Archive for the ‘Buckeye Blogging’ Category.

I Didn’t Die Of My Chicanine Dream…

Light posting lately as I’ve been touring coast-to-coast performing as my doppelganger, the enormously popular middle-aged white rapper known as Travis T. Or not. More likely, I’ve been feeling that sort of lackluster that I get when I’m inundated with projects and phone-stalked by clients with justifiable grievances. And since a couple-three of them venture here sometimes, I feel funny about taking time to post when their projects are going begging. Not that I’m at all out of the woods right now, but I’m claiming the hours between 2am and 4am as my own, dammit!

So, a little summing up. Of course, I spent a lot of Saturday watching football. It was like Pickett’s Charge, half of the top 15 teams disemboweled and gasping on the greensward. The most stunning of which was Stanford’s regicide of USC. That game gave Jim Harbaugh, Stanford’s first-year coach and former Michigan quarterback, instant street cred and deflected some of the attention he’d gotten when he made these peculiar remarks about his alma mater. (An aside of astounding relevance: I delivered the Toledo Blade to Harbaugh’s house when his dad coached at my high school).

The Buckeyes’ game with Purdue was shown to 85% of the country, but here we got the unsightly spectacle of UCLA allowing Notre Dame to once again breathe air in the same time slot, so I sucked it up and bought the game PPV from Comcast. You’d think they’d make it easy for a strung-out junkie to buy a hit of ESPN crack, but nooooo. You can order all manner of depravity from the cable company with just a couple of flicks of your (unoccupied) wrist and the remote, but you can’t order ESPN Gameplan - you have to call Comcast. Which is what I did a half-hour before kickoff. It was a rude awakening to apprehend that they were woefully understaffed, and my only option was to accept a call-back in 40 - 45 minutes. I fumed, cursed, and did exactly what they asked me to do and paid them everything they asked me to pay.

I only missed about 4 minutes of the first quarter. When I watch a game at home, Mrs. Perils takes the cat and disappears to a safe room somewhere where the paint won’t peel when I scream. My companion for these events, oddly, is my 90-year-old mother-in-law. She spent a lot of Saturdays watching football with her husband, and I think it has a familiar feel for her. She’s got some cognitive issues, and it doesn’t help when I flick from game to game during time-outs. She follows it for the most part, though, and every now & then has a moment of clarity, like when I do a drive-by of a Penn State game, and she exclaims, “Is Joe Paterno still coaching?”

Then there was this priceless moment a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Perils had alighted briefly among us, and I was saying something to her about a player. She said, “what year is he?” And my MIL grinned and said, “he’s a fifth-year freshman!” We looked at each other with a “where’d that come from” look, but it’s not that far-fetched. She (my MIL) has been pondering all the various increments of academic/athletic status like “red-shirting” and, one of her favorites, “true freshman”. She was a school-teacher and a parent of two valedictorians, and her view of academic progress is decidedly less malleable than that of a college athletic department.

From the Ex’s and Ho’s Category

Folks on my Ohio State newsgroups are aghast at this revelation yesterday that our 3rd string quarterback, who had all but ascended to the 2-deep and had gotten most of the backup playing time in our nailbiter against Northwestern Saturday, was arrested after offering an undercover officer $20 for sex.

It’s not that they’re surprised that a teenager might evince a sex drive - they’re dumbfounded, and I think their pride’s a little hurt, that a Buckeye quarterback feels a need to pay for sex. The archivists are bloodying their nails searching for a precedent. I remember once when I was a student at OSU and experiencing some of that special loneliness characterized by animal head ornamentation, two really hot women walked into the lobby of my dorm, picked up the house phone* and cold-called the 2nd-string quarterback, Ron Maciejowski. (the kid got to start once a year when Rex Kern would take the Wisconsin game off.) Completely ignoring yours truly, who was no doubt picturesquely pretending to study. Dagger to the heart, that.

