Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye To All That

At this time of year, writers tend to write about the "Best and Worst" of 2007. I suppose I should do that too, seeing as how one naturally tends to get reflective on the last day of the year. That, and writing such a post will kill an hour. So here we go!

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 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

My Sunday Feeling

Even though December 25th is,Praise God, in the rear view mirror, there's still more Christmas to do. People are just now returning to the People's Republic of Hillcrest from far away places and the folks that have kids are just now getting over colds and a nasty case of the flu that is making the rounds. My excellent and long-suffering friend PJ is stuck in Philadelphia mediating a family dispute that, from what I have heard, is nasty in extremeous. And so the guest room is still full of Christmas stuff that has yet to be distributed. That's OK. Everybody that has something with their name on it will get by here eventually. They always do. As long as I maintain a wet bar, people will always show up.

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.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

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

More Proof Cops Are Underpaid

According to today's Democrat-Gazette, Rick Carroll of Long Beach, California was arrested outside of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. He was wearing a red Santa hat, a blond wig, a G-string, a red lace camisole, and legwarmers at the time.

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


Blogger sometimes doesn't let me edit the way I want. Hence, the jumbled up lines at the bottom of the last post. For some reason, it wouldn't accept any spacing edits toward the end.

Go figure.


Monday, December 24, 2007

My Christmas Feeling

As I type this, the Christmas of 2007 is scheduled to come in sunny and not too cold. In fact, as I type this, I am trying to sort out in my head how I might possibly work in 9 holes at the club. What can I say? I am a multi-tasker. At least when it comes to things that aren't work related, that is.

As most folks know, Christmas is not my favorite holiday on the Christian calendar. I am not nearly the Scrooge that I profess to be. Indeed, I was pretty much outed on this score by my alleged friend Phil Martin in one of his recent columns. But it ain't my favorite season of the year.
I try to adopt the attitude of my friend Marge who says that since it comes once a year whether we want it to or not, we might as well have a good attitude about it and try to enjoy it as best we can. And I try to follow her lead although I don't know how successful I am at it. But this is also the only time of the year that I have bad dreams on a consistent basis. Dr. GG says that this is a common occurrence during the Holidays. It's hard to have a good attitude about that, boy.

Attitude problems or no, there have been some nice moments this Christmas. Don, my old buddy from our Tulane days, gave me one of the truly more beautiful presents I have ever received: a copy of a cookbook he wrote for his daughters Caroline and Annie. Each recipe is prefaced by a story. It is a moving account of a Father's love for his daughters as much as it is a recipe book. Further, there are passages about me and our friendship over the years that are far kinder than I deserve. I will write more about this later after I have digested it further if that's not to punny a term for a recipe book.
One of the nicer moments, and I can't imagine anything that will top it, was the Christmas party we had for the Easter Seals kids at their campus out in West Little Rock. Many of the kids that live out at Easter Seals play ball with us in the Miracle League. So I knew most of the ones that were at the party.

Kids are funny. Before Santa arrived to pass out the presents, I walked around and greeted my Miracle Leaguers. I was wearing slacks and a blazer. None of them had ever seen me dressed up or not wearing a baseball cap before. It took them awhile to retrieve who I was from the mental Rolodex. Oddly enough, the boys tended to recognize me at a faster clip than did the girls.
We were all given a list of names to buy for. I picked Britney, the kid pictured above. I picked her in part because we don't have any girls in my family and I was sick of buying boy stuff. Mercifully, I have female friends, who even though they love me, were horrified at the notion of me buying for a 13 year old girl. So Jenny volunteered to get Britney the toiletries she wanted and Renee at Gallery 26 said she would pick out a necklace and earrings that she thought would go with her based on a picture I sent over there. I was entrusted with getting the MP3 player.

A motor vehicle accident put Britney in the chair. She is better off than some in that she can actually walk a little and can sit in a chair. But I gather that this is a work in progress and that she spends most of her time in the wheelchair. Britney is far and away the most sweet natured and polite teenager I know. To maintain this graceful disposition under her circumstances is more than I can fathom. Indeed, I am known far and wide for my dyspeptic temperament and I lead a practically charmed life. But maintain it she does. She, and many of those kids out there, possess more strength of character in their little fingers than I have in my entire body.

