Sunday, December 31, 2006

Now HERE Is Some Bullshit

The following gem can be found in a piece in today's New York Times Magazine by Chuck Klosterman about deceased whack job Syd Barrett who founded Pink Floyd. It could have just as easily been crafted by our own Wally Hall.

"[H]is disaffected, hyper-British vocal delivery has influenced singers who have never heard his records."

Oh yeah? How so?

My Sunday Feeling

Last week I went to a reception for my Mother's cousin Joe Boyd and his wife Betty who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The little church was filled with well-wishers. I saw folks I hadn't seen in years. Betty floated around greeting folks while Joe Boyd played mandolin with the bluegrass band that provided the entertainment.

This is the way we all want it to be when we get old. Joe is a little more forgetful than he once was, but he goes to the gym 2 or 3 times a week. Betty's osteoporosis is a worry but other than that she is in reasonably good shape. They have their autonomy, they enjoy pretty good health and they live independently in the home the built in the woods of Grant County.

Not all of us are so lucky. Indeed, from what I have seen lately of the so-called "Golden Years" I would greatly prefer to be crushed by a Steinway concert grand than to go through what some folks endure at the end of life.

One of my brother's father-in-law died the day after Christmas. He was in awful shape. He had a bad ticker despite a couple of bypass surgeries. Last year he was diagnosed with leukemia. He was in constant pain and was confined to a hospital bed they had put up in the house. As if the family didn't have enough to contend with, his wife suffers from dementia. She is loud and combative. The words the sick man uttered with his last breath were "Shut up, Helen."

So much for a peaceful and tranquil passing.

Back in the land of the living, we have to move Mother to the nursing home next Tuesday. She doesn't want to go. As of Friday she had taken to her bed.

" I can't do it son, " she said. "It'll kill me."

" Mom," I said. "The move will not kill you. You're just moving a quarter mile away. You will be at Bob's with the lady who sits up with you while we move everything. You don't have to do a thing."

" But you don't understand. All I have left anymore is my friends. My family certainly doesn't come see me much. I will miss my friends here."

Now this was interesting. She has been at Trillium Park since 1999. This is the first I ever heard any mention of any friends. All she has ever told me is how much she hates it there. But I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt despite her historical penchant for manipulation. After all, it can't be denied that the thought of moving to a new place is stressful to her.

" Mom. You're not moving to a prison. Bob said he will bring you back to have lunch with the ladies you eat with. I'll take their picture and we'll put it up on the wall in your new apartment. And besides, you'll make new friends. Isn't that exciting?"

Silence. She looked away.

" I don't make friends easily," she said to the wall. " I never have."

She turned back toward me.

" Why are you doing this to me? I thought you loved me. I'm just being pushed to the side. Nobody cares what I want."

The lady from Elder Independence that sits with her gasped and covered her mouth. I took off my glasses and covered my eyes with my hand.

"Remain calm." I thought to myself. "Remember Dr. GG said this could happen. This happened five tears ago when we told her she was going to Trillium. She is scared. She is angry that she has no say in the decision. She is also trying to punch my buttons big time."

I got up and sat on her bed. I took her hand.

"Mother" I said. "When I was little it was your job to care of me. And there were times when you made decisions about me that I didn't think were fair and that I didn't like. And while it bothered you to see me upset, you didn't change your mind because you thought the decision you had made, hard as it was, was in my best interests."

" Now I'm no longer little. And it's the time in our lives where it is my job to take care of you. It's my job now. And sometimes I have to make decisions about what is in your best interests whether you like them or not. And just like when you cared for me, the fact that you don't like the decision I have made is not going to change what has to be done on Tuesday. I'm sorry. I wish we didn't have to do this. But we do."

She rolled over and looked at the wall again.

"What is it you say at times like these?" she asked the wall.

Actually, the selection of which blood-curdling oath I might employ at any given time is quite extensive and largely depends on the stress level and the audience at hand. I admit to being curious as to which one might have stuck in her mind.

She rolled onto her back.

"You used to say it when you played.........." She swept her arm through the air.

