Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Today's the day

Decisions, decisions!

Or actually, a decision. Today is a big day for one Matt Webb and James Lockhart.

Voters in most of LeFlore County will decide whether they want Webb or Lockhart to move forward in the bid for the Dist. 3 House seat to face Rep. Roger Mattox in the general election on Nov. 2.

A light turnout is expected as voters will only cast a vote for either Lockhart or Webb, the two Democrats who survived a six-person primary election at the end of July.

And you can discuss this issue HERE on the Journal forum.

So…who to vote for? Several people have asked who I will cast my vote on. I’m not saying, and surprised anybody would actually care.

Typically, there is a candidate I really hope wins and one who I pray does not, except for the recent presidential election when I hoped there would be a surprise write-in candidate.

Both Webb and Lockhart are capable candidates the county should be proud to have representing them. Neither one has ran a campaign where the primary goal was to sling mud at the other candidate.

Obviously they both want the position or they would not have spent so much time and money campaigning

It has made a rather boring campaign, but one that is refreshing. These are the type of representatives we need in Oklahoma City, one who runs on their own merits instead of making negative statements on the other.

I expect to see the same thing in the months leading up to November. Sure, there will be the whole Democrat vs. Republican thing, but I don’t expect there will be any personal attacks on the other candidate then, either.

And the winner of tonight’s vote, or Mattox, will be a good representative for our county. The winner will work hard for us and do the right thing.

This isn’t a good time to be in office with the economy in the sludge pile. There are difficult decisions which will have to be made, some many of us might not agree with. But Webb, Lockhart or Mattox will do the right thing and not let the office tempt them to do the wrong thing, which we have seen happen to way too many politicians.

So whoever you favor, be sure and vote today. If your favorite candidate does not win, it isn’t the end of the world. The sun will rise tomorrow (and probably put off a lot of heat) and the other candidates will do a good job for us.

And yes, I am Craig Hall and I approved this message.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Long and hot day at the Classic

You may be wondering just how I spent my Saturday. Then again, you may not.

But I am going to share it with you, anyway. Unlike the disaster which was last Saturday when my truck broke down at McDonald’s, I had to walk over a mile in flip flops to get home AND a friend’s dog pee pee’d on me, etc., I was a dedicated softball watcher this Saturday.

Shortly after noon, I went to watch the final day of the Lady ‘Back Classic at Panama. Poteau was in the winners’ bracket finals while Panama and Pocola were still alive.

After it rained yesterday morning, the start date was pushed back to the early afternoon. I soon discovered it was humid, bad humid. And hot, too!

That was during my walk to the truck, which fortunately seems to be okay after the previous problems. I picked up my buddy, Andy Perdue, who is still considered a friend even though it was his puppy, Reo, who used me as his personal urine pad.

The first games were running a little late and I noticed again that it was hot. Good thing I used deodorant before I left home, eh? Or did I? Then I figured out it probably wouldn’t make much difference.

As a journalist, I am supposed to be neutral. With county teams Panama and Pocola getting beaten out early in the day (both in 1-0 losses to Smithville), I was hoping for a sweep by Poteau against Red Oak so I could catch some AC and also a Saturday afternoon nap. The wife was also wanting to go eat at the Barn thing at Rock Island.

It started out well as Poteau smashed Red Oak, 5-0. I had visions of an early return home to catch some cool air and get bit by our puppy, Molly. There was an elimination game between Red Oak and Smithville to watch before getting to the finals.

I found some shade and watched Red Oak smash Smithville, glad the Lady Eagles had not played this well against Poteau.

Finally the championship game started. Along with the many Poteau fans in attendance, I was hoping for a quick game, one with the Lady Pirates on top.

Sadly, Poteau came out flat. Red Oak scored two runs early and the Lady Pirates’ bats were as cold as I wanted to be. Ugh, another game.

I was almost even put on the disabled list! A parent tried to throw a Gatorade bottle over the fence to one of the players. He did not get enough height on the throw and the bottle hit the fence and bounced back, landing on my hand.

“Ouch!” I wanted to yell, or something else with four letters. But I showed my toughness and did not allow the pain to show. Craig the gamer! I didn’t even rub dirt on my wound.

The breeze which had worked earlier to keep the BO in check had disappeared, replaced by more humidity. Sitting in the shade was a priority, fortunately no fights broke out.

Poteau came alive in the final game and won, 3-0. Poteau fan and mother, Carol Vise, made a fine observation: “We all stink.”

Yes, we did. Soon, it started smelling like a cow pasture. Several of the girls noticed it and asked, “What is that smell?” I blamed it on Andy, er, Coach Perdue. Hopefully, it wasn’t just me. After sitting out in the 100 plus degree temperature and stifling humidity, deodorant prescribed by a doctor would not have done the trick.

