Capital One Diary: Hey Mr. Tangerine Man!

The Monsignor's Orlando travelogue

Barry Alvarez gets doused by his players at the end of the Capital One Bowl (AJ Maclean/Badger Nation).


 (With apologies to Bob Dylan)


Hey, Mr. Tangerine Man, play a song for me,

I'm not sleepy and there ain't no place I'm going to.

Hey, Mr. Tangerine Man, play a song for me,

In the jingle jangle morning, I'll come following you.


            Daa-da-da-Di-di-daaa-da-da-da-da, Di-di-da-da-da-daaa, Di-di-di-di-da-da-da-da-daaaa ……

            There is only one cell phone I know that rings with the music from the "Can-Can."  My cell phone.  I stumble out of bed, my head aching, and pick up the dancing phone. 

            "Hello," I mumble, opening the drapes to see that it is raining outside.

            "Is this the Monsignor?"

            I pause for a moment, finally remembering that I am in a hotel in Orlando, Florida, the morning after the University of Wisconsin Badgers won the Tangerine Bowl.

            "Who is this?" I ask.

            "This is the Orlando Police Department.  We need to talk."

            Crap.  A moment of panic flashes through me, until I remember clearly that my good wife, the Irish Mist (Yes!) drove me back here last night.  I look over at the bed.

            She's gone. 

            Hey, my tangerine is gone, too.

            Double Crap. 

What have I got myself into? 

Was it the fez?


Though I know that Barry's empire has returned into sand,
Vanished from my hand,
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
My happiness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
We have no one to beat
And the ancient obelisk's too tall for weeping.


            The Irish Mist (Yes!) and I are sporting our quality "Tangerine Bowl – Orlando, 2006" long sleeve T-shirts. The front of the shirts also includes a slice of citrus fruit, and the back is graced with a modified drawing of Obie the Obelisk—that new piece of art outside Camp Randall stadium.

            My wife the artist is behind the details of this design, as we continue our tradition of a special shirt for each UW football bowl game. And, as we sit in the Madison airport getting ready to fly to Orlando, the Mist (Yes!) is getting more animated as she consumes her first of many cocktails over the next five days.

            The weather reports from Florida are very favorable, so I am leaving behind the usual red beret in favor of the red fez, festooned with a white topping, a red tassel and a Bucky Badger pin. We get a couple of questions, like "Are you with the Shriners?" and "Tan-ger-ine Bowl…..Tangerine Bowl.  What's that?" We have to explain that the UW officially may be facing Auburn University in the Capital One Bowl, but it originally was called the Tangerine Bowl, and we are sticking with original intent.

            There is something ugly and sooo commercial about the bowl games all having sponsors now, and sponsors who aren't satisfied with adding their name to the traditional bowl games. When the Tangerine Bowl became the Citrus Bowl, I could live with it.  When it became the Capital One Citrus Bowl, it was a bad step down the slippery slope. 

            And now we have only the Capital One Bowl.  Nobody knows about the ancient connection to the tangerine, that most lovable of all citrus fruits. Ah, well, welcome to America in the post-Clinton, post-Bush world where money matters most.

            We board the flight in Madison late in the day—allowing us the luxury of a lazy day getting ready. My son drops us off at the airport and, some seven hours later, we have picked up the Lincoln and followed the erratic GPS system to find our hotel. 

            Not too much going on at the Doubletree outside Universal Studios theme park here in Orlando at 12:40 a.m.  No mini-bar in the room.  Hmmm…. Not even a dispenser for the rolls of toilet paper kept hidden in a little cubby next to the john. 

We decide to check out the hotel bar, called Scuba Joe's. Our short walk to the bar reinforces my initial impression: this is either a hotel that is on the slow slide downhill, or it is one that has made the slide, and somebody is attempting to bring it back up. Scuba Joe's is not going to help, given that the drinks are very expensive and—get this—they charge you extra for ice in your drink. We can't figure that out, but at $7-8 for some Bailey's on the rocks, we can afford many runs to the liquor store. Either that or bring our own ice to the bar!

The Mist (Yes!) and I are heading back up to the room.  She is finishing gobbling up her gift cookies in front of others on the elevator. I ask her if she isn't a little embarrassed to be eating her cookies in public.

"Me? Embarrassed?  I'm with a man in a fez," she says, shrugging.


Take me on a bowl trip on your magic swirlin' ship,
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my red shoes
To be wanderin'.
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to cheer
At the Rose Bowl parades, cast your football spell my way,
I promise to go under it.

Parades?  There is a Citrus Parade? 

