Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Hawg's cat naming skills are rendered useless

Everybody have a look -- it's Gizmo the kitten pretending to be dog food.

I prattled on once upon a time about how I, The Hawg, am an expert at naming cats. However, I wasn't the one that decided to name the kitten.

My attempts at naming said kitten were rejected by my wife. Ah, it's a shame to not have your brilliance recognized in your own home.

Alas, that's how these things go.

By the way, I've noticed that one of my favorite bloggers -- The Crotchety Old Man -- routinely refers to his wife as Mrs. Crotchety. I do believe I'd get hit (and hard!) if I called my wife Mrs. The Hawg. She's ex-Army and I've learned over the years not to push her too hard.

At any rate, it's a crying damned shame that I was denied the right to name young Gizmo.

You will notice that she's sporting some unusual markings and colors. She's one of the kittens born a few months ago to our cat, The Cheat (a cat I did name and she's better off for it). At one point, I had decided to try to give those kittens away by giving away a free case of beer to anyone who took one of the critters.

If you click the "free beer" link you'll to a post of mine in which a very young Gizmo is on her back and yawning. We'll put it in her baby book or something. We decided to keep Gizmo because she is so uniquely colored and marked -- obviously the cross between our orange tabby and some rogue, gray and black tabby that's slinking around the neighborhood.

The Hawg finally gets a page rank

I've been blogging for a little over two months now and have gotten my first page rank. Yes, according to this Google PageRank checker, this little blog has a page rank of 3 (0 is lowest and 10 is highest). The Alexa ranking, as of today, is #124,412.

That's not too bad, considering my blog hasn't been around that long and I've ignored virtually all of that "drive traffic to your site" advice I've seen here and there. I stick with Entrecard, Digg and BlogCatalog and that's pretty much it as far as marketing goes.

That's all worked out pretty well, I think.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Wacky Savages!

Back in college I was like a heck of a lot of students in that I was in a band and I've linked to a couple of MP3s near the end of this post to prove it.

Yes, we were the Wacky Savages. Where did we get our name? The bassist -- Cree Swaim -- and I saw one of those cheap supermarket tabloids and it featured a story about "The Elvis Tribe." That alleged tribe was full of people who were just crazy about The King and featured a photo of a bunch of natives wearing grass skirts and Elvis wigs.

The caption on the photo said, "Wacky savages sing and dance like The King." Since I've long nurtured a bit of an Elvis obsession, that pretty well did it for us.

We typically played around campus and even knocked out the power at a dorm party -- that featured a lot of bands -- because we insisted on turning up our amplifiers all the way for the sheer hell of it. We played an off-campus party once and got an offer to play at some kind of festival held at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Since we we attended Hendrix College in Conway, a trip all the way to northwest Arkansas to play at an outdoors show where a lot of people were present sounded like a hell of a deal. Sadly, that all fell apart because a couple of band members quit on us.

We drafted some more folks and wound up at Crystal Studios in Bryant, Ark. in January 1991. Our lineup at the time was Cree (bass), my brother Zack on drums (he was 15-years-old at the time), a lead guitarist who was so cool that we just called him The Jay and me on vocals and fairly basic rhythm guitar (my beautiful Fender Telecaster running through a Fender Twin Reverb amp that I borrowed from a friend of mine).

Yesterday, Cree sent me the tracks we recorded. I've had them on tape for years, but he went and converted them to MP3s and I've included them here. So, click here to hear "My Friend Rashid" and here to listen to "Nazi Girl." I really doubt I could coax my 39-year-old voice into doing that anymore.

Those two songs are a lot of fun because we didn't take a damned thing seriously -- I wrote the lyrics, Cree composed all the music and we just had fun.

I appreciated getting these yesterday because, earlier in the day, a friend of mine said, "You know, it's ridiculous that we're this old." Both of us are pushing 40-years-old, so I enjoyed hearing something that I took part in when I was a mere 21-years-old, less cynical and very excited about the future.

