Thursday, March 29, 2012


Flowers of God are a local band, hailing from the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. They have a laid back, laconic sound and the critics will tell you, are influenced by the Velvet Underground. I like their minimalistic, bare approach; their songs sort of shuffle along. Exhibit A is "Tunnelvisionary", a single from 2010, featuring Sarah Jaffe from Denton, TX on vocals. Sarah pops in around the two minute mark.

Denton has a burgeoning music scene, supposedly akin to Austin in the 1970-80's before SXSW got too big.

Click the Play button:

Cool song that gets frequent play on KXT 91.7FM, our local public radio station that plays darn good music just about 24/7.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: The Blind Side

Picked this baby up in hardcover at Half Price Books for $6. List is $25. Does that make them Quarter Price Books?

I had bought this new when it came out in 2006 and gave it as a gift to a friend, hoping it would be read and then duly returned to me. Never happened. Ironically, the same friend introduced me to the debut work of Michael Lewis, the terrific Liars Poker, way back in the late 1980's. Back then it was declared that anyone with an interest in Wall Street needed to read Liars Poker and Barbarians at the Gate. I think that may still be true. Both are excellent.

In between I tried to read Lewis's Moneyball but found it impossible. I love baseball but all this praise for the Oakland A's was too much. They never won bupkis while he was there. A couple of Division crowns in the AL West do not mean squat. And a team that fielded McGwire and Canseco should have been kicked out of baseball, even if that was before Beane's time. Guilty by association.

A few months ago, we came across The Blind Side on TV and found the movie very enjoyable. Only a misanthropic curmudgeon wouldn't. And so when I spied the book in HPB, I slapped down my $6 (plus sales tax, 8.25% here in Tejas - I don't shirk my fiduciary responsibility to Austin).

Here my review: the movie is better. I know, I know, the book is always supposed to superior to any film rendition. But just like Jaws, Michael Oher is bigger and better on the screen. Every now and then the flakes in Hollywood get it right. Not that the book is bad - it isn't. I love the parts about Lawrence Taylor. I mean there is a player I can tell my grand kids about - the football part, not the ugly post-retirement LT that one day soon will likely make the Michael Jackson / Whitney Houston kind of headlines. LT was a monster on the field and simply a game changer as offences tried to account for his pass rush. Kind of odd (a juxtaposition, even) that he had a stable childhood and is now wheels off, whereas Michael Oher had an awful youth (until he met the Touhey's) but is now a stalwart of the community.

In short if you see the book for $6 or less, get it.

Otherwise, the movie is on TV every now and then.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Heartland, Heartland, Heartland / Radiohead Concert Review

Road Trip to Mizzou and Arkansas

The quickest way to drive to Columbia, MO from Big D is to head straight up I35 and hang a right in Wichita, KS. In between, there is not much to see. A vast, flat plain, treeless and windswept. It takes little more than an hour to reach the Red River and immediately the casinos appear, we are in Indian territory. Further north is Ardmore, Oklahoma, where in 2003 about 50 Democrats from the Texas House of Representatives hid out to avoid a contentious vote. Talk radio in Austin had a blast with that.

Just south of Oklahoma City is Norman, home of OU. Impressive football stadium but there was zero interest in the campus from my co-pilot. A few miles north is Moore, whose claim to fame is that it is the home of Toby Keith. Much debate ensued: was he born there? Does he live there? Was this the best they could come up with for their water tower?

Cruising through Oklahoma City, I told the story of Timothy McVeigh, who in 1995 became a home-grown Bin Laden. Ironically, the evil bastard was executed June 11, 2001, exactly 90 days before 9/11. We did not see the memorial but did see several buildings that resembled the Murrah Federal Building, where 168 perished including nineteen children.

In Kansas, we argued whether we should have planned a side trip to Holcomb, the setting for Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" (there is a lot of anger out here on the prairie...). Fiona read the book for her English class and declared it to be a worthy read, pushed it on me and I have to concur with her assessment. Turns out Holcomb is way west, almost in Colorado, and we were rapidly approaching Kansas City and night was drawing in.

Determined to procure some famed KC BBQ, we threaded our way downtown, eventually ending up in the Light & Power District, which was hopping with throngs of youngsters, hipsters and those out for dinner and a cocktail. We parked the car and found ourselves outside the Sprint Center arena which was buzzing. A scalper tried to sell us tickets for an unknown event - I assumed the Big 12 College Basketball tourney. Turns out it was Radiohead. He was asking $150 for floor seats - we politely declined and went and had a leisurely dinner (not BBQ!). About an hour and a half later, we went by the arena again. This time Mr Scalper had two for $150 and after some shrewd negotiating ("free string"), Fiona and I got in the tickets for just about face value.

We tumbled into the Sprint Center in time to see the very end of the opening act - who was it again? She was delighted, having missed Radiohead when they came to Dallas just a few days previously. The show was excellent. They played for two hours, first half mostly King of Limbs, second half older stuff, closing the show with Paranoid Android. The sound was very very good. The light show terrific. One of the top five shows I have been to. So our day on the plains was not all bad and when we crawled into our hotel in Columbia at 1am, we did so with the falsetto of Thom Yorke resonating in our heads.

I was banned from taking pics at Mizzou or U of A. Both are good schools, the former strong in journalism and broadcasting, the latter in business (thanks Sam Walton!). The Mizzou campus is almost a slice of Americana; Fayetteville, AK is the prototypical college town. Time will tell if we get to drop off a Fish at either.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Paging Dr. Melfi

All of you would be goombahs, remember how Tony Soprano used to get visited by ducks in his pool? Well Southlake ain't Joisey but the Mr. Drake and Mrs. Duck showed up last week, no doubt looking for a safe place to call home. He thought the water was fine; she was a bit more apprehensive. And she was right. Texie was sent out to shoo them off and they have not come back.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

On the First Day of March

Boys from the County Hell

On the first day of March it was raining
It was raining worse than anything that I have ever seen
I drank ten pints of beer and I cursed all the people there
And I wish that all this raining would stop falling down on me

And it's lend me ten pounds and I'll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

At the time I was working for a landlord
And he was the meanest bastard that you have ever seen
And to lose a single penny would grieve him awful sore
And he was a miserable bollocks and a bitch's bastard's whore

I recall we took care of him one Sunday
We got him out the back and we broke his fucking balls
And maybe that was dreaming and maybe that was real
But all I know is I left that place without a penny or fuck all

And now I've the most charming of verandas
I sit and watch the junkies, the drunks and pimps and whores
Five green bottles sitting on the floor
And I wish to Christ, I wish to Christ
That I had fifteen more

The boys and me are drunk and looking for you
We'll eat your frigging entrails and we won't give a damn
Me daddy was a blue shirt and my mother a madam
And my brother earned his medals raping gooks in Vietnam

On the first day of March it was raining
It was raining worse than anything that I have ever seen
Stay on the other side of the road
'Cause you can never tell
We've a thirst like a gang of devils
We're the boys of the county hell

Shane MacGowan (1984)