O Amshack!

Unreal goes (ugh!) holiday (groan!) shopping and surfs over to our Local Blog o' the Week; plus, we continue to fight the good fight for our beloved train-trailer

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Amshack is doomed. Our protestations in last week's issue ["Save the Amshack"] fell on deaf ears. Amtrak is already pretending its 25-year-old temporary depot never existed.

Is this any way to address St. Louis' rich heritage as a transporation hub? Do we kill children with big ears and crooked noses?

Don't any of you people care about history?

We love you, Amshack.
We love you, Amshack.

Desperate, Unreal turns this week to Nick Ohlman, a curator at the Museum of Transportation. As fate would have it, the museum is getting ready to close for ten months in order to add new exhibits to its west-county home. The timing couldn't be better!

Unreal: Have you given any thought to adding the Amshack to the museum grounds?

Nick Ohlman: We're really not in a position to add anything at this time. Plus, I'm not so sure that Amshack fits within the mission statement of the museum. It was a temporary structure put up as a short-term fix that ended up being a long-term problem.

It could illustrate the decline of passenger train service in America! Plus, it may be the oldest temporary train station in the world!

I had not thought about it that way. But even at that, it just means that the solution took longer to get to than was anticipated. For us to bring something in and say that this is the longest temporary structure used as a train station -- we'd incur a lot of maintenance costs, a lot of moving costs. And when you're a national museum, when you're looking at a structure that really only addresses a very limited audience, that's something...I don't know. We'd have to look into it. I think it would be a funding nightmare -- a lot of money to de-install it, move it here and then reinstall it again.

Yeah. And people would probably mistake it for a maintenance shack, anyway.

We would have to maintain it, refurbish it. And we'd have to look for another use. It would have to be an area where we would display something else, where we could put a photography show, or maybe artifacts in. It would have to serve a second purpose. It was always interesting, though, because you had this beautiful structure down there, this real classic landscape that was an architectural treasure -- and then you dropped people off at this makeshift little shack in the middle of nowhere, they had to step over tracks to get into it. It was kind of an eyesore, and it was an embarrassment to people who came to St. Louis by rail.

That's exactly why we should save it!

We just don't have the space.

Xmas Shopping with a Highly Sensitive Unreal

Dear Diary: The season of giving (and most important, getting) wasn't supposed to start this way! We missed church's cut-your-own-free-fir fest thanks to a hangover. Then, skipping work Monday for the doctor's and our first shopping day -- sans psychos and queues -- we waited TWO-POINT-FIVE HOURS for the M.D.! When that woman in the waiting room screeched "SHUT UP!" at her five-year-old, who could blame us for offering up a knuckle sandwich? No hollering near highly sensitive people during Christmas, lady!

Dear Diary: All our turtle doves were in a row Tuesday -- jackknife, list and budget/ pie chart (spending by pet, pal and pain-in-the-ass/next-of-kin) in the sack. Highway 40 empty. Even remembered the iPod. Disembarked at Frontenac, had a funny feeling approaching Saks. Headlights off? Yes. Trailing toilet paper? No. Deodorant? Check. Was someone following--

There! That dude with the beard, the close-walker! Is he calling us a ho? What the--?! "Hey man, yule's got us batty enough, you stalker!"

Dear Diary: Wednesday and Thursday were washouts. French horn practice...wrapping late...doorman yakking about his pussycats.... Finally booted up but too zonked to Net-shop. And the Vicky's Secret coupons expired! What about Mom? Scratch her off the list?

Dear Diary: The stars aligned today like five golden rings. T-G-for-Friday, all about tanning! Oh, yes, after twenty in the fake-'n'-bake, no red-nosed queer could've disturbed us. If ever a day to conquer Needless Mark-Up.... But then: No chain saws!?

Luckily, the cell rang: Dad, calling from Winos-Sonoma. "Free tasting? No kidding! Be right over."

Dear Diary: Can't remember if Noel's sixth day yins or yangs. Wasn't seven a deadly number? Anyway. Thinking about hiring a personal shopper. Or resuming therapy. (Pricey, though.)

What about Ted Zeff, Highly Sensitive Person's Guide guru? Could he harness our positive-thinking powers? Or, like, summon Santa?

Dear Diary: Talked to Ted. Seems we could retool some tactics!

1) Never leave home without a Walkman, "otherwise you're setting yourself up for HSP hell."

2) Avoid stalkers by going online for gift certificates. By the way, adds Ted, "go to the botanical gardens."

3) Surrender. Get attached to buying Mom a new teddy, and we're setting ourselves up for disappointment.

4) Friday warrants a "mini-retreat," like a nap, a bath, a massage. (Yes, wine tasting is kosher!)

5) Skip some holiday parties. And don't feel guilty.

Hmm. That might be difficult. Didn't he say highly sensitive kids are most popular in China? That with more HSPs among us, we'd eradicate terrorism, war, environmental destruction?

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