Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This Farmer Wants a Wife

Before I get to this wanting a wife thing I've got to mention that there is this brilliantly insightful website devoted to all that is good about Fort Worth that has the extremely highly evolved good taste to include me among all that is good about Fort Worth.

The website is called West & Clear and they had this to say about me....

"The Durango Texas blog has writeup and YouTube-ry from last Saturday’s PrairieFest. You’ll see our booth at about 3:16 on the video! We are famous in the internet! Durango Texas looks like a pretty interesting read (especially the frequent Star-Telegram bashing) and I am looking forward to spending some time on the site. "

So, what I got out of that is yet one more person who sees the need to bash the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Pravda-esque Purveyor of Propaganda and Disseminator of Misinformation tool of the good old boy network that runs the company town of Fort Worth.

Well, let's do some bashing. In today's paper we had yet one more article that revolved around the exciting news that yet one more person from Texas is on yet one more reality show. It makes us so very very proud. My 2 readers may remember me complaining about this odd trait before, with me getting a clarifying message from the Star-Telegram's lead TV writer explaining that, unlike that evil paper in that evil city 30 miles to the east, the Star-Telegram tries to make their paper localized, connecting their few readers to anything remotely local about any given story.

Tonight a new show starts on the CW Network. I've no idea what that is, the network I mean, not the show. The show is of the reality show genre and is called "The Farmer Wants a Wife." Some farmer in Missouri apparently is having such a tough time finding a mate that he contacted the CW Network and asked for help. So, they brought in a bunch of city girls for the farmer to choose from.

And one is from Texas. Which the Star-Telegram made the focus of in their article about this show. The headline being "Farmer girl on new CW dating show has local ties." Wow. Now that really makes me want to watch this now that I know the show has a Texas connection.

The article goes on to report the totally important and pertinent info that "Brooke Ward is identified as being from Dallas. But the Texas Christian University grad grew up in the East Texas town of Atlanta, about 25 miles south of Texarkana. So among the 10 'city girls' that Missouri farmer Matt Neustadt has to choose from on this Bachelor with hay, the 23 year-old marketing representative would seem to have an edge."

Because she's from Texas? That's her edge? I don't think I am able to follow the train wreck of logic.

The article goes on to interview the Texas connection in a fine example of making a story local for the readers of the Star-Telegram. A paper with a mission. Unlike the Dallas paper that does not connect its readers to anything remotely local.

And on a totally different note on the same subject. I looked at the Farmer Wants a Wife website. It opens with a video. The video is amusing. At one point the voice over is saying something like "when the girls get to the farm they see the biggest (we cut to a rooster strutting about) they've ever seen." Then one of the girls says, "I didn't realize roosters were real things." Obviously the producers selected for high intellects when casting this show.

No wonder they ended up with at least one Texas girl.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I am Woman Hear me Bore

Have I already talked about my first Texas driver's license? I recollect mentioning it to Gar the Texan in reference to something I also don't remember.

Rather than blog about my driver's license I'd prefer to blog about a new goofy Star-Telegram, Fort Worth thing. But I've been banned for a week from boring people with my pathetic making fun of Fort Worth and its sad excuse for a newspaper.

So, back to my first Texas driver's license. It arrived the day before I was set to drive up to Washington for Christmas. I didn't notice anything wrong with it til I looked at it more closely the next day. Texas had turned me into a woman. I didn't mind too much.

I made it out of Texas and all the way to Washington without having to show my license to anyone. Not til I was at my sister's house in the Seattle suburb of Kent did I have to show my license. She was having an all-girl Christmas party and I was allowed to stay if I acted as the greeter and if I showed my license to all the incoming girls to prove my bonafides as one of them. It really wasn't all that hard to be a good girl. I was actually one of the better looking girls at the party, if I do say so myself.

I made it all the way back to Texas without having to show my license to anyone with a badge. When I got back here I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles, that's not what they call it here, that's the Washington name, I never can remember the Texas name for the place you get a driver's license. The DMV, or whatever it's called here, is a total zoo. Long lines, antique computers, noisy. But the help is nice.

When my turn finally came I showed the nice lady my license and asked if she can spot an error. She saw it and said "I assume you are not female."

"I'm fairly certain I'm not," said I.

She then entered something into her computer to get my records from Austin. When she had that info she looked surprised and had me lean in close because she had a delicate question to ask me.

She whispered, "It says you're African-American. You aren't are you?"

"I'm fairly certain I'm not," said I.

She snipped the corner off my license so I could keep it as a souvenir of my day's as a female. I wonder what would have happened to me if I'd been stopped for speeding and the cop looked up my record to learn I was African-American in addition to being a woman? I suspect if this had happened in Texas this would not have gone well for me.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Texas Wildflowers Bloom Boom at Tandy Hills Park

This time of year Texas turns very green and very colorful. This year's wildflowers are being particularly plentiful. I've lived in my current location for most of this century. Up til about 5 months ago I did not realize I lived just a couple miles from Fort Worth's best park, that being Tandy Hills Park. I used to drive dozens of miles, sometimes more, to go on a hilly hike. I could have saved so much gas had I realized Tandy Hills had fun trails. And a lot of them. Miles and miles. A maze of trails.

Last Saturday the 3rd Annual Prairie Fest occurred at Tandy Hills Park. I'd been there just a few days prior and in just those few days the wildflowers at Tandy Hills had really amped it up, just in time for the festival. I saw a wildflower I'd not seen before, that being the yellow one you see above. It's real delicate, like an orchid.

In the photo above you see a lady with a kitchen utensil in her hair, sitting amongst the wildflowers and painting them. I don't mean she was painting wildflowers, I meant she was painting a likeness of the wildflowers. She was among many artists doing the same thing in one of the Prairie Fest activities.

In the above photo you see some Prairie Fest goers walking towards the main part of the festival. That is cactus in the foreground, I believe it's called prickly pear cactus. It also blooms and produces this fruit that is sort of tasty.

Above we're looking at a Tandy Hills trail heading through a patch of wildflowers, mostly bluebonnets, the official state flower of Texas.

I'm deeper into the Tandy Hills in the above photo. The wildflowers were being particularly thick here.

If you've never visited Texas and are thinking it might be interesting, April is the time you want to aim for. Texas looks its best. The temperature is not scorching yet, usually. In fact, the past couple days we've plummeted from being in the 80s, with a cold front from the north dropping the temps to natural air conditioned levels, as in it is 78 out there right now, but it got down to 46 last night. Brrrr. And in April, if you're lucky, you might get to experience a real wild Texas storm.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cowtown's Crown Jewel

Okay. I admit I am in dire need of getting a life and that it is obvious I have too much time on my hands. Why else, with all there is to be troubled by in this world, do I seem to focus an inordinate amount of attention on things I read in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that strike me as very goofy? Or things in Fort Worth that strike me as goofy.

So, on the front page of the Sunday paper there was this headline at the top, "Cowtown's crown jewel marks 10 years of sound and spectacle." Underneath the headline was the following.:

"It's been 10 years since the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall opened to great fanfare in downtown Fort Worth. In May 1998, the arts-rich city that is home to the Cliburn competition---and a healthy menu of symphony, opera and ballet---finally got a distinguished performance space equal to its world class art museums and worthy of local performing-arts groups' quality. We reflect on the hall's impressive first decade and its impact on the cultural scene."

Okay, I'm pretty sure it's the weird inflated self-congratulatory tone that bugs me. Using phrases like "world class." I'm almost 100% any place that actually does have world class attractions has the class not to describe them as such. It just seems sort of gauche and vulgar to me.

Speaking of gauche and vulgar, regarding that long name for this building, "Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall." The Bass family are Fort Worth billionaires. They bought Fort Worth the performance hall. And, I guess, gave themselves naming rights. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is in Nancy Lee Bass Hall. It just seems tacky to me to name a building after yourself that you're giving as a gift.

Up in Seattle, Microsoft billionaire, Paul Allen has built and remodeled many buildings. But somehow he had the good taste not to name his restored-to-its-retro-glory theater the Paul Allen Cinerama. When he built a Frank Gehry designed music museum he did not call it the Paul Allen Music Experience Project. Paul Allen has been buying up property in downtown Seattle for years and making come true his vision of creating a sort of mixed use Central Park type area connecting the downtown core to Lake Union to the north.

Meanwhile in Fort Worth the Bass family bought up some downtown real estate and turned it into parking lots named Sundance Square. Which they police with their own police force which locals call The Bastapo.

Paul Allen used an actual world class architect to design his music museum. I don't know what architect designed Bass Hall, but the Bass's have a reputation for having bad taste in building design. And to my eyes Bass Hall is not an impressive building. It's the type of bad architecture that Howard Roark would blow up. I think it would be the garish horn tooting angels stuck on the side that would have set off Howard Roark. If you don't know who Howard Roark is, Google it and add Ayn Rand to the search string.

In recent times one of the Bass's, I think it was Ed, tried to thwart the clever design of a sunken plaza at a college being built in downtown Fort Worth. The Bass family does not like modern looking structures. My dear ol' mom has equally bad ideas. I remember her suggesting I add gingerbread trim to an awning I built over my deck. I bet the Bass's love gingerbread trim.

I'm sure the Bass Family has greatly helped Fort Worth. One can't help but wonder what downtown would be like without them. But, Fort Worth has a population that is nearing 700,000. Isn't Fort Worth big enough to pay for things the way other world class cities do? As in if it is for the public good, put it to a public vote asking the citizens to approve taxing themselves in order to build something. What a concept. Then you could name it the Fort Worth Performance Hall. Wouldn't that be a nice name?

Instead, Fort Worth is run like a company town with the people mostly cut out of the loop. I know Oklahoma City voted a $1 billion bond when they built their hugely successful Bricktown development. The Fort Worth powers that be, copying a similar plan in Dallas, that was voted on by the people of Dallas, announced that the Trinity River north of downtown Fort Worth would be diverted into a town lake with canals and a diversion channel. If this goes forward it will involve yet more eminent domain abuse here in Texas. I don't know if you can use eminent domain for such a thing without a public vote. With over 80 businesses being given their eviction notices, I'm thinking a good lawyer is going to tie the project up. That and when the predictable, expensive to clean up polluted ground is found in that industrial wasteland the project will screech to a halt.

But, maybe I'm wrong and Fort Worth will end up with its own special version of Oklahoma City's Bricktown and San Antonio's Riverwalk.

I just thought of another amusing thing. When this Fort Worth copycat boondoggle was first announced, with plans by a Vancouver, B.C. designer, the Star-Telegram actually said this project would make Fort Worth into the Vancouver of the South! They went from claiming Fort Worth's lame Sante Fe Rail Market was modeled after Seattle's Pike Place to claiming a little lake and some canals was going to turn Fort Worth into Vancouver. I sent a letter to the editor asking "Have any of you people actually been to Vancouver? If not you need to send a reporter pronto so he/she can report back to you how dumb your Vancouver of the South claim is." I don't remember if that letter got printed. I do remember the "Vancouver of the South" lie did not last as long as the "modeled after Pike Place Market" lie. That one got repeated for months.

I need to switch to the Dallas paper.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fort Worth's Tandy Hills Park Prairie Fest

Today I went to the Prairie Fest at Tandy Hills Park in Fort Worth. It was a much bigger deal than I thought it would be. Tandy Hills Park has become my favorite place to go hiking and this festival did it justice.

So, in record breaking time. For me. I've uploaded 3 videos from today to YouTube, and they've already been processed and are viewable. One is viewable below. Now, please understand I have a very cheap video camera and very limited videographer skills, hence the jerky video. But it gives you an idea of what it was like to walk around this event and you get to see some Texans being a bit goofy. That's always fun.

Update: I've now webpaged yesterday's Prairie Fest. And added two more videos in addition to the one below.

Get a Life, You've Got Too Much Time on Your Hands

There are some things that I hear people say that make me cringe. One is "Get a life." Another is "Someone has too much time on their hands." To say either seems way way way too judgemental to my ears. Like suppose someone has a hobby that they obviously enjoy, that they put time and effort into. What sort of brain dead moron would besmirch someone's creativity by telling them they need to get a life? Or that they obviously have too much time on their hands?

It has been my observation that the type person who makes these type remarks is a person of very little accomplishment. They usually work at some menial job, or are unemployed, are poorly educated and no matter how hard you look you can not see any thing that they do, have done, are doing or can do. And even with a gun to their head they would be unable to do the very thing they are denigrating.

They are usually empty ciphers and at their core they are extremely jealous of anyone who can actually do anything.

Unfortunately, for me, I have relatives who fit this mold. Fortunately for me, I live thousands of miles from them, with my only contact usually being by phone. And even then, out of the blue, in regards to some erstwhile effort on my part, I will hear that I obviously have too much time on my hands. This from one who hasn't spent time with me in years and has no clue what I do.

I remember another time, I was up in Washington. I got a call telling me the mountain was out. In Washington that means you can see Mount Rainier. So, I took my video camera and walked down to the lake and took some video of the mountain. I stuck the video on my computer and in about 2 minutes I'd made a little movie.

When my relative got home I showed the movie. My relative whacked me on the head and said, "I thought you were supposed to be working, not wasting time on stuff like this. You've got too much time on your hands."

I said I did not realize you'd made videos and knew how much time they took.

Two days later we were with our favorite Aunt and suddenly the video I made had become valuable and this ill-mannered, obnoxious relative of mine asked me to show our Aunt the video that I'd apparently wasted time on due to my need to get a life and my problem with having too much time on my hands.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Prairie Fest

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 26, 2008 the Fort Worth Prairie Fest takes place at my favorite place to hike, that being Tandy Hills Park. I'll be there. I'm sure you will be there too. For details go to my website and you will find all the info you could possibly need. If you need further convincing that you want to attend this event, watch the video below of last year's Prairie Fest.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fort Worth is the Envy of the World

Today's blogging is totally Texas oriented, so don't read on if Texas bores you, do read on if you are among the many who are amused by stupid Texas stuff.

First off, we had another storm blow through north Texas last night. It was a bad one, and, unlike last week's storm this one generated at least one twister. That did no damage. But, oddly, unlike a week ago, last night's storm did not cause all the local TV stations to go to non-stop, all night, ruin prime time, arm waving, alarmist Weather Drama Queen Mode. I only had the TV on from 8 til 9. During that time the show I was watching had no interruptions. During a commercial I channel chased and I did see that annoying ABC Channel 8 Weather Guy in full arm waving mode. I don't know if they were interrupting regular programming.

So, unlike the storm of a week ago that pre-empted all programming, last night's storm was bad enough that I lost power about 10pm.

If I harbored delusions of grandeur I would think that my last week's making fun of the ridiculous local weather coverage wised someone up. Sadly I don't think it is possible to wise anyone up. It would be interesting to hear an explanation as to why a week ago they acted like the Nazis had just started a Blitzkrieg across the Oklahoma border and then a week later they treated a similar storm as if it was just doddery Aunt Fanny coming for an unexpected visit.

Speaking of harboring delusions that one can change things. I'd deluded myself into believing that my making fun of that embarrassing local paper I continue to buy, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, had caused them to cease with their embarrassing verbiage along the line of this that or the other thing in Fort Worth is causing cities, towns and people far and wide to be green with envy.

I swear that verbiage used to crop up at least once a month. I don't think I'd seen it in over a year. Til this morning. Oh, the aching pain to realize I had not caused them to fix this embarrassment.

The embarrassing verbiage resurfaced in an editorial about Fort Worth being the only big city in America without a plan to deal with its homeless population. That's a photo of a homeless person above. I took that in Fort Worth's Water Gardens. That's right next to Fort Worth's Convention Center where few conventions take place. Perhaps the homeless people are not seen as attractive by convention bookers.

So, here are a few sentences from this morning's stupid editorial:

"Fort Worthians love to think their community is unique among big U.S. cities. And it is. Local downtown revitalization is a case study for municipal leaders nationwide. The cooperative, progressive elected leadership found here is the envy of cities that are beset with political and racial divisiveness."

First off, why do Fort Worthians love to think their community is unique? Why would they think that? Have they not been to any other cities? How does the Star-Telegram know what Fort Worthians think? I know a few Fort Worthians and I've heard many of them verbalize being rather appalled by many things in Fort Worth. Of course, they are Fort Worthians who have actually been to other cities.

What other major city in America would allow a park in its downtown celebrating its heritage to be boarded up and closed off by cyclone fencing. Rather than fixing what is wrong with it?

Fort Worth's downtown revitalization is a case study for leaders nationwide? Huh? What city has sent anyone to Fort Worth to study Fort Worth's downtown? As I understand it in the early 1980's downtown Fort Worth was a ghost town. It was the only major American city without a single modern skyscraper. Then some local billionaires, the Bass Family, bought up some downtown land and turned it into parking lots. And called the parking lots Sundance Square. Some restaurants opened. And a movie theater. And a performance hall. There is still not a single department store in downtown Fort Worth. Unlike no other major city in America there is no Macy's, Nordstroms, not even a Dallas-based Neiman Marcus. There isn't even a Sears store.

And yet there is this bizarre slapping themselves on the back thing that the Star-Telegram does regarding Fort Worth's very very mediocre attributes. The best example of Fort Worth's reality is what happens on the day after Thanksgiving. The busiest shopping day of the year. Downtown Fort Worth is a ghost town on that day. Why? Because the city that is the envy of others has few places to shop.

Can the Star-Telegram please name the cities that envy Fort Worth? The only big city I've ever been to with a deader downtown than Fort Worth is Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ironically I was at a convention in their very nice convention center, that, apparently, unlike Fort Worth's, is frequently used. It even has a large hotel attached to it that, unlike Fort Worth, they did not have to provide tax incentives in order to get someone to build a hotel. And though downtown Tulsa was not very lively it looked real nice, with a wide pedestrian walkway connecting the convention center to the downtown core. I was there on a Sunday. A lot of towns are pretty dead on Sundays.

Maybe the Star-Telegram should send a reporter to some other cities that really are both vital and revitalizing. Geez, just drive east 30 miles and see all those construction cranes all over downtown Dallas. Visit the downtowns of Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego, Chicago, Boise, Salt Lake City, Phoenix or even Oklahoma City and San Antonio and you'll see very vital, booming, growing downtowns with downtown residential buildings being added.

Nothing happens or is happening in Fort Worth that hasn't already happened elsewhere. For any city to envy Fort Worth Fort Worth would have to be trendy, would have to be doing something someone else isn't already doing. The Star-Telegram needs to knock off their phony transparent civic boosting. Fort Worth is a perfectly nice town. Quit pretending it's something it's not.

I've been annoyed about this paper's propaganda ever since they lied about a very lame downtown Fort Worth development, a meager little food court type thing that would have been lame in a small mall in a small town, but which the Star-Telegram claimed over and over and over again that it was the first public market in Texas, modeled after Seattle's Pike Place Market and markets in Europe. Of course, when it opened I wasted gas driving to see this thing, with high expectations due to the Star-Telegram's lies. It did not take long for the Sante Fe Rail Market to fail. Ironically, little Tacoma has a similar thing called Freighthouse Square, also by a transit train hub, opened about the same time. It's still open. Because it isn't lame. Because someone who knew what they were doing designed it. The Tacoma Tribune didn't tell its readers that Freighthouse Square was the first public market in Washington and that it was modeled after Pike Place Market. Because the Tribune knows its readers aren't morons. Even my old hometown of Mount Vernon, population less than 30,000, has a successful market type thing by it's downtown transportation hub.

Methinks, in a classic case of transference, it is Fort Worth that envies other places. What does a Fort Worthian think when they see something like Pike Place and remembers their Sante Fe Rail Market? Or when they see little Mount Vernon did it better than they did? Or when they see an actual place that does resemble Pike Place, that being the Dallas Farmers Market. Does this cause envy? Fort Worth is sort of like a homely girl who goes about saying everyone envies her because she's so pretty, when the sad reality is that the poor deluded girl is envious of just about everyone she sees because she's painfully aware she ain't the beauty she pretends to be. But a good makeover job would really help. Same is true with Fort Worth. Start with fixing Heritage Park. Then finally do something with Lancaster. You really think you're gonna get conventions with that mess by the Convention Center? Then, please, I beg you, clean up and landscape the freeway exits to the Stockyards. They are not worthy of a big city's exits to its most popular tourist attraction. Visit some other places and see what they do with their freeway exits. Go here and scroll down and you'll see my photos comparing the Stockyards exits to the freeway exits to little Mount Vernon in Washington. You'd think Mount Vernon was the big city and Fort Worth wasn't. Be warned if you are a Fort Worthian, the photos of Mount Vernon may make you green with envy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

I really need to stop watching TV while I eat lunch. While Bret Michaels and the Rock of Love Skanks seems to have disappeared, for now, of late I run into two other equally shallow reality shows during lunch.

One is on Bravo where these extremely shallow, embarrassingly desperate New York City housewives make total asses of themselves by putting their pathetically self-absorbed weird lives on display for the amusement of tv viewers.

An even more shallow and embarrassing reality show is on the E! cable network. It's called "Keeping Up with the Kardashians". Olympic Gold winner, Bruce Jenner's third wife is the ex-wife of OJ lawyer, Robert Kardashian, now deceased. Bruce has had several kids with his various wives. Bruce's current wife had several kids with her ex and a couple kids with Bruce.

As near as I can tell all the kids are on the "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" reality show. Bruce seems addicted to being on reality shows. He's been on "The Weakest Link", "The Apprentice", "Skating with Celebrities" and one I actually watched called "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!"

It was on the "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" reality show that I learned that Bruce has some rather odd personality quirks. I'll just mention one. He repeats himself. Tells the same story over and over again. Like every other day he'd tell his castmates how he got a gold Mustang after he won the gold medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

I don't really understand the premise of the "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" reality show. I don't think I'm alone in that regard. The New York Times said this, "The Kardashian show is not about an eccentric family living conventionally; it is purely about some desperate women climbing to the margins of fame, and that feels a lot creepier."

That is so true. It is very creepy. These people don't seem to do anything constructive. One of the Kardashian girls starred in an infamous sex tape. That provided much fodder for the show. As did, I think it was the same girl, posing for Playboy. This vexed Bruce very much. But the mother, Kris, was quite proud of her daughter baring all, reminding Bruce that he was in Playgirl. "But I kept my clothes on." was Bruce's reply.

One episode revolved around the Kardashian girls going to Vegas with Kourtney Kardashian worried she might be pregnant. I don't think she's the one who did the sex tape or posed in Playboy. Kourtney was in another reality show called "Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive". I don't know if she got pregnant on that show too. The entire Kardashian clan seems addicted to being on reality shows. Even Bruce's sons from one of his prior marriages had their own reality show, that being sons Brandon and Brody on "The Princes of Malibu".

Entertainment Weekly is also vexed about this reality show, saying "Why, oh, why would Ryan Seacrest put his self-tanned stamp of approval on a reality show about tabloid mainstay Kim Kardashian, whose sex-tape scandal and partying appear to be her only real achievement in life?"

I think that's what appalls me about this show. These are not quality people. They are not anyone anyone would want to keep up with, either in the keeping up with the Jones' sense or in the keeping up with what they are doing sense.

And then there is the bad plastic surgery that Bruce has had done to his face. Combined, with his way out of style mop of dyed hair, he looks very girly. And his wife is sort of manly. Together they look like a middle-aged lesbian couple.

All the Kardashian girls, including the mother, would fit right in on Bret Michael's Rock of Love reality show. Actually Bruce would make a better looking girl than some of those on the latest Rock of Love. But, it could be that the Kardashian women would be too skanky, even for Bret Michaels.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boycotting the Beijing Olympics

No, I'm not talking about America or any other nation boycotting the upcoming China Olympics due to China's bad treatment of Tibet.

I'm talking about my personal boycott.

As in not watching because the coverage drives me nuts. No, it's not that there is more time spent on commercials than on covering events.

It's the non-stop yammering of the commentators.

I only made it through a couple hours of the Athens Olympics opening ceremonies. I like watching all the pomp and ceremony and trying to hear the music. But Bob Costas would not shut up. It was so distracting. If someone had been in my house watching TV with me and they yapped on and on like Bob Costas I would issue an ultimatum, either shut up or get out of my house.

Unfortunately the only way to shut up Bob Costas is to change the channel or turn off the TV. I don't understand why American TV powers-that-be think we need to hear so much yammering. I used to live near the Canadian border and could watch Canadian TV. The Canadians are very well mannered and shut themselves up during something like an Opening Ceremony.

I don't watch the Winter Olympics anymore for the same reason. Pretty much the only part I find interesting is the ice skating. And a lot of that interest is borne of the same type base thinking that has rednecks going to car races hoping to see a spectacular wreck. But I did not watch a single second of the last Winter Olympics. I knew that that constant yammering while the ice skating was going on would make it unbearable. I don't know if Dick Buttons is still the chief commentator or not. He is really unbearable. So earnest. Over ice skating.

I did watch some of the Closing Ceremony of the Athens Olympics. I saw the part where the Chinese put on a show as a sort of preview of their Olympics. Dozens of long-legged Chinese beauties in skimpy very non-communistic outfits put on a dancing routine that reminded me of the Shanghai nightclub scene at the start of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

The Chinese Olympic preview was very well choreographed and fun to watch. As I'm sure their Olympic Opening Ceremony will also be. And I would watch it. If I knew there was a way to keep Bob Costas and his ilk out of my TV viewing room.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Pope Rocks New York City

TV watching during lunch on Sunday occurred at the time the Pope was appearing in Yankee Stadium. This event was being covered live on all the cable news stations.

I'm not a Catholic. I belong to no organized religion. The only time I've been in a Catholic Church was to be a pall bearer. So, I've had very little personal experience with Catholic Pomp and Ceremony.

What I was seeing on my TV screen seemed sorta surreal, like I was watching some elaborate ceremony in some Sci-Fi movie set on a planet far from Earth. Prior to the Pope arriving hundreds of Cardinals, Bishops and, I dunno, I guess Priests, filed in. All garbed up in these elaborate outfits with really goofy looking hats.

As the Catholics filed in the fans in the stands cheered as if at a baseball game. The baseball field had been covered with a huge elaborate colorful stage.

And then, if it wasn't surreal enough, in came the Pope in his Pope Mobile, slowly making its way around Yankee Stadium to the raucous cheers of the crowd. The roars grew their loudest when the Big Screen TVs showed the Pope.

All during all this Pomp and Ceremony the Fox News people kept up non-stop chatter, as if they were describing a sporting event. Sheppard Smith promised that when the Pope finally spoke that they'd all shut up.

Eventually the Pope finished his tour of the Ballpark and got out of his Pope Mobile to walk to the Yankee locker room to change out of his Pope Mobile Pope costume into the Pope Vestments worn when giving a Mass.

After about 10 minutes the Pope reappeared in his new costume, carrying a specter and waving a big ball on a chain. The Pope wandered about the stage waving the big ball. The crowd was cheering as if they were watching the world's most popular celebrity, or like Elvis was suddenly back from the dead.

All the while Sheppard Smith kept narrating. And then the Pope finally spoke, briefly. And unlike he promised Sheppard Smith did not shut up! Sheppard Smith talked over the Pope! I don't know anything about religious rules but isn't this some type of cardinal sin that could get you banished to hell without hope of reprieve? I immediately switched over to MSNBC where no one but the Pope was talking.

I lasted through the Pope getting introduced by some high up Catholic Cardinal or Bishop or whatever, who during the course of his introduction named various cities, like Philadelphia, Baltimore, I forget where else, but each time a town was named their cheering section went nuts. I had no idea the Catholics were such a wild raucous bunch. I thought it'd be all solemn and church like. It was Sunday after all.

Finally, the Pope started in on his Mass. I switched back to Fox News to see if Sheppard Smith had shut up. He had. I did not last too long into the Mass. The Pope's German accented English was hard to understand. That and the whole thing started to seem way too much like being in church.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Yet One More Storm in Texas

A bit over a week ago we had a bad storm here that resulted in one injury. A man lost his arm due to his trailer being tossed around by a tornado. As night began to arrive last night we had another storm here in North Texas. Last week's storm, for the most part, was in the wee hours of the morning. I do not know if all the local channels broke into regular programming to warn those sleeping to get up and worry.

But last night a bit before 7pm I turned on the TV to watch Survivor to see the CBS 11 Weather guy in full arm waving mode over a possible tornado cell over the town of Weatherford, about 30 miles west of Fort Worth. I channel chased to the other local stations and they were all in full Weather Drama Queen Mode.

Regular programming pretty much did not return last night. By morning the headline was "Storms hit North Texas with hail and high water". A follow up article in another section's headline was "Hailstorm rumbles through N. Texas". This article mentioned the baseball size hail that fell in some areas. The article in the morning paper certainly did not match up with the overwrought ridiculously over done repetitive over the top absurd alarmist coverage on TV the night before.

What follows are screencaps of the storm coverage. Coverage that went on way way way longer than the 20-30 minute storm that people experienced. I wonder how many people have sore backs this morning from following the Drama Queen's earnest advice to get to a safe spot, like a bathtub?

The Weather guy above is the Channel 8 ABC Weather Guy. I find him the most annoying. He acts like he's covering the detonation of a nuclear bomb and advising people where to escape the fallout. On and on he and the others went last night over a rotating wall cloud that had the potential to turn into a tornado. When eventually one of their 'trained' tornado spotters called in to say he'd seen a possible tornado possibly touch down for a short time, well, the earnestness went into overboard.

The local tv stations put helicopters in the air in order to get live footage of the storm, such as you see above. It seems dangerous to me to risk lives to get footage like this. I guess they are hoping to catch a full blown tornado. I don't see what the above type info adds.

Above is the CBS channel 11 Weather Guy. His schtick is different than the ABC Guy's and almost as annoying. Very repetitive, I suppose in case you missed the last time he said how dangerous this storm is, the subsequent repeats might be useful. This Guy was amusing in many ways. One was due to using hand gestures to illustrate a rotating wall cloud.

One of the stupidest things about the CBS 11 coverage is the Guy advises you that you can also watch the same coverage on their sister station, which on Charter Cable happens to be Channel 12. Now, why not just put the weather coverage on 12 and run Survivor on 11 with the crawl across the bottom saying if you want weather info turn to Channel 12??

Above we see the Channel 5 NBC Weather Guy. I usually find Channel 5 the least annoying with the way they do dire weather programming interruptions.

Meanwhile, while all this weather drama is unfolding on all the local stations, with non-stop coverage due to their extremely important responsibility to provide this important life-saving information, over on Fox News they were discussing the previous night's debate between Hillary and Barack. I find it inexcusably irresponsible that the local Fox affiliate did not find a way to inform local viewers of Fox News of the extreme danger they were facing due to the incoming storm.

And on NBC's Bravo Channel 'Top Chef" was airing a new episode and did not have the decency to tell its viewers to stop watching and tune to one of the local stations where life saving information was being dispensed. None of the cable stations seem to care in the slightest about the welfare of their viewers, not CNN, not Turner Classic Movies, not MSNBC. Even The Learning Channel does not care to educate its viewers as to the impending danger. Surely, even though these are not local stations, a way could be found to save those who are not tuned into local broadcasters.

And then the storm finally got to my abode, sometime after 8pm. You can see lightning light up the night sky through my patio window above. The tornado sirens went off. Search lights scanned the sky. I suppose if I were totally unobservant, mentally deficient, deaf and maybe blind I would not know that a storm was coming. I would know this without the wall to wall non-stop local TV coverage. But if I were totally unobservant, mentally deficient, deaf and maybe blind, and in full need of the info the local TV was providing, how would I get it, being unobservant, mentally deficient, deaf and maybe blind?

Anyway, in case you can't tell, I find this local weather coverage to be completely stupid, a waste of money and possibly dangerous, scaring people to do things that are more likely to put themselves in danger than the actual storm, which incidentally turned out to be fairly minor. No confirmed tornadoes, no injuries. The main casualty was a night of regular programming killed by a bunch of unobservant, possibly mentally deficient, tone deaf, common sense blind Weather Drama Queens.

Why don't the local stations take turns being the one to cover the latest Bad Weather Episode, advising their listeners to tune into that Weather Episode's weather station? Think of the money saved. Think of the potential lives saved. Or better yet, why not a station dedicated to weather? Oh. There is one of those. Why not direct people there during stormy weather?

Top Chef was pretty good last night though. I loved the added light show and sound effects of the storm. I didn't lose power.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hell Freezes Over & the Democrats Debate

No. Hell Freezing Over is not a reference to last night's debate between Barack and Hillary. I'm referring to an amusing email Alma the Texas Songbird sent me yesterday. Apparently it's been all over the Internet, but I'd not seen it.

But, before I get to that I must say I thought Hillary came out on top in this debate. Barack seemed to stumble a bit regarding explaining his unfortunate choice of words describing many Pennsylvania voters as being bitter and finding refuge in religion, guns and other dubious interests. Barack also stumbled a bit explaining his choice of church and minister.

Hillary almost seemed honest when she addressed the coming under sniper fire in Bosnia issue again. She sort of admitted to being embarrassed at being caught in such a bald faced lie. She also made the point that she's better suited to go against John McCain because people have been rummaging through her baggage for decades while Barack is fresh meat for the Republicans to attack.

Enough of talking about last night's debate. Below is the amusing email from Alma the Texas Songbird about Hell Freezing Over.


The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid term.

The answer by one student was so 'profound' that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Night of the Hunter

If you'd asked me last Saturday afternoon when I last saw a movie I liked I wouldn't have been able to remember one. I don't think I've been in a movie theater this century. Most movies, particularly current movies, just don't much engage me. I gave up on NetFlix when I ran out of movies I wanted to see and when watching movies that I didn't enjoy started to seem like a huge waste of time.

If you'd asked me last Saturday afternoon what my all time favorite movie is I likely would have said All About Eve. If you asked me the same question Sunday morning I likely would have said The Night of the Hunter.

Turner Classic Movies on Saturday nights has a thing they call "The Essentials". Meaning movies that it is essential you watch if you want to have an appreciation of the best movies ever made. The Night of the Hunter was last Saturday's Essential.

This movie held my interest beginning to end. It's a film noir. Now considered one of the best film noir ever made. After the movie was over I had to look it up in Wikipedia. Apparently I am not the only one to have been impressed by this movie. David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Terrence Malick and the Coen Brothers were influenced by it. The Night of the Hunter is very David Lynchian.

When the movie was released in 1955 it was not a hit, neither critically or with the public. The director, Charles Laughton, yes, that Charles Laughton, he of Mutiny on the Bounty, was so disheartened he never directed again. Years later when the movie began playing on TV, it finally became a hit. Read the Wikipedia article to see all the various references made to The Night of the Hunter in things like the Simpsons, Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen's song, "Caution Man", Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Coen Brother's movies contain many references.

Anyway, I just loved this movie. It's black and white and beautifully photographed, set in the Great Depression, it tells a very sophisticated, very adult story. And there was a scene near the end that evoked in me something very very rare. A tear. It still haunts me. The movie I mean, not the tear.

UPDATE: Here's a Blog devoted to Charles Laughton with a lot of The Night of the Hunter info.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oh My! Someone in the News has a Texas Connection!

Last week, when the latest got booted from American Idol, I was surprised that that newspaper I love to roll my eyes at, that being the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, did not once more mention that the bootee had a Fort Worth connection, in that he was married to a Fort Worth girl and he had visited Fort Worth at some point in time.

Well, today's Star-Telegram did trot out the trite verbiage again, as in "Michael Johns has a Fort Worth connection---his wife, Stacey Vudris, is from here."

No, I do not make this up. My two readers may remember me mentioning this newspaper's oddities before and that one of their employees tried to explain to me that, unlike the Dallas paper (the Star-Telegram also has an odd Dallas fixation) the Star-Telegram tries to be a local paper by giving its readers local connections to its stories. No matter how flimsy. Or pointless.

I don't know if they repeat these local connections over and over and over again because they think their readers have bad memories, or if it is for the benefit of new readers. Last week in a legit news article we had to be reminded, again, that CBS News Guy, Bob Schieffer, is from Fort Worth.

In today's paper, in addition to being told again of Michael Johns important connection to Fort Worth, we were also reminded that LeAnn Rimes is from here, as in "Garland-raised LeAnn Rimes." I don't know if I've seen this "raised" type verbiage before. It's a refreshing change. In the same article, under the heading "The Texas Connections", we learned, in addition to CMT Buckle winning Garland-raised Rimes, that Fort Worth-raised T Bone Burnett also won a Buckle. A Buckle is like an Oscar only you get it for singing country music, not acting.

Now, I came to Texas from a small town in Washington called Mount Vernon. Fort Worth acts more like a small town than Mount Vernon. In 1998 Mount Vernon was rated the #1 Best Small City in America by a legit rating entity. A couple years ago Fort Worth was put on a list by some Washington D.C. lobbying group for being one of the Top Ten Most Livable Communities in the Nation. Fort Worth had a city wide celebration for this esteemed honor. Meanwhile, up in Washington, in a state where towns and cities are often near or at the top of such lists, Tacoma was on the same Top Ten list as Fort Worth.

I asked the Deputy Mayor of Tacoma if his city had a city wide celebration for the wonderful award. He said, no, we politely thanked them, then ignored it. He giggled when I told him Fort Worth had a city wide celebration. He'd been to Fort Worth for a Sister Cities Convention, which was held at a downtown hotel, not the Convention Center. I don't think Fort Worth understands that conventions are supposed to take place at the Convention Center. All my years here I've never noticed downtown being busy with visiting conventioneers, a phenomenon that happens frequently in Seattle and Tacoma.

Back to the Star-Telegram's bizarre need to make connections between people in the news and Texas, no matter how tenuous. My aforementioned hometown of Mount Vernon has a few connections to somewhat well known people. I do not recollect the local paper repeating those connections over and over and over again.

Like, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, lives in Mount Vernon, well, actually Big Lake, a couple miles outside Mount Vernon's city limits. Conservative talk show host, Glen Beck, is from Mount Vernon. Mike Pegram, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner and owner of a McDonald's empire and my brother-in-law's boss, has a house in Mount Vernon. And some McDonald's. Cheryl Bentyne, jazz singer with The Manhattan Transfer, she's a Mount Vernon girl who I went to college with. Movie star Jim Caviezel, born and raised in Mount Vernon, his uncle lived 4 houses from mine. Actress Demi Moore lived in Mount Vernon and went to LaVenture Middle School. That's right in my old neighborhood. I did not know Demi Moore when she was in town. Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr, is from Mount Vernon. Ross the Intern, from the Tonight Show, grew up in Mount Vernon.

I know of the above not from reading it repeated over and over and over and over again in my local paper, I know the above because I read the Mount Vernon article in Wikipedia. There were others on the Wikipedia list, but I'd not heard of them before, except for a NBA and MLB player or two.

On a positive note, regarding the Star-Telegram, it has been at least a year since I've seen that paper use its obviously embarrassing 'Green With Envy' verbiage. So, it is possible to wise them up if you nag enough and if you clearly reflect back to them how their ludicrous verbiage looks to others. Now, if only someone would do that same favor for me.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Who Makes More Money Than Me?

