Saturday, March 31, 2007

Suffer The Children

The attempt to outlaw gay folks-even relatives-from becoming foster parents or legal guardians was beaten back by the Arkansas legislature's Judiciary Committee last Tuesday. I never thought I would see the day. For Doug Thompson of the Arkansas News Bureau the message sent by the opponents of such homophobia is nothing more complicated than the one taught by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Hit the link:

This Just In From The "Sports Builds Character Department"

On Friday the Feds charged a University of Toledo football player with point-shaving. According to a criminal complaint, a kid named Harvey "Scooter" McDougle jr. was recruited by a shadowy Detroit gambler named "Gary" to intice Toledo Football and basketball players to influence the outcome of games.

My response is two-fold: 1) This sort of thing is widely suspected in basketball from time-to-time and games have been fixed, most recently and notoriously at Tulane, one of my alma maters. But I don't know how you go about this in football unless you got to a quarterback or running back.

2) The fact that someone is trying to affect the outcome of games played by the Toledo Rockets is proof that some guys will damn near bet on whether the sun will come up in the morning.

Granted, Toledo is pretty low on the radar screen. But I can't imagine that much interest in action on Toledo games sufficient to run such a risk. This kid is looking at 5 years and a quarter-million dollar fine upon conviiction. Trying to fix games in the Mid-America Conference?

Either these clowns are not real good at risk calculus or gambling on college sports is more insidious than even I imagined.

Hey, enjoy the Final Four this weekend.

It's Not Easy Being Green

Go to our sister station and click on the post entitled "Hurt."

The sound you hear is Jim Henson rolling in his grave.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Somewhere Stan Heath Is Laughing His Ass Off

Texas A&M's Billy Clyde Gillespie has turned down Arkansas to remain in College Station. In what cannot possibly be a coincidence, Houston extended Tom Penders' contract. The nutbar fanbase around here talks wistfully of Kansas's Bill Self or USC's Tim Floyd coming here.

Right. Self is not gonna leave the 3rd or 4th best job in the country and Floyd has got the #1 high school player in the country coming in for the 1 year before he jumps to the NBA. Not that he did anything to deserve this (see Sunday's post) but Floyd has landed the prodigiously talented and amazingly named O.J. Mayo. Floyd's not likely to leave USC for the continuing psychodrama that is Arkansas athletics.

Anyway, hit the link to see Frank Broyles' humiliation writ large:

Is Barbaro Alive?

This just in from those intrepid sports journalists at The Onion. As my mama used to say, " You don't know it's not true."

Hit the link:

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Notes from the Cesspool

This story in last week's New York Times tells you everything you want to know about big time college basketball. The only redeeming factor in it is the fact that Tim Floyd is widely considered to be an OK kind of guy in a world populated by pimps and hustlers.

Hit the link.

My Sunday Feeling

At the outset, let me reiterate a position I have steadfastly maintained since beginning this stupid blog some 2 years ago or so. Division I Men's sports is a cesspool. Men's basketball is the heavy sludge at the bottom of the cesspool.

Despite that fact, there I was Friday night sitting in a bar in West Little Rock with my brother John, some genius financial analyst (No lie. The guy makes a high 6 figure income writing a financial newsletter for one of the local banks. Works an hour a day. Really.) and some leggy brunette of unknown provenance who decided to sit with us because she coveted my french fries.

I am not making this up.

John gave me the "head's up" that she was coming over.

John: " I think she likes you."

Me: " She looks like nothing but trouble."

John: "Yeah? And your point would be?"

Me: " I don't do trouble anymore"

John, as he recoiled in mock surprise: " Since when?"

Since a long time actually. I am practically monastic nowadays. It's just easier.

Anyway, this motley crew was united only by our thirst for adult beverages and the NCAA basketball tournament that was playing on all 3 flat screen TVs there in the tavern. Vanderbilt (of all people) was giving Georgetown-the number two seed in that region- absolute hell. It was great fun.

My buddy Don-whose eccentric musings may be read at -went to college at Vanderbilt. And so, throughout the game, I would receive periodic messages from him as the Commodores threatened to upset the Hoyas. Now Don knows his football but he would be the first to tell you that he knows next to nothing about basketball. This puts him in quite the tenuous position socially as he now lives in Chapel Hill. Anyway, up until last night about all that he has allowed about Vanderbilt is that he thinks it is silly to have a sailor as your team mascot. But there he was, with his nose to the tube watching the Sailors scare the bejeesus out of Georgetown.

