Monday, June 30, 2008

I Cannot Make This Stuff Up

I first caught this bit of stupidity in the Arkansas Times. Those wing-nuts out at the American Family Council have software that automatically substitutes the word "homosexual" for the word "gay" when they repeat stories from the wires on their website.

This produced a ridiculous but completely hilarious result when they reported about Arkansas's Tyson Gay winning the Olympic Trials. Don't believe me? Check the article ran by gay sports blog Outpost which you can find here: Or you can check out the Arkansas Times blog at and go to the Arkansas Blog.

Just when you think you have seen it all......

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mike Peters and the Alarm Live

"I don't know why. I don't understand how you sold me down the river."

Great stuff from a great band.

My Sunday Feeling

Prominent Mississippi trial lawyer-make that former lawyer-Dickie Scruggs had to face the music last Friday. You may recall that Scruggs, along with his son and a law partner pleaded guilty to attempted bribery of a state court judge who was presiding over a fee dispute between Scruggs and another law firm. The fact that Scruggs, who made a zillion dollars from litigation with the tobacco industry, would be so stupid to risk it all for the sake of a fee that he didn't exactly need is beyond the comprehension of most mere mortals that toil as well in this particular vineyard. But the Bible is full of stories like this. And Dickie will have plenty of time to get reacquainted with the Good Book because United States District Judge Neal Biggers gave him 5 years. Which was the maximum he could throw at him under the sentencing guidelines.

Woody Allen once said, " The heart wants what it wants." Scruggs wanted money. And it would appear that he would do anything to get it.

The account of the sentencing hearings for him and his partner Sid Backstrom in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger were fairly dramatic as these things typically go and you can read about it here:

I got a call from a friend who happened to be in town and attended the hearing. Her late father was a lawyer. He crossed swords with Scruggs on numerous occasions.

" I guess I just wanted to be there in his stead to watch Dickie have to take his medicine. First off, when they called the case I noticed that his wife was dressed rather oddly for such an occasion."

" How so?"

" I don't know. It was a gay, festive dress which I wouldn't think you would wear for such a somber occasion."

" Maybe Dickie liked that dress on her. Maybe she thought it might cheer him up some."

" Maybe. But if my husband were about to go away for something like this I would dress like a widow. It would be like a death to me. I just found it strange."

Her reaction to Scruggs getting the book thrown at him surprised her as well.

" I went in the courtroom expecting to feel a certain satisfaction in someone as high and mighty as him getting his just desserts. What I saw instead was a frail man who had been brought as low as a person can be brought. When Dickie's lawyer started talking about the toll all of this has taken on Dickie's family I thought he was going to collapse. A man from the other table (that would be the prosecutor) had to help Dickie's lawyer hold him up until they brought him a chair to sit in. It was clear to me that he was sobbing uncontrollably while the Judge was giving him a severe tongue lashing."

"Well, Dickie had it coming," I said. "What did he expect? Everyday the Lord sends Biggers has to send some dumbass kid off for some nickleshit drug violation. Most guys that wind up in front of him certainly never had the advantages in life nor the assets of a Dickie Scruggs. Clearly, he was going to get the book thrown at him. He had to know that."

" I agree. But it doesn't negate the abject sadness of this whole miserable affair."

Maybe my friend is right. There is a lot of inappropriate schadenfreude going on down there over Scruggs's comeuppance. Sure he was a hardassed litigator whose apparent need to drive the other side into the dirt on every issue compelled him to cross the line that cannot be crossed.

What he did was as serious as it gets for my profession. But it's not like Scruggs killed anybody. And while it's hard to feel too awfully sorry for a man who won't exactly have to take up a trade when he gets out of the joint, "it doesn't negate the abject sadness of this whole miserable affair" as my friend put it.

The courts see one miserable affair after another. The difference this time is that this particular affair was concocted by a man who looked like "respectable folks." And his wife wore a pretty dress to his sentencing hearing.

