Friday, November 30, 2007

Knievel's Last Jump .....

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA (AP) - Robert Craig 'Evel' Knievel, the red-white-and-blue-spangled motorcycle daredevil whose jumps over crazy obstacles including Greyhound buses, live sharks and Idaho’s Snake River Canyon made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69. CLICK HERE for the complete story from including video, and a slide show of Knievel's life and career. And, CLICK HERE to visit his official website.

In July of 1971, my mom drove a bunch of us up to
Pocono Downs, a harness racing track outside of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. That night, we watched Knievel successfully jump over thirteen beer (Stegmaier, maybe?) trucks. My buddies and I yelled ourselves hoarse in the stands, then beat it back to his trailer in time to cheer, and pat him on the back as he turned his bike over to his crew and headed inside.

We saw the movie about him, and thought it was good - though most critics disagreed with us. Some of the more adventurous among us tried aerials of our own, tackling home-made ramps with our Stingray bicycles. Sure, his life and career had their ups and downs, both on and off the track ..... but we thought he was pretty neat ..... some of us still do.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure .....

Last night, Chris at TVNewser posted this about what he called "Another Disclosure Debacle for CNN" ..... when a member of the CNN/YouTube debate audience (General Keith Kerr, US Army, retired) asked Republican candidates about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

It seems Kerr is connected with the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ..... "Apparently there was a press release from some six months ago," CNN moderator Anderson Cooper is quoted in the TVNewser post. "Hillary Clinton office saying that [Kerr] had been named to some steering committee. We don't know if he's still on it. We're trying to find out that information. Certainly had we had that information we would have acknowledged that in using his question, if we had used it at all."

The story has since been picked up by several news organizations, including the
New York Post, FOX News and the Los Angeles Times.

All of this comes a little over a month after the fake news conference held by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which,
the AP reports, "was not the first time a Homeland Security public affairs official has acted like a reporter by asking questions during a briefing."

The burden, ultimately, falls on journalists, who must research their stories, their subjects and their sources even more carefully (especially in situations such as this debate, where there was plenty of lead time between receipt of the general's question, and its use in last night's program), and fully disclose what their research has revealed.

Of course, we could ask government officials and politcal candidates to deal more honestly and openly with the press and the public ..... (dope slap) ..... I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me, there .....

UPDATE: TVNewser offers this sampling of reactions to the story. While all take CNN to task, some are strong, while others are modest. Perhaps the zaniest is this one from blogger Michelle Malkin.

Location, Location, Location .....

Months after I left a full-time job in the business, I still find myself channel-surfing during television news broadcasts, comparing and contrasting what different stations do with different stories ..... I honestly don't know if I'll ever truly, fully shake the habit ..... anyway, it might sometimes provide material for a post on my weblog.

Last week, I was bopping back-and-forth between two stations, and noticing a difference in how stories were covered, and where they were placed. One station led with new developments in the story of a student who died in an altercation at Midland-Lee High School, full package treatment that included audio/video from the boy's father, and a sit-down with a panel of educators about items of special note in this particular case. This was followed by the announcement that a suspect in an Odessa bank robber had been arrested, and included video of that suspect in custody. While all this was airing, another station had a brief announcement about a sex offender, then a full package about a service organization engaged in special efforts for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Don't get me wrong - the Thanksgiving meals package was a great report, well-written, well-shot and well-edited. And it also reported news that genuinely needed to be shared with the community. I thank that station (one where I used to work, as a matter of fact) for presenting the story ..... but I do question its placement at the head of the broadcast. Sitting, as I now am, on-the-outside-looking-in, I have to ask if that story was upper-most in people's minds.

I found myself asking similar questions this week, when one station reported live from Fort Stockton, digging out from under the weekend snowfall, as stranded travelers got back on the road, and crews got to work on damaged trees. While all this was airing, another station ran a full package that localized the 'Cyber Monday' shopping phenomenon ..... again, a good report, and one that genuinely needed to be shared with the community ..... but, again, I question its placement at the head of the broadcast.

And let's not single-out a particular outlet, or a particular medium. Eric asks similar questions with
this post at Fire Ant Gazette, about story placement in a local newspaper ..... though his inquiry does follow different lines, and also offers some possible answers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happy Birthday .....

