrrds…”

Dad’s stacks of LPs were swarmed, sorted and decimated in about 20 minutes. I actually watched a guy who was thrilled to buy my old copy of the Stones’ Dirty Work, which has to be their worst album ever. I figured he was completing a collection or something — that’s the only reason to be gleeful over that abomination.

For much of the day, we thought that one of the real prizes — a 78 of Bix Biderbecke — had been stolen in the rush. We found it late in the day, upside down in the back of one of the record boxes.

And as I said before, most of the stuff that had been cluttering our basement found new homes. Which means we can start buying more stuff. Right honey?

On Friday, The Wife and I hosted a cookout for my folks, Juan, Fred and Ethel and the Coochie Doctor family — J. desperately needs a nickname, boys and girls, so help me out here — who brought over their new son. We finished sale day much in the same fashion, with pizza and beer on the patio before we all went to bed early.

I wish I hadn’t had to come back here for work today, but The Wife and I will still get in some fun after the rain stops Monday morning. Hope your weekend went just as well.

dizz. knee.

Three days in Florida. Turn the nephews loose on Disney World. Golf — for the first time this season — on a PGA course. Immersed in corporate wonder of Walt Disney Incorporated.

And we survived. Better than that even; it turned out to be fun.

The Wife and I arrived late on Wednesday, well after my folks and the Florida family had gone to bed. We enjoyed a $20 round of drinks — the shock of the price was offset at the mild surprise of finding that there was alcohol to be had at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at 11 p.m. OK. We’re good so far. Even better — there were giraffes eating their dinner right outside our room’s balcony. Wow.

The next jolt was also expected: an early wake-up so we could get to the Magic Kingdom by 8 a.m. on an early entry day for resort guests. As jarring as that was, the early entry thing was totally the right way to go. We were able to get over to some of the most popular rides — Space Mountain and the Buzz Lightyear shoot ’em up thing — quickly and get in multiple trips. And we learned early that, as per Kewyson’s advice, Fastpass — an advance ticket that allows you to come back to a popular ride at a later time and jump into a special, much shorter line — was absolutely the way to go. It got me a second trip on Space Mountain, with my sister who had to wait with two of her kids while the rest of us went through the first time, and it saved us a ton of time on a couple of rides that afternoon.

With the exception of Space Mountain, that first day was largely governed by the whims of the boys, ages 7 and 5, and what they wanted to see and do. They were content to bop around through several rides, check out all the lands and the cool stuff hidden throughout, and the grownups — and their almost 2-year-old sister — followed along. By the afternoon, though, it was hot and really freaking crowded; so we picked a good spot to watch the 3 p.m. parade and headed back to the hotel for swimming and cocktails at the end of the day.

A side note about Thursday. I rejoyced when we saw that the line for “It’s a Small World” was too long to endure when we were passing by. That is the single most goddamn irritating song in the history of music, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting it stuck inside my skull for six months or so.

So when we passed that attraction by, I thought I was home free. And I almost made it. But when I called the shuttle service Saturday night to check on our departure time for the Orlando airport, I was initially put on hold … and guess what the freaking hold music was …

Yep. It’s a good thing I wasn’t armed.

The Wife and I, along with my father and brother-in-law, got to check out a different park on Friday morning. While Mom, my sister and the kids went through Animal Kingdom, we played golf at the Palm course, one of the primary things my father wanted to do in observation of his 70th birthday. BIL lives in Clearwater, which means he plays golf year-round; on top of that, he’s actually good. My dad had played a few times in Columbus already and spent some time at driving ranges as well.

Niether The Wife nor I had so much as touched a club until I was packing them in the travel bags the day we left. This could have been really ugly.

But actually, it wasn’t. The course was tough but fair, and gorgeous besides. And although I was expecting not to break 120, I was pretty pleased with my 114, which was just two strokes behind my dad’s score. That was a great day, and it finished with another short trip to the pool followed by Legoland and dinner at Downtown Disney in the evening.

We had another early admission day Saturday at Disney-MGM, and again that, combined with the magic of Fastpass, made for a nice, low-hassle day. A bunch of us hit the Tower of Terror first, an amazing experience, but before we did we picked up Fastpasses for my father and me at the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster that we were able to use right away. A couple of quick scores before the park got too busy.

The cool thing about MGM, from a kid’s perspective, was that the Disney characters were everywhere, which made getting pictures with the various mice, ducks, dogs and bears was much easier that it would have been at the Magic Kingdom. In fact, we found this out totally accidentially; the 7-year-old wanted to go over to check out the huge wizard hat at the center of the park and I volunteered to take them over there. While we were standing underneath, there was a sudden explosion of music and announcers and recorded applause and then we were standing right next to Mickey as he walked out to a meet-and-greet point. I grabbed the boys and jumped in line while the various parents and grandparent ran over with cameras. They had time to meet the head mouse, Donald and Daisy and, later in the morning, Pooh and Tigger, who easily qualify as the favorites of the Crappy house.

