Monday, August 3, 2009

And so, we migrate.

After a couple of years and some seriously weird and/or wonderful things falling into my life thanks to this blog, I've decided to migrate to a new blog hosting situation. Why? Well, over the weekend, Blogger saw fit to suspend - for no apparent reason - this blog and several other blogs all over the world. It was apparently a glitch, but none of us were ever given a reason, and none of us ever got a reply when we asked why, or how long. So something I had planned to do in the next few months became an imperative. Yes, this blog is now off suspension, but do I really want to risk the same thing happening again? And really, can I gripe about something I don't pay for? The answer to both is no. So please join me over at the new Eleventy Billionth Blog. I promise just as much fun, just as much thinking, and all the Cowboys live blogging you can stand. And Blogger? Bite me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Eleventy Billionth's Happy Good Time Story Hour

I'm wholly unmotivated today, and was so productive this morning that I find myself slac, I mean, pacing myself this afternoon. Which means you guys get a story. This one begins late at night, in not Dallas. Everything outside of Dallas is country, you see, for miles. It's like Dallas ends, and suddenly jimson weed and goats line the highway, save for a lonely Ikea. This is true because I'm telling this story. One night, I was with my two best friends, eating dinner at a restaurant in the back country of Not Dallas. Dinner turned to drinks, because that's what you need to do to fortify yourself. More people we knew appeared at this place, and commenced drinking, too. The place serving the drinks eventually closed, and we were not tired. "Why don't you come see our donkey?" someone said. Now, this is where the story begins to go awry. Already, we had conceded to sup in the back country of Not Dallas, and now someone is telling us we should travel further into the country to see a donkey. So we fortified ourselves by going to Whataburger, a restaurant placed haphazardly around Texas by Jesus to make sure people will have plenty of Dr Pepper, bacon double ranch jalapeno cheese burgers and angioplasty. There, we pick up Dr Pepper. Giant ones. Bigger than your head. And taquitos. It was to be my first taquito, but to this day, for reasons I'm about to explain, I have never had a taquito. We drove down dirt roads into the wilderness to see the donkey. At first, we drive up to a house, and being city folk, we wonder if the donkey is inside. But no. The donkey is in a pasture, a good 40 yards away. "Is it a nice donkey?" we ask. Our hosts merely laugh. We take our taquitos and commence walking - in heels - across a grassy knoll. My heel caught in what I pray was just a random hole, and not some portal to a hell beast living just beneath the dirt. I wondered at the dark, and the lack of flashlights. I should've known it was so we wouldn't see the carcasses of other folk who were lured into the country to see the donkey. After walking several yards toward the donkey area, our hosts began calling for the donkey. "Jack!" "Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!" "Jack! C'mere Jack! Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!" Suddenly, the bushes parted and the biggest donkey I've ever seen came charging toward us, snorting and braying, teeth bared. The crowd dispersed, save me. Me, holding the bag of taquitos. Rooted to the spot by the fearsome spectacle of a full-grown, mad as hell donkey charging directly at me. Also because my foot was caught in another hole. I was going to die. I grabbed for the only weapon I had at my disposal. No, not my shoe, because that would've made sense. I reached into that white and orange bag from Whataburger, and I hurled a taquito at the beast. The first one hit him square between the eyes, but didn't even stun him. The second hit him on the nose, and he paused. Stunned. My friends are now a good 39.4 yards away and hurrying for the car. I'm staring down a donkey, and praying I have enough taquitos. I pull my foot out of my stuck shoe, and proceed to walk backwards, up down, up down, up down, one foot in my high heel sandal, the other bare. Jack starts toward me. I hurl another taquito, and walk faster. Up down, up down. I fling another. Pow! Right in the kisser. I get better at my aim, and become a world-class taquito hurler. I'm the Zena Warrior Princess of taquito throwers, vanquishing my ill-tempered foe with six of Whatburger's drunk people foodstuffs. My hand reaches the bottom of the bag, and I realize I'm out of ammo. I up down, up down backwards the last five yards to the car, and jump in. Jack headbutts the car and tries to eat the rearview mirror. But I live.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weird-Ass News Free-For-All

So I saw this story today, and sometimes, when I read certain news stories, I like to make up dialogue in my head. This particular part of the story:
The descendants of an African chief who was hanged and decapitated by a Dutch general 171 years ago reluctantly accepted the return of his severed head Thursday.
Prompted this dialogue:
"Hi, sorry we killed your granpop. Here's his old moldy head. Are we square now?"
So anyway, I thought we'd have a little fun. Find the most odd story from this week, and post the link and any commentary about the story the comments. DO IT.

Be a Loyal Foot Soldier - Or Else

This may just be my opinion, but nothing says weak and ineffectual leader like surrounding yourself with sycophants. Today, we read in the Dallas Morning News that Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert doled out committee assignments. Freshman councilmen and women received chairman and vice-chairman appointments. Veteran councilwoman Angela Hunt will helm no committees. None. Not at all. Hunt has made it her business to study diligently the issues surrounding the Trinity River. But not only will she not oversee that committee, she's not even serving on it. Yes, Hunt has opposed Leppert's plans for the Trinit River project, as she also does his plans for the convention center hotel. And now, apparently Hunt is being punished for that, and for having the temerity to not rubber stamp what might be detrimental to the city. Now, Leppert makes the normal noises (for him) that he appointed the best people to these committee leadership positions. But a council person who has just taken the oath was given more weight than a veteran with many miles and many hours logged in the study of what is bad and good for Dallas - and that just doesn't pass the smell test. So maybe these people are completely qualified. But really, it more appears that Leppert is sending a message: Be a loyal foot soldier, because that's far more important than what you do for your constituents.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just Be Honest About Your Bigotry, OK?

In the span of two days, there have been two reports in the Dallas Morning News of children being neglected and abused by their parents. Both sets of children were stomach-turningly betrayed by their parents. One group of children were starved and locked in a tiny motel bathroom for hours at a time by their stepfather, while their mother allowed it. The second set were found by authorities after an anonymous caller reported strong fumes coming from their hotel room. When police arrived, they found two adults who had been huffing paint fumes all day in a 300 square foot room, not only intoxicating themselves, but their children. Besides the places of residence, the two stories had something in common - the families had Latin surnames. Immediately, commenters on both stories began upping the anti-immigration rhetoric, insisting that this is the way of illegal immigrants. They do bad things to their children. To that, I obviously say hogwash (actually, I had a less ancient term that starts with bu and ends with it). For one thing, neither story comments on the immigration status of the four adults in question. Generally, if a reporter knows the status is noteworthy, you will see something along the lines of, "immigrants found guilty of felonies are subject to being deported," somewhere in the story. But neither story has proffered that up. So how do these commenters know the couples in question are illegal immigrants? Well, by their last names, of course. Santiago, Rocha and Barron must be indicative of the 100% ne'er-do-wells that crawl under or over a fence in the dark, dark night to invade the soil of the U.S., fostering hate in their hearts and evil in their veins, ready to do horribly heinous crimes at a moment's notice. Sounds absurd, right? Well, to me, it does. I've had occasion to know two people that were in the country illegally. One was from Mexico, and had moved to the States under what she thought was a visa good for years, but instead was only good for months. She had three terminally ill children, and had come to America hoping to procure better health care for them. Her husband had worked - legally - in the U.S. until his death, and had contributed to the Social Security system. She had benefits coming from that. The second one? Her last name was Nelson. She was as Anglo as one can get, here on an expired student visa from Canada. So surnames are not exactly a good indicator of immigration status, I think. Nor is immigration status an indicator of morality. And let's not forget that in the case of the Santiago family, the mother's parents are in Florida, indicating that likely she is not an illegal immigrant, and is probably of Puerto Rican or Cuban descent - not the not so veiled Mexican descent so many of the commenters kept trying to hint at. So she's probably a U.S. citizen, and not guilty of entering the country illegally. She's just a really crappy human, something that's not exclusive to one race in particular. And let's be honest. All these claims are really just an excuse to be racist without anyone calling you on it. But really, does this kind of evil have more offenders in one race than another? Well, yes. According to 2007 data from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, 21.7 percent of maltreated children nationwide are from African-American families; 20.8 percent are from hispanic families; and 46.1 percent are from white families. So really, in the U.S., being from a white family nearly doubles your chances of being maltreated or abused.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What Say You?

So the DA in Kauffman County allegedly got caught driving while intoxicated. Now the GOP wants him to resign. But I give you two stories to compare. This one was posted at 11:32 a.m. This one was posted at 12:48 p.m. Now, I'm not calling it just yet, but the last one is kinda well, hmm. I mean, no discernable quotes, fewer defining facts... Is it just a case of two reporters calling at the same time, or is it cribbing?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Next? No Burritos

This morning, via The Dallas City Hall Blog, I was directed to Pete's Place, where Pete Oppel takes on the possibility of expanding a ban on using cell phones while driving. For one, I'm not sure where the budget deficit the city is suffering and it's need to hire more police comes in to the cell phone ban argument. Maybe it's Monday and my synapses aren't firing completely, but I'm not seeing the link there. But thought flowchart aside, I'm also significantly torn about extending the ban, just as I was torn about the original one, which bans the use of cell phones by drivers in school zones. At what point did we all start thinking it was OK to turn our government into a nanny? As Trey Garrison pointed out in his excellent piece a few months ago, Texas - and also the U.S., for that matter - has become this orgiastic celebration of rules. While I'm all for public safety, I'm also for common sense. I'm also for using the rules we already have, which will address the whole issue of cell phone use quite nicely. It's not like blood alcohol levels, where some science has to go in to determining if you broke the law. If you get in a crash or violate a traffic law while on your phone, the laws already on the books address this behavior. Nearly everyone with a license knows that driving while texting or talking on the phone is risky. Ergo, if you chose to do so while driving, you're engaging in risky, dangerous - reckless - driving. I can think of a good half dozen other things that can distract a driver. So what's next, a no burrito while driving law? No driving with kids in the car? No changing the station on your radio? Maybe a "no smoking because you might drop the lit cigarette on your lap and it will distract you while your pants are on fire and you will crash" law? Yeah. I thought so. Let's put the kibosh on this whole thing now, yes?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Something Still Isn't Jibing

Not quite 20 days have passed since the TABC and the Fort Worth police department conducted a joint raid on the Rainbow Lounge, a newly-opened gay bar, on June 28. The raid sent one man to the hospital with a life-threatening brain injury, and left a community divided over whether the incident was a case of police brutality and homophobia, or just a routine bar check gone very, very bad. But so far, all that's really happened is a circular firing squad between the TABC and the Fort Worth PD. The police have quit going on these raids with the TABC, and both point the finger at the other - when they're not busy pointing it at apparently lascivious gay people. Because, as we all know, gay people are so gay they have lost all common sense, and will indeed grope policemen as they enter a bar. At least, that's what this police report would like you to believe. But then you have eyewitness accounts told to the Dallas Voice - eyewitness reports that differ quite a bit from the police report. And just when all of this comes out - the police report was published today - the Voice publishes this scoop: TABC Administrator Alan Steen admits his officers breached policy, and the raid was botched. Steen minces no words, either: "If our guys would have followed the damn policy, we wouldn’t even have been there. … We have these conversations all the time, and we don’t participate in those kinds of inspections when there’s not probable cause or reasonable suspicion or some public safety matter to be inspected.” So what was the impetus for the raid? Two other bars were scheduled to be checked that night - one with numerous violations. According to Steen, the raid on the Rainbow Lounge was conducted after one person had been arrested for public intoxication three days earlier. The Rainbow Lounge - at the time of the raid - had only been open a little more than a week, hardly enough time to actually become a nuisance to anyone. If, by the TABC's own admission, there wasn't actual probable cause for the June 28th raid, was the impetus homophobia on the part of a group of TABC agents and the Fort Worth PD? While none of us can look into the hearts of those agents and officers, I think we can all say with a certain amount of certainty that the timing of the incident couldn't have been more insensitive, since it was also the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why Mark Davis Can't Read

OK. Maybe I don't know why he can't. I mean, I'm assuming he had the same standardized tests I did, the ones that - in addition to determining if you can do basic math - score your ability to find the meaning of a passage by looking at its context. And Lord help us, someone passed him, even with his rudimentary reading comprehension skills. Then they gave him a microphone, and a keyboard connected to computer, and someone decided to give him a stage in both two facets of media. To that someone or someones, my ball peen hammer would like to meet you. Today, Davis devoted an entire column to Sonia Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comments. He's against them, or whatever. He is pretty sure Sotomayor is going to show way too much empathy or something and then it'll be all vaya con caca rio with the whole Constitution. Because she's a wise Latina. To that, I say, hmpfh. I'll take a wise Latina any day over a buffoon Caucasian. But you see, Davis just took that one little line - just like virtually every other suddenly afflicted white rich guy of GOP descent out there has - and turned it into an entire movement. Suddenly, there's much hand wringing. "Surely this 'wise Latina' comment means she hates the whites, right? No? Well, can we say that's what it means?" I imagine the strategy sessions in Wingnut Village go. I have this incredibly nerdy hobby called research. When Sotomayor was nominated, I started reading everything reputably published about her that I could get my browser and/or hands on. When the New York Times published the complete transcript of the speech where "wise Latina" originated, I read it. Davis, apparently, did not. The speech was made for the Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture in 2001. It was part of a symposium entitled, "Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation." So wow, whodathunk it? She'd talk about being a Latina in the judicial system. So out of left field, that is. I'll pause while you wrap your head around that. If anything, this is a speech about opportunities in the judiciary for a certain minority. It's about the opportunities that existed then, and the ones she hoped would occur in the future. No doubt that day, she inspired many Latino and Latina students to pursue a similar career path. And that, of course, would bring diversity to the judiciary, something nearly everyone except - to ironically borrow a phrase from Bill O'Reilly - a few pinheads. But let's look at context. Yes, she did say:
I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
But she followed up with this:
I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.
Hardly racist. So what did she mean by "wise Latina?" For that, we need to look at the culture. As Carolina Miranda pointed out in her excellent piece in Time, the wise Latina traditionally is a woman everyone turns to for advice. She is the vast and acknowledged storehouse of information and knowledge. She is wise. Isn't that what we want in a judge? Someone wise? Someone who is a vast repository of Constitutional knowledge? Someone who, weighing what she knows to be true points of law, can objectively advise? As Miranda pointed out in her piece, Sotomayor was trying to convey that "her breadth of experience navigating different worlds might lead her to have greater wisdom on certain topics than her white male counterparts. " And, as Miranda also pointed out, Samuel Alito said much the same thing:
"When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender."
So Mark Davis, I know research is arduous and not as fun as say, speaking out of your posterior, but remember this: Do do the latter, you have to show everyone your butt.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How Long, Exactly, Can You Shield a Child?

Today, Rod Dreher blogs that - as moving as little Paris Katherine Jackson's heartfelt speech about her father was - perhaps it would've been better to shield the child and her brothers from the spectacle that was Michael Jackson's memorial service. As usual, Rod fails to look at the context to get the main point. In this instance, perhaps, sure, if you just look at that one piece of the afternoon, you might feel that way. But you have to look at other parts. What I took away from that memorial service was that this little girl was aware of what people said about her father. She wanted to defend him. I saw her jump up - she was one of the first, in fact - to applaud Al Sharpton's comments about her father not being strange, for instance. By many accounts, Jackson tried to shield his children from much of the mockery made of him. But I remember being an 11-year-old girl. I knew when my parents were fighting over the phone. I knew when the child support check was late. My mother rarely told me, but you can intuit a lot. I think she knew how the world saw her father. Whether the realization came over the past few days, after his death, or much earlier as paparazzi trailed them when Michael Jackson took her and her brothers out and about, she knew that part of the world saw him as a beloved entertainer, and another part saw him as something freakish to be mocked. I saw no coercion from the family - if that was the case, you'd think Jackson's oldest child would have been asked to speak, or even all the children. Instead, I saw a bright, grief-stricken, articulate child who wanted to humanize her father. It was a gut reaction that reminded everyone watching that they may have lost an entertainer, but she lost her daddy. And she certainly deserved to tell us that.

Monday, July 6, 2009


So, Sunday is the only day we get the Dallas Morning News now. We used to get it every day, but then when they quit responding to our stop paper requests on vacations, we canceled the subscription. We got an offer for Sunday only, and decided to give it a whirl again. It's an easy whirl, given that the paper is so light and I only allow myself to read the first three graphs of any Rod Dreher or Steve Blow column. But imagine my - no, wait, a little background is an order here. Just a few short years ago, I was responsible for not only cleaning the newspaper bathroom, but also writing all major stories and designing the paper - laying it out, as it's called in newsroom vernacular. So reading the print version of TDMN is not just an exercise in frustration because of some of the writing (btw, Elizabeth Souder rocked that T. Boone Pickens story Sunday), but also because of the design. So imagine my dismay to page through the paper to find this gem - a black and white photo of fireworks. May I just ask how many layers of boneheadedness did that have to go through before it landed in my yard. I can see being an overworked copy editor and it not registering. But doesn't this page go through at least two more layers before it makes it to the press? At some point, shouldn't someone have said, "You know, this is a great photo, but a black and white picture of fireworks is really kinda stupid?" And then it also dawned on me - we can expect more of this. Through mismanagement - which led to decimating the newsroom and overworking people who were already overworked anyway - there is literally nobody there to say, "Guys, we can't put a freakin' black and white picture of fireworks in the paper." So while I thoroughly intended to mock Dallas' Only Daily for this, all I can really muster is a slow head shake, and going to find a black mourning band for my sleeve. Because really, while this may seem small to many, it's one of many symptoms that this patient is very, very ill. This photo is one of many death rattles over the past year, and management has given every indication they've signed a DNR. Let's sit shiva for the Dallas Morning News, and try to figure out how we're going to accurately tell the story of Dallas in years to come without it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things That Make Me Want to Hit Myself About the Head With Hammers

Fair warning, this'll probably be the first in a series. As a rule, I'm a fairly content individual, but there are a few things that actually do make me want to hit things, or hit myself with things. This week? It's been the commenters on the DMN. Specifically, the slackjawed mouthbreathers who turned this story about the Gay Rights march in Oaklawn into a discussion rife with homophobia, and completely filled with jawdroppingly awesome untruths. The conversation veered - and stayed - on gay marriage. More than one person insisted the law in Texas didn't ban it, and that there was a lot of fuss about nothing. A simple Google search could've cleared that astounding misconception up, but since the poster couldn't even spell discriminatory correctly, I'm assuming there were challenges that precluded such an experiment with the truth. But really, I do not get this debate about gay marriage. The government (and I'm veering dangerously into Trey Garrison territory here) has no business being in the marriage business. Marriage is a religious ceremony. Government (if I'm recalling my constitutional knowledge correctly and completely forgetting the past eight years) isn't supposed to be engaged in religion. The simple solution? The government gets out of the marriage business, and begins offering civil unions to everyone, for legal purposes. You get your civil union at a courthouse, and then it's up to you - and a church - to hash out any marriage ceremony you might want. The answer seems so simple that there's probably something I'm missing. If I'm not, why hasn't it happened?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Things I've Said This Week

Said this week, and in no particular order: 1. I would like some of the Moose Knuckle ice cream. (Dessert request gone awry) 2. I've discovered five speedwalking geriatrics can be downright terrifying when they're headed your direction. 3. It burns my ass something fierce. 4. If I have to pony up blood or buy Avon, they're getting Funyuns and Diet Dr Pepper, and they'll like it. 5. MJ and Farrah are not only merely dead, they're really most sincerely dead. 6. In honor of MJ, any rumbling I do in parking garages or subway stations will include the use of jazz hands. 7. That squirrel is looking at me again. 8. Dueling asshats? AWE.some. 9. Hee! Anal Fissures. 10. Is having a raging case of the stupids. I think it might be contagious.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wherein channels 8 and 11 start noticing a sucking sound...

Ah, yes. The digital conversion. When we first started hearing about it, it was kind of like Armageddon - you heard about it, heard it was approaching, but it was always far enough away that it didn't seem like something to really worry about. And, despite the flurry of information in the past year about it, apparently some people emerged from beneath their rocks, twiddle their antennas, and realize they could no longer see Troy Dungan - never you mind Troy hasn't been on in more than a year. They couldn't see him, nor Tracy Rowlett, and it was nigh to upsetting. Now we find out that people all over the DFW area are having the same trouble. People that prepared for the impending Digipocalypse by getting the converter box. People that know how to program VCRs and work iPods. People who read newspapers. People who read newspapers on the Internet. In other words, fairly technically astute individuals with a modicum of ability were unable to procure the channel 8 or the channel 11 digital signal via antenna and converter box (or antenna and HD television). As we scanned and rescanned the antenna channels the day after the switch - mind you, we have Uverse, so this was just for back up - we couldn't help but wonder if other people were having the same difficulty. Judging from the comments on this post over at Uncle Barky's site, they are. And judging from early numbers after the switch, this difficulty could - possibly - be really screwing with the two channel's ratings. People are essentially lazy. Sorry people, but we are. I know. I mean, I'm sitting here, on the couch, in my pajamas, and have been since 6 p.m. or so. We're lazy. If we can't get a channel in via a set top antenna, and we don't already have a roof antenna up, what's the over/under on one of us lazy SOB's actually carting our keisters to Target or wherever to pick up an antenna, then climbing up on the roof to install it and aim it and whatever the heck else you have to do to get a stupid signal? Yeah. I thought so.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Things I've Said This Week

New feature. Maybe a little narcissistic. But here goes: basically, I compile things that I've either said in e-mail, out loud, in an instant message, or whatever other form of communication I can't think of right now, and then on Friday, I show you this list. You can comment if you wish. Or if you want to tell the class the weirdest/funniest thing you've said all week, you can do that, too. In no particular order: 1. I mean, surely someone's looked at this shit by now and gone, "Goddamn, this woman couldn't be more batshit if she lived in a cave and wore mosquito pants." 2. whip it up with a rage. 3. Scary. I have popcorn down my shirt. Only, I haven't eaten any popcorn today. 4. If I give you a cookie and a medal, will you simmah down? 5. you are one pair of acid washed jeans and a bon jovi tshirt away from 1990. 6. thinks eric nadel's eyepatch would make a good band name. 7. Hung like an unwired light switch. Small, and unable to turn anything on. 8. "That's what SHE said." - Loudly, in The Mecca, after a hostess assured a waitress that there was money "in her box." 9.Like that you can get drunk on homeopathic medicine while at your desk at work, because it doesn't look like beer? 10. I can still taste it in my mouth, and I love it so much. 11. I would like to take your fine work out for a steak dinner. 12. So there I was, in Wal-Mart, right? Doing the Pee Pee Dance, and waiting on the slowest cashier in the world to quit gawking at the sheer volume of batteries I was buying. If I hadn't been concentrating on not wetting my britches, I woulda said, "Hey, do I have the world's largest sex toy collection ever, or is my power out? Wanna hazard a guess?" But instead I paid and then peed. 13. Let's see ... do I jiggle the thingamagig boocoo times until golly, gee, it flushes, or do I leave this foot-long turd here for everyone to see? Oh wait, I gotta go to Sunnyvale by 3. Option two it is!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dear WFAA:

Now, I realize that Minnesota is not that big a deal, so really, it probably should just be thought of as one big city. I get that. But it's not. Yet. Maybe someone can put that idea out there. But in the meantime, it's not a city. You may now return to your regularly scheduled program.

Let's Talk About Context

So as many have started to point out, little Petey Sessions now has an opponent in the next election. His name is Grier Raggio, and his mother was just the subject - and rightfully so - of many tributes after her recent birthday. Today Wickburner (let's face it, after he came back from his fishing trip, Frontburner became all Wick Allison, all the time) mentioned that Sessions has an opponent. And then he points to this, saying Sessions will have a field day with it. Only if he's a bottom-feeding, non-comprehending, knuckle-dragging mouth breather who doesn't understand the concept of context - no offense to any mouth breathers or shrimp. But seriously, anyone who saw the date on the review would realize that, contextually, Negro wasn't an out of date word at the time. It was commonly used. Martin Luther King Jr. used it. I'm pretty sure Jesse Jackson used it. It was 1969, and while I wasn't even a glimmer in my mother's eye back then, I'm pretty sure the subject, former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, probably even used the word. Oh, look! I found where he did, in his book "Soul on Ice." Try Page 22. So yeah, a little historical context is probably a nice thing, I would think. And when you have that, you realize that Raggio's use of the word Negro when writing about Eldridge Cleaver, given the time and subject, is pretty much a non-issue. And if that's all the dirt he can find to rap Raggio on, then Pete Sessions may need to actually address some issues, and make some constituents happy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Extra Crews, My Hiney

So Wednesday night, a storm rolled through - in case those of you playing the home version of The Eleventy Billionth Blog didn't know. A big storm, apparently, although the only evidence of it in my neighborhood was a few limbs - nay, large branches - laying in yards, and the colossal darkness that enveloped the neighborhood when the power went out. The first night wasn't so bad. Apparently the router dealie thingie that Uverse gives you to power your Internets has a battery on it. That battery lasts about three, four hours. I didn't even really notice the first hour of darkness go by - I mean, I could still sit there and make fun of the dog, and simultaneously play Farkle. I was fine. F.I.N.E. fine. Then the laptop battery died. But I was still OK with that. We'd get power soon, right? It was fun to sit on the front porch, watching the kids run around outside. Normally, they'd be inside, watching TV. This power outage forced them to do what we old people used to call "playing outside." We'd do it all day in the summer, and beg to stay out just an hour more when our mothers called us in for dinner. We amused ourselves with endless games of tag, hide-and-seek, and fort building. Wave after wave of stormy goodness cascaded over the DFW area that night, and on into Thursday. Our neighborhood regained power sometime in the night Wednesday, only to have it ripped from the clutches of a few of us. In other words, my side of the street? DARK. Other side of the street? Lights. When Thursday morning rolled around, the sky still roiled and churned with angry looking clouds, ready to dump rain and mayhem without any provocation whatsoever. It was fun getting dressed in the dark, and praying I put on black pants, not brown, with my definitely black shirt. Makeup by candlelight? Well, that just forces you to go down to the bare basics - a little powder, some lipstick, mascara. I did my hair by the dome light in my car. Thursday, after work, I stopped at Wal-Mart to rape and pillage the sporting goods department. I picked up some LED lights, and a battery-powered fan. That, and some prodigious help from Boston Market, helped Thursday night pass. I was still feeling rather Zen about it at that point. It's like camping. I goofed off with the LED lights for a while after I discovered that if you move them around, you can make it look like the ceiling fan is moving. I read a book. I thanked Jeebus that "The Digital Transformation" hadn't happened yet, and we could still get local television broadcasts - the audio, at least - on our nifty battery-powered radio. And as I drifted off into sleep Thursday night, with the cool air coming through the windows, scented by some sort of flower outside, I thought, "You know, this isn't THAT bad. I can deal." And then I looked over. I saw, on my bedside table, a bar of soap I bought at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello a couple weeks ago. Wildflower scented. I sniffed it. I realized, at that point, that there was no magical floral scented air wafting through my window. IT WAS REGULAR AIR, and not having electricity sucks. SUCKS. And at that point, I became not OK with having no electricity. I was pissed. The air suddenly wasn't cool enough, in fact it was sticky. The dog was breathing too loud. I couldn't find a cool side on my pillow. And when I awoke this morning to find that there was still no electricity, I seethed - both inwardly and outwardly. When I sat on the front porch, where it was cooler, and saw the TV on in the house across the street, I gritted my teeth. And the object of most of my vitriol became the Oncor confirmation number. See, when you call Oncor to report an outage - and it's always Oncor that repairs this stuff - they tell give you this confirmation number. Now, the first time you call and get this number, you carefully make note of it. I mean, it's a confirmation number! This surely means that the next time you call, you will get an opportunity to enter it, and something will happen. Then you call again, 12 hours later, when you still don't have electricity, and find out there is no opportunity to enter it, and they give you the exact same confirmation number as last time. So Oncor, you suck. I mean, I understand there were/are a lot of outages, but you could at least attach some sort of function to your cotton-pickin' confirmation number. Let us enter it, and the computers can tell us an estimated time the power will be back on. By the fourth time we've called, maybe you could connect us to a live human being? And while I realize there were, according to you, 500,000 people without power and you've knocked that down to 120,000 as of this morning, there's really no way for the media to verify this. I know you say there's extra crews, but given that last night you said there were 180,000 without power, and today it's 120,000, and yesterday it was supposed to be 500,000, I'm thinking the math doesn't add up. You managed, in the hours between say, 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at 10 p.m. to knock out 320,000, yet between 10 p.m. last night and 8 a.m. this morning, you could only manage 60,000? Really?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pubic None the Wiser

Gee, is this what happens when you can a lot of people, including a lot of copy editors?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Of This, and That, the It's Summer, Get Off My Butt Edition

So yeah, I took a brief siesta. But there's a buttload of news just awaiting our comments, and since you can't do that much anywhere else, I give you this: 1. Why does it matter if Food Network contestant Melissa doesn't look like the pic on the FN Web site? I mean, it's not like the DMN does anything like that. 2. Apparently, a movie version of "The A-Team" may happen. Who's gonna play B.A. Baracas? According to imdb, rapper Common will. 3. In Cindy Adams news, MSN is featuring a story about the most expensive 'burbs to live in. Highland Park is on the list. Only problem? Apparently the city moved five miles north of Dallas. 4. Nooooooooo......really? 5. Fellow blogger Amy Severson has an excellent (and inside) take on the whole Hinojosa's son benefited from Hillcrest program kerfuffle. 6. National Review's Ed Whelan decided to out an anonymous blogger - who happens to be a law professor in South Texas.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Of Car Decals and Bumper Stickers, and Things That Make My Head Hurt

Do you know what's a pain in the posterior? Approving comments on a cell phone. And truthfully, if I had known that before I hopped a plane to Virginia Friday, I might have written about cute puppies and rainbow farts instead of Frank Larison vs. HOA fascism. But I have to say, many of you who provided the 50 comments to date - 61 or so if you count the comments on the follow up - were polite, engaged, stuck to fact and to the topic at hand. But then there are you other guys. The ones who wrangle Obama into it even though this HOA and it's leadership has probably been around since well before Obama took office. That particular leap of logic (remember, a Frisco community had a similiar HOA amuck situation, and Collin County = majority GOP) is tolerable in small doses, however. What was worrisome? The ones who get scary and imply they're gonna do something violent and/or weird to the HOA president. How does that make any situation better, I don't know. How does it make you the better person in this situation? I don't know. But responding to this situation with anything other than a desire to voice - by mail or e-mail - your disapproval is just as bad - no, worse - than what this HOA has done. So chill out. As you see in the comments in the original thread, there are lawyers involved now. This thing will get settled in a way that makes sense. But don't make a head-shaker of a situation something else. And stay on subject. Anything other than that makes me want to kick things.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Re: Woodlands II on the Creek? You're On Notice.

As you can see in the comments, this has people fired up. Before it goes much further, I need to say a couple of things. Yes, this is mean and stupid. However, I pride myself on having non-mean (Ok, non-vicious), non-stupid readers. You guys are smart, which makes writing this blog a challenge I enjoy. So let's behave as the intelligent, mature people we are, and not do something stupid to the president of the HOA. And by "something stupid" I mean vandalism, prank calling, abusive calls, etc. Let's keep it smart and clean, people, because oafish behavior really won't sway as well as mannered, measured comments relaying displeasure. And two, a couple of you have said you plan on organizing some sort of effort to speak to the HOA. If you don't mind, please let me know what you plan, and how it goes. Having said that, have a great weekend - and a safe one.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Woodlands II on the Creek? You're On Notice.

So today, just a few scant days after Memorial Day, we get James Ragland's column about vet Frank Larison, who is in trouble with his HOA at Woodlands II on the Creek for having the temerity to exercise his constitutional rights. Last night, I began reading a book by the same author of "Eats Shoots and Leaves," Lynne Truss. This book, "Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life (or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door)," is kind of about manners, but more about how simple human decency should preclude the modern-day need for entire tomes dedicated to etiquette. I bring this up because there was a very interesting subhead in the first chapter about how we've managed to irrationally widen our personal space over the years. Instead of moving to an area of the room where there's no cigarette smoke, we behave dramatically and insist there be a law to make sure that your ever-widening bubble of personal space is clear of it. If we don't like bars, instead of not going to one, we demand that they clear out from our neighborhoods. If we don't like decals on cars, we - instead of just not putting them on our cars and thinking, "To each his own," when we see one on another car - demand that our neighborhood be bereft of cars with any kind of decoration. HOA's operate under the guise that it protects the overall value of the member homes. But a home without character is a house. A cluster of houses is just a subdivision or a complex, not a neighborhood. While nobody wants nuisances like Bondo'd cars on blocks or toilet planters, there are city codes in place that already address these things. So to the Woodlands II on the Creek HOA president, I submit: Your kid getting shot in the head while she sleeps in your bed, where she feels safest? Big fat juicy nuisance. Vet with decals showing his pride in his military service? Not. Got it? Great. And just in case anyone feels the need to explain how you feel to the HOA, I believe this is the address. Update: Someone has anonymously posted the correct contact information in comments.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Know Your Blogger: God

Yes, that's right. God. And I know we started this whole "Know Your Blogger" thing saying it would be Dallas bloggers, but God, he be everywhere, if I recall correctly. Today, I talked to God via Twitter, and also enjoyed what will now be a daily destination for affirmations from God Almighty - his blog. Among the things I discovered? He's a Count Chocula fan. So here goes. Name: God Almighty Blog:
1. In what general region wherever do you live?
Right smack-dab in the middle of Heaven. Most people don't have any problem finding it once they get up here; my house is pretty much ginormous.
2. Before blogging, what the heck did you do with yourself? What are you doing now?
Most of what I do now is the same stuff I did before I started my blog. I controlled the Universe, answered prayers, sent blessings down to my humble worshipers, stuff like that. But ever since I decided to heed the Missus' advice about blogging (I don't care what Moses says, it wasn't his idea. And if it was, it wasn't a good idea at the time), it's been way easier for me to keep tabs on all of the goings-on down on Earth. People are seeking me out more than ever before.
3. Two things people don't know about you ...
I usually wear boxer-briefs with smiley-faced shamrocks on them under my robe, and I'm a Libra.
4. Last five books you read, what you're reading now, and what you'll read next:
Last five: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
In Cold Blood
Twilight (I had to see what the Missus was all in a tizzy about)
and... does my Baywatch 2009 desk calendar count as a book?
Now: The Last Lion
Next: He's Just Not That Into You
5. Best piece of advice ever given to you:
'Change the toilet paper roll yourself next time or you'll be sleeping on the couch." - The Missus

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dear Municipal Services Bureau:

Knock it off. Seriously. Six calls to one phone is a bit excessive, even if we did owe money on a ticket or fine - which we don't. And given that we called three times and e-mailed twice asking for you to quit calling, even if we did owe money - which we don't - you'd have to stop calling. It's the law, and you broke it like, four times at least. And for the record, hanging up on someone when they call you back to ask that you quit calling is rude, but it also doesn't absolve you from having to follow the law and quit calling, either. A little primer on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977. 1. You can't call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless the debtor agrees. 2. Within five days after first contact, you must send a debtor a written notice. 3. When the consumer doesn't owe money, they have 30 days to respond to that notice after receiving it. 4. Debt collectors can't harass, oppress or abuse a debtor. They also can't repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone. 5. And they can't lie. In other words, when someone calls you -three times - and says quit calling this number, you can't claim the number isn't even in your system. And then call again 15 minutes later. So you've been reported to the FTC and the Better Business Bureau for your antics. And for you municipalities out there using this company - sure, they may get you results, and they may even be cheaper than another collections agency, but do you really want this particular bunch of nogoodniks representing you? Texas Department of Public Safety - I'm talkin' to you. If you're an agency who has the job of upholding the law, and you hire a company that doesn't obey it, isn't it a little hypocritical? So for all you readers out there, if you get a call from this number - 512-454-4757 - it's Municipal Services Bureau, owned by the Gila Corp. They have a lengthy list of complaints, as you can see here, here, here, here and here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

American Idol: The Ugh, Just Give it to Adam Already So I Can Drink This Beer in Peace edition

Why are the celebrity sightings at Idol so freakin' random? Kimberly Locke, Janice Dickinson and Joely Fisher. Random. SeacrestOUT says they got a bazillion votes last night. He also wants to respect the four people who professionally guided blah blah blah. Then he ranked on Randy's "For me for you" thing. Then Kara's "you suck sweetie" thing. Oh look...ghosts from Idols past hosting the respective home town parties. And now the top 13 butchering Pink's "So What!" Awe. Some. I don't even remember part of these people. Did I mention this is two hours long? Oh dear, Scott the blind is dancing. Oh dear. Now David Cook is up, singing his new single, "Permanent." He also has a song called "Barbasol." I sense a beauty salon theme. Then he got done singing it, and SeacrestOUT came out and picked the scab that is David Cook's brother dying of brain cancer. By the by, you can download the song after the show on iTunes and the proceeds go to curing cancers. Even elbow cancers and armpit cancers. Now they're going to openly mock the people who lost this year. And the trainwrecks at audition. This is why I never watch the audition shows. Ladies and gentlemen, Norman Gentle in the house. Paula is agog. Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah for the first duet of the night. Hey Lil! You're still flat! I believe the good Queen Latifah will show you how it's done. Did I mention this show is two hours long tonight? Oy...Anoop singing...then Alexis...singing the Jason Mraz song, "I'm Yours." Oh, and whodathunk it, there's Jason Mraz. Kris? Meet the guy you'll probably be touring with in a year. Kris Allen, Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson. And btw, Alexis and Anoop made the Jason Mraz song sad. SAD. Now we're seeing a Kris Allen bio, including his near puke when he was announced as a finalist. Kris Allen and Keith Urban are gonna sing "Kiss a Girl." Lessee how this goes. So far, no suck. Promising. I like it when things don't suck. That's nice. Not sucking. He's also pretty good. That's nice. I like it when things are pretty good. And it's nice he gets to sing with Mr. Nicole Kidman. I bet if Nicole's gourd wasn't so Botoxed, she'd smile and mouth the lyrics along in an animated fashion, and perhaps yell, "Go Kris!" But the world will never know if that would happen. I should also mention that my affection for Kris, as outlined somewhat last night, is also due to some home town loyalty. While not from Conway, I am from Arkansas - but the cool part. I feel, much like people who live in other maligned states like Delaware, Oklahoma and Kentucky, that one must cheer vociferously when one of our own manages to do something that doesn't involve feeling up interns, refusing to know when to quit a presidential campaign, or marrying your uncle. I'm just sayin'. Dear sweet merciful poop pants of Jeebus...the loser girls (except poor Allison) are singing "Glamorous" - the one Fergie sings. Oh lookit - Fergie. Singing um, worse? Worse than the Idol loser girls. Now it's the rest of the Black Eyed Peas...and a sudden curious cutaway and silence and a view of the Idol stage. Remind me why I thought Megan Joy was endearing again? Because she just sang like she's been punched in the throat. Oh look...bikini girl...and she sings...then Kara comes out and they have a sing off. Then Kara opens her dress. And it literally was just as exciting as I just described it. Alison Iraheta and Cindy Lauper are gonna sing "Time After Time," which is probably one of my favorite CL songs. And this is nice. We never really got to see little Allison do anything acoustic. And by the way, does Cindy Lauper age? I think she's made one of those deals like Dick Clark, where you look like you haven't aged at all, and then suddenly the offer expires and it all hits you at once. Thwap! You're old and wrinkly and 78! And then your neck jerks back like you've been tased and you fall to the floor. That's my theory anyway. Anyhoo, I'd download this from iTunes, I believe. Now he's talking to the fams Kris and Adam. Look at the cans on Kris' mom. I mean, don't. Don't. I don't notice such things. Oh look. It's Danny Gokey singing, "Hello." Is this to remind us he's not David Cook? And of course we know now this means Lionel Richie is gonna come out. It only took us an hour, but we figured it out, you goofy AI producers! And, btw, let's all stop for a minute and remember that Paula Abdul was a choreographer. Yet, she dances like a drunken white cougar at ladies night at La Bare's. Lionel is also going to show Danny Gokey how to use his hips in a side to side motion typically thought of as dancing. Now it's the Glambert bio. Holy planetoid outfit, Batman. Glambert's singing my least favorite KISS song - "Beth." Five bucks says KISS comes out soon. I would also like to announce that Glambert is wearing more eye makeup than me. Mother Heifer. I was right. Oh come on....Glambert gets pyro AND KISS? And old dudes in leather? Carlos Santana is doing the intro to "Black Magic Woman." Hmmm...who's gonna sing it? Oh, there ya go. Matt Giraud. The Not Timberlake. Now all 13 are out, and they're gonna sing "Smooth." And we're reminded why many of these people were sent home. Jorge? That made my innards hurt. And now the final Ford commercial, I mean, video. Adam and Kris, and a montage of memories. Tear. David Cook says there's a surprise for Kris and Adam. And it's cars! OMGZ. Megan Joy, Michael Sarver and....Steve Martin on banjo. Something I never thought I'd string together in the same blog. Wow..the banjo is great. Everything else? Meh. Now it's disco Idol with the boys. They're singing Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." And they stole their outfits from the set of Men in Black. And then Rod Stewart came out wearing a coat he stole from a used car salesman. And he's singing "Maggie May." And he's kinda um, rough? Yeah. Rough. More audition videos. I want to die. I DON'T WATCH THIS FOR A REASON. Tatiana scares me. IJS. Can we just name this puppy? I need to pee. SERIOUSLY. Now we get to see them sing "We Are the Champions." TOGETHER. Seriously - this is mean. This song is tailored for Adam Lambert. Kris is gonna get drowned out. But hoo! lookit! Queen. And the rest of the Idol losers, singing along. Yanno, Glambert's kinda whiffing this one during the chorus. But you can tell Kris is just jazzed to be on the stage with FREAKIN' QUEEN. And they're both having a blast. And let's face it, they're both gonna end up putting out albums, regardless of who wins tonight. But I know which one I'll actually buy. NO NO NO NOT ANOTHER FREAKIN COMMERCIAL BREAK. Dude...I coulda been blogging with Clarice Tinsley. Now SeacrestOUT asks Simon what he wants to say and who should win. And Simon says they're both very nice people and they deserve it blah blah blah. Woot! Edward Bodington in the hizzy! Hot British accent! A new world rec-ord was created. Say it again Eddie. Say. It. Again. Oh wait...they're announcing the winner. Kris Allen won. Holy crap on toast! My five texts last night totally worked! I mean, your text and phone calls totally worked! Way to go! I, of course, being cool, never texted a vote. *Cough* SUCK IT SIMON COWELL! Ooh! And he gets a trophy. It's new. His mom is so crazy cute...and look at his adorable wife...and Kris can't articulate nuthin. It's adorable. Kris Allen has to sing "No Boundaries" again. Bloody hell. The man just won American Idol and he's stuck singing that unmitigated mess of syllables wrapped up in a bum's chalupa? That's just mean. I'm sorry Kris. But yay! You won American Idol.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

