Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Positively Curtains

There is a young woman in my neighborhood. She is about to graduate from law school. She is a 5'9" stalk of blond hair and legs with a backside that belongs in the Louvre. We see each other when we are out running. I first met her a couple of years ago as I was waiting to cross Kavenaugh to go to the gallery. She stopped and introduced herself. Said she had never seen me in a suit before. That's a kid for you.

Since then we have always stopped to chat when we see each other. She tells me about school, the bar exam and job offers. She said that the people at the firm where she is clerking have said nice things about me which is always good to hear. I tell her about stuff going on at the house or at work. And that's about the extent of it.

God knows, anybody will tell you that I am hardly a paragon of virtue. They will tell you that I have an eye for women. But I think that the only reason that this girl gives me the time of day is that she knows that I am not likely to do or say anything inappropriate. To her, I am like a cool uncle or something. Or her older brother's best friend. I'm safe. I am no saint. But at least I know better than to let a 15 year old girl into my hotel room.

Which brings me to the latest twist in the already exceedingly sordid melodrama that is the Roger Clemens story. The New York Post ran a story last Sunday that said that the exceedingly troubled country singer Mindy McCready (pictured above) has had a ten year affair that began with a visit to Rocket's hotel room when she was,what, in the 9th grade? Or would have been if she were not the product of Nashville stage parents. Mindy doesn't deny it. For his part, Roger describes her as a "friend of the family."

Suuuuuure she is. Take a look at the picture. I would ask my female readers whether they would approve of their husband having a "friend" that looked like that. Roger threw his wife under the bus when he testified before Congress. But that was just about the Hall of Fame. Having his lawyer tell the world that a sexpot like McCready is a friend of the family just might piss Debbie Clemens off.

As for McCready, she says nothing went on in the hotel room that night. Maybe so, maybe no. My friend Marge, who has a 16 year old in the house, says it is possible that the kid just wanted to talk talk talk as teenage girls are wont to do.
Still. They couldn't talk out in the lobby? What kind of goddamn fool admits a child into his hotel room? And where were her parents?

Is there nobody connected to this story who isn't a fucked up mess?

Clemens is doomed. His aggressive response to the report that he did steroids is heavily reliant on mantle of integrity that he put upon himself when he appeared before Congress. A completely fucked up young woman said she was in Rocket's hotel room when she was 15. He's red hot and radioactive. No more endorsements. No more insane "independent contractor" deals with clubs who hope that he can summon forth the lightning one more time, hopefully in the Fall. Done. Over.

When I see my young friend we stand on the sidewalk and she tells me what is going on with her. She touches my arm occasionally while she makes a point. I get to spend a few minutes with a beautiful girl from time to time because I am appropriate.

Debbie Clemens would approve.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


No MSF this weekend. A buddy of mine is coming up from Baton Rouge to play golf for a couple of days here in the hills. I will check back in once I have titrated all of the Knob Creek out of my system.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Who, What, When, Where and Why

In today's completely misnamed "Like It Is" column Wally Hall has resorted to a favorite method of putting out information about sports celebrities in the news: scooping other people's interviews which have yet to run and commenting about them in his column. You see, Wally doesn't do interviews. Either he is too lazy or nobody will sit down with him on the record. I honestly don't know which is which. Typically he will steal his own reporter's material for use in his column, which ought to make for great morale on the sport's page. This time he has outsourced his plagiarism and has cribbed from Arkansas Radio Network's Shawn Arnell who interviewed Arkansas's Bobby Petrino last Saturday.

Even at that, he has got to make stuff up. He can't help himself.

For example: " When he (Petrino) sat down, host Shawn Arnell jokingly said, ' This shouldn't take more than 30 or 25 minutes.' Petrino immediately responded 'Good luck.' " How does he know that? Was he there? Did Arnell tell him that?

Or: "Talking about playing golf with his youngest daughter brought a smile to his face." Again, how does he know that? Was he there? Did somebody tell him that?

After Petrino told Arnell that his family and extended family were his best friends Wally provides us with this spurious bit of supposed insight into Petrino's family life, "They really enjoy each other's company, which reflects the family values with which he was raised." Again, Wally doesn't tell us how he knows this. Not even a "Petrino's best friends will tell you that..." As if this were not sufficiently fatuous in and of itself, as far as I know, and I haven't read everything ever written about the man, this is one of the few times that a piece that purports to be a feature about Bobby Petrino hasn't used the word "mercenary" about 3 times.

