MORE NEWS THAT’S NOT NEWS

December 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Your Papers Are Not in Order: So afraid are they of moles, snitches and infiltrators, the prison gang Aryan Brotherhood of Texas demands resumes, including government-issued criminal credentials and background FBI reports from applicants. Murderers, kidnappers and drug lords are welcomed, but the Brotherhood draws the line at rapists and child molesters.

Houston Chronicle headline: “State wants $1 million for Alamo.” And how much did Trump offer? What’s 52 feet tall, wears size 70 boots and a 75-gallon hat – and is black? The State Fair of Texas’ Big Tex, which caught fire in the middle of the fair. We now have highway Texas 130, a tollroad that lets you drive from Georgetown to Seguin at 85 mph, the fastest legal speed in the nation. That is, if you really want to get to Seguin that quickly.

You may recall that last week we took a look at Texas in 2012, checking off those people and events who made the year so, uh, so different. Such as Bruce J. Fleming of Sugar Land, who has voted in the local elections since 2006. However, he also voted in the Bucks County, Penn., elections during that time. Oh, and Fleming was the Republican candidate for county commissioner. When all this became public, the GOP asked for its $10,000 campaign contribution back. Fleming refused.

After a mere 80 days on the job, 39-year-old Brian DeAngelis is no longer the athletic director at the Texas A&M University-Kingsville. A policeman reportedly saw DeAngelis fleeing a San Antonio Walmart, pursued by the angry mother of a 14-year-old girl. The mother claimed DeAngelis had a cellphone camera attached to his shoe and that he had maneuvered his foot under her daughter’s dress. The cops found an upskirt video of a teenager’s underwear. DeAngelis was charged with improper photography.

We’re Number 51. Yee-haw! — Texas ranked dead last in the federal government’s annual report card on the delivery of health services. Texas scored 31.61 — less than half of top-ranked Minnesota’s 67.31 — out of a possible 100 points. Rated “weak” or “very weak” in nine of 12 health delivery categories, Texas dropped from 47th place in 2010 to 51st, behind all other states and Washington, D.C.

Polls Apart: When 1,200 Americans were asked in 2012 for their opinion of Texas, 31 percent responded unfavorably. The good news is that 40 percent responded favorably. That still put us 37th most-liked state. California is the most hated state on the list. Some more findings from the survey: If you are black, you probably don’t like Texas, but it’s better than Mississippi or Alabama. If you are a Republican, you probably love Texas and hate California. (The reverse is true if you are a Democrat.)

 

 

BAE Systems Tactical Vehicle Systems in Sealy paid $55,000 and provided six months of outplacement services to Ronald Kratz II, who weighed as much as 680 pounds before he was fired. The EEOC, which sued on behalf of Kratz, said he was qualified to perform the essential functions of his $21-an-hour job

A five-year-old girl came home from Austin’s Pease Elementary school to tell her father that “Mrs. Fuller” — the girl’s after-school teacher — said Santa wasn’t real.

Good Nabors make, well, a lot: After much screaming from stockholders, Houston-based Nabors Industries’ retiring CEO Eugene Isenberg rejected a $100 million golden parachute. He still received $176 million in compensation between 2006 and 2010 during which the company’s stock fell 38 percent.

The Sportin’ Life: After the 2011 season when Houston Texans got into their first play-offs ever, they raised ticket prices by 8.5 percent. The Astros were in a perfect game – losing 10 to 0 to the San Francisco Giants whose pitcher, Matt Cain, threw only the 22nd perfect game in MBL history. That game fit right in the Lastros season; they again finished with the worst record in Major League Baseball.

Tour de Lance: Bicyclist Lance Armstrong was found guilty of doping by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, along with their yellow T-shirts. His Austin cancer foundation split with him and he didn’t win the Lotto. Speaking of cycling, Texans don’t — only 22 percent of Houston household solid waste is recycled, ranking the Bayou City 13th in North America. Austin – 37 percent, San Antonio – 25 percent. Dallas – 17 percent. Big D stands for Disposable. Seattle is first with 60 percent.

Take a Truncheon to Luncheon: Fired HPD officer Andrew Blomberg was acquitted on charges of beating a 15-year-old burglary suspect, Chad Holley, even though video tape showed Blomberg treating Holley like a piñata on Cinco de Mayo. Brian Claunch was fatally shot by Houston Police Officer Matthew Marin. Claunch was a double amputee in a wheelchair, wielding a shiny writing pen.

From the LBJ School of Voter Tabulations: Houston Chronicle: “It shows even Republican support for paying more taxes for some key education items. For example, of the 74 percent who said they would pay more taxes to raise teacher pay, 60 percent identified themselves as Republicans; 91 percent were Democrats.

Paul Roberts, 53, was charged with engaging in an improper relationship with a student, a second-degree felony, and relieved of duty, after exchanging messages with students that used profanity of a sexual nature, officials said. Roberts was the reigning “Teacher of the Year” at Stafford Middle School.

Wild Blue Yonder: Southwest Airlines wanted to fly internationally from Hobby, saying the move would add 2-million jobs and a billion dollars annually to the local economy. (OK, maybe just 1-million jobs and half a billion dollars.) United, which had just moved 1,200 jobs from Houston to Chicago, said SW’s plan would devastate the city’s economy. Both estimates were wild fantasies, but SW won. United We Fall: After losing its fight with Southwest Airways, United dropped its daily flights from Houston to Paris.

 

Ashby spent 2012 at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

Houston in 2012

December 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby

HOUSTON, WE’VE GOT A PROBLEM

The year of our Lord 2012 was not so heavenly. Still, we’re still here, aren’t we, unlike Robertson Stadium, which was torn down to make room for a new UH stadium. Ditto the old Prudential Life Building, later a part of M.D. Anderson, which was imploded to make room for something. So let’s take a look back at the year of our discontent.

If it sounds too good to be true: Financier R. Allen Stanford, who pocketed millions from Houstonians and others, received 110 years for fraud.

Black helicopters alert! Former City Councilman and right-wing radio talk show host Michael Berry (allegedly) came out of a gay nightclub and backed into the bouncer’s car, then drove off. HPD took the bouncer’s info – license plate, description of Berry, the club manager’s ID of Berry as Berry – and did…absolutely nothing. Media spotlighted the incident and somebody finally did something. What Berry did was fly off the handle, on the air, accusing somebody somewhere of being out to get him.

Party Hardy or Hearty: It has now come out that Port of Oakland Maritime Director James Kwon submitted an expense account after a 2008 party at the Treasures gentlemen’s club. For $4,500. It was approved by his superior.

Eight lives to go: A woman, identified as Audrey Miller, was charged with aggravated assault, officials said, after she allegedly shot her husband in their northwest Harris County home while the couple argued about the family cat.

In sports, 2012 was another year of horror, except for the Texans who had a good season if you can overlook their two disastrous prime time TV games in which they totally embarrassed an entire city. Oh, earlier, after the 2011 season when the Texans got into their first play-offs ever, they raised ticket prices by 8.5 percent.

What can we say about the Astros who finished the season with their worst record ever? Not in their 50-year-history did they go 55-107, a .340 average. That was also the worst in Major League Baseball. However, our boys of slumber were in a perfect game – losing 10 to 0 to the San Francisco Giants whose pitcher, Matt Cain, threw only the 22nd perfect game in MBL history.

Houston fans know a disaster when they see it – or don’t see it. On Sept. 25, the Astros drew 12,584 fans, the smallest in the 12-year history of the ballpark. Even their long-time announcer, Milo Hamilton, quit. And sidekick Jim Deshaies left to join the Chicago Cubs broadcasting crew. Maybe they didn’t like talking to a dwindling audience. On Sunday, Sept. 9, the Astros generated the lowest TV rating, as far as can be found, in the history of the team’s presence on TV. Playing opposite the Texans game with Miami, the Astros generated a 0.05 Nielsen rating. It was viewed by an average audience of 1,092 households among Houston’s 2.1 million households. Towards the end of the season the Chronicle didn’t even run the games’ story on the front page of the sports section.

Astros manager Brad Mills was fired after running up a record over almost two seasons of forgettable losses, but what can you do with a team whose departing owner, Drayton McLane, grabbed his several hundred millions from the team’s sale, got in his private jet and flew back to Temple.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist: Roger “the Rocket” Clemens pitched for the Sugar Land Skeeters. They won.

For comfort we turn to the Houston Rockets. Ooops. Despite a new coach and sports media gushing, the Rockets finished out of the playoffs – again, with a record of 34 wins and 32 losses. The team’s TV ratings also took a beating in the 2011-2012 season: an embarrassing 1.6. Their TV viewers have been in a steady decline since the 2007-2008 season’s rating of 3.2. Because of a food fight (dough), the Rockets can’t be seen on much of Houston’s TV screen. The good news in local pro sports is/are the Dynamo. Brian Ching came back to the team, which made it to finals.

Off the menu: The restaurant, Feast, closed. Apparently there was no audience for pickled lamb’s tongue, salad of Gulf ray or whole crispy pig’s head.

And the Casons go rolling along: On Dec. 13, 2012, neither Becca Cason Thrash’s name nor photo appeared in the Houston Chronicle.

Upper birth: Lauren Perkins gave birth to six babies — three and three, in terms of gender — who range from 1 pound, 10 ounces to 2 pounds, 15 ounces.

Token Opposition: U.S. Rep John Culberson once again fought to prevent Metro from receiving any federal funds for expansion. His constant blocking of our own federal dollars for Houston’s mass transit makes us wonder if Culberson is still working for Tom DeLay.