American Idol: It's Almost Time

This opening is stupid. STUPID. Can I say it's stupid? "I'm a superstar in the making?" Threw up. In my mouth. A little. So it's Kris Allen and Adam Lambert in the finals. All the Gokey fans need to quit whining. Seriously. He should've been kicked off for that unearthly wail from "Dream On," and the fact that he wasn't was only compounded by the fact that he summoned the undead spirit of Michael Bolton for his final two songs. He earned his boot last week, m'frens. Talk about two vastly different yet the same singers, though. Both are innovative, but one is quietly so, and the other does it with sparklers. One acts like he knows he won, the other looked like he might throw up when named to the top two. SeacrestOUT says they have three songs each - favorite from the season, one chosen by Simon Fuller - creator of American Idol, and a song co-written by Kara. SeacrestOUT also says tomorrow night's results show may run long. TIVO alert, folks. Also, Glee better not suck. I've been waiting to watch it for two months. If it sucks, I'll be mean. I will. Adam Lambert screamed when he was a baby and was a pain in the ass. His parents say so. He's singing first, reprising his version of "Mad World." Smoke. Trench coat. Stairs. Very Dramatic Moment. I find myself watching for jazz hands and some Fosse side steps. Cripes...this song is like Valium and glitter. Was it this long the last time, too? Randy says this is it and he loves Glambert's showing the emotion or something. "A for Adam! A!" Kara says she's so happy he chose that performance. He changed the game with that one. And then she ate her face. Paula says he's handsome and she's proud of him. (BTW, holy spray tan, Paula!) Something about a theatrical taste. Simon thinks it was over theatrical and reminded him of "Phantom of the Opera." Kris Allen had to be paid to sing. A quarter. His parents encouraged his busking, apparently. He's singing, "Ain't No Sunshine," which he knocked out of the park the last time he did it. Oooh! Mayer face even on the piano. Can I just say that it'll probably be a close vote, but people shouldn't bank on the voting audience going with the judges? If that happened, Archuletta would've won, IJS. Randy was dressed by Scott. Randy loves that he can tell exactly what kind of artist he is, and that was one of his best performances ever. Kara says there's something wrong with you if Kris Allen doesn't move you when he sings. And then she ate her face. Paula says he awakens some spirit in all of us and allenizes something something. Simon said he wasn't sure America had made the right choice in putting him in the top two, but he takes it back now. Simon Fuller picked "Change is Gonna Come," for Adam Lambert. Interesting. I would've called Kris for this song. I think he'd pick up the nuances better, but we'll see. See, this is my beef with Adam - this is a performance for him. Like a trained monkey. Kris, it's like he's listened to the song, and it's coming from his gut. Adam is the Lamborghini that you watch as it travels down the street. Kris is the old school Ford pickup that's been restored that you walk around and admire, and know it's got some history behind the cab. Randy says that the reason he's here is because he can sing his face off. Kara says this was his best yet. And then she ate her face. Paula says it was the best she ever heard him sing. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever... Simon says he's 100 percent back in the game.... Kris Allen is doing "What's Going On." Again, Simon Fuller picked it. And it was pretty much a good choice. Randy says they've got a real live competition. He thinks it was a little light for him. Kara loves that he was true to himself from day one. And then she ate her face. Paula says he tore that song up and made Marvin Gaye proud. Simon said it sounded like three friends in their bedroom strumming along to Marvin Gaye and it was too laid back. While we wait during commercials, lemme ask this: Is it just me, or is this season just not as exciting. Sure, there's been some decentesque talent, but something about the change in the way they've done things is just sucking the life right out of the show. What do you think? What the hell kind of britches does Glambert have on? Oh, right. The singing. I hate this song. But it is pop-ish, and an example of what will go on the radio, and Glambert is showing some serious armor chinks. In short, this sounds like Adam Sandler doing Air Supply. Seriously - are those acid washed jeans? Randy's outfit makes me sad. Inside. Where it hurts the most. Randy says he can sing anything, but it wasn't one of his favorite performances. It was pitchy. Kara says it's amazing when someone like his talent something something. Then she ate her face. Paula says adjectives can't something something. Seriously, Paula. OOMPA, LOOMPA, DOOPITY DO. Simon says over the entire season he's been one of the best, most original contestants. He believes Adam is a worldwide star. And then he politely asked for a shoehorn so he could pry himself out of Adam's ass before Kris takes the stage, because really, he can't hear a damn thing in there. Kris Allen is singing the same song. I'm meh so far. He better pick it up. I think it's the song. It's not well suited to either guy. They're not power ballad guys. Well, Lambert is, but not that one, obvs. The song is swallowing Kris. Randy said he should be very proud of what he's done in this competition. He thought it fit his voice better than it did for Adam. Kara said the song was too high for him, and he shouldn't be judged on that. She hopes people vote on the season, and then she ate her face. Paula said something something take it in. As a person of color, she agrees with Randy. Simon said watching him on stage was incredible and he thoroughly deserves to be standing on the stage. So, that's that. Any predictions? Personally, with that last one, I think I would've been more interested to hear songs they wrote, instead of them both singing the same song that really didn't suit either of them. Hop to it. The comments are open, and you people certainly bitched enough about last week's absenteeism. I expect a flood, people.

OMG! So Sorry! American Idol

I had this crime watch thing last week, and neglected to live blog American Idol. Rest assured that I'll be back in my usual spot on the couch, beer in hand, tonight AND tomorrow as recompense.

Dear Glenn Hunter:

Yes, I have disagreed with you more often than not. But this? As someone said, your latest post on Frontburner is the exact reason comments are good. Because you are so very wrong. Let's get past the fact that my initial reaction was visceral and involved a knee to your nethers. I'm even willing to try to get past the fact that - even when Frontburner did allow comments - you tend to lob a bomb and then run away, never coming back to engage the people who called you on some of your complete and total, ill-informed toro caca. So let's get down to business. 1) The family allowed the Twittering of the surgeries (read that TWO surgeries) because it also benefited them. With two surgeries going on in two separate hospitals, it was a good and practical way for everyone (whether they were at UT Southwestern or Children's) to get updates and follow the progress. 2) Under HIPAA, a patient's written permission can allow for disseminating of their current medical condition and status. Five seconds of Google found the answer to that, btw. 3) According to UNOS, there are 102,144 people waiting for organ donations as of 1:50 p.m. Eastern today. By Twittering this surgery, organ donation was demystified, which could in turn lead to a lowering of that number. So in conclusion, it wasn't bizarre (except maybe to a relic) and it wasn't contradictory. It was no different than the press conferences after sextuplets are born, faces are transplanted, or Britney is rehabbed. But you know what is bizarre? The fact that I had to use my blog to tell you all this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Bigger Word for Fail, the Update

So as you all know, (and if you don't, scroll down a scootch), there's been this ongoing battle with TXU over a fee they said was a mistake, but went ahead and deducted from the bank account any way. Well, not long after the post, I got an e-mail from someone in the communications department at TXU, offering to help. It seems they have some kind of scanner doohickey thingamabob (I used all those words so Steve Blow can't) that tells them when there's a blog post and such about the company. Well, a phone call to this person (not gonna name names, because I don't want the poor guy inundated with calls and e-mails - his job must suck though, given the metric ton of people I've seen complaining) and then an e-mail with all the details later, and we got a phone call today from TXU, saying they've magically put the money back in our account - something they swore on a stack of utility poles they couldn't do just a couple of days ago. The transaction hasn't appeared yet, though. So we shall see. In the meantime, I'd just like to throw this out there - if you're having issues with a big entity, let me know. I'd be happy to post up your problem, and see what we can all collectively do to get it solved.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Anybody Have A Bigger Word for Fail?

Because I need to borrow it. See, TXU's stellar customer service is now holding $200 hostage. It all started when we realized that the contract was up on TXU, and began shopping for a new electricity provider. We ultimately ended up going with another company, one that could offer us a better rate, a longer contract and the possibility of average billing - which is awesome when you're trying to stay on budget and it's always 120 degrees in the Texas during the summer, and summer lasts from the end of April to somewhere in November. So we canceled our service with TXU. And then we got a bill for the last month - $68, plus a $200 early termination fee. Assphinctersayswhat? Yeah. Early termination fee on a contract that had already expired. So a call was made, and a customer service rep named Jose assured us it was a mistake, and an amended bill would be sent in about a week. Fast forward, oh, about two weeks, to today. Still no amended bill, but what we do have is a debit from the bank account, for $268 (yes, we're signed up for automatic bill pay). Yeah, that early termination fee on an expired contract was still on the bill. And now it had been deducted from the bank account. So more phone calls were made. Thirty minutes of holding for three minutes - cumulative - of conversation. One permahold while a "supervisor" said he'd see if he couldn't rush that refund check, because although TXU can debit your bank account, it apparently can't put the money back. Horrible music for forever, then dead silence. So TXU, you're on notice. I'm gonna need that check by Friday. You can overnight it. A complaint was already made with the PUC, and next comes me e-mailing every company officer on your Web site and generally making your life miserable. If there are any overdraft fees because of this surprise withdrawal, I'm gonna need another check for that. The thing that gets me is that this is probably done to a lot more people. They send this bill with the early termination fee, and then bank on people being lazy or chalking it up to poor record keeping, and just paying it anyway. And that is completely a wrongheaded way to do business. So your competition offers better rates, and people leave you for them. That doesn't mean TXU gets to pad the last bill. So if you are thinking about changing electric companies because your contract is expiring, and you're using TXU now, keep an eye on that bill, and don't take Jose's word for it. Call every day, and make sure you disable automatic bill pay. If you've had a similar experience with TXU, let me know. Comments are open. Apparently, there are plenty of people who also have issues with TXU. Like here, here, here and here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

After the elections, there's this:

