Category Archives: Personal

KC in the rearview mirror–for now

I am back in Russell. Actually, I’ve been back a little more than 25 hours. I arrived at 1224 North Brooks at 9:05 yesterday morning. I went straight to bed because I did not sleep the night before. I wanted to get home before it got really hot. I did that and I slept most of yesterday.

I would be sleeping a lot today, but I have to go to Hays to see Crista at 2. I need this. REALLY need this.

The days in Kansas City were a total mixed bag.

THE BAD

The hotel in Liberty

If you read my last blog post, you would know I was upset by not being able to turn the thermostat below 65. I lived with it.

If I ever go back there again, I won’t go in the summer, nor will I ask for a larger room, because the air conditioning has a very hard time cooling a large space like that. It was larger than my room in the basement in Russell, and the air conditioning struggled very badly.

Also, the faucet did not flow very much in the guise of trying to conserve water. I am used to a full flow. However, the water was hot.

Even worse, I discovered I left my mouse and trackball for my laptop in the room when I got back to Russell. Using the touchpad is a pain in the butt! I hate it. I am going to Walmart this afternoon to get a mouse. I cannot take it.

The driving and traffic

I learned once again why staying in Platte County and not Clay is much better for me on my visits.

Missouri Highway 152, which connects I-435 and the Zona Rosa area to Liberty, is always a pain in the butt to drive. There are several red lights in Clay County, and if you get stuck at one, it adds time to the drive.

I hate stop and go driving, so I burned the gas and took the Terpsichorean route of I-35 south to I-29 north then back towards Barry Road. At least there are two good convenience store stops on I-35, the QuikTrip at Pleasant Valley Road and the 7-Eleven on Antioch. It may have been longer time wise, but I kept moving.

The drive to the spa was no better. Had to go through downtown, and with I-70 west of Broadway demolished for reconstruction, traffic is that much worse. If i had stayed in Platte County, I could have gone 635 to Metcalf and then Metcalf to 75th to the spa. Live and learn.

THE GOOD

The back wax

Yes it was painful, but Andrea, the lovely lady who took care of me at the salon in Prairie Village, was very patient and very kind. She made me feel much better about it. When I finally got a look at it the next morning, I felt that much better. I have to go back in late July/early August, but now I know what to expect.

I originally wanted to get my chest waxed, but Andrea suggested I hold off, and if I really wanted to do it when I came back later in the summer, she would. But so far, I am very happy with having a hairless back.

Lunch before the back wax

I ate at Joe’s Kansas City BBQ for the first time. Robb has been drooling about the place to me for quite some time, so I decided to give it a shot, since its location at 47th and Mission in south KCK was on the way to the salon.

If the line was out the door, as it is on many days, I would have passed. However, I found a parking spot, and when I walked in, the line was quite short. Therefore, I ordered half a slab of ribs and potato salad.

Best ribs I’ve ever eaten. The meat was so tender it fell right off the bone when I first took a knife to it. Then I discovered I didn’t need the knife due to the tenderness. The sauce at the table, Joe’s original and a spicy brand from Cowtown, added flavor to an already delicious dish.

The potato salad was great. And that’s coming from a guy who hardly eats potato salad.

Joe’s was so awesome I went to the location on Roe Avenue in Leawood following my back wax to pick up some brisket, as well as beans and potato salad. I ate it for breakfast the next two days. It was just that good.

Next time I’m there, I think I’ll fast for a day or two and then pig out on pork, sausage, ham and turkey to get the full experience. I also need to bring back potato salad for my parents. They love that stuff.

Two of my favorite bartenders

I began the trip by visiting Dana Tenpenney at Brewtop. That did me a lot of good. I don’t get to see her enough. Not to mention the food at Brewtop is pretty good.

I ended by visiting Minsky’s. I spent a few hours there, and it was pretty good. Had a great pizza and played lots of trivia to make up for the two months I didn’t.

Lindsay Harris wasn’t there when I first got there. She was running in some sort of extreme 10-kilometer race in Lexington (not the one John Calipari calls home), but she came in at 5. She was glad to see me and told me I had better not go four months without seeing her again.

THE REALLY, REALLY GOOD

No more NBA–at least until October

Had Cleveland won once at home, Game 5 of the NBA Finals would be tonight. Thankfully, the Warriors swept, and now I don’t have to hear about the NBA for a while, at least about games.

The Capitals won!

The Stanley Cup now resides in the capital of the United States of America and not Sin City. That’s a big win in my book. I vomited enough to fill the Missouri River after the Lightning, Hurricanes and Ducks won the Cup in recent years. I was prepared to the same if the Predators won last year and if Vega$ did this year.

Where I wasn’t

It could have been much, much, much worse than Kansas City. I could have been sweating my brains out in Beloit covering the 8-man football all-star doubleheader. I hated those games. Really hated them. And I still do, even though I don’t have to be there. You don’t want to know some of the things I have to say about the coaches who put this on. The kids who are out there are braver than I could ever hope to be.

Hays, I’m on my way. I need you, Crista!

Return to the eastern fronta

After 104 days away, I am back in Kansas City.