Behind the hedges: Rice University ranks 57th among the top 100 universities in the world, according to an annual survey conducted by Saudi Arabia-based Center for World University Rankings. The United States leads the way with the most top universities in the survey, with, uh, 57 campuses that made the list. OK, that puts Rice, uh, where?

Fighting City Hall: Out-going City Councilman Mike Sullivan said several times he would resign his seat on Jan. 1 to run for county assessor-collector. He waited one day, till Jan. 2, to resign, thus giving him an extra $5,000 annual pension. Councilwoman Helena Brown, who regularly votes alone against numerous expenditures and saves money by employing a mostly part-time staff, spent more than $11,000 on a trip to Asia, according to expense reports. She tried to get reimbursed, but failed. Then she sent out 13,000 refrigerator magnets to constituents with Brown’s photo, office phone number, email address, etc., and charged the city $2,989.96 for them. When the Texas Ethics Commission ruled the magnets were nothing but campaign swag, Brown reimbursed the city.

Out of control: City Controller Ron Green has run up more than $35,000 in expenses, on the taxpayers’ tab, for five-star restaurants, first-class air travel and assorted good-time perks while on out-of-town business trips — trips which his predecessors found unnecessary.

Judge not lest ye get caught: Jim Sharp, a state court of appeals justice in Houston, was publicly reprimanded for using his position to try to prevent a friend’s teen daughter, arrested on a shoplifting charge, from spending a night in jail, and for “abusive” behavior, including calling Brazoria County officials “backwoods hillbillies.”

The Spies of Texas: Feds arrested Houston businessman Alexander Fishenko and his accomplices for allegedly clandestinely shipping sensitive microelectronics to Russia’s military and intelligence services

Finally, our Hey Big Spender Dept.: “They spend money like drunk sailors out there.” – State Sen. John Whitmire on the Port of Houston, which built a $108 million terminal for cruise ships at Bayport. But no cruise ships. So the Port gave two cruise lines $6.7 million to come here.

 

Ashby looks forward to 2013 at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 MARATHON OIL CORPORATION

December 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Events, Uncategorized

2013 MARATHON OIL CORPORATION
PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT AWARDS SET FOR JANUARY 17
Annual Coaching Awards Welcomes BYU Former Coach LaVell Edwards
and More Football Greats

WHAT: Each year, the American Heart Association offers a unique opportunity for sports enthusiasts to mix and mingle with legendary college football coaches from across the nation while supporting the important cause of fighting heart disease and stroke.  On Jan. 17, 2013, the 27th Annual Marathon Oil Corporation Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards benefiting the American Heart Association will take place at the HYATT Regency Hotel in Downtown Houston.

The grand ballroom will be filled with sports legends including the likes of LaVell Edwards, former Brigham Young Coach and 6th all-time winningest coach in college football history, who will be crowned as the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Winner. After 29 years as head coach of the BYU football team, Edwards ranks third among active coaches with a record of 257 wins, 101 losses and 3 ties. Edwards has been recognized nationwide with accolades not just for his accomplishments on the field but for the integrity and class he adds to the profession.

Joining Edwards will be some of the nation’s top football coaches patiently waiting to find out who will take home the coveted Coach of the Year Award, formally given to football greats such as Mike Gundy, Gene Chizik, Nick Saban and Mack Brown. The winner will be announced live at the annual awards dinner.

WHEN: 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013

WHERE: HYATT Regency Hotel Downtown
1200 Louisiana Street
Houston, Texas 77002

TICKETS: For more information, or to purchase tickets or a table for the event, contact Kristin Rodriguez at 713-610-5026 or visit www.bryantawards.com.  Prices are: $250 per individual ticket, $1,000 VIP tickets with tables starting at $5,000.

MORE

WHY: Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant , former coach of Alabama University and winningest coach in college football history, died of heart disease in1983. Three years after his death, a partnership was formed with the Bryant family and the American Heart Association to raise life-saving funds in his memory by renaming an existing coach of the year award to the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award. 

Through this dedication to his memory, the American Heart Association tries to instill into the community that same, unifying heartbeat that Bryant so often did within his team. The organization has a mission, to build “healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”

DETAILS: Visit www.bryantawards.com.
Hashtag: #bryantawards   Twitter: @ahahouston  Facebook: AHAHouston

German Christmas Markets

December 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

By Andrea Stroh Thompson

Once upon a time we decided to take a trip to a land of knights, castles, and the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm.  Luckily, as we found, a luxury German River Cruise is not just a fantasy, but a reality aboard A-ROSA Silva.  From the welcome aboard at the gangway with a red rose, and the champagne chilling in your room, to the farewell party of Bavarian delicacies and Tyrolean folk music, this is a cruising experience like no other.

 

Our trip began with a stop in Regensburg, the first capital of Bavaria.  We docked just a few hundred yards away from St. Peter’s Cathedral which is famous for its medieval stained glass windows and “smiling angel.”  The cathedral is also the home to the Domspatzen Boys’ Choir, the oldest in the world at over 1,000 years.  The old town square was home to the Christmas market where we stopped at the Almrausch-Hut and enjoyed a piping hot mug of gluwhein, the traditional hot mulled wine served at Christmas Markets across Europe.  You are given your drink in a decorative ceramic mug which you are free to keep, or you can enjoy your drink and return the mug to receive your 1 euro deposit back.  The Almrausch-Hut added rum and amaretto to their version of gluwhein so we only had one lest we have a hard time finding our way back to the ship!   Another staple of each German town is their version of the sausage.  In Regensburg, theirs is very short and very fat and tasty!  They are grilled on a flattop and then slathered with mustard and stuffed into a crispy roll to enjoy while you stroll through the market and contemplate your purchase of a Christmas ornament or paper lantern.

Another favorite stop was Nuremburg, or Nurnberg to the Germans.  Bavaria’s second largest city after Munich, Nuremberg was almost completely destroyed during World War II but meticulously reconstructed to its’ original state.  It is also home to the second oldest and arguably most famous Christmas market in Europe (Dresden is the oldest).   The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is kicked off each year by a teenage angel with long curly golden locks, and a beautiful flowing golden gown who comes out on the balcony of the cathedral and imparts a blessing on the children of the town and the holiday season.  After singing a few carols, the market is officially open for the Christmas season.  Children young and old turn out to catch a glimpse of the angel and enjoy her blessing before heading off in search of gluwhein and a few Nuremberg sausages, the tiniest little sausages in Germany named for their resemblance to “little fingers” and one of my favorites.  Nuremberg is also home to lebkuchen, a German gingerbread found all over, but started right here in Nuremberg.

Unlike any other company currently in the market, A-ROSA includes everything you need for an exceptional trip with its’ all-in-one pricing: roundtrip airfare from most major US cities, all transfers, all gratuities, open bar throughout the ship, all port charges, taxes, fees, and a selection of port excursions.  A word of caution, be sure to assess what your needs and expectations are before booking a river cruise:  if you need a casino, 10 bars, 5 discos and thousands of other cruisers to entertain you, then an ocean cruise is for you.  However, if you prefer a more intimate setting and get your thrills from tours of castles and bike trips through the wine valley, then a river cruise is for you.  At A-ROSA, they take the worry out of trip planning and allow you to concentrate on the happily ever after, and that’s no fairy tale.

THE YEAR OF THE RAT

December 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Stanley Marsh 3 had a bad year. Lance Armstrong did, too. For the Houston Astros it was the worst year ever. Did you donate to the Rick Perry for President Fund? You did, even if you didn’t plan to. Yes, it’s time to look back at 2012, a year we view with thanks — mainly that it’s over – before Texas Monthly steals all our ideas for its Bum Steer Awards.

Let us start with Boosting Our Circulation Dept.: Sarah Tressler, 30, filed a federal gender discrimination complaint against the Houston Chronicle alleging she was fired by the newspaper for not indicating on her employment application that she had worked as a stripper. Her lawyer said after Tressler was hired by the newspaper, she only rarely worked as an exotic dancer.

Don’t Know Much About Geography: The Texas Aggies were really excited to join the SEC. Just think of all those great road trips to Florida, Alabama and…North Carolina? Apparently the Aggies thought North Carolina has a team in the SEC, because they included it on a T-shirt sporting the SEC logo and a map of states purportedly in the conference. Also, the Aggies forgot Missouri, which is in the SEC. And if you’re thinking they forgot Texas, don’t worry — it’s on the back.. Thanks, Aggies.

Rearranging the Deck Chairs Dept.: To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, in which 1,514 men, women and children died a frigid death, Cullen’s restaurant south of Houston offered a 10-course final meal similar to what was served that last night. Price: $12,000 for 12.

Daddy Dearest: Houston millionaire heir John Goodman, facing both civil and criminal charges over a fatal car accident, adopted his 42-year-old girl friend in an attempt to save some of his fortune. The idea was to let his girl friend/daughter control a third of his trust fund set up for his two other children. Goodman was convicted.

R.I.P: Darrell Royal had his final dance with who brung him. Miss Edna Milton Chadwell, last madam of the famed La Grange Chicken Ranch, died at 84.

Happy Gays Are Here Again: The Oak Lawn area in Dallas has one of the strongest populations of same-sex male couples in America, according to a study from Trulia, an online real estate firm.

You Want Mustard on that Dog? Michael Terron Daniel, 22, of Waco, faced a felony charge after he allegedly bit, killed and ate a housemate’s pet dog while Daniel was high on drugs.

Hey, Teasips, two words: Johnny Football.

 

 

 

Les is More: Houston Rockets’ owner Les Alexander paid a record $45 million for a Manhattan penthouse. The five-bedroom duplex has four terraces and a swimming pool. Also in sports, of the top 100 blue chip graduating Texas high school football players last spring, only 56 stayed in Texas, but that’s probably a record. Ronnie Henderson, age 12, of Mesquite was banned from playing by the Pee Wee Football Association because he weighs 297 pounds and stands 6-foot-1-inch.