And then the coolest thing happened. We had picked up Fastpasses for the Star Wars flight simulation, and headed back over there for the ride. Once seated, a guy in a special outfit — definitely not one of the Star Wars-esque unis the folks who were managing the ride were wearing — strolled in and handed each one of us a super Fastpass laminate, one that could be used at any time, for six different attractions, that day.

The ride was cool, and the pass was great — it got us back for second rides on several things and saved us a bunch of time and hassle. We wrapped up the day at the park by taking in a car-and-motorcycle stunt show — squealing tires, roaring engines, fire, exlposions and other generally loud stuff, perfect for the boys — and headed back to the hotel for an excellent grownup dinner at Jiku the night befor we all packed up and headed home on Sunday.

I was curious to see what my adult impression of Disney World would be compared with the memories of my last visit, which was something around age 12 — or like 28 years ago. I am significantly more cynical now than I was at 12, and I was half-expecting an endless corporate horrow show in the four days we were there.

While that stuff is there if you look for it, the overall experience was actually very good. It helped that I was viewing the parks largely through the eyes of my nephews, but the things I was looking forward to were even better than expected. The grownup rides were great, our dinner — after working out a botched reservation — was fantastic, the hotel was nice and well-run.

Hm. Maybe the beer selection could have been better, but that didn’t even matter much, since my sister had filled a cooler with IPAs from her local beer store to keep The Wife and me happy.

I almost wish I had a rant in me here, but I don’t. I’m still plenty skeptical about the mouse — and The Wife still has plenty of concerns about how much Central Florida land has been gobbled up by the company — but the Disney folks do know how to make a vacation enjoyable.

I’ve got a ton more to catch up on — music, beer, my new glasses, the Browns’ potential draft picks — but I’m out of time for the moment. Until the next time, remember:

“It’s a world of laughter/A world or tears/It’s a world of hopes/It’s a world of fears/There’s so much that we share/That it’s time we’re aware/It’s a small world after all…”

babies, sat.

For rent: Two apparently kick-ass babysitters. Must be able to drink while working.

As is my custom, I worked myself into a nervous frenzy over what turned out to be nothing, vis a vis the babysitting gig for The Wife and me on Saturday night. To recap: We headed to Canton and the home of my sister’s in-laws, to watch our nephews and niece while they were attending a function at the in-laws’ club. I was concerned especially about the niece, as Miss Mollie had not been especially accepting of her scary-looking uncle on our visit to Columbus last weekend.

I was resigned to disaster on Saturday, especially when Mollie started screaming as her folks prepared to leave. That’s when The Plan, formulated quickly with plenty of help from sister of Uncle Crappy, kicked into action. I kept the boys distracted — not a particularly tough chore — with pizza and scintillating dinner conversation. The Wife loaded Mollie into a stroller, handed her a bottle, and took her for a walk outside.

That worked well, as Mollie fell asleep within minutes. A disaster narrowly averted.

We knew that Mollie would eventually wake up, and again sister of Uncle Crappy was prepared: She left us a rented Barney video.

Let me say a few words about Barney here. In general terms, I abhor that big purple freak and everything he stand for. But I don’t have kids, and therefore can afford to be haughty and judgmental. On Saturday, I saw firsthand why millions of parents across the country gladly invite Barney into their homes: Thirty minutes of peace.

Mollie started to stress when she awoke, and The Wife swooped in, plopped her in front of the TV and let the purple beast work his magic. While I was running the boys around the backyard — they were chasing plastic whiffle golf balls, me and each other — Mollie was snuggled next to The Wife, watching Barney. She was calm and happy, and when the boys were ready to come inside, she was even ready to start playing.

(Special kudos here to The Wife, who had to sit through the Barney video twice. I checked her for side effects and lasting damage today, and it appears she’s just fine.)

The rest of the evening went off without a hitch. The older nephew played a game of Payday with The Wife, while his younger brother nestled down with his Gameboy. Mollie was content to meander around the living room, occasionally picking up a wad of Payday money and lurching off like a drunken divorcee on a spending binge.

Get this: The boys decided by themselves when it was time to get ready for bed. We sent them upstairs to start the process, and changed Mollie’s diaper (The Wife did this, although I was ready and willing), prepared a warm bottle (I did this, overcoming my fear by pretending I was mixing a Manhattan) and wrestled her into her pajamas (uh, it took two grown adults to accomplish this). I went upstairs to direct the showers and dental hygiene for the boys … and then we sent everyone to bed.

The Wife and I stretched out on the living room floor for a little pizza and beer while we listened for the inevitable eruption from upstairs … and it never came. After about 30 minutes, The Wife, convinced that everyone had died, sent me tiptoeing up the steps to check, and I found all the youngsters … blissfully … asleep.

When we woke up Sunday morning, we found that all three kids had in fact survived the night without losing blood or limbs or anything. Mollie seemed happy to see even me. They headed off to the airport and their flight back to Tampa, and we, flushed with accomplishment and the afterglow of a huge breakfast at Bob Evans, headed home.

So. I hereby pronounce Uncle Crappy and The Wife available for babysitting duties. We work for beer.