Sunday, November 27, 2005

My Sunday Feeling

There are a few items of special interest in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that bear mentioning. Now, I realize that discussing the local media is not exactly my forte. There are others that are better at it, like my young friend Joy, whose poison penned observations can be found here: Now here's the first caveat of today's post: I love this kid. Granted, she's a little over-the-top on occasion. Which is why I found it amazing that a relatively straight-up (for her I mean) piece she wrote recently for the Arkansas Times got her physically accosted at a cocktail party. I mean, this is a girl that weighs @ 110 lbs. soaking wet. That's my girl! I only wish I had been escorting her that night. I would have interceded on her behalf because I am a gentleman and because I am not afraid to fight a girl if I have to. Anyway, Joy is out traveling or something leaving a character assassination void to fill this morning, so let's get right to it before she gets back and finds out what I have been up to while her back was turned.

Phil Martin's piece is a thoughtful response to an anonymous critic who has criticized him for overwriting in his essays. As a matter of full disclosure, it is time now for a the second caveat of this post: Philip Dale Martin is one of my best friends. We hang together. We play golf. Check that. He plays golf. I hit balls into the woods, cuss and throw clubs. He is a patient man. Anyway, we eat guy food at The Town Pump. We do not discuss his writing. We do not discuss the practice of law. We are guys. So we don't really discuss much of anything. He is married to Karen Martin who loves me very much. This is a good thing because, unlike Joy's cocktail party assailant, Karen could pretty much kick my ass anytime she felt so led. And she knows it.

Anyway, Phil did not disagree too much with his critic. He defended himself by saying that he was completely fascinated by words and language. As he put it, " I am retarded in this way." I believe that he is being way too hard on himself.

Come with me to today's sports page where Wally Hall, following his muse and erroneously believing it to be Grantland Rice, uncorked the following stemwinder in a piece about yesterday's UCA game up in Conway:

" They were Kodak scenes.

Everywhere you turned, it could have been the catalog cover for an Ivy League school.

UCA was pristine."

After disclosing that he was actually up there to watch a football game Wally returned to his nature walk, adding: " Even Mother Nature heeded the call and the trees held on to the plethora of colors that graced the campus and gave a shine against the gray skies."

Whew! Kodak scenes?!? Eastman-Kodak oughtta sue. As should Mother Nature for that matter.

Wally typically gets himself into this kind of trouble whenever he departs from the usual rumor mongering, ass kissing and making stuff up that is his oeuvre and actually tries to write. Phil's critic thinks he takes too long to get to the point with what are described as "throat clearing paragraphs?" If Phil's writing constitutes "throat clearing" Wally needs to borrow my asthma inhaler.

If we must offer a diagnosis here, I would say that Phil's fascination with words resembles autism if it resembles anything.

Wally is just retarded.

Returning to the editorial page, there is an interesting discussion about a couple of books written by two women who have written about the impact pornography is having on the sexual development and mores of both men and women. The books in question are " Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Families" by a woman with the unlikely name of Pamela Paul and "Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and The Rise of Raunch Culture" by Ariel Levy. The basic thesis of the books is that pornography is no longer erotica or the relative silliness of Playboy. As the article states pornography is "increasingly violent and non-consensual" and that it "generally portrays women as docile receptacles whose only purpose is to satisfy men." And that more and more men are watching it.

Hello? They are just now figuring this out?

Now, I am no prude. But, God help me, I do love women. And if you love women, you can't have any use for porn. But the article is useful in setting out the practical difficulties in regulating it. Sure, I think that most reasonable and thoughtful people (I do not include Donald Wildmon, Pat Robertson or Fayetteville gadfly Laurie Taylor in that number) could agree that extreme depictions of sado-masochism or depictions of sexual assault as an acceptable form of sexual gratification are unacceptable even in a free society. (Okay. That was a terrible sentence. You try to come up with a better way of putting that.) But beyond that particular subset, where do you draw the line? Is porn really anymore degrading to its subjects than slasher films? Or certain video games? Or Dr. Phil?

I don't know. But our young people, particularly our young men, need to know that porn is the cartoon version of the most wonderful, complicated and occasionally dangerous thing in the world. It is not real. Real people do not behave this way in real life.

