Captain Beefheart: Visions from Beyond – Big Eyed Beans from Venus!

I love to share good writing and good memories. So occasionally, I will reblog a piece from someone I am following. I hope you take the time to read it…and enjoy it. I’ll credit this one to The Immortal Jukebox… good stuff so far.

The Immortal Jukebox

‘Mr Zoot Horn Rollo, hit that long lunar note .. And let it float.’
(Captain Beefheart ‘Big Eyed Beans From Venus’)

‘Once you’ve heard Beefheart it’s hard to wash him out of your clothes. It stains like coffee or blood’ (Tom Waits)

‘If there has ever been such a thing as a genius in popular music it’s Beefheart’ (John Peel)

A day or so ago, on a whim, I decided to play my vinyl copy of, ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

So, I carefully punched in the combination code (get it wrong twice and the caged tigers are released) and entered the sanctum sanctorum containing the motherlode of a lifetime’s dedicated record collecting.

Adjusting my eyes to the subdued lighting and breathing the filtered air in a thermostatically controlled dry heat I strolled past the substantial, ‘A’ section and found myself mesmerised by the bounteous treasures contained within the…

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The Red-Headed Stranger…

Jenny didn’t shit just anywhere when she had a statement to make…she was very selective. She wouldn’t shit in Craig and Robin’s room. On those rare occasions she actually came to visit them, she didn’t bother to shit upstairs in Fred and Dan’s room. In Larry’s and Gary’s room? My room? She never shit in any of those places. In fact she was a perfect guest to most of us at the WAFU House. It was more than a little surprising that a visitor who oozed great looks and obvious breeding like Jenny’s would find it acceptable to shit anywhere except where she was supposed to.

 

The WAFU (We’re All Fine Undergraduates???) House was a three-story behemoth that was a cross between two great movie sets…Animal House and Psycho. Ten of us called this place home at the same time. Eight dudes and two ladies…three, once Jenny moved in. The only rules revolved around Top Raman Noodles and toilet paper. Otherwise, it was everybody for themselves. We were a living, breathing television script way before the advent of reality TV. We were drunk and disorderly at the dawning of the MTV age. And all was peaches and cream, until Rod brought Jenny home one late winter evening with barely a story other than she needed a place to stay for a while. For her entire stay, she remained an enigma to us.

 

It was only Chris with whom Jenny seemed to have serious issues. We never knew why this was the case. Chris certainly didn’t ask and Jenny wasn’t talking. Still, on more than one occasion, Chris came home from a long day on campus to find very un-ladylike calling card plopped right in the middle of his area rug. Maybe it was just some kind of evil chemistry between them, but tension was palpable.

 

Maybe the problem was that Rod, her liberator, paid way more attention to his girlfriend Pam than Jenny was willing to put up with. After all it was Rod who had taken it upon himself to save her from her “situation” with that last guy. He had bonded with Jenny. He had brought her to stay with us…until arrangements could be made. Pam was unusually silent about all of this, but that’s how we rolled in the early 80’s. Jenny’s a bitch… Hunziker and Furman are assholes and sometimes you have to put up with Fred and BK.

 

Clearly, Rod was a sucker for redheads and Jenny was a long, lean one. The deep-set hazel that glittered in her eyes barely masked the anger and resentment she had for her last guy. I suspect this is what she really loathed the most about Chris…his physical similarity to some guy none of us had ever seen, but who had become painfully imprinted on Jenny’s psyche. We never quite learned how Rod came to befriend Jenny and that had to grate on Pam’s already delicately stretched heartstrings. If Jenny noticed this resentment from Pam, she kept it to herself. Jenny seemed to have a lot on her mind. She was quiet and kept to herself. She slept almost constantly, only waking to stroll into the kitchen and eat whatever food Rod was willing to give her, and then back to the couch for another round of shuteye. As it turned out, she was carrying more than deep, dark concerns about her living situation.