By the way, some folks at my office heard this and said I sounded like Fred Schneider of the B-52s. Phooey. Actually, I was trying to sound like John Lydon (Johnny Rotten when he was with the Sex Pistols).

To prove my point, I've included a video of Lydon singing "Public Image" with the band he formed after the Sex Pistols deteriorated, Public Image Limited. The influence seems pretty clear to me.

The Hawg is sick as a dawg?

I haven't been as active around Entrecard or anything lately as I've taken ill and spend most of my time either at work or sleeping. I've got ulcerative colitis that flared up a couple of months ago and, as such, my colon pretty well bleeds constantly right now.

It sucks and leaves me tired. If I've not been returning Entrecard drops as much, it's because everything has been well nigh intolerable over the past couple of days. I'll be getting some tests run next week, so I hope to be back to normal before long. My doctor is confident he can get the colitis in remission, so I'll trust he's right.

Meanwhile, I'm certainly not trying to slight anyone by visiting blogs as often as I'd like. When you're sleeping about 10 hours a day, working eight hours and spending about an hour in a car while commuting, that tends to cut into time to do things you'd like. So, please be patient. I hope to be back up to speed soon.

Arkansas needs another Say McIntosh

Robert "Say" McIntosh provided a hell of a lot of entertainment to those of us growing up in the Little Rock area.

He reached his prime in the 1980s and was always doing all sorts of wacky crap, much to the delight of the media and the average cat who enjoyed his endless shenanigans.

Who was McIntosh? He was a political gadfly, rabble-rouser and loudmouth who took swipes at his targets in some of the more sensational ways imaginable.

He wasn't your boring, run of the mill activist, either. You never saw McIntosh engage in the thick-headed art of simply bringing a lot of people together to wave signs and gripe about what the Republicans were up to and he never sought to surround himself with a crowd of like-minded followers so that he enjoyed a certain amount of anonymity.

No, McIntosh hogged all the attention for himself and often attacked targets that damn well deserved it. He absolutely hated Bill Clinton and delighted in ridiculing the governor for his sexual misconduct -- more than a few fliers were circulated in which Clinton was accused by McIntosh of fathering a black kid with a prostitute and not taking responsibility for it.

He also punched Ralph Forbes on camera at least once. Forbes was a despicable former member of the American Nazi Party that tended to run for office from time to time. He deserved to be slugged in the face by almost everyone in Arkansas, but McIntosh actually had the guts to do it.

Ah, but McIntosh did a lot more than slug political pests. He once tied himself to a cross on the lawn of the Capitol Building in Little Rock and almost died of heat stroke -- crucifying yourself in the middle of an Arkansas summer is a terrible idea. He riled a heck of a lot of people in the state in 1989 when he decided to exercise his right to burn a flag on the Capitol Building lawn.

He tried burning that flag twice and was stopped by enraged citizens both times. He finally did burn his flag on a fishing pole outside of the Arkansas Democrat building on a Saturday. I was an intern reporter for the Democrat back then and got to write the story on that one.

I ran across McIntosh quite a bit in those days, usually when he was out sticking his anti-Clinton and/or anti-racism fliers on cars in the downtown area. He had a restaurant and I, like many people who disliked Clinton, would pick up a sweet potato pie every now and again because we knew the revenue raised from those things would be used to harass Bill.

Sadly, McIntosh is gone now and there's virtually no individual left who goes out of the way to irritate state politicians. McIntosh's tactics may have been extreme and I disagreed with him more often than not, but he at least kept things interesting. He picked on Democrats, Republicans and independents, so he was an equal opportunity gadfly.

Another reason to dislike Bush

I swore I'd stay away from politics, but there are times when I just can't help it. I watched a Republican president on television the other night advocating socialism and the whole thing makes me sick.

While George W. Bush was giving his idiotic speech on Wednesday, I could hear the great Ronald Reagan rolling in his grave in the background. Bush, of course, was talking about a proposed $700 billion bailout for banks that are struggling in the wake of the foreclosure mess.

