Sunday, September 30, 2007
Read about it here .
Friday, September 28, 2007
There was. Her boyfriend of about 6 months had dropped her like a hot rock. She didn't see it coming. According to V, about a month ago he started acting strange. He cancelled dates at the last minute, never picked up his phone and claimed to be constantly stressed out by work and pending litigation with his ex over custody of their son. Then 2 weeks ago-bam!-she was fired. By an e-mail. Nice.
I don't know V all that well. She lives in the neighborhood and we go to church together. But I like her very much and I feel badly for her. She had high hopes for this one. You hate to see a nice person get their universe inverted on them.
" I'm not going to talk to much about it or I will start crying which I will not do to you. But you know, I've been through a lot and I'm a pretty tough and resilient person."
She drew herslf upright.
" I was pretty crazy for a couple of weeks. But I'm doing a good job of putting this all behind me and moving on."" Good luck. Don't be surprised if you have flashbacks from left field every now and again," I said.
"Oh yeah? How?"
And so I told her the story of the cookbook my buddy Don is writing.
Don is quite an accomplished cook. He is writing a cookbook in which he basically sets out recipes for stuff he made his girls over the years while they were in the house. The recipes are leavened (sorry) with stories about shared tasks in the kitchen, comfort food for the sick, happy foods for celebrations. That sort of thing. It is a family history told through his cooking. He asked me to share some recipes I have used over the years including the recipe and the story about "the steak you used to make for that little kid." And so I shared it with V.
Long ago and far away, there was a little boy named Russell in my life. Russell was 5 at the time and Russell loved to eat. He was not so much a little boy as a tiny disposal. One day I gave him a bite of a marinaded pork tenderloin that I had made for his Mother and I and his eyes literally rolled up in his little head in ecstasy. " That steak sure is good!" he mumbled through a mouth full of not-steak. I guess in his little 5 year old brain, anything that wasn't served between 2 slices of bread had to be "steak."
And so a tradition was born. Whenever he was sick, or did something well in school, or when his birthday rolled around, he would ask for "steak" He would sit on the deck and watch in lustful anticipation as I cooked it on the grill. I would cut the "steak" up in little pieces and he would eat it with his fingers. His mother would slap his hand to slow him down. Otherwise he would have practically inhaled the goddamn stuff. I sent the leftovers home with him. That way he could eat steak for his lunch the next week in school.
I told V that I, too, have pretty much put it all behind me as well. But writing the story of "Russell's Steak" brought back memories and emotions that I thought I had done a good job of repressing. And being a guy I am all about repressing. I told V that someday down the road years from now she will see or hear something and the memories will come back whether she wants them to or not. There's only so much that a person can hold inside. A friend of mine that's with the FBI refers to those moments when the repressed or the secret peeks out from behind the public facade as "leakage." Doesn't matter if you're a child molester masquerading as a pillar of society or an average Joe soldiering on with a broken heart. Eventually, there is going to be some leakage.
"How many times have you made "steak" since those days?" she asked after that speech.
I looked at my watch. Why the hell did I do that? It's not like I wear a calendar on my wrist.
" Once," I said.
" I see."
I lam not an exceptionally high-minded person. I taught myself how to cook for one reason: To Get Laid (Pssssst! Guys, learn how to make a red clam sauce. Trust me on this one.). But I sure did enjoy cooking for that that boy and his older brother as well when he wasn't being a picky pain-in-the-ass. I sure hope somebody is still making Russell some "steak" every now and again.
And now as a public service, here's the recipe for "Russell's Steak."
For the marinade, combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar, ginger to taste and cayenne to taste. If cooking for adults, add 1/4 cup of bourbon.
Pour into a large ziplock freezer bag. Place a 2 and a half pound pork tenderloin (Get one that hasn't already been pre-marinaded. That would pretty much defeat the purpose right? Do I have to tell you everything?) in the bag and seal 'er up. Place it in the refrigerator the night before if possible.