Another surprise for me is the apparent Seattle/Columbus exchange rate. Around here, $50 is a cheap dinner for two, and I wouldn’t bet on the chances of a cheap dinner getting you laid.  Some on my OSU list were wondering if the deep discount might have been an NCAA violation if consummated.

The best reportage I’ve seen of the incident comes from the always-hilarious EDSBS (Every Day Should Be Saturday). They hit us where we live with the caption “I-O! H-O!”

* - The more perceptive of you will notice the absence of the terms “cell phone” or “texting” in this anecdote

Long Weekend, Tardy Posting

Our trip with my brother and SIL last weekend worked out perfectly - nearly everything fell into place as if it were scripted.

Here’s a little soundtrack for a post about a trip that includes the San Juans - it’s called The Pig War by a Seattle band called Minus The Bear:

I picked up my guests at the airport Wednesday night, and we left Thursday morning for a ferry ride across Puget Sound and a short drive to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula (Click photos to enlarge).

Port Townsend is a charming little town nestled in a bay off of Admiralty Inlet, the passage that connects Puget Sound with the Strait of Wanna Fu Juan de Fuca. If you click the link above, you’ll read of an interesting wrinkle in its history that ensured the preservation of some knockout Victorian housing stock. Our weather pattern for the weekend was morning fog which the sun chased away at its leisure over the course of the afternoon. As we walked around Port Townsend, fog moved in and out, and eventually settled into a sculpted bank offshore, secreting ferries, container ships and other shipping, and their alarmist honking.

We stayed at a nice little place on the water called The Tides. Port Townsend and environs was the setting for the filming of the movie An Officer And A Gentleman, and The Tides was the site of one of Debra Winger and Richard Gere’s liasons. The middle photo below is the parade grounds at Fort Worden where the cadets’ graduation took place. The filming provided me with my only movie star client as a CPA. Friends of ours lived and ran businesses in Port Townsend at that time, and I did their taxes. During filming, one of their daughters was selected to appear in the film (in the dinner scene where Gere visited Debra Winger’s family. Their daughter was one of the kids at the table.) Every year thereafter, she got a 1099 from Paramount, and I prepared a little 1040 for her.

Friday morning, we had reservations for a boat tour that left Port Townsend, wound its way through the San Juan Islands to a lunch stop in Friday Harbor, and engaged in some wildlife-ogling and orca-watching on the return trip. Below you see the most interesting of our wildlife sightings, each in their own way attempting to absorb as many late-summer sunrays as possible.

And the piece de resistance: Our tour boat headed to the west side of San Juan Island and slipped in among a throng of other boats who were watching the J and K pods of southern resident orcas feeding offshore. The rule for whale-watching boats is to keep at least 100 meters’ distance, and, remarkably, all but one of the boats were scrupulously observing this etiquette. The whales, however, are under no such restriction, and at some point started heading towards the boats. The video below was taken as a pair of them approached, then swam around, our boat.

This might seem heretical to whale worshipers, but the above video for me is eerily reminiscent of this scene from my brother’s pond in South Carolina. For a time, the pond was home to one small-mouthed bass that, for all intents and purposes, became a housepet to my avid fisherman brother. It would follow us around the pond as we circumambulated the shore. I mean, can you eat a fish once you’ve named it “Shamu”? Shamu died of natural causes last spring. Or so we’re told. Me, I think he’s still down there, waiting for his “Call me fishmeal” moment:

And, finally, the ostensible reason for their visit arrived Saturday morning - the game at Husky Stadium between our Buckeyes and the Washington Huskies. Mrs. Perils is not a football fan, so my bro, SIL and I walked down to the stadium, taking time to meander around UW’s campus and absorb a little collegiate atmosphere. Upon entering the stadium, we were delighted to see that there was a large contingent wearing scarlet.

Also attending was an a pep band from the OSU Marching Band alumni club. When they were soliciting players earlier in the summer, I considered playing, but ultimately felt that it was sort of inappropriate for non-students to be participating in a college athletic event. I mean, it’s one thing to have an annual reunion game at our stadium where we play jointly with the student band and they love us and welcome us. It’s quite another thing to start showing up at away games and, in my opinion, usurping the role that students should be playing, even given that the Big Ten schools either send an entire band or nothing. I don’t want them to start thinking that they can quit sending the student band to away games because the alumni are only too happy to play. Our job as band alumni is to shut up and write checks. So, my brother and I attended the game as mere citizens. Meanwhile, the alumni band did a great job of playing and rallying our fans, they were loved and welcomed, and I’d have had a great time participating. But, in retrospect, I’m content with my decision.

The photos below depict a celebration after we scored, the final score on the scoreboard, and the team assembled in the endzone after the game, facing the contingent of fans and singing the alma mater along with the alumni band. A thoroughly satisfying afternoon. (I hasten to add - those people in kilts are not the OSU alumni band - it was high school band day at Husky Stadium, and they’re getting a ground-zero view of a tradition-laden program, even if it’s not the one they came to see!)

Long Time Gone (or Return of the Native)

I had a post drafted on Friday and it got swallowed, and then events of the weekend overtook me. To fast-forward a bit, I finished my week working in Milwaukee on Thursday and departed Friday morning for Columbus, there to meet up with my mom, my brothers and their wives, and to play and march once again with my Ohio State alumni band at the OSU-Youngstown State game. Not exactly a scintillating matchup, but don’t ask a Michigan fan today about whether it’s beneath a Big Ten team to play a Division II school.

Didn’t really have much chance to post after Friday morning because the entire weekend was a whirlwind of activity:

  • Friday evening - music rehearsal, then dinner with family (and perhaps a martini too far)
  • Saturday morning - marching and playing rehearsal at 6 am, which I managed to attend despite the emotional roller-coaster of oversleeping, a missed ride with my brother and an exculpatory taxi ride to the stadium.
  • Gametime at noon, in glorious, maybe just a little too glorious, sunshine; marching in an exhilarating pregame and halftime show and, because we scored early and often, playing my lips to swollen exhaustion in the stands
  • Gala dinner Saturday night with La Famiglia at an Italian restaurant
  • Sunday morning drive up to my mom’s house in Perrysburg
  • Hustle to downtown Toledo Sunday evening for a Mud Hens baseball doubleheader, followed by fireworks
  • Up early Monday (on schedule) to catch a ride to Detroit Metro airport and, at 8 days’ remove, my flight home to Seattle, from which I’m posting.

In my pre-dawn meltdown on Saturday, I neglected to grab my camera, so I have no photos from the ball game. If you peruse last year’s entries, you’ll get the essence of the experience, as nothing happened this year that was that much different. One thing - so many of us alumni (about 650) engage in this orgy of nostalgia that they have to run a lottery to assign the 384 Script Ohio spots. Since I was in it last year, I had a fairly slim chance of engaging in that sacrosanct alphabetic euphoria this year and, indeed, it would have required some sort of natural disaster that Ohio is particularly unsuited for (hurricane, earthquake, tsunami) for me to acquire a spot. Still, I got to march and play in all the other formations, and it’s still a thrill to risk my neck muscles looking up at the vertiginous terraces of 105,000 adoring Buckeye fans.

As I intimated, our opponent was the Youngstown State Penguins (yep - almost as endearing a mascot as the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs), a Division II school. For a team like Ohio State, it’s kind of like playing your little brother’s soccer team. You’re supposed to beat them badly, then feel either magnanimity or remorse, depending on the seriousness of the injuries inflicted. That’s how it worked Saturday for Ohio State, but the same scenario worked out a little differently for Michigan in its game in the Big House with Appalachian State. As our game ended, we had some intimation that Michigan was behind sometime in the 3rd quarter, but that they’d caught up and gone ahead in the fourth.