I made a huge mistake by booking a room at the new TownePlace Suites in Liberty. The traffic on Missouri Highway 152 is bad enough, but I knew about that going in.

The hotel will not let guests set the air conditioner lower than 65 degrees.

I thought seriously about going down to the front desk and blowing my top, but I haven’t. I did tell them I did not like the fact I couldn’t set my thermostat lower than 65. I understand the idea about conserving energy, but a hotel should be about the comfort of the guests, not saving a few dollars here and there by not allowing guests to set their thermostat to 60 if they want.

I’m going to see if the room is any cooler when I get back this evening. If it isn’t, you can bet that hotel will be on my blacklist.

I don’t like that there is a bathtub and not a stand-up shower, but I can live. I can also live with no fold-out rack for my suitcase.

I’m thinking seriously about going to Target and getting a fan just like the one I bought for my room in Russell last month. It won’t go to waste because I’d use it in the basement.

The good thing about that location is more choices for dining. Zaxby’s isn’t too far and Chick-Fil-A is right across Highway 152. Plus there are grocery stores galore in the area.

Right now I’m at Brewtop in the Shops at Ambassador. I wanted to see Dana Tenpenney, whom I first met five years ago when she was working at Buffalo Wild Wings. Her husband, Ronald Groves, was finishing up lunch when I walked in. Dana is one of the many Buffalo Wild Wings alums I don’t get to see enough of. I had a black and bleu burger which was excellent.

I’m meeting Robb at 4:30 at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m wondering what kind of reception I’ll get there. I have been to Buffalo Wild Wings twice, both in Salina, since my last visit in Kansas City February 18, which was also the last time I saw Dawn.

It has been exactly two months since I’ve played Buzztime trivia. That has to be a record since I became a religious player in May 2013.

The Royals don’t play until 9:05 tonight since they’re in Anaheim. Means Buffalo Wild Wings won’t be so bad. And the NBA Finals are off too. God I hope the Warriors just end this stupid thing in Cleveland. I’ve had enough of LeBron James this, LeBron that, LeBron blah blah blah LeBron blah blah blah blah blah

Bye Baton Rouge…but I’ll be back soon

My stay in Baton Rouge is down to its final two hours, maybe less. My dad and I will depart the Courtyard on Acadian a little before 8:00 and make one last stop in the city to buy crawfish at Tony’s Seafood on Plank Road.

We should be out of Louisiana no later than 1:30. Tonight’s stop is McAlester, Oklahoma. By Tuesday evening, I’ll be back in Russell.

The last few times I have been in Kansas City,  I couldn’t get out fast enough. I knew it was time to head west and didn’t waste any time doing so.

This time, I wish I could stay another week. Maybe another month. I got to see so many people I had not in nearly 13 years, but there are still many I didn’t see and I still want to. Some are no longer living in Baton Rouge (Herb Vincent), and some were too busy to make it out to Alex Box.

I last was in Baton Rouge in 2010, but I saw hardly anyone I knew. This time was much different. It reminded me of the different lives I led before and after Katrina. Not that the life in Kansas is terrible, but I lived longer in Louisiana and knew people for a lot longer. Other than Peggy, there aren’t any in Kansas I knew nearly as long as I knew in Louisiana.

There was a slight misadventure last night. We wanted to eat at Ivar’s, the sports bar where I hung out many a day and night when I went to LSU and lived in Baton Rouge afterwards. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get service and left after a few minutes. We weren’t upset, just a little disappointed.

However, 18 more chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House more than made up for it. WAY MORE. I ate 30 chargrilled oysters in the space of 32 hours Saturday and Sunday. I could eat 30 DOZEN if I had the time. They are that good.

LSU won all three games from Tennessee. The first two were not close, 9-3 and 14-5. Yesterday, however, was a different story.

The Volutneers led 4-0 and 7-3, the latter lead holding up until the bottom of the ninth.

However, the Bayou Bengals came all the way back, scoring six times in their last at-bat, the last three coming on a home run by Daniel Cabrera, giving LSU its first three-game series sweep of 2018 and keeping it alive in the SEC title race.

If LSU manages to become a regional host, this game may be the one which put the Tigers over the top. The next two weekends find LSU at South Carolina and Ole Miss before it plays Arkansas May 4-6.

All good things have to end. It’s over this time. However, next time will come far sooner than 2031. Or 2026. Or 2020.

Billy Graham, crazy driving, unstately wrestling

The Reverend Dr. Billy Graham passed away Wednesday at age 99. Graham had been a spiritual adviser to every U.S. president from Harry Truman through Barack Obama, and he was particularly close to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Graham was called “America’s Pastor” by many, and he reportedly preached to live audiences of close to 215 million in 185 countries.

The biggest crusade Graham held in my native Louisiana was in October 1970, when he held court for five nights at LSU’s Tiger Stadium. Close to 200,000 came out to see Graham, many of them from north Louisiana and Mississippi, where he was far more popular than southern Louisiana, which is majority Catholic.

Gee, LSU could let Billy Graham preach in Tiger Stadium for five nights, but it has not allowed Louisiana high schools to play in the stadium since 1966? Come on.