Wally ends today's column with the observation that Petrino comes by his taciturn ways honestly. " (His father) is in the NAIA Hall of Fame, and when someone calls to interview him, he is short, sweet and to the point. Not rude, just casual." Let's flog that dead horse some more. How the hell does Wally know this? Did he ever interview Petrino's father? And since when does "short and sweet" equate to "casual" anyway?

All and all, today's effort is fairly representative of Wally's shtick: Supply touchy-feely insights he doesn't posses on a subject based upon an interview he didn't do which has yet to be aired or printed.

And call it "Like It Is."

A Dispatch From The Grove Of Academe

From the Principal and Maximum Dictator at Little Rock's Catholic High School For Boys just West of here:

Re: I never thought......

..that I'd show up at school at 7:00 in the morning to see three boys chasing a chicken across the is trying to catch it...the other two have their cell phones out and are trying to take pictures...I can't make this up...

No you can't.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Pride of Yell County

To see how John Daly is faring while he is rehabbing his rib injury go here. This footage was shot this morning at a new golf course in the Branson area.

One of these days he is going to choke on all that pride.

Thanks-I think- to Dave of the Ozarks for passing this along!

Sign Of The Times

I am home today here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest awaiting the arrival of the good folks from Arnold's Floor America to get here to install my new floor in the master bathroom. My floor was damaged when the seal at the base of the toilet broke which caused a leak to get out. Although it is a 2500 buck job tops, I made a claim on my insurance mainly because I have a bunch of other projects I want done which will cause many draws on the dwindling funds of the bank of tmfw. I can limit the hit here to the deductible.

Anyway, I was surprised when the man from Arnold's required me to sign a document that said that I acknowledged that the lien of the mortgage attached to the insurance proceeds that would be paid. While I am always willing to sign anything that is legally superfluous (the acknowledgement is mortgage law 101) I was surprised to have to sign such a doc on a job as small as this.

It was explained to me that the mortgage and insurance companies had tightened up after Katrina. Apparently, a not inconsiderable number of folks got their checks and just walked away from their damaged homes, leaving the lender to foreclose on property that had been rendered valueless after the storm.

"Sign of the times," the man said.

I note in today's paper that @6500 homes are unsold in the Northwest Arkansas area. This is where all the money is in the State. This is where all the rich white folks live. They can't give these damn houses away.

Things aren't too bad around here. Values are relatively stable and houses are selling. And people are still getting loans to do crazy things. There's a guy who bought a big two story house not too far from here that he is turning into apartments. He took out a mortgage of 200k to buy it and a 300k second mortgage to renovate it. Now, there is no way that house is worth that kind of money. And, there is no way I could sleep at night knowing I owed that much money. I am thinking about taking out a home equity line of credit for about 10k just because I am tired of emptying out my little "rainy day" fund to pay for all the stuff I need to do around here. My hands shake when I consider that second mortgage even though I have 70k of equity easy in my house and can easily afford it. Things are just too uncertain now.

Still. While houses are moving here in the PRH they aren't selling within 5 minutes of the "For Sale" going up as they once did. From what I can tell, folks are preferring to stay put. Maybe fix up what they have and stick with a sure thing if they are lucky enough to be in that position. That's what I am going to do.

The flooring guys are an hour late. The man told me that they were swamped with all the insurance jobs they picked up after the tornado tore through here earlier this month. Maybe so. More probable is that this is typical of my luck with contractors. At least it's not deer season. God knows when they would show up then.

At least it is a pretty day and I am enjoying sitting out here on my porch swing. Sure, times are uncertain but as one of my grandmothers used to say, " When have they not been uncertain?" Living through a depression and 2 world wars will give you that sort of perspective. Here the present crisis in the financial world is precipitated by greedheads who made imprudent loans to unqualified borrowers on adjustable (read potentially untenable) terms. They then sold the paper to servicers who were backed by investors who bet that the housing market would never suffer a reversal.

This is a rough patch but things will straighten out eventually. They always do no matter what kind of moron is in the White House. When have the times not been uncertain?

Makes the phrase "sign of the times" a relative term.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Sports Page

Want to see how a sports column is written? Read today's piece by the New York Times's George Vecsey. That's how you write a sports column.

