countdown.

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If you’re playing in the Eleventh Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown), the time to enter is now. If I have your picks by noon today, you’ll be eligible to win our $50 Bocktown gift card.

And if you don’t? I’ll think of you when I’m eating my delicious bacon and beer cheese fries.

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a weekend.

A perfectly relaxing Saturday morning. Handmade Arcade. Keller Williams. A road trip to Columbus for the MLS Cup final.

Whew.

I didn’t take pictures of the first part of Saturday, but I don’t want to give it short shrift: Yoga class at 8 a.m., followed by my first ever acupuncture treatment; that combination, boys and girls, is pretty much unbeatable. We took a productive spin through Handmade Arcade, got in a nap … and then …

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So we started with the photographic portion of the weekend as we each enjoyed a glass of Master of the Galaxy, the delicious imperial IPA by Grist House in Millvale. At least two of the last shows I’ve seen at Mr. Smalls — basically just around the corner from Grist House — have been on Sundays, so there haven’t been the same kind of pregaming opportunities we enjoyed on Saturday. And we did enjoy: a couple beers apiece, delicious dinner from the Burgh Bites truck, and a fun time talking with some folks who had driven to Pittsburgh from Cleveland to see Keller. If you haven’t been to Grist House, guys, you need to go — especially when you can then take the short walk to see your show at Mr. Smalls.

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Keller LOVES Mr. Smalls — when I interviewed him for BCT a few years ago, he said that’s why he picked it to film his concert DVD. On Saturday, he opened for himself, playing a short solo set — as solo as Keller and his infinite loops ever are, anyway — before he hit the stage with the KW Trio. As he always does, he starts playing before he actually comes up on stage ; that always catches people by surprise a bit, so Mrs. Crappy and scored floor space right up by the stage for the solo set.

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I mentioned trio, right? I hadn’t seen drummer Rodney Holmes before, but he has serious chops, playing jazz sessions with a host of different guys and winning Grammys playing with Carlos Santana. The bassist? That’s Rob Wasserman, Bob Weir partner in crime and original member of Ratdog. Seeing KW play with a band is always a cool, different experience, and that was definitely the case on Saturday.

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Because we weren’t tired enough on Saturday, we thought driving to Columbus for the MLS Cup final sounded like a great idea. Spoiler alert: In spite of the game’s outcome — and the atrocious officiating — it was.

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We met Fred and Ethel outside Mapfre Stadium, did a bit of tailgating — thanks to them, because they brought all the supplies on Sunday — and headed inside. Ethel told me what section they were sitting in when I asked about getting tickets from the match, so we scored tickets in the same section. And there might have been a little beer.

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Awesome atmosphere. Loved the Nordecke tifo. The place was nuts … for about the first minute of the match. The rest of the night was awesome too, but the match itself didn’t turn out the way we wanted.

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Still, I’d say it was a perfect weekend. Sure looks that way, huh?

24. trotting.

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You’re surprised that I wore an Ohio State jersey? Have we met?

I’d always wanted to do the YMCA Turkey Trot, the annual 5K held in the city on Thanksgiving morning, if for no other reason that it would provide ample justification for the gorging that would occur later in the day.

So of course, I waited to do the race until the year when I’m not really allowed to gorge any longer.

But that’s my only gripe about this morning’s race. Well, that and that freaking hill coming around Commonwealth Place to Fort Duquesne Boulevard just as we’re hitting the third mile … that sucked a little bit, to be honest. But that’s a minor gripe — especially in a hilly town like Pittsburgh — and the only one I had about the race. I loved the course; I ran (or walked) past both PG newsrooms, over two bridges and past two stadiums, all on a perfect, sunny, 45-degree morning.

How’d I do? I joked on Wednesday about finishing last in my age group. And I was close.

But that’s not the point. The point is getting outside on a gorgeous morning. The point is enjoying the energy of your fellow runners. The point is responding to the people who are cheering you because you’re wearing an Ohio State jersey. The point is moving.

I did all those. I want to do it again. Soon. Thursday morning was too much fun not to.

1. hey.

yogurt

I used to do this as a matter of course.

But it’s been years since I’ve regularly written stuff here, much less successfully completed a National Blog Posting Month month. I’m not sure why I’ve neglected a tool that I used to appreciate so much — perhaps it’s because my jobs came to too closely resemble what I used to do here — but over the last several years, that’s what’s happened.

So I’m going to try to have some fun with Uncle Crappy — the blog — this month. NaBloPoMo used to be a thing I did regularly; I even remember approaching that first November with some trepidation about mustering one post a day for an entire month … and then coming up with something like 36 posts in the course of a month.

NaBloPoMo_2015I have no idea whether I have 36 posts in me this month. I have no idea whether I have 30 posts in me this month. And, frankly, I have no idea whether NaBloPoMo is even still a thing these days. (If you read this and you’re doing it too, leave me a comment, willya?)

But I’m going to give this a try.

Folks who have been reading here for a long time will know some of this stuff. For the rest of you: By way of an introduction, here are 10 things you might read about during the course of the month.

Weather. I’m kind of a freak about the weather. And we’re solidly in the middle of my favorite time of year, weather(and other)wise.

Diabetes. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is a new development. I’m doing pretty well with my goal of not letting diabetes define who I am, but there are moments of frustration, like the one I experienced today: Hungry, standing in a Sheetz in eastern Ohio and understanding that there is basically nothing in the entire building that I can eat. I get that from time to time; in other instances, I’m able to convince myself that a bowl of raspberries and plain Greek yogurt is every bit as good as a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Of note this month: As we approach the holidays, the diabeetus is going to make things interesting.

Food. No, I’m not trying to be funny. I love cooking. I love eating. And the fun part of my diagnosis has been searching for healthier alternatives to replace some of the crap I can no longer get away with eating. My favorite so far: Whole wheat flatbread pizza with onions and turkey pepperoni.

Beer. This is also a challenge, given the diabeetus, because I still need to keep up with my professional obligations. On my own time, the solution is easy: Drink much less, but drink much better.

Yoga. If there’s something on this list that should define me, it’s this. It’s been a tough fall, because work and our trips to Columbus have really taken away from the time I would spend in the studio, and I notice the absence, physically and — especially — mentally and emotionally. That’ll get better this month, because we travel only two weekends … and man, I need it. I am a different person now than I was 18 months ago because of yoga and the things that come with it, and I can’t wait to really jump back in.

Football. Mrs. Crappy and I are Ohio State football season ticket holders and in the fall, traveling back and forth to Columbus kind of overshadows everything else. We love it — especially the tailgate parties, which we manage for my folks — but by this point of the season, it can be exhausting. You may also hear about my long-tortured existence as a Cleveland Browns fan. My mostly successful plan for enjoying the current NFL season: Caring less means more fun.

Football (other). I had a brief flirtation with Aston Villa a few years ago, but that was based on common ownership with the Browns … so, naturally, that turned out to be a disaster. Over the past two years, I’ve undergone a more organic Premier League selection process, which has reached this final, carved-in-stone conclusion: Liverpool. On the domestic side, this process has been much easier: Columbus ’til I die.

Music. I can’t overstate the importance of music in my life, from the chill stuff that Kristi plays in her yoga classes to the hippie music that has occupied a huge portion of my life since, uh, junior high school. Coming this month: bluegrass, Johnny Rotten, the annual return of Christmas music and a buildup to a Keller Williams show in early December.

Pittsburgh. I grumble about Pittsburgh during football season, but the secret is that I love being here: the places, the social life and especially all of you. And here’s a not-so-closely-held secret: Pittsburgh during the holiday season is magical.

Mrs. Crappy. I saved the best one for last.

hope you’re thirsty.

It’s a pretty simple theme. And all you have to do to take advantage is find the guy in the red hat.

As we’ve done for several years, we’re volunteering again at a Pittsburgh Marathon fluid station. As we done for not quite as many years, we’re working the Mile 6 station, on Western Avenue near the Humane Society’s North Side shelter. And as we’ve been able to do since we’ve worked that station, we hope to set up on the right side of the street — for those of you who are running — near First Niagara Bank.

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Find the hat. Get a high five.

So if you’re running on Sunday morning, look for me and the same red Ohio
State bucket hat I wear every year. Find me, and that’s where the tag line comes in:

Hugs. High fives. And the best water on the course.

See you Sunday morning, yinz guys.

music for months.

Getting our Crappy selves to Chicago for the Dead/Trey shows isn’t happening, but we’re looking at a pretty good musical run in the coming weeks nonetheless. And that’s a good thing — I know I can really use the break.

What’s coming? I’m so glad you asked:

Sunday: moe., at Mr. Small’s. They’re pretty much an annual Pittsburgh thing for us. A 15-minute “Plane Crash” would be awesome.

The week after that: The Traveling McCourys and Bill Nershi of String Cheese Incident, at the Rex Theater. A badly needed bluegrass fix for me.

The week after that: The Decemberists, at the Benedum Center. I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if they don’t play “Row Jimmy” for Mrs. Crappy’s birthday show — but I’d be awfully happy if they did.

A few weeks after that: Skinny Moo, at the Greenville Inn in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. One word: Legendary.

After that? No specific plans, but you can bet there will be at least a few Three Rivers Arts Festival shows. The Umphrey’s McGee/Widespread Panic show at Stage AE looks interesting. And there was something about the Rolling Stones playing Sticky Fingers in its entirety? Hmmm.