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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Shreveport moves to The Times

The In Shreveport blog has found a new home at

You can now find me here.

Come say hello!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Meet my newest newsroom neighbor

This arrangement, standing at 4 feet, arrived at the office for me yesterday and my first thought was, "Surely there has been a mistake." The delivery arrived mid-morning. When Peaches called my name and pointed at the gigantic arrangement, the only thing I could do was point to myself and say, "me?"

To my surprise, she nodded yes.

I haven't received flowers in a long time, and I had no idea who they could be from. The only reasonable answer was that some florist had made a mistake. I walked over to Peaches' desk and checked the card. Sure enough, they were for me and photographer Val Horvath.

Everyone in the office wanted to know who they were from, and there was some shock when I said, "a biker bar." Val and I recently did a story on steak night at Coyote's Bar and owner Leslie Conger sent flowers to say thanks.

They currently sit to the left of my desk, towering over me, and they've been a conversation starter for our newsroom. Here are some of the comments from myself and fellow Times staffers:

"I think Rod's going to offer it a position on the copy desk."

"It's like you're sitting underneath your own personal shade tree."

"Those flowers were in my dream last night."

"I keep thinking they're going to lean over and start pecking me on the head."

"I'm not sure who's taller, you or the flowers."

"You never know what to expect during the day. But you never plan to come to work and see something like that."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

(Almost) every golfer has his day

I've played golf since I was in elementary school. I remember my first bag of clubs, my first pair of golf shoes, lessons with my dad and local pros and many terrible rounds of learning.

My family loves golf so much that many, many years ago they put their construction skills to good use and built their own golf course. Nine of the 18 holes are topped off with tall lights, similar to those used at the old Baptist Ballpark, allowing people to play long after the sun sets. Back then it was one of the first courses in the country to do such a thing and to this day you won't find many other night courses around.

The course design is simple, mostly Par 3s, and it yields itself to an easy hole-in-one. Well, as easy as a hole-in-one ever comes to a player. Even with a home field advantage, I've never had a hole-in-one. My brothers have. The last time I counted, my 16-year-old brother had made 13. His hole-in-ones are equal to his years playing the game.

I've come close, but close doesn't cut it or get your name printed in the agate. I've played and payed my dues, why no hole-in-one? The game continues to prove none of us are worthy. Golf seems to choose your time and victories. That shot you nailed yesterday on the right hole with that magic club, well, in the golf world all of that could land you OB the very next day. It's merciless.

This is my only explanation for a story I read today. How does an 85-year-old blind guy make a hole-in-one, but I can't seem to make it happen? I've sacrificed many white orbs to the Golf Gods over the years, but my time has yet to come. No doubt I'll continue to pay my dues, and pray, and maybe one day the game will shine on me too.

Legally Blind Golfer, 85, Gets Ace

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) -- An 85-year-old legally blind golfer from southern Arizona made a hole-in-one this week on a par-3 course. Robert Dunham accomplished the feat on the third hole at Tortuga in Green Valley.

Playing with a group of fellow blind veterans enrolled in a Veterans Affairs health care system program, Dunham's volunteer assistant lined him up with the ball, handed him a 9-iron and stepped back.

Dunham swung through the ball, hit it squarely and it landed softly on the green, taking one hop before nestling into the bottom of the cup.

Dunham's group erupted into a cacophony of cheers and high-fives.

The World War II vet's first reaction?

"I thought they were kidding me," Dunham said. "I told them, 'You guys better not be pulling my leg.'"

The retired Honeywell manager began losing his vision about 10 years ago, but has been in the VA program for only three weeks.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Augusta's forever in my heart

At this time last year I was eating a turkey sandwich in Amen Corner with my best friend. Today, I'm at work with the first round of the Masters in full swing at Augusta.

I'm trying to not complain too much about it, but I'd be lying if I said my heart wasn't hurting a little bit today. I know how lucky I am. Most people don't get to walk onto Augusta National. And even fewer people get to witness the Sunday round of golf's most prestigious major. I was fortunate enough to do both.