His brother Peter sure is an asshole, though.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

I was sipping bad coffee in the waiting room of the car dealership early last Tuesday. I was waiting with the other folks who had dropped their cars off to be serviced until there was a sufficient number of people to fill the "Courtesy Van" with enough riders to get back downtown.

The morning news show was playing on the television set but nobody was watching. People were reading the paper, typing on their Blackberries or chatting idly amongst themselves. Until they aired a segment on the Pope's visit to America. And then the room fell silent. Every eye was on the screen.

Given the general demographics of our city, I would guess there might have been only one or two people in that room who were of the Roman Catholic persuasion. Most of them were probably some version of Protestant such as myself. And yet there was complete silence in the room when the image of the Pope filled the screen.

I guess most Protestants have a sort of fascination with a Papal visit that most of my Catholic friends don't seem to share even though the Pope always draws a huge crowd at the outdoor Masses typically offered during these occasions, bigger than the crowds that the televangelists lie about having even. Perhaps the Roman Catholic pontiff is an object of interest because he is a walking, talking antiquity. A living embodiment of an earlier age of princes and kings.

I was interested in Benedict's visit to see how the old boy would fare in an America which has no truck with princes and kings. Benedict has a considerable reputation as being a total intellectual with very few people skills in the tool kit. And yet, a man whose son who spent some time with Benedict when he studied for the priesthood in Rome said that Benedict was the nicest guy in the world contrary to his popular image as being a dour scold. The Pope's Enforcer. So I wanted to see how he handled working without a net here in the colonies where we like our religious figures user-friendly.

I also wanted to see how he would address the completely disastrous way the Church handled the shocking number of cases of sexual abuse of children by certain perverted priests in the American church. The breadth and scope of the scandal has amazed and sickened the country and has been a source of great anger and shame for my Catholic friends. It is a terrible thing when an authority figure violates the trust of an innocent person in his charge. It is even worse when the authority figure claims to stand in altare Christi during the celebration of Mass.

So here's the question: Does the Pope get it? It's hard to say. He has sent some mixed signals. In the outdoor Mass in Washington, Benedict said "No words of mind could could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse. It is important that those who have suffered be given loving and pastoral attention." He met in private with certain victims of priests from the Diocese of Boston to hear their stories of anguish and degradation.

And yet,Bernard Cardinal Law was whisked away from Boston to the Vatican where he cools his heels to this day arguably enjoying diplomatic immunity from American courts. And he also told the U.S. Conference of American Bishops that " It falls to address the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores"

Do what? That's utterly ridiculous. The sexual abuse of children is not the byproduct of a society that has lost its ethical moorings. It cannot be equated with, say, adultery or having sex outside the bounds of matrimony. It is an unspeakable crime against the most innocent in our society and it leaves scars that never heal. I can afford to shrug my shoulders about what my neighbors are up to behind closed doors as long as it involves consenting adults. Not so with child abuse. That is why the sexual exploitation of children is a crime while adultery is not.

I don't know the first thing about the law governing utilities. Accordingly, I don't offer advice about these issues. Similarly speaking, many Protestants ( and probably more than a few Catholics) discount counsel on sexual matters when the same is dispensed by elderly celibates.

But you have to say that the Vatican is now serious about the image problem it has with the American church. Getting walloped in court tends to concentrate the mind.

But does the Vatican get it? Really get it? That is not so clear.

Program Note: I am going to make a change in procedure and this time I am sticking to it. I am not going to send out those "blog alert" e-mails anymore. I know some people like it but I am also certain that others do not. And I have always felt funny about it. So I am only going to do it a couple more times.

Simply bookmark this page or have your kid or nephew do it for you. Check back every Sunday and during the week as you feel so led.

You can do this. I know you can.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Why You Should Never Marry An Actress

Here's angry head case Tricia Walsh Smith airing out the dirty laundry.

I got spuuuurrrrrrs that jingle, jangle, jingle as I go riding merrily along.....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Second Rate Shake Down Artists

The combative Christopher Hitchens on the decline of the Civil Rights pulpit. Boy has he got this nailed.

It occurs to me, now that I think of it while I pontificate from my porch swing, that as far as I can tell Obama has tried to walk a tightrope between the traditional charlatans who presume to speak for the black community and the airhead types that are into Oprah's book selections and touchy feely..ummmm...the word will come to me....philosophical views that one can actually take classes in on the Internet.

