Sunday, November 27, 2005

Time Finally Runs Out on the Hogs...

Hello everyone! As noted, time has finally run out on the Hogs' season. That means that all of my Kroger employees have to go back to wearing Kroger uniforms on Saturdays! Sorry! But hey, the NFL playoffs are around the horizon, & I will let my employees wear NFL gear on the weekends when the playoffs start. See? I'm not as cold-hearted as some of you think I am!

Anyway, the Hogs finish the season 4-7, 2-6 in the conference. The most frustrating stat about the Hogs this year is that the last three conference losses were by a combined 9 points - 4 to SC, 3 to Georgia, 2 to LSU. We lost by 4 to Vandy, 11 to Alabama, 17 to Auburn, but in the latter three games, we had leads in those games & could not hold on to them. The Hogs could have easily been 10-1 & playing in the SEC Championship game. As it is, LSU & Georgia play for the SEC Championship. I believe the winner of that game heads to the Sugar Bowl.

LSU has been a strange one this year. They come in 10-1, their one loss to a team that they should have beaten. They were up by 21 to Tennessee, but Tennessee came out of nowhere & beat LSU in overtime, 30-27. Not to mention that they almost had another meltdown this past Friday against the Hogs. They led at one point, 19-3, but the Hogs came out of nowhere & almost played spoiler. LSU won, 19-17, & it definitely was not pretty. There were two teams that had major meltdowns as the season progressed - Alabama & Georgia. Both teams started out 8-0 before falling apart. Alabama lost to LSU in OT & got creamed by Auburn. Georgia lost two in a row after D.J. Shockley got injured against the Hogs. It almost made me wonder who wants the SEC Championship bad enough to take it.

The most inconsistent team in the SEC this season? My vote is for Vanderbilt. Vandy gets their first road SEC victory in four years this season against the Hogs, then loses to a division II team (Middle Tenn. St.), then takes Florida to the limit (Florida beat Vandy in 2OT)? What is up with that?

The biggest, most welcome surprise in the SEC? My vote goes to South Carolina. After the embarrassment of the fourth-quarter incident in last years' Clemson game, and after Lou Holtz retiring, I thought that teams would walk all over SC this season. Wrong. Steve Spurrier is back on top this season, SC got very huge victories over Tennessee and Florida this year (I especially loved seeing SC beat Florida), and SC is heading to a bowl game, which was the #1 goal of Spurrier this season. Also, beating Florida this season was HUGE for recruiting. I personally think that the tide is turning, & in future seasons, SC is going to be the standard-bearer for the SEC.

Although, and this question is directed to my friend nettiemac, why did SC lose to Clemson this year?? I know it really pains you to hear that question! Oh well - I'll give credit where credit is due: Clemson is tough. But SC still should have beaten them.

Biggest meltdown this season? DUH! Tennessee. They started the season ranked in the top 5, then collapsed right from the beginning. They lost to SC for the very first time in history in Knoxville, then lose to Vandy, got creamed by Notre Dame, the list is endless. Dishonorable mention: the Arkansas Razorbacks. After losing to Vandy the second game of the season, I told myself that the season is already over. 2-6 in the SEC, 4-7 overall - need I say more?

At least this season, the national title picture is very clear. USC and Texas are the two best teams in the NCAA. OK, so Texas did struggle a little against Texas A&M this past Friday, but this is a rivalry in which records do not matter. Those two teams will ALWAYS play each other tough. Think of Dallas & Washington in the NFL. Everytime they collide, it is always a good game. Texas vs. Texas A&M is no exception. However, as much as I would love to see my Longhorns bring home a national championship, I believe USC is too tough. I don't think it will be an embarrassment like what USC did to Oklahoma last year. I think this game will be much closer. But I still think USC will make it two in a row. Nevertheless, I will be cheering for the Longhorns! Hook 'em Horns!!

I will also cheer for the SEC teams playing in bowl games this season: LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, & Florida will all represent the SEC in bowl games. Go SEC!!

More to come later...

Bolivar "Have I gone football mad here?" Shagnasty

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Weekend of Reflection...

This past weekend, I was very fortunate to have a 4-day weekend. I was off Friday, Saturday, Sunday, & Monday. The strange thing is that I only requested Sunday off to go to Jonesboro to see my aunt & my grandmother. And yet, my boss was nice enough to extend it for me. How cool was that?

