Friday, October 28, 2005

Something wicked this way comes...

As a nice little gear-up for Halloween, I thought I would write about something eerie (like this) or something downright scary (like “President” Bush’s Administration). Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

A few weeks ago, after coming home from a wedding in Southern Illinois my family and I decided to make a stop at my wife and mine alma mater Eastern Illinois University (EIU). While my wife goes there every year as part of her job, I had not been back since 2001 (btw, the changes that have been made there are incredible)

As we were walking across campus, my wife started telling our nephew (who was hitching a ride home with us) about the haunting of Pemberton Hall. So I decided, on the eve of Halloween eve eve (huh?) that I would write about the ghost and haunting of EIU’s Pemberton Hall.

Warning: The following has some disturbing imagery and details
How did this tale begin? Oddly enough, it was a dark and stormy (and cold) winter’s night around 1917 when a resident of Pemberton Hall went upstairs to the fourth floor of the building to play the piano. It was very late, the young woman had been unable to sleep and was hoping that playing some music might help her to relax and get tired.

The story continues that the young woman was tragically raped and left dying by a deranged janitor and crawled down the stairs scratching and feebly knocking on doors for help. Finally, she made it to the counselor's door and managed to awaken her… but it was to late. By the time the counselor opened the door the young woman was dead.

As the years passed, residents of Pemberton Hall say they have heard this event from the past repeating itself in the building. They recall the dragging sounds heard near the stairs that lead to the upper floor and the sounds of scratching on doors and walls. Most bewildering though are the bloody footprints that have appeared in the corridor, only to vanish moments later. Many believe the ghost of the murdered young woman has returned to haunt Pemberton Hall, but that’s only half of the haunted tale.

The counselor who discovered the murdered girl was named Mary Hawkins and was a favorite among the residents of Pemberton Hall. The effect of the murder on Mary’s personality was devastating though as she became haunted by the death of the young woman. Students spoke of seeing her pacing the hallways at all hours of the night, unable to sleep and tormented by horrible visions and guilt. Finally, unable to cope with her depression and nightmares, she was institutionalized and later committed suicide.

Shortly after her death, residents of Pemberton Hall started to report some strange occurrences in the building (and these spooky events continue today) Students believe the incidents are the work of Mary Hawkins, still making her rounds and checking in on the young women who live in the building. Many believe that her spirit (unable to rest after losing a woman in her care) still roams the hall and watches out and protects them, locking and unlocking doors, turning radios and televisions off hours, and generally keeping track of things that go on.

For many years, students have spoken of the odd happenings in the building and events that would convince even the most skeptical of residents that perhaps the hall was truly haunted, such as late night door knockings and inexplicable sounds in the hallways. Only to discover an empty hallway when the door is open. Others claim to have seen the apparition of a woman entering their rooms and then vanishing. In other cases, residents who distinctly recall leaving their doors open and unlocked, often find them to be mysteriously locked the next morning, as if someone was checking up on them and worried about their safety.

Could it have been Mary Hawkins?

Even before I attended EIU in the 90’s there were reports of strange events happening in the hall. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, residents reported hearing the sounds of whispers in the building, and there were a number of reports of apparitions on the stairwell that would appear briefly and then vanish. One student, who lived in Pemberton Hall in 1976, recalled the problems that the resident advisors had with the furniture in one of the lounges. Many times, the furniture in this room was often found to be overturned or rearranged, often during the overnight hours. Rumor has it that an RA walked into a room one morning and discovered the furniture had all been moved around. She went to get some help to straighten the room up again and when she and another resident came back, they found everything had been restored to order.

Most students don’t actually see Mary or the other ghosts, but few doubt the spirit exists. One recurring incident involved the lights on the fourth floor of the building (where the music room is and where the first young woman was attacked) where many students reported seeing the windows open and close and the lights turn on and off, with no logical explanation given. (While I attended Eastern, the fourth floor was locked and off-limits to residents, but, for the last couple of years the fourth floor has been open on Halloween only for a Haunted House, read an article here from The Daily Eastern News to learn more about that)

As you can tell, the majority of weird reports have centered on the fourth floor, ranging from hearing the sound of footsteps pacing overhead and the strains of faint piano music filtering down. Is it true?

Depends on your point of view…

Thought of the Day

“I often quote myself. I find it adds spice to the conversation.”

- George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Shout out!

Last night the Chicago White Sox broke their 88-year World Series curse by sweeping the Houston Astro’s to win the 2006 World Series. If my boys (St Louis Cardinals) couldn’t get it done, I’m glad my second-fave team did. It’s good for Chicago, it’s good for Illinois… and it thoroughly honks off Cubs fans, which is always a bonus for me. Go Sox!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

8 Things...

Childs Play x2 did this on his blog, and I thought it was a very cool idea so I decided to try it as well, though I upped the ante (as it were) and made it 8 things. Why 8? Eh…why not?

As CP said, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

And awayyyy weeee gooooooo…

8 things I want to do before I die:

  1. Run for political office (which I have already started doing…see my School Board entries for the … ‘Rest… of the… story’)
  2. Give my daughters away at their wedding (hopefully, they’ll have a dual ceremony…cause the idea of paying for two weddings in any proximity scares the you-know-what out of me
  3. Get my wife to ride the big Ferris Wheel with me at Chicago’s Navy Pier
  4. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge (I have a fear of bridges and didn’t take the opportunity to do this in a prior visit to San Fran…but I feel I must now… it’s a moral imperative)
  5. Retire before the age of 60
  6. Take an Alaskan cruise
  7. Go back to Hawaii
  8. Get my Ph.D.