If cooking in the oven, do it at 325 for a couple of hours. Put it on a medium grill and cook it for about the same amount of time. While undercooked pork is not as deadly as undercooked chicken, you don't want your guests to get sick. To that end, you want to make sure that the internal temperature of the tenderloin is around 170 degrees ( For which you will need to get a meat thermometer. Duh.) or when the pink spot inside is about the size of a dime.
Serve with sauteed veggies, a salad or pasta with peppercorn pesto sauce. You will have to find that last recipe on your own. You can leave out the bourbon if you are cooking for kids or for people that don't/can't drink. I would sometimes forget and would serve Russ the high octane version I made for the adults. It didn't seem to make him act any goofier than usual and last time I heard he was not sleeping under the bridge or selling plasma for cigarettes. Besides, it did amuse me to think that Russell was sneaking whiskey fortified sandwiches into Holy Souls School.
Christian role model for today's troubled youth. Yep. That's me.
Cook this stuff up. Enjoy!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
" I try not to think about Houston," I replied.
"I think his biggest problem is that he's a narcissist."
" I don't know about that. I figure anybody who is a head coach in Division I has some narcissistic tendencies."
"Could be," said the world's tallest cardiologist nodding in that absent-minded way that really smart people have when they are thinking about 6 things at once. "Enough about him. So tell me what's going on with you." Thus began the examination.
The Houston of whom we were referring is Houston Dale Nutt, the embattled head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks whose 2007 version has sputtered to a 1-2 record, blowing leads in the 4th quarter in the two losses despite having the best offensive backfield this side of USC. Go to www.coacheshotseat.com to see just how hot things are getting for Houston dale and some of his colleagues in this murderous business.
As I have said, I am agnostic when it comes to all things Razorback. I follow them for no other reason than they are pretty much the only show in town in these parts. But I also follow them as a matter of cultural anthropology. I confess that I listen to the radio call-in shows. I especially enjoy the consistently moronic "Drive Time Sports" show here in Central Arkansas.
And so, when people ask me if I think that Nutt should be fired I don't have much of an opinion on the subject because I don't much care. But here's what I think for what it is worth.
While I don't think Nutt is a malignant narcissist along the lines of a Bob Knight or 2/3 of the head coaches in the NFL, I think there is a real hysterical component to his personality. He is as high maintenance as a German model and prone to hit the panic button. Teams tend to reflect the personalities of the guys throwing the switches on the sidelines. Nutt tends to do a lot of running around on the sideline. When he's not chewing his fingernails down to the quick while simultaneously sweating like a whore in church, that is.
And then there was the complete debacle during the off-season when most of the highly prized recruiting class out of Springdale, Arkansas transferred. Arkansas is still feeling the effects of the transfer of quarterback Mitch Mustain for no other reason than they now have no quality depth behind its struggling starter. They are stuck with nobody in the bullpen should Casey Dick go down.
The passing game has been a problem for years but Nutt stubbornly persists in calling the plays himself and/or refusing to name an offensive coordinator. The one he hired allegedly to revamp the offense left after one year to take a similar position at Tulsa where they are racking up big numbers. In his place, HDN has brought back retread David Lee and guess what? The passing game still stinks.
And let's not even get into the whack-job fan that filed a FOIA request for HDN's phone records that revealed numerous calls on the cell phone to a woman not his wife, sometimes just before kickoff. Or his wife passing along a poison-pen e-mail to Mitch Mustain from a family friend.
With Nutt, it's all about him all of the time. T'was ever thus. So, the question is how many wins does it take to make up for the exhaustion factor Nutt's turbulent personality brings to the party?
I say, if he runs the table the rest of the season-and who knows? It would be just like him to pull it off-he's almost worth it despite the distractions. Another 6 or 7 win season, I have to think he's gone.
A NFL coach once said in an interview that he tends to overlook non-criminal related behavior issues with his players so long as he is getting the production. Once the production drops below the pain-in-the-ass factor then the player is gone.
I would say we are at the tipping point with Houston Nutt. The pain-in-the-ass factor is starting to outweigh the production factor.
I say he had better run the table if he wants to keep this job.
