Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Golden Boot

I was reading this post earlier today over at Paul's Health Blog.

Yes, it seems Paul was excited that his beloved East Carolina Pirates were playing in the Conference USA championship against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (yes, we know how fierce those hurricanes are in landlocked states like Oklahoma, don't we?) Paul must really be excited because his team won, 27-24, and is headed for the Liberty Bowl.

Good for them. There's an East Carolina connection in that Skip Holtz is the head coach. He's the son of Lou Holtz, a man who had some success here in Arkansas as the head coach of the Razorbacks and even more success at Notre Dame. There's an Arkansas connection at Tulsa, too -- Gus Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for a season before Houston Nutt and his flunkies ran him out of the state.

Malzahn, of course, is in his second year as an offensive coordinator over at Tulsa and has been doing relatively well. Apparently, we didn't send Nutt and his sideshow packing to Ole Miss early enough.

At any rate, there's not a whole lot we Razorbacks fans can do these days but follow teams with Arkansas connections and hope they do well. The Razorbacks, after a miserable 5-7 season (2-6 in the SEC), are going nowhere. We're also hoping the rumors that our head coach, Bobby Petrino, won't be heading off to Auburn to take the open job over there.

I won't dwell on the whole Auburn rumor as we seem to get pounded with such talk at the end of every season.

At any rate, at least Arkansas won the Golden Boot this year. What's the Golden Boot? It's the trophy awarded every year to the winner of the Arkansas-LSU game. The trophy was first awarded in 1996 in an attempt to manufacture a rivalry for Arkansas (I'll talk about that in a bit).

Arkansas and LSU play the day after Thanksgiving every year and, for the second year in a row, Arkansas won that game. So, the Golden Boot is something, I suppose. It's also worth mentioning that the team improved consistently throughout the year, so it appears everything will be fine with Bobby Petrino at the helm. This was his first year and Nutt didn't leave him with much to work with, sadly.

Now, I mentioned something about manufacturing a rivalry. Let me explain. In 1991, Arkansas left the old Southwest Conference and joined the SEC. Regardless of what anyone says, the SEC has been a terrible fit for Arkansas since the day the Hogs joined.

The main problem, of course, is that Arkansas isn't exactly in the Southeastern part of the country. Go ahead and take a look at a map and you'll find something fascinating -- every team in the SEC is east of the Mississippi River with the glaring exception of Arkansas.

Actually, this is Big 12 Conference territory and I don't care what anyone says. We've got more in common with Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas than we've ever had with the likes of Alabama, Georgia and Florida and ought to be competing for recruits in our region of the country.

Besides, Arkansas had a rivalry with Texas for years and a lot of fans still nurse a lingering hatred for the Longhorns (I'm odd in that I've always respected that team -- I've got a lot of kin in Texas, so perhaps that explains it).

Arkansas hasn't had a good rivalry since leaving the Southwest Conference and losing that guaranteed, annual game with Texas. It looks like the Hogs are in the SEC for better or worse, of course. Besides, we may be revamping a long-dormant rivalry with Ole Miss.

That is an historical rivalry that both schools kind of put an end to after too many fights were breaking out during the annual game between the two teams. Ole Miss has our old coach now, so perhaps our statewide hatred of Nutt will transfer to the team.

Meanwhile, I figure we'll still be playing for that Golden Boot annually.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Two parades and a lawyer joke

Over the past week, I've been to two Christmas parades here in Saline County, Ark., and we didn't get any decent pictures of them at all.

The one I posted here is grainy but it's not half bad. I took it with the new cell phone I got after I smashed my old one. I'll mention more about my daughter's photo in a bit.

On Monday, we had the annual Christmas parade here in Benton. That was great fun and, like every year, I came close to freezing to death before it was over. Watching Santa Claus waving to the crowd from a fire engine is always a thrill, and the classic cars in the parade were fantastic (I can't figure out why a brand new Ford F-150 came right after a 1967 Pontiac Firebird, however).

Sadly, my daughter wasn't in that one, but she was in the parade in Bryant. Yes, this year marked the first for the Bryant parade and my daughter's Brownie troop was in that one. They were dressed up as cookies and young Brenda had the privilege of portraying the superior lemon cookie.

The girls rode in a trailer and spent all night chanting before launching into Christmas carols.

Are we proud to be Girl Scouts?
Yes we are!
Are you going to buy some cookies?
Yes you are!