“I’m even sweating between my fingers,” I said, for some reason I don’t recall.

Luckily the game was over quickly, thank goodness for fastpitch! Andy asked if I was going to take any pictures of the award presentation. Not this time, I said, as we rushed to the truck and a little relief thanks to the AC.

Upon returning home, the wife warned me not to get close. Luckily, Molly was glad to see me, but then again, she is a dog and likes things that smell bad.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's Molly, by golly!

Just a couple of weeks ago, we lost my wife’s dog, Raider, a shih-tzu who frequently lived up to the name of his breed.

Some driver hit Raider and the little guy didn’t make it. Now Raider and I were friends, I guess, not that you would ever know about him. Raider thought he was the king of the house and was indifferent to everything, except when it suited him.

He was a good dog, just not what I was used to being around. I like dogs who show some emotion and affection.

So we looked around for dogs for a couple of weeks and on Tuesday, Trish told me a friend had a cocker spaniel puppy she needed to give away. I had never had a cocker spaniel before, but decided to go check her out.

As soon as we met Molly, I could tell she was the anti-Raider. She went crazy, jumping up and down, wanting to be held and then kissing (and biting) us.

My wife asked what I thought. I had fallen for her instantly. I didn’t much care for her color (black), only because it would be tough to get good pictures of her.

But Molly was it. We brought her home and quickly figured out that Molly’s main ambition in life was to play. Then play some more.

Does she ever sleep, I wondered? Not often, especially if we are awake. Molly is a player. She has toys scattered all out the house and when we take her out to do her business, Molly has a couple of sticks she likes to play with and drag all over the yard.

I did a little research and found out cocker spaniels like to climb. I can confirm that fact. Molly has a little trouble jumping up on the furniture, but she climbs almost like a cat.

She also discovered her image in the mirror and windows. Apparently Molly does not like seeing another dog in the house and spends way too much time barking at her image. Seriously.

As I write this, Molly is lying in the floor next to me, playing with a toy. Every few minutes, she decides I am not giving her the appropriate amount of attention and she jumps up at me until I throw her toy or rub her belly.

While Raider could care less what we were doing, Molly follows us all over the house. If one of us walks through the house, she has to follow. Yeah, sounds boring. But not to Molly.

On her first night here in her new house, Molly was in the front yard and saw the neighbor’s two dogs, an English bulldog and a pug. The pug was even bigger than her. The Bulldog probably makes piles almost as big as her. But Molly barked at them and only backed up a bit, no doubt braver since the other dogs were on a leash.

One other benefit! Molly is like a vacuum cleaner. She does a great job cleaning up my crumbs and if any food is dropped on the floor, Molly cleans it up!

Now I can’t get in trouble for leaving chip particles on the floor. Molly cleans it up and does not complain.

Yes, I am behind with my work on the Journal, but I figure it is worth it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Farewell Freddie

The news hit me like a well-aimed shot to the stomach.

A friend called and said Freddie Cox had died Monday evening. I was watching one of my favorite shows on television, but turned it off to find out what happened and hopefully hear that it was wrong.

It wasn’t. Freddie had passed away in a Fort Smith hospital. He had suffered a rough stretch, made even worse after a long bout with pneumonia.

I’m not sure how long I knew Freddie, probably most of my life. He was one of the good ones, a person always ready with a smile and a handshake.

He gave more to LeFlore County and Heavener than anybody could expect. If there was an event going on, Freddie and Sue were usually there. It could be a sporting event, a chamber deal or just a group of people getting together, but they were usually there.

And he always had time to make his way around and visit with everybody. Some would say it was because he was a county commissioner and his position dictated that Freddie talk to everybody.

But I don’t think that was it. I think he enjoyed people. That is a good quality in a person. He also enjoyed helping others. Freddie was involved with the Heavener Lions Club for years and could usually be found manning the cake walk.

I could be wrong, but I never saw him mad or vindictive at anybody. I also never heard him say a bad thing about anybody.

He preferred to just be Freddie.

I have always believed a person should be remembered for the good the person does. Freddie left Heavener and LeFlore County a much better place than it would have been without him.

He did lose his final two races: against Ceb Scott for county commissioner and to an illness, but Freddie Cox left us as a winner. Farewell Freddie, you will be missed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Old rivalries remembered

I remember the good old days in LeFlore County football, back when Heavener and Poteau were huge rivalries along with Poteau and Spiro.

The Heavener and Poteau rivalry died in the mid-1980s after the Pirates destroyed an already banged up Heavener team by over 40 points and several Wolves were hurt or sent to the emergency room.

