Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas To All

Our neighbors over at White's Chapel Methodist got their hands on some very cool technology. It is a Christmas themed sound and light show with the visuals projected onto the church gable. Pink Floyd-esque. My pics do not do it justice but I am hopeful this Youtube video will remain up for a while. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dragons to Victory!

On Saturday Dec 17, before a crowd of about 42,000 at Cowboys Stadium, the Southlake Carroll High School football team completed a perfect season (16 wins, no losses) and won the Texas State 5A Div 1 Championship. It was an improbable run for a team that was expected to have a good year but ultimately went further than most could have imagined. These were not the Carroll Dragons of yore who trounced the opposition with the famed spread offense. Instead, we were treated to incredible poise at QB, receivers who stepped up, a running back who came on strong in the playoffs and a Defense that liked nothing better than to close up shop in the the second half.

The 2011 state championship represents the eighth for the school, including five at the top 5A level in the last eleven years. This kind of success makes Carroll one of the top H.S. football programs nationwide. But there's more: the boys soccer team are national champions in 2011 and the boys cross country team narrowly missed out on a national title, finishing second at the recent final meet in Oregon. Before anyone beats the "sports first" drum, Carroll is one of the top high schools academically in the state, sending freshmen to some of the best universities in the country.

But back to the national sport of Texas. The first Friday night football game of the season was a portent of things to come: a 38-31 win over Copperas Cove. Contested in blazing summer heat, it was typical of much of 2011: the Dragons came from behind and did just enough to win. Junior QB Kenny Hill threw for four TD's and rushed for another. The Defense stepped up in the fourth quarter, allowing zero points. It was a recipe for success we saw time and again in the playoffs, although in many of the regular season games, the Dragons built an early lead and then kind of hung on for the win. For the next 15 games there were few blowouts, almost all were nail biters (won at Fossil Ridge by 2!) but this seemed to give the team an air of confidence.

We went to all of the home games and followed the road sucesses closely on 100.7 FM radio. As the schedule wound down, it seemed an undefeated regular season was possible and this alone would have made 2011 a very good year. It was only when the Dragons overcame their 2010 nemesis Denton Guyer on the road for their tenth win that a strong playoff push might happen.

The first playoff game was staged at what seems to be the second home of Dragon Football: Cowboys Stadium a/k/a JerryWorld. There was some trepidation going in: we had not gone deep in the playoffs in a few years, Plano East looked decent on paper, our 2011 performances, etc. In typical fashion, we fell behind and were tied going into the fourth quarter but allowed no points in the last 12 minutes and won on an AJ Ezzard TD run. Injured when the season began, Ezzard had tremendous playoff performances. We left JerryWorld happy but not with high expectations.

The Dragon Band

This changed in the next couple of games. Again we were back in JerryWorld and Carroll played excellent football and Cedar Hill were beaten 40-7. Kenny and AJ combining for four rushing TD's.

Heavyweights: Trinty Trojans vs. Allen Eagles

The next game was another strong test. This time outdoors at Pennington Field and in cold blustery weather: Arlington Bowie were narrowly beaten 21-17 and the "D" stepped huge in the second half allowing no points. So after three playoff wins our confidence was gaining but the next opponent were no slouches. In fact, I am sure we were underdogs. Arlington Martin had just defeated the Trinity Trojans, who the prior week had knocked off the Allen Eagles. The Trojans and the Eagles were nationally ranked teams, so there was no doubt Martin was good.


The Dragons-Martin game was played at SMU's Ford Field in what can only be described as monsoon conditions. The rain was torrential at times and I was surprised the game was not rescheduled. The Dragon faithful were not out in full force given the rain (which was badly needed, BTW) and it looked like our passing game would suffer with a wet ball. Oh, ye of little faith: the Dragons prevailed 31-14. Drenched, we piled into Campesi's Egyptian and began to believe a run to the final was possible and that whatever rituals got us this far needed to continue.

The Monsoon Bowl

The following Saturday we were back at SMU to face a highly fancied Skyline outfit in a match-up of DFW area undefeated teams. Skyline brought a huge contingent. We brought our huge contingent. Something had to give. It was a game for the ages.

We lost one of our best receivers early on (Payton Williams) and down by 10 points with about two minutes left, we seemed to be toast. In fact, some Dragon fans left early and missed the craziest 90 seconds I have ever seen in HS football. A Kenny Hill rushing TD cut the deficit to three with something like a minute left. Our only hope was an onside kick, the equivalent of a Hail Mary. Lo and behold, it worked for once: we recovered the ball right on the 50 and after a 15 yard run by Ezzard, the Dragons surprised Skyline by not settling for a tie (and overtime) by kicking a field goal... Instead, QB Kenny Hill took off on an unforgettable dash to score the winning TD; the annals of embelishent will show he hurdled a fox along the way!