My friend, LJ, who went to the Masters with me last year, feels a similar pain. This morning, just after the first round began we fired off a string of text messages reminiscing about our day in the gallery.

LJ: I know you are probably just getting up but I had to share my emotions with someone. I just watched Arno tee off. I'm a little misty eyed now.
STEPH: I know. We did not consider the after effects of Augusta.
LJ: I'm going to need counseling. I mean, I'm not in Augusta. What do I have to live for?
STEPH: Nothing. I miss the sandwiches.
LJ: I miss the old men.
STEPH: I miss that little Asian woman who slept on your feet at 18.
LJ: I do not miss that one.
STEPH: Just checking. I was planning medical attention if you miss that one.
LJ: I don't miss the roach that was on your bed either.
STEPH: Oh me either! I would have slept better if you actually killed it.
LJ: Ha! I totally forgot about that! Swing and a miss.
STEPH: And you didn't even trade beds with me.
LJ: Hell no! There was a killer roach on the loose.

As you can tell, our accommodations weren't five star, but it was still the trip of my life.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Favorite "Cosby" kid to perform at CenturyTel Center

It's a tough call when trying to decide who's the cutest from their early days on "The Cosby Show."

Rudy or Olivia? The world may never know.

My original answer is Rudy. She set the bar high in her early days. She was the original kiddo holding her own against heavyweight comedian Bill Cosby.

But then there is Olivia ... oh, how she could make me laugh. Even in the final years, when the show was a little less interesting than it had been years before, Olivia was the highlight.

But when we consider post-"Cosby Show" success, there really is no contest. Keshia Knight Pulliam's (Rudy) greatest accomplishment was a season of "The Mole." And she didn't even win the game.

Raven-Symone has created an empire, with a little help from the Disney Channel. She's built film and TV credits and is one of the kids pulling in big bucks for the Disney network. Symone is hitting the road in promotion of her new album, and her tour includes a June 24 date at the CenturyTel Center.

Symone will perform with special guests Mitchel Musso, B5 and Clique Girlz. Fans are invited to wear their favorite pajamas and come early for pj party activities.

Tickets are $29.50 to $49.50 and go on sale Saturday. Purchase tickets for the show at the CenturyTel Center box office, by phone at (318) 741-9700 or online at

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A benefit for Buddy

If you've ever met local musician Buddy Flett then you know his name says it all. He's a warm and friendly person. He's always quick to offer praise to others, and he's slow to accept it in return. He's a good musician. In fact, he's one of our area's best, but he's humble and that's one of the biggest factors to his charm.

In February, Buddy was diagnosed with viral encephalitis. His memory has suffered as well as his craft. He hasn't been able to play since the diagnosis and, as you can imagine for a professional musician, the pain is hitting his pocketbook as well.

Longtime friend Kenny Wayne Shepherd will make a special appearance April 27 at the Strand with Hubert Sumlin to headline a benefit concert to help Buddy financially. Here's more of the story.

A Benefit for Buddy Flett

WHEN: 7 p.m. April 27.
WHERE: Strand Theatre, 619 Louisiana Ave., Shreveport.
COST: $25 and $35. $100, VIP tickets, including meet and greet with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Hubert Sumlin and other artists.Tickets are available at the Strand Theatre box office or by calling (318) 226-8555.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Does Pop-A-Lock make house calls?

I tried to outsmart my dog this afternoon and ended up outsmarting myself.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my dog's anxiety and how he hates it when I leave. We haven't made great strides since then. Rather, I've just tried to trick him each time I leave the house. I'll bait him by pretending to walk out of the house, he follows and then I snag him and put him in his house. This plan has gotten a little watered down now that he expects me to fake him out each time I leave the house.

I was sure the plan would work on Baxter today. I'd taken a moment to sit outside before returning to work. Baxter was playing on the patio and enjoying the weather just as much as I was and when he least expected it, I snagged him. It was one of my most flawless captures in several weeks.

