Saturday, August 16, 2008

McCain's gone negative? So what?

John McCain sure has been catching hell lately for committing the apparent sin of negative campaigning.

After taking a look at some of the hand-wringing among Barack Obama's supporters, I can't help but think one thing -- what the hell did you people expect?

Now, understand that I'm a McCain supporter, but a marginal one. My entire political philosophy has been summed up nicely by South Park co-creator Trey Parker -- "I don't like conservatives, but I f**king hate liberals."

That's a brilliant conclusion that works for me very nicely. Neither the Republicans or the Democrats give a damn about the middle class. We're just supposed to pay our taxes, shut up and let the government do its thing. All that we can really hope for from the federal government is for low taxes and to be left alone. The Republicans at least pay lip service to that ideal.

It's hard to pick a candidate from either party these days as I realize that neither one cares about what's good for my family, anyway. So, once again, I'm going for the lesser of two evils and that candidate, in my estimation, is John McCain. It would be nice to be able to go out and actually vote for a candidate rather than against one, but such is the pitiful state of national politics.

Well, I digress. Negative McCain. So what? OK.

What has been particularly obnoxious about the present election is how much the media has just fawned over Obama. The media loved Bill Clinton, too, but their adoration of Obama has bordered on secular worship. I despise Hillary Clinton, but I almost felt sorry for her as it was obvious during the primaries that the press was joining the true believers in the Obama camp.

All of that Obama worship peaked during the Chosen One's visit to Germany. We were treated to such enthusiasm from the international press that one had to wonder what happened to such buzzwords as "neutrality" and "objectivity." The clamor over Obama was so extreme that I'm a bit surprised we didn't see male reporters openly weeping and female journalists begging Obama to autograph their breasts.

In other words, the press has been unapologetically pro-Obama, leaving McCain with a dilemma -- how could he get some of that attention from the media, too, without going back on his decision to run a "clean" campaign?

So, he went negative. People might be outraged by McCain's shenanigans over the past month or so, but antics such as handing out tire pressure gauges with the phrase "Barack Obama's energy plan" printed on them and running that infamous commercial comparing Obama to the most vapid celebrities in the nation have worked.

McCain's gotten some media attention, of course, but going negative has achieved a lot more than that for crusty ol' Johnny. The media's reaction to McCain's cynical tactics has served to both get the Republicans more in line behind McCain and has gotten the attention of some of the undecided voters out there.

Here's what I mean. After the "celebrity" commercials, some of the attitude from the press has been, "He may be a celebrity, but what's wrong with that?" In the August 18 issue of Time, for example, Joe Klein wrote a column comparing Obama with another celebrity -- Ronald Reagan.

His point was that Reagan was viewed as a lightweight celebrity who could work a room and toss out some impressive rhetoric, but people questioned his substance. However, Reagan whipped Carter in terms of both style and substance in a debate and the election was decided right then.

Klein isn't the only one who shares that view, either, as that Reagan comparison has come up here and there over the past few months. The common thread throughout those comparisons is that Obama, like Reagan, is facing a nation in turmoil and America is calling out for a candidate to attack the mess left by Bush with some innovative, new ideas. Obama, see, is the "candidate of change" just like Reagan was.

There are at least two things wrong with such a comparison. First of all, Reagan outlined his beliefs very clearly early on and didn't waver from them through the primaries, the election or his two terms in office. The Reagan I saw campaining at the Checkerdome in St. Louis in 1980 was essentially the same man who served for two terms in office. Obama is nothing like Reagan in terms of consistency as his views shifted to the center right after the primaries were over and he didn't have to position himself as the liberal alternative to Clinton to court votes.

And, let's not forget that his opinions seem to rather mirror whatever crowd he's talked to last. In other words, what does Obama really believe? Will he turn into a freaky socialist when he hits office, be a wishy-washy moderate or play with a yo-yo for four years while his cabinet runs everything? There's just no way to tell what you're going to get with the guy. You never wondered about Reagan -- if you loved him or hated him, you at least knew where he stood.

Second, don't ever, ever compare Obama to Reagan. There are a lot of us who remember Reagan and still think fondly of those years. Want to drive a Reaganite firmly into McCain's camp? Just compare Obama to Reagan. That ought to do it. What does Obama really believe? What does the man stand for and will he actually improve the sad state this nation is in or enact a bunch of misguided, boneheaded reforms that will just make things worse? It's really hard to feel too comfortable about a fellow who changes his mind more often than most Americans change their socks.

And, so, I've wounded up in the McCain camp after watching the media fawn over Obama and then scramble to defend the man in response to McCain's attacks.