8 things I cannot do:

  1. Change the oil in my car (have to agree with cp on this on)
  2. Say no to pizza… and to cheese… and to chips
  3. Understand the appeal of reality TV shows… I just don’t get it.
  4. Lose an argument/debate
  5. Climb a ladder (long story)
  6. Sleep in (not so much as can’t, but more of my twins won’t let me…)
  7. Drink cheap coffee
  8. Drink cheap wine

8 things that attract me to the opposite sex:

  1. Sense of humor (or, more precisely, them laughing at MY jokes – which my wife does, no matter how bad or corny they are)
  2. Intelligence (but not smarter than me. Sorry, but that’s just the elitist in me. BTW, my wife is smarter than me)
  3. Legs
  4. Eyes
  5. Smile
  6. Small of the back
  7. Independent streak (which my wife has in spades)
  8. Ahem…well, uh…. you know…

8 Things that I say most often:

  1. Nice.
  2. D’oh!
  3. Am I oversimplifying things?
  4. Did I ever tell you about…
  5. Decisions are made by those that show up
  6. Or am I using too much logic?
  7. Son of a bi—
  8. Holy Flurkin’ Schnit…

8 celebrity crushes:

  1. Salma Hayek
  2. Penelope Cruz
  3. Niki Taylor
  4. Shakira
  5. Liz Phair
  6. Kate Beckinsale
  7. Rachel Ray
  8. Janel Moloney (from TV’s The West Wing)

8 people I want to have do this exercise:

  1. My wife
  2. My brother
  3. My best friend, Scott
  4. My daughters (though we may have to wait until they can write)
  5. Enigma4ever, a consistent visitor to all my blogs
  6. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig (the man’s a mental furball by the way)
  7. “President” Bush (Why? The smart-ass, politico in me says ‘to see if he can count to 8’)
  8. Every person in the whole wide world

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Thought of the Day

"Each person must live their life as a model for others."

Rosa Parks, Civil Rights pioneer who passed away Monday at the age of 92

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Fiercest Battle

Every night my wife and I get settled in under the covers. We give each other a kiss and say, "I love you".

Beautiful, isn’t it?

But that is where the congeniality ends… and the savage battle begins.

A battle… for space and covers.

A battle where acreage is gained or lost inch by inch through the fighting of which the rules of engagement do not apply.

I am talking, of course, of sharing a bed.

When I was single, my bed seemed huge! It was like having a back yard in my bedroom. (Sometimes when I awoke in the night and had trouble getting back to sleep, I would just get up and wander around my bed for awhile, always amazed at what wonder I would discover… ok, I’m making that up, but work with me here, I’m leading up to something)

So how is it that getting married and adding one small person to this huge posturepedic expanse would leave me without sufficient room to sleep, let alone wander.

When I sleep, I SLEEP…and I need room I need to be able to roll, kick and thrash (much like a person does when they are grabbed by a crocodile…and least that’s what Paul Hogan said in Crocodile Dundee…and he has never steered me wrong).

In getting married, this can no longer be done without causing great bodily harm to my wife.

She, as well, felt as though her personal sleeping area was being threatened by the co-existence.

Thus, the battle began.

A push here and a scoot there eventually became a kick here, and an "accidental" arm stretch to the chops, there.

I became so accustomed to fighting over every precious inch that I was soon able to carry on the combat even after falling asleep.

In the morning, my wife would say things like,"you mean you don't remember standing over me wielding your pillow like a samurai sword and screaming to the Lord Almighty above that you couldn't take anymore?”

Thinking I was being clever, I tried constructing a barrier down the middle of the bed with two by fours (painting it a very pleasant beige, might I add). But it was not meant to be as I returned from work one evening to find that my wife, who claims to have no carpentry skills whatsoever, had torn down and perfectly rebuilt the barrier a foot more in her favor.


The bed space is not the only area that is fought over. The covers are as well.

At times, I don’t want any covers on me. (I may be hot and trying to cool off) My wife thinks that this is a sign that she can wrap herself up in the covers like a burrito and go to sleep. I have, without success, tried explaining to my wife that that does not mean I do not want covers throughout the entire night, just at this precise moment.

Other times, I will be sleeping soundly when a sudden chill awakens me. I look around and discover that I am no longer covered, but rather, uncovered. My wife, while in a sleeping state, yanked the covers, sheets, blankets off of me and again wrapped herself up like a burrito.

After years of fighting and lack of sleep, I tried to come up with a viable solution (you think drafting an Iraqi Constitution is hard, try writing an husband/wife equal cover-sharing concept agreement).

Separate covers. She has hers, I have mine. We still share a sheet, but for blankets, we are on our own.

And we couldn’t be happier.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thought of the Day

"It holds the heat well!"

- Casey Stengel, speaking about Busch Stadium, during the 1966 All-Star Game

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Son of a bi***!!!!

Well, that's it. It's over. The fat lady has sung.

The St. Louis Cardinals' season...(sigh) over.

The Cardinals could not create magic in a bottle as they did Monday night and lost to the Houston Astros in game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS).

