Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Beavis and Butt-head Do (In) Hockey (and other thoughts on the state of sports in the USA)

I've been more than a little pissed lately, and not because of the lack of romance or other things in my life.

It's because my favorite wintertime sport - hockey - is literally on ice, thanks to a couple of chumps named Gary Bettman (Beavis) and Bob Goodenow (Butt-Head).

Bettman, the National Hockey League commissioner, and Goodenow, the NHL Players Association chief, both managed to torpedo an entire season because of their single-minded devotion to making the other blink, say "uncle" and ultimately destroy one another.

Bettman insisted on a salary cap. Goodenow insisted there wouldn't be one. Both went back and forth for a long time. Bettman and the NHL owners then locked the players out in September. Last week, even after some movement came from both sides - finally - Bettman called off the entire season.

And what did we devoted puckheads get for our troubles?

The business end of a goalie's stick rammed up our collective asses - with no lube at all. (For those readers with more sensitive feelings, my apologies.)

The more I think about it though, it's just a symbol of how corporate many pro sports - and even big-time college sports - have gotten. Leagues, owners and players suck up to the big corporate dollars, thanks to mega-luxury boxes, suites and other things Joe Fans like myself will never get close to - unless we hit the lottery, know someone or are already rich beyond reproach.

Look at the typical crowd behind the plate at a Cardinals game, for instance. They've got cell phones and they're talking on them during the game and waving at the cameras (hey, I'm on teee veee!!). If someone does something good, it's a quick cheer (oh good, we did something - what happened anyway?) and then back to the schmoozing or the closing of another big-bucks deal.

I've sat in seats like that and acted like a normal fan would - cheering, yelling, screaming. When that happens (and I've heard similar stories), people have looked at me like I'm nuts, as if I just ruined their latest huge deal or tryst or something.

A couple have even told me to go to the bleachers at Busch. But even the bleachers at Busch are so freakin' expensive these days - $11 during peak times during the summer.

Regular fans like myself have been priced out of the park and the arenas when we're the ones who REALLY keep the games going.

Too bad we're the last ones anybody thinks about when it comes to what happens with out teams. No wonder I'm so disillusioned by sports these days - even at the high school level.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Lots of things going on lately

There's quite a bit of things that have been going on with me since my last entry into this journal (or blog...or therapy outlet- call it what you will!! *LOL*).

About a couple of weeks ago, I traveled back to St. Louis to join some friends of mine for a trivia competition. For those who don't live in St. Louis, Trivia Nights are a popular fund-raising activity for many groups and organizations. The format is simple: Get together a few friends and buy a table for about $10-12 a head (teams of 8-10 people).

A crack committee or researcher comes up with 10 questions each in 10 different categories. Being St. Louis, you know there's going to be a category or two that's uniquely St. Louis, such as "Where Did They Go To High School" or "They Made it Big" or something along those lines.

A celebrity moderator asks the questions on the big night, and the team with the most correct answers is the winner.

Be that as it may, I hadn't seen these folks in quite a long time - like since I left home to take the job I've got right now. It was great seeing everyone again, believe me.

The best part - we took second place, and we had an shot to win it right down to the finish. It was just one bad category that tripped us up.

Even more important, though, is the fact that several of my friends/teammates told me they probably would have finished lower in the standings if I hadn't been there.

To say that made me feel wonderful would be an understatement.

I miss my friends back home, I really do. One of the things I'm planning on doing this year is trying to find a way to get back home - preferably with a decent-paying job with fairly normal hours.

Which is where this next part comes in: At the start of the month, the company that owns the papers I work for - Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa - bought out Pulitzer, Inc. (the former Pulitzer Publishing Company), owners of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis (the chain I had been working for, in St. Clair County, IL) and other daily papers across the nation.

While it's said another St. Louis institution is being bought out by out-of-town interests, I'm also looking at it this way...

Once the dust settles, this could be a ticket back home for me.

Nothing for certain but we'll see.

Damn, do I miss home. Do I miss my friends. Do I miss the things I did back home.

Maybe soon....

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Remembering a friend...and mourning a lost love...and wondering what's going to happen next?

I'd like to say that things have changed in the time since my last post - I'd like to say that - but sadly, they haven't.

A lot of really infuriating things have been going on with my the last week or so. Some of it is work-related, and as Peoria Pundit Bill Dennis says in his guide to good blogging, you should never blog about work.

What the hell does Bill know? But I'll save those thoughts for another post. Suffice it to say for now, I'm not happy with what's be going on at the office lately.