Despite the fact that Don is pretty ignorant when it comes to all things hoops he is responsible for singlehandedly blowing one of the best runs of luck I have ever had in an NCAA tournament office pool. The story goes something like this.

About 18-20 years ago, way before the advent of "the Internets" (to use Houston Nutt's felicitous phrase), Don worked in one of those huge law firms in Los Angeles. As you might imagine, when tournament time came around they had quite a good sized office pool with a potential grand prize of around 5 grand or something. So, since there was big money at stake, Don turned to me for guidance.

This was the year that I hit 3 of the 4 eventual entries in the Final Four. If memory serves, the Final Four that year was like a CYO invitational with Georgetown, St. John's and Villanova all vying for the title. Anyway, I won a considerable amount of money here locally and, as it turned out, Don and I won the pool at his office.

Unbeknownst to me, Don's ex-wife got wind of this bonanza and seized the winnings for child support.

" But half that money's mine!" I yelled into the phone after he had broke the bad news.

" Yeah, well.." he replied. " How are you going to enforce it? I don't know a state in the Union where a gambling contract is enforceable. Sorry, Bud."

2500 bucks goes flying out the window and all I get is "Sorry, Bud."

Such is life.

Another memorable tournament was the year that Maximum Girlfriend Emeritus for Life LS beat me soundly while picking teams based on their colors or nicknames. She picked UTEP in an upset because LS had a girlfriend who went to school out there. She always liked the desert whenever she went to visit her friend back when she was at Baylor.

You know. The scientific method based on informed opinion.

Yes, men's basketball is worse than a cesspool. But, hypocrites that we are, we love it so.

Maybe I'll watch the Finals back at the bar with John. Maybe I'll order fries just to see if "Legs" shows back up.

I don't do trouble anymore but it doesn't hurt to look at it. Doesn't hurt at all. And it is a lot less problematic than betting on college basketball.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


I haven't written much about the inimitable Wally Hall, the alleged editor of the sports page for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in some time. Actually, I haven't written too much about anything lately due to the pressing duties of the day job. BTW...I deny the vicious allegation posted on our sister station Strangepup that I have been slacking. I've just been busy.

Anyway, today's topic in Wally's column concerns the University of Arkansas needing to hire a "big time" coach "if Stan Heath leaves" i.e. gets fired, as some are predicting. In his column, Wally rehashes the story on how Heath got hired at Fayetteville after only one year's worth of head coaching experience at Kent State (which actually goes by Kent now as i understand it). Then his column gets interesting, although as it always seems to work with Wally, it is for all of the wrong reasons. The law of unintended consequences is always enforced over at the Democrat-Gazette sports page.

Wally goes on to write: " Heath came in with his pleasant smile and correct English and expectations were high..."

"Pleasant smile and correct English?"

Early in what promises to be an interminable political campaign for the Presidency, Sen. Joseph Biden angered many black people when he referred to Sen. Barack Obama as "clean and articulate." Some black people took offense at this remark, saying that white people only refer to intelligent black people as "articulate" as if being well-spoken were the special province of white people only.

It is one thing to comment on Stan Heath's considerable reputation for class and civility as he stands out in that regard in a profession full of egomaniacs and martinets. It is quite another to refer to a black person's "correct English."

I will give Wally the benefit of the doubt. I don't think he's a racist. But he has a tendency to make much of "positive" character traits of black people he admires while demonizing the ones he doesn't like. Guys he likes are referred to as 'well dressed" or "polite" or " a yes-sir and no-sir kid." He doesn't write about white people in that fashion or at least he doesn't to the extent he uses such terminology about black people. And I think he mainly does it to pander to a certain constituency out there for whom these are still "hot button" issues. Which may be reprehensible but it doesn't make him a racist.

I think the point Wally was trying to make in his typically mangled way is he thinks that Heath was mainly smoke and mirrors and was just not cut out for the job. Or maybe Wally finds "correct English" to be a character flaw. "Correct English" is certainly nothing that he has ever employed consistently in his columns. But you would think a red flag would have gone up over there when that sentence came across somebody's desk given the furor over Joe Biden's remarks about Barack Obama.

