Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas from Beyond

I know my family will love this story, but some background for those that don't know. My uncle Larry passed away over ten years ago. He was an outdoors man, great with his hands, and better at his smile.

So last night, Slider woke me up in the middle of the night and I moved to the couch because that usually will calm him down. I don't know if he doesn't like that I sleep with his mother and not him, but sleeping out there where he can perch on top of me normally settles him down.

I had a dream that I was in old town Florissant with a couple of my college roomates. We were constantly hanging around some old pizza place that was housed in a brick building. All I remember about the dream is some ghost named Mary kept trying to tell us something and we couldn't figure out what it was.

We ended up going to my Grandma's for Christmas shortly after wards, which is weird because I haven't been able to go the past two years because of my sub-human status at work.

Eventually I woke up to go to work, but the dream sort of stayed in the back of my mind all day long.

Tonight, I was looking for a new book to read. Sallie bought me a book called "The Ghost Hunters Strangest Cases" about two years ago. It was very early on in our dating. I haven't picked it up yet and I sort of forgot about it... until tonight.

So I picked up the book and got about six pages into the first chapter when all of a sudden a Polaroid picture fell out of it.

On the picture is a little boy, probably about three years old, in a blue jacket, staring up at a robot. The robot is holding a sign that is hard to read and a flower. I know its Christmas because the tree is right next to the little boy and robot. Its in my grandmas living room that we always have Christmas in.

I bought the picture into better light and the sign reads, "Dad, Mom, + Family. Have a Very Merry Christmas. HO! HO! Larry"

Sort of got this weird feeling in my stomach like it was a joke being played on my by Larry. I can picture him smiling right now, nudging Jake in the chest asking, "Do you think we got 'em good enough?"

If anyone can claim this picture I'll gladly give it back, otherwise I'm hanging it up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A bunch of Dudes Crying Like Little Girls with Skinned Knees

I officially got off jury duty and am I glad. I was assigned to a high profile criminal case that would’ve at least lasted the rest of this week, if not into next. I have to admit, the defense attorney looked sort of scared when I told him my wife was a journalist. I think Sallie got me off the hook this time. (Or it could be the fact that I told a room full of my “peers” that I wouldn’t convict anyone unless I was convinced 100% without a doubt that they were guilty. I don’t think the prosecutor liked that much.)

To celebrate, Sallie and I bought tickets to Brett Hull Hall of Fame night at the Scottrade Center for $16 a piece.

Thousands of people were lined up outside the gates an hour before they opened wanting to relive the Blues from 1989-1998 with appearances by St. Louis favorites and $9 beers.

The seats were filling up quickly around 6:30 for the anticipated 6:45 kick off to the events. I held a flat, Budwieser in my hands and waited for the lights to dim. Around 6:55, the lights came down and the place erupted like it hasn’t since the Arena ceased to be.

Several owners, co-owners, and general rich guys in suits walked out on the carpet on the ice and announced Jeff Courtenall, the Captain of Brett Hull’s dream team. He gave a short, but sweet speech and then announced the rest of the dream team.

Bob Bassen, Kelly Chase, Sergio Momesso, Tony Twist, Rod Brind'Amour, Guy Carbonneau, Geoff Courtnall, Nelson Emerson, Bernie Federko, Doug Gilmour, Jeff Brown, Garth Butcher, Steve Duchesne, Phil Housley (I ran into his crotch once when I was young. Will never forget that.) Scott Stevens, Grant Fuhr, and Curtis Joseph.
Then, the largest surprise of the night, the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky was there. It’s the only time I’ve seen him in person and he is a handsome man. I could kiss him and it wouldn’t even be gay. It’d be respectable, soft, and romantic.
Then Brett Hull came out to an eruption of cheers. He made a speech about how great the Flames and the Blues were to his career and how his heart will never leave St. Louis. (At one point a fan screamed that he hates Mike Keenan to an entire arena of laughter and agreement.) They then showed a career highlight reel with Brett Hull quotes dubbed over it.

The Blues started skating on the ice as the Dream Team entered the locker room again, but Brett Hull stayed back to shake hands with every player and wish them luck.

As soon as it was done, 5,000 dudes had to pee. I stood in line and looked around at all the misty eyed 25+ year old guys rubbing away tears and trying to cover with “That Mike Keenan comment was great.” It was a bathroom with 150 crying dudes like a bunch of girls with skinned knees. That’s the power of the Golden Brett.
Then, the Blues having the worst home record in the NHL, played as if they were playing for Brett and Gretzky. It was an exciting game, constantly swinging back and forth. Then with only a few minutes left in the third period, our young gun T.J. Oshie fires one into the net. The Blues win 4-3.

This is the first time I haven’t seen a St. Louis venue empty out ¾ of the way through the game. Every person was still there, standing in front of their seats, screaming their lungs out. It was like being at The Old Barn circa 1990 all over again. The madness and devotion of St. Louis fans returned, if only for that one night.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beatles' Mania

The Beatles were always an enigma to me. A band that everyone raved about but I just didn’t quite get.

