Monday, September 30, 2013

Theater Review: Thank You Jeeves

Our college fresh(wo)man had an assignment to see a local theater production and who would make a better date for the evening other than Pops?  We had been to Stage West in Fort Worth once before to see their rendition of The 39 Steps.  To say the venue is intimate would be an understatement.  It barely accommodates one hundred patrons but of course there is not a bad seat in the house.

Thank You Jeeves is one of the many PG Woodhouse novels featuring the travails and escapades of one Bertie Wooster and his loyal valet Jeeves.  It is perfect for stage, with limited action and lots of snappy and witty dialog.  Woodhouse's creations have been seen on film and maybe more famously on the small screen with Hugh Laurie playing Wooster and Stephen Fry as Jeeves.  These two are what I had mind when entering the theater. 

Mark Shum, who was also in The 39 Steps, was very good as the irrepressible Bertie Wooster.  He was lively, giddy and delivered his many lines in a good prep-school English accent.  Jeeves was played by Jim Covault, who was older than expected but that did not hold him back.  His many level-setting dry remarks back to Bertie garnered the most laughs.  The rest of the cast were forgetable, except Chuffy (who was over-bearing and loud) and Stoker, who looked like Hershel from The Walking Dead.  And we know know what a banjolele is...

It was a long production - almost two and a half hours - but overall very enjoyable.  Here's hoping for an A on the class paper.   Even better than the play was dinner at Torchy's Tacos.   What started in Austin is now in DFW - they have a new location in Southlake.  Can't wait to go again!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Saint Invincibles Day

All Arsenal fans / Gooners have come to love the annual rite of spring known as St. Totteringham's Day, that moving holiday when it is mathematically impossible for Sp*rs to finish above the Gunners in the Premiership.  Although Sp*rs scratch and claw, change managers and spend millions, it has been celebrated in each of the last 18 seasons.  In fairness, it has come late in the past couple of years (May) but has been known to happen as early as the second week of March.

Enough picking on the Totts, I prose another holiday, this one in the early part of the season.  It will commemorate the Invincibles of 2003-04, the only team of the modern era to go through an entire EPL season undefeated:  P38  W26  D12  L0

Saint Invincibles Day will be when the last undefeated team in the EPL suffers its first loss.  As of today, only Everton have yet to lose.

This year, Saint Invincibles Day will probably fall on Oct 5th when the Toffee's will likely succumb to Citeh. Gooners around the world will sing and rejoice and regale the young 'uns with tales of the 2003-04 INVINCIBLES... (Although should Everton win, we will also sing and rejoice).

The Invincibles: Brave Jens of the Rhine, Sir Robert of Pires, the bold knave Freddie, the majestic knight Dennis, his Lordship Thierry, gallant PV4, Cole (the Traitor), Reyes the Kicked, Sol the Saved & Unrepentant, The Brazilians Gilberto & Edu, etc.  All banded together under the watchful gaze of Good King Wenger to go unbeaten over nine months of battle!

St. Invincibles Day cometh soon!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Today marks the 12th anniversary of the day "our nation saw evil" and almost 3,000 innocent lives were extinguished.  Last October, on a beautiful fall morning with weather not unlike that fateful September day, we had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan.  The site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once proudly stood is now a shrine and in the national psyche stands alongside Gettysburg and Pearl Harbor.  The 9/11 Memorial is tremendous in its simplicity and leaves a profound sense of sadness but also resolve

The exact footprint of each tower has been transformed into two below ground pools with water cascading over each of the four sides.  In the center of the pool the water disappears into a square hole, symbolizing the disappeared and the lost.  The pools each measure about one acre and the surrounding walls are capped with bronze plates with the victims names.    The lost are grouped together: firefighters, those on the two doomed flights, the employees of Cantor Fitzgerald (658 of their 960 employees perished) and so on...even some pregnant mothers and their unborn children.

The two pools are set in a park which spans about eight acres and has hundreds of newly planted white oaks.  There is also the "Survivor Tree" which was originally planted near the WTC site in the 1970s and somehow, like NYC, survived the attacks.

Visitors maintain reverential silence and speak in hushed tones.  Mostly you just heard the cascading water and blink back tears as you watch families make etchings of the names of their loved ones.  The lingering effect is one of overwhelming sorrow but also determination to not let our guard down again.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Corporate Challenge 2013 - Bike Race

Team GE Before the Race
Conditions were perfect for the 15K (nine miles) sprint at 8am this morning.  Not too hot (low 80, slightly humid) and no wind.  We had about 20 cyclists on Team GE, loosely divided into hares, rabbits and lollygaggers.  I was in the second group, coming in at 25 minutes 29 seconds or about 21 MPH average. Our top guys did it in 20:46.  The overall best time was 19:45 or almost 28 MPH average!  That is some serious speed.

I was happy with my time (57th out of 133 in the 40-50 age bracket) and much improved over last year.  Unfortunately as a company we placed seventh out of nine in our division and out of the medals.  So far it has been a tough Corporate Challenge for GE - no top three finishes in any of the events.  That will change this week when our soccer campaign starts.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Breaking Bad

The AMC series described by many TV critics as being on par with (if not better than) The Soprano's has but four episodes left to run.  Breaking Bad is delicately poised.  DEA Agent Hank Schrader knows that his brother-in-law Walter White (aka "Heisenburg") is the former meth kingpin of Albuquerque.  Jesse Pinkman knows that Walt tried to poison his girlfriends son and would appear to have told the DEA everything.  Walters wife Skylar knows the her duplicitous husband is still hanging around with the greatest lawyer (Saul Goodman) since Jackie Childs.  And finally our protagonist and one time chemistry teacher Walter White knows that the noose is tightening.  Everybody now knows everything - question is, how will it end?

Yet, the flash-forward from Season 5, Episode 9 "Blood Money" indicates Walter is alive and kicking - with hair - well into the future.  It is fascinating trying to guess how it will unfold.  Most likely in violence.  So many major characters have already met their demise through the machinations of Heisenberg:
  • Gus Fring, smooth proprietor of Pollos Hermanos.  Next time you are in a fried chicken joint, check out the buckets of batter.  Gus died a memorable death, with half his face missing.
  • Hector, aside from Chief in Cuckoo's Nest, this has to be the greatest non-speaking character ever on screen.  Willingly died with Gus. Ding, ding, ding.
  • Mike, a badass protector and Fring henchman but no match for Heisenberg.
  • Gale, a promising chemist, put out to pasture by Jesse (corrupted by Heisenberg)
  • Jane, Jesse's drug addled girlfriend - Heisenberg could have resuscitated her...
  • Those two silent, pointy-booted, scary-ass assassins from Mexico... 
  • The guy in the bathtub of acid
  • The kid in the desert
  • Mike's guys in jail... and how many more?

The last four episodes will be historic.  The tension is building.  The finale is to be shown Sept 29th and is entitled "Felina".  On the Ticket this evening, the Hard Line were doing their weekly Breaking Bad analysis.  Danny is of the opinion that Felina is a reference to the Marty Robbins song where the cowboy (Walt) dies in the arms of Felina (Skylar) and she takes her own life.

That's all fine and dandy, I want to know if Badger and Skinny Pete get to make their psychedelic Star Trek episode.  And for the love of Pedro, give Saul Goodman his own show.  For now, we will have to do with Better Call Saul.