 

It took very little to entertain our little household of misfit toys. We’d survived on beer and Fred’ sense of humor for so long that when MTV premiered earlier that fall, we felt like we had been lifted to a higher cultural plane. Most of us viewed MTV as a way to become more informed on the social and political renderings of our various musical heroes. Dan, on the other hand, viewed MTV as a gateway drug to better sleep. One unusually cold, still snowy March night, Dan outlasted the rest of us, who had sauntered off to our own beds, and passed out on the couch while Martha Quinn, on the screen across the room, introduced each video with a back-story lost on this audience. The furnace, when it ran correctly at the WAFU House, did little if any good, so before fading completely to black, Dan had at least grabbed the afghan lying on the floor by the couch. He didn’t remember that the afghan belonged to Chris and as such, was considered a target.

 

Dan was wakened to the tune of a whimpering chorus. Four soft, wet, newly born puppies were crawling around on his chest and legs trying to determine if he was their new mother or if it was indeed, our temporary house guest, Jenny, the Irish Setter with a grudge to even. Jenny had crawled up onto Dan and the afghan and littered, while Dan twitched and snored his way through it all. Chris’s afghan took the brunt of the birthing process, but Dan, who shortly after this episode traded his pre-vet major for forestry, had not gone unscathed. He quickly freed himself from the mess he found himself in and woke the house with his colorful expressions. Jenny was a new mommy and Dan, at least in the eyes of the puppies and his roommates was the de facto new daddy.

 

After the cuteness of the puppies wore off, that is to say in about a week. Jenny and her offspring were farmed out to a place much more capable of handling the day-to-day demands of parenthood. Rod took them back to his parents place and the rest of us, especially Chris, started living a mostly normal life again. We had all been included, if ever so briefly, in the “circle of life.” Spring brought the customary thaw and our windows opened to warmer southerly breezes. The songbirds began to fill the trees in our yard and the nasty insects that find every hole in the window screens started to join our daily adventures. But the flies this spring seemed to be thicker than usual…even for the WAFU House.

 

Finally, one day, while Fred and I sat on the “puppy couch” as it had been dubbed, eating our tuna fish sandwiches, we could stand it no longer. There were too many flies and as the warm weather had brought a pungent odor to our television room. Fred and I were convinced that there was a dead mouse in the vicinity. We slid the couch away from the wall. There was nothing to be seen there. We flipped the couch over and were horrified to find a jelly-like mass stuck to the inside of the underskirt of the couch. Cream-colored maggots crawled over most of the underside of the couch. Oh well… we were familiar with gross. This was just another chapter. But then we both saw it at the same time…the petrified, but unmistakable paw of a long-dead puppy poking through the skirt. The sickness forming in the back of my mouth chased me out the door and into the yard, with Fred close on my heels. Larry who had been watching the search with an egg-salad sandwich in his hand, didn’t make it three steps before his lunch resurfaced. A full month after she had left our lives, Jenny, or at least one of her offspring, had struck again. The puppy had obviously fallen through the back of the couch and died shortly thereafter. It’s a testament to our lifestyle that we didn’t notice it for several weeks.

 

Being the soulless wretches that we already were, Fred and I tore off the skirt of the couch and tossed it in the yard for the elements to destroy. Eventually the couch was restored, thanks to a can or two of Easy Bake Oven Cleaner. In the end, the WAFUs may have lost whatever we once had of our dignity, but we had our couch back… and you can’t watch MTV sitting on your dignity.

devildog

 

Why NaNoWriMo is noble nuttiness–and 8 steps to make it easier

“Reblogged” from a site by Guy Bergstrom.

Want to write a novel…this makes more sense than anything I learned as an English major.

The Red Pen of Doom

kermit-the-frog-writer

Every year in November, writers around the world attempt something noble and worthwhile: to not just write a novel–the Toughest Writerly Thing A Writer Can Do–but finish the thing in an insane amount of time, as in the 30 short, rainy days of November.

This is a huge, organized thing, nicknamed NaNoWriMo, the kind of acronym only writers could come up with after a marathon viewing of BLADE RUNNER and THE MATRIX trilogy. (Spoiler alert: first one with Neo is perfect while the second and third will ruin your childhood).