Stanley Marsh 3, the eccentric millionaire best known for his “Cadillac Ranch” art display along an interstate in the Texas Panhandle, was charged with 11 felony counts of molesting children. He denies the charges.

Irony & Steal:  Former Harris County Housing Authority CEO Guy Rankin IV was fired over the agency’s financial problems including missing cash. Rankin sued for breach of contract, seeking $137,000 in severance its board agreed to pay him. The board said it couldn’t pay because, uh, it didn’t have the cash.

All Politics Is Loco: In the first months of the 2012 presidential campaign, Texans gave more money to the Super PAC of Stephen Colbert than to Mitt Romney’s. In Houston, individual donors gave Obama on average $607 and Romney on average $1,260. Hedwig Village, an island in Houston, gave the most money in Texas to the two major presidential candidates – a total of $1.55 million, $976,400 to Romney, seven times more than to Obama. In the Texas party primaries, not a single Democrat voted in 13 Texas counties and nary a GOPer voted in five – not even the party chairmen.

The Mansion was unlivable, anyway: Gov. Rick Perry’s official records show he spent exactly 27 hours and 30 minutes working as governor of Texas during his 160-day campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — or the Senate president pro tem, when Dewhurst is out of the state at the same time as Perry — is allowed nearly $411 for every full day he subs for Perry. That added up to more than $32,000. No, the gov does not get his pay docked by that same amount, so we’re getting one for the price of two.

Sorry, school teachers, it’s for a good cause: The tab for DPS security during travels by Perry or his wife, Anita, outside Texas totaled more than $2.3 million since his re-election, figures from the DPS show. More than $1.8 million of that came after he announced for president. Perry’s direct travel costs are generally paid by his campaign, but the security detail (read: sherpas) is state-funded.

You can’t buy that kind of publicity: A poll conducted by Blum & Weprin Associates right after Perry left the presidential race found a combined 48 percent of registered voters said Perry’s presidential run had made Texas’ image either a little worse or a lot worse. The poll found 56 percent of registered voters didn’t think Perry should run for re-election.

Finally, we have this:  “Lean, finely textured beef is a safe, nutritious product that is backed by sound science.” — Statement issued by a coalition of Midwest governors, including Rick Perry, defending pink slime. On that same day, Safeway, the nation’s second largest grocery store chain, pulled its pink slime off the shelves. We still haven’t gotten to Armstrong and the Astros, so we’ll continue next week.

 

Ashby spent the year at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

Istanbul not Constantinople

December 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

 

 

 

 

“Poor Mexico: so far from God, and so close to the United States,” Mexican President Porfirio Diaz reportedly said. The old dictator was correct. Not only do we buy Mexico’s drugs and, in turn, send cash and guns south across the border, this country also took over that country’s name. Now that may change. I shall explain: The recently departed Mexican President Felipe Calderon tried once more to change his country’s official name from Estados Unidos Mexicanos or the United Mexican States to simply Mexico.

In his final news conference, Calderon noted that the name was originally taken because, back in 1824 after Mexico became free from Spain, the United States of America was an example of democracy and liberty for the newly independent nations in the Americas. Now, he said, his nation no longer needs to copy the gringos’ title. (He didn’t really say gringo, but the title fits.) “It’s time for Mexicans to return to the beauty and simplicity of the name of our country, Mexico. A name that we chant, that we sing, that makes us happy, that we identify with, that fills us with pride.” Incidentally, the title Mexico was a word first used by the Aztecs in their original nahuatl language. They founded a city called Tenochtitlan but it was changed to Mexico City because Tenochtitlan wouldn’t fit on license plates (the DF was added later).

Calderon first proposed the name change as a congressman in 2003, but the bill did not make it to a vote. Even today his idea doesn’t have much chance of success, since his replacement, President Enrique Pena Nieto, has other priorities such as fighting drug wars which claimed at least 47,500 victims during Calderon’s term in office. Then there is that nation’s rising poverty rate and chances of Mexico making it to the World Cup. “Forgive me for the expression, but Mexico’s name is Mexico,” Calderon added, and he has a point. Most people, including Mexicans, don’t use the official title. You have to hunt for state documents, currency and obscure legal parchments even to find the Spanish-language version of the United Mexican States.

North of the Rio, we usually refer to our own country as America, although it isn’t clear why we should monopolize the name of two continents. A Canadian Eskimo or a Patagonian shepherd has just as much right to call himself an American as does the Tea Party. Indeed, a Mexican can call himself an American, but pride would prevent it. Still, America and Americans are handy names, just like when we refer to the Netherlands as Holland when Holland is only a part of that country. We say England when we mean Britain but actually that land of tea and press scandals is officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which is not the same as the United Kingdom or UK. The old Soviet Union was not Russia, but that’s what we called it even though Russia was one of 15 nations under one despot.

Not all name changes are for the better. What ever happened to Bombay and Burma? Goodbye Peking, hello Beijing. Remember the song, “Istanbul not Constantinople”? That Turkish city’s name changed in 1930, after several centuries, for no particular reason. The famous Battle of Stalingrad took place in today’s Volgograd, its original name. Leningrad is once again Saint Petersburg, but what can we expect from a country that celebrates its “great October revolution” in November?

Americans – that’s us — no longer have New Amsterdam (NYC) or Pig’s Eye (St. Paul, Minn.) or Fort Raccoon (Des Moines, which is French for Fort Raccoon). Hot Springs, New Mexico, is gone. Today it is Truth or Consequences. In 1950, Ralph Edwards, the host of a radio quiz show, “Truth or Consequences,” announced he would air the program from the first town that renamed itself after the show. Hot Springs won the honor. Can we look forward to Yes, Virginia (there is a Santa Claus) or Dancing with the Lone Stars, Texas?

For years the United States was called just that, but were considered plural. “The United States are….” The idea was that they were a bunch of states which were sort of united, thus States was/were plural. Appomattox fixed that, although the Constitutional amendment abolishing slavery in 1865 refers to “the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Their, not its.

Have you ever been to the states of Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky or Pennsylvania? Don’t bother. They aren’t states at all, but commonwealths, which sounds communistic: “common wealth” – let’s share everything. No wonder Obama did so well there. In Rhode Island there is a movement to shorten that state’s name from The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to just Rhode Island because Plantations sounds so “Gone With The Wind.” Not proper for a state whose early residents made their fortune in the slave trade. (Brown of Brown University, etc.)

Texas was originally Tejas or Coahuila y Tejas or Tejas y Coahuila, depending on who got top billing. Before there was a Houston there was a Harrisburg. Dallas stands on land that was called Peters Colony. Fort Worth was called West of Dallas. Waterloo was changed to Austin because “Keep Waterloo Weird” just didn’t stick. San Antonio was originally San Antonio de Bejar which somehow became Bexar, as in Bexar County, pronounced “riverwalk.” Don’t complain, the Indians called the place Yanaguana. The Yanaguana Spurs?

El Paso was El Paso del Norte, Pass to the North, only the town was originally on the south side of the Rio. Amarillo was Oneida. A border town was called Fort Texas until Major Jacob Brown got himself killed defending it during the United Mexican States-American War, so the fort’s name was changed to Brownsville. I like Fort Texas better. As for changing the name of poor Mexico, so close to these United States, we can only wish good luck to former President Felipe Calderon and all the other folks in Tenochtitlan.

 

Ashby is renamed at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF CADS

December 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE FRONT YARD – Across the street from me a new house is rising where, a short time ago, an old house stood. There was nothing particularly wrong with the old house except that it was an old house. In today’s vernacular, that ancient (20 years) dwelling was a tear-down. (In Texas, any structure that gets a second coat of paint warrants a historical plaque.) Out with the old, in with the new — the new being the real estate equivalent of trophy wives. Indeed, my neighborhood, Running Rats Acres, has been mostly rebuilt over the past few years with tear-downs and build-ups, but my own street, Dismal Drive, had been spared. Until now.

The first clue came when tear-down terrorists stripped the house of anything and everything of value, including the grass, garbage cans and those little spools that hold the roll of toilet paper. I hope the workers were legit rather than copper robbers. I mean, they had matching ski masks and only worked late at night. Next, we heard the deathly rumble of a flatbed, which came down our sleepy cul-de-sac carrying a machine that looked very much like Steven Spielberg’s version of a prehistoric meat-eater. It was almost as big as the house it attacked.

With a mighty blow, the bucket in front of the metal monster became a huge hammer, systematically smashing the roof into the upstairs which fell into the downstairs which fell into the basement. I didn’t know my former neighbors had a bomb shelter with space for survival gear. Wonder why they didn’t tell me? In case of a nuclear bomb or another presidential campaign, whichever came first, there would be room for my family, too.

In any event, the destroyer slammed, smashed, leveled. Have you noticed how long it takes to build a house and how quickly it can be destroyed? In no more than one day my neighbor’s rather large house, with four or maybe five bedrooms, became a pile of rubble. Next came the dumpsters the length and depth of Palo Duro Canyon. At dawn, big gobblers scooped up the debris, dumped it into the dumpsters, which were hauled away.

At this point, if you have ever witnessed such an event in your own neighborhood, you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned the dreadful, non-stop noise. That’s because I didn’t think you could hear me. From before the birds wake until dark, various machines make various loud noises. I wake to the banging of jackhammers, pile drivers, scoopers and saws, and go to sleep with concrete trucks loudly pouring gray goo. The worst decibels come from putting on a roof, with those nail-drivers making my street sound like the gunfight at the OK Coral. It’s bad enough for us, but how do the workers survive that daily routine? Mostly on junk food sold from the visiting taco trucks.

