JOURNAL: Current | Archives

31 May 2003

What Happens If Stats Geeks Take Over Baseball Teams?

The teams win.

Thomas Boswell penned a great column for the Washington Post a few days ago on the stats that matter in baseball, and how to build a team around the concept.

You hardcore baseball fans probably already know all this, but it's interesting for those of us who follow the Major Leagues a little less closely these days.

[Posted at 16:08 CST on 05/31/03] [Link]

Mike McClure Band

Mike McClure ROCKED the Firehouse last night.

Maybe even scared the hat crowd a little bit at times.

Because this certainly isn't the stuff The Great Divide used to do.

McClure's put together a rock band that does rocking red dirt music, which makes it just country enough to fit in at Texas roadhouses but otherwise not all that country. His guitarist just kicks butt. And McClure's no slouch on the guitar himself. At times, they really crank up the dueling guitars. It's cool.

Callie, of course, enjoyed some of the slower stuff. And it's good -- McClure has a soulful voice and writes thoughtful material. But man, when he and the band really tear loose... wow.

We did manage a live recording of the thing, which was in some doubt prior to the show. McClure was cool with it, his sound engineer was cool with it, and the sound engineer at the Firehouse was friendly as could be.

Must see these guys again though, and soon, because the set seemed way too short.

[Posted at 14:30 CST on 05/31/03] [Link]

30 May 2003

You Know You Have Problems When Lufkin Drops You

The Lufkin Daily News has dropped one of the premier columnists of a once-great newspaper.

The problem?

Much like the rest of the NY Times under Howell Raines, the columnist simply cannot be trusted. Here's the editorial:

The New York Times' considerable credibility problem is now our problem, as well.

But unlike the Times, which has been engaged in a torturous exercise of naval gazing and self-flagellation, with its accustomed arrogance, since it was revealed that one of its younger reporters had committed all sorts of journalistic sins, we are doing something about it, and fast.

Until she explains to our satisfaction her own ethical transgression — an apparently deliberate distortion of a comment by President Bush — you will not find the work of Times columnist Maureen Dowd on this page.

Since publishing a mea culpa on the Jayson Blair fiasco, the ethical woes have only continued at the Times. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Rick Bragg resigned this week after it was revealed he had passed as his own, work reported by interns and freelance writers. Not even his friendship with the Times' top editor could save him.

The storm clouds have now moved over Dowd, also a Pulitzer Prize winner whose work has appeared here and other newspapers across the country — and coincidentally, like me, a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. A Times spokeswoman said the newspaper is "looking into" a column, which we did not publish, in which Dowd apparently twisted to fit her point of view Bush's assessment of the danger posed by al-Qaida terrorists just days before a terror attack in Saudi Arabia.

Dowd, it seems, may have taken the title of her column — "Liberties" — way too far.

Here's what Dowd wrote in the column in question:

“‘Al-Qaida is on the run,' President Bush said last week. 'That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated ... they're not a problem anymore.'"

Here's what Bush actually said:

"Al-Qaida is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top al-Qaida operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore."

New York Daily News columnist Zev Chafets offered a perfect criticism of what Dowd did.

"The words in italics were replaced in Dowd's column by three little dots. Those dots say to the reader: Trust me, I'm abbreviating here, but what I'm leaving out doesn't change the meaning.

"But the dots did change the meaning," Chafets wrote. "In fact, they turned it upside down. Far from declaring al-Qaida 'spent,' Bush was warning the country against complacency. The only terrorists the president declared 'no longer a problem' were the ones already jailed or dead."

Dowd quietly "corrected" herself by including the full quote in a subsequent column that appeared in The Lufkin Daily News on Thursday.

That's not good enough, and until Dowd, and her newspaper, fully account for her infraction, her column will not appear on this page.

Critics of the Times, who are everywhere, are watching with glee as Dowd, one of the more clever columnists around, tries to write herself out of this one. Here in Lufkin, at least one reader thinks she has dragged The Lufkin Daily News into the muck with her, noting that we frequently publish her work.

"That does not say a whole lot for The Lufkin Daily News editorial page," one Sound Off caller said Thursday.

Hopefully, our decision to suspend Dowd from these pages will help restore our credibility with the caller and other readers.

Dowd violated one of the cardinal tents of the newspaper business: Don't mislead your readers, because your credibility is your only currency. Lose it, and the reader won't care how good a writer you are.

How we can best serve you, the reader, is a daily challenge here at The Lufkin Daily News, for our credibility is the only thing that those of us in the newsroom have to sell. We may not always get it right, and you may not always like what you read, but we will always do our best to make this newspaper, your newspaper, a place where the likes of Jayson Blair, Rick Bragg and Maureen Dowd will never feel at home.

Kudos to the Lufkin Daily News for having standards.

[Posted at 20:58 CST on 05/30/03] [Link]

McClure

Mike McClure
Check out this guy at the Firehouse tonight

Callie and I were both sad when Mike McClure and The Great Divide went their separate ways, because we enjoyed that band.

But McClure has his new band together and has been touring his @ss off of late. Tonight he returns to The Firehouse for a show.

Needless to say, we'll be there to check out what he's put together. It should be a good show.

PS And the dude keeps a journal on his website. I like it when musicians do that (however rarely).

[Posted at 12:46 CST on 05/30/03] [Link]

Cardboard Man

So much for the Michael Berry campaign's big "smoking gun" they tried to use against Orlando Sanchez.

All it did was call attention to their own problematic donations and draw ridicule from the Houston Press, whose Tim Fleck refers to Berry as the Cardboard Man (since he has a tendency not to be present at his own campaign events and take a stand on issues that his consultants are talking about).

And that's partly why we refer to him as Boy Blunder.

[Posted at 06:33 CST on 05/30/03] [Link]

28 May 2003

Who Is Kristen Mack?

The reason I ask the question in the title to this post is that the writer has actually crafted a pretty good report. In our dreadful Comical. Which is nothing short of amazing.

Still digesting the details of the report, but it strikes me that maybe Council should just punt this one for six months or so, and let the new mayor deal with the problem (instead of fixing what Mayor Pothole will inevitably turn into a G-D mess).

[Posted at 23:34 CST on 05/28/03] [Link]

Peaches Is Dead, Long Live Peaches

The Randy Rogers Band has a new van to replace Peaches, and they need help coming up with a name for their wheels.

So for those of you so inclined, go give Randy's message board a visit and give him some suggestions.

[Posted at 22:54 CST on 05/28/03] [Link]

Diet, Nutrition, and Health

Mr. Breese found this great site that analyzes diet and nutrition with an eye towards understanding and managing blood sugar loads. It's one of the best explanations of the mechanism of weight gain/loss I've seen anywhere, sort of a combination of the principles of Sugar Busters, Atkins, the Zone, and the like.

[Posted at 06:44 CST on 05/28/03] [Link]

27 May 2003

Red Dirt Music

Cindy has discovered a fine website for Red Dirt music that I need to stick in my bookmarks.

Now if we could just get No Justice to come play Houston.... *sigh*

[Posted at 23:19 CST on 05/27/03] [Link]

Lovely

In addition to bad outfield-seat sightlines, obnoxiously loud music, and way overpriced concessions, add some sort of fungus/mold/discoloration issue to the list of Juice Container charms.

Given our abundance of trial lawyers in Houston, how long before an asthmatic sues the place?

A good reason to leave the roof open, I would wager, and play baseball like it's supposed to be played.