When she opened her present, you would have thought that 100 bucks worth of jewelry was the Hope Diamond.

" Thank you, Sir," she said, after one of the ladies placed the necklace on her. " This is the prettiest thing anybody has ever given me."

"I'm glad you like it. And don't call me Sir."

" You're such a nice man. I can see why everybody likes you."

I hunkered down next to her where I could look her in the eye.

"Look, sweetie," I said. " I appreciate the compliment but there's a whooolllllllle lot of people that don't like me."


"Yeah. Really."

She let this bit of information sink in. After a moment she spoke.

"Well," she said. "Everybody here likes you."

She waved her arm toward all of those kids with their broken little bodies happily playing with their presents given to them by total strangers.

I tapped her shoulder with my knuckles.
" And that's all I need to know," I said.

I gave her a hug and said goodbye.
" Sir?"

"What, buddy?"
" I love you."

"I love you too, honey."

" Those folks that don't like you?"

"What about 'em?"

" You don't need to worry about them because I got your back."

" I'll keep that in mind, honey."

Christmas is pretty much an awful time. It really is. But every now and again, some goodness
leaks out.
Why should I toil and spin and have bad dreams? After all, Britney's got my back.
And now a message from the Gratuitous Plug Department: The " Tales From The South" Holiday show will air Thursday night at 7pm CST on radio station KUAR FM89 here in Central Arkansas. I will be reading another story. Those of you who want to hear the show on the Internet go to and listen to live streaming of the broadcast. Or, you can get it from the archives at . They told us during the taping that it will also run Christmas Day but I can find no evidence of that from the website. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Sunday Feeling

No time for blogging this weekend. But check back Christmas day.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mike Huckabee and the United States Constitution

Christopher Hitchens, one of my personal favorites, gives it to Mike Huckabee and his evangelical acolytes here in Slate.

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

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

According to ESPN Radio Roger Clemens was supposed to address the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association meeting in Waco, Texas tomorrow. According to the report, Clemens was "disinvited" by the association after the Mitchell Report came out last week which alleged that Clemens, among others, used illegal steroids.

The title of the speech Clemons was scheduled to give?

" How I Managed to Stay in Baseball So Long."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Vox Populi

Today's text message concerns the events of the weekend.

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.

tmfw: Oh.

My Sunday Feeling

You've got to think Bobby Petrino's week got a little easier Thursday. To the limited extent that an asshole like Petrino even cares about the torrent of criticism that has come down upon him after he left the Atlanta Falcons with 3 games on the schedule to coach the Arkansas Razorbacks, and there are many who would say that he could give two hoots in hell about what others think, the fact that the Mitchell investigation into steroid use in Major League Baseball probably provided a welcomed diversion of attention away from him. No matter how you slice it, this has not been one of the better weeks in sports.

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

Vox Populi

The earliest response on the Mitchell Report's finding that the New York Yankees' Roger Clemens used steroids came in a text message from Polycarp today:

" I predict that the next time Sen. Mitchell steps up to the plate, Roger beans him good."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crossing Over

My Mother used to lecture me about the perils of temptation. She used to tell me that "once you cross that line even once it's hard to come back."

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

Quote Of The Week

In today's column in the New York Times, Maureen Dowd discusses Mitt Romney's speech last week about his Mormon faith. She interviewed Jon Krakauer who wrote about the history of the Mormon Church in his book "Under the Banner of Heaven."

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?

My Sunday Feeling

Is it just me or is anybody else put off by what I perceive to be an inordinate amount of religiosity being bandied about by our candidates for public office? On the one hand, I don't much care about Mitt Romney's Mormonism or the fact that Southern Baptist Mike Huckabee willingly concedes that there is no disconnect between his politics and his fundamentalist Baptist faith. I don't intend to vote for either of these gentlemen.

