Thursday, November 30, 2006

Only in Texas...

...can it be 80 degrees one day (yesterday) and snowing the next (today).

I'll say one thing for this Arctic storm: It pretty much delivered as promised. They'd been talking about this all week on the radio and TV, and, for the most part, everything that was supposed to happen, did. I was pretty sure that the public schools would be in session today, and I was likewise fairly sure that the college would close before my first class to teach this afternoon. The kids at the middle school got über-excited when they saw the falling flurries outside, but the adults in my evening group at the college are undoubtedly happy not to have to make a late-night drive in frozen weather.

I'm sure that readers of this blog who hail from much colder climes always laugh to themselves when they hear us Texans get all excited about a little bit of true winter weather...but hey, it is a novelty around here. And it's always fun to turn the TV on and watch the local news reporters standing out in the cold as the station shows the same video clip of cars and trucks spinning out on icy bridges over and over again. Since it only happens a time or two every year out here, I hope nobody can begrudge us all the attention that such weather receives.

Oh, and last night on Texas Overnight, Charley Jones wondered why all the people who moved down here from the North didn't somehow raise the collective driving IQ of Texans in winter weather (which, granted, is often around the idiot level). My theory is that there are two parts to the equations: 1) Texans don't know how to drive in winter weather, and 2) People from out-of-state don't know how to drive in winter weather in Texas. (I would have called him and offered that opinion, but I was sensible enough to not use a cellphone in a driving rain--what an ironic name for that--with the temperatures falling.)

Tomorrow morning should be interesting, as my school district doesn't like to do late starts (and closing for the day would be pointless if it's really getting up to 50 tomorrow). I'm guessing that things will be on as scheduled, and we'll all just have to be extra-careful in getting there. Now I just hope that my before-school students will make it in (or at least call me if they can't) and that there will be a director to let me in. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my unscheduled break; be safe out there if you have to go anywhere tonight.

Animal stories, part 1: A squirrel, having decided to take a peek in the chimney of a house in Wisconsin, was in for quite a surprise when it fell down the chimney and into a fire in the fireplace. (The squirrel was confused but unharmed.)

Animal stories, part 2: A man in New York state was accused of spray-painting three goats in another man's barn (and, in an even odder twist, left pornographic magazines on the barn floor).

Praise the Lord and pass the (fake) ammunition: A North Carolina pastor brandished a gun to make a point during a recent sermon. Nobody was hurt--the gun was "a toy prop"--but the pastor had a felony conviction, so he was hauled off to jail for possessing the gun.

Failed pickup line of the week: "Is that a guitar in your pants, or are you just glad to see me?"

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Getting There

OK, I finished the review of the One O'Clock concert with Wayne Bergeron from last week. I'll try to keep getting posts up throughout the week (and if we get a snow day later in the week, they'll all be finished *grin*). And now for the news...

Lucky driver of the week #1: A guy in Seattle crashed his car through a downtown barrier and fell 25 feet, but he was barely scratched, thanks to a well-placed trash bin that broke his fall.

Lucky driver of the week #2: A Portuguese driver took a (very) wrong turn and ended up driving into a subway tunnel; fortunately, the trains were able to be stopped before they hit him.

This was not the "best buy" for them: A suburban St. Louis family bought a camcorder at Best Buy last week, but when they opened the box, the only thing inside was a jar of pasta sauce.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Still Catching Up... I'll just post the news stories today. I hope to be done with a "big" post or two shortly.

A sign that your kid is too young for his own phone: Police in Round Rock were dumbfounded by the 49 calls placed to 911 in a short time from an unregistered cell phone. Eventually, they discovered the calls were being placed by a 7-year-old elementary school student calling for fun from class. The phone had been deactivated, and the only number that would work was 911.

HoustonBillings, we have a problem: A student at a Montana high school punched a teacher recently during a spate of student violence. Another notable part of the story is that it's the same school where the principal was recently suspended for giving a student a wedgie. (I thought I'd blogged the latter story already, but evidently not.)

