Monday, September 29, 2008

She Was Young And She Needed The Money

OK Fine... There's a Federal Judge in New York who was a bunny at the Playboy Club up there at one time. One of our state Supreme Court Judges was Miss Heber Springs or some shit.

This means nothing to me. The fact that she swung her ass for a free ride at a college is no worse than our beauty queens doing the same thing.

There are a million reasons to vote against her. This ain't one of 'em.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Real Story About My Nephew's Name

My brother John called to correct the record about the previous post.

" I know perfectly well that the Clark Street in Chicago doesn't have an "e" after the "k," he said, in a telephone interview held earlier Sunday afternoon. " I never told Amy why I liked the name Clark Addison because she would have never stood for having her kid named after the intersection where Wrigley Field sits. She finally told me that she would go along with the name if we could add an "e" to Clark.

I couldn't very well say no without spilling the beans so I went along with it. It wasn't until one of our Virginia Beach neighbors who was a Cubs fan came over to see the new baby. He went on and on about how cool it was that we named him after Wrigley Field's address.

Boy. You should have seen the daggers that got stared into me from across the room when she heard that."

Oddly enough, I feel better now. I mean, if you are going to name a Southern kid Clarke you might as well name him Trevor or something else to justify the ass-kickings he is going to take over his name.

Clarke got his name so Amy wouldn't find out about the Cubs angle until after the Certificate of Live Birth got signed.

And that my friends, is a perfect John story.

A Video With Eddie Vedder Singing About The Goddamn Cubs

A lady friend of mine told me the other day that it was her working theory that all men were slightly autistic in that we fixate on things that don't much matter such as sports and baseball stats due to an impaired ability to relate to women or otherwise get in touch with our emotions.

That's certainly why I watch sports. And her point would be?

With all that in mind, my brother John turned me on to this video a week or so ago. John has been queer for the Cubs for about 25 years for reasons that are beyond me. He even named his son Clarke Addison after the intersection where Wrigley Field is located although one would have thought that someone as "eat up" with the Cubs as John is would have gotten the spelling of Clark Street correctly.

ANyway, I want the Cubs to win for a couple of reasons. The Cubs, like the New Orleans Saints and the Vanderbilt Commodores, have been so dreadful for so long that it would be nice to actually witness any one of them winning a championship just so I can say in all honesty that I have seen it all.

Secondly, I would like the Cubs to win for no reason other than it just might cause the most narcissistic fan base in sports-worse than the Red Sox even-to finally STFU.

Enjoy. I gotta run. The Sports Reporters are about to come on.

PS...Do the Razorbacks suck or what?

My Sunday Feeling

I didn't watch the debate Friday night. I was busy taking pictures at a high school game. But even if I didn't have anything else to do I would not watched it. In the first place, I know how I'm going to vote in November and nothing either candidate might conceivably say could change my mind. So why watch?

I know that lots of friends of mine watched as they are political junkies. Some of them are professionals in that line of work. So they watch debates much as I might watch a sporting event. I'm just not tthat interested in the spectacle of politics although I confess that I might watch the Palin-Biden debate to see if she if she remains as loopily incoherent as she has been thus far on the stump. But if there's a good college football game on at that time, I will probably watch that instead.

I might watch if the candidates could depart from their talking points for long enough to tell the truth about what they really think. Or admit to making a mistake or that their thinking on any particular issue has evolved from a previously articulated stand. Just think:

Barack Obama: "Where do those whack jobs in the Republican Party get off calling me an elitist? Granted, I was on law review at Harvard while my opponent's choice for VP attended 15 different colleges before getting an undergrad degree. But where did my opponent go to school? The United States Naval Academy. Which ain't exactly Phoenix University.

And sure, my numbers on health care and taxes don't add up. But none of that matters because no matter the form of the bailout of the financial markets, whoever gets elected will be inheriting a complete mess. And yes, I was in the Senate while this bomb was ticking and maybe I should have actually paid attention to those reports getting sent in to the Congress by Freddie and Fannie that had been cooked to a fair-the-well. But getting ready to run for President can keep a guy pretty busy.