So, this past Friday, I went to a "singles" function with the singles group at 1st Assembly of God in Hot Springs. A friend of mine goes there, & she was nice enough to invite me. There were about 10 of us that showed up, & we decided to go bowling. We went to Fiesta Lanes in HS Village, & I embarrassed everyone there - we bowled 2 games, & my first game was a 223. It was the best game I had bowled since 1999. My second was OK, but not as good as the first one - my second game was a 166. We then decided to go to O'Briens for some really good pizza & an even better chat. The ones that were left at 2 a.m. went to I-Hop for some coffee. It was a real fun night that ended on a bad note - when we went back to the church, all the cars on the parking lot (there were 5) had gotten shoe-polished. Since I had just bought my new car, I was not amused. Fortunately, the stuff came off easily. I told my aunt about this, & she told me to lighten up! Can you believe that? I'm sorry - that is one of my pet peeves. And, correct me if I am wrong, but in America, don't we call that "vandalism"? And, correct me once again if I am wrong, but isn't vandalism still illegal?? Just checking.

Anyway, on Saturday, I took the Liberty for the first real road trip - about a three-and-a-half drive from HS to Jonesboro. I got to Jonesboro about 8 in the evening, & drove around for a little while. I spent the night with my aunt & my grandmother, & we woke up & went to church Sunday morning. We went to Colton's after church, & I drove by the church that my ex-wife & I used to go to. My in-laws' cars were there. I felt a real sinking feeling. Anyway, I told my aunt & my grandmother that, on one Sunday, we should walk in my old church & see my in-laws. Just go in and sit down & enjoy the sermon. I know, for a fact, that this would piss my in-laws off, as well as anyone else who is close to them. If that happens, then we have achieved our goals! My aunt & my grandmother LOVED this idea. As soon as the divorce is final, on one Sunday morning, this will become a reality. My aunt has also told me to call her on the day the divorce is final. I asked why, & she told me that she will give my ex's parents a little piece of her mind. A few months ago, they spread rumors about me being an alcoholic (which is definitely not true), and the rumors got back to my aunt. She is very pissed off, understandably so. So, to the parents of my soon-to-be-ex, I have one word of advice when you see my aunt: RUN.

As soon as I left my aunt's house, I drove around Jonesboro for a little while before leaving town. There are so many memories connected with that town. I drove by certain places that hold deep meanings for me. I drove by my in-laws' house, but I didn't stop. I drove by places that I lived in - that terrible trailer, the townhouse where my ex and I had so many wonderful memories (and where I confessed my love for my ex), the first house that we bought together, the second house that we bought together, all the places we ate at (Perkins, Dixie Cafe, the China Garden, just to name a few), and so on. I remember those places and the times we spent & the activities that we had done. I had remembered them with fondness. And then I remembered all the sh*t that my ex has put me through over the last 14 months. It made all the fond memories seem cheap and worthless. It is really sad.

I did cheer myself up somewhat by going to Hastings & buying some used CDs. Here is what I got:

1. Queensryche: "Empire" (remastered)

Yeah, I know, hair band, but these guys rocked back in the late 80s/early 90s. "Jet City Woman" is a cool song, in my opinion.

2. Tom Waits: "Bone Machine"

Yeah, I know, no voice is better than Waits' voice, but he wrote some killer songs. "Earth Died Screaming", with special guest Les Claypool (Primus), is one of Waits' best songs.

3. Richard Thompson: "You? Me? Us?"

This was a really good find, since this is now out-of-print. As far as I'm concerned, I rank Thompson with Dylan, Neil Young, & Van Morrison as the best singer/songwriters of all time. This may not be his best one (that vote goes to 1982's "Shoot Out the Lights" & 1999's "Mock Tudor"), but it is still pretty damn good.

4. Gordon Lightfoot: "Gord's Gold, Vol. 2"

Worth owning if only for "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", one of the best story-songs ever written.

5. Tim Buckley: "The Dream Belongs to Me: Rare & Unreleased 1968/1973"

I am a Buckley fan - Tim and Jeff. Great songwriters & performers who left us way too soon. And say what you will - Jeff Buckley's "Grace" is in my top 5 list as far as best CDs released in the 1990s. Take it or leave it...

I slept in on Monday. Paid my cable bill & went to Rockie's Corner for Monday Night Football. Great game, even though the Vikings beat the Packers on a last-second field goal, 20-17. Ate way too much pizza, drank way too much beer, but I had a hell of a time with some good friends, despite the Packers losing. Anyway, we are looking forward to next Monday night - the undefeated Colts vs. the Steelers. I am making a prediction: the Colts will not be undefeated after next Monday night. The Steelers will beat the Colts. The Colts will look at this loss as a wake-up call, & will dominate in the playoffs. Only time will tell, to quote John Wetton.