You say potato, they say go to jail: A man in Canada was arrested for shooting off a potato gun from his porch (it was one of the big kinds, as opposed to the toy, but I'd hope the police would know the difference and react accordingly).

This probably works great, but it's just funny: A lady demonstrates the way to do a proper workout for your face muscles.

Cool gadget of the week: The T-shirt that turns "air guitar" motions into actual music.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Art Imitates Life?

Tell me whether or not you agree with the following statement:
"If we only observed art from the truly happy, it would be a bland collection of casseroles and toaster cozies."
Now for the background: That statement was made by commenter Joe Baby in this post over at Althouse (which actually started out as advice for Jerry Seinfeld on dealing with the fallout from Michael Richards' racist rant last week, but, like many Althousian posts, went off on some interesting tangents). The main gist of the tangent here was, is it possible to separate the art from the artist (i.e. does Richards' rant take away from your enjoyment of the Kramer character)?

My contribution to that discussion was that it was certainly true in the case of jazz musicians:
Read the bios of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane and listen to their music, and compare it to any one of those smooth "jazz" saxophonists out there, and it's pretty easy to see who had the happier life.
(And did you notice how I had the restraint to not cite the G-weasel by name here?)

Another commenter pointed out a notable exception to Joe Baby's theory in the person of J.S. Bach, who by all accounts had a very happy life and wrote very happy music. I also chimed in on this idea:
As I was writing my previous comment, the idea of Bach as a major exception to that rule did cross my mind. But I bet that exception makes more sense when you contrast the times in which he lived vs. now:

1) Bach was employed by either the (ducal or royal) court or the church for most of his life, and most musicians made their liviing this way. Since a lot of his music was sacred in nature, it makes sense that a lot of joy would be reflected in what he wrote. Plus, as [the other commenter] noted, Bach did seem to have a pretty happy life, once you get past the whole thing of being orphaned at age 10 and all.

2) Compare that situation to today. Sure, we still have church musicians, but not all of those are full-time gigs; for the most part, who makes the most money in music is dictated by the whim of the masses. Parker and Coltrane, whom I referenced earlier, made (IMHO) some of the most creative and complex music of the twentieth century, but it was largely ignored by the masses because a) it demands more of the listener than most listeners are willing to give, and b) you can't dance to it.

It does make me wonder how different things might have been if those situations were reversed (i.e. if Bach had to pander to the masses to make a living and if Bird and Trane had, say, corporate sponsorship).
I'm certainly not saying that this happens all the time, even in jazz, but it's far from a coincidence that many of the greats had some pretty substantial pain in their lives. Of course, you may feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments below.

Away in a manger, no brains in their heads: A church in Anchorage, Alaska received a scathing email from PETA for having a "live nativity scene" in front of the building. The only problem was, they weren't even using live animals for their display.

This car comes "loaded" with options: A New Mexico car-buyer was surprised to find out that his car contained a little extra "bonus"--22 pounds of marijuana hidden under the back seat.

Fake but cool: This may only be a computer-generated thing, but links to a really cool video of music that was made, according to legend, by hitting metal balls against specially-tuned rods made from farm equipment.

Friday, November 24, 2006

When Black Friday Comes...

...I'm usually as far from a mall as humanly possible. Today was the notable exception, as a couple of my prize players had a gig today at Barnes and Noble this afternoon. Actually, if I have to go to a mall at all, I'd rather it be Firewheel, because of the open-air nature of the place (and today was perfect, weather-wise, once the morning fog lifted), and because I don't mind the walk at all, seeing as how I walk through the place all the time anyway.

With that in mind, I didn't even try for a good parking place, choosing to park as far back as I could without encroaching on the movie theatre's lot. There were a lot of people there all day, but getting in and out wasn't too bad, and the fact that it seems more like a small town than a traditional mall just made it seem not so much crowded, as vibrant. And just two minutes from home! I like it...