Yes, we knew about it due to some conversation with fellow travelers at the MSN airport. But this morning, we are sleeping in, neither the Mist (Yes!) nor I stirring until sometime close to 10 am when I remember that TAW is arriving at the Orlando airport and I think I made some remark about picking her up so we hustle and make the calls and do get to the airport in time. During this process, I notice that my belly has begun to resemble that of the infamous Bucky Buttafuoco, who adorns our Rose Bowl '94 shirts.  Ah, well, nothing to do for the next few days but add to the image.

Besides, I'm wearing a fez.

The friggin' GPS system on this Likken is driving us crazy, as it doesn't give good directions, and heaven forbid you take an alternate route. In the female equivalent of the voice on HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey," I am reminded: "Ding! Ding! Ding! Recalculating route…..recalculating route….Turn left in …. 200 feet….Ding! Ding! Ding! Recalculating route … recalculating route ….."  Now that I've learned the actual route to and from the airport, I shut the stupid thing off and drive by memory, the only thing driving me crazy at this point is the Orlando rip-off of two (count ‘em, 2) tolls between the airport and, well, anywhere as far as I can figure out.

TAW in tow, we find the neighborhood liquor store, purchasing gin and beer and champagne for New Year's eve and lots of scotch, both because I need the traditional traveling scotch, Chivas Regal, and because Myles has declared the Balvenie Double Wood the "Official Scotch of the Tangerine Bowl." 

Who am I to argue with Official Status?

More importantly, who am I to argue with our official plan for the Orlando trip:  lie in the sun! We spend the afternoon chasing the sun around the pool outside the hotel, checking in on the losing Big Ten bowl teams as the day wears on, consuming Miller Lites and gin and tonics and glasses of the Official Scotch of the Tangerine Bowl. We are shocked that neither the poolside bar nor Scrubby Joe's is open. In fact, as the days go by and the poolside bar remains closed (and they in fact close up the lobby bar!), we think about going to the liquor store and starting to sell our own out of the bar. ….. Hmmm, I doubt such entrepreneurial spirit would impress the hotel rent-a-cops.

"I'm with the man in the fez," the Mist (Yes!) says again, to other poolside sunners. You wear a hat like this, I am learning, and everybody refers to you as "Sir."

We wander off to Universal Studios City Walk early that evening.  It is a Wisconsin Dells, 21st century techno-hell, but what the hell!  We end up sitting at the bar at Jimmy Buffett's Margarativille, TAW sucking down the margaritas like they are orange juices the morning of a bad hangover. The food isn't bad at all, and I decide the margaritas are fine and order another myself (don't mind if I do). We wander around a little more, checking out the Extinct Animal Store (or was it the Threatened Species Store?) but it didn't have any thing with a Stinkin' Bajjer on it.

We have started to run into a few Auburn fans, and we of course are polite and tell them how we don't have a chance against their great team. Auburn fans are some of the friendliest I've met on lo so many a road trip, and they continue to show that here. 

Our escape from Universal is a bit more of an adventure, as we wander through the endless parking lot, finally finding our way out, noticing the on-site kennel so that you can leave your dog for the day, but now we are in the middle of a garden with no visible access to the sidewalk some 50 feet away. What to do?  I decide to water the garden while TAW and the Mist (Yes!) scout about. They find a way down the terraces, not an easy way mind you, but we eventually are out on the street and heading back to the Doubletree. 

Ooops…..I meant back to the nearby Alehouse.  We have to check it out, the nearest bar of any decency, and it is pretty decent. Lots of televisions, sports bar with sports bar food, and crowded, so a nice place to know about.

TAW and I end the night with a beer from Scoobeedoo's bar; the prices for beer aren't so outrageous.  At least so long as you don't order it with ice.

Though you might hear laughin', spinnin', swingin' madly across the sun,
It's not aimed at anyone, it's just Badgers on the run
And but for the sky there are no foes we're facin'.

            Here it is, New Year's Eve already, well sort of, since nobody stirs again until 10:30 a.m. The rest of our intrepid troupe is to arrive today, X and Mrs. X, Chico and Laverne, Steve and Ray. We try the downstairs breakfast and are unimpressed; heck, it is worse than the nearby Denny's. The waitress can't get simple things like tomato juice right, and that's after we ordered the buffet. 

            We meet X and the lovely Mrs. X, aka Miss Musk, in the lobby of the hotel, with a tangerine and a bottle of Leinie's red for each of them. The place is overrun with large groups of what are presumably tourists, although some seem to be girls soccer teams and the like, and poor X can't get into his room for another hour or two, as we are at what must be peak time of the year. We consider heading for Cruddy Joe's bar, but of course it isn't open even though the hour is rapidly approaching noon. The inability of Scabies Bar to provide service at reasonable hours for a reasonable price is only topped by the complete lack of poolside service. 

