Saturday, June 30, 2007

RIP, Joel Siegel .....

Joel Siegel, the longtime film critic for ABC News whose pithy reviews could capture the essence of a new film in a few words without giving too much away, died yesterday in New York. He was 63. Here's the complete write-up in the New York Times. Also, his Film Review Archive on ABC News ..... among film reviewers, he was one of my favorites.

Not A Woman to Be Trifled With .....

... is Janie at Sounding Forth. My Favorite Landman and I met Janie at yesterday's "Shoot for a Dream" benefit skeet shoot, at Windwalker Farms in Midland County. Janie not only placed in her shooting competition, but went home with a pair of knives from the auction ..... YIKES! Of course, I think any woman who succeeds in the 'boys club' that is the oil-and-gas industry in West Texas is rough, and tough and scared of nothing - and great - to begin with!

By the way, the event raised over $100,000 for
Hunt of a Lifetime.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Week #3 of Top Chef: How-WHEE! .....

I suspect that the third episode of Top Chef was NOT sponsored by the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain - but it did, at last, bring success to a contestant I've enjoyed watching from the start of the third season. The series airs Wednesday nights at nine o'clock (central) on Bravo TV.

Howie is a self-taught executive chef from Miami, Florida. Self-taught, but well-read ..... during the first episode, as he was being chewed out by guest judge Anthony Bourdain for not plating all of his food on time, Howie rebutted with Bourdain's own words, quoting from one of Bourdain's own books ..... I loved it!

But, in both of the first two episodes, Howie finished among the bottom tier in the Elimination Challenge, and in both cases was among those who might be told to 'pack up his knives and leave' ..... and it left me wondering.

The elimination challenge for the third episode called for the chefs to reinvent - and make healthier - family classics like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, chicken and dumplings, tuna casserole, chicken a'la king, and franks and beans. The new dishes would be served to the lunch crowd at the local Elks Club in Miami, whose comments would be included in the judging.

I have to admit, I was more than a little put off by the posturing of some contestants, as they showed total disdain for - or total ignorance of - these classic comfort foods that have graced so many dinner tables (including my own) for years ..... perhaps that's why so many of them failed so badly at the challenge.

But not Howie, who selected pork chops and apple sauce, and presented a reinvented, healthier dish - which was one of the Elks' favorites, too - that did not lose sight of the original inspiration for his entry.

Meanwhile, Micah, who had selected meatloaf and mashed potatoes, fared pretty badly and was eliminated ..... which was fine with me, as there was a lot more whine than wine to her character and her work the last couple of episodes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's Geordi .....

Just a couple minutes left to say, "Happy Birthday, Eric!"

Are You Sure? .....

Courtesy of Frank at Books, Inq. (who tips his own hat to Dave at Petrona), comes this post from Gregory McNamee at Britannica Blog, recommending ten ways to test facts. It is something we should ALL take a few minutes to read and consider ..... and apply! This post, by the way, is one of several good thought/discussion-launchers that have emerged from Britannica Blog's Web 2.0 Forum .....

Blog Fodder Lieder - Second Verse .....

Jimmy at Sticky Doorknobs got something started with this post on his list of the best songs, recorded since the 1960s, that rarely make it to the radio because they're just too long. He got something else started - with me, at least - with this follow-up post where a recommendation of mine (Harry Chapin's "Taxi") was dismissed as "really about little more than a stoned, mournful cabby."

One part of me notes, "Hey, it's HIS list, and it's a personal thing ..... let it go at that." But, at the same time

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blog Fodder Lieder .....

Jimmy at Sticky Doorknobs got something started with this post on the best songs, recorded since the 1960s, that rarely make it to the radio because they're just too long. In response, Cowtown Pattie has started another thread discussing this topic, with this post at Texas Trifles.

Blog Fodder .....

A settlement agreement between City Manager Rick Menchaca and Midland's City Council, has already provided good fodder for posts at Fire Ant Gazette, and at the fledgling "Mean Street Kick Ass. But nothing at Jessica's Well, and that surprises me ..... maybe the decision has left even 'Theocritus' scrambling for words!

UPDATE: Vaugn at Jessica's Well has joined the discussion ..... and so has George at Sleepless in Midland.

An Angry Addition to the Blogroll .....

