Monday, December 31, 2007
Personal Best for 2007: There were more than one actually. I had a couple of essays published this year in a local magazine that were favorably received if e-mails and voice mails from total strangers were any indication. I got reacquainted with an old friend that I had lost track of over the years. She told me she would have gotten in touch with me sooner after her divorce but she had heard through the grapevine that I was married. I assured her that the rumors of my matrimony were greatly exaggerated. I am glad she has resurfaced even though she thinks the blog is "too windy."
Speaking of the blog, it is interesting where the hits come from. Some of the readers and I have become "friends." I routinely hear from a anesthesiologist in Texas, a dot.com entrepreneur in Atlanta and an educator in Alabama. Turns out the Alabama lady used to babysit my friend Judy who I went to see in Chicago of all damn things. Small world, huh?
One of my readers I used to get e-mail from was an exotic dancer who worked in one of the local "Gentlemen's Clubs" around here. She once invited me to come visit her on the job. She told me I wouldn't have to pay her to talk to her or nothin'. I declined just the same. Anyway, I haven't heard from her since she said she was going to try to get a job in sales at a local car dealership.
I hate that.
I helped coach my brother's little T-ball team. That was fun. One of my old musician friends and I started hanging around together again. It's good to have her around again. I love her a lot but I will never, ever, volunteer to edit her Master's thesis again. Next time I will offer to help her with something simple. Like donating a kidney.
The local women's shelter, on whose Board I serve, is in the black for pretty much the first time ever. We actually have a surplus! Many tough decisions, most of them unpopular with the old guard, were made by the Board and wholesale changes got rammed through. It was tough trucking there for awhile but the end result proved to be gratifying.
I was able to arrive at a certain peace about an issue that had proven to be troubling to me. What was once perplexing, at times almost maddeningly so, has resolved itself in my mind. I am at peace and ready to move on. I cannot tell you how good this makes me feel.
This year, I received one of the coolest gifts ever: a cookbook written by buddy Don. PM and I thinks he needs to get this published. It's that good. More on this later.
I had no "old house" disasters, was hardly sick and didn't injure myself a single time in 2007. Of course, this means that the chest press will collapse on me at the gym tonight. The Saints almost made it to the Super Bowl last January only to lose to the Bears in frigid Chicago. I watched them beat the Eagles for the Divisional title with my excellent friend Joan in formal attire, having hightailed it from a function to catch the second half. Up until then, I had never watched football in a tux before. I will never forget how much fun we had that night.
I bit the bullet and joined a gym down the street. I have even retained the services of a sadist named Travis who is slowly but surely banging me into shape. I now have muscles albeit very teeny tiny ones.
I went to Chicago last Summer. I ran into the historian Garry Wills at the Art Museum. He even remembered me from the Arkansas Literary Festival. What are the odds of running into somebody like that in a city of 4 million? What are the odds of somebody like Wills remembering an absolute nobody like me? Later that night, I went to a Cubs game, all the while fielding text messages from my brother back home who rumor has it enjoys placing a bet now and again.
"You don't have money on this game do you?" I wrote him, holding my 16 oz. Old Style between my legs.
" It's far worse than you think," he wrote back.
It must not have been too bad. They didn't find him in the Arkansas River with a bullet in the back of his head or anything the next day.
The good news? Once Brother Bob passes his boards he will be a Nurse Practitioner. The bad news? Once he passes his boards he will be a Nurse Practitioner.
But the absolute, hands down, coolest thing I did in 2007 was to get involved with the Miracle League. There was absolutely nothing, I mean nothing, in my prior experience to prepare me for what an absolute joy every minute with those kids has been. We start back up in April. April cannot get here quick enough for me.
Personal Worst for 2007: The suicide of the daughter of friends of mine. When I got the news I literally could not stand for at least 10 minutes. Her Mother attempted it herself on two separate occasions after the funeral. Thank God she did not succeed. I am not an emotionally labile person. I had not cried since the death of my Uncle Bill. I cried when I heard about Amy. I cried when I heard about her Mom. Such overwhelming incomprehensible sadness I pretty much had never experienced. And I hope never to again.
My friend JG has been undergoing chemo again for the brain tumor that keeps coming back. As if the man didn't have enough to contend with, his wife was struck down with a rare neurological disorder which, last I heard, has her ambulating with a walker. Naturally, JG is a saint on Earth which is the way these things seem to happen. His bravery in the face of all of this is truly humbling.
Mother is still with us, but her dementia is becoming more pronounced. It is a difficult thing to watch. God will take her in His time as the Catholics say. But it would be okay with me if he could see his way to end this misery sooner than later. I mean that. She is miserable. This is no way to live.
By definition anything else will be trivial in nature, so let's discuss the trivial.
After teasing the long-suffering fans of Chicago in the second half of the season with delusions of competence, the Cubs got swept per usual in the playoffs. The Saints, meanwhile, reverted back to their typically dreadful selves by blowing the first 3 games of the season to finish a woeful 7-9. Nothing like building on success. Nothing like it in New Orleans at least.
The Razorbacks? I'm tired of the Razorbacks.
