The Current at 50

Back row: Jeff Kuchno, Clint Zweifel, David Baugher, Wiley Price, Judi Burch Linville, Josh Renaud and Rick Jackoway Front row: Sharon Reus, Michelle McMurray, Kathleen Riddler
Back row: Jeff Kuchno, Clint Zweifel, David Baugher, Wiley Price, Judi Burch Linville, Josh Renaud and Rick Jackoway
Front row: Sharon Reus, Michelle McMurray, Kathleen Riddler

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.

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Still thankful for the Rams

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.

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Remembering Benjamin Israel

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.

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Ten years

josh_yoli_cascada1

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

“Jerusalem”

israel3

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.

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The best Christmas present of all time

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!

Love, baseball and losses

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.

11 things we are thankful for in 2011

This year, the final day of our anniversary falls on the same day as Thanksgiving. There is much to be thankful for, so much of it obviously connected with the tornado that wrecked our house in April.

We are thankful:

  • To the creators of Wheel of Fortune, for a show the family enjoys watching, which ensured they saw the tornado warning on TV in plenty of time to go downstairs.
  • To our neighbors who checked helped Yoli and the kids get out of the basement through a window and let them stay in their house until I got there.
  • To my brother Justin for connecting us with a contractor who did above and beyond what we hoped might be possible in rebuilding our house.
  • To my dad who was there the morning after the tornado, and on many other days afterward, to offer help and advice as we figured out what to do.
  • To my mom for, among many other things, finding a notice about a house for rent and passing it on to us. We spent a good 6-7 months in that house.
  • To State Farm for ponying up quickly and often. (However I am not thankful for all the paperwork, but what can you do?)
  • To all our friends and family who helped after the tornado with gifts, with time, with advice, with words of comfort.
  • To the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for continuing to give me a job that I enjoy doing.
  • To my coworkers, who sent us a gift of help after the tornado, and who nominated us for an obscure Lee Foundation grant that our family was eligible for.
  • To God for our home, for supplying our needs, for love, for everything; but mostly for our lives. If Yoli or one of the kids had perished in the tornado, this year would have been inconceivably different.
  • To that darn tree: I loved you for your tallness, for the cool shade you provided. You have given us a year of work and waiting, a new house — and fewer leaves to rake.