The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good Country for an Old Cowboy

When I went to Fort Worth last week I picked up a copy of Fort Worth Weekly as I left the restaurant where I ate lunch and tossed it in the back seat of my truck. I used to enjoy reading the free "alternative" paper when I worked in the Metromess, but you can't find a copy around here to save your life. I was quickly reminded why I was such a fan of the paper when I finally got around to cleaning out my truck and read it last night.

There was an excellent cover story about veteran actor and native Texan, Barry Corbin. I've long been a fan of his work (War Games, Lonesome Dove, Northern Exposure, No Country For Old Men), but I knew next to nothing about the man other than he loved cutting horses.

You can find the story here. It's a great read.

Top Ten Things I Don't Care About That Google News Thinks I Do

Ten stories that were "recommended" for me by Google News:
Apparently Google's problems aren't just in China.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Day Late, But Not A Dollar Short!

NASCAR postponed yesterday's race at tiny Martinsville Speedway in Virginia due to rain. It was worth the wait. Talk about a wild finish!

Caution came out and with a mere 7 laps to go, leader Denny Hamlin gave up the lead to pit for tires. Only Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch came with him while the rest of the leaders stayed on the track. That put Jeff Gordon out in front at the track where he's scored 7 wins in his career.

It looked like it was all over for Hamlin who restarted in 9th with 4 laps to go. But hang on to your hats, here's where it gets crazy. As Hamlin fought his way thru the pack on fresh tires another caution flag came out when Kyle Busch and Paul Menard wrecked setting up an overtime "Green/White/Checkers" finish. Gordon was still in the lead and Matt Kenseth lined up behind him in third. But, behind them were Hamlin and Joey Logano.

On the restart Kenseth gave Gordon the old "bump and run" in turn 1 forcing Gordon wide and ducking underneath him to take the lead. Gordon returned Kenseth the favor in the next turn, but left too much room on the inside and opened the door for Hamlin who came charging thru with Logano in tow.

After looking like they had given away the race on a huge tactical error, JGR finished 1, 2!
God, I love this sport!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Morning

I was never one for watching the evening news or any news for that matter on a regular basis when I was a kid. But there was one show I started watching and it has stuck with me for all these years, Sunday Morning on CBS.

Charles Kuralt was the host back then. He had a completely different approach to the news. He was more laid back and conversational than other broadcasters. The stories were not necessarily "good news" stories, but more human interest and deep thinking pieces. He took slices of everyday Americana and served them up with garnish to color your life with information and inspiration.

Kuralt was a different kind of journalist. Most famous for his "On the Road" series he did for the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite where he traveled the back roads of America in an RV and met with the people that actually populate the purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain, not the politicians and pundits that claim to speak for the masses. He told the story of America, off the grid, one person at a time.

Bob Phillips of (4 Country, 8 Country)Texas Country Reporter is the closest I've seen to emulating his style, but even Phillips has a commercial feeling to his stories whereas Kuralt's felt like you were friends of the family or an honored guest.

Sunday Morning is now hosted by Charles Osgood and he does honor to the Kuralt legacy. It still has the same laid back, unhurried delivery and human interest focus it always had. It also delivers tidbits of essential things we should all sample in our lives to keep us balanced like fine art, architecture, music and inspiration.

Each show ends, not with an Andy Rooneyesque rant, but with a tranquil scene of nature. It leaves you feeling relaxed and informed at the same time. Not a bad way to start your Sunday Morning.

Not bad at all.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Something I Seriously Missed Out On

I just finished watching Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon in concert on VH1 Classic. I had the chance to see them twice, but I passed.

WTF was I thinking?

I've never been to a Pink Floyd show even tho I consider them one of the greatest bands in history. Listening to Dark Side of the Moon in my headphones while riding my motorcycle thru Death Valley at sunset is one of the most spiritual experiences I've ever had. The rising and falling 2 lane road seemed choreographed with the music and the remoteness of the desert amplified that sense.  But, the thought of being in the middle of a massive crowd crushing together to hear it just turned me off.

Now, I've been to many rock concerts and enjoyed almost each and every one of them. My very first was Sammy Hagar opening for Boston at Tarrant County Convention Center. That was a great show and Sammy blew Boston off the stage even tho nobody knew who he was back then and Boston was on top of the charts.