The San Diego Padres lost the exceedingly high strung Milton Bradley for the season after he blew an ACL the other day. Did Bradley get hurt hustling around the bases? No. He got ejected after bitching at the umps the whole game and went berserk as he is wont to do. I've seen a lot of baseball in my day. I've never seen anybody get hurt trying to escape the restraining grasp of a coach. Enjoy!
Monday, September 24, 2007
The inimitable Gene Scott. Dr. Scott is no longer with us. But I'll bet if you call the number listed on the screen somebody will be happy to take your money.
This video was sent to me by someone who was concerned that Gene might still be alive. No Gentle Reader. Gene Scott has gone on to his Reward. He shall be missed.
Hell, I miss him.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Let's get something else straight while we are still discussing last week's events in tiny Jena, Louisiana. As was stated in this space earlier this week, putting those nooses in that tree on the school grounds was despicable, cowardly, moronic and intentionally provocative. It merited the highest penalty the school system could levy against the perpetrators of such meanness. The fact that such a penalty was not swiftly meted out to those involved was a mistake of colossal proportions that caused a predictably incendiary response from the black patrons of the school system.
But to draw a moral equivalence between the thuggish acts of these young men and the racist acts of idiots or to suggest a cause and effect concerning the two is wrong-headed. These kids didn't get arrested for boycotting the school in protest. They didn't get arrested for disrupting a school board meeting. They didn't get arrested for marching in the streets. They got arrested for beating the living hell out of another person. And for this they pretty much get what they get in my view.
Were the charges leveled against them "overcharged? No doubt. This comes as a surprise? When the prosecutor gets you in the gunsights he or she will typically charge you with anything that might stick. They do this in order to induce you to plead to a lesser included offense. This is called stacking charges and it happens everyday that the courthouse is open. If you don't believe me, you can ask the woman who is coming over to watch football tonight. Figuring out ways to keep knuckleheads in prison for a very long time is how she earns her living. She will be more than happy to explain it to you. That very real fact should have been part of the risk calculation that these young men should have taken into account before they decided to put a whuppin' on somebody.
But, it must be said that a whuppin' is just a whuppin'. And not every fight between black kids and white kids are racial incidents. I once got the hell beat out of me by a really nice black guy named Sylvester Loving who was an All-State lineman on the football team. He had just come back from beating up some guy fresh home from boot camp who came to the gym where we were playing a pick up game because he thought I was fooling around with the "girl he left behind." Sylvester kicked my ass for getting myself in that fix in the first place. I just took it as an exceedingly painful object lesson.
But all kidding aside, it is my hope that these guys can get past all of this and become productive, law-abiding citizens just like the majority of the folks in Jena. It would be indeed tragic if their young lives become defined by these relatively low-level offenses for which they have been charged. That will only happen if they acknowledge that they screwed up and resolve to move forward in peace. But that is not likely to happen if they are told repeatedly that they are the victims here or that their struggle with the justice system is somehow noble.
And now for a quick program note: I will be back on " Tales From The South" next Thursday night at 7:00 pm CST. Those of you in the Central Arkansas area can hear the broadcast by tuning into Public Radio station KUAR at 89.0. Those of you from out of town can listen to the broadcast on the Internet by going here Thursday night at the appointed hour. Those of you who have better things to do Thursday, and I would hope that you do, can go here and listen to it at your convenience once they put it in the archives. I hope you enjoy it if you get the chance to listen.
Friday, September 21, 2007
I just included that last sentence because I wanted to type "Dry Prong." I have driven through Dry Prong on more than one occasion and I once attended a town meeting in Colfax. Who says I haven't had a stellar career?
Anywya, truer words were never spoken when Sgt. Clifford Gatlin of Alec's finest said, "I wish we had a charge in Louisiana for aggravated ignorance, because this is a classic case."