During his sissified speech, the moron said that the free market isn't working and that government intervention is necessary to rescue financial institutions. Perhaps the man is just too stupid to realize that Republicans ought to resist nationalizing a large chunk of the nation's economy.

That's particularly true when the government shares a lot of the blame for the foreclosure mess. Why? The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, pushed for by Jimmy Carter, set up a system through which banks were strong armed into giving out mortgages to people who probably shouldn't have had them.

Clinton expanded that act and that lunkhead Bush authorized the very subprime mortgages that have caused a lot of trouble. I can understand Carter and Clinton willfully meddling with the free market, but I'm stunned that a Republican would play the "me too!" game.

So, Bush is advocating letting the same government that caused this mess burn $700 billion of our money to fix it. That's like putting the lion who escaped his cage at the zoo in charge of repairing it. What a bunch of crap.

And, it's probably going to get worse. Remember that bankruptcy reform package that Bush signed shortly after getting into office? Clinton wisely vetoed that garbage, but Bush signed that nonsense -- a bill that was bought and paid for by the credit card industry.

Yes, that's the credit card industry that thinks it's a great idea to give ridiculous amounts of credit to high school and college kids who don't have jobs. It's harder to discharge that debt in bankruptcy now, so guess what? Are we looking at a crisis in the credit card industry on the horizon? Will the feds bail them out, too?

Bush is a damned disaster. If Barack Obama winds up in office (God forbid!), we've got Bush to blame. You suck, Bush. Your father wasn't worth a damn, either.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday -- "White Girl" by X

For my money, X was one of the greatest bands of the 1980s but was recognized as such by only a select few.

Yes, D.J. Bonebrake (drums) Exene Cervenka (wailing vocals), John Doe (bass and vocals) and Billy Zoom (amazingly awesome guitar) never got the credit they deserved.

So, here's a video of them recording one of their best songs. And, yes, that is former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek running the board -- he produced a couple of albums for X.

Stop thinking of X as just another punk band, now. X was an incredibly good rock and roll band, period.

Turn those speakers up loud and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"We 'heart' you, The Hawg!"

It's official -- there are plenty of people roaming around who just heart the heck out of my blog.

A few weeks, ago, Maria over at Lifes' sweets and spices presented me the I Heart Your Blog award. I passed it on and it's come back to me.

First, Sherry Martschink at "Ex" Marks the Spot sent me the I Heart Your Blog award on Sept. 15. I consider that quite the honor, seeing how Ms. Martschink sports an impressive resume -- a former state representative and senator in South Carolina? A former worker's compensation commissioner and local school board member?

And she's chosen to heart my blog. Thank you, Sherry! I'm truly honored.

A week later, Karen over at Winding Threads also sent me the I Heart Your Blog award. She and her husband have run a business for over 30 years, yet she still has time to put together a pretty good blog.

So, I have been honored by two fantastic ladies and I appreciate them both for tossing a little acknowledgement my way.

That's three I Heart Your Blog awards in the space of a month. Hot dog!

Well, actually I got four of these things -- that smart alecky Lyndon over at Lyndonology accepted a I Heart Your Blog from me and then sent it right back on Sept. 6. Keep reading, Lydon because I've got a little surprise for you -- want to guess what it is?

At any rate, I've got two I Heart Your Blog awards to pass on to other bloggers. Yes, there are always strings attached to these things, and here are the requirements I must follow:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog;
2. Link the person you received your award from;
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs;
4. Put links of those blogs on yours; and
5. Leave a message on the blogs that you’ve nominated.

So, here are the eight bloggers (in no particular order) that are the proud (I hope!) recipients of the I Heart Your Blog award:

1. Lyndon over at Lyndonology! Let's see if we get an award-giving loop going, shall we? If you haven't visited Lyndonology yet, you owe it to yourself to do that. Don't ask why -- just head right on over there. You won't regret it.

2. Fwagglechop over at Fwaggle. Here's another fine one to visit -- yes I do enjoy those blogs full of random observations and this one never gets dull.