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

A Modest Suggestion

As of this writing, the Chair of Football at the University of Arkansas remains vacant. Last night it was announced that Wake Forest's Jim Grobe had accepted the job. Then the news came this morning that Grobe had decided to stay at Wake. Which made him-by my count-the 4th coach to spurn the Hogs. This also caused Wally Hall to waste an entire column on the subject of Grobe's alleged hiring when he could have used the space to pander to the peckerwoods about how the egghead administration up there is trying to turn a mere land grant college into another Vanderbilt at the expense of the football program.

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?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

My Sunday Sex Scandal Expose

The Idaho Statesman got 4 guys to go on the record about having sex with lame duck United States Senator Larry Craig. Read about it here.
The audio version of the interviews are available on the page but listener's discretion is advised.
My favorite line out of all the interviews comes from one of his paramours who said of Craig's rather prissily hysterical response to being outed, "Heterosexual men don't behave this way."

My Sunday Feeling

The Christmas season is upon us , much to my considerable displeasure. As anyone who knows me even passingly well can attest, I have absolutely no use for the Holidays. My excellent friend Marge made the mistake of asking me the other day why this is so. Since you made the mistake of pointing your browser here, I will tell you as well.

First of all, Christmas has an inordinate impact on the nation's economy for a so-called religious event. Sales at Christmas can make or break businesses. It can plunge the country into a recession. Personal bankruptcies spike on a nationwide basis around February of every year. Any holiday that brings with it the annual prospect of financial ruin on a nationwide basis makes agnosticism look downright sensible if not frugal.

Another reason to hate Christmas is that, from property offenders to shoplifters, crime goes up every Christmas season. Further, the solicitations for phony charities increase during the Yuletide. Last week a disreputable looking young man bearing no identification came to my door seeking a donation for an alleged women's prison ministry called "Second Time Around." I may be a Scrooge but I am a socially useful Scrooge and I am plugged in to the various charities around town. There is no local organization that bears this name and so I sent his ass packing with the heartfelt assurances that I would have him arrested if I ever saw him again. I must have been convincing because he actually ran off down the street. Good.

I hate Christmas because choirs everywhere will attempt to sing "Hallelujah" from "Messiah." "Hallelujah" is as unsingable as it is unlistenable. Further, it is not even part of the Christmas section of the oratorio. It is from the justifiably ignored Easter section. Finally as long as we are throwing cold water on the season, let's throw some on "Messiah" as well. To hear some folks tell it, the fact that Handel cranked out "Messiah" in a couple of weeks is proof that it was a work inspired by Providence. The fact of the matter is a) Handel was a fast worker, a trait made easier by the fact that he was widely known in his day to be a musical plagiarist, and b) the secular operetta business that was in Handel's wheeelhouse back in those days was going through the floor and Georg needed a fast buck. So he slapped together "Messiah." Oh. One other thing. The tradition of standing during "Hallelujah" because George II allegedly was so moved that he stood when he heard it? And examination of the historical record-a record which is widely ignored on other subjects as well when it comes to the Christmas season-reveals that George II probably wasn't even there when "Messiah" made its debut.

The traffic is terrible, people act crazy and folks that have nothing but utter contempt for each other are forced to feign peace and goodwill during those grim anthropological experiments known as office parties.

So do I hate the holidays? Let me count the friggin' ways. I could go on and on.
But I don't have time right now. I have to go Christmas shopping.

And now something from the Shameless Plug department: I will be reading another short story on this month's edition of "Tales from the South." The show will air at 7 pm CDT on December 27th on KUAR FM 89.0. If for some reason you can't hear it you can listen to the broadcast by clicking on the archives on . I am told that it will be broadcast again on Christmas day but you can check the website to make sure.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Absolute Last Post About Houston Nutt

The rumors buzzing my phone tonight from people that purport to know something about what is going on up in the 'Zarks is that Mike Belotti from Oregon is the latest hire. Then the phone buzzed again and Auburn's Tommy Tuberville is still in play.

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

There You Have It

The official explanation for LSU losing to Arkansas? The game was fixed according to some of the posters on the Times-Picayune's LSU blog.