As for the rest of Black Friday, let's see: I did just what I felt for most of the day (which today meant eating and watching football), but I did wear socks and shoes on occasion, and there were no holes to dig and no kangaroos to feed (if you haven't caught the Steely Dan reference in the title of this post, check out the lyrics here). Mom and Dad stayed until about fifteen minutes ago, and they're headed back to Sugar Land in the morning; it was a very nice visit, as the visits have been lately.

I'll try to get caught up on all the old posts in the next few days, and I'll get caught up on the news stuff now.

Just in time for Black Friday: There's a new website that's dedicated to the fine--and slippery--art of regifting. (According to a survey by the site's creators, 40% of respondents admitted to doing so.)

One more reason to put an iPod on your gift list: It's not just an mp3 player; it might actually help save your life.

They took a joyride and got iced for it: Two employees of a Boise ice-skating rink, faced with the midnight munchies, made a fast-food run by driving the rink's two Zambonis through the drive-thru.

Is this taking "recycling" too far? An enterprising group of Thai zookeepers is now selling paper products--notebooks, fans, bookmarks, and the like--made from recycled panda poop.

So I guess the makers of Eskimo Pies are in trouble now, too: A British sausage-making company has been advised that they could face legal trouble because their product, "Welsh Dragon Sausage," doesn't actually contain any dragon.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks

Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for today:
  • Good health

  • Being able to celebrate with part of my family, right here in my own house. (It's only the second time I've hosted Thanksgiving dinner, which also means it's the second time that my kitchen will be used to its full capacity.)

  • The knowledge that the rest of my family is only 3 1/2 hours away, and that we'll all be together at Christmas

  • A great group of friends; really, I couldn't ask for anyone better.

  • A job that I love, that involves doing the thing that I think I do best

  • The above-mentioned thing I do best: Music. It enriches people's lives in a very unique way

  • Also the fact that said job keeps a roof over my head, and the roof in question is attached to a dwelling that I'm actually paying for instead of renting

  • The food we'll be enjoying today (especially the fact that it's pre-made and all that Mom has to do is warm it)

  • Texas autumn: Warmish days, cool nights

  • The Cowboys on TV today, and A&M/Texas tomorrow

  • The freedom to speak, associate and worship as we please, without fear of the government persecuting us for those things--in other words, the freedom to live in a great place like America (let us never take that for granted)
What are you thankful for today?

This takes "gobble, gobble" to an extreme: The winner of the annual turkey-eating contest at Arnie's Deli in New York City scarfed down 4.8 pounds of bird in twelve minutes. (The contest was yesterday, and the article notes that his family will likely be having venison today.)

They may taste great, but they're in bad taste: An Oberlin, Ohio artist hasn't created very much holiday cheer so far with his collection of gingerbread Nazis in a recent exhibit.

He'll be the butt of jokes now: A guy in Virginia who encourages kids to avoid smoking (by dressing up as a giant cigarette butt) has been busted for having four wives at the same time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Into Every Life, a Little Wayne Must Fall

Last night was the annual fall concert of the One O'Clock Lab Band, a Tuesday-before-Thanksgiving tradition for almost fifty years. I was especially looking forward to this year's concert, because I got to see Wayne Bergeron a few months ago at the Maynard tribute, and his performance there made me hungry for more.

It's hard to say where I first heard Wayne, because his music has appeared in so many movies and TV shows that I've seen. Maybe his stint with the Maynard band; definitely when Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band first came out. But I really got to know his playing about four years ago when a friend of mine played me Wayne's first solo CD, You Call This a Living?, on the way down to TMEA; I was so impressed that I bought it soon after we arrived at the convention.

I mentioned in the Maynard tribute review that Wayne's nickname is "Waynard," and he's definitely one who could take up the Ferguson mantle if he ever decided to hit the road on a regular basis (but I bet he's having too much fun--and making too much money--to give up his Hollywood day job). Besides an amazing range, he's also gifted with the cleanest trumpet sound I've ever heard that high up in the stratosphere ("almost too clean," as my trumpet-player buddy who turned me onto the CD once said). That first CD includes a couple of Goodwin compositions, as well as some from fellow Cailfornia writers Tom Kubis and Bill Liston, and many of the great L.A. studio musicians can be found on the CD.

Wayne's visit with the One O'Clock included several tunes from that first CD--"Hospital Blues" and "Rhythm Method" (by Kubis), and interesting adaptations of "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin and Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers" (by Liston). As expected, Wayne live was just as exciting live as on the recording, and it was fun to hear the One O'Clock backing him up (special kudos to lead trumpter Jason Levi for flat-out nailing the climactic part of "Hosptial Blues"). There were a few tunes that were new to me, both by Kubis ("Pain for Wayne" and "High Clouds and a Good Chance of Wayne") and they also found guest and band in fine form. (If you haven't heard some of these tunes, catch a few of them on Wayne's MySpace.)

This was a very different concert from the past few Fall Concerts, since Wayne is a tad younger than some of the artists they've had in recently (Jimmy Heath, Phil Woods, Benny Golson, and so on). Most of the charts that he brought in are of a different style than the One O'Clock usually plays, so I'm sure that the music allowed the players to stretch in wonderful ways, and they sounded great on everything as usual. One of the things I wasn't able to discern from the Maynard tribute was Wayne's rapport with the audience, so I'm happy to report that he's very engaging and funny, and it sounded like he actually hung with the band members after hours (again, maybe that's the whole younger thing, though I was quite surprised to re-read the liner notes of that first CD and discover that he's been a grandfather since 2002). I noted in the Maynard tribute that the greatest legacy Maynard left behind was the slew of former sidemen who have become leaders in their own right, and Wayne Bergeron is one who's doing his old boss proud. It was great to hear him in a close setting at my alma mater.

According to Wayne's website, his second solo CD, Plays Well With Others, will drop in January;you'd better believe I'll be doing a pre-order on that one.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fry St. Update: It's Starting...

The first encounter between the Fry Street area and a bulldozer will take place in a few hours, when the buildings that formerly housed Mr. Chopsticks and Uncommon Grounds will be reduced to rubble. There's plenty more info in this post at I for one am thankful that the Tomato is still in its original location (I'll be eating there tonight after the One O'Clock concert), but I really feel bad that the first of the old buildings will be going down.

UPDATE: There was a lot of coverage of this event the next day, which has been collected here. There's also a video of the demolition.

Buckeye bonanza, part 1: Students and alumni in Columbus, Ohio, were celebrating Ohio State's victory over Michigan this past weekend, and local authorities were celebrating the fact that only around 40 fires were set during those celebrations.

Buckeye bonanza, part 2: The final score of that Ohio State game had the Buckeyes on top, 42-39. Shortly after the game ended, the winning numbers in Ohio's Pick 4 lottery drawing were 4-2-3-9. Several lucky fans cashed in during the 45-minute window between the two events.

Monday, November 20, 2006


About once every school year, I have a day that just hits me like a ton o' bricks (it's been chronicled here a few times before). Despite being Day One of a two-day school week, today was that day; I felt worn out almost from the start, and--despite several little breaks during the day, that feeling has continued nearly unabated up till now.

Since the One O'Clock's concert with Wayne Bergeron is tomorrow, and I have a full slate of college teaching before that (unlike the public schools, the college doesn't get a half-day), it's time to go to bed early and hope that I'll be re-energized in the morning. Catching up on blog posts will have to wait, along with the news stories. The timing for this upcoming vacation could not have been better, that's for sure.

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to my friend, colleague and fraternity brother Jim.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weekend Time-Wasters

I was going to get something productive done on this blog over the weekend, but I got caught up in some wonderful little online detours instead. First, when I was checking my SiteMeter stats, I found that someone had come to The Musings through the Spanish-language version of Google. They checked out my review of the One O'Clock's concert with Benny Golson from almost exactly two years ago. The Google listing also gave the option of translating my post into Spanish, so did so and was quite amused by the results.

One thing led to another, and suddenly I was translating all kinds of things into Spanish (I got a kick out of the UNT Jazz site done that way, among other things). From there, I started checking out other translation possibilities, and the chance to translate something into Swedish Chef led me to The Dialectizer, which translates websites or blocks of text into various dialects, including Elmer Fudd, Redneck, Jive and Hacker, as well as the aforementioned Swedish Chef. (We found Fudd and Hacker to be the most amusing, for what it's worth.) At any rate, click those links only if you want to be amused and have a bit of time to kill.

This wasn't just a game:: Patrons camped outside a Wal-Mart in Connecticut (waiting to buy a PS3, of course) were attacked by robbers who demanded money; one man who refused to give them cash was shot.

They finally got the Christmas spirit: The Marine Reserves' Toys for Tots program in L.A. decided to accept the donation of 4,000 talking Jesus dolls after initially refusing to do so.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Notes from the Road (Stephenville Edition, Parts 4A and 4B)

As I've said before, the trip to Stephenville, besides being the most picturesque of all the trips I take to visit my fraternity chapters, always seems to generate some blogworthy material. Today's collection is a combination of the things I saw on my trip there last month and the things from last night/this morning. (On both westbound trips, for reasons of time, I went the "boring" way from Ft. Worth--I-20 west to 281 south, instead of the more desirable 377, mostly to miss all the stoplights. While I think I got there faster, there was less to see, and I went the usual scenic route on the way back. Still, the different route did provide me with a few things I hadn't seen before.)
  • Everyone has seen the giant inflatable gorillas at car dealerships and the like, but I was amused by some of the variation in styles of the balloons in west Ft. Worth; I saw a giant chicken and Elvis within mere blocks of each other.

  • Headed west on I-20, I saw something fairly unique, but totally Texas: the Silverado Cowboy Church.

  • On 281, I was amused by a sign for Natty Flat Road. Moments later, I would discover that there's an entire community of Natty Flat ("a small dot on the map with a big place in your heart") that includes the Natty Flat Smokehouse and the World's Largest Cedar Rocker. (Click over to page 5 on the site to read how Natty Flat got its name.)

  • Another sign you won't likely see on any road in Dallas: LLAMAS FOR SALE.

  • And one more: SPECIAL HEIFER SALE (go ahead, make a "short bus" joke--you know you want to).

  • A great name for an RV park: the Camel Stop (as the link says, it's in Dublin, and yes, I did get a few more six-packs of that town's famous elixir while I was in the area; I wasn't out yet, but it's always good to stock up.

  • The weirdest two restaurants to share a building: A sushi place and a donut shop. (I wonder how much cross-business they get.)

  • And finally, the most direct and to-the-point name for a restaurant: "Let's Eat," in Bluff Dale.
Previous Notes from the Road, Stephenville Edition:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Tripping the lights? Not so fantastic: I doubt that anyone in Granbury reads this blog, but if they do, I have one request: Pleeeeeeease think about synchronizing the traffic signals on 377! There's been a lot of growth in this area since i started making this trip on a regular basis, and the fact that the main road seems to have to stop for sidestreets at every other intersection makes this the one place I really dread going through on my trip, and I'm sure I'm not alone. When a major U.S. highway goes through town, I feel that there's a special obligation not only to get your own citizens from place to place, but also to ferry the long-distance commuters through town in an efficient manner. (I also notice that, in the main shopping areas, the stores are set far enough back from the road that it appears some service roads could be built; I wonder if any TxDOT money is available to either do that or at least get the signals in synch.)

