SPOILER ALERT — Top 10 Hogs Blogs from 2015

(Happy New Year from New Zealand!  Here are our favorites from 2015, with the more serious ones at the bottom. Cheers.)

 

 

Bobby and buddies from the Norman High School "Trail".

Bobby, left, and buddies, circa 1973 — NHS “Trail”.

The older you get, the more you understand how hard it is to find a “good man” in this life.

The outpouring of emotion this week in Oklahoma, following the premature death of TV sportscaster Bob Barry, Jr., proved that in spades.

I honestly encourage you to have a look at “BBJ’s” memorial service, which was televised live.  It is compelling, heart-rending and enlightening viewing.

Loving husband? Check.

Doting father? Check.

All round good guy? Check.

Even so, I’ve heard of many men who checked all these boxes.

But in my 35 years of working in or with (frequently “precious”) media types, I have never seen such a tidal wave of love from friends, colleagues, competitors and “plain, old, everyday people.”

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Junior on keys for the Rat Pack.

 

Junior emailed me this morning that he would go ashore in Ecuador and Skype us in the afternoon.

Which was great, except that he didn’t say whether this would be HIS afternoon in Ecuador or OUR afternoon in New Zealand.

As it turns out, it was both — his 6 p.m. and our noon.   Win!

Except that wi-fi had not come to Ecuador.

Everything would have been just fine if he’d been in Peru, which is where I thought he was and which has wi-fi.

Who knew there was any difference between Ecuador and Peru?  I mean, they are both somewhere in South America. Or possibly Africa.

I’m not totally sure about that.

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(WARNING: reading this blog could give you hypoglycemia)

bazooka-bubble-gum-box

I honestly don’t know why Mr. Uhles put up with us.

He ran the neighborhood store that was exactly 79 steps from my best friend Steve Madden’s front door on Nebraska Street.

We went there so often we wore a trail along Berry Road to Mr. Uhles’ store.

We loved his store, but we hated his old, asphalt parking lot.

It would heat up to about a billion degrees in Oklahoma summer.

Since we were always barefoot, we’d have to hot-foot it across the “lava”, trying not to get a stubbed toe or cut on glass or concussed by our buddy (because boys are always smashing each other just for fun).

Mrs. Uhles had let it be know that we had to smarten up before coming into her store.

That meant wiping the small stones and tar and glass and goatheads from our feet.

Once accomplished, we’d then storm into the store like the U.S. Marines.

At least 900 times every single summer day.

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Somebody posted a photo recently of a goat head, the evil nemesis of my youth.

I cannot hardly express how much I hated those things.

If you grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, you didn’t wear shoes during the summer.

Every now and again, you’d step on those suckers.

They’d stab you right in your heal, and bury the “horns” to the hilt.

When you tried to rip them out, half the time the “horn” would stay embedded in your heel, and blood would start trickling out.

That would cost you important play time, because you’d have to limp home so your Mom could perform surgery, using a needle, tweezers and Methiolate.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the wound would ache for days, because the evil goat heads had some kind of poison in them.

It was sort of like getting finned by a catfish on your bare foot.

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My Great Grandma Ashley wasn’t big as a minute.

So when she threatened to whip me, I wasn’t scared, even at age three or four.

Besides, when she threatened to swat me, she was smiling that sweet old lady smile.

And brandishing her embroidered hankie — that’s what she was going to whip me with.

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Fightball

 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Writers are supposed to write 1,000 words a day.

Rain or shine.

Summer and winter.

In sickness and in health.

Or something like that.

But this blog has been on something of a hiatas  hiatias hieties break of late, especially from funny.  We have none.

We did manage to blog about Great Grandma Ashley, who was a pistol, and Millennial Douches, but we have no funny.

We blame it on Kris Wehrmeister, my butthead writer friend in Oregon.

Her insanely funny new book, Fightball: Dying of Suck, which YOU CAN BUY RIGHT NOW ON AMAZON!, has pretty much sucked all the available humor molecules right out of the whole entire universe.

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miracles happen

(Editor’s Note:  I wrote this and three other stories as part of what I’d hoped would be a book on miracles. That did not happen, so this will.)