Want to know something else I'm tired of? I'm tired of being such a shitty golfer, that's what I'm tired of. And judging from yesterday's round at hallowed, historic War Memorial, that condition is not likely to pass me by anytime soon. But I'm gonna stick with it even though I would be better off trying something simple such as levitation. Or editing a Master's thesis.
That's pretty much 2007 in a nutshell. There was more good than bad although some of the bads were pretty awful.
I have employment, and I have the best family and friends a man could ask for. I have a roof over my head and I have my health. I have been blessed far more than I deserve. And I know it.
You know what I liked best about 2007? All of the walks home after working out at the gym. I enjoy the cold wind and watching the steam come out from under my windbreaker. I look at the shops along the way and sometimes I look up into the sky to see what the stars might be doing on any given night. And I am always filled with happiness despite the fact that I am typically a hurting cowboy after all the stuff Travis makes me do.
That's what I liked best. The walk back home.
May you be blessed with simple joys in 2008. Happy New Year!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a disaster story. Here's mine. Every Christmas I make barbecued ribs. This tradition got started when I wrested Christmas from Mother some 11 years ago or so and started having it here at my little house. Christmas immediately got more bearable in no small part due to the fact that I had a considerably more lenient view when it came to alcohol than Mom ever did. I made ribs that first Christmas at my house just for the hell of it. I also made my first pecan pie that year. Both were big hits and a tradition was born.
Last Sunday night I made a martini and slapped together the ingredients for 3 pecan pies. I put them in the oven and repaired to the living room. I sat down in my chair, turned on the football game and promptly fell asleep. About an hour later I awoke to the smell of pecan pies burning away. How the damn smoke alarm failed to go off is beyond me and this will be taken up with the alarm company soon. Anyway, the hell of it is that I was completely sober. If I had been drunk I would have maintained my aggression at a level that would have kept me awake. My friends who are predisposed to think in these terms viewed this disaster as a cautionary tale about the efficacy of alcohol during the Holiday cooking process which is a lesson I'll not forget next year.
So, on Christmas Eve, forced as I was by exigent circumstances brought on by situational sobriety, I returned to the Kroger store in the Heights where every person that lives in this zip code was also doing their last minute shopping. I was merely going in to replenish my pie supplies that I had incinerated the night before. However, I could tell by the baskets full of stuff that some people had obviously waited to the last minute to plan their Christmas dinners. Don't get that. However, I concede that many of the shoppers at Kroger's were confident in their ability to stay awake while preparing a meal. It is a near thing.
I have never seen that parking lot more full of cars. I was in a hurry. I had pies to redo and I had folks coming for dinner Christmas Eve. So, I parked illegally me being the center of the universe and all. Besides, I wasn't the only one. I figured I would be long gone before Mr. Kroger called for the tow truck.
This evidently perturbed some lady in a Yukon who was probably pissed that she hadn't thought to do likewise. She rolled down the window.
" You son-of-a-bitch," she yelled. " You think you can just park anywhere?"
" Y'all go to hell now," I explained, trying to be helpful.
I made a beeline for the store, got my stuff, checked my own self out and got back to the car. Never did see the lady from the Yukon again which disappointed me greatly for reasons that I cannot quite explain but are probably traceable to a certain lack of maturity, if not overt sociopathy, that is part of my discreet charm.
Upon pulling into the driveway of my little house, I immediately was overcome by a sense of unease and dread which was even more pronounced than my usual state that obtains during the Holidays. As I sat there it dawned on me. I had forgotten to buy any goddamn pecans. There is another Kroger store about a quarter mile from my house. I don't use it for any of a number of reasons that do not merit discussion in this space. But, being forced once again by exigent circumstances to return to a grocery store, I decided to walk over to the one by me to get the friggin' pecans. Besides, I figured that security might be waiting for me at the other Kroger's.
The good news is that the last trip to the store was completely uneventful and the afternoon's baking took place without any further high drama or inappropriate smoke levels. Both the pies and the ribs went over real big as they do every year.
Like I said, I'm not through with Christmas and I probably won't be until PJ gets back and comes over for copious amounts of gin to help the legal advice go down better. I give it about another week.
But I ain't making any more pies. At least not while sober.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The charge? Suspicion of drunk driving.
If you ask me, there was all kinds of suspicious stuff going on there. After all, I know all kinds off drunks. I don't know any drunks or many drag queens that would go out in public attired in such immodest, albeit festive, fashion.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
I gave her a hug and said goodbye.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Just keep repeating to yourself, "There is no religious test for public office. There is no religious test for public office."
Monday, December 17, 2007
The title of the speech Clemons was scheduled to give?
" How I Managed to Stay in Baseball So Long."
Sunday, December 16, 2007
tmfw: Went to a party last night. John and Amy were there.
Polycarp: How was it?
tmfw: Real nice. John brought his own whiskey that he drank from a styrophone cup.
Polycarp: Did he share?
tmfw: With me he did. He poured me some from a stash that he always keeps in the trunk of his car in case of emergency.