Open letters for all! Mayor Leppert: So I see, much like the Trinity vote, things have gone your way for the hotel, too. I'm sure you also realize that if this wasn't a lowly May election, things might've gone differently this time. People really didn't like this hotel thing. There's still a lot still don't. And at this point, I think acknowledging this might be good for you, even if you feel like walking up to Ann Raymond and spiking the ball. But mostly, I think you better make this work. I think it better be the best freakin' hotel in the history of hotels ever. Because anything less than what it was sold as will be considered by most to be a failure on your part. You will be the mayor that hitched an albatross to the city's neck. You'll be that guy. But also, if the hotel and the Trinity were meant to be your legacy pieces, you better get a handle on a few things quickly. There are a lot of people out there that voted for the hotel that were probably on the fence. If both the hotel and the Trinity fail - or even if just one does - do you think the voters will still be patient with you? Do you still think you'll get glowing reviews by the DMN editorial board? There are hurdles facing both projects that are flat out not in your hands. The levees on the Trinity and the whole mess with the Army Corps of Engineers reports - out of your hands. Trying to sell bonds in a market like this? Out of your hands. Cost overruns because of fluctuations in materials? Out of your hands. I'm intensely wary of city officials - well, officials period - that take on legacy projects. It can lead one to believe that perhaps that person is more interested in what the plaque on the project says, rather than what is good for the city. And you've taken on two. Dear Councilman Steve Salazar: I get more answers from people who are not my councilperson - like Angela Hunt, for instance - than I ever have from you. You are, by far, the least engaged councilperson on the horseshoe, and when my car needs realignment, I thank you. Or something. But you could've at least made a token effort to campaign. A few more signs. Maybe some door-to-door work. But you didn't. You knew you'd win because your opponent was young, and did not possess a war chest. So once again, you've missed a chance to talk to your constituents, see what's bugging them, give even a modicum of indication that you are interested. So even though you won, you fail. Dear Fernando Rubio: I know you're smart. I know you care about your community. But for gosh sakes, if you're gonna file, run. Just the investment of some shoe leather and some steno pads, and you could've possibly taken this thing from Salazar. All you needed to do was go to door to door and ask three things: "What do you love about your neighborhood? What do you hate? How can your council person help the most?" Indicating that you're interested and listening would've done wonders. But instead, nobody but a scant few knew who you were. And that ain't gonna win over the incumbent. Dear R.I.P. Dallas: Quit being such a tool. You won. Fine. But you pretty much wussed out anytime someone tried to engage you on the facts. You also are a music stealer. If you really care about this city, you and your co-horts now need to acknowledge the other things that can kill Dallas. Things like crappy streets, no entertainment offerings in downtown, crime, homelessness, etc. And then you're pretty much gonna need to help do something about it. Otherwise, you're just opportunists.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Finally, An Answer

Today, in about three hours or so, this whole Vote No/RIP Dallas/Vote Yes/Enough is Enough stuff will be over. At this point, the polls close in about an hour and a half. Early voting places I talked to said the pace was brisk and steady. Today, most news accounts say polling places are reporting steady, but hardly brisk, voting. A drive around the city sees some polling places with nothing but Vote No signs, some with a mix of Vote No and Vote Yes, and some with mostly Vote Yes and one or two Vote No. The television ads have boiled Prop 1 down to a fight between a rich guy and the mayor. But right now, the answer to which camp will prevail is still very much up in the air. As the whole thing winds down to a close, I have just a few thoughts: If I was forced to choose between the a Yes on Prop 1 and Yes on Prop 2 outcome versus a No on Prop 1 and a No on Prop 2 outcome, I'd choose the latter. Although it didn't get as much attention, Prop 2 is by far the most dangerous thing on the ballot. Cities have overcome failed ventures before and lived to tell about it. If the hotel comes to pass, and then later doesn't live up to the illustrious predictions for its potential, yes, taxpayer money will be involved. Bonds will build the hotel, but bonds must be repaid eventually, and if the hotel isn't making a profit when those bonds mature, the money has to come from somewhere. That may be my very long ago Econ 1 talking, though. But Dallas could survive that. And the hotel will probably benefit from its proximity to the convention center, but the convention center will need to benefit from its proximity to after hours entertainment and destinations. Right now, that is lacking in the downtown area. We may have conventions for 2012, 2013 or even 2015, but once word gets back about attendee dissatisfaction with the venues available after the conventions close each night may very well hamstring us from bringing more business later on. But Prop 2? Prop 2 grinds city business to a halt. While I appreciate the sentiment - and as I said before, I think the fact that essentially there is enough vitriol regarding this hotel that there are pretty much two referendums against it should be a wake-up call - I think the threshold for accountability - $1 million - is far too low. So I'm starting this open thread to give everyone a place to react to today's outcome. Have at it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Television I Do Not Watch

I will admit, I do not watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, primarily because I have a better chance of winning the lottery than any of those relationships coming to fruition. They've had what - one wedding among the two shows? Oy. But today I learned we've got like, four guys from Texas competing to be the next half of a couple who breaks up before their wedding. Two are allegedly from Dallas, but if you look at their pages on ABC, you'll see one is actually from Denton (which is not Dallas, but close), and now lives in Lantana. So say hi to: Jake. Tanner P., Wes, and Sasha. Anybody know any of these jokers? If so, spill it, sunshine.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dear Steve Blow:

Sorry about that...I was well, trying to use my camera phone to do um, you know.... this.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

American Idol: The My Brains Hurt So This Is Fueled by Vicodin Edition

Helllloooo, everyone. Glambert in the bottom three last week? Buhwha and oh my. This week, we have rock week, with Slash - SLASH - as the mentor. I really hope this involves teaching baby Allison the proper way to carry around a bottle of Jack Damage and how not to puke on the band. SeacrestOUT said there were a couple of accidents on the set, and one of the AI tower doohickeys collapsed. The contestants haven't had a proper run through. AND THEN THEY MIGHT DIE WHILE THEY SING. Also, the contestants are going to pair up and sing duets. Dear merciful lord in heaven - who styled Glambert? He looks like a cross between Danny Zuko and the Barry Gibb Talk Show. Now they're explaining who Slash is. The contestants got to meet him at the Roxy. Danny Gokey is doing the white man overbite. SERIOUSLY. Glambert's doing "Whole Lotta Love." Slash told him not to improvise on the high registers. Personally, I hate it when he does that. I want to punch a baby kitten in the head. I'm glad Slash agrees with me. (Note to self: Google high register and music.) OK - did we have any doubt that Glambert would take to this week Richard Pryor to heroin (too soon?). I just realized that Glambert has the Rosie O'Donnell haircut. Randy says this is the Adam he loves and he's a rock star. Kara says he's a rock god. And then she said a bunch of other stuff that I tuned out. Paula says he's a "whole lot of perfect." Simon joked that the performance was a little understated, but seriously it was his favorite performance Adam's ever done. "The problem is, nobody can top that now," he said. Glambert took Little Allison to his hairstylist for rock girl hair. Slash said she's predisposed to the Janis Joplin thing - I'm hoping he means vocally, because, uh.... So she's singing "Cry Baby," and as expected, pretty much nailing it. OK, she's the exact opposite of David Archuleta, whose youth came off "golly gee shucks." Randy didn't love the song choices. "All it was was the 'cry baby, cry baby'..." Kara says Janis was the right choice, and thought "Piece of My Heart" would've been better. Paula says she should do the biopic of Janis Joplin. Simon said he thought it was a terrific vocal and she had presence, but worried the song was too sound-alike with the original. Then little miss Allison got all feisty in Simon's face. So far, two pretty solid performances. I see a potential train wreck with Gokey, IJS. First duet of the night - Kris and Gokey doing "Renegade." Of course, this means an Allison-Glambert matchup. Oh...this is...bad. KARAOKE. If this was less rock and roll, it'd be Lawrence Welk with the bubbles. I mean, between Kris' John Mayer guitar faces and Gokey's white man overbite, we've got a mess of facial ticks and sadness. Randy really liked the harmonies. The individual vocals were OK but the harmonies were better. Kara says the sum of the parts was better, and there was pitchy moments. Paula says it was really great and powerful and compelling. Simon says Danny was better than Kris. Kris is up for his solo now, will do the Beatles' "Come Together." He's gonna have to top last year's version by Carly Smithson. Slash tells him to be more animated. Yay! More John Mayer faces! It's a little bluesy... slowed down a bit. It was probably a wise choice for Kris, considering he's not really hard rock, but this addresses the week's theme but still sounds like him. Hah! Randy agreed with me and he loved what he was playing on the guitar. Kara thought it wasn't a great performance and he tried too hard. Paula said his artistic delivery put his signature all over it. He's an artist on this stage. NO. Really? Simon actually didn't like it too much and thought it was like eating ice for lunch. Holy crapstick covered in lima beans. SeacrestOUT just said Gokey's gonna sing "Dream On." That's just mean. It's either gonna be a train wreck or TOTAL KARAOKE. WTF is he wearing? Why, honey, that's the least rock and roll thing he could find in the Idol closet, that's what that is. I am not liking this. NOT. Liking. This. He sounds like he's taking a giant dump. A big, steamy, stinky pile of poop right on the stage, but he forgot his fiber so he's having to strain at the stool. That's what I think. In the name of all that is good and holy, make that stop. Randy says this isn't his genre, and this was all right for him. Gave him an A for effort. Kara says he took it a little too far. Paula doesn't know if this was the right song for him. But she's a huge fan, a huge fan. Simon agrees with everyone. That last note, he said, was like watching a horror movie. I AGREE, COWELL. He still thinks he'll be safe after tonight. Can I just say that I think the Allison and Glambert duet will be AWESOMENESS? I mean, I could be wrong, but I really think that this could be freakin' awesome. What if they do some Lita Ford/Ozzy Osbourne? They won't, but what if they did? They're doing "Slowride." Alright, alright alright..... I don't think this was the best song. I think Lita Ford and Ozzy would've been better. I mean, they can't suck more than the other, so they've got that goin' for 'em. And hey, they go to the same hair stylist now, so there's that... Randy says they're the two seasoned rock stars and they should do a duet on their albums. Kara says they're the rock god and rock goddess, which is like prom king and queen but way more gay. Paula says they should get married. Simon says they definitely won the show on the battle of duets and that it may have given Allison a chance to stay in the competition. Do you smell a possible Glambert-Allison showdown in the final? Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants - the girl who has visited the bottom three the most ends up being in the final? As for the bottom two - I'm predicting Gokey and Kris. What say you?

Dear Ken Mayfield:

You know, I totally get your frustration. Sometimes, a female gets all uppity, and then you're forced to, in the immortal words of N.W.A., "slam her ass in a ditch." But really, if you're gonna get all up in a female coworker's face, I recommend getting rid of all the reporters in the room first. I mean, alternately, you could just marshal enough facts to shout her down and shut her up but good, but in the absence of that, just tell the reporters to leave the room. But since that stupid FOIA thing means you can't do that either, I suggest the following things so you don't end up looking so foolish in a news story: 1. Grab Maurine Dickey's hand, and use it to slap her in the face. Then say, "Quit hitting yourself!" *slap* "Why are you hitting yourself?" *slap* 2. Snort, and then say, "At least I know my science, unlike THIS guy over here..." and then do the over the shoulder point with your thumb and John Wiley Price. 3. Snort, and then say, "At least I only have pictures taken with my pants on..." and then pretty much repeat the same action you did in suggestion No. 2. 4. Challenge Jim Foster to an IQ -off. 5. Fart, then blame it on Maurine. But wait for her to make a face, and then say, "If you smelt it, you dealt it!" I hope all these suggestions help you in some way. Peace out, homey.

Two Things ..

I'll hopefully comment more tonight, when I have time, but I thought I'd throw both of these out there: 1. Time wonders if Kindle can save newspapers. 2. CNN says the future of online news is hyperlocal. Discuss!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Most of my close friends know that two and a half months ago, tiny Gertie - a terrier mix who thought she was a housecat - chose to come home with me from the Dallas Animal Shelter. The whole day had been spent meeting dogs. And then, in this little enclosure, was this one dog. She looked up with big brown eyes, not barking, not jumping, as if to say, "I am way too much of a lady to do all that. But I like you." Once in a visiting room, she artfully dodged the biologicals left by other dogs and tried to crawl up in my lap. So when I say she chose to come here, I mean it - she picked us. The day I was supposed to go pick her up, I was told she had developed a little respiratory infection, and would need to stay another 10 days. When she finally did come home, it was as if she knew this was her place, we were her people. It took her two days to figure out the dog door. Monday - her first solo day - when we got home she made us follow her to the kitchen, where she proceeded to go out the dog door and come back in, as if she needed to show us that she could do it, and that we didn't need to worry about accidents anymore. On walks, she assumed every person out wanted to pet her. And why the hell not? She was - and I may be biased - the cutest friggin ragamuffin of a dog you've ever seen. At night, I'd put her in her bed, cover her with her blanket, and she'd curl up and go to sleep. In the morning, she demonstrated she was not a morning girl at all - you'd have to wake her, and then she'd stumble out of her bed. We thought the clumsiness she displayed was part of her charm. She hated the cold, so we bought her a sweater. She'd refuse to go outside without it if the temperature was below 60. She was a bit of a prima donna, our Gertie. But then, a few days ago, we noticed that it wasn't just her tail wagging, it was her legs, the entire back half of her body. At first we thought it was a quirk from having a new dog visit. She whined at night, and we attributed it to a little dustup the two had in the dark one night. And then Wednesday came. We got home, and she was shaking even worse than before. She whined as she fell asleep, and tossed and turned. A trip to the emergency vet offered us something treatable - an injury - or something far worse - distemper. Scared, but hopeful, we let the doctor give her something for pain, something for infection, and an anti-inflammatory, hoping it would work. "I don't ever want to go back to that place," I said. "It's depressing." We watched two families lose pets that night, as we waited. Another elderly woman brought in her seizure-having dog. All those injections worked briefly, but I ended up spending all of Thursday night up, holding her, soothing her, as she whined and shook. When she walked, she looked like Amy Poehler's character in the SNL "Appalachian ER" skit. We took her to our regular vet the next morning, hoping he'd run some tests. He looked at her briefly, walked out of the room, and came back to say, "I've got bad news. It's distemper." No blood work? No tests? "What do you suggest," I managed to gasp out during what would be the first ugly cry in public of the day. "I think the best choice is euthanasia," he said, and then walked out of the room again. The phenomenal vet tech who did her initial write up left with him, then hurried back in. "I think he could be wrong," she said. "I think you should get a second opinion." She gave us the name of Dr. Yvonne Hanks, in Plano. The earliest appointment was 4 p.m., and it seemed like time stood still. Gertie whined and shook, and looked at us with confused eyes, as if she couldn't figure out why her humans couldn't fix her. In the meantime, we decided that if this was going to be it, we'd give Gertie the best afternoon ever. She got steak, she got snuggles, and she got time out in the backyard in the sun. It was there that we discovered she had been chewing on one of the shrubs - could this be the cause of all of this? We looked it up, and found it was harmful if eaten. At that point, I almost hoped it was poisoning. It was something fixable, right? I sat on the couch, with Gertie next to me, looking up possible symptoms. "It can't be distemper," I said. "She's eating, she's going to the bathroom. She's not running a fever. She's not got a runny nose." So a clipping of the shrub was brought to Dr. Hanks as well. She agreed that Gert's symptoms could be from a neurotoxin and said a blood test would give us a better answer. High liver enzymes? Toxin. High white blood cell count? Virus. We waited, trying to calm Gertie, who by now had a catheter in her front leg, and was receiving a muscle relaxer and IV fluids. "I have not so good news," Dr. Hanks said. "It's viral." As I burst into the second ugly public cry of the day, she explained that a normal white blood cell count for a dog like Gertie is about 1500. Hers was 2100. The other reason I love Dr. Hanks? When I started bawling, I looked up as she gave me a hug. She had tears in her eyes, too. But Dr. Hanks didn't want to count Gertie out just yet. She asked us to leave her overnight, so she could re-hydrate her, and fix her wonky electrolytes. We came home, and I had another good ugly cry before downing two Benedryls and collapsing in a coma. The next morning, Dr. Hanks let us know she was doing some better, and they were going to try some phenobarbital for the shaking. By the time we came to visit Gertie that afternoon, Dr. Hanks was bubbling over with good news. Gertie was up and barking, eating and going to the bathroom, and making a general pest of herself. The phenobarb, apparently, made her shaking less pronounced. She was sleeping through the night. "She doesn't like her catheter, and keeps trying to pull it out," she said, laughing. "She's chewed through her IV lines." When we got to her, she was alert, walking around - almost as if to show us that she could do it. So we went home, excited. If Gertie did well again overnight, we'd get to take her home. We texted and e-mailed all the friends and family to let them know. Saturday morning, I bake a cake to take to Dr. Hanks' office, and then errand running. While out, we get a call that we can indeed take Gertie home. We rush over to Plano, where Dr. Hanks warned us that the weekend would be a good indicator of whether or not Gertie would pull through. She was doing well, Dr. Hanks said, "but it's still a delicate situation." Knowing that, we took Gertie home. For a while, all was well. She went outside and lurched around the backyard. She ate a can of food. She inhaled whatever treat she was given. But then, around 3 p.m., the whining began again. The shaking became more pronounced. One dose of phenobarb didn't touch it. I sat (crying, again) in a dark, quiet room with her, hoping maybe the lack of stimuli would help. A call to Dr. Hanks (seriously - what vet gives out her cell phone number?) authorized another dose of phenobarb. Gertie slept for about two hours. Then the whining and shaking began again. She was hot to the touch. She chewed things and wandered around. Her back legs didn't support her at all any more, and she dragged herself around by her front legs a few steps before collapsing. I have never seen anything - dog or human - try as hard as this dog to get better. I think she rallied Friday and Saturday morning, but ultimately, her tiny body just couldn't handle any more stress. Or maybe she knew this wasn't going to end well, and just wanted to come home for a few hours. I don't know. But as the fever grew higher, and the shaking and whining more pronounced, it was decided. She wasn't getting better, she was getting worse. She was in pain, probably suffering from incredible dementia....and it was time to say goodbye. And so that's how, this morning, we ended up back at that incredibly depressing emergency vet clinic, handing over our Gertie to be put out of her misery. I know there are going to be some people out there who think we should've tried a little more. There are others that will think it was cruel to try all weekend, and that we should've taken our now former regular vet's advice. But I think that Gertie got two months of love, attention, playing in the backyard, long walks and doggie ice cream that she wouldn't have gotten if we didn't meet her in the shelter two months ago. She touched so many people's lives in such a brief amount of time, and even now I find myself, sitting on the couch, missing her warm, furry body curled up next to my leg, content. So goodbye, Gertie. Thank you for choosing us, and for loving us back. I can't tell you how much I'll miss you.