In Sunday's Parade magazine's annual "What People Earn" issue I learned that someone named Miley Cyrus is a 15 year old who makes $18.2 million a year playing someone named Hannah Montana. 15 years old. I'm almost 3 times that age and with my Google ads and the occasional change I find on the ground I make a minuscule fraction of Miss Cyrus's $18.2 million. Not that I begrudge her her fortune. I'm sure she's worth every penny of it. That's Miley on the right in the photo. I don't think the guy on the left is her dad, Billy Ray.

A comedian named Jeff Foxworthy is over 3 times older than Miley and makes $10 million a year. I've watched Foxworthy's act. I don't find him very funny.

Leona Helmsley had a dog named Trouble. Trouble makes $12 million a year. That's almost as much as Miley the Teenager. I'm sure Trouble works very hard for his money.

A Hedge-fund manager named John Paulson is in NYC making $3.5 billion a year at age 52. That's way more than Miley is making. I had to look it up to find out what a Hedge-fund manager does. It is some sort of private investment fund that charges a performance fee. Mr. Paulson must perform really really well.

American Idol winner Carrie Underwood makes $7 million a year. That's less than her ex-boyfriend, Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboy quarterback. He got something like a $69 million 5 year contract this year with a $13 billion signing bonus. More than his boss, Jerry Jones paid for all the homes and businesses he destroyed to build his new stadium. That's scandalous.

Mary-Kate Olsen, 21, she's one of the notorious Olsen twins, one of whom, I don't remember which, had some involvement with Heath Ledger before he died, makes $17 million a year. As an actress/entrepreneur. What has she acted in lately? Entrepreneur?

The CEO of Boeing, James McNerney, 58, makes $19 million a year. I assume the amount would be more if he'd managed to get the Dreamliner in the air on time.

A model in NYC named Gisele Bundchen, 27, makes $33 million a year. Modeling.

That annoying Dr. Phil, who is on TV way too much, makes $90 million a year. He is only 57 but looks much older.

Steven Spielberg makes $110 million a year. I would have guessed it to be more. He makes really good movies.

Edward Perry, a 26 year old Peace Corps volunteer from LA makes a whopping $2,900 a year.

While Ryan Seacrest, the 33 year old, somewhat annoying, American Idol host makes $12 million a year.

Eli Manning, 27, makes $11.5 million a year throwing a football in NYC.

While the world's most powerful woman, she of the Big Give, among many other things, and who I've always found annoying and don't really know why, makes $260 million a year. No wonder she can afford to Give Big.

Well. Enough of that. It's time for me to start my daily search for spare change laying on the ground to augment my meager Google ad income.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Dallas Cowboy Stadium Survived Tornado

I am still in recovery mode from the vicious storm we had here less than 24 hours ago. I have managed to sleep a little bit. Today I've been up since 4am and have been a very busy boy.

I decided I'd not been to Chinatown in Arlington for quite awhile and with the sky being tornado cleaned of smog it seemed a good time to check in and see if Mother Nature wreaked havoc on Jerry Jones and his monument to insensitivity to ones fellow human beings.

When I got to the stadium zone I detected no signs of damage. Mother Nature must be on the payroll. Or she is biding her time to exact the eye for an eye thing. I guess it would be more poetic if a tornado leveled Jerry Jones's personal home with little warning, just like his bulldozers did to all his victims.

One thing I did notice today was 4 flags have been planted at the top of the stadium. Go here for a look at what the new stadium looks like on April 11, 2008. And to read what the flags were. I'm guessing you could guess what one or two of them might be. I had to guess on the 4th one. I'm pretty sure I guessed right.

Thursday's Texas Tornado Aftermath

The Big Storm that roared through North Texas late Wednesday and in the wee hours of Thursday morning brought at least 5 tornadoes, including several that struck Breckinridge late Wednesday. Survey teams checked out the damage and issued the EF ratings for the tornadoes. 4 or more were EF1's. The assessment process continues. An EF1 tornado whips up winds between 86 and 110 mph.

So far the only known injury was to a Johnson County man who lost his arm when the trailer he was in was turned over and over in the high wind. In the photo you see here the trailer was spared, which totally goes against the norm, while the tied to a foundation building was badly damaged.

Several houses were seriously damaged in Johnson County.

About 5 miles north of my abode, in the town of Hurst, straight line winds up to 80mph damaged more than 200 homes.

At Oakland Lake Park, yesterday, I saw several trees blown down, including a long-lived Mulberry Tree. It was sort of additionally tragic because only a couple days ago did the park maintennance people finally get around to removing tree limbs they'd piled up all over the park last month after doing extensive tree trimming. And now they've got a way way worse mess to clean up.

I don't know if it's irony or what, but in Haltom City, that's about 5 miles northwest of where I am, students at an Institute of Massage were in the middle of their finals when Mother Nature massaged holes in the roof and blasted out windows, distracting the test takers. I don't quite understand why they were taking a massage test in the early morning of Thursday. Maybe the earlier storm hit just north of me and I didn't notice.

In Southlake, that's up by Lake Grapevine, the school board called an emergency meeting to figure out what do to about the damaged school building, with broken gas lines, ruined air conditioners and a destroyed stadium scoreboard. They decided to open school as usual, with no lunch, due to no gas.

Apartment buildings were damaged in Bedford, that's a little town next to Hurst, moving four families out til the damage can be repaired.

Today the sky is blue, the temps are warm. And I managed to sleep a couple hours.

The Tulips are Blooming & I'm Homesick

I'm homesick. I've not seen the Skagit Valley of Washington in Spring Tulip mode since I moved to Texas in 1999. The color carpetting is sort of like Texas wildflowers on steroids. That is Cultus Mountain in the background, one of the Cascade Mountains foothills, looking east towards my old hometown of Mount Vernon. If it weren't so cloudy you would see the Mount Baker volcano towering over the valley. You will see no Bluebonnets if you visit Washington state during the spring. I think they may have been eradicated for being a pesky invasive weed.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hellacious Texas Storms & Toxic People

We've had hellacious storms here in Texas the last 24 hours. With a number of damage causing small tornadoes. I tried to go to bed after midnight, but went in to total insomnia mode. About 3am I started hearing rumbling in the distance. Within a half hour I was in a War Zone with non-stop Thunder and Lightning. I heard Tornado Sirens in the distance. The storm went on for a couple hours. For a few minutes it was directly over head with the Lightning Strikes and Thunder being simultaneous.

So, I don't think I nodded off even once. I got up about 6am and have been grumpy ever since. Maybe it's caused by the lack of sleep but right now I'm thinking I need a break from dealing with Toxic People. Years ago I read a book by Lillian Glass called "Toxic People: 10 ways of dealing with people who make your life miserable". It was a very helpful book.

I'm thinking of giving myself a 7 day timeout from any possible contact with anyone Toxic. Turn off my phone, not read email, basically avoid human contact as much as possible til I'm ready to deal with the Toxic People again.

I'll probably keep doing my Boring Blogging during my timeout. It's a salubrious outlet for my aggravations to get to vent into the wind.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Texas Wildflowers, Tornadoes & Polygamists

Mother Nature goes a bit nuts in Texas during April and May. The wildflowers are being extra colorful, or so it seems, this Spring. The bluebonnets are popping up all over. For the month, or so, when the wildflowers are blooming, it makes Texas look the best it looks the entire year. The other 11 months the basic color scheme on the ground in Texas is mostly brown. There are plenty of green trees though.

Today and tonight we are being blessed with Mother Nature's other thing she likes to do to Texas this time of year, that being Severe Thunderstorms with Tornado creation possible. It's 3pm and it's not started up yet, except for some raindrops.

I went to read Gar the Texan's MySpace blog this morning for my daily dose of West Texas Eruditeness and learned Gar the Texan is now blogging in a new location. His Blog is called Random Ramblings: The insane opinions of a lunatic. I think he's flattering himself, the opinions expressed didn't seem all that lunatic to me, let alone insane.