But I've been thinking about a series of things that happened to me three years ago lately. It started with the death of a friend, then a shocking move by a girlfriend of mine, and finally ended with the loss of a romance.

Some of you reading this may remember Peter E. Parisi, the host, star, creator, editor and all-around mastermind of the St. Louis public-access program World Wide Magazine, which ran for some 15 years on public-access channels throughout the St. Louis metro area.

I was a part of the show, along with my brother Colin, for a brief time in 1997. We taped a couple of segments for the show but things never worked out after that for more appearances.

Pete had a case of insulin-dependent diabetes. He knew it, but he refused to take care of himself, for whatever reason - stuffing down doughnuts or smoking a pack of two a day.

It took its' toll on him, and he couldn't keep the show going. He finally fell into a diabetic coma in November 2001, the details of which still remain murky to some folks.

On Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002, in a hospital in south Florida, Pete died.

I still miss him to this day. His show was one of the funniest, yet outlandish, yet controversial shows I've ever seen. He never gained the respect he truly deserved from the St. Louis media, especially those in the blow-dried world of STL television, where ability isn't as important as how hot you look (and I'll admit, there are some FINE-looking women on TV in the Lou, but I doubt any of them would touch me with a 37-and-a-half-foot pole. Too bad.).

Pete was treated by some as a pariah, worse than scum. Their loss. They couldn't see the genius behind his shows and his skits to save their suburban-addled asses.

Little did I know that it was the start of yet another downward skid in my life. It always seems that when something bad happens, it's like a car on a sheet of ice - it's all but impossible to stop the skid until something gets into the way, like a ditch or worse.

I had gotten a new phone number at the place I was sharing with my brother in the Carondelet nabe at that time. I'd know this girl - her name was Jeannie - for many, many years and had come to love her very much.

I gave her a call to say hello, but got her voice mail. Nothing unusual about that - I'd gotten her voice mail all the time. But then I called her mom (I'd known her for the same length of time), and she delivered the shocking news.

Jeannie had gotten married that day.

Needless to say, I was speechless. Shocked. Floored. It was like someone had taken a stick to me and knocked me in the stomach with it, and then for good measure, face-planted me into the floor.

She couldn't talk long, but when I hung up, I felt like I hadn't felt in ages.

My legs went numb. My mind was racing in millions of directions at once.

Jeannie? MARRIED?

I laid down on the floor and damn near cried my eyes out.

I was still in a state of shock the next day. I met up with some friends of mine in downtown St. Louis for the civic group Metropolis' weekly pub crawl, known as The Walk. One of my friends talked with me for a few minutes, then showed me a pair of Blues tickets he got from a friend.

We were going to see the Blues play Vancouver. He thought it might be a good way to get my mind off what had happened for a few hours. He was right - especially since the Blues won that night.

A few days later, still reeling from what had happened, I met another woman named Cindy on one of those telephone chat lines. She liked me a lot, apparently, and we made arrangements to meet on the following Thursday's Walk.

We met, ate, talked, had a great time - and then wound up going back to her place in St. Peters. I won't get into what happened, but suffice it to say, we both had a lot of fun.

We saw each other for three weeks. But there were problems. I was having one of my usual spate of financial problems at the time, I didn't have a car and she had been coming off a pair of divorces. She'd been taking care of the men in her life and didn't want to do that anymore (not that I particularly blame her).

Eventually, after three weeks, she broke it off. I couldn't afford to date her - I couldn't afford her, period.

Several months later, I found out she was seeing someone else and had moved in with him.

So now, as another Valentine's Day approaches, I ask myself...

Where is Miss Right? Or should I just settle for a romp or two with Miss Right Now?

At my advanced age (44), it's getting harder and harder. I'm doing some things for myself - I'm a member of eHarmony and have tried (without much luck) other Internet personal sites. But it's not easy meeting folks, especially being so far from home and being in a small college town where the nightlife is geared to the students (I've posted on that before).

But I'm wondering if I'm never destined to marry, have kids, or even have any sort of sexual relationship with a female (the last time I slept with someone was during the time I was seeing Cindy three years ago).

Yeah, I've seen people be stuck and unhappy in relationships but stay with them for whatever reason (the sex is good, he makes tons of money, insert your own bogus excuse in this spot), yet overlook yours truly for whatever other reason (I'm too nice, no attraction - even the old suckwad standby, you're too fat or any variation thereof).

I've given up trying to figure it out - I don't think it's even possible.

Bitter, party of one - your table's ready. Bitter, party of one.