Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Sunday Feeling

It has been a terrible Spring in the South and Midwest.  Hundreds of people killed  and millions of dollars of damage from tornadoes.  And that's just last week.  In one 24 period last week, 84 tornadoes touched down in Arkansas, Texas and the Midwest.  84.  Godalmighty.  And of course, since about the first week of May the Mississippi River has been doing its damndest to cut over to the Atchafalaya.  It has been held at bay by both the Army Corps of Engineers and sheer luck.  But they had to open the dam at Morganza to flood the spillway.  Unfortunately people and wildlife live in the spillway.  We shall see what is left when the water recedes sometime in June.

But things are looking up.  We haven't had any rain since Wednesday or so.  Otherwise sensible people are speaking wistfully of Summer.  It may be hot but it will be dry.  We are technically in a drought which hardly seems possible.  But nobody cares about that.  People are ready to be cooking on the grill and playing golf.  We are sick of being cooped up indoors or checking our rooftops for hail damage.  The good news is that I saw that the kids who operate the snow cone shack have hauled it back to the parking lot down the hill from Mount St. Mary.  If that ain't a sure sign of the advent of Summer here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest, I don't know what is.

The Memorial Day weekend also is the unofficial start of the Presidential election season.  That seems hard to believe but I read it somewhere on the Internet.  So it must be true. 

One of the common themes that I have been hearing from the Loyal Opposition in recent years is that the next election will be about restoring freedoms that we have lost.  What to do about health care and the national debt I get.  Restoration of lost freedoms I do not.

In the last 2.5 years, nobody has told me what church to attend or that I have to attend church at all.  As far as I know, nobody in the government is monitoring my communications.  If my usual telephone and Internet traffic created an exception to the Court Order requirement allowed by the Patriot Act I am honored.  Which means that the National Security Agency knows that I bought a golf GPS today and that my buddy in North Carolina is taking Vicodin for back pain.  Big whoop.

My last post on this blog was about how I view Harold Camping's predictions of apocalypse as complete nonsense.  It did not result in the seizure of my laptop.  Earlier this morning I took a walk.  There were scores of runners, walkers and bikers out this morning.  Everybody was pretty much going whatever direction they damn well pleased. 

I went to Little Rock National Cemetery to take pictures.  Nobody seized my camera.  A police officer drove through as I was walking unescorted among the graves of our veterans.  He waved.  I waved back.  I was glad to see him.  Here and there folks were laying flowers on the graves of loved ones.  They were completely unsupervised.  By now you should be getting my none too subtle point.

There has always been a paranoid element in American politics.  But it seems now that the notion of sacrifice of self to the greater national good is seen by some as naivete.  Or that laws enacted by the legislature, such as the recent health care reforms, or seat belt laws even, are an impermissible infringement on personal liberty.  Be that as it may, I have not heard much from the Tea Party in either Baton Rouge or Joplin lately.

Here is a true story.  A woman with whom I am passingly acquainted started dating somebody.  He is a small business person and enamored of the Tea Party.  Anyway, she told me that he is insisting that she read "Atlas Shrugged" as what I gather is a condition of their continued relationship.  When a crackpot like Ayn Rand makes something of an inroad into the zeitgeist I wish to suggest that these are indeed remarkable times in which we live.

But that's OK.  Everybody is entitled to their opinions.  And they are pretty much free to express those opinions as they see fit so long it doesn't involve a bullhorn at 3 AM in front of my house or the use of explosives.  That's because men and women came together for the greater good in times of national peril.  They put themselves in harm's way so that we might be secure.  So that I might be free to go see the Catholics whenever I see fit or that you can read Ayn Rand.  Or anything else you damn well want.

Or to go get a snow cone if you want.  The snow cone kids are back.  Which means it is officially Summer in the People's Republic of Hillcrest.

Just take a moment this Memorial Day weekend to remember those folks at rest just East of Downtown Little Rock.  Remember those men and women from all walks of life united in death at the National Cemetery because either they wore, or they were related to someone who wore, the uniform of the military of the United States of America. 

And give thanks for their service. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wrong As Usual

I was driving to an event around 6 o'clock Saturday night.  I took an extra minute while paused at a stop sign to take a look at the sky.  I didn't see any bodies being assumed into Heaven.  I rolled down the window.  No trumpet.  I rolled up the window and increased the volume on the radio. 

Harold Camping, a California radio evangelist, was wrong again.  The world did not end, contrary to the predictions that his ministry have relentlessly hyped for the past year or so.  The first I heard of any of this was as I was driving home from work back in March.  Purple vans festooned with "The World Will End on May 21, 2011!  The Bible Guarantees it!" were rolling through the State Capitol grounds.

