Monday, June 28, 2010


No, no, no, not THAT kind of hurricane!  The OTHER kind!


I’ve been fascinated with hurricanes ever since Hurricane Carla came to visit.  We lived in Dallas, and even THERE the hurricane winds were howling and the water was high enough to come in our sliding glass door. 

Nathan and I rode out Hurricane Ike (run from water, hide from wind!).  Overall, it wasn’t bad.  The damage to the city was shocking, and it was a relatively “tame” hurricane.

These amazing storms are fascinating in their intensity.  What causes them to form?  Why do they move so unpredictably? 

A great book on the human effects of a hurricane is Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson.  If you’ve not read it, pick it up and do so (his other book, The Devil in the White City, is equally riveting).  The Great Storm of 1900 forever changed Galveston and the southwest.  Until then, Galveston was the foremost city in Texas, vastly eclipsing the sleepy Mexican village of San Antonio; the tiny capitol, Austin; the frontier trading post of Dallas; the cattle-driving Ft. Worth, and the malarial swamp called Houston.  Galveston was educated, erudite, classy, elite.  “The Wall Street of the South” existed on The Strand. 

The Great Storm drove the Gulf of Mexico over the sandbar on which Galveston sits, to a depth of 15 feet at the shallowest point.  The only survivors clung to the tops of trees or the top floors of the few remaining buildings.  The official death toll (laughable even then, put forth by city leaders anxious to maintain their city’s supremacy by downplaying the danger) was 8,000, which makes it the most fatal natural disaster in history.  The figure was probably much higher; there is no way to know but the usual guess is 20,000 people of a total population of 42,000.  There weren’t enough living to bury the dead, so the bodies were placed on rafts and towed out to sea.  Two days later, they washed ashore.  They were then placed in funeral pyres which burned for weeks.  A true human tragedy, and one rich with the stuff of drama:  hubris, arrogance, greed, a natural disaster, a great loss, and the aftermath.  Again, riveting stuff.

Galveston never recovered.

Unlike San Francisco a year later, which rebuilt from the ashes of the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1901, Galveston was unable to regain its supremacy.  The town finally decided to build a 17 foot seawall.  They scraped the debris from the storm to the beach backfilled it, and lifted the remaining structures to a height of 17 feet.  The dead are buried beneath the modern city.  The damage, however, was done; Houston became the center of commerce and Galveston withered; no one was willing to risk their lives (even with a 17 foot seawall) to repopulate the island.  Today, it’s a pleasant, quirky island community of 85,000, while greater Houston is over 6.5 million.  People from Galveston have a fierce pride; the term “B.O.I.” (Born On Island) is a badge of honour.


The most vivid images of Houston during “hurricanes” occurred not during an actual hurricane, but during a Tropical Storm.  Allison came ashore as a “water storm”, dumping inches of rain on the city.  She then moved inland a bit, but was pushed back by an oncoming cold front and stalled directly over the city of Houston.  The photos of the city are amazing. 


It was during one hurricane, Rita, that I discovered the evils of Potts Camp, Mississippi.  We were coming back from Alabama, traveling at around Warp 8.5, traveling through the bands of hurricane Rita.  Hurricanes put off bands of showers; huge deluge of rain, followed by a period of sunshine, followed by another drenching.  We had just come through a band and out into the sunlight; the pavement was still wet but the sun was shining.  Suddenly, we were doing 360’s down the middle of US 78; we wound up landing nose down in the ditch.  In Potts Camp, Mississippi.


What brought all this up today?  The sky.  South Texas skies are very expressive, as I wrote about here.  Today’s spoke volumes.

Today’s sky was a hurricane sky.  Huge thunderheads; clouds at all levels; a general sense of foreboding; extremely hot and humid but no sun.  Hurricane clouds. 

Tropical Storm (soon to be Hurricane) Alex is churning up the Gulf, complicating the job of the people trying to contain the oil spill.  We’re much too far north for it….aren’t we?

So yes, today I gassed both of the cars, rechecked my hurricane kit, made sure to buy fresh batteries.  Alex may not come get us---but note that it starts with an “A”.  The season’s just beginning.



For hurricane information and tracking, go to the National Hurricane Center website.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Malvie Plan For Arkansas football, and some correspondence between old friends…

During the Conference Realignment Crisis (you know, the important crisis, not that oil thing down in the Gulf…), I had several thoughts, which I share forthwith.


After all the dust had settled, the Big 12 – 2 writers started speculating about bringing Arkansas back into the fold, following remarks from “a certain billionaire former all-SWC offensive lineman turned oilman turned NFL owner” that he missed the old rivalries, and would like to see the Big 12 – 2 add Notre Dame and Arkansas, I hereby present “The Malvie Plan” for Arkansas:

Let's go!  Big 12 - 2, here we'uns come!!!!

Jerry, here's the deal:  We need a guarantee of whatever texass u (spit) gets in TOTAL REVENUE FROM FOOTBALL----Conference payouts, bowl games, private TV network, etc---plus an additional 50%. 

So, if texass u (spit) gets, say, $30M from football (ticket sales plus concessions plus parking plus merchandising plus conference payout plus bowl payout plus TV network), then Jerry guarantees us the $30M plus $15M = $45M for that year, + an additional $5M automatic bonus each for beating texass u (spit) and chokela U (spit).

So, let's see, we have two tough games in texass u (spit) and chokela U (spit).  We split it, beat texass u (spit) (insert mental orgasms here), but lose tough to chokela U in Norman.  Jay-ree owes us $5M bonus plus our $45M payout = $50M.  Oh, and we get to keep our own Bowl Money.  We then, having lost that one game (having put tears in the eyes of Touchdown Jesus in South Bend), are 11-1 and play texass u (spit) again in the Big 11 + ND Championship game---and lose, sadly.  So, we cry all the way to the Big 11 + ND's auto bid BCS bowl, while texass u (spit), with one defeat, gets clobbered by Alabama in the MNC game. 

I think this is a very reasonable scenario; Jerry makes some serious bucks off the Cowboys, he can spare this small amount of "chump change" for dear old Mother of Mothers (we sing unto YOUUUUUUU!!! ---points toward F'ville).   We make Petrino our $lave for life; we pay off everything in sight (including razing the Broyles Complex, bowling in the stadium to total of 92k, raising the Pigscreen over the NEZ Upper Deck (where sit the students in free seats), buy the band new uniforms, fire Opie and hire Mike Anderson, renovate the newly revived BWA, bring seating capacity at Baum to 25k, and throw in some payola to keep the wimmins quiet competitive in Big 12 – 2 + ND and Arkansas action.

Meanwhile, for devising this master plan, I receive S EZ Outdoor Club tickets for life, plus tickets to all the away games in scenic Waco, Ames, Norman, Stillwater, Lubbock, et al.

What's wrong with this plan?  Nothing, I say, nothing. 

I rest my case.

(or, Jerry keeps his millions, ND eventually goes to the Big 10-or-so where they belong, and we stay in the SEC where we belong.  Makes no difference to me, as long as the financials are as outlined above, especially the part about free tix for me).



I had to swear off Baylor when they hired kenneth starr (spit) to be their President.

I only swore off Arkansas football (well, actually, never really swore off football...just stepped back, losing interest) the last couple of years that Rooty Tooty Fresh and Hooty was our football coach, when Petrino came on board I was satisfied and dropped it.  Right now, Arkansas basketball is dead to me until they get rid of Opie; once they do that (and please, this time, Long, can we get a REAL basketball coach to return our storied program to the greatness it deserves?), I'll be back on board.

I'm surprised nobody likes the reasonableness of my plan above....I mean, come on, Jerry, if you're going to stir the pot, put some freaking coins in it.  Otherwise, STFU.

Serious note:  Arkansas' joining the SEC was the best thing that ever happened to it (1964 and 1994 aside).  There were games in Fayetteville in the early 90's with 25,000 in attendance in a 50,000 seat stadium.  The stadium has been expanded to 76,000 and is solidly filled, even with rain or other weather conditions, for everything except possibly "no-name State" in the rain on the first day of deer season.  Arkansas is better off in every single way in the SEC.


Further:  IF TEXAS' LIPS ARE MOVING, THEY'RE LYING.  IF TEXAS' LIPS ARE MOVING, THEY'RE LYING.  IF TEXAS' LIPS ARE MOVING, THEY'RE LYING.  I say again:  IF TEXAS’ LIPS ARE MOVING, THEY’RE LYING.  We put up with that shit for 90+ years, for chryssake.  Why willingly jump back into bed with them?  "Oh, baby, I didn't mean it, I won't do it again."  Yeah.  Ok.  Sure. W-E.

I have had a hilarious time around here (Houston) listening to all the talk shows talking about how Arkansas "regrets" its decision to move to the SEC.  BTW, in almost every case, the person calling and saying such things is either (1) a Longhorn or (2) from Baylor.  You found very few Aggies who thought that, really nobody else. 

I really don't know of ANY Arkansas fans who really regret the SEC.  Now, many of us might regret that it's so far to Florida or Georgia or Tennessee that we can't drive there in a weekend.  Some of us (those old enough) miss the rivalry with Texas---but truly, the last time we played them, I thought, "WTF are we doing playing these people?"  I tried to get the old hate back---and failed.  I don't care about them any more, at least not as a rival.  Given the choice of beating Texas or beating Alabama, I'd rather beat Alabama.  Fuck Texas.  They're a non-con game when we schedule them.  Who cares?

This entire scenario (the whole thing) was brought to you by Texas.  They did it.  They started it.  They did as much as they could to set it up so that, if the Big 12 DID break up, it was Nebraska's or A&M's fault, certainly not sweet, innocent Texas, who only wanted to keep the conference together (sheds tear here), trying diligently to save as much as possible, while "OUTSIDE FORCES" were working to break them up! (They have been saying the same thing about Arkansas for 18 years; they -innocent Texas- did nothing wrong, it was mean old Arkansas that caused the breakup of the SWC.   It's astonishing to listen to the tripe coming out of Austin.  TEXAS COOKED THE WHOLE THING UP SO THEY COULD GET MORE MONEY.

I was impressed with the Aggies, who stood up and told Texas "No".  I was also surprised at Oklahoma (Oklahoma!  As in, 11 National championships or whatever they have!  One of the storied programs in college football, for real) saying "Yes, we want to be Texas' little bitch! (flaps eyelashes at Texas)".

Arkansas has the best thing it could possibly have going for it in the SEC.  We've been there *18 YEARS*.  We're not "new" any more.  There are full-grown humans who do not remember Arkansas ever being anywhere else. 

The answer for Arkansas is not to bolt to somewhere else; the answer is to do exactly what Petrino is doing:  build a winner on the Hill and everything else will fall into place.

Arkansas is where it belongs.


Correspondence between old friends:

Berry Tramel in The Oklahoman, "Why the Big 12 Conference Should be Calling the Hogs"

Dear Arkansas,

I know it’s been almost 80 years since we talked (other than that trip to the frozen Cotton Bowl in ‘02), really since we left the original SWC for the Big 8. 

As you recall, I used to be a prominent national powerhouse, and had a premiere game with Nebraska that was watched by millions.  That was great and things were going well for me; I did have the Red River Shootout thing going with Texas, but that was about the limit of my involvement with them.  Then you up and divorced Texas, and I screwed up and let them (and their little minions A&M, Baylor, and Tech) into my conference, and that’s when the trouble began.  Texas moved in, took over my and Nebraska’s nice little private home and sucked the life out of it.  They moved our headquarters to Dallas, stole our name, and bossed us around no end.  We had fun for a year or two, but then Nebraska got to where they weren’t feeling well.  Finally, they just packed their bags and left town, and it was just me and Texas.  I beat them on the football field, but now in every other way I’m just Texas's little bitch.

Of course, if YOU would come back home and be a little bitch for Texas too, then I wouldn't feel so lonely.  It would validate my mistake.  It would make me feel all better that I had somebody else in the conference to commiserate with about how horrible Texas is.  That way, I won't be the only one complaining about being hosed by the Texas refs and the Texas way of pushing me around, I'll have the first wife to commiserate with.  Of course, the little whiny pants outfits are still around, but you don’t need to worry about them, just come keep me company.

(Oh, your old friend Oklahoma State says, “Hey”.  They told me to tell you they missed your annual game, where’ve you been?)

Best regards and please respond soon,

Your old pal,



Dear Oklahoma,

Sorry I haven't written in a while, I've been really busy competing with Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, Ole Piss (spit), Moo U, Florida, and assorted other outfits; oh, and Alabama, too (and you know how they are…).

Listen, I appreciate the sentiment in your last letter, offering to have me come back, but here's the deal:  after I left Texas, I wound up moving into the best neighborhood in town.  Now, granted, I don't live in the biggest house, and I'm kind of at the end of the block, but the move allowed me to really fix up the house I have nicely.  Plus, I was able to fire the no-good hired help (the last one I had wound up going down the street to Ole Piss (spit), but then they never could manage the help after Vaught...) and now I've hired some really top-notch talent.

The streets here are made of gold (!) and I'm surrounded by the finest mansions in the country.  All I'd have to do at my age is sit here and let the royalty checks pour in, but I've hired a top-notch personal trainer who is whipping me back into shape so I can beat up on ANYBODY on the block.

I don't want you to think badly of me, but there's no way I'm moving back to that shanty by the river you're occupying with Texas.  You made that bed, now you'll have to lie in it.  I hope you and your friend A&M can some day find the strength you need to stand on your own and kick Texas to the curb---like I did.



(P.S. Tell Oklahoma State “Hey” for me as well.  Ask them if they’re still hanging around with that crazy oilman/windmill fella….).