... to William Blake, English poet, painter, printmaker, and advocate for such causes as abolition, religious freedom and sexual equality. We've all had to read his poems at one time or another, in high school English classes, or college Lit courses ..... some of us have gone back, on our own, for more. A great man of words, I'll be the first to admit ..... but I've always been more partial to his pictures, which served so well to complement the images he conjured with his text.

Former President's Legacy a Work-In-Progress .....

I'm in the midst of prepping for an assignment, which includes researching developments in the ongoing campaign against debilitating, even deadly diseases that plague the Third World. That research brought me to this article by Robert M. Poole, in the June, 2007 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

"His once-sandy hair had gone all white; his shoulders were a bit more stooped; his freckled face was lined with new creases. But Jimmy Carter's 82 years had diminished neither his trademark smile, which could still disarm skeptics at 20 paces, nor his enthusiasm for the long chance, which had propelled this obscure peanut farmer to national prominence in the first place," Poole writes. "That quixotic spirit took him this past February to an impoverished corner of Ethiopia, where he would announce his most audacious crusade yet: to eliminate malaria, an elusive and ever-changing killer, from this ancient African nation of 75-million people."

I would submit this article for the consideration by those who think a President's legacy is determined solely by what is said and done (and perceived to be said and done) while in office. When Carter's life has come to an end, decades after his political career ended, how will that life be remembered? His road to the White House, and his service there once he arrived, will - of course! - provide many factors that contribute to the image of him that we hold ..... but so will his service to an even larger constituency, since 1975, as an advocate for health and housing, for populist government, for world peace and for truly bilateral efforts to achieve that peace.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Perhaps the Best Commentary .....

..... on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 3-0 defeat of the hapless Miami Dolphins, Monday night at Heinz Field, has absolutely nothing to do with plays called, yardage gained and points scored .....

"There is no excuse — none — for the conditions the Pittsburgh Steelers provided for their game Monday Night against the Miami Dolphins," writes Mike Celizic, in
this opinion piece on . "It was a travesty of football and an insult to the NFL, the players, the fans, and anyone who turned on a television in the hopes of enjoying Monday Night Football."

For me, the pandering prattle from the ESPN crew didn't help the matter, a point that also raised Celizek's ire ... "The announcers kept talking about old-school football and summoning the names of the Chicago Staleys and Canton Bulldogs from the earliest days of the league, but that was an insult to those teams and those times. I've seen old-school football in old Cleveland Stadium in the days before modern drainage and turf science. Those games were played in mud. This one was played in a bog."

My beloved Steelers are marking their 75th anniversary this season. But as they pay tribute to perhaps the most storied past in American football history, they may want to consider taking their playing surface into a brave new world ..... goodbye grass, hello
FieldTurf ?

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Blogger's Sabbatical .....

Frank at Books, Inq. has alerted me to this post by Michael at Grumpy Old Bookman about his decision to "stop blogging altogether ... at least for a while. Call it a sabbatical. I hope -- and even intend -- to be back one day. But it will probably be a year." The post is also a wonderful little essay into why some start blogging, and why some stop.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Passing Note .....

Doctor Who's first producer, and the BBC's first female TV producer, Verity Lambert, has died at age 71. Here is more on this story from BBC, and her obituary from the London Times. It might be hard for some to relate to Lambert's impact on pop culture ..... Gene Roddenberry is one example from this side of the pond, that comes to mind. American television audiences might also be familiar with Lambert's work on Rumpole of the Bailey on the PBS series Mystery.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Age Check .....

Any of you old enough to remember Tommy Emmanuel, and "Classical Gas" - before it was a golden oldie? ..... Here's a reminder from baddd60 at YouTube.

UPDATE: A clarification from Jimmy at Sticky Doorknobs. It was Mason Williams who composed the song, and it was his recording of the song (arranged for guitar and symphony orchestra) that you hear on the 'golden oldies' radio. He is absolutely right, and my original post is badly written. By the way, Emmanuel would also perform the song with an orchestra, but not until the 90s.

I'm Late Getting to This .....

..... but it remains a very good point to start a discussion of blogging, and attempts by established media to incorporate blogs into their content ..... to be more specific, bringing blogs within guidelines already in place for the established media - and how that is NOT necessarily a good thing.

This post on Michael Silence's blog, No Silence Here, begins, "This hyper-management of blogs is symbolic of doing business in D.C., like trying to get a new passport. Leave it to the big boys to come along and ruin a good thing. They've taken it from blogging to blogged down."

The post focuses on our nation's capital (particularly the Washington Post), but I suspect these issues are being debated in most parts of the country, in media markets big and small.

His post also includes an informal primer on blogging ..... and while some of you might consider many of his points to be crashing glimpses of the obvious, they are important points nonethless, and worth sharing as a means of encouraging this growing, developing medium.

I would really, really, REALLY like to know what you think about Michael's post!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Like a Bargain As Much As the Next Guy .....

..... but there is absolutely no way I'm going out at oh-dark-thirty in the morning to take part in that annual American orgy of consumption we now call Black Friday. I don't care what kind of 'door busters' retailers are offering ..... and I don't care if I'm missing a chance to get my face on the news - sharing my special philosophy on consumerism - as I line up in a dark, freezing parking lot for an 'early bird special.'

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Blogroll Additions .....

Two additions to my blogroll, my 'Blogs of Note,' today ..... the first, under the (around Texas) heading, is It's All In The Details, a web business blog, and one of two blogs hosted by Odessa's Justin Pease.

The other addition appears under the (dang Yankees from Back East) heading. It's
Just Pictures, a photo blog hosted by good friend, great photographer and outstanding brother-in-law Clark Van Orden of Luzerne, Pennsylvania, just a couple hours' north of fellow 'dYfBE' bloggers Jim and Frank. Here is one of Clark's images ...

"By the Goodness of God .....

..... we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie." ..... There are two primary sources for the events of autumn, 1621, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the occasion of the first Thanksgiving celebration. You can read them here.

The precedent for an official, national day of Thanksgiving was set in 1863 - during one of the darkest periods of American history - by President Abraham Lincoln, who proclaimed, "to these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God." Read his entire proclamation

Frank at
Books, Inq. linked me to this column in the Wall Street Opinion Journal by Joseph Epstein, who wrote, "I wish the poet W. H. Auden were still alive, so that he might be at the same table where I eat my Thanksgiving dinner. Auden, I think, nicely captured the spirit of Thanksgiving when he wrote that, in prayer, it is best to get the begging part over with quickly and get on to the gratitude part. He also wrote, 'let all your thinks be thanks.'"

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Janie is Giving Thanks .....

..... with this post at Sounding Forth.

Good Question .....

..... about CBS News' first debate of this election cycle, scheduled for December 10 in Los Angeles ..... "If CBS News writers are striking by then, will the debate go on," asks Chris in this post at TVNewswer. "Will Democratic Presidential candidates cross the picket lines and participate?"

Monday, November 19, 2007

I (no longer) Have the POWERRRRR! .....

We ended our stint as a Nielsen Media Research (television ratings) family Thursday night, and sent our diaries back in Friday morning ..... now you know who to blame, next season, when the new television programming lineups are announced, and there seems to be an AWFUL LOT of soccer and Doctor Who.

Back To the Bookshelf For Me .....

The release of a new film version of Beowulf has me digging through a less-visited corner of my stacks. It's been years since I read the Old English epic that provided the inspiration for the new film, and my memories of 'Grendles modor' may be fading ..... but I'm pretty certain they didn't resemble Angelina Jolie ..... but, we must be open to new ideas, broaden our horizons ..... right?

Boy, Did I Miss All the Fun !!! .....

Took off for the weekend, a family trip to the North Dallas area for Elder Son's soccer tournament ..... a trip through the actual world that did not include touching-base with the virtual world.

Boy, did I miss all the fun!

Apparently, it all began with
this article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, in which Colin Guy reports, "Consultants hired by the Midland Development Corp. recommended the organization develop a blog to keep the public informed of its efforts and to serve as a counterbalance to local blogs that have been critical of the organization."

I suspect MDC had
Jessica's Well, in particular, in mind when they made their proposal. For their part, the Wellians have responded with this post, this post, this post and this post ..... so far.

But, also joining the fray is Eric at
Fire Ant Gazette, with this post ... "the Midland Development Corporation is in a no-win situation at this point. It cannot – I repeat: cannot – compete in a blogging war, should it come to that. It has neither the resources nor the expertise nor the sheer willpower. But, more importantly, it doesn't have the weight of facts."

George at
Sleepless in Midland offers this post ... "Unless some MDC member already had a hankering to do it then they would probably have to hire someone to write it. So here's a suggestion: Outsource: Instead of starting a blog from scratch, the cash rich MDC could simply pay a bounty to the other local bloggers." George also offers a suggested pay scale.

From Jimmy at
Sticky Doorknobs comes this post ... "The MDC is being given a golden opportunity to take advantage of this new method of communicating and to open a dialogue with Midlanders. To take advantage of that opportunity would at best be a PR coup for the MDC; brushing off such a recommendation -- one that no doubt came at a high consulting fee -- would be a mistake that would go nowhere in helping MDC rise from the public ashes."

A slightly different focus from Justin at
It's All In the Details, with this post, "This isn't about the MDC or West Texas. This is about your business in the Internet Age. The Internet is about communication. Unlike costly mediums of yesteryear such as Television and Radio, anyone with a computer can freely publish as much as they wish on the Internet."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Deferring to an Expert .....

"From public forums in Iowa to the living rooms of New Hampshire and the military towns in South Carolina," says this report from the New York Times' Marka Santora, "Mr. McCain’s message is simple: what America does to its enemies defines America itself."

“One of the things that kept us going when I was in prison in North Vietnam was that we knew that if the situation were reversed, that we would not be doing to our captors what they were doing to us,” McCain is quoted in that story.

But, Santora goes on to report, McCain's stance opposing torture (or, as some prefer to call it, "aggressive interrogation techniques"), may be generating sympathy from those he meets in his campaign to become the Republican candidate for President ..... but not necessarily support.

I've said this before concerning the debate going on in Washington, and across the country, over the Bush administration's efforts to re-define torture. I can't help but think that there are some who bring a unique perspective to the debate, a hard-taught lesson that we can acknowledge ... but, probably, never truly and fully appreciate.

I'm probably the only blogger - and one of the few, people, period - in the Tall City who thinks all of the years our administration has spent in the corporate boardrooms, ivory towers and executive suites of America ... don't give them as much appreciation for torture as they might have gotten from a single day in the Hanoi Hilton.

In this debate, U.S. Senator John McCain is fighting to preserve what he calls "the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions," and he speaks from a horrible experience of aggressive interrogation techniques at the hands of captors who flouted those conventions. I don't care what George, and Dick and Condi say.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

YES !!! .....

In May of this year, I posted this virtual plea to BBC-America, begging them to broadcast the second, final season of Life On Mars. The first season was nothing less than the best new show to air on American television in 2006. We must find out if Sam Tyler ever gets home! According to a promo that aired last night, we will find out, beginning December 11!

On a related note ..... an American remake of this show is in the works and Life on Mars' John Simm could be next Doctor Who .....

Nielsen and Me: Day 5 .....

We had our fifth day as a Nielsen Media Research (television ratings) family on Monday. I admit, it's not a healthy sign, but I DO structure a part of my day around television viewing ..... morning work is wrapped-up, a lunch is heated-up, and I'm sitting-down at 11:30 so I can watch Arrested Development on one of the free hi-def channels (HDNET - 730) that Suddenlink offers. For whatever reason, I missed this show during its first run ..... but I'm making up for it, now, and I'm totally addicted.

Then there's local news ..... to which I am NOT totally addicted, but I am interested, and I do need to keep in touch with what's going on. You've probably noticed some of the promos running the last couple weeks, special reports airing during the month of November. I haven't been paying much attention to those, but I have been doing some surfing, looking at the different products, and seeing what they offer. Really, I haven't been seeing a LOT of differences ..... many of the same stories are covered, though their placement in the rundown might be a little different. One difference I have noticed is that the CBS affiliate (KOSA - 7) has been looking better lately. I always had a problem with how dim - almost dark - their broadcast looked sometimes ..... but that HAS improved ..... has someone been working on studio lighting and camera angles lately? In that respect, they're catching-up with the NBC affiliate (KWES - 9) which has long had a better-looking signal.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Da Vinci Coda? .....

Could there really be a da Vinci Code? ..... I'm not talking about the silliness spawned by Dan Brown's mystery novel, but the recent claims of Giovanni Maria Pala to have discovered nothing less than a sacred hymn and text, along with mystic symbols in da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper. His book, "La Musica Celata" ("The Hidden Music"), is coming out shortly.
Here's the complete story from Dicovery News ..... be sure to watch the video, too, at the bottom of the page. Here's another write-up from the L.A. Times, which includes an audio clip of the suggested music.

XM Moment: In Joy Still Felt .....

There's this reminder from XM Radio's "70s on 7" that, after 300+ years, Johann Sebastian Bach still rocks. With thanks to Shawn Herrington at

This was as good as it got for Apollo 100, a short-lived British instrumental, studio-based group. "Joy," released in 1972, was their one hit.

Nielsen and Me: Day 4 .....

We had our fourth day as a Nielsen Media Research (television ratings) family on Sunday ..... a different kind of viewing day since the television is off for so much of it. However .....

Fans of American football will be glad to know that they will have some of that to enjoy on television next fall, thanks to me. We spent a part of our Sunday afternoon watching the
Pittsburgh Steelers come from behind to defeat the Cleveland Browns on CBS (KOSAHD - 703).

That evening, My Favorite Landman and I enjoyed
Meatloaf in a "Three Bats Live" concert performance on one of the free hi-def channels (HDNET - 730) that Suddenlink offers. The program was recorded earlier this year, at the John Labatt Centre in Ontario, Canada, as part of HDNet's concert series ..... and I'm glad they got it when they did! Just last month, promoters had to cancel the rest of the "Three Bats Live" tour, when doctors found a cyst on the 60-year-old rocker's vocal chords. As for that night, it was a great performance by the Dallas, Texas native, and included a great selection of old hits and new material ..... including his trademark "Bat Out of Hell," which remains one of the great anthems of rock'n'roll love. I have to admit, though, that much as I enjoyed the concert, I found myself missing Todd Rundgren, Max Weinberg, Jim Steinman and Ellen Foley.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Speaking of Frank .....

..... there is this post at Books, Inq. to this article about Thomas Middleton, "the rebel of English Renaissance drama" ..... and possible reasons for his works being marginalized in the centuries since he rocked the house at Elizabethan theaters.

I think I might add "
Thomas Middleton: the Collected Works" to my Christmas wish list.

Jim and Frank Will Back Me Up on This .....

As I pointed out in a number of previous posts, September, 1957 was a great time for launches ..... one that I failed to mention was the publication of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road," a defining work of the 'Beat Generation,' one of the great works of American literature ..... and one that has lost none of its edge, none of its power after half-a-century.

Of special significance to me - and to anyone who has walked the banks of the Susquehanna or the Monongahela - is this brief encounter with a man who embodies the spirit of the American frontier - not in Texas and the west, where it was eventually adopted; but in the east, where it was born .....

"I thought all the wilderness of American was in the West till the Ghost of the Susquehanna showed me different. No, there is a wilderness in the East; it's the same wilderness Ben Franklin plodded in the oxcart days when he was postmaster, the same as it was when George Washington was a wildbuck Indian-fighter, when Daniel Boone told stories by Pennsylvania lamps and promised to find the Gap, when Bradford built his road and men whooped her up in log cabins. There were not great Arizona spaces for the little man, just the bushy wilderness of eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, the backroads, the black-tar roads that curve among the mournful rivers like Susquehanna, Monongahela, old Potomac and Monocacy."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nielsen and Me: Day 3 .....

We had our third day as a Nielsen Media Research (television ratings) family on Saturday ..... not the usual kind of day, and not the usual kind of viewing. With the boys in charge of the remote, there was a lot of cartoons and sports during the day ..... with the only exception being my 'Samurai Saturday' morning fix on IFC ..... this week, it was "Zatoichi and the Fugitives" from the popular 'Blind Swordsman' series of Japanese films, with Shintaro Katsu, from the 60s and early 70s. The rest of the time, it was chores around the house, for me.

We wrapped up the night with a live broadcast of MLS Western Conference Finals. It was broadcast live on two networks - Fox Soccer Channel (FXSOCR - 328), and one of the free hi-def channels (HDNET - 731) that Suddenlink offers ..... we opted for the hi-def broadcast.

S.I. Theology .....