..... is the Midland, Texas-based Mean Street Kick Ass, "a new blog promoting healthy anger management through honest, open and forthright confrontation of the inordinate amount of idiots and morons who make trouble for us all."

Give 'em Hell, Pancho!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Week #2 of Top Chef: BBQ Bust .....

..... as for reality TV I can REALLY sink my teeth into .....

I'm a little late - again! - getting to this, but Season 3 of
Top Chef continued to set an entertaining pace with its second episode. The series airs Wednesday nights at nine o'clock (central) on Bravo TV.

This week's episode must give us Texans - both natives, and those of us who got here as fast as we could - cause to pause and wonder. The elimination challenge was barbecue ..... true, it was upscale barbecue ..... but, still, you'd think the Texans among the contestants would have owned it (as was suggested by last week's elimination challenge winner, Tre).

Not so, y'all! Neither of the Texans made it into the top tier, and one of them (the aforementioned Tre) made it into the bottom tier from which one of the contestants is sent home ..... this week, it was Sandee, an executive chef from South Beach's Tantra restaurant. This followed an interesting discussion among the judge over who to send home ..... Sandee's entry was upscale, but not barbecue; while the entry from another contender for elimination, Joey, was barbecue, but not upscale.

Maybe We ARE That Shallow .....

An actual gathering of virtual acquaintances, last week at a Midland coffee shop, included a free-wheeling and wide-ranging discussion of various topics in various directions over the course of a couple of hours ..... not surprisingly, one of the topics was "Making News: Texas Style,"the reality TV series that focuses on the news department of a West Texas television station, KOSA-TV/CBS 7 .

Having left the television business just a few months before, it was suggested, my blog might offer some insight into the program, and just how much 'real' can really be found in this reality program ..... I had my say on the subject, and didn't plan to return to it, at least virtually.

But at the gathering, I relented, and said I would watch another episode ..... and I have ..... and I'm sorry I did ..... I just didn't see much that reflected well on a profession that I respect, or on those who have chosen this field for their vocation - contrary to what I have seen in the real world of West Texas television news.

And even if I did find the story appealing, the production/presentation of that story leaves a lot to be desired.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, "I don't plan to watch the show any more" ..... and this time, I mean it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Boy, A Rocket and A Movie .....

This weekend, courtesy of Netflix, the family and I enjoyed October Sky ..... a film that apparently passed through Midland theaters with the speed of a rocket. It's based on the book "Rocket Boys" by Homer Hickam, and tells the true story of how Hickam and other boys in a West Virginia coal mine town are inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry, and the consequences - good and bad - of their decision. Wikipedia has more information on the film, including a funny note on how/why film producers changed the name from the book.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Man, A Battle and A Book .....

It's been nearly 600 years since King Henry V of England and his army took the muddy field at Agincourt, and defeated a larger French force in what is regarded by many as one of the more remarkable battles in Western history .....

Juliet Barker's "Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England" leaves one with no less appreciation for what Henry and his men accomplished that day ..... but with a greater appreciation for the character of England's king, how that character prepared England for war with France, and how those preparations brought the English into a situation that, perhaps, was not as desperate as some romantic historians and playwrights would have us think.

Don't misunderstand me ..... the
Battle of Agincourt defined King Henry V more than anything else in his life. But Barker's work made it clear to me that, had it not been for his untimely death, there might have been much, much more for which Henry was known to history.

And this IS a history book. Though,
by her own admission, it lacks some of those features we normally associate with a traditional historical work, it is filled with a richness that comes from the details of the lives and loves, the achievements and the tragedies of the men and women of that day ..... "This is the reality behind those faceless, nameless, emotionally detached battle plans. We should never forget that the neat little blocks on the page represent people," Barker wrote in 2006. "That is why, I hope, my book breathes new life and humanity into the story of Agincourt."

And that was just fine with me ..... already being well-versed in the Battle of Agincourt, I did not need the maps covered with blocks and arrows illustrating the movement of armies. For me, the greatest value in Barker's book is not learning about the battle-that-made-the-man, but the man-that-made-the-battle ..... starting as a teenager and the heir to the crown, riding at the head of troops battling rebel forces in England, learning how to raise and fund armies, secure alliances, reform law and government, and practice politics and statecraft both in the court and on the battlefield.

As a king, he would take the lessons he learned in the classroom of England, and apply them to the world at-large, particularly in his relations with France.

For me, Henry V remains one of the great 'what if ...' questions of the Middle Ages. Barker's book leaves no doubt that there was much to this man, to the nation he forged, and to their growing role on the European stage. Unfortunately, we will never know ..... Henry was recognised by the French as the heir to the French throne, and married the daughter of France's King Charles. But he did not live to inherit the French throne. He grew sick and died in 1422, at the age of 34. In the next few years, nearly all of Henry's gains would be lost in a French resurgence led by a legendary figure of their own, Joan of Arc.

For those who think they don't have an interest in history, this book may prove an entertaining and enlightening read, nonetheless ..... I heartily recommend it.

NOTE: The book was provided for review purposes by the Online Marketing Department, Hachette Book Group USA.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Actual Gathering of Virtual Acquaintances .....

The coffee and the conversation flowed fast and free today, at an actual gathering of virtual acquaintances at the Harvest Caffe in Midland.

Those in attendance today were Eric of The Fireant Gazette, J.P. of Bleu Chocolate, Bob and Cherie of Ran With the Devil, Walked with the Angels, Wallace of Streams, Jeff of ArchaeoTexture and Janie of Sounding Forth. Also in attendance today was a friend and former co-worker of mine, Darrell Ward of KWES-TV (who would raise the bar of our craft considerably, if we could just get him blogging). Graphically in attendance was Jimmy of Sticky Doorknobs ..... if his character was called into question in his absence, he has no one to blame but himself.

I forgot to bring my camera along. Fortunately, John Trumbull was nearby (enjoying a chicken-and-pesto panini and an iced tea) and dashed off a quick sketch of us as we met.

We need to get together again, sometime ..... maybe on a weekend, as we had a couple of Odessa-Midland bloggers who couldn't attend on a weekday/workday.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Little More About Me .....

Thanks to a link from Cowtown Pattie, at Texas Trifles, I have confirmed that .....

I Am the Emperor

Stability, power, protection, realization; a great person.

The Emperor is the great authority figure of the Tarot, so it represents fathers, father-figures and employers. There is a lot of aggression and violence too.

The Emperor naturally follows the Empress. Like an infant, he is filled with enthusiasm, energy, aggression. He is direct, guileless and all too often irresistible. Unfortunately, like a baby he can also be a tyrant. Impatient, demanding, controlling. In the best of circumstances, he signifies the leader that everyone wants to follow, sitting on a throne that indicates the solid foundation of an Empire he created, loves and rules with intelligence and enthusiasm. But that throne can also be a trap, a responsibility that has the Emperor feeling restless, bored and discontent.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

A Little More About "Party Dress" .....

An update on Dina Rabinovitch's "Take Off Your Party Dress," the book that was sent to me - free of charge - by Lee at Lowebrow, on the condition that I blog about it ..... we've added a third link to our blogging chain.

As I noted in this post, I'll be handing the book off to fellow West Texas blogger Janie at Sounding Forth. When she's finished with the book, it will go to Cowtown Pattie at Texas Trifles ..... I'll probably hand this one off, too, since I have a couple of trips planned through Fort Worth in July.

WHEREVER you are, if you'd like to be the fourth link in this chain, please comment here, or e-mail Miss Pattie.

A Little More About POTC3 .....

A few days back, I wrote this post about Pirates of the Caribbean III: At Worlds End, which included a comment on the scene where the disparate Pirate Lords hoist their colors, and sail their rag-tag fleet to death and glory against Beckett's armada ..... I wouldn't have minded seeing some of that battle (even if it meant trimming some of the plots-within-plots-within-plots-within-whatever, that took up so much time earlier in the film) as it raged around the one-on-one duel between the Pearl and the Dutchman.

Maybe we still can ..... maybe .....

It occurs to me that, when that duel is over, and when the skies and seas are clear, there are some gaps in the two fleets, and that some of the ships on the horizon are smoking .....

If they ever release an extended version, or director's cut of POTC3 on DVD, I'll have to rent it.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Reality (More or Less) TV in West Texas

Eric at Fire Ant Gazette had suggested last week that I blog on "Making News: Texas Style,"the reality TV series that focuses on the news department of a West Texas television station, KOSA-TV/CBS 7 ..... he returned to that subject this week with this post on his thoughts and impressions from the first two episodes of the series, which airs on cable's TV Guide Channel .....

Okay, I'll give it a try ..... but first, some points should be made right up front .....

1. I am a former employee of KWES-TV/NewsWest 9, the current #1 news station in the West Texas. In their employment, I was - at one time or another - a promotions assistant, public service director, writer, producer, Big Bend stringer, parade driver and web editor.

2. Before that, I was an employee of KMID-TV/Big 2, the previous #1 news station in the West Texas. In their employment, I was - again, at one time or another - a promotions assistant, public service director, go-fer, writer, producer, studio camera operator and morning news reporter.

3. In the course of those last two jobs, I have worked with many people who went on to work with CBS 7 at one time or another over the years ..... Mike Barker, Jay Hendricks, Bill Warren, J. Gordon Lunn and Jose Gaona, to name a few - and quite a few behind the camera, and in the front office - and I am pleased to count most of them among my friends.

4. I had a chance to observe the opening stages of making this show - the videotaping, and the interviews - while I was still employed at the producers' first choice, KWES-TV. It was only after a final parting of the ways with NewsWest 9 that the producers opted for their second choice, KOSA-TV ..... and, I guess, taking with them my chance for that "fifteen minutes of fame" you hear about.

Okay, that's out of the way .....

First off, is what we're seeing what it's really like? Well, yeah, sort of, more or less, I guess ..... it's like any other entry in the 'Reality TV' genre, being as much about entertainment as anything else ..... and I think viewers know that, and take what they see with that proverbial grain of salt.

For example, if I had the money to get my very own Orange County Chopper, I'd hate to think the "American Chopper" crew spent most of their time bickering, instead of assembling, or that they'd let Mikey anywhere near my baby-to-be. But for many viewers, that bickering is a big part of the shows appeal ..... And I learned a lot more about being a Survivor by growing up in the company of Marines, and listening to their stories, then I ever could have from listening to a bunch of celebrity wannabes navigating a puffed-up ropes course, and pretending they read Machiavelli.

So, if you enjoy the show ..... fine, enjoy it ..... for what it is. And remember, when it comes to reality shows, the best way to get more airtime is to be more outrageous in what you say and do - that's show business, even if that's not what you are in real life.

I suspect that views of this program will vary, depending upon whether one is an 'insider' or an 'outsider' in the business of covering news. I'm not surprised that some of the views expressed by insiders - this post cited by Jimmy at Sticky Doorknobs, and this post cited by Eric - are disdainful to varying degrees of the show, its subject and its 'stars.'

I understand where they're coming from. The opening episodes seem to focus a great deal on appearance, and less on substance - "serving up the sizzle, rather than the steak," to use one old saying. That appears to be especially true in a small market such as ours, a 'teaching market' where so many youngsters come, gain some experience, fill their resumé tape, make some connections, then move on.

But are they really to blame? They're just trying to succeed in a business where some consultant from God-knows-where, with God-knows-what actual experience in the field, has insisted they be young, slim and good-looking. As for what's inside that well-coiffed head, generating the words that issue from that well-capped smile ..... well, you're the best judge of whether there's any steak underneath the sizzle.

And how about their personalities? That's hard to tell from just watching the show ..... it is true that our market has an awful lot of youngsters from someplace else, someplace bigger, and - to them, at least - someplace better. Not surprisingly, they may not be up to speed on West Texas, its geography and its economy ..... I am still amazed at how an intelligent person, after a year or more in this market, can still underestimate the importance of the oil-and-gas industry to absolutely every facet of life in the Permian Basin. So, it may take some time for the newbies to become acclimated, and get a better feel for their new - albeit, temporary - home. But the foul-mouthed prejudice displayed by one of the shows reporters - as noted by Eric - seems to me to be a little extreme ..... though I suspect it will certainly get that reporter a lot of airtime on the show.

Most of the youngsters I've known - and there have been A LOT of them over the past 20+ years - seem genuinely sincere in learning more about, and becoming more connected to their adopted community.

Fortunately for them, there are a few long-timers and/or Permian Basin natives in the newsroom, who can provide some leavening, and offer the newbies a wealth of background information for story development ..... people like Mike Barker, Horace Brown, Crystal Crews, Pamela Hamm, Jay Hendricks, Mel Hudman, Mitzi Loera, Darrell Ward and Bill Warren, to name a few.

And that group includes some of the nicest people I've ever met, and each - through the work they do, the families they raise, and the commitments they make to improving their town - is a genuine asset to their community. And more than once, I've seen a long-timer treated pretty shabbily in this business, in this market ..... and while that may make for good reality television, it's not something I've enjoyed watching in real life.

Though I don't plan to watch the show any more, I wish CBS 7 good luck in their venture ..... it's been more than twenty years since they fell from #1 in this market, and you KNOW they have to be hungry! This reality TV exposure may help them. That being said, though, while I wish them 'good luck' ..... that doesn't mean I wish them 'success.' I still have strong feelings for the friends and colleagues I left behind at NewsWest 9 ..... give 'em Hell, gang!

It promises to be a great fight ..... but don't expect to watch it on "Making News: Texas Style."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

... and, Speaking of Eric .....

I got more bang for my Starbucks the other night ..... while Eric, HLB and I enjoyed coffee and conversation on the patio, my vehicle was entered into an impromptu demolition derby in the parking lot ..... I could go on and on about what happened, but there's NO WAY I could describe the scene as well as Eric does in this post on the Fire Ant Gazette.

... and, Speaking of Reality TV .....

Eric at Fire Ant Gazette has suggested I blog on "Making News: Texas Style,"the reality TV series that focuses on the news department of a West Texas television station ..... we'll see .....

Week #1 of Top Chef: Clay Fired .....

I'm a little late getting to this, but Season 3 of Top Chef got off to what I thought was a pretty good start last week. The series airs Wednesday nights at nine o'clock (central) on Bravo TV.

It is - as always - a show about cooking AND characters ..... face it, when it comes to 'reality' shows, the best way to get more airtime is to be more outrageous in what you say and do - that's show business, even if that's not what you are in real life.

Someone who has already established his character presence is
Hung, a sous chef from Las Vegas, Nevada, who happens to be a friend of one of season 2's more memorable character's, Marcel. "Somebody has to be the bad guy," Hung says at one point, "and I am really good at it" He's also a really good cook.

Not as much of a character - in the first episode, at least - but every bit as good a cook, is
Tre, a chef de cuisine (at Dallas' Abacus Restaurant) from Cedar Hill, Texas, and the winner of the first week's elimination challenge (in seasons 1 and 2, the winner of the first week's elimination challenge went on to win the season). I rather like Tre's mature manner ......

..... especially in contrast to Joey's manner.
Joey, an executive chef from Long Island, New York, seems determined to bring as much attitude spice as actual spice into the kitchen, channeling the spirit of Tony Soprano, and finding a way to drop the 'f-word' into absolutely every sentence that comes out of his mouth ..... I hope he gets fired soon.

And speaking of 'fired,' there's
Clay, a sous chef from northern Mississippi, champion of southern cuisine, and a genuine good ole' boy character, in mostly the right ways. Unfortunately, his cooking was not up to his character, and he lost both the Quick Fire Challenge, then the Elimination Challenge, and became the first of season 3's contestants to be told, "pack your knives and leave."

All in all, a good start to the season ..... I will definitely tune-in for this week's second episode.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Well, Shiver Me Timbers .....

..... if that scalawag, Jimmy Patterson didn't turn out to be right - for the most part - in his review of Pirates of the Carribean III: At Worlds End ..... 'too long,' he warned, 'and too convoluted' ..... and, bless me, if he didn't be speakin' the truth .....

I'm a little disappointed, really, because I had been looking forward to POTC3 ever since the end of POTC2, a film I night have dismissed entirely, had it not been for the last few minutes, in the hut of Tia Dalma, where the survivors are challenged to reclaim Captain Jack Sparrow, even if it means going to the world's end ..... and who steps into the room to lead them on this impossible quest , but Captain Barbosa himself?

We each find our own, personal, favorite star in a film ..... for some, it's Johnny Depp; for others, it's Kera Knightly or Orlando Bloom ..... for me, it's Geoffrey Rush as Barbosa.

It's to Barbosa - not Elizabeth - that I would have given that speech, from the deck of his ship, urging the disparate Pirate Lords to hoist their colors, and sail their rag-tag fleet to death and glory against Beckett's armada ..... and I wouldn't have minded seeing some of that battle, as well (even if it meant trimming some of the plots-within-plots-within-plots-within-whatever, that took up so much time earlier in the film) as it raged around the one-on-one duel between the Pearl and the Dutchman.

With the discovery that a map could take our beloved scalawags to the Fountain of Youth, and the birth of a child to Elizabeth and Will, there is already some speculation about the possibility of a fourth installment coming to theaters someday .....

I hope not.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Am the Father of Boys .....

And I love every minute of it ..... even when the Darling Duo turn into the Bicker Brothers, illustrated so well on this YouTube video by Barats and Bereta ..... (WARNING: Some coarse language)

Friday, June 15, 2007

New Blogroll Addition .....

A West Texas addition to my blogroll ..... Just In Time features articles which are aimed at the web designer & developer community. Justin Pease is the proprietor, there .....

Work In Progress .....

Renovations continue on local television news websites ..... Flash features, which had been in the works - locally - for some time, were recently unveiled at , and there may be more changes coming in terms of layout .....

This brings NewsWest 9's layout closer to the pattern set last year - again, locally - by , although CBS 7's site - IMHO, at least - is more restrained, less eye-catching in its colors and graphics .....

Also moving in that direction is Big 2's website .....

What do YOU think?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's Not Just About Al Gore .....

..... but about all of us, when we accept without question what we read, or what we are told. Thanks to Frank at Books, Inq. for the link to this piece by Andrew Ferguson at the Washington Post about a quote that has been attributed - erroneously - to Abraham Lincoln for the past 120 years ..... most recently in Al Gore's new book, "Assault on Reason." I am - BY NO MEANS - a Lincoln scholar. But, as I read that statement, I was thinking that it just did not 'sound like' Lincoln to me. That, in itself, would have set me to wondering.

I suspect, though, that no amount of scholarship or publicity will ever make this quote go away ..... just ask any reporter who's been asked to do something for the poor Craig Shergold boy, and his dream of being in the record book.

Make a Place On Your Shelf,
In Your Life, for This Book .....

At one point in her book, "Take Off Your Party Dress," journalist Dina Rabinovitch estimates that the value of writing and publishing about her ongoing battle with cancer is worth only 10% the cost of the battle itself ..... "So my life," she suggests, "is worth ten times more than my thoughts on life."

In one respect - in the matter of pounds and shillings earned from one, compared to the pounds and shillings spent on the other - she's right.

But in another respect - less tangible, perhaps, but no less important - she is wrong. There is no calculator equal to the task of determining the value of the awareness Rabinovitch is raising over cancer-related issues ..... and the changes, the reforms that might emerge from that new, higher awareness.

Those efforts have included a regular column in
The Guardian, in which Rabinovitch documents a life dealing with cancer ..... the original pitch for that column, the initial reaction to the idea, and the ultimate decision on where to place it, provide Rabinovitch insight into where stories on breast cancer are ranked in the news hierarchy, and how decisions on that ranking might be made ..... "If one in nine men were losing their penises, you can bet this'd be an op-ed story," it is suggested. "In fact, it'd be a front-page story. Daily."

And those efforts now include this book, a copy of which was sent to me - free of charge - by Lee at
Lowebrow, on the condition that I blog about the book.

It is - at least, initially - not an easy read, especially during the summer, when many of us look for lighter diversions in our reading. I mean, who really wants to read about cancer while that recently-acquired thriller (in my case, "
The Queen of the South" by Arturo Pérez-Reverte) is still sitting, unopened, on the shelf?

Adding to the difficulty - again, initially - was the style of Rabinovitch's narrative. But as I moved from page-to-page, and chapter-to-chapter, I couldn't help but think that the pace of her writing gave me some feel for the new pace of her life, a life that is now even busier with cancer and all that entails.

And it IS a story about life, and its importance ..... as the book's sub-title, "When Life's Too Busy For Breast Cancer," reminds us. Sure, cancer is the focus and the foundation of the book, but it is not the focus and the foundation of the author, who doesn't lose sight of her family, her faith and her career, as a calendar already filled with school programs and birthday parties, religious observances and interviews with subjects for her articles, must now make room for scans and surgeries, for chemotherapy and consultations with a growing pool of medical professionals.

It also deals with the 'culture' of cancer, addressing a wide array of related issues ..... how one looks and how one dresses, for example ..... how family members cope ..... how companies stand to make A LOT more money producing treatments for cancer, rather than finding a cure ..... and how the very word 'cancer' is defined in our dictionaries, and in our minds.

None of us have far to look - whether it's in ourselves, in a loved-one, in a distant family member or in a co-worker - to come into first-hand contact with cancer. It is something we should all know more about ..... but where do we turn? Do we try to translate articles in medical journals, or reports from government studies? Do we take a chance on God-only-knows-what we find on somebody's web page? Do we take the time - and expense - to schedule a consultation with our doctors, to just sit and talk about what's going on?

This book, I think, would be a good - no, an excellent! - first step.

* * * * *
Added note ..... Now that I've finished the book, I'm handing it off to fellow West Texas blogger Janie at
Sounding Forth. When she's finished with it, I'd like it to move on to another blogger ..... any takers? I'll pay for the postage, if it heads out of town/state/country/whatever. We'd like to get something started here, on the blogosphere.

Dina's fundraising page for England's Mount Vernon Cancer Centre
The 'Giving' Page for Texas' own MD Anderson Cancer Center

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Can I Stand the Heat? .....

..... because it's time to head back into the kitchen! Season 3 of Top Chef premieres tonight at nine o'clock (central) on Bravo TV.

RIP .....

Don Herbert, who introduced millions of youngsters to the fascination and fun of science in the 1950s and '60s as television's Mr. Wizard, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 89. Here's the obit from the New York Times. You can also visit Mr. Wizard's website for more information about Herbert, or to order your own Mr. Wizard memento.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

One Thing to Bring Us All and To the TV Bind Us .....

It's summertime ..... and this time around, there's the added leisure that comes from not having a regular job ..... PERFECT! I mean it! We can now sit down in front of the TV and watch my anniversary gift from MLB ..... the 12-disc Lord of the Rings: Special Extended Edition Trilogy ..... I'm a happy hobbit!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Curb Consideration .....

It's something I've considered more than once in the past few years ..... but it occurred to me, again, as we traveled along part of the east coast this past week.

Midlanders are not the best drivers with whom I've ever had to share the road ..... I've driven with better, in communities of all shapes and sizes .....

But, that being said ..... Midlanders are also not the WORST drivers with whom I've ever had to share the road ..... I've driven with worse, in communities of all shapes and sizes .....

But, Midlanders ARE the worst parkers with whom I've ever had to share the road ..... the curb, the lot?

Home At Last .....

Our one-week sojourn to the east has come to an end, and we are home at last. All in all, a wonderful time, with none of the mishaps that can crop-up in even the best-laid [vacation] plans. While enjoying my leisure, I did finish a book I told you about last month, in this post, and I'll be blogging about it soon.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Movable Feast .....

A comment to a previous post of mine, noting some of the fare I've been enjoying at the Castle Café here, in Washington, got me to thinking I might mention some of the restaurants we've visited in our nation's capital.

Monday night, it was
Famous Luigi's on 19th Street NW. Opened by Luigi Calvi in 1943, it is one of the oldest Italian restaurants in Washington, D.C. I had the pasticcio de lasagna - which substituted a pesto sauce for a meat sauce or heavy tomato sauce - and loved every bite of it.

Tuesday night, it was
Thai Tanic, on 14th Street NW. Thai Tanic is a family-owned-and-operated business, just opened in 2001, but already popular with both native Washingtonians and tourists like ourselves. I had an appetizer of deep-fried tofu served with sweet chili sauce, followed by an entreé of chicken panang simmered in savory curried peanut sauce, combined with coconut milk and sprinkled with kaffir lime leaves - another wonderful experience.

Wednesday night, it was our one visit to a chain restaurant, the
Daily Grill on 18th Street NW. The Daily Grill, which can be found in seven states as well as the District of Columbia, describes itself as "a bastion of straightforward, classic American cuisine." I had the chicken pot pie, and it was absolutely the best I ever had.

Tonight, we finished our DC Dinner Tour with
Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street NW. Next year, Ben's will mark fifty years of offering all-things-chili. Little has changed about the building and its furnishings over that time, but its reputation has grown dramatically from neighborhood favorite to Washington landmark - and with good reason. I had the Ben's Original Chili Half-Smoke, a sausage grilled on request, served on a warm steamed bun with chili, mustard, and onions - it's Bill Cosby's favorite, and now it's mine, too.