But like the authors of the books and the author of the piece in the paper, I'll be damned if I know how to go about it. But if you are a man and if you love women, you can't have any use for porn. You just can't.

Finally, I have to say that I kind of agree with Professor Gitz's column today. Gitz is the frequent target of withering criticism over on the ARMedia website, so I'm sure Joy will reach for the smelling salts when she reads this. But he's right. Why we invaded Iraq is largely irrelevant. We're there. We're stuck and we need to have an exit strategy. I don't even disagree with his call for a "relatively stable multiparty democracy permitting our departure."

Which begs the question of how to go about it. I think it is clear to anyone that our attempt to prosecute the establishment of democracy in Iraq on the cheap is not working. As Gitz says, the only sure way to bring our soldiers back is victory. But it seems that victory cannot be achieved short of an even more robust influx of men and materiel. And if the Administration won't commit to it while leveling with the people that such a robust new strategy is needed, than I say bring 'em home yesterday. Otherwise, we are merely exposing a bunch of damn fine men and woman to harm's way while waiting for the eventual disaster that could well be post-occupation Iraq. It's not worth it.

But that's just one man's opinion. A man who is eternally grateful that two of his best friends got out of there alive.

Well, that's it for now. Oh. One last thing. I didn't read the Sweet Tea column in the Arkansas section. Sweet Tea should is not fit to be be drunk or read.

And one more last thing. Here's hoping that Joy over at ARMedia doesn't try to kick my ass me when she finds out I worked her side of the street this morning. After all, you gotta watch out for those little ones.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


It has come to my attention that I somehow managed to turn off the "Comment" setting for the blog. I think that I have restored it. So, if anyone has any comments about the last 4 or 5 posts-I'm told it has probably been off that long- you may now fire away. Also, if you wish to e-mail a post to someone, you can use the link to the e-mail below as well.

Sorry for the inconvenience. Bear with me.



Friday, November 25, 2005


Like zillions of other Americans good and true, I took to the road yesterday for Thanksgiving. We have been going to my cousin's house for the past 20 years or so. She and her husband built a nice place in Heber Springs, Arkansas out on some land that has been in the family since there pretty much has been a Cleburne County. She and David designed it themselves. It always amazes me when lay people design and build things. I have a brother in Missouri-also named David-who designed and built his house in Springfield. I could not design and build a cheese sandwich. I am awe of people that have this sort of talent.

To be quite honest-as I always am-I was not too keen on going this year. Typically, I like Thanksgiving although I have no particular use for Christmas. Never much have. Christmas is contrived and mercenary whereas Thanksgiving is pleasant and pretty low maintenance for a High Holy Day. But this year promised to be pretty different and not in a good way. None of my brothers would be there. Bob had to work at the nervous hospital. David had to tend to his father-in-law who has a terminal illness. John had to go to Jonesboro. Mother has not been able to travel in some time and Uncle Bill followed Aunt Jean into the Hereafter last August. So, all things considered, I was pretty much resolved to on sit this one out but I got talked into going by one of my sisters-in-laws who feared having nobody to talk to if I weren't there. Besides, I had purchased two dozen rolls at the high end bread store in the neighborhood. My cousin-who loves me very much-would have killed me had I not shown up with them. It is enough that the holidays are a pain in the ass. They are not worth dying over.

I got up there around 11:30 only to find out that lunch would not be ready until 1 or so. Rather, than hear Uncle Ralph tell the story about the time he saw a bush-hog sling a mower blade across a pasture for a second time, I opted to go visit the little cemetery in Pearson where many of my mother's people are buried and where I took the picture at the top of the page.

I first ran across Dr. Gorham's grave when I showing a friend where my grandparents were buried. To paraphrase Uncle Earl Long, when I die, if I die, I want Dr. Gorham's epitaph upon my own grave. "Friend of Sinners." I like that. I did not know Dr. Gorham. It is not inconceivable that we are distant relatives given the shallow gene pool that obtained in Cleburne County before the Army built the lake and all the Yankees started moving down from Chicago and Indianapolis. Which reminds me. I have a funny story-it was funny to me at the time at least-about Greers Ferry Lake and an ex-girlfriend who was overly proud of her physique. But this is a ostensibly a post about Thanksgiving so I will basically stick to the subject at hand.

Anyway, in my mind's eye, it amuses me to think of sitting down with Dr. Gorham and passing the time by committing various sins. Don't get me wrong. I'm not thinking of anything of a sexual nature with Dr. Gorham. I ain't that kind of a sinner. No. I'm thinking more along the lines of beer drinking, cussing, poker, that level of sinnin'. Alas, Dr. Gorham was probably a dour Baptist with an honorary doctorate from Southwestern Theological Seminary or some other depressing preacher mill. Whoever he is-or was- he has one hell of an epitaph inscribed upon his marker. You have to give him that.

While en route to Uncle Bill I passed the Hazlewoods. My Grandmother Bivens was a Hazlewood. There were Uncle Porter and his wife Cue. They lived down the street from us in Mabelvale. Nadine, their daughter who still lives down there, called Mother with the news that I had sold her house to black folks although that probably wasn't exactly the way she put it. Thanks a lot Nadine. Uncle Porter blew his head off with a shotgun while sitting in the garden back in 1987. Mother was upset that the coroner ruled his death a suicide. She told me that he had the shotgun with him because squirrels were getting his tomatoes. I guess they shot back.

Uncle Ira-pronounced "Arrie", naturally-is buried next to Aunt Mildred. And Aunt is properly pronounced "Ain't" by my mother's people. Lillian is buried not too far away. Anyway, Ira was kind of the town drunk as I am made to understand. He once got arrested for sneaking a bottle of whisky through the bars of the window of the county jail into the grateful hands of one of his drinking buddies. In what can only be described as something like unto a redneck bar mitzvah, Ira offered me a plug of his Day's Work chewing tobacco upon hearing from my grandfather that I had graduated from law school. Aunt Lillian was a mischievous woman. When I was little she delighted in trying to get me to confess that I thought that she was prettier than Grandmother. I must have squirmed something fierce during those interrogations as I didn't want to offend Mildred but I wasn't about to say anything bad about my grandmother.

My grandparents lie not too far from Ira. My grandmother was named Johnnie Esther. I am named after her husband. My grandmother was a kindly woman with a large body made strong from raising 5 kids and working in the fields. Her hands were as strong as any man's. She could play "Power in the Blood" on a little pump organ and she read her Bible on a daily basis. She had the distinction of being married to the meanest son of a bitch in Cleburne County.

Paul Bivens held himself out as a WPA tree farmer during the Depression. This was only his day job. His real avocation and highest use was that of making moonshine. The old whiskey still is probably back there in the woods somewhere yet today. Accordingly, he was the most important guy in the county during most elections as he was counted on by the powers that be to make sure that the guys who voted right got to wet their whistles. If the outcome of a particular election was in doubt even after the application of the white lightning, he would sometimes be asked to come into town with his shotgun and be a "poll watcher."

He quit making moonshine after several bad batches convinced him that he had lost his touch. The reality of the situation was that Grandmother, who by that point in time had evidently grown weary of his second career, kept sneaking back there to pour well water into the mash so that it wouldn't ferment. To his dying day he never knew why all of a sudden his whiskey wouldn't "make."

My final stop on this Thanksgiving was at the grave of Bill and Jean. They had been married for over 60 years. She was a Bittle. The graveyard is full of her people as well. They moved to California to find work after they were married. Like other Arkies and Okies, they went out west in search of work on farms where carrots grew as big as railroad ties and oranges were the size of chihuahuas. Like many of their fellow nomads they soon returned to Arkansas where Bill eventually found work in Benton with Alcoa and Jean worked at Gingles Department Store. Bill worked in the aluminum plant at night and built their house on Maple Street during the day.

My Aunt Jean was the proper sort of woman who kept "Leaves of Gold" on her coffee table in the living room. And she read it. And found it useful. Uncle Bill loved to hunt and fish. He enjoyed his garden. And he delighted in kidding me about a) being a lawyer and b) having an SUV with such amenities as leather seats and satellite radio. He refused to acknowledge that it was a real truck.