All in all, a good weekend, & a message to me that I do have issues that I have to deal with, thanks to my ex-wife. First and foremost is trust. Will I be able to trust another woman again? Only time will tell... Will I be able to open myself up to another woman again? Only time will tell... Will I be able to fall in love with another woman again? Only time will tell... One thing I do know is that, as I said in my profile, not all women are like my ex-wife. I know that there is someone who thinks the world of me & that could fall for me. But at one time, my ex-wife did. And when the one person you want to be with the rest of your life betrays you, what is left? I did learn something from my ex-wife, though. She always spoke of walls she built around herself. I had no idea what she was talking about back then. I do now. It's just another issue I have to deal with - who is capable of tearing down these walls I have built around me? I have certain friends that I don't need walls for - Talmadge & Seraphim are very dear to my heart. But everyone else... good luck.

Is it worth still dealing with this? I still have nightmares, at least once a week, about my ex. I thought that my life would be more peaceful, more calm. I think that I am getting a rude wake-up call. I know that time heals all wounds, but a lot of time will be invested in this. I have never been a person I want someone to pity - I am just expressing a feeling. I never want anyone to feel sorry for me - I am just expressing a feeling. But what I have been through, and still going through - this is just wrong. No one - and I mean no one - should ever go through this. So, if you are, remember - you have a kindred spirit in Hot Springs.

Until next time, my bloggers, take care.

Bolivar "Actually, time wounds all heels" Shagnasty

Friday, November 11, 2005

Freedom, part 1: Baby, You Can Drive My Car

Hello there ladies & gentlemen / hello there ladies & gents / are you ready to rock / are you ready to rock?

Freedom - what a word! Notice "part 1" - more to come.

However, let's do part 1. This past Friday (11/4), I took a game piece to Riser Ford in Hot Springs. The game piece stated that if two numbers matched, I won. So, I won $5 on a game piece at Riser, & while I was there, I went to look at some cars. This really cool guy named Joe saw me looking, & he asked if I needed assistance. I told him that I was interested in getting another car, & I had a $2000 trade-in voucher from Riser that I had gotten in the mail.

Before I go any further, I should go into a little history about my last car. It was a 1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue that I had bought on July 31, 2000, which was my 32nd birthday. I had just gotten the Corsica paid off, but my ex-wife insisted that, if I get sent to management training, I need a newer car. So, I bought the Intrigue, & for quite a while, it was a nice car. In the six months between the time I left for management school & the time I finally got the ex in Hot Springs, I easily put about 15,000 miles on the car. I had just about gotten it paid off when, in February of this year, I lose the transmission. I had to get the transmission rebuilt, which cost about $2500, then in September, I had a wreck. I got the car out of the shop three weeks ago, but it just didn't feel the same. Then, last Friday evening (11/4), I ran out of gas about a quarter of a mile from my house, & the trip odometer said that I had only put 200 miles between fill-ups on my car. Let's see - 200 miles on a 15 gallon tank - it averages about 13 miles a gallon. I took that as a sign. It's time for a newer car.

So, after speaking with Joe & collecting the $5, I went back to work. After work, I went back on the car lot & looked some more before heading home.

I went in earlier than usual last Saturday (11/5), because I had needed to take an extended lunch break. I went back to Riser. I test-drove a Ford Mustang for starters. It was OK, but I remembered my ex-sister-in-law having major problems with her Mustang. I also test drove an Explorer - no, thank you. I tested out a Toyota Tacoma - it was OK, but I felt that the price was a little steep considering that it already had 30,000 miles on it. So I passed on that.

Then, I saw a burnt orange Jeep Liberty SUV. It was a 2002 model with 30,000 miles on it. Joe then asked me what kind of car payments was I interested in. I told him that I wanted somewhere in the $350 a month range. He then directed me to a 2005 Liberty with only 9,000 miles on it. He persuaded me to test-drive that one. He also told me that if I liked it, he would talk to his boss & see what he could do. Anyway, I tested it & fell in love with it. I then told him let's see about a deal. He then had a meeting with his boss, & then he came back to me with the offer. He told me that he tried to talk him to $350/month, but the best he could do was $372/month. I told him let's deal.

So, now, I am the new owner of a 2005 white Jeep Liberty SUV. And I love it. It is really a sharp ride. And 5 more years of payments are under way! Whoopie!!

Well, that's it for this one. More to come...

Good night now ladies & gentlemen / good night now ladies & gents / it's the end of the show / now it's time to go...

Bolivar "Liberty" Shagnasty

Friday, November 04, 2005

Razorback Stew

Football season is in full swing. And if you live in Arkansas, that means Razorback Football!! And if you've read this far, you are probably sobbing.

On Saturday, November 5, Arkansas plays South Carolina. So much is riding on this game. For South Carolina, who comes in 5-3, all they need is one more win to become bowl eligible. For Arkansas, it means a bright light in a pretty depressing season; we are 2-5 so far, and we have not won a conference game this year. Arkansas needs to win out against SC, then against Ole Miss, then Miss. St., then must travel to Baton Rouge to take on LSU, to become bowl eligible at 6-5. So what are the Hogs' odds? You'd have an easier time getting Dan Quayle elected president than for the Hogs to win out.