Polycarp: A common procedure amongst married men. It's funny how much whiskey women sell.
tmfw: Wonder how guys in AA cope under the circumstances?
Polycarp: They cope by being narcissistic assholes.
But first of all, let's revisit an old issue that has been written about in this space on more than one occasion and generally when something like this pops up. When a coach-and it is always a coach-leaves a job before his contract expires, you always hear all of this blather about morality and the "sanctity of a contract." This is complete and total nonsense.
Here is Contract 101: Implicit in every contract is the right to breach. And when a party to the contract breaches, the only issue is how is the non-breaching party is to be compensated as a consequence of the breach, not whether the breacher is a lying scumbag. Period. Indeed, one could say that these employment contracts in Big Time Sports are "widely honored in the breach" so ubiquitous is the practice. This is why "buyout clauses" are part of the liquidated damages clauses in most of these contracts.
We kinda know this already even if we don't know the legalities of it. And we also know that the complaints about this issue typically follows the principle of the gored ox. Houston Nutt is reviled by some because he split for Oxford. These same guys likely view Petrino as a pigskin savior who left an impossible situation in Atlanta to return to the college game. Go figure.
In that same vein we kinda expected the Mitchell report to disclose that which most of us already widely suspected: that steroid use was rampant in baseball throughout the nineties.
So we are used to the fact that coaches in big time sports are always looking for the next gig. The fact that what appears to be a considerable number of baseball players were juicing comes as no big surprise. So why do the events of the last week sadden some of us? I think I know why.
It is because now we see with crystalline clarity that most of the people involved in Big Time Sports are in it only for themselves. As kids, we are told that athletes are role models and that sportsmanship and fair play are more important than the results on the scoreboard. And yet, the Mitchell Report accuses up until recently future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens, among many others, of using steroids to gain a competitive advantage. My friend PM is on the record that, legalities aside, using steroids is no more unsportsmanlike than having lasik surgery on your eyes to correct your vision.
My friend PM and I agree on many things. We do not agree on this. Here is where my friend is flat-assed wrong, to employ the term-of-art we use in Arkansas. Any one of us can get our eyes done. However, the choice to use performance enhancing drugs means choosing to commit a felony in order to gain an advantage over competitors who either do not have the wherewithal or connections to enter the arms race with you or fear the consequences-legal or medical-to do so. That's what makes using performance enhancing drugs manifestly unfair not withstanding the fact that the fools that run baseball, in concert with the fools that represent the player's union, couldn't make it against the rules of the damn sport until George W. Bush, who used to own the Texas Rangers, started threatening to do something to them.
As for the Bobby Petrinos of this world, suffice it say in the words of sportswriter Mike Lupica, they do not hire themselves. While Petrino's exit from the Falcons was graceless even by the low standards of Big Time Sports, he is not especially any more mercenary than many of his headset wearing colleagues. What it does mean is that, with the hiring of a man who has a past relevant work history of loyalty to nobody but himself, the University of Arkansas has made the statement that the Razorbacks are a thing unto themselves with practically no meaningful connection to the higher academic mission of the school. What was once seen in a mirror dimly is now writ large. It's all about the bucks. It is showbiz.
Like I said, we kinda knew all of this stuff before we got pimp-slapped by the events of last week. So, when you talk to your kid about playing sports, it is still right to reinforce all of those old chestnuts about competing hard and playing fair. Only don't point to any of the guys in Big Time Sports as role models for right living.
Because most of them-even some of the people we thought were the good guys- are in it for nobody but themselves and they will do whatever it takes, fair or unfair, to get what they want. What was once seen in a mirror dimly is now writ large.
And that's what made last week a sad week in sports.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The University of Arkansas hired ultra-mercenary Bobby Petrino to fill the Endowed Chair of Football up there. I'll write more about this later. But for now read what ESPN's Pat Forde thinks about his hiring here.
Withe the hire of this sleazebag the University of Arkansas has finally crossed the line that Mother always warned me about.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Krakauer compared Romney's speech with J.F.K.'s famous speech about his Catholicism thusly: " J.F.K.'s speech was to reassure Americans that he wasn't a religious fanatic. [M]itt's was to tell evangelical Christians 'I'm a religious fanatic just like you.'"
When is this election over?
But I am very much put off by the candidates that I am interested in discussing matters that I believe are largely the business of nobody but that candidate and his or her immediate family. And I remember a time in the not so distant past when a candidate might identify himself as a member of a particular church and that was that. A person's personal religious preference was just that. Personal.
I concede that it is a near thing. And I concede that it is a complicated thing.
Certainly, all of our actions are informed by our upbringing. A person's worldview is undoubtedly influenced by religious training. This is not necessarily a bad thing. And to that limited extent, knowing that Hillary is a Methodist,for example, is useful information. But so is George Bush. Such knowledge is merely useful. It ought not to be conclusive evidence of fitness to hold public office.
And just as certainly, all of us are informed by our biases concerning religion. I view the historical truth claims of most religions with skepticism. I view the truth claims concerning the Mormon church with complete amusement. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, was a con artist, pure and simple.
