Ah, the little red bird that does not fly away when the winter comes. It sticks around to weather the snow and cold. Perseverance is a cardinal virtue. So, is remaining a cardinals’ fan over a lifetime. These football heroes were not my first cardinal team. The baseball cardinals of the 1960’s were. I am being honest here because honesty is also a cardinal virtue.
They were the champions of the NFL before I was born, as proven by this championship ring from 1947. Winning is not a cardinal virtue, but working hard enough to be the champion reveals that consistency and a good work ethic are.
They had heroes that made the Football Hall of Fame, and they were generally not racist because Ollie Matson was breaking the color barrier at around the same time as Jackie Robinson in baseball.
I’d like to say that I learned not to be a racist from rooting for the Cardinals, but I never saw the Chicago Redbirds on TV, or knew anything about them until I was arguing with Minnesota Vikings fans about the merits of rooting for a team that never wins. I did research. I won the argument when the Vikings lost their first Superbowl to the Kansas City Chiefs. The first of many lost Vikings’ Superbowls/
The search for truth, undertaken with upright motivations is also a cardinal virtue.
The Cardinals were in St. Louis in the 1970’s for what I look at as the “Glory Years.” They had great players like Larry Wilson, Hall-of-Fame Safety, Quarterback Jim Hart, Running Back Otis Anderson, Tight End Jackie Smith, Reciever Mel Gray, and Halfback Terry Metcalf. Don Coryell and Bud Wilkerson were the coaches that took them into the playoffs where they never quite won it all. But there were some very intense games in those playoffs where they both won and lost by inches.
In those “Cardiac Cardinals’ games” I learned to never give up. One time Mel Gray came through in the final minutes, catching the ball at the goal line as time expired… but fumbling… but-but not before, the replay official determined twenty minutes later, crossing the goal line and winning the game.
Sometimes the thrill of the hunt supersedes the final outcome.
And, of course, it is a cardinal virtue to never say die.
Now, the Cardinals, located in Arizona, are at it again. They have a new potential MVP in Quarterback Kyler Murray. And yesterday they extended their unbeaten streak to six games. They are currently the only undefeated team in the NFL. I have high hopes again. High apple pie in the sky hopes. And I may learn another virtue or two.
There is considerable evidence that I am not a totally normal human being, or as Danny Murphy used to say “A normal human bean”. Danny is, by the way, a character in several of my novels, including Snow Babies and When the Captain Came Calling. He did the complete Circle Streak (running around the entire high school campus buck naked in a huge and chilly circle) more than once. And he was based entirely on one of my high school classmates and friends. That bird-walk about streaking is an example of the kind of quirks I am guilty of when I am being totally not-normal. I am now entirely off topic and must pull it back to defend myself by saying, “Nobody else is a totally normal human bean either!”
Among my many quirks and oddities is my love of baseball and slavish dedication to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball club. My favorite World Series memories are from 1934, 22 years before I was born. Dizzy Dean was a 30-game winner pitching for the Cardinals. Joe “Ducky” Medwick was their star hitter, and in the 6th inning he hit a triple and slid hard into the third baseman with his cleats up (a trick learned from former Detroit Tiger Ty Cobb) and the Tiger fans lost their cool in a big way (they were behind 9-0 at the time in the deciding 7th game). They began throwing things at Joe as he tried to play left field. He nearly missed an easy fly ball because somebody threw an orange and almost hit his glove. It is the only time in baseball history that a baseball commissioner had to eject a player from a World Series game for his own protection. (Needless to say, I love to hate the Tigers.)
I also love all the other ten times the Cardinals have won the Series, and I am proud of the eight times they nearly won besides.
Another of my odd quirks is a love of nudity in spite of my skin condition that prevents me from comfortably being a nudist. I first encountered nudism in a clothing-optional apartment complex where my girlfriend’s sister lived in Austin. I went from being shocked almost to apoplexy, to my girlfriend’s overwhelming amusement, to rejecting a chance to try nudism in the late 80’s, to actually spending a day at a Texas nudist park in 2017, and really enjoying the experience. My children are mortified.
And this quirk affects my fiction. I have some characters in a few of my stories based specifically on nudists I have known. I also wrote an entire novel, A Field Guide to Fauns, about a boy learning to live with his father and step-mother in a residential nudist park. Additionally, I have irrationally tried to use the word “penis” in every novel I have written. I only failed to do so when some editors insisted on its removal. So, I believe I may be 12 for 16 on that score.
But this particular quirk, no matter how totally embarrassing my children find it, is not a sexual perversion. I don’t write porn. And, as a survival matter after being sexually assaulted as a child, my nudity fixation has helped me to accept that I am not evil and unworthy when I am naked. My attacker had me convinced otherwise for more than twenty years.
I am also an aficionado of science fiction, classical music, and a faith that tells me rabbits make better people than people do.
