Monday, November 30, 2009

'Seaux' Good! (and...Saints/Patriots, 730 CST tonite!)

(A pre-Thanksgiving 'e-votional' whose point is timeless: "live thanks.")

"GOD IS 'Seaux' GOOD"

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100: 4-5 (NIV)

Here in Louisiana, the New Orleans Saints are undefeated. 10-0--or ten-and-"eaux," as they spell it down here.

"Geaux Saints" is a common bumper sticker.

So bayou-football fans are thankful this Thanksgiving Week that one of the most patience-trying franchises in professional sports is actually, well, ... good! Running. Passing. Kicking. Tackling. Just like a real team!

I wonder why God didn’t give up on me back when I was pretending to be a saint but was in reality booting it around every day, fumbling, not showing up for practice, going through the motions, acting like I had a no-cut contract. The result was a 3-13 season, maybe a 4-12 year. And at times, I collared the doughnut. O-and-whatever.

But in His tender mercies, God kept me on the board. He kept extending grace, until one day I reached for it. I’m thankful for that. Eternally grateful.

The preacher said Sunday that God will never ever get tired of hearing me tell Him how thankful I am for salvation, for having lived long enough to accept the gift. If you’re reading this, you’ve lived long enough to become a Jesus follower, too. That’s a miracle in itself.

And if God in His goodness didn’t give up on me, how can I give up on others?

Forgive me, God, my ingratitude, my selfishness, my sin. May I see your unchanging goodness and reflect that to others. Open my eyes and my heart this week to your goodness. Thank you, God, that you are good, that you are faithful. Thank you that, as the real saints testify, your love endures forever.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Eve

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. Remember, for what it's worth, I'm thankful for (most of) you.

(That's a joke! I'm thankful for all of you. Now ... color somebody a turkey! See you after the weekend, in 10 pounds or so...)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Love my Dr. Saturday!

Go HERE to grind a couple of funny things -- where do you start?! -- about LSU's stroll off the edge of the Clock Management Cliff Saturday in Oxford.

Make sure to watch the video of "Les Miles momentarily possessed by clock-killing poltergeist" and "LSU too stunned by fourth down success to attempt actual victory."

Everybody makes mistakes. But when you blame a kid who was in high school two years ago, and when you yourself are making 3.75 mil, and when you are supposed to be, I don't know, COACHING the kid, that's sort of not good. No parent with a brain wants their child to play for that coach. Being a bad coach does not make a person a bad person. But it does make them a bad coach. And as we've been trying to tell people even since '07, that is the case at LSU.

One of my favorite realities is "The Cult of the Coach." People think that because a person is a 'coach' they must know a lot about what they are coaching. Please...You can't blame Les Miles for being the coach and taking the 3.75 mil a year. He's not THAT stupid. But remember no one is perfect, including the Slipper, good ol' Skip Bertman, a true LSU hoss. Miles has got to be his major regret.

SEEYA! Oh, and check out the Connecticut video too. There's a wonderful college story, and a sideline interview of note. The Connecticut sideline interview is sort of the anti-Les Miles sideline interview.

I was sitting by a beautiful LSU fan Saturday. She has never played a down of feetball or coached feetball but when the LSUers completed that long pass with a second left and LSUers are running down the field she naturally started saying, and then screaming, "Get your field goal team out there. Get the field goal te...WHERE ARE THE FIELD GOAL PEOPLE?! OHMYGOD!!!!" I feel sorry for innocent fans like her. You know what her school needs to spike? Not the ball. Les. Bet somebody starts a Spike Les petition.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Nice Play!

Last night was so much fun watching my son Casey and a new bunch of his friends perform "A NICE FAMILY GATHERING" on the stage of the Dixie Theater in Ruston. Showtimes are tonight at 7:30, Saturday at 7:30 and 2 for the Sunday matinee. Doors open an hour before the curtain rises; tickets are ten bucks and available at the door. I'll go again tonight. It's fun to see Casey working on a craft he really enjoys; I'm so happy for him that he's earned this chance. And I'm happy for the cast and crew he's surrounded by. They've had a ball doing all the work required for one of these things. I'm thankful because it's brought me a lot of joy...So thanks to them.

Here's a description of the play, from the Web...The art above is from a site promoting the play in a run up north. Casey is the son who can talk to the dad, who is unfortunately dead, but still in he play. Now THAT'S acting...
With intermission, the event is 2 hours 15 mniutes.