"What? Tennis?"

" Yes." she said, jabbing her finger in the air. "You used to say 'Awwwwwwww DAMN it!' That's what you used to say. Well, that's how I feel right now."

Yep. I used to say that on the tennis court alright. I am only relieved that she's never followed me around on the golf course.

"That's how I feel too, Mother," I said. "That's how I feel too."

Dave went by to see her yesterday before going back to Missouri. He said she seemed pretty much OK about it. He said they discussed the move and she seemed to be much better today. I'm glad. But we shall see what Tuesday brings. No matter what happens, it will not be an easy day.

We all look forward to an active and happy retirement. We pray for a peaceful end. And we hope to stay out of the nursing home in the interim.

But we don't always get what we want. It isn't right and it isn't fair.

And that's why I want to kiss a runaway Steinway before that day comes for me.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Grim Reality

Suffice it to say, I have a much keener interest in these matters than I did at one time. I also have a Long Term Care policy.

Hit the link to see a cautionary tale.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Flowers

As I write this, it is just past noon on Christmas Day. It's pretty quiet here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest. It's pretty quiet here in my little house. While all is calm, all is not bright. It is a cold and rainy day this Christmas. It feels like New Orleans in February. It is not that cold in Fahrenheit terms but the damp wind cuts to the bone. You can never get warm during winter in New Orleans. I guess that's why there are so many bars.

It has been a good Christmas. Yesterday, I took communion from the Methodists and was blessed by the Catholics, thereby getting all of the bases covered. Last night I had a nice dinner with KM and PM. PM is not one of your wilder and crazier guys. But he was feeling festive last night. Before we left for the restaurant, he proclaimed, " Hell, it's Christmas Eve. I'm gonna have me a drink in the car. I ain't driving."

Who says we don't know how to have fun?

I had presents to open this morning. They were books. All in all, I have been given 4 books this year. I guess people don't think I am sufficiently well read. I have also gotten about 2 gallons of various brands of whiskey. I've got so much high dollar booze in the house that the cheapest stuff I could find to put in the pecan pies was Weller's which is a pretty high-falutin' garnishment for pecan pie. These are good days.

J gave me a watch. Mine died about 6 months ago and I just never got around to getting one. I guess she got tired of me pulling out my cell phone in order to tell time. It's pretty fancy, with about as many functions as my digital camera. She may come to regret her choice of gifts as I have reacquired my nervous habit of shooting my cuff to look at my watch every few seconds. This, I would think is at least as annoying a being around someone who is constantly pulling a cell phone from the holster. Anyway, I am grateful for my watch for no other reason than it is proof that there is at least one good-looking woman in town who will still give me the time of day.

OK. So that was a lot of work for a cheap laugh. You ought to know by now that David Sedaris I am not.

I ran up to Conway earlier this morning to take flowers to my mother. She was lying in bed when I got there. The lady from Elder Independence said her hip was hurting her. Last week it was her shoulder. These are new complaints. Bob examined her and said it was most likely from sleeping too hard in one spot. We got her a heating pad and gave her some Tylenol. Jesus, if it's not one thing it is ten. A buddy's wife gave me some granola. Mom likes granola so I took it to her. Allen approved of this disposition of his wife's handiwork and assured me there' was more where that came from.

It's hard to buy stuff for a person who is confined to a room. She has all the stuff she will ever need. The social worker at the nursing home she will be moving to urged us to resist the temptation to bring all of her things. So the last couple of Christmases I have taken her flowers. Back at the house she always kept a garden. She can't remember my name fully a third of the time. And yet, she can name most of the flowers in the arrangement.

Today was no different. She examined the flowers with an interest and focus that she usually can't summon forth on a good day even. That is good to see. It means that there is some wattage still going on in there.

And now I am home where it is nice and quiet. The Lakers will be on in a few minutes so I can look forward to watching Kobe shoot the ball 35 times in the spirit of sharing and cooperation. It seems to have quit raining. Maybe I'll go out for a run. Maybe I will take a nap. The options available to me are numerous and overwhelming.