Maybe he should write and/or bribe his particular State Senator (Oh, c'mon. That is the way things get done down there.) to get the ball rolling in that regard.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Thousands of protestrs from all over have descended upon Jena, Louisiana over the prosecution of 6 black kids for beating a white student practically insensate. The protestors are angry, among other things, because they believe that neither the officials at Jena High School nor State and Federal officials took seriously the presence of nooses on a tree in the schoolyard. The tree, known derisively as "the white tree" because only white kids stood beneath it during breaks, sprouted the nooses after the school authorities told black kids they could stand there as well.
It is a complicated and ugly situation no matter how you slice it. An excellent summary of the facts of the case can be found here in today's New York Times.
I don't really know what to think from my vantage point up here 180 miles from the piney woods of LaSalle Parish. But I know these things in general. Those idiots that put those nooses on that tree should have been expelled for the semester. Given the sorry history with lynching in the Deep South any other response to such a provocative act was completely inadequate. On the other hand, the fact that morons put nooses in that tree is no excuse for 6 guys to kick the hell out of another kid. Finally, I close with the observation that the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are little better than charlatans at this stage in their careers. I am a fair man, however. I am willing to concede that Sharpton picks his fights a little better nowadays than he did back in the day when he took on law enforcement in upstate New York over the completely bogus claim that a young confabulist named Tawana Brawley had been raped. Good for him.
But back to Jena. Nothing good will come from any of this. For anybody. Nothing. Sharpton and Jackson will get to blow town once they grow bored with the circus. The people of Jena, black and white alike, will be left to clean up the mess.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Lord, now lettest thou they servant depart in peace. For mine eyes have seen Michigan and Notre Dame, 2 of the snootiest football programs possessed of the mouthiest alumni associations West of LSU, reduced to 0-2 going into their meeting next Saturday
Both got clobbered yesterday. Notre Dame gave up 30 points for the 4th straight game going into last season. Michigan merely started 2007 off by hosting THE BIGGEST UPSET IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL HISTORY in losing to Appalachian State, a D-IIA school. Things were even uglier yesterday when Oregon hung 39 on the Wolverines in the Big House before 103,000 stunned fans.
Notre Dame, led by alleged coaching genius Charlie Weis, whom the Golden Domers foolishly signed to an extension last year, is equally inept on defense, as they have been for the last 4 or 5 years. And starting a true freshman at quarterback is not likely to keep that porous D off of the field. Fair is fair. The ND defense has done one thing consistently in this young football season. One of their players has gotten ejected in every game so far. Keep up the good work!
From where I sit, Notre Dame has the tougher road to take to turn this season around. Michigan could conceivably, in that sense of the word which takes into account the possibility of the intervention of angels, win the Big Ten, thereby salvaging the season. But Notre Dame doesn't play in a conference and their schedule is absolutely murderous. They could be 0-6 before they get their first "W." But their next opponent is Michigan. So hope springs eternal.
And so in closing, let me ask this question to the hyperventilating denizens of woopig.net and hogville.net: Who looks better to you now? Charlie Weis, Lloyd Carr or Houston Nutt?
I am hardly a prude. I think that whatever two, or ten for that matter, consenting adults do behind closed doors is not only none of my concern, it is pretty much none of the government's concern. Hotel rooms are ubiquitous in nature. To my way of thinking, there is just no need to exchange fluids anywhere that John Q. Public can happen to walk in on you.
Obviously, not everybody shares my opinion in this regard. Sex in public facilities is a itch that some gay guys-and it is pretty much limited to gay men-need to scratch. Apart from that incident a couple of years ago with those cheerleaders with the Carolina Panthers, I don't think I've ever heard of women getting busy in a restroom. Or trolling for hookups in the park. While it's not unheard of in this country, indeed, the State Highway and Transportation Department closed down the rest area between Maumelle and Little Rock because things had gotten completely out of hand over there, it is practically a cottage industry in Great Britain. In fact, the practice is referred to as "cottaging" over there.
It is the thesis of Brit turned naturalized American Christopher Hitchens that these guys engage in such indiscreet, risky behavior in order to experience the thrill of potentially being caught, a need that may be imperfectly understood, especially in the case of an otherwise right wing conservative like soon-to-be-former Senator Craig.