But I don't hold Mitt Romney's Mormonism against him simply because his Church is founded upon the theological equivalent of "three card monte." I know any of a number of "cradle Catholics" who disagree vehemently with certain positions of the Vatican and yet could no more convert to another faith than they could quit breathing oxygen. You are as you are raised. I take it no further than that.
But clearly the candidates for President feel compelled to put the Jesus card in play. It must be important from a strategic standpoint or they wouldn't do it. They do nothing, I mean nothing, that isn't poll-tested or consultant approved. And in that fashion, they run the risk of trivializing faith, of making it a "position" along with farm subsidies and gun control when the reality is more complicated than that. Bill Clinton is a professing Baptist whom history will judge more kindly than not despite his idiotic decisions about his personal life. George Bush is an evangelical Methodist. Yes, they do exist although we are not proud of this fact. And we will be lucky if we can survive the remainder of what may loosely be described as his administration without stumbling into World War III.
The point is, what should matter more than a candidate's religion is his or her positions on the issues and his or her's record for competence in professional life. Certainly a person's religious background is useful information but as a whole it shouldn't be much more of a factor than whether he or she ran cross-country or can play the piano.
I look forward to the day- a day that will never come again-when a candidate says, "Look, everybody knows I belong to First Presbyterian back home. That's where I was raised and everybody knows me back there. I don't feel comfortable talking about such a personal matter in a public forum. But you can go back home and ask the folks there what they think about me."
Most people that run for office are no better or no worse than you and me. And so, if you checked on his story back home you might find that he or she was regarded as a good kid. That she sang in the choir. That he helped with the food drive for the needy. That she looked out for the elderly. And so forth. This is useful information that informs us about a candidate's character.
Conversely, Arkansas's own Mike Huckabee's claim that God is responsible for his recent showing in Iowa, which, with the characteristic modesty we have come to expect from him, he likened unto the miracle of the loaves and fishes. This is not much useful information.
But it sure does speak volumes about the character of the man.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
At this point in the fiasco, the University has 2 choices as I see it. The more psychotic fringe of the fan base will not be satisfied unless the Razorbacks hire a "big name" coach. The problem is, most of the "name" guys they have played footsie with evidently wouldn't touch the damn job with a set of tongs. So why not just go completely mercenary? Give Dennis Erickson a wad of money to leave Arizona State. Erickson is a proven winner with the ethics of a hit man. The lunatic fans will trouble him not just so long as he has his palm greased. With Dennis it's all about the Benjamins. The upside? They will win a slew of games. The downside? He will recruit a bunch of thugs. They might go on probation. And he will leave the first time somebody waves more money at him. But, hey! They will be "winners" if only for the short term and that's all that matters to some people.
Or they can do this. It appears that the common denominator in all of this is superagent Jimmy Sexton who so far has represented all of these guys as far as I can tell and who also negotiated the golden parachute for Houston "How Y'all Like Me Now?" Nutt. So, just call Sexton up and ask him who among his clients we can have. No search committee, no flying around to interview guys who will stab you in the back as soon as you head for the door, and no Internet rumors from the arrested development types that spend all their time making shit up on the message boards. How hard could that be?
In AA they require you to recognize a "higher power." The addiction that is Razorback football requires no less. So, hey! Jeff Long! Yield to the higher power and it ain't the Chancellor or the Board of Trustees. Call Jimmy Sexton and ask him who we can have. Or go to the dark side and hire Erickson and prepare to have to clean the sulphur smell off of the drapes in the Broyles Complex on a yearly basis. End of problem.
Can I have some tickets?
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I have no earthly damn idea if any of this is true.
The President of the Board of Trustees of the UA system said , in an interview with the local paper, that the salaries of these coaches were out of control and that maybe the NCAA should impose a ceiling.
Stop us before we kill again.
He also said something along the lines of " Some of this money (paid to coaches) could be used for education."
What put that damn fool notion in Stanley Reed's head anyway? The notion that the athletic program has anything to do with the higher academic mission of the school, that is.
This entire transaction was handled badly. This was an exceptionally ugly divorce. But the Internet message board nerds that stupidly think that they were instrumental in running Nutt off are in for a rude surprise. The upside with Nutt at Ole Miss is way high. Way high being 7 wins a year. He will get that done at Ole Miss.
And he will be back, Internet message board boys. He will be back and he will be in your face. And there is nothing you can do about it. Not that your voices ever much counted for a whole lot in the first place.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Of course, this completely ignores the fact that if all of a sudden there was a bunch of action on the Arkansas game, the bets would be taken off, seeing as how Arkansas was unranked and playing in Red Stick.
But as we know, some sports fans live in a parallel universe where the facts don't matter too much.
This year's stranger was a strapping young man running down Kavanaugh wearing a buzz cut and warmups with "United States Marine Corps" emblazoned upon them. He pointed at the Tulane logo on my hoodie as he approached.
" Good Morning, Sir!" he called out in his bass voice. "Roll Wave!"
" Happy Thanksgiving, son," I called back. It occurred to me that I'm old enough now to address men in their twenties as "son." " Happy Thanksgiving and good luck!"