My books are divided, for the most part, into Cantos instead of Chapters. This is because of my love for Classical Music and my dedication to the weird notion that novels should be more like epic poetry. Not necessarily written in verse, though if I ever get to write Music in the Forest, that one is written as poetry.
But paragraphs need to be written as purely poetically as perfect white pearls are poetically pearly.
But as poetry, my tendency towards comedy rather than drama or tragedy, leads me to write purple paisley prose (like all this p-word nonsense) which makes my paragraphs more Scherzo than Nocturne, Sonata, or Symphony.
While researching alien invasions for the novel Catch a Falling Star, the story of when aliens from deep space tried to invade Iowa, I came across internet information that ignited another quirky passion of mine, studying conspiracy theories. And it isn’t all just a plot to embarrass my children in front of people we know in real life. Although that is a definite side benefit. But conspiracies are an excellent source material for making humor. Comedy gold. Knowing who people like Alex Jones, David Icke, and Jesse Ventura are, gives me not only easily ridiculed personalities to make fun of, but also windows into thinking habits that may or may not turn up some real anomalies in the world of science and so-called historical fact. For instance, I can credibly argue that there is more to the Roswell Crash story than the government is willing to tell us about, and Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill JFK by himself, if at all.
And besides, my boyhood friend Robert was part of my small-town gang when we fought off the alien invasion in the 60’s, and he told me on Facebook that he remembered when that happened. Good old Bobby. He really likes beer and alcohol.
And I could go on like this for an entire book’s worth of silly jabber. But this post has to end for today. This blog, after all, isn’t the only quirky and crazy thing I have to attend to.
Well, the plumbing leaks a little bit, but it hasn’t exploded and gushed water all over the bathroom in over a week.
The Cardinals are leading their division by three games in the final weeks of the season. True, the Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers are both close on their heels and both having winning streaks that prove they are capable of overtaking the Cards. The division is within reach, but not yet won.
I have been invited to substitute teacher orientation next month, so the possibility of returning to classrooms is also within reach for me. That will solve some money troubles and give me a chance to do something I love once again.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in life. Not working plumbing. Not having a winning team to root for. Not being well enough to earn money for the thing I was born to do.
But bad things are not the only things that happen in life. Sometimes you get a chance to cheer. A chance to celebrate. Sometimes life is good. So, we keep living and hoping, and enjoying what we can when we can… sometimes with a can of Gatorade.
I got hooked by hockey in 1969 and 1970, winter of my eighth grade year in school. It was the year we first started getting NBC on the old black-and-white Motorola TV. WHO in DesMoines had finally boosted their signal to the point where our TV antenna in Rowan, Iowa could pull a signal in.
The NHL was on every Sunday morning during football season and my friend Mark had one of those hockey game boards where you twirl players on metal rods to score goals in a plastic net defended by a metal or plastic goalie. We were 13 and deeply in love with a game we could only watch on TV and never play (No hockey rinks are generally available in rural Iowa).
Mark liked Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito and their Boston Bruins hockey team who battled through the division of six old teams that had been around forever and had all the good players.
I, like the fool I have always been, pledged undying loyalty to the underdog St. Louis Blues. The expansion division consisted of teams that had only played for three years, filled with young guys and old veterans nearing the end of great careers. Hall-of-Famer goalies Jaques Plante and Glenn Hall both played for the Blues. So did the Battling B-Brothers, Bill Plaeger, Barclay Plaeger, and Bob Plaeger. Along with Red Berensen, Frank St. Marseille, and Doug Harvey. I idolized those guys. In the 1970 Stanley Cup final, they lost every game except the last one, which they lost in spectacular fashion in sudden-death overtime.
I was a Blues Fan for life. I was disappointed every single year as they lost somewhere in the playoffs or in the regular season, never making it back to the Stanley Cup Series. Until 2019.
Young boys’ dreams can come true, even if it takes a lifetime to get there.
They won in 6 games by taking the last three in row.
Now they go back to the Stanley Cup finals, best of seven, for the first time since 1970. And, ironically, they face the same opponent they faced then. In 1970 the Blues lost four in a row to Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and the Boston Bruins. In the fourth game I nearly died when, in the sudden-death overtime, Bobby Orr flew through the air like a bird and put the puck into the net to kill any hope of the Blues winning a single series game.’
They have never won the championship of hockey. They have never drunk wine from Lord Stanley’s Cup. Now they have the chance again for the first time since I was 13 and utterly disappointed.
Yesterday the St. Louis Blues hockey team beat the San Jose Sharks 5 to 0 in game 5 of their best-of-seven playoff series. They are one win away from the Stanley Cup finals again for the first time since the 1960’s.
Once again Jaden Schwartz scored a 3-goal hat trick to lead the scoring. The reliable Vladimir Teresenko scored as well, while goalie Binnington scored a shut-out on the Sharks.