HOWEVER: writing an entire novel in 30 days is would be more accurately described by the non-acronym of Crazytown.

With logic and numbers, I’ll show you: (a) why this is nuts, even if you really, really want to do it, and (b) how an alternative is easier while (c) giving you better results.

When logic and math fail, I’ll resort…

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Ship of Ghouls…

Amoral vs. Immoral:

Both have to do with right and wrong, but amoral means having no sense of either, like a fish, but the evil immoral describes someone who knows the difference, doesn’t care, and says “mwah ha ha” while twirling a mustache. If you call someone immoral, you are saying that person knows better. (Vocabulary.com)

 

 

Not long ago, I posted a piece on my ideas about spirituality and the redeeming, even purifying powers of nature to wash away my inner guilt and leave me with a hope for a meaningful afterlife. As much as I’d like to confess that those were just some especially strong feelings, meant to lift the soul of anyone who took the time to read my online blathering, I can’t. You see…I’m a sinner, floating out on the social waters at one of the darker edges of our social globe in a ship of fools. You see…I bet on dead people. Well, actually, that isn’t true. I bet on living people that may or may not die in the near future. Let me explain.

About five years ago, having been plied with ample amounts of dark ale, I was lured into a quasi-secret society of adult ne’er-do-wells. It was explained to me that for a mere monthly installment of five dollars I could join this merry band of outlaws in a game that required so little of me it seemed immoral. I was right, it was immoral, but I didn’t hesitate to join them. I plunked down my five dollars (which for the sake of convenience and permanence, would soon be converted over to an automatic withdrawal from the bank account of my choice…modern immorality is THE best) and simultaneously carved away a slice of my soul. I blame it all on the Brit.

John was born and raised in England and had brought this concept of a Ghoul Pool across the puddle when he and the Beatles invaded our fair land. Okay, he isn’t as old as the Beatles, but his impact on our little patch of American soil is just as meaningful as theirs was. John is clever, polite, charming and more than a bit devious. Back in the motherland, he had belonged to a group of blokes who bet on which world-famous celebrity might expire first. That’s right, a member can pick any person famous enough to be noted in the New York Times upon said person’s demise and hope that this chosen one is the next to go. First ghoul wins the pot. The Ghoul Pool, it was called. A quid dropped here and there, a florin spent now and then, a couple of innocent pints with close mates then they’re betting on death and before you know it, Bob’s Your Uncle…here comes the Hell Express and it’s waiting carry us all asunder.

Now, granted, our American souls had been on line, waiting some time for that Hell Express to load us up and drive straight into the river Styx, but creating our local version of the Ghoul Pool (which is the exact wording of my monthly Quicken entry, by the way) has probably put us in some sort of express lane. We easily qualify for the commuter lane, as we’re now approaching double figures for enrollment. Though it might seem intuitive to suppose that a group so debased as ours might be primarily made up of unshaven plasma-sellers and bottle collectors, such is not the case with this group. Some of us even shower on a regular basis. Indeed, we have at least five educators, two lawyers, and a dentist among our crew. Educators (full disclosure: me) are simply innocent bystanders too easily sucked into whatever muck is closest to them; most frequently it’s just middle school. Lawyers, although one of ours is now technically a judge and as such may or may not have risen to a higher principled ground, are too often, the brunt of tasteless jokes all the while doing more good than harm. Just the same, you would have thought they might have known better.   Most dentists are just communal medicine men/women just trying to help us all in the least painful way possible. Yeah, that never works out like planned, but I think they really do try. Unfortunately, Bernie, our GP dentist and chief financial officer is also a Cardinals fan, which can already get you to hell quicker than shooting the Pope. Overall, we’re good people with a weak spot for tasteless entertainment.