I never watched Graham’s crusades. I’m not a religious zealot to begin with, and I was baptized Catholic, so I naturally was far more interested in what came from John Paul II than anything Graham said. However, it was apparent Graham had a profound impact on tens of millions of Americans, and he has to be considered one of the most influential religious figures in the history of the United States, if not the world.

I was very disgusted to see so many people cheering Graham’s passing. An editor at Teen Vogue posted on Twitter that she hoped Graham “enjoyed his life in hell”. Someone I know said “good riddance” on Facebook.

Sad. Very sad. Nobody is denying these people’s right to disagree with Graham’s teachings. However, keep your vitriol to yourself. Please.

There was quite a bit of nastiness on social media when Benedict XVI unexpectedly resigned in February 2013. I can only imagine, too, what would have been said about John XXIII had social media been around at the time of his papacy. For my non-Catholic friends, John XXIII initiated the Second Vatican Council which led to sweeping changes in the Roman Catholic Church, especially in regards to the liturgy, where Latin was replaced with the local language and the priest faced the congregation instead of facing the sanctuary.

If you want to see just how different the Catholic mass was before the Second Vatican Council, click the link below to watch John F. Kennedy’s requiem mass. It is very fascinating.

JFK funeral mass

Gee, this might be the longest I have ever written on religion.

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I pulled off a daring double dip yesterday, driving to Salina to get my hair cut by Amber at SportClips, then racing back to Hays to make my 2 p.m. appointment with Crista. Not recommended.

I only did that because the weather Tuesday was terrible and the roads were iced over, and I knew they would be that way again today. Therefore, I only had a very small window to accomplish this. Somehow I did it, but I would rather not try it again.

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I am so glad I will not be attending a state wrestling tournament this weekend.

First, it’s dumb Kansas needs three sites to host four tournaments. If Missouri and Nebraska can host four separate state tournaments in one building, why can’t Kansas?

It’s not like Kansas doesn’t have a building in which to do it. Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita would be great. So would the ones in Topeka and Salina. Heck, if the Missouri State High School Activities Association can work with the University of Missouri and the SEC to host its tournament at Mizzou Arena, and the Nebraska School Activities Association can do the same with Creighton and the Big East to use the Century Link Center, why can’t Kansas work something out with the Big 12 and Kansas and/or Kansas State? It would probably have to be K-State, because I doubt KU would want Allen Fieldhouse in use for anything other than the Jayhawks. It’s probably the reason why the Kansas State High School Activities Association hasn’t hosted a state basketball tournament in Lawrence since 1987.

Is it because the tournaments in Missouri and Nebraska are over three days instead of two? So what? It’s better for the athletes that the tournaments are held over three days. Asking these kids to win three bouts in one day, which you have to do on day one in Kansas if you want to make the championship round, is too much. In Missouri and Nebraska, wrestlers have to win one bout on each of the first three days to reach the final, which is in the evening on day three.

If Kansas is that scared of losing instruction time, then hold the third day of the tournament on a Sunday. Or if Sunday is too sacrosanct, then bite the bullet and start the tournament on Thursday like most states do with a three-day format.

Louisiana won’t hold a three-day tournament for some reason. And the wrestlers in the largest division have to win five bouts, not four, to win the championship. This needs to be pointed out, too.

I shouldn’t complain. I’m  not covering this cluster you know what anymore. But I will write letters to the editor in Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka and Salina to voice my opinion like I did with football.

I know nothing will get done. Kansas still insists on determining state golf champions with a one-round tournament instead of two which most states do (some even do three).

I know one place I will not be this weekend: Fort Hays State. And another: the arena in Salina. And another: the arena in Park City.

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Dawn’s last day in Kansas City is tomorrow. Too bad I’m stuck on the prairie. At least I got to see her twice last weekend.

A bit of everything on a February Saturday

I realized something yesterday when I was in Buffalo Wild Wings, something I had forgotten in my post on the opening of the college baseball season.

February 16 is a date which lives in LSU baseball infamy.

It was February 16, 2003 when LSU was swept in a doubleheader at home by….Kansas.

Yes, the same Kansas which is in Lawrence. The same Kansas which is considered a basketball blue-blood. The same Kansas which has a horrible football team right now.

The Jayhawks came to Baton Rouge for a three-game weekend series on the second weekend of the 2003 season. LSU was 4-0 and feeling pretty good about itself, but that good feeling was dampened by a 10-inning loss to Kansas in the series opener.

The second game of the series was rained out, so a doubleheader was scheduled for Sunday.

It was one of the most miserable days I have ever experienced at a sporting event.

It was cold, damp and windy. The old Alex Box Stadium did not have an enclosed press box, and the wind whistled through the “press area” like nobody’s business.

The twinbill started at 9:30 a.m., because the Jayhawks had to make their connecting flight from Baton Rouge to Dallas, and then to Kansas City. No new inning could start after 4 p.m. Yet for some reason, both games were scheduled as nine-inning contests, contrary to the policies of the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences, which require seven-inning games during conference season when doubleheaders are necessary on Sunday.

That provision is why LSU and Kentucky asked the SEC to play a doubleheader Friday last year in Lexington when rain was forecast for Saturday. Paul Maineri and his Kentucky counterpart, Nick Migione, did not want to play two seven-inning games Sunday. The SEC said okay, and it all worked out.

