The St. Louis Blues Hockey Team is undefeated in the 2013-2014 regular season! Okay, so we’ve just had one game, against the Nashville Predators last night, but I figure I’d better say it while I could.
For those of you not familiar with American Hockey teams, the Blues are perennial underdogs. The Blues are the Chicago Cubs of the NHL. Lovable losers. Actually, the Blues are worse, because the Cubs have won a World Series (their last one was a little over a century ago, granted) whereas the Blues have never won a Stanley Cup.
Now, as it happens, there’s also this baseball thing going on in town right now. The Cardinals are in the World Series against the Pirates. In fact, the starting time of last night’s Blues home opener was changed, to try to keep the traffic from Busch Stadium from running into
Kiel Center SAVVIS Center Scottrade Center. (Yeah, good luck with that. Downtown Saint Louis was designed to accommodate foot and horse traffic and the streets haven’t been widened since the Civil War.)
As it happens, I’m just not a baseball person. I understand the rules of the game, but I don’t really get it. It’s too cerebral, too abstract. There’s no direct connection between somebody trying to catch a ball way over there and somebody running around over here. The base lines are completely arbitrary, there’s only one good solid weapon for the whole team and the guy who gets to swing isn’t supposed to hit anyone with it.
My mother is a baseball person. My mother also does London Times cryptic crosswords in ink. I think there is a connection.
Hockey, on the other hand, is the kind of sport that you could watch with The Incredible Hulk. The puck in our net, bad, the puck in the other guy’s net good. Plus, it’s fast, a bunch of bruisers rushing around on ice skates slamming into each other. It’s like watching an avalanche bury some Norwegian village, only you can get a beer. Sure, there are rules, but mostly the rules are the legal system–how much time you get for different types of assault with a deadly weapon.
Being a hockey fan in St. Louis takes a particular kind of masochism. It’s not just the fact that the Blues are famous for starting the season on top and then forgetting what they were doing sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. Nor is that we are just five hours from the home of the Blackhawks, which is who the Nazguls are playing for since Sauron got out of the world-conquering business.
No, it’s being the red-headed stepchild of sports fans. In the Spring people know that you don’t try to get any business done in this town on Opening Day. (Which is always capitalized and no one bothers to specify Cardinal’s Opening Day–that’s assumed.) Everyone who is anyone is at the game, or at least at the rally around the stadium. Seriously, it’s an ocean of people in red shirts–it looks like the world’s worst Star Trek convention.
Heck, the opening of Cardinal’s spring training camp gets more ink than the Blues making the second round of the playoffs. (Don’t laugh, it’s happened. We would have made it, too, if not for those pesky LA
But, you know, it’s okay. Not everybody has to like the same things. The fact that this town is a baseball town doesn’t take anything away from my being a hockey fan. I can get just as excited about Pietrangelo and Terasenko as they get about some guy who hits a lot or runs really fast. I can talk about Hitchcock being a genius, and it’s okay if people think I mean the filmmaker. (Who was also a genius, in a different way.)
The thing is, taste is not competitive. If I like peanut butter and sharp cheddar on sourdough toast, it doesn’t matter to me if you don’t. It doesn’t invalidate my tastes. You may think that sliced bell peppers belong on pizza–I don’t. It doesn’t make you wrong.
This is why I don’t get bashing writers for being popular. I don’t like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Millions do. (Granted, I did wince when one of the reviews of Catskinner’s Book compared me to Koontz, but I tried to take it in the spirit it was intended.)
If Debbie Macomber, Julie Garwood, and Sherrilyn Kenyon were all nibbled to death by hamsters this afternoon it would make no difference whatsoever to my sales, because my fans aren’t their fans. Even writers who are closer to my genre (whatever it is) like Clive Barker and China Mieville aren’t in direct competition with me. Writing isn’t a zero sum game–their success does not mean my failure. In fact, quite the reverse–someone who reads and enjoys Kraken, say, is likely to be more receptive to my oddball universe.
This is a big planet. Just driving across the continent where I live takes a lot of caffeine. There are a lot of people who live here, and we like a lot of different things. You like what you like, I like what I like. I write what I write, some folks like it, some folks don’t. That’s life.
In closing, I want to leave you with the words of one of the great philosophers of the 20th Century, Tim Curry:
“I do the only thing that still makes sense to me,
I DO THE ROCK!”