Oprah is the sepia toned version of that other well-renowned charlatan Jane Fonda. They are experts just because they are on TV.

I turned on my TV Sunday morning. It had been tuned to a ballgame somewhere the night before. Sunday's offering on that station was Jimmy Swaggart selling Bibles.

And back in Pennsylvania, Hillary is doing boilermakers.

This is one hell of a way to elect a President.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

One of the mostly positive results of the advent of the Internet is that the world is indeed a smaller place. Every now and again, I will check to see how many hits this blog is getting. I am always intrigued by who seems to be reading it and where they are from. The blog is read regularly by a journalist in Las Vegas, two or three law firms in Florida, somebody in New York, an intern in Seattle, somebody who works for the State Legislature here, the list goes on. There's some guy in Texas who reads this blog who also somehow knows my real name. I know this because the ISP has been googling me and my initials. And yes, your gut instinct is correct. He is up to no good. But I'm pretty sure I know who he is and I know why he is doing so interested in little old me. It's cool.

I have become friendly with some of the readers who have written me e-mail about stuff that gets posted up here. One of them is an anesthesiologist somewhere in Texas. One is a entrepreneur type in Atlanta. The late great local media critic Floaty, who disappeared without a trace, presumably after being outed by his employer, used to check in from time to time. I have corresponded with a woman in Alabama who used to, turns out,babysit my friend who lives in Chicago a hundred years ago. Is that amazing or what? One of my favorite "only on the Internet" experiences was when I started getting correspondence from a woman who was dancing at one of our local strip joints at the time. She now works for Social Services in another state.

She's been writing me again. Is this a great country or what?

I have been following the bloggers back in Louisiana since Katrina. You can see which ones in the "Society of Friends" below at the right side of the page. One of my favorites that I never got around to linking was "Ashley Morris-the blog" which you can find here . Morris was a character the likes of which New Orleans has attracted since there has been a Crescent City. He was a completely outsized personality who was a tireless and vociferous supporter of New Orleans and the New Orleans Saints. He loved the city so much that he commuted once a week to Chicago where he had a tenured teaching position at DePaul to which I gathered he and his family fled during Katrina.

His blog is not exactly what you would call the best writing in the blogosphere. But then again he never claimed to be Voltaire. But like Voltaire he was a polemicist who railed, often in the bluest of language at the Federal Government, the crooked politicians, Saints who opted for free agency and other special targets of his wrath. Subtle he was not.

You will note that I have been referring to him in the past tense. Ashley was found dead in a hotel room in Florida last week where he had gone to settle some pressing family business. One of the locals down there wrote me about him. He was a big guy who liked to eat and New Orleans is not exactly the place to be if you are on a restrictive diet. Like a lot of big guys he was on a lot of medication. My friend was guessing it was a Heath Ledger thing. Maybe Ashley just fucked up.

He loved life. He loved his wife and his 3 small children. I am assured he didn't do himself in.

So why do I even care? It's not like I actually knew him.

Maybe it was because even though he struck me as slightly-no-way obsessed with New Orleans and NOLA food. And a person that describes a restaurant as not being sufficiently adventurous when the most exotic item is "pork cheeks.' No lie. He ate that shit. And critiqued it. Scroll down from the jump above and see for yourself. It's the post about he and his wife's anniversary dinner.

There's a weird thing that passes for familiarity out here on the Net. You read these blogs and kinda get to know the authors. Jill is a neurosurgery resident whose peers seem to be a bunch of juvenile assholes. Kimberly is awaiting results from the bar. Muleboy seems to have a lot of time on his hands. "Right Hand Thief" seems to be perpetually angry. But then again so does "Death By Inches."

And Ashley Morris is dead.

I can't say that I knew him in the traditional sense of having an actual flesh and blood relationship with him. But I knew a lot about him and I saw the world through his eyes whenever I walked around in his blog. And I know he left behind a wife and 3 small children.

And so, yeah. I was saddened by the news.

The news about a guy I only knew when I turned on the computer.

Oh, brave new world that has such people in it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Like It Ain't

Wally Hall, the intrepid sports editor for the local paper, was pondering the NCAA Tournament on this, the rare Spring day, that we are not dodging tornadoes or flash floods in the Little Rock area. Concerning his choice for the coach of the tournament he wrote:

" Davidson's Houston Francher, who came within a three-pointer of taking the Wildcats to the Final Four."