In other words, "I don't like John McCain, but I f**king hate Barack Obama."

You'd better believe I'm not alone.

Show some respect

Yes, indeed. It's the 31st anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.

Sadly, The King has almost been reduced to a caricature -- a symbol representing junk culture and what's wrong with it. That's a shame, honestly, as Elvis was a heck of a lot more than the white jumpsuits, the Las Vegas performances, a string of bad movies and the increasingly odd habits he developed near the end of his life.

Elvis was a true pioneer, indeed, as an attentive listen to his first album will prove. That self-titled album, released in 1956, ushered in the rock n' roll era and is a brilliant mix of country and rockabilly. Elvis might not have had the musical and songwriting talent of, say Carl Perkins, but he had a certain charisma that simply grabbed peoples' attention.

I was only eight-years-old when Elvis died and well remember all the sorrow that was palpable in my little Southern town after his passing was announced.

Rather than writing a lot of stuff about Elvis that has been around for years, I thought I'd commemorate this, the 31st anniversary of Elvis' death, with a couple of stories about the man that I think are just plain funny.

The first one involves my little brother. He's six years my junior and has been a bit obsessed with Elvis from both an artistic appreciation and a pop icon standpoint. My brother has visited Graceland a time or two and even bought me a velvet Elvis from a roadside stand in Mississippi.

One night when my brother was still in college, he had some friends over at his house for a night of drinking and listening to loud Elvis records. He and one of his friends started talking about how great Elvis was and decided to let the world know of their appreciation of the man by painting a message in his honor on the street with latex house paint.

My brother's friend wanted to paint "Elvis Lives" but my brother disagreed. He said Elvis is certainly dead, so a more suitable statement is "Elvis is King!" So, they painted that on the street in front of my brother's house. That, by the way, was on a hill, so the message was rather like a large billboard that was hard to miss by anyone in the area.

So, my brother woke up the next morning, nursing a hangover. He started to recall what happened the night before and felt a little sick when he remembered the tribute to Elvis.

"Oh, no. Certainly we didn't actually do that," he thought.

Of course, he was wrong. So, my brother went out at about 7 a.m. while hungover and miserable and went shopping for paint remover. He bought about every kind he could find, went home and hit that reverent message with all sorts of chemicals that it may or may not have been safe to mix. Latex house paint is hard to remove, but he eventually got the job done.

A story that I like almost is well involves the Weekly World News, that horrible tabloid that never once pretended to be truthful. In the 1990s (I think), that little rag ran a story based on a concept that is absolute brilliant. Yes, they ran Elvis' obituary, claiming he had been alive and living in some small town or another until his death at the age of 60-years-old or thereabouts.

I miss the Weekly World News because they always pulled junk like that. Of course, the Weekly World News was constantly reporting on Elvis sightings and had The King doing things like pumping gas for a living, stopping by a restaurant for one item or another and etc. My favorite one involved a story about "The Elvis Tribe," a group of primitives somewhere who worshiped Elvis and "sang and danced like the king." The Elvis Tribe was described as a bunch of "Wacky Savages" who "sang and danced like The King." We liked that so much when I was back in college that we named our band the Wacky Savages.

So, go watch an Elvis movie or two today and fondly remember The King, an American original.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Inconsiderate jerkism

There are some people who just ought to be flogged or, at least, publicly humiliated.

Before I launch into that, I should warn you folks that I don't feel well and, when that happens, the smallest thing makes me mad as hell. One of those things that I've dealt with almost every day for the past three years just gigged me to the core this evening -- a traffic jam during my afternoon commute.

I work in Little Rock, Ark., and live about 22 miles southwest in scenic Benton. That ought to be about a 20 minute drive and it is when there's not a wreck that backs up traffic when I'm heading home.

One of the major problems I -- and a lot of other motorists -- encounter on my drive home is that there's almost always a wreck near an area of Little Rock that's near Interstate 430. For those who live in central Arkansas, you probably know exactly the area I'm talking about -- hitting I-30 West from I-430 in the afternoon is dicey because wrecks on Highway 5 are alarmingly common during rush hour.

Why? Because some greedy fatheads decided to build houses in area of town where the road system won't support a lot of traffic. And I'm willing to bet the people responsible for all those subdivisions knew damn well what they were doing just as a five-year-old child knows that 10 gallons of water won't fit in a five-gallon bucket. It only makes sense that shoving a bunch of traffic into an area that can't support it leads to car wrecks, injuries and backed up traffic.

