Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

Tens of thousands of thousands of people descended upon Washington DC yesterday to attend the "Restore Honor" rally hosted by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. The rally was held at the Lincoln Memorial precisely 47 years to the day that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech there which has been described by that known security risk the late William F. Buckley Jr. as one of the greatest speeches in American history.

Of course, the notion of a horde of (mostly) white Tea Party types descending upon the Lincoln Memorial on this of all days resulted in predictable furor in certain predictable corners. Beck claims not to have known the historical significance of all of this when the date was selected. While this statement has the ring of truth given the man's negotiable grasp of historical facts, I don't believe it. This is because Glenn Beck just makes stuff up on a frequent basis. I believe he knew exactly what he was doing when he picked the date. The Tea Partiers agenda of a restoration of government to what the Founding Fathers intended, the reduction or elimination of many social programs funded by the government and the apocalyptic language and imagery employed by them is considered to be racist albeit in a subtle way by many people . What better way to try to blunt that perception by holding a peaceful rally at the same place and time that the great martyr of the Civil Rights movement rendered his poetry? Brilliant.

But you know what? I don't care if Beck had his rally yesterday. I do not believe that Dr. King meant for his message of non-violent confrontation and equality for all to be the special province of black folks. Especially not grifters and charlatans like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and certain members of the King family itself. Neither would he have probably have been comfortable with a loon like Beck taking up his mantle either. But what the heck. Beck got the permit to have his show from the Department of the Interior quicker than Al did. Maybe next year they won't be asleep at the switch.

Back to the show. At the rally, Beck called for spiritual rebirth across the land. He said that when the rally was planned he intended it to be political in nature.

"And then I kind of feel like God dropped a giant sandbag on my head," he said.

Oh if it were only true. Beck then went on to say that he felt his role henceforth is to wake the country to the need for America to "turn back to God."


This kind of discourse works with a certain strata for a couple of reasons. One, it is safe. Two, whether America has turned away from God and needs to go running back are both empirically unprovable. Indeed, if one were to take a walk in my neighborhood, a neighborhood that is widely perceived as one of the more consistently liberal places to hang out in the city, one could see 6 churches. Wait. I forgot the Anglicans. My bad. Make that 7. That's within a two mile radius. God seems to be well represented by the Vatican and numerous of its schismatics here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest.

And when did America "turn away from God?" When the electorate, many of them undoubtedly perceiving themselves to be believers in some kind of Prime Mover, pulled the lever for Barack Obama? Is that when it happened? Please. The fair and square election of Obama represented a cloud upon the land?

This is crazy talk.

And to what God is Beck calling for a "return" to? Beck is a Mormon. I don't want to be a Mormon. Would the monotheistic God of the Jews qualify? Probably not. The God of the televangelists? Warmer most likely. I don't like him either. How about Allah?

You must be kidding.

No, the God Beck is referring to is the one that presided over an America where gay folks didn't have rights, minorities were neither ascendant nor mouthy about it, and we didn't have somebody in the White House with an Arabic name.

I prefer the great social worker in the sky God of the Methodists to that other deity being invoked. And Glen Beck and his acolytes need to take a look at the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. The same Constitution written by the Founding Fathers which he quotes with approval when it suits his purpose.

That's the Amendment that says that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

But maybe they can work on getting that one repealed after they get tired of trying to repeal the 14th.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vox Populi: Some White Punk Talking On A Cell Phone At The Bus Stop

He was sitting on the bench by the Eastbound bus stop on Kavanaugh. Young kid. Maybe 22. He had numerous piercings in his head and the sleeveless t-shirt he was rocking showed off all of his ink. He was wearing baggy cargo shorts and tennis shoes. He was smoking and talking at the same time as I approached him.

WP: Duuuuuude! There's a reason I sound good! Gonna score with two fiiiiiiiiine bitches tonight!

Pause to take a deep drag on cigarette. Nodding head. After collecting what passes for his thoughts our hero spoke again.

WP: Met a girl on the bus. Sweet little thing named Chantellllllllllllllle. Goes to Pulaski Tech. She gave me her number. Says she has time for me tonight. Well, duuuuuuude I sho'nuf got me some time for her. Sweeeet!

Chantelle, I doubt that you are reading this tonight. But you never know. I once got an e-mail from an exotic dancer who performed at on of our local strip joints. She said she liked the blog. She invited me to come out to see her some night. Told me she would let me talk to her without buying her a drink. I didn't take her up on it as I don't trust a stripper who doesn't drink.