As my brother and I packed up our instruments and strolled away from the stadium, we passed through vast parking lots dotted with what are usually the dying embers of tailgate parties, burning here and there like Druid bonfires observing an inscrutable ritual. Saturday, however, there seemed to be an electric telepathy surging among them, causing simultaneous shouts to erupt across the vast heath of Buckeyedom.

We pilgrims happened upon one of these clusters to find its rustic denizens huddled under a tent and glued to a satellite-fed plasma vision of pain and anxiety beamed in from Ann Arbor. We set down our furze faggots and watched as, in an unbelievable 3 minutes of football, Michigan went ahead by 1 point, Appalachian State bamboozled the Wolverine defense and rashly kicked a go-ahead field goal with 30 seconds left when they could have asphyxiated the clock, then allowed Michigan to get within field goal range with 6 seconds left. With redemption in hand, Michigan had its chip-shot field goal blocked, and ended up losing the game.

Lots of my Buckeye correspondents are engaging in an unseemly orgy of schadenfreude. For my part, I revere the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry and always want it to be a clash of Titanic proportions - I always root for Michigan against other opponents. In more contemporary locution, Michigan’s our bitch. We may require any amount of groveling humiliation of her ourselves, but everyone else is advised to keep their grimy mitts off her.

OK, I know that most of you who suffer through these pages have either a disinterest in, or an aversion to, football and, except for a couple of Mr. Hyde hours on fall Saturday afternoons, I’m right there with you. I promise that these environs will continue to be dominated by Dr. Jekyll. Just don’t turn your back.

Wreck We Am

OK, whatever sport you pick, I guess we’re the Washington Generals and they (Florida) are the Globetrotters. This was probably the turning point of the game:

Our guys never gave up despite being pummelled by a constant rain of 3-point baskets - think the battle scene in Braveheart where the English are showering the battlefield with arrows.

The rain held off, so I decided to walk home from the sports bar - up Queen Anne Hill, down to Fremont, back uphill to Chez Perils. It was a crisp spring night, with a full moon rising, and these sights served to soothe my mood:

Another Barn Gets Burnt. That Was CLOSE

Whoop! What a great ending! Mike Conley, Jr. is one sweet point guard. Now we play Memphis Saturday, and my middle brother just pointed out in a (post-midnight for him in Charleston) email that he’s a graduate of both schools - OSU as an undergrad, and he has a masters from Memphis. I really don’t think there’s much question what colors he’ll be wearing on Saturday.

I’ve been letting out a “whoop” now and then, and, unless others in the hotel have the game on, they are probably flattering me with their speculations. Or planning to kill me.

One more day of work here in Milwaukee, then flying home tomorrow night on the 9:15 milk run to Seattle from Minneapolis. No big plans, but there’s a big garden in the back yard that needs to be spaded up. Not sure whether it’s too early to plant the first round of peas. I know we’ve planted them in February before, but I think they mostly stayed dormant and arrived contemporaneously with the second planting.

Have a good Friday, everyone. I’ve got a couple of hours to lay over in Minneapolis tomorrow evening - you may hear from me.

Cliffhanger

I’ve been sitting here in my hotel room, pretending to work while Ohio State plays Tennessee in the NCAA round of 16. Early on, it looked like my time might be better spent catching up on some sleep, as the Buckeyes fell behind by 20 points and the game had started at 10pm Eastern. At the end of the first half, I IM’d my brother that the players looked like they’d rather be in school (he replied that they looked like they were being schooled). It was an all-too-familiar feeling - me in Milwaukee watching the Buckeyes playing an SEC team in a post-season championship game, and getting ripped.

With 4 minutes left in the first half, however, they’ve caught up and even had a 3-point lead. Behind by 1 point now, so I guess I’ll sleep on the plane home tomorrow night. It’s just a terrific game right now for a disinterested spectator. I hope he’s having fun.