I'm also willing to bet they didn't give a damn about the consequences of their actions. No, all that matters in this world anymore -- seemingly -- is figuring out a way to make a buck. To hell with anything else. So, a lot of us commuters are sitting in a traffic almost every day because a wreck has thrown a wrench into everything while the crumbs who caused that mess are somewhere across town enjoying their profits. Hell, they're probably thinking up new ways to annoy the masses.

The problem, of course, is that society is there are a heck of a lot of amoral, unethical types out there who believe that they can do absolutely anything they want as long as they're not breaking the law. That's about the lowest standard to live by as there's a lot of difference between what's legally right and what's morally right.

And you can't blame the Little Rock Planning Commission for the mess, either. The developers apparently take delight in hiring engineers who have no qualms about dreaming up traffic flow reports that prove that, indeed, you can fit 10 gallons of water in a five-gallon bucket.

"Yes, this subdivision will have virtually no impact on traffic," Amoral Engineer says. "Look! I've got a map of the area with concentric circles on it and some charts with pretty colors on them. That proves it!"

So, the overworked Planning Commission signs off on traffic-jamming project after traffic-jamming project as the people who build things and annoy people cram money in their fat, filthy pockets. Hey, they got paid, so who cares if people who eventually move to the area are lucky to avoid getting in a wreck every day and commuters are delayed? It's all perfectly legal, so that's just fine, isn't it?

If they want to play that way, that's fine. People who go around doing things that they know or should know will annoy large groups of people ought to be held accountable and I've got just the way to do it.

Yes, the Arkansas Criminal Code needs to be amended to include a new crime -- inconsiderate jerkism. You'd have misdemeanor inconsiderate jerkism for mere minor annoyances and the felony charge would apply to people who engage in large scale aggravation.

Separating the inconsiderate jerks from people who actually do care what impact their actions have would be easy. That Arkansas State Trooper who spends most of his afternoon working wrecks in that traffic-congested area knows who the inconsiderate jerks are, yeah? That trooper could pull the trigger that brings the legal system into play. It would work pretty much the same all over the state -- where are people being annoyed and who is the inconsiderate jerk responsible? The police would know the answer to that in a hurry.

Those found guilty of inconsiderate jerkism should have any profits from their obnoxious enterprises confiscated and donated to, say, public education. Oh, and they ought to be publicly flogged on the lawn of the courthouse located in the county where the inconsiderate jerkism took place.

Yes, once that law gets passed in Arkansas, it'll sweep the nation. Inconsiderate jerks lurk everywhere and their turn in the barrel is fast approaching.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Searching for The Hawg

I've only been blogging for a few weeks and I've run across a bunch of articles about SEO.

It took awhile to figure out what the the term SEO means because a lot of folks who talk about how important it is rarely bother to explain what it means. That SEO thingie is just an acronym for search engine optimized. Once I figured that out, I concluded that it's a bunch of crap as far as I'm concerned.

My blog isn't magically optimized so that search engines can find posts on it easily and that's fine with me. People who throw around terms like SEO tend to run blogs that tell people how they can get rich by running blogs telling people how they can be rich. That's not my game as I'm just goofing off and rambling about random crap with this blog.

Still, it's fun to look at my Feedburner stats and see just what searches are bringing people over to my blog. Based on some of those searches I almost feel like I ought to be running an advice column in that the queries that drive people to this blog look like they were typed in by people looking for some advice to life's complex questions (as you'll see in a bit). I felt bad because a lot of those questions couldn't be answered from my site, so I thought I'd address some of the more interesting ones.

So, what follows is a list of questions that brought people over here, a bit of clarification of what those queries must mean (I listed them verbatim here) and some answers from me, trustworthy The Hawg.

"Should I go to law school? Married?"

I take that one to mean "should I go to law school if I'm married?" Still, I'll treat that like a two-parter because it's more fun.

The answer to the first part of that question is "no." Hell no. Uh-uh. No, no, no, no, no. God no. Never, jamais, nunca, nie. Don't do it.

Yes, I have a law degree and have made reference to it a few times (which is probably why a search engine led someone over here). Law school sucks. The only thing that sucks worse than slogging through three years of law school is going out and practicing law.

Unless dealing with peoples' weird problems all day long, trying to beat money out of clients who resent having to hire you in the first place and working about 60 to 70 hours per week is your idea of a good time, find another career. Most people practicing law aren't exactly what you'd call wealthy, so forget about the "all lawyers are rich" fable, too.

As for the second part of the question -- should I go to law school if I'm married -- that's a bad idea, too. I know a lot of people who were married when they started law school who got divorced by the time they graduated. Practicing law tends to ruin marriages, too. Most spouses don't react well to being married to someone who is always working and is exhausted and snarling when not at work. Go visit the best trial lawyers you know and ask them how many times they've been married. That little survey will tell you all you need to know.