3. Athena over at Hot Child in the Suburbs. Anyone who modifies the lyrics to Nick Gilder's "Hot Child in the City" and names a blog after it is OK by me. Athena runs one of those blogs that you just want to check regularly to see what she's up to next. Fun stuff.

4. Deb over at MamaFlo's Place. I've only been blogging for a couple of months, and Deb was one of the first people to encourage me. I appreciate that and her blog is dandy fun.

5. Kathy Frederick over at The Junk Drawer. If you haven't visited Kathy's site, you're missing out as she's an absolute hoot.

6. The Goofblogger. Here's another blogger who encouraged me when I was just starting out, and he runs a highly unusual and entertaining "make money" blog.

7. Tata over at I'm Beautiful Like Me. Here's one I ran across just a few weeks ago. Of course, you've got a lot of random observations and a ton of blogging tips. Give it a look.

8. Ms. O.D. over at Orange Derange. Here's one that's quite often a hoot. Here's hoping she posts more regularly, though (hint, hint).

Rush out and visit every single one of them!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yeah, I still dig that Atari

Back around 1980, I felt like a jerk because most of my friends had an Atari VCS (later called the Atari 2600) and what did I get for Christmas?

One of those blasted Pong-like things from Radio Shack that was black and white, plugged into a television set and featured about seven games -- a lot of Pong variations and a shooting game in which the built-in gun attachment was used to blast at a square bouncing around the screen. Yes, I was certainly thrilled with that thing.

By the way, if you don't know what Pong is, read up on it right here. I insist. Really. If you don't know what Pong is, your knowledge of American pop culture is sadly incomplete.

So, there I was -- stuck with a blasted Pong thing while virtually all of my friends had an Atari 2600 (one fellow had a Magnavox Odyssey 2, but he was certainly in the minority). Smug bastards.

After listening to me gripe and moan about not having at Atari for a year, my folks did what parents tend to do -- they broke down and bought me an Atari 2600 so I'd shut up about it and they could get some peace and quiet. I've used that same advanced parenting technique on my kids over the years. Works like a charm.

Anyway, my first Atari came complete with the wonderfully awesome Combat (plane and tank battles for two players) and my parents through in an Asteroids cartridge, to boot. Over the years, I've collected over 200 games for that old Atari and still pull out the old system from time to time.

Why on earth would I do that when I've got consoles from every generation since the Atari around here? Eight-bit Nintendo Entertainment system? Got it and it's a coveted top loader, no less. Got a 16-bit Sega Genesis, 32-bit Playstation, a Nintendo 64 and both the Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo Game Cube from the 128-bit generation. We even bought a Nintendo Wii this year, but none of those newer consoles come close to the old Atari 2600.

At any rate, why? Because the old 2600 represents simple, "pick up and play" gaming at its finest. See that little photo at the top of this post? That's from Adventure, a game in which you are represented by a square block and your job is to run around slaying dragons with a sword that looks like an arrow symbol while trying to find an enchanted chalice.

I got that game because my mom said she'd buy it if I read a copy of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. Getting Atari games back then often required a bunch of work, see? I spent the summer of 1983 collecting a bunch of Kool-Aid points so I could get a free copy of M-Network's Kool-Aid Man (after drinking gallons of that sugary stuff, I've not been as enthusiastic about it since) and my parents could promise Atari games to encourage me to pay attention in school, do chores and whatever else I didn't want to do.

Yes, there were some bum games for that system such as the worst version of Pac-Man in the world and that horrible E.T. game that was so bad that it helped lead to the Atari's ruin. Most games, however, were simple and addictive and some great versions of the arcade hits of the day were ported to the Atari.

I may have gotten my first computer in1982 (a TRS-80 Color Computer) and my second one in 1983 (an IBM-PC complete with DOS 1.1), but I still loved that Atari and actually loved picking up games in for around $5 in 1985 and 1986. When I was in college, I had an Apple //e still spent a lot of time poking through flea markets and pawn shops for cheap Atari games and learned that there are few things more fun than Pele's Soccer, a room full of friends and plenty of beer.