While I have pointed my finger at John for infecting our moral fiber, it was actually Sully who thought that the idea was too good to keep a secret and set about to create what is now our version of the Pool. We needed a legal outlet for our poisoned souls and the Ghoul Pool seemed to be the perfect vehicle for us. That plus we were looking for a good reason to gather and drink once a month. The Pool was started a year or two before I was asked to audition. Sully explained the concept and told me to meet him and the boys, numbering about four strong at the time, for a beer. Oh, and by the way, make sure I bring a list of candidates from which to choose. The existing members could veto anyone they thought would be too likely to die before his/her time. That ruled out Willie Nelson right there, which in hindsight, turned out to be a good thing. So I kept my ears open, did my homework and showed up that fateful night ready to swing for the fence.

It didn’t seem right to pick someone that I actually would not miss if they keeled over, so I dropped Dick Cheney and Fred Phelps (Westboro Baptist Church…) out of what guilt I had left to muster. I liked Jim Nabors and Keith Richards too much to choose one of them. It needed to be someone about whom I was fairly ambivalent. Eventually I gave them a name that they all accepted with suppressed snickers all around. They nodded knowingly at one another believing that I had chosen poorly…but I was a rookie…could they expect less?

After about ten or eleven months of tithing, the Pool voted to grant me full vestment, which meant that if I now won, I’d be eligible for the entire pot, not just an actuarial percentage of whatever I’d personally invested. In mafia terms, I’d become a “made man.” The Poolers were smug in the assumption that my choice was a long shot. Within weeks, the roulette wheel of disgusting events stopped squarely on my number when Amy Winehouse, my selected celebrity, unfortunately lost her battle with sobriety and slipped from this world. Cha-Ching!

There is no way to feel good about “winning” the Ghoul Pool. I think we all secretly hope that our choice, usually someone with glaring problems, can get straightened out and make us look silly. Of course, we only think this way until the Cubs win the pennant and one of us needs a couple thousand in windfall cash to buy a nosebleed seat at Wrigley (I’m looking at you Sully). Don’t get me wrong. I took the money. I paid the bar tab for the boys that night, as is customary. We toasted the memory of Ms. Winehouse and moved on. But whenever I hear her nearly perfect bluesy voice telling me that “…no, no, no!” she ain’t going back to rehab, I sigh and wish she might have said “…yeah, yeah, yeah!” instead.

Just the same, the Ghoul Pool moves on even if life doesn’t. I’m a sad soul with much to answer for when my own number comes up, but I’m betting that isn’t soon. Looks like a need to take a walk down a mountain path and see what nature can do to cleanse me again.

By the way, anybody know the current state of Meatloaf’s health?

shipfools04

So You Wanna Be A Rock n’ Roll Star…

rockband02

Quite an auspicious beginning, to be sure. My mom might understand how it got to this point, but she would certainly not be happy with my choice. As if it really were my choice. I didn’t poke the cigar in my own mouth. I didn’t light the cigar. I didn’t even ask for the cigar.

But here I sat; my fifteen-year-old ass wedged between an upper class high school dude and a car door that looked very flimsy, just puffing away by order of Bill, the keyboard player. The moon kept poking through the ghostlike clouds as the night crept toward the haunting hour.

The ’68 Chrysler Town En Country wagon that hauled most of the gear and pulled the overburdened U-Haul trailer behind us was unusually cramped for a car of this size. Rex, the drummer, had been entertaining himself in the back seat with a rapid succession of horrific farts that sounded more like exploding water balloons than anything at all human. As a result, Bruce, the singer/bass player (for tonight’s gig…Tom, the regular bassist, had been put on a short geographical leash by his mom) was trying to get as far away from him as possible, which put him mostly on my lap, head hanging out the open window. The farts, as pungent as they were artistic, almost created enough of a screen to kill the smell of the skunk that Mike, driver and guitarist, had hit about five miles back. It was the combination of all of these toxic potions that convinced Bill somebody was going to smoke the cigar. Such was the start to my brief stint as a local rock n’ roll star.

It was late October and still warm enough that having the windows down late at night on our trip back home wasn’t lethal or even foolish. Do away with the skunk’s odor, Rex’s air biscuits, and that cheap assed cigar I was smoking, and windows down would have been a fine choice anyway. It was just another night on the road for The Heavy Experience…local rock heroes. Our band…and I use the term OUR very loosely, had just entertained what must have been tens of, dozens of kids just waiting for us to stop playing so they could grab their dates and go in search of warm beer and cold stabs at teen romance on the dusty back roads of rural Iowa.