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.

My Sunday Feeling

It's been a great couple of days. Thanksgiving morning was crisp and cold, just like it should be. I went out for a run. Thanksgiving in the People's Republic of Hillcrest typically begins with about a third of the neighborhood out running or walking to make room for the turkey. At least it seems like that many. And there are always folks out there on Thanksgiving that I've never seen before.

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

Saturday Sports Page

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.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Got A Nikon Camera. I Love To Take Photographs.

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

My Sunday Feeling

The weather has finally turned off cool here in the Little Rock area. The birds migrate South when the season's change. Or they used to back when the seasons really changed. The other creatures that tend to migrate to warmer climes are the street people. Every Holiday season, we see more and more guys (and occasionally women) roaming the streets. It is a pitiful sight.

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

Rumor Has It

Got a telephone call from a reasonably reliable source who says that Houston Nutt has resigned as the coach of the Razorbacks football team. I am assuming that the putative resignation is effective at the end of the season. I can't imagine that he just up and quit.

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

The First Stupid Christmas Story Of The Season

OK. God knows (pardon the expression) that I have zero use for Christmas. But I have even less use for political correctness.

Again, I cannot make this stuff up.

Time Has Come Today

I actually overheard the following snippet of conversation between a couple of street person type guys sitting on a bench outside the bank this afternoon.

STG #1: Is today Wednesday or Thursday?

STG #2: And what goddamn difference do it make to you?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Onion Imitates Life

I've actually had this conversation.

And the woman reading this out there knows who she is.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sounds Like A Mutiny

Here's a quote from fullback Peyton Hillis concerning the Razorback's inertia on offense during last Saturday's fiasco at Tennessee: " I mean, they're D-I coaches and they get paid millions of dollars a year to figure out that stuff and [we] hoped that they would."


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday At The Miracle League

This is Spencer. He's one of our Miracle League kids. He came to play at the baseball camp we ran over at Dickey-Stephens park. One of the MLB guys immediately took him over to teach him how to read a pickoff.
The kid playing catcher is with the Rockies organization. He was way cool.

This is Toronto's A.J. Burnett with one of our kids. The Major Leaguers were really good to come out for the cause.

Everybody Is A Comedian

In which my cover is blown over on strangepup, our affiliate here in the blogosphere.

Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear

My Sunday Feeling

My little brother John just got back from Dallas where he negotiated a new position with a company that sells medical data systems. As I understand the business from his brief explanation yesterday, he will be selling systems for the retention of certain medical data like MRIs, X-rays and such. Evidently, electronic retention of all data is the latest thing in the medical business just as it is in the legal profession.

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

Gee. I Feel Better.

Got Summary Judgment granted in hopefully my last discrimination case. We took a pretty hard line on this one seeing as how this is the second time around with this particular Plaintiff. Most folks believe that her husband is the moving force behind her filings and so it is thought by those that know him that he is probably taking it at least as hard as she is. My buddy JR knows the situation. This was the gist of an IM exchange last night.

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.

Just Another Day For The Civil Servants Of The Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office

The Plaintiff's lawyer in that discrimination case against the D.A.'s office made good on his promise to seize the office's bank accounts for application on the Judgment they have on it.

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

Meanwhile Back In Minneapolis Tubby Smith Is Laughing His Ass Off

Kentucky, and new coach Billy Gillespie, got their asses kicked last night to the tune of 84-68 by perennial power Gardner-Webb. Even more amusing, this disaster took place at Rupp Arena.
What do you want to bet that is up and running already?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

About Goddamn Time!

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley has sent letters of inquiry to various luminaries in the televangelist racket concerning exexcutive compensation, fringe benefits and fund raising methods. Those receiving letters include Benny Hinn, and Joyce Meyers.

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

Another Plug For The Miracle League Fundraiser

Is here .

A public service announcement video featuring Miracle League kids Chloe, Prince Miles, and Sarah Beth.

Y'all come.

Quothe The Raven

Boy are the Steelers kicking the shit out of us in the 1st half.