No, I don't think Wally is a racist. He's just inarticulate.

No, I

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My Sunday Feeling

This week's edition will be short and sweet. The day job has kept me pretty busy and I've got another free lance project that is due tomorrow. Will try to get back to posting more frequently soon but there's only so many hours in the day and so much staring at the computer screen I can do.

Let me begin by saying that I am not a Duke-hater. I reserve the bulk of my disdain for a certain school South of here that wears purple and gold as well as for a certain Roman Catholic institution of higher learning East of Chicago. I have no use for either of those schools, and furthermore, I do not suffer their fans gladly.

But there are those that despise Duke University and Mike Krzyzewski and their name is Legion. Granted, most of them are basketball fans at other ACC schools. But Duke bashing abounds all over the place and it usually manifests itself this time of year during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament when Duke is typically in the thick of things.

Only this year, they are not. Duke got sent packing in the first round of this year's tourney by Virginia Commonwealth to the everlasting joy unbounded of Duke haters everywhere. Indeed, for one of the more conspicuous (and vitriolic) examples of this phenomena hit the link:

Now Duke's getting the bum's rush should not have come as any great shock. They weren't very good this year. The lost their last 4 games of the season and limped into the tournament as a 5 seed mainly because, well, they're Duke. But Duke's guards are slow afoot and had trouble handling pressure all year. About all I knew about VCU was that they pressed all over the house. So, I figured they would give Duke trouble and picked them to win as did my friend PM. If guys like us are getting this right, then this isn't exactly brain surgery.

So why all the schadenfreude? In the first place, there are certain clubs that inspire class hatred. Duke is like unto the New York Yankees in that regard. I'll bet there are Yankee haters somewhere on my street. There is a certain smug arrogance about both clubs, most of it unjustified by recent performance. The Dallas Cowboys gave off much the same vibe during Tom Landry's tenure as Head Coach and Conduit to Jesus Himself.

But unlike the Yankees, Duke was once kind of America's hoops darling. Duke was pretty mediocre in hoops until Bill Foster took over. When I was a senior at Hendrix (another renowned hoops hotbed) Duke went to the Final Four with Gene Banks, Mike Gminski and true thug Terry Dennard who threw elbows at guys just for the sheer unabashed joy of it. Duke's second resurgence came under Coach K. Grant Hill, Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley were the poster boys for all that was right in college basketball, especially when viewed alongside their main rival, frequent NCAA recidivists Jerry Tarkanian and UNLV. (The hell of it is, UNLV had actually pretty much QUIT cheating by that point in time. But sometimes thy reputation precedes ye always.)

So how did the Dukies morph into the Evil Empire? Partly they are a victim of their own success. Everybody likes to root against the Overdog and Duke, while a shadow of their former selves, has been one of college basketball's Elites for years. It's just human nature. Secondly, it cannot be denied that they brought some of this on themselves.

Dukies, while not nearly as insufferable as your average Notre Dame aficionado, tend to think very highly of themselves. This is not surprising seeing as how the majority of their constituency is upper middle class and white. Secondly, while Coach K has certainly done things the right way at Duke ( their graduation rate is one of the highest in the game. Contrary to the bullshit that is put out in Durham, Duke ain't Harvard. But still, it is an excellent school and this is commendable.) But it irritated many people, myself included, to see him shilling for both American Express and Chevrolet during last year's tournament. To profit from the cult of personality that is college coaching while kids can't get paid anything was repellent. Such an indifference to appearance is borne of arrogance.

Finally, one must concede that the recent unpleasantness concerning the allegations of improper conduct by Duke's lacrosse team did not help matters any one little bit. Rightly or wrongly, Duke came across as a lily-white bastion of privilege and indifference while racial and economic tensions in Durham roiled about the ivory tower of academe.

So Duke haters may rejoice. Duke is out of the tournament. And they make take solace in the certain truth that the days of dynasties are over. There's no way a team can keep guys together for 4 years anymore. If you have kids that are any good they will jump to the NBA draft after 2-3 years.

But Duke's signees for next year are touted as highly as any class the Evil Empire has ever signed. Love 'em of hate 'em, Duke and Coach K will be back.