The fox definitely went more than 10 yards!

The game will be remembered for several things: the improbable comeback, the onside kick, the fox that ran on the field at the end and literally stayed around to see the Dragons pull victory from what seemed certain defeat. Some claim the onside kick did not go the requisite 10 yards. We were seated on the 50 and I can positively say it did. The Dallas Morning News has tried their darnedest to stir up controversy by giving voice to those who would claim otherwise. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram makes no such pretences. Such are the Tarrant County / Dallas County allegiances. I feel sorry for the Skyline players; they are a very good team but let's not forget their coaches turned down several chances to kick field goals or punt and ended up turning the ball over on downs. And even after we recovered the onside kick, we still had to go 50 yards to score. Where was the Skyline D? The debate over this game will rage for years. My memory will be of the fox, who became a defacto Carroll mascot for the final game of 2011: the State Championship at Jerry World versus the Fort Bend High Tower Hurricanes.

So to last Saturday, when superstitions ran riot as we tried to recall our prior playoff rituals, lucky hats, t-shirts, etc. The Dragons have their own playoff traditions: bleached blond hair, the black uniforms and "Lids" the great half-time garbage can drumming show. We headed to Cowboys Stadium trying to time the end of the 12pm game and get there for our 4pm kickoff. There was a huge crowd, both sporting green. The High Tower Hurricanes have at QB one of the best High School players in Texas, Bralon Addison, who has committed to Texas A&M. The Aggie's are in for a treat.

Addison tortured us all game and almost per usual, we trailed going into the final quarter. But true to form we gave up no points in Q4 and the State Title was won when Kenny Hill ran for a TD with a few minutes left. He made some fantastic throws but the highlight will be Sabian Holmes making an incredible defensive play to prevent a sure TD. And "Sabo" also came up big for the offense with a TD catch and 11 receptions for 138 yards. Kenny Hill again was a leader with 117 yards rushing and 229 through the air. AJ Ezzard ran for 84 yards and to think we are fortunate enough to have both AJ and Kenny back in 2012. Will Davis was huge on D, wreaking havoc left and right. Final score: Dragons 36, Hurricanes 29.

Texas State Championship Game 2011, Cowboys Stadium

It was an improbable season that started on a Friday night under the lights in the blistering August heat and ended with another close but deserved win in the climate controlled World of Jerry. Every game was enjoyable. Congratulations to Coach Wasson and his staff and we wish the seniors good luck in college. They will undoubtedly never forget the 2011 Dragons sixteen win season and record tying eighth State title.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy 50th!

'Tis Golden Jubilee time for the Thunderbird. 50 years ago, gleaming and spotless, it rolled off the line and out of Ford plant in Wixom, MI. Over the past five decades has made its way south to Texas. At one time it was registered in Indiana, other than that, its travels are unknown. A lot has happened in the the last half century but aside from safety features and better gas mileage, cars are pretty much the same. The Jetsons car is still on the drawing board. Will the Thunderbird see 75 or 100? Maybe. In the right hands it might outlast all of us.

In honor of the big Five-Oh, I took it for a spin on Sunday to an old-timey gas station in Grapevine. The kind where the gas was first measured into the overhead glass bowl and then pumped by some nice young fellow would would clean your windshield, check the oil... all while you never left your automobile. And this kind of service was all to be had for ten cents a gallon, or so they tell me. Actually, in 1961, gas was 35 cents a gallon and JFK had just taken office. Ironically, the newly re-designed '61 T-Bird was part of his inauguration parade. (Now would be the time for my tasteless JFK-Dallas joke but I will let it slide).

In honor of the milestone, I changed the oil last night. Beats cake and candles any day. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Perimeter not so Secure

Dateline suburbia 2011. Not twenty feet from the thin safety of the back door, a giant rabbit (everything is bigger in Texas) marauds, devouring the lawn, tearing up shrubs, gnawing on sprinkler heads. He wreaks havoc everywhere he hops.

Fear not this veritable herbivore of the apocalypse, for the house is guarded by two courageous protectors. Surely they scent the intruder and will see to his hasty retreat? With great speed and agility they will hunt, turn, double-team, corner and finally, feast lustily on his entrails, whilst eliciting that fabled Beagle bay.

We are horribly exposed: one hound is more interested in sleeping and the other is working on his begging routine. What do these dogs dream about? Evidently not rabbits. The big leagues of chase is seconds away and this is what we get? Snoring and sad eyes?

The rabid rabbit of doom continues unabated on his path of carnage. No dandelions will survive.

