Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Entertainment

The offspring were busy this fall. The Carroll HS Theater Dept. put on "The Drowsy Chaperone", a musical which won two Tony Awards in 2006. Fiona had a couple of roles, one of which was a high wire cloud act (eat your heart our Spiderman). Kevin's school went the symphony route and he and his tuba entertained us with Christmas music. Lastly, Kieran's class put on a play, in which he had a speaking role and had rehearsed his line non stop for six weeks. He was a Beatle and did his best to produce a Liverpool accent. Judge for yourself:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Old Friends

Fifi and I were out doing a bit of last minute shopping today and decided to take the T-Bird. Always careful to park far away from carts and SUVs, we were fortunate enough to make acquaintances with this fine old example in the Kohl's parking lot.

She is an 1958 Impala, owned by a nice gentleman named Virgil. He has owned the vehicle since 1962 and has put over 300,000 miles on her, as well as going through three engines. (I did not want to tell him that my old Ford is only three years younger and still has the original 390). We exchanged pleasantries; turns out he has a convertible Impala of the same era at home - a "fair weather car". We wished each other Merry Christmas and went our separate ways.

Reminds me of a trip I took to Austin a couple of years back and spent a few nights with my old boss from Dell. We were tooling around Westlake and spotted this gorgeous '64 Lincoln (at least I think it is a '64) complete with suicide rear doors. That is Peter peering in and his silver Porsche over his right shoulder.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Cowboys might Stink

But the view from the luxury box is not bad - even better when you don't have to pay. GE Capital had a suite and I managed to finagle an invitation to the last home game of 2010. The Boys won 33-30. Here is touchdown against the rival Redskins and the view of JerryWorld from my perch.

The weather outside is...

...weird. It was 85F yesterday, it will be down to 28F on Christmas Day. Last year we got 8" of snow on Christmas Eve. We have not had rain in what seems like three months and we are officially in a drought.

None of this stopped the fine people over at the Gaylord Texan Resort (I know, terrible name) from importing dozens of Chinese artisans to go crazy making ice sculptures. The theme was Charlie Brown. They had these massive refrigeration machines cool the room/tent down to 7F. Everything you see is made of ice; kids excepted. No pun intended, cool stuff...

They even had some tube runs. Nothing like manufacturing your winter indoors.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Table Does Not Lie

Arsenal 2 - 1 Fulham. Two great finishes by Sammy Nelson, I mean Samir Nasri, wrapped around another display of horrorshow defending. Nasri was reminiscent of George Best, toying with defenders. If the Arse are to win the Premiership, they will need Vermaelen back; they will need Djourou to play like he did against Fulham and maybe Santa will bring Gary Cahill in January? And Clichy needs to eliminate the mistakes and Song needs to provide more cover... The title will be a tall order.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dragons Part 2

After the Dax Gorman QB fiasco back in August, the Dragons actually had a better season than expected and after posting a 7-3 regular season record, reeled off three playoff wins. That all ended to Denton today in Mansfield. Afer playing two games in the indoor comfort of Jerryworld, the whipping winds and cool temperatures at Mansfield must have come as a shock. A bigger setback was the loss of our star running back Paul Stevenson who limped off last week against Abilene. Final score: Southlake Carroll Dragons 14, Denton 24. Tough loss but a great season.

QB Kenny Hill Calls The Shots

Nothing Bigger than the Dragon Band

Dragons Part 1

Two playoff games at Cowboys Stadium, two wins over Colleyville and Abilene.

First Half Action

The Emerald Belles Half Time Show

Laugh all you want - can you do this?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Does it get any better?

Thurs - J.E.T.S beat the Bengals 26-10. Next Monday night vs. the hated Patriots promises to be a classic. And the Texas A&M fightin' Aggies beat the Tea-sips!!!

Fri - St. John's Red Storm Men win over Drake and the Ladies beat Nicholls State.

Sat - Arsenal win 4-2 at Aston Villa. The Arse went top of the Prem for about two hours before Dimitar Berbatov beat Blackburn 7-1.

Sat - The Southlake Carroll Dragons high school football team defeated the Abilene Eagles 38-24 at Cowboy Stadium. Video to follow! Dragons are now in the District Final vs. Denton after winning three playoff games.