Kansas ended up winning both games. The second game ended after seven innings due to the curfew. The Jayhawks became the first team to sweep a three-game series in Baton Rouge in three years, the first to sweep a doubleheader from LSU since 1991, and the first to sweep LSU in a doubleheader in Baton Rouge since 1988.

In 2010, Kansas returned to Baton Rouge and won two of three. However, the Bayou Bengals exacted revenge with a sweep in 2016.

Last night, LSU trailed Notre Dame 6-0 going into the bottom of the fifth. However, two home runs, a grand slam by Bryce Jordan and a three-run shot by Josh Smith, lifted the Bayou Bengals to a 7-6 victory.

I texted Bill that I hope every game is not like this. If not, cardiologists might have their hands full in Baton Rouge this baseball season.

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Dawn’s going away soiree at Buffalo Wild Wings last night was fantastic. Had a great turnout, with Jeremy Smith, a former manager at two Buffalo Wild Wings in the area, Zona Rosa and Overland Park north, was there, as were Robb, Victoria, Mike Decker (LOWPOP) and Schylar Reed (SLYCKS). Kevin couldn’t make it because his mother underwent surgery in St. Joseph Thursday. Luckily she pulled through.

Dawn leaves next Saturday. Hopefully we do not lose contact like so many I’ve lost contact with over the years. The five I mentioned in the blog post of December 20 still hurt. So do a lot of my old chums from Arabi Park Middle, even though we communicate on Facebook. The only one I have seen since I left in 1989 is Toni LaRocca, and that was in 2000, when she was working at a Hooter’s in Metairie. She rocked the orange shorts.

Brenda LeBlanc is the one I’m really distressed over, at least among those I knew in Louisiana. She always got back to me in the past whenever I e-mailed her. Now, I haven’t heard from her in almost two years. If I go to Baton Rouge next month, I hope and pray I see her. Maybe I need to light a candle in a church or say the rosary.

I worry about Liz drifting away. She has trouble getting back to me. I don’t want to blame her, but it would be nice to hear from her more often.

Lisa is busy with a new home now and with Liam growing up. Hopefully she and Jeff will be adding to the family soon. Losing her would be tough, too.

I would be devastated if Peggy or Caitlyn exited my life for good. Those are the two I really couldn’t afford to lose.

Actually, it would be worse if I didn’t have Dr. Custer taking care of my health for the most part, Dr. Jones taking care of my vision, and Crista trying to keep me on the right path. All three could choose to be full-time mothers, and while it would hurt, I wouldn’t blame them. I think it’s easier for Dr. Custer since she has boys; the other two have girls, and the mother-daughter bond is usually very strong, as I’ve seen with Peggy and Caitlyn, Chelsea and Courtney.

Yes, I have male friends. Robb, Bill and Dan Borne would be the ones I would cry over losing. I’m not as close to Michael and Herb, but I would be upset if they cut me off, too.

Maybe I hold on to things too long. Then again, my memory can be a good thing.

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I have never understood why restaurant customers in Kansas City order barbecue flavored wings.

Kansas City is home to some of the best barbecue in the world, according to many. I am not a big barbecue fan, but I have had some good stuff from Arthur Bryant’s, Gates and Jack Stack.

If there are so many good and authentic barbecue joints in Kansas City, then why the heck are people going to Buffalo Wild Wings and ordering honey barbecue? I’m dumbfounded. But it’s their decision.

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Many states are holding their high school wrestling state championship tournaments this weekend. Missouri’s is at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Nebraska’s is at the Century Link Center in Omaha (across the street from TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series), and Louisiana’s is at the Century Link Center in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport in the northwest corner of the state.

Don’t get me started on the debate on where to hold Louisiana’s state tournament. When I lived there, it was at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, at the northwest edge of Jefferson Parish. Most schools in Louisiana which wrestle are south of US Highway 190, but apparently Shreveport and Bossier City offered inducements to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to move the tournament north.

Brother Martin, my alma mater, is on its way to the state championship of Division I. There are three divisions for wrestling in Louisiana, one fewer than Kansas and Missouri.

My problem with Louisiana’s tournament is it is compressed into two days. Worse, in Division I, many wrestlers will have to win five bouts to claim a state championship. To ask them to do so in about 36 hours is too much.

Missouri and Nebraska hold three-day tournaments. Why can’t Louisiana?

Kansas’ state tournaments are at three sites next Friday and Saturday. Three sites is two too many.

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So far, so good on my Lenten promise of not swearing. I just have to keep it up until the end of March, then hopefully continue after that.

Humanity run amok

More details continue to emerge from the tragic school shooting in Broward County, Florida. And so does the rhetoric on both sides from people who want to blame the “gun culture” of the United States and others who want to blame the mental health industry and say the shooter was mentally unstable.

I’m not wading into that pool. I know many people on both sides of the debate. Robb has posted plenty on Facebook in the last 24 hours from the left-wing point of view. I’m not responding. I’ll let him rant.