With Bax in his house, I locked the door, walked out to my car, paused and realized I was keyless. I walked to the back door and peeked through the window and longingly stared at my keys hanging on the key hook. Dang it. Locked out without my keys.

I gave my roommate a call and fortunately discovered her dad had stashed a spare key a few weeks ago when the house was being worked on.

I wasn't keyless for long, but I'm sure Baxter thought I'd gotten what I deserved. If only dogs could talk.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Jump start

There are many things I think I know how to do, although I've never had to do them.

Most of these things are car related, like changing a tire or jump starting a dead battery. I've also never gardened, but I think I could plant some flowers if necessary. No promises on keeping them alive.

I'm good for some things. Mostly picking out clothing, shoes and good music. But I also can keep a house immaculate. I get it honest. Growing up, my family referred to my dad as "Mr. Clean," and it wasn't because he wore a giant, gold hoop earring.

I can cook too. Chicken Marsala, cheese tortellini with homemade alfredo sauce ... and I'm not even Italian.

But back to the things I can't do ... which I learned a lot about this week when my car battery died. I was supposed to go to my friend's house for dinner. I was on the phone with Laura, who I never call Laura so from here on I'll refer to her as LJ, to tell her I was leaving my house. I cranked my car and instead of the rumble of a strong engine, it just sort of puttered and died.

"Crap, my battery just died. So, you want to come over here for dinner?," I told LJ.

"Do you have jumper cables?," she asked.

"Yeah, never been used, but I'm sure we can figure it out."

"OK, on the way."

While I waited on LJ, I pulled my lifesaving roadside assistance bag out of the way back. I unwrapped my jumper cables and sat them on the hood of the car. Once LJ arrived, the comedy unfolded. We attached the battery to her Jeep, no problem, but under my hood was a mystery.

For some strange reason every part has a cover. Yes, a cover. As if I really care if the engine stuff is decorative. Unlike a sofa slip cover, this seems pointless to me. No one is going to look under my hood and call my engine tacky or outdated. Anyway, after about 10 minutes of uncovering stuff to find fuses and everything else, we uncover the battery and hook up the cables.

"Do we crank it now?," LJ asked.

"Umm ... yeah, I think so."

"OK. I'm going to stand back in case you are wrong."

"Good idea."

I turned the key and nothing exploded or sparked. And as simple as this is to many people, it was miraculous to us. Our rookie at bat was a home run.

The following day, while I was waiting for what felt like hours to have my battery changed, LJ sent a text my way.

"I'm still so damn proud that we were able to jump the car off without a burn injury to either of us."

I agree. I'm scratching "jump starting a car" off my list of things I can't do.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The doctor is in

I got home last night and immediately got in bed. Not the "oh, I'll lay down for a few minutes, and in 15, I'll get up and be useful." I'm talking under the covers, in my blue jeans, earrings still on, not comfortable but not going anywhere kind of rest. I was a little grumpy and my throat and head hurt. I hate allergies.

However, I did have enough energy to reach over and hit the power button on my TV remote to find a new episode of "How I Met Your Mother." This show is one of my favorites. Very creative, dry, cynical. I love it. But I was still grumpy.

I enjoyed the show. It was one of the best I've seen, and it all centered around the womanizing character, Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris. The episode was funny, but I wasn't laughing out loud, probably because of my allergy aches and pains.

The entire episode was about Barney apologizing to all the women he'd wronged over the years in hopes of having a breakthrough or moment of self discovery. This is where it got extremely funny. The final scene opened with the theme song to "Doogie Howser," and there sat Neil Patrick Harris typing in his journal about his day.

Harris was making fun of himself and it was flawless. Most actors who are remembered for a character like Harris is for Doogie, would try to carve out a career and ignore the characters of their past. But, Harris used it for humor and it killed. I laughed until my eyes watered and pulled myself out of bed to have dinner with a friend.

Looks like Neil Patrick Harris is still what the doctor ordered, with or without Doogie.