" Happy Thanksgiving to you, Sir!" he replied as he motored on down the street listening to his IPod.
That kid had muscles in his teeth. I pity the fool that tries to take him on in a straight up fight.
When I got back home, I noticed a text message on my phone.
"Today is Thanksgiving," it said. " I want you to know that I am grateful to have you in my life."
The sender is a friend of mine who lost her daughter to suicide last summer and who has been pretty much incommunicado for the last 5 months or so. I take this to be a positive sign that she is returning to the land of the living.
I had Thanksgiving lunch with Mother at the nursing home. We were joined by Mr. Riley Hunter who lives across the hall from her along with his son-in-law Bill. Mr. Hunter is frail but he's still pretty sharp. Mother, unfortunately, is virtually incoherent at this stage of the disease process. Words leave her in mid-sentence. To complicate matters, we suspect that the Parkinson's is into her vocal cords a little now because her vocal production is very poor. Her volume is just above a whisper.
I just smile and nod and tell her that I am sorry but that I don't understand her.
She waves the back of her hand at me and says, " Never mind." She can say that and she is forced to say it a lot.
After he was through eating, Mr. Hunter turned his back to the table so he could look at the football game on the TV behind us.
Bill tilted his head toward his father-in-law, " You're looking at some American history there, boy."
" Really. How so?" I asked.
" Riley was one of the boys that took the beach at Omaha." he replied. " Never could bring himself to talk about it until 50 years later."
" Fifty years, I'm tellin' ya."
" My dad was a Seebee," I said. " Went ashore with the Marines at Iwo Jima."
" Oh God, that was even worse," Bill said." Those Japanese.......I mean, the Germans were no fun but the Japanese were just, they were just vicious." He closed his eyes and shuddered.
" Dad never talked about it either."
" It was too hard. Too hard." Mother said. She was as clear as a bell.
There was silence at the table. I noticed tears in her eyes.
" I'm sure it was ma'am." Bill said. " I know it was."
It is a good thing to remember always that there are heroes in our midst. I was surrounded by them on Thanksgiving from that big son-of-a-bitch loping down Kavanaugh in his Marine Corps drag to guys like Mr. Hunter who, along with my father, went and did their duty and kept their mouths shut about it afterwards.
And let's not forget people like my Mother for whom every day is a struggle to retain basic human dignity. Thank God she is in a place where she is truly well cared for. Some people at her station in life can't make that claim.
When I got back home I sent a text back to my friend.
" I want to see you soon," I wrote.
" I would like that very much," she replied.
Welcome back, Sweetheart. I'm glad you decided to stay with us.
Talk about a hero.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I love the Internet. After the Razorback's 50-48 triple overtime victory over LSU in Baton Rouge yesterday, I couldn't wait for the rosy fingers of dawn to spread over my little house this morning. First thing I did was brew a big of coffee. The next thing I did was jump online to read the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Baton Rouge Advocate. As you might expect, the Tiger faithful are high pissed. Or,as one poster put it on the Times-Pic's blog about the game, "Let the meltdown begin."
Oh, the huMANity.
There is a reason we watch the games: Just when you think you have seen it all, something else happens sometime down the road to top it all. I was in War Memorial Stadium with my brother John in 2002 when rag armed quarterback Matt Jones somehow took the Razorbacks 50 yards in the final minute and beat LSU with a desperation heave to the end zone as the clock expired. It happened right in front of my face. It was the damnedest thing I have ever seen.
At least it was until last night. Last night's game was one for the ages in which an unranked Razorback team with 4 conference losses largely due to a leaky defensive backfield went toe-to-toe with the #1 team and stopped them on the last play of the game. Much will be written about last night by writers far gifted than I. And Wally Hall will undoubtedly write more about it as well although even he will be hard pressed to top the observation in today's column that the Razorbacks' Darren McFadden "ran the WildHog (an offensive formation in which McFadden lines up in the shotgun instead of the quarterback) like it was designed for him."
Umm, it was designed for him actually. But I don't want to talk about Wally. I want to talk about whether winning a game of almost mythic proportions on national television is enough to save Houston Nutt's job.
As I have stated before, I am agnostic about the Razorbacks and this agnosticism extends unto Houston Nutt. I really don't much care one way or another. I concede that 3 of the 4 conference losses were complete gag jobs (it is no sin to get whacked in Knoxville). These losses were hard to contemplate given a backfield that included the #3 rusher in SEC history plus two other guys who will play on Sunday. And Houston Nutt, for all of his virtues, has a tendency toward whininess and petulance when confronted with adversity, much of which was his own doing over the last two seasons, that is unattractive and tedious in equal measure.
But let's put this in perspective. First of all, this was a crazy year in college football. To Nutt's credit of those 4 losses hung on the Razorbacks this year, none of them were at the hands of a Louisiana-Monroe or Appalachian State, which Alabama and Michigan sure can't claim. Secondly, 8-4 ain't too shabby given the murderous conference schedule. Besides, Nutt had some bad luck handed to him when virtually his entire receiving core including All-American Marcus Monk went down with injuries. It's hard to throw the ball if there's nobody that can get open and catch it.