I remember attending those games and also playing in them. There was no bigger game. In Heavener, the pre-game festivities were almost bigger than the games.

On Thursdays, there would be a big pep rally and a bonfire with the Pirate burned, followed by a snake dance that stretched from the school all the way through downtown and back to the school.

On Fridays, there would be another big pep rally and there was always an excitement, unlike any other game we played. The stadiums would be bloated with fans for both teams, with even the end zones filled with people, not just the kids playing ball.

Heavener last beat Poteau two years running back in the 1970s. Those Heavener teams were coached by Ralph Perdue, whose son Andy, is now the defensive coordinator for the Pirates.

During my three years on the varsity, two of the games were close. My sophomore year, the only time the game was played in Heavener, we lost somewhere around 15-0.

My junior year, we visited Poteau and the game was over by halftime. That was a good Poteau team and we were banged up badly and had little depth. Most of the Heavener players had to play ever snap and special team play and I was more tired at halftime of that game than I have ever been.

Then in my senior year, 1980, we were 1-1 going into the game while Poteau was 2-0. Maybe the Pirates were overlooking us our something, but we scored first and after we scored, there was a silence coming from the fans on the other side like they were in amazement.

Poteau won up winning 21-7, but we still had chances to come back, but couldn’t take advantage of them.

The next year, the Pirates came to Heavener and escaped by one point.

The series lasted a little longer before being buried.

Looking back now, my senior year we played every county school aside from Spiro. We played Arkoma (a good team which lost only once in the regular season), Pocola, Poteau, Talihina and Panama. Obviously Arkoma played 11-man back then and Bokoshe did not play football.

Now the Poteau and Spiro series has been put to rest. A series which featured the two best teams in the county for so long, a rivalry that has gone back and forth over the years.

Poteau has won the last couple of years, but Spiro has won its share of games also.

Some of the games over the last few years have been blowouts. But for a school with the tradition of Spiro to end this series, still surprises me.

Over the last few years, the opener has always been Poteau and Spiro. At one point, the two teams played on Saturdays so the rest of the county could attend.

But in the openers this year, Poteau travels to Checotah and Spiro hosts Panama. The Spiro and Panama game makes sense in this distressed economy, but now Poteau does not play a single county team

The Pirates’ non-district schedule features games at Checotah, a home game with Idabel and a game at Gravette, Ark. But it is not Poteau’s fault, it is just a sign of the times.

And a sad one at that.

Heavener and Panama are considered a rivalry. Heavener and Spiro were getting to be a good rivalry, but that series ended this year when Spiro moved up a class. Others would say Panama and Pocola is a good rivalry, but they haven’t even played the last two years.

A rivalry to me is one of those games where the two schools play every year. Back when Heavener played Poteau, the two schools had been playing since the 1920s. Our grandfathers and fathers played against the grandfathers and fathers from the other school.

Now that is what makes it a rivalry.

Friday, August 6, 2010

25 questions about Craig

So, a friend of mine answered one of those 25 question things on Facebook about one Craig Hall. As a public service and because I know you want to know more about me, I decided to pass this on.

NOTICE: She is happily married so that obviously skewed some of her answers. Her answer is in caps and bold, mine follows. I am, of course, the CH, but was too lazy to type out my name that many times. I did delete a few of the questions because they were silly, like anything on Facebook could be silly.

1. Do you think CH would make a good spouse? YES—I have had plenty of practice.
2. Would CH do community service voluntarily? YES—of course.
3. Is CH smarter than you? YES—uh, whatever.
4. Have you ever had a crush on CH? NO—what? Oh yeah, she is married.
5. Do you think CH still wet the bed in 6th grade? NO—I quit the summer going into sixth grade.
6. Is CH profile picture ugly? NO—remember, this is a friend.
7. Does CH like blue eyes? YES—Wrong, I never cared for Frank Sinatra.
8. Has CH ever lied to you? NO—cool.
9. Would CH sell you out for a million dollars? NO—uh…my limit is $1 million and a penny.
10. Is CH a good driver? YES—except when my attention wanders
11. Have you ever fantasized about CH? NO—She was obviously afraid her husband would read this. Right? Right?
12. Do you think CH watches porn? NO—Of course and...was this now or in my lifetime?
13. Would CH help an elderly lady cross the street? YES—Especially if it saved time so I could drive through the intersection
14. Was CH a dork in high school? NO—Smart woman!
15. Would CH ditch a date? NO—as hard as it was for me to get one…
16. Would CH look good in tights? NO—Hmm, she obviously has never seen me in tights. Then again, I have never seen me in tights.
17. Does CH like brownies? YES—but not pizza.
18. Would CH look good in a mini-skirt? YES—but not tights? Now if it was one of those Scottish things…
19. Would you skinny dip with CH? NO—uh…
20. Has CH showered today? YES—sorry, I haven’t! But I will in approximately 15 minutes!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vype football predictions

As summer is hopefully winding down and school starting, my thoughts are turning to the upcoming football season.