Final score Houston 5 - St. Louis 1. Astros take the series 4-2.

It pains me to say this...but congratulations Houston. You played extraordinarily well. The World Series is next for you.

I will let all you know that, even though I am a National League fan at heart...I will have to root (and believe me it pains me more when I say this) for the White Sox...(I never thought I would hear myself say those words)

Watching the game tonight with my brother Al, I kept thinking about all the great memories I have had at Busch Stadium over my years (to get a better idea, check out an earlier entry:

But...I honestly can't say if I am more sad about the end of the Cardinals season...or the end of Busch Stadium (I'll give a minute for all the Cardinal fans out there to let that sink in) A few weeks from now the wrecking balls will come out to raze the old girl...and for that...I am a tad heartbroken. But I know, like tonight's loss, I will get over it.

Goodnight and goodbye Busch...I, and all other Cardinal fans, will miss you...

Thought of the Day

“It's hard to take positive steps, when you've burned the bridge you got to walk across.”

– J.D. Dorian (Zach Braff), from Scrubs

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Trouble with Umpires

I was going to take this spot today to write about my weekend trip with the family down to southern Illinois for a wedding, but another subject arose that has stuck itself in my craw and I HAVE to rant about it, lest my head explode.

Quick show of hands - who saw game 4 of the NLCS Sunday? If you did, you saw the most repulsive, mistake-laden act of umpiring since…well, since game 2 of this year’s ALCS. (You listening Mr Selig? Mistakes are being made and you HAVE to fix them)

My beloved Cardinals are not new to being hosed by umpires (you can check out this link for a further explanation on that. hint: Don Denkinger is the name)

But my beloved Redbirds got screwed with their pants on AGAIN by a mask-wearing ignoramus as NL “umpire” Phil Cuzzi decided to get his turn of the spotlight during Sunday’s game in Houston and made himself the focal point of the game instead of the Cardinals or Astros.

First, he ejected Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa for arguing an indecipherable and incomprehensible strike zone that seemed to be moving in every other direction with every new pitch (a ‘floating’ strike zone was how it was described by many columnists..I just call it bvllsh**)

Then he threw outfielder Jim Edmonds out too, after a pitch that was so far out of the strike zone that even my 3-year old twins knew it wasn’t a strike. The Fox announcers (who have been kissing the Astros butts this whole series by the way) even stated that an ump does not throw people out of a playoff game for only arguing. (Here’s an update and a candidate for the ‘Duh” of the Week: Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, told that the pitch to Edmonds might have been out of the strike zone.)

But this schmuck did just that. Had this moron worked the game blindfolded, it would have made NO difference on his ball-strike calling as he was also hopeless and arrogant, which are traits everyone wants in all umpires, right?

The next question then is; who the hell is Phil Cuzzi anyway? Well, with the help of my friends at Google as well as St Louis Post Dispatch online columnist Jeff Gordon, I learned a little more about the putz behind the mask and found some clues as to why this man should not be umpiring a little league baseball game, let alone a MLB Playoff game:

He attended the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School in 1982 and 1983, THEN the Joe Brinkman Umpire School in 1984. Not once after three years of umpire school did this idiot get offered a job. (That should be clue number 1)

Finally, after another trip to the Wendelstedt School, he was hired to work in the rookie-level New York-Penn League.

Cuzzi worked eight years in the minors before getting up to Class AAA level and reaching the major leagues for 95 games of fill-in work. In 1993 he was passed over for promotion as six other umpires got the call-up. After that season, Cuzzi was fired (clue number 2)

He then spent the next three years living with his mother and working odd jobs. (That’s nice and normal, isn’t it? Whatever else it is, it's also clue number 3)

While working at the Short Hills (N.J.) Hilton, he waited outside a hotel room so he could speak to National League president Leonard Coleman and beg him for another chance to be an umpire. He got it, albeit after heading BACK to umpire school and starting over at the Class A level AGAIN (clue 4).

He worked his way back up the ladder and reached the majors again in 1999, as a fill-in then getting hired as a replacement umpire when Major League Baseball accepted the resignation of 22 umpires during a rather ugly labor dispute of a few years before (clue 5)

I counted 4 clues that show this unpredictable and unreliable nimrod should never have been given the chance to umpire a playoff game – am I oversimplifying things too much??

So his umpiring “education” record looks sketchy, so let’s now take a look at the schmoe’s officiating, as painful as it may be.

In 2000, Cuzzi worked the plate in a controversial game between the Red Sox and Devil Rays that saw 8 D-Rays ejected; Gerald Williams was tossed for charging the mound and manager Larry Rothschild for arguing that (Red Sox pitcher) Pedro Martinez should have been tossed as well. D-Ray pitchers Dave Eiland, Cory Lidle and Tony Fiore were tossed for throwing at Red Sox batters. The two acting managers from the game, Bill Russell and Jose Cardenal, also got the boot, and Greg Vaughn was ejected for protesting a seemingly wide called third strike in the seventh, his third strikeout of the night.’ (Wow, much like Sunday’s game 4…hmmmm?)

(Want more examples of his thirst for the limelight and his ineptitude of officiating? Well, here ya go)

In 2003, Cuzzi incurred the wrath of the Red Sox (again) after ejecting pitcher Casey Fossum just 13 pitches into the game for hitting Raul Ibanez with NO WARNING to either bench being issued.