The ribs for tonight's dinner are out smoking away on the big Hudson grill. I'm about ready to put the apple wood out there. The air around the house really smells great. When Steve lived next door he would practically beam himself over a la Star Trek whenever I did ribs out on the deck.

I know. I've written that before. I don't care. It is Christmas and it is a happy memory.

Just like Mother summoning forth the name of a flower on Christmas morning. A happy, happy memory.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Carol

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat and down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
Psalm 137

One of the more interesting things about life is that you can find perspective in the most unlikely places. This is a true story. This is what happened in a liquor store last year on Christmas Eve.

I was there buying a bottle of whiskey to take to my brother's house for the Christmas dinner I was already dreading. Not that I don't get along with my brother or anything. Well, let's put it this way. I get along with him as well as anybody does. It's just that I approached Christmas of 2005 with all of the joyous anticipation that I had earlier reserved for the colonoscopy that I had endured 2 weeks earlier. I was in the liquor store because I couldn't get the same kind of sedatives for Christmas that the doctor had given me to get through that earlier ordeal.

2005 was no fun. To use a sports metaphor-as I always do-when the Great Scorer starts to add 'em up on me, He will note that for the most part, 2005 was the year I hit around .125 while simultaneously losing about a foot on my fast ball. As far as I was concerned, the only thing good about the advent of the Holidays was the certain knowledge that they would usher in both a new year and the prospect of a potential comeback.

So there I was in line to pay for my whiskey when I heard someone say, "Tulane. What's going to happen to poor Tulane?"

There was a nattily attired older man standing behind me. I was wearing a Tulane sweatshirt that a friend had given me for Christmas. The gentleman reached toward me. He touched the letters on my shirt. OK. It was a little weird. But he seemed like a nice enough old guy.

"TOOlane." He said, pronouncing it correctly. "Poor TOOlane."

I offered my hand and introduced myself. I told him I graduated from law school there in 1981. I asked him what his connection was to the well known fount of lousy football.

"They fired me yesterday."

He was getting emotional. I took him by the arm and we stepped outside. He had been on the faculty of the medical school for 42 years. Tulane's medical campus downtown was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina along with LSU and Charity Hospital. Tulane and LSU got off fairly light in comparison to Charity. Charity was forced to shut down completely which was something I never thought I would see in this lifetime. I had read that Tulane and LSU decided to downsize significantly in order to survive. Downsizing is a polite way of saying you are getting rid of people to save money. The word comes easily. Maybe it's because we never think we may be standing in a line at the store next to someone who is the living embodiment of that sterile term.

The man acknowledged he was lucky saying he knew lots of people who were a lot worse off than him. Lots of folks on the Coast were left destitute and here he was up here in Little Rock grateful to the colleague at UAMS who had gotten him a position there. He found himself a place to live in my neighborhood. And, I might add, he found the liquor store. Things could be worse. He wasn't in a FEMA trailer in Port Sulphur. He knew that and he was grateful.

"Believe me, I am not complaining." He said. "The people here couldn't be nicer. I am enjoying living somewhere where the seasons actually change. The cool air is invigorating. Arkansas is so beautiful and UAMS is first rate. Absolutely first rate. But it's not home. I miss Tulane. I miss my old life."

At this point he was weeping openly. I put my arm around his shoulders and walked him out away from the store. That seemed to wake him up.

"Don't pay me any mind,"he said, pulling himself together. "I'm just a foolish old man. I usually handle this situation pretty well if I may compliment myself. But just seeing you in that shirt reminded me that as wonderful as Arkansas is, and as kind as the people are, it's just not home. And I was just..overwhelmed I guess. I apologize for behaving so foolishly in public. This really isn't like me."

I assured him he had no reason to apologize.

"Thank you for listening."he said as he shook my hand.

"Merry Christmas, Doc. I hope to see you again soon." I said.

"Merry Christmas to you." he replied as he turned away.

He took a few steps then turned back around to face me again.

"You tell your lady friend that her Christmas present made an old man cry."