Generally, residential developments are created at the same time, with houses and streets and bunkers all going up within the same span, so there are no residents to bother. My neighborhood’s developer, Cookie Cutter Construction, could run up a block of houses in an afternoon. But this is tear-down time, when the tearing and building take place amidst a calm neighborhood, where the only excitement is the occasional rabid dog.

Anyway, after the destruction comes the construction, which means a convoy of trucks and pickups wander down my street to disgorge the new house in bales and bundles. During the day the block is jammed with vans and flatbeds, making the area one big mud slide. What a mess, and nothing says “class” like a Port-O-John in the front yard.

They are now putting up that McMansion. First on the front is brick the color of pig drool, then beige stucco, stones of brown and black and purple and wooden beams — a rainbow of mismatched materials. The front of this house looks like Walt Disney threw up on it. This must be the fad in home building these days: cover the exterior with as many different materials as possible, making sure nothing goes together. Are gargoyles coming back? How many pink flamingoes do you need? This sucker blends in with the rest of the houses on this block like George W. Bush at a Mensa convention. My new neighbors have the taste of a rodeo clown.

After the workers have left for the day, I sneak over to the construction site to inspect it for structural flaws, mainly, are they putting in a swimming pool and basement bunker? Prior to the next Hurricane LeRoy, it would be the neighborly thing to invite us over. The door is not open, but after bounced brick or two, I enter and look around. Here is a half-finished gun rack for pistols, rifles and a howitzer. A wet bar, which is nice, but in the bathroom? This must be the owner’s man cave, complete with descending rows for seats with cup-holders, all facing a 120-inch TV. The walls are ready for hunting trophies with the spots, already marked: deer, wildcat, wild boar, wild Democrat. Upstairs, his-and-her walk-in medicine cabinets.

Wandering around, I see that the wine cellar has shelves for the boxes of Thunderbird. The kitchen has granite counter tops; it must be used granite – the slabs have names and life spans chiseled in them. The six-slot garage has the Mitt Romney Elevator System for boats, NASCAR racers and at least one armored car. Why don’t they just put the cars up on cinder blocks like everybody else on Dismal Drive?

Around the yard, it looks as though the new neighbors are installing barbed wire fences topped by concertina. This crate is marked “land mines.” TV surveillance cameras, flood lights, is that a guard tower? OK, but at least the neighborhood kids can swim in the moat. It’s a shame they don’t have big picture windows along the front so they could look across the street at my satellite dish.

 

Ashby rebuilds at ashby2@comcast.net

Fifth Annual “Toys for Tots” Holiday Toy Drive

December 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Events

Please join us for the Fifth Annual “Toys for Tots”  Holiday Toy Drive presented by Mo’s…A Place for Steaks, Bank of Houston and Momentum Jaguar Land Rover Southwest Houston.
The event will be held at Mo’s located at 1801 Post Oak Blvd. in Houston, TX on Thursday, December 13th, 2012 at 5:00pm .
Guests will enjoy complimentary appetizers, along with live entertainment. Admission is free with a suggested donation of a new, and unwrapped toy. Please help event Chairs, Johnny Vassallo and Lori Lemon-Geshay reach their goal of 2,000 toys while supporting such a worthy cause.

BROADWAY, HERE WE COME

December 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

So Bick Benedict says: “You all think that the glory happened here in the East, don’t you, with Valley Forge and Bunker Hill? Do you know about San Jacinto? Have you heard about the Alamo?” Well, the East is hearing about the Alamo along with oil, cattle, that white trash Jett Rink and Bick Benedict, one of those rich Texans who hates Tejanos. Mind your memories, Cats. There is no tomorrow, tomorrow, Annie. Be afraid, Virginia Wolfe, because “Giant” has arrived in New Yawk City. YEE-haw!

Yes, “Giant,” that clear-eyed documentary of the average Texas family is singing and dancing its way across the stage of the off-Broadway Public’s Newman Theater in the Big Apple. Do we really need this? Didn’t “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” seal our reputation as sophisticated intellectuals? No. Remember, an intellectual in Texas is someone who can hear the William Tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger.

The stage version is the work of some of the hottest talents on Broadway. I never heard of any of them but am assured they are all Tony toters. But getting near the Great White Way was a rocky trip, and I’ll make it short. The play began as an incredibly long four-hour, three-act production. It was first staged three years ago at the Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., then again last winter at the Dallas Theater Center. The current version still runs three hours and 17 minutes. I hope they kept in the catchy dialogue:

Leslie Benedict: “Money isn’t everything, Jett.”
Jett Rink: “Not when you’ve got it.”

You no doubt want to dig to the back of your closet to find your boots and 10-gallon and head for NYC, but before you spend $85 per seat (the cheap seats), let us discuss how that mighty 447-page novel by Edna Ferber, a Pulitzer Prize winner but not for that, went from paper to the silver screen to the stage. When the novel first came out in 1952 it was met with scorn and ridicule by most Texans. I remember my mother telling the joke that Ferber, while flying over Texas, asked the pilot to go lower so Ferber could pick up some atmosphere about Texas for her book.

When this stage production opened in November, (it was delayed by Storm Sandy) the critics generally liked it. The Wall Street Journal: ‘‘’Giant’ is the most important new musical to come along since ‘The Light in the Piazza.’ It’s a show of immense and fully realized promise — and it deserves to move uptown.’’ From Entertainment Weekly: “Michael John LaChiusa’s ambition is as big as Texas, which seems appropriate for his sprawling and terrific new musical…the composer has crafted one of the finest new American musicals in recent memory.’’ However, the very influential New York Times sighs, “But the countervailing weight of condensing a multitude of themes and  plot points keeps pulling this show down to earth, and even threatened to bury it.” What can we expect from an effect corps of impudent snobs? (Thank you, Spiro Agnew.)

Some facts you may not know about “Giant” and its various versions: The movie was made for $5.4 million and brought in $35 million. The American Film Institute listed it as one of the 100 best American movies ever made, number 82 between Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” and Oliver Stone’s “Platoon.” Grace Kelly was considered for the role of Leslie Benedict. Rumor was that once her engagement to Prince Rainier of Monaco was announced, however, M-G-M decided not to loan her out for the movie.

Clark Gable was considered for the role of Bick Benedict, but was rejected as too old by producer Jack L. Warner. Another version is that Rock Hudson was given a choice between Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly to play Leslie. Hudson chose Taylor. At the time, few people outside of Hollywood knew that Hudson, that great big macho heart throb, was gay. He died of AIDS.

Actually, most of the participants have expired. Chill Wills, the only real Texan in the movie, died of cancer in 1978. Sal Mineo, who played Angel Obregón, was murdered. Elizabeth Taylor, who was hospitalized more than 70 times[and had at least 20 major operations, died at age 79, having outlived most of the cast. This was the last of James Dean‘s three films as a leading actor. He was killed in a car accident before the film was released. The actor Nick Adams was called in to do some voice-over dubbing for Dean’s role. That was an easy job because Dean mumbled throughout the entire film.

The music was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin, and the theme should be played as a march by the Longhorn Band at every UT football game. It would sure intimidate the opposition. “Giant” won the Academy Award for Best Director, George Stevens, and was nominated in nine other categories. Edna Ferber met Glenn McCarthy (aka Jett Rink) when she booked a room at his Shamrock Hotel (known as the Shamrock Hilton after 1955) in Houston which the fictional Emperador Hotel was based in the book and the film. The movie, partially filmed in Marfa, was released 56 years ago and remains to this day the most important thing that ever happened in Marfa.

The next time you visit New York and someone asks, as a Texan, if you ride a horse and live on a ranch, tolerate them. Explain that your horse is named Ford Mustang and your ranch is the Double Bar Star Sliding J Rocking W. No, you don’t have many cattle because they can’t survive the branding. Your wife is named Billie Jean or your husband is Carl Roy. The kids are Travis, Austin, Houston and Billie Jean Junior. You are armed and dangerous, believe global warming is a communist plot, will vote for Rick Perry till you die and hate minorities. Do them that favor, because it’s what they want to believe. YEE-haw!

 

Ashby is gigantic at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

READING, RITING AND RESTING

November 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE SCHOOL YARD – Is this a holiday? The reason I am asking is that the local school yard is empty. No teachers’ Lamborghinis in the parking lot, no Harleys in the bike rack and no trash blowing about that didn’t make into the dumpsters for recycling. So it must a school holiday. Maybe it’s Justin Breiber’s birthday or the school district simply ran out of money or it’s Take Your Teacher on a Tryst Day. I’ve got it. The French class has taken over the school, and that might help Texas.

Background: ‍French elementary students go to ‍school four days a week — no classes on Wednesdays. They have about two hours each day for lunch, and they have more vacation time than their counterparts almost anywhere in the First World. This is typical in a nation where the students’ parents work 35 hours per week and get six weeks vacation as dictated by law. But the school week may become longer because France’s new president, Francois Hollande, wants to change what the French call their “scholastic rhythms.” He proposes ending the Wednesdays off while shortening the hours the kids are in class. “France has the shortest ‍school year and the longest day,” Hollande said.

He has quite a battle on his hands as French primary ‍students have had Wednesdays off since the 19th century. It was a government concession to the Catholic Church, which wanted children to study the catechism on their weekday off. That’s gone by the wayside and in today’s secular France. Wednesdays are for sports, music, sipping wine and making “Yankee Go Home” banners.