"Rat terriers do they make good house dogs?"

Do rat terriers make good house dogs? You'd better believe it. Miniature rat terriers weigh in at around 15 to 18 pounds and standard ones aren't just a whole lot bigger, so you've got a fairly small animal there. They're small, but scrappy enough to not fall into the "sissy dog" category. They do require a lot of attention, however, and the male ones tend to sneak around and pee on things. So, get ready to keep an eye on that very sociable little dog.

See the miniature rat terrier in the photo to the right? That's my dog, Cobb, and he's worked out OK as a house dog.

Another search that led someone over here was "bug eyed rat terriers." That would be the toy rat terrier and I'd suggest not getting one of those. A miniature rat terrier is small enough and it doesn't look like a Chihuahua that has something vaguely wrong with it.

Actually, the search phrase "rat terrier" brought a lot of people to my page. That, of course, is because I wrote a heart-felt dedication to my beloved dog. They really are great little dogs and every good American should own one. Go get one today. You'll be glad you did.

"What did Angela Lansbury call Elvis in Blue Hawaii?"

That's easy. She called him Chadwick. I explained why all good Americans love Blue Hawaii in an earlier post, but didn't bother with that little trivia question because I figured it was common knowledge.

Come on, people ought to know Lansbury called Elvis "Chadwick" in Blue Hawaii just like they ought to know the first president of the United States was George Washington; the Beatles were John, Paul, George and Ringo; income taxes are due on April 15; and the writers of Smokey and the Bandit put the real city of Fayetteville, Ark., in the fictitious Decent County.

If for some reason you haven't seen Blue Hawaii go buy it, watch it and love it.

"Obama Arkansas"

Anyone who thinks Obama has a snowball's chance in hell of carrying Arkansas is living in a fool's paradise. Hillary Clinton might have had a chance had she won the Democratic primary because she has Arkansas ties. Sure, she hates us and regards almost all of us Arkies as uneducated white trash, but she does have some support here.

Mike Huckabee, our former governor, got whipped in the primaries, but he probably would have carried the state had he made it through the Republican primary. He wasn't much of a governor, but he is one of our own and that would have been good enough for the average voter here.

With both Hillary and Huckabee gone, there are no candidates in the election with strong ties here. And Arkansans tend to shy away from screaming liberals, which is what Obama effectively declared himself to be before suddenly sounding like a moderate in order to pick up some votes. Just count on McCain to win the Natural State. Obama's supporters in this state must love futility because they're totally wasting their time.


I love keeping an eye on what searches are bringing people here. The SEO strategy might make searches too targeted and where's the fun in that?

Look! Guns!

I shot this photo from my office near West Markham in Little Rock today.

Why? Because I think it's funny and pretty indicative of my wonderful little state of Arkansas. I just know that gun store has sparked a conversation or two. Kind of like this:

Flunkie: So, what do you want to do for lunch, The Hawg?

The Hawg: I don't know, Flunkie. Let's head over to the Waffle House and start the paperwork on a couple of revolvers afterward.

Flunkie: Aw, man. Cool!

And there's not a damn thing wrong with that, either. My favorite part about this scene is that you don't just get "guns" in that store. Oh, no. You get "GUNS!" and that's a major difference. Rock on, GUNS! store.

By the way, I took this photo by hanging out of a third-floor window at work. One of these days, they'll unlock that trapdoor leading up to the roof and I'll be able to get some great photos of Little Rock. Until then, enjoy the GUNS!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Take that, Foxworthy!

Folks, I'm one sad The Hawg tonight.

Why? It's been three weeks since I delivered the ultimate redneck joke to Jeff Foxworthy and I've not heard a peep out of the man.

Not a "that's great, The Hawg," "I've seen better jokes, The Hawg" or even a "this is awful, The Hawg." I've heard nothing. Not a thing. It's all terribly sad.

Yes, the joke got altered as detailed in this post and I was certain that my already great joke was even better. Still, no word from Foxworthy.

For the record, the altered joke is as follows:

"If you lost your virginity in a Waffle House,
you might be a redneck."

Oh, he's probably sitting around somewhere right now, cackling over all his money and saying something like, "Look at me! I'm Jeff Foxworthy! I'm all funny and I've got a little mustache."

Yeah. The punk. He's fast becoming (gasp!) my nemesis. So I went and altered a photo of that Foxworthy.

Heh, heh. That'll show him...

