Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas At The Castle

A few random images of our Christmas together.

On Christmas Eve, we drove to Houston to visit my brother, on the way back, we spotted this pink limo. Zoe knows what she wants for Christmas.

But she was thrilled with the new dress.

We had Roast Beast.

And had pear and apple pie.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It Could Always Be Worse

If you tend to get the Holiday Blues, remember, it could always be worse.

Classic scene. I wish I could find a better copy.

I know this is a cheesy movie, but I always watch it when it comes on. Consider it a guilty pleasure. Besides, was there anyone more lovely than the young Phoebe Cates?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Freakin' Christmas

Ok, I know I posted this last year, but for those of you who missed it . . . .

If Martin Scorsese directed animated Christmas specials . . . . .

Raging Rudolph

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Remembrance Of Cookies Past

Do you have a favorite holiday memory? Or, even a memory, favorite or not, that just means the Holidays to you? I was forced to think about that last year. It was just over a month past the end of my ill-fated love affair, and I was facing Christmas without the kids. I needed a shot of holiday cheer, and I needed it fast. What to do?

I remembered a cookie my Mom used to make, back when I was a kid.

A bit about my Mom, Christmas at our home, and these cookies.

As I've told you before, my Mom wasn't really a great cook. She wasn't horrible, but she wasn't especially adventurous. Pretty much everything was fried, at least until my Dad's heart attack. After that, everything was shoved under the broiler.

She was, however, a proficient baker. She made great pastry, and I still can't match her biscuits. Every Holiday, be it Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving, she would bake, and bake, and bake. I can't say whether or not she enjoyed it, but she did have a sweet tooth, and spared no effort to fill the dessert table at each opportunity.

Christmas baking meant pies, of course; pumpkin, mince, and chocolate for sure, sometimes apple, and usually a sweet potato in later years. Every year she made fudge, pralines, divinity, a non bake fruitcake abomination that consisted of crushed vanilla wafers and, something else, I'm not quite sure what, and lots and lots of cookies.

The usual cut-out cookies were there, iced with powdered sugar icing tinted a garish red and green, some kind of spiced date bar that I wish I had the recipe for, spritz cookies in the same shade as the icing, and fruit cake cookies.

The fruitcake cookies were ubiquitous to my childhood Christmases. We had them at home, if I went to a friend's house, they were pretty much guaranteed to be sitting on the counter there as well. My grandmother always had them, and I can remember eating them at church get-togethers.

The funny thing is, I didn't really like those cookies. They were white and bland, and filled with artificial, chemical tasting candied fruit. That was it. The cookie was just an innocuous vehicle for candied fruit and citron, along with a small amount of nuts. I didn't like fruitcake, well, not the one's I'd been exposed to at this point in my life, and I didn't like the overly sweet, artificial taste of candied fruit. Yet, every year, I looked forward to those cookies, and I anticipated their appearance on the kitchen counter.

The only time I ever saw those cookies was at Christmas time. One taste of that chemical, bitter citron and I knew that Christmas was really almost here. When you're 10 years old, that's a pretty big deal.

I thought about those cookies as I tried to jump start my holiday spirit, so I set out to make them. There was a problem; nobody but me remembered them. I guess they must have been some 70's fad from a women's magazine or something, because I couldn't remember the last time I had them, and I couldn't find anyone who even knew what I was talking about.

I started pouring through my collection of Holiday cooking magazines. I finally found a recipe that I thought might be close, so I made them, along with toffee and pecan tassies and far, far more sweets that we could ever hope to eat in three Christmases. I played Christmas music the whole time I baked, and by the time I had the counter filled with goodies, I had made it through the whole day without thinking of you know who.

Satisfied with my day's work, I made a pot of coffee and sat down with one of my cookies. It was a pale, golden white and had a very faint vanilla smell. I bit in. The moment that tang of candied citron hit my tongue, I could see my Mom's old kitchen. I could imagine the little Santa shaped cocoa mugs that lined the bar, and I could smell the Christmas tree. (Flocked, with a color wheel on it) It worked. Make no mistake, this cookie is a far cry from Proust's madeleine, but it accomplished it's goal.

Later, when the kids came home, they surprised me by liking those cookies. I made several more batches, and experimented a bit. I tried substituting first some, and then all of the candied fruit for dried. I used apricots and dried cranberries, even dried cherries. While the dried fruit may have made a better cookie, it was not the Christmas cookie of my memory, for that, it needs the candied citron.

This year, I needed the same boost, so last Friday, I put on the Christmas CD's, I made a pot of Earl Grey, and I baked these cookies. Maybe someday my kids will fondly remember me in the kitchen baking these, and always associate that memory with Christmas.

I hope so.

Fruitcake Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups AP flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cottage cheese (small curd, creamy - don't use low fat)
1 egg
2 Tab milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup mixed candied fruit with citron * see note below
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Lightly mix in half of the flour. Add the next 7 ingredients, mix until well combined, stopping to scrape the sides occasionally. Stir in the remainder of the flour, and the fruit and nuts.

Bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes on parchment paper. Cool on a rack. This recipe makes about 30 cookies for me.

* The fruit should be chopped much finer than it comes out of the container. To accomplish this, I lightly oil my knife with vegetable oil. It makes the job much, much easier.

Scooped out and ready to bake.

Out of the oven - They don't get very brown or crisp, you want them soft.

Cooling on the rack.

A final note -

The title of this post is an obvious reference to Proust's great work. In recent years, it has become de rigueur to refer to this work as In Search Of Lost Time. I thought the earlier title better served my purpose, but after re-reading this post, I'm not so sure. Searching for lost time is a fair description of my blog, n'est-ce pas?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The One Where I Need To Relax

Brave Sir Robin is a little tense.