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One of the hardest things I ever did was emigrate to New Zealand in 1993, but that’s what was required by my young family.

My Mom had a chronic, debilitating lung disease that not even the Centers for Disease Control could diagnose.  I knew she was not going to get better.  So moving halfway around the world was really hard.

Thankfully, we got to stay with Mom and my step-dad C.B. for about a month while waiting for NZ Immigration to give us the go-ahead.

The delays and red tape about drove my Missus crazy.  But I saw it as a time of grace that gave me precious extra time to spend with Mom.  This was enormously important to me, because I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again.

We made the most of our time, cherishing the simple things.  Mom and I would take short walks, talk, eat, play with my 4-year-old son, and laugh a lot.  Then at night, I would beat Mom.

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(Editor’s note: Part Two of Four Stories on My Miracles)

miracles happen part 2 version one fr rookey and our lade

Back in August, I wrote about the many miracles that surrounded my Mother’s death in 1996.  But, I never mentioned the related miracles that occurred in New Zealand … until now.

In 1994 or 1995, Mom was on oxygen 24/7 and had wasted away to 75 pounds. An undiagnosed spore had destroyed her lungs and was killing her. We were all praying for a miracle.

So when I was asked to organize a “healing Mass” in Auckland, New Zealand, by a miracle-worker named Father Peter Mary Rookey, I said ‘yes’! But only after I’d done a fair bit of homework to ensure his bonafides, as old reporters are wont to do.

My research included reading Man of Miracles, the book respected British journalist Heather Parsons wrote about “the famous healing priest from Chicago”, who himself had miraculously regained his sight as a young child.

Fr Peter Rookey

Heather had “embedded” herself in Fr Rookey’s healing ministry, following him across Ireland, and chronicling what she called “miracles of biblical proportion”.

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Yesterday, I was shopping in our version of Walmart when I saw her.

The first thing I noticed was her short, purple hair.

Then the “circus tent” dress, her 350-pound bulk, and the painfully swollen feet that were somehow stuffed into brightly colored Crocs.

I thought to myself, “I bet Mom would’ve loved this lady.”

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(A very, very serious one about abortion)

Oh little baby, you’ll never cry, nor will you hear a sweet lullabye. 

Oh unborn child, if you only knew just what your momma was plannin’ to do.

You’re still a-clingin’ to the tree of life, but soon you’ll be cut off before you get ripe.

When I was a senior at Norman High School, in 1974, I remember happily buying the new Seals & Crofts album, then getting really angry at the lyrics to the cover song.

It was the year after the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, five years after Woodstock’s “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”, and six years after Pope Paul VI released his encyclical Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life).

I was a heathen and a virgin.

The LAST thing I wanted was some “anti-abortion” musicians moralizing their way into my bedroom.

Turns out, nobody else did either.

We were Baby Boomers, and it was all about us, not some unborn child.

Sadly, that sweet song could do precious little to hold back the abortion tsunami.

So now, 42 years after Roe v Wade, these are the *facts:

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Marvelous Meadowlark

Meadowlark

“My leg, my leg!”

Poor Meadowlark Lemon would hold his leg and wail in agony.

So loud that everybody in the huge basketball arena could hear him.

And, somehow, as his teammates helped him limp around the court, in comedic agony, the magic would happen.

The Globies would introduce the basketball that would not bounce.

Or the lopsided ball that would roll down the court like a drunk.

Or the water bucket filled with confetti that Meadowlark would use to douse a fan.

There was nobody like the Harlem Globetrotters or Meadowlark, the “Clown Prince” of basketball.

Listening to Sweet Georgia Brown still makes me smile.

Meadowlark played in more than 16,000 games for the Globetrotters and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

And I got to see him play in the mid-sixties, thanks to my best friend Steve Madden.

His Dad, Sam, took us all the way to Oklahoma City to see the Globies, and we laughed and laughed and laughed.  We never forgot Meadowlark.

He’s the reason Steve and I spent every Saturday morning of the world in Building 92 on the South Base, shooting thousands of half-court hook shots (and the occasional kick), trying to be like Meadowlark.

When I grew up, I discovered there was only one degree of separation between me and Meadowlark.

Back in 1979 or so, I was a student journalist at the University of Texas at Arlington. My first assignment for the student newspaper was to interview the great Wilt Chamberlain.

Wilt played with Meadowlark in the 50’s and 60’s.

He said, “Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I’ve ever seen. People would say it would be Dr. J or even Michael Jordan. For me, it would be Meadowlark Lemon.”

For me, too.  He was the best.

 


An Attitude of Gratitude at Christmas

gratitude-journal-745x395

We are sitting here wearing our NHS 30th Anniversary t-shirt and our once-were-nice-until-we-got-yard-chemicals-on-them camo shorts, while drinking a $9 bottle of Heineken.

This means that: we have totally down-tooled for Christmas; we are as per always waiting for the Missus at the mall; and we’re getting gouged by this flashy new restaurant.

We have two hours up our sleeve while the Missus gets “just-a-few-things”, so we shall spend it writing this blog on GRATITUDE, because this is not something that comes naturally to Hogs but is a good think to think about.  Here goes:

We are grateful for:

  • Junior kicking ass and taking names this year musically, including his five-month, world-cruise gig on Crystal Serenity, writing some bodaciously awesome new tunes, gigging with some pretty awesome Kiwi muzos, and even scoping out the studio he wants to record in;

Read More…

Get Mad at that Damn Deck!

Westbrook angry

I just realized that I paint the front deck like Russell Westbrook goes to the rim.

Russ hates that damn rim.

And I hate that damn deck.

Russ and I have the very same DNA of RAGE.

And when we tap into it, Missy, you best get out of the way.

Read More…

Duck Med

Duck Med

Pretty much for the last month, I’d say 99% of my discussions with the Missus have been duck related.

Most of the conversations begin with her walking into the living room and saying, “They are just so INTERESTING”.

At which point I might as well turn off the TV or close my book because, for up to an hour, the Missus will explain how each duck walks and talks and eats and swims and quacks.

And how this particular duck has a dirty face and that duck has a funny walk.

As you might guess, watching the Missus explain all this is far more entertaining than watching Richard Attenborough doing one of his nature shows.

Because he only talks about stuff.

The Singaporean Missus acts out her duck stories, complete with “zooooooming” (duck chases), “peck-peck-pecking” (self-explanatory), and “splashy-splashy-quacking” (see photo above).

In our initial DUCKDATE, we explained a lot about the Missus and her ducks.

Read More…

Mother Nature Always Wins, And Here’s the Itch

?

Stupid, evil tree of itch

This blog has mentioned before that men are creatures of action.

Sure, we spend 99% of the time in our recliners. But that other 1%? When we are in the yard and armed with cutting devices? We are  creatures of action.

And once we get a head of steam? There is no stopping us.

We will cut and saw and slash and burn the greenery until the cows come home. And then we will cut and saw and slash and burn the cattle.  It’s what men do.

Men think greenery should be trimmed to within an inch of its life.  That way you don’t have to trim it again until next year. Or maybe never, if you do a really good trimming job and it dies.

Tragically, this angers women folk — namely, the Missus and, even worse, Mother Nature.

Women folk believe trimming trees should be done as carefully as brain surgery.  And they grow certain kinds of plants designed to keep me away.

These plants and bushes and trees usually explode into a wondrous range of reds and yellows and general prettiness once a year.

It makes the women folk all misty eyed.  It makes men want to trim.

stupid tree 2

Stupid Evil Tree of Itch

Case in point, we give you the Rhus tree (toxicodendron).  We assume the name translates to “will turn a man’s body into an oozing, itching red rash of great pain”.

Oozing Tree

A few days ago, we decided to get out of our recliner (read “get away from the Missus”), and go out into the yard.

We honestly had no intention of actually cutting anything.  But we live in the west Auckland suburb of “Titirangi”, which is Maori for “The Fringe of Heaven”.

In Titirangi, Mother Nature insists that everything grows quickly.  So if you don’t stay on top of it, you will find yourself living inside a tree, because greenery will come in through your windows as you sleep.

At first, we sere content to get the small hedge trimmer and do only a little bit of trimming.

But, of course, one thing led to another.  And the vine trimming session turned into our annual Jihad Against Mother Nature.

tree cutter

We hauled out the 12-foot-long, spring loaded, two section, rope driven Secatur of Death that will cut through steel.

And we decided to trim the hated Rhus tree that has been covering our camper van with leaves and sap and blocks our bedroom’s sun.

And by “trim” we really mean “kill the bastard”.

So despite our bad neck, for the next hour we looked upwards and cut the absolute crap out of the stupid sappy, bee-attracting Rhus tree.

We did not mind the fact that limbs would frequently fall straight down, scratching our face and arms, and occasionally stabbing into our brain.

Manly men do not care about minor flesh wounds when we are in a cutting rut.  Nor do we mind a little itching as we gather up armfuls of branches and leaves.

But we do mind, about an hour later, when we have to put down our beer and go into the bathroom to see why we feel like napalm was dropped on us.

On this occasion, there were super itchy bumps covering about three-quarters of our body including, and there is no way to say this delicately, the Johnson Region.  

It itched so bad you had to scratch, and scratching made it itch even worse.

After three miserable days, we still had not found the right combination of creams and pills and vinegars to make the angry red bumps and blotchy rashes go away.

The Missus, still angry about the wee trimming of her favorite tree, decided that it was not enough to quietly enjoy my misery.

She needed to rub it in by reminding me that I am way allergic to this tree, a fact she claims to gave mentioned every year.

She then decided to read to me from her big fat gardening book:

Allergy: Toxicodendron species  contasin oleoresins known collectively as urushiol. In susceptible individuals, these compounds trigger a type IV delayed hypersensitivity reaction:  a “bullous allergic contact dermatitis.

Especially to some men’s Johnson Zone, turns out.

Bugger.

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Go HERE for other stories about men being stupid out in the yard.

My Buddy Dallas — The Baddest Bull in the Ring Ever

I went to Cleveland Elementary School, and we won Norman’s unofficial  city championship in 1967 when I was in sixth grade.

We had some great players, including a kid named Dallas.  Appropriately enough, he wore a beat up old Dallas Cowboy’s helmet.

It looked like somebody had beaten it with different colored baseball bats and then run over it with a truck. 

The rest of us wore shiny new white helmets, with a black stripe down the middle, custom-made with electrical tape by our coach.

But Dallas insisted on wearing his Cowboys helmet. 

In pregame warm-ups, the other teams would usually smart off at him.

“Did you get that helmet at the the dump or the Salvation Army, hahahahahaha?”

Big mistake. 

See, Dallas was the most easy-going kid you ever wanted to met, but he loved that helmet.

So, on the first play of most games, especially if we started the game on defense, you’d hear a horrible KABOOM.

Like a bomb had gone off.   

Parents from neighboring fields would come running to see if their children were still alive.

Dallas would be standing over the kid who had smarted off about his helmet, and who he had just smashed. 

He wouldn’t say a word. He’d just smile. Then he’d help the woozy kid up.

Nobody hit like Dallas.  He was legendary in grade school football. But things changed the next year when we went to West Junior High.

The seventh grade coach didn’t know any of us, and he was not very good at spotting talent.

It was easy for me to get noticed because I was fast and had one hand. And maybe a big mouth.

I don’t think Dallas was even on the second team.  I suggested to the coach that we end the first week of practice playing “Bull in the Ring”.

Ever heard of that? 

It’s where you put one kid in the middle, and then everybody forms a circle around him.

The coach yells out a name at random, and that kid rushes toward the kid in the middle, who is the bull.

If you knock the other kid out of the ring, you become the bull. At least, theoretically. 

Because nobody ever beat Dallas.

Remember the cartoon about a big, red bull who smashed every other bull out of the field?  I mean, wayyyy out of the field?  

That was Dallas. 

A lot of young men lost their lives that day at West Junior High.  But Dallas won a starting job, so it was worth it.

And, yes, he was still wearing the beat up old Dallas Cowboys helmet that he so dearly loved. 

Those were great days.