While making a trip to the store the other day, I noticed the Oklahoma Football Preview magazine (published by VYPE)on the rack and like many others, I coughed up seven bucks and some change to buy it.

The magazine is a nice publication. It has stories on all the state high school football teams, rankings and top players. But I will get to that in a bit.

The first thing that struck me was they had six of the top quarterbacks in the state on the cover along with former OU great Jason White, who was holding his Heisman Trophy.

Three thoughts hit me rather quickly: 1. Almost eight bucks! Geez; 2. Where was Sam Bradford? It would have been rather cool to have him along with White on the cover; 3. Why wasn’t Talihina’s Jordan Eagleroad on the cover?

Now I have not seen these other guys play. I am sure they are good. But I also doubt a couple of them could carry Eagleroad’s athletic supporter (not that they would probably want to).

No, Eagleroad does not have all the passing yards they do. He plays on a team that is old-fashioned run first, but he is probably one of the most dangerous running quarterbacks in the state and Eagleroad has led his team to back-to-back undefeated seasons during the regular season.

And as an athlete, I really doubt any of the quarterbacks could match up with him. I could be wrong, but…

Anyway, according to Vype, Poteau and Talihina are expected to have good seasons. Some of the information is a little stale, of course. But if I wrote articles on every team in the state, I would want an early start also.

Poteau is ranked 12th in Class 4A and expected to finish third in the district behind No. 4 Broken Bow and seventh-ranked Sallisaw. In 4A-4, the Pirates are picked third. It also lists Nick Donathan as starting at receiver. Huh?

In 3A, Spiro is ranked 26th and fourth in its district behind Seminole, Stigler and Atoka. It shows Clayton Mitchem as the returning starter at quarterback but I have not heard if he will be playing at Spiro this year after having eligibility problems last year.

Among county schools in Class 2A, Talihina is picked third despite moving up a class. The Tigers are predicted to win District 2A-6 over Vian. Panama is fourth, Pocola fifth and Heavener sixth. Panama is 32nd, Pocola 45th and Heavener 52nd out of 58 teams.

Arkoma and Bokoshe are playing in District C-4 this season. The Mustangs are picked fifth in the district while Bokoshe is eighth.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My return to the CCC invitational

The 45th Annual Invitational Golf Tournament at Choctaw Country Club has come and gone.

The tournament, now known as the Spider Webb Invitational, was played on Saturday and Sunday at CCC.

A field of 58 teams competed for a championship in eight flights. As usual, it was a great tournament and the tournament committee members need to be congratulated along with the board, members and staff at Choctaw Country Club.

The tournament turned out great despite several obstacles. CCC had to replace the greens earlier in the summer and the tournament date was moved back to July 1-Aug. 1, guaranteeing even warmer weather than usual.

Scott Forsberg did a great job on the greens, which are already better than the old ones.

Back in the early to mid-1990s, I played in the event every year. This was the first time I played in the Invitational since 1997.

A lot has changed since then. First off, I actually was a decent golfer back then. Honest. My playing partners might find that difficult after watching me search for errant golf balls in places which usually don’t see golf balls, but that is true. My teams used to compete for a top spot. Now, we were sunk at the bottom of our flight, despite the best efforts of my playing partner, Eddie Freeman.

He played really well both days. We had some bad luck on Saturday in the low-ball tournament and had two really bad holes as one writer of this blog did not help out when his partner was in trouble. The tournament started out looking good for the old Craigman. We started on the fourth hole and I hit a good drive, chipped my second shot up to about five feet away from the hole.

Whoa, I thought, a birdie to start the tournament! But then it was oops, I pulled the putt left of the hole. Drats. That was one of my few highlights from Saturday. We shot an 81 and were 11 strokes out of the lead.

I played a little better on Saturday. At one point, I made three pars in a row. Seriously. I actually didn’t realize that until Eddie told me. He did a good job of masking his surprise. I made a long putt on No. 1, made a par on the second hole with a tap-in and then had a four on the third hole, which was good as Eddie followed up with a birdie.

I guess having some support on a hole made a difference for him. I only lost one ball on Sunday after visiting the ponds and deep grass several times on Saturday.

We played in the afternoon on Saturday. It was brutal hot. But it was worse Sunday morning despite starting at 7:30. No wind, lots of humidity and sweat.

I actually did practice a lot heading into the tournament, despite my play showing different. But it was good to be back in the tournament. Maybe next year I can turn back time and actually look like a golfer again.