The same goes for a lot of people on the right. It’s not worth it. I thought about listening to the talking heads as I drove to Kansas City today, but I instead opted for sports talk.

The main topic on WHB was Kansas State basketball, since the Wildcats won 82-72 at Oklahoma State last night. The host, Soren Petro, made the case that if K-State can finish 11-7 or 12-6 in the Big 12, some fans who have called for Bruce Weber’s firing will begin to embrace him.

Mikaela Shiffrin, the American skier, won gold in the giant slalom last night (Thursday in South Korea), and when the news shows are not discussing the school shooting, they’re discussing Shiffrin and whatever else is going on in Pyeongchang. The Olympics are on one of the big screens at Buffalo Wild Wings, but I’m not really watching. I’ll look up from time to time, but I’m in my own zone with trivia and blogging.

Back to the school shooting. It is hard to fathom people are that deranged they want to end the lives of others. These people may be human beings, but the elephants I saw at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans have more common sense and humanity than people like the school shooter in Florida, the one at Virginia Tech, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from Columbine, and Ted Bundy.

As bad as the killer in south Florida is, he pales in comparison to Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the September 11 hijackings; their supreme leader, Osama bin Laden; and of course, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and the three leaders of North Korea.

I’m glad I don’t have children. I would not want them growing up in such a dangerous world, one where people who don’t get their way will take it out on others, simply because they are miserable sacks of fecal matter who can’t stand someone else’s success.

I worry about my nephew, Lucas, who turns two in March, nor for Peggy’s grandchildren, Finley and Seth. I don’t have much hope for humanity. I hope it gets better. The old saying goes you want the younger generation to have it better than you? Well, that’s not going to be the case if things don’t change.

Mardi Gras: why did I bother?

It’s just another Tuesday in most of the United States. Most high school basketball teams in Kansas are in action tonight, although Russell High is not one of them. Norton is back on the court tonight vs. Hoxie, and I’m making the 120-mile trek to see Peggy. It means a late night, but I don’t have much work to get done tomorrow morning, so it won’t really put me behind.

In south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast all the way to the Florida panhandle, it is Mardi Gras, the day where people dress in silly costumes and celebrate the last day before Lent, the 40-day period where Christians are supposed to repent for their sins and make sacrifices. It also means no meat tomorrow, nor for the next eight Fridays. It used to be Catholics had to abastain from meat EVERY Friday, but starting in 1967, meat was supposedly okay on most Fridays, especially in the United States and Canada. Some more traditionalist countries still require abstience from meat every Friday, including Ireland and Great Britain.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is two big attractions in the same city.

One is the French Quarter, where hundreds of thousands of strangers from across the world rub elbows–and many more body parts–getting drunk and having a good time. Pretty much anything goes in the Quater during Carnvial, except complete nudity, sexual acts, and violent crime. The police know they’re not going to get anywhere by arresting every woman who flashes her bare breasts, becuase they would make enough arrests to fill every jail in Louisiana, not just New Orleans. I have never understood why women would show their breasts for plastic beads which cost four cents per pair at the Mardi Gras supply store.

The other main attraction are the parades, where the laws apply and are strictly enforce. Don’t try flashing on St. Charles Avenue; if you do, you’ll have free accomodations in the New Orleans lockup. Parades are supposed to be family friendly, with ornate floats decorated around a central theme, marching bands and other groups which are common sights to those who have been to the pagents more than a few times.

I went to many parades during my formative years. Now that I’ve been gone from Louisiana for 12 1/2 years, I look back and wonder what the fuss was all about.

There used to be several parades in St. Bernard Parish (county), the suburban area east of New Orleans where I grew up. I marched in a few of those parades when I was with the Arabi Park Middle School band in the sixth and seventh grades. The worst was marching in one on a Tuesday night, not getting home until after midnight, then having to go to school in the morning. There were also a couple of parades where the temperatures were below freezing, and that was pure misery. In warmer weather, the band uniforms were tortuously hot. I’m glad I got out of marching band in high school, because I would have hated to have to sit in the bleachers at football games in those hot things.

My parents, brother and I used to go to all of the parades in St. Bernard. There was a parade on Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Arabi, named after the westernmost community in the parish, the one where I grew up. Every Fat Tuesday, the four of us would park in an open lot at the corner of Judge Perez Drive and Rowley Boulevard, and we could wait in the car until the parade passed by. When the parade was ready to come by, we walked to the median (called the neutral ground in New Orleans0 and watched the floats and bands passed. We always ate Popeye’s fried chicken, fitting since the first Popeye’s opened in 1972 at the corner of Judge Perez and Rowley.

The last Krewe of Arabi parade was in 1987. In 1988, we started going to the Krewe of Argus parade in Metairie, the largest community in Jefferson Parish, west of the city. Finally, in 1991, we went to the big kahuna, the Krewe of Rex, who is known in the city as the King of Carnival.

My parents were not keen on us going to parades in New Orleans proper. There was much crime on the parade routes, especially at night, and they had seen it first hand in their early days of marriage. We went to Mid-City from 1986 through ’91, but that was a daytime parade in an area of the city which was nowhere near as dangerous as some areas of St. Charles.

