Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Thoughts from the last several days:

-Now that Michael Vick has confessed to the crimes of which he was accused, and a judge will determine how much time he spends behind bars for them, the guy says he has found Jesus. Amazing how that always seems to happen minutes before a press conference or nationally broadcast interview. Amazing!

-Lauren Caitlyn Upton...the 18-year-old who mangled her answer to a question during the speaking portion of the Miss Teen USA pageant... will be over her embarassment soon. Especially when she gets some of the ba-zillion dollars in endorsement deals that are likely to come her way. She is the personification of (please excuse the term) "dumb blonde" and is willing to have fun with her mistake. Big bucks on the way...she'll be all right.

-Nature called at just the right time for me to see the lunar eclipse at 4:55 this morning. When I see such things, it always reminds me how small we are in relation to everything else, and how little time we have in the scheme of things.

-Update on the offspring:
Son Stewart is setting up life in Southern California. He flew out last week and is scheduled to begin rehearsal this week for his lead in dark play or stories for boys at the Theatre at Boston Court in Pasadena. We had a great crowd of friends and relatives for a graduation/send-off party on 8/19. After finding a place to live, and adequate transportation, he'll begin pursuit of his post-collegiate dream.

Son Ian continues writing and recording music with his friends in Bowling Green, KY and Nashville. The group Chassis has now posted a completed song on its myspace page.

Barb and I were thrilled with the turnout for an interior-design seminar hosted by our great advertising client Mueller Furniture in Belleville on Friday night. We coordinated the whole thing and were worried that the early-evening thunderstorms would chase folks away. Fifty signed up...and they all pretty much showed up. And that represented a full house. We had some teriffic presentations and a good time seemed to be had by all. We'll probably do it again within the next 3-4 months. The Mueller Furniture operation is excelling as a family-operated business in a time when big-box stores are shutting down so many others.

-I must admit that I never thought the Cardinals would be in the position they're in this late in the season. Or, at least, I didn't think so after the first couple of months of the season. Everyone says it's Tony LaRussa's best managing job ever...and that's hard to argue against. What I always have to remind myself is that baseball's season constitutes a marathon, not a sprint. Each game is only 1/162nd of the season. A month of games is only 1/6th of the season. The best team tends to be the one that's most consistent...not necessarily spectacular. I still think, though, that the team will see a major overhaul during the coming off-season.

-Wake me up when the NFL pre-season is over. When the games begin to count, I'll write about the Rams. Still the biggest rip-off in sports...the NFL exhibition season.

-Jay Leno seems to be going into cruise control. NBC ran Tonight Show re-runs over the last two weeks. The ratings-obsessed and workaholic Leno previously was reluctant to take even one week off...let along two in a row. The guy might be ready to wind things down in readiness for Conan O'Brien's takeover...even though it's a few years down the road.

-A story in the news today about a KC woman trying to flush her newborn baby boy down the toilet in a McDonald's bathroom has to make you scratch your head.
A) What makes a woman think this way?
B) What makes a woman think she could get away with it?
C) What about "Thou shalt not kill" is ambiguous?

-We should find out soon some of the details of the proposed Collinsville soccer stadium development. Attorney Jeff Cooper, the major force behind the concept, says he wants the public to see details of the plan before Collinsville leaders vote on going ahead with funding proposals on September 10th. Cooper's plan is very ambitious. But then, what exciting plan isn't? The whole idea could go up in smoke if the MLS doesn't grant Cooper an expansion franchise for St. Louis.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

United We Score

-I've been keeping an eye on the local group's effort to acquire an MLS (Major League Soccer)team for quite a while. My attention was first drawn to the subject a number of months ago when I wrote on this blog about the ridiculous stance taken by a local sports talk show host. Attorney Jeff Cooper, who is heading the local effort by St. Louis Soccer United to acquire a team and build a new stadium in Collinsville, was told, in so many words, by this nimrod that he was stupid for trying to locate the team in Illinois. "Not many potential ticket buyers will cross the river to support soccer", he was told. Oh boy! This kind of thinking has gotten my blood boiling for as long as I can remember.

When, in Pele's name, are we ever going to get beyond the fact that a river runs through the middle of our metro area? When are Missouri people in this market going to ever get off the "high horse" and realize that the Illinois portion of the St. Louis market is the fastest growing segment of the area...and has much more potential for development and growth than the tapped-out "Show Me" segment? When is the design of our license plates going to stop designating us as "foreigners" on the opposite side of the river from which we live? For the sake of bringing an exciting new sports element to our community and economy, we had better get over it.

Cooper, who unfortunately for me I've never met, is someone with a very real, but very ambitious, dream. The dream now includes bringing not only a pro soccer team to life in our metro, but also a 400-million dollar development to be built just off I-255 near Collinsville. The development includes an 18,500 seat soccer stadium, 300,000 square feet of office and retail space, and some 1,600 homes. Essentially, we're talking about a soccer-themed St. Louis-suburb that would be in Collinsville's jurisdiction.

As for the location, where else in the St. Louis area would you put such a development? The infrastructure is, for the most part, already there at I-255 and Horseshoe Lake Road. It's very centrally-located for most people in this market. But, there will be many who, because it's not in Missouri, will say it's ill-conceived. Yes...just because we're talking about it being in Illinois. No other reason. Parochialism..pure and simple. Please, brothers and sisters of Missouri, get over it.