Just a tad.

My life has been a dime store novel (though, not a particularly compelling one) for pretty much forever it seems.

That, it appears, is changing!

The events of the past few days have made it clear that my life is indeed now a Christmas movie. Not a beloved one, that you can't wait to see every year because it doesn't feel like Christmas without it. Not one that TBS will run marathons of, and families will gather around the TV in Christmas Eve pajamas to watch, holiday libations in hand.

No, Brave Sir Robin is living one of those Christmas movies that plays on the other channels. The ones with "C" list stars from the 80's. The ones that play on channels opposite football games.

you know the plot -

Stressed out, type "A" person plans the perfect Christmas, works like the devil to make everyone's Christmas wish come true, only to see it turn into disaster after disaster through no fault of their own, and then wrap up neatly with a "that's what Christmas is really about" ending?

I hate those movies.

I will, however take the cheesy happy ending if I can get it.

I'm trying to schedule a carpenter, (no, not that one), an electrician, furniture delivery, and the cable (satellite) guys.

Everything depends on the cable guys.

Guess who didn't show up as scheduled yesterday?

Still, as problems go it's a better one to have than what most of the last year delivered.

I just need to relax.

I think Cappuccino has the answer. Doesn't he look sweet? Don't be fooled. He's playing nice the last two weeks before Christmas. He's hoping for some catnip in his stocking. Or a small child, I'm not sure which.

Oh - I did manage to make cookies Friday.

Recipe to follow.

Happy Holidays from my castle to yours.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Is A Bailout I Can Get Behind!

It seems the family farms that produce the most heavenly, delectable, irreplaceable item on this earth are in financial trouble.

Of course, I'm talking about Parmigiano , of course, what did you think I was talking about?

Who knew?

The Italian Government has purchased 100,000 wheels of cheese in an effort to prop up the failing industry.

Damn. They could send me a wheel.

Have you priced the real stuff lately?

I can no longer buy it here locally, but I bought some in Houston Saturday.


But, the trip wasn't a total loss. I went to the downtown Spec's. (My annual Christmas pilgrimage), and look what I found!

Yes, Moxie!

The nectar of the Gods. They only had two left. I bought them both. I drank one that night, and I'm saving the last one for . . . . I don't know. A day I really need it.

Laugh, Think, Cry

I noticed this morning that by 2010, cancer will replace heart disease as the world's number one killer. I was a little surprised that it wasn't already. It's hard to imagine that there isn't a person or family that you know that hasn't been affected by this disease.

It was a nice little bit of synchronicity that I saw that article this morning. I was mulling this post over in my head all night. I don't often go overly sentimental in this space, but today I want to make an exception.

We watch a lot of sports in our household. With two teenage boys and myself, if the TV is on in the evening, it is usually sports. Last night was no exception. The Longhorns were scheduled to play Villanova in the Jimmy V Classic last night in Madison Square Garden. Of course, we tuned in.

Do you know the story of Jim Valvono? Jim Valvano (Jimmy V), was a college basketball coach. He is best known as the coach of the North Carolina State team that defeated the heavily favored, high flying, Phi Slamma Jamma team of the University of Houston in 1983. That was the Houston team with future NBA hall of famers Hakeen Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. I never forgave him for that, but I digress.

Jimmy left coaching in the early 90's and turned to broadcasting. It was then that he began to earn my respect. He was an excellent basketball analyst. He knew the game, he was bright and engaging, but mostly, he just inspired me. He was always positive and upbeat, he could always find something good to say about the players or their coach. It is no surprise that he became a highly sought after motivational speaker. His motto, which is now the motto of the foundation that bears his name is Don't give up, don't ever give up.

In 1993 Jimmy was awarded the first ever Authur Ashe Courage award. His acceptance speech that night was one of the truly most inspiring moments I've ever witnessed. In his speech, he gives the audience a recipe for fulfilment:
To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.

Not bad advice, is it?

So think about that today, would you? Life is so short, why not squeeze every little bit out of it? Times can be hard sometimes, but face them with enthusiasm. Life is precious, make the most of it.

In case you haven't figured it out, yes, Jimmy V died of cancer. Less than two months after his speech, he was gone. He may be gone, but his fight lives on in his foundation. To date the Jimmy V foundation has raised over $80,000,000 to fund cancer research.

This year, if there is a person on your Christmas list who has everything, a person you never know what to get, why not make a donation in their name to the Jimmy V foundation? As Jimmy said,
We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children's lives. It may save someone you love.
The speech is 11:15 long. I know you're busy, but it just may be the best 11 minutes you spend today. My favorite part may be around the 7:10 mark, but please, for me, watch it all.

This speech was given on March 4, 1993. Jimmy died on April 28, the same year.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

About Last Night . . .

Last Night, I went to a tree lighting event, and Winter Fair. It was nice, because it was one of those rare alignments of event and weather that don't often happen here. We had one of our coldest nights of the year, and it made the atmosphere perfect for a Christmas festival.

I'm afraid the pictures are in need of a lot of work before they are presentable, but I'll share a few.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Smaller packaging Sucks . . .

I think by now most of have noticed the grocery store shrink ray.

You know how it works, the price stays the same, but the product size gets smaller.

Yes, it's frustrating, but. . .

Oh Dear.

Just don't leave a message like this one . . .

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Quick Update

Was your Thanksgiving great?