Tomorrow morning, we head for home. We've had a good stay, and some great food ..... someday, we have to come back for more!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Notes From Back East .....

I'm no newcomer to our nation's capital ..... my father was posted here - or in nearby Quantico or Stafford, Virginia - more than once, and weekend-long visits to D.C. were common..

But that doesn't mean there isn't anything new for me here ..... THERE IS ..... a lot of new additions, and a lot of changes to the old.

Since my last visit to Washington, they've added the
National World War II Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial ..... I was especially glad to see the latter, being the the son of a man who served with Chesty Puller's First Marines in the Frozen Chosin.

Smithsonian Museum of American History was closed for renovations ..... but we were well compensated by the special exhibit culled from that museum's collection, and set-up in special gallery space in the National Air & Space Museum.

Washington's underground
Metro Rail is an outstanding way to get around the city. We parked our car immediately upon arrival at our hotel, and don't plan to retrieve it until Friday, when it's time to head for the airport, and home. If we hadn't needed a rental car at the start of our trip, I'd have been tempted to take Amtrak from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Union Station, and rely solely on the Metro ..... it's that fast and convenient, and the day-long passes make it especially economical.

Those planning to hit some of the highlights - the
Washington Monument, for example, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing - should plan to get in line early. Free tickets for timed entry become available each morning, for that day, and are usually gone within the first hour. If your family has an early riser - such as myself - head to the ticket kiosk for these locations, and plan to be there by 6:30 a.m. I took a book with me, but ended up spending a pleasant ninety minutes-to-two hours talking to those in line next to me ..... then call back to the hotel and let the family know when they can join you at the mall.

Advice to the early birds, after they've gotten the tickets and they're waiting for the rest of their group to join them ..... most of the mall-area cafés don't open until ten o'clock. The one exception is the Castle Café in the old
Smithsonian Castle, which now serves as a visitor center for the museum system. This café open at 8:30, and offers an espresso/cappuccino bar, Argentinean gelato, panini, antipasti, organic salads, specialty sandwiches, soups and pastries, which you can enjoy in the massive - yet quiet - setting of this grand old building.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Oh, By The Way .....

The other day, I posted the following clues to our first summer vacation destination .....

"Babe, bromo seltzer, constellation, crabs, hon, hopkins, key, railroad, ravens, sun, water ....."

The answer is "Baltimore" ..... does that help? ..... (sniff) did you even notice? ..... Fine, see if I bring YOU any crab cakes!

Monday, June 04, 2007

An Extraordinary Tour Bus .....

..... provides for an out-of-the-ordinary tour of our nation's capital, courtesy of DC Ducks. Washington is one of a number of cities - which also includes Baltimore, Austin and San Diego - where you can now enjoy the sights by land AND sea.

This from the refitted deck of an authentic WWII DUKW amphibious vehicle that took us up-and-down the streets of Washington, then up-and-down the Potomac River. According to
this Wikepedia post, "the DUKW (popularly pronounced DUCK) is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck that was originally designed inside General Motors Corporation during World War II for transporting goods and troops over land and water and for use approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks."

Being the son of a career Marine, I already knew that, and it was great - all these years later - to be able to once again climb aboard one. And I learned a lot of wonderful things about the city, its sights, and its people. When I get back to Texas, I'll be sure to try this again, next time I get to Austin.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Another West Texas Blogger .....

A comment on an earlier post of mine has brought to my attention another resident of the West Texas blogosphere ..... Justin at It's All In The Details .....

..... And, Speaking of Summer Vacation Destinations .....

Babe, bromo seltzer, constellation, crabs, hon, hopkins, key, railroad, ravens, sun, water .....

Friday, June 01, 2007

A New Look .....

..... for Streams, and some clues about 'Shangri-La,' Wallace's summer vacation destination.

Something I Plan to See .....

Though no longer at NewsWest 9, I'm still working on some things ..... one of them is a number of articles for Nuestra Cultura Magazine. Preparing an article for their July issue introduced me to this upcoming exhibit at the Museum of the Southwest.

The exhibit of artworks created and collected by the late, great Anthony Quinn is part of a Sister City celebration between the City of Midland, Texas, and Ciudad Chihuahua, Mexico. Looking over the schedule of event for that celebration, later this summer, shows a little something for everyone.