We went to the Krewe of Ednymion, one of the so-called “Super Krewes”, for three years in the early 1990s. The first two years, we stood on Canal Street in the same place we held for Mid-City, then shifted to Orleans Avenue near the start of the parade in 1992. In 1993, my dad and I alone went to Poydras and St. Charles to see Endymion, but we left before the first float arrived.

In 1994, Endymion was the first parade I went to alone. I saw a few of my adult friends at a tavern near the start of the parade route, and that is where I had my first taste of alchol, not counting communion wine.

Ray Maher had the bartender at the Parkway Tavern slip bourbon into my Coca-Cola. I tasted something funny right away, and I immediately washed it out. Ray and the older guys hooted and hollered about that one and reminded me of it for the next 11 years. I am grinning about it right now, but 24 years ago, it had me a little concerned.

Ray and several of my adult friends in New Orleans are members of the Krewe of Thoth, which has the longest route of any Mardi Gras parade.

Thoth starts much farther west than most parades that roll along St. Charles Avenue. It starts at the corner of Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-i-TOO-las) and State Streets by the Missisippi River and goes north on Henry Clay to Magazine, and then to Napoleon, where it follows the route taken by Bacchus and most other Uptown parades (not Rex, which starts at the corner of South Claiborne and Napoleon to head south towards St. Charles). The Thoth route takes in numerous hostpitals for people with special needs, and Children’s Hospital, one of the nation’s elite pediatric faciltiies.

I atteneded Thoth in ’92 and ’93 with my dad, then ’94 alone. The good thing about Thoth’s starting potnt was there was plenty of parking at the Audubon Zoo, which was not that far of a walk to Henry Clay Avenue. In those days, the parade started at the corner of Henry Clay and Magazine and headed south towards Tchoupitoulas, so I would go down Henry Clay and see eveyrone I knew before the parade started.

Every time I was at Thoth, I was bombarded with beads, doubloons and cups. There was a scramble among other parade goers for the trinkets. Looking back, I should have let them have most of it.

The 1994 Thoth parade is the last one I ever attended. Two days later, Mardi Gras came and went with me sitting at home. By Mardi Gras 1995, my life was in total turmoil, and I was seriously considering the end. I had a terrible go of it at LSU that year, and I wondered if life was worth living. However, most of it was self-inflicted.

If I ever returned to New Orleans, Thoth would be the ONLY parade I would consider attending. And even then, it would be only 50/50.

Bacchus and Endymion, the parades which feature celebrity guests, are too big for my taste. I can only remmeber John Goodman and Chicago appearing in Endymion one year. I can’t tell you who was there in the other years. This year, Rod Stewart rode in Endymion with former Saints player Steve Gleason and current player Alvin Kamara. J.K. Simmons was King of Bacchus.

Sorry, I don’t need to see celebrities in person to feel my life has meaning. I got my fill in July 1992 when I happened to see Bill Clinton and Al Gore jogging in downtown St. Louis during their campaign.

During the rest of my years in Louisiana, I often had sporting events to keep my mind away from Mardi Gras, whether it be LSU baseball games or high school events. When Mardi Gras fell late in the calendar (late February or early March), it happened to be on a day when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association scheduled basketball playoff games. The LHSAA would grant south Louisiana schools the option to play the game Monday or Wednesday of that week, but in north Louisiana, the games went on as scheduled, and many south Louisiana schools had to give up Mardi Gras to drive four to five hours for a game, then make the long return trip. Fortunately, the players and coaches could sleep in because there was no school on Ash Wednesday.

Sadly, the Mistick Krewe of Comus, traditionally the last parade of Mardi Gras, has not held a parade since 1991, due to a boneheaded ordinance by the late Dorothy Mae Taylor, who insisted all krewes must prove to the city that they do not discriminate based upon race or religious orientation.

Comus and two-other old-line krewes, Momus and Proteus, quit parading, although Proteus returned in 2000 after a seven-year hiatus.

Most of Comus’ members–all male, all white, all Protestant–are also members of the Pickwick Club, one of the world’s most exclusive private clubs. How exclusive? Drew Brees can’t get in after winning a Super Bowl, simply because he’s a native of Texas. Warren Buffett? Nope. Bill Gates? Nope. Donald Trump? Nada.

Rex’s members are members of the secretive Boston Club. Until the ordinance, Rex was also all WASP, but now the krewe admits blacks, Catholics and Jewish men. The original ordinance would have forced krewes who wanted to parade to be coed, but that was removed to allow the all-male and all-female krewes, which are most, to parade as long as their racial barriers came down.

Not that I care. I wouldn’t want to waste my time and money with it anyway.

Zulu has been rolling for over two hours now, and Rex for over an hour. Yippee. It’s just another day for me.

Dog days of February

Boredom has set in for your intrepid blogger.

Almost nothing has gone on for me since I returned from Kansas City Monday. I was dead tired most of Monday, falling asleep every 2-3 hours. How I got my work done for Tuesday is beyond me. But it got done. So did my work for Wednesday.

Thursday, I thought about going to Salina. But I woke up at 8:30, then got drowsy again watching The Price Is Right, and then I said no thanks, Salina will be there. I hated to go another week without seeing Lorena and a few others at Buffalo Wild Wings, but I will make sure I go next week before I go to Kansas City.