I spent the day with Scottie, and it was quite nice. His conversational skills are greatly improving. The big news however, is he has been moved from the hospital to a rehab facility. There have been several complications regarding his move over the last few weeks.

About a month ago, we thought we had him placed in a perfect facility, but several things happened to make the move not go through at the time. As it turns out, it may have been for the best. He is much more receptive to therapy at this point, and the place he is now in is only a few blocks from his old apartment. We moved him Friday. There was a mix up with the hospital and they were going to move him alone earlier in the week. We were able to push it back to Friday, so he would have family there during the move. He seems very, very happy to be in this new place, and it will be much easier for his kids to come and see him now.

I'm getting ready to drive back up there in a few minutes, but I thought I'd let you know.

So yeah, I have things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Yes, I am thankful for all of you as well.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Still Busy . . . .

Is the mad rush to the Holidays getting you down? Keeping you busy?

Clinton had his first basketball game last night, and tonight, the boys go to their Mother's for Thanksgiving.

I will work Wednesday, and then?

I plan to get up early Thursday morning and spend the day with Scottie, then drive back and spend the evening at the Bayhouse. We'll see. I may even drive up there Wednesday night.

Meantime, here's something to enjoy.

As God as my witness . . .

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm Too Tired To Write, So I'll Post Pictures Edition . . . .

It's true, I am tired.

Tonight is #2 son, Dylan's 16th birthday party. It is somewhat calmer than his younger brother's 14th was.

No less work for the grocer and chef, I'm afraid, but its a calmer crowd.

I'm glad for that. I've been up since about 12:45 AM, and I'm afraid to sit for too long, because I'll probably fall asleep.

Anyway, here are a few random photos which have been sitting in my camera, some from tonight, some from a month or two ago, and some in between. These are unedited, so be kind. As always, they have clickable goodness.

Clinton and friends tonight, going to yet another Quincineria

Speaking of Clinton, this was so not his costume, really.
(What do you think? He could go as Tavi)

Pork with Green Chili and Potatoes, in the pan
(make sure and click this one)

And ready to eat

Tailgating at last year's Texas Bowl. Sorry Pido, we all wore Cougar Red.
(But we sat on the TCU side)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Not A Rookie, But Way Cool . . . .

Are you familiar with the blog Style Rookie?

It is allegedly written by a 12 year old named Tavi.

She is tragically hip, precociously clever, and pretty damn funny actually.

My guess is, she is not 12 and the site is someone's creative outlet.

I hope she is a 12 year old writing a blog like that. If so, she'll probably grow up to be as good as Bee.

You should go and check it out.

It's OK, I'll wait, tell me what you think.

Merry Christmas To Me? . . . .UPDATE!!



It's not on sale this morning!!

It was $69.99 yesterday, and now it's $186.99

OK, I haven't done it, but I probably will.

In this morning's Petulant Rumblings, I saw this nugget.

Do you have any idea how long I have wanted this? And for only $69.99?

Yes, I already have every individual season in the original DVD releases. Yes, this version has one disk of extras, that has some interviews and such, but really, do I need them all in a single package? (40 disks!)

This reviewer, who has a daughter in college thinks so. His reason?

I Quote:

You buy "The Chosen Collection" so your kids will leave your "BtVS" DVDs alone

I mean, that's sensible, right? The kids will be going off to college before you know it, and technically, some of those seasons are theirs, birthday gifts and the like. So what's a Dad to do when the offspring run off with his Buffy DVDs?

I know some of you still haven't jumped on the Buffy Bandwagon.

Do you trust Brave Sir Robin's judgment?

OK - other than in Women.

Would I steer you wrong? This is the perfect opportunity for those of you who have to this point been reluctant to enter the Buffyverse. It's 65% off!!

Still not convinced? (Yes, I know which ones of you aren't), here is the Amazon editorial review:

From its charming and angst-ridden first season to the darker, apocalyptic final one, Buffy the Vampire Slayer succeeds on many levels, and in a fresher and more authentic way than the shows that came before or after it. How lucky, then, that with the release of its boxed set of seasons 1-7, you can have the estimable pleasure of watching a near-decade of Buffy in any order you choose. (And we have some ideas about how that should be done.)

First: rest assured that there's no shame in coming to Buffy late, even if you initially turned your nose up at the winsome Sarah Michelle Gellar kicking the hell out of vampires (in Buffy-lingo, vamps), demons, and other evil-doers. Perhaps you did so because, well, it looked sort of science-fiction-like with all that monster latex. Start with season 3 and see that Buffy offers something for everyone, and the sooner you succumb to it, the quicker you'll appreciate how textured and riveting a drama it is.

Why season 3? Because it offers you a winning cast of characters who have fallen from innocence: their hearts have been broken, their egos trampled in typically vicious high-school style, and as a result, they've begun to realize how fallible they are. As much as they try, there are always more monsters, or a bigger evil. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the core crew remains something of a unit--there's the smart girl, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) who dreams of saving the day by downloading the plans to City Hall's sewer tunnels and mapping a route to safety. There are the ne'r do wells--the vampire Spike (James Marsters), who both clashes with and aspires to love Buffy; the tortured and torturing Angel (David Boreanz); the pretty, popular girl with an empty heart (Charisma Carpenter); and the teenage everyman, Xander (Nicholas Brendon).

Then there's Buffy herself, who in the course of seven seasons morphs from a sarcastic teenager in a minidress to a heroine whose tragic flaw is an abiding desire to be a "normal" girl. On a lesser note, with the boxed set you can watch the fashion transformation of Buffy from mall rat to Prada-wearing, kickboxing diva with enviable highlights. (There was the unfortunate bob of season 2, but it's a forgivable lapse.) At least the storyline merits the transformations: every time Buffy has to end a relationship she cuts her hair, shedding both the pain and her vulnerability.