We take blind dumb luck for granted in this life. We feel we are entitled to be happy and that success is a given. However, but for a different roll of the cosmic dice, my life could have worked out dramatically for the worse and I know it. Don't get me wrong. I've got my fair share of problems just like anybody else. Ask anyone that knows me. They will be happy to confirm this.

But I haven't been displaced. I have a job. I'm as healthy as a horse. I have my home where I am surrounded by my friends and my loved ones. There's a little money laid aside and there's food in the refrigerator. When it comes right down to it, I have nothing to complain about. It would be nice this Christmas if we could all think more about those around us who are forced to persevere in tough circumstances more than we think of ourselves.

I haven't seen Doc lately. God knows, Tulane ain't Zion but it represented everything that was home for him. Maybe he made it back home for Christmas. If so, I hope someday he is able to remember his time here in Babylon with some measure of fondness.

And I hope God will forgive me if I ever take any aspect of my relatively charmed existence for granted. Even for one minute.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Season's Greetings

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist at Oxford and an atheist. He is the author of the best-selling book, "The God Delusion" which as of this writing is number 6 on the New York Times bestseller list. He said this when asked by the NYT about his own philosophy toward Christmas and the use of "Merry Christmas" as a seasonal salutation:

" So divorced has Christmas become from religion that I find no neccesity to bother with euphemisms such as happy holiday season. In the same way as many of my friends call themselves Jewish atheists, I acknowledge that I come from Christian cultural roots. I am a post-Christian athiest. So, understanding full well that the phrase retains zero religious significance, I unhesitatingly wish everyone a Merry Christmas."

So, Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Sunday Wally

I will do my best to translate Wally Hall's post-mortem in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of the basketball Razorbacks getting blown out by Bob Knight's Texas Tech Red Raiders yesterday at Alltel Arena.

It will not be easy.

The fans were hopeful: " It had all the ear markings of a great, if unseasonably warm, day."

However, the Hogs play in the first half did not meet the expectations of the fans: " Just good old Hawg ball, which for most of the first half was more like fog ball."

The Razorbacks did not exert themselves on offense: " The Hogs did more standing around than a Poughkeepsie pedestrian at the Macy's parade."

Boy, do these guards suck or what?: " Ball movement was a turnover waiting to happen, and this is not the way that the Razorbacks practice."

The defense was nothing to write home about either: " Defensively, the Razorbacks forced Tech to shoot layups early..."

Nothing Coach Heath suggested to the players seemed to help matters: "Heath tried what seemed like hundreds of combinations...but they were playing like someone had said the next person who moves has to go Christmas shopping at the mall."

The Razorbacks played with renewed vigor in the second half: " The Razorbacks came out attacking the basket instead of their coach's patience."

The Tech players withstood the pressure as they do not wish to displease their coach who has a not inconsiderable reputation for being stern and dealing harshly with mistakes: " [M]aybe what you saw was fear of making too big a mistake and having Lubbock in their rear view mirror this morning."

Like me: "Sure, some will point a finger at Heath today."

It would seem that they need to pay more attention to detail between now and next Wednesday or they stand a good chance of really getting their asses kicked by an exceptional Texas team playing at home in Austin: " [T]he team was lackadaisical and now has two losses and travels to Texas on Wednesday."

OK. I tried.

My Sunday Feeling

"It's coming on Christmas, they're chopping down trees.
they're putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace.
I wish I had a river I could skate away on."

"River"-Joni Mitchell

Tomorrow will be a big day. It will be one of those markers of adult life that will most likely never be forgotten.

No, I'm not eloping. I'm not starting a new job. For that matter, I'm not retiring either. I'm not adopting a child, having surgery or joining the Masons. I'm not doing any of these things.

Tomorrow is the day Bob and I tell Mother she has to go to the nursing home.

I knew something was up when the folks at the assisted-living place where Mom lives called me and asked for a meeting. It wasn't time for the quarterly report. It had to be something else. And whatever it was, it could not possibly be good.