But, for me, the night was magical. I had been invited to climb that stairway to the heaven of stardom. I had become the personification of all things righteous in the deviant world of rock n’ roll. I had lived out the dream of being on stage and performing in a real rock band…one that got actually got paid in cash, not just all-you-can eat chili at the local legion hall. Elvis, Dylan, The Beatles, The Monkees…we all now shared a common bond. Rock Gods! As such, the temptations of this kind of power can be overwhelming. So, truth be told, it was with little, if any protest, that I accepted the cigar that Bill demanded we light up to combat the stench that had now nearly asphyxiated us all. Really, I didn’t care. I was a rock n’ roll star.

The Heavy Experience was a pretty typical little band for our little patch of the world. A little Hendrix, Spirit, Cream, some Free, toss in the occasional Guess Who and you had half of the set list. In it’s usual configuration, it was a five piece band with an under aged roadie. Mike played a pretty good rhythm guitar with enough chops to slap together the occasional solo that sounded as authentic as he needed to fool the locals. Bill played keyboards with a restrained darkness that should have signaled to us what would later play out to be a tragic ending in a troubled life. Rex, the left-handed drummer, kept a good beat and was all-in on being the best version of Keith Moon that he could muster. He was the jester in a court already too full of goofballs. Tom, the Boy Scout of the group (with a sneaky penchant for streaking) was a steady hand on the faux-McCartney bass that he prized so much. Bruce, the lead singer (by virtue of the fact that he was the only one that knew all the words) was the front man. He was the one closest to me in age. Two years older than me, I more or less put him on a pedestal that he never asked for. Bruce was the devil in blue suede Adidas. He became the architect for most of my bad choices. Drinking that…smoking this…don’t even get me started on the he took me to the only Grateful Dead concert that I would get to see…or more like, hear…or mostly neither. Who knew Boone’s Farm and Panama Red were not on friendly terms?

But on this trip, Tom couldn’t go and the contract called for a five-piece band. I had been travelling with the group all summer as the roadie / lighting dude and was preparing to be same for the stop that night in Seymour. When the boys pulled up to get me at my home, I was sent back in to grab a dress shirt and a tie. It seems the closer we got to Missouri on our road trips the more the school administrators expected in terms of formal wear. I just figured that applied to the light dude as well as the boys in the band. It was, however, explained to me, in short order, that on this night, I was going to be on stage, and that under no circumstances should I do anything stupid. Too late for them…they’d already given me a license to kill.

Once we arrived and got set up, it didn’t take long to slide into the part of tambourine playing, background singing, acne-faced rock god. I had already been playing drums and percussion since sixth grade so I was no threat to screwing up their rhythm section. However, it didn’t take long to realize that there was a reason I’d been asked to stop attending mixed chorus in eighth grade. I had always assumed it was because I was an incurable smart ass. Turns out I couldn’t hold a note to save my life. Problem? Maybe… Too bad for the boys that I knew how to turn my microphone back up every time they tried to turn it down. I knew the words as well as Bruce did and by god, I was going to be a genuine back up singer…so sing I did. Loud and loose!

It was nirvana, before Kurt Cobain had even heard of the word. There I was, on stage with a button down collar and a shitty tie and a flippin’ tambourine in my hand wailing like the day I was born. All of those years of standing on the floor of the gym looking up at those cool guys on the stage playing their instruments…The Soul Purpose…Sound Alliance…and now, I was one of them. I was in The Heavy Experience. I was Mr. Tambourine Man playing songs for my own fans on the floor. So what if they wanted to be out getting drunk? It was my fantasy, not theirs.

And before I could soak it all in, it was over and I was getting sick from not knowing that cigars don’t necessarily have to be inhaled fully to be enjoyed. But for that moment…for that one golden, fleeting moment, I was a rock n’ roll star. And damn…it was good!