Great stuff. Yes, cookie sales start next month and my daughter is excited. I didn't have much to do with cookie sales last time around and I probably won't this year, either. In fact, I do believe I've been pretty well prohibited from giving her any advice at all when it comes to selling anything.

Why? Young Brenda had to sell nuts and candy this fall and I had a brilliant marketing scheme worked out for her. I was going to have her knock on doors and say, "My daddy says if I don't sell more stuff, I won't get a Christmas."

Who could resist that pitch? My wife told me I was terrible.

So my wife forgot her camera for the Benton parade and the batteries went dead for the Bryant one. Thank goodness for the rotten little camera on my new (and equally rotten) cell phone, I suppose.

A lawyer joke

It appears that winter has finally reached Arkansas. I hate winter because I wind up doing things like freezing during parades. It it gets much below 50 degrees, I tend to want to just stay indoors. I'm Southern and, as such, hot and humid summers don't phase me but I can't stand cold weather.

I've got the perfect lawyer joke and I'll share that with you good folks right now. Here it goes:

The Hawg: It's cold out there.

You: How cold is it?

The Hawg: So cold that I went uptown and the lawyers had their hands in their own pockets!

Go tell that one to your friends. Tell it to a lawyer you love (or loathe), too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- The Undertones

Here's one I loved as a teen. Enjoy!

Go ahead and visit the other Wordless Wednesday participants (or submit something of your own) by clicking right here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

They're up to something in Springdale

As I've griped about before, I turn 40-years-old next year and I'm not happy about it.

Oddly, I'd prefer to skip right over middle age and get right into being old. That's where the fun begins, folks. I'm convinced of it. Don't tell me I'm wrong.

I figure that when I do reach my golden years, I can be as cranky and unreasonable as I want and no one will say a thing.

I'm going to take advantage of that and spend a fair amount of time tormenting people with conspiracy theories. There are a lot of things in this world that annoy me, so why not come up with solid conspiracy theories about them?

One of my favorite targets will be corporate America. I've worked for a couple of them and I've hated almost every minute of it. Corporations have, after all, come up with such soul-sucking, degrading devices such as cubicles, time clocks those irritating, automated answering systems that require you to punch a bunch of numbers on your phone before you can talk to a real human being. Worse yet, corporations have inspired smaller companies to adopt some of their boneheaded ideas, all in the name of efficiency.

Now, of course, corporations are absolutely essential if you want to build an economy based on something other than hand-woven blankets, hemp grocery bags and other such nonsense. I tend to avoid them and hate their influence on small businesses, but I've got to cut them some slack -- without them around, we'd be living in the third world and existing as cheap labor sources for successful corporations (it's all circular, huh?)

One corporation that drives me up the wall is Tyson Foods in Springdale, Ark. That's the largest poultry producer in the U.S. and may become the largest one in the world if Pilgrim's Pride takes a nosedive in the wake of that Chapter 11 bankruptcy the company filed this week.

A huge problem with that, of course, is that Tyson Foods produces chicken that tastes terrible. When I was a kid, chicken wasn't so bland, dry and horrible as the stuff Tyson sells these days.

There's only one conclusion that can be drawn from this -- Tyson does something to that chicken. How's that for a conspiracy theory?

Ah, but there's more. Every good conspiracy theory has to be backed up with enough facts to make the tormented listener think, "You know? He might have a point!"

In Tyson's case, it is an absolute fact that the company has knocked two weeks off the maturation cycle of a chicken. They claim it's due to improved nutrition, but I know the truth! Tyson does something to that chicken. Something insidious and foul (pun intended), to be sure.

Knocking two weeks off the maturation cycle of a chicken just isn't natural. If I figured out a way to make my kids grow up a couple of years earlier, it's a safe bet that would be the result of some kind of unnatural tampering, right? The same has to be true of chicken.

How do they do it? Is it genetic engineering? Steroids? Some freaky antibiotics?

It would be great if Tyson pumped a lot of antibiotics in chickens, of course. Kid got strep throat? Why pay for a bottle of fancy antibiotics from a pharmacy when you could pick up a couple of Tyson chicken breasts?

At any rate, it's not the job of the conspiracy theorist to come up with any definite answers. It is the job of the theorist to merely raise enough questions to make people wonder. And that, folks, is exactly what I'll do for fun when I'm older and even more cynical than I am now.