This morning marked the first time I left the house since returning from Missouri. I had an appointment with Crista, and also did some things in Hays I needed to get done, like pick up medicine and check my post office box. The session with Crista went well, and I went straight home.

I discovered this afternoon the McDonald’s in Russell was closed. It has been a weird week here, with two days of school canceled due to illness. The United States has been hit by an influenza epidemic this fall and winter, and Kansas and Missouri happen to be the states which haven been hardest hit. Russell called off school Wednesday, went back yesterday, but called it off again today, postponing tonight’s basketball game vs. Beloit.

Ironically, Beloit had to close school Tuesday in order to sanitzie its facilites.

Norton was closed the last two days. Peggy isn’t sick, thank God. The Bluejays had to call off their scheduled basketball games at Plainville tonight, as well as cancel a wrestling dual, which isn’t a big deal, since the state qualfiying tournaments are next Friday and Saturday.

Still, I’m not missing going out to events. It’s good for my mental health. And the mental health of the athletes, coaches and fans.

With the NFL season over and Major League Baseball still more than a month away, it is nothing but basketball for sports on telelvision, save for the Winter Olympics the rest of February and an occasional NHL game.

I can’t stand the NBA, period. College basketball is irrelevant until March 13, the night of the first NCAA tournament games. I haven’t watched the Olympics since 1988, and I’m not going to start again. The NHL? If Gary Betttman wasn’t so gaga over every team south of 37 degrees latitutde, I could get more into it. Also, NBC would rather show the Rangers, even though they stink, than the Maple Leafs.

I’m doing my best not to eat meat on Fridays since Lent is starting Wednesday. I have made it through the last two Fridays, and it would have been three had I not eaten at Pizza Hut with Peggy in Norton. Not blaming her at all.

Last Friday, I managed to avoid the meat, eating only cheese curds at Buffalo Wild Wings and then a cheese pizza with mushrooms and black olives at Minsky’s. Problem was, I went over eight hours between eating, and by time Lindsay took my order, I was feeling pretty bad. Not recommending that.

Speaking of Kansas City, next Friday is Dawn’s last visit to Buffalo Wild Wings. Time marches on. I just hope I don’t lose contact with her like I have with too many. Thankfully, Peggy and Caitlyn haven’t left my life, and I still have contact with Lisa.

I might eat a cheeseburger for breakfast. I doubled up on eggs today. I can decide when I wake up. Of course, if I skip breakfast, it’s moot.

Lots of questions and answers

For the second time in the last three Fridays, I have executed my “trivia trifecta”, playing at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek (near Liberty), Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa, and Minksy’s on Barry Road. I’m playing my first round at Minsky’s after spending four and a half hours at both Buffalo Wild Wings location. That’s right, save for the drive on Missouri Highway 152 from Shoal Creek to Zona Rosa, I have been playing trivia non-stop since 11 a.m.

At Shoal Creek, there was a question which listed five famous people, and I had to pick the one who was not born in Missouri. One of the choices was Walter Kronkite.

OOPS.

I know Walter CRONKITE was born in St. Joseph. However, it was embarrassing that nobody at Buzztime proofread this. Yes, Cronkite has been dead since July 2009, but he is one of the most famous men to ever report news in any country. How can they not know how the man spells his name? I made sure to let Buzztime know on Twitter.

I am hungry. Really hungry. Larry bought me lunch at Shoal Creek, and I had a large order of cheese curds. I’m trying to avoid meat on Fridays for the next two weeks, since Lent starts on Valentine’s Day and I won’t be able to eat meat on Fridays until the end of March. I did not eat at Zona Rosa, since I did not want to eat B-Dubs twice in the same day. A pizza at Minsky’s sounds good right now.

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of Vince Lombardi’s retirement as coach of the Green Bay Packers. Lombardi led Green Bay to five NFL championships, including victories in Super Bowls I and II, in nine seasons in Wisconsin. Lombardi retired as coach in order to focus on his duties as general manager, but he became quite bored during the 1968 season. He did all he could to not bother his successor, Phil Bengston, the assistant coaches, most of whom worked under Lombardi, and the players. Green Bay went 6-7-1 in 1968, its first losing season since 1958, and it began a long, dark period in “Titletown USA”.

From 1968 through 1991, the Packers made the playoffs just twice, and one of those came in the strike-shortened season of 1982. Many Packer teams lost double digit games, bottoming out by going 4-12 in 1986, 1988 and 1991. Fortunately, Green Bay made massive changes after the ’91 season, hiring Ron Wolf as general manager and Mike Holmgren as coach, then trading with Atlanta to acquire Brett Favre, who was really hated by Falcons coach Jerry Glanville.

Lombardi eventually left the Packers in 1969 to become coach and general manager of the Redskins. He led Washington to a 7-5-2 record that year, the first winning record for the Redskins since 1955. Sadly, he would be dead of colon cancer by September 1970.

Washington abruptly changed course under George Allen, who was hired in 1971. Save for Larry Brown and a few others, Allen gutted the Redskin roster in 1971 and ’72, trading for as many veterans he could find. The Redskins made Super Bowl VII, where they lost to the Dolphins.