Today's sermon at First Prez-Midland was inspired by this column from Rick Reilley of Sports Illustrated. "The best college tradition," Reilly wrote, "is not dotting the i at Ohio State. It's not stealing the goat from Navy. Or waving the wheat at Kansas."

And it's nowhere to be found in Texas, either, as some Lone Star accolytes of the gridiron gospel would have us believe. It is, Reilly writes, "Picking Up Butch" at
Middlebury College, in Vermont, where students say the question is not 'where Butch would be without them' ..... but 'where would they be without Butch?'

Call It What You Will .....

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt. Col. John Alexander McCrae, MD - Canadian Expeditionary Force

Here in the U.S., one doesn't see the poppies on people's lapels so much, as we used to when were children ..... One of the most ridiculous victories in America's 'war of drugs' was the declaration by 'drug czars' and their staffs that the poppy reminded people of addiction to drugs, rather than appreciation to those who gave the 'last full measure of their devotion' in service to their country. Such is not the case in Canada, England, and other countries that once formed the 'Commonwealth.' The paper poppies - and the fundraising for veterans' relief that they represent - have been prominent in photos and video the past couple weeks.

Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day ..... call it what you will ..... but find some way to mark this day. Here, in America, the focus of the day has been expanded to honor all men and women who, throughout history, have answered their country's call to serve. There have been many in our own family, but - mindful of the origins of this particular holiday - I will tell the boys of their great-grandfather Frederick, a sergeant with the 102nd Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, and his service in France during the First World War.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nielsen and Me: Day 2 .....

We had our second day as a Nielsen Media Research (television ratings) family on Friday ..... some of it was different, some of it was the same-old-same-old.

Mornings usually start with "Sunrise Earth" on Discovery HD Theater, one of the free hi-def channels (HDTHTR - 710) that Suddenlink offers, and one of the really good expressions of high-def television ..... nothing but video and nat-sound of the sun rising over some beautiful location - a dairy farm in Vermont, for example, or the Yosemite Valley in California, or Macchu Pichu in Peru. Another regular stop on weekday mornings is NewsWest 9 Sunrise for news headlines and weather updates by two good friends - and two very good news professionals - Hema Mullur and Darrell Ward.

Things were a little different during the day ..... and I am SOOOO glad I had a couple of work assignments done by then, because it freed me up to watch Doctor Who on SciFi Channel (SCIFI - 64) most of the day. It was selected episodes from the Tenth Doctor series (with David Tenant as The Doctor), and it had some great moments, like the return of Sarah Jane Smith and K-9, and the creation of Torchwood.

Some more fantasy fun, that evening, watching the classic Wizard of Oz on TNT's HD channel (TNTHD - 733) ..... if only they could show it without commercial interruptions ..... oh, well, there's always the DVD.

I Don't Think We're in Aransas Anymore .....

Younger Son and I were leaving Starbucks-South and headed for school, Friday morning, when we spotted a trio of seagulls in the dirt lot between McCalisters's Deli and Tractor Supply Company ..... not a bird one sees much here, in this part of West Texas.

Did the natural thing, and e-mailed the natural historian, Burr Williams at
Sibley Nature Center, about the sighting ..... Burr responded promptly - naturally - with the following .....

"This time of year we do get some wandering gulls every year... most are Ring-billed Gulls from the Texas Gulf Coast, but we have also seen Bonaparte's gulls from the west coast, Sabine's gulls (that nest on the Great Plains)... and we have records of a few more species over 50 years of observation. At most of the reservoirs in the region (Balmorhea, Red Bluff, Spence, and so on...) you can usually find gulls all winter... along with white pelicans, various species of geese, loons, grebes and other water birds you don't associate with 'dry' west Texas."

Turns out, what Younger Son and I spotted were
Ring-Billed Gulls.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Nielsen and Me: Day 1 .....

We began our stint as a Nielsen Media Research (television ratings) family on Thursday. Kind of boring the first day ..... during the daytime, I actually spend more time listening to one of the Music Channels (the '900 tier' on Suddenlink cable) than I do actually watching television.

At night, though, it was different ..... plenty to choose from, and moving back-and-forth between channels. "My Name is Earl" and "The Office" (on KWES - 9) really are 'must-see TV' in our house. But except for those two half-hour blocks, we spent a chunk of the evening watching the MLS Eastern Conference Finals (on FXSOCR - 328).

Something we didn't get to watch - airing at the same time as those other programs I mentioned - was "Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within," a not-so-popular animated film inspired by the popular role-playing game. It was showing on one of the free hi-def channels (HDNET - 731) that Suddenlink offers, and I suspect it would have looked really good in wide-screen, hi-def sight and sound ..... they repeat those programs throughout the month, so I'll be sure to catch it later.

By the way ..... there was only one goal in that MLS game - but it was a DOOZEY!

Prophets of Carle .....

A pair of baby showers this weekend ..... a pair of visits to the stores ..... a pair of registries from which to select 'just the right something.' Attached to each registered gift, however, was an added gift of our own selection ..... "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," an audio/video adaptation of selected books by Eric Carle. A VHS tape served us VERY WELL when our boys were younger ..... it's on DVD now.

Carle's illustrations are lightly-animated (losing none of their vibrant, colorful imagery), and combined with readings by Roger McGough and Juliet Stevenson, and wonderful original music by composer Julian Nott. It's a product that entertains, even enchants the child ..... without driving the parents out of the room the way a certain purple dinosaur might.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Closure .....

..... for Jim at Serotoninrain, with this post on the loss of his beloved Figalwicks ..... please keep Jim and Joy in your thoughts, and your prayers.

It's hard to put into words that special bond between humans and dogs - a bond that formed long before recorded history, when dogs became the first creatures to follow humans across the line between wildness and domesticity - and what we endure when that bond is broken. At times like this, I defer to George Graham Vest, who found the right words 137 years ago, in his "Eulogy to a Dog."

I Have the POWERRRRR! .....

We began our stint as a Nielsen Media Research (television ratings) family this morning ..... now you know who to blame, next season, when the new television programming lineups are announced.

A Good Question .....

..... has been asked by Frank at Books, Inq., citing this post by David at Crime Fiction Dossier .....

"My 14 yr old niece has devoured all of her grandmother's Nancy Drew. She has been looking for similar types of books which must be father approved (no slashers, vampire, psycho-killer stuff, oh yeah he has issues with sexual content). Are there any mystery/thriller authors that can satisfy my brother-in-law as a well as entertain/challenge my niece?"

I recommended Lilian Jackson Braun, author of the of "The Cat Who..." series of mystery novels. They have been described (in a positive and supportive manner) as a light-hearted alternative to a genre devoted more and more to focus on sex, violence, and foul language. My Favorite Landman is a big fan of the series.

What would YOU recommend?

Happy Blogaversary! .....

..... to Eric at Fire Ant Gazette, marking five years of Abbye photos, observations, unrelenting trivialities, random musings, baby squirrels ..... and so much more.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What An Embarrassment .....

Jimmy at Sticky Doorknobs offers this must-read post about the response to last night's "Blog the Vote" project at his website ..... a response that is all-too-familiar to those of us who have worked the online component of mainstream media.

I commented to his post .....

"Jimmy, kudos to you-and-yours for the effort ..... I regret that some would choose to abuse the virtual platform you provided.

"This raises what has been a difficult point for me when it comes to online journalism and public affairs ..... balancing the positive of a truly-open forum with the negative of having that forum turned by those who disdain civility, responsibility and - all too often - truth.

"The solution? The proper balance? I don't have one to offer ..... at least not one that is a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody. In the past, at and, later, at, I took to manually reviewing, approving and/or rejecting each comment submitted to our stories ..... if I believed that statements made constituted libel (or slander, depending upon your medium), they were rejected.

"Of course, that may not be practical for your forum if you are in the midst of a live, ongoing e-discussion.

"I don't see any solution to the problem of people spewing online ..... it's not only a virtual right - it's an actual right. I think, though, that is encouraged by the ability of online pundits and commenters to hide their identity ..... there is a certain level of courage that some reach from the safety of their anonymity, that they would never reach - or even attempt to reach - in the real world. It's so much safer, really, to be unaccountable, to throw our virtual stones when we know we can't be caught.

"Re: 'Trust me ... you would not believe the level of bigotry and outright racism that exists here.' ..... Oh, yes I would. And I would see it expressed so often, in the comments that greeted so many stories - from immigration reform to police-involved shootings, from political races to Cinco de Mayo - AND I've seen it run in both directions.

"Finally, re: 'a medium that, despite its many flaws, has the ability to be a great educational and informational tool' ..... I agree with you 100%, and I hope that you won't let the rants of a few virtual mooks stop you from offering this platform again."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Most of You Will Understand .....

..... what Jim at Serotoninrain must be feeling right now. He finds himself walking a landscape of sadness, without a longtime friend at his side ..... please keep Jim, and Joy and Fig in your thoughts, and your prayers.

And Speaking of 'Remember, Remember' .....

..... remember to GET OUT and VOTE today!

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Remember, Remember .....

..... the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot."

Was Guy Fawkes a patriot or a villain ..... a martyred saint or the Devil incarnate? It's been 402 years since the "
Gunpowder Plot" was foiled ..... a date that (under a variety of names) is still marked to this day in England ..... It has also provided the foundation for a society of its own, and a popular modern film. On the blogosphere, here is one Brit's view, and a site that helps you make your own Guy Fawkes mask (ala "V for Vendetta"), another blog channeling Fawkes' spirit ..... plus Brian Appleyard's profile of that blog's creator.

Name Game .....

..... being played in this post at the Knitting Barrista.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Is It Too Soon? .....

..... to begin blogging about Season 4 of Bravo TV's Top Chef (which, I may have said once or twice, is a favorite show of mine)? From the delectable trio at Blogging Top Chef comes this link to Third Coast Toast, with discussion (and photos!) of contestants and crews, shopping and shooting for the fourth season, in Chicago.

Cinemagical Moments: Short, but Sweet .....

Sometimes a film, for all its length and breadth, contains for me a singular moment, a brief cinemagical gem that becomes keystone for all the sights and sounds, the words and actions that precede it, and follow it.

One of those occurred earlier today, as I was watching "
The Madness of King George," which tells the true story of George III's deteriorating mental health, and declining relationships with his family and advisers. There is a brief, but pivotal point near the end of the film when George's health - and his future as king - hang in the balance. In London, Parliament is in an uproar, while George relaxes with his doctor and attendants at a country estate, reading Shakespeare's King Lear and coming at last to his senses, so to speak, as he reads the words of another monarch overcome by madness ..... it's a GREAT moment by a great actor, Nigel Hawthorne.

Another such moment occurred for me earlier this week, as I watched another Brit film, "
The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Moment," which tells the story of a Welsh villagers who - outraged that a pair of English cartographers are re-labelling their 'mountain' a 'hill' - do everything in their power to delay the cartographers' departure until the hill can be 'raised.' There is a brief, but pivotal point in the second half of the film, where Reverend Jones experiences a revelation, then delivers an impassioned sermon from his pulpit, exhorting his congregation to go forth and raise that hill ..... it's another GREAT moment by another great actor, Kenneth Griffith. (By the way, the photo I used is from another Brit film in which Griffith had some short, sweet moments - Four Weddings and a Funeral.)

So, what are some YOUR favorite film moments?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lest We Forget .....

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - Paul Tibbets, who piloted the B-29 bomber Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Thursday. He was 92 and insisted almost to his dying day that he had no regrets about the mission and slept just fine at night. A longtime friend said Tibbets died at his Columbus home, that he suffered from a variety of health problems, and had been in decline for two months. Read The Whole Story

Over the years, much unwarranted criticism has been levelled at Tibbits and others connected - in one way or another - with conceiving, ordering or carrying-out the 'Enola Gay' mission. Me? I'd like to join others in saluting all the men and women - in the armed forces and on the home front - who answered the call, and 'got it done' during the Second World War.

305.8 .....


Oil Prices Briefly Touch New Record, Top $96 .....

SINGAPORE (AP) - The price of oil rose to a new record above $96 a barrel Thursday after a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles raised concerns about supplies for coming winter demand. Other energy futures also gained. Read the Whole Story

Meanwhile, an interesting discussion is under way at the
Fire Ant Gazette, begining with this post by Eric about the challenge $100/barrel oil might pose for ..... system analysts (?)

A Toast .....

..... to the latest offering at Bleu Chocolate photoblog ..... If you haven't toured the Lllano Estacado Winery (south of Lubbock), you should.