Bet Notre Dame Can't Beat THEM Either

PM forwarded me a press release announcing that uber-weird filmmaker David Lynch was "launching" 3 new universities in Finland, Etonia and Bulgaria. These universities will "provide full enlightenment to every student and invincibility to national consciousness" through the use of transcendental meditation.

Let's see him try to set one of those up in Alabama.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My Sunday Feeling

It was bound to happen sooner or later I guess. After all, drugs have infested professional sports for years. And yet, I confess to being surprised when Martina Hingis called a press conference to announce that a) she tested positive for cocaine last summer during Wimbledon and that b) she was retiring from tennis.

I would not have given it a second thought had Hingis tested positive for being a bitch. She is pretty much despised by virtually all of her peers on the WTA tour. Which is a remarkable accomplishment given the pervasive cattiness that obtains in the women's game.

We all know about what Major League Baseball has been through. Professional football players fail drug tests all of the time. Not at the rate of cyclists and distance runners, but at a pretty good clip nonetheless. Players in the NBA have the reputation for smoking a lot of reefer. But tennis players have managed to stay out of the drug news for the most part. Off the top of my head, the only tennis player to have been accused of flunking a drug test, at least the only one of any stature, was the hot-tempered and loud-mouthed Greg Rusedski of Canada. Rusedski allegedly tested positive for nandrolone in 2004. However, he was cleared after a hearing later that year. This is the only instance that I can think of where an athlete accused of flunking a drug test was eventually exonerated.
I think there are a couple of reasons that tennis has avoided the problems other professional sports have had with players using recreational drugs. First of all, players on the ATP and WTA tours by and large lead a fairly ascetic lifestyle, if that's a word you can use when referring to zillionaires. Being a tennis player is hard work. Their daily lives pretty much consist of training, practicing and playing. It is a lonely and unglamorous life for 2/3 of them. The Aussies used to be known for partying pretty hard but they were the exception rather than the rule. Heavy drinking and use of recreational drugs are incompatible with high level performance on the tennis court.

This latter consideration was pretty much Hingis's defense at her press conference during which she hotly denied that she had used cocaine and vowed to sic her lawyers on the WTA. Which is why I was surprised that she-or any of them-would produce a dirty test. Recreational drug use is incompatible with playing tennis at a world class level.

But think about it. Why should the tennis world be any more immune to common societal ills than the real world? Tennis players are human with the possible exception of Maria Sharapova. They have a lot of money and time on their hands when they are not playing or training. Who says they are immune from temptation? Further, even intelligent people do stupid things. Suffice it to say that there aren't many MENSA candidates on either tour.

And yet, I still have to think the situation with Hingis is an aberration. Besides, tennis has bigger problems, like the spectre of players fixing matches over in the men's game. But mark my words, I guarantee you that there are players using Human Growth Hormone or HGH. Just as they are in baseball, football, cycling and track. Tennis takes a terrible toll on your body. HGH allows the muscle fibers to heal more quickly. And the only way to test for it is by pulling blood which is pretty impractical. But if they ever develop a way to test for HGH in urine or saliva, my prediction is that tennis will join the ranks of other professional sports where everybody seems to be dirty all of the time.

But here's my question to Hingis and it is the same question I basically had for Senator Larry Craig. With Craig I asked, "If you are innocent of these charges, why did you plead guilty to a lesser included offense?" To Hingis I ask, " If you really didn't do cocaine at Wimbledon, why retire?"

I think we know the answer to those simple questions.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Throw Money At It

The fundraiser for the Miracle League of Arkansas is next Saturday night over at Dickey-Stephens Park. Come join the fun and support these kids!

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

You Know You're A Screwup When....

You try to resign as District Attorney and get the paperwork to the Secretary of State's office late .

God, you just cannot make this stuff up.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007

This is Lily again. Her Dad brought her over for trick or treat.

She's 9 or so.

I'm glad I don't have a daughter.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

This Is The Kind Of Stuff Hendrix Can Look Forward To

Hendrix College-my old Alma Mater-is thinking about bringing back football. OK fine.

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

My Sunday Feeling

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.