The Packers have pretty much been consistent winners for the last quarter century, adding two more Super Bowl championships in 1996 and 2010.

I’m hungry. I had better eat or I might collapse.

Hard for me to get up

If you have not seen my Instagram or Facebook accounts in the last 30 hours, you may not know I stopped on top of Interstate 435 at the Kansas-Missouri state line yesterday between Wyandotte County and Platte County.

Here are a couple of pictures I took:

It took a bit of courage for me to get out of my car and take those photos. I am afraid of heights.

Very afraid.

There were so many things I missed out on when I was a child because I was too scared to go up.

Now I did ride a gondola suspended over the Mississippi River with my father and brother during the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. How I convinced myself to go, I still don’t know. Of course, the only cameras around back in 1984 used film, and most were quite bulky, so it wasn’t practical to take photos. Too bad, because they would have been breathtaking.

A few months after hovering over the Mississippi, my family made the infamous trip to Disney World, one which I’ve discussed ad nauseam in this blog. I had no desire to go on any roller coasters or other dangerous rides, even though I met the height requirement.

Four years later, the Steinle family went to Astroworld in Houston. My father and brother went on a few high-rise rides, but my mother and I wussed out and stayed on the ground.

In 1992, again, my father and brother went to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. My mother and I were not having it. I was very tempted to go up in the Arch when I was in the area for Lisa’s wedding last October, but since I was staying in St. Peters, 35 miles west of downtown, I didn’t do it. If Lisa and Jeff would like to take me up in the arch, I’m game.

I could not stand sitting in high seats at outdoor sports stadiums. I was just fine sitting at the top of the Superdome, simply because there was a roof and I had no idea the sky was above. But outdoors? Forget it.

In 1992, my father, brother and I went to two St. Louis Cardinals games at the old Busch Stadium. The first night, we sat in the outfield bleachers, about 440 feet from home plate. The second night, my father bought tickets in the upper deck behind home plate. I couldn’t do it. I walked around the concourse all night while my brother watched the game. My father stayed with me much of the time, and I feel terrible. Really terrible.

My fear of heights was a reason we sat in the ridiculously hot bleachers at the Texas Rangers’ old Arlington Stadium instead of the upper deck behind home plate. I feel bad for making my family accommodate my fear of heights.

I am very glad I never sat in the upper decks of LSU’s football stadium. I went up there one Saturday morning a few hours before a game, but I got scared. Really scared. I ran down the ramps as fast as I could.

Some of the high school football stadiums I covered games were harrowing.

University High, a laboratory school on the east side of the LSU campus, played its home games on one of the fields at LSU’s practice facility when I was covering games in Baton Rouge. The “press box” was actually an open-air shelter which was only accessible by a rickety old ladder. While some could climb the thing in 30 seconds, it took me more than one minute, sometimes two or three, to make it all the way up there. I was shaking like a leaf every time I was up there.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have covered the games from the field. I proved I could do it just fine when I moved to Kansas, writing down the information then feeding it to the computer. But I was on a deadline in Baton Rouge, and doing stuff on the field would have cost me 20-30 minutes, which could have been very bad if a game ran late.

Today, University High plays at a modern stadium with a real press box nowhere near as high.

Memorial Stadium is Baton Rouge’s largest high school stadium, seating over 20,000. It was once a home for Southern University’s football team, and hosted many small college bowl games and playoffs. It was once home to numerous teams in Baton Rouge, but now only a handful of teams use it, since the rental fees charged by the Baton Rouge Recreation Commission (BREC) are too high for most schools to afford. Many of the public schools, especially those in more economically depressed areas, can’t make enough off ticket sales to pay the rent, plus officials and security.

In November 1999, I covered a high school football playoff game at Memorial Stadium between Eunice and Capitol, which is about a mile from Memorial Stadium. I was also asked by the local cable company to provide color commentary for its tape-delayed broadcast in place of Rob Musemeche, the usual color man who could not be there that night due to a family commitment.

About 45 minutes prior to kickoff, the play-by-play man, Dennis McCain, and myself went to the top of Memorial Stadium’s press box.

I did not fare well.

I was very unsteady, and I could feel my knees quaking. Dennis was very patient with me and helped me a lot, and we made it through the opening spiel before returning to the press box for the game.

I wish I had a camera to take a picture from the top of the Memorial Stadium press box. You can get a great shot of the Louisiana capitol, the tallest in the United States, as well as traffic flowing on nearby Interstate 110 and other state government buildings.

My biggest fear of driving in Louisiana was breaking down and/or getting into an accident on one of the numerous bridges over the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The I-435 bridge in western Kansas City is high, yes, but nowhere near as high as the structures in Louisiana, most of which are more than 100 feet over “Old Man River”.

I would like to stop on the Kit Bond Bridge in Kansas City and get a shot, but there is too much traffic to do it safely.

As for high places in Kansas City, I have gone to the top of Kauffman Stadium to take pictures. I have considered watching a game from there.

We all have our fears. Maybe I need to conquer some. Heck, I’m going to be 42 later this year. Gotta start sometime.