Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Soon To Be Gone" .....

... is the subject of this photo at Bleu Chocolate Photoblog ..... though that might be just fine with some members of the ARCO Alumni Association's Tall City Chapter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

They're Outta Here .....

Beginning today, one West Texas blog is taking its virtual show on the actual road ..... according to this post at West Texas Missioner, today's the day a group of Midlanders is departing the Tall City for two weeks of Christian mission in Thailand. Apparently, they plan to blog about their experiences, when they can. Good luck and Godspeed!

Gotcha! .....

"If you're like most Americans, you feel you're getting screwed all the time," Bob Sullivan writes HERE, in a recent post to his blog, Red Tape Chronicles. "When you open your monthly bills, rent a car or sign up for pay television service, you hear that tiny voice inside saying ;Watch out!' You're not paranoid. You're merely paying attention. Hidden fees cost the average American consumer nearly $1,000 a year, $5 or $10 at a time, new research shows."

Sullivan's online venture is dedicated to unmasking corporate sneakiness, government waste, technology run amok, outright scams and other 21st-century headaches ..... and offering real solutions that save you time and money. One product of his virtual work is now appearing on actual bookshelves ..... "
Gotcha Capitalism: How Hidden Fees Rip You Off Every Day - and What You Can Do About It"

Consumer advocacy has long been a staple of the news, with some media outlets maintaining a beat reporter devoted almost exclusively to such stories. The internet, Sullivan goes on to say, offers consumers and their advocates another venue, another forum for speaking up, speaking out and making their complaints public. Sullivan's own Red Tape Chronicles blog is a regular stop for me ..... and it should be a regular stop for you, too.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Covering the Boom .....

Last week, I took issue, here, with a report by NBC News, and how a single word could give a dark slant to an otherwise positive, or upbeat report. With that in mind, it doesn't hurt to note reports that capture one's attention ..... for the right reasons.

Which brings me to
this report by NBC's Don Teague, on the oil boom in West Texas ..... in particular, its impact on the community of Andrews. There is very little in the report that would surprise us here, in West Texas and southeast New Mexico. But I think audiences outside the Permian Basin - across a nation whose economy is far from booming - would find it interesting and informative.

We see the positive effects of the boom ..... and the annoyances as well (with the ubiquitous "Help Wanted" sign posted at an Andrews business). Viewers are also warned that there is always the prospect of a bust, and the negative effects that would have. And while mention is made of the surge in luxury cars and homes in Midland, far more time is devoted to other ways that money is being put to work ..... one roughneck has paid off his mortgage, while another is putting a sizable chunk of his money into savings for his children's college education.

All in all, a good report.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Utterly Interesting .....

Here's something neat ..... it is a new feature from Utterz that allows you to "instantly blog your experiences, thoughts and ideas, anywhere, using all the capabilities of your mobile phone ...... It's kinda like a community blog for cell phones." According to their website, "Utterz mashes together the voice, video, pictures, and text you call or send in and creates an 'Utter' that can immediately update your websites." Among those in West Texas that are dipping a virtual toe in this new pool, is Eric at Fire Ant Gazette, and Missioner at West Texas Missioner ..... and so is honorary West Texan Jim at serotoninrain, blogging from Pottstown, P-A (just northeast of Texas).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lyrical, Virtual Record .....

This looks like fun ..... as well as an opportunity to leave your mark in the record books. Mio Destino, an online vendor of lingerie from the top French and Italian Lingerie designers, is sponsoring an attempt to create "The World’s Longest Online Love Poem."

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the current record for 'longest modern handwritten poem in the world' is held by Patrick Huet, of France,
who wrote a 7,547 verse poem in 2006 ..... and it should be noted that his was a solo effort, and was an acrostic, to boot.

To contribute to the ‘World’s Longest Online Love Poem,’ visit
this page on Mio Destino's website, and simply write in the space provided. All submissions must be approved, and inappropriate, non-poetic or offensive material will be censored.
(Thanks to the ever-loving Frank, at
Books, Inq. for the heads-up.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Welcome Home, Sam .....

As I noted in in yesterday's post, it was a night for television fans to enjoy their weekly fixes ..... unlike Jimmy at Sticky Doorknobs, though, I was able to hear all of my fix. "Life on Mars" came to an ending that was - for me - entirely satisfying. Sam Tyler came home at last ..... though he first had to come to terms with just where - and when - 'home' was.

I wish I could tell you to watch for LOM on videotape or DVD ..... but I can't. At this time, only the first of the two seasons is available, and that is on what describes as "Region 2 encoding (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the US or Canada [Region 1]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV.)" ..... Why? I don't know ..... maybe it has something to do with an American version of LOM scheduled to air on ABC at mid-season ..... I notice that other BBC productions that came out at the same time as LOM - "Torchwood," "Jekyll" and "Doctor Who - Third Series" - and are not being adapted for American television, are readily available.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bloody Brilliant Television .....

In an effort to keep everything in their proper perspective, I will - tonight, this very night - forgo world peace, global warming, and plots by myself and fellow debauched harlots of the liberal mainstream media to bring an end to the world-as-we-know-it ..... in order to kick-back in a comfy chair and watch television.

Ahhhhh, Tellee, you are my good, true friend. And I KNOW that at least some of you out there will understand. For Jimmy at
Sticky Doorknobs, it's "American Idol" ..... for me, it's "Life on Mars"

Tonight, on BBC-America (Channel 343 on Suddenlink cable), the final episode of the series' second season airs, and American audiences will at last find out if Sam Tyler gets home. I've said it before ..... this BBC product has been one of the brightest lights on American television screens the past year-and-a-half.

And this DOES mark the end of Tyler's time- and mind-tripping odyssey. Many BBC television series have a limited run of seasons ..... in contrast to their American cousins who cling desperately to the vine, season after season, until long after the last drop of juice has been sucked away.

That's not to say, though, that fans of Life on Mars will be left with nothing to watch for. A spinoff of LOM, "Ashes to Ashes," featuring some of Tyler's old squad mates, premieres later this year on BBC - and we hope it jumps across the pond, and soon ..... also, an American version of 'Life on Mars' is being produced, and could air during the mid-season on ABC ..... and the star of BBC's Life on Mars, John Simm, is being mentioned as a candidate to become the Eleventh Doctor on that long-running British science-fiction story, Doctor Who.

As for tonight ..... good luck and Godspeed, Sam!

What's In A Word? .....

This morning, as I was catching-up on news headlines, I watched this report by NBC's Richard Engel, from his interview with America's top soldier in Iraq.

"At a graduation for 1,830 goose-stepping police cadets, U.S. General David Patraeus saw encouraging signs," Engel reported, going on to note the mixed Sunni/Shiite make-up of the graduating class, increased stability in more Baghdad neighborhoods, and other encouraging signs in this war-torn country.

What caught my attention, in particular, was Engel's choice of the word "goose-stepping
" ..... In this entry, Wikipedia describes goose-step as a distinctive style of marching in which the troops "swing their legs from a vertical leg to a nearly horizontally-extending one, bringing it down with a loud simultaneous stepping noise and continuing the cycle in unison." It should be noted, this was NOT the style of marching shown in the video of the graduation ceremony that accompanied Engel's report.

So, what's the big deal? ... Quick ..... think of troops that goose-step! You may come up with the photo Wikipedia uses to illustrate the style ..... soldiers of the German Werhmacht marching through Warsaw at the start of World War II. Immediately beneath that is a more recent photo of Russian troops in Moscow, on ceremonial parade outside the Kremlin.

You can probably recall use of the phrase 'goose-stepping' - in a book or magazine, a newspaper article or column, a film or television script, whatever - to describe the actions of a group in a derogatory manner, to conjure images of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and to relate said group to those images.

At the start of the report, the use of such a word, and the images it conjures, detracts from the rest of the report ..... I don't aspire to reach the heights Engel has in our profession, but I still think he could have done a better job in choosing his words.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Just a Country Lawyer? .....

While watching this report on CBS 7/KOSA-TV last week, I had a chance to see Albert Valadez heading into the Monahans courthouse to present motions on behalf of his client, a West Texas man charged in connection with an alleged scandal at the Texas Youth Commission facility in Pyote.

Valadez has years of experience in courthouses in small towns like this, including his tenure as 83rd District Attorney, a 'circuit' office that covered multiple counties in the more remote areas of Trans-Pecos Texas.

'Just a country lawyer?' Hardly. No more than was the late U.S. Senator
Sam Ervin, who popularized the phrase during the Watergate hearings.

I watched Valadez at work for a number of years, when I was managing editor of the
Fort Stockton Pioneer, just a couple of blocks up Water Street from the DA's office. He's a strong advocate in a part of Texas that has brought forth a wide array of challenges to our legal system ..... for example, the fatal shooting of Esequiel Hernandez by U.S. Marines, on the border near Redford; and the Republic of Texas standoff near Fort Davis.

I expect prosecutors in this case will have their hands full.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Where Angels Fear to Treadmill .....

At the urging of Younger Son, I am posting this link to "OK Go on Treadmills" which he thinks is hilarious ..... I agree. By the way, in 2007, this video was named "Most Creative" in the inaugural YouTube Video Awards.

Preach What You Practice .....

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name. Hebrews 13:15

The 2008 season of
Upward Basketball and Cheerleading in the Tall City is now under way, and will run every Saturday through March 1. Upward is "an evangelistic sports ministry specifically designed for K5 through sixth-grade boys and girls that promotes salvation, character, and self-esteem in every child." But one doesn't need to have a child in that age group - or even have a child - to get involved as an adult volunteer.

I have just finished my second Saturday morning as a volunteer, delivering devotionals during the half-times. As the teams rest, refresh themselves, and get briefed by their coaches (also volunteers, as are the referees and the time/scorekeepers), I talk to the family members in the stands for 3-5 minutes, delivering a little bit of Scripture, a brief inspirational message, an invitation to come to church, and a prayer. The devotional can be your own personal testimony, or the church can provide you with material that relates to what the participating children are learning about Jesus during their weekly team devotional times.

We need YOUR help ..... We are in need of more people willing to do half-time devotionals. Please contact Laurie Boldrick (682-3133) or Scott Kain (684-8440) if you are interested.

Participating local churches supporting the program are: First Baptist-Midland, First Presbyterian-Midland, Crestview Baptist-Midland, First Church of the Nazarene-Odessa, Sherwood Baptist-Odessa, First Baptist-Odessa, Second Baptist-Odessa ..... but EVERYONE is welcome to get involved and be a part of this program!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fischer, Farewell .....

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - Robert James Fischer, the reclusive American chess master who became a Cold War icon when he dethroned the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky as world champion in 1972, has died. He was 64. CLICK HERE for the complete story from

When one covers a story - or a storied individual - long enough, one must be prepared for changes, for disparities, and for conflict in how one views the subject. Such was the case, for me, of Bobby Fischer. Writing for my high school newspaper, I prepared an article about the surge of interest among American teens in the game of chess, sparked by Fischer's celebrated defeat of Russian champion Boris Spassky in 1972. To the right, in an AP file photo by John Lent, taken in 1962, is the Fischer that many of us remember ..... or prefer to remember.

It conflicts dramatically with the picture we would have of Fischer later in his life - the chess master who condemned the world he once ruled, an American icon of the Cold War who renounced his U.S. citizenship, and the recluse who occasionally emerged from the shadows for anti-American and anti-Semitic tirades heard by a dwindling number of those who still cared about what he said.

Yet they were all part-and-parcel of one person. Remember that person as you will.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Enough, Already .....

If their social philosophies, their controversial posts, or their posts with which I disagreed, were my only criteria for dropping Jessica's Well from my blogroll ..... I would have done so long ago. But I believe that we can agree to disagree, and that something is lost in a society that lacks difference in perspective and opinion. I also believed that they deserved a link out of respect for their pioneering work, blazing new trails of the blogosphere into West Texas. But, enough already. Recent posts have crossed more than one line, and they're off my blogroll. Punishing them? Hardly ..... no more than an elephant will note the sting of one more fly. But me? I feel better now about the e-company I keep.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Classical Music and Newsroom Cretins .....

Last week, Frank at Books, Inq. got an interesting thread started with this post, and a link to this post by Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times about the relevance of classical music.

The ensuing e-discussion pointed fingers in a variety of directions. "The switch to playing works by composers of 'challenging' music not only turned off audiences, but a lot of performers as well," Frank wrote, noting that there IS contemporary classical music out there that general audiences love. "What classical music needs, quite simply, is composers who write music that audiences like to listen to, not music that critics or theorists or scholars insist is great whether we like it or not."

He's right. Music appreciation, as is the case for all fields of appreciation, has its snobs - a definition for them would, perhaps, include their claiming a higher - almost rarefied - state of appreciation than the rest of us can claim, that trumps simpler standards for music appreciation, such as our enjoyment of said music's tone, tempo, imagery.

But that snobbery can work in both directions ..... on the other extreme end of the same spectrum are those who, without bothering to listen to a single note, issue a jeering blanket condemnation of all classical music, and those who enjoy it ..... high falutin' music enjoyed by show-offs. And that's every bit as much a shame as the snobs at the opposite extreme. In the end, both do their part to drive a wedge between classical music and general appreciation.

I saw one of those extremes at work last year, during a morning story meeting in a television newsroom. One reporter had been contacted by a group promoting appreciation of opera in West Texas, and an event they were sponsoring. Any serious consideration of the story was quickly squelched by the news director who leaned his head back and started singing some opera-like notes in a deliberately off-key voice. Needless to say, his personal disdain for opera killed any chance of that story being developed.

And that's a shame, really. Midland is no Bayreuth or London, no Milan or New York City, but it does have good appreciation for the many forms of classical music, including opera. During the summer, you bump into a lot of West Texans in New Mexico, attending the
Santa Fe Opera, or the Chamber Music Festival. Closer to home, you get small but appreciative audiences for the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale. And many local fans of classical music are proud of Midland's part in the life of Susan Graham, one of today's foremost opera stars, who has appeared on stages worldwide.

Note to news producers ..... just because you think a subject might be too high-brow (or low-brow) for you, doesn't make it something that won't interest news consumers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Best-Laid Schemes o' Mice an 'Librarians .....

... gang aft agley! Frank at Books, Inq. linked me to this story by the Washington Post's Mike Wade.

"The stroke of a pen at the Library of Congress - which rebranded 700 years of Scottish literary tradition as 'English literature' - has in recent weeks generated a spluttering uproar here," Wade writes from Edinburgh, Scotland. "And last week, faced with Celtic fury, the American institution made an undignified U-turn."

Numpty of .... er .... I mean, Librarian of Congress James Billington said the institution would return writers to their former Scottish status. Hoorah for Scottish Robby and his kin!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Apparently, I'm a Girl Band .....

..... and a FAT girl band at that. Here's how I found out .....

(The first article title on the page is the name of your band.)
2. Visit
(The last four words of the last quote on the page is the title of your album.)
3. Visit
(The third picture on the page is your album cover.)

I got this from Jim at
Serotoninrain ..... who got it from Beth at And Then I Woke Up ..... who got it from Eric at Fire Ant Gazette ..... who got it from .....