[Posted at 23:15 CST on 05/27/03] [Link]

Thanks Rudy

I was mildly surprised when I returned from my media-free camping trip in OK to learn that Rudy T did the right thing and stepped down from the Rockets.

I say mildly surprised because I spent the last few months of the season wondering what was going to happen as the Rockets went into freefall and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

The situation became even tougher after Rudy was diagnosed with (very treatable) cancer. The treatments are reportedly going fine, but he did miss the last part of the season and probably wasn't going to be ready to get back into the swing of things any time soon. So it was a good time for Rudy to step away and concentrate and getting healthy, and a good move for the Rockets since it would have been clumsy firing the only coach of a major sport to bring a championship to this city.

It looks like Les Alexander is going to go get himself a "name" coach, which is certainly good news. The names that have popped up include Larry Brown, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Van Gundy, and Pat Riley. Any of those first three would be outstanding. Pat Riley would not. And one name I haven't seen floated is Paul Silas, who would also be a good choice.

Of course, my track record on critiquing Houston coaching hires isn't the greatest. I actually thought Jimy Williams would make a difference here, and he has -- the Astros look very mediocre under his tutelage. But part of that probably falls on the owner, who isn't willing to do what it takes to put a championship team together. Les Alexander has proven he will spend the money, go for trades, and provide the support necessary to win -- it just hasn't happened over the last four years. I think any of those first three coaches or will be walking into a great situation for quick improvement (unlike Jimy with the Astros).

In any case, thanks to Rudy T for all those years playing and coaching the Rockets, and winning the only major sports championships this city has seen. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to Mr. Rocket.

[Posted at 22:23 CST on 05/27/03] [Link]

The Ardmore, OK Demoncrats

David Guenthner (of the Lone Star Report) and Bryan Preston (of JunkYardBlog) have separate guest articles on NRO today about those Texas Demoncrats who abandoned their legislative responsibilities to take a vacation in Oklahoma recently. It's good reading.

[Posted at 10:06 CST on 05/27/03] [Link]

26 May 2003

Back

Back from the float trip weekend!

We only saw a few hours of sun the entire weekend (though it cleared in the evening and stars were out).

It turned much much cooler than usual.

It rained on our raft during much of the float on Saturday.

It was so cold I didn't float at all on Sunday.

But we had a good fire, good brew, good food, and a good group of people. And it was a good trip. So there.

I suspect Alex will fill in some of the details with his creative writer's touch at some point. I'm too tired to fill in any details. But I'm already looking forward to next year.

(Update) Alex's update is posted here.

[Posted at 22:17 CST on 05/26/03] [Link]

23 May 2003

Float Trip

Taking off on my annual Memorial Day weekend float trip, so no posting around here for a few days.

Hope everyone enjoys the weekend, and takes a moment to remember those who have sacrificed so we can make BBQ and float canoes and whatever else you peeps are doing with your weekend.

[Posted at 00:59 CST on 05/23/03] [Link]

22 May 2003

Float Trip Prep

Stuff tied on top of the Jeep and I'm STILL gonna be running very tight as space goes.... There's an old backpacker's maxim that you will always use all available space and then some. It doesn't matter if you have an expedition size pack and you're going for a weekender. You will use all available space. When you are car camping, and your backpack is effectively a Jeep, the maxim is no less true.

Off to have a bite and see the Dead End Angels momentarily. And then I can stay up half the night finishing off the packing.

[Posted at 19:05 CST on 05/22/03] [Link]

21 May 2003

Moses Roses Brigade Update

Rob Booth has posted Some Questions For The Moses Rose Brigade (the group of Demoncrats who scurried like rats across the Red River to break quorum).

I like Rob's name for the group (since Moses Rose was, as he explains, the guy who abandoned the Alamo).

And now that Owen has moved to his new place, I can link to these poll results he posted. A majority of Texans were not too impressed with the Dems on this one, which can't bode well for them. That's surprising to me, given the generally favorable media coverage it received. I wonder if/how those numbers will change over time. The Dems better hope they change for the better.

(Update) More thoughts from John Fund.

[Posted at 22:01 CST on 05/21/03] [Link]

Honky Tonk'n

We've had some discussion at Scott's place on the genre of music produced by (and for) the Shiner Bock Nation crowd -- the relatively mindless, feel-good, honky-tonk stuff that is much in favor all over Texas these days. I like that stuff well enough, provided that it's done well, and I think Pat Green takes a lot of unfair criticism. But I will concede that some of the derivative acts are less than impressive.

I saw F.Co, whose music probably falls into that genre, a while back at the Firehouse, and enjoyed it for what it was. But William Michael Smith sounds kind of tired of it:

The King of Texas follows the commercially successful least-common-denominator formula developed in the Pat Green kitchen and scrupulously imitated by Cory Morrow and a jillion other neo-Texas country acts that are almost indistinguishable from one another in their kitschy taco'd straw hats. Those partial to music that doesn't dare even the slightest deviation from the original mashed potatoes recipe will probably catapult The King of Texas to the top of our Texas music charts with considerable haste. Yee-haw. Yeah, buddy.
Look, it's not the deepest stuff in the world. Smith makes his point. But why insult the people who actually like the music? You can write a music review without doing that. Good gawd, if you're writing reviews of Texas music for an alt-weekly, it's not exactly like YOU are a friggin' audiophile reviewing the latest classical release on period instruments from Trevor Pinnock!*** So drop the superior attitude already.

Geez.

(Update) William Michael Smith is the same person who tried to connect songwriter Max Stalling to existential novelist/thinker Albert Camus a while back. Without commenting on the songwriting, I must say that F.Co has a much stronger BAND sound than Max "Camus" Stalling. And sometimes (much of the time), that's all I want.

(05-22-03 Update) Mr. Whitlock moves the conversation much further along here....


*** Okay, it's rare that I can work a mention of Trevor Pinnock into a rant about Texas Music, but I've done it. For those not familiar with the man, he does some brilliant interpretations of classical music, on period instruments. I don't make any claims to know much about classical music, but I think of his approach to classical music as much like the Straussian approach to textual analysis (rightly or wrongly). Check his stuff out if you are classically inclined.

[Posted at 21:50 CST on 05/21/03] [Link]

Liking The New Look

Dead End Angels

The Dead End Angels have gone live with their new website (minus a feature here and there).

Very nicely done.

Can't wait to see 'em at the Duck tomorrow to kick off my extra long Memorial Day weekend. And how 'bout that teaser on the merchandise page... the cover of the new CD that isn't available just yet....

[Posted at 12:39 CST on 05/21/03] [Link]

20 May 2003

WMD In Houston

Fox 26 reports that Houston apparently will be conducting drills tomorrow to see how safety personnel react to a weapon of mass destruction.

My immediate thought:

Mayor Pothole is a weapon of mass destruction, and six years of his leadership should have provided plenty of training.

[Posted at 21:18 CST on 05/20/03] [Link]

Peaches, RIP

Randy Rogers's tour van Peaches has passed away.

Randy's eulogy is here.

Les's recollections of the death are here.

May Peaches Rest In Peace.

[Posted at 13:31 CST on 05/20/03] [Link]

19 May 2003

Mayor Pothole Looks Back

Mayor Pothole And The Dumbasses Who Made Him Possible
Mayor Pothole And Supporters

I keep forgetting to link to this Houston Press profile on Mayor Pothole, which for the most part is fair and accurate. Indeed, Mayor Pothole makes the case that things have only seemed like a disaster, and that he really hasn't gotten enough credit for his wondrous accomplishments:

"I've run more complex organizations than this city," says Brown dismissively, in response to a question about the well-documented problems with his staff turnover and infighting.