 

I Lift Mine Eyes…

…unto the hills, whence cometh my strength.

Some version of this Psalm hangs in the non-denominational chapel at Cheley Colorado Camps, snuggled secretly away in the foothills on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. It was here way back in the early 1980’s that I felt the touch of a stronger presence which opened my eyes, my ears, my heart to the possibilities and choices of life. It is to these same hills that I constantly turn when the GPS of my soul needs to recalculate before I can continue the journey I am on.

Over the years the path of that journey has curved left…or right…or in some instances, stopped and rolled backwards. Bruce Springsteen tells me that it isn’t unusual to take, “One Step Up, Two Steps Back.” But at those moments, I am able to fix my spiritual compass on the mountains I have visited so many times and find my path again. The mountains are the source nearly all of my true spirituality. Of course, there are family and very close friends to help steady me, but for that feeling that we all need to feel, deep down inside, we need a source.

Many people would probably visit their church dejoure for a serving of spirituality. I can’t do that. Oh sure, I still go to church with my wife and kids. I have for over twenty years. I’m Methodist and they’re Catholic. When my friends ask why I do this, I paraphrase W.C. Fields, a well-known agnostic, who when found thumbing through a Bible shortly before his death was asked, “What are you doing,” Fields replied, “Looking for Loopholes.” The real reason I go is because of Father Vince…a radical priest with the hidden agenda of lifting the veil on the conservatism of the Catholic canon. He’s a tremendous story-teller who knows how to work a crowd.

So to me, there is a vast difference between faith and religion. I have faith. I’ve been on mountain tops and seen what’s below me. That vision surely reflects eons of scientific rendering, but it all had to start somewhere by something. Even if the Big Bang is the result of a hot, dense point of matter that expanded quite rapidly, that hot, dense matter must have come from somewhere. I’m not a scientific thinker, but I think there is room for the argument of a greater power here. So as I sit on a mountain peak and soak in the scene before me, I am inclined to believe. I am less cynical. I am at peace.

Can’t say the same for sitting in a church. Some of the most glorious structures on this earth are churches. As far as I can understand, the basic purpose of a church is to throw up walls that make you focus on one person’s (too often a man’s) interpretation of the written scriptures of any of a number of different religions. What churches really excel at is hiding nature when we most need it. That one hour or so we dedicate to looking inside ourselves and try to understand our journey to this point and where to move next, should be sacred. It should be personal. It should be unique to each of us. It should NOT be interrupted by the clanging of a “sacred” gong to which we are all meant to be called. If God wants me, he or she knows how to find me.

And if it’s any help to you God…just lift your eyes unto the hills. In one manner or another that’s where you’ll find my spirit.

The Goat in the Machine

Yesterday, I was prepared to tackle the immediacy of the LCS in great detail. But the big, black dog of sports despair crept into my living room and growled at me until I backed off from my computer and diligently stole away to the bike trail to outride the shaggy beast once again. By the time I returned, the beast was gone, but the cold beer was nearby, so it garnered my attention for an hour or two and then the solitude of my retired activity was interrupted by life. The kids were home from school. So my writing was put on hold for a day. Whew…

This morning, the LCS still looms before those of us who have worshipped at the alter of Harry Caray. For the sake of clarity, I’m not referring to the LCS many of you are probably nodding your heads to in tacit understanding. No…I’m not writing about the League Championship Series…at least not directly. My LCS, the one the big black dog recognizes and growls life into is the Lamenting Cub Syndrome. Hello, my name is BillyBobb, and I’m a lamenting Cubs fan. You may remember me sitting on a bar stool next to you that one time. I look differently to different people, but no matter how I appear on the outside, I’m always one deep drive (…way back…way back) to right from crumpling up and dropping into the outfielders glove as the prevailing winds at Wrigley switch direction and begin to blow in from Lake Michigan. I don’t have a chance.