            Not that it matters, as we while away this afternoon in the sun, greeting Chico and Mrs. Chico aka Laverne and Steve aka Coach and Ray.  Ray better get an aka if she intends to keep coming to these bowl trips.  For some reason, TAW and the Mist (Yes!) take it upon themselves to offer beers to other folks hanging out around the pool, causing one lady to befriend us and dub TAW with her new aka:  "Carol the Righteous."

            "That was so righteous of you to offer me a beer!"

            Some of the Romans in the group are talking about going down to the Peabody Hotel tomorrow morning, Sunday, January 1, 2006, to take in a Mass with the football players and Monsignor Mike Burke.  It is, after all, a Holy Day of Obligation, the Feast of the Circumcision.

            "Why would they celebrate that ?!?!" the Irish Mist (Yes!) challenges the group. 

            There are all sorts of fallen-away Romans: some, like X and Mrs. X are fallen-away believers, still practicing even though they don't buy a lot of the stuff they hear.  Some are fallen-away converts, like TAW, who left and eventually came back, even though they don't buy a lot of the stuff they hear. Some, like Chico and Laverne are not fallen away at all, even though they don't buy a lot of the stuff they hear. Some, like me, are true apostates, heathens. But nothing is worse than a fallen away Irish Roman, since they never really bought into the whole deal to begin with.

            "Wow," the Irish Mist (Yes!) ponders the imponderableness of it all. "The Feast of the Clippings …..

            Chico makes a beer run, absconding with the shopping cart which comes in handy later and we all get dressed and stop at the nearby Alehouse to check it out and then take an awkward route courtesy of the effing GPS system to the Salt Island Chop House for a most excellent dinner. We are joined here by Myles Long and Peter Lee QB and Myles's camera is going and later there are some very fun pics showing up on the Badgermaniac Board. This is a great outing with great food and a wonderful waiter named Philip, who gives about a 10 minute rundown on our food options and then asks,

            "Any questions?"

            To which a quickly becoming pie-eyed Coach responds without missing a beat, "Yeah. Can I get a Bud Light?"

            Steaks and fish and desserts and lots of drinks and a $700 bill or something like that and what a great way to spend New Year's Eve. After dinner and some more cocktails watching a terrible musician, the groups break up, some heading downtown, some to Universal City Walk, and TAW and the Mist (Yes!) and I go back to the hotel and drink champagne and sit out in the warm night and watch fireworks, eventually getting bugged by an Auburn fan who is like about 16 years old but wants us to buy him a beer or at least bum him a cigarette. We do neither, but he is particularly amusing.

            TAW and I are left now, and grab a nightcap at Scumbag's, deciding to take advantage of the few minutes it is open. 

And if you hear vague traces of skippin' reels of rhyme
To your tangerine in time, it's just a ragged fan behind,
I wouldn't pay it any mind, it's just a shadow you're
Seein' that he's chasing.

            New Year's Day.  Hey we made it to 2006!  I'm lying in the sun at the pool while the Mist (Yes!) got kidnapped by the movie "Ray" on the hotel television, and nobody else is around, and finally I put in a call for Carol the Righteous.

            "We went to church. At the Peabody," she relates. "We're on our way back."

            "Wow.  I hope you prayed for my soul."

            They now arrive back and I discover that everybody prayed for my soul, including the Right Reverend Burke, but then again they always do. I need it. Perhaps even more impressive, they present me with a card containing the Official Badger Football Prayer and a Litany to Our Lady Queen of Victory. TAW isn't quite sure why she has a University of Pittsburgh size medium sweatshirt, which apparently I have some responsibility for, nor can either of us explain why she insisted on "Hand Free Pee Snax" at Scrubbo's late, late last night.

            "You don't remember?" I ask. "You insisted that bar snacks may have been handled by somebody who had peed and not washed their hands. So I picked through the bowl to give you the ones that were clean."

            "And let me guess, I ate the ones you picked out with your hands and gave to me?"

            "Well, yeah.  They were the Hand Pee Free Snacks."

            Chico is in the midst of two runs with the shopping cart; the fellow at the next door Rennebohm's gives him an odd look when he asks when the liquor store opens.

            "It's Sunday," the store clerk says, clearly eyeing this guy as if he were a total reprobate. Then, he notices the red "Wisconsin" shirt Chico had on, and displays a more forgiving look.

            "It opens at noon, buddy.  Think you can hang on until then?"