A story of a man who loved his wife so much he ALMOST told her. In fact, after 35 years of marriage, he’s decided that today he WILL tell her. His plan? Wait for the entire family to gather for Thanksgiving dinner and proclaim his love for all to hear. The only problem is he’s dead! His solution? Channel his message through his adult son. But when his less than cooperative son has his own messages to proclaim, the comic fireworks explode.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Worse Than Taxes

This is part of John Stossel's column today. Stossel is the award-winning news correspondent and consumer reporter you've often seen on ABC's "20/20." You can find the whole column here.

(Bill) O'Reilly told me that America is ready for a tax revolt. I hope he's right. But I don't think it will happen until more people see the ruling elite for what it is: a gang of arrogant bullies that has the audacity to believe that they know how to direct our lives better than we do.

That's why, bad as the taxes are, I'm more upset about ObamaCare, Medicare, the "stimulus," the auto bailout, the bank bailouts, the Fannie/Freddie bailouts, the trillions in guarantees, and on and on.

The politicians' spending schemes represent presumptuous interference in our lives. They are an assault on our autonomy.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Treen is the one on the right...

Don Walker was a high school senior from Chicago who came to Louisiana Tech sight unseen, got himself educated and was one of the best reporters and writers to ever darken the door of The Times in Shreveport. He is doing well at Florida Today now, but a lot of us miss him personally; I miss his writing too.

He sent me and a few other friends this note below the other day. John Andrew Prime dug out this photograph for him because John Andrew is like that; he'll do things for you when he knows it's important to you. Good man.

From Donnie Golfgame...

I thought I'd share this with you. I figure Wiley would get a kick out of it too. Heading into my 28th year with Gannett, I'm amazed sometimes at the characters and people I've run across who left amazing impressions on me. Now and then I stumble across the fact that some of them are no longer with us....

It was kinda sad reading about Dave Treen's death on the Shreveport Times Web site this morning. One of my fondest memories as a cub reporter was being sent to cover the Farmerville Watermelon Festival. I'd never talked to a governor before, but at one point there we were -- me and Gov. Dave Treen. I told him I was covering the festival for The Times, and asked if I could take a quick photo of him. He said, "What do you want me to do?"

I told him, "you don't have to do anything. I'll just take a quick snapshot."

To that, he said, "Naw, let's make it something big." He reached down and hoisted this big, fat watermelon onto his shoulder, and I took the photo. Next day, it was the Page 1 strip story with the governor standing there holding this watermelon next to his head. Classic!

If you're curious, that had to be about 1983-ish. If any of you have the time and computer expertise, I wouldn't mind seeing that old photo again. That smile on his face was for me, and I'll never forget it.

RIP, Dave Treen.


Friday, November 13, 2009

The song book story...

I am President of the local Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club. We are called Hagen's Heroes, in honor of Earle Hagen, a nice man who wrote "The Fishin' Hole," the show's theme song. He wrote the theme to "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and others, too. Google him sometimes. I called him at his California home years ago to ask if we could use his name as our club's title. He answered the phone and everything. Love him.

There are other "believers" out there who, like me, know that The Andy Griffith Show is a bit of heaven on earth. Seasons 2-5 are the best television ever made. Please don't argue with me about his; you'll embarrass yourself.

One such beleiver is Bill. (I can't tell you his last name because that would be indiscreet. Johnson. Bill Johnson.) Now and then Bill makes us lapel buttons, like the one you see above. I wore it the other night at the FCA Founders Day Banquet; it inspired a little contest for a sleeve of golf balls. (By the way, we have a winner!) The question: Where is this saying from? And the answer is, In the song in the 'Hot Mic' episode, one of the great Barney moments of alltime. As a fellow clubber pointed out to me this week, Andy went to great lengths to keep his friend Barney from needless hurting. Often he saved Barn from himself. Andy was funny and Andy was wise, and Andy was a servant. He didn't let friends get away with things that would hurt them, but he selflessly protected them from their own innocent quirks when he could. Andy did not mind taking one for the team.

I received a songbook in the mail recently, from Bill. He wrote me this note this week. The songbook is close by me now.