I didn't give it a second thought until I started reading news stories about people divesting themselves of money to give to Camping's ministry in anticipation of the End Times.  People quit jobs.  Left college.  All in expectation of no longer being on this Vale of Tears on the 22nd.  Well, guess what?  We're all still here.  Sinner and Members of the Elect alike.  People were willing to act on faith or at least to suspend disbelief.  This despite the fact that as of the May 22, Harold was 0-2 in the prophecy game.

As I say at times like these, this is an opportunity to teach.  If any aspect of Christian doctrine has proven spectacularly elusive it is the belief that Jesus Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead.  Every prediction dealing with the Second Coming of Christ has been wrong.  Every single one.  The early Christians thought His coming was imminent within their lifetime.  Wrong.  American theologian Barton Ehrman has posited that Jesus himself got it wrong when He preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand.  Because it wasn't.  And if anybody might have had a clue, it would have been the Son of God.

Just because End Time theology has been a spectacular failure in human history doesn't mean that it still doesn't have its adherents.  When I was a kid, a man named Hal Lindsey wrote a book called "The Late Great Planet Earth" that had everybody stirred up.  Lindsey predicted that the Great Tribulation would occur in the late Eighties.  I also seem to recall that he tweaked that prediction to allow as how it would occur around 2000.  Last I looked he was wrong both times.  And if the latest fuss over Mr. Camping's latest busted attempt at sooth-saying was not proof enough, I give you Tim LaHaye who has made a fortune with the "Left Behind" book series.

But back to Camping who admitted to being flabbergasted when the world didn't go kablooey last Saturday.  He now says that the Second Coming did indeed occur as previously scheduled.  Only Christ returned long enough to place a "spiritual judgment" on the world and execution of same will actually occur on October 21.  Kinda like the filing of a Lis Pendens to tie up property you are foreclosing on.

Now I don't know if Harold Camping is a charlatan, a con artist or whether he actually believes this foolishness.  I know he hasn't gone broke in the radio ministry.  I also know his reckless claims of certitude regarding May 21 led gullible followers to make imprudent decisions.  So far, I don't think Mr. Camping has offered to help them in anyway.

My birthday is on October 24, assuming that, well, the world is still here and all.  My tightwad buddy Don is not going to send me a present this year just in case.  I think it's just an excuse not to spend money.

He might as well send it.  Because I am going to offer my own prediction.

On October 21, Harold Camping will be 0 for three.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I am going to be pretty much out of pocket for the next week or so.  Between work stuff and out-of-town company I ain't got time to fool with the blog. 

The literary world may not recover but exigent circumstances have forced me to prioritize. 

Talk amongst yourselves for the time being. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Vox Populi-Outside The Courtroom

I was standing outside the Courtroom talking to my friend who is a Big Shot Court Official while waiting for the Naturalization Ceremony.  We were talking about tennis and golf as most sensible people would under the circumstances.  All of a sudden a little guy wearing some government badge I couldn't make out steps in and interrupts the conversation. 

LG- "Did you get my e-mail?"

BSCO- "What e-mail?

LG- "I am a Civil War reinactor. Remember?  I offered to wear my uniform."

The woman LG is with mouthed the words "I'm so sorry."

BSCO-"Ohhhhh yeah.  Look, technically speaking, this is an official session of Court.  We can't have folks showing up in costume."

LG-"But the D.A.R. is here.  So I thought it would be OK. But you never got back to me."

BSCO-"Yeah.  The D.A.R. is here.  But it's not like they're in period dress or anything.  They're in normal clothes like everybody else."

LG-"Well, I have a Union Army uniform if that would be more appropriate."

He actually said that.

LG pulls out a smartphone and pulls up a picture of him in his Civil War drag.

LG- "See I  could show up in this next time."

BSCO grabs my elbow and starts pulling me to him as he pretends to look at LG's phone.

BSCO-" You've never met Judge Marshall have you?"

Me: "No I haven't."

BSCO-"Well, let's go do that before we get started."

Me: "OK."

LG: "Get back to me on the uniform."

BSCO: "Sure thing.  Gotta go."

I look back at the lady with LG as I'm being dragged into the Courtroom.

She mouthed the words "I'm so sorry."

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Great Miracle League Video

But the guy leading the "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" can't sing for shit.

My Mother's Day Feeling

"Son," Mother said. "I need to get some stuff. Some stuff for my hands."

I brought her to Little Rock for a doctor's appointment.  By this point in time, communication with Mother was getting more difficult as the Parkinson's induced dementia was beginning to take its dreadful toll.  It would not be long before she would be moved from assisted living to the nursing home.  But on that day she needed stuff for her hands.

"What kind of stuff,Mom?" I asked. "Do your hands hurt?"