Sun - Early morning, St. John's Red Storm win the Great Alaskan Shootout by beating Arizona State 67-58. SJU may not set the NCAA's on fire this year but apparently Coach Lavin's recruiting class for 2011 is up there with the best of them. And the NY Knicks won this afternoon... Does it all get any better? "Overnight, under the covers, schmoozing s.p.o.r.t.s..." (courtesy of Steve Somers, WFAN).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

So ya, thought ya, might like to go to the show...

And what a show it was. More of a spectacle really. Released in 1979, The Wall has stood the test of time and even though the current iteration is sans Gilmour, Wright (RIP) and Mason, it was still an aural and visual tour de force. Disenfranchised from the other two, Roger Waters looks and sounds well for a 67 year old and when announced earlier this year, I was counting the days until Nov 21.


The American Airlines Center (home to the Dallas Mavericks and Stars) was sold out. Our seats were poor, literally up in the rafters. However, as the usher said, "at least you are in the house". The sound was absolutely perfect. The visuals effects projected on to the wall were awesome. The various puppets that came out on cue were very cool: the schoolmaster, Pink's mother, his wife and of course, an inflatible pig that made the rounds. Oh and the WW2 fighter plane that swoops in over the audience and crashed spectacularly at the end of In the Flesh. It was pure rock theater at its best. Waters interacted ocassionally with crowd but there were no surprises.

It is very much a scripted production with no variation night to night. There is so much equipment and special effects it is amazing they were able to set up again within 24 hours of the Houston show. Two sets perhaps? I took lots of pics and video but while the sound is good, the video is poor, such was our seats. If I had the choice again, I would have definitely paid more for better seats.


INTERMISSION (with those killed in war / terrorism)



Best part: when the hotel room popped put of the wall for Nobody Home, followed by the images on the wall for Vera / Bring the Boys Back Home. See here for yourself:

Not my video of course...

I would have to give the whole shebang a solid 10 out of 10. It really belongs on Broadway, or Vegas.

A parting anecdote. I remember in 1986 living in South Jamaica, Queens. This was before Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the city; NYC was akin to Beirut. Google "Larry Davis", or watch "Do the Right Thing". South Jamaica was as close to the crack epicenter of NYC as you could get and I may have been the only white kid for miles. One hot afternoon I was at a payphone (a what? you say) fumbling with change and I had a Pink Floyd / The Wall t-shirt on. An old black man (he was probably only 40) under the influence of something staggered up and after surveying my shirt (I expected to be robbed) chuckled "Michael Jackson, off the The Wall". He wobbled off, probably thinking I was one strange cat but if I was a fan of Michael, I must be okay. That was the day Roger Waters saved my life.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sold, Sold, SOLD!!!

Life is about taking opportunities. When I found out there was a classic car auction starting this Friday afternoon, it meant bailing out of work a few hours early and heading down 114 a few miles to Big D.

I was not disappointed. SS Chevelle's, Mustangs, Corvettes, big ol' Caddy's, Studebakers, pick-ups... you name it - they were represented.

The down economy yielded some relative "bargains":

- 1965 Impala convertible - $9,750
- 1954 Chevrolet pick-up - $11,500
- 1965 Olds Cutlass convertible - $8,500

Several 1970's era Corvette's ended up under the hammer for less than $8K.

There were a couple of early 1960's T-Birds. A '64 white coupe was bid up to $15K and did not meet the reserve. One nice thing about the Leake auction compared to Barrett-Jackson, is you could get real close to the cars - even sit in them if you so wished. Most were in excellent shape, with very sharp recent restorations. My old '61 Bird would not show well.

I was only there for about three hours and the most expensive car sold was a silver 1964 Corvette for $39,000.

If I had money, I would have bought about ten, stuck them in a nice garage and wait out the economic doldrums. I'll bet the cars sold today will double or triple in value by 2020.

Three American iconic classics from very different eras
The tailfin of a '57 Chevy Bel Air, the stately 1930 Studebaker President, the wackiness that was the rear fin of a 1970 Plymouth Superbird

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Requiem for a Mailbox


Some Errant Driver (henceforth "Ed") was tooling around our neighborhood and had either (a) seen too many of those video's where they blow up old buildings in order to build a Wal-Mart (b) had a few too many Martini's at 2pm in the afternoon (c) was just a really bad driver.