Bill had a massive stroke on New Year's Day of 2003. During a visit to the hospital one day Jean told me how much she despised my grandfather. Which was pretty much news to me. Jean up and died in her sleep in the summer of 2004. Bill was completely disconsolate until the day he died last August. I'm surprised he made it that long.

I have left people out. And I have done nobody any justice. I left out mother's Uncle Joe Boyd who talked like Carl in "Sling Blade." I didn't mention Aunt Opal who ran the diner in Quitman. I forgot to mention all of the tiny graves interspersed between them all marking the resting places of infants. Most of them are adorned with statues of tiny lambs and marked with the inscription "Safe with Jesus."

During our lifetime there are only so many people that will love us. I guess it is a sign of my station in life that the little cemetery in Pearson is full of people that once loved me and who are lost and gone forever.

I said goodbye to Bill and Jean. I dried my eyes and I left.

When I got back to the house, the food was laid out, the children were being called in from the yard and Ralph was still talking about his goddamn bush-hog. Grace was invoked. Food was eaten. Stories were told. News was caught up on. Afterwards, the men watched football. The ones that were still awake that is. The women cleaned up while I took pictures and stayed out of the way.

My cousin's boys along with their stepbrother went out back to shoot skeet. Nine year old nephew Henry wanted to learn how to sling the clay pigeon. So after a couple of practice tries with the slinger he pronounced himself ready to give it a try. Cousin Todd raised the shotgun. He shouted "pull." Henry swung the slinger for all he was worth.

And hit Cousin Todd square in the nuts.

Uncle Bill would have loved it. Once he made sure out that Todd was ok that is. Which he was after about an hour of being tended to by his two med student stepbrothers and his neurosurgeon father.

I left shortly after that. I figured that nothing else was likely to happen that would top Henry and the slinger. In fact, Slinger may become Henry's nickname after yesterday. And Todd will never shoot skeet without wearing a catcher's cup ever again. As I drove past the graveyard I honked the horn in my wussy SUV.

And I know somewhere, somehow my Uncle Bill heard me say goodbye.

And I know that he smiled.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Fan's Notes

I went to a high school football game down at the stadium the other night. One of the high schools, the one that is sponsored by the Vatican here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest, was playing in the semi-finals of the state championships. I was not about to miss. The Headmaster over there is a buddy of mine. I know some of the kids on the team and their parents. Besides, the Catholic High Rockets contend for a football title about once an evolutionary cycle. I may be in the nursing home the next time they pull this off.

I got there about kickoff. I found a seat high up in the bleachers where I settled in with my mini-pizza and bottled water that I bought from the Boy Scouts down below, perfectly content to be all bundled up out in the cold night air watching kids play ball. I had just taken a bite of what passed for my
dinner when I heard a man call out my name followed by " Hey! Mind if I join you?" Before I had a chance to answer Bill and his youngest son scooted in beside me.

Now let me be quite honest. I do not like Bill. There are no two ways around it. He is the ex-husband of a woman I cared deeply about once upon a time. That is not why I do not like Bill. Without going into lurid detail, suffice it to say that until he stopped drinking, he was spectacularly unstable and unreliable, a man who one of his old Rocket teammates described to me as "the worst alcoholic he ever saw" a remarkable statement coming from this informant who I know full well has seen his fair share of serious bad drunks. But that is not why I don't like Bill.

I don't like Bill because he is a narcissistic mama's boy who, insofar as I could tell, was never made to take responsibility for his actions. He ran any of a number of businesses straight into the dumper only to be repeatedly bailed out by his mother and her apparently limitless supply of cash which she spent on him like it was water. I don't like him because I saw firsthand the pain and frustration that was frequently visited upon the mother of his children-a good and brave woman- whenever his irresponsibility was in its full flower. I don't like him because I think I might otherwise like him. Like many alcoholics, he is the outwardly affable sort of guy that could charm the chrome off of a trailer hitch. But his charm and bravado were frequently offset by recurrent bouts of self-pity, a dichotomy I didn't fully understand having no formal training in psychiatry.

His son ran off to play with some other boys. And there I was, left alone with this man that I do not like. Eventually he spoke.

" I want you to know something." he said.

" Oh great." I thought. " Now he wants to chat." I turned to look at him. I noticed that my arms were folded tightly across my chest.

" I want you to know that I have been sober for two years now."

There was an awkward silence between us. I noticed the sadness in his eyes as they searched my face. I extended my hand.

" Hey, man." I said as I reached for his hand. " That's great. That's really great. Congratulations. I'm really proud of you." And I meant it. I never thought he would get this far. I mean, this is a guy who drank vodka for breakfast. I always kind of figured that wrapping a car around a tree somewhere at 2 a.m. was his destiny.

That seemed to relax him.

" I want you to know that means a lot to me to hear you say that." he replied.

" No really. It's not about me. You are to be commended for getting on top of it. It's all you."

" Well, thanks."

Silence mercifully returned as we turned back to the game below us. It didn't last long.

" I want you to know that I have kept my job. I've even been promoted. I'm strictly 9 to 5 now. I need that structure. It amazes me to think of myself working somewhere at a job where I have good benefits. I've even got vacation time coming. I can't believe it. I will never run a restaurant again. Things are going too good for me right now."

" I'm really glad to hear it, Bill. Good for you." I said. I almost added, "Maybe you can get current on child support now." Bad on me, I know. At least I didn't actually say it.

His boy-who at one time was kind of my boy too-returned. Knowing that he is as much a human garbage disposal as he is a little boy, I gave him my pizza.

" I guess I kept you from eating your dinner." Bill said, sheepishly. " It probably isn't good cold."

" Nah. Not much good cold." I replied. I was lying. Actually, I had lost my appetite.

I left at halftime. I manufactured an excuse about having to get up early. Quite frankly, and no disrespect to Bill, I needed a drink.

My head was humming as I walked up the hill back to the relative sanity of my little house. I mean, the man is not stupid. He knows that I have no use for him. Out of all the people at the stadium that night why did he sit with me? My friend Dr. GG opined that it might have been an inept attempt to do the "making amends" thing that guys in AA are supposed to do. Another friend who knows a lot about this stuff said that alcoholics sometimes confuse sobriety with the acquisition of social skills and that maybe it just didn't occur to him that, while I wish him no harm, I sure as hell don't want to socialize with him. And I know a couple of people in AA and God love 'em they all tend to talk, talk, talk.

Maybe he derives some false comfort from the fact that his ex gave us both the heave-ho. It would be just like him, given the cocoon of denial he has always operated out of, to draw some sort of moral equivalence between our shared experience. "See? There ain't no living with her." I can hear him say. Which infuriates me when I think about it. But this would explain why he honks and waves like we're big buddies when he sees me out running in the neighborhood. Listen pal, I ain't running a personal chapter of the VFW. And if I were I wouldn't let you join.

So why didn't I tell him to buzz off? I am perfectly capable of such behavior. I do not suffer fools gladly. And as I grow older, I am less inclined to take stuff lying down or to tolerate being taken for granted. I have burned-nay- blown up bridges. I have kept lists of names just for the pleasure of marking them off. So why on earth did irascible combative me sit for and hour-an hour of my life that I will never get back-and listen to a man that once treated a person I cared for so very badly?

Dr. GG says this is proof that I am a good man. That is nice of her to say. But I am not a good man. I am not a very good Christian either. But I'm a pretty good Methodist. And we Methodists are hard-wired incapable of turning away from people in need. Like I said, I always saw the pain in Bill's eyes, pain that was for the most part self-inflicted, but it was there nonetheless. For whatever reason, he needed to tell me the things he told me on that cold night at War Memorial Stadium. If talking to me helped him keep it together for one more night then I couldn't turn away. He is the father of two little boys that I love. I owed the son of a bitch that much.

But I ain't running a personal VFW. And just because I am very pleased that he has done so well in his recovery from addiction, we aren't going to become friends.

Because I do not like Bill. There are no two ways around it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

That Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

And no, I'm not referring to the Holiday Season although even as I write this, some fool in a Santa Claus suit is riding a Harley up Van Buren.

And it's not even the 15th of November yet. Strength. Give me strength.

But I digress. I am referring is the basketball season which cranks up in earnest for the college and high school kids next week. The NBA started about 3 weeks ago but I don't watch those guys until the playoffs or unless the Indiana Pacers are on. But that's only to see if Ron Artest will go off on a ref. Or on an opposing center. Or on an entire section of fans in the bleachers.