At the meeting Bob and I were told that Mother's needs had reached a point that exceeded what they could do consistent with the State's regulations. Even with the adult day care that we were paying for. For example, if she gets help changing her diaper during the day, that's assisted living. If they have to do it in her bed at night, that's skilled nursing. The people at the place where she has lived since 2000 could not have been better to Mom. They are kind and compassionate and they treat their residents with care and respect.

But rules are rules. I understand these things. We always knew that this train was coming. I just didn't expect it to come down the track at Christmas.

My cousin says that this is the part of adult life nobody taught us how to do. So I have been soliciting advice from folks on just how to break it to her. I haven't exactly worked it out in my head yet but I know what I'm not going to do.

About the worst story I ever heard was about somebody's Uncle and how he handled it with his Mother when her time came. Rather than tell her the truth, the cowardly bastard told his Mother that they were going for a ride. They were going for a ride alright. He was taking her to the nursing home. When she realized what was up, the poor woman was so shocked that she was rendered speechless. I am told that she never uttered another word the rest of her life.

I have been told that interpersonal communication is not exactly my strong suit. I can do better than the story I just related though. I got that going for me.

People have asked me how I think Mom will handle the news. I honestly have no idea. She has Parkinson's and Parkinson's related dementia. Mother is competent in the strictly legal sense in that she knows who she is, she knows who her people are and she has a vague idea of where she is. Competency is a pretty low bar but she is competent.

She hardly ever leaves her room anymore, even for meals. She has no interest in socializing with others. She is a dark star. To a person of such attenuated interests it may not matter where she lives. A room is a room. Bob seems to think she will be OK with it. He's a psych nurse who works with geriatric types. I trust his opinion. But who knows what will happen tomorrow? Or the next day?

In any event, they didn't give us much time to get this done. So, after a couple of weeks of touring nursing homes-and boy was that fun- we got her into one that is only about a quarter mile from where she is currently living. It is a fairly modern facility in an upscale neighborhood across from Conway Country Club. It is a more institutional version of where she currently lives. She will have her own room. They will look in on her every 2 hours. She will be offered snacks twice a day. They will bathe her, feed her, read her mail to her if need be and basically take over her day to day living. And they aren't charging a stick-up price unlike some of these joints I have toured. This place ain't cheap but it's pretty much what I've been paying now on a monthly basis with the extra "in-home" care. So we can swing this.

Still. Putting a parent in the nursing home is one of those markers that you would just as soon not face up to. Because while this event forces you to consider your parent's mortality, it also forces you to consider your own. In the fullness of time, in the blink of an eye, someone-a brother, the family lawyer, the doctor, a nephew, my Godson or Goddaughter- whoever it is who is in charge of taking care of irascable old me, will be telling me that it is my time as well.

And I won't be able to skate away on that day either. Just like I won't be able to tomorrow.

Duty calls. I am her oldest son. I am the person in whom she has vested legal responsibility to make decisions about her. It is my job to deliver this news a week before Christmas.

Jesus Christ. I wish I had a river I could skate away on.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Sports Page

Not that anyone much cares, but Tulane hired a new occupant for the Endowed Chair of Football. Bob Toledo was tapped to replace Chris Scelfo who somehow beat out Rich Rodriguez for the job 8 years ago or so. Toledo is the offensive coordinator at New Mexico but prior to that he was the head coach at UCLA.

If Toledo's Greenies are anything like the Bruins under his tenure, their games will pretty much resemble track meets. UCLA scored points practically at will but they didn't stop anybody either. To be fair, blowing leads is a fine old tradition in PAC-10 football and may not reflect a lack of concern for defense on his part. But offense has never been a problem with Tulane's recent gridiron offerings. Their defense has been simply awful. We shall see how they shore up that side of the ball.

Tulane football is the proverbial "sick man" of the athletic department. After Katrina, they were forced to cut 6 sports or so mainly so they could field a football team. Prior to that, the football program beat back calls for it's elimination or "demotion" Division I AA. Bob Toledo is a proven winner at a school with a fine academic reputation. If they can't get it done with him at the helm, it might well be time to consider whether to pull the plug on football at Tulane.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"The Only Thing That Matters Is The Jewelry"

The following is the last of a series of articles on the football kids from what used to be Port Sulphur, Louisiana before it was pretty much obliterated by Katrina. A couple of Port Sulphur's best players wound up at Bastrop High up in North Louisiana. Bastrop was allowed to retain the 4A state championship they won in 2005 despite being accused of recruiting the Port Sulphur's kids which is a violation of state athletic association rules.

The title of today's post is in reference to the attitude of Bastrop's coach and is a direct quote. And we think things are out of proportion here in Arkansas.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wally at Ringside

I don't know much about the fight game. All I know about the Sweet Science comes from A. J. Liebling and the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette's excellent Jim Bailey. But I know a little something about the English language. So let's go to Wally Hall's account of last night's championship bout between our own Jermain Taylor and game challenger Kassim Ouma.

First Things First: "...[N]o sooner did Taylor do his traditional wiping of his feet than a reverberating Hog call dialed the excitement up two levels." The traditional wiping of his feet? Did the fight go down in a Mosque?

Ouma struggled early: " ...[t]he Ouchman (Ouma's last name begins in ou. Get it? The first two letters in the word ouch are...hell, never mind ) was taking more shots than a duck hunter from Los Angeles." Like I said, never mind.

I don't need to actually interview a gamer to know what's going on in his head: " In the fourth, Taylor twice put enough leather upside Ouma's head that while his eyes might not have glassed over, he definitely knew the definition of pain." I am just now re-reading this eye-rubber of a column. Wally wrote "glassed." He might have meant glazed. Then again maybe he didn't.

Unlike Jermain, with Ouma it is all about the money: " Taylor landed a flurry...(and the challenger got hurt) but he was determined to earn his $ 800,000 and kept coming."

Lord, it was hot in there: " Sweat ripped off the fighters in the critical eighth (round). "

A Battle of Wills: " ...[t]he massive number of punches was taking its toll."

And my favorite: (In the Ninth Round) " Ouma came out like a man behind on points-and he was-..."

My little brother John, a noted expert on boxing, was at the fight. He said that the speed and fitness of the boxers was amazing to behold. He told me that Ouma was incredibly brave despite getting clobbered all night by Jermain. I learned more about the fight from listening to John than reading Wally.

I don't know what Wally wants for Christmas this year . But if he is going to pretend to be anything other than a shill for Jermain, he should order Liebling's " A Neutral Corner" and actually read it before he writes another boxing piece.

He might learn something about how to write as well.

My Sunday Feeling

By the time you read this, the Heisman Trophy will have most likely been awarded to Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith. The Heisman is awarded to the young man who is theoretically the best college football player in the country. This is mostly bullshit because because hardly anyone playing any position other than quarterback or running back has won it in recent memory. For all practical purposes they might as well restrict the eligibility to those positions.

The Heisman is still a big deal but it's not the sure-fire predictor of success in the NFL that people still seem to believe that it is. In fact, 3 of the last 5 winners were absolute busts at the next level. In reality, the Heisman Trophy is nothing more than a highly political beauty contest fueled by the Sports Information Directors at the various schools. And believe you me, when it comes to hyping the product nobody does it any better than The Ohio State University (as they grandly refer to themselves) and Notre Fricking Dame (as men of good will everywhere refer to them).

Which makes the fact that Arkansas's own Darren McFadden is a finalist nothing short of amazing. The other finalists this year are the aforementioned Smith, and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. The smart money says that Smith will win in a landslide. Maybe so. He has certainly had himself one hell of a year and is one of the reasons that the Buckeyes are undefeated and will be playing for all marbles next month.

But if you want to give the award to the player that has made the greatest impact on his team I think you would have to give it to McSFadden. And no, I'm not being a homer. Consider this. You could plug anybody in at quarterback at either Notre Dame or OSU and they are going to be OK. They may not go 10-2 or undefeated, but they are gonna be OK.