(Want more? Ok) Cuzzi had a couple of well-publicized run-ins with the Toronto Blue Jays in that same year. In June, the Jays complained about his suddenly massive strike zone, said then-Jays slugger Carlos Delgado, “There’s no need to ask because a major league umpire should not miss a call like that.”

Later, when Roy Halladay was gunning for his 23rd victory, Cuzzi ejected him for hitting Rocco Baldelli with a pitch. Even Baldelli said it was a bad call. The Blue Jays, complained but it fell on deaf ears.

Last year Cuzzi got into it with the Phillies over his strike zone in a game against the Orioles when he ejected back-up catcher Todd Pratt. (Pratt, it should be noted, was in the dugout when he got the boot; an amazing trick if I’ve ever seen one, it's like throwing your voice, but with more annoyance)

So you get the general idea. Here’s a man who had to maneuver his way to the big leagues (after failing at it many times before) before getting in through the back door ONLY because 22 other umps lost their jobs. And now he is umpiring the National League Championship Series when the rest of the world is watching.

Which is scarier? That Cuzzi is, in fact, officiating the NLCS, or the fact that he doesn’t mind making himself the focal point of his games when it should be the teams and the players that are the focal point?

This is another example of how Bud Selig (who – in being a former owner – has NO right to be commissioner, but that’s for another day) is slowly destroying the sport of baseball.

I miss A. Bartlett Giamatti and often find myself wondering if his son Paul ( ) would be as good a commissioner as he is an actor…

Friday, October 14, 2005

My Twins: A Redux

Taking a few days off from blogging this weekend as I have an out-of-town wedding to go to. So rather than allow people to visit and see nothing updated, I thought I would re-post one of my earlier rants, if you haven’t read it, it’s new to you…hope you enjoy it.

My twins are getting bigger every day, and older. And as they are growing older, they can now speak in complex (for a three-year old anyway) sentences. This has given them new ways of communicating with me and with each other (though the latter was never a problem – gotta love twin language). It's interesting to hear the thoughts running through their heads that were previously unknown to us. Now, instead of just bouncing around in their head, they say it…and sometimes, what they say can be an absolute doozy. The other day, while my wife, the girls and I were in the SUV (I know, but at least it’s not a minivan), one of them said, out of the blue: ‘daddy laid a big turd.’

Ooookayyyy. Where that I came from, I have no idea, but there it was…out in the open.

(Now, some of you may be asking where a three-year old learned the word ‘turd’ from. That, sad to say, is my fault. During potty training one day, after one of them had successfully ‘gone potty’ in the toilet, I told her she had laid a big turd. Before I could stop myself from saying the word – they had it memorized and it has been in both of their lexicons ever since. They never remember the words you want them to remember, but they certainly do remember the ones you don’t want them to heat, much less remember, instantaneously.)

The other day, while I was busy getting ready for work and trying to help my wife get them ready for daycare, I told one of them to please hurry up because we have to leave soon. One of them responded by saying: "Drink your coffee, daddy."

It escaped me at that time, but I then realized that I had just been ‘sassed’ and put in my place…by a three year old.


I’ve always been a bit of a smart-ass (people who know me that read this column are saying to themselves: A BIT???), and my wife had really been hoping that our daughters would not inherit that trait from me.

Evidently, no such luck.

They are well on their way to becoming ‘world-class smart-asses’ like their father.

Better that than a Republican.

Originally posted August 27, 2005

Have a good weekend, don’t get into too much trouble, and remember, if you get arrested, don’t call me for bail money.

Thought of the Day

“Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation.”

- Edward R. Murrow

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Applaud & Heckle

APPLAUD: The Red Sox AND the Yankees are out of the baseball playoffs. That (along with the fact the Cardinals won the first game of thier second straight NLCS) has me happier than a New England clam. Now, if we can only get the Patriots to suck…wait a minute, that may already be happening… (Is it just me or is it becoming as hip and likable to hate all the Boston/New England teams, as it is all the New York teams? I think it is.)

HECKLE: to Yoko Ono. Come on already Yoko leave Sir Paul alone. You want to know why nobody covers John’s songs? One word: YOU! If they wanted to cover them, they would have to get your permission. That would mean talking to you, and no one wants to do that…

APPLAUD: to Gore in '08: U.S. News says that Al Gore might be eyeing a run for the White House in 2008. Great, just keep your mouth shut about that whole ‘inventing the internet’ jive.

HECKLE: to the year of the disaster. Let’s look at the last 12 months. We have had a catastrophic tsunami that killed thousands, a couple of category 5 hurricanes that have killed thousands (and the ‘season’ isn’t over yet), and an horrifying earthquake in Asia that has killed tens of thousands. So naturally Pat Robertson says it's all a prelude to the ‘earthly’ return of Jesus (or Jebus as Homer Simpson would say). Make your own comment here.