Introducing, Bella Beer!

As some of you know, I've been irate lately about the sale of Anheuser-Busch -- the company is selling out to Belgians and they've just lost me as a customer.

Indeed, I've been advocating the purchase of domestic beers and especially those produced by local micro breweries.

So, I've come up with my own micro brew and I'll name it after my dog, Bella. The dog, as you can see from the photo above, has a gimpy leg -- it's a sad, shriveled thing with a bit of paw attached.

Now, people who buy beers from micro breweries just love an outrageous name that may or may not describe the contents of the bottle. Yes, the more outlandish the name, the better -- you know, names like "Dead Guy," "Filthy Sot," "Stinkin' Drunk" and etc.

I'd simply call mine "Bella Beer" and sell it with that can't miss slogan -- "more hops than a three-legged dog!" It would be a heavily-hopped beer, of course, and you've got to admit you'd buy a six pack of the stuff with that kind of slogan slapped on it. Yes, the bottle would feature an illustration of the lovely Bella proudly displaying her gimpy leg and the slogan would be nice and large.

I don't want you folks feeling sorry for Bella or getting the idea that I'm making fun of her. My wife picked up Bella in an animal shelter last year because she felt bad for the pup. Bella can run and romp with the best of them and has become spoiled as can be over the past 12 months. She was born with a bad leg and has learned to cope with it very well. She chases cats, wrestles with our other dogs and is out the door like a shot when we're leaving and we indicate she can ride in the car with us. The dog sleeps cuddled up against my leg almost every night. Bella doesn't have a bad life at all.

In other words, quit thinking that The Hawg is being mean to Bella.

Bella Beer, then, would be a hit. And, it would be heavily hopped so the slogan wouldn't be the least bit misleading. We want to avoid that "Red Dog" image at all costs, right? When Red Dog was released, I was a reporter at a newspaper in Bentonville and we got this ridiculous media kit with it (multimedia and everything -- a big deal back around 1993). From the name, you'd think it was a "red" beer like Killian's Red (which was new at the time), but no -- Red Dog is just another cheap, pale beer that gives you a terrible headache if you drink too much of it. What a disappointment.

One thing that beer drinkers love is for their favorite brew to be repackaged. I've got ideas for that, too. We could release a special edition of Bella Beer by putting it in bottles that resemble moonshine jugs. The slogan would be altered to "the taste of Arkansas in every gulp!" For bonus fun, we could stick a corncob pipe in Bella's mouth.

And, here's another one. Fake a bottle from the 1800s and go with a "snake oil salesman theme." Call the stuff "Bella's Miraculous Cure-All Healing Elixir" and change the slogan to "she can walk again!" Great stuff. We'd sell tons of it.

You'll notice, of course, that I've put exclamation points after every slogan. Considering how much marketing junk gets sent my way that's filled with exclamation points, I'd say those are pretty important. So I'll play along. Boldface and italics are also important, seemingly.

All I need now is someone who has the skill to brew the beer. I also need someone to do the illustrations and design the bottles. Having people around who know about health requirements, distribution, accounting and etc. wouldn't hurt, either. Hey, I'm just the idea guy. I'll let other people handle the details.

So be sure to look for Bella Beer at a liquor store near you. Maybe. And remember -- I do have a law degree and did practice law so I'll sue the heck out of anyone who steals my idea. Be warned.

Just a couple more things. First of all, I've pointed out the box of Mike & Ike's in the above photo to illustrate that my daughter can't pick up a blasted thing. She finished the box of candy and just threw it on the ground. There's a lesson here -- if you have two able children, hiring a cleaning service only spoils them.

Second, I'm getting this post out of the way now because I've got a real knee-slapper planned for later. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tag -- I'm it?

It seems that Sara over at News from NOLA has decided that I, The Hawg, am worthy of being tagged.

This is my first tag ever and, as such, I'm more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Well, not really.

However, I have been trying to figure out what to come up with as my challenge from Sara is to come up with seven facts about me that people don't know. So, after taking a hard look at myself, I've decided to come up with the fun stuff rather than the "mind your own damned business" items.

Well, perhaps "fun stuff" is a subjective term. I think these are fun items, anyway. Here goes:

1. I have a relative who fought in the War Between the States. Yes, it's true. That particular relative was from south Arkansas, so do you want to guess whether he was a Confederate or a no-account Yankee? Yep. You guessed it.

Here's a fun fact about my great-great-grandfather -- he was single-handedly responsible for losing Arkansas to the invaders! Well, not really. But he did keep the rifle he used in the war and that was passed on to my great-grandfather. Now, my great-grandfather's wife was a little bit off in the head and she hated guns. So she buried that rifle somewhere on my great-grandfather's farm. That farm is still in the family (my father owns a piece of it) and that bit of War Between the States history is lost somewhere on it.