Nutt is open to justifiable criticism over the debacle involving the exodus of the players from Springdale. But likewise he has reopened the pipeline to Little Rock where he grew up. The Razorbacks have never been much good without players from Central Arkansas. Indeed, the "501 boys", so-named for the tattoos of Little Rock's area code the guys from here put on their biceps, were largely responsible for the Hogs' recent success. This would include the aforementioned Mr. McFadden who played for Pulaski Oak Grove. And not that anybody much cares, but Nutt's players tend to perform no worse in the classroom than players at other schools. Granted it's a low bar. And nobody much cares.
Finally, when I was at the Mississippi State game a week ago, I heard people chanting "Dead Man Walking" when Houston Nutt took the field with the team. That's just wrong. The Nutt family has meant too much to athletics in Central Arkansas for him to be treated that way, especially here in Little Rock.
Now I really am agnostic on this subject. But I also want to suggest that given the virulence of the haters that tend to frequent the message boards out there and/or file FOIA requests in search of embarrassing material, Arkansas's fans are getting something of a reputation for being full-blown batshit crazy. This might make it hard to recruit a so-called "big name" coach. Secondly, things could get worse if Houston Nutt leaves. They really could. Ask Ole Miss. Ask Texas A&M. Ask Nebraska. Bet David Cutcliffe looks pretty good to the Rebels fans right now.
Now this may already be a "done deal." Perhaps the marriage can't be saved. I hear that Mike Markuson, the offensive line coach is leaving for Notre Dame. Maybe this portends much. Maybe not.
Not everybody could pull off a game like last night. And the Razorbacks got him. At least as of this writing.
As for me, Lord now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace. For mine little eyes finally have seen it all. And it happened last night and it happened at LSU.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Here are some pictures from yesterday at the Arkansas-Mississippi State game. It was a beautiful day at old War Memorial Stadium. The Hogs tried their best to gag it away as per usual but held on to win in what is probably head coach Houston Nutt's final time to run through the big "A" in his hometown of Little Rock.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
God knows I am not a saint by any stretch of the imagination. My character flaws are deep and they are deep and they are as wide as the River Nile. But I think I have earned a certain reputation in this town for charity and good works, particularly with children. God also knows that I am a sucker for a hard luck story. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty to help out another soul who is having a rough time of it.
But I refuse to be panhandled.
There are two theories on how to handle this. One is the high-minded approach taken by the senior pastor at my church. He tends to give money when asked as he figures that if they are lying about why they need it, that's between them and God. But that is why he is a Minister of the Gospel while I am me. I have a decidedly darker view of the human condition than does Vic.
I figure that 2/3 of the guys that hit me up on the street are either drunks or just outright grifters. Indeed, about this time last year LRPD arrested a bunch of guys out of Dallas that turned up here to ply their trade. Turns out that they were actors pretending to be street people. I am convinced that I was hit on by one of the actor types last year. He was a black kid of abut 20. He was pretending to be retarded. I say pretending because upon inspection, he was clearly wearing fake-Jerry Lewisesque-false teeth. And I know some people who are MR. They don't sound as stupid as this kid was acting and they comport themselves with greater dignity besides.
While I adamantly refuse to give money to panhandlers it's not anything I am particularly proud of. A woman approached me out in the River Market the other day and said she "only needed a couple of dollars." I told her that I didn't have any money on me and went about my business. Now, I had plenty of money on me and it certainly wouldn't have hurt me in the slightest if I had shared some of it with her. Besides, I have this feeling, probably erroneous, that a woman is less likely to be lying about what she needs it for than a man would be.
Back to the larger point. I used to offer to buy them food. Not a single one ever took me up on it. I quit that practice when one guy became so angry I thought he was going to try to rob me. Now I just tell them I don't carry money and move on down the street.
I remind myself at those moments that I donate lots of money to legitimate charities that care for the poor. I throw my change in the Salvation Army buckets located outside the stores during the Holiday season even though I view their parking the bell ringers outside the entrances to the stores to be a not-so-subtle-extortionate demand.
But I also remember that Jesus didn't say "even as ye do to the guys that ye trust ye do unto me." Maybe Vic's approach is best. I certainly wouldn't feel like such a heel if I were to hand someone a quarter now and again.
So I ask you Gentle Reader. What do you do when you are approached for money by a stranger on the street? Feel free to leave a comment below. You may post anonymously if you wish.
Random thoughts on Wally and the Razorbacks: It is a beautiful Saturday morning as I sit on my front porch and type this. I will head down to the Stadium in an hour or so to go watch the Razorbacks with my brother John and his kid. It is finally football weather. The air is clear and crisp. I can hear the band practicing down the street at Forest Heights Junior High. Fans festooned in red are walking past me en route to War Memorial.
Depending on who you listen to, Head coach Houston Nutt is done after this season. Reputable sports journalists-read anybody not named Wally Hall-are finally going with this. The rumor has it that Nutt has 3 or 4 jobs lined up. Both Nutt and the University deny all of this. But it seems clear to me that he is histoire even as he prepares the boys for what I anticipate will be an ass-kicking from a vastly improved Mississippi State coached by all around good guy Sylvester Croom.