While I am proud of my vote against the war in Iran, I gotta admit that this surge thing seems to be working. I didn't see that one coming. Bad on me but thank God. As long as we can get out of the Middle East with fewer casualties and on a quicker timetable? That's all that matters."

John McCain: "Thank God for the surge. Maybe that will cause voters to forget that I was all for this incompetently prosecuted fool's errand that has cost us so much in blood and treasure.

Sarah Palin? Was my choice of her for VP a cynical attempt to placate the religious nuts that I have no use for other then the fact that they have the franchise? Or was it the intemperate, go-with-the- gut coin toss for which some say disqualifies me to have my finger on the button? Fuck, I don't care. You decide. Pick one.

Oops. I did it again.

OK. The Charles Keating thing? Wish I could have a do-over. The economy? No clue. Not my thing. No biggee. You think anybody else has got a clue how to defuse this bomb W.left one of us to deal with? Making noises about cancelling the debate. Bad idea in retrospect. But hey! I showed up didn't I?

Oh. The prisoner of war thing. I did my duty for the country that I love to the best of my ability. Doesn't mean I'm any better or any worse than any other man or woman that ever wore the uniform. I am one tough son of a bitch. I will admit that. But so is Brian Ehrlacher. That's no reason to vote for him for President either."

But we would never hear anything like that from either candidate in any debate. So I didn't watch.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Joys Of Public Service

As I have indicated earlier on, I have become President of the Board of a local non-profit do-gooder organization. The good news is that we are doing really well and fulfilling a vital need in the area. The bad news is that it has become almost a second job.

Oh. And I will probably wind up getting sued before it is all over.

As my friend Laura the Lawyer over in Jackson put it, " When I was a girl I used to practice writing my little boyfriend's name next to mine in case we got married. I suggest that you practice writing the word 'defendant' besides yours."


But thank God for insurance.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We At tmfw Are Stunned

At a press conference yesterday, American Idol star Clay Aiken revealed that he is, indeed, gay. He also took the opportunity at that time to disclose that he is carbon based and that he breathes oxygen in case there were any questions about that either.

Vox Populi: Some Asshole Talking Loudly Into A Cellphone Outside The Bar By My Gym

Overheard as I was walking home after the Monday night torture session:

" I don't get Little Rock. The people here...I dunno. I mean, I'm not feeling the love, ya know? Branson? I get the love. Heber Springs. Heber Springs! A little town north of here? I get the love. I don't get the love in Little Rock."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

I got the text message from a friend of mine who works in insurance defense. Actually, it's more complicated than that and it pisses him off when I refer to him as an insurance defense lawyer but he works for really large insurance companies helping them to avoid paying claims.

So I really paid attention to the text message that came in from North Carolina earlier in the week: "AIG going down."

This was indeed a breathtaking concept. AIG is huge. It has assets in the trillions. It manages an investment portfolio worth 750 billion in the United States alone.

So how could AIG be in trouble? Here's how as I understand it. Not being sufficiently content to make money by the wheelbarrowfull by doing what it was good at-namely the insurance business-,it evidently decided that it needed to become a player in the real estate boom in the US. AIG insured debt obligations that were tied to mortgages. And we know how good things have been in the mortgage backed securities world. AIG recorded losses of over 13 billion because of these obligations. AIG was a counterparty to an untold number of transactions involving banks and hedge funds. If it couldn't make good on its obligations the effect would have been disastrous.

It is indeed a sign of just how shaky AIG's cash flow was last week when they couldn't find any other lender who would give them a loan to bail themselves out of this short term fix. So they turned to Uncle.

Let's step back a minute and take a look at what caused this mess in the first place. There was a time when real estate loans were considered the safest loans a lending institution could make. The borrower applied for a loan. His finances were checked out. He had to have a pretty good down payment. The collateral he offered to secure was appraised. If everything checked out the loan was closed and the bank serviced the loan all was well with the world.

The problem was that it was really hard for lenders to get really rich doing plain vanilla lending. So they concentrated on getting deals done in order to get the fees knowing that they were going to sell the paper to some other downstream entity who would actually service the indebtedness. This downstream lender would then bundle these mortgages, the good the bad and the ugly into mortgage backed securities which would be sold on the market. Or they would be essentially "lent" for a fee to speculators who would basically trade them to themselves after getting guarantees from-guess who-outfits like AIG.