Apparently in 2011 it is better to have a goldfish and bark yourself.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Movie Review: The Descendants (2011)

The buzz amongst the critics and Hollywood types in-the-know that wander around Bernie-wood is that George Clooney will be in the running for Best Actor come Oscar time. I was trying to remember which other movies he has so elevated. Certainly O Brother, Where Art Thou. Maybe Three Kings? Oceans Eleven was meh. I did not see Up In The Air - I found the book a bit torpid. So here in this 2011 release, starring as the much troubled Matt King, Clooney has found a career defining role. With little deference to the soundtrack of O Brother, Matt King IS the Man of Constant Sorrow.

Without giving away too much: His wife is in a coma. He is the linchpin in a family trust that must decide on how to divide a little slice of paradise in Hawaii. His daughters are on the road to the borstal. His father-in-law (in a brilliant cameo by Robert Forster) is a curmudgeon. You can feel the weight building on Matt King's shoulders as his past, present and future close in. And then there is that slimy realtor he needs to deal with... It's all a bit like The Police song On Any Other Day. Claustrophobic to say the least.

Based on a 2008 novel of the same name, The Descendants plot is very good and the acting excellent. Especially Kings daughters and stoner boyfriend. The scenes around the Hawaiian islands make you want to get on Expedia. (I left the cinema humming Tiny Bubbles). The film was directed by Alexander Payne, his long awaited follow-up to the excellent Sideways (2004).

The movie theater was packed but if I ever have to sit beside the jackwagon to my left who yakked throughout the film - you will read about me in the paper.

I give The Descendants 4.5 out of 5.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The 2011 edition of Halloween has come and gone and this time the pumpkin was a hatchet job... or is that a cleaver?

There was the usual dearth of candy and that for which the boys showed disdain was dispatched by moi. Butterfingers, Whoppers, Snickers, Reeses Peanutbutter Cups... wait until the dentist sees me.

The mild weather meant some costumes were shed along the way and there was a great turn-out of trick or treaters, I would say some were bused in.

Book Review: The Plot Against America

Published in 2004 "The Plot Against America" is a what-if historical novel written by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Philip Roth. Great title, great cover, great premise... but I think he could have done even more with the subject matter.

The Plot is this: factually, Charles Lindbergh, the famed pilot, was often accused in the 1930's of being a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite. In Roth's novel, Lindbergh becomes President of the USA in 1940, defeating FDR. The impact on the Jewish community is examined, as the Roth family is literally pulled and dragged in four different directions. An older brother is brainwashed down south, a nephew flees to Canada and then Europe to fight the Germans, an aunt takes up with an older Rabbi and heads to DC. Philip's father rails against Hitler and Lindbergh and almost loses his life. And Philip's mother is constantly in tears as the family is broken up, while all the time President Lindbergh buzzes around in his plane, keeping America from helping the Allies fight the Nazi's.

It was thrilling until the last couple of chapters when it became a bit muddled. I would have like to have seen the Nazi-fication of the US expounded. It covers mostly 1940-42 and would have been even more incredible if carried beyond Pearl Harbour (or does Pearl Harbour even happen in this case?). A very good read. I look forward to picking up some of Roth's other works.

Monday, November 14, 2011


On a desolate stretch of flat four lane highway about 40 miles east of Amarillo is the hamlet of Goodnight. If you did not know to look for it, you would certainly miss it. There is little more than a railroad crossing and a historical marker commemorating the last residence of Charles Goodnight, one of the true legends of Texas and the West.

Born March 5th, 1836 (the day before the Alamo fell to Santa Anna) in Illinois, the Goodnights came to Texas in 1846 and at 21, "Charlie" joined the Texas Rangers. These were the times of fierce battles with the Comanche and Goodnight was part of the troop that located Cynthia Ann Parker (a white girl abducted by the Comanche and who later became one of them). Not content with being a scout and Indian fighter, Goodnight signed up on the Confederate side during the Civil War.

From these experiences came the plan to supply the Army Forts as far north as Colorado and Wyoming with Texas beef. This was the era before barbed wire, of open range, where the Spanish introduced Longhorn roamed freely. Goodnight and his partner Oliver Loving practically invented the large scale cattle drive, blazing trails through hostile Indian territory, enduring storms, stampedes and drought. Sound familiar? The remarkable heart-wrenching scene in Lonesome Dove where Colonel Call brings Gus's remains all they way from Montana to Texas... That was Goodnight hauling the body of his friend Oliver Loving "home" to Weatherford, TX from New Mexico. Larry McMurtry's epic was no work of fiction.

And the Danny Glover character "Deets"? That was Goodnight's right hand man Bose Ikard, also buried in Weatherford with the memorable epitaph "Bose Ikard served with me four years on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, never shirked a duty or disobeyed an order, rode with me in many stampedes, participated in three engagements with Comanches, splendid behavior."

Wow! That was the real West!

In 1876, with the Army money paid for Texas beef in hand, Goodnight, with an investment from Irishman John Adair, founded the JA Ranch. Located around the Palo Duro Canyon in the southern part of the Texas Panhandle, the JA grew to be an enormous spread encompassing over 1.3 million acres and grazing 100,000 head of livestock. Goodnight was a renowned judge of cattle and horses, and worked to select and improve the breeds of both. He made peace with the Indians, preserved a herd of buffalo, started a college... The man was larger than life. In 1887, he pulled out of the partnership and later an ill-advised investment in Mexican silver mines in Mexico cost Goodnight his fortune. He died not quite broke but certainly not rich.

The JA Brand:

Goodnight did not have any heirs; ironically his second wife (whom he married at the ripe old age of 91 - she was 26) was also a Goodnight - they met as pen pals due to the same last name. Charles Goodnight died in the year of the Big Crash (1929), aged 93. His legacy is the legend around his name. He lived in one of the most exciting eras imaginable: the push Westward, the Indian wars, Civil War, cattle drives, huge ranches, the coming of the railroad, telegraph, electricity and the auto.

His biography was published in 1936, written by J. Evetts Haley, who knew Goodnight well and "faced the flow of tobacco juice and profanity" in order to capture all the epic stories. Goodnight was no wallflower and his directness was well-known. The resulting book "Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman" is an excellent read.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Last few blooms of fall

In the bizarro world of Texas weather, fall can be measured in hours. We went from hundred degree heat in late September to frost by Nov 4th. In between, the garden caught a few decent rain showers and perked up a bit again. But the short cold snap will likely end the flowers run - out of the furnace and into the frostbite.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Music Review: Return of Phlegm & Gravel

The new Tom Waits album is his 20-somethingth release and might well be one of his best. "Bad as Me" debuted last week to much accolade among those who claim to know good from awful these days. In typical Waits fashion he wheezes along, sometimes growling, rasping, other times working up to his unimitable falsetto. No new ground covered but the ground he covers is so unique - the mold was shattered when Mr. Thomas Alan Waits came into this world in 1949 in Pomona, CA.

The deluxe edition of Bad as Me has 16 tracks and kicks off with the jaunty "Chicago", which rattles along like a box car, driven by on by sax, trombone, harmonica, and a certain Keith Richards on guitar. The organ on "Raised Right Men" is like a knife and lyrics like "You need the patience of a glacier, If you can wait that long" are wheezed out with urgency. Somehow, Mr. Waits elevates his voice on "Talking at the same time" to that of a female blues singer in a smokey basement nightclub. Guitar accompaniment on this track is David Hidalgo of Los Lobos.

"Go Get Lost" sounds like a late 1950's rock & roll... "Face to the Highway" is a slower number, featuring some terrific guitar and violin. And so "Bad as Me" continues on with one gem after another. No filler or weakness here. The title track is Waits at his crazy-rhyming rumba bumbling best.

For the uninitiated, this is a very accessible album (not always the case with Tom Waits) and definitely one of the best I have heard in 2011.

Five out of five.

Damn thee, little Red Birds

The aforementioned symmetry resembles more a cemetery as the Rangers came up short in the World Series for a second year running. Even after a week of reflection, the wounds are raw. This loss hurt more than 2010. Against the Giants the mood was "Hey, we just beat the Yankees, these games against the Giants are just gravy". This years, after brushing by the Rays and the Tigers with not too much effort, a Championship was expected. The Cardinals had other ideas.

In Game Six, now regarded as one of the greatest ever, the Rangers were twice within one strike of winning it all. But the Gods of Baseball conspired against us. Several times, we thought we had it won: when Beltre and Cruz homered, when Hamilton gave us a two run cushion in the 10th... but it was not to be. The Rangers were in the baseball desert of futility for years and only recently emerged but back-to-back losses in the big one is tough to stomach.

The core team will be back in 2012. If we can make some tweaks in the bullpen, upgrade the starting pitching, we should have no trouble winning the A.L. West again... as long as Pujols or Fielder do not join the Angels. Well, only another 100 days or so until pitchers and catchers.

The view from left field

Anticipating a ball on Greene's Hill

Last sunset at a 2011 Ranger game

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Boys of October

There has been a certain symmetry in this love affair with baseball. Within a few months of moving to NYC in 1986, the Mets conquered the wilderness years from 1969 and triumphed over Buckner & Co. Similarly, our move to Connecticut in 2004 coincided with the Red Sox slaying their curse. The Nutmeg state is very much part of the Red Sox nation, no small thanks to ESPN and their Bristol HQ. In 2010, our first full year back in Texas, the Rangers made it to their first ever World Series after seasons of futility. We move to your state and your baseball team is guaranteed success, well sort of...

The Rangers symmetry is as such: I was at the last home game of 2010, there to see the Giants win the W.S. Thanks to a friend at work, I was the first home game of 2011, a tense affair in front of a raucous crowd but the Rangers prevailed. We were at the last regular season home game of 2011, a laugher with an inside the park grand slam home run. This was for Kevin's birthday, the Rangers were already champions of the AL West.

Fiona and her friends were in attendance and unfortunate enough to witness the 9-0 shellacking handed out by the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS. We went back to the Temple again to see the nail-biter extra-innings ALCS battle with the Tigers, settled by a Nellie Cruz grand slam in the 11th. And after we beat the Cards at their own game in Game 2 in St. Louis, it was time to start eyeing Stubhub again. But last night, Pujols and Co. gave the Rangers a taste of our own boom-stick medicine and have grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series.

We have two more home games but the Cards now have the momentum and we will need some serious mojo to pull this one out of the fire. Where's this symmetry when you need it?

We need the Dutch Oven (Derek Holland) and his faint little mustache to shut down the Redbirds tonight. Stache Power indeed!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hullabaloo, Caneck, Caneck

What exactly is a caneck? What does "Gig-em" mean? Who needs to practice yelling?

All this and more was to be answered with a trip to Texas A&M University in Bryan, TX. We took a drive a few Saturdays back to see the Aggie football team take on the Idaho State Vandals and also with the purpose of working in a campus tour for our H.S. Junior.

A&M, formerly the Agriculture & Mechanical School of Texas was founded in 1871 and bills itself as the oldest public university in Texas. It is certainly one of the biggest with an enrollment of 46,000+ students and a campus spanning 5,200 acres. It is in the middle of nowhere, lost in between Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Although a nice campus and a great school, the tour was so-s0; however, the football experience was unbelievable.

The Aggies have more traditions than you can shake a stick at. There is (or was) bonfire, the 12th Man, the huge marching band, the Corp of Cadets, the sway during the fight song, the pronounced disdain for the Longhorns, and of course, the idolatry bestowed upon Miss Reveille (the school mascot, a collie).

The Ag's refuse to refer to the University of Texas as anything other than t.u. In this part of Texas, you better be sporting maroon an not burnt orange. Ironic that the fight song begins with "Goodbye to texas university" for the Ags are soon to depart for the SEC and the longtime Thanksgiving game with UT will be no more. It is a shame what money will do - the A&M / UT rivalry is one that should never be compromised.

Here is a view of the student side of the stadium. Seems like every student goes to the game.

To the right is another stand - same size - where the alumni sit. Our seats were in a similar sized grandstand in the end zone - all in Kyle Field holds over 83,000. And in 2011, they will fill it for every home game. The noise and atmosphere is incredible.

At half time the 300 member strong Fightin' Texas Aggie Band takes the field and trust me, no one leaves their seats. When the band cranks out the first few notes of the Aggie War Hymn, it sends shivers down the spine. Here they are in the Block T formation.

Thanks to to Destopanimation95 for this nice compilation which captures the spirit of Aggieland and arguably the best fight song in all of college football.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why did the Snake cross the Road?

We will never know but right in front of chez Beirne a good size serpent succumbed to a Sequoia and the punchline goes unanswered. My guess is that he was about three to four feet long before he became pancaked. We think it was a rat snake, a non-venomous type but one that vibrates his tail despite not having a rattle and is therefore often confused with his much more dangerous cousin. In some parts this reptile might be considered good eatin' but in the heat of the Texas sun, this roadkill began to stink almost right away. After a few days of roasting on the road and pounded by tires he was obliterated.

There's not a mile of Erin's isle where dirty vermin musters
St. Patrick gathered them all up and murdered them in clusters
The frogs went hop and the toads went plop, slapdash into the water
And the snakes committed suicide to save themselves from slaughter

Sunday, September 11, 2011

See The World and Never Leave Texas. Part 2: Canton

There are almost 30 towns named Canton in the US, the most famous being the one in Ohio, home of the National Football Hall of Fame. About Canton OH, Dennis Miller once wryly remarked that you cannot get any good Cantonese food...

Canton TX is about 60 miles east of Dallas and we found out it is on route one for LSU fans heading home. They had a college football game against Oregon at Cowboys Stadium and clogged I30 on their way back to the Cajun state. About twelve times a year, shoppers are drawn like moths to Canton TX for the First Monday Trade Days. This is an outdoor flea market covering 100 acres and can hold up to 6,000 vendors. The population of Canton has been known to swell from about 5,000 to over 300,000 when the flea market is open.

"Vendors" in the loosest definition; seems that just about anything that can be loaded onto a truck and dragged to the flea market can be sold and bought. Never has the phrase "one mans trash is another mans treasure" seemed so apt. Clothing, art, furniture, car parts, CD's, records, gramophones, tools, yard art... there was no apparent end as to what could be purchased. Maybe they even have Cantonese food?

Nice looking STOP sign...

After much haggling in broken Spanish, we came away with a pig and a goat. Pastor y cabrito for all. The pig is sort of bold-looking, maybe it is the Sligo colors.

Thankfully, they are the tin "heche en Mexico" kind... This is the best sort of ranching, low maintenance.


Drivers education, test, license... couple of hundred bucks.

Car, insurance... a few grand.

Look on daughters face when she falls for the old fake license plate trick... priceless.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire...

Give me that which I desire: Taco's. Fuel City Tacos to be precise.

Mexican fast finger food doesn't get any better than the tacos served at Fuel City just west of downtown Dallas and 15 mins from work. This little place with walk up windows only is housed inside a gas station. Not one of those rundown gas stations or one one of those greasy taco joints either. The gas station is clean and modern, the taco "stand" more a well kept kitchen.

The menu is simple: beef (three kinds), chicken and pork. Choice of flour or corn tortillas - fresh made, small like the palm of your hand. Recommend you get all the toppings. Ever indecisive, I had one of each: beef, chicken amd pork. While I am no connoisseur of tacos, I can wholeheartedly say there were the bast damn tacos I ever had. Just enough zing, just enough zest, picante y caliente, muy bien. And the price? A whopping $1.40 each. How's that for a budget buster? If they need a spokesman / endorsement (for a years supply of tacos) I am available.

Texas Monthly, Dallas Observer, D Magazine have all named Fuel City has having the best tacos in Big D. Who am I disagree?

Outside the Fuel City gas station is the senorita purveying the finest Cup of Corn that $1.25 can buy. She works a street cart and is set up to complement the tacos. Man, this is just awesome. She layers in hot corn kernels into a Styrofoam cup and adds a concoction of butter, chili powder, cream, white cheese, hot sauce... and sticks a spoon where the straw goes in the lid... it is delicious and deadly.

Tacos, corn in a cup, all washed down with a Dr. Pepper. Cue post lunch nap at desk.

Adjacent to Fuel City is a field of longhorns, hanging out, chewing the cud, watching traffic. Daydreaming about Bevo and corn in a bucket.

As you leave the Fuel City parking lot and head back for I35, there is a nice view of the Dallas skyline. Y'all come back now... Amen to that.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Football Season is Back!

From the climate controlled luxury box of the palatial World of Jerry (Thanks to the G.E.neral)

to the bleachers of Dragon Stadium, those giants of the gridiron, those maulers of the midway, those disciples of the defense and fans of the flea-flicker, all have a place to congregate on Friday nights, Saturday afternoons and Sunday evenings. Long live friendship and football.

(For the record, the Cowboys lost, the Dragons won!)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What do... Arsenal signings Arteta, Benayoun, Mertesacker, Santos and Park have in common? They joined after Demolition Day and missed out on the 8-2 mauling and will not need psychological treatment. The most embarrassing day in the clubs history will not be forgotten soon... but after watching the recent capitulations to Spurs, Liverpool and Newcastle, a good hammering was always inevitable.

The conspiracy theorists say Wenger played a weak team against Man U to force the board into spending some money. What has been difficult to fathom is the media silence by Stan Kroenke, majority owner whose sightings are as scarce as Big Foot.

The hope is that these experienced acquisitions will paper over the deficiencies of Djourou, Koscielny, Traore etc. One can only hope... and maybe some competition will revive the career of the lard-arsed Russian, Arshavin.

Gervinho shows promise and might well be better than Nasri. Fabregas is one of a kind, but there is the chance that Jack Wilshere will step into Cesc's role and perhaps flourish. The next few months will be interesting at The Arsenal.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Six Flags over Texas

The six flags that once flew over Texas are: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, United States of America, and the Confederate States of America.

Instead of listing them all out, the amusement park in Arlington took the lazy route and went with "Six Flags". The boys had free admission courtesy of their school and we left it until the last possible day to go. Maybe in procrastinating we hoped the weather might have begin to cool off. Wrong. It was hotter than blazes and we lasted maybe five hours in the sweltering heat and took in less than half the rides. The best ones were where a good soaking was involved. Must say, the Texas Giant (tallest wooden hybrid roller-coaster in the world) lived up to the hype.

The Titan was gut-wrenching as well.

After almost losing our lunch on the coasters we finished our day on the sedate merry-go-round and quickly headed home to the A/C.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Movie Review: The Guard

Brendan Gleeson as Sgt. Gerry Boyle ("The Guard") sets out to do for the "Wesht" of Ireland what Harry Callahan did for San Francisco. Instead of "Are you feeling lucky punk?" we get some very funny repartee between Boyle and his FBI straight man played by Don Cheadle, (e.g. "I thought black people couldn't ski? Or is that swim?") as they chase some drug-dealing villains across Galway.

Although most of the best lines are in the trailer and the plot is a bit predictable, it is saved by an excellent performance by Gleeson and his onscreen chemistry with Cheadle. Also notable is the scene-stealing Fionnula Flanagan as Boyle's mother. The kid with bike and dog are also charming.

I cannot quite recall how the line was delivered in the movie but in the trailer, the woman when seeing Don Cheadle at her door shouts "Ta fear gorm ar an doras". "Gorm" is blue, not black... Maybe an inside joke? Still, The Guard is well worth seeing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Motor City Madness

Last week, a quick two day visit to Detroit to see The Motor Company afforded (no pun intended) an afternoon to visit The Henry Ford Museum and the legendary Rouge plant. The museum was great, the assembly plant was jaw-dropping.

The Henry Ford Museum houses JFK's Lincoln from that fateful day in 1963 (cleaned up of course - actually it was in service through the Carter administration).

The museum has what has to be the largest collection of steam engines anywhere in the world. One of these contraptions is so big that apparently they built the museum around it. Then there is the Allegheny locomotive, built in 1941 and weighing 600 tons. "Behemoth" does not adequately capture the size of this thing.

We somehow conspired to miss Abe Lincoln's chair and the Rosa Parks bus. The auto section was being redone and we only got to see a few cool cars one of which, a Bugatti Royale, is (if an original and not a reproduction) worth over $10 million. The way it was sort of out in the public makes me think it was a copy. Only six of these 12.7L works of art were built and Wikipedia does not list the Ford Museum as an owner. It could be on loan but this thing was just sort of sitting in the middle of an aisle...

The tour of the Rouge plant was incredible. The plant itself dates to 1917 and at one time the factory was about a square mile in size and at its peak in the 1930's had over 100,000 workers. Over the years it has churned out boats, tractors, Model A's, Mustangs and Thunderbirds. Almost every component from engine to screw was made here. It has since been downsized, revamped, retooled and automated. The best selling vehicle in the US*, the venerable F-150, is assembled here to the tune of 54 per hour. That's right, just about every minute, a brand new F-150 in XL, XLT, Lariat, single-cab, crew-cab etc, is completed. The assembly is a thing of beautiful precision. Parts show up in just-in-time fashion (thank you Japan) and at each station, two or three of the UAW's finest spend about a minute completing a few tasks as the truck creeps along to the next spot. Our vantage points focused on what was almost the end of the line. We watched mesmerized as workers fitted the interior, added the manual to the glove box, glued on trim, added the Ford logo, installed the wipers, etc. The only downside: no photo's allowed.

Henry Ford got the concept of the auto assembly line from the slaughter houses. In the Rouge plant, the line snakes back and forth through the cavernous building a multitude of times. We got to see maybe 10% of the process. It was fascinating to see all the different colored cabs and box beds come in from different directions on two different lines but yet be matched perfectly in terms of color at the meeting point. The robot that affixed the windscreen was just too cool. But Mr. Roboto has replaced thousands of jobs; the plant now employs about 6,000.

*In 2010, sales for Ford’s F-Series truck were 528,349, up 28 percent. The F-Series was the best-selling truck in America for the 34th year in a row and the best-selling vehicle, car or truck, for the 29th year in a row.

One final note, our hotel was next to a mall where I found a Redwings t-shirt for the princely sum of $2. Easily the coolest logo in all of sports...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tomato Killer

Pictured with a quarter, is a one of the 4" long caterpillars that feasted on my tomato plants and devoured the lot in about two days. These are veritable eating machines, munching through leaves at a rate that was almost audible. They eventually turn into hawkmoths, which are capable of hovering like a hummingbird. The ones that I caught did not get that opportunity.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Too bad Alcatraz is closed

Mark McGovern came to the US on June 20th 2011 and in San Francisco on June 25th lined out to play Gaelic football for Ulster San Francisco against the the San Francisco Celts. Early in the second half, in an "off the ball incident", Mark was floored by a vicious blow to the head. As he lay prone on the ground, a Celts player standing over him was heard to say "You will not get up from that!" Mark, all of 22 years old, went into seizures and ultimately a coma.

Despite there being 28 other players, a referee, a couple of linesmen, coaches, spectators, apparently no one witnessed the assault. Or at least no one has the gumption to come forward and name the perpetrator. As of today, five weeks later, no arrests have been made. There is a "person of interest" who has hired an attorney and will not speak directly to the cops... Go figure.

If this were to happen on Main Street Anytown, surely witnesses would cooperate, the assailant charged and would now be awaiting trial. However, in the close knit and closed mind circles of the Bay Area GAA, it is deemed better to protect their own and close ranks. Why the SFPD has not subpoenaed the lot of them is beyond me.

Meanwhile, Mark remained in a coma until just the other day. His family and girlfriend travelled over from Fermanagh immediately after the attack and have maintained a bedside vigil since. Mark has tried to speak and just this week managed a few tentative steps with help. Several weeks of care in SF General Hospital will not be cheap. We can only hope that Mark's condition continues to improve. He is now in a rehab facility and his condition upgraded from serious to fair. Throughout the weeks of his ordeal, Mark has battled a liver problem, pneumonia and infection.

Regardless of Mark's recovery, the flip side and aggravating fact is that his assailant walks free. Who knows what prompted the attack? A rough tackle beforehand, angry words exchanged, etc. It is noted that American born players who try their hand at Gaelic football feel they have something to prove and act is if it is American Football without the pads and helmet. They think nothing of tackling with a closed fist, making no effort to play the ball. No matter what prompted the attack, the assailant should "man-up", come forward and express remorse, beg forgiveness and pay towards Mark's medical bills and the expenses of Mark's family.

If Mark continues to improve, it will be interesting to see if he can recall what happened and name names. Will he press charges? This is a clear case of assault and battery. I have followed this since it was first reported will continue to monitor the outcome. I will be disappointed if the thug that cold clocked Mark does not get jail time. Like I said, too bad Alcatraz is closed...

Of course, an arrest would mean the SFPD actually took action and showed some interest in the case. By now, the assailant has probably moved on. Mark's condition is bad enough - the fact his attacker remains free is incomprehensible and casts a negative pall of indifference over the SFPD and cronyism over the SF GAA. Every young GAA player in Ireland (and the US) should be put on notice that the Bay Area is not a safe place to play ball. Moreover, the SF Celts are a team to be avoided. They will take cheap shots and you will be left in a fetal position, warned that you will not get up... and no one will intervene.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Vote The Buggers Out!"

A favorite quote of eldest brother. The Washington debacle and grandstanding continues without resolution to the debt ceiling, although apparently they are "close". I wrote to our Republican Representative and told him to not bother coming back to Texas and wished him good luck getting re-elected. I also gave him some advice on lowering spending, taxes, foreign aid, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. I must be getting old. Made me feel better though...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Record Breakers

Study the table below closely. It is as of July 30. Here in Dallas starting July 3, 2011 we have topped 100F every day since with nary a drop of rain. And there is no end in sight. The record for consecutive 100F days was set in 1980 at 42... it would seem we are within striking distance of breaking an auspicious record.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Time It Never Rained

"The Time It Never Rained" is one of my favorite novels. It is set against the backdrop of the actual seven year drought that impacted much of Texas in the 1950's. Written by Elmer Kelton, a native of San Angelo in West Texas, it tells the story of Charlie Flagg, a rancher who deals as best he can with a series of of misfortunes all directly attributable to the lack of rain. The protagonist can be ornery as he culls the herd, refuses to take government handouts and but keeps his dignity while treating the Mexican migrants with more compassion than most.

Fast forward to 2011. I don't believe we have seen any appreciable rain in at least two months. From today's Fort Worth Star Telegram:

"The temperature hit 100 degrees at DFW Airport at 2 p.m. Sunday, the 23rd straight day of triple-digit temperatures.

And that might be the good news.

The forecast calls for highs from 103 to 105 through Wednesday and around 100 through Saturday, which, if true, would move the summer of 2011 into a tie for second on the all-time list of consecutive 100-degree days.

Of course, the record is 42 days, set in 1980."

The heat is one thing; drought is a whole other matter. We water the lawn about three times per week and it is still turning brown. At this stage, I am about to throw in the towel and save the water for something more purposeful. It will not be long before the restrictions start; in fact, I am surprised conservation methods are not already in effect, given the forecast.

The Rev. Horton Heat sings "There ain't no Saguaro in Texas" but it might not be long folks.