"I have been the police commissioner of New York City, with almost twice as many employees as I have now and bigger than the city of Houston's budget. I worked as a cabinet member with a $14 billion budget.

"I've been successful at every job I've had, so I come into this job with a wealth of experience, managing people, complex organizations. That experience has served this city well, which is evident by the outcome."

Uh huh. You just keep telling yourself that, Big Guy.

It's too bad that this is print, because it really doesn't capture the stuttering, odd pauses, and incoherent jumble that typifies every sentence that comes flying out of the man's mouth. Like I said above, this piece is fair. Probably too fair.

I love this bit of reasoning:

"I can't support Orlando, because he's not qualified to run, and I can't support Michael Berry, because he's not qualified to run. It would have been better if he had just taken the time to learn his way around City Hall before he decided to run for mayor."
Well, let's see. Orlando won several city-wide elections for council, yet he's not qualified. But if Michael Berry had stayed around for a while like Orlando, "it would have been better" (presumably meaning he would be qualified). I just love Mayor Pothole's logical consistency.

What a buffoon.

Thank goodness he gets to go away, courtesy of term limits.

[Posted at 21:44 CST on 05/19/03] [Link]

18 May 2003

Mayor Crime Lab?

Here's a shocker (only on 2!) for Houstonians: The HPD crime lab lacks good management!

If Mayor Pothole is any kind of example, Police Chief C.O. Bradford is sitting pretty to be the eventual mayor of this fine city. Maybe I'll call him Mayor Crime Lab.

[Posted at 21:01 CST on 05/18/03] [Link]

We All Have Special Needs

It's been almost a week, and the Comical has finally gotten around to describing the murder victim it initially identified as a "man with special needs."

Here's the latest coverage:

The Whataburger manager arrested in the slaying of a mentally challenged employee previously worked with one of his alleged accomplices at another fast-food restaurant, Houston homicide investigators said Saturday.

Police believe that the manager, Gregory O'Neil Love, 38, provided the opportunity for the robbery while he was away from work and while employee Christopher Martin Dean -- described by relatives as borderline mentally retarded -- held the keys to the office.

So, he was borderline mentally retarded. I'm not sure why the original story couldn't have just said that. It's descriptive, unlike "special needs."

The Comical quotes another man who seems to have some special needs:

A former supervisor of Dean's who runs a job-training center for disabled adults said the slain man constantly asked that other mentally challenged adults be given the chance to work for Whataburger.

"We're no better than a Third World country if we can't protect people like this," said James Olson, chief executive officer of the Association for the Developmentally Disabled.

Yes, we ARE better than a third world country. What a stupid thing to say.

[Posted at 10:46 CST on 05/18/03] [Link]

My Almost In-Law

We had a little excitement in Montrose last night.

Or I should say Callie's brother Pete, who runs the Icehouse, had a little excitement. (We weren't there).

Apparently around closing time, he noticed a white car parked nearby and a couple of people appeared to be casing the joint. They also appeared to be communicating with a couple of black guys who had never been to the bar before who were just hanging out in back, watching things.

Now, probably Pete should have called the cops at that point. But in our politically correct society, there are certain norms against calling the cops in that situation. Stll, a good bar owner tends to have a pretty good sense of things that are out of the ordinary.

So Pete, who lives right by the Icehouse, steps into his place and loads up a couple of guns (completely legal -- Pete was one of the first Houstonians to obtain a concealed carry permit). When he steps back out, the guys sitting in back are gone and he hears yelling. So he takes off towards the business, and sure enough, those guys have donned hoods, stolen some purses, and are running to the car that was casing the joint. And one of them sees Pete AND OPENS FIRE.

Anyway, Pete returns fire with BOTH GUNS, but the guys get away. Thankfully, neither Pete nor any customers or help were hurt. As far as the other bastards, one can only hope that Pete nailed 'em.

In any case, I bet the bastards won't be coming back for more at the Icehouse anytime soon. And thank goodness for concealed carry. Those bastards could have ended up hurting a lot of people, and surely getting away with a lot of loot if liberal pansies had their way, and Houston's finest would have come along an hour later to write up a report.

I wonder if these crimes (Channel 11, Channel 13) were carried out by the same bastards? They sound suspiciously similar. I'll post a report on the Icehouse incident later if one is put up anywhere.

[Posted at 09:08 CST on 05/18/03] [Link]

17 May 2003

Randy

Who listens to country radio? 18-24 year old chicks. They shouldn't be selling CDs, they should be selling tampons.
-- RR

Randy Rogers was in rare form last night, and Mr. Whitlock has posted some of the details.

A fun time was had by all.

[Posted at 23:30 CST on 05/17/03] [Link]

The Kenny Chesney Of Steakhouses?

Comical food critic Alison Cook (a favorite of mine from her Houston Press days) isn't overly impressed with the Fleming's steakhouse that opened just up the street from me not too long ago:

If only all the food here lived up to the excellent steaks, the celestial shoestrings, the better red wines.

But it doesn't, and at these not insignificant prices, that's a real drawback. I found the seafood dishes (meant to appeal to the stereotypical female customer) rather oddly conceived. Rare tuna seared with a poppy-seed crust sounded interesting, but a veritable lake of too-sweet sherry vinaigrette sabotaged the effect.

Charred salmon with a cabernet butter was a perfectly nice piece of fish poised on a dark, heavy version of cabernet butter. (It only made me pine for chef Bruce Auden's lilting beurre rouge way back when at Charlie's 517.) And cilantro-crusted shrimp with a sauce "like orange marmalade" (as our waiter put it)? I couldn't even think about it.

I had to wonder, too, what that stiff, unyielding lump of toasted bread was doing in the middle of an otherwise blameless appetizer of barbecued shrimp. I puzzled over the need to endow such creamy-rich crab cakes with a creamy-rich citrus-butter sauce.

I had a traumatic flashback when the scalloped jalapeño-and-cheese potatoes turned out to be a solid rectangle that reminded me of nothing so much as my mom's midcentury tuna-and-mushroom-soup casserole, minus the tuna.

And even decent versions of cheesecake and runny chocolate lava cake (the new tiramisu) couldn't erase the sting of a bland pear-and-apple tart on sodden puff pastry.

In the end, I had to admit to myself that despite the charms of my ideal Fleming's meal, something was missing.

It's the same thing I miss in all the big-ticket national steak chains: a sense of place, a soulfulness, a specificity that tells you where you are and why that's a cause for thanksgiving.

The late, great Brenner's steakhouse in its heyday had those qualities in abundance. Such national treasures as Peter Luger's (in Brooklyn) or Bones (in Atlanta) still do.

But no matter how favorably disposed I might be to Fleming's, the fact remains that it could be anywhere.

Or, as it happens, everywhere.

I wish that I had visited Brenner's before it closed. I just assumed that it would be around for several more generations of Houstonians to enjoy. Alas.

Robb Walsh, another favorite of mine, had a similar report after he visited Fleming's several months ago:

In order to get a good table at Fleming's, evidently you need to know Maeve O'Gorman Pesquera. Pesquera used to be the general manager at Anthony's, where she attracted "a constellation of local socialites who vied for the 'seen and be seen' tables on a nightly basis," according to her bio in the Fleming's press kit. The good tables at Fleming's apparently are reserved for the same air-kissing aristocracy.

