Friday, December 31, 2010

Winding it Down

  • Recently, Chalupa Cabrito asked the question, "Do snakes have faces?"  I commented on his post that of course they do.  Here are the faces of seven snakes:

Zoom in to see fang details.
  • I think the gray faces are just primed, and I don't remember why the second and third from the left don't have their proper yarmulkes.
  • On last evening's post, I extolled the virtue of the .41 Remington Magnum.  Here is a proper specimen:
Background: Oldest son's first deer
  • The trigger shoe is from Herter's.  I used to love to read their catalogs.
  • After three nights indoors, I got bit by the bug to sleep outdoors again last night.  No, not from having written about it - there was just a great alluring breeze outside when I let the dog out, and I was captivated.
  • At 4:02 this morning, the raindrops forced me back inside, but it was kinda funny how they'd already worked their way into my dream.
  • I made a huge batch of chicken & turkey chili, using fresh jalapeño, serrano, bell, and a small pepper from a plant my mother gave me.  Also a batch of spaghetti sauce with some of the same.
  • There was a long line of cars around the Wal-Mart today, and the checkout lines were insane.  You'd think they were giving away free nookie.
  • I don't know what that means.
  • I bought some 8 oz. Coors Lights to make red beer with.
  • Also stopped by the ALDI.  Even though I've established several kitchen staples that I can buy economically there, I am not convinced of their long-term viability.
  • Almost every item in ALDI is a store brand.  The only recognized national brands I've seen so far are: Pringles, Earl Campbell Hot Links, and Armour...lard.  Lard?  Yeah, you wanna be sure your lard is of the highest quality, right?
  • 10# sack of Russet potatoes for 99¢.  Guess that means hash browns for breakfast. Or omelettes.
  • But no beer at the ALDI.  A German store, without BierWas ist los?
  • They won't last.
  • I stepped out earlier and was about to set up my sleeping bag arrangement, but realized that Sienna would get freaked out by the fireworks - so it's indoors tonight.
  • Watched the last half-hour of Wild Hogs, then one of the Left Behind movies.
  • In this episode, Kirk Cameron's character gets married.  The minister, Bruce Barnes (played by Clarence Gilyard Jr.- James "Jimmy" Trivette from Walker, Texas Ranger - in the first two movies), quotes heavily from 1 Corinthians 13.
  • That Shakespeare dude also borrowed heavily from the same chapter in his, uh, Sonnet, um, 116.
  • Maybe in 2011 I will find a woman who understands and believes in that kind of thing.
  • Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010, Good Riddance!

While all the news outlets proclaim the top stories of the past year and notable personalities we lost, I will instead wish a hearty heave-ho to the second millennium's first decade, and wish for you, as myself, a healthy and prosperous 2011!
  • The House of Donald was blessed to have the kids this Christmas.  Actually, we spent the night at my folks' house, and oldest son had to report to work at 6:00 a.m. Christmas morning.  Luckily, his workplace was not busy, and he was able to leave mid-morning to rejoin us.
  • Attended our first Dallas Cowboys game at the new stadium the week before Christmas.  There is nothing subtle about that place.  I probably enjoyed the trip as much for seeing the engineering accomplishment (oldest son and I toured with an ASME group in 2007 when it was under construction) as the game.  The whole experience is a spectacle.  I wonder how many people go there and pay no attention to the contest on the field?  Anyway, I am most grateful to best friend Mark and his wife Claire, who passed the tickets on to us when her Dad presented them with Giants-Eagles tickets (a game that resulted in a massive meltdown for the NYG).
Two Donalds and a non-Donald (who nonetheless has 'don' in his name) - photo credit: The Donald
  • My sons have both been in Scouting.  Daughter has not.  Even so, she is every bit as rugged as any Scout I ever met.  The first night of Christmas vacation, she asked if we could sleep outdoors on the deck.  "Honey, it's going to be too cold", I said.  She just grinned.  "You're crazy."  More grinning.  "We'll have to put plenty of comforters over the sleeping bags, then."  Giggling.
  • That first night, it got down to 30° or 31°.   She pointed out Orion's belt, Polaris, the Big Dipper, as well as a shooting star.  I woke up several times to check to see if she was warm enough.  Yep. 
  • We slept outside all eight days she spent over here (only retreating indoors in the middle of the night that it rained).  Two other nights were 23° and 27°.  If she were a Scout, she'd have earned three Polar Bear badges.  Middle son joined us one of the non-freezing nights.
  • I enjoy sleeping outdoors, but mainly enjoy looking up at the sky and talking until one or the other of us falls asleep.  An experience worth more than money or gold.
  • Odd street sign:
  • Of course, I thought maybe I was in Santa Fe:

  • Then again, I had to worry about the attack of the killer Jackalope:
  • They're vicious, I'm told.
  • I didn't get caught up in the commercial Christmas vs. spiritual Christmas discussion this year.  Oh, sure, I fall into the latter camp.  But as friend Todd the Blogger points out, why split hairs over why, or how, someone is celebrating Christ's birth.  I wasn't out spending large sums, but, to the extent those who opened their wallets large this season helped the economy - I thank them.
  • We attended the middle Christmas Eve service at our Church.  It was awesome.
  • Am trying to access Obi's blog - using the sign on to the link, without success.
  • Got some inexpensive Western DVDs at the outlet mall - the kind where you get two movies on a disc, a couple of discs for $3.
  • If you ask most people about their favorite Western actor, you'll hear John Wayne, Eastwood, James Stewart, Fonda. Good choices all. And I would add another: Terence Hill (who co-starred with Fonda in 1973's My Name is Nobody, a classic).
  • At least one, so far, was a winner:
  • Lucky Luke: Ghost Train.  Starring Terence Hill (née Mario Girotti), this European TV series movie from 1991 co-stars Nancy Morgan (married to actor John Ritter from 1977-1996), Jack Elam,  David Huddleston (Olson Johnson from Blazing Saddles), and Abe Vigoda.  The trailer also credits Madeline Kahn, though she was actually in other episodes of Lucky Luke, but not this one.  The theme song is sung by Roger Miller.  Featuring a talking horse, this show is pure, slapstick Western fun.
  • I got a new Cabela's spotting scope for Christmas - looking forward to using it.
  • The latest issue of Shooting has an article about Smith & Wesson adding a .41 Remington Magnum offering to its 357 Night Guard line of snubbie revolvers.  Glad to see the .41 get the recognition it deserves, especially from the company that developed the original handguns for the round.
  • Interestingly, the article made no mention of the cartridge's proponents: Elmer Keith and Bill Jordan. Edit: ...and Skeeter Skelton, too.
  • Heresy!
  • So I will.
Have a wonderful, happy, safe, and prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wrapping Up

With the events of this past week, my blog backlog seems to be growing - lots of ideas, but little time to commit them to bits and bytes.

A few last notes from the funeral:  I suppose everyone has gotten the email about the middle aged lady who goes to the dentist, only to read his diploma and realize he was a high school classmate.  When she says to the dentist, "I think you were in my class", he asks, "Oh, really, what did you teach?"

One of my classmates walked up to me yesterday and asked me my name.

For most of you, this wouldn't seem remarkable.  But my graduating class numbered 16, and we've lost two.  I can name every person in the class, and have seen all of them within the past ten years.  So, I was a bit taken aback when this one I'd visited with at the 25th reunion (six years ago) didn't recognize me.  I've not changed much in 31 years, and really very little in the most recent six. 

But then, sometimes the shoe's on the other foot.

About five of us were standing about after the funeral service when a guy walked up, with a deliberate look, and asked "Is this the Class of '79?"


"I'm Richard XXXXX."

The classmate to my right introduced himself, then I introduced myself.

"Oh, you're The Donald."


"The Donald."

"Uh, yeah, I'm Don."

"No, I mean you're The Donald, the blogger."

At this point, I'm really struggling, trying to figure out which class Richard is from, and how in the heck he stumbled across my blog, inasmuch as I don't attach tags, and, to my knowledge, wouldn't expect anyone at that gathering even to know I have a blog.

Thankfully, a few moments later, someone else walked up and said, "I'm Donnie, Richard's brother", bringing the picture into focus.  Richard had been in our class from 5th through 8th grades, but left to attend another high school.  So I guess we can't be faulted too much for being slow on the recall after 35 years.

In talking with the brothers (Richard and Donnie), we reminisced about growing up in Irving, of old landmarks long gone, and they told me of one I'd never heard before.  Apparently, until the late '40s or early '50s, there was an airport south of 183 and east of Story Road, running north-south down to where the Plymouth Park shopping center has now been for about 50 years.  I wasn't sure I believed them until I researched it this evening, since the housing in that area is about 55-60 years old, but sure enough, there had been one, and I could vaguely remember seeing some remaining hangar buildings in the '60s and '70s.

I guess you know you're getting old when you drive by a place and remember when it was a field, then such-and-such was built on it, which changed to something else, and then it was torn down and now it's a field again.

You know, kind of like Texas Stadium.

Oh, and I still never learned how Richard came to be acquainted with my blog.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Mourners

This morning, at the service indicated in the prior blog, I recalled a radio spot I'd heard for a touring collection of medieval statuary, on display at the DMA until January 2.

I counted seventeen cloaked figures flanking the altar as the Celebrant conducted the funeral Mass, all older priests, many of whom I knew from my days at the school, others who taught at the University.  Additionally, there were some younger brothers and novitiates.  I was struck by the apparent age gap between those in their 20s and 30s, and those in their 70s and 80s.  There were probably two priests in the 'gap' of 40-50-60.

Our friend and mentor, Fr. Aloysius was a very special man to many people, spanning generations.  A patient teacher, counselor, and sometimes stern disciplinarian, he shepherded his students.  A classmate and friend of mine said that no mother could have defended her cubs more fiercely, than Fr. Aloysius did.  And we didn't always, or even often, make that an easy task.  Over the past three weeks, as we saw his physical life coming to its conclusion, I couldn't help seeing the parallels, in this Advent season, of one who had suffered numerous physical, emotional, and physical indignities, yet maintained strength of spirit and perseverance to complete his earthly tasks.

The Celebrant recounted an old saying, of mixed Latin and German origin, stating that "You can't give more than you have", and admitted that for most of his life he'd believed it to be true.  But recently, he had a revelation that the aphorism was wrong, that in fact, through God's power, we can give blessings far beyond  what we innately possess - the excess contribution (possibly the entire measure) being God's gift, for which we are merely conduits.

To Fr. Aloysius, I offer heartfelt gratitude for the blessings you bestowed on me.  And to my friends and whomever may read these posts, I wish the joy and love of Christ in this season.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Mentor, counselor, friend

Fr. Aloysius János Kimecz, O. Cist. Fr. Aloyius János Kimecz was born in Hejo bába, Hungary on Dec. 26, 1926, and passed away on December 17, 2010. After graduating from high school, he began studies in the Teacher's College of Eger, Hungary, but was soon drafted by the Hungarian Army to serve in the Second World War. He was sent for training to Germany and then to German-occupied France. At the end of the war, he was a POW under French and later American troops. After the war he entered the Cistercian Abbey of Zirc in Hungary and finished the novitiate in 1948. When the Communist government announced the suppression of the monastery in 1950, Aloysius joined a group of young Cistercians who escaped from Hungary by crossing the Iron Curtain to the West. After a brief stay and studies in Rome, he immigrated to the United States. He continued his studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee, then in Puerto Rico and finally at Southern Methodist University, where he obtained his Master's Degree in Spanish. Aloysius was ordained a priest on June 23, 1953 at the Cistercian Abbey of Spring Bank Abbey in Wisconsin. Father Aloysius worked in various capacities in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and taught at Our Lady of Victory High School in Ft. Worth and St. Edward High School in Dallas. He served on the first faculty of Cistercian Preparatory School when it opened in 1962. He served as novice master for the Cistercian Abbey 1965-68. In the Prep School he was Form Master for classes '79 and '87. An excellent teacher, form master and friend, in his last years he became particularly close to the new generation of Cistercian monks in the Abbey, promoting their love of learning and loyalty to the Monastery. He died after many years of illness. Several nephews and nieces survive him in Hungary. The Rosary will be prayed for him on Monday, December 20 at 7:30 in the Cistercian Abbey Church. The Mass of Christian Burial will be con-celebrated on Tuesday, December 21 at 10 AM, Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy officiating. Memorials may be made to the Young Monks Educational Fund of the Cistercian Abbey Our Lady of Dallas, 3550 Cistercian Road, Irving, TX 75039.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blue Plate Specials!

  • Somewhere today, near lunchtime, my colleague spotted a magnetic sign "Ask About Our $5 Lunch Specials!"
  • The sign adorned a small dumpster in front of a restaurant.
  • Pass.
  • We instead chose the Railhead BBQ in Willow Park.  Best brisket I've had in a long time - melts in your mouth.
  • An employee had on a shirt that, on the back, said "Life is too short to live in Southlake".
  • I liked that.
  • However, in fairness, and as one not often given to complimenting the Dragon city, I have to give them props for their Teen Court program.  One-of-the-family-members-who-is-a-teenager [ahem!] was, uh, recently introduced to the program, and so far I'm quite impressed by the way that it's run.
  • I used to office in Southlake Town Square.
  • Their new DPS/Courts building is super impressive also, though that's not surprising, being on the periphery of SLTS.
  • The weather today could not have been any better.
  • I'm not Baptist, but, if I didn't already have some plans, would attend Runaway Bay Baptist Church this Sunday.  I hear they have a really good interim interim Pastor. 
  • Yeah, I used the word 'interim' twice.
  • On purpose.
  • I've heard him preach before at Lake Worth BC.  I guess he specializes in Lake towns...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Welcome to the 'hood

I suppose one could devote a whole picture book to the subject of signs that give slightly altered messages when they're missing words or letters.
  • A friend got me a USB turntable for my birthday, one of those that you can convert your vinyl LPs to MP3/CDs.  The first records I've converted are Michael [Martin]¹ Murphey's Lone Wolf and Peaks, Valleys, Honky-Tonks & Alleys, from 1978 & 1979, neither of which had been reissued digitally.  PVHTA features a live, sing-along version of Geronimo's Cadillac, in which Murphey admonishes the audience : "...come on and sing now, y'all sound like a bunch of Methodists!"
  • True.
  • McCartney's performances on SNL last night were very good.  Maybe not great, but still very good.
  • Attended the office Christmas party Friday night.  A good time was had.  Especially the Chinese gift exchange.  I always feel better if the gift I give gets 'stolen', and it did.  The one I received did not, which was OK, too.  Many of the guest brought their kids, but I didn't have mine this weekend.  :-(
  • Louis Charles "B. W." Stevenson attended the same high school in Oak Cliff as Michael Murphey, though I can't tell that they ever recorded together.
  • On RPM's blog today, he recounts a youthful episode of train-hopping as a prelude/tie-in to a news story about a hapless stowaway who tried to catch a ride from Charlotte to Boston in the wheel well of a 737. 
  • Bad decision.
  • The story did remind me, however, of a line from Canadian Gordon Lightfoot's Early Mornin' Rain.  I became familiar with versions of the song by Peter, Paul & Mary and The Kingston Trio before Lightfoot's version.  The PP&M YouTube has better [B&W] video and audio, but I liked the KT version better, from a 1967 Andy Williams special.  Lead vocalist here is John Stewart, who later penned Daydream Believer for the Monkees (also covered by Anne Murray), and had a minor hit, Gold, in the '70s, assisted by Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham, who claimed to have learned to play guitar from listening to KT records.
  • I have sometimes thought it would be fun to ride a freight, but it probably wouldn't be a bright idea [for me].

¹ Murphey later began using his middle name in 1981 when the movie Hard Country which he co-wrote came out, to distinguish himself from another actor with a similar name.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Some folks may object to being lectured, but as long as people keep getting killed needlessly, it's a good reminder:

Well, isn't that just ducky?

  • This morning on the way to work, Jody Dean played John Lennon's #9 Dream.  I've always liked that song - kind of an ethereal (like Honey Bunches of Oats?  No.) feel to it - but suspect that its popularity owes at least in part to the racy-sounding refrain.
  • He noted, as has been done many times today, that it's the 30th anniversary of Lennon's passingPassing?  Can I help you?  He didn't pass - he was murdered.
  • I have written previously that I wasn't a huge fan, but certainly I like quite a bit of his music.  And it would be silly not to recognize the immense influence he had individually, as well as with the lads, on music and popular culture.
  • The Pied Piper blogger of the county northwest of here (but who resides about five minutes away) doesn't care for Mike Huckabee, but I'm disappointed that WBAP has moved him from 7:30a to 5:30a.
  • When receiving criticism, I'm getting better about shutting up and listening more.  Kind of.
  • Guess I'm gonna have to remove the '[approaching] middle age' notation from my profile.  I'm here.
  • Mr. Corner, please give W-spouse a big ol' kiss from me. 40?  Why, thank you!
  • Another sign of the times:
  • One of the recent new hires used to work for the auto auction, shown above, which has been repurposed as a recreation vehicle auction.  Nice boats!  Lots of motorhomes, too.
  • Back in the day, I used to finance auto floorplan (inventory) lines, and my dealer customers would sometimes loan me their access cards so I could go to the auction and shop for cars.  Used car floorplan lending fell out of fashion in the late '80s-early '90s.  Not 'sexy' enough, mortgage lending became the rage.  I guess we know how that worked out.  I could write a heckuva floorplan financing policy for a bank, though, and I think there's much to be said for that kind of nuts-and-bolts lending.
  • Visited briefly with a man this morning - an immigrant from the other side of the globe.  My age or a bit older, he's been here 25 years, a citizen for 15.  It's an interesting perspective you get from talking with people not born here.  A business owner, he loves the opportunities available here, bemoans the state of the economy and the myopia of some of the people in his industry sector.  The one thing he expressed strong concern for was that Americans seem to be throwing out the values system that made this country great. 
  • I agree.
  • Last night while searching for videos of Alice Cooper, I was disappointed that Vincent isn't quite the meticulous performer I'd imagined.  A lot of the performances were fairly lackluster.  I watched a KISS video a couple of weeks ago, from Thunder Tales - wasn't too impressed, but not surprised, either.  I've heard Mr. Furnier didn't do drugs back in the day, but did spend most of those years sauced. It shows.
  • A piano prodigy in the making:

  • I've said it before: I love the Stockyards.
  • There was a Wild Bill Hickok-looking dude near the Rodeo Arena today.  I could dig riding a horse up and down Exchange Avenue, but I doubt that it pays very well.
  • But I don't understand this:

A little closer...

  • I mean, sure, I've heard of shotgun weddings.  But I'm getting this odd mental image, what with the stock pens and all, of a rancher dad following behind the groom with a cattle prod and zapping the boy on the 'nads...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sign of the times...

Seen recently next to a curb, newspapers piled up on the front walk - foreclosure, perhaps?

I want to start by thanking the readers of this blog for the kind words, encouragement, and well wishes.  I haven't been ailing, or taking a well-deserved rest.  Just a little busy, and too lazy to blog lately.
  • I've had in mind to write a post about the blind men who TSA the elephant, each arriving at a different conclusion as to the nature of the beast.  The cacophany of voices these days, proclaiming what ails the world/nation/workplace/family, has been vexing me.  Many of the diagnoses may be right, but my sense is that most are like those blind men.
  • While I'm not ailing, I am older.  Half a century?  Gimme a break!  To paraphrase Alice Cooper, I was eighteen, not that long ago.
  • Daughter had a piano recital last night.  Of about 18 performers, she was the only one to perform from memory.  Yeah, I'm a proud dad.  She also had an accompanist on violin - her mom.  Not too shabby.
  • Have been invited to a Christmas party this or next weekend.  I have to get an inexpensive gift for the Chinese exchange.  Those are usually pretty fun.  Interesting to see what some people will go nuts for.
  • Oldest son's pickup is in sick bay, awaiting a fuel pump transplant.  He's been working extra hours at his after school/weekend job, but will have to squeeze in the time to drop the tank to replace the pump.  He can get it pretty reasonably from an online supplier, but can't order it until he removes the old one because the manufacturer used two different types - with different electrical terminals.  And he won't know which one he has until it's dismantled.  Aggravation!
  • Middle son is manager/scorer for his HS basketball team - enjoying what he's doing, but ready to drop the scoring pencil at a moment's notice to get on the court.
  • The priest who was my 'homeroom' teacher for eight years is nearing the end of his earthly journey.  Wracked by the physical and emotional scars of capture and confinement in war-torn Europe, then additionally persecuted when Soviet tanks rolled into his country in 1956, he somehow maintained his Spirit and gave encouragement and wise counsel to generations of students.  There's no doubt a greeting of  "Well done, my good and faithful servant" awaiting him.
  • I attended Catholic school, but am not of that denomination.
  • Dinner tonight was experimental mac-n-cheese.  A cup of shells and a cup of penne rigata, a 2:1 blend of Velveeta:Neufchâtel, a tablespoon of [real] bacon bits, and a sliced up spicy Italian parmesan sausage (leftover from Saturday night spaghetti) from Sprouts.  Not too bad, but I could have spent more time seasoning it.
The M-60 prop is pretty cool.  Wonder if I could get away wearing Alice's outfit to work?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rest in Peace, Lagniappe

One of my Saturday morning indulgences is to read Lagniappe's Lair, written by a West Virginian on a variety of topics, often including the shooting sports, and classic Western movie clips on Saturdays, but mostly about the exploits of Lagniappe, a beautiful retired German Shepherd police dog with a colorful personality. 

Of late, the posts have told how Lagniappe had begun losing neuro-motor control in his back legs to canine degenerative myelopathy, a progressive disease.  Still, his character showed through, even as his mobility impairment advanced.

This morning, I read, through tears, that the disease had advanced to an untenable state, and that yesterday his owner/friend, after sharing a long evening of conversation and treats, and a delicious last breakfast, took his beloved friend for an extended car ride and a final trip to the vet.

Four years ago this week, my wife and I took turns staying up with our Chow/Spitz mix, Sara.  As I had to work the next day, my wife probably shouldered more of the overnight duty than I.  On a crisp November morning, Monday before Thanksgiving, I drove through drops the windshield wipers could not clear away, to the veterinarian's office, to give rest to a dear family friend who in her fifteen years had greeted the births of all three of our children, and had stood watch to alert of any uninvited guests when I was away on business.

Rest in peace, Lagniappe.  With gratitude to all of our canine friends who have enriched and blessed our lives.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Words of wisdom from the Gunner's Guru

"Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal weapons. The possession of a good rifle, as well as the skill to use it well, truly makes a man the monarch of all he surveys." - Jeff Cooper, The Art of the Rifle

With deepest gratitude

From the email bag today, from my friend Tom:

At the 1:15 mark, the voice of a real President.

Thank you Tom!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Is this really putting your best foot forward? Or a "High Miles" disclaimer?

For reasons I'm not quite sure I understand, I've not yet un-subscribed from the free interwebs dating service.  I haven't gone on a single date using that service.

Nonetheless, I still get emails notifying me of my latest "matches", and sometimes, possibly from sheer boredom, I check to see exactly who are these women that this e-Yente¹ believes will find romantic bliss with me.  As.  If.

This one has shown up on the list from time to time, and each time I get a chuckle from the unfortunate break, where the sales pitch cuts off and you have to click to read the rest of it:

Hi : )

In my spare time i enjoy spending time with my Family....Cookouts, Going to the movies, Some shopping but not TOO much, watching sports and going out every once in awhile with friends. Im a very laid...

Very laid?   I dunno, seems a bit too forward to me...

¹ Yente, the matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blockbusted: A tale of three cities

It's no longer front page news that Blockbuster, the once high-flying video content retailer founded in Dallas in 1985 and nurtured to national prominence by investor Wayne Huizenga, is on the ropes, having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection a couple of months ago.

In the areas that I frequent, there are at least three closed Blockbuster outlets, victims of a myriad of factors, probably including a flawed business plan/debt/inertia, changing technology delivery channels (NetFlix, FiOS, U-Verse), and competition from kiosks (RedBox) as well as traditional rental stores (Family Video).

What's interesting to me is to see how the market absorbs the detritus of the vacated retail spaces, almost always well-located.  Here are three:

This location, the most recently closed, remains vacant.  In a retail center anchored by a Kroger grocery, two banks, and a fast food establishment, it's probably going to be a bit difficult to fill, if for no other reason than that its visibility is not so good as the other locations.  (Fun trivia: The property is represented by the Makens Company.  I rode in a carpool to prep school with Jim Makens in the 5th and 6th grades.)

Notwithstanding my neo-Puritanical disapproval of the Toys for ----- retailer on the left (Oils, Gifts, Lingerie - "Uh, yeah, what do you have in a semi-synthetic 5W-30?"), I'm sure the landlord is tickled (no, the pun is unintentional, sort of) to have repurposed this space in a fairly short time.

Now, here's the home run:

This store, in a retail center anchored by an Albertson's, and several fast food outlets, benefitted from a bold new façade, and in under three months was fully redeployed with two solid tenants.

I think I'm hungry...


I hope it doesn't shock any of you that I'm, uh, not a fan of the rap music.

You can attribute it to my age, my incredible likeness of being white, or simply a tragic case of the un-hip.  It's just not my thing.

Nonetheless, the praise band at my church performed this song at last weekend's service - the message was spot on:

And a transcription of the lyrics:

Uh, I know it’s going to kill me but I just can’t let it go
And the taste so appealing got a grip upon my soul
These honey dip lies mesmerize me
Pride’s got its crooked fingers twisted all inside me
Fools walk the path I’m on, never to be seen again
Sipping on seduction while we eating on some secret sin
(Not a lot of love and mercy) says the whisper in my ear
And I know I should be over this, but I ain’t seeing clear
And I aint leaving here, unless somebody save me

Walking to my grave letting evilness enslave me

Evil looks so lovely covered in her lace of lies
And the silky smooth seduction just manipulates my mind
Her fabrical fabrication is fueling my fascination

While I’m intoxicated she starts her assassination
I’m losing all my honor and my years to the merciless
Giving all my life away but I’m just so immersed in this (Killa)


Baby this is innocent (Killa) it won’t even hurt a little bit (Killa)
I’m only here for your benefit (killa) I’m your every wish (Killa)

Come on and let me in (Killa)
baby this is innocent (Killa)

And it won’t even hurt a little bit (Killa)

Close your eyes and let’s get lost tonight (Killa)
Would it be alright? You’ll see (Killa)

Her feet go down to DEATH, so don’t let her consume you
Even though her heart is black, her exterior’s beautiful
She’ll take your life away, strip away your joy
Pretends that she gon build you up but she’s just gon destroy you
My friends fell low, when they was so high
Got me running scared of myself, no lie
And I know I’m gon die, I tried cold turkey
But when I’m feeling worthy, Satan’s sure trying to merk me
I’m doing myself dirty, flirting with whats perverted
I should follow the word but I guess I’d rather be murdered
Excuse me I mean martyred ‘cause I’m killing myself
My sin conceived a baby, and we gon name her death, breath
(Gasps) - Taker, she take my breath away
Replaces it with poison and I’m so swept away
I need some bread today hope I wake up

Before they start my wake up somebody make me break up

I’m dating a (Killa)
Baby this is innocent (Killa) it won’t even hurt a little bit (Killa)
I’m only here for your benefit (killa) I’m your every wish (Killa)
Come on and let me in (Killa)
Baby this is innocent (Killa)
And it won’t even hurt a little bit (Killa)
Close your eyes and let’s get lost tonight (Killa)
Would it be alright? You’ll see (Killa)
As the song says, Sin is a Killa, insidious and seductive, leading us to spiritual and even physical death.  And while rap may not be my idiom of choice - I was totally enthralled by this song because of its powerful message.
A few years ago, Don Henley expressed a similar message in secular packaging, in Miss Ghost, a tale about running into an old lover, or perhaps metaphorically, an old habit, and realizing he's overcome the seduction.  I couldn't find a video, but here is a transcription of the lyrics.  The song's on the CD, Inside Job.

On a misbegotten, moonless night
I stumbled in my door
Disgusted with my circumstance
Soaked to every pore
When floating from my bedroom
Came a moaning and a sigh
“Oh, I've had one too many
It's just the wind,” says I

I lit up a cigarette
And I poured a good, stiff drink
You see, I needed to compose myself
I needed time to think
No sooner had I settled down
The moaning came again
Drifting through the silence
Like some otherworldly violin

I bounded up the staircase
I went slippin' and slidin' down the hall
You know, I've been around the whole, wide world
But I was not prepared at all
Uninvited visitor, unsuspecting host
“Well, I see you've made yourself at home.
Good evening, Miss Ghost.”

You're more beautiful than ever
I feel just like a kid
And I commence to trembling
When I think of all the things we did
Skin as pale as marble; lips as red as blood
Imagine my surprise, my dear
I thought that you were gone for good

You look so lovely lying there
All stretched out on your back
But I'm the one who's strung up here
On old temptation's rusty rack
And in the wee small hours
Is when I miss you the most
And I confess it, I have missed you
Ah, Miss Ghost

I threw open the window
And I howled at the rain
And I cursed the weakness of the flesh
This breath and bone—and this brute, reptilian brain

What dirty tricks the mind can play
In the lonely dead of night
When you bump into the shadow
Of a faded love that wasn't right

Way down beneath the surface
Far beyond the light of day
So many things lie buried deep
And baby, they should stay that way

Oh, my wicked, little habit
We've really made a mess
And everything's been trivialized
In our vain pursuit of happiness

And even though you've come for me
I won't go back with you
To some temporary heaven
Down some empty, dead-end avenue
But it's been so good to have you here
And I propose a toast
“Here's to seeing through you—
Miss Ghost.”

You mean those little ones?

Driving to work this morning, I glanced over at the service pickup in the next lane, which is emblazoned with the phrase  AAA Batteries Delivered and Installed.

My first thought, of course, was "How dang inept or lazy does a person have to be to hire their AAA batteries delivered and installed?"


Turns out, they're installing AAA Brand, like the auto club, batteries, as I realized when I took another look at the truck.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bullets in the Gun

Here's something to start your Saturday.  I don't think it's Toby's best work, but what caught my attention is - what kind of music is this?  Not really country, not really pop.  Sort of outlaw-redneck country meets Chicago?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blade-free Pumpkin Carving

Just make sure you have a safe backstop...

I dunno.  I'm cheap frugal.  I think I'd just save the ammo and use a knife.

One could postulate that this is analogous to the situation of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.  A long time ago, it was just for baking.  Then they figured  out a bunch of other things it could be used for.

Same likely goes for the .40 or [especially] the .45.  Overall, there are probably plenty of problems can be solved with a well positioned 200 or 230 grainer.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Also Sprach Ecclesiastes

Now, some of you will find this a bore.  If so, just skip it.

Others will not be surprised, knowing my penchant for the arcane and remote.  You see, I was raised in a conservative environment, albeit one that reverberated with the strains of the 'modern folk' movement of the late '50s and the early '60s: Seeger, Limeliters, Kingston Trio, PP&M, Brothers Four, Chad Mitchell Trio, Joan Baez (but not particularly Dylan), Judy Collins.

I was looking for a reference to this song, because, as King Solomon (presumably) wrote in the Book of Ecclesiastes, I am increasingly aware of the changes of the seasons, the phases of the moon, the chambers of the heart, the egg-and-dart (oops!, sorry, Henley got tangled up in there a bit) that comprise the cycle of life. As I wrote in commentary on Thunder Tales, I'm no longer seventeen, though thirty something years later Running on Empty always transports me back to that magical age.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to happen across this historical gem.  The audio quality is not great, but it's truly a time capsule, showcasing a young Judy Collins with the song's composer, probably the foremost folk movement figure of the 20th century (along with Woody Guthrie and Dylan), the venerable Pete Seeger, who also wrote or co-wrote the folk standards Where Have All the Flowers Gone? and  If I Had a Hammer.

No, it's not the 'definitive' Byrds version (which legendary D/FW radio personality Ralph Chapman used for his final sign-off from station KLUV in 2005), but I hope you found it as interesting as I did.

A time to build up, a time to break down

A time to dance, a time to mourn

A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

...and a time for every purpose, under Heaven

I don't really want to be seventeen again, but instead, as I look out and see the storm clouds forming, embrace the changing season and welcome the new joys and challenges it brings.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't give us Dirty Laundry

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood.

The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

"That laundry is not very clean", she said.  "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."

Her husband looked on, but remained silent...

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:  "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly.  I wonder who taught her this."

The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

  • The preceding was not intended as a pitch for Sonlight Window Cleaning, as it was something sent to me by a church friend (and I had already pasted it here before I made the connection), but if you are in the need of window cleaning services, I will tell you that I wholeheartedly endorse and recommend the work of its owner, Todd.
Back to the story, the purity of what we perceive is so often colored by other conditions, often beyond our control.  My middle son asked me a few weeks ago if I ever feel that people misunderstand me.

"Frequently", I replied, noting that at times it seems I'm misunderstood more often that not.  Just in the past couple of days, I've had a couple of misunderstandings, one a family situation, the other not.

As someone who truly enjoys wordsmithing and wordplay, with a background that includes management and communication courses and seminars, I take a certain amount of pride in being able to effectively express my thoughts.  Except that it doesn't always turn out thusly.  I suppose that I could point to those classes I've taken, and my gallon jar of 50¢ words, and dismiss miscommunication as others' fault - after all, I knew what I meant and used precise language to so state, maybe in Safire-ean terms.

But that would be wrong.  Absolutely wrong.  Because of the effort and the background, I have a greater, not lesser, duty and accountability, if my message is incorrectly taken.

Communication involves both expressing and listening.  And sometimes pre-occupation with the 'just so' formation of ideas inhibits the listening on the feedback channel to hear how the message is being perceived.

So, if something I've written (or said, if we're acquainted) strikes you as odd, out of character, or just plain wrong, please interrupt me, and allow me to clarify.

Bits 'n' Pieces

  • I am glad election season will be over soon.  I would like to be the guy on WFAA who does the BS testing for political ads.  Even the politicians I would tend to favor have some of the most asinine radio/TV ads.
  • Incumbents take credit for Texas jobs being more stable than in other areas of the country.  But, as the publisher of a small-town Tarrant County newspaper often told me (usually as an argument against prostituting the municipal budget through 'economic development' incentives), Texas has all of the standard business inputs, in spades: location (center of the continent), markets, transportation (ports, rail, major interstates, air), availability of capital, an educated workforce (North Texas anyway - hey, it's my blog, I can throw barbs if I please - besides, it's true), moderate year-round weather, culture & entertainment venues, affordable land and energy costs.  I'm thinking those factors pretty much trump most of what the tin-pot politicians try to take credit for.
  • It's funny that the governor-running-for-re-election chides the mayor-running-for-governor for budget deficits, inasmuch as the State has about a $17B budget deficit.  From what I've seen, there's scarcely a midsize or large city in the state that isn't having lean financial times.
  • Does anyone know who is running opposite the Lt. Governor?  Because, for all I can tell, the Lt. Governor (Lite Guv, as Molly Ivins used to say - I was not particularly a Molly fan, but it was a useful term) is running against ObamaCare.  Now, I wouldn't be voting for ObamaCare anyway, but I'm not really sure that's on the ballot next month.  So what gives?
  • It looks like the North Central Texas I-35W corridor US representative incumbent is vulnerable.  But still I cringe when I hear the childish refrain "Chet Loves Debt" from his challenger.  It's not a race for 6th grade class president.  Edit: The TV is on as I write this - I didn't hear the refrain in the TV ad.
  • I was in South Tarrant yesterday, stopped for lunch at a Taco Bueno because I was starved.  My bill came to $5.08, so I handed the cashier a five and a dime, expecting two pennies change.  Instead, the cash register display showed $0.53 change, which is what she handed me.  I politely informed her that I thought she'd given me too much change.  To which she replied "Oh, I gave you the senior discount."
  • Sheesh!
  • It's been 31 years since I was a senior (26 if you count college).
  • I suppose I'd have understood if she was sixteen - after all, everyone over thirty looks OLD.  But this woman was every day of forty (probably was only thirty).
  • There was a dead disposable diaper (infant size) next to the passenger side of my car when I left the restaurant.
  • Modern society is entropic.
  • Took my son's Defensive Driving certificate and driving record to the local PD/court so that his first ticket will go away.  Next time, he will have to hire James Mallory or Jim Lollar.  I have a friend, who, when I inquired a year or so ago about traffic ticket attorneys (never having hired one before),  rattled off the phone number for one of the preceding, from memory.
  • Sitting at a side street traffic light this morning, I was bumped from behind by a twit in an Infiniti G-35.  After a few seconds, I got out and determined that there wasn't really any damage (who knows, in a year or so, the rear bumper fascia may crack), and returned to my car.  The twit never even got out.  I was going to include that she was blonde, but I'll refrain since I have one or more blonde readers, and cannot prove that the blonde-ity was a contributing factor.  Texting probably was, though.
  • Radio ads, other than the political, that annoy me: Central Market, The Dump, and Children's Hospital.  I loathe the oh-so-cutesy copy and singsong delivery of the first two (plus, The Dump has butt-ugly, damaged furniture that wouldn't sell elsewhere at retail), and the nursery rhyme rap when discussing childhood neuroblastoma just irks me.  Is it wrong to talk about serious issues in a serious way?
  • If I were in sales for Citadel, Cumulus or any of the radio network groups, I would love the insurance companies.  Can you turn on the radio without hearing a Geico, Progressive, or Nationwide jingle?
  • Yeah, some of those are annoying, too.
  • After two Ranger wins this past week, the jocks on the classic rock station did an on-air prank in which some gal originally from Yankee-land calls her dad, who's in the Bronx or Brooklyn or Queens, and says that she's left her husband (and children's father) because she 'hooked-up' with a Texas Rangers player an an after party and now he's her boyfriend and they're *boinking*.   The ruse was designed to get a rise from her die-hard Yankees fan dad, many bleeped 'f-bombs' ensued in his lecture to his daughter about decency and her responsibilities.  But the only thing I found funny in the bit was hearing his genuine New York accent.
  • This week, a series I'd been attending on Baptist Faith and Message concluded at a local church of that denomination.  I managed to attend a little more than half of the lectures (starting late, I attended all of the remaining installments from the time I started).  It was very informative about the governance of a local church in the SBC, and the pastor was refreshingly candid.  He tackled a question about alcohol by saying that the only Biblical passage he could find was "Be ye not drunk with wine.." and said that while he'd never tasted alcohol, and has no plans to, and inferred that judicious imbibing was not an egregious activity.  It seemed a good answer, and based on my knowledge of him, not one designed to tack into prevailing winds, but based on thoughtful study.
  • BTW, I'm not Baptist, but I do attend several events and studies with friends who are.  The church that I attend weekly has, as best I can tell, Baptist foundations, but not the term in its name.
  • Hugh Beaumont, best known as Ward Cleaver, was licensed to preach by the denomination of which I'm still, technically I suppose, a member. 
  • I've never been much of a baseball fan, but am enjoying the Rangers finally being a serious pennant contender.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shall we pray?

Mantis-wise, that is.

The bloggers Corner and Obi brought up the subject of Praying Mantises in a recent post/comment.

Proud dad that I am, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to add to the discussion:


And now, a little Willie...

One of the animal rescue groups has a commercial featuring this song.  I am a huge fan of animal rescue, as well as of this song, so I thought I'd post it here:

In the commercial, the stark photographs of abandoned pets pull at the heartstrings while Willie Nelson sings in the background.  Then, of course, the pitch for a contribution to the pet rescue cause.  I would possibly donate, but, being a bit tight on funds in this economy, have decided not to, partially because I have and am doing my part by: a) My last three canines (two from the Roanoke shelter '89 & '91, now in eternal rest in Bowie; current one from HSNT on East Lancaster in Fort Worth) have come from shelters, and b) As a condition of adoption, have been spayed so as not to contribute to future overpopulation.

I can only imagine the circumstances that cause people to abandon pets, and pray that I'm never in such a predicament.  The unconditional love that a pet offers its owner(s) - my Sienna always has a huge tail wag when I come home, and is overjoyed whenever the kids are in the house - is something that makes a house a home.  The beautiful auburn hairs that quickly fill the vacuum cleaner are but a small inconvenience.

I try to do right by Sienna, showing as much excitement to see her as she shows me.  Lavishing her with praise, and occasional treats, walks, and rides in the car.  Just yesterday, watching a football game on the sofa, she'd sidled up to me, shoulder to shoulder, her nose nuzzling my ear.  As she wished, I gently rubbed her tummy until she was fast asleep, and conspicuoulsy snoring.

This weekend's sermon cautioned married couples, husbands and wives alike, about treating the institution as an accessory, a mere bauble.  Lots of folks get married, because it's the thing to do, but over time, that wonderful new accessory becomes simply something that, while still functional, is relegated to the back of the closet, the bottom of the drawer, a place on that hard-to-get-to shelf.  The one who was once the standard of beauty, or saviore-faire, becomes the ordinary, not necessarily despised, but no longer celebrated.

I don't want to get too awkward in drawing comparisons between having a pet and being married - trust me, I'm not into weird.  But I do sometimes wonder, despite all my best efforts to praise and do right by Sienna - if she had the autonomy to decide to stay or go, what would she do?  I only hope that I can reciprocate the seeming unconditional love so that she never leaves. 

And if God should again tether me to one of the fairer gender, I pray I can do so sevenfold.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Who Are We Fooling

The past two weeks' messages ¹ at church have been fantastic.  Just wish I'd heard them five, or twenty-five, years ago.

Yesterday, they played this song, with guitar instead of piano, kinda putting this video version to shame:

¹ Link is to last week's message; this week's, even better than last, hasn't yet been posted.

Musically speaking...

General George Armstrong Custer and his army were camped inside the fort.  The General's aide was talking with him, and said, "General, I don't like the sound of those drums."

From over in the garrison walls they hear a voice yell, "He's not our regular drummer."

Kenny G walks into an elevator and says, "Man, this place is HAPPENING!"

Two East Coast-based musicians are traveling to their next gig in Chicago in separate cars. First musician gets to the club and is told that his buddy has died tragically on a bridge in Indiana. First musician says: "There is no bridge in 'Indiana.'"

Custer: "Those drums, those incessant drums -- they're driving me mad!"

Indian scout: "Trouble come only when drums stop."

Custer: "Good Lord -- what happens then?"

Scout: "Bass solo."

Lifted from:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another touchstone of my youth gone...

Barbara Billingsley passes away at 94...

Friday, October 15, 2010

OK, if you won't, I will...

No one offered forth on the captioning.

  • William Jefferson Clinton, Franchisor
  • "Ask About Our Wednesday Blue Dress Special!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween's near...

Now, if these folks would just get in the spirit and decorate that place, I'm sure they could win some kind of award or something.

Aledo gets tough with White Settlement

Seen today on I-20 westbound.

Take note, Willow Park!

The pictured vehicle was a semi-trailer, equipped, apparently, as some kind of a command post.

Another No Comment Post

Have at it!

I'm afraid both of my proposed captions involve the 42nd President...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ah Love Texas!

It's said that one oughtn't ask someone if they're from Texas.  If they are, the story goes, they'll tell ya, and if'n they aren't, well, no sense embarrassing a body...

I'll disclose that I weren't born here, but reckon that living in the Lone Star State for over 40 years would make me purt' near as naturalized as I'm gonna get.

Here's a scene I saw today:

SW corner of Main & 25th

Now, as I turned at that intersection, I'd had in mind to get this picture, and had rolled my window down for that purpose.  While I was successful in snapping it - I missed the better opportunity, as on the opposite corner were four of the purtiest cowgirls you ever did see, fixin' to cross the street.  But, I didn't have the passenger window down and probably would've looked like a voyeur taking their picture anyway.

So I drove on to my next destination.  In the mirror, I'd notice a couple of cowgirls on horseback, heading my direction.  As they neared, I got this picture:

Note the cupholder on the second gal's saddle.

Noticing me, these ladies called out, friendly like, asking me if I'd missed the memo that it was "Ride Your Horse To Work Day".  Obviously I had. 

And I suppressed the fleeting thought of responding by asking if these cowgirls wanted to save their horses, because: a) I'm couthful and such, and, b) with my conservative attire, I weren't dressed like no cowboy today anyhow:

No, that's not the steering wheel of a King Ranch F-250.  Pity.

Those other cowgirls at the first intersection?  Yeah, I was maybe, probably old enough to be their father.  Ugh!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


So, today I was driving down I-20 and looked over to the iconic Sanger-Harris architecture at Hulen Mall, now occupied by Macy's (I'm not sure if I've ever been in a Macy's).  I know that most folks today have probably forgotten about Sanger-Harris, but it was a Dallas/Fort Worth staple in the'60s and '70s.  There was one in Plymouth Park in Irving when I was a kid, with three floors and a basement.

In the fall of 1980 as a sophomore in college, I worked as seasonal help in the cash office of Sanger's at North Hills Mall, as a second, part-time job.  I wanted to work on the sales floor, for commissions, but since I had money handling experience, they put me in the cash office, taking payments and processing credit apps. 

Driving home on FM 1938 the night of December 8, they played three John Lennon songs in a row, which I thought was peculiar.  Then the announcer came on and reported that Lennon had been shot dead outside of his New York apartment building.  I suppose it's axiomatic that events like that, and the attempt on President Ronald Wilson Reagan's life almost four months later, are seared into your memory such that you can remember exactly where you were when you heard the news.

I won't pander and say John was my favorite Beatle - I thought he was a bit too acerbic, and I didn't care for his wife (still don't - such an odd bird).  But I enjoyed the music, and his, with and without his mates, was possibly the most influential on my generation.  He had earned his place in the rock pantheon ("Pantheon the ground, pantheon the ground, lookin' like..."   Stop it!) and certainly did not deserve the fate that befell him.

Lennon would be 70 tomorrow.  I found this quote, supposedly attributed to him: "Rituals are important. Nowadays it's hip not to be married. I'm not interested in being hip."

Yeah we all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nostalgia crumbles

This morning, I noticed a salmon/coral-colored linen shirt I'd bought a couple of years ago (I say salmon/coral because, as a man, I don't really know what to call it - sort of orange-ish/pink?).  I'd been meaning to take it for alterations to have the collar converted to button-down (like Bob Newhart), because I just don't like it flapping around.  I got the shirt to wear for a nice summer evening, to complement some white linen drawstring trousers from the Neiman-Marcus Last Call, and sandals, with the crazy notion that such ensemble would make me look like Jay Ferguson of [one hit wonder] Thunder Island fame, and possibly, attractive to women, or at least one of same.

I've always liked the song Thunder Island (featuring slide guitar by Joe Walsh, and produced by Bill Szymczyk, who also...well, you know), and in my late teens, surmised from the album cover that Mr. Ferguson, with his not-quite-so-cheesy-as-a-'70s-porn-star moustache, and flowing hair, was able to garner all the hemp cord seashell necklaced chicks he could wish for.  Some serious lady action, I figured.

And maybe he did.

But, this morning, waiting at the YouTube station for a link a blogger had posted, the Crazy Thought Train Express hailed to me from the side platform, and I saw Jay Ferguson's name over there.  So I took a look.

And found this:

Oh, my!  You should see the version from Don Kirshner's Rock Concert - he looks like 'Weird' Al Yankovic!

Almost makes me say "The seventies?  I know not of the decade of which you speak..."