One in particular I DIDN'T enjoy was a Rush concert in Seattle at the City Center Arena circa 1980. It was stadium seating, meaning the floor was open. I thought being in the very front would be awesome and made sure I was next to the stage before the show started. That turned out to be a very bad idea.

As the show progressed and the crowd became more enthused, they began pushing toward the stage during "Tom Sawyer" a la The Who in Cincinnati. Suddenly, I was crushed against the people around me from all sides with nowhere to go. I'd never experienced claustrophobia before, but I definitely did right then. I couldn't move. I had trouble breathing. The music was so loud nobody could hear (or just plain ignored) me asking them to move out of the way. I started getting dizzy, tunnel vision and thought I was going to pass out.

I was forced to revert to "Plan B".

I literally had to fight my way out of the crowd. I started punching whoever was in my way to clear a path to the side of the stage and freedom so I could breathe. I'm not proud of that, but I was in survival mode. If you were at that show in Seattle, I sincerely apologize for knocking the shit out of you. But I blame the concert promoter. I had to do what I had to do at the time. Nothing personal...

I went to other shows after that at City Center Arena (Heart, Ted Nugent, Tom Petty, The Scorpions, Van Halen, Cheap Trick, J Geils Band), but I never went down on the floor again. It seriously freaked me out.

I've been to much larger concerts since then like Farm Aid 2 in Austin. But, I never experienced that overwhelming sense of crushing claustrophobia like I had that night in Seattle. Thank God I didn't go to any of the Texas Jams. I might have killed someone.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oohrah! Semper Fi!

R. Lee Ermey turns 66 today.
Happy Birthday Gunny!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Good Eats

How these guys stay in business, I have no idea. All you can eat for $8.95 and the food is fantastic. I used to eat there 2-3 times a week when I lived in Hurst and let me tell you they lose money every time I walk in the door. I was sure they would have a picture of me on the wall saying do not let this guy enter.

I had to fast 12 hours for a blood test today. I only ate a light supper last night and I was starving by the time I got out of my cardiologist's office at noon. I must have looked like Homer Simpson as I shoveled down plate after plate of spicy shrimp, mussels, blue crab, fried rice, sushi, sesame chicken, dumplings and more.

It's not a dinky buffet either, there are at least 50 items to choose from and they keep them all filled. The place is always spotless and your tea glass never reaches empty before there's a waitress there to refill it.

I highly recommend China Dragon Super Buffet, 2103 Airport Freeway in Bedford.

Monday, March 22, 2010

We're Hitting The Big Time!

I don't want to spill the beans too soon, but I've just been granted an interview with the host of a nationally broadcast TV show next month. Stay tuned!

Holy Crap!

I have an online friend thru a gaming bulletin board that lives in Iceland. He's a really nice guy with a family and  he's shared many laughs with us in game. Last night he sent us a shocking message that a volcano has erupted 15 MILES from his house and they've taken several evacuee families into their home.

Fifteen miles?!? From an erupting volcano??? Holy crap!!!

Another message today:
This is a modest volcano and last erupted in 1821. It is however located under a glacier, hence the precautions, - all living in the possible path of the melting water get evacuated. It was odd to have my friends and neighbours showing up with their bedclothes and dogs!
The worse part is however that another dormant one rests close to this one, Mt Katla, and she is overdue. That is a bad bad volcano, erupts powerfully and delivers a river of icebergs and melting water which equals 3x the capacity of the Amazon on a rainy day. That one is about 35 miles from me. In case of her going off, I will also have to evacuate.

Personally, I'd be on the first train, plane or automobile outa Dodge!!! 

Modest shmodest. I was in Seattle when Mt. St. Helens erupted in Oregon and you could see it from there. I actually had to outrun the ash cloud from a subsequent eruption a few weeks later when I was riding my motorcycle home on leave from the Coast Guard. That was kinda hairy. All I heard on the radio was how it was trashing vehicle engines from ingesting the ash. I could see the layer of ash from the previous eruptions already on the ground and the new ash cloud was relentlessly following me. I didn't stop until I reached Montana and spent 3 days holed up in a tourist trap motel there waiting for the all clear.