Looking back I should have accepted the invitation if for no other reason than journalistic curiosity. Alas, she left the performing arts to take a job with the Department of Social Services in a State somewhere out West.

We do not make these things up.

And so Chantelle, if on the outside chance you are reading this tonight, you can do better than this idiot.

Check caller ID tonight. Really. Stick to the books.

You are not the only one.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, former All-Star Pitcher Roger Clemens was indicted by a Grand Jury in the District of Columbia last week stemming from his testimony before Congress concerning allegations that he had used human growth hormone-HGH-and steroids. The congressional committee before whom he testified was investigating the extent of steroid use in baseball. Clemens was indicted for perjury, obstruction of Congress and making false statements. In his testimony before Congress, Clemens vociferously denied that he had ever used steroids or HGH.

I hope there is a letter in his lawyers' file documenting the fact that they advised their client to take the 5th. Because Clemens talked himself into a world of trouble on that day. A brief recitation of the history is in order.

Strength coach and sleazebag Brian McNamee said he injected Clemons with steroids and HGH while he was with the New York Yankees. Former Yankee and Astros teammate and former friend Andy Petitte testified in a deposition that McNamee gave him HGH which he used while rehabbing from an injury. Petitte has also testified that Clemens told him that he used HGH. When confronted by that latter point in his testimony, Clemens made the now famous statement that Petitte must have "misremembered" the conversation when giving his testimony.

According to both the New York Times and the Washington Post, McNamee turned over to the Feds cotton swabs and needles from which Clemens's DNA was extracted. And who knows what else they presented to the Grand Jury? We won't know until the trial because Grand Jury proceedings are secret.

I'm not exactly Mister Trial Lawyer around here but I think Clemens has a real problem. The best thing he has going for him is that the Feds may have trouble getting the swabs and needles into evidence because they may not be able to establish a chain of custody from McNamee to law enforcement. Secondly, it is doubtful that the physical evidence was stored by McNamee in such a manner as to adequately preserve the DNA in his custody. And you can bet that Clemens will have an expert that will testify to this effect.

Bt they may not need the physical evidence. The testimony of Petitte will kill Clemens. That and his own big mouth. You may ask if Petitte's testimony is hearsay and if so how is it admissible? You are correct that the statement "Roger told me he used HGH" is hearsay. But it can be used to rebut a prior inconsistent statement. Such as the numerous times Clemens testified under oath that he had not.

Secondly, and this is where Clemens' big mouth once again gets him into trouble, Clemens admitted that McNamee gave him injections when he was with both the Blue Jays and the Yankees. Only he testified that they were B-12 injections. The problem with that testimony, according to the indictment, is that it is the policy of both the Yankees and the Blue Jays organizations to only allow physicians to administer B-12 injections. When the B-12 is not in use it is locked up and training personnel do not have access to it.

Finally, rumor has it that Clemens foolishly complained of soreness in the injection sites to Yankees medical personnel who x-rayed the glute. They found that the problems with the sites were consistent with steroid injections. Not B-12. Undoubtedly this will come out in Court as well.

Rusty Hardin, one of Clemens's lawyers, suggested in an interview the other day that it is premature to assign a lot of weigh to the testimony against his client. Rocket continues to maintain both his innocence and that he didn't use steroids. "Isn't that evidence that he didn't do it?" Mr. Hardin asked rhetorically.

Of course it is. But the only way they get it in is to put Clemens on the stand. And they don't want to do that.

Even at that, from what I can see there's more evidence that he did use steroids and HGH than there is that he didn't. Somebody needs to inject Clemens with something that will reduce his hubris because he needs to cut a deal.

Because being self-delusional does not translate into provable facts.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eat Pray Make Stuff Up

I guess I've been doing this blog thing for about 5 years or so. I do it mainly as a hobby. As cheap psychotherapy. It gets read, much to my considerable surprise, and there are folks who tell me that they especially look forward to my recurring Sunday post. Lord knows that I have my critics too and I hear from them every now and again. I generally do not respond because, random occasional nut aside, must folks wouldn't write if they didn't care.

But the responses have mostly been positive and folks have told me that they especially like the recurrent Sunday post I have put out for years on this page. And so I try to be careful to put out a thoughtful product even when I am writing about sports or about some humorous topic. I do that because that is my nature and also because it is easy to forget out here on the blogosphere where there are no editors except yourself that people do read this stuff. It's easy to get sloppy out here on the Internets. I know. I've been guilty of it myself.