APPLAUD: to Louis Nye, who died Sunday. For those of you who do not know, he was a comedian in the highest order. For a better explanation, check out this link

HECKLE: George W. Bush. His polling numbers remain lower than rating’s for Martha Stewart’s Apprentice. But a change may be coming (wink wink – nudge nudge). This past weekend, pundits on TV were saying that a new tax code overhaul would help raise his numbers. Sure, doing that would make everyone forget about Iraq, the economy, cronyism, DeLay, Frist, Abramoff, Libby, Rove, Avian flu, the (piss-poor) response to Katrina, the (too good this time) response to Rita, gas prices, heating oil prices, spiraling debt, soaring health care costs and the looming Medicare crisis. (Whatever)

APPLAUD? HECKLE?: I honestly don’t know where to place this one. St Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz will be sidelined at least six weeks because of what is believed to be a bacterial infection of the heart valve. This one can’t be categorized until after the season, though I know a LOT of St Louis fans are hoping he resigns. My opinion? Well, it’s in 2 parts: 1st: forget about football Mike and get better. Your health is more important. 2nd: this could revitalize a struggling club who may, as clichéd as it may be, want to win for their sick coach.

HECKLE: to “President” Bush. Just (as before) on general principles alone.

APPLAUD: to 900-year-old Vinny Testaverde who quarterbacked the Jets to victory over the Buccaneers this past Sunday. Two weeks ago he was sitting at home on his couch watching the Jets. This past Sunday he guided them to victory. That’s impressive any way you look at it.

HECKLE: Condoleezza Rice. Why? Well, we haven’t seen her around much lately; so you have to think that she is up to no good and deserves a good heckle.

APPLAUD: The Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA). It’s the nation's only nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to strengthen the capacity of state legislators to lead and achieve progressive change. Check out their website for some interesting and insightful reading.

APPLAUD: to my other blog (done in conjunction with best friend Scott) for adding a polling feature. Check it out and vote There will be a new poll every week.

HECKLE: to my local school board. Those of you who are steady readers of this blog know that I applied for an open school board seat (check the archives for my previous entries). It turns out that the rumor going around town (and one that I mentioned in my earlier posting) is that the individual who was selected was (wait for it…) was coached by the board. Pathetic, isn’t it? I guarantee I will be a force to reckon with in the next election.

APPLAUD: and a tip o’ the hat to the Daily Kos for supplying me with this one: “There's a new nickel design showing Thomas Jefferson with an odd facial expression. C&J translates his thoughts: ‘You turned the executive branch over to whom??’”

HECKLE: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (give me a break) for beating the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. I am rooting for the White Sox in the AL because I want a Cardinals/White Sox World Series. Why? 2 reasons: 1. It’s good for baseball. 2. It would thoroughly annoy Cubs fans that their two sworn enemies were facing off in the Fall Classic while they watched at home. Hee hee hee hee

HECKLE: to Rick Moranis (yes, THAT Rick Moranis, he of SCTV, The MacKenzie Brothers, Little Shop of Horrors, etc.) who has released a country music album. I took a listen on his website (, and it’s a toss up as to who has the worse country album: Rick Moranis or Steven Seagal; the call is yours.

APPLAUD: to all our Jewish friends out there who are celebrating Yom Kippur. Le'chaim!

Thought of the Day

“Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.”

Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) from Arsenic and Old Lace

Monday, October 10, 2005

Gone Blocko!

There are days when having this blog is useful. Like a day when you have so much to vent about, that 2 or 3 entries can be created out of one event, or a day you hear something on the radio or TV or something you read in the newspaper (am I the only one that still reads a newspaper?) that makes your skin crawl or blood boil and you have to write about THAT.

And then … there are days like this, when nothing clicks, when the portion of your brain marked blog ideas looks as empty as a theater showing an Aston Kutcher movie (as if the very idea of an Aston Kutcher movie doesn’t make most people shudder and cringe anyway)

Sitting at my computer on this crisp fall night, after my daughters have fallen asleep and my wife is working on homework towards her Masters degree, and with so many things happening in the world and so many avenues to explore I can honestly say that the gate is down, the lights are flashing, but the train ain’t a-comin’.

This isn’t writer's block (I will refrain from calling it ‘bloggers block’ for those of you that think blogging is a useless concept – I’m talking to you Bill O’Reilly!!), this is more like a subdivision, or a county, or even a state. My head is rejecting ideas like they are President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.

I could write about sports. The NFL is at the quarter point and I can opine about surprises and disappointments. Or I can write about baseball and the Cardinals’ return (I hope) to the Series. Hell, I could even write about the NHL…but who would read that?

I could write about my twins and the fascinating things they have done or gotten into lately.

I could write about politics, but I have a separate blog for that now (

I could write about why I haven't written lately, but my good friend Scott already did that:

I could, I suppose, write an entry about Britney Spears taking her bra off of E-Bay...

Nah, that won't work.

Let's go back to sports, why not write another entry about sports?

Well, the football teams I follow (the St Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears) both suck. As do the Blues in the NHL.

College football? Well, my alma mater, Eastern Illinois University is having an adequate season, but they play in Division 1-AA so they don’t get much exposure. Local colleges? Northwestern, Notre Dame and Illinois are all within one hour of me, but, come on now.

The Cardinals are in pursuit of another World Series berth, but I want to refrain from writing about that, lest I create a jinx that would make me the scorn of Cardinal society.

All of these are viable prospects, but my brain says no. And by that I mean that my brain is not allowing me to come up with anything clever or entertaining about any of those subjects (and some of you are saying to yourself; ‘that’s never stopped you before Kemp.’ To that I say…bite me.)

And that’s the end of it. My brain is a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, all preparation and no ‘H’. Put it another way – I’m spent.