2. I was in a band in college. Yes, indeed! We were first the Jumpin' Jehoshaphats and then the Wacky Savages after the guitarist left in a huff because he got in a fight with the bassist (our bassist thought that beer bottle solos, while novel, weren't worthy of a band that was trying to be somewhat serious).

My job was to write lyrics and sing while our stalwart bassist wrote the music. After awhile, it was my job to write lyrics, play sloppy rhythm guitar and sing. Sadly, the guitar was kind of put up after I went to law school as I barely had time to breathe, much less play guitar.

The Wacky Savages name, by the way, came from one of those cheap tabloids that were always lined up at checkout lines at supermarkets. There was an article in one of them about the "Elvis Tribe" and it was illustrated with a photo of a bunch of native types lined up in their grass skirts and Elvis wigs. The caption read, "Wacky savages sing and dance like the King." Being a major Elvis fan, how could I resist?

Our favorite songs to play were "Nazi Girl" (which I wrote in five minutes in a parking lot while waiting for a friend to emerge from his dorm so we could go to dinner) and "My Friend Rashid" (which was all about a terrorist who came to a nasty end). We were a bunch of tongue-in-cheek kids who listened to the Sex Pistols and the Ramones too much, and our music sounded like it. Fun times.

3. I used to pack heat. Back in my lawyering days, I had a couple of clients call up and threaten to beat me up over various things. One of these fellows called me at 2 a.m. on a weekend and he was upset because he was going through a divorce and his wife wouldn't let him pick up their kids for visitation (he showed up at her house drunk). The other was a meth dealer who loved to sample his product. Yes, I represented some real winners, kids.

So, I had a Charter Arms .44 Bulldog in my desk drawer. Those were crazy times, indeed, and I even went so far as to purchase bullets with very soft, hollow points so they wouldn't blast through a wall and kill my secretary if I had to pull my gun on some crazy client. I never had to pull the gun and I'm grateful for that.

Who out there thinks that all sounds insane? It's OK to admit it because it sure sounds insane to me these days.

I don't own any pistols anymore, by the way. I wound up pawning them for rent back in my lawyering days because a lot of my clients weren't the most responsible when it came to paying bills. I never replaced them.

4. I avoid weddings like the plague. I've only used one legitimate excuse to get out of a wedding and that was last year. I hate going to weddings and generally only attend if I'm in them or if a good friend is getting married. If it's a casual acquaintance or one of those weddings I should attend for "social reasons," I'll weasel out almost every time. Here are just a few excuses I've used:

a) My aunt died

b) It snowed last night and I might kill myself driving to the church

c) My brother is very upset because of something our mother said and I must rush to his aid

d) I hate your fiance and think you're an idiot for marrying her (that one was an honest reason for not attending, actually)

e) That wedding is in a Baptist church and I've been banned (not too far from the truth -- I was raised Baptist and turned Methodist a few years ago)

5. Life has made my cynical, but not toward my wife and kids. It's important to point that out as my wife, son and daughter keep me grounded very well. My wife is the most patient woman in the world and our children are just brimming with possibilities. If I can help them live up to those possibilities, then I've done my job as a father and will be proud of the job I've done.

That doesn't mean I won't reserve the right to use my grandchildren to torture my children. Kind of like this -- "Hey (granchild's name), I'll give you $20 to run through your mom's house screaming and I'll kick in an extra $15 if you're naked while you're doing it." Heh, heh.

6. I may be grown up, but I still follow my Benton Panthers. My father and I still go to almost every one of our alma mater's home games. I'm a third generation Benton, Ark., resident and high school football Friday night is still important to me.

The best thing of all, of course, is spending some time with my father. That bond is very important to me and the contentious relationship I had with my dad while I was growing up has blossomed into a warm friendship of sorts. So, go Panthers and yay dad!

7. Have you played Atari today? Yes, I'm one of those fellows who never got rid of his Atari 2600. I've got an Atari and about 200 games for it. I grew up playing that thing and I still love it. Yeah, I've got a Nintendo Wii, original Nintendo NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sega Dreamcast, Atari Lynx, Sony Playstation, Atari 7800 and a couple of other systems here and there. But I still love that old Atari. For my money, gaming never got any better than that.

It's just too bad my ColecoVision blew up a few years ago.