            The afternoon is spent as we want to spend it, lying again in the sun poolside, consuming adult beverages, reading our books, taking the occasional dip in the pool, copping a few z's, comparing Chico's snoring to that of other great snorers I have known. Coach and Ray have to leave—now I find this odd, but others don't seem to. They fly down to Florida to hang out with other Badger fans for two days, but don't have game tickets, can't attend the bowl, and fly back now that they made it to New Year's Day.  Coach looks a little worse for wear, and we hear of his adventures in the Bob Marley bar at City Walk the night before and then suddenly they are gone and we continue to lie in the Southern sun.

            Dinner tonight is at Cattleman's and it is slightly disappointing because X thought it was the same as the famous Cattlemen's Ranch outside El Paso del Norte. But it isn't close. We save some leftover beef with I deposit with TAW/CTR the next morning for naught, as she tosses it away. 

            "You look tired, Monsignor" Senor Equis remarks.

            "I'm beat.  Are my eyes to slit stage?"


            And so the Irish Mist (Yes!) and Ms. Musk and I head back to the hotel and crash, while X and the Chicos and CTR/TAW spend some time at Howl at The Moon, which from all I hear, was raw and crazy. 

Then take me disappearin' through past losses in my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen fields,
The bright Homecoming trees, out to the Southern sun,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.

            Hey, man, it's Game Day!  Up and at ‘em!  Who's Gonna Beat ‘Em?

            I wander out for a walk in the beautiful Orlando sun, and begin preparations for the drive to the game, including wake up calls that are not wonderfully received, but hey, It's Game Day!!

            At least we have the joy of a 1 p.m. start, much better than the Outback Bowl.

            The Tangerine Bowl! The Badgers finally get here in Barry's last year as coach.  We are certainly overmatched in this game, No. 21 Wisconsin against the No. 7 Auburn Tigers, the team many say is the best in the SEC. And the Emperor has trouble against SEC teams; they have given him all three losses in his 7-3 bowl record. This Bowl is just a step below the big BCS bowls, and we get here despite those three losses. That unbelievable 51-48 loss to Northwestern, redeemable only in that it allowed me to complete my Big Ten circuit. That unbelievable 56-42 win over Bowling Green. An upset of mighty Michigan, when Johnny STOCCO runs in the quarterback draw with seconds remaining. The unthinkable 38-34 win over Minnesota in the dome, where the Badgers score 21 points in the 4th quarter and recover the blocked punt in the end zone with seconds remaining. Being completely dominated by Penn State, and playing terribly against the pig farmers. 

            But making it to 9-3, a very good season, given that many expected the Badgers would be lucky to be above .500 and make any bowl game. Brian Calhoun, Brandon Williams, Owen Daniels and Johnny STOCCO make for a great offensive outburst, while the injury-plagued defense often looked horrific. Some of us even mutter questions about Bret Bielema, the coach-in-waiting, who we are told is a defensive genius.

            Whatever. We made it here. And now, to give the Emperor a send-off like he deserves.

            After much wandering, and yelling at a Southern cop due to the terrible directions, we find our way to the stadium and the Badgermaniac tailgate. This is great.  Lots of sun, brats being cooked by PLQB on the grill, some old friends, and plenty of beer and the Official Scotch of the Tangerine Bowl. It is so hot, I am sweating through the fez. 

            It is even hotter in the stadium, where we consume mass quantities of beer and water and I have to pin the fez to the baseball cap I brought along and the Irish Mist (Yes!) has to strip down to her light shirt and we're worried about getting sunburned because I forgot about the sunscreen. 

            Fireworks!  The Banner! (No Flyover ?? In Florida we get no flyover ??!)

            As we take our seats, the beer man comments that he will be back. "We had to put in extra of this here Miller beer because we heard you like to drink it."  No kidding.

            And then, domination by the underdog Badgers. Second play for Auburn: interception. First play for UW:  Johnny STOCCO to Williams for about 35 yards. The Badgers attack on offense and defense all day, building a 17-0 halftime lead on TDs from STOCCO to Williams and Daniels sandwiched around a FG. Calhoun is running around Auburn, getting to the edge quicker than this SEC team that supposedly has all the speed.

            Yet, Auburn claws back into the game. The Tigers complete two fourth down plays on one drive, and barely into the fourth quarter, it is now 17-10. 

            Yikes! We consume all the Miller Lite in the stadium. I guess they didn't lay in enough of it. 

            Then, oh yes, and then, two series that define the game, and define the Barry Alvarez era at Wisconsin. After Auburn scores, the UW takes the ball and in five plays scores a TD, Calhoun running 35 yards for the score to make it 24-10. The big mo is with us again. Auburn is forced to punt and it is down on the one foot line (a terrible call, replay consultations and all). But on third down, Johnny STOCCO is literally in the arms of the onrushing Tiger defenders in the end zone, and he releases a perfect 40-yard pass to Williams. 