The first exposure of The Beatles I had was an annoying, “Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Sing the Beatles Cassette.” It sticks in my head for two reasons. First, I had The New Kids on the Block (TNKB for fans) “Step by Step” cassette and the Alvin and the Chipmunks’ cassette. Didn’t have a lot to choose from.

Second, I’ll always remember that cassette because it was green. I thought that was weird the sort of way that the original Zelda Nintendo game was gold.

So I listened to this cassette that I only sort of liked a lot. I don’t know if I got burned out on the songs or burned out on high-pitched cartoon chipmunks singing, but something left a horrible taste in my mouth for years to come.

It wasn’t until my love affair with Nirvana that I went back to the Beatles. Kurt Cobain said one of his main influences were the Beatles, and since I wanted to be a rockstar, and I knew that heroin was Kurt Cobain’s other inspiration, I figured the Beatles were the better place to start. My mom had one of their collections on CD often referred to as the “Red Album” which contained some of their earlier, more boy-bandy hits like “She Loves You” and “Can’t Buy me Love.” I understood the parallels between the verse chorus verse style of the Beatles and Kurt Cobain, but again I just couldn’t listen to them.

Then in college, I sort of saw this girl on and off that I was crazy about and she was a Beatles fanatic. I learned as much as I could about the Beatles, and was starting to like them more, but ultimately I learned the history of the Beatles. Often times, we’d get drunk (large group of people, not just me and this girl) and music was always a favorite argument. I felt that if I could defend the Beatles enough it would give me some credit.

We would’ve never worked out, just like I thought me and the Beatles would never work out.

Then, recently, Sallie and I obtained a turntable and a record collection. The collection was mostly throw-away, dime a dozen Southern Rock and Jam-bands, but in the midst was a copy of Abbey Road. I listened to the sweet embrace of the needle to the thirty year old vinyl, and even through the dust and imperfections, “Come Together” played my heart like a bass and I finally understood.

Then all the wretchedness of last week happened. A buddy of mine came over to hang out, calm me down, and let me borrow the Beatles Rock Band game from him. I booted it up and for a two and a half hour period, I understood every appeal of the Beatles.
I never knew the hundreds of cover versions from the Joe Crocker version “With a Little Help From my Friends” on “The Wonder Years” to Soundgarden’s rendition of “Come Together” that was always labeled “Come Together (cover)” but I never bothered looking up.

They play with my emotions. Sometimes I feel like a teenager with drastic mood swings playing a continuous game of pong from happiness, to sadness, to anger, to sexiness all contained in one short period of time.

I finally understand.

Realizations in Bitter Times

Most of you probably have heard the horribleness of last week.

First, Sallie was told she was probably getting laid off.

Second, I didn't get a position I truly felt I deserved. Many other people feel I deserve it. I was bitter and angry about it.

Third, after finding this out I was riding the scooter home and it started raining. I was stuck at a stop light and then all of a sudden I couldn't go more than 5 mph. I turned into a back alleyway and went very slowly the rest of the way home in rain and wind. I haven't really tried to fix it since because its been cold and we can't really justify sinking more money into that machine.

It was a rotten week, filled with more rottenness on top of rottenness.

It wasn't until Saturday when Sallie and I walked to home depot, picked out a Christmas tree and I was carrying it home when I realized how the week showed us how many friends we have.

Immediately, everyone was trying to find ways to get us on or find us other jobs. People were offering their homes to us. Our cats could sense something and were behaving and cuddling. Sometimes it takes the worst to make you realize how great you actually have it.

I have until March when I'll get laid off. While at work I'm job searching, waiting for that perfect opportunity to present itself. I was told by one of my managers that I will get the next position no questions asked, and if I get offered that position I will gladly take it. If not, then its just not meant to be.

Sallie was told tonight that she wasn't getting laid off. Someone was approved for the buyout who is going to England to get her masters degree. I want to buy her a drink.

So things aren't as bad as they could be. The only upsetting thing I have to do still is jury duty next week.

Three other contractors were all called for jury duty the same time I was. We all wrote similar letters saying we're contractors and don't get reimbursed for time missed. They were all dismissed, mine was postponed. Out of curiosity today, I called the Jury Supervisor's office. I talked to an extremely bitter old hag. (I'm sure she's that way because people call all the time looking to get out of it.) She told me I was lying, they would never get out of jury duty for that reason, and if they think they did, they have another thing coming.

... so I guess the letter and phone calls my buddies got were all their dreams? Either way, I'm losing several hundred dollars next week. She said on average the trials last three days. SOOOOO I'll lose several hundred dollars and get paid $36 by the city. I know, I know... civic duty, blah blah. Well guess what, they couldn't get their act together quick enough for me to vote in the last election, why should I server on their stupid jury. I feel like my relationship with the city of St. Louis is one way sometimes.

They tax the hell out of me. They make me do jury duty. They can't even get a decent public transportation system. Come on St. Louis, I love you baby, but you have to stop hitting me.