"No.  My hands don't hurt.  When I could drive I would go to the big store and buy the stuff I like for my hands.  Oh God.  I can't remember anything."

She made a big production of rubbing one hand over the other.

"You want some hand lotion?"

"Yes!" she exclaimed while pointing a tremulous finger at me. "And I want to go to the big store."

Big store.  Hmmmmm.  We were sitting in a doctor's office on the campus of St. Vincent's at the time.  Big store.  Wait.  We had gotten off at the University exit.  Maybe this had caused something in her neurons to fire.  I took a shot.

"You want to go to the mall?"

"Yes.  I want to go to the mall to buy the, the,"

"It's Okay Mom.  We'll go to the mall on the way back to Conway.  We'll buy the lotion for your hands."

And so we went to the mall.  Once we entered she took my arm and we shuffled to a store that sells soaps and lotions.

"No.  This is not where I buy it."

Since I didn't know where else to go, I asked her to lead us there.  And eventually we came to another store down the way.

"Here," She said.  This is where I buy the stuff for my hands."

"You're kidding."


And this is how I came to make my first, and so far only, visit to Victoria's Secret.  To buy hand lotion for my Mother.

Suffice it say, Mother in her blue polyester pants, "Arkansas Songbirds" sweatshirt and SAS shoes didn't fit the profile of the typical VS customer.  And indeed, the store was full of hot young women buying the usual ammunition that hot young women buy.  But the hot young woman behind the counter where they sold the lotion and God knows what else could not have been kinder to this confused old lady and her greatly amused son.

Naturally, Mother couldn't remember what type of lotion she liked.  HYWBTC asked her if she could maybe recognize the scent of her favorite brand.

"I think so," Mother said.

And so HYWBTC would place a dab of goop on her own hand or arm and let Mother smell.  This went on for some time as HYWBTC patiently opened tube after tube of samplers.  Eventually Mother eyes lit up.  She had found the stuff for her hands.

HYWBTC opened a fresh tube.  She took Mother's hands and rubbed a generous portion into her skin.

"There," she said when she had finished.  "Now your hands will feel good and smell pretty."

"Thank you," Mother said as she brought her shaky right hand up to her nose.

She offered her hand to me.

"It smells great Mom," I said.

"I just love it," Mother said.  She was grinning like a child.

I bought three boxes.

Mother has been gone a little over a year now. She was an unpretentious person of simple tastes.  But somebody along the way had introduced her to hand lotion from Victoria's Secret of all places.  It was as close to decadence as Donice Bowen was capable of. 

I'm sorry that I didn't remember this story when we were planning the funeral.  While I am not usually given over to superstition, I would have made sure that they didn't close the lid on Mom on until her hands had been anointed by the stuff she used to buy for herself at the big store back when she could drive.

Damn.  I wish I had remembered.

Monday, May 02, 2011

A Very Good Thing

I paid a visit to the soldier down the hall as soon as I got to work.

"Ya hear about the woman that got shot?"

First thing out of his mouth.

He snorted derisively and turned back to his computer screen.

"Bastards. He got what was coming to him," the soldier said. "I'm good with it."

 Danny Woodyard served in Iraq twice.  Like most soldiers who actually pulled important duty, he is pretty taciturn about it.  Today was no different. 

The "he" to whom Danny was referring, of course, was the late and not lamented Osama Bin Laden, who had gotten himself whacked by Navy Seals in a small fortress in Pakistan.  During the firefight one of the "warriors" defending the compound attempted to use the body of a woman to shield himself.  She was killed.  More on that later.

Make no mistake about it.  Osama Bin Laden had it coming.  Not only was he the mastermind behind 9/11 which took the lives of over three thousand innocent people, his actions ignited a conflagration in Afghanistan where the Taliban had given him aid and comfort.  Eventually, the United States invaded Iraq creating thereby a two front war.  We may debate whether there was adequate cause to invade Iraq. What is not subject to debate is the United States and its allies have expended a tremendous amount of blood and treasure in a most unsettled part of the world largely because of one man.

Which made Osama Bin Laden a legitimate military target.  And not merely for the sake of retributive justice.  But because a man like that, who still had cachet on the Arab street, whether it was waning or not, was still dangerous.

And so while I am appreciative and grateful that our government was able to insure that he was taken out I can't say that I rejoice.  Terrorism is a tactic.  It is not the enemy.  It will not end with the death of Bin Laden.  Not while religious fanatics with access to technology that hate America still breathe.  And we cannot delude ourselves otherwise.  The bad guys will attempt to retaliate.  It may take them some time.  But retaliate they will.

Which brings me to my second point.   

We shouldn't be too quick to try to find the hand of Providence in the elimination of Bin Laden from the planet.  I don't believe for 5 minutes that God intervenes in sporting events, causes tornadoes to destroy homes and cities or that He gets an assist in Bin Laden's extermination.  Al Qaeda's god represents vengeance and blood atonement.  We need not stoop to that level even as we give thanks to closure of this chapter of American history. 

Which brings me to my final point.  While I'm not big on conducting military operations for symbolic reasons.  I am comfortable in saying that symbolism is a completely efficacious side effect to Bin Laden's death.  Al Qaeda is made up of death glorifying fundamentalists and mysogynistic nihilists, one of whom thought nothing of using a woman's body to protect himself.  Such an act is less than cowardly.  The coward might attempt escape first.  The adherent to radical Islam does not believe that girls deserve an education and that they may be raped with relative impunity.   Such a man would naturally have no hesitation in using a mere woman's body for cover.

Osama Bin Laden was the living embodiment of the man who hid behind the woman the night the Seals came to call.  It is a good thing that he is dead.

I do not rejoice particularly.  But I know that it is a very good thing that the son-of-a-bitch is dead.  Osama Bin Laden and his soldier that hid behind the woman.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

My Sunday Feeling

Sometimes stuff happens that reminds you that life can utterly surprise and delight.  I'm glad that I have not yet lost the capacity to recognize that.

Most people have the idea that lawyers hate each other when they are in litigation.  Some cases  unfortunately do get personal.  But the fact of the matter is that I tend to get along with most attorneys that I do business with.  And I actually have become friends with other attorneys that I only met through some pretty nasty cases.  I mean, we don't try to do each other any favors and we don't expect any in return.  But most folks realize that we have a job to do and that once it's quitting time, it's time to get a beer and discuss baseball.  Which is one of the reason some consumers of legal services think it's a rigged game.  They cannot conceive of their lawyer not wanting an outcome as badly as they do.  Well, it's personal to them.  It had better not be to their lawyer.

I became friends with D, an attorney in Oxford, Mississippi, in the course of negotiating a settlement in order to keep my client from getting sued by hers'.  Quite frankly, she and I got off to a rocky start.  By way of introduction, she hit me with about a 12 page demand letter.  This resulted in my calling her to advise her that I had been around forever and that I had never seen the theory she was espousing. She wrongly assumed that I was casting aspersions upon her relative youth, as compared to me at least, and took offense.

Way to go you slick talking devil you.

Anyway, she advised me in no uncertain terms that I pretty much didn't know what I was talking about.  This forced me to resort-gasp!-to the lawbooks to look up the citations in her letter.  Sonuvabitch.  She was right.  But she was likewise wrong on the exact scope of the liability for my client.  Point for me.  We discussed my findings in our second call.  We started talking about working out a way to a resolution of the issues before us.  Turned out she wasn't a ballbuster.  And I gather she came to understand that I wasn't a condescending jerk.  For whatever reason, everybody cooled off.  And from that point on we were fine.    

Since that time our dealings have been pleasant in the extreme and we always take time to visit after we conclude our business.  And so it was last week that we came to a discussion  about home equity lines of credit of all damned things.  D and her husband are thinking about getting one for their house. I told her that mine sure came in handy when it came time to do home repairs on my little house here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest.

"It seems like there's always something to do on a house," she said.

"Especially when your house was built in 1927," I said.

"Your house is that old?"


"Do you live in an older neighborhood?"

" I do.  It's called Hillcrest. First suburb of Little Rock. The rich white folks moved up the hill where the breezes were cooler than downtown. "

"My husband's parents live in Norman, Oklahoma.  When we go see them, we generally stop in Little Rock to break up the drive and to let the kids stretch their legs. Last time we were in Little Rock we drove around in a really neat part of town that was mostly older homes."


"Yeah.  We had pizza at a really good place in that neighborhood.  Place had a funny name. Oh what was it called?  There was some kind of an ethnic bakery behind it."

"Damgoode Pies?" I asked.

" Yes! Damgoode Pies!" D exclaimed. "You know it?"

"Know it?" I said.  "I live about a half mile from it.  Eat there a lot." 



Laughter on both ends of the line.

"Well next time we are coming through maybe we can stop and you can join us there for pizza."

" Sounds like a plan to me. Be happy to show y'all around."

Now what are the odds that a person I do business with from Oxford, Mississippi would have decided to stop about two good tee shots away from me to get pizza for she and her family?  And that the only reason I deduced where they had eaten was because I had mentioned my old Hillcrest house during a discussion about the usefulness of a LOC.  Which jogged her memory about her last visit here.

What are the odds of that?  Not very good.  Of that there can be no doubt.

And at times like these, I am grateful for the continued capacity to be amazed.