On the bright side, they did have a very cool bar and lots of friendly natives, if you get my drift...

Here's more info on the Iceland volcano. The english translation is a little rough.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Return of Breaking Bad

AMC's original series Breaking Bad returns. The Season 3 premier is Sunday night at 9. If you haven't watched Breaking Bad you are missing one of, if not THE best show on TV.

Bryan Cranston has won 2 Best Actor Emmys for his role as mild mannered High School chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin Walter White. Talking about the new season Cranston said "You're actually happy when there's a commercial break because it gives you a chance to breathe. It's that intense."

The show has more twists and turns than a pretzel factory. It's mesmerizing. But it isn't all drama, it also has a wicked sense of humor. It's brilliantly written.

If you've never seen Breaking Bad, you can find out everything you need to know here to get up to speed. No pun intended.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Do You Believe In Miracles?

From Google Analytics:

Feb 18- Mar 18 2010: Returning Visitors-  1,144 

Welll doggies!

When I started The South 40 back in January of 2008 I had no idea it would blossom into what it is today. Seriously, I thought if I got 10 people a month to tune into my ramblings it would be a success. 

Over 1,100 returning readers a month? No freakin' way. 

My deepest thanks to each and every one of you for your support! And a big tip of the hat to Liberally Lean for adding The South 40 to his blogroll and exposing my frontier gibberish to the masses.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Not Called "The Mess" For Nothing

The Wise County Messenger needs a fact checker or at the very least a proofreader. Maybe a staff historian? I was reading the front page story about the starter shells found in a house in Decatur. At first I was shaking my head that they called out the bomb squad for what essentially is a shotgun shell sans shot. But then something else caught my eye.

B-52's in World War II. Really?

I guess he joined the Army Air Corps after the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. Really?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Think Even Anthony Bourdain Would Pass On This One

Faced with an oversupply of  product, New York Chef Daniel Angerer has come up with a definitely original recipe. Mommy milk cheese encrusted with maple caramelized pumpkin and textured concord grapes. He boasts "THIS is a whole other level of natural!"

I think I'll stick with Velveeta and RoTel.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Pacific

"There are things that men can do to each other that are sobering to the soul."- Robert Leckie

The 10 part miniseries The Pacific debuted last night on HBO. It's from the same producers (Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks) that brought you Band of Brothers and takes an equally stark look at WWII. This is not a propaganda film like The Sands of Iwo Jima or Gung Ho. Neither is it a grossly inaccurate depiction like Pear Harbor. This is a historically accurate dramatization of the men and the battles they fought, just like Band of Brothers.

There are parts that will shock you, there are parts that will sicken you and there are parts that will make your heart swell with pride to be an American. I couldn't help but think of my Dad when the Marines were heading into battle aboard LCVP's (Higgins Boats). Dad was a coxswain in the Coast Guard and ferried many Marines ashore into battle during the war.

Altho there are many similarities, one major difference between The Pacific and Band of Brothers is the look at the toll taken on both the men and their families before, during and after the war. It is not focused solely on the battlefield.

Last night's episode went by much too quickly. It was just a taste of what's to come in the following weeks. I'd be interested to see what the subscription numbers look like for HBO before and after the miniseries debut. For those of you that don't have HBO and are DirecTv subscribers, you can catch Episode 1 tonight on The 101 Network.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Merlin Olsen