Whichever it was, Ed was on a mission of destruction in his Toyota / Hyundai / Honda (the generic and characterless ToyHyunDa) that fateful Monday afternoon.


The mailbox is a standard bearer for a progressive society. A veritable harbinger of stability and order. The mailman will deliver and pick up mail six days a week in spite of sleet, snow, locusts, Godzilla, etc.

The US Postal Service is mighty particular about mailbox standards:

- Vertical height of between 41-45 inches from the road surface
- Boxes must also be on the right-hand side of the road
- Mailbox should be set back 6 to 8 inches from the front face of the curb
- Your mailbox needs to be approved by the Postal Service
- The name on your mailbox should be at least 1 inch high
- The moat around the mailbox shall be filled with piranha and sharp stakes in case Ed comes rumbling down your block

Clearly, a mailbox is not to be trifled with.

The mailboxes in our neighborhood are of the stout brick variety. They are enduring and hard to miss. They make great markers when playing in the street as in "run a hook pattern and turn at the mailbox", or "the mailbox is out of bounds".

I am sure when Ed woke up that epic Monday, mailbox reduction was not on his mind. Maybe he forgot to sport his glasses. Perhaps Ed had a bad experience as a child and was stuffed into a mailbox. It gets like a pizza oven in there in summer. Maybe his father was Newman and his home was filled with mountains of undelivered mail.

"Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There's never a letup, It's relentless. Every day it piles up more and more, but the more you get out, the more it keeps coming. And then the bar code reader breaks. And then it's Publisher's Clearinghouse day". - Newman.

Ed may have had some kind of post (office) traumatic flashback in our street.

We have all had incidents in the parking lot, backing into a stray shopping cart, a near miss with a Buick. It happens less frequently now because so many new cars have the backup sensors that alert you to trouble. Did Ed hear the beeping and think it meant "Go faster - Ramming speed!"?


So here's the dealio. It is 2pm on a Monday afternoon. The street deserted, spare for a few tumbleweeds. Temperature: around 70F, sun shining high in the sky. No glare. Road conditions: excellent. Visibility: miles.

You rumble down a suburban street. The scenery is not what one would call varied. House, driveway, mailbox. House, driveway, mailbox. We dig repetition. Suddenly, you realize you are not where you need to be. You could drive 100 yards and turn in the cul-de-sac without engaging Reverse gear. Or - and it is a mighty big OR - you could pull an Ed and opt for a moderately difficult three-point turn in the middle of the street.

Maybe Ed had one of those acceleration happy imports. Perhaps Ed has a Shaq size 20 left lead foot. Maybe Ed hates mailmen. Maybe Ed doesn't like Mondays. Or Bob Geldof. It could be that the ToyHyunDa did not have mirrors. Maybe Ed was listening to Symphony for Destruction (likely the Nine Inch Nails remix).


At 2pm on that tragic Monday, Ed slipped his late model sedan in reverse and with all the grace and subtlety of a ten-ton bulldozer, Ed demolished our mailbox. There was bang, a cloud of dust and that very bastion of civilization lay prone and mortally wounded on the grass. No more mail will grace what was once a proud fixture, now reduced to a sad pile of rubble. What took one undocumented migrant laborer hours to construct was annhilated in a split second by a ToyHyunDa wielding maniac.


No none panicked, called the cops or even Channel 9. Ed collected himself, parked the ToyHyunDa and rang the doorbell. He was aghast but also honest. Further description is unwarranted. Suffice to say, he is a man of courage and honor... and a horrible driver. His insurance co. ponied up $700.

The post office refused to deliver mail until the mailbox was repaired. My new best friend Jesus rebuilt the mailbox for $300. I helped him and felt like I was a hoddie from 1985. I used the $400 difference to buy a ticket to see the Rangers in the World Series.

We will not speak of the outcome, except that Timmy made the Rangers look like static mailboxes.