No he didn't. Houston Francher is the coach at Appalachian State. Bob McKillop is the coach at Davidson.

You would think that if Wally thought enough of McKillop to consider him the best coach in the Tournament you would think that he would at least go to the trouble of getting the man's name right.

But that's pretty typical of the in-depth breadth of knowledge and attention to detail we have come to expect from Wally.

"Like It Is." What a crock.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dave Van Horn Ejected vs Auburn

Here is a video of Arkansas's Dave Van Horn channelling his inner Larry Bowa.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

Anybody who has ever been through a divorce can tell you. You can't know everything about a person. In first place people change over time. I'm certainly not the same person I was 3 or 4 years ago. Secondly, people don't give you everything about themselves. Everybody has some flaw or imperfection that they don't maybe try to hide as such. But maybe they try to keep it tamped down for the sake of the relationship.

And all of us has baggage. All of us has behaved like an ass at one point or another. All of us have done something that we would just as soon nobody ever finds out about. Maybe we fudged a bit on our taxes. Maybe we slipped around on the spouse once while we were out of town. Maybe there's a certain inconvenient someone in our past that we would just rather move to Finland or some place equally remote before the significant others in our lives connects the dots. You have your past and I have mine. Fine. It's not like we killed anybody. And still, sometimes you learn something about someone you thought you knew pretty well that just about puts you to your knees.

There's a guy I know, a fairly prominent guy. Known him for sometime. Can't say we are friends but we are friendly enough acquaintances that we might cross the room at a party to shake hands. Never thought anything bad about him one way or the other. Had no reason to.

Last week, I found out that his wife told the judge that he beat her up.

I mean I knew that she had filed on him late last year but I thought nothing of it. It happens. Perfectly nice people decide everyday the courthouse is open that for whatever reason they just can't live with each other. And, as the old saying goes, you never really know somebody until you live with them or work for them. But this. Nothing prepared me for this news.

Do I believe her? Of course I do. Everybody bitches about their spouse to their friends. Everybody tends to lay it on thick when they are making a case. You have to take it with a grain of salt. He drinks too much. She is a bitch. He plays too much golf. She has let herself go. He isn't attentive to my needs. Look it wouldn't kill her to prepare a meal once in awhile. It's not like she works. He doesn't listen. All women are crazy.

So you didn't marry the perfect human being? How awful for you. Stop the presses.

The truth about such matters frequently resides in the gray and is a function of impression and nuance. But, as someone once said, you are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.

"He broke my ribs" ain't exactly a function of impression and nuance. "He slapped me so hard in the car that I was dizzy for 2 days" isn't a matter of opinion. It either happened or it did not happen. And unless she happens to be wielding an axe at the time, there is absolutely no justification for hitting a woman. None. Period.

I have often said that all narcissists are not batterers. I'm the living proof. Beat you to it. But all batterers are narcissists. It is one thing to be furious over something that your lover has said or done. But it takes a special sense of entitlement to reduce a person to an object through acts of violence.

And it is always the same with these guys. I have heard it all. He said he wouldn't have to hit me if I would ever shut up. He said he hit me because I went out with my girlfriends in that short skirt. He hit me after he got laid off at the plant.

One thing the narcissist does not possess is insight. Why should he? He is not the one with the problem. Everybody else has the goddamn problem. It's everybody else's goddamn fault.

Here's another thing about batterers: they are charming bastards. I may like redheads. You may like men who remind you of your Daddy. We all have different triggers that need to get tripped before we get interested in someone. Batterers are attracted to women they think they can get over on. That's what trips their triggers. And I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard a woman say, " He wasn't like this when we first started dating."

So, what do I think now that I know this dirty little secret? I think 2 things. One, this just proves that domestic violence is not confined to a certain strata. It is the nation's dirty little secret as well. Secondly, I recall something New York Times sportswriter Robert Lipsyte wrote during the O.J. Simpson trial. It went something like this.

" I don't know whether O. J. is guilty of murder or not. When I grew up I was taught that only sissies hit girls. This much I know. O.J. Simpson is a sissy because he hit a girl."

There's a guy I know. He used to hit a girl.

Guess what I think of him now?