Arkansas went 10-3 in year in which Darren McFadden did everything but pump up the footballs and fill in at linebacker. He ran for 1,558 yards, he caught 11 passes for touchdowns and threw for 3 more. And this was on a team that had a completely execrable passing game. He put up these numbers in the toughest football conference in the country while wearing a bullseye as well as the # 5 on his back. ND or OSU would have been OK without Quinn or Smith. Arkansas would not have won 5 games without McFadden. But with him in the backfield, and but for a couple of monumental screwups against LSU and Florida, the Razorbacks would have been SEC champs and playing in a BCS bowl. By any observable criteria he was the offense.

It is indeed a testament to what this sophomore from Little Rock has accomplished despite getting a late start due to an injury to his big toe sustained during a fight in a bar just prior to two-a-days. The damn thing had to be practically sewed back on. He was pretty much 100% by the 3rd game. I would still be in a cast. This is living proof that the young heal fast.

He is the best running back I have ever seen at Arkansas and they have had some good ones. He looks for all the world like the second coming of Eric Dickerson. The consensus is that he will be a first round draft pick barring injury. You don't really hear that about the other 2 finalists.

Quinn and White are worthy finalists and good kids. But if you want to give the Heisman Trophy to "the best player in the country" only one of the finalists qualifies and he's the one that his one trick pony of a team couldn't survive without. And his name is Darren McFadden.

See You In Court: The New Orleans Saints lost starting defensive tackle Hollis Thomas for the remainder of the regular season after he tested positive for clenbutrol, a banned steroid. Thomas's defense is that he uses steroidal based inhalers to control a serious asthma condition which was exacerbated when he left the Philadelphia Eagles to play in the more sultry climes of Southeast Louisiana. The NFL said the use of Advair and Singulair would not produce a positive test for clenbutrol and imposed the suspension. Which is good to know, since I have used both of these meds. I wouldn't want to be banned from the Olympics.

However, before the NFL took action on Thomas, it received a letter from his agent that said if the NFL took any adverse action based on Thomas's medical condition, which his mouthpiece described as "severe" and "life-threatening," it would be in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Under the ADA, a disability is defined as a medical impairment that substantially limits one of more major life activities. I don't know about you, but I would tend to think that if one's profession required one to chase down NFL running backs and throw off NFL linemen then the "major life activity" otherwise known as respiration must not be all that damned substantially impaired. It looks like the NFL saw it they same way.

There is a reason people hate lawyers. Making a ridiculous threat such as the above is one such reason.

That is all for now. I must return to the major life activity of Christmas shoplifting.

Until next time, God rest ye, deck the halls, whatever. I am out of here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another Reason To Hate Christmas-Incident #1

I'm going to try to find as many examples of stupidity, venality and crass commercialism as I can possibly find and post them all here during the Christmas holidays. It makes me feel better.

2006's first incident comes from our friends at The Smoking Gun.

Keep checking back from time to time as I'm sure there will be more to come!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Sunday Feeling

Greetings once again comrades! I hope that everyone survived Thanksgiving and are now steeled for that annual horror show known as Christmas. As some of you may recall, I have absolutely no use for Christmas. None. Every year I wonder why I don't just blow town just to avoid it. Next year I may just do it. But I think I'm pretty much stuck this year as I have committed to cover at work for folks who are traveling or want to spend time with the kids. However, despite my enmity toward all things yulish, I have already managed to get some presents. I am pretty well ahead of schedule. This is all to the good. The sooner I can wrap this up the better.

It was pretty slow last week. Not really much to report. So here are some random thoughts on a cold afternoon:

Children's Opera? "Hansel and Gretel" the so-called "children's opera" by Englebert Humperdinck ( and no, he is isn't the guy that sang "Delilah") is currently being performed by the Opera Theatre at Wildwood. I went to a recent performance. I hadn't seen Hansel and Gretel since I was a kid in college and had forgotten the details. Having seen it again, I'm not sure why opera companies all over the world do H and G at Christmas. Hell, I don't know why it's considered suitable for children. Follow me.

The opera begins with Hansel and Gretel doing chores while singing about how hungry they are. Being children, they quit working and start horsing around. Gertude, the mother enters and in a fit of rage because the children have not finished their chores accidentally breaks the pitcher of milk from the neighbor's cow that she had saved for their one meal. She then sends Hansel and Gretel off into the deep forest to gather strawberries so that they will at least have something to eat for supper. And with that, she falls asleep at the kitchen table.

Later that afternoon, she hears her husband Peter coming back from town where he has been selling the brooms he has made. He is drunk and singing loudly as he approaches the house. Once inside, he inquires as to the whereabouts of the children. Gertrude tells him that she sent the kids off into the woods and that she doesn't care if they come back at all, so ticked is she.

Peter cannot believe this news. "Don't you know there is a witch in the woods that eats children?" he bellows. He brandishes a broom at Gertrude as if to strike her. Gertrude gets him to chill. The terrified parents head off into the woods in search of Hansel and Gretel but not before Peter comes back into the house for one more pull from the jug.

Let's see. You have starving kids, a mom with anger issues, a father who drinks during the day who also threatens to beat his wife. And this is in the first act! This sounds more like your average Saturday night in West Virginia than a beloved staple of the Christmas season.

The Brothers Grimm indeed.

And a very pleasant Good Morning to you, too! I was walking back home after my run this morning when a late model Camry slowed down in front of me on Kavanaugh. The driver shot me a bird as he crept by. His face was contorted with anger, much as Gertrude's was in the first act of Hansel and Gretel, come to think of it.

I wasn't sure that I recognized him but I thought he looked a little like the ex-husband of JY. Now, RY has no reason to be mad at me. I had nothing to do with his wife's decision to give him the boot. Indeed, I think I've seen her once since July or so. Still, divorce is hard on folks and it can cause a person to think crazy things.

I called JY to report what I thought I had seen, my theory being that if he was acting crazy around me, he's liable to act crazy around her. She told that it couldn't have been RY because their daughter reported that he wasn't even out of bed at the time I was out running.

So who the hell was the guy that flipped me off? And why was I the target of his ire? I'm certain I have no idea who he was. I was on the sidewalk so I wasn't in his way or anything. Was he cuckolded by a man wearing tights? If so, it wasn't me that led his significant other astray. I have led a recent personal life of admittedly uncharacteristic relentless probity. I have not been anywhere I have no business being (apart from the new William-Sonoma store down the street) and I haven't been with anybody I have no business being with.

You see more of that crazy kind of shit here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest than you used to. Just the other night around dusk, I was panhandled on Kavanaugh as I was taking a walk. Young kid. Didn't look like a homeless person exactly but he did have that sort of "I'm nuts" look in his eye that you always like to see when you are confronted.

I thought he was going to hit me when I told him that I wasn't carrying any money. In fact, he started following me after I walked away. I stopped and just stared at him. Now, I am not a particularly brave man. But I also figured that with all the rush hour traffic going past us, I liked my chances for turning this punk into somebody's hood ornament.

He muttered an expletive and crossed the street into the Kroger's parking lot. At least there's an off-duty cop over there.

But you never used to see that sort of thing in this neighborhood.

But back to my guy this morning. Dr. GG happened to call about then. I told her what happened. She is leaning toward this being a random brush with a nut other than somebody that has it in for me. She also rightfully viewed this as an object lesson about leaping to conclusions since the guy I had earlier thought was the perp had a solid alibi.

Divorce makes some people crazy. So do the holidays. I guess I happened to run across a victim of one of those social maladies.

And this is only the 2nd day of December.

Strength. Give me strength.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bidness is Bidness

I guess things are going sufficiently well in the recovery department such that Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco can turn her attention to such weighty matters. Actually, this lobbying effort is not as completely frivolous as it might appear at first blush. The participants in these BCS bowls stand to bring home an obscene amount of money.

As long as there is not even a whiff of perspective about the role of intercollegiate athletics to the larger mission of academics why not try to go ahead and bring home the bacon? That's what good politicians do, after all.

Read all about it on the jump: