Those of you who have been to my bar know what kind of a family we all are, those of us who spend any amount of time there. It's aunt's family room, shag carpets and old televisions and sofas extremely low to the ground. 81 feels like that even though it looks absolutely nothing like that.

I worked a 10 hour shift on Friday. I felt good (though extremely tired) and I had money burning a hole in my pocket. I got off of work 'round 10:30ish and headed down to 81 to meet up with some people I hadn't been able to afford to hang out with (liquor's mighty expensive) and to maybe get laid.

I walked through the door and found Jeff, one of my partners in crime from the place. He was sitting at the bar, eyes kinda unfocused. I thought he was drunk; I was wrong.

"Mark's dead," he said, and went back to his contemplation.

Mark was this dude, a guitar player, who usually ended his nights at 81. One time at the Cherry Tavern, he tried to get me to join his band. He wore extremely ugly hawaiian shirts, had long curly hair and a goatee, sorta. We were friends. No. We were friendly.

He was 27.

Apparently, he had come home late one night last week with groceries. He was belligerent and nonsensical and his head was bleeding. His girlfriend assumed he'd gotten drunk (like he did) and gotten into a fight (like he also, frequently, did) so she put him to bed to sleep it off.

Turns out, we all found out later, he was sober that night and was hit by a car, a car that didn't stop. He didn't wake up in the morning and she called the hospital. He never woke up. Was in a coma for three days and died (relatively) peacefully on Friday afternoon.

I count myself extremely thankful that I don't have to go through the grief (and more importantly, the undeserved guilt) of being her.

So my night of rampant partying became a good old-fashioned Irish wake that left me broke, exhausted and confused as to which was day and which was night. And I feel really, really awful. And I want a hug, 'cuz all I'm thinking over and over is 'oh god. He was 27. So fucking young. Nobody deserves that.'

Post-game press conference

Q: So, Brawlie, how d'you feel about the editorial team's chances this year?

A: Well, I hear a lotta talk about how the Wikipediaphiles are the class of the division, and that they're gonna go all the way. And they look pretty good on paper, but y'know, the games are still played out on the rink. It ain't over till the fat lady sings, and she ain't even in the building yet.

Q: You've been with the franchise almost since the beginning. Most of your original teammates have been traded, retired, or sent down.

A: Well, y'know, Big Jim, the new general manager shook things up this year, brought in some high flying free agents and stuff. Guys who talk big about how they're number one the way all the modern kids seem to do. Punks who played well in the minors and got a fat signing bonus. I dunno what ownership wants, and the coach don't say nuthin' about it. Back when I came inta the league kids didn't shoot their mouths off until they earned some respect.

Q: You sound a little bitter.

A: Nah, nah, I'm still happy for the chance to play, and we're all just doin' it for the fans, y'know.

Q: But still...

A: All I'm sayin' is, I came up through the minors, I rode the motherlovin' bus from town to town, and I made it to the bigs after years of grindin' it out in the corners, takin' one for the team. Nobody ever described my plays as 'poetry', right guys?

Q: (laughter)

A: ... but here I am, still on the Grind Line, on the kill, takin' the body. I like it as much as anyone when the flashy kids break down the ice and put one up on the top shelf where Grandma keeps the cookies. But the little pukes don't back check much, and that's where you win games, on D.

Q: What are you getting at?

A: Just this. Bullshit doesn't win games, work ethic does. If kids with their posses and their poetry and their rap albums and their bling-bling (whatever the crap that is) are still around in a few years, then we'll see if they're still full of piss and vinegar. In the meantime we're all on the same team, and we've got one goal, which is to make this fun for the fans and put an entertaining product out on the ice. Leave it out there during the game. Write your memoirs when you retire.

Oi, so the holidays have begun, la-di-da. And thankfully with only three more weeks of school left I'm not feeling all too stressed out... yet.

I suppose Thanksgiving could have been worse, and I think I successfully mentally prepared myself for the four day trip that was Kansas City with the family.

Question: Who knew that herding cattle was such a chore? Because I'll tell you something, even with a 75 horse-power ATV and a fairly enclosed pasture you're still going to want to give yourself a good few hours (granted you have no prior experience) to get them to go where you want. Even if you have a plan as to how you're going to move them when push-comes-to-shove those bovines are suprising stubborn, especially when it comes to the mothers and their calves. Lucky for me I had a four-wheelie that could be easily dropped into neutral and reved just enough into scaring them to move. What I suggest is getting someone who knows what they're doing to help you out with the basics.

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