The hell with it, I won't write anything. Though, I just did didn’t I? Isn’t it strange how things work out?

Thought of the Day

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

- Hunter S. Thompson

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Strange Bedfellows: Baseball and TV Execs

Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely ecstatic about the Cardinal's victory late Saturday nig-- sorry, EARLY Sunday morning.

But: by the time Padres’ pitcher Woody Williams threw the first pitch of Game 3, Major League Baseball's bedtime special, the Cardinals and Padres had played only one game since late Tuesday afternoon. That's a span of 4 1/2 calendar days, covering more than 100 hours.

Absolutely absurd.

Game 1 in St. Louis started at noon Central, which presumably shut out many working Padres fans who had no opportunity to watch a game that began at 10 a.m. on the West Coast. A baseball breakfast might be a fun and doable diversion on the weekends, but not on a Tuesday morning. (And the afternoon starting times of Games 1 and 2 also put many St. Louis fans in the position of choosing between baseball and work, baseball and getting paid.)

Saturday’s schedule was idiotic. Assuming that the contest would last about three hours, Game 3's starting time of 10:00 P.M. (10:09 p.m. for all you OCD types) St. Louis time required Cardinals fans to stay up past 1 a.m. (I personally, after attending my wife’s 15 year High School Reunion – and drinking a little in the process --, stayed up until after 1:30 AM Sunday morning to see the end of the game)

And let us not forget that this franchise does have a healthy national following, so how about those on the East Coast? Fans or not, would you be able to stay awake beyond 2 a.m.?

This rude scheduling is outrageous, made worse by something that was brought to my attention by St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz who stated in a column in the online edition of the paper that in 2002, the Cardinals played an NLDS game at Arizona that began after 10 p.m., which caused an embarrassed Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to apologize to the fans of St. Louis and then declared that he would ban late-night starts in the future.

Selig must have been taking lessons from the GOP, cause he lied.

Three years later, Bud once again decided to kneel down before the Lords of TV and grant them a schedule that THEY wanted.

I know baseball is a business, in fact I have written an earlier blog about that fact, but, a 10:00PM start is still ridiculous. How exactly that is better TV business is beyond me. No other division series was as split-up as the Cardinals and Padres were. The three other series had schedules calling for the teams to play their first two games on consecutive days, take a day off, and then play the final three games without another break. The Cardinals and Padres on the other hand had more days off (two) than games (one).

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

The Baseball powers that be say that one reason for spreading the postseason schedule out is to make sure that no two baseball postseason games are on at the same time (cause, you know, the NFL doesn’t do that…wait a minute, yes they do. Well, the NBA do--…no, they do to. College football does it. The NHL does it. Hell, even the Olympics do it.)

The purported reason for this is to give the fans a chance in theory to see every game (In theory? In the words of Homer J. Simpson, “In theory, communism works…in theory.”)

Ok. Sure. They make it easier for fans to see all the games, except when they decide to put the start time at 10:00 PM.Saturday though, St. Louis and San Diego got the last laugh.The Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox series was already over (Being a Card fan and being at Game 4 of the World Series last year when the Sox swept the Cards, it was an ABSOLUTE pleasure to see the Red Sox get kicked out of the playoffs…that’s Karma. And add to that the fact that the White Sox’ success is annoying Cubs' fans...well, that's a bargain at half the price)

Game 4 of the Anaheim Angels vs. New York Yankees was rained out. (I HATE the Yankees even MORE than the Cubs by the way)Baseball had no playoff game to televise during the early afternoon hours, and was empty for the late-afternoon slot.

A nice lesson for Major League Baseball, but I still feel like all us Cardinal fans got screwed with our pants on.

Friday, October 07, 2005

First year with twins. A father's POV

My twins are well past the one year old mark, but I wanted to take an opportunity to speak to all the new twin fathers out there and give some friendly advice. So here it is...

People always ask my wife and I: “How did you ever do it with two babies? I just can’t imagine it”. My answer is always the same…we just do. We just do what needs to be done. Yes, it’s hard, and yes, it’s exhausting, and yes, it’s stressful. But we find a way to get the things done that need to be done.

And that is the key, finding a way that works for you and your spouse. I’ve listed some things in this article that have worked for us, maybe you can use some of the same things to help you through the first year.

Get into a routine
I can’t stress this one enough. In my opinion, this is the most important thing during the first year if you’ve two or more babies under the age of one at home…get everyone into a routine and stick to it. Feed them at the same time, change diapers at the same time, put them down for naps at the same time, put them to bed at the same time. If you feed them at the same time, you always know when they have been fed last. You won’t be wondering, “who did I just feed?” And you WILL be asking those kinds of questions, trust me. (Also, if you put them down for a nap at the same time, you can take sleep yourself! – Sleep? I’ve heard of this, this is one of those urban legends right? No, it does exist for new parents, but, keep in mind that I’m not saying that you can sleep as much as you did before you had children -- those days are LONG gone my friend -- but try and get as many hours of quality sleep in a row as you can)

If you don’t get into a routine like this, you will always be feeding a baby, or changing diapers, or trying to get one of them to fall asleep. It won’t be long and you’ll be worn out, because there’s always be something to do. It’s a vicious circle.