            In classic Emperor fashion, the Badgers keep the ball the final eight minutes of the game, and drive to the Auburn one-yard line, where Johnny STOCCO takes a knee and Barry is doused with Gatorade. Classy ending.

            The Emperor later comments: "There is nothing like seeing a quarterback take a knee. I love that play. That's my favorite play in football when John takes the knee."

            The UW's domination shows in the statistics of what was a 24-10 game, but could have been a much wider margin. The Badgers doubled Auburn in total yards, with over 500 to AU's 246. Calhoun rushed for 213 yards and was the MVP of the game. 

            Most excellent. Most excellent good bye for Barry Alvarez, the winningest coach in Wisconsin history. In 16 years at the helm, he has a final record of 118-73-4, the only Badger coach to win over 100 games. Three Big Ten championships and three Rose Bowl victories. An 8-3 record in bowl games. A Big Ten mark of 65-60-3, only the second UW coach in the modern era with a winning mark in conference play. A sold out and renovated Camp Randall Stadium. And his fourth 10-win season at Wisconsin.

            Thank you, Mr. Alvarez.

            The Fez is 1-0!

            Now let's drink some beers!  We do in the post game tailgate and then to One Eyed Jacks, where I realize I need to eat more as I am quite inebriated. We see OSU beat Notre Dame, as the Big Ten begins to redeem its poor record in the lower bowls.  The Irish Mist (Yes!) wisely takes the keys to the Likken, and we get back to the hotel.  I go with a few others to the Alehouse, but then it all becomes a blur and I think at some hour I crawl back into the hotel and even find my room and crash …… 

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

            Daa-da-da-Di-di-daaa-da-da-da-da, Di-di-da-da-da-daaa, Di-di-di-di-da-da-da-da-daaaa ……

            The Orlando Police?  I'm worried.

            "This is who?" I'm asking, sweating now as I'm wondering about the night before and where my wife and tangerine are.  Finally, I look at my darn cellphone and see that it is Myles Long calling.

            "You jerk!" 

            He laughs and just wants to confirm that they can take what is left of the Official Scotch of the Tangerine Bowl with them.

            "Yeah, sure. I don't need that today." Suddenly I recall the early morning trip to the airport, to get the Mist (Yes!) on the plane. We messed up our return trips for reasons that I once understood but sure don't understand right now. OK, she's on her way to Madison, and I've got an extra day here.  I go back to sleep.

            Only when I awake for the third time that morning do I clearly recall giving the Mist (Yes!) about $150 out of my pocket and some long-winded and incoherent conversation with SoCal Badger in the tailgate area after the game, relishing in the joy of the upset and the looks of bewilderment on the faces of all those Auburn fans who were sure they were there for a butt-kicking. For the last day, we all gather at the pool, and then my room serves as the holding place for suitcases, and at last we wander back to Universal to the Hard Rock Café. 

            We order our food and, the first time around, everybody orders Pepsi's or water or the like. Finally, to me:

            "I'll have some Chivas rocks." 

            A pause. 

            "Wait," says X.  "I'll have Maker's Mark."

            "Me too, a Maker's Mark," says Chico.

            "Make mine a Bloody Mary," says CTR.

            "This reminds me of a Sam Adams commercial," says the waiter. 

            We see off the Chicos, then CTR and the X's, and I am left alone in Orlando.  Just me and the Likken. Quiet. I have finished Pete Hamill's book "Forever" and am starting "Following Hadrian." 

            One last stop at the Alehouse, alone. The waiter says, "You Wisconsin guys have been here all week.  When are you going home ?"


            I watch some of the Orange Bowl, but fall asleep, and am up early for the flight home on January 4, 2006. I sleep on the plane, have a couple of Bloody Marys at O'Hare, and talk to Nico, a friend of my daughter's, who is returning to Madison for a funeral.  Ouch, a funeral. It is cold, and reality will soon bite me, too. 

            But for a short time longer, I can savor what a great season this turned out to be, a fitting farewell for soon to be ex-coach Barry Alvarez, The Emperor, The Tangerine Man, who played those songs, who took us on so many trips on his magic swirling ship.

Hey, Mr. Tangerine Man, play a song for me,

I'm not sleepy and there ain't no place I'm going to.

Hey, Mr. Tangerine Man, play a song for me,

In the jingle jangle morning, I'll come following you.


-The Monsignor
            January 23, 2006.



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