The story gets a little more complicated since, despite those long summer vacations and short school weeks, ‍French elementary ‍school students actually spend more hours per year in ‍school than average – 847 hours a year compared with 774 among other industrialized nations. The ‍French elementary ‍school day begins around 8:30 and ends at 4:30 p.m. even for the youngest.

Our story now switches to Washington where U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently told a Congressional hearing: “Our students today are competing against children in India and China. Those students are going to school 25 to 30 percent longer than we are. Our students, I think, are at a competitive disadvantage. I think we’re doing them a disservice.” Duncan didn’t mention the French because their students rank below most of their European neighbors and the U.S. in results on international tests.

Is the Education Secretary right? Probably not, but his gloom gets our attention. At least two studies by international educational groups found that Indian and Chinese students spend about the same time in class as do U.S. students, in some cases, even less. We have 50 states each with its own school schedules which also vary according to the grades. So it is tough to generalize. However, time requirements typically do not vary dramatically among the states. Most require between 175 and 180 days of school and/or between 900 and 1,000 hours of instructional time per year, again, depending on the grade level.

But we can compare some stats. Texas, which consistently ranks at or near the very bottom among the states in everything from SAT scores to teachers’ pay (we are first, however, in high school football), requires school districts to provide at least 180 days of instruction with 1,260 hours. However, some districts have a waiver from the Commissioner of Education allowing them to substitute a few of those days for teacher professional development days. (Both my mother and wife were school teachers, and found those days mostly a waste of time.) Today teachers spend their development days developing resumes since they are about to be laid off.

During the school year we have spring breaks and fall breaks. Many districts now take off all of Thanksgiving week but return to class in time for the Christmas/holiday vacation that extends past the New Year’s break. The growing number of charter schools, voucher programs and home schooling explains some of our dreadful rankings. Then we have the added benefit of Texas’ State Board of Education, which thinks global warming is a round microwave and condominiums should not be given to teenagers. That board can take credit for much of our sterling reputation among the nation’s educators. The board picks textbooks and sets policy for our 4,329,841 public school students in 8,317 schools, most of which are older than Texas’ taxpayer-sponsored billion dollar professional sports stadiums – the schools, not the students.

Unlike in some cities, our 1,265 districts are independent of municipal governments – the mayor doesn’t hire and fire the teachers, just the coach. Being independent school districts, they are called just that, shortened to ISD. They can, and often do, cross city limits and county lines. They raise their own taxes and can use eminent domain. The lone exception to these ISDs is the Stafford Municipal School District, just southwest of Houston. It serves all of the city of Stafford, hence the “municipal.”

The state’s largest school district, with 279 schools, is the Houston ISD teaching (we hope) 203,066 students. The smallest is the Divide ISD in western Kerr County, which consists of one lone elementary school with 26 students. The facility is one of the few remaining one-room school houses which once dotted America. But that ISD must be on to something – it is considered one of the best districts in Texas and is rated “exemplary” by the Texas Education Agency.

This brings us to our question of whether Texas should adopt the French or the Chinese and Indian educational schedules. I say we don’t change anything. It ain’t broke. Just look at how well our star students are performing – winning all sorts of academic prizes, blowing out the tests, chalking up the honors. Of course, most of those star students are Chinese or Indian kids. There is also the question of why this school is closed. Oh, it’s Saturday.

Ashby teaches at ashby2@comcast.net
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Chef Jimmy Mitchell Joins Adair Kitchen

November 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Dining

 

November 15, 2012. Houston. Siblings Katie Barnhart and Nick Adair, owners of Adair Kitchen, 5161 San Felipe at Sage, has enticed Houstonian Jimmy Mitchell out of his garden and into their kitchen. “He is the perfect fit for our concept,” stated Barnhart. “He understands what we are trying to do. After all, he was green before it was cool.” Mitchell has created a fresh, seasonal dinner menu that compliments the breakfast and lunch menus created by Barnhart and Adair. “The menu was fun to create,” stated Mitchell, “and it’s a little different too.” For more information, please visit www.adairkitchen.com, or call 713-623-6100. Photos of the dinner menu items are posted at www.Flickr.com/photos/AdairKitchen

 

 

During his entire career as a chef, at most of the restaurants where he worked, Mitchell built gardens where he composted all of his food waste, and grew heirloom varieties of herbs and vegetables for the restaurant. “I love fresh herbs and vegetables. When I could step outside my kitchen and pick the most perfectly ripe tomato, or fennel, it was the most amazing thing,” stated Mitchell. “My customers were always so appreciative of the extra efforts I went through in order to serve them the very best. I want to help all my chef colleagues do the same thing.”

 

Mitchell is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and holds a certification in Master Gardening from Texas A&M University through the Harris County Agriculture Extension Agency.

 

Chef Mitchell fulfilled his culinary externship at The Valley Oaks Food and Wine Center at Fetzer Winery under the direction of John Ash in Hopland, California. The hands-on training included a 5-acre organic garden with more than 1,000 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers. His time there inspired his focus on sustainability.

 

Throughout his culinary career Mitchell has received several awards for his culinary creations, and was named one of “The Great Chefs in Houston” by Media Inc. Mitchell has been the Executive Chef at such prestigious restaurants as The Rainbow Lodge, Vallone’s Steak House in Houston, Gaido’s in Galveston and Riversong Lodge in Alaska.

 

In 1997, while executive chef at The Rainbow Lodge in Houston, Mitchell was presented an Award from the Houston Corporate Recycling Council for Environmental Excellence to recognize his “Efforts to protect and enhance the Texas Environment by promoting the Development of Recycling Industries in the State.”

 

In 1999, the State of Texas and its Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission saluted Mitchell for “Taking care of Texas through outstanding efforts in Environmental Protection and Pollution Prevention.”

 

Mitchell has served as a member of the Urban Harvest Board of Directors in Houston, Texas from 1998 to 2000. As a member of the Chef’s Collaborative 2000, Mitchell served on the national committee to address the recycling and waste issues for its members and along with Tim Keating and Monica Pope, they helped found farmer’s markets in the city.

 

In 2009, Mitchell started Restaurant Recyclers to help restaurants in Austin, Houston and San Antonio go Green. Mitchell’s dream to start Restaurant Recyclers came many years ago when he noticed just how much waste one restaurant generated, and realized that it all ended up in landfills. Not only was his goal to help restaurants recycle their cardboard, tin, glass and food waste, he helped turn that food waste into compost from which he grew heirloom varieties of herbs and vegetables on his five-acre farm to sell back to the restaurant. “From the Earth to the Table and back to the Earth,” stated Mitchell. “It’s just the cycle of life.”

 

Mitchell received the “Green Business” award from the Austin Business Journal in recognition for his pioneering efforts.     

 

The Adair Kitchen is owned by The Adair Family, which also owns Los Tios Mexican Restaurants and Skeeter’s Mesquite Grill.

 

Adair Kitchen is located at 5161 San Felipe, Suite 390, (at Sage) Houston, Texas 77056. Hours: Monday through Friday: 7 am – 10 pm; Saturday: 8 am – 10 pm; Sunday: 8 am – 9 pm. For more information, please visit our website at www.adairkitchen.com, or call 713-623-6100.

UPTOWN HOUSTON HOLIDAY LIGHTING

November 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Events

PARKING ADVISORY & ROAD CLOSURE

HOUSTON (Nov. 2012). . .  On Thanksgiving night Houstonians and visitors will come together to kick-off the holiday season at the 27th Annual Uptown Houston Holiday Lighting celebrationFestivities will begin at 4:00 p.m. with holiday music and concessions followed by Santa lighting up a half-million lights on 80 trees and an incredible fireworks extravaganza. The FREE event attracts an audience approaching 250,000 people on Post Oak Boulevard between Westheimer and San Felipe Roads.

ROAD CLOSURES & PARKING INFORMATION

Road Closure Information:

      Beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday, November 22, Post Oak Boulevard will be closed from Ambassador         Way to Guilford.

♦      Beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday, November 22, Post Oak Boulevard will be closed from Westheimer to

San Felipe.

♦      Post Oak Boulevard will reopen at 10 p.m. Thursday, November 22, except the block between

       Ambassador Way and Guilford.

♦      Post Oak Boulevard will completely reopen by 7 a.m. Friday, November 23.

Parking Information:

♦      Public Parking – Free public parking is available at the following locations:

Centre @ Post Oak • Dillard’s Garage • Four Oaks Place • The Galleria •

Post Oak Central • Post Oak Plaza • Williams Tower

 

www.uptown-houston.com

 

STUFF AND NONSENSE

November 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE ATTIC – It is time to put up the Easter decorations and get down the Christmas ornaments. True, the mall merchants beat me by several months – Santa’s elves were wearing thongs – but I still should get started. Here are the holiday boxes, and I notice that every summer someone sneaks into my attic and tangles up the Christmas tree lights. Next, I need to climb over this mountain of piles. This is a stack of suitcases, ice chests, a box full of something I’m afraid to open, a writing desk and chair that my daughter refuses to take to her house. Why are parents still stuck with their children’s things when the kids are joining AARP?

No doubt your attic is also full of odds and ends too bad to keep and too good to throw away. It has a name: stuff. The late comedian George Carlin had a whole routine about stuff. Maybe we should label these items “garbage-can challenged,” “Dumpster-worthy” or just “things” (in Texas we say “thangs”). By any name, they enter the unwanted-yet-still-here category in various ways. Some of my stuff was good at one time but simply became obsolete through no fault of its own. Here’s my eight-track tape player next to the TV rabbit ears, my trusty electric typewriter and VCR player along with a pile of movies on tape. Recently I went to the local Goodwill to do my Christmas shopping and saw stacks of dusty VCRs. They couldn’t even give them away.

