Christopher Tolkien, son and literary executor of J.R.R. Tolkien, died today at age 95. He was the very first “Middle-earth scholar,” having organized, edited and published many of his father’s works after his father’s death in 1973.
In November 1966, UMSL’s student newspaper published its first issue under the name “Current.” That means The Current turns 50 this year!
To celebrate, this year’s editor-in-chief, Kat Riddler, put together a fantastic banquet for the current Current staff, alumni and other interested folks.
I’m definitely feeling all the outrage over the Rams leaving St. Louis to return to Los Angeles.
They were, overall, terrible for most of their years in St. Louis. They fleeced us to come here in 1995, and they fleeced us when they left, as we wasted millions hoping to keep them.
Joseph has a Rams jersey that he loves to wear. The older girls want to hate the Rams for going away. Hopefully I can get them all to embrace the Cowboys.
Still, I’d like to remember the bright spots. The “Greatest Show on Turf” years will remain amazing. For me, the Rams run to their second Super Bowl appearance is particularly meaningful.
Higher education had a term for folks like Benjamin Israel: “nontraditional student.” That applied to him in so many ways.
Benjamin died Monday morning. I wanted to share a little bit about his impact.
I first met Benjamin when I worked at UMSL’s student newspaper, The Current. Unlike the rest of us, he was older, with many years of journalism experience under his belt.
we wrote letters and raked leaves we pleaded and prayed we vowed in Santa Cruz and signed in Coral Gables we made babies and bunuelos we gained family and friends and facebook we lost tios and tias and little Jubilee we endured tornados and tantrums surazos and suegros we watched Petra and parades we explored D.C. and Del Rio Copacabana, Cotoca San Antonio, Samaipata we saved and we spent we loved and we left we gave and we grew from just me and you to those four and us two vows and visas looks and laughs tea and tears ten times ten let us love again and again
This morning Yoli and I had a rare kid-free couple of hours. We thought it would be fun to to see the new film Jerusalem on the Imax screen at the St. Louis Science Center.
The film is very nicely done. Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, it tries to show the different facets of Jerusalem through the inhabitants. The film features three girls: one Jewish, one Christian, and one Muslim, who talk about their lives in the different quarters of the old city. The film also features beautiful visuals, and a good helping of archaeology and sightseeing to explain why different faiths care so deeply about particular places.
Watching the film with Yoli transported me back to the year 2000. As the editor of the student newspaper at UMSL, I received a flyer in the mail inviting me to apply for a seminar in Israel for college newspaper editors sponsored by the American Jewish Committee. It didn’t take me long to decide to apply.
Two things came up recently which spurred me to write a blog post one year sooner than I originally planned.
The first thing is that I created a new website called Break Into Chat, which hosts a wiki about the history of old BBS door games as well a blog about retro computing topics. You can visit the website to learn more about the reasons why I created it.
The second thing is that my mom has been scanning truckloads of photos from Christmases past, then sharing them on Facebook.
These two seemingly unrelated threads converge in 1993, the year my parents surprised me and my brothers with the greatest Christmas present ever: The Atari Jaguar.
Please take a minute to click the link above and relive the memory with me!
There’s something about that first love. Or maybe it’s that first loss.
I remember a girl I loved, and the spark of hope that burned in me until the day I found out there was no chance, that she would be with someone else. And I grieved the loss of something which had never come to pass.
It was a time of intense sadness and lament. But I suppose old hopes must die, so that new hopes might live — and be fulfilled.
New joys come, years pass, life transforms but in some long-forgotten place, that loss lingers. A sensitive place. A ticklish place that gets a reaction if you touch it.
In my case, music does it. I’m a sucker for really good break-up albums and songs. It’s not that they resurrect a memory. Rather, the raw pain of the songwriter resonates with me, taps into my own little vein of sadness. I empathize and feel their righteous anger.
Does it work that way with baseball, too? I guess that it does.
Just as someone can remember their first love, I can remember when I first followed the St. Louis Cardinals of my own accord. When I began to collect and trade baseball cards, clip out newspaper articles, memorize stats. It was the early 1990s, and the Cardinals were not very good — but that never matters.
Then came 1996. The year the Cardinals hired Tony La Russa as their manager. The year they got back into the playoffs. The year they were one win away from reaching the World Series.
But then the unthinkable happened. The team unraveled with successive losses — 14-0, 3-1, 15-0 — and missed their opportunity.
As a kid, you grieve. But with baseball hope arises again each spring. There would be false starts along the way, but ultimately the Cardinals did get back into the World Series. Three times. They won it twice, including last year’s mind-blowing comebacks.
This year, the magic somehow seemed to be continuing. A miraculous Game 5 comeback in the division series made me believe it was meant to be. I was excited because my kids were getting into it. Jadzia was beginning to get the arcane rules of the game; Joseph was swinging any bat-like object he could find. Ludi was drawing circles on papers and pretending to keep score.
So when the Cardinals went up 3-1 in the NLCS, just one win away from reaching the World Series again, my heart soared. This was my team, on the verge of winning it all. Destiny.
But tonight it came crashing down. The Cardinals lost their third straight game to the Giants, and their opportunity is gone. It was painful, physically painful to watch. The churning in my stomach would not stop.
I had seen it, lived it before. It was 1996 again, and I mourned the loss of something that never happened. The loss of a dream. It was listening to a breakup album, feeling a resonance with past pain.
A girl. A team. Young loves. Young losses. You get over them, even forget them.
“It’s just a game.” “She’s just a girl.” “There’s always next year.” “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.”
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. My heart has already moved on to next spring.
But there’s something about loss. “I need my pain,” a wise fictional character once said.
Maybe we do, Captain. Maybe we do.
My Nan grew up in Wellingborough, England. Last week I got to see her childhood home, and today we went to her birth home in order to shoot a short little video.
(Nan’s brother, Uncle Raymond, jokingly claims she was found, not born.)
I am visiting England for one week with my mother and grandmother. My grandmother, whom I call “Nan,” was born and raised in England before leaving as a young woman to marry an American (my “Papa”).