Back in the early  80’s, my friend Sully invited me into a world of fantastic buffoonery and formidable despair. I have yet to forgive him. He introduced me to the boys of Moline, Tea Bags, Lopey, Weebs and they various legends they and their ilk had been creating for years. Sully brought me to Chicago to meet and foolishly fall in love with the Chicago Cubs. Of course, alcohol was involved. Isn’t it always when you want to make a good first impression? I went to the windy city gawking in wide-eyed-wonder and like a big, old crack head…I was hooked.

Although the relationship was nothing more than a long-distance flirtation for the glamorous Cubs…I only went to the home opener, nothing else…it was more than that to me. I fell head over heels in love at the first sight of the friendly confines. Just like my college sweetheart, the Cubs didn’t have to tell me they loved me, they only had allow me to pour my heart and soul into them. The result, in both situations, were strikingly similar. My heart, broken in sloppy wet chunks on the ground. My college girlfriend, at least, had the decency to break up and move on with her life. The Cubs, bastards that they are, slapped a spiked collar on my neck and continue to drag my sorry ass from season to season…and I don’t even go to the home opener any more.

So naturally, when the Cubs started turning the corner by making good hires like Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon, then started winning games in a very un-Cubs like manner, my anxiety about how to handle this began to grow. It is now culminating as the Cubs took off games two and three of the Championship Series, but forgot to tell the Dodgers. Last night, after my daughter asked to listen to the game on XM radio coming home from faith formation, I gave in and we turned it on long enough to hear Anthony Rizzo strike out for the four-hundredth time in the post season. Off went the radio. With the apocalyptic demise of this magical season at hand, I was forced to put away my Bill Murray shirt and stop wearing my Ernie Banks jersey and make myself watch the Presidential debate instead of the game. And just as predictably, when I’m not there to suffer, they Cubs soar to great heights. Somehow, the 10-2 win, which ties the series at two games apiece, brought little satisfaction, knowing that once again…if my favorite team has any chance of winning, it starts with me being removed from the equation.

You see, I’ve got a history with this. My whole sports world hangs by a thread no matter what season it might be. If this history should happen to carry over into politics…Lord help us. We’re all going to hell in a hand-basket, as my dad once loved to tell me. The Cubs are famous for the curse of the billy goat…1945…fan brings goat to game…Cubs refuse goat…Cubs lose…and lose…and lose…and, well, you see where I’m going. Curses…and goats are NOT to be trifled with. Nothing good comes from trifling with a cursed goat. But you see, long before I became a Cubs fan, I got schooled in the world of the “crying shames” as far as that goes with sports teams. George Will once famously wrote that “Cubs fans are ninety percent scar tissue.” He knows what he’s talking about. My worshiping of the Cubs and the resulting pain, comes with one of those multipliers you can buy to increase your winnings should you hit the numbers in the lottery. However, my odds of winning seem unfathomable. My psychological scar tissue transcends baseball, I’m afraid. It permeates the very air I breathe and in turn, I tend to spread it to those teams I love the most.

From an early age, I have been able to pick the loser at every turn. It started with my conversion from being an LA Rams (pre-St. Louis) to a Bobby Douglass-era Chicago Bears fan. Just in time for what we Bears fans refer to as “the dark ages.” Because my mother had a twin sister, we both became Minnesota Twins fans. While perennially not great, they proved almost unworthy by winning a couple of division and World Series titles in their history, but came roaring back this year with the worst record in major league baseball. I fooled the NBA gods into thinking I was rooting for the Warriors in last years championship against the Cavaliers, when in reality (as you can probably guess) I have a secret love affair with the whole city of Cleveland. And of course, I spent five of my favorite years attending Iowa State University of Science and Technology. The Cyclones have long been the red-headed stepchild in this state, while their arch-enemy prodigal sons, Iowa Hawkeyes drink from the golden cup of all things popular and successful.

So now you understand. The Cubs won’t win. They can’t win. At least they can’t win if I insist on joining them in their success. Why not? Because it’s still there. It’s right there, lingering over my shoulder wherever I go. No longer a dog…big, black and furry. No, it’s now morphed into a goat..and damned if ain’t stuck right smack dab in the middle of my machine.