The rest of the song book story...
I am a collector and recycler of stuff.
Love books, especially old books.
I appreciate the quality of printing and the craftsmanship.
Some look good on a bookshelf.
Some have great engravings or illustrations.
Some are just great to read.
I can't resist looking through a stack of books for sale.
The Centenary Book Sale is an opportunity to indulge my habit at bargain prices.
At one of those sales in the late 1990s...
After sorting through a pile of old sheet music
(some of those have great art or fun titles)
I noticed the little song book.
It occurred to me to search the index for a title.
I can't remember why I thought to do that.
Maybe the solo mic episode was on my mind.
Maybe the song had just been playing on the radio and stuck in my head.
For whatever reason I searched and found, Welcome, Sweet Springtime.
Then I turned to page 36 and on the same page was Juanita.
I became lost in the moment, oblivious to the frantic action around me.
I looked over my shoulder to the bleachers behind me.
Surely someone had set this up and was watching.
Only a true believer can understand how special that time was.
I had found gold for a dollar and a quarter.
I left there with dozens of books.
Can't tell you now which ones.
Made three trips to the truck to carry them all.
But that one at $1.25 was the prize.
I treasured that book for a while.
Showed it to those I thought could appreciate it.
Considered removing page 36 and framing it.
Maybe getting Barney to sign it.
At every Centenary Sale since my first stop is at the music table.
I want to find more copies to share.
Haven't found another one there yet.
Found one at a local garage sale and another at an estate sale.
Bought one more online.
Gave one to Hayden Slack for his graduation last year.
Those Slacks are true believers.
Been saving the original (and its pedigree) for you for a while.
Knew you would get the same chill I did when I found it.
Never could find the right time to give it so I just did.
Still have two.
One is available to a worthy recipient at some point.
One will be passed down to my heirs.
It'll probably end up at a Centenary Sale.
Hope a true believer finds it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

John Hussey: A quiet blast from the past

My friend and Shreveport attorney Tom Arceneaux in his "Business Development Thought of the Day" is writing this month about people who have influenced him/us. Today's effort is dedicated to John Hussey. I haven't seen Mayor Hussey in a while and trust he's doing well; I've always liked him because he would talk books and baseball with me, and he always seemed interested in what I had to say, and some of you who know me know that's not always easy to do! The mayor was quietly efficient, stealthy in his humor, liberal in praise, and I can learn from that. I appreciate Tom writing these. . .

This month is dedicated to thanksgiving for wonderful people who have influenced us.
I had the privilege to serve the people of Shreveport as a member of the City Council from 1982-1990. John Hussey served as mayor during that same time, having served the previous four years as a councilman. I am grateful for John's service and his example to me.
John is a lawyer and a quiet man. To many, being quiet and cerebral excludes a person from the ranks of leaders. John helped me learn that quiet thinkers can be great leaders.
John had great vision for Shreveport and her needs for infrastructure in the years that would follow his service. He anticipated those needs and led the city through several bond elections, building roads and water and sewer systems that have carried the city to where it is today. In particular, his attention to the future traffic needs of Shreveport have made it possible today to get from just about any place in Shreveport to just about any other place in 15 minutes or less.
John met regularly and privately with City Council members to keep us posted on his plans and seek our input, even when he expected opposition to some of his agenda. He shared the spotlight with us. When he was unable to attend an event, rather than just sending a member of his staff, he would invite the City Council member from the district to represent the city and the mayor.
I was fortunate to have served with John Hussey and fortunate to have learned from his quiet and effective example.
Good hunting.
M. Thomas (Tom) Arceneaux

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Favorite verses...

(This post is from Daily New Life at


Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
-- John 14:27

The beautiful words of John 14:27 remind us that Jesus offers us peace, not as the world gives, but as He alone gives. Have you found the genuine peace that can be yours through Jesus Christ? Or are you still rushing after the illusion of "peace and happiness" that the world promises but cannot deliver?

Today, as a gift to yourself, to your family, and to your friends, claim the inner peace that is your spiritual birthright: the peace of Jesus Christ. It is offered freely; it has been paid for in full; it is yours for the asking. So ask. And then share.

Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.
Catherine Marshall

Christ alone can bring lasting peace—peace with God—peace among men and nations—and peace within our hearts.
Billy Graham

God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
C. S. Lewis

God's peace is like a river, not a pond. In other words, a sense of health and well-being, both of which are expressions of the Hebrew shalom, can permeate our homes even when we're in white-water rapids.
Beth Moore

Monday, November 9, 2009

Andy from the ashes...