It is indeed an ill wind that blows no good...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Before & After

Cars would be a lot more fun if the dashboard was covered side to side with all sorts of gauges. Kind of like the cockpit of a 747. Gauges for outside humidity, changes in tire pressure, transmission RPM, brake pad wear... the more obscure the measurement, the better!

Since the radio for the Thunderbird is stowed away out of sight in the trunk, it made perfect sense to replace the mundane shiny bird that covered up the slot where the radio should be with some exciting new gauges!



I had to settle for the garden variety oil pressure, engine temp and volt meter... but they beat the heck out of the "idiot lights" that were factory spec in 1961. The installation took me several thoughtful hours in the garage and no fingers were lost or fires started. (I once had a good old smoldering electrical fire going in the Mustang). I think the gaugues in the TBird look pretty good. Drawing 14 volts, engine temp around 190F and at 2200 RPM, I am getting about 50 lbs of oil pressure. (I installed a tachometer as well). Now to find a gauge that measures windshield wiper speed...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Fall Classic

It has been almost 48 hours since Brian Wilson (Blackbeard) retired Hamilton, Guererro and Cruz and brought the Rangers fantastic run in 2010 to an end. While it was no fun watching the Giants do a dogpile on our home field, the opportunity to attend the ultimate game of a World Series with 52,000 others will never be forgotten. My ticket came courtesy of a driver who lacks rudimentary skills behind the wheel. It is an interesting anecdote and will be detailed in another post.

I was at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (RBPIA!!!) by 4.30pm in time to watch the Rangers take batting practice. First pitch was not until 7pm. The seats you see on Fox TV where Dubya and Nolan Ryan sit - well that is where I took up position to watch BP. About 10 feet from the field! Vlady actually looked good in the cage but man did Lincecum do a number on him (and the others) later. Nelson Cruz gave several interviews. Elvis Andrus signed countless autographs on hats, towels, programs, etc, all while perched on the home dugout. Maybe he should have spent more time warming up? And Wash throws BP? What the heck! I guess "that's how baseball go".

Dave Winfield, as imposing as ever, wandered by. Peter Gammons of ESPN was a few feet away, doing an interview. Nomar Garciaparra stood alone, back to the crowd, watching the batting cages. As good as he was, I do not believe he ever played in a World Series and I am sure he was reflecting on his career. "No-Maah" as the Red Sox fan would say, is the only player in MLB history to hit two grandslams in the same game at home. A legend and likely headed to Cooperstown.

The gravity of the situation hit home when some MLB dude wandered out of the Rangers dugout with what looked like a birdcage under a blue sheet. I was the first to recognize the shape - I had seen 27 of them when we went to the new Yankee Stadium in 2009. "That's the World Series Trophy" I said to the guy next to me. I don't think he believed me at first.
Now that I think about it, why would any normal Rangers fan recognize the trophy? It's not like the Rangers ever won it... Anyway, it was then I realized that Bud Selig planned on maybe presenting the award tonight and that meant an L for the Rangers... How come I was so confident we could beat Lincecum and Selig saw it otherwise?

The Giants took over the infield for their BP and when the bluebloods with the $2,000 seats showed up, I made my way up to Section 339 to my perch in the rafters.

Why were Hamilton, Young, Guererro, Elvis, Murphy, Kinsler, Molina so poor? All were stars in the regular season. Are Cain, Lincecum, Wilson et al, that good? Time will tell. All I can say is the Rangers had a fantastic run in 2010 and I am looking forward to 2011 and taking the boys to lots of exciting games at the "RBPIA" in the years to come.

Batting Practice. In the foreground is 6 boxes of popcorn for Dubya, Nolan etc.

Nelson Cruz streches while giving an interview. He would later hit a solo home run to left. One of the few Rangers to actually catch up with the Giants pitching. In the foreground is Nomar Garciaparra.

Elvis is in the building! He signed autographs for at least an hour. Bless...
Not a parrot cage....

View from the cheap seats.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows Eve

Beware of the stealthy ninja
A-creepin round your door
He will eat all your candy
And then come back for more

Watch for the mark of Zorro
He's the one clad in black
He's famous for his sweet tooth
And stuffs everything in his sack

And lastly there's Mr Pumpkin
Is he treat, or is he trick?
This one ate too much of something
And made himself very sick

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuba Time

Get ready folks for a hard core version of that revered chestnut, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star".

Stevie Ray Vaughan could never do this:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

It is as American as Chevrolet, Fourth of July fireworks and Apple iPods. I write, of course, of the the great tradition that is the neighborhood garage sale. Our semi annual event was last weekend and what a joyous time we had. We jettisoned more "stuff" than you could shake a stick at and got cold hard cash in the process. We practically gave some items away (kids books @ ten cents each!) but just seeing someone load a box full of Hardy Boys into their minivan was a sight for sore eyes. Old gas BBQ, Foosball table, clothes, shoes, books etc. were hauled to the curb at 7am and by 11am, most of the "treasure" was sold. The $ bills and loose change gained sits in a plastic cup in the kitchen. I hope it will be spent wisely... The key to a really successful garage sale is to devise a way to stop new stuff from infiltrating the house over the next 6 months... It is amazing how you grow into the available space. In my mind, less is more.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rangers go to their 1st World Series

Exciting times in October. The Rangers, who up until this point had won only one post season play off game ever, have managed to win seven in 2010 and are in the World Series for the first time ever.

Josh Hamilton was voted the Series MVP, but it could just as easily have gone to Nellie Cruz, Elvis Andrus or "Cobra" Lewis.

And how sweet it was watching A-Roid strike out looking in the top of the 9th for the final out.

Tonight, I will be rooting for the Giants. The Phillies have a powerful line-up and I would not like to see them in the W.S.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Good Guys 7, Evil Empire 2

After a gut wrenching loss Friday night, the Rangers climbed right back on the horse Saturday afternoon and put the Yankees to the sword. We had a great time cheering on Texas from the first inning right through to the last out. And what an out it was. See our video here.

Cliff Lee, who shut down the Rays in Game One and Five, now gets to work his magic in Game Three. Nothing beats playoff baseball for excitement.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back to the Trop

In terms of frustration, being a Rangers fan is marginally better than being a Mets fan.

Two chances to clinch at home versus the Rays slipped away this weekend. At least we got to experience post season play and the Rangers Ballpark was a sea of blue and red. At one stage the lint from the white rally towels made it seem like snow. It was a perfect day for a game but the Rays scored early and quietened down the Rangers faithful and while Texas threatened, they could never muster the key clutch hit. So, if we want to face the Yanks, we need Cliff Lee to work his magic once more. And we need the bats to come alive.

Oh... and the Cowboys lost as well. Not a good weekend for Big D.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rangers Lose - We Win

We have tickets to Game 4 of the Divisonal Playoffs tomorrow. Had the Rangers won tonight, we would be SOL. So for one day, we rooted for the Rays. Should be fun tomorrow, weather is expected to be perfect. Maybe we will saunter over and watch the end of the Cowboys game -after the Rangers clinch, of course.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

All The Fun of The Fair

The Texas State Fair runs for about 21 days, last week of Sept to mid Oct approximately. It is renowned for its fried food (just about everything imaginable gets dipped in batter and fried), the midway, the exhibits, concerts, giant Ferris wheel, Big Tex, the UT-OU game, and so on. But the highlight for us last year were the pig races.

In a giant barn, four pigs race around a "U" shaped track, no doubt motivated by a big bucket of sloppy stuff at the end. Pure carnival genius. Each section of the crowd is obliged to cheer for a hog appointed to them by the MC. The pigs have names like "Snoop Hoggy Hog", "Squealy Nelson" and "Hammah Montana". Each race last about 8 seconds. Pigs can fly - when there is food at the end of the race. Great entertainment value, especially when the organizers threw a curve ball and had a pot bellied pig in one race - he was not very fast. It harkens back to different, simpler time.

And to my knowledge none of the piggies ended up as deep fried bacon - which is an actual item on the menu at the Fair. Last year we tried the deep fried butter - you could feel it congeal in your arteries... This year we decided for the sake of logevity to give the Fair a pass. Texas succumbed to the Sooners in the Red River Shootout and will probably fall out of the Top 25 for the first time in years. These little guys could have their own team - just don't tell them what the ball is made from.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Concert Review: Clash of the Titans 2010

Last Friday, those wholesome middle aged men from Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer rolled their wagons into Big D, the first stop on the second leg of the "Clash of the Titans" tour. Since I have a passing interest in all three and the $20 ticket price seemed just too good to pass up, I jaunted over to the Center in hope of a spectacle. It was all a bit under-whelming. There was maybe 3,000 in attendance in a venue that can hold three times that.

My unscientific research proclaimed the obligatory black t-shirts favored Slayer 70%, Megadeth 15%, Anthrax 2% and 13% other... Pantera was well represented. And the jackass wearing the Rod Stewart t-shirt? What can I say? He was beyond ridicule. Myself sported a rather fetching "Ride the Lightning" shirt which I have had for about 20 years and I am pleased it still fits and I got several compliments from the youngsters, one of whom proclaimed to me "I wish Metallica was here, man!". Well, me too, but James and Lars are pricks and so be it...

The center is an amphitheater, half covered / half open to the elements. Not a bad place at all with plenty of elbow room. It is adjacent to Fair Park and it was interesting to see the metalheads crossing paths with the fried turkey leg crowd heading into the Texas State Fair.

Anthrax came on at 7pm, played for 40 mins and were better than I hoped or remembered. Some minor mosh pit action and some low energy head banging. Grade: B

Megadeth played for maybe an hour and 15 mins, sounded great and while Mustaine is a bit of a prima donna (changing shirts, the ridiculous double-neck guitar), their set was solid and enjoyable. The first half was a bit bland for me, only later did I realize they had played Rust in Peace in its entirety. The second half was better - maybe because I knew Symphony for Destruction, Peace Sells... etc. Decent mosh pit, good crowd energy. Grade B+

And so it was on to Slayer. I have some of their stuff, a live CD and a few other bits and pieces and I was hoping they would burn up the stage. They didn't. I counted 38 Marshall amps. It was a sea of noise. I felt like I was inside the engine of a huge locomotive that was never greased and was overheating. About half way through, I moved back and sat on the grass near the rear of the amphitheater and the sound was significantly better. I could actually make out the lyrics and hear the bass. The first several songs focused on their new material Seasons in the Abyss, which I will not rush to buy based on the live performance. By the time I relocated they fired up Raining Blood, South of Heaven, Angel of Death and the show was much more enjoyable... I think for the most part the audience was pretty much riveted to their standing spots by the sheer jet blast of noise. There was no discernible slam pit and the metal heads were statue-like. Grade B-

Much better review than I could ever write is here -

So after a couple of the $12 beers and a perusal of the $40 concert t-shirts, I empathized with my young "And Justice For All" friend, wishing that grizzled old Metallica were part of the line up. While it was not the worst $20 I have ever spent, something was missing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Who is going to tell Jerry?

Per Yahoo News today, "Charlotte Motor Speedway and Panasonic announced Tuesday they are installing the world's largest HD video board along the backstretch of the track in time for next year's Coca-Cola 600... it proves that not everything is bigger in Texas, as the video board is bigger than the one at Cowboys Stadium, which replaced the video board at Darrell K. Royal Stadium at the University of Texas as the largest HD screen".

I am a sports nut and here is my two cents: big screens belong at the movies or at home, not in the stadium or at the race track.

Fifi and I first took in the grandeur of the new Cowboy Stadium (a/k/a JerryWorld) last summer at the Sir Paul McCartney concert. It is a palace. Other opportunities came when the Southlake High School football team made the playoffs. Let me tell you, that big ol' Texas size screen that runs from 20 yard line to 20 yard line. It is big ass. It becomes a distraction. Look at the photo below, if that sucker fell, a good chunk of the Carroll HS Band would be left rather bruised...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Good, The Bad

The good this weekend was The 39 Steps, a play put on by Stage West in Fort Worth. Fifi and I went to the Sunday matinee and left agreeing that it was an excellent performance and we look forward to seeing some of their future productions. In the Stage West performance, Lee Trull played Richard Hanny, the main character in what is one of Hitchcock's most well regarded films. Cheryl Lowber had three roles and what was most amazing was that Michale Corrolla and Mark Shum played a litany of characters; from policemen, to secret agents, to Scottish hoteliers. They pulled off a tremendous effort and the show was great value.

The setting at Stage West is intimate; the theater seats only about 200. We look forward to their 2011 season. Dinner at Joe T Garcia's in FW on the way home was the icing on the cake.

The bad this weekend was the Plano balloon festival. Hot air balloons may seem interesting - and I am sure they are if you are soaring above the Texas plains - but watching them inflate and remain tethered while occasionally firing their burners... well that is three hours of our lives we are never getting back. I am not sure that the thousands in attendance would agree with me - but are we that starved for something to do on a Saturday afternoon?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dragons, Frogs and Cowboys

Football reigns supreme in Texas. The Rangers are in first place and swept the vaunted Yankees this weekend, but the sports coverage will be dominated by football. We run with the herd on this one. Friday night we took in the Southlake Carroll Dragons home opener, where the high school team struggled a bit but managed to pull out a 31-24 win in overtime. Those four State Championships in the 2000's seem far away. I was impressed that even with the 1,600 new seats and an uneven start to the season, the Dragon home side was sold out and we ended up amongst the visitors - and we had plenty of company.

Saturday evening we endured the heat and sweltering humidity to pay our first visit the TCU campus and watch the # 4 ranked Horned Frogs take on Tennessee Tech. It was not much of a contest. The Frogs are for real again this year and ran out easy winners by 62-7, albeit against 1-AA opposition. It was a sea of purple at the Amon Carter Stadium and the alumni side where we sat seemed sold out. The student side had some empty seats but nonetheless, there was a great atmosphere. All the ladies in their purple dresses with cowboy boots were a hoot.

Sunday brings the pros and "America's Team" pays a visit to division rivals Washington Redskins. This one is on TV as I write and the 'Boys are down by three in the Fourth Quarter. Tomorrow the Jets make their 2010 debut and I hope they live up to the hype. The Defense should be solid but there are question marks about the running game (no Thomas Jones) and can Sanchez limit his mistakes.

Yes, football is in full swing and the progression over the weekend from High School to College to the NFL makes it all the more enjoyable.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Texas Tea

Yesterday, the boys and myself took a drive out west past Palo Pinto to the shores of Possum Kingdom Lake. We were doing some advance scouting for an upcoming camping trip. If Possum Kingdom sounds like a bizarre name - it is and it isn't. An early 20th century furrier who bought possum pelts used to refer to the local trappers as the "Possum Kingdom Boys". We did not see any possums but we did see dozens of pumpjacks, bobbing away and by golly reducing our dependence on foreign oil, if you buy into that kind of thing.

The wells reminded me of when we moved to Austin and gasoline was something like 85 cents a gallon. I met a guy then who at one time had worked in the oilfields in the Permian Basin out in West Texas. I was fascinated by the prospect of owning a share in a Texas oil well. We kicked the idea around but he advised that with oil under $10 a barrel (this was 1998) that many of the wells were just sitting idle. It was cost prohibitive to bring the crude to the surface at that price. And so my aspirations of being an oil baron were shelved. Of course, oil hit $126 a barrel in 2008 and is currently around $74 and based on the busy pumpjacks we seen, it is again profitable. I missed my chance to buy in at $8 and change... c'est la vie.

Possum Kingdom Lake looked cool and inviting in the afternoon heat but we may not end up camping there. It is a longer drive than I thought - over two hours from home. The lake itself is a result of a dam on the Brazos River and while I told the boys about John Graves and his famous book "Goodbye to a River", I doubt that much of it sunk in. In the 1950's, there were plans to build several dams on the Brazos and in 1957 Graves took a canoe trip down the river, hoping to see it in its pristine state before the valleys were flooded. The aforementioned book memorialized his trip. Ultimately, three dams were built on the longest river in Texas. The author is still alive, Texas Monthly interviewed him in the August 2010 issue.

While the boys may not recall much of my account of John Graves, they will undoubtedly remember the self proclaimed "World's Largest Wheelbarrow". It sits unexpectedly in a field just off the road - the nearest house in the tiny hamlet of Caddo is several miles away. Talk about a roadside curiosity. It must be about five feet high and serves no apparent purpose other than to get people to pull over and take a photo. It sure was quiet there though and somehow the giant wheelbarrow sort of fits right in.