So, that's about it. I've rambled enough so I should address the other part of this "tagging" thing. It is my role to link back to the person who invited me (I've done that) and to invite seven other bloggers to join in the fun by either sending them e-mails or posting on their blogs. I'm picking some folks who I think have fascinating blogs and people I didn't select for the Kick Ass Blogger award (I want to spread the love around, dig?) So, I'm inviting the following seven and I'm asking them to link back to me after they post their stuff. I'm also going to ask them not to write nasty comments over here after receiving the "tag" notice. Here they are:

1. The Mad Celt from Musings of a Mad Celt. I'm interested to see what this cat will come up with as he is extremely interesting.

2. The Acorn King. The Acorn King is an absolute hoot and I'd love to learn more about him.

3. Lala over at Coastal Commentaries. That's my little way of saying "thanks" for bestowing the Kick Ass Blogger award upon me. Besides, she'll come up with something nifty, I'm certain.

4. Lot 2 learn over at Time to Go Outside. I swear this fellow is an Arkie at heart.

5. Rutgerskevin at The Red Stapler Chronicles. Partially because I find that blog intriguing, partially because I feel guilty I haven't spent more time over there.

*UPDATE* Well, it would appear that Ruterskevin did one of these months ago (in my defense, that was well before my time). So there's no need for duplication, is there? To see a list of his 10 little known facts, head right here.

6. Craftymug at Crafty Cross Stitch. My mother-in-law likes cross stitch. I like my mother-in-law (I honestly do!) Therefore, I like this blog. So, join in the fun, Craftymug!

7. Ms. Orange at Orange Derange. What on earth drives Ms. Orange? I'd like to know and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Why the Edwards affair does matter

I've heard quite a bit over the past couple of days from apologists claiming the John Edwards affair doesn't matter one whit.

"We've got a lot of problems in this county," the apologists argue. "What does it matter if John Edwards is having an affair on his wife? This story is distracting people from what's really important. Besides, all politicians do that."

I can't go along with that at all. One of the main problems we have in this nation is that we put the type of people in power who are sleazy enough to cheat on their spouses and think they can get away with it. That nasty Edwards character got very close to being the vice president back in 2004 and had at least a decent shot at being the Democratic nominee for president this year. We don't need someone like that getting so close to the most powerful office in the nation.

Here's what I mean. Instead of looking after his family and taking care of his wife of 30 years -- a cancer survivor, by the way -- Edwards was out diddling around with another woman. A man who does such a thing is a self-centered creep. If he can't do right by his own wife and family, how the hell can we expect him to be a true public servant and put what's good for the country ahead of what's good for him?

The very fact that we put up with this kind of nonsense is ridiculous. This country deserves to be led by the best and the brightest -- men and women of character who refrain from the base temptations that surround public officials. The self-centered creeps of the world are exactly the types who bow to pressure from special interests and sell the public down the river if they can make a buck or gain some benefit from it.

The "all politicians are doing it" argument just doesn't cut it anymore. If all politicians are sleazy jerks that even their own spouses can't trust, then we need to toss them out of office and replace them with people who will serve the public honorably.

Whenever the issue of adultery comes up, I can't help but think of Bill Clinton and that whole impeachment mess. One of the crusaders out to get Clinton was a Republican senator from Arkansas by the name of Tim Hutchinson.

Hutchinson wielded his "family values" like a club as he harped on Clinton's affair and made political hay out of the whole thing. The only problem with all that was that Hutchinson may have been up to the same kind of nonsense as the alley cat president he was trying to ruin. Shortly after the whole mess was over, Hutchinson announced he was divorcing his wife and marrying a congressional aide.

A friend of mine worked in Hutchinson's office back then and I asked him what he was going to do. He said he was going to find another job because the good folks of Arkansas would burn Hutchinson at the stake for what he'd done. And my friend was right -- my fellow Arkansans tossed Hutchinson out of office on his ear in 2002 and that Senate seat has belonged to Democrat Mark Pryor since.

Hutchinson got what he deserved. Make no mistake about that. He let down his family, party and state with his shenanigans and has been branded as untrustworthy since that whole episode. And why? Because his very actions suggest that he might well betray the public's trust if doing so would benefit him personally.

Truth be told, anyone who is self-centered enough to cheat on a spouse is not to be trusted. All those cheating liars ought to be tossed out of office and anyone who defends their escapades should be ashamed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bella and the kitten

Here's a picture my wife, Marci, took that I think is a hoot.

Look closely and you'll notice a couple of things. First of all, you'll see part of Marci's knee captured in the photo. I could have cropped it out, but what's the fun in that? Second, you'll see that our living room carpet needs to have a vacuum cleaner run over it. We had in-laws at the house all weekend, so we can't really be blamed for that.