A good example of this was contained in a post on a blog called Moxie Life up in Eureka Springs in response to a review of the movie Eat Pray Love by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette movie reviewer Philip Martin. Phil-Full disclosure time! He's one of my best friends!-pretty much panned it. This resulted in a scathing post on Moxie Love entitled "Philip Martin I Double Dare You" in which the proprietor of the blog wrote an exceedingly and unnecessarily personal response to the review. This resulted in Phil responding to both the dare and her response to his comment which resulted in another salvo from Phil. If this sounds more than a little silly that's only because it is. In any event, you can read the whole catfight on the jump: .

What seems to have particularly hacked Phil off, and what he reprinted in his "Critical Mass" column in today's paper was the following characterization of him as " a narcissistic, petty, whining, bitter and biting writer who fuels his regret at not having realized his own dreams as a writer or would-be filmmaker into his reviews. Everything about him makes me crazy;he complains about watching movies, going to festivals, waxes on about his scotch and cigars and is-in my mind-an SOB."

I can't say that I blame him at being pissed off. It is bad enough when somebody that knows you well believes that "you fuel your regret at not having realized his own dreams as a writer" and tells the world. It's even worse when somebody that doesn't know you does it. It is one thing to think a person is a "narcissistic...writer." That's fair enough. That's an opinion drawn however fairly or unfairly from the body of work. But it is unfair to say that his movie reviews are informed by his "regrets" when you don't know him, have never heard him say or write such a thing or never heard anybody else say or write such a thing about him.

Because, as the old saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts. Which brings me to the Scotch and cigars. Philip Martin and I have spent countless evenings together during which spirituous refreshment was partaken. I have never seen him drink Scotch. Backed when I smoked cigars I used to offered him cigars out on the golf course. He never took me up on it. Never seen him use any tobacco product for that matter. He's written about Scotch in his "Drinkies" column. Maybe he's written about cigars but I don't recall it if he has.

My point is that I believe the blogger's desire to infuse Phil's review of Eat Pray Love with the aesthetic of a bourgeois male chauvinist led her to MAKE SOMETHING UP. You notice that I said that I believe this. I do not know this for a fact but it seems that way to me. I say this not because I think the woman's a liar. Jacqueline seems to be an otherwise interesting and nice person who has sense enough to have a daughter at my Alma Mater. Which makes her OK with me. That and because I think Jacqueline is a pretty name. But maybe these "facts" about the "SOB" became "true" for her in the way that urban legends are "true" to those that pass them around despite the fact that they are factually incorrect. After all, Obama's a Muslim who wasn't born here and somewhere an illegal immigrant is taking your cousin's job away from him.

In today's column Phil refers to such references as "obliterating gestures" which are the province of bullies. Or maybe French bullies. I'm not sure. Being the bourgeois male chauvinist former cigar smoker that I am, I refer to it simply as getting sloppy. Which happens all the time out here in the blogosphere.

This latest contretemps proves little except for one thing. People read this stuff. And you never know who might be reading.

It is best not to get all caught up in one's deathless prose. Mother always said to let that letter written in anger cool off for a day before sending it. Mother's advice applies with equal force to blogging.

We would all be better off to read our stuff with a critical eye before hitting the "publish" button. Because you never know who might be reading.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vox Populi: The Security Point in the Federal Building

The are security points at the public entrance of most government buildings. Just like at the airport, you have to go through a scanner while the guards question you about your clothing or any metal objects you may have in your possession. So it was this morning as I walked past except that I heard the following exchange between a security guard and a gentleman about to be scanned.

Guard: Please remove your belt, your watch, and place keys and wallet in the basket.

Visitor: I got a bullet in my ass.

Guard: I'm sorry?

Visitor: I got a bullet in my ass. It may set the machine off.

Guard: I guess there's a first time for everything. Thanks for telling me. Come on through.

Didn't stay long enough to see whether he got through without use of the wand or not.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

I know that the grief in the literary world will be palpable at this news but I will not be blogging this weekend due to family obligations. Will return soon.

You have been warned. Talk among yourselves in the meantime.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

The demure and coquettish blond whose image graces this post is Karen Sypher. She has appeared in these chronicles before along with Louisville Cardinals head basketball coach Rick Petino whose pic has been inset close to Karen's long legs. Sypher just got convicted by a Federal jury of extorting Pitino, tampering with a witness and lying to the FBI. She could catch @ 25 years for her trouble but as a first time offender who didn't commit a violent crime she will undoubtedly catch much less.

Pitino used to be discussed in these pages solely in the context of sports. Now he will forevermore be linked to Sypher due to certain ill advised activity he undertook with her with his pants off. A brief retelling of the story is in order.
Our hero was in an Italian restaurant having drinks with associates late one night when he was approached by Sypher. She wanted him to say 'hello" to her son on her cell phone. He gave her some tickets. OK. Fine. This kind of stuff happens all the time with celebrities of all stripes. Here's where things get murky. Associates leave. Petino and Sypher have some drinks. It's late. Owner of restaurant tells Petino he can let himself out.

This has happened to you before right? Last call, folks. I'm leaving.

Anyway, Petino and Sypher do the Big Nasty on the floor of the joint. And they say romance is dead. Here's where things start to go downhill mighty fast for the leader of young men. A month or so later Sypher tells Petino she's pregnant. Needs 3 grand. He says it's for medical insurance. She says it's for an abortion. And thus begins the extortionate behavior that Karen Sypher ramped up in earnest some 5 years later.
Sypher claims she was raped that fateful night in the restaurant, a claim that the Louisville cops discard out-of-hand.. She begins demanding millions in hush money. She wants college tuition for her kids. She wants her car paid off. A lawyer she is screwing around with sends a demand letter. Like an idiot.
When Sypher's mother calls one night wondering where the money is, Petino decides this can't be brushed under the rug any longer and he and his lawyer make an appointment with the FBI. And thus begins the criminal investigation that ends with the former model looking at a stretch in prison and Rick Petrino being forever branded a fool.

I have long had a theory about this kind of trouble. I think men who have been married for many years lose the innate capacity to know crazy when they see it. I am happy to say that my crazy radar is pretty good at this stage in my life although I confess that it was faulty to non-existent in my younger years. My life is boring in th extreme nowadays. Boring is good.

The down side to crazy is a lot more down than the up side is up when a gentleman reaches a certain age and station in life. In Rick's case, while he has a considerable reputation for being a classless dick, it was believed he always kept it in his pants. Now this. He had to confess to his wife. He had to confess to his church that he may have, albeit unwittingly, facilitated an abortion. He instantly became the butt of jokes throughout the sport of basketball. A guy like Pitino can stand being despised. Being laughed at has got to hurt.
And as if it were not bad enough to be forever linked in the public record with the likes of Karen Sypher because of a moment's indiscretion, his testimony about the incident will be forever writ large upon history's immortal scroll as well.
How did it start? " She opened my pants."

Did you have sex? " Yes, briefly. About 15 seconds."

Ouch. That last one won't be chanted by the fans over in Lexington will it?

"15 seconds! 15 seconds!" I can hear it now.

Whither human dignity?

My buddy Don said, " This is the kinda bad shit that can happen when you step out on your wife."

Stepping out on your wife is bad enough. Stepping out on your wife with somebody that's smooth running crazy is even stupider. Indeed, every woman who has commented to me about her pictures on the Internet has pretty much said, " You can tell just by looking at her she's crazy." Further, the good folks at Deadspin have some pics which you can see on the link provided about which I offer no further commentary:
And as Sypher's soon to be ex-husband succinctlytold the jury, "She's nuts."

Petino's lack of a crazyometer in his head cost him severely. He's not the first married man to make a mistake. And he won't be the last. His was just the rare indiscretion that they turned into a federal case.

And Sypher? She's got a sentencing date coming up. So naturally she tells the Louisville paper that she knew she would never get a fair trial in Louisville. The day after she was found guilty! That sound you heard from the East was her attorney hitting himself in the forehead with the heel of his hand. Published remarks such as these are not helpful going into the sentencing hearing as they don't exactly evidence heartfelt remorse for the conduct that got her into this fix. Which is what judges kinda want to see.

Like the man said. She's nuts. 15 seconds, huh? Way to go, Rick.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Today's Wally

Perhaps the crisp mountain air he inhaled during his Western vacation cleared his brain of the usual mangled syntax, insipid similes and tortuous logic that typically pollutes his columns. I don't know what the explanation might be. But Wally Hall's "Like It Is" sports column in the Democrat-Gazette has been surprisingly lucid this Summer. Up until today, that is, when he leveled his gaze on the Ole Miss-Jermiah Masoli controversy over in Oxford. You may recall that Masoli was the starting quaterback at Oregon who got himself kicked off the team for rules violations. He recently took advantage of a little known NCAA rule to wind up eligible to play for the Ole Miss Rebels without cooling his jets for a year as most transfers are required to do. You can read about it in last Sunday's post here in these chronicles.

Many people have been critical of Ole Miss and Head Coach Houston Nutt. Most notably Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel who went so far as to call Nutt a dirty coach. Here's the link: Judge for yourself. Evidently Wally doesn't think much of the machinations Ole Miss went through to get Masoli on campus either. But in drawing a distinction between how Ole Miss handled the situation and how Arkansas MIGHT have handled it, Wally falls back on an old warhorse: MAKING STUFF UP.

"It is doubtful Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Bobby Petrino and others would have taken Masoli." True. But none of these schools need quarterbacks. And as far as I can tell Wally didn't ask any of these guys what they might have done.

"In fact, there are schools in the SEC and across the nation that need a quarterback but didn't talk to him." There are what? 120 DI schools that play football? I'm sure that there are indeed schools that "didn't talk to him." Which proves what?

"What is almost certain is if Petrino had been interested, Jeff long would have said no. Chancellor Dave Gearhart would have backed that decision." He knows this how?

"US System President B. Alan Sugg wouldn't have had to say no because the buck would have already stopped." See above. As long as we are just making shit up why not fantasize about what the President might have done. Or wouldn't have to do and in any event did not do.

Not content with putting up straw men and knocking them down Wally closes with a completely inapt parable to illustrate why Mississippi's taking Masoli in was wrong: "If your son were grounded from watching TV and went to a friend's house and they knew TV was off-limits and they let him watch it anyway, would you be happy?"

No. But that is because the child is being disobedient while under my supervision and I care about him following my rules as long as he lives in my house. In the Masoli case, Oregon kicked him out of the house for a year. The NCAA's rules allow Masoli to enroll in graduate school elsewhere and play football immediately. The difference between the disobedient child in Wally's analogy and the facts of the Jeremiah Masoli case is that the child is my problem. Masoli is now Ole Miss's problem. He can watch all the TV Ole Miss will let him watch.

I would close by saying that Oregon could probably give a shit. Or that it is "almost certain" that it doesn't.

But that would be making stuff up.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

If things go as planned, Jeremiah Masoli, pictured above, will trade in the hideous green and gold of the Oregon Ducks for the red and blue of the Ole Miss Rebels. As has been reported elsewhere, Masoli, who led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl last year needs a place to land after getting kicked off the team after stealing some laptops from a fraternity house and then shortly thereafter getting popped for possession of marijuana during a traffic stop.

Ole Miss, for its part, needs a quarterback after the vastly overrated Javon Snead heeded the advice of idiots and declared himself eligible for the NFL draft. Then his backup transferred. This left the Rebels exceedingly thin at the position in the murderous Southeastern Conference.

But you may ask yourself, " Self, how can Masoli be immediately eligible? Don't transfers have to sit a year?" Normally this would be the case. But if a player gets a degree and wants to go to graduate school and if the school where he was eligible to compete does not have a Masters program that he wants to pursue he may transfer and be eligible immediately. This exception is little known because how many of these "student-athletes" actually get a degree?

Well-stop the presses- Jeremiah Masoli did. And has decided to matriculate at Ole Miss where he can both play football and pursue an advanced degree in-get this-Parks and Recreation. Which amazingly enough is not offered at Oregon.

This has predictably resulted in much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth among those who view this whole scenario as the by-product of the rules getting gamed. You won't hear that from me. This is all perfectly legal under NCAA rules. You don't like it? Change the rules.

Is Houston Nutt taking a risk? Oh hell yes. Although Jeremiah Masoli didn't kill anybody, he did show exceedingly poor judgment and has a history of nickle and damn criminal stuff going back to his juvenile days in California. Who knows if he will chafe under the short leash he will undoubtedly be on? Secondly, Oxford ain't Eugene. Oxford is a pretty cool place but it is not entirely free of rednecks and some of them wear badges. Finally, should life in the Delta cramp his style Memphis is only about an hour away. Just think of all the trouble a punk like Masoli could get in over there just by standing under a streetlamp.

But I say if Houston Dale Nutt can live with the risk then bully for him. To wax indignantly over whether Masoli's sudden presence in the Magnolia State is right or wrong is to indulge in the pristine assumption that Division I athletics is not a business that is connected solely to the higher academic mission of its Member Institutions by geography. Which is ludicrous. As Nutt told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, he was more concerned "about the criticism I might receive if something happens and I don't have a QB to finish the year."

That's the bottom line. Bidness is bidness. You can't fault Hootendale's honesty. Or what passes for it.