Believe it or not, there are still people making games for the old Atari. Yes, the homebrew scene is very active and there are a lot of titles for sale at the AtariAge Store (that's a temporary link, but the full store should be back up soon -- AtariAge is a great resource for people interested in old Atari stuff, anyway).

For those wanting to rediscover (or discover) the joys of Atari, here's some advice. First of all, pick up an Atari 7800 if you can find it -- that one is backward compatible with the 2600 and some of the best arcade ports were made for it (Ms. Pac-Man, Food Fight and Galaga are particularly great). A good rule of thumb is that if a game is made by Activision, it's probably great. To steer clear of the rotten games, check for reviews on the Internet -- The Video Game Critic is a particularly great site, as is the Atari Times.

If you want to really geek it up, visit the forums on the aforementioned AtariAge as the folks over there can answer most questions you'll have. If anyone tries to convince you that the Atari Jaguar is a worthwhile purchase, however, don't listen. That system is a dog and most of the decent games for it were ported to the far superior Playstation 1, anyway.

By the way, a lot of those cheesy television and comic book ads for the 2600 were a hoot. Here's one for Activision's Megamania that features the Tubes. Ah, how I miss the 1980s. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's really hard to root against New Orleans

One of my favorite bloggers, Sara from News from NOLA, left me a comment after the Denver-New Orleans game congratulating me on the Broncos' victory.

I appreciated that, just as I appreciated watching the mighty Broncos get a 3-0 start on the season by pulling off another nail biter (they won 34-32 and the game pretty well went down to the wire). However, here's the problem -- it's just hard to root too hard against the Saints and I've felt that way since Hurricane Katrina came close to wiping that city off the map three years ago.

I like that city and respect the toughness of people like Sara who have remained there and have rebuilt. I'm as rabid a Broncos fan as you'll find, but it's almost impossible to work up the requisite dislike for the opponent when Denver is playing New Orleans.

Oh well.

Some of the highlights of the game were watching the continued maturation of quarterback Jay Cutler. We Arkansans know how good of a quarterback Cutler is -- he helped the Vanderbilt Commodores sneak past the Arkansas Razorbacks not that long ago. It's good to see him playing -- and doing well -- for a team I like.

Yes, Cutler did manage to throw an interception at about the worst time and give New Orleans a solid shot at pulling ahead of the Broncos, but the young quarterback also threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He spent most of the day throwing at Brandon Marshall, who caught 5 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown.

Sure, he made a mistake or two and struggles with running the ball, but I'm sure all of us Denver fans are hoping he'll emerge as the quarterback the Broncos have needed since the great John Elway retired.

It was also encouraging to watch a former Arkansas Razorback, rookie Peyton Hillis, make a little noise -- he returned to kickoffs for a total of 47 yards.

By the way, Denver should really trot out those orange home jerseys more often. It reminds me of how the team looked when I was a kid. Orange Crush forever, baby!

Meanwhile, the Saints are 1-2, but I can't imagine that will last for long. Quarterback Drew Brees was solid, passing for 421 yards and a touchdown. Running back Reggie Bush rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown and received for 75 yards and a touchdown.

New Orleans can score -- there's no doubt about that. That team ought to do well this year and I'm cheering for them.

Unless they play Denver, of course.


The primary components of the backfield that set all kinds of records for Arkansas last year is still performing well in the NFL. This weak, Dallas running back Felix Jones rushed for 60 years and scored a touchdown as the Cowboys beat the Green Bay Packers 27-16.

Another rookie, Darren McFadden, was quieter than normal this week -- only rushing for 42 yards on 14 carries for Oakland as the Raiders lost to the Buffalo Bills, 24-23. Maybe the Raiders should have gotten the ball to McFadden a few more times. But, I'm biased.

It's too bad Jones and McFadden chose to leave Arkansas early and enter the NFL draft. The struggling Hogs sure could use those two right now.