(The picture is of Andy, Sydney and tiny Phoenix back in the spring. Andy's willingness put him in a position to make a positive difference for a lot of people -- like me. He always read my stuff and would quote something to me if he liked it. I told him I'd write about him one day. I'd rather it not have been this. I have other Andy stories to share with you, and will when the time is right. We are grateful that they all end good. This ran in The Times and The News-Star Sunday.)
Four years ago, Andy's life was a confusing cross between a Dumpster fire and a train wreck.
Jail loomed.
Friends vanished.
Even family had to throw up a fence of self-protection.
Andy was done and done-er. Sure seemed that way. Not enough power to keep him out of the pig pen, and not enough hope to keep him from caring too awfully much one way or the other.
How can you help a guy unwilling to help himself?
Hearts were broken. Because this was Andy. Lovable Andy. He was born funny and carefree and matured in both with age. He produced smiles like an oak makes acorns. Good ol' Andy.
When he was a toddler he loved playing under the dining room table.
Once he asked the rather stout housekeeper to get under there with him and play.
"But I'm too big," she told her tiny friend. And little Andy said, "Well, just get as much as you CAN get under here!"
First-grader or senior, they all knew Andy at school. He hated class but loved school because he loved the attention and the friendships.
The people. At graduation he got the biggest cheer, not because he passed with the highest grade-point average, but instead because he passed at all. He failed as a teacher's rehab project, but he passed as a kind-hearted student no teacher could help but love.
But it didn't take long for drugs and drink to make a good-sized dent in the Andy that now had to face a real world. There came a time when he couldn't get under the table any more, not to play, and not to hide.
Then something happened. Everyone had had enough of Andy until finally, even Andy had had enough of Andy. Some friends were there to meet him at the dead end. They knew a better road. He followed.
That was the beginning of a miracle, a radical love that comes upon a guy and changes things. Not only did Andy quit doing the things that were killing him and hurting everyone who cared about him, but he started doing things to help a world as fallen as he'd been.
In theological circles, it's called redemption. On the streets, it's called "That's Andy — but it ain't the same Andy. Thank God."
The days he'd hated, he now embraced. He was among the first people to introduce himself when I moved to Ruston, and a guy more jolly you'd be hard-pressed to find. He thought ahead now. Put himself in the back seat. Was accountable to friends all over town. He knew how to use a cell phone, I can tell you that.
In late spring he used a text message to announce to who knows how many people the birth of his son Phoenix, little brother to big sis Sydney. That name's a little "out there," I thought. But I was wrong.
Phoenix is a perfect name for a boy whose father, like the ancient bird, rose from the ashes, found his life saved, and passed life along.
So little makes sense in this fallen world. I thought that especially true Tuesday as I looked over a diverse and overflow crowd at his funeral. Just 29 years old. A viral infection. The doctors don't even really know yet what it was, but Andy battled it for weeks.
It rained the whole month Andy was in ICU. But as his life was once he started over, it was sunny Tuesday, beautiful and clear and clean.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A season ends...

(FOOTBALL NOTE: Louisiana Tech fans anticipate for different reasons next weekend's trip to Tiger Stadium, where the Bulldogs will play LSU. But an interesting note is that tonight, Tech faces what is right now a better team than the Tigers in Boise State. If Boise and LSU play tonight on a neutral field, is the favorite LSU? At Tiger Stadium, probably so, by 2 or maybe 3. Boise State is favored if they play on the Smurf Turf. I'm just saying...)

Now...a tribute to the dad of four sons, one of them a sportswriter...

Just before baseball season ended, so did the life of the dad of one of my sportswriting buddies. Mash writes down in Biloxi for the Sun-Herald. He sent me this story this morning; I'm grateful for his dad, because I've been brought a lot of laughs through his son....Also, I talked to my dad for a minute last night, over in Georgia. He continues to recover from early summer heart surgery and I thank all of you who continue to ask about him. He's doing well.

Hug your folks.


When I was six or seven, I got my first chance to play organized baseball. I was born in August 53 years ago so I was always one of the youngest kids in my class. Anyone whose birthday falls in that month can probably relate.