By the way, Cornish game hens are for suckers. That's just a young chicken in spite of what the price tag might suggests. Those birds are cheaper to raise yet cost more than your average chicken. That's brilliant! It's evil, but brilliant.

Yes, I can't wait until I'm a cranky old coot hurling conspiracy theories at anyone within earshot. Heh, heh.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Take that, you bastard!

I hate cell phones. I've always hated cell phones and resent having to use them.

Now, there are times when they are very useful, but usually they're just annoying. I hate the way mine rings four times before slipping into voice mail, thus not giving me enough time to find the thing and answer it. I hate voice mail, too, and I rarely listen to it.

I hate how my voice mails stack up and I have to wade through 15 of the things to get to one that I want. I hate the fact that anyone can reach me at any time through my cell and I hate the fact that I can't bring myself to turn the cell phone off because I might miss an important call.

I hate the fact that 80 percent of the calls I get are ones I don't want and that more than one peaceful drive has been shattered by that blasted thing ringing while I'm trying to listen to KISS' Love Gun album or something equally inspirational.

So, my cell phone got the hell beaten out of it today. Yeah, look at it in that picture. The LCD screen is a mess because it's too flimsy to hold up to the shock of being thrown against a wall. The battery on that thing has been going out for some time, and the blasted thing cut off on me during the middle of an important conversation tonight. So I threw it. Three times. Kicked it at least twice and stomped it once, too. I put the pieces back together after I threw my fit and the damn thing still works.

Sadly, it appears I'll be getting a new one in the morning. I've had my phone for over three years and my office has a contract under which I can get a new cell every two years. I was warming up to the idea of living without a cell phone, but it looks like I'll have another one of the damned things to seethe at and despise. Alas!

I think I might actually miss my phone because it's pretty basic. It pretty much allows me to store phone numbers and make phone calls. That's about it. You can't take photos with it, there's no blue tooth connectivity so you can't grab annoying snippets of music out of the air and use them for ring tones and one of those obnoxious blue tooth headsets is out of the question, too.

I hate those blue tooth headsets, you know? There's nothing worse than someone who walks around talking in one of those things constantly. Are they on the phone? Talking to me? Crazy as hell and talking to no one? It's often hard to tell. I hate text messaging, too, primarily because of the idiotic "shorthand" that has become common with that junk. Messages like "C U l8er" and "What r u doing?" make me want to find the person sending that junk, put his phone through a wall and send him to a remedial English class. Here's one for you, text boy -- "U R A GD dick." Heh, heh.

I fear I'll get one of those awful flip phones like my wife has. Yes, they come in "custom" colors, take horrible little photos and allows her to customize ring tones for everyone. It does a lot of other junk I'm not interested in, too.

I really just want something I dial numbers with and will take being thrown against a wall. With all the crap they stuff in phones these days, you'd think they'd make at least one that was hate resistant and could take being stomped, thrown off a three-story building or kicked across a parking lot, wouldn't you? No, it seems the phone companies are more interested in catering to people who are too cheap to buy a laptop than building a phone that can take a good, honest beating.

Take the iPhone, for example. It just feels like it could be destroyed with one, weak blow from a baseball bat. A friend of mine at work got an iPhone and he can't stop talking about it. I'd destroy one of those in about five minutes. They are thin and flat, however -- perfect for skipping across a pond.

I once paid $400 for a phone that was pretty flimsy. It didn't survive being thrown out of my car window when I was driving down the interstate at 80 miles per hour. Piece of junk. Must have been made in China. Another one didn't survive a trip through a washing machine. Garbage.

I actually got away with not carrying a cell phone from about 1997 (the time I tossed one out of my car window) until around 2000. My wife decided I needed one and she made me carry a cell. My office requires me to carry one, too. Thank goodness they pay the bill. I might "forget" to do that.

Someone asked an idiotic question not long ago -- "What did we do without cell phones?" We talked to each other during lunch without being interrupted, could actually get away from the office and were generally happier. Those blasted cell phones are evil, even if they are convenient and useful about once every couple of months. The devil came up with those things. I'm convinced of it.

Now, that I've ranted and raved a bit, I'll reward you folks who have read through this mess with a soothing picture of The Kitten trying to figure out how to approach the train we've got running around the base of one of our Christmas trees. Enjoy!