Divide and Conquer
For those guys who are out there that still believe it’s a woman’s job to take care of the baby, that’s just not going to work with twins. If you expect your wife to feed the babies, dress them, give them baths, change all of the diapers, put them down for naps, she’s going to be very tired and very irritable (and not PMS irritable – multiply the WORSE you have ever seen your wife’s moods by 200 and you STILL won’t be anywhere close. You know the saying, “when mom’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy”, Truer words have never been spoken)

So guys…get used to helping out. That includes helping out with the babies and around the house. Don’t be afraid to change a diaper, make a bottle, do the dishes, mop the floor. In fact, it’s even better if you do these things without being asked or told to do them first. Trust me, it will be easier on everyone. Having two babies at one time is very time-consuming and there are always lots of things to do. Pitch in and your marriage as well as the babies will reap the benefits.

Make time for yourself
As anyone with kids can tell you, once in awhile you just need to get away and have some time for yourself. As much as you love your kids, sometimes you need time without them, it doesn’t mean you love them any less, you just need a little break. My wife and I are both pretty flexible when it comes to allowing each other some time away. I don’t mind when she goes to a movie with her sisters, or goes with her friends to a Mom of Twins Club meeting. She gives me the same freedom to play golf or go smoke a cigar at the cigar store once in awhile with my friends.

As long as neither one of you take it to an extreme, you should encourage each other to do it.You also need to make sure you work in some time where you and your spouse spend time together without the kids. Don’t feel guilty about it…think of it as a sanity check! My wife and I try and get one of our parents or siblings to watch the kids once in awhile while we go out for dinner or even for a weekend away. However you do it, just make sure you and your spouse make some time for each other without the kids.

The house just isn’t going to be as clean
Before my wife and I started having kids, we were both kind of anal about keeping the house spotless, straightened up, and things just so (okay, truthfully, that was more of my wife's ideal. Me, I'm happy as long as there are no killer dust-bunnies lurking around). It hasn’t been that way for quite awhile now…and you know what, it just doesn’t matter. Suck it up and live with it.

Our house is usually a mess, the dishes don’t get done as soon as they used to, and I don’t cut the grass whenever I see a blade of grass higher than another. With all of the responsibilities that go with having children, especially under the age of one, you just won’t have as much time as you used to.

I’m not naïve enough to think that these will work for everyone, but they worked for my wife and I, and I hope they’ll (at the least) give you a heads-up on how to deal with the joy of having two (or more) kids at one time.

If not, everyone says that practice makes perfect, so try for another set of twins…you’re bound to get it right eventually.

Thought of the Day

“In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”

– The Narrator in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Thought of the Day

“You see Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.”
– Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), from the movie "Office Space"

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

That's a (Game 1) Winner!

The St. Louis Cardinals (Go Redbirds!) beat the San Diego Padres 8-5 to take game 1 of the National League Divisional Series.

Outfielder Reggie Sanders hit a grand slam (and set an NL division series record with six RBI) while Chris Carpenter pitched six scoreless innings and left with a nice padded lead of 8-0.

Well, those pesky Padres couldn’t be shaken. Besides scoring once in the seventh, they added another run in the eighth and then got right back into it in the ninth after Jason Isringhausen was brought in to end the game, but, things didn’t go according to plan as ‘Izzy’ made things interesting (interesting for Padres’ fans, absolute hell for us Cardinal fans) by allowing the Pad’s to cross the plate three times and load the bases with two outs before he struck out Ramon Hernandez to end the game.

(Sigh. I’m going to need a lot of alcohol to get through this series, I just know it.)

And here’s an interesting (to me at least) sidebar.

Usually, a couple of days before the series starts, the Mayor of each team’s city places a wager on their team winning the series, IE St Louis Mayor Francis Slay would make a ceremonial wager with his counterpart in the opposing team’s city (San Diego).

In last year’s NLDS against the Dodgers of Los Angeles (not to be confused by the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles), Mayor Slay put up some Bissinger’s chocolate, toasted ravioli (a St Louis delicacy) and some cases of Budweiser against cobblers from a famous pie shop – the “Kobbler King” – offered up by then L.A. Mayor James K. Hahn.

So what would be the gamble with today’s opponent, San Diego? Some t-ravs for tasty California fish tacos? A case of Bud Select for a stuffed Zoo animal? Frozen custard for a copy of the Charger’s schedule?

Sounds like fun, except there’s one slight problem:

San Diego doesn’t have a mayor.

Apparently, there is some political turmoil in City Hall (much like the White House – but that’s an entry for my other blog site: (

In the wake of a pension fund investigation by the federal government, the sitting mayor left office with three years left on his term. So now, a surf-shop operator (and you thought Harriet Miers was unqualified for her nominated position) and a former police chief are now vying for the office that will be decided by a special election November 8th.

In the meantime, the city is being run by an acting mayor who apparently is not up for some friendly civic gambling. (Maybe he’s just hedging his bets, I mean, who would bet against the Cardinals anyway? – and of course as soon as I say that the Cards will lo—
…why do I open my mouth?)

Game 2 is Thursday (why a day off when there is no traveling? Who knows.) at 3:05 central with the Cardinals’ Mark Mulder facing off against the Padres’ Pedro Astacio. Again, I will be at work while the game is on and have no means of even listening to it. My computer does not have streaming capability (apparently that would cause the hamster on the wheel to get tired) so I will have to make do by having’s Gamecast on…gotta love technology.

