Sunday, September 26, 2010

OysterFest – a HUGE success!

oysterfest Still reeling from 14 hours of nearly nonstop music at OysterFest yesterday. Great day all around!

Especially great sets from Burning Hotels, Jukebox the Ghost, Via Audio, and Telegraph Canyon. And Rhett Miller, as usual, played his ASS off for a good hour, and probably lost 10 lbs in sweat alone.

A special congratulatory shout out goes to the staff at Lochrann’s, who worked late on Fri getting ready, then busted their butts for 14+ hours on Saturday. I can’t even imagine how tired they all were, but every single staff member I interacted with was friendly, glad to see the business, and hard at work.

I have no idea how many people wound up attending, and I have no idea how it turned out financially. I hope it was a huge success, enough so we can look forward to the 2nd Annual OysterFest in 2011.

Great job, everyone involved!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Frisco’s attempt to become a music destination gets Observed

neon_rock_n_roll_ The Observer has a nice little article on the efforts of Lochrann’s, Wellhouse, and Spune to bring live music to Frisco. Those efforts are, I think, beginning to get some traction.

Lochrann’s Thursday night shows, featuring everyone you could ask for from the local scene (Orbans, BAcksliders, O’s, Telegraph Canyon, Seryn, etc) and a bunch of touring acts as well, started as a leap of faith. And let’s not kid ourselves. Lochrann’s is not Double-Wide, and probably never will be. Live music needs a little bit of an edge. That edge is a lot easier to get in Exposition Park than it ever will be in Frisco.

But, regardless, Frisco is on the map, musically. The leap of faith appears to have paid off.

The bands keep coming out. Lochrann’s has kept the doors open for a couple of years now (and not everyone in the neighborhood can say that). And the biggest gamble yet is coming this weekend – OysterFest, an all-day, all-night food/beer/music blowout inside and outside, which has been planned and publicized for months.

I’ve had opportunity to speak with a few folks plugged into the music scene far more than I am. Consensus seems to be that Lochrann’s is a good place to play in terms of getting paid. The bar treats bands well. The set up is good to very good. But, the audiences are still the weak link. Patrons seem to want to carry on their conversations rather than listen to the band. There isn’t much reason to hang around after your show is over, so the late-night musician-gathering still gravitates to Dallas. Or the band members just go home.

OysterFest is here, finally, and it will be very, very interesting to see how it goes over, with the musicians as well as the paying public. I have no sense of ticket sales or expectations of the crowd size. The line-up of bands is pretty impressive. I am optimistic. I think the folks at Lochrann’s are as well. Success in this effort (and I have very little idea what constitutes “success”) will pave the way for more events.

A real, thriving live music scene, a well-hit 7-iron from my front door, would be a dream come true. Pub, from the Observer, press releases, or ridiculous little blogs like this one, can only help.

Monday, September 20, 2010

OysterFest is less than one week away. So get with it!

oysterfest Dallas-area CIT peeps, you’ve had your TV Guides circled for weeks, and it’s almost payoff time: The Inaugural Lochrann’s OysterFest is this coming Saturday, Sept 25.

The schedule for both stages is posted, and it is awesomely awesome in it’s sheer awesomeness. The food will be legendary (and includes a lot more than just oysters). The forecast is for perfect beer-drinking weather.

So, what are you waiting for?

For those of you who have not yet take me up on it, my offer stands: Let me know and I’ll be happy to pick up $15 tickets for you in advance at the bar. Or you can order online and pay a service charge. Or you can pay $20 at the gate.

Whatever. Just be there.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Igor - strong, but no worries for land

We mentioned last week that we were going to keep an eye on Igor, and so we have.

Igor has started the slow turn to the right, and the models agree it isn't going to come close to land until, maybe, the Canadian Maritime provinces. So no worries for you and me, unless we're in the trans-Atlantic shipping business.

Daily YouTube: A fun little ditty

Mount Righteous, from Grapevine of all places. They will be at OysterFest in a week and a half. How about you?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A storm to watch – TS Igor

While the DFW Metroplex of Love deals with the remnants of Hermine, there’s a new storm off the coast of Africa that may bear some watching.

Already a tropical storm, Igor (not sure if it’s the traditional “Eee-gor” or the far funnier “Eye-gor”) is tracking straight across the Atlantic. The curve to the north appears nowhere in the 5 day track, and the storm is projected to strengthen to Category 2 by Sunday.

Chances are it will start the big, slow turn to the right before it gets anywhere close to land, but I’m going to keep my eye on this one.


The Quran-burning idiots in Florida

terry_jones I whole-heartedly support the right of every American human to make an idiot out of him- or her-self. It’s our God-given right to be stupid and to let everyone know it, if we’re so inclined. Hence t-shirts that say things like “Fart Loading” (complete with Windows-inspired progress bar), Wal-Mart, and UFC.

Most idiocy harms no one and reflects poorly only on the specific idiot or group of idiots. No harm, no foul. Just a giggle.

But, from time to time, a group of idiots transcend their own idiocy and do something so asinine, so mind-bogglingly stupid, that it rubs off on others around them. Sometimes the idiocy in question is so egregious, it reflects on society in general and actually threatens lives.

No, I’m not talking about American cultural exports like Coca-Cola, KFC, and Lady Gaga. Although the description applies to all of them too.

I am talking about the True Believers at the cynically named “Dove World Outreach Center” (three lies for the price of one) in Gainesville, FL. These are the imbeciles who plan to have themselves a little Quran-burning party on Saturday, which happens to be the 9th anniversary of That Day.

I am at a complete loss to understand the upside to this action. What good could possibly come of it? Burning holy books? How many things are wrong with that little three-word question?

This impossibly stupid, intolerant, and dangerous move has at least served to introduce us to grey Kaiser Wilhelm mustache and polyester sport coats of Rev Terry Jones, for all the good that does us. I hesitate to judge anyone who is being excoriated in the media, but it’s hard not to in this case. If a man is judged by his ideas, then Rev Jones needs to be on life support. Or, actually, not.

Who supports this idea? I guess Jones’ demographic does – white, deeply religious, big Southern dummies. I further guess some part of the people who oppose the “Ground Zero Mosque” like this idea too, although I think the argument about the mosque has a lot more validity than this exercise in dip-shittery (by the way, I think the building of the Islamic center in lower Manhattan is a fantastic idea – what better way to show the tolerance and, really, the greatness of America?). Does any other human with a shred of intelligence think this is a good idea? What positives could possibly come of it?

The military, the Afghans, moderate Muslims, the Vatican, the Euros, everyone has come out against the idea in the strongest possible terms.

Does anyone think this is going to “teach radical Islam a lesson”? Muslim radicals will use this event, if it occurs, to inflame the uneducated masses in the Islamic world. There will be violence. There will be destruction, injuries, and deaths. Some of those deaths may well be Americans.

Rev Jones, are you prepared to have that blood on your hands? Because it will be.

Are radical and uneducated Muslims wrong to go on rampages because someone sets a match to some paper? Of course they are. I don’t support their rights to start violent protests. But I can’t do anything about their reaction. They are what they are. And what they are is predictable.

If we know what the reaction is going to be, why on Earth would we perform the first action? Do two wrongs make a right?

And aren’t we supposed to be the tolerant ones? Wasn’t this country founded on, among other things, the idea of freedom of religion? Hell, aren’t we better than this?

By preventing a mosque being built, or burning a stack of holy books, we are abandoning important, long-held principles. And we are playing into the hands of the radicals. We are doing their recruiting work for them. They want to portray the West in general, and the US in particular, as anti-Islam.

Say what you will about President Bush, but he did go out of his way to make it clear we were not at war with Islam, only with the radicals who perverted the religion for their own purposes. That message has been lost.

Now, with these actions, we virtually guarantee the world-wide perception that the US is, in fact, anti-Islam. Because that’s exactly what these actions are.

I’m embarrassed by these idiots. I have no wish to be lumped in with them. I have no desire for anyone to think they speak for me. I resent their hypocrisy, their attention-seeking, and their smug self-righteousness.

Hey Rev Jones, if you feel so strongly, if you REALLY want to make a statement, I’ve got a suggestion for you: Why don’t you fly your stack of Qurans over to Kandahar and set ‘em alight in the street there?

Not much really drives me nuts, but…

Now that the NFL has returned (and, with it, the much-anticipated CIT weekly college and pro football picks), I have been subjected to the two words in the English language which make me the craziest:

Da. Boyz.

This artificial nickname for the Dallas Cowboys, a joint by-product of an early 90s Saturday Night Live bit the white man’s need to sound “street”, raises my blood pressure instantly. Its like a red cape to a bull. When I hear it or read it, my teeth gnash of their own volition.

Dallas is really a terrible sports town. It’s the home of the front-runner, the band-wagoner, and the knee-jerk over-reactor. Sudden expertism and sports obliviousness run rampant. Everyone from the 20 year old receptionist at your dentist to the guy changing your oil to your neighbor Bob has a theory on why the Cowboy offense grinds to a halt in the red zone, and an opinion about who should be the weak-side linebacker in the nickel.

I have, over the course of the past 15 years or so, gone from Cowboy fan to Cowboy hater, back to fan, and now find myself mostly disinterested. I enjoy Sundays as much as the next guy, but the during-the-week knee-jerking, and hot sports opinions from the great sports-unwashed absolutely drain my will to live.

What set me off on this mini-rant? I just got an invitation to a game-watching party (INSTANT red flag – do any real sports fans go to “watching parties”?) to view “Da Boyz vs the Deadskins” on Sunday.

My options after receiving the email: Slip into a six-month coma, or go rail on the Internet. So here I am. Thanks for listening!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Almost time for OysterFest!

oysterfest If you are in the northern half of the D/FW Metroplex of Love, you will want to circle your TV Guide for Saturday, Sept 25.

Lochrann’s (our favorite Irish pub, located about a 9-iron from Chez CIT) is throwing its inaugural OysterFest – a full, FULL, day of beer, food, local and national bands, and all around awesomeness.

Who’s there, you ask? Well, here’s a partial line-up:
That’s a PARTIAL list, This is one of the biggest local shows in recent memory, by far the biggest live music event at little Lochrann’s.

You can get tickets online, at Good Records, or at Lochrann’s itself. I’m willing to be ticket delivery boy – it’ll save you the service charge, but you gotta get in touch with me directly.

I can’t WAIT for this show. It promises to be great fun. Don’t miss it!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Media + Hurricanes = Stupid

stupd_media_n_hurricanesReading the coverage of Hurricane Earl this week has reinforced my long-held opinion that major media outlets devolve into barely literate baboons at the mere mention of the word “hurricane”.

Earl has been tracking well east of the N. Carolina shore for days now. It would have taken a significant deviation from projected course for the storm to do anything other than drop some rain and kick up some surf on the Outer Banks. Of course, deviations from the models happen all the time, and its always worth keeping an eye on what was, at one time, a Category 3 storm. But I had problems with the story being above the fold for four days.

Today, after Earl stuck to project course and (amazingly) dropped some rain and kicked up some surf on the Outer Banks (and, to be fair, caused some minor wind damage to power lines and flimsy structures like gas-station overhead), we see the predictable “we dodged a bullet” stories in the press.

We also, predictably, get pictures of every tiny bit of damage the legion of photographers in the area can dig up. The one that made me snort coffee thru my nose this morning was the photo above, of a guy paddling a kayak thru about 4 inches of water. The SUV splashing by with no apparent effort, right next to him, and the grass on the curb which is not under water, gives you an idea of how hard the photographer had to work to set this shot up. I can nearly guarantee Ed Earl (or whatever the kayakers name is) stared incredulously at the photog and said something like, “You want me to do what? There isn’t enough water there to float my kid’s tub toys!”

Stupid media. Stupid readers, some of whom, I guarantee, put their hands to their mouths and whispered , “Those poor people. The government needs to help them!”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Local music quick hits

1. Yet more bands added to Lochrann's 1st Annual OysterFest. You need to be at this show on Sat 9/25. Tickets are on sale online, or you can enlist your faithful correspondent to pick up some tix for you at the bar and save yourself the service charge. I work cheap.

2. Current CIT favorite "Like a Liar" from our friends The Orbans was NPRs Song of the Day today. It's been my song of the day for about a month.

The Orbans - Like a Liar from THE ORBANS on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

“Entourage” – still a lot of fun

I know HBO’s Entourage takes a lot of heat for its alleged douchebaggery, but I have been a fan since early on and still enjoy it immensely. Its lost its innocence – its going to be pretty much impossible to top the scene from Season 2 (I think) where James Cameron, from the pilot’s seat of his helicopter, offers “Aquaman” to Vince, poised to board down the hill in Park City, with Ari, in his office, pumping his fist silently while listening in – but its still laugh-out-loud, draw-you-in television.

What prompted this post is the recent parade of Dallas sports owners who have shown up in Ari’s office. First it was Jerruh, dangling an NFL franchise in front of Ari and setting off all sorts of over-the-top hysterics. Then, this week, Mark Cuban, all 6’3” of him, gets stuck in the waiting room with Turtle and Alex, just long enough for them to pitch some tequila investing Cuban’s way and scoring a ride on the Maverick’s 757 to Sacramento to tell the whole story.

I got the feeling Cuban may be around for a few episodes, if only via mention. And Turtle’s business may turn into something. His thing with Alex seems to be moving forward rapidly. Good for you, Turtle!

This week’s fall-off-the-couch-laughing moment was kinder, gentler Ari reaming out a studio exec (I wish I could remember her name – she’s a regular) in the most profoundly vicious manner, even after his (and his wife’s!) extreme embarrassment at the publication of some of his rants in a Hollywood tabloid. No one can ream a person out quite like Ari.

It’s fun to see these guys show up unexpectedly. And, even well into Season 6, I think Entourage has done a great job of portraying Hollywood (and America) in a realistic, and very believable, manner. I’ve always suspected it’s good to be the king. Entourage would seem to indicate its even better than I thought.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ahmadinejad buffoonery - the gift that keeps on giving

Our dear, dear friend and nonstop source of content, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, unveiled the latest in Persian high-tech today: The unmanned "Karrar" bomber. Ahmadinejad introduced the marvel of technology with the following bizarre, yet entirely in-character, statement:
"The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship."


I don't want to goof on the Iranian defense industry too much - they have managed to do a heck of a lot almost entirely on their own since 1978. But, at the same time, I suspect the IAF is not especially concerned about a bunch of 20 ft unmanned drones flying across the desert. Sounds a lot like Air-to-Air Combat 101, which IAF pilots pass whilst in middle school.

It's hard to ignore the timing on this bit of blowhardity, as the Iranians also just announced (yesterday) they were firing up their first fission reactor.

Iran is certainly doing its part to promote peace, stability, and international understanding, isn't it?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Monster weekend at Lochrann's - Sept 24 & 25

Fellow Northlanders, circle your TV Guides right now! On Friday, Sept 24, our friends at Lochrann's will be hosting none other than THe BAcksliders (no typos there, btw).

If you likes you some garage rock, you will loves you some BAcksliders. Video evidence below.

That's Lochrann's on Main St in Frisco. More news when there is some. For now, block it out on your handy Outlook calendar.

Oh, and the next day, Lochrann's hosts OysterFest. Another event worth attending. You're welcome to crash at Chez CIT, but reservations are required.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

CIT Music Field Trip - The Orbans

We don't review every show we see around here any more, just the really exception ones. And "really exceptional" certainly describes last night's field trip down to Exposition Park to see The Orbans at Double-Wide.

Double-Wide, for those of you who haven't made the journey, is located in one heck of a dodgy neighborhood. You turn off Commerce onto First Ave, a stone's throw from I-30 and Fair Park, and there isn't any missing the place, as its the only building for blocks that doesn't look ready for the wrecking ball. The tinfoil tornado on the roof helps too. You park around back, say a little prayer asking the Gods of Rock-n-Roll to watch over your car, and walk around to the entrance.

Upon entry, you walk into an open-air courtyard with tables and a bar. The performance room is to the left, the indoor portion of the bar is to the right. Both are zero-frills, just the way a dive music joint ought to be. Double-Wide is my second favorite small venue in town, right behind Lee Harvey's, and is a lot more reliable during what has turned into a blast-furnace summer like we haven't seen in a while.

The Orbans, who we mentioned here some time ago, have an EP - Switchblade Waterpistol five bucks and change at Amazon, but I bet you can find it for free out there somewhere and a new record When We Were Wild, both of which are great from end to end. Not a bad song to be found anywhere. Personal favorites: "Like A Liar" (video embedded below), "This Is", "Were Her" (video also below), and "When We Were Wild".

The boys played a relatively short set last night, including a bunch of songs off the record and a note-perfect cover of Traveling Wilburys "Handle With Care". A little lighthearted banter between lead singer and guitarist Peter Black and keyboardist Justin Pate was engaging, but mostly the band played a tight, representative set. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Got to chat with Peter Black for a minute after the show. I was careful not to whip his ass with fanboy, but he seemed really appreciative to hear that I liked their stuff and had enjoyed the show. Really pleasant guy, seems to be handling this beginning of success very well.

I am excited about this band. I think, with a break or two, they could go a long way. Musically, they are skilled. They write great, catchy songs. Black seems at ease in the spotlight.

They've promised to return to the Northlands - coming again to Lochrann's in Frisco. Watch this space - I will be trumpeting it to the heavens when they do.

And go buy the record!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Big news from Old 97s-Land

Got a nice note from my friends at today. The new album – The Grand Theater, Vol 1 – will be out on Oct 12.

Circle your TV Guides, kids.


The Grand Theatre Volume One Track Listing:
1. The Grand Theatre
2. Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)
3. The Magician
4. You Were Born To Be In A Battle
5. The Dance Class
6. Let The Whiskey Take The Reins
7. Champaign, Illinois
8. A State Of Texas
9. You Smoke Too Much
10. Love Is What You Are
11. Please Hold On While The Train Is Moving
12. The Beauty Marks

I haven’t heard any of them, but I expect yet more greatness. And so should you!


Saturday, August 07, 2010

Ahmadinejad brings us out of retirement

Hello, fans of CIT. I really thought I had retired to the old bloggers' home, never to virtually pick up pen and rant again. But our good friend, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is back at it and I had to get off the couch to comment.

Speaking at some sort of conference in Tehran, Ahmadinejad repeated his no-longer-news hypothesis that the Holocaust is fiction. But this time, he didn't stop there. Apparently, Ahmadinejad fears his rating are down, because he threw in yet more shock-jock. The latest: the Americans "exaggerated" the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks, and "Zionists" were warned ahead of time to avoid the WTC.

Ahmadinejad goes on to say he's not seen a list of the dead from that day, even though such lists are all over the place.

Its worth noting that Obama said, just the other day, he would welcome talks with the Iranian government. Um, maybe not so much now?

Ahmadinejad. This guys is off the charts. It's clear he doesn't give two poops about how he's perceived in the West. It sure doesn't seem like this stuff plays any better at home, although I certainly don't know that for sure. The Israelis are scared to death of him. What the heck is he trying to accomplish?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Capital punishment - maybe not such a great idea

Saw a really striking graphic on MSNBC today about capital punishment in the US and the world. The part that really got me was the other countries cited as members of the Top 10 Executors.

I am appalled at the company we keep on this list. And I am equally aware we are the only "Western democracy" in the Top 10. I'm pretty sure this is a list we don't want to be on.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

iPhone 4G

The tech press is all a-flutter with news of an apparent iPhone 4G prototype found "in the wild" - some Apple employee left it in a bar in Redwood City CA. It wound up in Gizmodo's hands, and they tore it apart.

The speculation is Apple will announce the next iPhone at the Worldwide Developer Conference this summer. If that's the case, availability is likely in the fall, when, coincidentally, my current contract w/ AT&T runs out.

Hmmm. Stay tuned...

Another example of this blog writing itself

From the Beeb today: Iranian cleric blames quakes on promiscuous women

At last, we have the answer to THAT question!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Apple to Adobe: We don't need your stinking Flash

Fellow iPhone users, take heart. The legions of soon-to-be-iPad users have likely moved the Apple vs. Adobe Flash debate to the tipping point. To no ones surprise, it looks like Apple will win.

If you've tried to view Facebook video, or watch a Hulu TV show, or play an MSNBC video on your iPhone, you know that none of these things are possible without some serious (and warranty-voiding) machinations. This is because Apple has refused to support Adobe's Flash product, the leading method for delivering Web-based video and a whole bunch of other Internet content. Apple claims (rightly so) Flash is buggy, unstable, and hogs resources. Adobe, as has been their habit for about the past 10 years, has yawned and pointed to the vast amount of Flash content on the Web, implying that Flash is good enough for everyone else, so Apple should just shut up and get over it.

Millions of iPhones, and what looks to be another home run with the iPad, give Apple some clout in this fight, and it looks like content providers are going to go with the numbers. According to Daniel Lyons in Newsweek, some of the biggest syndicated content providers on the Internet are moving to support HTML5, the standard Apple is touting as a superior substitute for Flash.

All of the big tech companies are arrogant, and I personally think Apple is one of the more egregious abusers of its customers out there (FAR more so than popular whipping boy Microsoft), but on this one, I'm with Apple. Flash is a terrible product. It is exactly as Apple describes it - buggy, prone to crashes, and a far bigger consumer of device resources than it should be given its functionality. HTML5 is a more open and elegant standard, requires no licensing fees to use, is more stable, and ought to be a better solution in every way to unstable proprietary code.

Eventually, the market does make right in most cases, and especially so in technology. Those companies which adhere to proprietary code, tightly controlled IP, and closed standards are ultimately doomed to be replaced by open-source alternatives. The exception, so far, has been Apple, which has held the open-source revolution at bay by designing and mass-manufacturing elegant, simple, and functional devices and software. They have to work pretty hard to keep up the pace of innovation while maintaining their edge, but to date, they have done a pretty good job.

Monday, March 29, 2010

F1 in Melbourne: Ferrari does what they need to

button_mclaren_2010 The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne is in the books, with Button winning outright in the McLaren, Kubica taking second in the Renault, and Massa and Alonso coming in third and fourth in the Ferraris.

After two weeks, most everything is right in the F1 universe, as Ferrari sits atop the constructors’ list, and Alonso and Massa top the drivers’ list.

I had been under the impression McLaren was considered somewhat behind the others in terms of adapting to the new rules and restrictions. Maybe, as Hamilton ended in 6th after the only 2-stop strategy amongst those in the points. However, Button’s win seems to indicate McLaren are well on their way to catching the others, if they were ever, in fact, behind.

Vettel held the lead until a late brake failure and resulting crash, continuing the two-race trend of lots of speed from the Red Bull, but questionable reliability.

And Schumi did the square root of nothing, coming in 10th and only deserving a mention because, well, he’s Michael frickin’ Schumacher, isn’t he?

Off we go to Malaysia in two weeks for more happy fun good times.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Original music coming to Frisco - really!

Buried amongst the nuggets on DC9 At Night this week was this: Lochrann's Irish Pub and Eatery (in Frisco Square right across Main St from Pizza Hut Park) will be hosting live, original music, for free, on Thursday evenings.

The first show will include The Early Republic and The Roomsounds (yeah, I know, or actually I don't know) on 3/25. Around CIT, we are circling 4/22 in our TV Guides as The Orbans make a visit.

The bands start at 8:00 and finish up at 11:00, so no guilt about being out late on a school night. And did we mention it's free?

The closest thing to original music Frisco has seen to date is Ed Earl's washboard skills down at Randy's Steak House, or perhaps the mice at Manny's. So this is big news round these parts.

Also found in the same DC9 post: Appearing for one night only, at Nokia on 5/12, will be Foreigner, Styx, and Kansas. Just in case you missed 7th grade and would like to relive it or your mom bleached out your concert T-shirts. God help all who attend.

You have got to be frickin' kidding

Really? Snow at the end of March? Awesomeness!

And thus does the plan for another weekend die a cold and wet death...

Another reason to set Bing as your homepage

If you haven't tried Microsoft's latest answer to Google - the Bing search page - you should. I say this not as a Microsoft shill (even though I am one), but as a user who has seen worthwhile results out of it. Bing search is every bit as good as Google's. Microsoft has been working for the better part of a decade to earn the previous sentence, and they have finally done it.

Outside of search excellence, I love Bing, and have it set as my homepage, because Bing brings you, every day, a stunning image you will see nowhere else. Some of the best, most original photography in the world is featured, for free, on Bing, with a new image appearing daily.

Today's image, of a flower farm in the Netherlands, is a particularly good example, and prompted this post. Click on the picture below for a much larger, and much more impressive, view.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Far West China Blog - utterly fascinating

I have no idea how I wound up on a blog entitled Xinjiang: Far West China, but that is one of the best parts about just random surfing. You find something good/great, but couldn't retrace your steps to save your life.

Well, I don't want to lose this one, and I can think of a few CIT readers who will be interested to tune in. The author is a 20-something American named Josh, who has lived in a large town/small city in Xinjiang for three or four years. He and his American wife teach English, do some travel writing, and, it seems, spend a lot of time traveling the province on their second hand motorcycle, taking pictures, writing, and generally living as big an adventure as seems possible in the 21st Century.

I am fascinated by Xinjiang. It is, to me at least, as far off the beaten path as anywhere on the planet, yet has a history which goes back thousands of years. Josh's blog is a completely different, and very informative, view of this beautiful and remote place.

Go check it out. Drop Josh a note. Tell him CIT sent you!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ferrari starts well

The Bahrain GP is in the books, and Ferrari is off to a good start. Alonso won and Massa took second, and it doesn't get any better than that after one race.

A few things to mention:

1. Vettel in the Red Bull seemed to be the class of the field until a mechanical problem relegated him to fourth. Early in the race, no one seemed able to stay with him. Reliability has been a problem for Red Bull in the past. It seems if they can get past it, they are a team to be reckoned with.

2. Hamilton took 3rd in the McLaren, which was better than expected. You have to figure the McLaren guys are going to figure the new rules out sooner rather than later. I would have preferred they got off to a slower start, but it's silly to think they aren't going to be in the thick of the championship run.

3. Schumi did OK in his first race in 3 years (has it really been that long?), placing 7th. However, he was the slower of the Mercedes, finishing behind teammate Nico Rosberg and having his hands full holding off Button in the second (or is it first - he is the reigning champ) McLaren.

If your wardrobe contains some red, and mine has for a long time, you have to like how thing stand after one. Bring on Melbourne!

Thailand gets some unrest on

Red-shirted supporters of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006, have poured into Bangkok by the tens of thousands, looking to force current PM Abhisit Vejjajiva into dissolving Parliament and calling new elections.

Thailand has long been as close to democracy as there is in Southeast Asia, and has a proud tradition as the only country in the region to not be dominated by the Euros (or, at least not colonized by said Euros). However, it's certainly no peaceable kingdom. Coups, military governments, and violent protest are nothing new. At least it's easy to figure out which side is which.

I don't pretend to know the details on this one, nor do I have any insight whatsoever regarding who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. However, I do have some built-in skepticism which I feel compelled to voice:

1. Am I the only one who is suspicious of huge popular movements which can rally 100,000 or more poor, illiterate farmers from isolated, rural parts of the country? I know, I know, the US Civil Rights Movement did exactly that in a responsible and productive manner. But seriously, how often has that been repeated on the world stage? Isn't it a bit more common to see someone mobilizing this sort of crowd to benefit themselves? Or am I getting overly cynical in my dodderhood?

2. The former PM, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in 2006 on charges of corruption and graft, has been in self-imposed exile in Dubai for the past 3 or 4 years. If he were in exile in Laos, or Taiwan, or even Hoboken, I'd be a bit more sympathetic. But Dubai? Really?

3. The red-shirt movement appears to be running out of gas and money. The current wave of protest is seen as the last gasp before irrelevancy. Leaders are promising non-violence, but lets wait on the Nobel Prize for a few days. As the protest sputters to a halt, does the leadership get a bit more desperate?

I try not to be overly cynical, but sometimes, events on the World News page seem to invite it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The return of F1

This weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix represents the beginning of a new age in Formula One, and the return of the world's fastest sport to these virtual pages.

The retirement of Schmacher, the rise of Hamilton, the ascendancy of Ross Brawn, and the mediocre showing by the boys from the Scuderia have all sapped my interest over the past few years. But now, Schumi is back, even if it is in a Mercedes, enormous rule changes make the outcome of any race a study in unpredictability, at least at this point, and Massa is back in red. So, what's not to like?

I don't pretend to be any sort of expert on F1, but I have been somewhat more than a casual fan for 30 years now. I look forward to this season as I have for no other in recent memory.

Don't expect up-to-the-minute news from the circus here, but do expect a few tune-ins, some commentary, and some unabashed tifosi-like banner waving.

Let's go!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Live music alert - EdgeFest may suck less this year

The annual EdgeFest show has been pretty disappointing for the past few years. And I don't think it's because I'm too old. For sure, the music isn't too loud.

Whatever. This year's second stage will include Phoenix. Which MIGHT make a trip to Pizza Hut Park on May 1 a worthwhile endeavor. Assuming the tickets aren't ridiculous, of course. And as long as I can get out before the Limp Bizkit reunion takes the stage.

Monday, March 08, 2010

OK Go's amazing latest video

No doubt I am the last person on the planet to see this, but I have to post it. It took 70 takes to get this thing right. Can you imagine how frustrating take 69 must have been?

The band is OK Go, the song is "This Too Shall Pass".

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Vampire humor?

Three vampires walk into a bar. The first one says, "I'll have a pint of blood."

The second one says, "I'll have one, too."

The third one says, "I'll have a pint of plasma."

The bartender says, "So, that'll be two Bloods and a Blood Lite?"

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Live music field trip: Dropkick Murphys

DKM CIT took a field trip on Monday night to House of Blues to see Boston-based Celtic-punkers Dropkick Murphys. The short version: A+, with a bit of AP credit putting the GPA well over 4.0.

Zowie. That’s what a rock show is supposed to be like.

As is becoming tradition around here, a few words on the venue first. I had not been to HoB prior, and was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing.

Dinner prior was good to very good – standard pub fare but better than most. Beer was cold, if not terribly cheap. The only ding on the restaurant was price. And perhaps noise. We were there to see a punk band, so noise isn’t really a problem, per se. However, there was a bit too much late 90’s Top 40 turned up to 11. Could have done without that.

The show hall is a good setup. The open floor area has a couple of bars, and enough room to get out of the way if the action in front of the stage gets to be too much. The balcony is right on top of the stage. I couldn’t see a lot of it from our vantage point on the floor, but the first few rows of the balcony are certainly top-notch seats.

But, seriously, who goes to a Dropkick show to sit?

One other thing about HoB – we got out of the place in no time. I was shocked and pleased with how quickly we were able to clear the hall, get outside, and get the car. We were on the freeway and headed home within 15 minutes of the last cymbal crash. Amazing.

We missed the first act of the evening, who must have been on stage for every bit of 15 minutes. We did catch most of the second band, a punk-bluegrass (I think) outfit who called themselves Larry and His Flask. Loved them! What they lacked in skill they made up in enthusiasm. As a group, they set new facial-hair records. All of them looked like they had spent the last six months in the Canadian Rockies hunting moose. Two of them were, I'm pretty sure, only partially human. The maniac playing the stand-up bass like it was a ukulele was distinctly chimp-like, and one of the guitarists was a dead-ringer for a Geico caveman.

I think I’d like to see Larry and His Flask in a different setting. Maybe an outdoor one, where the mayhem wouldn’t be too difficult to take. I sure wouldn’t want to see them in a small venue. I’m fairly certain the walls of a place like the Barley House would collapse from the antics inside.

They were cray-zee. But entertaining.

After a reasonable break, it was Dropkick time. They started loud and fast, and just kept going from there for the next hour and a half.

I haven’t been in GA at a rowdy show in some time, and had forgotten all about the initial surge when the band starts. What must have been 25 rather strapping lads pushed right the f*** past us at the first note. I managed to sidestep the worst of it, but one of our party wound up wearing his beer. I had a moment of old-guy “WTF!?!?!”, then remembered where I was and went with it.

The moshing (if we still call it that) was, I suspect, pretty tame by usual Dropkick standards. Some mild crowd-surfing and a bit of pushing and shoving continued through the entire show, but it was restricted to front and center. Our spot, approx 10 feet from the stage but off to the left a little, was very calm, with everyone around us just having fun jumping up and down and shouting along with the songs.

DKM played most of the hits – I missed “The Worker’s Song”, but they included pretty much everything else. Maniacal lead singer Al Barr continuously charged off the stage and into the personal space of those gathered front and center. The rest of the band put as much energy into the songs as the screaming crowd did. By the end of the show, I was drenched with sweat and flung beer and laughing my head off.

Highlights? Heck, take your pick. “State of Massachusetts” was the first real sing-along number. Nearly all of the women from the floor climbed up on stage to sing “Kiss Me, I’m @#$@-Faced” – there were a lot more women in attendance than I expected. The bring-the-house-down finale was “Shipping Up to Boston”, with the crowd bellowing the few lyrics out, drowning Barr’s gravelly roar.

It was all great.

DKM’s next album, which will be released this year, was recorded live in Boston over St Paddy’s week last year. Go get this album and the DVD. These guys work their a**es off on stage, put on a great show, and I can only imagine what a Boston, St. Patrick’s Day crowd must be like.

To sum, then: I loved everything about this show: Venue, opening act, headline act, and the entire show experience. Go to HoB, go see Larry and His Flask somewhere safe, go see DKM. And rock on!

Oi! Oi! Oi!

Chilean earthquake literally knocked Earth off axis

earthquake A bit more holy-crap kind of news from this past weekend’s massive earthquake in Chile: The shake was enough to shift Earth’s axis and actually shortened the span of our days.

The numbers are, of course, very small – the axis shift was in inches and the day-shortening was in milliseconds, but still, that’s one heck of a shake. In fact, it was the seventh strongest earthquake ever measured.

The forces at work in something like this are mind-boggling. Think about how much of a shove it takes to knock over a stack of bricks or to shake a tree just a tiny bit. Now apply that same sort of thinking to the force required to flatten buildings and send huge ocean waves 7,000 miles across the Pacific. Makes me feel pretty insignificant and tiny.

Monday, March 01, 2010


Ouch, in several ways.

Comedy show field trip: Craig Ferguson

craig_ferguson_01 CIT took another field trip this past weekend, this time up to the Winstar Casino in lovely Thackerville OK, to see CBS Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson. This served as the front end of our Celtic-themed weekend, with the back being the Dropkick Murphys at House of Blues on Mon night.

One thing to get out of the way straight off: Some of you out there, esp those of you who are more familiar with the local happenings, may be thinking to yourself, “Oi, Mudgey. I thought you was skint.” Or, you know, less Cockney words to that effect.

Well, skint I am, no doubt. But I am deeply, and far more than monetarily, indebted to a number of friends who have very generously helped me get out and do some very cool stuff lately. The list is long, you all know who you are, and I am so very grateful to you one and all. I am fortunate indeed to have friends like youse guys.

So, on with the report.

First, let’s talk about the venue: The extremely huge, extremely cheesy Winstar Casino.

What. A. Slag-heap.

I don’t even know where to start on this place. All night, I felt like I was in the remake of Walking Tall (the one with The Rock). From the moment the massive, brighter-than-10,000-suns marquee loomed out of the mist on I-35, I got the distinct impression Thackerville had sold its small-town soul to attract this low-budget Den of Iniquity.

You pull into the 40,000 acre parking lot (at least) and get a look at the massive, gaudy facade of the joint, and you can’t help but throw up in your mouth a little. Part of it is supposed to resemble the Coliseum in Rome, some of it a sort of French castle, some of it who-knows-what-but-it-sure-is-big-Ethel. Blinking LEDs embedded into the machined brick walls (magical twinkling, I guess), no windows anywhere, fire exits right off the back of the Spotsylvania Mall, it may be the ugliest building ever built.

Once you walk up to the door (I think the front door, but who the hell really knows?); past the thousands of dualie pick-up trucks, knackered mid-90s domestic compacts, and peeling minivans; you walk in and immediately get the good news from 20,000 (rough estimate) cigarettes. My eyes watered and I aged 10 years within the first fifteen feet.

While navigating the mile and a quarter (no kidding) around to the theater, you walk past rank after rank after rank of slot machines. The entire world’s supply of slot machines. I saw maybe 10 gaming tables in the entire place. The rest was slot machine after slot machine after slot machine. There was a fitting representation of the entire bottom third of the socio-economic food chain from across the Big XII present, smoking, rubbing their bulging bellies through their soiled T-shirts, pushing trucker caps back on their greasy heads, inhaling oxygen through tubes under their noses, staring, unblinking, at the rotating numbers and symbols on the screens in front of them. The sound is nonstop, droning, no doubt scientifically proven to remind the listener of winning. I didn’t see anyone win anything, but maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

As you walk thru the joint, you move from “Rome” to “Versailles” to “China”. The signs tell you so, and I guess the goldish-textured foam decorations and sculptures sort of change in keeping with the local theme. The fast-food stops along the wall, all with minimal cafeteria-style seating, seem to keep up with the current “country” – the pizza place was in the “Rome” area, at least.

The fast food is terrible, over-priced, and terrible. And did I mention it's terrible? And over-priced? And terrible? The sit-down restaurants - I counted two, one being the “Toby Keith America-Will-Punch-You-In-The-Nuts-You-A-Rab-Jerk-Face Bar and Grill” or somesuch, the other might have been “Shite Sandwich”, but I could be remembering that wrong - were crowded and looked and smelled at least as bad as the fast food.

The fit and finish of the entire place screamed “Centex” to me. Lots of flat mauve paint, glossy Snowflake White basic crown molding, hollow-core doors, and industrial carpet. A good, strong wind would likely blow the place to smithereens.

Throughout the evening, I couldn’t shake the mental image of, somewhere in the center of the complex, a secret door which opened onto an irregular-shaped hallway, glowingly red-lit, with moisture dripping down the rounded, pulsating walls. In my mind’s eye, the hallway led to a huge open space ringed by computers attended by geeky drones wearing dark slacks, white short-sleeved dress shirts, and skinny black ties. In the center of the space sits a huge, horned, red-skinned and slimy Creature from the lowest depths of Hell, bellowing with demonic laughter and snacking on the severed limbs of degenerate gamblers and slow waitresses.

I couldn’t tell if I was reminded of Dawn of the Dead, Idiocracy, or WALL-E more. I was literally embarrassed to be an American while I was there.

In other words, I really didn’t like the place.

Fortunately, we weren’t there to see it, nor to gamble, nor to have dinner. We were there for a comedy show.

The theater was the world’s biggest banquet room. It could probably have been subdivided into 200 small break-out rooms. The problem with banquet rooms is they have flat floors. Trying to pack 2,000 people (I’m guessing, but I’d bet I’m pretty close), sitting on lousy stackable banquet chairs, into a room the size of flight deck on a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier means the people in the back aren’t going to be able to see jack. There was a home-made-looking 2X4-and-chipboard riser for the very back, but I’m sure a lot of people only got a rumor of the visuals in the show.

There was some spare opener, some poor schlub who got to go warm up the crowd. He wasn’t terrible, did a number of homophobic jokes which clearly resonated with the audience full of Ed Earls and Darlenes, and was gone pretty quickly.

Ferguson himself was outstanding. He ran around the stage and absolutely killed for a good hour, maybe longer. Cussing, Scotland, booze, TV, celebrities, relationships, sex, and cussing (and a bit more cussing) – all got the treatment. Ferguson is a pro, has great writers, and has timing like few others. Neatly timed call-backs to earlier parts of the monologue (“Magic Baby Door” was a frequent reference) set up and joined a wide range of topics. Ferguson kept “trying” to come back to a joke he wanted to tell, and the payoff there was worthwhile. It’s a tribute to the guy’s skill that I think a good deal of his act was made up on the spot, but I just can’t be sure. It seemed spontaneous, but he had so few misfires it seems difficult to believe he was ad-libbing.

Whatever. He killed. I laughed a LOT. I was a fan before. Now, I’m ready to hero-worship. He single-handedly saved the evening and made the drive to Thackerville and the visit to the Wal-Mart of casinos worthwhile. We’ve adopted Craig Ferguson as both the Official Stand-up AND the Official Late Night Host of silly little CIT.

And that, my friends, is the highest praise I can gin up.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Does BU need football?

As readers of this blog may know, my alma mater, Boston University, killed it's D1-AA football program in 1997. BU had about zero football tradition, and games at Nickerson Field were sparsely attended at best. However, I do have fond memories of fall Saturdays, the mighty Terriers taking the field against arch-rivals like UNH and Maine. Good times.

Brian Roach, in today's Freep, attempts to make the point that a dominant hockey program makes up for the absence of a mediocre football program. He reminds us of BU's multiple National Championships, 2009 being the most recent, bitter rivalry with that other school right out the B branch of the Green Line, and Beanpot triumphs. He doesn't mention, but could have, the semi-household names like Eruzione and Craig, Drury and Tkachuk, and, of course, Jack Parker.

Well, I'm not so sure. I have some great Beanpot memories, sure. One of the great sports moments of my life occurred at the Beanpot. I some really good times at Brown Arena (the Rathole On Babcock St). Scott Shaunessy was sorta fun to drink with at Father's Too on Beacon Street. I mean, it was nice being around a superior hockey program, no doubt.

But college hockey is a fringe sport. It's not even on the same map as college football or college basketball. It's lumped in with other third-tier sports like baseball, soccer, swimming, etc. All very worthwhile pursuits, don't get me wrong. But they just aren't the same as the biggies.

I have NOTHING in my experience to rival Game Day in Austin, or the atmosphere of Cameron Indoor or the Dean Dome. I've never been in an arena with the hoisted jerseys of Walton and Kareem, or where there are 100,000 people wearing maize and blue.

Now, of course, that's not to say BU could ever achieve that sort of success in the big sports. BU football was a very average 1-AA program. There was no history or tradition. The most spectacular players to ever roll thru Nickerson, guys like Jim Jensen and Bill Brooks, wound up with very solid, but unspectacular, NFL careers. A guy like Paul Lewis, who set every rushing record the school has, couldn't catch on with the Patriots as a free agent when the Patriots were terrible.

Hockey is all well and good. And it is nice to be able to say "I went to BU, home of the hockey National Champions of 2009". And it's probably better to have a dominant hockey team than it is to have a spare football team.

That was a long rant for not much payoff. I guess the moral of the story is its better to be really good at something sorta spare than it is to be really spare at something sorta good.

It probably also pays to not do too many stream-of-thought blog posts late at night!

Tiger giggle

I don't remember him being presented with THIS trophy, but perhaps I wasn't looking closely enough.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Live Music Field Trip Report: The King Bucks


CIT took a a field trip to Tolbert’s in Grapevine on Sat night to catch the King Bucks.

The short version: Solid A. Maybe pushing for an A+.

First, the venue: Tolbert’s is in the historic part of Grapevine, a nicely-preserved/redone small-town Texas downtown area. Lots of multi-step-up sidewalks, street parking, and one- or two-storey storefronts and offices. It’s got that “this is the only street in town that matters” feel of your average one-A Texas town. Nice to walk thru, even on a cold evening like Sat. If you haven’t been to Historic Grapevine, it shouldn’t take much of an excuse for you to go.

Tolbert’s itself is a chili-parlor also reminiscent of small-town Texas. A bar running the entire length of the left side of the single long room, stage in the back with a small clear area in front for a bit o’ dancin’, and tables throughout. You’ve been in places like this before.

Food is basic but good. The Fredericksburger (bacon and your choice of cheese) gets an enthusiastic thumbs up. The draft beer is cold, cheap, and comes in a good sized glass. It’s enough to bring a smile to your face. it did mine.


The band is way better than your average bar band. Danny, Chad, Keith, Joe, and Chris have all played in tons of area bands, often with each other. You can tell. They seemed to have a planned first set, but I am convinced the second was made up on the fly. These guys have so many classic country songs on the internal CD player they could easily be unbeatable in “Golden Age of Country Stump-the-Band”.

A ton of Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Porter Waggoner, and the like was the order of the evening. Mostly rockin’, some slower, all played and sung as well as you can ask. We all know Chad and Keith can sing, as they have on countless records and bar sets over the years. Danny Balis’ voice, however, is a relatively recent, and welcome, find. His baritone, while not quite in the Johnny Cash class of resonance, reminds of, and may surpass, Waylon, Merle, and even The Man in Black Himself at times.

By my less-than-expert count, the boys played none of their own stuff, neither off the band’s album nor off Danny’s solo record. Instead, they played two+ hours of old-timey country and honky tonk. You knew some of it, you had heard others somewhere before, some of it you have never heard before. Mostly up-tempo, but enough slow numbers to allow the many 40-something white guys in the audience to grab a dance with their squeeze.

This was the first time I have seen Joe Butcher play live, and I have to comment on his musicianship. Pedal steel is a cool instrument under any circumstances, but Joe’s skill is noteworthy, as are his guitar and singing. On a stage full of talented and experienced guys, Joe stands out as slightly more equal than his co-luminaries.

Joe and Chad, and Keith to an extent, interjected a bit of entertaining banter, but it was pretty much all music all night.

There are plenty of bands rattling around the area doing far more cutting-edge stuff, who are more creative and who may interact with the audience more or better. But you are not going to find a tighter, more professional group of musicians who enjoy their craft more than the King Bucks. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better show, too.

Really glad we went. Tolbert’s is worth a visit, either for dinner, a show, or both. And the King Bucks are on our list of bands we plan to catch again. They should be on yours too.


Olympic time again

vancouver_2010_logo It’s that time once again, when we stop down for a couple weeks of rapt viewing of otherwise-obscure sports, passionate debating about the relative merits of athleticism and artistry, and wistful musing regarding the debauchery going on within the Athlete’s Village even as I type this.

Yep, it’s the Olympics again, my preferred Winter version, this year taking place in a region I have known but fear I will not know, at least not the same way, again.

Is that last part cryptic? Too bad. I know what I meant.

At any rate, I do enjoy an evening of watching slightly insane humans hurtling down mountains on waxed carbon fiber, right on the very edge of catastrophe as they try to squeeze a few more meters per second out, a few less clock nano-ticks elapsed during the run. Its even more entertaining being able to say I was there, I rode that lift, skied that run, walked those streets, saw an event there, etc. Maybe even seeing a familiar face in the crowd, glimpsed in the sea of humanity in Gastown or Richmond, etc.

And the day-to-primetime handoff from the greatness of Al Michaels to the greatness of Bob Costas, Dan Patrick in a silly hat, Scott Hamilton’s emphatic “She NAILS it!”, all the hallmarks of Olympic TV.

I do so enjoy this.

Stories to watch? Heck, I don’t know. Hockey is fun, but not as much fun as when it was college boys against the roid-monsters of Red Army. Bode Miller has turned in too many disappointments in past opportunities to get excited about now. Lindsey Vonn sure is nice to look at, and seems to have a legitimate shot at a number of races. But I don’t see anything that’s truly must-see TV.

And it’s hard to keep cynicism at bay when talking about the kind of money present in modern Olympics. You need only get a snoot-full of the spin being spun about the death on the luge track to OD on fake hand-wringing and contrived tribute.

But, despite the lack of pre-packaged stories and the hypocrisy of modern sports-entertainment, I’m still glued. It’s a chance to see true greatness – how many kids in the world have the Olympics as their goal, and how many make it? And of those who make it, how many excel?

Yes, I love the Olympics, and NBC loves me.

TX Gov race: Are you freaking kidding me?

Yet another candidate for TX Governor, this time Dem dark horse Farouk Shami, commits political suicide on the public airwaves over the topic of 9/11.

Just in case his 9/11 Hot Sports Opinions didn't do him in, he throws in the ever-popular "white people don't want to work" view.

What the heck is going on around here? Is everyone in this race nuts? Bill White is my last hope, but a faint one.

Time lapse - NBA All-Star Game at the Death Star

Here, in two minutes of time-lapse video, is how the Mavs, Cowboys, and the NBA got the Death Star set and filled for the NBA All-Star Game last night.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Debra Medina - oh my goodness

We're not following the Texas governor's race all that closely here at CIT because, quite frankly, Rick Perry is going to have to pull a Clayton Williams to lose this thing. However, one Debra Medina has been slowly creeping up on Gov Good-Hair and Kay Hutchison.

Or, at least she was until she appeared on the Glen Beck radio show yesterday and gave the very clear appearance of being a 9/11 Truther.

Texas is a crazy place, but we're not crazy enough to vote for this, are we?

Listen for yourself. I am no fan of Glen Beck, but I can't fault him one bit for this interview. He asked what should have been a no-brainer question, and even tried to stop Ms. Medina strangling herself.


Local band worth a listen: The Orbans

Formerly The Lifters, now The Orbans. Album drops in March, or that's the plan. Alt-country, country-rock, a bit of Old 97s guitar and The O's banjo. Good stuff.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Upcoming live music field trips

Here at CIT, we’re making a concerted effort to take in more live music (and that was a kick-ass joke, I don’t care what anyone says). My compadre Wild Bill and I, along with anyone who’s interested, will be taking in shows in a variety of Dallas venues and passing along reviews and opinions in these pages.

We’re just getting started, and we have severe time constraints (having, like, jobs and kids and stuff), so the calendar is pretty sparse at the moment. Definites are:

Beyond these two, there are no must-sees right now. We’ll be on the lookout for Old 97s when they roll through, and there’s interest in Calhoun, Eleven Hundred Springs, and a few other local acts. We’ll take suggestions. Please keep in mind we are 40-something white guys who are trying to get the groove back when you submit ideas.

Good stuff ahead for the Rangers?

One of our favorite Dallas sports bloggers, the great Richie Whitt, keeper of the Soon-To-Be-Great Sportatorium over at the Observer (and the links list over there on the left), posits that there is a whole lot to look forward to in Rangers baseball, both in the short and longer terms.

Why, you ask?

Because, retorts RW, new Rangers’ owner Chuck Greenberg reminds him a heck of a lot of a certain other casually dressed Pittsburghian (Pittsburgher?) who took over a moribund Dallas sports franchise and turned it into a winner seemingly overnight.

Yep, Richie sees a lot of Mark Cuban in this guy.

This is, perhaps, too lofty a dream for long-suffering Ranger fans. Its too much for me to buy into sight-unseen. But, you know, what if…?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Bolivia: The next Saudi Arabia

Here’s a little tidbit from the “I Did Not Know That” file: Bolivia sits on top of 70 to 80% of the world’s supply of lithium.

And this is important to know…why?

Take a look at the batteries in your mobile phone and laptop. I’ll bet dollars to your donuts they’re both lithium batteries.

Take a look at the specs of the soon-to-be-in-production Chevrolet Volt. It is powered by, you guessed it, lithium batteries.

It turns out lithium holds an electric charge longer than any metal yet discovered. It will be THE most sought-after element there is in our upcoming (and can’t come soon enough) move from fossil fuels to electricity (generated by…nuclear fission? wind? tide? fusion? all of the above?).

And here’s little, third world, basically socialist Bolivia, sitting on a whole shed load of it. Bolivia, right next door to Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela, where the nation’s most precious commodity (oil) has been nationalized.

The Bolivians are not oblivious to their impending good fortune. They are currently discussing the “To Nationalize or Not To Nationalize” question. They are distrustful of the US, mostly because of our past unwelcome interference in South American politics. Thus, the French, South Koreans, Japanese and, you better believe, the Chinese are swarming all over La Paz, President Eva Morales, and anyone with a smidge of influence in the Bolivian government.

The lithium is found primarily on the high Andean plain, in an area historically dirt poor and currently almost completely isolated from the rest of the world. Which all sounds a lot like the Arabian Peninsula in the 1930s or so, when the oil companies started to move in and build infrastructure.

The Bolivians are taking careful notes on just how the Arabs and their mates next door in Venezuela have managed to hang on to a substantial chunk of their oil revenues, and looking askance at countries like Mexico which have managed to screw themselves out of most of their own windfall. Expect the Bolivians to be pretty stiff negotiators. Further expect a lot of environmental hand-wringing and Power-To-The-People-style sentiment regarding the indigenous dirt farmers. And, since it’s the third world, expect a bit of Wild West – lots of corruption, violence, and double-crossing.

While the demise of oil spells doom for the Arabs, at least as a political force in this world, someone is going to take their place. At this point, Bolivia seems to be the odds-on favorite to be the power behind the soon-to-be-convened OLEC (Organization of Lithium Exporting Countries).

Mossad strikes again, Hamas isn’t happy about it

The Israeli foreign intelligence service, the ever-secretive Mossad, zapped another senior Hamas guy, this time frying him in a Dubai hotel.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas' military wing, died under rather unclear circumstances in January while staying at an unnamed Emirate hotel. Hamas leaders have expressed all sorts of official outrage over this targeted killing of a legitimate target, seemingly forgetting the hundreds of completely innocent Israeli women and children they have blown to bits over the years.

I don’t condone this sort of action, of course. But I also don’t pretend to know what the Israelis should be doing instead. Short of a better idea, I think its best for me to just pass along the news and keep my mouth shut.

The Woodall Rogers Deck Park

My soon-to-be new overlords in the City of Dallas are busily building a deck over a pretty significant length of the Woodall Rogers Freeway canyon on the north edge of downtown (between the Arts District and Uptown, because it's important to use CoD's lingo when describing "neighborhoods").

An interesting idea when first floated, it gets a bit more interesting after you view this highly slicked-up "virtual fly-thru".