My first thought that Nutt was indeed probably toast was when Wally Hall, the sports "editor" for the local paper took a cheap shot at Nutt in last Wednesday's column when he said"Nutt is a good soon,dad,brother and most likely a good husband (emphasis supplied). That egregious slur was most likely a not-so-veiled reference to the fact that it was revealed last Winter that Nutt had sent numerous text messages to a woman who was not his wife on his state financed cell phone.
The fact that Wally kinda sorta speculates on the subject of Nutt's fitness as a husband now rather than during the heat of the controversy tells me that Nutt is gone. Wally is too big a chickenshit to pick this kind of fight when he knows that his target will be around to fight back. So I really believe that HDN is not long for the Chair of Football up on the Hill.
But enough of this gay banter. Although the notion of a beer at 11:30 in the morning makes even me queasy, I'm going to go down the Stadium to enjoy tailgating with the fans and enjoy the day. It will be fun.
Or as Wally put it yesterday in his deathless and inimitable style, " Some schools might have more organized tailgating, some might have more eloquent tailgating, but none have more miles for smiles as War Memorial Golf Course affords Razorback fans."
More eloquent tailgating? Wally, being semi-literate fat best, probably meant elegant but no matter. Tailgating out on that golf course beats the hell out of playing golf on it.
There will be miles for smiles too.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I have my doubts that they will replace him with anybody that will come up with comparable results. I also have my doubts that many guys would want to put up with the nutbar fringe element of the Razorback fan base.
We shall see. About many things.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Again, I cannot make this stuff up.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
My own brief exposure to this came from Big Rollo, my intrepid cardiologist. Let me reiterate at this point that there is nothing wrong with me, praise God. It's just that the men in my family tend to cash in their chips at an untimely age. I go see Rollo every other year just to keep an eye on things. So far so good. Anyway, Little Rock Cardiology is virtually paperless. During my last visit, every step of the way: recording vitals, the results from the treadmill and the echo cardiograms, all were turned into "ones and zeroes" and put into a data base.
When Rollo came into the examination room afterwards, he invited me to pull up a chair next to a computer on a desk. "Watch this," he said. And with a push of a button all the data about my cardiovascular system was on the screen. On the top of the screen my EKG was running across like unto a stock ticker tape. On the bottom right was the computer's analysis of the treadmill test, along with height, weight etc. And on the the bottom left of the screen, the YouTube version of my poor little heart could be seen banging away for all it was worth.
"Is this not cool?" he said. " And let's say you move or you fire me as your cardiologist. With another push of the button all of this data in your virtual file goes with you in the blink of an eye. 100% secure and nothing gets lost. Do you have any idea how much medical information used to just get friggin' lost in transit the old way? Plus, not just anybody has access to your file anymore. This sure makes my job a hell of a lot easier."
Rollo was clearly pleased with their new toys at the Clinic. And I had to say that it was pretty amazing. And I am a person who is not easily amazed by technology. OK. I was amazed by PM's I-Touch. But it takes a lot to cause my jaw to drop.
What is amazing is that my brother, and other people in his line of work, will be selling, in addition to the hardware, space in the ether, a thing that does not tangibly exist in this, the tactile world. And he will be making a hell of a lot of money doing it too.
If you think about it, our money has been pretty much reduced to data as well. When I was in law school, I studied banking law and the Uniform Commercial Code version of what the old timers called "bills and notes." In that class, we learned such arcana about the Federal Reserve System (And no, we weren't taught that it was run by a Jewish conspiracy) and the law of what we quaintly referred to back then as "commercial paper." We learned how checks ran through the Federal Reserve system. We learned about "presentment" and what constituted a "holder in due course." I don't even know if they teach "commercial paper" anymore.
Of course, back in the day, and predictably using this newly acquired knowledge about the banking system for evil, my buddy Don created an elaborate float system involving 4 banks in 3 states. At the end of every month he would just start floating checks all over the Southeast until his Dad put money in his account. He once drew it out for me on a legal pad. It was a thing of beauty. Of course, Don's goals with this "scheme or device" as the prosecutor's call it was nothing more sinister than insuring sure he could buy whiskey and cigarettes at the KB at the end of the month while technically insolvent. Since then, I've seen schemes not much more sophisticated than Don's involving considerably more money.
That float system would harder to pull off nowadays because money is now mostly data. And data moves faster than the United States Mail. There are systems in place in most banks nowadays that are supposed to detect whenever somebody tries to "churn" an account. Think about it. I pay most of my bills,the ones I choose to pay that is, from my computer. All of my savings are automatically deducted from my paycheck, as are all of the wage assignments for my judgment creditors. And somebody, somewhere, is buying and selling the space in the ether to store all these "ones and zeroes."
Guys like my brother John who are laughing all of the way to what used to be the bank.
Friday, November 09, 2007
tmfw: I just hope Eddie doesn't show up with a gun tomorrow.
JR: That won't happen. Eddie's too big a redneck.
tmfw: How in the hell is Eddie being a redneck supposed to make me feel better about my chances for not getting shot?
JR: Simple. He fucks up and shoots you then he'll get arrested. If he gets arrested, he'll miss the start of deer season on Saturday.
Like I said, oddly enough I feel better.
You know, at this point it would be cheaper for the US government to just go ahead and make the New Orleans area a protectorate along the order of, say, Guam. It couldn't be make running the damn place any more complicated than it already is and the rest of the State would be glad to be shed of it.
Just a suggestion.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
In an interesting twist, some of these "ministers" also serve on the Board of Trustees of Oral Roberts University which is also undergoing scrutiny along with Oral's son Richard and his wife.
This should prove to be great fun and it coudn't happen to a more deserving bunch of people.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Let's see him try to set one of those up in Alabama.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
You can see some recent pictures of the little guys in action on our sister station strangepup which you can like to from the "Society of Friends" located on the lower right hand section of this page.
Hope to see you on Saturday! If you can't come, send money!
Friday, November 02, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Hit the jump to see what happened to Millsaps-one of their competitors in the SCAC- last Saturday.
I would certainly pay to see this kind of crazy shit.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
By the time you read this, the Fall season will be over at Miracle League. It has been a fun 8 weeks and I will miss those little guys. But I am ready for a break and there are some other projects that I need to tend to before the holidays. All in all, this really has been an amazing experience. When I first volunteered to coach out there, I couldn't talk to anybody connected with the program who didn't go on and on about what an incredible experience it would be to spend time with these kids. My response, being me, was to think, " You don't have to keep blowing smoke up my ass. I told you I'd do it."
Turns out they were telling the honest-to-God truth. Being with these kids every Saturday has easily been the highlight of my week the past 8 weeks. And the Spring was no different.
It is easy to romanticize disabled kids. Indeed, the "sick child" character is a staple of literature. Dickens was a particular master of that grim genre giving us both Tiny Tim and Little Nell. He at least let Tiny Tim live. Little Nell was not so lucky and Oscar Wilde managed to find Dickens's portrayal of her demise as exceedingly hilarious. Which is one of the reasons I love Oscar Wilde.
I don't romanticize the kids at Miracle League. And one of the beauties of the system-or what passes for a system-is that the Miracle League environment is such that they can be kids first and disabled kids second. Willy talks serious trash to the pitcher every time he gets up. Rebekah shamelessly flirts with the college boys that come out to help. Jerrod calls his shot whenever he comes to the plate. Chloe routinely outruns the "buddies" that are assigned to her. Just to prove she can do it. Nope, we are having too much fun out there to get too sentimental about it all. But every now and again something happens with these kids that hits you where you live. One of those things happened a week ago.
The girl on the left is Sarah Beth. Her mother died last week after a brief but tragic illness. Sarah Beth was understandably distraught. All kids depend on their parents. A special needs kid does so exponentially. It was during a discussion with her father about the arrangements for the funeral that Sarah Beth revealed that she had become friends at school with a girl named Josie. Sarah Beth wanted Josie around during this time because, as she told her dad, Josie was the first friend she ever had.
Sarah Beth's father was wise and loving in equal measure. The family is from South Carolina. They decided that the serious stuff would be done there. But here in Little Rock, her father chose to have a visitation that would be as non-scary and positive as possible under the circumstances. And so, it was held in the Fellowship Hall of their church. There was no coffin. There were no flowers. Just punch and cookies for the guests who included the kids from Sarah Beth's school.
Josie and her folks were there. Although she was in her wheelchair at the visitation, she can slowly walk with the assistance of her walker. Josie also plays in the Miracle League. Josie's dad said that the goal for the next game was for Josie to round the bases with the walker instead of the wheelchair.
Sarah Beth showed up the next day as well. Her father told me the night before that he thought coming out to play ball was the best thing for Sarah Beth. Sarah Beth is a physically gifted kid. She can run like the wind and has almost gone yard on us during a couple at-bats. She had already hit Josie was at bat. Josie hit the ball. And as she and the "buddy" assigned to her slowly made their way to first Sarah Beth went down the baseline too, cheering Josie on every step of the way.
I do not romanticize these kids. But they do tend to be precociously empathetic in a way that their more able-bodied counterparts sometimes are not. But this display was extraordinary even by the usual standards of the Miracle League. Think about it: Here was a girl who had just lost her mother, cheering on her friend-the first friend of her life- as she struggled to make her way toward first on two legs. Josie did it 2 more times, with good old Sarah Beth cheering her every step of the way.
No, I do not romanticize. I will come back next Spring. I will come back mainly because I will miss my kids something something awful. I will come back so I can be assured of a weekly reality check these guys impart that, quite frankly, I don't get from practicing law. Or from being me. And I will come back to see an occasional glimpse of perfect kindness. OK. So maybe I romanticize a little.
Enough of that. By now you probably have guessed that Josie is the kid on the right. Oh. I forgot to tell you. Josie can't talk. But that's OK with Sarah Beth.
Because we all know that there are those times when the best kind of friend is somebody who just listens.