Talk about entertainment!

Unlike my buddy at the newspaper (and you know who you are) I was but a modestly talented player. I got by only because my devotion to line drills and for diving for loose balls endeared me to the-mostly-redneck coaches I labored under as I came up. I was treated for the most part with disdain by the white guys who could actually play a little and by virtually all of the black guys. No matter. I made the team. Got to ride on the bus to the games and got to watch some good players up close and personal. And I do mean watch as I was rarely put in the actual game unless and until the outcome was well nigh determined. If you think this experience scarred me, a la Janis Ian and that stupid song in which she laments never being picked for the basketball team, you would be wrong. I was scarred aplenty by the practices sustaining, as I did, 2 broken noses in 5 years. But the games, no.

I am not nearly the avid fan of years gone by. Due to cable television and the Internet there is just too much basketball out there to follow it all. Still, most nights, I will have a game on, if only for background noise. Unless of course the Pacers are on. Then, being the mature sort that I am, I watch to see how quick Artest gets ejected. Little things amuse little minds.

On a less sordid note, it is not unheard of for me to take in a couple of high school games a week, especially if one of the schools in the neighborhood are playing. I go watch Hall, Catholic and the Belles up the hill at St. Mary's. It's therapy for me. I can just go, turn my brain off and watch kids play ball. I love it. Last year I took a 5 year old to his first high school basketball game. If you can't have fun at a sporting event with a little kid, you need your pulse checked.

However, honesty compels me at this point in the narrative to point something out. If NCAA Division I men's sports is a cesspool, and more than one person has suggested that it is, then basketball is the drainplug of the cesspool, the lowest of the low. Recruiting in basketball is nothing but a dirty arms race. And in every arm's race there are suppliers. To illustrate my point, let me tell you what happened to me about this time last year at a preseason tournament that was being played at Hall High down the street.

I had gone to see Catholic and Hall play each other. One of my old Little Leaguers was in his senior year at Catholic and he wanted me to come see him. This kid-let's call him Bobby- was big stuff in AAU ball but had tailed off considerably in high school as the other kids matured. (The last I heard is that Bobby had decided to walk on at Ole Miss. Bobby, I love ya, but rots of ruck.) Anyway, the new gym at Hall is built like unto a miniature version of "The Pit" at New Mexico with the actual court down about 3 stories below a promenade where one can stand and watch the game if you don't want to sit in the bleachers below.

As I stood there watching the game and admiring the handsome new building I was suddenly conscious of a presence next to me at the rail.

" Who you on, man?" There at my side stood a gentleman who was resplendent in a brown veloury sort of sweatsuit. This tasteful garment was accentuated by an equally immodest display of bling.

" Come again?" I said.

"Who you looking at, man? Who you got?"

It suddenly dawned on me. I had come to the game straight from the office. I was wearing what my aforementioned buddy at the paper derisively refers to as my "black ensemble" the latter word pronounced the correct French way. Nothing exudes scorn better than correct French diction.

Anyway, there I was in a black turtleneck slacks and trousers. I was wearing black Cole-Haan loafers. In my arms I held a black cashmere overcoat. And thus attired, I looked to this man to be a white basketball pimp: A John Calipari wannabee hanging around high school hoops trying to steer kids to schools in exchange for money.

Once I figured out what was going on, I decided to have some fun.

"You want to know who I'm on?" I whispered, leaning into him conspiratorially.

" Yeah." said Bling, leaning into me as well.

" Bobby." I said. "That's who I'm on."

The man recoiled. His jewelry made a clanking sound. "Bobby? For real?"

"Yep." I said, putting my index finger to my lips as if to say "Shhhhh." "I'm here to see Bobby. Now if you'll excuse me."

Bling returned to a group of similarly attired guys. Every now and again I noticed him pointing at me and shaking his head as he explained what he had heard from the White Basketball Pimp.

I tell this story mainly because it is amusing. But the underlying reality of it is not. Basketball is full up to the brim with scumbags, pimps, pseudo-experts and touts. Unlike football, you can turn things around with only one guy in hoops. Look at Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse. They win the NCAA tournament with him his freshman year and poof! he's outta there. And so the recruiting of these guys and their parents and their buddies is nothing if not intense. And money gets paid to guys sometime to make sure a kid gets delivered to State U. Business is business. It's a dirty arms race.

And yet I love it so. Sometimes, I dream that I am 16 again. I am standing on the free throw line with the ball in my hands. I can hear the cheerleaders. I can see my father in the stands. I can even smell the popcorn. I never actually shoot the ball in those dreams. Which is good because I would probably miss as I generally did in real life.

In my dream I am content to just be there in that old gym a lifetime away. Just me and a bunch of kids playing ball.

So don't be surprised if you see me in some gym in the People's Republic of Hillcrest on any given night. I still like to be around kids playing ball. I just try to ignore the pimps out on the periphery.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Random Thoughts While Battling The Flu

I haven't had much of a chance to post anything in awhile due to various and sundry reasons, not the least of them was a never-ending string of birthday activities that continues even into this week. This really has been fun. I won't have to go to the liquor store for a month or to the grocery store for a week. I may gain 25 pounds in the process. But I sure am having fun. I had to call a "time-out" for today as I seem to have been struck down by a mild flu bug. So I have a chance to write a few things while I am under the weather.

1) From the errata department: In the last installment, I puckishly referred to my brothers as being merely "adequate." These words came back to me at warp speed when I saw them at the surprise birthday party they threw for me a week or so ago. Ha! Ha! I'm a kidder, you know. But in the interest of fairness and also because Dave asked me " You want to take back that "adequate" shit now Birthday Boy?" Accordingly, I want to amplify upon my earlier remarks.

My brothers are great. Here are the four of us up at the right hand corner. They are good men and true every last man-jack of them. They are brave, loyal, thrifty, courteous, patriotic, brave, clean and reverent. None of them has owed me any money in forever. Neither have I been forced to go to court with any of them in-shoot-a good ten years, easy. A lucky man am I to have brothers such as these. I am especially lucky that Dave had not been drinking upon my arrival as he seemed genuinely sufficiently annoyed enough to snap my neck. Which he could easily do.

And so I take it back. Every word of it.

Thanks, guys! I really appreciated it!

2) Do the Razorbacks suck or what? I have never been one to criticize play calling. I am no expert in these matters and second guessing a coach is the easiest thing in the world to do. But what in God's name was Houston Nutt thinking when he dialed up a quarterback sneak on a 4th and inches in their own territory with a freshman quarterback playing his first game in the first quarter of same game? Naturally, it was easily repulsed and South Carolina went on to score. The Hogs are now 2-6 and they get Ole Miss in Oxford next week. It says here that the Rebels win. It says here that they finish 2-9 with some of the best talent they have ever had up there.

And they say coaching doesn't matter?

3) Did Vanderbilt get screwed the other night or what? Poor old Vanderbilt scored late in the 4th quarter to pull within one of Florida in Gainesville Saturday night. The question presented was: Do they try a point after attempt or do they go for two. That was the question at least until some idiot wearing stripes threw a flag for "excessive celebration" on Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt!

Like they have that many occasions to celebrate over there. Sure, I'll bet there are hangovers in abundance in Nashville when the LSATs or MCATs come in. But on the field of play? They are as rare as completed forward passes in Fayetteville.

Anyway, Vandy was forced to kick a PAT to put the game into overtime. Which they lost. You know that officials in any sport have done a good job when they are not noticed. The moron that threw that flag directly affected the outcome of the game for no good reason.

Which is kind of the coaches' job. Ask Houston Nutt.

3) Is Terrell Owens a pain in the ass or what? The Philadelphia Eagles suspended loudmouth jerk Terrell Owens for the rest of the season due to the constant, unending, infantile displays of narcissism out of him.

I say Good Riddance. Which is what many of the Eagles are saying as I appreciate the commentary on the Internet (Remember I am unwell. I stayed home today.).

But this is the NFL, not the Marine Corps. Mark my words, some other team (with my luck, the Saints) will do the Faustian Bargain thing and pick him up. And we will see the same soap opera all over again.

That's all for now. I feel an attack of the vapors coming on. I must go and get into some of that Tennessee flu medicine that I was given for my birthday.

Good night and good luck.