Gar the Texan's first and only posting on his new Blog is about religion, with his random rambling inspired by the current West Texas cult scandal. Basically it seems Gar the Texan has some issues with the Religion Industry. Likely, this being an issue for the boy, is due to him being raised in his own West Texas Fundamentalist Cult led by his mom. I'm pretty sure Gar the Texan's Cult was not a Polygamist one.

Speaking of the weird Texas Polygamist Compound scandal and the removal of all those kids, today I watched Fox news while consuming food and there was a story about a similar raid on similar polygamists in Arizona in what became known as the Short Creek Raid, taking place in 1953 in what is now called Colorado City.

In the Arizona raid 200 kids were taken from their mothers with the fathers being arrested. At gunpoint. Several of the Arizona kids who were taken, now in their 60s, told the Fox News reporter how the Short Creek Raid and its aftermath terrorized and traumatized them. When the fathers got out of jail there were forbidden to see their families. But, many of them managed to sneak in visits. With several wives ending up pregnant and having to hide the pregnancies and the newborns.

After several years passed, the families were allowed to be back together. With only one wife for each man.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bret Michael's Rock of Love and the Skanks

There are some TV shows that I confess I watch because they are just so train wreck awful and somehow indicative of the decline of civilization that I will sit and watch for as long as I can stand it.

The worst of the current worst is on VH1, a cable network that seems to be a repository of the worst of TV. The show I'm confessing to watching is called Rock of Love. It's about this over the hill supposed rock star named Bret Michaels and his search for love and a good groupie who can function backstage if or when this Bret Michaels person gets a singing job.

The show starts off with about 20 women and one by one they are eliminated. Bret Michaels is always saying how beautiful these women are. But from my humble view I think the majority of them are extremely, well, I think the best word to describe them is skanky. Like here in the D/FW zone there are all these strip joints, some are customized to certain wants, like there is a fat girl strip joint to appeal to chubby chasers and there is a skanky girl strip joint to appeal to guys who like skanky girls. Guys like Bret Michaels.

Here's a blurb from VH1's Rock of Love website, "If there was ever any doubt about Bret Michael's status as a Rock God, season one of Rock of Love put all those doubts to rest. The enormous success of the show proved two things: Bret continues to draw in fans by the millions - and his appeal to women has never wanted."

"Wanted"? His appeal has never wanted? Is that a Freudian Slip of some sort?

Now, I know Bret Michaels was in a band named Poison. I've no memory of a Poison song. My knowledge of Bret Michaels previous to his reality show was watching him perform with Pamela Anderson in one of those notorious Pamela Anderson home videos. Bret Michaels is a short pudgy balding homely guy who wears a wig and a hat at all times to cover his need for a toupee. He reminds me of one of my runty ugly cousins. And he wears makeup. If this is a rock god, well, God help us.

This is the second season of Bret Michael's search for love. I don't know what happened to the one who won his heart last year.

Of all the skanky women on this year's Rock of Love by far the skankiest is this awful, horribly ugly German named Angelique. She's a professional stripper who has trouble keeping her clothes on on the show. She's had something done to her lips that makes her face one of the ugliest I've ever seen. Of course Bret Michaels regularly tells her she's a beauty. And he kisses her. He kisses all the skanky women. Over and over again. Except for one, one of the few non-skanky ones, who was unsettled by all that spit swapping and so refuses to do any kissing. I like her. Too much kissing gives me chapped lips. A condition I'm in pain from right now. Oops, I got off subject. So this German girl totally creeps me out. Her English is so bad they use subtitles, which are often quite funny. I don't know what it is about Germans, maybe it's my Dutchness, but something about them makes my skin crawl, and this Angelique one is a super skin crawler.

I have no idea when original episodes of Rock of Love air. I accident upon it channel chasing while eating lunch. I do know the skanky awful ugly German got the boot. If I knew where she was doing her strip thing I'd let you know so that you don't accidentally have to see that thing take her clothes off. Maybe she's been deported. We can only hope.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tandy Hills Park and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

I had not talked to my ex-wife for almost 2 years, so I called her yesterday while I was lounging by the pool (I mention lounging by the pool to annoy my 2 Northwest readers who are shivering today).

And to further annoy my 2 Northwest readers, today I went hiking at Tandy Hills Park and it was so HOT I had to hike shirtless and even then was too HOT. And now I'm slightly sunburned.

The wildflowers are sprouting out all over, including Tandy Hills Park. The photo I took of that pink wildflower you see above does not quite capture the almost neon-like flashiness of the color.

I'm pretty sure the purple flowers you see on the right are not wildflowers, they look like something that came from a bulb, like flowers you see in my former locale, that being the Skagit Valley of Washington.

Speaking of flowers and the Skagit Valley, this year is the 25th Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Tulips, Flags, Daffodils, Irises and I forget what other type flowers are grown commericially in the Skagit Valley with the resulting bulbs sent all over the world. The Tulip Festival lasts several weeks with events happening all over the valley. Depending on the weather around a million visitors show up causing awful traffic jams. To help spread the pain things like Tulip Town were built. Buses are brought in to provide a sort of mass transit system to try and cut down on the number of cars. If there was a place that you might call the Heart of the Tulip Festival that would likely be Roozengaarde with their huge show garden.

The wildflowers in Texas look like a natural version of the Skagit Valley's acres of planted color. A few Easters ago I went down to the Fredericksburg zone to hike Enchanted Rock. Just outside of Fredericksburg there is a wildflower seed producing place with planted fields. It's called Wildseed Farms and it was very similar to Roozengaarde, except instead of Dutch stuff like Windmills, Wildseed has Cowboys cooking BBQ which made Wildseed Farms smell way better than Roozengaarde.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Getting Lost at Bob Jones Park

Today I wanted to go to Sprouts Farmers Market to get oranges and since it is only a few miles further to Bob Jones Park I decided that'd be a good place to go on a hike.

Bob Jones Park is in a remote part of the town of Southlake on Lake Grapevine in the state of Texas. The Park is named for John Dolford "Bob" Jones. Bob Jones was the son of Alvis Jones and Alvis' slave, Elizabeth. The would make Bob Jones the slave of his father. After the Civil War Bob and his mom were freed. They bought a 60 acre farm. Bob got married to Meady Chisum, eventually having 10 kids and expanding their farm to nearly 2,000 acres.

When Grapevine dam was finished and Lake Grapevine began to grow behind it, most of Bob Jones' land ended up being under water. Of course, Bob Jones was long gone by then, his land had been split among his kids and grandkids. In the 1990s Southlake bought the land that became Bob Jones Park.

Which is where I went hiking today. And got lost. The developed part of Bob Jones Park leads to what amounts to being a nature preserve with it being a prime piece of the Cross Timbers ecosytem. There is some signage to help hikers find their way, like you see in the above photo.

But there are so many trails, most without signage, it becomes a fun confusing maze that is easy to get lost in. It did not help that today Lake Grapevine is in flood stage so many of the trails were under water. My worst time of getting lost at Bob Jones Park ended up turning an hour hike into a 3 hours with sore feet and serious hunger pangs.

Today's lost experience did not last too long. But I was happy to find my van and drive to Sprouts for those oranges. And some real nice red peppers.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Gar the Texan Libertarian

The most erudite Texan entity I've met during my long exile in the Lone Star State has been a mullet head who goes by the name of Gar. I call him Gar the Texan. Though Gar the Texan is, like I said, quite erudite, he at times has the ability to be quite baffling.

Like one time we pedaled bikes to the now defunct Heritage Park in downtown Fort Worth. It is sort of a historical monument located where Fort Worth began. As a Fort. However, despite the name and despite being born and raised in Texas, it came as a revelation to Gar the Texan that Fort Worth began as an actual Fort.

Gar the Texan is a card carrying member of the Libertarian Party. He regularly runs for the Texas legislature as a Libertarian. He gets hundreds of votes. He has not yet been elected.

Gar the Texan Libertarian married a former Communist East German girl. How one reconciles being a Libertarian while married to an ex-Communist I can't quite figure out. Not that I've actually spent all that much time trying to reconcile the seeming contradiction.

So, yesterday I learned that Gar the Texan is now sharing his eruditeness with the world via MySpace where he is Blogging his eruditeness for the enlightenment and amusement of the rest of humanity, rather than keeping it all to himself.

Be warned, if you go to Gar the Texan's MySpace page you will be blasted by some awful hard rock sounding thing blasting noise from the past, like the 70s. The mullet head era. Or like we called that style up in the northwest, a Pocatello Doo. Pocatello is an isolated town in Idaho that almost unanimously adopted the mullet head look. Gar the Texan was born and raised in Kermit, Texas, an isolated town in Texas. Hence the mullet. Which I must admit he has long been rid of.

UPDATE: I have heard from the extremely vain, Gar the Texan. He objected to me sharing his 'old' look with my millions of readers. He demanded that I add a more recent photo and pointed me to his webpage for his Libertarian campaign to become the District 91 State Representative. I've not seen Gar the Texan in person in quite some time. It looks like he's had some work done to his face in addition to the new haircut.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Barnett Shale Explodes the North Texas Economy

Today I had to drive through the industrial wasteland of north Fort Worth to pick up a check for a website. En route I drove by at least a dozen gas drilling operations in various stages.

A few years ago it was discovered that a field of natural gassified shale was much larger than earlier believed. Seismic testing kept finding the stuff further and further south. At first the gas drilling only took place on the fringes of the Dallas/Fort Worth urban zone.

And then in 2003 an oilman named Mike Moncrief, with interests in all 4 of the gas drilling companies that are exploiting the Barnett Shale, was elected mayor of Fort Worth. Soon after the new mayor took office drilling started happening all over town, in formerly peaceful neighborhoods, in parks, near parks and across the street from where I live.

Experiencing it, up close and personal, the gas drilling operation was as bad as all the complaints I'd been reading. While the drilling is underway it is very noisy, making all sorts of odd high pitched noises, day and night. The rigs are lit up very bright. When the drilling is done the next bad thing starts up, that being dozens upon dozens of trucks hauling in water to pour down the hole to fracture the shale and release the gas. I've no idea how this works. But I do know there is a problem with the resulting polluted water. The powers that be are allowing the drillers to pump out the water and pump it into vast underground cavern like holes in the ground where some believe it will eventually contaminate the aquifers from which much of Texas gets its water.

As most people know, things are different in Texas. Like I've previously mentioned the perfectly valid concept of taking private land for the public good is perverted in Texas with our nation's worst cases of eminent domain abuse with the worst abuser being Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. And then you have the mayor of a big city, with obvious conflicts of interest, overseeing meetings where decisions are made in favor of the gas drillers.

Except for Fort Worth's valiant alternative newspaper, FW Weekly, no one seems to care that the Mayor of Fort Worth, with interests in each of the gas drilling companies, should not be making decisions regarding the drilling from which he financially benefits handsomely.

One good thing, a group of people in East Fort Worth have turned into Rabblerousers and are fighting the city with some success. Last week the aforementioned FW Weekly had a real good article about the group of activists. They were mostly moved to action due to Chesapeake Energy letting it be known they wanted to slant drill under Tandy Hills Park.

I have sort of been part of the Eastside Rabblerousers, doing my part to help rouse the rabble. The Rabblerousers have a real good website. On their website you can find the link to my contribution, that being a webpage I called "Fort Worth Flatulence". It gets a lot of page views.

One of the leaders of the Eastside Rabblerousers is a man named Don Young. He organized an event called Prairie Fest to raise awareness of Tandy Hills Park and the need to protect it. This year's Prairie Fest is in just a few weeks. If you are in the D/FW zone and want to attend, go to the Tandy Hills Park link above and you'll find all the info you need.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jerry Jones and the Ongoing Dallas Cowboy Stadium Scandal

Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys are one of those rare gifts that just keep on giving. My 2 longtime readers may remember me mentioning Jerry Jones and the disgustingly scandalous way he and the Dallas Cowboys went about getting a new stadium.

Awhile back the Cowboys announced their new ticket prices, including having to pay up to something like $50,000.00 for a seat license that then allowed you to pay up to something like $500.00 for a game ticket.

Well, there was a lot of squawking from those who can not afford such prices, like the very people who's homes and business were robbed from them so Jerry Jones could build his monument to himself.

Well, Jerry Jones, well known philanthropist that he is, came up with a wonderful solution to the problem of his ticket prices keeping most people from being able to afford to get into his new stadium that is being built on their land.

Jerry Jones is proposing a 'Share a Ticket' concept. You gather together a group of people and buy one ticket. And share it. One person watches for a pre-determined length of time and when his time is up he leaves the stadium and passes off the ticket to the next person.

While you wait your turn with the ticket you will get to watch the game on big screen TVs. I assume in high definition.

It is not known how the 'Share a Ticket' deal is going to work. What if a guy is so caught up in the game that he forgets to share? How many people can share a ticket? Like if it takes 20 people to make it affordable, how would you manage the time sharing? How do you determine who goes in first? How would it be fair if the last person goes into the stadium and then the game goes into overtime?

In an earlier bone tossed to the unwashed masses it was announced that up to 20,000 fans will be able to buy tickets to a standing room only plaza outside the stadium where they can watch the game on TV, thus allowing them to feel like they are part of the game atmosphere, but at a bargain price. It is not known if this plaza will be sheltered from the elements. It is also not known if sports fans will have to buy a standing room license in order to buy a ticket. Or if the 'Share a Ticket' concept will also be used for the standing room only viewing plaza.

I've had feedback from all over the world regarding the Dallas Cowboy Stadium Scandal. You can go here and read them. Some are pretty funny. Some are pretty sad. A few are really stupid. I've not heard from Jerry Jones.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

First Texas Tornado Sirens of 2008

Yesterday, sometime around 3 in the afternoon, the Tornado Warning Sirens went off for the first time this year. There is always a little feeling of excitement when the sirens go off. WeatherBug had been going off with various warnings, like Severe Thunderstorms, Golf Ball size Hail in North Tarrant County (I live in Tarrant County, that's where Fort Worth is). And a Tornado Watch that lasted til 2am this morning.

When the Tornado Sirens go off and if you've not lost power you can usually find out from the TV where the Tornado is located. I've had 2 close calls since I've been at my current location. Both occurred in the late afternoon. With the first one it'd been stormy and windy for hours and then suddenly it got dark and the wind picked up. The sirens went off. Turned on the TV to see that a Tornado had touched down in Handley. That is about a mile south of my abode. The tornado was heading my direction. I was preparing to make a run for it when the Tornado turned east via the I-30 freeway and headed towards Dallas. I did not see the Tornado. All I saw was a big black cloud.

My second close call occurred about a year ago. I was at Oakland Lake Park, listening to the radio on my headphones. The Emergency Broadcast System broke in over and over again. When it was reported the line of storms had hit west Fort Worth I knew it was maybe time to head home. And then I started seeing lightning strikes east of downtown Fort Worth. I then realized the storm was moving faster than the reports. I hurried to my van and headed back here. I remember calling Lulu so she could hear the dramatic Emergency Broadcast warning messages. She answered her phone just in time to hear the warning say Tornadoes had been spotted.

By the time I got to my abode the Tornado Sirens were very loud. A forming Tornado passed right over where I live. I did not see this, but others did. All I knew was it was really loud. That particular Tornado touched down just north of my location and tossed around a lot of storage containers. It was a very minor Tornado.

Yesterday's storm quickly passed. The photo above was taken after the storm had passed my location. In the photo we are looking east towards Dallas. When I took this photo the radio was saying there were several rotating cells (tornadoes in the making) above Dallas, along with Hail and a Severe Thunderstorm. The most odd thing about yesterday's Thunderstorm was it created almost non-stop Thunder. But I only saw one Lightning Strike.