Many thought locating a minor-league baseball team in Sauget was a disaster waiting to happen. But, my friends, the Gateway Grizzlies have been setting Frontier League attendance records right-and-left since their new stadium opened in '03. "Oh nobody will cross the river to go to one of those games"...the critics said. Well, if you examine who buys tickets regularly, you'll find a goodly portion would be from South County. Other parts of the Missouri side are represented strongly as well. Why? Value. The product and the park are attractive. The concessions are priced fairly. Being right off I-255 makes it accessible to anyone. Crossing a bridge to get to the park isn't as big a deal as the "experts" might think. If "The Cooper Quest" can duplicate the Grizzlies Family, Friends and Fun model, soccer will not only survive, but thrive here...IMHO.

Many Missourians cross a bridge for numerous reasons to find that doing so is well worth it...just as those of us from Illinois have done for years. Eckert's Orchards...school at SIUE or SWIC...The Shrine...Fast Eddie's...Gateway Center...the list goes on. Many things on the Illinois side are not only enjoyable but aren't nearly as far away as perceived for whomever wants to enjoy them. The river tends to be a barrier in our minds, more than in actuality.

I tend to wonder if the leaders in Collinsville will be wise enough to participate in the funding for the project. (They had a chance to have the Grizzlies before they located in Sauget back in '02) Collinsville's loss...Sauget's gain. But if the funding details can be worked out, Collinsville would become the soccer capital of the Midwest...and St. Louis (long touting itself as the soccer capital of the United States) would again have a real opportunity to crow such a marketing line. Yes, St. Louis...not Collinsville...not "over there"...not Illinois...but St. Louis. Note that Collinsville's logo doesn't contain a picture of Abe Lincoln or the Sears Tower...but the Gateway Arch. People in the Metro-East consider themselves as residents of St. Louis, whether Missourians like it or not. We're Cardinals fans, Blues fans and Rams fans too. Whether or not Mr. Cooper's idea for soccer in St. Louis is a good one...and I think it is...the concept shouldn't be shot down by which side of the old river the team chooses to do business.

As far as the sport itself is concerned, you can make your own judgment on that. But soccer seems to me to be inching closer to the point where it's on most people's radar, if not a favorote sport. I think we're one American-born superstar away from the sport busting out. That might be Freddy Adu when he plays in the next World Cup. But, no matter your opinion on the sport or whether you have interest in seeing a game, you have to be pulling for a dreamer like Jeff Cooper, and his associates, to "get 'er done".

As for me, some of my fondest memories as a sports fan come from watching Stars games at Francis Field back in the 70's. The defunct North American Soccer League was one of our country's attempts at taking soccer to the level of interest it holds on the rest of our planet. It didn't work that time. But the product was good. The players were fun to watch. And the atmosphere at those NASL games was the best I've ever seen in sports. It would be nice to think that the St. Louis Soccer United effort would end up providing such a great experience for a new generation of soccer fans and establish an outlet for soccer passion here for decades to come.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

On to Tinseltown

-The call came Sunday afternoon at around 1 o'clock. It wasn't entirely unexpected. But it was wonderfully exciting nonetheless.
I was downstairs in the home theater watching the ballgame. All of a sudden there was the sound of someone whooping and screaming uncontrollably upstairs. I could tell it was Barb...but didn't know what to make of it. In the back of my mind...."Is the house on fire?"..."Did someone die?"..."Did a snake come in the house to get out of the heat?"

Then the door to the lower-level popped open far enough to make her rants audible over the sound of the TV.

"Tom....Stewart got the part! Stewart got the part!"

Yes...Stewart Calhoun has been preparing to be an actor...well, since he was able to stand up. And he's known for almost that long that he wanted to do it professionally. But, until that first break comes, a parent can only be supportive and try to help him live the dream. So when the call came Sunday that he had been asked to accept a lead role in a play at the Theatre at Boston Court in Pasadena, California coming up in October...the excitement of the moment was difficult for the old heart to withstand.

Stewart will not suddenly be making the obscene money that so many associate with the entertainment business. In fact, the financial end of his deal is rather minimal. But, the BIG thing is that he is suddenly a bona fide professional actor...and that could open up so many other doors...particularly in the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles/Hollywood CA.

Our son will portray Nick...a teenager who gets himself entangled in a web of deceit and imaginary relationships through his chatting on the internet. dark play or stories for boys was written by the enormously gifted Carlos Murillo, who Stewart was fortunate to have as one of his professors at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Stew, and several actor colleagues, collaborated with Mr. Murillo in the development of the characters in the play...no doubt a major factor in helping our guy land the role in SoCal. The project was featured at this year's Humana Festival for new plays in Louisville, Kentucky. Click here for the review.

So now we are facing the mission of relocating Stew from Chicago to "Tinseltown" where he will likely need to be engaged in some of the same activities that we hear other fledgling actors endure...you know...waiting tables, cattle-call auditions, attempting to convince managers and agents to represent you. All of that...and more. He has been told by people he trusts...and we tend to agree...that while he has the look and ability to play teenagers, he should try to break through with those types of roles. Stewart is 22...but as you can see by the photo...can easily pass for much younger.

Barb and I have always believed that our son had a special gift and that somehow he would show it to the world. And, if not the world, enough of it to make himself happy. And that's really all a parent can ask for. If all of you reading this would cross your fingers for him...it certainly couldn't hurt.