If being relegated to a third-rate table by an employee of Outback Steakhouse strikes you as a little too much indignity before dinner, you might want to eat your steaks elsewhere. Until recently, I might have suggested a funky homegrown alternative, like Brenner's out on the Katy Freeway. But Brenner's quietly went out of business last fall. Few independents can compete with the combination of ambience and meat quality that the national steak house chains provide.

Now, however, there's not much choice besides the chains. It reminds me, depressingly, of what happened to radio. If you want to listen to rock and roll in Houston, you pick a Clear Channel Communications format that's targeted to your age group. And if you want to eat steak, you shop around for a restaurant concept that's been packaged to appeal to your demographic.

Hmmm... Fleming's as the Kenny Chesney of steakhouses?

I love Robb Walsh.

The restaurant annoys Callie, on the other hand, because their patrons leave the place drunk (one of them hit a parked car a few nights ago) and drive like jackasses. Me, I don't worry about it so much. I just aim the Jeep where I want to go, and if the self-important bastards run into me, Jim Adler and I are gonna make 'em pay!

[Posted at 14:11 CST on 05/17/03] [Link]

June Carter Cash

Some thoughts on June Carter Cash from another newly discovered journaller...

and more from Sean over at The American Mind.

[Posted at 12:57 CST on 05/17/03] [Link]

*groan*

The Randy Rogers Band put on their best show that I've seen tonight....

and the minidisc crapped out***.

No recording.

As bootlegging goes, it doesn't get much worse than blowing the best show a band's ever done that you've attended.

Blar.

Look for Mr. Whitlock to post an amusing account of the show at some point. Randy was in rare form tonight.

Have I mentioned I'm just sick over losing the recording?

Even worse, Randy looked right up at us at one point, and asked us if we were recording it all.

He knew he was in the middle of an amazing show.

Blar.


*** Minidisc recorders are notoriously finicky. I got the dreaded TOC error as I was trying to finalize the first minidisc. At that point, I just called it a night. But Minidisc is still a great format for these sorts of shows. Just gotta baby the things.

[Posted at 03:11 CST on 05/17/03] [Link]

16 May 2003

Montrose Spirituality

I just returned from a trip to the Montrose Diedrich's, where I had to turn down some kindly old folks who professed to be conducting a "survey of spiritual attitudes in this neighborhood."

My initial thought was, "Oh, I should answer this. They need statistical outliers as spirituality goes!"

My second thought was, "Oh, but it's Montrose, I'm probably more mainstream than most who will answer this survey in this neighborhood."

My final thought was, "Oh, this is surely some surreptitious effort to proselytize, and I am WAY too tired for that."

Besides, we were talking to our favorite coffee mistress and coffee dude.

Anyway, now four shots of espresso (standard for their large latte -- no weak Starbucks latte, thank you very much) have me jacked up and ready to go see some music. Woo hoo

[Posted at 20:31 CST on 05/16/03] [Link]

Introducing Courtney

I linked to a new blog a few days ago when I was ranting about the Texas Demoncrats, but in case ya'll missed it, you should go and visit Courtney's place.

It's smart, has plenty of attitude, and is brewed right here in Texas. Wait, that's Shiner Bock. But it's also this blog. Go see for yourself.

And maybe, just maybe, we've convinced Courtney to contribute a post or two over at Reductio. Sweet.

[Posted at 19:55 CST on 05/16/03] [Link]

Return Of Cro-Magnon?

Some of the longtime readers here will remember Cro-Magnon, the goof who lived downstairs from us when we were over on West Gray.

I think Cro-Magnon may have moved to Allison's place. Check this out.

Hilarious stuff. I may have to order some of those stickers.

[Posted at 19:46 CST on 05/16/03] [Link]

15 May 2003

Radney And Randy

Randy Rogers put on an abbreviated show opening at Party on the Plaza tonight. It's a nice warmup for the Firehouse tomorrow. Dude was also kind enough to come visit with the Fox News crew for a while (thanks Randy!).

And Radney Foster -- what can I say? I've really enjoyed catching him live in relatively small settings the last couple of weeks. My friend R (Bryan Tyra, not Alex Whitlock -- how many people have two friends named R?) introduced me to Radney ages ago, back in the Foster and Lloyd days. But for some reason, I've only become a fan recently. I do love the band he's put together. Those guys can pump out the sound. And I always forget just how many quality songs that guy has written.

[Posted at 22:15 CST on 05/15/03] [Link]

Camus

Mr. Whitlock saw some existential twang last night.

I'm not making it up.

[Posted at 22:00 CST on 05/15/03] [Link]

Party Time

Leaving shortly for Party on the Plaza tonight, featuring Randy Rogers opening for Radney Foster.

Nothing like a FREE show featuring an up-and-coming country artist and an established Dualtone artist on a late spring evening in Houston.

[Posted at 16:33 CST on 05/15/03] [Link]

Special Needs

First, the Comical had to carry on about a dead man with special needs (umm, like maybe a pulse?).

And now, Channel 13 has gotten into the act:

Three men are in custody charged with capital murder after a restaurant manager was gunned down over the weekend.

Christopher Dean worked at a Whataburger restaurant on West 18th Street in northwest Houston for several years.

Police say the suspects in this case walked up to the drive-thru and threatened him. That's when police say the men went inside and while trying to rob the business, fatally shot the 38-year-old man with special needs.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Was he mentally handicapped? Physically handicapped? In need of ice-cold Shiner Bock (my own special need)?

Blar.

[Posted at 16:31 CST on 05/15/03] [Link]

14 May 2003

LAME rocks

Okay, after a small amount of testing tonight, I've come to the conclusion that all of the people who argue that the LAME mp3 encoder generally produces "better" sounding files than the encoder within Musicmatch (especially FastEnc) are... right.

[Posted at 23:24 CST on 05/14/03] [Link]

Finally, Some Reporting

There's a lot of confusion over the walkout by Texas Dems from the legislature, and most of it centers on the mistaken notion that the legislature has already carried out redistricting, and that it's somehow not fair to return to the issue.

In reality, the legislature has never voted on a redistricting plan following the 2000 census, and the redistricting that took place was decided by federal judges. As I've said repeatedly, I prefer that we follow the constitutional design of our great state -- and that constitutional design places the responsibility for redistricting with the representative branch (making allowance for other options only if the legislature abdicates its responsibility).

Amid all of its cheerleading for the Dem walkout, the Comical finally got around to reporting these facts:

Texas Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, criticized the Democrats, saying Republicans could have halted the House with quorum-busting walkouts in 1991 and 2001 redistricting but didn't.

Craddick said the Republicans want to vote on a congressional redistricting plan because they did not get a chance in 2001.

The House in 2001 had a Democratic majority and was led by then-Speaker Pete Laney, who is among the Democrats now in Ardmore. Laney never brought congressional redistricting to the House floor for a vote.

When the Legislature failed to redraw congressional boundaries, a three-judge federal court stepped in and drew the current districts.

Raymond said there is no reason to draw new congressional maps now because the court-ordered map has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as acceptable under the federal Voting Rights Act.

DeLay made it clear Tuesday that he would not relent. He said Texas needs a redistricting plan authored by the Texas Legislature, not the three-judge panel.

Agreed.

You want to know the one thing I worry about (and have been for months)? That the Texas GOP will somehow overreach on this thing, and wind up screwing themselves much like Georgia Democrats did.

Even so, the power of redistricting resides with the legislature in Texas. That's the constitutional design. And I would prefer they make the decision instead of unaccountable federal judges. That shouldn't be regarded as an outrageous preference.