I’ll check with you later - the Bucks need my full attention right now.

Post-Traumatic Post

Tailgate Tails

I’m at my brother’s place in Charleston, SC - here with my brothers, their wives and my mom to again roast oysters and watch the Ohio State-Michigan game, something we seem to be making a tradition. Here’s my post on last year’s meetup. It seems the game has taken on mythical qualities this year, as OSU is ranked #1 and Michigan #2, and ESPN is flogging it 24/7. Adding to the mix of hype and over-exposure was the death yesterday of former long-time Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, a day after he’d spoken to the team. Bo and Woody Hayes were chiefly responsible for “branding” the rivalry, spending most of the 70s throwing lightning bolts back and forth at each other and devising all manner of psychological ploys to get their teams ready for the game. Hayes used to slit the stitches on his baseball cap so that he could rip it to pieces at a strategic point in practice. Against that backdrop, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Bo has staged his passing, and they’ll resurrect him in the locker room at halftime.
The timing of Bo’s death also couldn’t have been worse for this Columbus punk-rock band called The Dead Schembechlers. They’ve been trading on an arch and clever parody of the animus of the rivalry, and had a major on-campus performance scheduled for Friday night. They announced yesterday that it would be their last performance under that name, and they’re donating the proceeds to a charity of the Schembechler family’s choosing.
Well, kickoff’s only 5 hours away now, and I’ve got to get my game face on. I’m sure I’ll have some photos to share later.

Tales of the Mitten State

It seems that contact with the University of Michigan football program just brings out the worst in people. Wayne Woodrow Hayes, for instance, who would be skipping hand in hand with Mother Theresa through the Elysian fields of eternity were it not for a nationally-televised outburst or two in Ann Arbor. (Well, that and that Clemson thing.) It certainly brought out the worst in the architect who designed their stadium. And then there’s the sad case of former UM head coach Gary_Moeller, a good Ohio boy lured to the dark side, and his eventual destruction.
I bring this up not simply because I have nothing worthwhile to say - two news items in the last 24 hours underscore yet again this unhappy affinity. In the first, a fellow has been arrested in Ann Arbor for allegedly stalking coach Lloyd Carr and posting threatening emails. The fact that the guy has never attended the university didn’t immunize him from the curse. The most chilling part of the story for me personally, however, was this:

Akinmusuru was arraigned Thursday on charges of using a computer in a crime, malicious use of telecommunications and malicious annoyance by writing, campus police spokeswoman Diane Brown said. He faces up to one year in jail if convicted. (emphasis mine)

I thought I was reasonably safe prattling away here as long as I avoided slandering or libeling anyone except people everyone hates anyway. “malicious annoyance by writing” lowers the prosecutorial bar significantly. You guys are all having a good time, right? Can I pour you another drink or anything?
The second episode involves the University of Wisconsin band, which is now on Double-Secret Probation for unspecified depravities on its bus ride home from Ann Arbor:

The school is not releasing details on what happened during the trip to the Sept. 23 game. But Chancellor John Wiley described it in a letter to the band’s director as behavior “that can be seen as anything from boorish and offensive to patently dangerous and unlawful.” Wiley warned in the letter he would consider suspending activities and travel of the band or replacing its leadership if there were more reports of “gratuitous vulgarity, sexualized banter or joking, hazing, or other forms of demeaning conduct.”

I may be just another old crock, but I’m shocked and dismayed to hear of this from an august fellow Big Ten musical institution. When I was in the OSU band, our bus rides were used for studying, or writing letters to our mothers, or attending to our devotions. In its more delusional moments, Wisconsin likes to think of itself as the Stanford of the corn belt. Since the Stanford Band is blacklisted at more stadiums than Janet Jackson’s breasts, the Badgers may be making concrete progress toward that goal.
Let’s hope this contagion doesn’t extend westward on I-94 to East Lansing, where my Buckeyes will play the Spartans tomorrow.