Take another look at that ice chest, the one sporting the Houston Oilers logo. That box is long past its prime, sort of beat up and chipped. The smell of three-day-old shrimp is almost gone. But that ice chest still does its job like it did the day I stole it at a tailgate party. What ever I put in the box stays that way. Remember the guy who asked, “What’s that?” He was told it’s a Thermos bottle. You put a liquid in hot and it stays hot. You put liquid in cold and it stays cold. The guy thought for a minute, then asked, “How does it know which to do?” I don’t need to keep this ice chest since I’ve got new ones, like this Styrofoam box marked, “Southwest Conference Champs.” But why throw away a perfectly good ice chest? Maybe I should go door to door in my neighborhood, Running Rats Acres, asking, “Would you like a beat-up but still perfectly good ice chest?”

In my bedroom is a wooden picture frame sitting on the floor, about 3 feet by 2 feet. No picture, photo or pelt within, just the frame. It belonged to my late mother-in-law and held a painting by some guy named Manet or Monet, I get them mixed up. I traded the painting to a fellow called Dude at a flea market for $50 and a nine-iron. Hey, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Dude didn’t want the frame, so it just sits here. Every noon when I get up, there’s that empty picture holder looking back at me. Maybe Manet-Monet would like it back.

Look in your closet. Maybe you still have T-shirts reading, “Shock & Awe” and “Quayle in ‘92.” You probably still have matching spats. (I’m sounding like Andy Rooney.) These narrow ties are coming back. Don’t you watch “Mad Men”? Here are my Marine dress blues. There is an expression, “Once a Marine always a Marine” Who knows, the Corps may call up my old regiment, but I couldn’t fit into this uniform using axel grease and instant liposuction. However, the tri-corn hat still fits.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “Stuff happens.” It happens? Is there a stuff factory which daily churns out things we don’t need but can’t toss? Like this hoola-hoop and that inner-tube. Do they even make inner-tubes these days? Same for the ice trays. You may be the type of person who saves old magazines and can’t stand throwing them away without a second read. My own magazine collection seems to be growing, so I must start reading and pitching. Maybe I’ll begin with Look and the Saturday Evening Post. Terrible about Pearl Harbor, don’t you think?

Then there are the collectibles, which are stuff with one thing in common: no sane person would collect all that junk. How many different Czech beer cans do you need? Why 12 shelves of mousetraps? But don’t touch my albums of Mao quotes. Collectibles are not to be tossed — until after your estate sale. One solution to this heap of stuff is the consignment shop, where tassel loafers and bell-bottoms go to die. If you can’t find that special Christmas gift at Goodwill, try consignment shops.

You really need to take a fresh look at your garage. Old paint cans are ubiquitous. Every garage has some, but as soon as you toss them, the new painter will say, “I can match the colors in your stables and Jacuzzi if you have the old paint cans.” To quote our governor for life, “Oops.” Many garages in Texas contain snow shovels and tire chains, left over from the previous resident who moved here from Ohio and was dispatched to Bengazi last June. “I won’t be needing these,” he explained. “The boss says it’s a beach town with lots of sun.” Garages hold all kinds of stuff. Some of my neighbors even keep their cars there.

How many old eyeglasses do you have? Probably all of them because no one has ever, ever, thrown away their old glasses. I even have my early monocles. You heard about the fellow who bought a new boomerang but went crazy trying to throw away the old one. Have you ever tried to get rid of a carrier pigeon? They keep coming back. Finally, I want to thank you for allowing me to use the word, ubiquitous. I always thought that was a Roman general.

Ashby is framed at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

SECTS EDUCATION

November 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

  • THE CHURCH – Every time I kneel, they stand. I stand, they sit. Everyone is kneeling and I, alone, am standing. This is because I am attending a Catholic mass with my wife and kids, who are Catholic, and I am a Presbyterian. We Presbyterians – Church of Scotland, John Knox, bagpipes and booze – don’t kneel except to pick up coins and cash dropped by errant Salvation Army donors, speaking of denominations.But I have a bigger problem than this out-of-step maneuvering, and you may too, if you are a Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist or member of any other group which defies the papist takeover of America. You see, for the first time in our nation’s history, Protestants are a minority. An extensive new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that only 48 percent of Americans now consider themselves Protestants. (The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey puts it at 51 percent.)This figure is down from what it was at the beginning of this country –110 percent. Indeed, we Protestants founded America, first by killing off most of the heathen Indians and burning at the stake those of other faiths. Every one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was a Protestant except for Charles Carroll of Maryland, the token Catholic, and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin who were Deists. They worshiped elm trees. Today Deists worship the trombone section of the Coast Guard Band.

    For decades it was an official requirement that all U.S. presidents were Protestant, at least that’s what we told everyone. Then came John F. Kennedy, a Catholic. In the 2012 election, for the first time in our nation’s history a major political party fielded a presidential running team with no Protestant on the ticket. The GOP had a Mormon, Mitt Romney, and a Catholic, Paul Ryan. The Republicans could not find even one Protestant as a sop to we 48 percent, apparently because we made up Romney’s bottom 47 percent. Also, for the first time in our history, there is not a single Protestant on the U.S. Supreme Court (or military veteran). We’ve got six Catholics and three Jews deciding Roe v. Wade, both of whom were Protestant.

    Why this drop in our numbers? Actually, the Pew (that’s the official and long-standing title of an organization that surveys everything, but don’t you love such a name for this religious survey?) study found that Americans of all faiths are moving to “none of the above.” Today, one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent). It is not clear where the Deists fit in. I’ll ask the Coast Guard Band. Many of those polled said they were religious and believe in God, but didn’t cotton to any organized religion. Others said they just didn’t like being labeled.

    Here in Texas we have the largest church, in members, of any religious facility in the U.S.: the Lakewood Church in Houston, the Rev. John Osteen presiding, with 40,000 parishioners and a nationwide TV audience. The church meets in the former Houston Rockets arena, and has no formal ties with any denomination. Lakewood Church closes for Christmas so the Osteens can go skiing in Aspen. Honest.

    Texans have always been religious; it’s a tradition along with guns, guts and intolerance for bigots. Back in the early days, in order to receive the generous land grants given by the Mexican government, Anglo-American immigrants had to sign a paper saying that they followed the Catholic religion and didn’t own slaves, but both sides sort of went wink-wing, nudge-nudge about the agreement. And throughout our history Texas has always tolerated all sorts of cults and odd groups. We have the Aggies, Cowboy fans and people who eat boudain.

    The Branch Davidians looked everywhere to find a place where they would feel at home. They chose Texas — a spot just outside Waco — so they could watch Baylor students dance and drink. Members of Yearning for Zion also explored many different places until they finally selected a ranch near Eldorado which would allow the church elders to marry dozens of 12-year-old girls. However, the leaders were arrested, much to the satisfaction of 12-year-old boys.

    As we might expect, geographically Texas tends to be heavily Protestant in the north and east and Catholic in the south and southwest. Catholics are the largest single denomination in the Lone Star State. Among Protestants, Southern Baptists lead in membership (notice that the largest building in any small Texas town is the First Baptist Church), followed by the United Methodist Church, Churches of Christ, Assemblies of God, the Presbyterian Church USA and the Episcopal Church. Why the “USA” at the end of the Presbyterian Church? In 1861 the denomination split over slavery. The North wanted to keep it, the South was for abolition, or maybe it was the other way around. The two churches didn’t rejoin until 1958 — we Presbys hold a grudge.

    A 2010 census found that Texas ranks first among the 50 states in the number of Evangelical Protestants and the number that belong to “non-denominational” Evangelical Protestant churches. Texas is second in Hindus, third in Buddhists and fifth in the number of Mormons. Bet you didn’t know that Texas has more Muslims than any other state: 421,972. (In Houston, Muslims outnumber Episcopalians, Jews, Presbyterians, Church of Christians and Lutherans.) Why so many Muslins? One hint: King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has had thirteen wives, and has fathered at least 35 children.

    Meantime, I am standing, sitting, ignoring the glares of my family. The church printed a program so that non-Catholics would know what to do and when, but it was in Latin. We need to burn a few more heretics.

    Ashby kneels at ashby2@comcast.net

     

     

     

Updates & More Information

November 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Radio 1110 AM Updates & More Information

Heard something on our show and need more information? Check here for more details!

November 9, 2012

11th Annual Rocket’s Run
Click here!

17th Annual Children’s Festival
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Buffalo Bayou Partnership Kayak Trip
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Highland Village Ferrari Festival to benefit Texas Children’s Cancer Center
WHO: Highland Village is hosting the 7th Annual Ferrari Festival, benefitting
Texas Children’s Cancer Center, the largest pediatric cancer center in the nation, ranked #1 in Texas by U.S.News & World Report. Guests will enjoy complimentary bites from Up, Smith & Wollensky’s, Sprinkles and more as they check out some of the world’s most exotic and unique Ferraris.

WHAT: The 7th Annual Ferrari Festival will feature more than 50 exotic cars competing
in five different categories for a crystal horse trophy, handcrafted in Italy and custom made for the event. Among the unique cars there that day will be Michael Schumacher’s 2009 Championship Formula 1 car; a $1.5 million Ferrari FXS, of which only 17 were ever made; the Valobra race car that finished third at Daytona and the Ferrari FXX.

WHEN: Sunday, November 11, 2012
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

WHERE: Highland Village Houston
4078 Westheimer Rd.

WHY: Proceeds from the 7th annual Ferrari Festival benefit Texas
Children’s Cancer Center, an international leader in pediatric cancer research and treatment. Texas Children’s Cancer Center is dedicated to providing novel therapies and family-centered care to children from infancy through young adulthood with cancer and blood disorders – from the most common to rare. U.S.News & World Report ranked the Center #1 outside the northeast United States, as well as #1 in Texas. Texas Children’s Cancer Center treats more childhood cancer patients than any other program in the U.S., with patients coming from 35 states and 26 countries around the world. Learn more at www.txch.org.

COST: This event is free to the public. Guests can make donations at the event
or visit www.txch.org to make a donation.

Page Parkes takes over Texas with a new location in Austin

November 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs

October 16, 2012 – Page Parkes Corporation, the largest model and talent group in the Southerwestern United States, is pleased to announce the newest training center in Austin, Texas. Evaluations and registration for training will begin late October.
The Page Parkes Corporation keeps a home office in the galleria area of Houston, Texas which opened in 1981. The powerhouse corporation presently includes Page 713, Page Parkes Center of Modeling & Acting, Page Parkes Management, Page Parkes Center of Modeling & Acting-Dallas, Page Parkes Center of Modeling & Acting-Northwest Houston and has now landed in Austin, Texas with Page Parkes Center of Modeling & Acting-Austin.
Page Parkes Center of Modeling & Acting-Austin will serve as a training center for actors ages 5 and up through adult ages in the Austin and surrounding areas. The new Austin location is scheduled to open late October 2012 and will be located at 7020 Easy Wind suite 120- Austin, TX 78752.
Page Parkes is one of the most respected model and talent agents in the United States and since the opening of her first office in 1981 has discovered, developed, and/or represented household names such as: Alexis Bledel, Angelina Jolie, Channing Tatum, Eric Balfour, Jason Lewis, Brooke Burns, Hillary Duff, Tyson Beckford, Rebecca Romijn, Shantel VanSanten, just to name a few.
Page Parkes has been featured in the reality television show “Scouted” on the E! Entertainment Television network, where Page guides her models careers’ from the beginning and presents the models to top clients and agents in New York.
Page Parkes along with her staff are passionate about what they do and strive to continue to be at the top of the model and talent industry.
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PEST CONTROL

November 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE DINNER TABLE – Just as I am explaining to my family why the gold flow affects the NFL playoffs which determine the price of ethanol, the phone rings. It must be someone answering my ad for pit bull bait or perhaps it’s about that missed meeting with my parole officer. “Hello, this is Rachel from Cardholder Services. This is our final call.”

Rachel is one of a growing number of recorded phone messages, called robocalls, I receive. Maybe you, too, are getting an increasing number of such pests, and always at the worse possible time. Didn’t we sign up to keep these annoying interruptions away? Apparently that didn’t work, but now the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, has a plan,  simple and relatively cheap – compared to, say, the Louisiana Purchase — to end these calls. If the scheme succeeds, let’s put that federal agency in charge of solving other problems such as the national debt, Oklahoma and Donald Trump.

Specifically, the FTC is offering a bounty on the heads of the offenders: a $50,000 prize for the best technical solution to block illegal commercial robocalls. What’s more, says the FTC, you’ll be a “national hero.” Before you blow that 50K, a bit of background.  The Do-Not-Call Law was supposed to go into effect in 2003 but lawsuits (what else?) set it back to 2004. It has been labeled “one of the most popular laws ever enacted by Congress.” Today more than 217 million phone numbers are registered. The shield doesn’t cover every caller, as we have noticed in these past campaigns. Politicians can call, so can pollsters, firms you do business with, not-for-profits and bill collectors. Also, the law only applies to residences, not businesses. Originally, we had to sign up again every five years, but so popular was the law that it was re-written in 2007 and the signups were made permanent.

Still, there has never been a law that some creeps haven’t found a way to circumvent. Last year the FTC received 2-million complaints from Americans who had to get up from the dinner table to hear Rachel or some other harasser make a sales pitch. Not only are the calls cheap for the lawbreakers to make, they are hard to trace. The latest scam is – get this – a call from the “Do-Not-Call Registry.” Only it ain’t. (One of these recordings said, “Press 1 to talk to a representative,” So I pressed 1 and got some human and let him have it about Don’t Call. After my second sentence he hung up.)

Right-wing talk radio hosts and late night comics like to insult and humiliate our federal government workers, but occasionally the feds get things right. How about putting a man on the moon? And remember our bumper sticker: “The Alamo was defended by government employees.” Showing similar ingenuity, the gang at the FTC decided to “tap into the genius and technical expertise among the public” that can turn their talents, time and simple animal cunning to solve any problem. But only for money.

This rewards idea has become a tradition in Washington. The Pentagon is offering a $2 million prize to anyone who can dramatically advance robotics. More sophisticated robots are needed to defuse explosives or clean up nuclear waste. The Rewards for Justice Program at the State Department has paid more than $100 million to more than 60 people with information that “prevented international terrorist attacks or helped bring to justice those involved in prior acts,” its website says. Most of the money has been paid since 9/11. We probably will never know if anyone collected the $25 million bounty on Osama Bin Laden.

Now the feds want our help in solving this robocall problem. Rules: The “robocall challenge” began on Oct. 25 and will close next Jan. 17. The winner will be announced in April. The money will be awarded to the person, team or small company (it must have fewer than 10 employees) that develops the best solution. Updates, examples of recent calls and other info will be provided to any “solvers” who ask. The FTC says a successful entry must work, be easy to use, and be easy to implement and operate. Just remember KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Look, some national hero is going to walk away with a $50,000 check and it might as well be us. So let’s brainstorm. I recommend we simply execute by firing squad the first five robocallers we catch. That would set an example. OK, maybe too tough. We get their phone numbers and call them night and day until we hear them sob, “Stop! I can’t stand it anymore.” Maybe we track down Rachel from Cardholder Services and put her on “Dancing With the Stars” opposite Gov. Chris Christie on snowshoes. A voice recognizer, that’s the ticket. It’s programmed so that any voice that says, “This is not a solicitation, but is your life insurance.…” is answered by checking the caller ID number, a return call and 30 minutes of bagpipe marches. Or just turn the phone over to Joe Biden. Some of these calls are made from off-shore, like the Cayman Islands, which makes it harder for the FTC to track them down. The answer is simple: we get Mitt Romney to buy these operations, lay off the workers and walk away with a million. He knows how to do it.

You techies out there who can actually operate the new Apple iPad mini are no doubt already on the case. Just two rubber bands, a stick of Wrigley’s Doublemint, a corkscrew and – wallah! — as they say in Odessa. Nerds, $50,000 will buy you new faded jeans, Nike sneakers and a month’s supply of Starbuck’s latte. No matter who you are, as you read these very words, someone is in the garage inventing the perfect antidote to this national deluge of junk phone mail. Just remember, Mister or Missus Winner, I get a 15 percent finder’s fee. I’ll be calling – about super time.

 

Ashby interrupts at ashby2@comcast.net

The St. Regis Houston 2012 Holiday Events

November 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Signature Afternoon Tea

Nov. 23—Dec. 30
Wed.—Sun., Seating at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.


Warm up this holiday with Afternoon Tea at The St. Regis Houston where tea service is a time-honored tradition. Our legendary Tea Butlers attend each guest with charm and ease allowing them to choose from an array of artisan blends while presenting a seductive menu of tea sandwiches, petits fours, and our own blackcurrant British scones with Devonshire cream. A harpist performs daily while guests savor the St. Regis Special Blend, just one of a large selection of premium loose-leaf teas offered. Cost is $45 for traditional service. Reservations essential, please call 713-403-2631.

St. Regis Teddy Bear Tea

Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, and 22
Seating starting at 2 p.m.; activities until 4 p.m.
Make Afternoon Tea a family tradition with the St. Regis Teddy Bear Tea. The family-friendly event includes a ‘Twas the night before Christmas marionette show, t-shirt and cookie decoration, face painting, balloon animal artist, Ice Princess story hour and more. Every child will receive a complimentary Teddy Bear photo keepsake. Guests are welcome to bring a new teddy bear that will be donated to the Houston Area Women’s Center. Cost is $58 per guest. Children under the age of 2 are complimentary. Reservations essential, please call 713-403-2624.

Christmas Eve Dinner

Mon., Dec, 24
Seating between 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, time to celebrate the joyous evening and relish a Prix Fixe Dinner in The Remington Restaurant. The delectable three-course dinner will includes an amuse bouche and sorbet and be accompanied with live music for your entertainment pleasure. Cost is $65 per person. Reservations essential, please call 713-403-2631.

Christmas Day – Legendary St. Regis Brunch Buffet

Tues., Dec. 25
Seating: 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., and 1:30 p.m.
The merriment of Christmas is captured in a festive St. Regis brunch buffet. Underneath the glistening crystals of The St. Regis Houston’s chandelier, the refined atmosphere of The Astor Ballroom provides the perfect setting to appreciate family, friends and the peak of the holiday season. The brunch will include live entertainment and activities for children. Cost for adults is $75 (includes sparkling wine), children $35 (ages 5 – 12) and children under the age of 5 are complimentary. Reservations essential, please call 713-403-2631.

Christmas Day–Á la Carte Dinner

Tues., Dec. 25
Seating between 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Christmas is not complete without a divine dinner surrounded by warm hearts in The Remington Restaurant. The special holiday menu will include an amuse bouche, as well as a delectable selection certain to treat the palate. Reservations are essential, please call 713-403-263.

Home for the Holidays
Entire month of December
The holidays are about timeless moments shared and celebrated among family and friends. Come home to Houston for the holidays with special room rates starting at $189. It is our gift to you.
For more information, please call 1-888-627-8194.

New Year’s Eve – Early Dinner in The Remington Restaurant

Mon., Dec. 31
Seating before 6:30 p.m.

Before you celebrate the night away, enjoy a four-course dinner with an amuse bouche, sorbet and mignardises at The Remington Restaurant. All early dinner guests will receive complimentary entrance to The Remington Bar for the St. Regis Bash. Cost is $95 per person. Reservations essential, please call 713-403-2631.

New Year’s Eve – Midnight Celebration Dinner in The Remington Restaurant

Mon., Dec. 31
Seating starting at 9 p.m.
Enjoy an elegant four-course dinner with an amuse bouche, sorbet and mignardises as you count down the New Year in the mystique setting of The Remington Restaurant. Dinner guests will receive luxe party favors as they revel in live entertainment throughout the evening. Cost is $130 per person. Reservations essential, please call 713-403-2631.

New Year’s Eve – St. Regis Bash in The Remington Bar

Monday, December 31st
Ring in the New Year inside the distinctive setting of The Remington Bar. Socialize in custom elegance as live music entertains throughout the night into the New Year. Guests will receive luxe party favors and a Midnight sparkling toast. Cost is $25 per person. Space is limited.

ONE MAN, ONE VOTE, ONE TIME

October 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

How can I put this to you gently? When you vote for the President of the United States, IT WON’T COUNT! Texas is a red state, and all 38 Electoral College votes will go to Gov. Mitt Romney. However, there are several interesting down-ballot elections that might change the future — just ask Henry Shoemaker, which means taking a fresh look at an old story, for it’s worth repeating.

Shoemaker was a simple farmhand from Smithfield Township, DeKalb County, Indiana. On the first Monday of August, 1842, elections were held for local offices. In addition, reapportionment had given DeKalb and an adjoining county, Steuben, a single representative to the Indiana House. The two candidates were Enos Beall, a Whig, and Madison Marsh, a Democrat. On election day Shoemaker remembered that he had met Marsh during the campaign and had promised to vote for him, so Shoemaker saddled up a horse and rode 12 miles into Kendallville, arriving at the polling place late in the afternoon.

“When he applied to vote,” the Indiana Committee on Elections later reported, “the inspector handed him a sheet of tickets, but as all of them contained the names of Enos Beall for Representative, he enquired (sic) for ‘another kind,’ and the inspector handed him a sheet of tickets with the name of Madison Marsh for Representative, that he then enquired of the same inspector if he ‘had scissors or a knife to cut them with,’ and the latter handed him a penknife.” Not wishing to vote the straight party ticket of either party, Shoemaker proceeded, quite literally, to split his ballots. As the voting officials looked on, Shoemaker cut out the name of Marsh from one ballot along with the others he wanted, then cut other names from the second sheet.

He handed the clippings to the inspector — four separate pieces of paper, three small sheets inside a larger one. The inspector accepted the papers without a word, and put them in the ballot box. Shoemaker hung around the voting site for an hour or more, but no one said anything about his unusual ballot. Later, however, when the tabulation began, the voting officials threw out Shoemaker’s ballot.

On the next Sunday the sheriffs of the two counties met at the Steuben County courthouse to compare the certificates for the election for state representative. The final results were 360 votes for Marsh and 360 votes for Beall. The sheriffs “by casting lots” chose Beall as the winner. Marsh immediately appealed to the Committee on Elections, which held extensive hearings on the matter. (It is from the Indiana Commission on Public Records and the Library of Congress that I dug out this story.)

The committee found that in Smithfield township only 16 votes were cast for representative, all of them for either Marsh or Beall; that there was only one person named Henry Shoemaker in the township and he was a qualified voter; that he had voted “openly with no appearance of concealment or subterfuge” and had not tried to vote more than once and that the inspector had accepted Shoemaker’s ballot and had put it in the box himself; and “we have the uncontradicted oath of Henry Shoemaker, that he did intend to vote for Madison Marsh for the office of Representative.” Also, the committee noted that it was the inspector’s own knife which was used in the surgery.

“In summing up the whole matter, your committee find (sic) that Madison Marsh has received a majority of the legal votes, if they had all been counted, and the voice of the ballot box had been properly regarded, and that he is therefore entitled to the contested seat.” The Indiana House agreed, and Marsh — a Democrat — took his seat in the Legislature by a single vote.

Prior to the 17th Amendment, U.S. senators were chosen by state legislatures. In 1842, the main candidates for the U.S. Senate from Indiana were Oliver H. Smith, the Whig senator who was up for re-election, and the Democratic candidate, Gen. Tilghman A. Howard. Another candidate, Edward A. Hannegan, was a dark horse. The Indiana Senate joined the House and on the first ballot, to everyone’s surprise, neither candidate got a majority. On the sixth ballot Smith got 69 votes. Howard got one vote and Hannegan, the dark horse, got the magic 76, making him the new senator from Indiana. Hannegan’s winning vote was supplied by Madison “Landslide” Marsh.

Four years later, in 1846, the U.S. Senate was bitterly divided over whether to declare war on Mexico. A caucus of the Democratic senators, which comprised the majority, was called to determine which way they would vote, but the vote in the caucus was a tie. Then it was determined that one senator was not present: Edward Hannegan of Indiana. He was sent for and promptly voted “Aye” for war. It broke the tie, fixed the Democrats’ decision, and war was declared – by one vote.

That is how Shoemaker is best remembered in Indiana, yet there is one more point to be made. The war in Mexico was touched off by the U.S. annexation of Texas one year earlier. John Tyler was president, having taken office upon the death of William Henry Harrison. That left the vice presidency empty. The move to annex Texas had failed as a treaty, which needed a two-thirds vote in the Senate, so Tyler tried again — this time as a simple resolution, which needed only a majority, not two-thirds. It passed, 27 to 25. If any senator supporting annexation had changed his mind, there would have been a 26-26 tie. There being no vice president to break the deadlock, annexation would have failed and Texas would have remained an independent republic. For the record, Sen. Hannegan voted for it.

Thus we see how that one vote put Texas in the Union and put us under Washington, which is why to this day, Texans shout as one: “Curse you, Henry Shoemaker!”

 

Ashby votes at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

Platinum Motorcars Rolls into Houston, 2nd Texas Location

October 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs

HOUSTON – (October 23, 2012) Platinum Motorcars, Texas’ premier exotic and luxury car rental dealership, announced the launch of its Houston office in the heart of the Museum District on the grounds of the acclaimed Hotel ZaZa. Now with two Texas locations, Dallas and Houston, Platinum Motorcars leads the Texas two-step in luxury sedan, SUV, sports car and exotic vehicle leasing. The Houston dealership is co-owned by Benny Black, founder, and David Nguyen.

 

Located at 5701 Main Street, Platinum Motorcars hosts its fleet of exquisite and exotic beauties which include the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, Aston Martin DB9 Volante, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Ferrari 430 Spyder and 430 Scuderia, and the Rolls-Royce Phantom. Platinum Motorcars also offers chauffer services and sales for hard-to-find vehicles. Leasing prices range from $349 to $1,499 per day.

With a growing demand to lease exotic sports cars from their existing traveling clients, as well as newly referred clients, Platinum Motorcars opened its second Texas location in Houston. While many cities in the nation are struggling with unemployment, the economy in Houston is booming. Not only is Houston one of the largest cities in the nation, it is also one of the biggest international hubs in the world. It is home to many businesses including corporate headquarters for almost two dozen of the Fortune 500 companies.

Houston is also home to many of Platinum Motorcars’ elite clientele and with the growing trend to lease exotic sports cars prior to purchasing, many Platinum Motorcars’ customers will lease for several days or weeks in order to get a feel for the vehicle, and in this economic climate there is not a better time to test drive a $250,000 car for a fraction of the price.

“Houston is a world-class city that we are proud to call our new home,” said Black. “Our clients will find not only beautiful cars, but customer service that is unmatched by any other dealer in the city.”

Platinum Motorcars was created with a focus on high-end customer service. Clients want more than a “nice car.” They want an experience, and the Platinum Motorcars team delivers. Unmatched in customer service, vehicles are often wrapped in bows waiting in the client’s driveway for special occasions, and cars are always delivered spotless. Platinum Motorcars guarantees that what you see is what you get when choosing one of their exotics; all vehicles displayed on www.platinummotorcars.net are the exact vehicles in the inventory and what clients will be driving.

“Unlike other exotic car dealerships, we encourage our guests to sit in the cars, touch the steering wheel, smell the leather, hear the engines roar and view their numerous luxury amenities,” said Black.  “The cars speak for themselves, and we want guests to immerse themselves in their grandness.”

Customers throughout Texas and the Southeast have the opportunity to enjoy Platinum Motorcars’ exotics as all vehicles can be transferred to any location and delivered to the customer upon request.  Cars are delivered on trucks and trailers to ensure a smooth, clean and enjoyable ride. Author, fashion commentator and creative ambassador for Barney’s New York Simon Doonan once told Black, “The back of your Mercedes is so clean that I can eat from it!”

Platinum Motorcars believes in giving back to the community and is already involved with several charities and galas throughout the Houston Area and looks forward to participating in many more. “We want to show Houston that we aren’t just here to make money but that we’re here to make a difference,” says Nguyen.

Platinum Motorcars is the only bonded, licensed and insured rental car facility in Houston. Because of this, and the owner’s eye for detail and beauty, Platinum cars have been featured in the newest remake of the hit series Dallas, ABC’s Good Christian Belles, NBC’s Chase and Style Network’s Big Rich Texas.

Platinum boasts repeat clientele with numerous sports players like Oakland Raiders Safety Michael Huff, New York Giants Defensive Tackle Chris Canty and Dallas Cowboys Defensive Linebacker DeMarcus Ware, as well as celebrities such as Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Elizabeth Hurley and Matthew Perry.

 

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