Friday, June 27, 2008


I went to see my friend and colleague Laurie compete in the ATA Taekwondo World Championships that are going on even as we speak here in Little Rock. That's Laurie on top doing her thing. The guy with all the fruit salad is not a member of the Joint Chiefs that just happened by. That is a Grand Master. This accounts for why he is channeling for Admiral Halsey.
Anyway, I guess I didn't really know what to expect having never seen such an event before. I actually had it in my head that I was gonna get to see chicks fighting as in eye gouging, ovary kicking, hair pulling and diving off chairs while screaming " You fucking BITCH!" at the top of the lungs. That's what I wanted to see.
Much to my dismay, the competition was confined to a form of shadowboxing called "forms." I don't know what her final score was but Laurie is one of the best in the world at this and I am proud of her and greatly relieved that she likes me very much.
True story: Years ago some nut came to our office with the express purpose of kicking my ass. I asked him to leave and he doubled up his fists. I stood my ground and told him calmly and firmly, " Sir, I am not one to make idle threats. But if you as much as touch me, Laurie is going to come out here and kill you." It worked. He left.
Fuck with me, will he?
Oh. The guy in the Michael Jackson drag? Tongue studs and nipple rings are optional as I understand it.
I sure hope Laurie doesn't kick my ass for writing this.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vox Populi-A Dispatch From A Harried Tee Ball Mom

The phone buzzed about 6:30 last night. It was Uber-Mom Stef.

Me: I thought I told you not to call me at this number.

Stef: Very funny. What are you doing?

Me: I'm heading to the grocery store.

Stef: Why don't I send you a list?

Me: Text it over to me and I'll take care of it.


Me: Hello?

Stef: Don't play with my heart like that.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Vox Populi-The Golf Course

Me: Man, I'm tired. I spent the last couple of days running around and staying up late.

Lawyer Rick: So this is different from the usual weekend?

Me: I did it in St. Louis. I had to work a lot of stuff in.

Lawyer Rick: Just a change of venue.

Me: I guess.

Here's a pic from yesterday.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Slacking Off

No MSF this weekend. Will get back to it next week.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Two In A Row

Today's Wally took on the athletic department at Oklahoma State. Which is certainly a burning interest for the average sports fan here in town.
Evidently,if we can attribute accuracy and plain meaning to anything Wally puts out , OSU is thinking about removing Eddie Sutton's name from the basketball court.
This is Wally's take:
" The idea of removing Eddie Sutton's name from the basketball court is nothing more than the precursor to having his name taken off the court."
Yes. That's the traditional function of ideas. They necessarily serve as the precursor to actions.
Here's more: " If this is the strongarm tactics of some booster, than the entire Cowboy Nation should be ashamed."
That would be T. Boone Pickens and he is basically running the athletic department at OSU. This is no secret and it would take no balls to say that.
If it matters so much to Wally, why doesn't he do some interviews to see what's going on up in Stillwater? Why doesn't he tell us why this merits space in the paper?
It's because he's just banging something out until football season.
You get the sports page you deserve.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Like It Ain't

There's been all kinds of activity in the sports world the last week or so. You've got the damndest finish to a US Open in history. You've got the NBA Finals with the backstory about whether the refs are fixing the games. You've got the continuing story in the continuing criminal enterprise that is the horse game about the unbelievable collapse of Big Brown at the Belmont.

The Mets treated Willie Randolph like dirt and the Cubs are the best team in baseball.

So, with all this going on what does Wally Hall write about in the erroneously labeled "Like It Is" column? Monday he wrote about the retirement of an assistant AD at Arkansas and today he wrote about how legendary track coach and LR resident Clyde Horton survived a bizarre form of cancer, a story which was covered in depth-and God knows better written-a couple of years ago in the Religion Section.

Understand (as he is fond of starting sentences in which he tries to make a point) that Wally can't be troubled to actually be interested in too much other than Razorback football and basketball, his stupid softball tournament and whatever Charles Cella tells him about the Sport of Kings.

You get the sports page you deserve. And until the Letters page is full of complaints and people march on Walter Hussman's house bearing torches and pitchforks, we can expect more of this drivel.

We found out today that Tiger Woods won the Open with a torn ACL and two stress fractures in his left leg. Guess we can count on Wally to write another column about his daughter's having moved to Memphis.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hit The Trail

Do you happen to know your neighborhood's walkscore? Go to to find out how "walker friendly" your neighborhood or town is. My corner of the People's republic of Hillcrest only received a 62 which is insane when you consider all the walkers and runners that live around here and all of the shops within easy walking distance.

I wrote them about it and they said they are working out the bugs still. But it is a pretty cool little site. Check it out!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vox Populi-The Country Banker

Voice mail from yesterday:

" Sorry I couldn't take your call. I was over at a goddamn stockpond counting cattle. I'm going by the club and get a couple of hamburgers for me and Suzy. Hell with this. Call me."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Sunday Feeling-The Father's Day Edition

One of my clients asked me for an opinion concerning the validity of a holographic will. A holographic will is a hand-written will. The decedent's widow had presented it to my client as proof that she owned the property now. Her husband was a farmer up in the Northeast corner of the state. The will is touching in its simplicity. I will reprint it here misspellings and all. The names of the decedent and his heirs will be left out.


I, B, of sound mine do here By write out my Last Will and Statement. I leave 10 acres on the Island on Big Creek to my only son B. my 11 year old Daughtr 7 acres next to B on Big Creek. my only wife C the remaindr of the 40 acress and 33 acrs plus 2 tractr 1 combe all the equmt plus 5 grane bins the haus and truck 79 ford.

After which he affixed his signature.

In 10 years something had evidently changed as the old farmer felt compelled to attempt to draw up a codicil (amendment) to his earlier will:

Dec 1-2001

Don't sell the farm for at lest 3 years. Have time to look at things. I'm given yall the farm and all that goes with it goats and all. Don't sell to M. You can sell one tract to keep things going.

You can learn a lot from reading a will. You can see the extent of the testator's asset picture. You can get an idea of his relations with his family. I can intuit that our farmer loved his family by the references to heirs being his "only" heirs and by the fact that something weighed heavily on his mind when he attempted to make a codicil ("Don't sell to M." "You can sell one tract to keep things going.")

I'm not a father but I am worth a considerable amount of money dead. When I drew up my will some 10-11 years ago I created an educational trust for my nephews to help defray the costs of their educations. I also set up a trust for needy kids at Hendrix College. Laughing chance has intervened since then and I will need to make some changes.

In the first place, I didn't get shot and I didn't drive my car off of a cliff as was widely prophesied as a likely fate for me back in those days when I was choosing the recipients of my bounty. Secondly, my brothers didn't turn out to be nearly as worthless as was widely prophesied about them. So they have no need of my largess. And finally, my goddamn oldest nephew Eli got a Governor's Scholarship to Hendrix which is pretty much a free ride. Even more amazing, he has managed to keep it although it was kind of touch and go at this time last year after Eli discovered girls.

Rocky's old trainer used to say,"Women. They'll take your legs." They'll also cause you to take your eye off the ball. I couldn't be too hard on Eli. Been there, boy. Odds are good that I will be there again.

Most fathers, and eccentric uncles even, have an need to look to the future and to confront the bittersweet reality of the fact that we will someday be, well, dead and to plan accordingly for the welfare of our loved ones. It is part of the toolkit of the responsible man. He may not be all that great at interpersonal communication and he may have what appears to his woman to be an inordinate fascination with whiskey and the golf swing. But if he loves you, he makes sure that the doors are all locked before he turns out the lights. He sits up waiting on the kids. He kicks butts and take names. He plays catch in the yard. He binds wounds. He lays money aside and he tells you where it is in case he snuffs it. He makes sure that the taxes all got paid so that you won't inherit a godawful mess. He protects. He provides. He does the best he can.

He may not be a day at the beach in the present. But He does try to make sure you don't have to worry too much about the future.

Which brings me back to our rural testator. As you might gather, this gentleman did not have much in the way of assets. But one day, he evidently felt it was time to settle up. Maybe he got a bad diagnosis. Maybe the son wanted to know what part of the farm would be left to him. Maybe he just wanted to get it out of the way. Who knows? ( If I were Wally Hall I would have written, " After a night on his knees in prayer, Mr. Farmer decided to write his will." But,unlike Wally, I don't make stuff up.)

Anyway, by his hand, on simple ruled paper with a ball point pen, he did the best he could to provide for his family's future with what little he had to bequeath.

That's what all the good husbands and fathers do after all. They do the best they can. Goats and all.

Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vox Populi-The Lawyer's Edition

I got an e-mail from one of our better Plaintiff's lawyers whose practice is pretty much limited to negligence and high-profile divorces in which he said:

" Every morning I get down on my knees and I thank God for doctor's wives, alcohol and car wrecks. "

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Line Of The Day.....

Was a headline on the Onion Sports Page ( :

"O.J. Mayo holds press conference for $50,000."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who, What, When, Where and Why

In the usual puff piece about Sen. Edward Kennedy's wife on Good Morning America the other day they claimed that Victoria Reggie Kennedy's father was a former Governor of Louisiana.

Robin Roberts' response to this news was " I didn't know that."

That's because it isn't true. Ed Reggie was a political insider and pretty big stuff during the administration of Edwin Edwards. But he was never Governor.

Don't they look this stuff up? This is Wally Hall level fact checking.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Things Have Come To That

Mother was asleep when I came to visit her. Just like she was yesterday. She sleeps a lot nowadays. I pulled up a chair. I hate to wake her so I pulled up a chair in case she woke up during the time I was there.

Her breathing was shallow. She was sleeping hard. So peaceful. So disconnected from my self-important world of ultimately petty cares. I watched Mother sleep. The phone buzzed.

Message from Mississippi: How's Mom?

Me: She's asleep. She's always asleep.

Message from Mississippi: At least you know she is in no pain. She's comfortable. That's good.

Me: Yeah. I guess.

Message from Mississippi: Trust me. It's good. It is as good as it can be.

About that time a nurse's aide came in. Said she needed to dry Mother off. Oh.

"They always sleep after their shower."

Like babies.

" You can come back in when I am finished. She will be awake then."


Phone buzzes again. Do I have time to talk about those releases I have been consulting with those other lawyers about?

Baby, all I got is time. Sure.

Nurse's aide says I can come in. I go in.

I wish my mother Happy Birthday.

"Is it my birthday?" she whispers. She is so weak she has no vocal production. I have to place my head near her mouth to hear anything.

I show her the flowers I bought her. I read the cards that were sent from her friends and relatives. She lies there with her eyes closed, a half-smile playing about her lips.

I stand by the side of the bed. I am leaning on the guard rails.

"85 is a long time Mom" I say. I added it up. It is 85. Thought it was 84. " You were born just after World War I. World War II would get started in Europe 10-15 years after that."

" That is a long time."

" But you know?"

" What?"

" Happy time for me."

" You were a girl on the farm."

"Um-hmm. She was so pretty."

" Who?"

" I can't talk."

Time for wild guess. "Charlsie?" I asked.

"Yes. We had fun."

Charlsie is her little sister. She didn't recognize her last Saturday. Things have come to that.

She yawns.

" You tired Mother?"


I kiss her cheek.

"Happy Birthday, Mama. I love you."

" You come check on me again real soon, hear?'

"Yes ma'am. I will."

She is asleep before I am out the door.

And I point the car back to Little Rock.

Happy Birthday.

Of Course They Did.

The New York City Opera has commissioned composer Charles Wuorinen to compose an opera based on Brokeback Mountain. The opera will premiere in the Spring of 2009.

My only response is, if they could make an opera out of "Kiss of the Spider Woman" than I suppose you can put anything to music.

Think of it as a gayer, more rustic version of "La Boheme" or "Madame Butterfly."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Mark Your Calendar

Here's the latest doomsday cult that hit the radar of the media. As I think I understand it, the world is supposed to end Thursday.

Well, my response to that is, with all due respect to the leader of this bunch of weak minded sheep: Jesus, or the Jesus that the people who wrote about Him, hell, somebody got it wrong. Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand. The early Christians went about doing their mighty works and suffered much tribulation secure in the hope that the end was near. You can make a good case, and a lot of smart people have, that this was the sort of information that the Son of God might have been clued in on.

