Touch of Grey will, well, touch upon the rainbow that is life. Good music, good times, and good friends combine to make all the splendid colors. Touch of Grey will celebrate this beautiful rainbow.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A (Columbia) Blue and Red New Year

This time, it's personal. VERY personal.

When the Houston Texans play the Tennessee Titans on New Year's day on the Texans' home turf, you'd better believe dad and I will be there. There is no more important game to us right now. It is the first step toward healing a wound from many years ago. Will we win? Of course. We have already beat the Tennessee Turds once this season IN THEIR STADIUM. But it's time for a homecoming. A homecoming, and a comeuppance. The Tennesse Traitors, and particularly Bud Adams, are going to find out the hard way you can never really go home again. We were left at the dance many years ago, clutching our sad memorabilia with tears in our eyes because that is all we were left with. That, and an enduring, burning bitterness toward those who jilted us. Is Bud Adams the most hated man in Houston? You bet your sweet bippy. I wonder if, when we beat the bejesus out of his Tennessee Tampons, he will flip us the finger, as he is wont to do when he wins? A real class act he is, right? No, I rather believe he and his Tennessee Twerps will leave the glory of Houston's Reliant Stadium and our triumphant Texans with their tails tucked between their legs and their heads down in shame. Which is as it should be.

I do hope that Adams enjoys the atmosphere of our new stadium. The one we WOULDN'T build for him, despite his unreasonable demands. When he didn't get what he wanted, he acted like a spoiled little boy and took his toys with him to another state. Oh, of course the Astrodome should have been good enough. And, in fact, as much as we love the Astrodome, we knew that our fair city would need a new stadium eventually, as the aging dome would surely give way to some other venue. And yes, we wanted a new stadium, too. We just didn't want to - and wouldn't - build it for Adams. So, I hope that he sees - and feels - the glory of a city and her people that have prospered and flourished after his departure. I hope he feels the power and the memory of Earl Campbell, Dan Pastorini, George Blanda, Warren Moon, Ken "Snake" Stabler, Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, and Bum Phillips. For they are there with us, always. And I trust he will know the force of Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, T.J. Yates, Mario Williams, Kareem Jackson, Matt Schaub, Wade Phillips, and Gary Kubiak.

Sunday will be the first time dad and I will set foot in Reliant Stadium. I hear tell it's an amazing venue. We will go with the memory of our dear Oilers in our hearts and with the structure of the Astrodome only steps away from our seats. We will be able to finally reconcile our past with our present and begin to heal old hurts. We will rejoice with the Texans as they make our city proud once more. Because that's what Houstonians are all about. Resilience. We have had so much taken away from us. The house, nay, the whole neighborhood my dad grew up in, then I grew up in? Gone. Astroworld? Gone. His high school, the same one I would have attended? Gone. Our favorite restaurants/drive ins/places of entertainment? Gone. You see, Houstonians are accustomed to the impermanence of things. But we always look to the future and know there are better days ahead. And Sunday starts a new day, a new year, a new era for us all.

Because this time it's personal. VERY personal.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

To Honor A Friend

My sweet friend Rusty sent me a wonderful email that I wanted to share with everyone. Most have heard variations on this before, but it bears repeating. It is followed by my favorite little Christmas tale, told as only Grandpa Jones can. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Christmas at the Gas Station

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last four hours and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George, as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go." "Not without something hot in your belly." George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew ... Made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister, can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. "You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But Mister, please help." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new.." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on.

"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anything'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the
officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he
asked. "None for me," said the officer. "Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. the young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer." "Shut up and drink your coffee " the cop said. George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued. "Yep", George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and
thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to
solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck
appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too,"George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."
"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the
bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine
tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. you gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And
when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the
stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus" Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Our Lesson For Today

And every day.

"Everything natural - every flower, tree, and animal - has important lessons to teach us if we would only STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN." - Eckhart Tolle

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Boys

Pet Shop Boys, that is.

For no real reason, they're "Always On My Mind".

Here are some great (or is that "rad"?) 80's hits by my Boys. Totally cool!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Beauty

The beauty is, I don't have to look far for inspiration. It sits, ever on display on my library shelf. It waits, patiently for me to really look, not just glance over. It speaks, in a language of smiles and tears gone by.

The beauty is the women that have molded my life.

The beauty is that even though some aren't here any longer, I know they will never really leave me. Their genes are my genes. Their dreams are my dreams. And their secrets, well, they're safe with me.

The beauty is all around me. And I need only look to my right as I sit here to see it. I wanted you to see it, too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Just wanted to repost this past blog of mine; I can't say it any better than I already have. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

For all your readership this year and in years past.

For an opportunity to entertain, enlighten, confound, astound, and tickle you.

For the circle of friends I have made through the blogging world. You know who you are.

For the warmth you have shown me and my family.

For the good times.

For the bad times.

For all time.

Forever. I am most grateful.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nerds Around the World, REJOICE!!!

Just this past Friday, the General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics bestowed names upon the three newest elements. Numbers 110, 111, and 112 have now been given the names of Darmstadtium, Roentgenium, and Copernicum, respectively. On the periodic table you see above, Darmstadtium and Roentgenium already appear with their names in place. The last orange block you see with the temporary designation of Uub is now Cn, or Copernicum. These are elements actually "born" in a laboratory setting, and are categorized as "super heavy" or Transuranium elements. See more of the fascinating story here.

I remember being a young child and going to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and seeing this huge wall display of the Periodic Table of the Elements. I didn't even know what it was at the time, but something about the placement of the elements, the form of the table, the different colors, numbers, really caught my attention. I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said that even back then I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I still think so. There was, suddenly, ORDER in the universe to me, a sense of perfection, an idea that things belonged together in a certain space. My parents, not experts in the sciences, tried to explain it to me, but I craved more information. As I had so many times before, and so many times after, I went home that day and looked it up in our set of Encylopedia Britannicas. I was hooked. Somehow, it just all made sense. I was in love with one of the most astonishing discoveries mankind had ever made.

There was a very interesting show on, I believe, the Science channel a couple of months ago. It was a two-parter on the discovery of elements (which actually arose quite by mistake when alchemy failed to yield gold from disparate parts - thus the discovery that gold is an element and cannot be "made" from anything else) and how they came to be arranged in a chart that assigned elements by atomic number, increasing in number of protons in the nucleus as you go down and right on the table. They are then grouped in columns and rows depending on chemical reactivity and other properties. How beautiful is that? And how beautiful are the minds that understood this for the first time in history?

So, there you go. Just a bit of interesting news today, and a homage to one of the fathers of modern science - Nicolaus Copernicus himself. I can't think of a more fitting tribute to the man who was audacious enough to believe the Earth actually revolved around the Sun.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yul Brynner, Chess, and Controversy

Thanks to Getsmart, Yul Brynner has been on the brain for a while. What sweet thoughts! So, this one is for you, Getsmart.

I've been meaning to share my favorite one-hit wonder, and now seems the perfect opportunity to do so, given the perfect storm of Yul Brynner and controversy.

Seems there's a little back-and-forth going on about costumes some deem offensive due to racial and ethnic stereotypes. I say Halloween is all in fun and I'm actually going dressed as an Indian maiden this year (read: Native American for you sensitive types). Stereotype? Maybe. Fun? Absolutely.

So that brings me to this great song: what other tune would ever mention Yul Brynner? For that alone, it scores points. Only one-hit wonder about chess? Score. Controversy? Score again. I remember that Thailand (once Siam) was OFFENDED because the song did not exactly give their nation a glowing representation. It does mention "one crowded, polluted, stinking town", but is this not reality? So, Thailand, from my understanding, actually banned the song in their nation. Too bad. ONE OF THE COOLEST EVER!

So, without further ado, because it's not banned here in America, and because if anyone has a right to be offended, it should be nerds like me who play chess (but, of course, I'm not offended - after all, chess is the "ultimate test of cerebral fitness"). Good thing I love the song and all the lyrics. It is also unique in that it came from a stage play by the name of - you guessed it- "Chess". Enjoy!

And just for good measure, I can't resist showcasing another song about chess - "I've Seen All Good People" by Yes. No, they don't mention Yul Brynner, but they do give some excellent advice - "Don't surround yourself with yourself". Good advice for those who are offended by simple, fun Halloween costumes. It's really not all about you sometimes - it's just Halloween. Remember, on the chess board, black and white sit side by side. Get over it and enjoy life's pleasures!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Like Peas and Carrots....

Nothing goes together as well as POKER and WHISKEY!

All the talk lately of the defunct Bootfest poker game got me to thinking....It's time for some homemade poker and whiskey with family and good, I mean FRIENDS.

Just to get y'all in the mood for all that, I offer here a couple of great songs that just go together like....well, you know.

One word of advice: you gotta watch these chicks that are into poker and whiskey - for ya know, they'll trick ya easy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Of Human Bondage

Just when you think nothing in the news could shock you anymore, you get this.

It leaves me at a loss for words, really. How sad we as a species have become. It really hit me hard, because just a day prior, I had absorbed myself in Roger Ebert's latest blog post here. Ebert's posts of late have been so fascinating, he is one of my "must read" bloggers when I surf the internet. I always am gratified when I stop by his page. This latest post of his asks simply, "Why are we cruel?" Indeed, even if cruelty seems inherent in the nature of Homo sapien, there is no good answer here. And when I came across the article about those poor souls in Philadelphia being held against their will in such horrid conditions, I immediately thought of Ebert's blog. It seems we will never see the end of stories like this.

What do YOU think? Why ARE we so cruel? To other people, to defenseless animals? Even to those we love? What in our nature makes humans at times so inhumane?

I highly recommend all of Roger Ebert's writings on his blog. He has in incisive way of thinking and thus makes me think.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Got Nothin'

Nothin' very special today, that is. Sometimes inspiration runs short. Or perhaps this is just a laid-back sort of day. I think the latter is in play here. Who isn't enjoying the rainy, grey skies and the cooler temps? We have had nearly 2 inches of rain, and I say, KEEP IT COMING!

A lazy Sunday to be sure. I find myself with plenty that needs to be done, of course, like sweeping/vacuuming, laundry, you know. All those mundane things. But instead, I just sit here, typing away, enjoying my hazelnut coffee and the light drizzle outside my window. Those chores will be done soon enough. Occasionally, I might have a laugh as one of my kitties comes in from outside looking like a wet dishrag. In fact, Hamlet wants in my lap right now, all wet fur and motor running and tail-wagging feline that he is. He also adores his belly rubs.

Dad is watching the Texans play the Raiders, and hoping against hope, I think, that our guys are going to pull this one off. Stranger things have happened, though.....and finally, grandmother is sitting quietly in her room, reading and enjoying the rain coming down as well as her cat sitting beside her.

So, you see, I got nothin'. Or maybe just enough for a lazy Sunday. A paper or three sitting on the kitchen table waiting to be read. Floors needing my attention. And a little Johnny playing in my head. It's funny, it depends on the mood I am in as to how this song sounds to me. Sometimes it seems as depressing as all get out. But today, it just seems soothing, casual, and lovely, even if it does make me realize just how much I miss Johnny and my mom.

Enjoy your day, even if it's a day of nothingness. After all, any day above ground is a good day.

Monday, September 19, 2011


You died today, alone in dad's garage. We don't know why, or how. All we know is that it is very quiet in the house without you.

You came to us six years ago from a place unknown. You were only around six months old, and such a little man - not a kitten and not yet a cat. I fell in love with you and your long orange fur and copper eyes the minute I saw you. I wanted so much to take care of you, but you were an independent spirit.

We watched you grow into a beautiful cat whose sense of adventure led to mishaps, the worst being a broken right hip. But you had surgery for that and recovered well, your limber body betraying no signs of ever having been injured.

I can only guess what you got into this time. I'm sorry I wasn't there when you took your last breath. Tonight will be the first night you won't be coming to bed with me, mashing and purring, mussing up the covers to make yourself a soft spot to lay down in. I buried you beneath the same tree that so many other of my babies lay underneath.

I named you Sunny not just because you could always find a sunshiney spot anywhere to bask in, but also because your fur was the color of the sun. Mostly, though, you were my Funny Sunny Bunny Honey who brought an immeasureable amount of light into my life.

Good night, sweet prince. Sleep tight.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Delicate Sound of Thunder

Not only is it a sound that I am enjoying just outside my window right now, "Delicate Sound of Thunder" is also the title of a collection of some of the greatest live performances ever captured. The soundtrack and video of Pink Floyd's moments in the spotlight is an astonishing accomplishment. You can either run out and grab it for yourself, or simply enjoy a sample here as well as performances from "Pulse". Always, always, ALWAYS they manage to blow me away.

Hmmmm.....there's something about a cloudy, rainy day and Pink Floyd that is magical, don't you agree?

And, my sweet orange crush, the third song is for you. It's okay, it happens to the best of us. And the best of us come out intact after all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Wonder What She Thought

I wonder what she thought
As she stood there, strong and tall.
She couldn't turn away,
She was forced to watch it all.

Did she long to offer comfort
As her country bled?
With her arm forever frozen
High above her head.

She could not shield her eyes
She could not hide her face.
She just stared across the water
Keeping freedom's place.

The smell of smoke and terror
Somehow reduced her size
So small within the harbor
But still we recognized...

How dignified and beautiful
On a day so many died
I wonder what she thought,
And I know she must have cried.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Class of '85

At the risk of echoing the Statler Brothers, the class of '85 had its dreams.

Now, 26 years later, some of those dreams have changed. Some have been realized. And some are still being built.

There's Jimmy, the retired AirForce man with a classic Corvette and head of hair and tanned body that should be the envy of men half his age. There's Richard, the school photographer-turned-paramedic. There's the cool chick turned scientist. There's Terry, the track star-turned nurse and mom to college students. There are mothers, fathers, grandparents. There are those of us who have lost loved ones and those of us who have grown our families.

Donna the teacher, Darren the bodybuilder, Marvin the oilfield expert who couldn't attend because he's working half a world away, Natalie the assistant district attorney. And Charles, the marketing/website genius with a Master in Fine Arts. They, and we, are all part of something special: the class of '85. Our colors? Silver and blue. Our flower? Lavender orchid (wonder where on Earth we came up with that?). Our song? Well, now, you must remember this was 1985. Okay, so it was "We are the World."  Were our choices always right, always brave? No, not always. But I suspect more so than not. And maybe we were the world, we were the children. And all children have dreams.

And dreams are always more special when set to music. Enjoy some of the sounds from that year with me, won't you? And, here's hoping all your dreams come true.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Somebody Stop Those Escargots!!!

A turtle walks into a sheriff's office.

"I've been attacked by three snails!" he yells.

"Tell me what happened," the sheriff replies.

The turtle shakes his head and says, "I don't all happened so fast..."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Love Story

No, not that kind of love story. But a tale of devotion all the same.

Driving home from work this evening, I heard a song I've heard a million times over the years, but today, it just struck home for some reason. I listened, and remembered, and mourned. I mourned the death of radio as we used to know it.

There were once people called, of all things, "disc jockeys", or DJs for short. The best of these could energize a program and make one so excited about the music. After all, the DJ seemed to know your taste and deliver exactly what you were hoping to hear. Heck, you could even call in a request and KNOW that you would hear it. Some DJs could blabber with the best of them, and still others could bring a grin or a tear, sometimes simultaneously. They are all but gone now. And today's radio, what's left of it, is, well....sort of....robotic. No hyper hep cat announcing the latest and greatest hits, no cool dudes to play stacks of wax, no groovy gurus spinning the extended-play platters. I loved them all. I would hide under my bed covers at night with my transistor radio to hear my favorite tunes, promising myself after the next song, I would go to sleep. Well, no, after this song. OK, maybe just another....

And that's all gone.

Do you remember the glory days of AM and FM radio? Do you recall listening on your transistor or your intricate stereo system that took up half the wall in your living room, or on your console TV/eight track player/phonograph? Do you remember your favorite DJs name - Alan Freed, Colonel St. James, Dick Clark, Murray the K? What are your fondest radio remembrances?

Here, I give you the song that has been on my mind all day since hearing it on the way home, the one that started my trip down memory lane (with one of the coolest intros ever), followed by other relevant "radio" songs. So, kick off your high-heeled sneakers and follow me!


See? No static at all!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not Your Typical Hollywood Ending

There are some movies that defy expectations of the general public and bravely go against convention to wrap up in a way that nobody expects. People like happy endings; I believe that is ingrained in our nature. I'm not talking about twist endings, although there are plenty of those out there. No, I'm talking about movies with endings so devastating, so shatteringly depressing, that one just doesn't know if they could watch the movie again just to be confronted with that ending again.

This topic occurred to me after watching a show I have watched before, albeit my first viewing was decades ago. George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" is a movie steeped in notorious reputation. I am not in the business of giving away endings here; I vehemently HATE spoilers. I won't tell you what happens at the end; although this movie is so old, I suspect MANY have seen it and know full well how the ending just knocks the breath out of you. It was callous, shocking, and perhaps even a little senseless. It certainly doesn't end the way we would have liked. I had actually forgotten over the years about that ending, and remembered it halfway through the movie as I watched it several nights ago, and when I remembered the ending, it was all I could think about, and that honestly kind of ruined the rest of the movie for me.

Another movie that comes to mind is a lesser-seen movie from a few years ago called "The Pledge", starring Jack Nicholson. I simply cannot take that ending again. It was a very good movie with such a stirring performance from Nicholson that it is worth a second watch except for that ending. Now, I'm not talking about cop-outs or cheats, with an ending that cheapens the rest of the movie by wrapping things up into a neat little bundle. No, this ending, and the one for the "Night of the Living Dead" are perhaps the most truthful endings, the kind of endings that must happen. Even so, I seriously cannot watch "The Pledge" ever again. I just cannot bear the last few minutes.

"District 9" also had a very sad, but I suppose, inevitable ending. It was almost beautiful in its sorrow, but how that beauty hurts.

And, for a final example, an excellent movie called "American History X" starring Edward Norton. This is a tough film to watch throughout, because its depiction of a certain lifestyle is stark, realistic, and makes no apologies. This is one of the most brutally truthful movies you will ever see. But the ending - OH! that ending. It doesn't end the way we wish, but again, the way it must, staying truthful right up to the end. This is the one movie that I must recommend, however, even with the hurtful ending. You MUST see this film, but be warned that it is not for the faint of heart. If you are easily offended, you won't get past the first five minutes. But this is one movie that is worth a watch or ten, even when you know the ending.

What are some movies you have seen that end in a way not expected, and perhaps not wanted? I am sure others have their own films to add here. Or, if you have seen any of the above movies, what do you think? Happy movie watching, kiddies!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Days Like This Should Come With A Warning Label!

Seriously. How much can one chick take?

Workplace woes. Sick kitty in the hospital. Crummy music on the radio. Workplace woes. NOTHING on TV to speak of. Unexpected crises. And workplace woes.

Oh, and did I mention workplace woes?

Some days are just like that, I suppose.

So, how do YOU cope with rotten days. You know, the kind where it seems not only did you get out of the wrong side of the bed, but where you shouldn't have gotten out of bed AT ALL.

You know my answer. Music. Not the crapola I've heard all day on the radio, mind you,  but MY kind of music. That, and good friends. I'm thankful those friends have sturdy shoulders. Those really come in handy.

Share some of your day brighteners here. I would love to hear them!  Whether it's your child's smile, a kind word somebody spoke to you today, whatever. The carrot at the end of my stick is online conversations with friends, playing with my kitties, and being with my fam at the end of the day. I might even try to sneak in a piece of chocolate later.

Hey, I think my day's getting a little better already!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


At the risk of sounding inhospitable, I highly recommend the President of the United States, who would dare purchase Canadian-made buses for his entourage, TAKE OFF!

What a hoser!

Take off, hosehead!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beauty Is in the Eye (and Ear) of the Beholder

A beautiful Sunday. These days of peaceful bliss are rare for me, so I take advantage of them when I can.

I am in the mood today for beauty, so I would like to share some songs that fill that bill. These songs, some of the most beautiful ever made, make me centered, and remind me how wonderful this life is and how lucky I am to have such good friends and family.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Silver and Gold

This is a repeat of a much earlier blog of mine. I am so fortunate to have good friends, and when they are going through times of trouble, I would give anything to make their day brighter. This time, I dedicate this to a certain "fuzzy" friend, a nautical guide (I'm sailing right behind), and a truly golden gentleman with a lot of "red" thrown in. Y'all know who you are, and you know where I am. You are on my mind. And, as always, the music says it so much better than I can.

FRIENDSHIP. Is there a sweeter word in this whole wide world?  The events of the past week or so have left me believing in the power of friendship. I am reminded of a little song we used to sing in Girl Scouts: Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold. I have truly begun to understand just how precious friends are as I get older. As life evolves, so do friendships.

Some friends made in childhood last into our later years, while many seem to fall away and are forgotten. The friends we acquire in our teenage years are an integral part of our growing and maturation process, while friends made in our adult years are appreciated with a wisdom and maturity that can only be earned by doing time on this planet Earth. Some friends are like a fragile flower - there when we need them most, but fading from view and our lives as that period of connection gradually morphs into something else. Some friends are like a sturdy oak tree - there for a lifetime to lend support and comfort, and steadfast in their devotion. Finally, some friends are like shooting stars - brilliant in their blaze of glory and blinding in their lifeforce, but just as rapidly burning out as your places in each others' lives seem to change abruptly, leaving you always with memories, and sometimes little else.

I have been so blessed to renew and refresh friendships this week, to enrich new (old) friendships ;) and to also be of service to a friend who needed my help and a kind word just yesterday. I am so fortunate that these people are in my life and consider me their friend. Some of my friends are old buddies from younger school days, and some are current or past co-workers. Some have absolutely nothing to do with either setting, but I am so fortunate to have them all. My wish this year and next is to be the kind of friend to them that they so deserve.

Who do you laugh with? Who knows your deepest, darkest secrets? Who can you count on to indulge your eccentricities and quirks? Sometimes, this can be one person. Or, sometimes, many different people play these roles. If you are blessed enough to have such friends in your life, I invite you to share your memories and gratitude here, and better yet, with that special friend.

The friend who needed a shoulder to lean on yesterday is one of my oldest and dearest friends of over 20 years. There is virtually nothing we wouldn't do for one another, and it is in this devotion that we know we can find comfort. The song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by the talented duo of Simon and Garfunkel has consequently been on my mind all day long, which suits me fine, since I think it is one of the most beautiful songs ever made. What a tribute to the strength of friendship it is! Do you have a friend that would virtually lay down his or her life for you, and for whom you would do the same in return? For my friend, and for yours, I include this powerful song so that we are reminded of just how rich our lives are because of friends like these.

For all of our friends that know everything about us, that we consider our "best friends" above all others, I give you this wonderful tune by Queen, "You're My Best Friend". I myself have been lucky enough to have many friends throughout the years, some come and some go. But there will always be just one "best friend". She knows more about me than I know about myself, I do believe, and the times we have had are legendary (or, well, maybe we are just legends in our own mind!) I'll bet you have a friend like that, one that you wouldn't trade for all the lead tea in China.

Finally, there are those friends that are just completely comfortable, like an old shoe, but in a good way. They are without guile or agenda, and around when you need them, but never in your hair or on your nerves.....they are the ones that "winter, spring, summer or fall, all you got to do is call", and they'll be there, because "You've Got a Friend". This is the spirit behind Carole King's uplifting song, a tribute to all the people in a person's life that make the world go round (and round, and round). What would we do without our circle of friends, some silver, some gold, but all links in the chain of our lives that makes us richer? I am indeed a wealthy about you?

And, just because I miss Freddie, and some dear friends who lost their battle with AIDS, to this day, I will close with this:       

Because I look, and I find, I still love you.

Friday, August 5, 2011


So this is what I had to do to get a blog posted edgewise on the VicAd website amidst ALL the VA Staff blogs.

I counted a couple days ago, and the recurring theme went something like this: at least 31 of 50 blogs posted of late were by VA staffers, many of them with little to say. And, if you count Uncle History, the unholy alliance of ex- (or something like that) VA denizens, you come up with more like 36.


Just wow.

And now, it seems they are tinkering with their site to accommodate "increased content". I'll give ya three guesses where the "increased content" is coming from.

RIGHT! The staff! Because I can assure you that regular posters, not just myself included, have slacked off on posting, and from my count, non-VA staff blogs have actually decreased.

Meanwhile, many people are complaining that posting time takes longer, and their blogs are disappearing into cyberspace.

Get it right, VA! Either make this a user-friendly site that has not been completely taken over by your so-called "reporters" who call a visit to the Holocaust Museum "Fun" and a man's death caused by a woman's "stilleto" [sic] shoe "just plain awesome" (oh, by the way, that particular reporter is their "Faith" section star) or get off the pot and let somebody else take over the paper and start from scratch.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of Nasa, WALL*E, and Lost Dreams

This is the first time I have even been able to talk about the closure of the NASA shuttle program. It has taken me this long to even find words. In a strange twist of fate, it was a simple cartoon that has given me the courage to speak my mind here.

I should have seen it when it came out, I even wanted to, but I didn't watch the movie WALL*E until a couple of days ago. I'm sorry it took so long. What a wonderful film. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend you do. There is in particular a scene in the movie that almost made me weep. Not because it was so sad, but it was so beautiful. When WALL*E first sees the wonders of space, I imagined that our brave astronauts were in as much awe as WALL*E. What must they have saw, thought, felt upon seeing a never-ending expanse of stars, asteroids, planets, universes? All from a vantage point NOBODY ELSE has first hand?

The whole NASA situation touches me deeply on a very personal level. Chalk it up to having had the privilege of growing up in Space City, USA, aka Houston. We were home to the Astros, Astrodome, Astrohall, Astrodomain, Astroworld, Rockets, Johnson Space Center, etc. WE WERE SPACE. It was inescapable, really, that I would be infused with a love for space. In fact, the very earliest thing I remember wanting to be was an astronaut. As early as, I guess, first grade. I wanted so badly to go to space. Please remember, this was the time shortly after we had set foot on the moon, "Star Wars" (not the Reagan kind yet) was blowing everyone away, we were watching SkyLab in the night skies. The future seemed wide open, the march into space and other planets our destiny. Most kids, when asked where they wanted to go on a summer day, would say "Astroworld", or the Zoo. I, too, loved those places, but my heart belonged to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. There, they had the most awesome thing in the city: the Burke Baker Planetarium. It was always my response, my most cherished place to be. There, with maps of the stars projected on the massive domed ceilings, I could really feel like I was that astronaut, hurtling through space. How wonderful! It was my special hangout with mom and dad whenever time and finances allowed.

Growing up with parents who bought a telescope (even though the lights in Houston made most viewing too bright, and we would have to take a trip out to the country to be able to use the thing) to appease their little girl, and who had the patience to learn how to use it so they could show her how it works, didn't hurt either. Most kids' heroes growing up are sports stars. Mine were astronauts. I could click off their names in rapid fashion: Shepard. Grissom. Armstrong. Collins. Glenn. Heroes, all. As mentioned in a previous blog, I admired the character Maurice the most in "Northern Exposure". It was because he was an ex-astronaut. I loved that part of the story. He always paid tribute to NASA by wearing a NASA cap. At first, it was the stylized NASA "worm" logo. As that fell out of favor, and NASA brought back their older logo (good move!), so did Maurice's cap change. Not many people probably noticed, but I sure did. I sometimes wonder what happened to that little girl's dream of being an astronaut. I guess a lot of life got in the way. I just wish it was the one thing that I didn't abandon. Seeing WALL*E brought back so much of that passion, that love of space to me.

Funny, I feel the same way about the movie "Apollo 13". That is another wonderful movie that really hits home for me, and stirs up those emotions. It showcases the brilliance of the minds of NASA, their "failure is not an option" attitude, and the outstanding qualities of its fine men and women. Gene Kranz said the Apollo 13 "disaster" would be NASA's finest moment, and so it was, thanks to the ingenuity of its people. That ingenuity brought our men back home. I remember that NASA well. I now mourn its loss. We lost three fine men in our first Apollo mission, and if we thought in those days like we tend to think today, we would never have ventured a mission again. But back then, we had too much spirit and determination as a nation to let it stop us. And so we persisted until space travel became routine. I believe that we as a nation lost our way when NASA became TOO perfect, space travel became TOO mundane, and there were so many other things vying for our attention in those turbulent years that we took the notion of space exploration for granted. There has been a little consolation for me that if I would never have the opportunity to explore space, at least other brave men and women could. But that consolation is now gone. My gosh, Houston was even snubbed in not receiving a retired shuttle. But I won't even go there. I can't.

With the end of the shuttle program, our future in space remains questionable. It feels to me as if we are in limbo. It is man's nature to want to explore, to go beyond. Once, we could. Our men and women at NASA deserve better. WE deserve better. I know, I know, it's the money thing.

How can a price be placed on a dream? Where do we go once we've lost the Age of Aquarius?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

You Know It's Too Hot When....

Your dad declares "It's just too danged hot to play golf".

Especially when I don't think he has ever said such a thing.

He wants to teach me golf; we've talked about it for years, but the truth is, I'm just not an athletically-inclined person. I've never been good at sports, although I'm sure golfing would be good exercise.

Dad used to be such an avid golfer. In the past few years, not so much. This should be his best time for outdoor activities since he is now retired. But I think most of his golfing buddies just don't get together anymore. Hence, he probably would like someone to come with him. I'm game. I just don't think I could play very well. But then, it's really all about getting outside and just being with dad. We drove by a golf course the other day, and he said "Man, there's no way in THIS heat". What's that you say? Too hot for golf? Truly, living in south Texas, dad has golfed in more unpleasant conditions than this. But, no, he says, he's not getting out in it to chase a little ball. Perhaps come the fall we can start on those golf lessons for me. If we have a fall.

These relentlessly hot days we have had seems to have deterred a lot of outdoor activity for people. I suspect the golf courses are a little less crowded of late. Although, the greenest lawns this summer can be found on golf courses.

For those who golf, do you still play golf on hot days like these? Do you do it for the exercise? For the pleasure of being with buddies? Or is it just a part of your life?

Maybe come some cooler weather, I might see you on the course. And if you see me, you might want to go ahead and call it a day. There's no telling where that errant ball may fly when I take a swing......

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer Sounds

Emanating from Dad's room today. Is it any wonder I love music so?

Happy July 4th weekend, everybody!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Northern Exposure

Possibly my favorite show of all time. I certainly miss it. Once fairly common in reruns, it has not been on TV for quite a few years. Won't ONE station please pick it up for repeats and make me and so many others happy? Meanwhile, I do have nearly every episode recorded on VCR tapes. I think I will have to drag them out and start watching, as the withdrawal has finally become too much. Does anybody else adore this show the way I do? Who was your favorite character? So many to choose from. I would have to say my favorite was Maurice, such a complex character played wonderfully by Barry Corbin. A close second would be Adam, a multilayered man portrayed adeptly by Adam Arkin.

This was an outstanding series that gave much respect to Native Americans and their way of life. Never portrayed with ridicule or derision, these Alaskans opened up a whole new world to me. Their dances, their traditions, their songs gave the show a unique dimension, as did all the offbeat characters and strange storylines. I do miss this show greatly. It meant so much to me.

I hope you enjoy the great theme song, and a few of my favorite moments from the show.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Me and You and a Dog Named....Whiskey?

So, get this. A couple weeks ago, my youngest first cousin GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL. Let me repeat - my BABY cuz is officially no longer a baby. He has now graduated high school. Of course, my dad and I had to be there. And everything went well, without a hitch. He is now a high school graduate and will be joining the ranks of the college-bound soon.

There were parties galore that weekend, but the best ones were the ones that were INSIDE. As outrageous as it may seem, it is hotter in Conroe than it is down here, and has been for some time. While we are flirting with 100's, East Texas has been sweltering in 100+ heat for at least a couple weeks. In fact, the day the we headed to Conroe, we saw a Houston Chronicle with a very unsettling headline: "RECORD: Earliest day to reach 100 degrees EVER", or something to that effect. Now, that's something that is not to be ignored. And indeed it was HOT. Saturday's party, during which we were outside the whole day with nary a breeze to help cool us was barely tolerable. The only bright spot for me was the antics of a happy-go-lucky dog named Whiskey, who belonged to the owners of the house where the party was located. His high-pitched yap as he chased another puny dog around was the best spectator sport in town. Watching my cousin play poker, basketball, and washers, though, was just about as fun. He has grown into quite the handsome, athletic young man who still minds his manners and respects his elders.

Dad and I also had a great opportunity to talk, with him regaling me of tales that I had never heard before. I never knew that he spent a summer as a teen making deliveries for a soft drink company along with his cousin Bobby. They would drive kegs of syrup to fast-food joints to be mixed with carbonated water to produce the fountain-quality soft drinks so rare these days. In addition, he was also a member of the Civilian Air Patrol for some time, watching the skies for certain suspicious aircraft, and reporting to the captains of Ellington AFB (now Ellington Field) any alarming sights. Remember, this was during the cold war, when we were sure the Soviets were sending planes to spy on us. And maybe they were. Maybe the reason we never got bombed was due to vigilance on the part of Americans, like my dad.

The sweltering weekend was rewarded by a dip in the pool with my aunt, uncle, and grandmother while listening to great tunes on the radio. A couple of the songs surpised me, as I hadn't heard them in so many years. In fact, I had flat out forgotten about Peter Frampton's "I Can't Stand It No More", as I always liked that song so much, as well as Manfred Mann's cover of the Bruce Springsteen song "I Came For You". These songs were among some of my favorites "back in the day" and it was sheer pleasure hearing them again.

So here for you are some of the great songs played that weekend that will now always remind me of my youngest cousin leaving behind high school for college. I hope they make you as happy (and nostalgic) as they made me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sweet Sounds for a Saturday

Don't know why, but I woke up with the Statler Brothers in my head. I would think that might happen on a Sunday, since so much of their music was gospel-style, but it is what it is. I don't fight it, I embrace it. Their lovely harmonies helped weave a soundtrack throughout my life. Those sweet voices are a treasure to me. The Statlers is one of those musical acts that seems beloved by all age groups. In fact, whenever the Statlers are mentioned, I've not once ever heard anyone say, "I don't care for them". The conversation seems to turn to "You know, I love those guys", or "I remember when my mom would play their records", or even "Do they still tour?". I have personally never seen these guys live, but would really like to....maybe someday. Until then, this will have to do: