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☆ Well, again I'm having to say something about how long it's been since I've written in my journal. For weeks I had a half written post about TBRU that never got off the ground. Partly it was due to stress at work and trying to get through tax season, and now that's over, thankfully. It may not have been as hard as we thought, but it's definitely been a stressful time at work. Otherwise I just haven't been so inspired to write and have been lazy, watching TV in my spare time.

Lets face it, TBRU can be boiled down to a few things. There was great people there, I did my best to stay out of crowds and kept the drama to a minimum. That's not to say that going to Six Flags during Spring Break was not frustrating with the long lines and rude people, but luckily the guys I went with were good company. Also, the Battlestar Galactica finale went great and it was fun to have fellow geeks come over to watch. It made viewing it much more of an event. The finale itself was good, not great, but I think there was a lot of expectations. I saw people I knew and was glad to see them, and met a couple of new people, mostly introduced by people I knew since I'm too shy to go meet them myself.

☆ I'll just a paragraph or five about politics here. I think Obama and his administration are doing fine. Sure, I don't agree with everything he does, but I do appreciate that he seems to be able to plan for the long term and doesn't get caught up in the day-to-day news cycle. Politicians are often too reactionary (see AIG bonuses) and try to respond too often to what the polling shows rather than getting out there and making real plans. I find it refreshing.

The tax day tea parties were ridiculous. What began as a libertarian thing suddenly became some way for disenfranchised Republicans to find a voice, but the problem with that voice is that it seems to find outrage but no substance or solutions. For many people there they seemed to be outraged, but didn't quite know what they were outraged about. Of course you have Fox News out there, actually adding their name to the event. If my parents ever try to tell me that Fox News is balanced again, all I have to do is point to this moment where the right-wing network didn't report the news, but tried to be an event organizer. While I don't find much in the way of objective journalism from any of the cable news outlets, I can't see either CNN or MSNBC trying to actually create a movement for their benefit. For anyone on fox who wants to remain a journalist, it's time to leave.

Funny that these tea bag protests about spending come after several years of Republicans raising deficits while Bush was in office. All this sturm and drang only seems to come around now that they are out of power. I'll take your message as seriously as I do the Code Pink housewives.

Oh, and our governor here in Texas, Rick Perry, is worried about a primary fight against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson next year, so naturally he decides to go to these tea party events to campaign. He's a complete idiot, but he knows the Republican Party here is a bunch of rabid fools (Just check out the Texas Republican Party Platform) so he knows he has to play to these guys. Kay is much more the moderate, and she would do better in a general election, but it will be harder for her to win the primary.

So Governor Good Hair, as we call him, goes out to start talking about Texas shouldn't be ruled by Washington, that states are sovereign and we need to look at secession from the US. Great! Just what we need here is an idiot telling us that we should leave the US. If we left the US, the US would also leave us. Do you think Texas would keep the US companies that headquarter here? Do you think that the US military would just leave all there equipment to us? Do you realize that there isn't a large enough bank based in the state to do commerce with? We are so tied into the US, that...why am I even arguing this, our governor is an idiot.

☆ Lastly, tomorrow we head out to LA for our cruise. I'm excited about going out to see a Dodger game tomorrow night and Saturday getting on the ship for a Mexican Riviera cruise. It's the Lazy Bear cruise, so there should be lots of good people on the ship. chris was on this same cruise a couple of years ago - as were a couple of other LJer's. I'll admit that I am not excited about any of the ports of call, but it will be nice to relax and get away from it all.

I'm packing, trying to get everything I need into one suitcase. You'd think going away for a week wouldn't require so much, especially going to somewhere warm, but I'm struggling to keep the bag under 50 pounds. Luckily this cruise I don't have to bring formal wear.

I have been on one other all-gay cruise, and that was the one to Alaska in 2007. I liked that one because people were dressed a little more warmly, but I see this cruise as a little more body competitive - beaches and pools and such. I'm sure there will be several people in skimpy swimsuits both on and off the ship. I'm already in my mindset that I will be the largest guy on the ship and won't want to be out at the pool area. Hopefully this feeling will change and I'll be able to let go and have a good time, but I'll tell you, it's easy to feel that you are very unattractive going into something like this.

Still I can't just stay in our little cabin all vacation long. This will be odd for me because I'm always looking for things to do on vacation but this one seems to be more about doing nothing. I hope I don't go crazy with boredom as I can't think of any of these ports that I want to explore, or anything. I'll be missing my internet access, too. I'm guessing I'm going to be on deck reading a book quite often. We will see how it goes.

Now if I can just cram all these T-Shirts in the bag!

☆ Oh, and it's possible that California's Supreme Court will rule on marriage next week. I guess we'll see if our marriage is still valid (in selected states) or not. We'll be without internet, but I'm sure we will hear the news on the ship. not that I'm expecting it, but if they rule for marriage equality that is going to be one big party boat.
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It’s a sunny blue-sky morning here in Dallas right now. We are some 450 miles away from Hurricane Ike right now in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems to be bearing down for a direct strike on Galveston, and then will trek up I-45 into Houston. Watching the news this morning the waves were already crashing over the seawall that covers the eastern half of Galveston Island. Given the size of the storm, and the storm surge expected, Galveston Island should be underwater tonight. Luckily they have already issued mandatory evacuations for the island and the coastal areas of Texas.

I went through Hurricane Alicia back in 1983. Like Ike, it too was a class 3 hurricane, but it formed in the Gulf just days before landfall. She did not have the same surge that Ike will have when he lands tonight. Alicia also made landfall during the day, and I remember news reporters on the local stations running in downtown Houston as the winds blew out windows in the skyscrapers.

I’m not sure if it was the right decision not to request the evacuation of Houston. Given the disaster for trying to evacuate the city in 2005 when Hurricane Rita was coming in (and missed, hitting Beaumont), I guess they thought it would be better to tell people to stay home rather than clogging up the highways where they may be at worse risk as sitting ducks on the freeway than at home. As someone who was in the traffic jam back then, it’s not an experience that I would want to go through again.

Interestingly enough, Rita was this same week, 3 years ago.

One of the reasons I know they did not evacuate Houston was to allow those who were forced to evacuate from the costal areas the ability to get through. In 2005 people from areas that didn’t need to evacuate filled the roads keeping those in costal areas trapped. Had the storm actually hit Galveston, many people could have died in their cars. Even with Rita going off to the east, the largest number of reported deaths was people who died in the evacuation traffic jam.

Luckily for Houston Ike will pass over fairly quickly. There may be more wind damage than anything else. While Houston has a large problem with flash flooding, and areas will definitely flood, I don’t think we will see anything like Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 where the city received rain from a storm that would not leave. I remember being unable to go home one night due to floodwaters, and having to stay on a friends couch. Allison was hopefully, a once in a lifetime storm.

Ike looks to come ashore with winds between 100 and 115 miles per hour. The storm surge will do all of those things like leave boats in funny places and the wind will tear off roofs and damage trees. As the storm cuts across Eastern Texas, there will be a lot of downed powerlines and pine trees.

I checked up on some friends and my parents last night. Jerry [ profile] goofycub said he’s staying in the city and should do alright. My parents live about 50 miles north of Houston. Mom’s staying home while Dad has to work in the jail. Except for power problems, they should be OK.

The storm is supposed to quickly move north quickly during the day tomorrow. Dallas will be on the western side of the storm, but we still expect tropical storm winds and rain tomorrow. The center of the stom should be heading for Paris, Texas, and the homes of [ profile] bearpawly and [ profile] txredneck’s family. The metroplex doesn’t expect too much damage from the storm, but it could spawn some tornadoes.

On a funny note, the University of Houston moved their game from the campus to the campus of SMU here in Dallas. Not the brightest idea as I don’t see many people wanting to come out in the rain to see a crappy football game from an out of town team. They should have moved the game to San Antonio, which shouldn’t receive much from Ike at all.

Well, as I write this, a few clouds are starting to creep up from the south. My dad just emailed me about the storm and, different from what my mom said last night on the phone, wanted my mother to come up to Dallas. Hmm. Well, I think she’ll be OK in the house, but I understand that he’s worried since he will have to be at work. Now he’s got me worried.

I hope everyone stays safe. Including [ profile] mrdreamjeans who is also having to ride the storm out at work tonight. Hopefully Ike will blow over quickly and cause as minimal of damage as possible.

Now On Ice

Mar. 6th, 2008 12:44 pm
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On Saturday it was 80 degrees and sunny. We had thunderstorms Sunday night, and a driving, wet snowfall on Monday night.

By Tuesday morning the snow was gone, and on Wednesday it was 70 degrees and sunny.

Right now it's sleeting and the roads are starting to ice, meaning a real bitch of a commute home. (Edit: They are letting us go home now!! Hooray for training!)

This weather is chicken fricken' sandwich crazy.
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I get a few polls emailed to me now and again. One of them always asks the same control questions at the end of the survey. The question asked is: "Do you consider yourself to be mostly a resident of your city or town, America, or the planet Earth?"

The question is asked to be able to discern your outlook, how you frame things. A worldly person would see, and probably obtain news differently from someone who is more city-focused.

I have to say, I don't know exactly how to answer the question. I mean obviously I'm all three, but I can't say for sure what my outlook is best described as. I'd also like to add that I'm a resident of my state. It might not mean much to others, but Texas is it's own little world.

As for getting information, I'm not very city-foucused. I sometimes pick up the Dallas Morning news, especially if a copy has been left out in the cafeteria at work, but I don't make a habit of going online for it, same with the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I still watch the Houston Chronicle more, and could tell you more about the news there than here.

I take a look at the national news, focusing more on the political and entertainment stories, but am I happy to call myself an American? I'm much more likely to introduce myself as a Texan, which, with the current president may not really help. As for being worldly, well, I certainly don't know enough about it to truly be a global citizen.

I guess I'm a citizen of all, but not really subscribing to the viewpoint of any of them.

Of course, the questionnaire goes on to ask if I'm a Wal-Mart shopper, or a NASCAR fan. The answer to both is most assuredly no, so that does put me in another category, I'm sure. They always ask about religion and passports, also to see a little bit more about you.

One other question I see every time is "Are you a member of the investor class?" Again, this would be no. I may work for the industry, but the only investing I do is moving a few funds around in my 401(k). I know, it's another world-view question. If you have the ability to invest, you certainly don't see the world the way someone who'd having a harder time making ends meet would, but I just find the wording of the question rather odd.

Perhaps it is the problem of seeing the word "class" used for this, where you'd like to think that being an investor wouldn't make you different from others. It isn't true, but it seems that being a part of such an "investor class" is getting farther and farther away from the middle class. It seems to infer that you're talking about an upper class only, those who wouldn't shop at Wal-Mart I guess.

Hmm, what am I doing with my money?
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❄ Other people in the DFW area have been talking about snowflurries today. I haven't seen any here, so I must be in the warm part of town. Still, there's predictions of more as we drop below freezing tonight. I doubt any will stick, but it is still strange. I'm guessing that this is going to put a big damper on the Easter Pet Parade in Lee Park tomorrow, which sucks. We always see some great folks and their pets out there. Last year temps were in the 90's!

❆ About a month ago I saw a story stating that gas prices shouldn't go to $3.00 a gallon this year (in Texas). At that time prices had risen to $2.25. Now the price is 2.75. I'm going to guess that we'll hit $3.00 right after April 15th. *sigh*

❅ So I've been catching up with episodes of 24 this weekend. It's the first season that I've watched this show as I've seen a few people rave about it. I have one question: Has the show always been this bad, or is this season just terrible?

It's not necessarily the acting, but it's just the writing that seems awful. They have an interesting scenario, a suitcase nuke goes off, and not only do we see how we try to get those responsible, but we also see leader's response to it. The problem is, they throw away characters all the time. Someone shows up for an hour or two and then they disappear, having little impact on the plot arch of the show. Then there's the need to give the series regulars something to do, so they look for moles and have office romances and suspect each other of drinking on the job, none of which is interesting or does anything to move the story forward.

I wonder if the writers are also writers of videogames, as there is a similarity of plot devices where you go from one situation to another on a path to the finish. There's several small bosses that must be defeated (or as Jack Bauer does, interrogate them) until you finally get to the big boss.

There's also a lot of M. Night Shamalan "Ohh! What a twist!" moments that aren't as big a reveals as they seem to think.

I'll watch the rest of the season just to see what craziness they pull out to show that it's not the Muslims or the Russians or even the Cheney-like vice president. It's probably Jack's Dad who was seen in two episodes early on and promptly forgotten. After it's over, it's getting deleted off the Tivo.

❄Otherwise, Chris and I were at the local mall last weekend and it was a little dead. We walked by center court and there was the Easter bunny sitting there waiting for children to come up and get photos. At this mall he's a overly large brown furry with a nice waistcoat and tie. He was sitting on a park bench and the area was decorated like it was New York's Central Park. Why this was, I have no clue.

We're looking at the rather-lonely bunny from the second level, and Chris asks me if i found the bunny a little creepy. I said no and asked him what he meant.

He says, "Well you have a guy in a bunny suit waiting on a park bench for kids to come and sit on his lap."

Yeah, when you put it like that, yeah, it's creepy.
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Well, Christmas has come and gone and the new year is nearly here. Really, Christmas was very low key around here, almost quiet really, though our friend Oscar came over. He slept on our couch for most over the day, but hey...

We played a lot of Wii stuff last weekend. I forced Chris to finish The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess so I could learn the finish of the story. Again, it was fun trying to figure out the puzzles and what was needed to defeat each enemy with Chris, still i know I don't have the co-ordination to play the game with Chris.

I'll admit that I like the Wii, and I've played a lot of the Wii Sports games, which I like. I also like to check the Mii Channel to see how many Mii's have shown up from other people We have see about thirty in our parade lately. Just let me know if you want our Wii number to connect up!

Of course there's some time when the Wii controllers are not a good thing, and that's when the moves you have to make don't make any sense. We played Wii Sports with Oscar on Christmas Day and it was a lot of fun, but when we tried to play the party games on MonkeyBall: Banana Blitz and the controllers didn't seem to work. The games had you tilt and turn the controller to target and move your character, your monkey, and it made no sense, and half the time it didn't work!

As for Christmas gifts, I gave Chris some clothes, including three shirts from Threadless that haven't managed to find their way through the mail just yet. I also got him all three of the Xbox games from Burger King and they weren't half bad. The one we liked the most was Pocket Bike Racer as we could race each other. Pretty good for a $4 game.

Chris gave me a new wallet which I need to exchange with my current one that's falling apart. He also gave me a Roomba Discovery which solves both the problem that he wants me to vacuum more, and I think the little robot is so damned cool! It's a really great thing, and Joey the dog loves to bark at it.

I have to tell you that i wish I could have done more for Chris this year. I just couldn't come up with a "wow" gift this year, even with going out to the mall last weekend, looking at several online stores and checking some gift giving suggestions. My lack of inspiration, plus the fact that I didn't have a lot of money to spend his year meant that it was just so-so gift giving experience. Chris had already done tons about getting videogames, so I knew I didn't want to just get him another one. Oh well, I'll just have to work harder in 2007.

As we get closer to 2007 it makes me sad that Mikel ([ profile] soonercubntx) will be moving to New York. It's been great getting to know him this year, and I'm happy that he's getting to move to a city he really wanted to be in, but it's hard to watch another friend leave the area. There's been too many people leaving Texas in the last little while, and there's more to come when Alex and Jay go back to Boston soon. We need to import more guys here.

They've announced a National Day of Mourning for President Ford and it's January 2nd. That means that the stock market will be closed. One thing that's odd is that the stock market has only been closed for four days in a row (the weekend, New Years Day and this extra day) once before in my recollection, right after 9/11. Still, Ford only served half a term, maybe he should only get half a day?

Still, my workplace has said that we'll have to work on the second. This will be interesting because most of our industry competitors will be closed (as will banks and post offices). It will definitely be an odd day coming up. I'd so rather have the day off. Heck, we don't even get a jeans day. An email was issued today making sure we knew that the office would be open, but we would be allowed to take some time to grieve appropriately sometime during the day. Personally I think my grieving may take about eight hours.

Of course you have to ask, when W goes, will there be a day of mourning at all?
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The Texas Jewish Cowboy, on the campaign trail

Early voting has begun all across the country, and although we keep seeing the signs of change, still, it’s going to come down to who actually takes the time to go vote. Really, with early voting, it’s not hard to go this weekend and do your duty. I’m going to vote after I drop Chris off at the airport so he can go off to his weeklong cruise.

This year, for the first time, I’ll be voting a pretty much straight democratic ticket. There’s really nothing to like about Texas Republicans. Most are vain and ineffectual, if not downright dangerous. One of the more visible is our governor, Rick Perry.

Perry has the luck of being the guy who was second in command with George W was elected president. He’s actually been elected again, because our Democratic Party is more ineffectual than the Republicans, and many Texas, several who still have “W” stickers on their cars, can’t bring themselves to vote for anyone else.

Rick Perry is known for his hair. That and the fact that he’s presided over several special sessions of the legislature that still haven’t come up with a formula for school funding. This and he runs on an education platform certainly shows that the man has truly succeeded by falling up. Should he win this election, he will become Texas’ longest serving governor.

Sensing that the governor was somewhat vulnerable, there were several hats thrown into the political ring this year. There’s actually five people running for Texas Governor. One is a disaffected Republican comptroller that bills herself as “One Tough Grandma”. She found that she wouldn’t be able to be the Republican candidate, since Perry still has a humongous war chest of money to spend, so she decided to go independent. As far as polling goes, she’s looking to finish fourth, above the Libertarian candidate, pretty much killing her political career.

So that brings us to Kinky Friedman. The musician-author threw his cowboy hat into the ring over a year ago, and has run with the slogans, “Why not Kinky?” and “My Governor is a Jewish Cowboy.” He’s a Texan who seems to have a love of the state, and wants to rid the state of wimpy politicians like Perry. His independent campaign has been going on for a while, and unlike the Libertarian candidate, he was actually asked to the debate – the one and only debate, among gubernatorial candidates this year.

He funny. In fact, he’ll freely admit that some of his shtick is and act, an act honed when he was on the road with his band, Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. His redneck persona was actually made to try to make people uncomfortable as he sang songs like “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews like Jesus, Anymore” and “The Ballad of Charles Whitman” about the sniper who shot students from the top of the University of Texas Tower. Trying to empty an auditorium seemed to be a right good thing to do. His mystery novels are a little more low-key, but still carry an irreverence.

The problem is, a cigar-chomping caricature doesn’t sell well on the campaign trail. Kinky has been labeled racist, despite being in the Peace Corps in the 60’s, and appearing at the Grand Ole Opry with the first black band member to take the stage in the 70’s. Comments about the crime element added to Houston since Hurricane Katrina didn’t help either. Texan’s don’t mind a negative campaign ad, but a flippant candidate seems to rub them the wrong way. Just ask Clayton Williams, who was winning over Ann Richards until he decided to say that Texas weather was like rape, “as long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.''

Needless to say, Perry managed to tell a TV reporter “Adios, Mofo” when leaving a line of questioning he didn’t like, with little trouble. If only the late, great Ann Richards had been able to defeat George W. back in 1994 – well, we wouldn’t have any of the crap we have now, would we?

It’s too bad that being a little off color can get you smeared, if you’re not already in power. I would have loved to seen Kinky become governor. I think that his spirit would have been just the thing to shake up the status quo. Sure, he might never get anything done, given a mostly Republican legislature, but he wouldn’t have to. Just having a dissenting voice would be great. The Texas governor’s office is pretty weak to begin with, his biggest power is to be able to call the legislature to special session, and set the agenda that the legislature purely forgets as they try to draw up anti-lewd-cheerleading bills instead of school finance and property tax reform.

You have to like a guy who said, “I just want Texas to be number one in something other than executions, toll roads and property taxes." He had hoped that the Texas voters, especially the independents, would have liked the pollitically incorrect attitued and irrevent ideas that he would expose, like not only decriminalising marajuana posession, but nominating Willie Nelson to be his transportation secretary. (To Willie’s credit, Willie does sell biodesiel fuel at Texas truckstops, called BioWillie).

Kinky is languishing in the polls. In fact, the race is pretty much Governor Perry vs. the pack. While the governor is only polling at about 40%, he could still win the race. In second is Democrat Chris Bell, who was originally expected to linger in last place, but the recent resurgence in Democrats this year, and a good showing at the debates has raised his chances. If one were have to said that the Democratic candidate would have even been in the race at this time, even back in March when the primaries were held, well, people would have laughed. Of course, the Libertarian candidate didn’t even get invited to the party.

It’s with a heavy heart that I have to concede that Kinky has really no chance to take the governor’s mansion. As much as I’d like to vote for him, I can’t help thinking that the bigger goal is to get Perry, aka Governor Goodhair, out of office. Therefore, I’ll need to vote for Chris Bell. While even if I voted for Kinky, I still think I’d be voting fairly – my parents would say that I’d be throwing my vote away – I think voting for Bell has a greater chance for actually accomplishing the goal.

Luckily I like Bell. I thought he did a good job on Houston City Council, and a decent job in the US Congress until his district was gerrymandered away by Tom Delay’s redistricting work. He’s make a decent governor, but then again, so would the Grandma or Kinky. They just aren’t getting the excitement of the voters. Bell’s polling numbers still just place him as the best of the other four, but still far below Perry. It will again just depend on who comes out to vote.

I now vote in very Republican Collin County, with Plano and Frisco, so my vote will be lost in a crowd, but hopefully, statewide, it will mean something. Of course, Collin County is using those Dibold machines this year, so perhaps my vote won’t count at all.
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I see that recent Austin City Limits headliner Willie Nelson and member's of his band were arrested for a possession of marijuana. Really, is this news? I remember as we went from Willie's set to Massive Attack's across the field Saturday, we went from the weed section to the ecstasy section. Well, hopefully Willie can pay for the band's fines and Willie won't have to serve time. Not that I'm a legalization guy, but really, in the big picture is this really important? I would suppose Willie makes an easy target.

After Willie and my early Sunday morning allergy attack, we loaded up and checked out of the hotel to spend our last day of the festival. Scott ([ profile] xkot) called us and asked us out to brunch, and Peter ([ profile] texaspenguin) suggested Trudy's which was good. Now I have another place to suggest when we meet new people in Austin.

As we were driving over to Trudy's the downpour began and I was wondering if it was going to be worth to to go out to the park. There were other people waiting for a table who were also unsure about the day. I also was getting calls from Nakia to say that they were probably going to sit out the first acts and wait for the big acts to come on later in the day. Still Nakia and Ben ([ profile] qualitykill) had been jumping from stage to stage the last two days, including running backstage, so we were lucky when we did see them. Personally, I just can't run around that much in the heat. We're more park and listen people.

Chris checks the schedule

Luckily the rain had ended by the time we finished lunch, so Chris ([ profile] f__k) andI decided to risk it and go see KT Tunstall. Peter gave us a couple of umbrellas just in case. The park condition was decent, with just a few soggy patches, so we took our place and watched.

Once KT finished her pleasing set, David ([ profile] metacub) and John ([ profile] gtijohn) came out of the heart of the crowd, finding the bear flag. They had gotten there early to specifically see KT. None of us had plans for a bit, so we hung out together again, which was certainly great. I could go on and on about how good it was to meet our Bay Area visitors, but you get the idea.

So, who did we see on Sunday?
KT Tunstall
Jack Ingram (he was there, we just didn't move)
The New Pornographers

Jack Ingram was just one of those things where we were parked, and he came on the stage. He wins the prize for worst stage banter as he went on and on about who he is, repeating his name ad nauseam, and telling everyone he plays country music. In contrast The New Pornographer's had good banter, especially when singer Neko Case, complaining that her monitors weren't working sing-songed "I'll give a blow job to anyone who can give me some reverb!"

Of course it was nothing like the banter of the heavily bleeding Ben Kweller the day before, asking and getting a tampon from the crowd to stop the flow from his nose. It was the most talked about event at ACL, even getting the Flaming Lips to to mark the incident with red paint and tampons on stage.

The last set we all saw was the Greencards at the small Austin Ventures stage, while most of the crowd was either listening to Ben Harper or the Flaming Lips. The Greencards is a British bluegrass group that had done the Austin circuit for a few years before moving to Nashville. They played a satisfying set, trying not to be drowned out by Ben Harper. I think all four of us were fine with ending our weekend with a smaller, more intimate performance by some talented musicians.

Since Chris had jury duty on Monday, we had to leave early. David and John joined us for dinner at another Austin institution, Chuy's. As we had dinner a large thunderstorm moved in drenching the town. We knew that Scott and Peter were at the park watching Tom Petty. I saw stories later that Petty had to stop, and much of the crowd ran for the buses, but that eventually he came back and finished his set. By then we were long gone, back up I-35.

David and John chill, ACL style.

I know Chris and I were sad to leave the company of David and John, and hope that they will come back in future years. We were glad to see Scott, but we did miss the other guys who were there the last two years. I hope that for 2007 we can bring in more folks, because the event is just fun, with some incredible acts and a great city. Chris and I plan plan to continue making this an annual tradition.

As Chris and I travelled back home, Sirius was playing several ACL artists on 18- the spectrum and 26 - Left of Center. They did have a person "in the field" so to speak, doing a few reports back, but it wasn't as if they were an event sponsor. I was very glad that for whatever reason someone was allowing me to remember the event in music through the rain, across the state.
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in another week Chris and I will be heading down to Austin for another great Austin City Limits Music Festival. I might actually listen to more music this year since we won't have the horde of bears that we've had the last two years. I know that there will several bears I don't know there, since there were several we found here and there last year.

I only know a few LJ Bears who are coming, and we'll need to see about getting together Saturday for a big pre-show breakfast, since people are scattered all over this year. I wonder if we should re-make the bear flag signal this year?

I'm looking forward to seeing Guster, Stars, Gomez, the Shins, Amy Mann, Iron & Wine, KT Tunstall, The New Pornographers and The Flaming Lips. I'm sort of so-so about the headliners, but I guess I should see Van Morrison, since he's a legend...still, I'll more likely spend some time seeing John Mayer, as he's on at the same time.

To see more about what you're missing, see the ACL website. Even better is to HEAR what you're missing by looking at this playlist on iTunes!

I just hope that this great weather we've been having lately will continue through that weekend because it's been terribly hot the last two. Please not 108 again!

Oh, since I'm talking about getaways, Chris ([ profile] f__k) will be heading off to an RSVP cruise at the end of October and is looking for a cabin mate. This is his revenge for my going off to Boston without him. Still, I'll be looking for a party for Halloween here since I'll be going stag!
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Over the past weekend, Chris and I got out of Dallas due, luckily, to a bye weekend in the softball schedule (and let me tell you, it was time for a break in the softball schedule, but that's a post for another time). We drove down to Austin, primarily to see Randy's ([ profile] lostncove)play, 9x9x9.

Chris boarded Joey for the day, and we left mid-afternoon, because we wanted to clean up the carpets as Joey has been shedding up a storm. The drive, both there and back seemed to take a long time. I'm not sure if it's just the fact that I haven't been doing drives for distance for a few months now, or that I-35 through Texas is just that crappy of a road.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn on Town Lake, and had a great view. I was disappointed that the "roof top" (of the parking garage) pool was out of commission. Where's that Roaming Gnome now? I spent a little more on the accommodations that I would normally because A. If it's just me, I'm a cheapskate, but I wanted us both to be comfortable and B. this is the closest thing to a vacation that I'll get for a few months, so i might as well.

It was interesting knowing that so many of our friends were moving, or planning to move over the weekend. We called Jerry and Teddy while we were on the road, and they were just crossing back into Texas, moving Teddy from California.

We went to the show, and like anything I've seen in Austin, it's in a little out of the way something that's now called a theater. I've seen a couple of shows in warehouses, one in a house, another in a basement, and now one in a theater that was, in it's former life, a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. As the House Manager put it, "I guess they decided to sell when they figured out they weren't of the 144,000 who would be saved."

After seeing the play, I caught Kate ([ profile] katesmash) the theater troupe's leader, and a performer,in the lobby (apparently the changing rooms are the bathrooms, too), and she thanked us for coming. We talked about the play for a bit, as we were both remarking on how we had heard Randy's premise some three years ago, and were interested in seeing the type of play it would become. Kate said i should write a review, and I will, but I'm putting it at the end of the post, and behind a cut for those who don't care, and those who don't want any spoilers, should they want to see Randy's "Apocalyptic Dysfunctional Family Comedy".

Chris and I went out to Amy's Ice Cream after the show for a little treat. I wish they had them here in Dallas, as they are far superior to the Cold Stone or Marble Slab joints. Any place that encourages it's scoopers to try to juggle your ice cream, and makes Guinness Ice Cream is a winner in my book.

After that we just went back to the hotel. I guess I had considered heading out to the Chain Drive, but when it came down to it, we had both worked a lot of hours at our jobs that week, and getting some more sleep was highly prized over seeing the club crowd.

Sunday morning we got up and met Mike ([ profile] austinmike) and David ([ profile] davidtx) for breakfast at the Magnolia Cafe (where I first met Randy and Kate a few years back). not only did we have a great time getting to know these guys, but I also got some great Gingerbread pancakes. Delish!

Then we just killed some time. I thought about going to one of the caves that dot the area, but when it came down to it, the better caves were a further drive than I was wanting to make. We thought about shopping in San Marcos, but neither one of us really wanted to spend the money, so I saw the sign for Aquarena springs and decided to take a turn.

Aquarena Springs has certainly seen it's better days. For years it was run as an attraction were girls from the nearby college would don mermaid suits and waive and do a show underwater in this clear spring as people watched in a submerged theater, or from the glass-bottomed boats that run through the small lake. Even the addition of a swimming pig couldn't save the attracting, with it's cable cars and tower, so it fell into disrepair.

Now Texas State University owns the property and uses it to study the natural springs and the surrounding aquifer, and the boats still run, more as little classrooms and an extra revenue stream. The mermaids are gone (working at Hooters, I bet) the cable cars don't run, and there's just a small aquarium, showing you the same fish that are in the lake. Of course, there's a gift shop, too, looking a lot like it did when it was opened in the 1950's.

On the drive back, we saw CJ (the former [ profile] prowlerbear) for a few minutes. he was taking care of Charlie, who was sick, and would be going under the knife sometime this week. Hopefully he is well.

Why is gas in Austin 20 cents cheaper than it is in Dallas? Again, there's many reasons to like about Austin (except for traffic, that would drive me nuts). After that, it was back to the road, and a few hours later we were back in the Metroplex, much to the joy of Joey, who was glad to see us.

Now for the review of 9x9x9... )
eggwards: (Default)
My "Day Without A Mexican" went pretty easy. I didn't drive by any rallies, The grocery store wasn't packed or anything, and I used the self-checkout, and I cooked dinner tonight, so I didn't really notice anything but the news reports of what was going on.

I didn't really notice anyone missing at work. of course in our field, there really aren't a lot of illegal aliens that are going to get hired. There possibly could be some down in the cafeteria, and it's likely that some of the grounds crew are, so there could be some impact, but it's not something I noticed. Since all of us who work with financial and client data have to be screened and many of us licensed, there's just not the opportunity.

So, I like many Americans will not be challenged for a job in my field by illegal immigrants, so that's probably why I don't really fear them being here. Perhaps if I were in construction, or food service, or farming, this could be a problem, but really, I don't want to work in those fields, many American's don't.

Here's one of those things, educated workers in Mexico are not the ones streaming across the border. It's those who would have difficulty finding a higher paying job in either country, especially since neither country does well in teaching job skills and vocational instruction.

Certainly Mexico could do more to raise their citizen's welfare, and I have to admit that the policy of Presidente Fox to keep illegals crossing the border and sending money back home does bother me, but I have a hard time trying to come down hard on an individual trying to make a better life for him and his family? isn't that what we're all encouraged to do in the Capitalist system?

Obviously we would eventually recover if we were able to ship all the illegals home, but we'd likely pay higher consumer prices for it, and wages would rise, and there wouldn't necessarily be the same amount of jobs available as there were for the lower wage workers.

We already spend a lot of money on the border, and in immigration and deportation. Why can't we do this smarter, where we beef up patrols to try to stem the tide, and not waste it on trying to round up the ones that are already here. If anything, we should encourage them to become citizens so they can get better wages and they can pay into the system, just like the rest of us do.

It's the Republican's that are painting us into a very bad corner here. once again, their world is only black and white, you're either in or your out. What will be interesting, and what good I see out of today's actions is that the growing Hispanic populations of this country will rise in political power, if they can keep active. There's still a very large, untapped voting group there who can be a major power in states like Texas, Arizona and California.

When they go to the polls, they will see that Mexican's were used this year as a chip to bring people to the booth this fall. While not all agree that illegals should stay, or be granted amnesty, many will vote against those who pulled the class and racial warfare into the debate about border security.

Increased border security should be a goal of ours, just as tighter air security has been, and port security should be, but to try to take out the illegals who are hard working people, and already here because our border security was lax in the first place is not seeing the true problem, it's just pandering to people's lowest thoughts. something that the Republican's have been doing very well at these last few years.

How about this, encourage them to return home by working with Mexico, and the other Central American Nations to make their economies stronger, and get tough on employers who hire illegals. just like a tariff, if you make it more expensive to hire an illegal, wether through taxes, or fines, or enforcing the minimum wage to all, then you would cut most of the problem.

The business of America is still business, just how you make it cost-effective is all the difference.
eggwards: (Default)

All around the northern reaches of Dallas and Fort Worth, there's a group of cities a couple of rings deep. The suburb communities take up a land mass that's almost larger than the Dallas and Fort Worth combined. They reach far up into the northern counties of Texas.

This is different than Houston, where Houston keeps growing by leaps and bounds, circling and pushing it's suburb communities out of the way. Dallas and Fort Worth are completely locked in. Still, in seeing other cities, Houston is the aberration, covering hundreds of square miles, where other cities were hemmed in long ago.

Still, with all of the cities, and many of them still finding the land to build more and more houses on the North Texas Prairie, these cities must advertise themselves. Since only some of these towns have a building taller than a few stories, often the tallest thing in town is the water tower - or as in some of these cities, several water towers.

Several of these plainly announce the name of the town, such as Irving, or Trophy Club, or Southlake, but the newer towers have full, multi-colored logos announcing the town. Grapevine has a couple with the Mustang logo for the high school, but also a couple feature a bunch of grapes as part of the agriculture that named the town.

All of the water towers in Carollton have the city's bird logo that makes the shape of the letter "C", while Plano's seventies created "P" logo is on theirs. Coppell features several logos, including the one above that features a logo that says they are just north of the DFW airport.

Besides Grapevine, the only other tower I've seen that mentions the high school's wind is in Louisville (edit: Lewisville) where the Fightin' Farmers rule. Once you get out to the smaller communities you'll often see that the town's boys have won a championship in AAA or AAAA football sometime back in the eighties or something.

So, as I drive home, I can see the towers of downtown Dallas, and the towers in Las Colinas, and the Galleria, but mainly I see the water towers, one of the things that make this area livable during the summer months where it rarely rains. I also see a couple of valleys that have filled with homes that create the need for more towers.

Of course the other thing I see are the airplanes, from the corporate jets at the Addison Airport near our house, to the Southwest planes flying to Love Field to DFW and then out to the Alliance Airport north of Fort Worth, the sky is filled with airplanes. there's rarely a few minutes that there isn't one going overhead.

Besides the logos for the airlines, and the towns, much of the rest of the sky seems rather clear of ads on my drive to work in back, but I know that will keep changing as long as more people move out to these areas - if oil and real estate prices don't kill all of the growth off.

Still, water is as much of a commodity as oil and land to these towns, so these large towers not only protect the city's supplies, but also the city's future.

At night you can see the red glow to keep all of those planes away.
eggwards: (Default)
A big piece of news here in Big D is the gearing up of the Dallas movie. As a part of a long line of horrible examples that there is very little creativity at the big studios in Hollywood, yet another old television show is being remade into a major motion picture, wasting money on name stars and a bevy of writers, each hired to try to fix the script the last one punched up.

The problem is, Hollywood doesn't see that these movies are almost constantly box office failures. Last year's Bewitched was a good example. People weren't really interested in seeing a new version of Bewitched, even with Will Farell, Nicole Kidman and several other stars in it. They also failed to secure a good script, with a really odd premise that had the actors not playing the classic characters, but playing actors playing those characters. The script wasn't funny, and the actors seemed to be at a loss for what to do.

Sure, you can blame the whole trend of taking old television shows and putting them on the big screen to Star Trek, but that was a continuation to the series with the same actors, much like the X-Files movie that came later. it did show that people would pay to see small screen shows on the big screen, but still, the first Star Trek movie wasn't a big success, as it also suffered from script and direction problems. It wasn't until Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn where the whole thing came together, that a television show movie was truly successful.

Still, what's led to all the Starsky and Hutches, Honeymooners and Beverly Hillbillies films is the success of the Brady Bunch Movie a few years back, where new actors took on the classic roles, but they didn't update the characters, just the world that they lived in. It was clever at the time, but now so many remakes have to create some sort of twist to the movie to show that they aren't just stealing from the past. What the Brady Bunch Movie got right, in it's simple way, leads to what goes wrong in so many other films.

Now one may say, look at Battlestar Galactica on television, it's a remake with several twists, such as the female Starbuck. I agree that it's the exception to the rule that remakes are usually inferior, and the changes often seem tacked on, but in this case, it just works. Starbuck is an actor playing a part, and really, it doesn't change the character, but the real change in the series is the cylons themselves. Where the creators triumphed is where they took a property that people kind of remembered (the show only ran a season) and made it into something new and meaningful today, rather than taking a landmark show like The Monkees, and trying to create the New Monkees (truly, there was such a show) or creating a movie version of Lost in Space.

Of course there's only been a handful of properties that have made the successful transition from film to television. M*A*S*H is of course, the most successful one, and there's the current Stargate SG1, but there's been several failures, like Delta House, the Animal House show, and Starman. Of course one of Dallas' predecessors was a movie that became a popular series, the sudsy (for the 1950's) Peyton Place. Place was one of the first nighttime soap operas.

Of course Dallas will be remembered for starting the 1980's trend of opulence soaps with such well-to-do families as the Carrington and Colbys sharing the airwaves with the Ewings. I remember my family watching the series, and that it was the show on Friday nights in most households. Of course this was also in the days where there wasn't much else to see, so the three networks split the majority of the TV audience.

The show started strong, but really kicked into gear when their first season cliffhanger (a new development for television drama at the time), a shot of a gun firing, and chief baddie J.R. slumping to the floor of his Dallas hi-rise office caught audience imagination. They had plenty of time to speculate as a strike, kept the show off the air until late October. By that time there were shirts and songs and plenty of articles asking "Who Shot J.R.?"

The show kept going for 14 seasons, eventually giving us probably one of the worst television moments with the waking up of Pamela Ewing, finding her husband in the shower when he had died a season ago. If the show was hard to swallow before, now there was no credibility to it.

I can't say that I never got the appeal of the show, because I did watch it, but it wasn't exactly a favorite. Funny thing was, when my family went up to Dallas for holidays and such, you could tell that the city was enamored of the show - or at least enamored of the fame that the show brought to them. Never mind that many of the characters were adulterous and backstabbing, often loud, obnoxious people with a tendency to drink to much and then trow the glass in a fit of rage, it was all the fact that Dallas was in the spotlight. There's nothing that Dallas likes more than being important.

Of course, the original draft of the script shows the show was to have been called Houston.

So here we are again, with the pre-production of the new Dallas movie. Actors who have been asked to star in it are a veritable who's who, but seem to be choices for the poster, not for actual talent in recreating these roles. First, there's John Travolta for J.R. There's only one role that I could think of him being worse in, and that's Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. Then there's Owen Wilson as Bobby and Shirley McClaine as Miss Ellie. Of course one of the strangest casting rumors is Jennifer Lopez as Sue Ellen. Really, changing Sue Ellen to a Hispanic character isn't a bad idea (and don't forget she played a Mexican-American in Selena), but what Hispanic family would name their daughter Sue Ellen?

Really, it's another case of not needing to see these characters again - I don't think anyone's dying for a revival of Dallas - except for the city of Dallas, and being on the big screen really does no good for a series that lived on the stringing along of plots across several episodes of nighttime drama. How can you recreate the interest in the shooting of JR when you know that it will solved by the end of the film - whether the gunslinger is Kristin or someone else? How do you take a soap and have it wrap up in two hours?

Of course the biggest controversy is a budgetary one. The original Dallas TV show did a little bit of filming in Dallas, just to give it some feel, and did shoot scenes at Southfork ranch - which looks a lot smaller than it does on TV. The movie's budget may mean that it has to shoot in Florida, or Canada, and Dalasites are mad, but when it comes down to it, other places offer better incentives to film there. Texas uses to be more friendly to filmmakers in the 1990's and many films were shot here, but now, not so much. City council here is trying to find ways to give incentives and tax breaks to film here, but it may be too little, too late.

If the filmmakers were good, they'd chuck the whole thing, and start with a new story, and new characters. Perhaps Jacksonville or Vancouver wouldn't be so bad as a re-heated Dallas, no matter where it was shot. Still, as always, it's all about civic pride, not the quality of the product, so Dallas will continue to fight to see itself, no matter how bad, in Dallas.
eggwards: (Uphill Climb)
A couple of days ago, Thursday to be exact, was Texas Independence Day. The day commemorates the day that the Texas rebels, now engaged in civil war with Mexico, signed their Declaration of Independence from Mexico. It is not, however, the actual finale of the skirmish with Mexico, as the US Revolutionary War kept going past "Independence Day", so did the Texan's war with the dictatorship of Santa Ana.

In similarity to the American Revolutionary war, the Texans, very different as American Ex-Patriots in northern Mexico colonies, felt that the leadership from far away Saltillo and Mexico City not only didn't respect their rights but also restricted the colonies growth. Mexico, already worried about the size of the anglo colonies wanted to crack down on the settlements and General Santa Ana himself, leader of the military that was ruling Mexico decided to take matters into his own hands.

It wasn't until the Battle of San Jacinto on April 19th, 170 years ago that the Texans finally found victory in sneaking around and finding Santa Ana taking a siesta on the plain that's now next to the Houston Ship Channel. The war ended not because the Texans were stronger, or were superior, they had lost many a man at the Alamo and other battles. They won because they broke the rules of warfare and attacked the Mexican camp when they weren't expecting it.

In fact, Santa Ana had to be brought to Texas General Sam Houston who had been wounded in the ankle earlier. Santa Ana was forced to end the campaign and take his army back to Mexico, and Texas became a republic for a few years before finally gaining statehood in 1846, but still, skirmishes between texas and Mexico continued until Mexico was finally defeated by the US in the Mexican-American War in 1848 that secured California and the southwest for the United States.

Still, somedays you wonder if the battle was ever over.

Just recently the city of Houston was given the San Jose Earthquakes, a Major League Soccer team that's expected to do better in the largely Hispanic Houston than it did in Silicon Valley. It will have a long way to go, as there are plenty of soccer fans in the city, but they are more attracted to the football teams in Mexico and Central America than they are in the American version of the sport. Several of those teams even visit Houston drawing large crowds for their exhibition games.

Of course the exhibition games are usually low priced, and played at several of the city's older stadiums, or at UH's Robertson stadium, which can be rented cheaply. Major League Soccer needs a permanent home, and one that's likely to cost, since the sweetheart deals the Astros, Texans and Rockets got are probably not going to be available to an upstart team that half the city 's population won't care about. Heck, the support for the Comets (Women's Basketball) went down dramatically when they stopped winning championships, hockey has never taken off as the Aeros have been in three different leagues, and Houston's outdoor and indoor soccer teams (the Hurricanes and the Hotshots, among others) never gotten much traction.

one might think it would be good to have a stadium in east Houston to try to engage Hispanic fans, and the land is cheap, but unless ticket prices are also cheap, it isn't likely to work, so I'm sure the new Houston team will have to do what the FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn) has done, find a suburb with soccer-crazed kid population and hope it works. A few years at Dallas' Fair Park proved futile, and the ticket buyers were the people from North Dallas, Plano and Frisco, not from the hispanic areas of town, so the team moved north to a new stadium in a growing suburb.

Unfortunately Houston is very large, and the satellite cities (such as Sugar Land, Katy and Conroe) are not really capable of taking on such a project. Houston also has a sports funding mechanism the other cities lack, so it's pretty much play ball with the big boys, or get relegated to a high school stadium. Of course the Astrodome, while too big, is still empty.

So how does this relate to the revolutionaries of days gone by? Well, when the team was looking for a name, they wanted something traditional that would remind people of the names of European and South american football clubs. The League has been looking to change the flashy names of it's past, like the Burn, into names more like Arsenal and Manchester United. The ownership team of the Houston Club chose the name "1836" - the year of the City of Houston's founding.

Just a note about that. Houston was founded in late August 1836 by two land speculators from New York who were eager to get in on the land rush in the newly minted country. Why they thought swamp land in the heat of August would make an attractive community, I have no idea, but to help sales they put out a flyer in many US cities to buy land in the city of Houston - a city that didn't exist, cleverly named for the war hero and first president. Houston was pumped up by developers then, and it still is today.

But 1836 is also the year of defeat for the Mexican Army, and the soccer club found themselves in hot water with some of the fans they were hoping to get. Apparently citizens of Houston who may have had ancestors at the battle, or just in Mexico in general took offense to the numerical moniker. The battle, long since over on the battlefield, apparently lives on, much like the US Civil war still seems to give some reason to be mad about losing the "War Betwixt the States".

History, is written by the winners, and Texas has gone on to be the wealthy neighbor to some of the poorest areas of Mexico, driving a cultural influx. Now with political activism and political correctness, even a 170 year old fight still smolders.

So the team announced their new name today, the Houston Dynamo. While neither the proposed or the current name really conjures up any greatness, it's interesting to see what will end up offending others, even when the intention was certainly not there. Sports teams are in the business of making money, not driving away potential customers. Still, many Houstonian's would have rather seen the NFL team named the Toros, rather than the bland Texans. Perhaps Texican's would have been more historically accurate and pleasing?

Still, a change is here in Texas as the majority in the state is now Hispanics. Just as the Anglo colonists came in and eventually took over, perhaps the future will reclaim Texas, if not for Mexico itself, for the people who descended from Santa Ana's army. He may get the last laugh after all.
eggwards: (A little crazy in the eyes)
Ev'nin', ma'am.

Would you mind sayin' that again?

I said, 'Ev'nin', ma'am.

Ev'nin', ma'am'!
Mister, you've got a way of sayin'
Ev'nin', ma'am
That puts me in a friendly state of mind.

Would you mind sayin' that again
I mean 'friendly state'.

Friendly state.

Sister you've got a way of saying
'Friendly state
'That gives me the impression
You're my kind.

Would you mind sayin' 'crazy crystal'?

'Crazy crystal!'
Would you mind saying 'Nieman Marcus'.

'Nieman Marcus!'

Wait a minute!
Wait a minute!

You're from Big D
I can guess
By the way you draw!
And the way you dress
You're from Big D
My, oh Yes
I mean Big D little a, double l-a-s
And that spell Dallas
My darlin', darlin' Dallas

Don't it give you pleasure to confess
That you're from Big D
My, oh Yes
I mean Big D, little a double l-a
Big D, little a double l-a
Big D, little a double l-a-s
And that spell Dallas
Where ev'ry home's a palace
Cause the settlers settle for no less

Hooray for Big D
My, oh Yes
I mean Big D, little a double l-a
Big D, little a double l-a
Big D, little a double l-a-s

You're from Big D
I can guess
By the way you draw!
And the way you dress

You're from Big D
My, oh Yes
I mean Big D little a, double l-a-s
And that spells Dallas
Just dig a toe in Dallas
And there's oil all over your address

Back home in Big D
My, oh Yes
I mean Big D, little a double l-a
Big D, little a double l-a
Big D, little a double l-a-s

And that spells Dallas
I mean it with no malice
But the rest of Texas looks a mess(!)

When you're from Big D
My, oh Yes
I mean Big D, little a double l-a
Big D, little a double l-a
Big D, little a double l-a-s

Big D, Big D
Talkin' 'bout big D, big D

Oil! Oil! Oil! Cattle! Cattle! Cattle!
My, oh Dallas, Dallas, Dallas, Dallas!
Big D! Little A double L-A-S!

And that spells Dallas
My darlin', darlin' Dallas
Don't it give you pleasure to confess
That you're from big D
My, oh yes
I mean
Big D
Little A, Double L-A
Big D
Little A, double-A
Big D, little A, double L-A-S!
eggwards: (Uphill Climb)
I left a little early from work, and made the drive to the polling place. In most of my experience voting, these places are usually manned by senior citizens and there might be one or two other people voting. I was surprised when the elementary school's parking lot was full at six o'clock at night and there was a line waiting to vote.

All we had to vote on in my precinct was the nine constitutional amendments to the Texas constitution. From the comments of some, I could tell that most of them the people voting hadn't even heard of. One was for land rights in two panhandle counties and another had to do with the board makeup for the bus authorities. It's amazing how poorly written the state constitution is where you have to put this stuff up to a vote.

As a few other of my fellow Texans have stated today, I think we all felt rather alone in our lines to the ballot box. In looking over my fellow citizens, I got the feeling that they were all going to be voting for Amendment 2, the marriage ban. If we're lucky, the amendment is so poorly written that it will be taken to court and proved to ban all marriages in Texas. My frustration says that it would be the just rewards for how the vote went today.

It's not surprising to see Texas vote as it does. It's a very conservative, church going state, and has been for a very long time. These are the people who have voted for Tom DeLay and will probably do so again. I guess it just disheartens me to see the state in this fashion. This is my home, and always has been, and to see the people of this state devalue my life, my rights, and those of my friends really hurts.

This morning at work, one of my coworkers, one that had told me that she was going to vote against amendment 2 came over to my desk and asked if I knew where to find her polling place. Before I could answer the gal who has been moved in front of me said, "Oh, I've got it! It's right here on the KSBJ website!" Both Melissa and I cringed, because KSBJ is the local "God Listens" station. I told Melissa that I'd find the Harris County Election site for her and send her the link. Still, i suddenly felt like the enemy was near. It's not that she's unfriendly, but that there's obviously a difference in dogma at work.

So how many people in that polling line were also sent there by the blathering of KSBJ's God Squad, or the local conservative radio crowd, or their church pastor? I'll never know, but I felt alone, and right now, seeing that the election results are looking like 76% for the ban, i truly feel like a loser.

I had to vote, I couldn't let the back of my head knowledge over the overwhelming odds stop me, but In a way I wonder what difference I really made. I guess there was some, for I did get back a couple of responses today to the email I sent to my friends over the weekend, telling me that they also voted against the proposition. They are part of the few, the proud, the 24%.

If Texas truly means "friends" what does it say when your friends vote against you? How can I work to get my friends to understand? How do I not feel like a sea of Texans are against me now?

Somehow I have to hope that this will change, and that these current biases, and this stupid argument will eventually drift away, maybe not in the next five or ten years, but maybe in my lifetime. More and more, there are people and groups out there taking a stand. It might not be marriage per se, but at least for tolerance and equality in other areas. Much has changed even in my lifetime so far.

I guess I just have to hope that sometime in the future, Texas will have it's head pulled out of it's ass. Hopefully it will have the independent spirit to do it itself, rather than having to have some George Wallace event to change it's course, but that's just that I'm hopeful that my "friends" will see the light.

At this moment though, It's looking rather dark, and I'm rather sad to be a Texan.
eggwards: (Together2)
I was at the store today picking up food for the week and while I was in the checkout line I noticed that I was the only person in the place who did not have flats and flats of bottled water.

The run on supplies has already begun here, with just the hint that Hurricane Rita (it's like a bad alcoholic combo) will head towards the Texas coast before the weekend. Rita is supposed to strengthen while over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and come in sometime Friday morning if everything goes to forecasted models. Now we're not quite sure where it will land, anywhere from Corpus Christi to western Louisiana. Still the interesting thing is that this weekend is Austin City limits festival, so I had already planned on getting out of town, so it's interesting that I might be in the middle of an evacuation as a part of the vacation.

Galveston is already recommending evacuation. Houston floods, but not like New Orleans, where it floods, and has no where to go. Still, a storm surge of 20 feet would drown Galveston completely. They are also moving the last evacuees from the Astrodome area to other cities not only for safety, but for mental health.

What's interesting is seeing how much extra caution and preparation is happening, now after Katrina. It's certainly more safe than sorry, but I think people here are just more worried than ever after watching what the neighbors go through their disaster. I don't even know if I've ever heard this much precaution, this early.

still, I hope someone calls President Bush. He needs all the forewarning he can get.

Last weekend I spent in Dallas, and I ended up spending $100 in gas to do that, and I didn't even drive to Temple to go to a birthday party of a friend of Chris'. I spent a lot of time in cars this weekend, as Temple is just north of Austin. There was a pool, and again the impulse to keep my shorts on as others dropped theirs. Still, I had a good time meeting people - a lot of people that aren't on LJ - go fig. Again it sometimes surprises me the gay communities that their are in small towns are pretty strong. Of course everyone knows each other, and divisions in various types of men don't seem as strong as they do in the city.

Just on the flip side was the pride parade in Dallas on Sunday. Officially it's known as the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, and it happens in September. Everything' a little different in Dallas. Of course they don't want to be upstaged in June by the other state parades, and there's some myth that it's cooler in September, but we were sweating it out in the 90+ degree weather.

Chris and I went with John ([ profile] furrytxcub) and his boyfriend. It was good to see John again and have a chance to talk with him for a while. He's a pretty sweet guy. The parade itself was rather unremarkable. The floats weren't that great, and one even used the same drag queen in the same outfit as she appeared on a different float a while before. I'm sorry, but drag recycling is just unacceptable.

Of course the Strangerettes were the toast of the parade.

Afterwards we went out to the rally and checked out the Sirius booth where Derek and Romaine were talking to listeners. they gave me a hat that I will be wearing at Austin City Limits. Otherwise, we didn't see too many people we knew, except for some of the guys from the Dallas Diablos rugby team.

By the time we walked back to the car, we were dog tired, since we were far down on the west side of Cedar Springs. We drove to Chris' home before going out to dinner, which was mostly paid for from gift certificates that Chris earned by working a couple of 80 hour weeks at work. Still, he'll get to enjoy some time off in Austin this weekend. Hopefully it won't be raining all that time.
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Today's news included an interesting, and yet very sad turn here in Houston. Six Flags is going to close, demolish and sell the land for Astroworld, Houston's only amusement park. The troubled company, which is up for sale itself, felt that Astroworld was unlikely to be come profitable, and there was ongoing trouble with the parking lot, which is actually part of the large lot for the Astrodome/Reliant Stadium across the freeway.

One of the odd things about Astroworld is the fact that the bridge over Loop 610 was actually the first privately owned bridge over an Interstate highway. This is just another example of odd trivia bits that I keep in my head. I remember on some of my first trips to the park, in the middle seventies when my family still lived in Nacogdoches, this fact was espoused on the tram ride form the Astrodome lot to the park entrance. This was also way before you would have ever thought of having to go through a metal detector before riding a ferris wheel.

It's interesting that Astroworld (or as Six Flags would like you to call it, Six Flags Houston) was recently listed as a place for the evacuees to go to get away from the dome for a short time, but since it's $41.99 to get in, it was a luxury most couldn't afford.

Astroworld started in 1968 by Houston Mayor Judge Roy Hofheinz (the "judge" was a title, but everyone seems to include it with his name) as a response to Dallas/Ft. Worth's Six Flags Over Texas park and placed it close to the Astrodome, built just a few years prior. In those days, that was far out of town on Houston's underdeveloped south side. Now being only five miles away from downtown, it's actually one of the closest theme parks to a city center in the country. One of the problems the park has is that it's completely hemmed in by other businesses and cannot expand.

As a part of trying to out do Six Flags Over Texas, Judge Hofheinz designed the park with several different lands, also similar to Disneyland with it's themed lands. Since Six Flags took the idea of having one section for each of the Flags that flew over Texas (Spain, France, Mexico, Texas Republic, Confederacy and the USA), the Judge would do them one better and set up his as different places in the world. Of course the judge lacked some imagination so after having Plaza de Fiesta, Oriental Corner, European Village and Main Street USA, there was a Western Village, Children's World, Country Fair, Coney Island and worst of all, Modville.

Years later Modville became Contemporary Corner. It seems things can't be groovy forever.

Each area had it's signature ride. The Bamboo Shoot was a log ride in China, the lost river cruise went through an Aztec temple but still with the same lame jokes, and Modville had the odd spidery-looking double ferris wheel (just called the Astrowheel) and a drop floor barrel ride called "The Happening". No Lie.

Astroworld started with three coasters, the Serpent kiddie coaster, the Alpine Sleigh Ride that went over and into the anamatronic-dwarf-populated gold mine of Der Hofheinzburg Mountain, and in the largest coaster in the Country Fair area known as Dexter Freebish's Electric Roller Ride. The ride, long since gone as many of the others I've mentioned, was the inspiration for the one-hit wonder bad of a few years ago. For a time they changed the area around it to a Medieval England theme and called the ride Excalibur.

Six Flags bought the park in 1971 and started slowly adding new attractions. The biggest, and most well-known attraction is the Texas Cyclone roller-coaster. The wooden coaster opened in 1976 (after being nearly destroyed by a hurricane during construction) and jumped on to the top ten list of best coasters for many years. It's pretty simple, it's a taller, bigger mirror image construction of the Coney Island Cyclone coaster. It revs up to a sixty-mile-per hour speed quickly and has several turns that sent riders out of their seats and into their fellow rider's laps.

For many years the Texas Cyclone only had a lapbar to keep it's riders from flying out of the cars. After a couple of notable deaths, the park completely overhauled the cars in the early 90's. Gone were the boxy wooden cars with the lap bar, and later a simple seatbelt. Replacing them were extruded fiberglass cars with wrap-around headrests that kept you from seeing the view as you climbed up the first hill, seatbelts and individual seat bars that kept you in place instead of crashing into your neighbor.

To say that some of the thrill was gone would be an understatement.

Later additions would include the one loop slingshot coaster, Greezed Lightnin', The Ultra Twister tube coaster that spins you around on an x-axis, and the Looping Starship, basically a large 360 degree swing that was built to look like the Space Shuttle. The park also debuted the first white water rafting ride, Thunder River (clever, huh?)

In 1983 they opened a waterpark next door, cleverly called Water World many years before the movie disaster of the same name. It was the first waterpark in the city and took the last of the land owned by the company, tucked to the east side of the park and only accessible by the 610 Limited train. Water World will be closing as well.

Things haven't gone well for the park in the last few years. You can tell that Six Flags was leaving it for dead, and not maintaining the park well. My last trip there was greeted by many empty storefronts in the Main Street area and little cleanup or repainting anywhere else. A new ride hadn't opened in several years. Things have been removed, like the Astroneedle that rose above the park, but fell into such disrepair that they didn't run a car up the flagpole for three years before finally pulling it down when faced with the fact that it might just fall over on it's own.

Somewhere along the way, it became more of a business, or perhaps I just got older and noticed it more. As the Six Flags corporation was sold of to a succession of buyers, different changes would happen to the park. When Time Warner took over for a few years suddenly several of the rides were branded with new characters. The Alpine Sleighs were torn out and replaced by a Batman ride, for one. Of course one of the biggest changes was taking out the original park mascot, the incredibly flamboyant Marvel McFey (!!) for all of your favorite Looney Toons characters, ready for merchandising. Trust me, no one ever bought a Marvel McFey doll, but plenty of people left with Bugs Bunny.

McFey looked like [ profile] lostncove with his big red beard, wearing gypsy tramp clothing. Just like Randy does now.

Still, some of the old flavor that made Astroworld unique was lost, and it became more and more a generic Six Flags park. That with the money woes of Six Flags and the rising ticket prices has led to people staying home. What's sad is that this leaves Houston with no amusement park whatsoever. The nation's fourth largest city will have to go to San Antonio where Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Sea World are located. Of course there's always Six Flags over Texas. Still, it's just the fact that there will be no roller-coasters in southeast Texas at all seems very strange to me.

Can another company swoop in and save the park? Perhaps, but there would be a lot of maintenance and several new rides to build as Six Flags intends to take several of the rides out to move to other parks. It's unlikely that a sale of Six Flags itself would come in time to save the park. Otherwise you'd be fixing up 30 year old rides (like the Texas Cyclone) just to have the public wait for new ones to be put in. It looks like this ride, is over.

Sadly, even though I've not gone to the park in a few years, more due to the fact that my fat ass won't fit in some of the rides, it definitely feels like a loss, and that a chunk of my childhood (and young adulthood) has just left the building.

Thanks to the fan site for having most of the linked images.
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✯Over the weekend I went to the Gay Men's Chorus of Houston show saturday night. Before the show I met Rick, my old coworker for dinner at the Hard Rock across from the Wortham Center for dinner. Rick's company was great, and he gave me his ticket as he was working box office that night. His partner sings in the chorus. Rick is doing well working for Administaff, and he is nice enough to periodically send me job leads. He is doing quite well, and is very happy working at the same company as his hubby, and not for us. After telling him how work's been for us lately, I think he's even more glad he made the switch.

The show was showtunes, more specifically Rogers and Hammerstein. I know, not an exceptional stretch for a gay men's chorus, but sometimes you have to do what you know, right? The show was light and easy, and featured a local cabaret singer. She served as both narrator, taking us through the songbook, and as occasional singer, but did not sing I Enjoy Being a Girl, which of course was left up to the boys. Surprisingly they weren't in costume, except for pumps and oriental fans. I would have expected full-on drag, but I wasn't sure if it's because the chorus is having funding troubles or if it's just thinking that that would be too far. I'll never know. I just know that in my first time seeing the group I was having a hard time not making comparisons to Turtle Creek.

Jerry was somewhere around, from what I gathered, but I didn't see him. I did manage to get lost somewhere in Wortham Center for a little bit as I thought I was trying to get out of the balcony and managed to stumble over to the other theater where the ballet was going on, but I figured it out and ended up back in the lobby where I found Rick and Troy. I offered to take them out for some dessert, but they had to return early for the matinee show the next day.

✯Saturday night/sunday morning I ended staying up very, very late chatting with a young guy in Munich via Bear 411. I'll admit that I rarely go on 411 and contact someone I don't know, but this guy was really cute, and what the heck, he lives half way around the planet. What was interesting was that the cute cubby was working on the air on a Munich radio station that not only was broadcasting, but also had a webcam, so I could see and hear him as we were chatting.

The funny thing is that his station was sponsoring a promotion that would send a contest winner to see a Coldplay concert here in Houston. "Mach Platz fur den trip deines lebens! Fliege zu Clodplay nach 'Bush Country' oder leide bei den Kastelruther Spatzen auf der Loreley." He would say, which I think meant you can fly to see Coldplay in Bush Country, or suffer with the rest of us here. My German isn't so good anymore. We talked about it, and how far outside of Houston the concert venue really is. Of course I threw in a not-so-subtile "maybe you should come with your winners to Houston." I didn't really get an answer back on that one, but I didn't expect it, either.

Still, i thought it was funny that they would want to send a listener to "Bush Country". I also told him that many of us here still think that Bush's family are a bunch of Yankee carpetbaggers.

Still, he is cute...see?

✯Father's Day was uneventful except for the fact that my mother was very, very upset that I had gone to visit my sister without telling her. I knew it was more the frustration that she hasn't been able to go up there, but it's not as if my sister wants to see her anyway. I think Dad just wanted some piece and quiet, but he wasn't getting any for Father's Day, and I felt sorry for him. I know my Father would like to get away and go see his daughter, but he'd have to lie to Mom to do it, so it may be hard for that to happen anytime soon. It's great to know that my parent's relationship continues to slowly decline.

✯When I was in Maryland both Laura and I both got asked often where were were from. There were different reasons, for one because I work my TBRU shirt to the Capital Pride festival, and Laura wore Ed's Texas Tech cap for a couple of days. Strangely enough, almost every time someone heard that we were from Texas they would always say, "That's funny, you don't sound like it."

I've heard this before. Many people have commented that although I've lived my entire life in Texas, I don't exhibit the accent that most think I should have. For one, I don't come from the western part of the state, where the accent gets thicker, but work with a speech therapist when I was young, and preparing myself for acting later on made me a bit more conscious to not pick up habits that my parents have in their speech, like how my mom says wash with the hidden 'r'.

What I didn't know is that my sister gets the same comments. They already say that there's some physical resemblances, so I guess I shouldn't be so surprised. Her finance Ed however, has the small-town Texas drawl that's a dead giveaway.


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February 2013



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