Thought of the Day

"I have trouble living with myself, how could I live with anyone else?"

- Nipsey Russell, the "poet laureate of TV" who died Sunday, October 2nd

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Return of the King(s)…and the BLUES…and the Blackhawks…

It is back.

Yes, that’s right hockey is back. It’s back and I couldn’t be happier…(well, I could be, but the odds of President Bush taking the rest of his term off on sabbatical seems unlikely, but a man can dream, can’t he??? Heck, I’d like to see the President even spell the word sabbatical…)

After taking a season off, the NHL is about to conclude its first training camps in two years amid a variety of changes to the game and to its teams. As usual, there is good and bad (and even some ugly) to just about everything. Below are some of the changes and how I think they will affect the game.

(You’re asking yourself, what makes you an hockey expert? Well, I am an hockey expert. I’ve been watching hockey for 20 years…so I have to be an elder statesman when it comes to hockey fans, right?)

Good: Shootouts. Whether it's a good way to decide the outcome of games will be debated for years and years, but one thing is certain: The essence of the shootout--the breakaway--is the most exciting play in hockey and that is a good thing for the fans. (While living in Peoria I remember watching shootouts in minor league hockey – go Rivermen! – and always saying to myself – that’s what the NHL should do, go to a shootout system. It’s much more exciting than a tie. The NHL must have been listening to me…)

Bad: Disinterest. Will the fans come back? Hard-core fans and long-time fans will forgive and forget. Mid-level fans may come back in due time. New fans? That’s going to be the hard sell. How will teams get them back? The changes in the game are meant to open up the goal quotient, which the NHL believes will draw new people to the league. I have doubts that will work and that the league may have to go to more drastic measures (folding teams, cutting roster size, etc).

Good: The league appears serious about eliminating the clutching and grabbing, as well as the grabbing and clutching, that has plagued the sport for the last dozen or so years, reducing what should have been a fast-paced, high-energy game to an extended version of tug-of-war on ice. That should change now.

Bad: At least for the first couple of weeks, the players were having a hard time adjusting to the rules or they believe the game eventually will go back to the way it was. (That’s what happens when you don’t read the rulebook.)

Good: Referees will work games as a team and stay together for the whole season, giving NHL clubs an opportunity to keep a book on tandems and know night in and night out how a game will be officiated. (This one, I’m not so sure about.)

Bad: Referees still are without their names on their sweaters--depriving the paying public an opportunity to personalize their insults to the officials. (The minor league refs sport their name on the shirts, so it was nice to personalize an insult rather than just calling them near-sighted zebras)

Good: Led by Sidney Crosby, the crop of rookies poised to make its debut this season appears solid. (Unfortunately, my team has no such rookies, so it’s going to be a LONG season for Blues fans)

Bad: Camps were without some of the legends of the game--Mark Messier, Scott Stevens and Ron Francis, to name three. Time eventually claims everyone in sports, even the all-time greats.

Good: Wayne Gretzky, AKA The Great One and perhaps the greatest ambassador in the sport, is back involved on a day-to-day basis with the Phoenix Coyotes, but…Bad: Gretzky's involvement is not as a player but as a coach of a team that will struggle to break even on the ice.

Good: Accelerated free agency concept. After both sides signed the agreement, it was announced that almost all players would be entered into free agency at a discounted price (much like those $3 cassettes you can get at Wal-Mart). This allowed some teams who never got involved in free agency before to get involved for the purpose of evening out the playing field, so to speak. Will it work? I think so, but only time will truly tell.

Bad: Accelerated free agency concept. It cut some teams deep (like the St Louis Blues) and will (probably) cause those teams to be also-rans and miss the playoffs.

Good: The league eliminated the blue line AND icing. About friggin’ time. Talk about an inane and superfluous penalty. I’m a (fairly) smart person, but if anyone can explain an icing penalty to me so I can understand it…enter a comment and I’ll give a shout-out to you in a future blog.

Bad: Player’s names. Most players are from Canada, a few from the United States, and their names are easy to pronounce, like Sidney Crosby. But, with many players coming out of Eastern Europe (with names like Nikolai Khabibulin, Alexander Ovechkin, Kari Lehtonen and Mariusz Czerkawski) the league may have to release a name pronunciation guide.

Good: The NHL will begin a new national television deal with the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) this season. Unlike ESPN, where hockey was far down the importance scale (we HAVE to allow time for another Sportscenter, 12 a day just isn’t enough), the NHL will be treated with more respect, and may benefit from a larger marketing push…but...

Bad: Every sports fan knows what channel ESPN is on his cable system. Where's OLN? And do we have OLN?

Ugly: The black eye. And by that I mean the black eye the league has suffered due to this incredibly stupid act of striking. For the players to reject the final contract proposal from the owners only to, months later, accept a much worse offer shows just how idiotic some people can be. Will the league survive? Sure. Will some teams by forced to fold? Probably. How long will it take? Only time will tell.

The season starts Wednesday and it promises to be an exciting one, so, if you have never watched hockey before, I highly suggest you give it a try. When played properly it can be an exciting and fast-paced game, which it has not been in recent years. But, with the changes the league has made, it should revert back to its old self.

Now, if only we can get the fighting back…

Thought of the Day

"All you need in the world is love and laughter. That's all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other."
- August Wilson, esteemed and award winning playwright who died Sunday, Oct 2, 2005