Merlin Olsen, a Hall of Fame defensive lineman with the Los Angeles Rams who was a charter member of the team's famed Fearsome Foursome, then made a remarkably smooth transition into careers in broadcasting and acting, has died. He was 69.
Olsen died early Thursday at City of Hope hospital in Duarte in the Los Angeles area while surrounded by his family, his brother Orrin said. He had been diagnosed with mesothelioma last year.
Olsen played 15 seasons in the NFL from 1962 to 1976, all with the Rams. He was the league's most valuable player in 1974 and appeared 14 times in the Pro Bowl. After retiring as a player, he spent another 15 seasons in broadcast booths as an analyst for NBC and CBS and acted in such television shows as "Little House on the Prairie" and "Father Murphy."
With the Rams, Olsen helped popularize the star power of defensive linemen sacking the quarterback. The Fearsome Foursome of Olsen, David "Deacon" Jones, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy, a rare bright spot on mediocre teams from 1963 to 1966, used size, speed and skill to terrorize offenses.
"He was ferocious and fearless on the football field and then the other probably more important aspect of his personality was he was a true gentleman," said fellow Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood, his teammate with the Rams in Los Angeles. "We all know what a wonderful, tremendous football player he was, but he was so much more than that."
Most people will recognize Merlin from his role in Little House on the Prairie. But I still remember watching him play as part of The Fearsome Foursome. He was the LA Ram's #1 draft pick in 1962 coming out of Utah State and became the NFL's Rookie of the Year. Later he became the lead color commentator for NBC alongside Dick Enberg. He was also the longtime spokesman for FTD Florists. 
He was a gentle giant off the field and a very spiritual man.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Don't Pay the Ransom, I've Escaped!

I was greeted with good news when I walked into work yesterday. I've been transferred... again. So now I'm freed from Jackistan and back in Bridgeport for the rest of the week covering for a colleague that is having surgery, then I come home to Chico permanently (until the next time they need me somewhere).

I can't tell you how pleased I am. The drive was killing me on gas and that stuff ain't getting any cheaper. I hear we will be looking at over $3.00 a gallon by Easter. A 6 mile commute versus a 65 mile commute will dang sure make it more affordable. I also wont be on constant vigil looking for kamikaze deer while I'm driving home.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Words Of Wisdom

I don't normally ripoff other bloggers, but I had to pass this nugget along. For those of you that don't follow the greatness that is "As The Coconuts Drop", I give you these words of wisdom from Barnacle Bill.

Besides his great wisdom and wicked wit, he's a hell of a photographer, too.

And for those looking for a great tropical getaway at a great price be sure to check out Barnacle Bill's Beach Bungalows.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Don't Think They Allow This At NRH20

Geek Alert

Google and Popular Science have teamed up to post the entire 137 year archives of  Popular Science online cover to cover. The entire archive is free to the public and is loaded with fascinating stuff. It's a goldmine for geeks, history buffs or anyone that likes interesting, thought provoking reading.

You can find the complete archives here. Did I mention it's free?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is The Mess Having a Bad Hair day?

Am I the only one getting a malware warning from The Messenger's website? Just what is doing on there?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Damn This Blog is Boring!

Well tough titty!

Yeah, I've always been a slacker on the blogosphere, but honestly I've been working my butt off for the last couple of weeks and The South 40 has been pushed to the far back burner. This too shall pass, just like that 12 hour old chimichanga from the Allsup's deli case.

Workforce hours have been slashed and the load passed on to the hands left behind. Fortunately (unfortunately?) I'm one of the few that still has a job and is on fulltime status. My commute and workload has doubled but my pay remains the same.

I usually try to look at the bright side of things here, but quite honestly I'm worn down to a frazzle. Add to that the fact gas prices are 10 cents a gallon higher between The WC and Jackistan and you get where I'm coming from. And for those that want to slam Chico, let me tell you our little burg is Highland Park compared to Jacksboro.

Sorry if I'm being a Debby Downer. But when my electric bill is $75 higher than my paycheck and I have to buy twice as much gas out of that same check, you'll get a bad attitude too.

I have to admit I'm lucky to have a job and the benefits that go along with it in this economy. But when I watch people on Food Stamps stroll in and buy candy, Cokes and assorted junk food on their LoneStar card then turn around and spend their cash on cigarettes, beer, wine and flavored blunts for their ganja then load it into their new car it pisses me off.

It drives me crazy! You and I are paying for that!

I full heartedly believe in lending a helping hand to those in need. But Food Stamps should be like WIC, only paying for basic raw necessities at the lowest price available and rejecting items not on a pre-approved list. Not paying for luxury frozen foods, high end products, Cokes and candy.

KoolAid, sugar and flour, yes. Pepsi, Red Bull and Reese's, no. How in the cornbread hell is Red Bull and other energy drinks allowed on Food Stamps in the first place? Lean Cuisine, Hungry Man dinners, Blue Bell, ect have no business being paid for with assistance money. And in case you didn't know, it's against the law for the clerk to say anything to these customers about their extravagant purchases.

Before you go throwing the race card, let me tell you that the vast majority of these abuses I see are perpetrated by good ol' white folk, not minorities. I have to admit most Hispanics buy raw materials to make dinner. Most good ol' boy whites buy Mountain Dew, TV dinners, Red Bull and Doritos.

They even offer to buy their friends stuff. "Here, let ME pay for that" makes me want to reach across the counter and slap some sense into them.

Once when I was working in Corsicana, I watched a white woman buy $400 worth of ground beef and pay for it with a Lone Star card. I followed her out to her car that turned out to be a Roach Coach! She was selling hamburgers and tacos with the meat she paid for with Food Stamps!

Sorry for climbing on my soapbox. I'm going to take a hammer and smash my foot a few times to make me feel better.

Thank God I've already paid for my NASCAR tickets and camping space in April. The prospect of a break is all that keeps me from losing my sanity. Now if I can just afford the gas to get there...

Friday, March 5, 2010

News From Jackistan

The big story in The Jacksboro Gazette-News is sales tax revenue has plummeted. Revenue is down over 40% compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, just down 380 a few miles in tiny Bryson it is up a whopping 121%!

What could it be? I had an interesting conversation with a long time Jacksboro resident who said there are only 2 stores in Bryson. A convenience store and a liquor store. Jacksboro is dry and Bryson is wet. Put 2 and 2 together and what do you get? A huge chance there will be a wet/dry election very soon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More Aviation News

The story of an air traffic controller letting his kids give taxi information at JFK has been all over the news. But you haven't heard much about this one which is much more serious:

A Corendon Airlines Boeing 737-400, registration TC-TJC performing flight 7H-202 from Amsterdam (Netherlands) to Ankara (Turkey) with 101 passengers, was preparing for departure, when the captain of the flight (41), Swedish citizen, was removed from the cockpit by police. A replacement captain took over permitting the airplane to depart with a delay of just 100 minutes.

Corendon Airlines confirmed the removal of a pilot due to a forged license. The pilot held a valid commercial pilot license which however expired 13 years ago. The pilot had passed all simulator checks and training with flying colors and worked for Corendon Airlines for two years. Corendon Airlines had cooperated with Dutch police and had prepared for another pilot to be on standby.

Dutch Authorities acted after Swedish Authorities informed Turkey's Civil Aviation Authority about the pilot not holding a valid pilot's license. The pilot had a valid commercial pilot license for smaller aircraft in the 1990s, however did not renew the license for unknown reasons. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Times They Ain't A Changing

Well election day has come and gone and for all the complaining about "career politicians" and "change" most of the incumbents won reelection. I still can't believe Rick Perry won by such a large margin. I expected a much tighter race. Guess Kay didn't sling enough mud.

Now watch her win handily when it's time for her Senate race. I can't figure this stuff...

I'll try to post something more interesting tonight, I've got an early shift today.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Strange Dreams

I have been having some really odd dreams lately. Usually I can't remember details, I just remember it was a dream and it was strange. Last night I had a very vivid dream and I remember most of the details.

I was shopping at a grocery store in Ft. Worth and they custom cut a brisket for me. All the employees were very friendly and even tho we just met I became instant friends with nearly all of them. I was even invited to a surprise birthday party they threw for a coworker. Everyone had a great time.

After the party I got in my pickup and drove down the street to a white wood frame house. I got out and knocked on the door. A pretty woman answered and invited me in. Contrary to where you think this is heading I asked her for a glass of tea.

While she was in the kitchen getting the tea I looked out the window. Even tho it was a beautiful day just seconds before, now there were random clouds grouping together and forming tornados, LOTS of tornados! I watched as the tail of one came down and slammed into the ground a mile or so away sending out a huge shockwave of debris and destruction.

I ran to the kitchen to warn the woman and we saw another tornado hitting the ground behind the house. Several people from the grocery store had arrived at the house seeking shelter. We could see the shockwave heading toward us and were looking for something to hang onto when my phone rang and I woke up.

Like I said, really odd.