And unless I missed something in the papers, it hasn't happened. Somebody was wrong.

So I am betting on the under on this one.

No Sunday Feeling this weekend. Off to the family reunion up in the country. Will return soon unless lightning hits me after I push : "publish post."

Seattle Mariners Manager flips out

God, how I love baseball.

The National Pasttime is famous for these kinds of outbursts from its managers although typically you don't see an explosion like this until around the All-Star break.

It was about this time last year when the Cubs's Lou Pinella went "kablooey!" So we're about due.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Gang Of Four - I Love A Man In Uniform

"To have ambitions was my ambition."

A cool song even if they sang worse than the B-52s.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Vox Populi: The Courthouse

Overheard this morning out in front of the Federal Courthouse....

Young man in gang attire talking into a cellphone: "Well, I guess I got to get me one of those mental evaluations."

You cannot make this stuff up.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

As I said earlier in the week I was asked to contribute to today's article in the Editorial section of the Democrat-Gazette about "the worst books of 2008." As I stated in my contribution to the piece, I can't say that I read anything that was "bad." But then again, unlike some people, I don't stick with a book I'm not particularly enjoying. Well, not unless I'm getting paid to do it.

Unlike movies, I think it is pretty hard to stumble into a bad book. I don't really know why that is. I think on a certain level it is easier to get a movie done than a book published. I mean, porn is proof of that. Having said that, I am certain, based upon reviews I have read, that the "Left Behind" series of books are absolute drivel. Not that I would have any interest in that sort of literature in the first place. By the same token, the sort of person who likes that sort of thing would certainly have no use in the body of work by Garry Wills. So it's apples and oranges.

While I didn't read any bad books as such I did read one work that made me want to sew my eyes shut by the time I was through with it. Why I volunteered myself to edit a friend's Masters thesis is beyond me. Actually, I know why I did it. It is for the same reason that has traditionally led to most of the trouble in my life: the author is an attractive woman.

My friend is, I suppose, a linguist and is fluent in about 5 languages. The thesis was a historical overview of "Teaching English as a Second Language" as it is has evolved in this country. As you might have surmised by now, I knew absolutely nothing about the subject matter at hand. And neither do you. My lack of expertise made my task only moderately more difficult. My nodding acquaintance with the English language is what held me back.

I am not unfamiliar with the use of technical language. I have, after all, read banking regulations. I have savored the delights of the United States Bankruptcy Code. However, my general training in arcana did not adequately prepare me for the task of editing a thesis that was aimed at those who toil in the grove of academe.

My friend is brilliant, articulate and funny. You couldn't tell it from her first draft. The thesis was turgid, resplendent with what I thought were mostly redundant citations and heavily reliant on hypersyllabic words where simplicity would have done just as well. " Here is where I can help this girl out" I thought to myself as I put the red pencil to that son-of-a-bitch. After I had done my work, I e-mailed the draft back to her. I had no sooner pushed the send button than my cell phone went off.

PH: What did you do to my draft?

ME: I fixed it.

PH: But it's all different now.

ME: I know. I think it reads much better now.

PH: You don't understand. This is academic writing. They like it when you use high-falutin' language and a zillion footnotes.

ME: But it is unreadable.

PH: I know. But that is the style my advisors prefer. I know my audience.

ME: But that's insane.

PH: Agreed. It's also beside the point. Look, from here on out, you just make sure there's nothing glaringly outside the laws of the English language and leave the stylistic points to me.

And so that's what I did for the rest of the month. Phrases that would cause Orwell to put a gun in his mouth were left in. Words like "disusetude" did not feel the lash of the red pencil. Pages consisting of naught but footnotes didn't receive a second look.

And my friend was happy and bought me dinner at a nice restaurant when we were through.

And we wonder why colleges turn out people that aren't particularly well suited to critical thinking despite being "credentialed." It's because some departments force smart people to think dumb in order to get their walking papers.

So while I didn't read any bad books last year, I did read a Master's thesis. And the next time my friend asks me for a favor I will make sure it is something relatively painless before I agree.

Like donating a kidney or something.

If you want to read about other perfectly dreadful reading experiences go here and read about the worst books of 2008.