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So, last night — actually, very early this morning — I was delivered my annual dose of disappointment in the form of the Chicago Cubs’ final loss of the season.

It always happens: The Cubs always lose their last game of the postseason because, as we all know, the Cubs never win the World Series (100 years and counting, now) … and only the team that manages to do that ever wins its last game. When it comes to the postseason, anyway.

Bah, humbug!

And the day started out so promisingly (is that even a word?) …

Tennis at 10 a.m., and though I didn’t play particularly well — I had getting-it-over-the-net and keeping-it-on-the-court issues, combined with my usual not-moving-my-feet issues (my serve was coming in pretty good, though!) — playing tennis with this particular foursome (Diane, Amy, Sarah and me) is always fun. And the weather was PERFECT: I told myself (and maybe the others? I cannot recall) that it was the kind of day that made you feel like you wanted to go outside and do everything.

(Looks like today might be another one of those days. Durn those Cubs for keeping me up so late and leaving me bleary-eyed this a.m.!)

After tennis, a swing by the ATM and Taco Hell for some crunchy tacos and a Pepsi, then home to get cleaned up. I had a couple of hours before Diane, Cindy and I would be heading out for dinner and a movie (not necessarily in that order), so I thought, how about a drive to the lake to check out the fall colors? (They’re not quite there just yet, but in a few days, they just might be spectacular!)

We went to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which I must give an enthusiastic two thumbs — er, perhaps two paws! — up.

I knew I’d get roped into seeing this movie as soon as I saw the first preview, in no small part because of the fact that the dearly departed Chico was, indeed, a Chihuahua. I had about the same level of excitement regarding this movie as I’d had about Live Free or Die Hard, whenever that was (last summer? this summer? I’m having total brain fog at the moment; I think it was last summer), and, wouldn’t you know it, once again I was very pleasantly surprised. And entertained: No deep thinking involved, just a simple plot, cute doggies and lots of laughs — and I’ll even admit, I got a little teary-eyed in a couple of places.

Dinner at 17th Street Bar & Grill was not the greatest, primarily because I deviated from my usual pork BBQ sandwich and opted for the pulled chicken. BIG mistake: The chicken was dry, and not even extra sauce or spice rub could render it edible. Fortunately, the baked beans (almost every kind of bean you can think of, with a sweet, sassy sauce!) and the potato salad (I swear there’s some form of ranch dressing in there!) were tasty, as usual, so I managed to fill up on those.

Back in town, I went out to the high school to see the Best of the Beatles: The Pete Best Band performing. Starring — you know — Pete Best: The Beatles’ original drummer. The guy who got fired and was replaced by Ringo Starr. The guy House mentioned on last week’s episode of House, M.D. when he and his assistants were doing differential diagnonsense (that’s a Girl, Interrupted reference for those of you who aren’t paying close attention!).

Can you imagine being young and in a band with all your “mates” (isn’t that what they’re called in England?) and being told you’re not good enough — and then having the band become the phenomenon known as the Beatles? Arguably the best, most popular band ever? (I’m torn on whether they were or not; perhaps this will stir some lively debate for the “Comments” section of my bloggie?)

Anyhoo, apparently, Pete Best is actually the second Beatle ever to visit Benton. George Harrison visited his sister, Louise, who resided here, during the 1960s. Unbelievable!

To be quite honest, the show was pretty good. The Pete Best Band did a nice job with its own music and, of course, some Beatles tunes, including my favorite, “P.S. I Love You” — which surprised me so much that they were halfway through it before I realized, hey, they’re playing my favorite Beatles song, and started singing along:

As I write this letter (o-oh)
Send my love to you (you know I want you to)
Remember that I’ll always (yeah-ah)
Be in love with you …

I didn’t stay for the whole show, so I’m not sure if they got around to playing my close-second-favorite Beatles song, “Here Comes the Sun” … but I did get to hear a guy playing that song on an acoustic guitar a couple of weeks ago when a busload of senior citizens came to town for the day, so I’m actually quite good on live Beatles covers, thank you.

I left the concert just in time to hit the couch early in the Cubs-Dodgers game.

Sadly, I probably shouldn’t have bothered because, much like their first two games against LA, the Cubs just didn’t have it. In no small part because the Dodgers played so well, but mostly because the Cubs really weren’t in the game.

Heck, let’s be honest: They really weren’t in the entire series.

Still, they had a great “regular” season, winning 97 games, including both the games I got to see in person. A bitter ending, true, as their postseason losing streak reached nine games (counting last season’s sweep by Arizona and dating back to the NLCS debacle in 2003 … but even that postseason wasn’t a total loss because I got to watch two of those National League Championship Series games on a big-screen TV alongside some of my favorite pals from college in the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas), but I still say having a competitive team to watch throughout the summer is worth going through the inevitable heartache when the Cubs actually do make it into the playoffs.

On that note, how about a couple of photos from the concert?

Not sure who that guy in the dark suit is, but he caught my eye from across the gymnasium because he was doing this sort of slide-step dance to every song performed by the Pete Best Band.

