Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Saints fever" is out of control!

HA! Beautiful...St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans Sunday.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back at the Ponderosa...

Pernell Roberts, the last surviving member of "Bonanza," the classic TV Western, died Sunday at his Malibu home.

"Bonanza" is second to "Gunsmoke" as the longest-running Western on TV. Dan Blocker (Hoss) died in 1972, Loren Greene (Ben Cartwright) in 1987, and Michael Landon (Little Joe) in 1991. Roberts was the oldest son, Adam.

This hurts me. If Hop Sing is dead, do not tell me. I don't want him to be dead; I want him to be alive, cooking up another bad meal for the Cartwright clan. I loved my Cartwright clan.

There is a Hollywood prop Web site that sells stuff like "The Adam." I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that, but there you go. I'm just sayin...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

'Bert' and the Modern Battle of New Orleans

Even Ol’ Hickory and Johnny Horton and the Witch Queen of New Orleans would have to sell their souls to get a ticket to today’s NFC Championship Game between the Saints and the spur-under-your-saddle Dallas Cowboys.

Oh, wait a minute. That’s not right. Dallas got torched last week in Minneapolis. Barely beaten, 34-33.

What? Wait. Sorry. I meant 34-THREE. Just one three. Just three more points than you and I scored. And the Cowboys had practiced since July. To get beaten by four touchdowns-plus.

(Wade Phillips is a nice guy you can tell, but every time they show him on the sidelines I see a marshmallow with headphones on. I don’t mean that ugly. His dad was nice and he’s nice and all that, but Cowboys fans, you do know that until you get another person to bring some swagger to match the persona, like Jimmy Johnson or Barry Switzer or Jon Gruden, or a football-smart classy person to rise above it like Tom Landry, it’s not gonna happen. It’s just not. Even I know that. And I like Dallas, the town and the people and all. But I’m just sayin…)
So, it’s the Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, led by Brett Favre, 40 in real years and about 25 in Brett Favre years.

Or, as my sister’s beautiful father-in-law calls him, Bert Farve.


Whatever you call him, and despite his tendency to have crazy games where the tries to throw passes through defensive backs, he’s a bad hombre.

Unless Bert decides to retire (again) before the 5:40 kickoff, he will be a sort of cherry on the top of a memorable football hot fudge sundae Sunday.

Look what you’ve got:

* Bert being Bert.

* In north Louisiana, longsuffering Saints fans still rooting for a team that’s alive – and favored! – experience the rarified air of January victories while their rival Darth Vader villains – Cowboys fans – fume that the Vikings “ran up” the score last week. The franchise of T.O. and Neon Deion and a facelifted owner and a billion-dollar stadium complains that teams with 40-year-old quarterbacks need to take it easy on them? The Cowboy fan is now in the unenviable position of rooting for either the “sore winners” or for the stepchild Saints.

* You’ve got a rebuilding city playing for a title in a dome that five years ago was the world’s largest triage center.

* A Saints quarterback who does what Saints fans have watched other teams do to theirs through the years: complete 70 percent of his passes, most of them to tall, fast receivers who play with a kind of confident nonchalance. Silent assassins.

* Of course you have the backdrop itself, the City of New Orleans, an R-rated amusement park that’s shown a heart for football, even though it’s basically had to share one swing set and one slide since 1967. These people are bursting at the laces.

* And then, again, good ol’ Bert. Good ol’ Wrangler-wearin’, mind-changing, ancient yet energetic Bert from neighboring Mississippi, the kid next door who just refuses to come in from recess.

Journalists are not supposed to show favoritism. But I guess I’m just a writer these days, not a real journalist.

So Go Saints.

In my heart of hearts (whatever that is), I don’t care too much who wins or who loses and never really have. When I was writing ballgames all the time, I just wanted to cover what happened. Naturally you pull for people to do well – or not – when you get to know them. Human nature. I don’t know them anymore. But don’t you feel like you sort of know the Saints? When I look at them I always see their body of work, all the losing seasons, and those few autumns I watched them lose to the 49ers and Falcons and even the Cowboys, regularly as a faucet drip. Sort of hapless but …. In the words of Luther Ingram, if loving them is wrong, do you really want to be right?

Maybe it’s time the writers I know whose final Saints playoff story of the season (though rare) was always about a loss, maybe they get to write a happy tale for a change. Maybe the ‘Aints get to bury the bags. Maybe the greatest of them all, Saint Archie, gets the pleasure of rooting for one of his sons to actually beat his favorite team in, of all things, the Super Bowl. Maybe, for the city and for all the ghosts of Saints past…

Richard Todd,
Deuce and Dempsey,
Hokie Gajan,
Anne Rice whimsy.
Big Will Roaf,
Billy Kilmer,
Mayfair witch.

Joe Horn phones,
Manning scrambles,
Handoff to
The Earl of Campbell,
John Hill, Jake Kupp,
Stram’s toupee,
(I think I’ll look
the other way…)

Bum Phillips in his
Cowboy hat,
Grammatic fumbles
Like “Who Dat?!”
Garden District,
Quarter French,
TWO Billy Joes
Come off the bench!

Blasts from the past
Like Rod McNeil.
Can you say,
“Joe Federspiel”?
Zellars, Hilliard,
Mills, Capone,
Did patrolling
In the ’Dome.
Tommy Myers and
Tony G.,
Let’s give them all
A fleur de lis!

“What’s the diff
today?” you ask.
Well, these guys can
Run AND pass
And kick and catch,
Play defense too.
And heaven knows
They’re way past due.
New Orleans/Vikes.
What will it be?
I’ll roll the dice here:
Saints by 3.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Eye Checkup, I Checkup

At that time Jesus said, `I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these thingsfrom the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’.""All things have been committed to me by my Father.No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him."
-- Matthew 11:25-26

I was too smart for my own good. I knew the Bible, but I didn’t "know" the Son. I could not know Him, because I didn’t want to. I wanted to know about Him; I wanted an intellectual relationship, not an intimate one.

When I was properly humbled, my heart’s eyes saw differently. Read differently. Searched differently. All I thought I'd known was wrong. God revealed His Word when my heart retired from seeking a diploma and instead started seeking a Savior.

Paul had to be made blind before he could see. When his eyes were opened, he saw the cross. Then all was clear: the cheapness of his world, the darkness of his heart, the fatal nature of faith in self. Once Paul in humility saw the cross, once he "saw" Christ crucified, he never took his eyes off it again.

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not-- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."
1 Corinthians 1: 26-29

*(Speaking of saints, Saints by 3 over Minnesota? You think? Colts bomb Jets by 20. Although I emotionally love the Jets. Have since 1969. I'm just sayin...)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Kid In Town

Eating supper Friday on the eve of his 21st birthday, Legalhood, I asked my son Casey, "So, I know you don't know for sure what you're doing five minutes from now, but I'll ask anyway: Got any big plans for tomorrow?"

"Oh," he said, chewing with his month full, "I guess gamble."

Sigh...He's a beautiful human being.

This ran in The Times and The News-Star Sunday.


This weather's been so cold, it really lets you know where your underwear stops.

Do you hear what I'm saying? You smell what I'm stepping in?

Too cold. Might as well live in Minnesota, or some other foreign place.

I had long johns. They didn't help. Had to go buy longer johns.

That said, I put on the biggest coat I own this week and realized something very bittersweet: I miss zipping up my son's jacket.

I can't do that anymore. I could, but he wouldn't appreciate it. My little boy, a guy I taught to tie his shoes, turned 21 this week.

Remember how your children used to walk up to you with their big-boy coats on, their chests stuck out, waiting on you to zip them up?

My guy did that. Looked like a tiny Michelin Man, all hooded and insulated. I'd get on a knee and zip. Sometimes it took only 10 minutes or so.

This guy was born on a rainy Monday, just after noon, a C-section guy. I saw the picture of him at 10 that morning, live, pre-birth. He was sitting up, looking comfortable, chewing on what looked like a cord or a skinny ear of corn. Who knows what was going on in there. He wouldn't turn over, so the doctor just went in and got him.

Have you seen pictures of divers, pictures frozen at the moment that nothing but the diver's head is in the water? That was my first view of Casey Jay Allen. The doctor had him by the ankles, extending him toward her chest, and his head was still inside.

Then his head popped out, she whopped him a couple of times, and we were open for business.

Very strange. A whole brand new person. Didn't know anybody. None of us knew him. But he was here to stay. And so began the escapades and whatnot.

Through the years he's been a joy, a heart ache, a head-scratcher and a smile-maker. "He just did what?"

He's been a Mariner, an Oriole, a Cardinal, a RockHound, a thespian, a fisherman, a physics student, a speech giver, a free-throw shooter, a Ninja turtle, a jacket zipper (eventually), and, once at Halloween, Richard Nixon.

He's been to ballgames, to amusement parks, to funerals, to weddings and to graduations. He's been to the beach, to the mountains, to Sunday school, to grandma's house, to the doctor, to putt-putt, and to the principal's office. His first trip to a hotel, we should have paid rent for the elevator; all we did was ride it, up and down, up and down.

He's been a friend to some wonderful boys and girls, to a couple of dogs, and to Jingle Bell, a cat who was supposed to be a dog and didn't know he wasn't. Good, good guys.

Mumps? Yes. Strep? Yes. Tetnaus shot? Hurt him. Department of Motor Vehicles? Hurt me.

Time does fly. When he was little enough to sneak Popsicles from the icebox and think he was getting away with it, I wondered what he'd look like when he got to be a legal adult.

Now I know.

But to me, part of him will always look like the little boy who couldn't zip a jacket. That's another reason parenting's not for sissies: Our job is to teach our kids to do things without our help, then it's disturbing in a unique sort of way when they actually have the nerve to do it.

Bittersweet. But I'm grateful he's grown up. I'm grateful he's helped me, at least a little bit, do the same thing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Steeple" -- A Friends of Michael Williams Benefit Screening featuring "DR. STRANGELOVE"

This concept is GENIUS! But... we would expect nothing less from the Williams Camp. And for those of you who do not know Michael personally, yes, that is him in the poster. Pretty cool, huh?

Here's the info...

Sunday, January 24, 6:00 PM
With a personal introduction by Michael Williams
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Comedy/Thriller, 93 Minutes, Rated PG
Tickets and more information:

It's good to have friends. Michael Williams has always been a true friend to the Robinson Film Center, whether volunteering his time and creativity in support of our organization or simply by being one of our most enthusiastic patrons, someone we could count on seeing in the popcorn line just about every weekend...until he was hit by a 22,000-pound steeple on Thursday, October 29.

While his recovery has gone extraordinarily well by all accounts, it has also been extraordinarily expensive. Join us for this special screening of Stanley Kubrick's DR. STRANGELOVE with a personal introduction by none other than our friend, Michael Williams. All proceeds from this event will help defray the costs of his ongoing medical care.

Can't attend? Support Michael's recovery by donating and join us in spirit by attending "virtually"! Just pick a donation amount and/or quantity above. (Two $5 donations are $10, etc.)

Please bring your receipt to the theater for admission. Unfortunately we can only sell tickets online, so make sure to buy them ahead of time.


Week of Casey

Senior Walk at the City of Byrd. Just noticed the Jayhawks shirt; I bought that T-shirt he's wearing, in St. Louis, the year he was born. When he first started wearing it, he'd trip over it, a "sleeping shirt" that turned into a go-to T-shirt. Holes are in it now. That's been a good shirt.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Week of Casey

My son Casey will be 21 Saturday. Goodness...

About four years ago I took this picture of Casey and his twin brother, Jingle Bell. Same age and the whole deal, as twins often are. It was never too hard to tell them apart because Jing was always shorter. These are two good men that I love.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Good Year

"And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right."
2 Thessalonians 3:13 (NIV)

College football’s BowlFest, those 34 games of December and January, almost killed me.

If I wasn’t getting Clemsoned from the left, I was getting Air Forced from the right. Until bowl season, while I knew where Central Michigan was -- right in the middle of Michigan, right? -- I didn’t know they played decent football there.

But they do, and they were rewarded for it. For most of the regular season and in terms of on-the-field competition and accomplishment, they did more things right than wrong, and so they were one of 68 teams invited to play in a bowl game.

I did my part to reward their efforts; I watched bowl games ’til my eyes bled.

A once heard a good coach say this: "Never get bored with doing the right thing." The right thing isn’t always the easy thing, as some of the godly and just members of the long-ago church at Thessalonica would testify. But the right thing is always the good thing, the best thing, the God-ordained thing.

In football, the right thing is practice, attitude, and teamwork. In our Christian walk, it’s much the same thing. But what makes the journey sweeter and the rewards so much greater is the relationship we have with the Father. When we grow weary, it is because we are investing in our own abilities instead of in our relationship with Him.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I wouldn’t suggest anyone try to watch 34 games of football in three weeks. But there’s no such thing as "too much Jesus." We can’t out-love, out-give or out-good him. Leaning on the everlasting arms, we can instead grow and work and love through His power, and "never tire." When our relationship with Christ is right, too much of a good thing, is a good thing.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

That's my Mailman...

As you NBA fans and gun toters and even you law abiders know, Washington Wizards' star player Gilbert Arenas faces felony gun charges for pulling a gun on a teammate in the locker room.
In Washington, D.C.
Where the gun laws are very strick.
And where the NBA team changed it's team name because of the "guilt by association" situation.

The team nickname used to be Bullets. The Washington Bullets.

Click to read Karl Malone's take on the story to and to see his reaction this morning on CNN. Malone is a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, a future NBA Hall of Famer, and a guy who's played a lot of card games on road trips for some money but has yet to pull a gun on a teammate or arrive at the gym "packin'."
(Pictured: A pair of former NBA players, each a Rifleman.)


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Haute Couture

Are a cloak and a cape and a shawl the same thing?
They are in the same family but not in the same phylum or sub-phylum. You'd have your 'Overcoat' branch and then you'd have your "Cape" branch and things sort of tither off to and fro from there. I'll think more about it later and chart it, but I have to work hard this week so I can't right now. Not that this isn't important. It is. It's just that I don't even have time to pick up my own outdated couture (love that word; it even SOUNDS funny!) at the dry cleaners this week -- and it's supposed to be 9 degrees Friday. I've got a lot of stuff to do. If I loaned you my thermal underwear grandpappy suit, I need it back.

But here is Sunday's column along those lines. Sure, I would have liked to have started the decade stronger, column-wise, but hey, they can't all be Pulitzers. I will catch up later this week and I will try harder next time...

Jan. 3, 2010

My position at the newspaper is changing this new decade from Assistant Fashion Editor to assistant secretary for the Assistant Fashion Editor.

Not many people knew I was Assistant Fashion Editor for the past 10 years or so. Not even the Fashion Editor knew. It made it easier for me to accept slips and shawls and size 10 pumps without causing much of a stir.

But in the end, it was just too much. The fashion world is just too fast, too furious. Too fashiony. Especially for a guy like me, who hates to even tie his shoes.

Don't panic: I'll still offer tips from time to time, and here's one to carry you safely into 2010, a year that promises to be an almost-anything-goes haberdashery grab bag:

Know that in the arena of men's outerwear, a cape's not what it used to be.

True, this has been the case for, oh, 150 years or so, give or take.

But in the fashion world, in this era of red carpets and paparazzi and phones that can transmit on-site photos, can you be too careful?

I think not.

You remember the cape. Edgar Allan Poe. Washington Irving. Batman.

Used to, they served as overcoats and blankets, a loose-fitting garment handy in the days before tape measures and London Foggers. You could borrow a guy's cape and no one cared if it fit you like a choir robe.

But these days, there are not a lot of cape guys around. And this is a good thing. At some point, the cape, like the top hat and cane, began to overstate how you felt about yourself. Once the unassuming windbreaker was invented, and the zipper, capes were living on borrowed time.

I realize we men are, for the most part, worthless. If we couldn't mow grass and hang Christmas lights, most women would shoot us like snakes.

And we don't really know how to dress. "After five" means take off your shoes, not put on a tux, right?

But now and then, a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

Somewhere between the 1800s and now, we had the sense to ditch the once-popular cape. Oh, Thomas Jefferson could wear one. Even George Jefferson could wear one, but he had "attitude," something most modern-day men who wear clothes don't keep in stock, yet something you'll definitely need by the bucketful if you're going to flaunt a cape. Wear one these days and you'd better make sure you've lettered in football. At noseguard. For the Green Bay Packers.

Let's sew this thing up here with the bottom line:

Did you get a cape for Christmas? If you did, and you are wondering what to do with it, let me ask you:

Are you a professional wrestler?

Are you a superhero?

Are you Benjamin Franklin?

Do you have a Harry Potter fetish?

Are you a count, or a vampire, or both?

Are you a paid entertainer on the costume party circuit?

Are you the member of a marching band?

If your answers are "no," then get that cape and take it back to the cape store. Get a pocketknife instead.

My final bit of advice to you as Assistant Fashion Editor is this: We all have limits. Know them. Not everyone can wear everything, but we can all wear something. A good example here is the famous Headless Horseman (pictured above, in character) from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." You remember him.

Windblown and daring on horseback, the Headless Horseman looked great in a cape. Spectacular, actually. But in a cap? Not so much.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Be Careful on the Streets!!!....

I have got to get caught up here at work on my Big Boy Job but thank goodness I got this spirits-lifting email from my buddy T in Shreveport. He'd come home for lunch, watched the Shreveport TV news just in time to see "a live remote from a house in Southern Hills where the reporter was showing that the snow/sleet had accumulated on a trash can lid and also on a car windshield! No snow on the grass, leaves, sidewalks, or streets, though...Then they had an interview with a woman who kept her kids home from school so they could play in the snow."


The image above might be from the Southern Hills area, but definitely not the Southern Hills area of Shreveport, La.

Bye. Gotta go put the chains on my tires...