Sunday, October 31, 2010

Let's Tell a Scary Story Again

It's easy to indulge in reruns on holidays (somewhat like they do on TV), but what could be better on Halloween than to post the one ghost story with which I'm intimately familiar?

So if you haven't seen it yet--or simply want to revisit it, much in the way that people will watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on an annual basis--please direct yourself to The Legend of Smith Hall. And happy 41st birthday to KNTU, the last entity to call the haunted house its home.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Now That's the Way Baseball Go...

I wasn't able to watch any of tonight's World Series debut because of a gig, but I was discreetly checking updates on my phone once the playing portion was over, and I got to hear Eric Nadel call the final "HE STRUCK HIM OUT!" when Neftali Feliz got Jose Uribe to seal a 4-2 Rangers victory.

So what contributed most to the victory? The hitter-friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington? The rabid home fans? The return of the DH to the game, in the form of Vlad Guerrero? My answer--from the sparse game accounts I was able to see and hear--would be "yes." But more than that, this team knew that it had to win tonight's game, or their collective backs would be so far up against the wall that it wasn't funny. Colby Lewis came through in the clutch again, and the bats started to reawaken.

Tonight's win guarantees yet another "first" in this magic season: A Rangers game in November. Who would have imagined that during spring training?

Let's do it again tomorrow night, guys!

And as for the weird saying that serves as the title of this post, it refers to a now-iconic utterance by Rangers manager Ron Washington that I evidently just missed being able to get on a T-shirt. Wash explains the phrase here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A View from the Top...

...of my price range, if I'd actually been paying:

I was at the American Airlines Center tonight for the Mavericks' home opener. Well, OK, I was at the home opener, but I really wasn't there for that game. Rather, I was there to watch the Rangers' World Series opener on the TV in a luxury suite, from where the above picture was taken. (The basketball game--which the Mavs did win--was purely incidental.)

It all started when a friend and I decided to get together to watch the Rangers, but the locale shifted throughout the preceding days. It may have originally been set for my living room, then it seemed likely to migrate to somewhere with a lot of TVs, like Humperdink's. But said friend had a corporate hookup, so that was how we found ourselves in the lap of luxury this evening.

And how luxurious is it? The bathroom mirrors double as animated billboards, for crying out loud:

I've now been to one Mavs game and one Stars game at AAC, and, seeing as how the latter was also in the expensive seats at a reduced price, I still have yet to visit that place as a "regular Joe." I hope I can keep lucking into deals like this in the near future.

(And of course, it was a horrible night for the Rangers, so it's obviously bad luck for me to watch the game in this manner. I promise not to do it again for the duration of the World Series!)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Idea Would Add Up For a Lot of People

Reading the op-ed page of the newspaper at lunch today, I came across a column that resonated with me. Here's a sample:
How much math do you really need in everyday life? Ask yourself that – and also the next 10 people you meet, say, your plumber, your lawyer, your grocer, your mechanic, your physician or even a math teacher.

Unlike literature, history, politics and music, math has little relevance to everyday life. That courses such as "Quantitative Reasoning" improve critical thinking is an unsubstantiated myth. All the mathematics one needs in real life can be learned in early years without much fuss. Most adults have no contact with math at work; nor do they curl up with an algebra book for relaxation.
The interesting part of all this is that the column was written by, of all people, a retired math professor. G.V. Ramanathan has also taught statistics and computer science at the University of Illinois' Chicago campus (and may still be teaching in semi-retirement, as he holds professor emeritus status with the school). He goes on:
Those who do love math and science have been doing very well. Our graduate schools are the best in the world. This "nation at risk" has produced about 140 Nobel laureates since 1983 (about as many as before 1983).

As for the rest, there is no obligation to love math any more than grammar, composition, curfew or washing up after dinner. Why create a need to make it palatable to all and spend taxpayers' money on pointless endeavors without demonstrable results or accountability?
Ramanathan makes a good point, as far as I'm concerned; there's a big debate going on as to whether high schools need to prepare their entire populations for college, or if some students should be steered towards a more vocational track. But it appears that everyone takes four years of math now, and for those who take Algebra I in eighth grade (which seems to be nearly everyone these days), that means they'll be spending part of their senior years dealing with calculus...and if we're asking if everyone needs this much math, then we really have to ask if everyone needs calculus (a class which I managed to avoid entirely in my pursuit of two-and-a-half college degrees).

Read the whole thing; it's interesting to see someone in academia who understands that his discipline may not be for everyone.

Questions of the day: How much math did you take in high school? And should everyone have to take four years of math? Please "add" your response to the comment page.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Dog Days of October

Even though this was my first weekend off since August, I went to Austin for part of it. One reason was because I hadn't gotten to see my sister and her family in quite some time, and the nephews do grow up quickly, after all. The other reason was to be able to meet this little guy:

Say hello to my new four-legged "nephew," Fletcher. He's the newest in a series of Sheltie dogs in my sister's family, but unlike their previous ones, he's both smart and friendly. In fact, he loves people and is always eager to meet someone new. (And yes, he has a regular-sized tail; I'm just a crappy photographer at times.)

It was great to get away; before this weekend, my last trip of any kind was to a business meeting in Indiana back in July. I did all the usual bits of righteous road food that are characteristic of this trip--Fazoli's in Waco, the Czech Stop in West, and so on. I'm pretty exhausted right now, and this week (like all of them lately) will be quite busy, but it was worthwhile. The grind resumes tomorrow...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tonight, There Is Joy in Mudville

Over an hour after the end of the game, it's still sweet to type this sentence: The Texas Rangers are going to the World Series! But believe me, it rolls sweetly off the fingers...

I've been a Rangers fan for the past 24 years, or at least that's when I attended my first game (against these Yankees; I looked it up). A few years in, I got to enjoy the thrill of the Nolan Ryan era, when people decided which games to attend by which night he was on the mound. Later on, I enjoyed the thrill of a brand-new ballpark and the first playoff years. And other times, I spent many hours watching some mediocre teams, and a few outright bad ones. Also--being one of those who enjoys baseball on TV and radio, not just in person--the team has seen me through many a night off and more than a few long drives. I may have grown up an Astros fan, but the Rangers integrated themselves into the fiber of my being as an adult.

When the final out was imminent, I turned down the TV sound and cranked KRLD on the clock radio from the next room; Eric Nadel deserved to be the one I heard make the final call. I was on my feet for that entire last at-bat, just like everyone in the ballpark, and I did my share of jumping up and down at game's end. (And how sweet was it that A-Rod struck out to end the game! As a friend of mine commented on Facebook, A-Rod finally sent the Rangers to the World Series. Nice.)

Did I tear up a bit when all this went down? You bet. But not right away; I was (literally) jumping for joy at first. What got me was the postgame interview with series MVP Josh Hamilton; of course, he started out by praising God, and right after that, he deflected all the credit to his teammates, and it hit me that Nolan Ryan had done the exact same thing after the game where he got his 5,000th strikeout (a game I had the privilege to attend). And now Nolan is co-owner and team president, and it sure seems that the team-first attitude is being taught from the top of the organization. Not only is it great to see our team win the pennant, but it's great to see this team do it; from all indications, they're a bunch of stand-up guys.

When Rangers Ballpark was being built, I was finishing up my stint at KNTU, for whom I'd occasionally go and report on a game. As I watched the structure take shape, I made a few promises to myself: 1) I would be there on opening night. 2) I would be at the All-Star game whenever it was held there. 3) I would be at the first playoff game hosted there. And in due time, all these things came true. But now, with the World Series coming to Arlington next weekend, I'll probably need a lottery win in order to get tickets (if only I'd had the $75 to spare a week ago when tickets went on sale!). But maybe this will come through as well; I have a week to get things together.

As I went on a late-night grocery run after the game, a couple of kids joyfully ran ahead of me into the store, shouting happily. One of them looked back and me and said, "Woooo, Rangers." My reply: "You got that right; I've been waiting for this since before you were born." No matter what happens next weekend, I'm going to enjoy this moment for a while.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the End, He Couldn't Dodge This Bullet

The news itself wasn't surprising at this point, but the timing was: The UNT athletic department chose today to fire Todd Dodge as head football coach:
Dodge came to UNT before the 2007 season, fresh off winning his fourth Class 5A title in his last five seasons at Southlake Carroll High School — rolling up a 79-1 record in those five years. He was never able to replicate that success at UNT and finished with a 6-37 record with the Mean Green.

Dodge never won more than two games in a season and was 1-6 just past the halfway point of his fourth campaign.

“While coach Dodge has done some great things with our men between the lines, it rolls out to 6-37,” UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said. “The decision is not based on the last seven games. It’s about a body of work over the last 3 1/2 years, and at this point I believe we should have been much further along.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Canales, who is in his first season at UNT after serving for three seasons as coordinator at the University of South Florida, will take over as interim head coach. The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
This is disappointing to me, even if pretty much everyone expected it to happen at the end of the season. As I noted when Dodge was first hired back in December of '06, I think that he's a class act, and he definitely helped bring about some new enthusiasm for the program, which resulted in, among other things, the favorable vote for the new stadium that's under construction across the street from the aging white elephant that is Fouts Field. And while I don't know for sure whether all the losses this season could be attributed to Dodge's coaching, I wonder what anyone else could have done with a team that's been as decimated by injuries as this year's squad has been.

So, two quick questions to ponder:
  • Todd Dodge will certainly land on his feet again, most likely at the high school level where he excelled for so many years. Which area high school do you predict will snap him up?

  • Who would you like to see as the new coach of the Mean Green for next year?
The comments are open; fire away.

Monday, October 18, 2010


The good guys win again; what else can I say? Cliff Lee is still a beast (I think there's a new "Mr. October" in baseball), and the Rangers continue to vanquish old ghosts.

One of these days, my blog posts will be longer than glorified tweets, but it's hard to get a lot of work done with meaningful baseball this late in October. Still, what fun it is!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Behind the Green Red Door

The newest "renovation" of Casa de Kev, done yesterday:

(And most of it took place while I was teaching. Thanks to Mom and Dad for the help.)

My door hadn't been painted since I bought the house over nine years ago, and it just seemed like it was time for a change. And I've watched enough HGTV to know that all the cool kids paint their doors red now, and, after getting a number of color chips and plastering them up there, I found one that I liked. I think it adds a lot to the entryway, even if the door itself is somewhat secluded from the street.

I'm off to UNT Homecoming today. More later.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Association Day

On this day in 1995, a group of brothers in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, meeting at what was then called Friday's Front Row Grill at the Ballpark in Arlington (site of a hopeful Rangers victory tonight!), voted to form what we now know as the Dallas/Ft. Worth Area Alumni Association. We're the oldest of the modern-era alumni groups in the fraternity, and we're still going strong. (The anniversary of our founding, coming nine days after the national Founders Day, often gets lost in the shuffle, so I'm plastering this news in as many places as possible today in an attempt to rectify that situation.)

Thanks to those who have built upon what we started that day, and may our banner truly "float for aye"! (And if you're a Sinfonian in the DFW area who has stumbled across this post, please hit the second link above to contact the organization; we'd love to see you!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Fifty years of franchise futility came to an end tonight; what more can be said? (And if, as I predict, I end up being too excited to sleep for a while, I might come back and say more later.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Beautiful Day in a Beautiful Hall

I've hyped this for a few weeks now, strictly on the basis of an "artist's rendering" picture from UNT's website. But I'm happy to say that the beautifully-renovated and newly-christened Voertman Hall is absolutely gorgeous:

View from the inside entrance

View from the stage

The concert went extremely well, and we helped break the place in with everything from big band to rock band, and from full chorus to "chanted" chorus. This is a great addition to the College of Music's facilities, it repurposes an aging venue in fine fashion, and it will be the home of great music for decades to come. Kudos to all who were involved in the planning and construction of this wonderful room.


Here we are again--the day when all three numbers of today's date converge in two-digit form everywhere in the world (even the places that would call today 10 October 2010). I've been blogging about this phenomenon for the past five years, and, as noted before, I'll almost certainly keep it up all the way through 12/12/12.

As for today, I'm spending the bulk of the day in Denton for the annual Sinfonia Founders Day Concert, where I get to direct the province-wide big band in its one gig of the year. It starts at 3:30 p.m., admission is free, and it's in the newly-renovated Paul Voertman Concert Hall that I talked about a few weeks ago. Seeing the hall itself would be reason enough to come to the concert, plus you'll get to hear the music of talented Sinfonians from around the North Texas area.

Also, the One O'Clock Lab Band is taking its CD release party to Ft. Worth tonight, celebrating Lab 2010 on 10/10/10 off-campus at McDavid Studio in much the same way it did with its 2009 effort on campus a year ago last month. If you're in the area, it's something not to be missed.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Glimpse of the Future at My Alma Mater

(The new stadium that's under construction at UNT, as seen from the parking lot of the current one.)

It's a shame that there will likely be a new coaching staff leading the Mean Green into this place next fall, as the team can't seem to steal a win this season. Tonight's loss was by a mere five points, which has been par for the course this season. With the team's record at 1-5, it would take a miracle to save the Todd Dodge regime; can the guys pull it off over the next month and a half?

Among the good things that happened in the game: Four field goals by Zach Olen, and fourth-string quarterback Chase Baine did pretty well, and--unlike most of his predecessors this season--came back from an injury scare to rejoin the game. He was replaced by Riley Dodge for one series, who was playing with a broken wrist on his non-throwing hand.

Can this season still be salvaged? Next week's homecoming game should tell us a lot.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

All Hail!

On this day in 1898, a group of men at the New England Conservatory decided to form a club for the male musicians at the school, who were massively outnumbered by the women at the time. Since then, the "Sinfonia Club" has grown into Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, which boasts over 200 collegiate chapters and alumni associations nationwide. It's also an organization in which I've had the privilege of spending virtually my entire adult life in some sort of active involvement.

Happy Founders Day, my brothers. And may the Sinfonia's banner "float for aye."

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Today Was a Walk in the Park


I visit Southlake Town Square about once a month, during my break between church and my monthly alumni meeting in the Mid-Cities, and I'm really glad that the weather is nice enough to take long walks through the place again.

Some days are just too nice to spend inside, so the incomplete blog posts will have to wait a little bit.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Words to Live By

I'm enjoying a partial four-day weekend right now (the "partial" part means that I'll be teaching college as usual on Monday and Tuesday, but the public schools are off, and any day that doesn't require waking up at 6 a.m. counts as a "holiday" in my book), so I'll be catching up on many, many incomplete blog posts in the next few days. But in the meantime, I had to post this great quote from James Lileks in his Thursday Bleat. Earlier in the day, he had words with his daughter, who was updating something and nearly missed her school bus. Eventually, the subject came around to work:
You work, you fill up the day, you tote it up when the day is done, and figure you earned your stint on the right side of the dirt. I have the usual panoply of failings as a person and a parent, but I think I’ve instilled in my daughter one lesson: make something every day. Make something that wasn’t there before. Produce. It’s what we’re here to do, after all.
Amen and amen. And those last three sentences should be printed out and plastered on the bathroom mirrors of everyone who works in government, not to mention those who believe that said government should take care of them, rather than relying on their own personal productivity.

End of sermon. Have a great day! Updates linked as they get completed.