SC comes in on a high note, coming off one of the greatest victories that football program has ever had, beating Tennesee in Knoxville for the very first time last week, 16-15. Keep in mind that after Arkansas, their road gets tougher, but beating Arkansas makes them bowl eligible. So, SC will be coming in with a purpose.

For me, and I am a Razorback fan, the Hogs season ended for me after the second game of the season, when Vanderbilt beat the Hogs 28-24. It was Vandy's first road SEC victory in four years, and it came at the expense of the Hogs. I knew USC would tear us apart, and they did, 70-17. Since then, we beat N. Texas, but lost to Alabama, Auburn, & Georgia. In all fairness, we were in those three games, played tough, but we couldn't close the deal.

To a certain extent, we did play spoiler against Georgia. Starting Bulldog quarterback D. J. Shockley injured his knee against the Hogs & did not play last week against Florida. They needed him - Florida beat Georgia 14-10. Shockley is the most underrated QB in the NCAA, & his leadership on the field was sorely missed last week. Had he been healthy, I believe Georgia would still be undefeated. As it is, Georgia needs to win out to get to the SEC championship game against Alabama (can you believe they are 8-0?).

Even though I am a Razorback fan, I am an even bigger fan of the Texas Longhorns! We are on course for a USC-Texas showdown for the national title. And my pick for Heisman? Texas QB Vince Young. Someone is napping if he doesn't win.

As for SC, Steve Spurrier said at the beginning of the season that the goal was getting to a bowl game. Well, Steve, you are one victory away.

I know Nettiemac is reading this, & being from SC, I know she will probably have some input. Here is my final score prediction: South Carolina 24, Arkansas 14.

Sorry, Hogs. Just can't work up the confidence this season. However, a lot of freshmen are getting playing time this season. Hope for the future? We'll see.


Bolivar "Hook 'em Horns!!" Shagnasty

Scary Halloweens

Hello!! I hope everyone had a great Halloween. It was everything I expected it to be in Hot Springs. How I spent my Halloween...

Let's see - I woke up about 10 a.m. (didn't get home until 2:30 that morning), went to deposit my check at the bank, & had lunch at Ryan's Cafe. During this time, it clouds up & starts raining heavy. Good thing - my yard desperately needed it! I went to Kroger & chatted with my boss for a few minutes before buying some "marked down" Halloween candy. I bought 5 bags of candy, then went home. I prepared for the kids to come over, & I also did some house cleaning before they came by. Most importantly, I musically set the mood for Halloween. Aah, the sweet, smooth, soothing sounds of... OZZY! BLACK SABBATH! SLAYER! ARTHUR BROWN! Aah, yes. I also put on the edited version of "Tubular Bells" (of course, everyone knows this from "The Exorcist").

However, I stumbled upon another CD that I had forgotten about. All it said was "Halloween Mix" on it. I popped the CD in, and first song was "Paint It Black" by the Stones. Then it had the original version of "I Put a Spell on You" by Screaming Jay Hawkins. It also had the theme from "Psycho", which still scares me 25 years after first viewing the movie as a pre-teen (oh, let's get one thing clear right now: the original Hitchcock version of "Psycho" was scary; the remake in the late 90s was just plain stupid). It had some songs that I had never heard before, & after playing the CD, along with candles burning in the house & rain continuing to fall outside, I just felt a real eerie feeling. Things are not what they seem... In trance comes close to describing the feeling. Put into perspective every twist my life has taken in the last year, & it was pretty scary.

I tried to remember who burned this CD for me, & it hit me - one of my ex-workers burned this for me about 2 years ago. So, Sean, thanks for the CD, & extra kudos to you for putting Tom Waits' "Earth Died Screaming" on the CD (Waits is pretty cool, shot voice and all).

Kids came to the house, & I handed out lots of candy. There was one cool part about the kids - there were 8 kids at the front door at one time - four teenagers & four pre-teens. The music was blaring from the stereo. "Psycho" music was playing. I got all the kids silent for just a second. I told them, "Listen..." When it got real silent, those sharp violins played (you know the part where Janet Leigh gets stabbed... yeah, that part). I thought 8 kids were going to wet their costumes! Yes, I know, I am a sick man...

After the kids went to their respective houses, I made dinner & watched "Final Destination 2" on USA network. No, this movie was not about Arkansas, so don't even ask!

Anyway, "I Put a Spell on You" is another song that needs a killer karaoke treatment. I'll do it & dedicate it to my friend Nettiemac! Kudos to you, sweets!!

Dat's it for dis one! More to come...

~Bolivar "I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you..." Shagnasty