Third, you'll notice Bella the dog interacting with a kitten. Why is that significant? Our powerful, three-legged dog (she was born that way) has been terribly afraid of the kittens until just today. She could swallow them in one bite, but the dog has actually run from the kittens since we brought them out of the intense heat and into the house a couple of weeks ago.

The kittens, by the way, are four weeks old and are the same ones that prompted me to dream up a brilliant marketing plan for not long ago (in short, I wanted to give a free case of beer away with every kitten). We originally had five kittens, but three of them died due to some terrible problems with an umbilical cord I won't get into right now.

At any rate, I'm glad our dachshund/black lab mix has gotten over her fear of kittens. Good for Bella!

The Hawg's greatness is recognized!

So, there I was. Eating a bowl of Corn Flakes and messing around with this blogging stuff on that whiz-bang invention all the kids are just wild about, the Internet.

And that's when it happened. I got a message from Lala over at Coastal Commentaries informing me that I, The Hawg, had been presented with the Kick Ass Blogger award!

How thrilled was I? Very thrilled, indeed! Lala is one of my favorite bloggers and the fact that she thinks well of my little scribbles warms my heart. If you haven't checked out her blog, you really should. If you visit once, I'm sure you'll become a regular.

Lala, by the way, has plenty of ties to this wonderful little state of Arkansas. While most Arkansans are great people, she's actually a bit greater than most.

Speaking of great, let's get back to my award. My great award. My great "Kick Ass Blogger" award. Heh, heh! I was so happy to receive it I felt just like Bender Rodriguez, the robot from Futurama who constantly crows about how great he is.

You know how Bender is -- "Bender is great! Oh, Bender is great! Bender, Bender, Bender!" If you want to hear a quick sample of Bender's greatness at work, click right here.

Heh. And if my wife thought I was hard enough to live with already...

At any rate, I'm thrilled to accept this award and join the ranks of the Kick Ass Bloggers out there. I've put the award in my sidebar for at least two reasons. First of all, I want to show it off and brag about it a little bit. Second, if you click on that award, you can go straight to the page on MammaDawg's blog that explains the origins of the award and lists all that have received it.

Yes, this recovering attorney and current public relations cat is grateful that his greatness has been recognized. I didn't get to exercise much creativity as a lawyer and I sure as hell don't get to in the public relations world, so my blog serves as the only place I can cut lose and try to do something interesting. I appreciate, then, both the award and the attention.

Of course, it's my task to pass on this award to five dandy bloggers. So, I'll do that right now.

1. JD over at I do Things so You Don't Have To. I almost hate to read this blog because JD is a heck of a lot funnier than I am and she's got one of the most brilliant concepts on the planet. Yes, the title says it all -- she does things so you don't have to and writes about them. Want to get details on what goes on during a colonoscopy, read about nude beaches or find detailed reviews on movie trailers? This hilarious little blog is the place to be.

2. The Crotchety Old Man over at Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars. Yes, he bills himself as "The Crotchety Old Man, standing on the corner; yelling at cars." Who could resist that? I sure can't and I visit often. Yes, the Crotchety Old Man likes to rant and he does it well. He's another blogger that's funner than me, but I like him in spite of all that.

3. Willy over at Hillbilly Willy. Here's an Arkansas boy who comments on politics, hawks his recipe books and has a dandy time. Think conservatives don't have a sense of humor? You haven't met Willy yet. 10-4, Willy!

4. Theresa over at A Bumpy Path. Very astute observations and commentary from another Arkansan. Did you know she was a singer in a band once and is highly educated and articulate? Although Theresa is technically a carpetbagger in these parts, she's proud to call Arkansas home and she does her adopted state proud. Very entertaining blog and one of those on The Hawg's "must see" list. Put it on your "essential" list, too!

5. Jerry over at As The Crackerhead Crumbles. A religious blog with a lot of goodies thrown in, to boot. This cat has been at it for some time now and is always insightful and entertaining. He'll make you think, for sure, and he routinely posts lists of other great sites in the blogosphere, too. Check it out!

Well, that's about it. Thanks, again, to Lala for bestowing this dandy award upon me. And I hope all the bloggers I've chose to receive this dandy award appreciate it as much as I do. Oh, and there's an added bonus for all of your new members of the Kick Ass Blogger Club --you are offered lifetime membership at The MOM and DAD Bloggerhood. You must be a blogging Dad or Mum to Qualify.

So, kids, check out those awesomely awesome blogs I've sent this award to and enjoy their, err, awesomeness.