As the Stanley Cup playoffs proceeded, my team, the St. Louis Blues, took on the Dallas Stars, my hometown team. Of course, I couldn’t really lose in this playoff best-of-seven, because I love both teams. But the way it turned out was a super-win for the good guys.
The Stars won their first-round playoff based on the magnificent play of Goalie Ben Bishop. His play recalled for me the days when the Great Glenn Hall won the playoff MVP award for the Blues in the Stanley Cup final that the Blues lost to the Montreal Canadiens in 1968.
The Blues, led by leading scorer Vladimir Teresenko, have been the hottest team in the second half of the NHL season. They came from far back in the pack and out of the playoff picture into the playoffs, winning against the favored Winnepeg Jets in the first round.
And the series itself could not have been more amazing. The Blues finally won the deciding seventh game in the second overtime on a goal by Left Wing Patrick Maroon. It could not have been more exciting. Especially after the Blues had playoff hopes dashed in the first round so many times in recent years. Now, if the Blues can only beat the hated San Jose Sharks, they will be in the Stanley Cup final again for the first time since 1970.
I am, of course, not a sports reporter. I am a loony Blues fan who never gives up even though his beloved hockey team has never won the big prize.
Game one of the second round playoff with the Dallas Stars went to the St. Louis Blues. Tarasenko was a hero again. This is already a good year with the Blues fighting back from so far down in the standings, making the playoffs in an incredible hot streak that hasn’t cooled off yet. We won one series already, and surging towards a second. I am happy.
I have watched the Blues play the Dallas Stars numerous times at the American Airlines Center (or whatever corporate name the Dallas arena has at the moment). But with my current state of health and finance, there’s no way to see a game live now. Still, I am happy. The Blues are winning again.
It has always been a hopeful sign for me when my favorite sports teams do well in the playoffs. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 2011 and the blossoming of my novel-writing career began right after in 2012. The Arizona Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl in 2008, and though they lost, they came extremely close to winning, losing only in the final minutes, presaged my successful shift to the ESL teacher position at Naaman Forest High School in Garland, Texas. And now the St. Louis Blues hockey team won a first round playoff series for the first time in a while, against a top-ranked team that was supposed to beat them, and set themselves up for a deep playoff run that might turn into their first ever Stanley Cup championship of the NHL.
Jaden Schwartz, a Blues scoring star, got three goals in one game, called a hat trick in hockey, in the final game against the Winnepeg Jets this last weekend. They are on the road to more victories, and even if they lose going forward, it is still a positive sign for me at a time when I desperately need something positive to happen.
Today’s post should probably be titled with “raspberries” rather than “strawberries” because of the alternative meaning of strawberries being a red abrasion or scrape instead of the double meaning I actually need. But I had strawberries from Walmart to serve for breakfast, not raspberries, so that totally ruined the potential metaphor.
I tend to like to watch the news while I cook breakfast for the kids. Hence the need for raspberries. I mean, the angry orangutan in charge of my news-related happiness or horror is on a real tear about now because he can feel the law and the news media zeroing in on every crime and criminal thought he has been playing with for decades, intending to prosecute both him and those who support him. Like several of the speakers at Senator John McCain’s funeral, I have no need to directly blow raspberries at him. The oblique and carefully worded ones will do fine. But I do have nothing but raspberries for him. The things he is doing to health care, education, the environment, and international relationships have either undone the good the government has previously done or made the made the matter much worse.
Of course, the Pumpkinhead in Chief is not the only evil, bloodsucking monster in the news that makes me blow raspberries at the TV screen during breakfast. I will specifically try to sort out my voter registration problems so that I can register a vote against Grandpa Munster… err… I mean, the Zodiac Killer… err… well, you know, that guy whose name I do not wish to invoke at the moment to protect my children and virgins everywhere. It is a problem because I let my voter registration lapse as a Jehovah’s Witness, and now the State of Texas won’t let me renew it by mail. I have to find the proper registration office to sit in for hours being glared at by Republican officials who see on the paperwork that I was a registered Democrat more than two decades ago.
I also blow raspberries at Republican hard-heartedness that still hasn’t reunited children with their immigrant asylum-seeking parents out of fear of letting too many brown people into their “white” country. Raspberries also for conservatives that talk about Democrats being violent and chaotic people as they post threats of shooting deaths for liberals on social media.
I’m sure you have probably already concluded that having the TV on during breakfast makes for rather rootie-tootie-fruity breakfasts around our house. And you wouldn’t be wrong.
I also have raspberries to give the Chicago Cubs this time of year as they try to beat my Cardinals out of the playoffs once again. They deserve lots of fruit. Particularly pineapples thrown at their prissy blue helmets during late innings of games they are winning.
But, fear not. My dietary health is safe for now. I am getting fresh fruits. I am fortified with vitamin C. It happens that we are eating STRAWBERRIES, not raspberries for breakfast. And strawberries are good for you, even if the morning news is not.