Road kill café: I have no idea why, but I saw more dead possums in the road on this trip than I had in probably any previous five trips combined. The carrion-eaters had a field day today, no doubt...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Travel Advisory

I'm taking a short trip to Stephenville tonight ("short" meaning "I'll be back by lunchtime tomorrow"), and that's actually all the traveling I'll be doing during the entirety of the Thanksgiving season. I'll attempt to catch up on the big posts from earlier in the week; if nothing else, next week's long break should allow me to finish everything that's been in the pipe for a while. I'll add the news stories below this paragraph if I get a minute later in the day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Works in Progress

This has been a very weird semester for blogging; I don't have as much spare time as I've had in the past, and when I do get ready to start a post, I tend to get caught up in the research end of things (a source I'm using has an interesting link, so I click it, along with one in that post, and the next...and suddenly, it's time for bed, or way past that time). I'm working on two lengthy ones that I started over the weekend, and I should have them finished soon, but until then, I'll just post the news stories so everyone won't think I've fallen off the earth.

Toy meets horns: An unexpected confrontation took place in a Wisconsin homeowner's yard when her ceramic deer statue found itself face-to-face with the real thing. Guess who won.

Oh, c'mon, just call it the "Mile High Club" like everyone else does: A California couple are being accused of overt sexual activity on a recent cross-country flight.

U can rly use that 4 ur exams? OMG LOL: New Zealand high-schoolers will now be able to use text-speak on their national exams (much to the chagrin of many educators, who think it will destroy the English language).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mattress Mac's Money Might Make More Music

I mentioned the other day in my post about the firing of UNT head football coach Darrell Dickey that one of the university's premier supporters of athletics (I had to retype that so it didn't say "athletic supporters," heh), Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale, was quite upset with the firing, especially since it came on the heels of Dickey's recent heart attack. McIngvale had donated $1 million to the athletic department for a practice facility, which was expected to be named after him, but he said after Dickey's firing that he might not make any more donations to athletics.

Now it turns out that Mac has upped the ante even more: He's insisting that the practice field should now be named after Dickey instead of after himself, and if the department doesn't do so, he'll ask for his donation be redirected to the One O'Clock Lab Band. ( I can see it now: "For our last tune, here's 'Machito,' made possible by Mattress Mac.")

I don't just teach them music; I also show them how to keep Bowser at bay: I made a cameo appearance at a high school football game last Friday night because the seniors were being honored at both schools. While I was there, a group of my students played an arrangement of the Super Mario Bros. music, and it was quite entertaining. I joked that someone should have videotaped it and posted it on YouTube; well, someone already did.

(While you're there, check out this guy playing the Mario music on classical guitar.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Another Nanosecond of My 15 Minutes of Fame

While checking my SiteMeter stats (and yes, that Maynard tribute review is still pulling in the visitors on a regular basis), I found out something interesting: The Musings is #3 in the top 100 blogs in Garland. I feel a slogan coming on....

More than a bitter pill to swallow: I was happy to see that the acetamenophen in my medicine cabinet was not part of the giant recall announced yesterday (if you missed it, the reason for the recall is that small fragments of metal were found in some of the tablets). I wasn't overly surprised that my bottle from Target is OK, but I was fairly impressed that the one I bought from a dollar store in Cleveland this summer was also not on the list. (The entire list of affected stores may be found here.

It's good to know that our legal system is working hard to solve the pressing issues of the day: Is a burrito a sandwich? A Superior Court judge in Massachusetts says no.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Was It Mean of the Green to Do This?

I read today that my alma mater, North Texas, is firing head football coach Darrell Dickey less than a month after he suffered a heart attack. While he has since returned to action--no, it's not like they brought a pink slip to his hospital bed or anything--that just seems a little soon; couldn't they have waited till the end of the season?

At any rate, Dickey is being gracious enough to coach the final three games of the season. While the past two years have been extremely disappointing for Mean Green football fans, I'm happy for the great seaons that Dickey gave us, including four straight trips to the New Orleans Bowl (I got to attend the last two). The program definitely moved up a notch or two in prominence, and let's hope that Dickey's successor can move the Green even farther ahead.

UPDATE: I'm not the only one questioning the timing of this. Wealthy Houston businessman Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale, who donated a million bucks to UNT athletics for the construction of a new practice facility, is now saying he may not donate any more money in the future because of Dickey's firing. Key quote: "It's hard to go hunting elephants with a B.B. gun every season," referring to UNT's lack of resources in comparison to the schools it plays (think UT-Austin) in a rather brutal nonconference schedule every year.

Taiking zeero tolerunce two ann extreem: A new drunk driving law in New York sets the legal limit of alcohol allowable in a driver's blood at "0.18 grams"--about the same as a shot of beer. Are they really cracking down? Not so much; the confusion was caused by a typo made when the law was written.

This robbery was child's play: A bus driver in India was robbed recently, but police investigators knew something had gone awry when the suspect charged in the case turned out to be a 3-month-old baby.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Should I Be Russian Out to See This?

I've had several friends tell me that I absolutely, positively must go out and see the movie Borat as soon as humanly possible. I've heard this from people in all walks of life, from high school students to college professors. Have any Musings readers seen it? If so, offer your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Early (and Once)

It's Election Day here in the USA, but (of course) you won't catch me talking politics on this blog; there are more than enough sites that fulfill that need. However, I echo the words of many by encouraging you to go out and vote today if you haven't already done so, because if you fail to vote, you should also waive the right to complain about the people who get elected for the entirety of their terms.

Though the polls opened mere minutes ago, I'm not sweating it today, because I voted early on Friday, taking advantage of the early voting mechanism that's in place out here. My polling place of choice was the city hall in a neighboring suburb where I was teaching that afternoon; I saw the not-quite-full parking lot and figured that the line would be short, which was true. Even though I have no idea where my voter registration card is at the moment, they were able to call up my information by swiping the bar code on the back of my driver's license. The touch-screen machine was easy to navigate, and I was in and out in less than ten minutes. (Some have said that they're concerned about the lack of a paper trail with these machines, but when was there ever a paper trail? I don't recall those on the old-school machines with the levers, either; the only time that's happened was when we used those paper ballots that got blackened with a Sharpie and fed into what looked like a giant fax machine. Would the option of printing out a receipt of sorts from this touch-screen machine be a good idea?)

At any rate, if you're of age and registered, I hope you go out and do your civic duty today.

The naked truth, part 1: A naked man in California was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon; you don't want to know where he was concealing it, of course.

The naked truth, part 2: A couple who began arguing in their motel room in Nashville took their argument outside and over to an adjacent Waffle House; unfortunately, they forgot to put any clothes on before they left the room.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Travel Advisory

I'm out and about for part of the weekend--off to Waco tonight to assist the fraternity chapter down there with a ceremony. It also means that, since I'll be that close to Austin on a free day, I'll finally get to see my new nephew in person; I'm definitely looking forward to that. I might have a post tomorrow evening, if I'm so inclined (the Austin visit will only be a day trip, as I'm playing in early church on Sunday morning), or late Sunday otherwise. Apologies again for the spottiness of posts; it's been that kind of semester.

An icon on the way out? A factory that's been the home of the original version of the pink flamingo lawn ornament has shut its doors this week.

Sorry, Chief, we'd rather keep going to Krispy Kreme: A police chief in Florida was sacked this week after he sent a memo urging overweight officers in his department to get in shape.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Memo to Self:

Next year, when doing the Boo-Rito promotion, bring duct tape. It was so windy in the parking lot last night that our costumes--mine in particular--came completely unraveled before we even made it through the service line.

A couple of the guys did make some cool ninja headgear out of foil, though; add this to the list of pictures that will be posted on this blog, once I find the most convenient way to get them off my camera phone.

A movie they should have made for Halloween this year: Snakes in a Police Station.

Worst Halloween costume of the year (runner-up): A recent former jail inmate went trick-or-treating in his orange prisoner's jumpsuit, causing the jail from which he'd been released to be locked down for several hours.

Worst Halloween costume of the year (winner): A high school student in Brooklyn showed up to class in a Hitler costume.