Everything was copacetic so long as real estate prices kept soaring. Loans that went bust were covered at foreclosure. And the money would keep coming from the "good" mortgages that were bundled in with the not-so-good or "not worth shit" mortgages out in the mortgage backed securities world.

But the cost of running two wars at once along with soaring gas prices caused real estate to tank. Which caused mortgage holders to be upside down. Which caused them to make claims on the guarantees.

Which put us in the current fix we are in right now.

But let us be clear about something. The financial system is not in a state of imminent collapse. AIG had a short-term liquidity problem. It was not insolvent. But if AIG could not have honored its guarantees, then an already frigid system of credit would have locked up considerably worse.

Let's be clear about something else. The government didn't just throw 85 billion at AIG. It is essentially a bridge loan, albeit at murderous rates, and with an 87% equity stake in AIG in addition to a secured position in AIG's hugely profitable insurance business. AIG may not even need the entire loan as it liquidates its considerable assets to raise capital.

Are your accounts at the bank safe? Yes, just so long as you don't exceed $125,000 per account ($250,000 in a joint account). Will you be able to get a loan? Probably, if you are creditworthy and have a down payment. For example, I redid my home equity line of credit to borrow an additional 10 grand. I did it over the phone with my banker. It was not a problem.

But will everybody be able to get a housing loan? I think the answer in the near term is clear: No. Which is certainly a sad thing in a certain sense.

But it is a good thing in the sane lending practices sense.

It's Official: Hell turns Baptist!

The Vanderbilt Commodores and the Northwestern Wildcats are both 4-0.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vox Populi: My Buddy In The Guard

I got a call last Sunday afternoon. It was from my buddy in the National Guard.

Guard Buddy: I just had a tmfw moment.

Me: A what?

GB: You know. The kind of crazy shit that happens to you kind of moment.

Me: Congratulations! What happened?

GB: I get a call on the cell phone here at Camp Robinson. I notice a 228 area code. Remember when I was deployed down there after Katrina?

Me: Sure.

GB: Remember that lady that worked for one of the cellular providers down there that got us all those phones?

Me: Yeah.

GB: It was her. I guess she saved my number in her phone. Anyway, she called me saying she had some legal problems.

Me: Oh?

GB: Said she needed to retain me to sue Breaking Benjamin.

Me: Who?

GB: Breaking Benjamin. They are an indie band. You'd know 'em if you had a teenager in the house.

Me: OK. Why does she want to sue a band?

GB: They are stalking her.

Me: Uh-ohhhhhhhh....

GB: Yeah and her husband is believing all those lies that they are telling him. That's why she had to go to the psych ward.

Me: Breaking Benjamin.....

GB: Right.

Me: How did you get out of this conversation?

GB: I told her that she needed to hire a Louisiana lawyer.

Me: And?

GB: What? Are you crazy?

Me: I don't think so....

GB: They are all in cahoots with her husband and Breaking Benjamin.

Me: Every lawyer in Louisiana.

GB: Yes.

Me: How did you end it?

GB: I just told her that I would have to think on it and call her back. That seemed to pacify her and she hung up.

Me: Did she seem crazy when you were down there?

GB: She was no crazier than anything else that was going on at the time. Maybe I just didn't catch it. But I just wanted to report that I finally experienced a tmfw moment.

Me: Lucky you. My life has gotten a lot easier since the advent of caller ID. I suggest that you keep an eye out for any further calls from the Baton Rouge area.

GB: I have some advice for you too.

Me: What?

GB: Don't listen to any Breaking Benjamin. That shit'll make you crazy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Went for a run this morning to survey the damage. Apparently, a huge oak tree went down on Lee Avenue, taking 2 utility poles w/it. That must've been what caused the transformers to go "boom" this morning.

Presbyterians and Methodists are without power although, oddly enough, the little crazy Anglican church on Lee was spared God's wrath and its elderly congregation was creeping in as per usual. Catholics are a going concern as I hear the bells calling the congregation to 11 o'clock mass. Either that or they are being dismissed from 10 o'clock. Msgr. Thomas is a notoriously fast worker.

