weather or not.


At the moment, Accuweather is calling for partly cloudy skies and high temps in the 40s for the first part of next week. That’s the forecast for Snowmass Village, which sits at about 8,500 feet. It’ll be colder at the top of the Cirque platter pull, shown here from last year’s trip, because that elevation is around 12,500 feet.

And that’s nice.

And Accuweather is also saying it’s going to snow all night Thursday, setting us up for a powder day on our last day of skiing.

And that’s even nicer.

countdown.

Four more days of work. Two days of packing. And by 1:30 p.m. — Mountain Time — on Sunday, we’ll be in Aspen. I have school board meetings and Sunday features between then and now, but that stuff seem less and less important as each minute passes.

Accuweather is even looking for snow late in the week while we’re there. If I had just one complaint about last year’s trip it would be the lack of a powder day. Maybe this time…

boots.

OK. The Grounghog thing is done. We delayed the trip to Columbus for a week because we were exhausted. So what did we do this weekend? Went skiing. Twice.

Well, I went twice, on Friday to Seven Springs, and on Saturday to Hidden Valley with The Wife, who’s still trying to figure out why ski boots aren’t getting along with her. She found a pair recently in Columbus that seemed to be much more comfortable than her original pair, but once we got outside on Saturday, she was experiencing the same pain she had in Colorado last year.

We leave for a return trip to Colorado in three weeks. This is not good.

She finally figured out a way to adjust them so she could ski comfortably, but that solution consisted of wearing them as loosely as possible. Once that was accomplished, she did fine, even taking on a couple of fairly steep — by Hidden Valley standards — slopes without flinching. Much.

We will come back to Columbus this weekend, so the kid who helped us with this pair of boots a few weeks ago can make some additional adjustments. And it may not be the end of the world if her boots are a little loose, because she’s not going to be hucking any cliffs while we’re at Snowmass.

But jesus, this is frustrating. She’s had to spend so much time and energy worrying about her boots that she’s not left with much of the same for trying to figure out how to ski. If she could just be comfortable, she’d be a good skier — she does pretty well as it is, in only her third season.

So we’re coming to Columbus on Friday. On Saturday, we’ll get up early and head to Mad River — the site of some of my few real stabs at juvenile delinquency — get a couple of half-day passes so we’re out by the time the area gets really crazy and then stop by Skismith on the way home to hopefully get her boots figured out.

And then we head west. Comfy boots and all.

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.

gulf coast.

The next time you hear from Uncle Crappy, he’ll be writing from a beach somewhere in Florida. It’s a only a short break, boys and girls, but it’s extremely necessary. Rum drinks for everyone…

bovine.

The beauty of a bar band is that on any given night, you can walk in, grab a seat in the back and for a cost of a few bottles of beer, you can see a performance that will change your life, the kind of thing that caused Jon Landau to start raving when he found a guy named Springsteen playing in clubs in New Jersey in the early 1970s.

Or you can go to the Greenville Inn in Chagrin Falls and see Skinny Moo.

Friday was the first chance The Wife and I had to see DD’s cover band, in part because we wanted to see them at the Greenville, a classic dive bar not actually in Chagrin Falls. Putting a bar like the Greenville in Chagrin would be like opening a salvage yard in UA: “Hm. We don’t approve of that kind of thing around here…”

DD plays the keyboards. The lead singer is Jay, who is as adept as Juan at making up lyrics on the fly. The guitarist seems like a quiet guy, belying the fact that, from what I understand, he has played in every single metal band in the history of Northeast Ohio. The bass player took prodigious grief because he had been hit on by a guy at a recent gig. And then there’s the drummer, Chaz, who was delighted by the surprise birthday party held for him before the show began. I’m told he turned 67 on Friday, although he doesn’t look a day over, say, 43. And maybe not even that.

Skinny Moo sells themselves with the tagline “funk ‘n stuff.” And that’s about as dead-on a description as anything I could come up with. A good bunch of old funk — Sly and the Family Stone showed up in the set list a couple of times, I think – some Stevie Ray Vaughn, some Motown tunes, a few more recent things. But the really cool thing is that the Moo isn’t content to play covers — they like to fuck around with arrangements and segues, coming up with some bizarre combinations that actually work. My favorite was using an AC/DC song – “Hell’s Bells,” I think — as a segue into, say, a Sly song.

Look — I can’t get into a ton of specifics because Friday night was a little hazy. But here’s the truth about all that fucking around: It takes good musicians — and a good band — to pull it off, and Skinny Moo pulled it off all night.

And then there was the drinking. My night didn’t start off with dinner, despite the fact that I was pretty hungry when we arrived at the bar. Instead, it started off with a shot of Jagermeister, while HP and friends drank an assortment of shots: lemon drops, straight Jager, Jager bombs, cherry bombs… The Wife seemed to be the only one to forgo the liquor, instead settling for a steady diet of Dortmunder Gold, which was in abundant supply. That first shot was my only, but I kept up with the beer until it became clear that I was going to be driving the HP’s truck home from Chagrin.

But not before the table dancing — my first since an ugly night at my one and only sorority formal in Nelsonville. I was having Hanger Five flashbacks all night long.

We stopped at White Castle on the way back to Lakewood, and ate dinner on the HP/DD front porch at 4 a.m. The ladies went to bed first, while DD and I stayed up until about 5 just talkin’ shit. The four of us had a killer breakfast at The Place To Be and while HP left for more drinking at Kamp Krusty and DD melted into the couch, The Wife and I took a spin around Lakewood’s arts festival and then headed home.

Actually we headed back to Chagrin for a stop at Chuck’s, a beer and wine shop we found last summer. We stocked up, got back on the turnpike in time to see an ugly-looking cloud that could have been in the area of the nuclear power plant a few minutes west of where I work, but was instead a fire at a magnesium-processing plant near New Castle. (Kind of a bummer for the folks directly involved, but later on it seemed to produce the coolest sunset we’ve noticed all summer…) Since we didn’t have to worry about a holocaust in western Pennsylvania, we settled down with some fancy beer on our porch. We didn’t hurt ourselves too badly this weekend — not like we did when DD and HP visited Pittsburgh, at any rate — and Uncle Crappy can confidently give his stamp of approval to Skinny Moo.