You can count on that.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Sunday Feeling

The voice on the other end of the phone was serious for once.

" We need to talk about Mom." Bob said. " You need to know that things are not going well."

And with that, my brother the nurse explained the situation through the eyes of a clinician. Mother's dementia and senility are becoming more pronounced. She no longer recognizes Bob and he comes by two or three times a week. She is losing body mass despite the fact that she is eating.

" She is starting to talk about wanting to die, wanting to go, wanting to leave, that kind of stuff." he said. " We see that at the hospital all of the time. When an elderly sick person starts talking like that, well...."


Coincidentally enough, the hospice chaplain called me later that same morning. She wanted me to know that she had been by to see Mother the day before. She wanted me to know that Mother seemed to enjoy the visit and that the chaplain prayed with her.

" My brother said that Mother is" I was stammering. This is unlike me.

" She is declining. That's why we're involved."

" He seemed to think that things were...were...."

" They are declining steadily. It is not fast but it is steady. I would agree with that. I mean she could plateau...."

She pronounced it platohhhhhhhhhhhh.

" I mean, it's not likely but it could happen." she concluded.

"Mother is dying." I thought to myself. "It's starting to happen."

" Hello?"

" I'm here."

" You OK?"

" Yeah, thanks. I mean, even though we all knew this day would come, intellectually speaking, this is kind of a lot to unpack. You know what I mean."

" I do. That's why I called. We don't just care for the patient. We care for the extended family as well. Is there anything I can do for you?"

" Umm. No. I mean, thanks. But I don't think so. Not just yet."

" OK."

" I guess what I am most concerned about is that I want her to be comfortable. I want her to have some dignity."

" So do we. That is what we are all about at hospice."

" I worry about that you know?" And I do. " I really worry about that."

" I know. Everybody does. I want you to know that she is being well taken care of. I want you to know that we will be with all of you every step of the way and that we are here for y'all 24-7."

And with that we said goodbye.

It is a beautiful Spring morning here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest. It is the kind of morning that makes you believe that Winter is really over even though you know in your heart of hearts that March and April in Arkansas is are full of surprises. Still this is the kind of morning that allows your to suspend what your sense and experience informs you.

I am on my front porch as I type this. My neighbor across the street was up early pulling weeds and putting out fertilizer. Runners are running. Folks are having yard sales. An earnest young man came by the other night asking for donations for the baseball team over at Hall High School down the road. He thinks they are going to be pretty good this year. What the hell. I gave him a check. Young fella thinks they are gonna be pretty good this year. Far be it from me to stand in the way of progress.

And it is while sitting here surrounded as I am by all of this life and by all this useless beauty (to borrow a phrase from Elvis Costello) I typed the sentence "Mother is dying." It is surreal.

" Her death is not imminent." Bob said yesterday. " She is clean, well-fed and the folks at the nursing home and Hospice are taking really good care of her. She's not suffering. But from what I've seen with other patients under similar circumstances it will be sooner than later. So you need to tell John and them what's going on up here. Now is the time to come and spend time with her. Because, well...."


Amid the splendour of all this useless beauty, in the season she loved most, my mother is dying.

It is starting to happen.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Extended Family

A piece from the NY Times about a Division I player at UNLV who has more relations than he can say grace over.

I can't make this up.

Hit the link. Don't marry more than one woman while you are at it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Even Worse Than Imagined

Not only are The Kings still working, these idiots have their own website.

Go to last night's post on to see what all the commotion is about.

Hey Donna! Ya still wanna?

My Sunday Feeling

I'm taking the day off. I was busy all day yesterday with the kids trying out for Arkansas Governor's School and I need to catch up on some work from last week since I was struck down with the flu.

I'll be back later in the week once I get my head above water.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Meanwhile Back In Jackson

Looks like Frank Melton, the embattled whack job Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi is pulling the old Mafia trick of checking himself into the hospital to avoid compliance with an arrest warrant.
Our associate in Jackson correctly points out that judges tend to take a dim view of such tactics so it will be interesting to see if the cops actually have to execute the warrant at St. Dominic's Hospital.

I used to carry on some with a doctor who practiced over there but that's another story altogether.

Hit the link and be glad we have Mark Stodola at City Hall here in Little Rock..