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Jim Edmonds takes a curtain call after hitting his second home run against the Cardinals in the Cubs’ 3-2 win in 11 innings Friday at Wrigley Field. (Photo by Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune)

This was my favorite moment of the game. Followed closely by Jimmy’s first home run of the game and his diving catch in center field. Followed by Alfonso Soriano’s throwout of Joe Mather at home plate. Followed by the Cubs getting out Cesar Izturus on a suicide squeeze attempt. Followed by an 0-for-13 showing by Ryan Ludwick, Troy Glaus and Yadier Molina. Followed by Jeff Samardzija’s throwout of Albert Pujols attempting to steal second in the top of the 11th. Followed by Henry Blanco’s no-out, bases-loaded, game-winning  liner past short in the bottom of the 11th.

Don’t get me wrong: I actually do enjoy watching the Cardinals, and I’ll admit I root for them when they’re not playing the Cubs. And when they’re not threatening the Cubs’ lead in the NL Central. (And it’s not JUST because The Lovely is a Cards fan.)

Weekend before last, we — Diane, Karl, Sherry, the kids and I — are all sitting around at Diane’s, watching Roger Federer play Novak Djokovic for the U.S. Open championship and the Chicago Bears play the San Diego Chargers on the split-screen. Actually, Diane and the grandkidlets are out in the kitchen, coloring and what-not around the new Spider-Man table.

A few minutes later, Kameron comes running into the living room and yells, “Go, Cubbies!”

Confusion ensues, for Diane, Karl, Sherry AND the kids (for all we know) are fans of the St. Louis Cardinals. I, of course, am the lone Cubs fan in the group. (Kurt likes them, too, but he’s way down in Loosiana.)

“What’s that?” I ask Kameron.

“Go, Cubbies!” he yells again and then scampers back to the kitchen.

“Who taught him that?” I ask — convinced that one of the adults did so, simply to taunt me.

They all deny it, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that none of them would EVER do or say anything that could even remotely be considered in favor of the Cubs.

Apparently, Kam has come up with this gem on his own! And he is all too happy to repeat himself, several times, whilst I capture it all on cell-phone video.

The next morning, Karl and I are in the car at 7 a.m., heading to Wrigley Field in Chicago where we are going to watch the Cardinals play the Cubs in a game that was postponed a few weeks ago because of rain. (Note to self: Driving to Chicago and back, all in one day, is a road trip you never want to take … especially when the drive home includes constant rain from just outside the city clear down to Troy!)

Although the city itself, as usual, is great fun. We spend 45 minutes at Niketown on Michigan Avenue, then tool over to Arturo’s for nacho chips and tacos for lunch. Less than an hour later, we’re cruising toward Clark, parking about five blocks from Wrigley and then walking to the historic stadium.

Along the way, I see a cute doggie:

How much is that doggie ON the window?

Before long, we’re at the ballpark, and I make Karl snap a picture of me in front of a very recognizable landmark (and, no, I don’t mean McDonald’s!).

Di at Wrigley Field

Once we’re inside, I see one of my favorite Cubs players, shortstop Ryan Theriot, warming up on the sidelines.

The Riot Throwing

The Riot on Deck

Yeah, OK, it’s pronounced “terry-oh,” but isn’t that a cool last name: THE RIOT?!

We’ve got awesome seats, too, so I shoot some action shots during the course of the Cubs’ 12-3 rout of their arch-rivals — including Jacque Jones getting a base hit, and three of my faves (Derrek Lee, David Eckstein and Jim Edmonds).

Jacque Jones Hit

Lee-Eckstein-Edmonds

It rains a little during the game, but thanks to my scorecard serving as sort of a windshield/rain deflector, my clothes AND my camera stay dry.

Two of my favorite parts of the game — aside from the Cubs’ five-run fourth inning — are the women serving as gatekeepers/bouncers for the row in front of us. People try, hard as they can, to get to their seats by walking down the row, but NOTHING gets past these old women, who make them go back up and around and back down! (It’s not all hard work; they also get to take part in the traditional “Y-M-C-A” performance.)

Directing Traffic

Y-M-C-A!

And this sign makes me chuckle:

Foul Balls

And so, God willing, I get to spend the next 365 days the same age as Jackie Robinson’s number. How cool is that?!

(Heh: So cool that, despite watching the Cubs’ and Cardinals’ games Sunday, during which players from all the teams involved wore No. 42 in tribute to the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking “the color barrier” in Major League Baseball, it didn’t even occur to me that I was going to be turning 42 today until I asked our sports editor, Eric, earlier this week, “Do I look like I’m going to be 42?” — to which he more or less took the Fifth and then chirped, “Hey, that’s Jackie Robinson’s number!”)

Spring is officially here, as I discovered this afternoon in the yard across the alley, catty-corner from my house:

Pink

Buds

1st Dandelion

Doggie Wood Bud

That last one’s my favorite ’cause that’s a doggie wood bud. And soon it will become one of my favorite flowers. And, hopefully, when I go home for Easter, the trees in my mom’s yard will be full of dogwood blooms.

Later this afternoon, I went to a high school baseball game. I didn’t intend to be there for the two-hour duration, but … I was.

I shot some pictures, just to remind myself that I can still take these kinds of photos. (I miss doing this, sometimes. Today. When the lighting is so good and I don’t have to take notes or anything. Just shoot.)

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