Traffic light out at Kavanaugh and Beechwood and the Brazilian restaurant closed for lack of power. I went to my little gym to do my daily allotment of "updowns" on the mats. The trainer calls them "burpies." If you ever played football in the seventies you called 'em updowns. Which are just what they sound like. They are as delightful today as they were in 1971. Anyway, the power was on there, one block over from the Brazilian joint. Hard to figure.

Trucks from Entergy and the City running up and down Van Buren. My brother's power over in Pleasant Valley where the rich white folks live went out last night.


Anyway, he's back up and running.

Off to forage for sustenance. That is all for now.

Comes The Dawn

We are none the worse for wear here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest. According to Entergy's website there are a few outages scattered about me but not many. Most of the 155,000 outages they report are out in the rural areas of Arkansas. Most likely trees falling on power lines.

I woke up around 5 to the amusing sound of transformers blowing up somehwere north of me. Although the alarm clock flickered and I heard the AC compressor momentarily fail to catch, the power stayed on as did the cable.

Not much debris in the yard. Thank God I had the unusual good sense to have a tree service come in last week and really prune back the trees. The end result is that there is not nearly as much shit to pick up as there was after Gustav.

The air is cool and drier. Only 30 % chance of rain today. The weather this upcoming week is supposed to be absolutely delightful with highs in the seventies and lows in the fifties.

But godalmighty, Houston looks like a war zone. We are awfully lucky around here. It could have been, and was supposed to be, far, far worse.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hunkering Down

There will be no My Sunday Feeling this Sunday for a couple of reasons. One: I'm not sure I will have power or Internet after Ike gets through here and Two: If I do, I will be busy at my new second job helping to run a local do-gooder organization that has had some recent personnel changes to go along with its current high drama.

I am busy doing the work of the Lord. And I ain't suited to it.

Will return soon!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Translating Wally

While it is not entirely clear, in his column today it appears that Wally Hall is trying to offer the so-called Razorback Nation the balm of perspective over the almost certain prospect of the Razorbacks maybe and I mean maybe winning only one more game this season. But, Wally being Wally, he has to do a pretty thorough job of mangling the English language in the process.

Every now and again, I try to deconstruct Wally as a public service for his eye-rubbing readers. So here goes.

"No college football program has more loyal fans than that of the University of Arkansas"- Empirically unprovable and certainly questionable given the existence of LSU, Texas and Ohio State, to name but a few, this paragraph is a good way to ease in and take up column space.

"The numbers who left early (Saturday night) to beat the traffic were really low."-The numbers that left early because the Hogs were stinking the joint up were considerably higher.

" It is not disloyal either that since Saturday many have shared the thought that their beloved Razorbacks might not win another game."-It is also reality based thinking since some people have thought this since last January. Houston Nutt comes to mind.

"[T]he Razorbacks will win another game and be competitive in others."-Surely to God they will beat Tulsa.

" The intent here is not to blow sunshine or build false hopes."-Blow sunshine?

" It probably doesn't matter that Western Illinois bounced out of its heart breaker against the Hogs by beating Quincy 63-0 or that the Razorbacks had almost 100 more yards of offense than Auburn did against Louisiana-Monroe"-But I am going to mention it anyway because I am betting that 2/3 of my readers have never heard of the phrase "invidious comparison." That and I don't blow sunshine.

" Yes, the debate continues about the previous coaching staff and this one."-It has been in all the papers recently.

"The Razorbacks have great fans...despite the names of the coaches...the Razorback Nation is loyal to it's team."-Maybe I shouldn't have used the word despite.

I, for one, am looking forward to Wally this season as he tries to circumnavigate the fact that the Hogs are going to really suck this year and not offending anybody up in Fayetteville. It would be hard enough for a skillful columnist.

It will be harder still for an illiterate hack who routinely lames out of any criticism he has for The Program by, well, blowing sunshine.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

It has been a rough week here in the South. Hurricane Gustav, despite the fact that it missed New Orleans and didn't kill as many people, may wind up more costly than Katrina. Gustav's footprint extended from just west of New Orleans all the way to the foothills of the Arkansas Ozarks.