That was certainly part of the reason my friend, check that, my late friend Bill, used to fool around in public privies. It was also the reason that he went out trolling for men in bars in Oklahoma City where he worked as an instructor in the Opera Department at Oklahoma City University. His penchant for going home with strangers 3 or 4 times a week put him physically in danger. Indeed, one guy damn near beat him to death one night. His indiscreet lifestyle in public places exposed to him to the potential of criminal liability and public ridicule. It mattered not to him.
I was asked to intervene with him by a mutual friend who thought I could talk some sense into him. She was wrong. When I told him that I couldn't understand his taste for anonymous impersonal sex on a sustained basis with virtual strangers, he basically told me that "it was a gay thing and that I wouldn't understand."
I do not speak ill of the dead. Bill was one of the smartest and funniest persons I ever knew. He was much beloved by his students. For someone who was as gay as a lilly he loved basketball. Indeed, he used to go to the OCU games and sit with the legendary basketball coach Abe Lemons. No lie. I miss Bill to this day. But Bill had an insane lifestyle and it eventually got him killed. He died of AIDS around 1987, just a few scant years before the advent of the drugs that have pretty much rendered the disease survivable nowadays.
God knows straight people do crazy things with their pants off. I don't suggest otherwise. But gay people seek acceptance and long for equality. And I think that so long as a minority of gay men need to scratch that public sex itch it will be a hard sale with straight America.
I would like to think that I am a man with a reputation for fairness and tolerance in this here town. And I if a guy like me cannot fathom "cottaging" I guarantee you those less inclined to charity toward gay people cannot fathom it either.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Cover your ears if you wilt in the presence of profanity.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Hit the link: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Craig-Senate.html?hp
Monday, September 03, 2007
Since I have been home we have had one carjacking of a car driven by a lone female over on Midland St which is about a 3 wood from my house here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest. As if that weren't sufficient mayhem for one weekend, by my count there were 7 fires of suspicious origin that destroyed vacant houses about 7 blocks from here. Seven! One of them was located next to the condominiums where one of my little lawyer friends lives. It is also right behind the new Midtowne Center full of high dollar tenants like Williams-Sonoma and Jos. Bank that just opened about a year ago. Up until some asshole put the torch to it Friday night it was in the process of being restored. I noticed the burned out structure for the first time as I went to get Chinese food for me and a friend Saturday night. It is not a complete stretch of the imagination to think that our little neighborhood is lucky that there wasn't more extensive damage involving high dollars given the high winds and the dry conditions. These events have been widely discussed in the Arkansas Times blog and by buddy Floaty on his site. The story about the house fires finally made it into the Democrat-gazette this morning.
I know at least 3-make that 5-people who have had their homes broken into this summer. I can't walk down the street downtown without getting panhandled most days. Granted, the latter is mostly an annoyance and that sort of low commerce was a real problem in Chicago too. But it didn't use to be this way in this town and we certainly never had these kind of issues to this extent in this little neighborhood.
I know. The story I get is that the cops rousted the street people to get them away from the Presidential Library. Some of them migrated West to Riverdale and Knoop Park. I also know that the County Jail has been overcrowded since they first opened the doors and that there is no room for low level offenders who tend to specialize in property crimes. I also know that we do not have sufficient space to institutionalize the mentally ill. So a lot of those guys are out on the street. About this time last year I had a pleasant conversation with a crazy bastard who told me that Jeff Bagwell of the Houston Astros bankrolled the defense of the rape he was charged with in Houston. I know.
Some of my Mississippi friends are coming to visit this fall. This will be their first trip to our fair city in about 10 years. I have regaled them without surcease about how much better Little Rock has become since their last visit. And it is true. There is certainly a whole lot more cool stuff to do now that we have the River Market and the Presidential Library.
But unlike my friends in Chicago, a city 5 times bigger than Little Rock, I don't think I can claim that it has gotten safer around here. I know the reasons why. I also see no reason why a place like Chicago can seem safer than a relatively small place like Little Rock.
Am I out of line here? You tell me.