(Update) House Speaker Tom Craddick takes the Comical to task.

(05-15-03) I'm not usually a Cal Thomas fan, but he seems to have a good grasp of what's going on.

The guys at RealClearPolitics get it right also.

[Posted at 23:01 CST on 05/14/03] [Link]

FIRED!

Like Orlando Sanchez or not, all but the most rabidly partisan among us have to concede that his plan to fire Mayor Pothole's cronies (notably, Police Chief C.O. "I am not a Perjurer" Bradford, the Fire Chief, and the Chief administrative officer) would be a good start.

Inadequate, mind you, since Mayor Pothole's Public Works Deteriorates department needs a major overhaul, and all of Mayor Pothole's buddies who work as city information officers need to go also.

But it's a start.

(It would be a good start to the campaign to do something about that website, though).

[Posted at 07:52 CST on 05/14/03] [Link]

That's right you're not from Texas (But Texas Wants You Anyway)

Here's a good description of the Texas Demoncrats vacationing in Oklahoma and neglecting the important business of the great state of Texas:

The Texas Democrats who have fled the state rather than come into session are breaking the law in an effort to thwart democracy. They should not be praised. They should be arrested, forced to sit in the House chamber to create a quorum, and then the majority should vote the legislation up or down. And then voters ought turn the Democrats out at the next chance they get and elect representatives of either party who will follow the law and not try to thwart democracy.

It's not "creative civil disobedience [and] a new way to filbuster." It's illegal. And arresting the members to compel their attendance is not a stunt. It's the law - something Republicans in Texas are showing they respect more than do the AWOL Texas Democrats.

There's more good stuff from Bill Hobbs.

(Update) Courtney IS from Texas (so that Lyle Lovett line above doesn't apply), and has these thoughts. Go Courtney! Memo to self: must add this kick butt blog to the regular reads.

(Update 2) Metropolitan twang conservative Alex Whitlock is from right here in Houston, and weighs in also.

[Posted at 07:44 CST on 05/14/03] [Link]

13 May 2003

Lots O Music

It turns into a busy musical week starting tomorrow....

Reckless Kelly for an in-store at Cactus to promote their new CD at 6pm (I think). And Phil Pritchett, Randy Rogers, and Max "Camus" Stalling at the Firehouse for a songwriter's night.

Then Randy Rogers opening for Radney Foster at Party on the Plaza Thursday.

Then Randy Rogers headlining at the Firehouse on Friday.

I'll be at all of 'em except the songwriter's night tomorrow. I'm not in the mood for existential twang, I'm afraid. But I bet Mr. Whitlock will be there (you know how those writer types are).

[Posted at 23:09 CST on 05/13/03] [Link]

Demoncrats Of A Feather (Or Something)

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has commended their fellow Demoncrats from Texas for their vacation in Ardmore (and abdication of responsibility).

These would be the same nitwits who have been engaged most of the Oklahoma legislative session in working to overturn a ban on cockfighting passed by the voters of Oklahoma last November.

Texas Demoncrats are in fine company with their Oklahoma counterparts -- ignoring the important business of their respective states for nonsense.

Losers.

(Update) More subtle cartoonery from Owen. *laugh*

(Update 2) Orrin Judd comments on the matter as follows:

You have to admire the Democrats for the way they're raging against the dying of the light. The GOP spent sixty years in the political wilderness after the Stock Market Crash in 1929 and, other than a brief rearguard action in the Supreme Court and the HUAC hearings, rarely uttered a peep. Judges got rammed down their throats, the House was run like a banana republic, and they had no say in most redistricting fights. Like the prospective victim in the Confucian adage, they laid back and enjoyed it.

Democrats, who since 1994 have gotten a taste of what it means to be superfluous and who face even darker days ahead, are at least willing to bring democracy to a grinding halt rather than give up power easily. Bully for them.

Heh. They're still losers.

[Posted at 22:19 CST on 05/13/03] [Link]

12 May 2003

Special Needs

I'm sorry, but it's annoying when journalists resort to politically correct euphemisms that do not adequately convey the facts. Here's the lead sentence from a Comical article today:

The day before he was gunned down at the fast-food restaurant where he worked, a northwest Houston man with special needs proudly presented a Mother's Day card and a set of fancy earrings to the most important person in his life.
What the hell does that mean? Was he mentally retarded? Physically handicapped? What? We can sort of guess from the context at the end of the article, but we never really learn.

I'm sorry, but "special needs" doesn't mean jack. Hell, I'm a man with special needs! I need my Shiner Bock to be nice and cold, for one thing.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not making light of the man who died. It sounds like a lot of people valued him, whatever his needs. But I am making light of the Comical writer, who seems to have some special needs of his own.

[Posted at 23:05 CST on 05/12/03] [Link]

Losers

It's nice to know that Texas Democrats are so serious about the issues facing the state that they've run off to Oklahoma and other places, breaking quorum and stopping legislative business.

That's surely what they were elected to do.

Ya know, though, the libertarian in me happens to think that the silly bastards can do less damage if they're not even able to meet. Surely it's a victory for limited government if free spending Dems DO go away and hide.

(05-13-03 Update) Owen has a great cartoon. Typically understated. :)

[Posted at 22:58 CST on 05/12/03] [Link]

Things I Should Know By Now

When adding a hard drive to an existing MS system, never ever trust cable select.

Because in all my experience, I've discovered that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and there's no logic to it. But it just really isn't that hard to set your jumpers for master and slave.

Did I do that tonight? No, I added a new hard drive for music, and the system found it, we partitioned and set it up, rebooted, and the system refused to come up. Of course. Set the jumpers to slave and master, and all is well.

This is something I should have learned by now.

[Posted at 22:15 CST on 05/12/03] [Link]

11 May 2003

Happy Mother's Day

To all those mothers out there who tried to inject some good sense into us. :)

[Posted at 15:31 CST on 05/11/03] [Link]

Dub Miller And That Other Guy

I was quite pleased to see Dub Miller and his fine band for the first time last night. He has a nice, genuine country sound, and I wish I had taken enough cash to pick up some CDs. Next time, I guess.

It was quite a pleasant experience after the abrupt departure from Michael Fracasso's show at Anderson Fair last night, as described by Callie and Cathy.

The thing is, it didn't bother me so much that Mr. Fracasso wrote and performed such a petty little song. His need to write it is probably syptomatic of something Mr. Duff elaborates on here. Most musicians are nitwits when it comes to politics, anyway, which is fully their right. I know this, and don't go to shows expecting much better. It was his condescending attitude and the political commentary that followed that drove me out of the place. You don't like George Bush? Fine. You think he's an idiot? Fine (though what does that say about you, since he does hold two more Ivy League degrees?). You want to insult members of your audience who might think differently? Don't expect me to stick around for it.

Because there are choices. Lots of 'em in this fine city. And Dub Miller was an excellent choice. Well-written music, tight band, no political preaching one way or the other. In a bar that treats its customers well. Go figure!

As for Mr. Fracasso's whining during his second set about the people who left -- dude, get over it. We didn't make a big production out of leaving -- didn't speak to anyone, didn't ask for our money back, didn't criticize your "right to be heard." We just left. Quietly. Nothing to get worked up over. I wouldn't think a professional performer would carry on about such a thing.

PS Maybe at work, next time I'm asked my opinion on the political situation of some country, I should launch into a Fracasso folk tune? Or maybe some tune ripping on Big Oil (tm). Think that would be appropriate? Go over well? Yeah, probably not.

[Posted at 15:22 CST on 05/11/03] [Link]

Jinxed

My webhost seems to be having some difficulties with the server from time to time this weekend. This is perfect, of course, since I recently commented how pleased I had been with the service. :) Anyway, I'm hoping they'll have it cleared up soon. Sorry for any difficulties of access.

[Posted at 11:54 CST on 05/11/03] [Link]

LJ Comment O'The Day

Mr. Breese's comment (scroll down) is classic.

[Posted at 02:03 CST on 05/11/03] [Link]

lAstros

You didn't actually think they were good when they were beating up on sh!tty teams at the Juice Container, did you?

[Posted at 01:55 CST on 05/11/03] [Link]

Natalie Fracasso

Dub Miller put on an excellent show at the Firehouse tonight.

But no, observant reader that you are, that wasn't the show I had planned on seeing.

Turns out we had a Dixie Chicks moment that required I leave KPFT-infested Anderson Fair for the friendly confines of the Firehouse.

More on that tomorrow, however, as post-concert discussion and beers with Mr. Whitlock and Ms. Markantonis have left us very tired.

[Posted at 01:47 CST on 05/11/03] [Link]

10 May 2003

Mayor Pothole Looking For Bandit Signs?

SUVs don't kill drivers. Stupid DRIVERS kill drivers.

[Posted at 18:40 CST on 05/10/03] [Link]

Expanding Horizons

Off in a little bit to catch Michael Fracasso at Anderson Fair tonight.

I've never seen Fracasso, and I've never been to Anderson Fair, though I've meant to as they both come highly recommended by musicians and fans.

[Posted at 18:23 CST on 05/10/03] [Link]

Everywhere

Mini Coopers take over downtown Houston!

Breaking news you won't see anywhere else!

Well, okay, you'll see it on Cathy's website, but I thought I would imitate Channel 2.

[Posted at 18:19 CST on 05/10/03] [Link]

Uh Oh!

There's trouble in Mack Brown land....

and not just the sort that comes about when Bob Stoops thumps you over the head several years in a row and Dennis Franchione beats you at recruiting his first year at A&M.

[Posted at 14:58 CST on 05/10/03] [Link]

Processes

Callie makes fun of me for my seemingly eccentric attachment to processes....

But there's usually a method to my madness. Case in point:

I tend to burn bootlegs of various live music shows for friends who have been to those shows, or music fans at those shows who ask nicely.

And it tends to take a fair amount of time (i.e. moving from minidisc to digital, then laying in tracks, and then touching up the sound in some instances, though I try to do very little of that last, and then burning a master copy and listening for problems, and then burning all of the other copies).

Well, I skipped a step in that process for a recent show just now, and burned the copies without giving the master a good critical listen. Yep, as you might imagine, there was a problem on the opening track of both CDs (an artifact that I somehow introduced, but don't know HOW -- that part is a little troubling). So, there's about 10 unattractive coasters and an hour or so of time lost.

Stupid.

Processes matter. :)

[Posted at 14:01 CST on 05/10/03] [Link]

Orlando

Orlando Sanchez is set (finally) to announce the kickoff of his campaign to be Houston's next mayor, on Monday.

I'm a longtime Orlando Sanchez booster, and always like to see fellow Ross Lence students of political philosophy involved in real politics.

I wonder what Charles and Ginger think about the big announcement coming to their neighborhood? *kev ducks*

I do wish his website were a little less.... pedestrian? It looks a little like something generated circa-1999 with Front Page, and is media unfriendly (i.e. hardly any photos or press materials). Boy Blunder has no chance to win this race, but I'll give him credit for a slick website full of friendly photos of him, wife, and Houstonians. Bill White's site is better as well. Kudos to Orlando for having a Spanish version, though.

[Posted at 12:30 CST on 05/10/03] [Link]

Castiglione

Sooner fans should be pleased that it appears A.D. Joe Castiglione has resisted overtures from Tennessee and will remain at Oklahoma.

Castiglione is one of the best ADs in college sports, and it's no coincidence that Sooner sports programs have enjoyed a resurgence under his leadership after a down period (Howard Schnellenberger and John Blake -- need I say more?).

[Posted at 12:23 CST on 05/10/03] [Link]

Greek Bros

Sneaked down to our favorite Greek-run establishment in El Campo last night for dinner and music.

Originally, the twinbill was Bleu Edmonson and Radney Foster. For only $10!

I've been wanting to see both of those artists. Especially Radney, who is always at the Duck at an inconvenient time (and always for more $$$ than this).

Unfortunately, Bleu had to cancel at the last minute. Greek Bros pulled in Brandon Rhyder as a substitute opening band. That was terrible. We found ourselves wishing they had brought in the karaoke guy.

Radney Foster, however, was all that. His band is polished (two electric guitars! big sound) and Radney lets 'em play, Radney has a great stage presence, and the man can write songs.

We only made it through about half his set because we had forgotten our earplugs, and for some reason Greek Bros thinks they can make up for bad room acoustics (lots of reverb) by turning the volume way beyond comfortable. Stupid, really. Anyway, that drove us out of the place early. Must remember those earplugs next trip down there.

And Radney Foster is back to play Houston's Party on the Plaza next Thursday, with Randy Rogers opening. That should be a good twinbill.

[Posted at 10:04 CST on 05/10/03] [Link]

09 May 2003

Dave Ward

Dave Ward's Mangled Caddy
Dave Ward's Mangled Caddy

Damn, some crazy driver nearly killed Dave Ward last night:

The accident happened on the Loop near Richmond Avenue as a driver of an SUV tried to enter the freeway headed north. Police say instead, the driver hit the corner curb of the entrance ramp.

"She struck a construction vehicle and she lost control of her truck," said HPD Officer Jose Mireles. "She struck the curb on one side and took out the traffic control device on the left side of it. She shot across the freeway and hit the center wall."

That SUV careened across the lanes of the Loop. Authorities say two other cars collided trying to avoid the out- of-control SUV. One of those cars was driven by Channel 13's own Dave Ward. His black Cadillac was pushed into the center wall and was pinned inside. The Jaws of Life had to be used to get him out.

All three drivers were taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Ward was the most seriously injured. He suffered a broken right leg and is expected to be OK.

What do you bet the stupid woman head a cell phone attached to her head?!

And what the hell kind of idiot causes such a serious traffic accident BECAUSE SHE CAN'T NAVIGATE A FRIGGIN' ENTRANCE RAMP?!

Well, I guess there's the Mayor Pothole example of searching for Bandit Signs (would make a good name for a Houston band, actually)... but we know what the hell kind of idiot he is.

[Posted at 08:47 CST on 05/09/03] [Link]

08 May 2003

Cool

Former Great Divide front man Mike McClure is planning on eventually making concert bootlegs available on his website.

That's an excellent idea, and as McClure notes, a minidisc recorder makes it pretty easy to do. The only real work will be moving the tracks to a digital computer format, and setting them up to stream. The bandwidth could get pretty pricey, though, if the streams are of very high quality.

[Posted at 22:32 CST on 05/08/03] [Link]

Bizarre

This is a rather strange discussion for a musician's message board....

[Posted at 21:51 CST on 05/08/03] [Link]

Barbecue In Black And White

I meant to link to this Robb Walsh article on race and barbecue last week, but completely forgot.

Robb Walsh is one of my favorite writers in town, and a real barbecue expert. This is an interesting read.

[Posted at 21:04 CST on 05/08/03] [Link]

Inertia...

Okay, so I really intended to catch Randy Rogers and Phil Pritchett in Galveston tonight... but I just can't do Thursday night shows anymore and be up at 6 am, especially shows out of town.

Blar.

[Posted at 20:59 CST on 05/08/03] [Link]

Marfreless

Kuffner has posted some news about Marfreless, one of the bars that was fun to *ahem* discover shortly after moving to Houston several years back.

I haven't been in the place in a while, but I always thought the place was relatively well maintained. I hope the new owners keep the funky art and classy music. And the weird description of the place on the flyers, which always read like something Leo Strauss would write when he really didn't want you to know what the hell he was talking about.

[Posted at 19:45 CST on 05/08/03] [Link]

07 May 2003

New Cans

The Germans may be terrible "allies" in the war on terror, but at least one German company makes a damn fine pair of headphones.

And I'm enjoying my listening tonight through them.

At least they're not French made. :) Freedom phones? I don't think so.

[Posted at 22:16 CST on 05/07/03] [Link]

Blar Redistricting Blar

It's hard for me to get all excited over the redistricting talk being tossed about in the legislature, because I really doubt it's going to come to pass.

But it certainly has generated some excitement on the Left.

I'm still not quite sure why redistricting by the judiciary is preferable to redistricting by the legislature.*** Especially since the legislature is charged constitutionally with the responsibility.

But I really don't have a dog in this race. Blar.


*** Okay, I am sure. Since the legislature is now controlled by the GOP, Democrats probably think they're gonna get screwed. So they prefer judicial intervention in electoral politics. I do wonder how many of them approved of judicial intervention in electoral politics in, oh, say Florida in 2000? Ah, but that was a different sort of intervention, I'm sure. So it goes....

[Posted at 21:46 CST on 05/07/03] [Link]

06 May 2003

Tint

Now that summer has damn near arrived, I desperately need to get the Jeep's windows tinted. Can any of you Houstonians recommend a Montrose/River Oaks area tint service that's good?

[Posted at 23:50 CST on 05/06/03] [Link]

05 May 2003

Weirdness

The Icehouse on a slow Monday night is an interesting thing.

The regulars, who usually slink away when the big crowds of Friday and Saturdays arrive, tend to hang around all night.

Sometimes they mistake friends of mine for other regulars. Like Mr. Blue Shorts (long story, but this is what I have named one of the more pathetic -- and obnoxious -- regulars). Very odd. Memo to weird regular Icehouse chicks: Not everyone with a shaved head and white t-shirt is Mr. Blue Shorts! Especially since my friend had on GREEN shorts. There's your clue.

And don't look now Houston, but it seems summer has nearly arrived.

[Posted at 11:59 CST on 05/05/03] [Link]

04 May 2003

Oh My!

The Orrin Judd line of the day:

Wow, who would have thought contact with feces is contra-indicated for humans?
You'll have to go to the main page and scroll down, thanks to blogspot. Aren't the improvements in blogspot since Google acquired them impressive?

[Posted at 21:03 CST on 05/04/03] [Link]

The Income Czars

Scott Chaffin is just saying no to a state income tax.

I'll second that.

Thank goodness we only let the stupid SOBs in the legislature meet every couple of years in Texas, and then only for a short period of time. Keeps them from doing so much damage.

[Posted at 20:57 CST on 05/04/03] [Link]

The Gambling Czar

Bad move, Czar Bennett.

Now you've gone and embarrassed the wife....

And that, Billy Boy, is NOT a smart thing to do (ask Rodham!).

I can imagine you're not gonna be coming out of the doghouse any time soon.

(Speaking of doghouse, Madeleine Not-at-Albright was just spouting some sort of nonsense on the History channel. It made Kiwi groan. Time to put the headphones back on.)

[Posted at 20:53 CST on 05/04/03] [Link]

More Eustachy

One of the cool things about this little effort is that occasionally I get far better feedback than I deserve.

For example, check out this sarcastic little entry from a few days ago.

And check out this commentary from my good friend, Dave Hamby:

First, a strict reading of the article doesn't mention that Eustachy or his attorneys are specifically looking into ADA protections. The reporter was the one who brought that issue into the story, and Eustachy's lawyer replied that they would consider all relevant statutes. As I think any reasonable person would. I think that alcoholism is a disease, and should be given some protections when considering employment issues. The amount of protection? Well, I'm undecided there and that can be discussed later. But I think that the first public airing of his alcoholism and resulting actions is not a firing issue.

Second, Eustachy's actions were stupid, moronic and certainly unbecoming of a university representative -- especially one who has such a high national profile. That said, can the university claim the moral high ground that this is the first it had heard of his actions? If so, the athletic department was not keeping very close tabs on the state's highest paid employee. Actions like his don't stay quiet for long. How could they have missed it?

Also, throughout the years, Eustachy has made numerous references to drinking after tough losses. Specifically, I'm surprised no one has brought up this item from March 2001, when ISU flamed out in the first round against Hampton:

"While I was there, I hit every bar in Boise. I can tell you the name of
every bar from Boise to Ames."

-- Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy, on how he stayed in Boise after his
team's first-round NCAA tournament upset to 15 seed Hampton in Boise.

(http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/college/2002/ncaa_preview/big_12/)

Until there is evidence to the contrary, I think that the university and the athletic department failed to protect their investment in Eustachy by not trying to help him help earlier.

Finally, do you think that Eustachy is the only alcoholic coach working in a Top 50 program nationally regardless of the sport. I doubt it. But I think they were willing to tolerate his lapses when he was winning. But when the program slipped to being only three games over .500 this year, I think he became expendable. If he had gone to the Sweet Sixteen this year, I doubt the AD would be calling for his head.

OK, those are the arguments against. There are also the facts that so far this year he's had an assistant busted on child porn charges, had three players busted for alcohol related offenses (and one drug charge) and one assault charge on a player. He lost control of the team and himself. But why did no one around him -- friends, family, co-workers -- step up earlier?

Do I think he should be fired? No. Severely disciplined? Yes. Do I think he's got a future at ISU? No, especially when his AD seems so trigger happy to dump him. So, firing should be the best thing for him. Hopefully he'll get it together, stay sober, and continue to be a darn good coach -- somewhere else. But, I suspect that he will collect a potload of money from the university for mishandling the situation.

And, those are my thoughts.

DH

Man oh man. It's always nice when a sarcastically tossed bomb generates such good commentary! Kinda makes me feel like I shoulda posted something more substantive.

I don't find much that I disagree with here. No doubt, the slippage in Iowa State's won-loss record under Eustachy has probably influenced their tolerance level for embarrassing incidents.

And Eustachy himself may not pursue action under ADA. I doubt he will, actually, because that's not how the game is played in big college athletics. If he takes his settlement, goes away, and spends a year (at most) as a commentator, there will be plenty of big-money gigs that await. Jim Harrick is a great example of a winning coach who knows how to work that system.

Still, it's disturbing that the ADA came up at all. One can indeed believe that alcholism is a disease while upholding certain expectations for employees. For example, we don't expect to see pilots frolicking with the hottie stewardesses in the middle of a flight, alcoholic or not (for that matter, we hope he's not flying under the influence!). I would hope not to see the head coach of a major college program doing the same with college coeds, whatever his disease. I may be hopelessly naive (I've been accused of that!). Hell, I would have fired Barry Switzer when he took the gun in the airport as coach of the Cowboys (let's not even revisit the machine guns in the dorms).

But I'm not so sure this is a case that lends itself to black/white resolution. That is to say, if Iowa State decides to retain Eustachy, get him counseling, set guidelines to his behavior, and generally stand by him -- I won't regard that decision as unjustifiable. On the flip side, if they can his ass tomorrow, I think they can justify that decision.

But is it really necessary to involve yet another expansion of federal power via the courts, with a statute whose authors would probably call it a reach? That is more problematic for me.

[Posted at 20:38 CST on 05/04/03] [Link]

It's The Heat AND The Humidity

Now that the weekend's almost over, I finally feel 100% over that cold/flu thingie I've been dealing with for a few days.

Ain't that how it goes?

Still, it was a fairly productive weekend. I saw Reckless Kelly at the International Festival, and that was a little bittersweet. The best song in the set was a cover of Jay Farrar's "Drown," from that wonderful Trace album from Farrar's Son Volt days. And some of the old standards from the Millican CD are still a pleasure to hear -- that was such a statement album from a new band that I guess I expected more of a breakthrough by now. Instead, most of the new stuff sounds awfully derivative of Uncle Tupelo to me.*** That's not a bad derivative, mind you, just not where I thought they were headed. Then again, I think a lot of the original band's sense of melody and arrangement was lost with the departures of Casey Pollock (original guitarist) and Chris Schelske (original bassist, sometime songwriter, and harmony vocals).

Speaking of bands, I managed to crap out before seeing Steve Earle, who closed down the festival last night. One of these years, I'll see the dude. But yesterday, I settled for "Guitar Town" cranked through the home stereo a few times. The heat and humidity won. That happens in Houston.

And still speaking of bands, I managed to get some work done for my current favorite band. I hope they like it. Or hack it usefully. Or send it back for a complete rewrite without too many curse words. :) We'll see.

Finally on the topic of music -- my old, trusty headphones with the amazing frequency response have finally about crapped out on me after some intense listening over the weekend. So I ordered a nice nice replacement set of cans. Not quite audiophile -- I'm not willing to chuck out that kind of cash -- but by all the reviews, very very close. I'd forgotten what a pleasure it can be listening to stuff through a quality set of cans.

So there's your weekend, boys and girls.



*** If you're a big RK fan and love the current sound, please don't mailbomb me. Especially since I purchased the new CD and spread a little love (cash always spreads love). "Mersey Beat" was probably worth the cost alone. That's a great little song, even if it seems a little out of place (it was co-written with Schelske, and the arrangements haven't changed much from the old days). In fact, I'd love to hear Rick Poss cut loose on it (he shares a birthday with George Harrison, after all)

[Posted at 20:09 CST on 05/04/03] [Link]

03 May 2003

Bill Bennett

Yesterday the theme was east coast conservative intellectuals. Today, the theme seems to be hardasses named Bill.

And in keeping with that theme, isn't it nice that one of the social conservatives who would tell YOU how to live YOUR life has a little gambling problem?

Oh sure, Bill Bennett claims it's not a problem:

Reached by NEWSWEEK, Bennett acknowledged he gambles but not that he has ended up behind. “Over 10 years, I’d say I’ve come out pretty close to even,” Bennett says, though he wouldn’t discuss any specific figures. “You can roll up and down a lot in one day, as we have on many occasions,” Bennett explains. “You may cycle several hundred thousand dollars in an evening and net out only a few thousand."
Ah, good to know Bill. Thanks for clearing that up. I remember how well you bought into similarly structured arguments from another important Bill, when he claimed sex wasn't REALLY sex.... so I guess a gambling problem isn't a "problem" until.... well, since you're regarded as a moral leader, until what exactly, Bill? Do tell!

Because at least President Bill wasn't preaching at us all the time.

Nicely done, Bill. Very nicely done.

[Posted at 10:55 CST on 05/03/03] [Link]

Bill Parcells

The Bill Parcells era got underway on the practice field yesterday.

I love it! Rookies having to earn the trademark star on the helmet, linemen running laps for screwing up, top draft picks fetching water for the coach....

Quite an improvement from the days Barry Switzer ate hotdogs on the sideline and tried to board planes with his pistol.

[Posted at 10:42 CST on 05/03/03] [Link]

02 May 2003

Rendered Speechless

Since I'm on a roll ranting about East Coast conservative intellectuals today, I should note this rather astounding observation from Ms. Collin Levey on the WSJ [Poor?] Taste page:

Cockfighting is only one of a gaggle of animal entertainments in an America that is becoming more multicultural by the day. Badger baiting, lizard racing and dog fighting are also among the exotic enjoyments that have come to our soil.

How these amusements are any more cruel than hunting, fishing or (a favored pastime of New York ladies) dressing up miniature dogs in toy coats is not entirely clear.

Not entirely clear?!

To whom? An imbecile? A mentally impaired person? An earthworm? Saddam Hussein's Information Minister?

Good gawd. I'll pass further commentary on this one over to Callie. It's rare that I'm left speechless (and by something in the WSJ to boot).

[Posted at 09:15 CST on 05/02/03] [Link]

Can't It Just Be Music?

Hi, I'd like to lecture you country rubes on YOUR culture
Hi, I'm Rich Lowry, and I just want to be a guy. Can you help me?

I'm sorry, but I have difficulty taking East Coast conservative "intellectual" Rich Lowry seriously when he carries on about country music and all that it represents about the culture.

And I'm even more amused that he pulls "cultural critic" Stanley Kurtz into the argument (we refer to social anthropologist Stanley Kurtz as General Kurtz elsewhere, as the good social anthropologist has a know-it-all way of writing about topics he knows NOTHING about that is particularly annoying).

Truth is, if you dropped General Kurtz or Richie Lowry into the middle of the Firehouse (or even Montrose's West Alabama Icehouse) on a busy Friday night, those two east coast intellectuals would be noticeably uncomfortable. And when our buddy Randy Rogers started railing (however subtly) on the Texas death penalty during his fine song The Ballad Of Stanley, their own little stereotypes about the heartland and country music and the culture would break down pretty quickly. Gawd forbid we drop 'em in the middle of Steve Earle's performance at the International Festival this weekend!

There's no great point here, other than that I wish certain columnists and "cultural critics" (or armchair generals) knew a little bit more about the topics they choose.

Futher, it strikes me that someone needs to send some decent country music to National Review. If Darryl Worley's vomit represents all that is good in the National Review/Richie/General Kurtz musical universe, that's very very sad.

[Posted at 08:00 CST on 05/02/03] [Link]

01 May 2003

Hey Coach, Pass Me A Beer

You just knew that Iowa State's alcoholic coach would attempt to thwart that school's efforts to fire him by investigating legal action under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Didn't you?

[Posted at 18:59 CST on 05/01/03] [Link]

Mailing Lists

You gotta love it when local cafes try to promote themselves by putting together a little mailing list.

And yes, as someone who enjoys Cafe Noche's Sunday brunch from time to time, I think it's cool that somehow I've made their little mailing list.

Or I should say, that Devin Whited has made their little mailing list.

So, A for effort, D for execution (can't flunk 'em, they got every letter but one right, plus the address).

And I probably won't be attending their Cinco de Mayo celebration. But it's nice they've been thinking about me. Err, Devin.

[Posted at 17:53 CST on 05/01/03] [Link]

Nice

This is presumably NOT what the Astros expected when they hoped that Julio Lugo's hitting would improve....

[Posted at 06:23 CST on 05/01/03] [Link]

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