In addition to the well-wrought teenage emotional landscape, Buffy deftly takes on more universal themes--power, politics, death, morality--as the series matures in seasons 4-6. And apart from a few missteps that haven't aged particularly well ("I Robot" in season 1 comes to mind), most episodes feel as harrowing and as richly drawn as they did at first viewing. That's about as much as you can ask for any form of entertainment: that it offer an escape from the viewer's workaday world and entry into one in which the heroine (ideally one with leather pants) overcomes demons far more troubling than one's own. --Megan Halverson
Ok - I wouldn't advise you to start with season three, because one of the things Joss does so well, is allow the characters to grow, to mature and to act age appropriately. It's damn fun to watch. Also, the amazing way he presents story arcs over multiple seasons. If you watch closely, he'll drop story hints a full two season ahead of when they actually happen.

This series should be required watching for every television executive, producer or writer, before they're allowed to work in the business. This is how you do it people.

It's not about the monsters, it's not about the special effects, it's not even about a hot chick in a miniskirt. It's about relationships, it's about characters who are real to us, no matter how fantastic their circumstances may be. It's about growing, and learning, and love, and yes, loss.


OK. I was gonna buy myself the new Blackberry . . . . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Scottie Update

Guess what Brave Sir Robin did today?

I had a phone conversation with my brother!!

It was slow and halting, and difficult to understand at times, but it was real, and I could tell it was him.

To be honest, there were many days that I thought he was gone. I had said my goodbyes, and I actually went shopping for a new suit for the funeral.

Then, after the hurricane, we had a glimmer of hope, only to be frustrated with the turtle's pace of his progress.

I doubted this day would ever come, but it did.

Welcome back Bro. I love you.

Blogroll Call Out!!

Hey guys,

The new site will roll out in a day or two - you should have noticed a few tweaks here and there. There will be more of the older posts back up as well.

When I started taking the site down the other day, I lost a few people off my blog roll. If you can see who's missing, let me know.

OR . . . .

If think you should be on it, and you aren't, let me know, please!

I realize Homesick Texan and Steamy Kitchen are missing, I'm working on a separate food link gadget, so they will be covered.

My Plea . . .

I'm listening to this sound track on the headphones today while I'm working, and this song came on. It struck me as extremely appropriate, considering the events of this weekend. Listen to the lyrics, it's very dammed appropriate.

And yes, I knew him before he was famous.

I'm good today.

Tuesday was Dylan's birthday, and we went to Victoria to eat and do a little shopping.

Last night, I had planned to make pork and green chili tacos, but my green chili seems to have disappeared. I made something else, which took longer, so I basically spent all night in the kitchen or on the phone.

Why on the phone? My sister called with news about Scottie. Good news. . . . stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

About That Purge . . .

Brave Sir Robin had a bad weekend.

I can't really share much of it with you, I may at a later date, but possibly not.

Those of you who have been following this site for a while now can guess it's nature.

It is time to move on.

This blog started at a time in my life that is the opening parentheses of a series of events that this current situation may well close.

Most of my older post will come back online over the next few days. Some may be edited, some may never come back.

I will be changing the look and feel of this site as well. It won't be a drastic change, but I need to move on.

I can tell you this, I have more friends than I ever imagined.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'm OK . . . (physically)

Guys, I'm sorry if I alarmed you.

I was in a pretty emotional state when I took the site down last night.

I didn't feel safe, and I wasn't thinking clearly.

I have been overwhelmed by the concern and love I have been shown today.

Each and every one of you has blessed me.

I'm going to figure this out, and I will keep you posted.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Any Good Thoughts Out There?

I don't believe in prayer, but I could sure use any good thoughts, or Karma, or candles, or Whatever it is you believe in.

I'm kind of a mess at the moment.

Yeah, that again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


If you watch this video, you may die of cuteness overload.

You have been warned.

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo.

Confessions of an 8 Year old Liberal.

From the mouths of babes . . . .

My niece, (8 years old) wrote the following paper for school. She is obviously being raised right.
(with clickable goodness)

The text, slightly edited for spelling clarity:

If I Were President

If I were President, I would make it free to go to the hospital and I would stop people from polluting and I would help the poor. I would also help the people that don’t have any clothes or food or toys, and if children don’t have enough money to go to school I’d let them go for free. I would make it where people that rode motorcycles would have to wear their helmets. I would make it were they can’t cut down rainforest. I would make it were people couldn’t smoke. I would lower gas prices and tell people to recycle. I would help the animals that need help and that’s what I would do if I were President.

What do you think folks?
She has my vote.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

They Eat Their Own, Don'cha Know . . .

Priceless . . . The McCain camp is already throwing Palin to the sharks.

Stay tuned guys, I have a feeling the feeding frenzy has hardly begun.

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

Ahhh, Schadenfreude.

Well Done America, Well Done

I'm still too numb to think clearly, (and exhausted, I was up very, very late) so here are a few images and random thoughts.

The diversity in the crowd in Chicago was a beautiful thing to see. The look of joy and hope on those faces of so many colors and, even more importantly, so many backgrounds, gives me hope. Hope for an America that values every citizen.

When I saw this on my TV screen, this is when my own tears started. This is the second time this man has brought tears to my eyes. His Democratic Convention address in 1988 did it, and then when I saw those tears streaming down his face last night, my own started. I don't always agree with him, and he has some problems, but he has been fighting not for this night, but for the opportunity this night represents, for most of his life. Thank you, Mr. Jackson, you deserve those tears. Hope is alive.

What a beautiful first family. I'm so proud for the world to see America tonight.

Hope is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Finally, It's Today

We somehow have made it to election day.

Good thing, I'm not sure I could have lasted much longer. I haven't really had a good night's sleep since Friday. The stress and anxiety are killing me.

The ugliness of this campaign has shocked even a jaded cynic like myself. The Rev. Wright ads were plastered all over prime time last night on at least two major networks. The willingness of the Republican party to look America in the eye and lie may someday be their undoing.

I wish that were already true, but as long as there is hatred and bigotry in this country, the Republican party will be there to exploit it.

Please go vote.

Vote straight ticket D. Give the party of lies and hate a clear message that this country is ready to care for all of it's citizens, no matter what color they happen to be or what tax bracket they happen to fall into. Tell the thieves and criminals that have been overseeing the most massive redistribution of wealth since the gilded age that Haliburton and Blackwater can no longer siphon money out of the treasury at will.

Defend the constitution, defend the environment, defend a woman's right to make her own health decisions.

Give Barack Obama a clear and resounding mandate for change.

Yes, we can.

. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .

OK - This was going to be a serious post, but I just couldn't resist . . . . . .

If you need a voting guide, see below:

And then, there is this.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sarah Makes Me Smile

No, not that one.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Sarah Haskins?

It's true.

She totally rocks Brave Sir Robin's world.

Her Target Women series is just absolutely adorable. I can't decide which one is my favorite, so I'd suggest watching them all.

You do know Sarah Haskins, right?

OK here is one of my favorites, but you really owe it to yourself to watch them all.

OK, or maybe it's this one:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rest In Peace Stud Terkel

Studs Terkel has passed away at the age of 96.

I always enjoyed him on the radio. He was often on NPR, and I always found him to be fasinating. He could tell a story that would keep me glued to the radio, unwilling to leave my car until he was finished.

He also shares my birthday.

Rest in peace old friend, you deserve it.

Happy Halloween!


Who says pirates can't kill you with cuteness?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Did You watch Obama's 30 minute program?

I confess, I teared up a little.

I want this so bad. He is what this country needs, and has needed. It's a damn shame Bush's deficit and fucked up economy will take away what could have been spent on a true progressive agenda.

America may just survive.

Go vote.

Still Undecided?

This may be one of the best political ads I've ever seen. It is short, it is simple, and it makes a great point.

Go Vote.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Alfred Matthew Yankovic

Yes, Weird Al turns 49 today. There was a time years ago, that I found him humorous. He came into his own at exactly the time MTV did, which was really the perfect forum for his brand of humor.

I find it slightly ironic that he still makes his living making fun of contemporary music, and I no longer enjoy him. How is that ironic you ask? The reason I no longer enjoy him is because I'm so freaking old I don't recognize any of the song he is parodying!

That's right, he hasn't become irrelevant, I have.

I realize many of you may not be a fan of his. I understand that. At the risk of falling into gender stereotypes, I get the feeling he is more popular among males than females. I imagine his demographic is the same as Mad Magazine's.

Love him or hate him, it's hard to deny his cleverness, and his longevity.

This is, I think, his Magnum Opus.

(Geek warning - There is a high level of Geek required to appreciate this song) -

Sorry, embedding is blocked, you'll have to click here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Voted Today!!!!

Early voting is open in Texas, and I voted today.

It didn't take very long, I only had to make one mark.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sending Out an S.O.S.

I've always considered song lyrics to be a particularly difficult type of poetry. If I could be a poet, I think I'd want to be a troubadour in the vein of Lyle Lovett or Townes Van Zandt. Yes, poets, both of them, to be sure. With song writing, not only does the poem have to speak to the audience, it has to fit within the frame work of the melody, not to mention the bridge. It is a skill I stand in awe of. That is not to say that only the singer/songwriter model of a lyricist is a poet, on the contrary, poetry can be found in every genre of music no matter whether it is to one's taste or not.

Hmm, funny how these blog posts work - that paragraph really didn't have anything to do with what I sat down to write about, but as I always tend to say - "that's another post", and then never get back to it, I think I'll expand a bit on that idea.

Yes, I suck at this stream of consciousness thing - So sue me.

Take Eminem for example. though you may revile his music, or him personally, and though his lyrics may be misogynistic and homophobic, the man is truly a wordsmith. Do I aspire to write his kind of poetry? Certainly not, but he is a poet.

It was through a song lyric that I first heard of Aphrodite. I looked her up in the library (no Internet back in those days), so I could better understand a particular song that was a favorite in my hard rocking adolescent days. I still look back amazed at how naive I was at 13. I can assure you, my children are far more worldly than I ever was.

So where am I going with this? I sat down to write about how this blog and blogging are a life line to me, and I suspect to many others, connecting isolated souls to like minded people. What made me think of this, was a song that came on while I was doing housework. More on that in a moment.

It may appear that I'm changing the subject again, but bear with me, someday I hope to have an amazing skill at tying seemingly disconnected ideas together into a beautiful post, but sadly, I am not there yet.

Do you remember a radio show called In The Studio With Redbeard? It apparently still comes on but I haven't heard it in years. The song I heard a while ago reminded me vividly of an episode of that show I heard many, many years ago. If you're unfamiliar with the show, Redbeard, the host takes the audience behind the scenes of a famous album and talks about when and how it was made, and interviews the artists, producers, etc... Great show, btw.

This particular episode was on The Police's 3rd studio album, Zenyatta Mondatta. During the interview portion, Steward Copeland called Sting the king of the three minute pop ditty, and noted that Sting considered it a high calling indeed. I think I'd agree with that sentiment on both counts. Yes, Sting can be pompous, and even pretentious, but come on - who else is going to work Nabokov into a pop song? A funny aside - during the same interview, Copeland said of Sting:
Sting is probably the person whom fame has changed the least, he was swaggering and cocky when he didn't have a dime to his name.

I love that.

So, back to the original post. As I'm cleaning house with the Satellite radio going, I'm thinking that I've really been neglecting my blog, and at the same time, not spending much time on other sites either. Most of my comments of late have been quick little one liners. I miss the ongoing conversations that comment strings can become. I was thinking to myself that it has been ages since I've sat down and just started writing whatever's on my mind. I miss it. I miss all of you, both here, and at your own little corner of the web.

As I'm think that, the live acoustic version of Message In A Bottle came on. As the final verse came on, I stopped folding the towel, and I just marveled at Sting's words. It gave me a little chill as he sang:

Walked out this morning, don't believe what I saw
Hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore
Seems I'm not alone at being alone
Hundred billion castaways, looking for a home
Ill send an s.o.s. to the world
Ill send an s.o.s. to the world . . . . . . .

I thought to myself, that is exactly what blogging is, little messages, floating out on the vast ocean of the Internet, hoping to be plucked out of the water and to find a home. Who says pop music can't be poetry? Not me.

Here is a video of the same version of the song, it is most likely the exact same performance. It is from the Secret Policeman's Other Ball, and yes, I have the LP. Oh, and can one help but notice how young and beautiful he was back then?

Yeah, that's poetry.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wow, This Is Big . .

Did you see this?

Paul Krugman has been awarded the Nobel prize in Economics.

Hmm, I guess Phil Gramm wasn't on the short list.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Candidates, in Pictures

Via Christine

All You Need to Know

Way too funny!!

And The Nobel Goes To . . .

French novelist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio.

What do you think?

I have no opinion, because I've never read anything he has written. I suppose that's because my reading habits are too isolated and insular.


Monday, October 6, 2008

This Is What's Wrong

Fucking Pigs at the trough, that's what unfettered capitalism has given us.

In a display of greed that is positively Enron-esque, Lehman Brother's paid out millions in executive bonuses, even as they were negotiating with the Bush administration for a bail out.

Again I ask, why aren't we rioting in the street?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Things That Make Me Happy

This is just absolutely full of win.

It's only 3:32 long, trust me, you can spare 3 minutes. I dare you to watch this without smiling. Go ahead, I'll bet you can't.

UPDATE** - I just watched this for like the 9th time, I just noticed this - Watch when the bass line comes in (at about :41), the camera focuses in on what must be the only black person in the audience. WTF??? Are you kidding me?

Also, make sure you watch it all, the vocals are the best part!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's A Trap!


A couple of you have noticed that I've been avoiding politics lately. To tell you the truth, I'm still a little bit dazed and disillusioned over the primary nastiness. I'm even more disgusted that we aren't up by double digits at this point.

Make no mistake, if Barack Obama were named Barry Oliver, had the exact same credentials and a bit less pigment, we would have a 30 point lead in every poll. (But that rant is another post)

Today, let's talk Sarah Palin. Because, you know, by gosh she just hasn't been in the news much lately.

I think we need to be very, very cautious, This entire ordeal with her has the stink of a Karl Rove October Surprise to it. Let's face it, she is not ready to be President, and even if she were, FSM help us.

However, when every morning I see a new conservative pundit tell the world she is unprepared and, well, shall we euphemistically say, intellectually incurious, (Who does that sound like? - YIKES!), I think we are being set up. We are all aware of the phrase, "the soft bigotry of low expectations." The bar for her performance in the debate is being set so low, that if she goes up there and pronounces her name right, pundits will say she exceeded expectations, is a fast learner, and shows that she is capable of tackling any job in the face of adversity, etc..... ad nauseum .

Don't be fooled friends.

To anyone who tries to tell you she appointed herself well, ask them to imagine what a Palin presidency would look like.

I just threw up a little in my mouth when I typed that.

She's the worst of Bush mixed with the worst of Cheney. Think the last 8 years on steroids, with lipstick.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is It Autumn Yet?

Have I told you that Autumn is my favorite season?

It is, you know.

Yes, Spring is wonderful, and if I lived in the Northern confines of these United States, I'm sure I would look forward to Spring and relish it for the rebirth that it brings. But lets face it. I live in South Texas. Winter here is rarely harsh, and never long. There are many years were it never falls below freezing. In fact, on more than one occasion I have successfully planted a vegetable garden in January. Spring is nice, but it's not that big a deal down here. Besides, Spring is short, and to me it has always been the harbinger of the blast furnace that is summer. I'll take Autumn, thank you very much.

Autumn in South Texas doesn't have the color of New England, or the rush of the harvest, rather, it is the time when the humid, overbearing heat of Summer gives way to dryer, crisper air. Granted, in early Autumn it can still be hot, but a 91 degree afternoon is a lot more bearable if you had a crisp 65 degree morning to go with it. The yards green back up after their late August wilt, fall gardens deliver tomatoes and peppers, and the farmers market starts to fill with winter squash.

Well, of course that means it's time for a hearty chili, right? Yes, it will be at least 2 months before there is even an outside chance of frost on the grass, but just knowing that the days are getting shorter and (relatively) cooler makes me reach for the soup pot. I assure you, it will get a workout between now and Easter.

The following recipe is roughly translated from a recipe I found on the Internet several years back. It was supposed to be a knock off of Wendy's chili. It's not really, but the boys love it, and it is much healthier than the Texas style chili I also make. But that's another post . . .

3 Bean Chili

2 lbs. fresh ground chuck
1 46oz. can of tomato juice
1 10 oz. can tomato puree
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed*
1 large onion (at least 2 c.), chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely minced
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 c finely minced carrot
Beef Broth (about two or three cups, see below)
2 Tab. Ketchup
1/2 cup chili powder, divided
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I use fresh, 3 cloves minced – see directions below)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sugar (yes, it needs it – shush!)
cayenne pepper to taste

In a pan, brown the ground chuck, season well with salt, pepper, half of the chili powder, and half of the cumin. When it is starting to brown, add half of the onion, half of the pepper, half of the garlic, and all of the celery and carrot. Slowly sauté until the beef is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the beef into the chili pot with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the fat behind. There should be very little liquid, just clear red fat. Add the rest of the seasoning, and the ketchup to the pot. Add beef broth until just covered. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. This step is essential if you use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. After it has simmered for 20 minutes, add the puree, the crushed tomatoes, the rest of the vegetables, and half of the can of tomato juice. Cover and bring to a bare simmer for 45 minutes. Add the beans and as much tomato juice as needed to bring it to the consistency you would like. It should be substantial, but a bit soupy. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

*I use Ranch Style Beans, undrained in place of pinto beans, but they are probably not available if you don’t live in Texas.

This is great with cornbread.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I stand In Awe

Atonement, the film.




. . . . .That is all.

Oh, and I want to have sex in a stogy British Library, but then, who doesn't?

I Got Nothing

I'm going to skip the cross country meet tomorrow for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I'm going to drive to Houston and see Scottie. Then, instead of driving to Houston on Sunday, I can stay home and clean my filthy house, attack the pile of laundry from hell, and actually cook a meal. Second, my allergies are in full swing and spending 4+ hours outside in a field would insure me a miserable 3 or 4 days of itching, swollen eyes, mucus-ie lungs and nose, and headaches. Oh, don't worry, I'll have those anyway, but not quit as severe if I stay indoors. Thirdly, (OK - I know I said a couple of reasons, but I didn't wake up prepared to do math), the boys don't have anywhere to be on Sunday, and we can spend a day together at home for the first time since mid-August.

So where's my head these days?

McCain is a bigger douche than I ever imagined, and believe me when I say I have a huge imagination.

I am still missing Rene' a lot. It is only a couple of weeks away from one year since I ended the relationship, and I still miss her. I've seen her several times this week, and it still hurts. I still get (quite literally) weak in the knees when I see her. If there is a silver lining to all the bullshit in my life right now, it's that I simply don't have time to be overwhelmed with Rene' induced depression. Doesn't mean it's not there, mocking me from my sub-conscious, but the immediacy of the Scottie crisis and having to fit it all in between work, kids, and household responsibilities is keeping it from crushing me as it has in the past.

I finished Atonement this week, and now I'm dying to see the film. Yes, I loved it. I started Midnight's Children yesterday. It's too early to tell, but I think it might be alright. I confess, I was a little afraid of it. Have any of you read it? Or read any Rushdie for that matter?

The boys are good - Cross Country, Football, and the Fall Play are keeping us very, very busy.

Here's a little music to get you ready for the weekend - can this song really be 12 years old already? Shit, I consider this some of my "newer" music. I gotta get out more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's happening around here . . . ..

Sorry to keep you dangling all this time – between trips to Houston and trying to keep the house and the boys in order and on schedule, I’m spread a little thin.

Scottie is showing limited improvement. He is showing (very) small amounts of responsiveness. He is still on antibiotics for secondary infections. He is breathing on his own (through the trache), with only a little added oxygen to give him a boost.

My biggest fear is that he will stay exactly as he is – alive, probably conscious of his situation and his surrounding, but unable to interact with them. That makes any pending decisions impossibly difficult, as if they weren’t already. His neurologist says he is not progressing as rapidly as she would expect to see at this stage. That being said, it’s wonderful to see those bright blue eyes of his open, even if it is for only a couple of minutes at a time.

On the home front –

Homecoming is this week, and we are all engrossed in Mums and plans for the event.


OK – I know, it’s a big deal to the boys, but it just seems frivolous to me right now.

In order to run this Blog like the McBush campaign, I will now hope to distract you from the lack of substance here by providing a bit of fluff. Here are a few pictures from our evacuation weekend.

Brave Sir Robin needs to quit wearing the same shirt every time someone snaps his picture.

This is where we had lunch Saturday, The Gristmill River Restaurant, in Gruene.

Yes, beer is served by the bucket.

Inside Gruene Hall, (the oldest dance hall in Texas), Dylan won a bet by finding Leon Russel on the wall.

I met this lovely young lady, a local, in the hall as well.

I hope to visit you all soon, I'm trying.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good News!!

Finally! Something good to report.

Yesterday, Scottie opened his eyes for a brief time. He was able to follow his daughter across the room with his eyes, and squeeze his ex wife's hand.

I'm trying hard not to be too excited about this, but it's hard not to be. This is the first sign at all of responsiveness since the accident. That's 19 days.

I'm going to head that way in just a little while. The parking lot at the hospital re-opened yesterday, but fuel is still a major issue. I will top off my tank before I leave, and I should be able to make it most of the way back before needing to refuel.

While this is an encouraging development, we are by no means out of the water on this one.

Thank you all again. My meager ability with words is totally inadequate to express my thanks for the support I've received from the blogosphere.

I'll report back soon.

Meanwhile - Here are the boys Saturday in front of Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Rene'

Today is Rene's birthday. It will be the first one in three years we haven't spent together.

Happy birthday Rene' - I wish for you peace, and that you'll find whatever it is you're so desperately looking for.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Post Evacuation Blues . . .

I'm back home.

Port Lavaca was spared the brunt of the storm, but friends in Houston were not so lucky.

I worked today, for only the second time since the 28th of August. I spent most of the day putting my office back together from the hurricane preparations.

On top of everything else, I've had a wicked chest cold for about a week.

Scottie has progressed physically to the point where he is out of I.C.U. He has still shown no signs of responsiveness.

We wait.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Evacuation Ike - Postcard from the road . . .

I'll try to have some pictures tomorrow - I have to find where I packed the cable -

The boys and I are in Seguin. It is actually very, very nice. We are in a large rented house on the lake, with a boat dock, three levels of terrace, and HD TV's.

I'd rather be in the hospital with my baby brother. His Trache has taken, and the hospital has put up it's flood walls, and prepared to ride out the storm, which has shifted slightly in that direction.

I love you guys, take care.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update . . .

I found a connection here at the hospital.

Scottie is not well, at all.

We are going to trache him today, and prepare ourselves and the girls for the reality that he is gone.

Meanwhile, I am under mandatory evacuation starting tomorrow because Ike is heading straight towards my house. The kids are with Dave and Lisa, but I am going to have to get clothes, computers, pictures, etc.... packed and ready.

It just never seems to get any easier, does it?

I'll try to stay in touch, but it may be a few days.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Things Like This don't Happen To Me . . .

. . . . Until they do.

Last Friday, August 29th, my brother was in a motorcycle accident. He sustained massive head trauma. He has been in the N.T.I.C.U. at Herman Memorial Hospital in Houston since that time.

Yesterday, his doctor told us that if he hasn't come out of the coma by Thursday, the family needs to be prepared to either accept along term care solution - i.e. feeding tube and tracheal ventilator, or to disconnect all life support.

I can't imagine anyone ever expects to be put into this position.

How does one decide what to do? Neither choice is appealing.

He has two daughters, 17 and 15.

Anyway, that's where I've been. The kindness shown throughout the blogosphere has been overwhelming.

Thank You all.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The One Where I Say Thank You

Thank you.

I didn't start this blog to bleed my heart out over a love gone wrong. I didn't start it to prop myself up emotionally, but you guys have certainly done that.

I'm better today. I had to take the boys to get books and schedules and school ID's yesterday, so I took the afternoon off. After my errands, I went home and did laundry, and housework. It was the best day I've had in about three weeks.

I enjoyed the housework. The sheer luxury of scrubbing my sink and doing laundry in the middle of the afternoon was very satisfying. I cooked a "weekend meal", then watched TV with the boys. It felt normal. That in itself is a victory.

I'll take any victory, no matter how mundane it may seem.

It has been a tough summer for me.

I am hopeful that the fall will be better for me. I know I'm not out of the woods yet on this one.

I promise I'll try to get back to regular on this blog. I haven't exactly been much of a commenter lately either. When I get like this I tend to pull back into my shell. I don't feel like I have anything worthy to say, so I don't say it. I'll try to be more diligent.

Have you ever noticed that when you're in the state that I've been in lately that every song lyric seems to fit your situation to a tee? I do.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No, I'm Not Going To . . .

But this is where my head is . . . .

Thanks for sticking with me guys. I don't think I could do this by myself.

btw - Boy, do these lyrics hit the nail on the head.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Suck (Again, Still?)

I saw her about an hour ago.

I had to leave work to run Clinton to football practice, and on the way back to the office, there she was, at her daughter's school gym, standing by her car, a mere 30 feet or so from me as I drove by. Our eyes locked.

She looked hurt, and beautiful.

I need a Xanex. Seriously, I'm fucked up. I miss her so much I'm paralyzed.

But I can't do it again.

God help me I can't.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Goodbye Chef . . . Isaac Hayes, R.I.P.

Isaac Hayes has died at 65.

That is young. Very, very young.

Oh, and lest we forget - He won an Oscar and a Grammy with this song.

And where can I get a pair of those boots?

Goodbye Isaac, you were one smooth MF'er

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The World Is Full Of Stupid People

I'll admit it.

I'm not the best speller in the world.

In fact, I'm not even as good as I used to be, because spell check has made me lazy and I know, if need be, I can correct myself. However, if I'm writing something by hand, I check words I'm not sure of before I proceed. I'm not stupid, I'm just a poor speller.

So, if I were a tattoo artist, I'd keep a Webster's handy. You know, just in case.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Goodbye Dolly

Click For Better Detail
Dolly missed us by a good bit yesterday. She went in well South of here, just above the Texas/Mexican border. As far as these things go, that was a much better place than just below the border, because the surge up the Rio Grande might have cause a devastating levee failure. (Sound familiar?)

It came in as a category II storm, so today we will start seeing reports of the damage it caused, which could be pretty severe in a small area.

Here - We really didn't receive all that much rain yesterday. Most of the day we were in between the major bands of rain. It started raining in earnest about 7:00 or so last night, and as I write this ( 6:30 AM) it is still raining. We were under tornado watch all day yesterday, but I didn't hear of any. All in all, we were spared, and got some much need rain in the bargain. Hell, I'd settle for a few days of heavy cloud cover to break the heat.

Thanks to all of you who showed concern.