My friends in Baton Rouge tell me that it looks like a war zone. Power won't be fully restored until sometime next week. Trees are down everywhere. Marge's parents live in one of the older neighborhoods there. One of their neighbor's house got t-boned by a tree. They had to pull them out of the bathroom window. You don't need that kind of shit in your eigthies. Last night's text message was that Gustav was 10 times worse than Katrina.

Jim would agree. He says it is a miracle that none of the trees on his property landed on his house. He has a generator so he has been able to keep the lights on after a fashion. But he couldn't find gas to run it anywhere close to his house in Ascension Parish. So he drove to Hammond yesterday. That's damn near to Mississippi. To buy gas. Jim says that when he retires he is leaving Louisiana. He has had it.

And not to make to fine of a point about how bad things are in BR, but LSU postponed last night's football game. LSU wouldn't postpone a football game for the Second Coming.

By the time Gustav showed up in central Arkansas he was tired of travelling. So he hung around for 3 days and completely soaked Little Rock and Hot Springs. Power was out for about 20000 people in the LR area. It still isn't fully restored. My yard is littered with tree limbs and other debris. A live oak fell on top of one neighbor's house. Miraculously, she still has power. And more importantly, Internet access.

I have never seen so much rain. I never want to see it again.

At times like these, some people wonder just where the hell our supposedly loving and omnipotent God is when human suffering is abundant. Then again, some people don't.

While all this was going on, a woman of my acquaintance was making preparations to move to another state to be with a man. I know this woman on a casual basis. Pretty much all I know about her, apart from the fact that she seems to be a genuinely nice person, is what I glean from the postings on her Facebook page. She is evidently an evangelical type. She seems to have taken up with a man who is of the same persuasion if his posts are any indication.

It's amazing what people put out there for the world to see. In his posts, her boyfriend, fiancee, whatever, makes repeated references to how God is "moving" in their lives, how she will be "delivered" and how much he LOVES HER!!!!!!!!

Don't get me wrong. I hope this all works out for her. She is a nice person. And I hope that the new man in her life is good to her and, mostly, that he is not more full of shit than a Christmas turkey. I don't think at this stage in my life I would move to the next county to be with somebody, much less another state. Especially if she TALKED LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!

Besides, I don't anymore believe that God intervenes in human history to hook people up than I believe that He fixes sporting events. God evidently can't stop genocide in Darfur. He can't persuade women not to blow themselves up in the Middle East. He can't cure cancer or AIDS. And he couldn't keep Gustav offshore.

If God doesn't have anything better to do than be the teleological version of than He is the God of that which does not much matter. And I say to hell with Him.

I hope my friend got lucky. Like I said, she is a nice person and I wish her nothing but happiness. But I don't confuse good fortune or plain dumb luck with the law of the universe.

I do know that we need a lot more luck around here.

Because God seems to be busy doing something else.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Vox Populi: The Legacy

The Razorbacks are playing down the street at the stadium. People are parking all up and down my street and walking down Van Buren to hang around and tailgate. I was sitting here on my porch swing reading a magazine when I noticed a Prius pulling in in front of my house.

A portly fellow with a goatee gets out. He walked around back of the car to make sure that he wasn't blocking my driveway.

"You're good!" I call out.

He stands in my yard and with his hands on his hips and a weird expression on his face.

"Do I see a Tulane shirt?" he said.

Indeed he did. "Tulane Baseball" was writ large across my chest.

" Did you go to Tulane?' he asked while walking up my front walk.

" Yeah. I went to law school there."

He looks at the ground and shakes his head ruefully.

" I couldn't get in," he volunteers. "And I was a legacy."

"I don't know how I got in," I stammer, trying to lighten the mood.

" My father graduated from there. I was a legacy. Oh well. It doesn't matter."

I don't say anything.

Finally he looks up.

"Would you like to sell programs for the Lions Club at the game this afternoon?"

" Well, thanks for asking but I am going with my brother."

" It's really a good deal. It's a lot better than selling cokes and stuff. You get in free and you get to watch the game while you are selling programs. Can't do that when you are downstairs selling cokes and stuff. "

" Sounds like a great deal indeed," I say, lying through my teeth.

He starts walking away.

"Guess I better head down," he says. " Let me know if you ever have an interest in the Lions Club. I tell everybody that." I smile and nod by way of response.

I bet he does tell everybody. But it would be hard to take him up on that invitation under the circumstances even if I were so inclined. Which I am not.

I have no earthly idea who that man was. And I get the impression that there are a whole of people that don't know him either.


According to wire reports, senior officials in the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve advised top executives of mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that the government was fixing to take over their asses and put them into a conservatorship.
I don't know the practical difference between "conservatorship" and "receivership" except that the former may sound better.
I do know that this is not a good sign about the economy.
Even so, I asked my country banker if I could increase my home equity line of credit so I could do a few more things to the house. He said it was not a problem.
Maybe that's not such a good sign either.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Vox Populi: The Criminal Defense Lawyer

I overheard this outside the courthouse as I was walking past a lawyer sharing a cigarette with his obviously agitated female client:

" Now let me go over again the advantages to that guilty plea you just did."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New Addition

Next up in the tmfw "Society of Friends" is uber fisherman Floaty. Floaty and I actually wrote each other back and forth for about 6 or 7 months ago before one of us-I forget which one-realized that I actually knew he and his lovely wife.

As in the real world. Where people shake hands and go have beers and stuff.

That's kinda scary if you think about it. I'm glad that nobody was pretending to be a woman or anything else weird during this time.

Anyway, unlike tmfw, Floaty actually gives a rip about potential career ramifications of blogging and so his ID will remain a secret. Unless of course, I need money or something. Then I will blackmail him as I have his e-mail at work.

Check out Extroverted Introvert in the Society of Friends located on the bottom left of the page.

BTW...this Floaty is not to be confused with Floaty McDonald who wrote scathing posts about the Arkansas media. Evidently, he got outed and was forced to pull down his blog.

We hope the same fate does not befall the current Floaty. And it shouldn't as long as I gets my money.

Monday, September 01, 2008

OK...So Bristol Palin Is Pregnant

The teen aged daughter of of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin is 5 months pregnant. She is 17. She is going to have the baby and they say she is going to marry the father who is known only as Levi.

This is overkill. The fact that she is going to have the baby is commendable. This is her choice. Getting married? I have my doubts that this will happen once the election is over.

What do I think? I think that kids do what kids do. They experiment with things they ought not to fool around with. That's certainly what I did. And that's what you did. Doesn't matter who you parents are. As Barack Obama pointed out, his Mother was 18 when she had him.

I'm just sorry that this girl is the focus of so much attention. And if McCain knew about this, as has been said, why appoint the Mom? I mean, it's cool but nobody is going to find this out? It's not nearly on the level of cynicism of the Elizabeth Edwards and John Edwards thing.

I take that back. If you know that your teenage daughter is pregnant when you are offered the appointment, how on God's green Earth can you put such pressure on your kid?

That poor kid. That's my take on it.

Gustav Is Pushing This Way

Wind chimes are going nuts.

No biggee....just wind and rain.

Why Zocor Is Part Of God's Plan

These are last night's entree. Half of them got doused with Dreamland's famous sauce. The other half got my less well known but pretty damn good nonetheless bourbon barbecue sauce. We had potato salad, hot dogs, bratwurst, watermelon and homemade cupcakes, along with beer, wine and Knob Creek.

There were kids and dogs in the yard and our mood was lightened by the possibility that Gustav might pretty much bypass New Orleans and be a relative dud to boot! Our mood was also lightened by the whiskey.

Even Uncle John, who was at death's door last week, tried a rib which ain't exactly on the diet just yet. Since he didn't keel over in pain I guess his gut is on the mend.

All in all, I would have to call last night a success.

Society Of Friends

Please welcome to the Society of Friends New Orleans blogger Trina Beck who blogs under the handle The One Blog. She is on the faculty at Tulane when she is not flitting around Uptown and the French Quarter being artistic.

Like 95% of South Louisiana, she and her husband are on the lam. But it looks like everybody might get to come home soon.

Live from New Orleans

So far so good.