I couldn’t wait, really. My mom and dad, Sara and John Mashek, had four boys to raise in the ‘60s, and to say we were an active bunch is akin to observing that the sun rose in the East and the heat that it brought to summertime in Houston was fairly intense.

We lived close to the high school and had plenty of opportunities to play ball. First thing in the morning. During the long, lazy afternoons. With dusk approaching. By the time I was in fourth or fifth grade, organizing a pick-up game at Westchester High School only took a couple phone calls or a short bike ride down the street.

The kids in my neighborhood were down.

My passion for sports carried over to football, too, and since we were living in Texas, nothing compared to Friday nights at Tully Stadium, where Westchester and Spring Branch and Memorial all played high school games. We also had college football at Rice and the University of Houston and the Oilers, who played in the AFL in those days.

I was the oldest of the four boys and pretty much reined herd on my kid brothers — Dave, Tom and Bill. Mom had a tough gig, keeping a kind yet mindful eye on the four of us and making sure we paid enough attention in class to get to the next grade. (At least in my case.) Dad loved baseball and befriended a young executive with the Houston Astros, Bill Giles, and the Giles family happened to have three boys who were my brothers’ age. Trips to Colt Stadium and then the Astrodome became frequent.

The Giles family moved to Philadelphia in 1969 and we followed them to the East Coast one year later. Tom would go on to work for the Phillies after college, starting out in Clearwater, Fla., and joining the big club in the early ‘90s.

My parents became the biggest Phillies fans south of Wilmington and were on hand for their World Series championship last year, when they silenced Tampa Bay in five games.

Dad taught Dave and Tom how to throw a curveball and showed Billy, a left-handed hitting catcher, the value of hitting the ball to the opposite field.

I was the pulling guard of the group and Dad always encouraged me to discover the literary side of sport, from Jerry Kramer’s “Instant Replay” with the Green Bay Packers to the sports pages of the Houston Chronicle and Washington Post and even Jim Bouton’s off-color “Ball Four,” which told us that boys would definitely be boys in big-league clubhouses.

A sense of humor, I learned, could always come in handy.

Dad worked for the Dallas Morning News, for U.S. News and World Report, for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and finally the Boston Globe.

He covered national politics for more than three decades and served on presidential debate panels in 1984, ‘88 and ‘92. He traveled a good bit but still found a way to get to our ballgames, and more important, make sure we actually did some homework.

(Again, at least in my case.)

Mom and Dad made it back to Washington after Game 5 of the World Series and went to watch my nieces, Emily and Rebecca, play high school soccer for the Whitman Vikings on Tuesday night.

We lost Dad that night, after sharing his wisdom, warmth and wisecracks for a lifetime. He will, of course, always be with us.

Jim Mashek can be reached at 896-2333 or

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Birthday wishes to ...

Tanner Drew, a good man, who is 1 year old on this very day...
Jenny Meyers Ramsey has a birthday Nov. 11, and her oldest son Brad has a birthday on the 16th. They will probably be freezing in St. Louis.
Lacey is precious and her birthday is the 17th. She'll be 17 on the 17th.
And her dad Jeeves has a birthday on the 27th. Love me some Jeeves.
Almost forgot but my man J.C. Penney turns 50 either today or tomorrow or Thursday. Either way you cut it, he's elderly and I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate his elderlyness.
Happy Birthday!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Harvest Moon and ... Beaver Moon?

I didn't know there was a Beaver Moon, but there is and it's tonight, according to Most of us didn't see the official Harvest Moon because of bad weather, but we should be able to milk the Beaver Moon; the moon was pretty all weekend. Don't miss it tonight...


Oct. 4, 2:10 a.m. EDT -- Full Harvest Moon. Traditionally, this designation goes to the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal (fall) Equinox. The Harvest Moon usually comes in September, but sometimes it will fall in early October as is the case in 2009; the next time won't come until 2017. At the peak of the harvest, farmers can work into the night by the light of this moon. Usually the full moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice -- the chief Indian staples -- are now ready for gathering.

Nov. 2, 2:14 p.m. EST -- Full Beaver Moon. Now it is time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Full Moon come from the fact that the beavers are now active in their preparation for winter. This is also called the Frosty Moon, and as this is also the next full moon after the Harvest Moon, it can also be referred to as the Hunters' Moon. With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble, and can more easily see the fox, also other animals, which have come out to glean and can be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest.