Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
And strange things are afoot on Tejas Trail. Last night I had a nightmare in which I was trapped in the hull of a large, sinking ship with a large, balding retarded man (or maybe he was autistic or something- I don't know), and this child-like adult was crying and very upset because he knew the boat was sinking and that we were going to die. He kept swimming around in the rising water, looking for a way out, and he was sobbing and telling me the entire time why he didn't want to drown (things like, "It's cold," and, "I don't want to die yet.") I felt terribly sorry for him and a little sorry for myself, because I was drowning, too. I woke up from the dream, flailing around in my bed and smacking Cassidy, because I thought I was trying to stay afloat. I woke up and looked at the clock and it was shortly after 3:00 a.m. I changed shirts (because my dream had me perspiring in my tee shirt), went to the restroom, and then crawled back into bed (after giving Cassidy what I hoped was a reassuring hug).
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me at the time, Team Wilson was having their own strange experience across the street. Apparently around 3:00 a.m. Crackbass and The Pea (along with one of the weiners, Lucy) were awoken from their sleep by the sound of a female voice emanating from somewhere in the house (Jeff thought it was the back bedroom at first). When Jeff went to investigate the voice, turning on the light in the back room of the house, apparently the voice immediately stopped. Jeff searched the house for signs of a TV or radio that might have been left on, but he found nothing. The Pea was pretty freaked out by this. The Pea also reportedly thought she heard the voice (or voices) say something about macaroni and cheese (which makes the story a lot less creepy, but oh well). I am retelling this story as it was told to me over some Chinese food at lunch.
Anyhoo, my house was reported as being haunted by the lady who sold it to me (she suspected that the ghost was that of her grandmother, and I was assured that she was very nice), and the Wilson's house has long been suspect due to strange behaviors that have been witnessed in their dogs (such as raising their hackles and persistently barking at shadows in the corner). Steanso doesn't really believe in ghosts much, but he wants to.
"Now the world
Is suddenly wonderful
And I think
Hey I can live here again
Well these ghosts
They will not leave me
They're the best company
That I've ever had."
-Bishop Allen, "Ghosts Are Good Company"
Monday, May 29, 2006
Well, it was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, so there were certain traditions which Crackbass felt obligated to fulfill. Chief amongst them was the preparation of some sort of meat over a fire. Lucy generously offered to help by keeping the ground clean of any food items which might fall down and clutter the area up.
People seemed to enjoy the festivities.
Some people enjoyed the festivities more than others.
Some people enjoyed themselves so much that they had to put on disguises.
All in all, it was a nice little barbecue, and the guests mostly escaped unscathed.
Today I went to Andy's new apartment (ok, recently new) with Team Wilson and Big Johnson. It's a nice place, over in the Westlake Area, and it's kind of tucked back in the trees, up on a hill. Anyhoo, we went out for breakfast and then went over to Andy's to hang out by his pool and whatnot (mostly to recover from beer drinking and staying up way too late on Sunday night) with he and Rami "The Elf" Reid. It was a good time.
After hanging out at Andy's I went home for a strong Mono Practice (it was kind of short, but we ran through a bunch of songs, including a few we hadn't played in awhile, and we were pretty tight). Then we cooked up some of the remaining barbecue items (leftover stuff that didn't get cooked last night) over at Casa de Wilson, and now I'm tired and just winding down. It was a nice weekend.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Well, so far the Memorial Day weekend has been a good one. Friday night we had a really good Crack practice and then, since it was a Friday and all, we hung out for awhile and listened to recordings of previous practices once we were done playing. Sigmund has a new trombone (it's silver and shiney), and it sounds really good (it has a slightly clearer tone, and, more importantly, it doesn't fall apart when Sig is blowing his lungs out in the middle of some rockin' solo). Anyway, it was good to hang out with the guys, and practice had its usual cathartic effect on everyone involved, I believe.
Saturday mowed the grass and then went to Barton Springs with Crackbass and Weedo. We laid in the sun and got hot and then jumped into the water and cooled off. We talked about music and superhero movies. Then I came home, played God of War on the Playstation for a few minutes, and took a big nap. Then I got up, ate, went over to Wilsons and had a couple of drinks with them while they hung a bunch of pictures.
Today I got up and worked out and took Cassidy for a walk. I ran into Kate and Judy and they told me that a house right around the corner from us just sold for $219,000 (comparable square footage to our houses). It's a good thing that Steanso got into The Hop A Long Lounge while the getting was good.
Anyway, that's it for now. The League has apparently gone on hiatus with his blog, and The Admiral and The Karebear are currently on vacation in New Mexcio. Big Johnson should be arriving in ATX momentarily for some Memorial Day hijinks with Team Wilson.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Today's featured group:
The Smear were a local group of kids who managed to put together a band with not much more than duct tape and attitude back when I was at Trinity University. I can't really remember all of the names of the band members, but I know the lead singer/rythm guitarist was a guy named Dave Bastow, the bass player was a guy named Max, the lead guitarist was (I think, and I'm really not sure about this one) Doug- or Matt- no, I think Doug, and the drummer was a girl named Jennie (I think Forrester). The Smear started out with very little talent, and a whole lot of courage. They had a bunch of originals, and they used to play an awesome cover of The Gambler. Their drummer had absolutely no idea what she was doing on her kit when they started, and I remember that she didn't have a clutch for her hi hat, so it wouldn't open and close. They had an original tune called "Toast" which involved a lot of screaming and which was mostly about toast and all of the things that you could put on it (I later covered this catchy tune with another band). The Smear were always having equipment and technical problems, but they were fun to watch (and Dave had a really cool, vintage Fender Mustang). Their songs ranged from country to punk, but they were all pretty intense.
Anyhow, I learned from watching the Smear that having a good attitude and encouraging your audience to have fun (and drink a lot) can often get you just as good a response as actual musicianship. I had a lot of fun at some shows by The Smear in small, smokey San Antonio icehouses that were packed full of our friends, and on one occasion, when Weedo was in town visiting me at Trinity, they even let us (Weedo, my friend Henry Benjamin, Lee Thweatt, and myself) hop up and use their instruments to tear through an extremely half-assed version of Drivin and Cryin's "Scarred But Smarter" for a drunkenly confused audience out on the back stage at Sonny's (a favorite Trinity hangout back in the day). Eventually the Smear learned to play their instruments and changed their name (I can't remember the subsequent, "classier" name, so what does that tell you), and I think they even changed their lineup, thereby becoming more talented, but I think, sadly, a little less interesting.
Nonetheless, Steanso salutes you, members of The Smear, wherever you may be!
You guys helped pave the way for other projects that I've been involved in which (at least initially) involved much more courage and willingness to rock than actual talent (I'm looking in your direction, Crack). You guys were the stuff of super kickass musical legends!!
Last night I went out to eat with Team Wilson and then watched some Battlestar Galactica with Crackbass and Jackbart.
In continuing the saga of the killings which occurred in Haditha, Iraq, last November, a senior Pentagon official stated on Friday that murder charges may be brought against the U.S. Marines who were involved in the incident. An investigative group involving members of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Multi-National Forces Iraq have apparently uncovered evidence that at least 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians were killed in their homes, including seven women and three children. This attack by U.S. forces on unarmed civillians occurred shortly after a U.S. convoy was hit by roadside explosives and a member of their unit was killed.
Marine Corps Commandant General flew to Iraq to warn his troops about about becoming desensitized to violence and the loss of human life in the face of the constant pressures and stress put on the troops by the unrelenting insurgent attacks.
I don't mean to sound callous myself, but I don't think a pep talk is going to really fix this situation for the troops (and by "this situation" I'm just referring to living in conditions which might cause otherwise normal people to turn sociopathic). The troops are living in a situation where their lives are constantly being put at risk in order to support a war which is unpopular at home, as well as with large portions of the population in Iraq. They can't know who to trust amongst the Iraqi population, and every non-American that they meet could potentially be an enemy combatant (which is especially nerve wraking when your enemy is so fanatical that he has a tendency to tie bombs to himself in order to blow up as many people as possible while taking his own life). On top of this, our troops are in an enviroment where violence is commonplace and a person probably has to become somewhat desensitized to it in order to protect their sanity (a lawyer that I know from the courthouse returned from Iraq about six months ago and was passing around pictures of his friends that he had taken over there during his tour working security in the Green Zone in Baghdad. At least one picture had a dead body in it laying in the background, but when asked about it, Ron almost didn't seem to even notice that it was in the picture. It was just some Iraqi who had tired to run his car through a checkpoint who had been shot, and the body was laying by the side of the road waiting for a vehicle to come collect it. Ron was used to such sights and when he took his picture of his buddies, apparently he didn't think much about it).
Anyway, all I'm saying is that this war, and any war, must put tremendous stress on the minds and emotions of the people who are on the front lines fighting it. Sooner or later, some of these people are going to snap. Others may deal better with the stress while in the field, but may still suffer after effects and carry some pretty terrible memories around with them for years to come. The solution isn't to give morale-building speeches. The solution is to keep the whole, awful thing as short as possible. Sometimes our troops are going to be called upon to be put in some very bad situations, but we owe it to them to try to make such experiences as brief as they can possibly be, and we owe it to them to have a much better plan for success and extraction than the idiotic bullsh*t that passed for strategizing before we entered into this war.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Also, I don't know how many of you heard about the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturning the conviction of yogurt shop murder suspect Robert Springsteen, but it's been getting a lot of buzz around the courthouse. As you may or may not remember, Steanso worked on this case in a very tangential way, sifting through mountains of discovery documents which APD produced during their 10 year investigation of the case.
Anyhoo, I'm a prosecutor now, so I'm not going to say much about this except that this decision is an amazing development, and that I'm happy for Jim Sawyer (who is both Springsteen's attorney and one of the first attorneys that Steanso knew and worked with when he started practicing in Austin). I know that Sawyer put a lot of himself into that case, and it was a heavy blow when his client was convicted.
I also feel badly for the families of those victims. That crime was a horrific tradgedy, and its saga just doesn't seem to want to come to an end. They deserve justice.
What else? Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted of conspiracy and fraud today in what has been described as one of the largest business scandals in U.S. history. It seems like that verdict has been a long time in coming. Steanso will be curious to see what kinds of sentences these guys get. Mostly I wonder how the sentences of these guys (who helped to bankrupt a whole lot of people) will compare to the sentence of the average crackhead who holds up the local liquor store with a .38.
OK. Gotta run. Take care, ya'll.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Has anyone been keeping up with this controversy surrounding the FBI raid on on Democratic Rep. William Jefferson's office? The FBI raided Jefferson's Capitol Hill office as part of an ongoing bribery investigation. The oppostion to the raid is interesting, at least in part, because it involves both Republican and Democratic leaders speaking out in unison about the fact that the raid was unconstitutional and that it violated the separation of powers doctrine, since the FBI is part of and was acting under the direction of the executive branch while carrying out a raid at offices on a site which clearly was under the care and control of the legislative branch. Democrats are trying to make clear that their opposition to the raid does not necessarily indicate their belief in the innocence of Jefferson (who is from Louisiana), and they have asked Jefferson to resign from his seat on the Ways and Means committee during the pending investigation.
It's fun to watch the infighting, isn't it? It's also interesting to see Congressional Republicans breaking ranks and circling the wagons to protect themselves from the actions of an executive branch which has repeatedly and consistently abused its power. How bad must things be getting when even members of your own party begin to distrust you and fear intrusion?
There are also interesting constitutional issues regarding the separation of powers doctrine and the rights of the executive branch to carry out its law enforcement duties versus the rights of the legislative branch to investigate issues and craft legislation without interference or oversight from the legislative branch.
Still, although those ARE interesting legal issues, I wish that Congress would spend as much time worrying about the illegal, domestic NSA wiretapping of phones (which might potentially affect 250 million American citizens) as they do worrying about a raid on the office of a single, more than likely corrupt government official. The amount of time and attention that these lawmakers seem to be willing to spend challenging this raid sort of reeks of cronyism (i.e., it's one thing if the executive branch invades the privacy of the average American, but it's something altogether more important if the executive branch abuses its power in a way which interferes with the privacy of officials within the legisaltive branch). Oh well. Any challenge to Bush's authority is probably a good thing.
What else? Not a lot to report, I guess. Steanso is proud of the Dixie Chicks (although, admittedly, he's never bought one of their albums) for putting out a new album, Taking the Long Way, which is apparently unapologetic for the stance which the group has taken against the Iraq war and the Bush administration. Although their anti-Bush stance has made pariahs of the band in many country music circles (and their associated radio stations), the Chicks' overall album sales continue to remain strong, and apparently their new album has received moderately favorable reviews (with the band, in fact, exploring new, non-country sounds as they strike out in search of new audiences and continued sales). Anyway, good for them for continuing to be honest with themselves and the rest of the world. If anyone has a copy of the album, Steanso would be interested in hearing it just to see what those girls are up to.
That's it for now, I guess. Peace, out.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Saturday I got up and went and had brunch with the Wilsons and Mandy's friend, Alicia, who was here in Austin visiting from Houston, and her friend Susan, who lives here in Austin, but who is no less exciting just because she's not from out of town. We had a good ol' Tex-Mex lunch at Maudie's and then went and spent the afternoon at Barton Springs.
Barton Springs was pretty awesome. It was pretty darn hot out, and the water was really cold. We sat in the sun for awhile and sat in the shade and swam in the water and listened to the drum guy play his drum and the flute guys play their flutes. Matt Mangum was there, so I introduced him to the group, and I met Constance, a former co-worker of Jeff's from his days at Burke's firm. Very nice way to spend the afternoon.
After Barton Springs and a quick stop for some snow cones we went home and cleaned up and went to The Salt Lick (or just, "The Lick" as Alicia insisted on calling it). It was graduation weekend, so we were a little wary of the crowds, but things ended up working out very smoothly. The food was very good (we ate enough barbecue to feed a small army and then still got cobbler for desert), the weather was nice, and there was even a little country trio out there playing some tunes to keep us all entertained. It was nice to get to know Alicia and Susan a bit. They both seemed very nice and fun.
After dinner, the ladies went out to have another couple of drinks, but Crackbass and I retreated to Casa De Wilson to hang out by the pond, finish off whatever beers were left over from the excursion to The Lick, and basically try to digest the ridiculous amount of food we had eaten. I tried to get Wilson to watch Super Troopers (which Roundball had given to me a while back), but when we tried to watch it, I fell asleep, eventually waking up long enough only to stagger back across the street and crawl into my own bed.
Today I've taken Cassidy to the dog park, and now I need to get some exercise. Hope everyone is having a good weekend!!!
Friday, May 19, 2006
Well, in the tradition of posting blurry, indistinct cell phone pictures from rock and roll shows that I've been to, I offer this photo from last night's Violent Femmes show.
The show was really good. In their rush to describe the Femmes as a "cult" band (or eccentric or whatever else that the critics come up with in their attempts to put a label to the group), many people forget how great their songwriting is and what talented musicians these guys really are. And Gordon Gano just has one of those timeless voices which personifies pain and suffering (and although we acknowledge that much of the pain and suffering that he sings of may just be the melodramatic whining of a self-pitying loser, we all kind of relate to those sentiments and enjoy having them writ large by the Femmes- we enjoy the "if you don't sympathize with my pain I'm gonna shove your face in it" mentality that allies the Femmes with the punk movement, despite their very unusual sound ).
Anyway, the show was really good. Stubb's was packed, and the crowd got really into the music after having a few songs (and beers) to get warmed up.
Steanso shares a long and sordid history with the Femmes (including one shameful incident during college where he passed out and missed a show after engaging in a vodka drinking contest at a friend's apartment), and it's nice to see that they've managed to age gracefully while still retaining their love of music and their will to rock.
In other news, it's been a busy day and week, and next week threatens to be just as bad if not worse.
Enjoy your weekend, adventurers!!! I plan to enjoy mine.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Sounds like our boys aren't holding up so well. For those who don't see the need to put a timeline or a withdrawal schedule on this thing, and for those who point out that we've had lower death tolls during this conflict than we've had in other wars, I would respond that war is still... well... hell. Not all of the wounds of war are physical, and our country hasn't really begun to feel all of the ramifications of this war. We need to get out of Iraq. We need to do it in the most responsible way possible, but we need to get out.
The Femmes are now 25 years old. They'll probably never be considered for the rock and roll hall of fame, but they should be. They certainly had a profound effect on me.
And I know I haven't been blogging much about news stories lately, but it just seems like the news has been kind of slow. I was gonna blog about the fact that three people have been killed by alligator attacks in the last couple of weeks in Florida, but what can you really say about it? It sucks. Don't taunt the alligators. Apparently they're not smart enough to realize that they should stay away from people (because humans are usually the ones killing animals), so they will eat you if they get the chance.
I guess the Spurs beat the Mavs last night, but I didn't even see the game because I don't have cable. I spent last night downloading music onto my 'puter and playing with Cassidy. I meant to do some other stuff, but I never got around to it.
Oh well, I'm typing this while I scarf down lunch at my desk. Back to court in a few short minutes. Hope your days are more exciting than mine has been thus far.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Anyway- lots of good bands. Should be very entertaining. Many of Steanso's fears have been allayed.
Now if we could just do something about the freakin' weather....
Anyhoo, get your tickets. If things go according to plan, Steanso will be hosting a party one of those nights as well, so start your training regimen by going to lesser parties now.
I'm still trying to decide whether or not to go see The Violent Femmes at Stubb's tomorrow night. Maybe I should.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Oh well, I do like a lot of bands who are playing, and, yes, I'm being a big, spoiled, whiney baby. I love The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Ben Harper, Tom Petty, Son Volt, and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Also looking forward to Massive Attack and The New Pornographers. I'm looking forward to the festival (it's always a blast), and I'm sure the lineup will change some between now and the festival date. I think that the official lineup comes out on Thursday. Keep your fingers crossed for some cool surprises.
Work has been a beeyahtch and will probably continue to be for the next week and a half or so. We have bench trials set every day this week as well as jail call in the afternoon (which is basically a plea bargain factory for indigent clients who are stuck in jail). Next week we have jury trials on both Monday and Wednesday with some pretty heavy dockets (i.e., lots of cases are set). All of this is occurring with our team being short two people (they still haven't filled Holly's spot since she moved to the D.A.'s office and Laura is on vacation for two weeks in Italy), so it's pretty much my court chief (who is already overburdened with special projects and her campaign for D.A. in Hays County), Sue, and me. Blech!
I didn't do anything of note last night. I watched the most recent episode of 24, though. 24 has generally been pretty good this season, but I have to admit that it is slowly beginning to seem a little bit tired to me. I'm not sure if it's the fact that the episodes are all pretty much completely humorless or the over-the-top super dramatic dialogue, but I just can't imagine things going on this way for several more years (which I believe Kiefer has contracted for).
I totally missed watching the Spurs/Mavericks game, which is ok, really, because I didn't watch any Spurs games during the regular season (though they are my favorite team), and I always feel a little disingenuous when I just show up to support them during the playoffs (plus, the evil, evil Mavericks won, and I don't like them. The only good thing about the Mavericks is Avery Johnson, and he's only good because he used to be a Spur and he brought Popovich's style of defense-oriented gameplay and discpline to Dallas' surly bunch of hoodlums).
I'm also still debating about whether or not I should get a ticket to go see Beck. I like his grooves, but I'm not sure I want to give that Scientologist $42 (or thereabouts). Maybe Cassidy and I will just dance around my house to pirated copies of Beck CDs on the night of the concert. I don't know.
Well, that's it for now, I guess. Hope you groovers are enjoying this beautiful day!
Monday, May 15, 2006
No band practice last night so Crackbass and I went out for dinner at Johnny Carrinos. It was... mediocre. Not too bad, but not great, either, and given the fact that we had to wait to get in and get seated, we probably won't head back anytime soon. Nonetheless, it was an Italian restaurant which was near our house, so we would have been derelict in our duties if we hadn't tried it.
I rented some flick called Tristan and Isolde last night on the strength of a preview that they were showing on the in-store TV screens at Hollywood Video. The preview made the movie look like a Gladiator/Braveheart style action-adventure epic, but in truth it was mostly a costume romance, I think. I say "I think" because I fell asleep halfway through the movie and missed the second half. I should have just stuck to my guns at the video store and rented Damnation Alley like I planned, but the glitter and glamour of the New Releases wall got the best of me again. Still, I shoulda known that you just can't beat the Jan-Michael Vincent/George Peppard combo for quality in your action movies.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Wasn't feeling all that fantastic Friday night through Saturday morning. Ate some breakfast with Jeff and then went back to sleep.
Saturday night I rose from some champion napping in time to have dinner with Crackbass and Jackbart and then went out to Momo's to see F for Fake. I thought they played well, but I hung out with Charlie after the show and he seemed disappointed in the performance. He's threatening not to have them play another gig for like a year or so, which would be a shame because I think they're really great. Anyway, more of you Adventurers should have come out! It's not that often that one of your friends plays in a group that's actually cool to listen to (as opposed to just showing up to be polite or to be supportive). Charlie says that they're going to be working on a new album, but it's going to be awhile before it comes out because he's being very particular about how the songs are produced. Incidentally, there are whisperings in the wind about a project for Crack in which Charlie may act as producer, but this project is mostly still in the "what if" stage at the moment. Still, it's fun to think about.
Anyway, today I took Cassidy to the dog park, got some exercise, called Mom for Mother's Day, did some reading, played a couple of videogames, and had dinner with Crackbass. Now I'm blogging. Hope everyone had a good weekend.
Friday, May 12, 2006
In other news, a Washinton Post- ABC News poll stated that 63 percent of Americans felt that it was acceptable for the government to trace telephone calls of private American citizens as a means of investigating terrorism. I hate it. First of all, Steanso believes that terrorism probably does continue to exist in this country, but he believes that it is not all that common. Steanso believes that conservatives are using terrorism the same way that McCarthy used the threat of communist infiltration back in the 1950's- to increase and consolidate their power. When people are afraid and don't know who to trust, it's a lot easier to get them to agree to give away their civil liberties. People who are scared of a hidden enemy spend more time worrying about their neighbors and less time monitoring the behavior of their government. This whole damn wiretapping thing is an unconstitutional power grab. First they'll just track who we're talking to. Next they'll be listening in on our conversations (which they're almost certainly doing already, but haven't been caught at), and a couple of weeks after that they'll have video cameras in the homes of every American in order to monitor our activities. Nothing's safer than a nation without privacy, right? But that's wrong. The only people not being monitored will be the terrorists because they will both be aware of and actively avoiding government monitoring programs. Wanna know why we still haven't found Osama Bin Laden? Because the motherf*ker's in a cave!!!! People who want to remain hidden will go to whatever lengths that they think are necessary to remain hidden, and meanwhile the government will continue to increase its surveillance of everyone else.
Oookay. How many times have I gone through that rant?
Well, I hope everyone has a good weekend. Peace, Adventurers....
Thursday, May 11, 2006
What you can't really tell by looking at the picture on the left is that it features Crackbass's left ear, the right side of Sigmund's head, a crazy dancing guy in a cowboy hat, and James Brown singing his heart out along with a twelve+ member band in the background. I tried my best, but it was dark, we were drinking and dancing, and I was taking the picture with a cheap ass cell phone. You get what you pay for, Adventurers.
So the show was great. It was a little on the short side, but James Brown is over 70 years old, and he put on a damn fine show (he managed to play for over an hour and a half, which was nice considering I'd heard some people before the show saying we'd be lucky if he played for an hour). I had a really good time, and I'm grateful to have had a chance to see the Godfather do his funky ass thang. It's clear that Brown still has a strong, involved hand in the workings of his band and that he knows every note of the music that he's performing by heart (in addition to the singing, he's still a charismatic bandleader- watching him perform is kind of like watching the conductor of a very funky orchestra). The band was groovey and tight, and Mr. Brown put in a strong performance. His voice still sounds good, and he's still entertaining to watch (and although he probably doesn't jump around as much as he did in the old days, the dancing girls that he brings out on stage help to compensate for Brown's lack of personal gyrations).
Anyway, James Brown is an icon (and that status is well-earned in his case), and I'm glad I've seen him, both because he's a living legend and because his show was just a whole lot of fun.
And weird things in the news....
A Roman Catholic priest was convicted in Toledo, Ohio of killing a nun, stabbing her 31 times through an altar cloth in a pattern which appeared to form an inverted cross, before annointing her head with her own blood. The priest said he was stunned when first accused of the murder by a fellow chaplain. The state's case in convicting the priest dealt largely with forensic evidence (including bloodstains and a letter opener which is believed to have been the murder weapon) due to the lack of witnesses.
Wow. I'm not very religious, but I've got two words for you kids- demonic possession. Get to work on the screenplay, Jackbart. In real life, this is one of those cases that's about as close as we're gonna get to an X-File.`
In other weird news, Christopher Ochoa, a man who spent 12 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of murder (here in Austin) before eventually being exhonerated by way of DNA evidence, graduated from law school today at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. Believe it or not, Ochoa wants to be a prosecutor.
The Ochoa case scares the hell out of me because I know a couple of the people (including prosecutors) who were involved in that case, and I believe that they weren't out to try to screw the guy. They were just trying to do their jobs and trying to follow the evidence (Ochoa had given a flase confession, but he claims that his confession was given after detectives threatened him with the death penalty and even threw a chair at him during his interrogation). Ochoa claims that he wants to become a prosecutor so that he can control the course of investigations and safeguard against abuse in the legal system. Some people would probably scoff at this sentiment and call him naive, but I think it's admirable that he's maintained some faith in the system and that he wants to change it rather than just sitting back and hurling venemous insults (which is the reaction I would have expected from most people in his position). I think he's showing a lot of class, and I respect him for seeking positive change instead of just becoming bitter. Actually, the more that I think about it, the more I'm fairly astounded. More power to him.
Well, gots to go. Peace to the Adventurers.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Sigmund's trombone seems to be on its last legs. The slide keeps coming apart, and Sigmund's "bang it back together" school of trombone repair doesn't seem to be cutting it anymore. This presents a real problem, as Sigmund has made clear since the inception of Crack that he has no real commitment to the band (a standpoint that we all grudgingly acknowledge and more or less accept- after all, it is Crack) . Therefore, I'm assuming that Sig probably isn't gonna be real crazy about shelling out the money to buy a new trombone. If any of you guys see a good deal on a trombone on Craig's list or Ebay or something, please let me know (or Crackbass or Sigmund).
Tonight is James Brown!!! The Godfather of Soul, you dig? Sure, the guy is old as dirt, but kinda like Willie Nelson, he's an icon, and I gotta see him at least once before he quits performing. Plus, I'm willing to bet that he'll have a pretty great backing band. Anyway, I'm looking forward to it.
Not too much else to report. F for Fake is playing this Saturday at Momo's (I believe at 9:30). Go check 'em out if you've got nothing else on your calendar. They love to rock (and sing songs about ancient Greece with undertones regarding America's current political situation). Anyway, I think they're pretty great.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
The biggest surprise about the Newsweek rankings is probably that Westwood beat out Westlake for best school (though only by two slots). I guess I mostly say this because its clear that Westlake has a lot more money to throw around than Westwood (go swing by Westlake's astroturfed football stadium and check out their $2 million Jumbotron if you need evidence to support this assertion). I love it when Westwood beats Westlake at anything. Westlake is full of rich kids who can buy anything, so its always fun to beat them. The weird thing is, Westlake seems to kind of hate Westwood. The rivalry between the schools always seemed kind of intense when I went to school there, and then when I went to watch a Westlake/Westwood football game just a couple of years ago, I was really pretty shocked by the amount of venom that the Westlake crowd had for Westwood. I sat in front of a lady who repeatedly yelled for Westlake to "beat the hell out of those illiterate retards", for large portions of the game, and near another guy who kept yelling for Westlake to "beat those druggie punks" (I swear to god I'm not making this up, and it kind of pissed me off because the Westwood students who were sitting on thier side of the stadium seemed like a pretty good group of kids who were just minding their own business and enjoying the game).
Annnnnyway, it's a credit to the Westwood administration that they have managed to put together such an effective faculty with such high quality courses, especially given the fact that the school isn't the wealthiest high school in town. (Westwood is by no means a poor school, but it definitely falls solidly into the middle class- or at least it did when I went there- with a student body that, in general, isn't nearly as affluent as Westlake's, but which is much better off than some of the AISD schools.) In general, I think that the success of the school within the Newsweek rankings show that the school has its priorities in the right place (although it would be nice to have a giant Jumbotron).
Anyway, it's nice to see some good news about ol' Westwood in the press. Go Warriors!!!!!
Sony is planning on selling its new Playstation 3 platform for $500. A second version of the system with more internal memory will sell for $600.
See, for those of you who don't know it, Steanso is a bit of a gamer. I don't play video games every day, and I almost never buy brand new games when they're first released (they start out at around $50, but if you wait awhile, they typically drop into the $20 range), but I do enjoy playing video games from time to time. I find them immersive and relaxing. They kind of just make you forget about the world for a little while and focus on problem solving within the game (and often that problem solving takes the form of cathartic, wanton destruction- blowing up obstacles with bazookas and whatnot). If I play video games for too long they make me feel kind of guilty (I have the same effect with watching pointless television) and maybe a little woozy (it can be difficult to readjust to reality when you've been piloting jet fighters for two hours straight).
Anyway, Steanso has always been a fan of platform games (like X-Box, Playstation, etc.) because they're typically easier to play than computer games (all of the games functions have to be able to be accomodated with a single controller) and because it always seemed like a smart idea to reserve the memory on my computer for bigger and better thing than videogames (ok, well, at least different things than video games). Buying the videogame platform was never a substantial issue because the systems were always relatively inexpensive ($200 for a new one, $100 for a used one). Now, however, as computer prices continue to fall and desktop PCs have moved into the $500 range, Sony has jacked up the price of their new Playstation 3 to $500.
What a rip!!!
It's just weird. Platforms have begun to get more and more features, playing DVDs and CDs, adding online capabilities, and so forth, but in the end, their primary function is to play video games, and they typically aren't used by the standard consumer for a lot more than that.
The new X-Box system is selling for $400, and I think that their price point may finally push Sony out of its lead spot within the industry. In the previous generation, the X-Box and Playstation 2, it was generally acknowledged that the X-Box had better graphics, and probably slightly better gameplay, but the fact that Sony had licenses for many, many more game titles than X-Box kept people buying PS2s so that they could choose from a wider variety of games.
But I think that Microsoft has gotten smarter and is seeking to license more titles with its new system. And its cheaper.
Here's the thing. $500 is a lot of money to lay out for something which is essentially a toy. I'm not saying I'm never going to do it, but it's something I'll have to think about pretty hard, and I think that I'm probably better off financially than a lot of the people who Sony is gearing these systems toward (Steanso ain't rich, kids, but he's single with no kids and drawing a steady government paycheck).
The people I really feel sorry for are the parents. Kids are going to be clamoring for their parents to get them one of these damn systems, with no real understanding or appreciation for how much money $500 really is. And parents will buy the systems in order to shut their kids up. And then other parents will by systems for their kids because the family next door got one for their kids. And then Mom is putting in overtime at work to pay for her kids to zone out in front of a machine that allows their kids to take on the role of warring inner city drug dealers as a form of entertainment. I mean, $500 puts a lot of tanks of gas into the ol' minivan.
Well, I gotta motor. Get your price point down, Sony. I don't know how things are going over there in Japan, but $500 still stings over here in the U.S.
Well, hopefully Steanso's day will pick up a little steam. We're supposed to be having Crack practice tonight. Tomorrow is James Brown.
That's it for the moment. Maybe more later.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Anyway, I think this was a foolish choice on Bush's part. It's likely to cause a seriously divisive confirmation battle, and if Hayden takes over the CIA, the American people will be left with little reason to doubt that our preeminent intelligence organization is spending as much time spying on us than it is on foreign enemies.
What else? Mono Ensemble practice was really good last night. Eric hurt his finger, so he ended up playing the keys rather than guitar. We spent most of the practice just jamming and coming up with new songs, but some of them were really cool.
After practice, I had a burger with Reed and then hit they hay. It was a good weekend, all in all.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Well, as promised, we did some tubing on Saturday. We woke up to some substantial rain, but the weather cleared, and we pushed on. On the river, we started out with some sunshine, but the clouds continued to build throughout our trip, and the last 45 minutes or so in our 4 hour trip got a wee bit chilly. I didn't realize until later that we had dodged a bullet, as Austin and San Marcos both got a decent amount of rain on Saturday.
I think everyone had a good time!!
Here we have Kim and Jennifer decked out in their tubing attire and ready to hit the river. This was Jennifer's first tubing trip, and I think this picture was taken as I was trying to explain the critical importance of koozie use while tubing to her.
I had kind of forgotten about the typical levels of intoxication that are prevalent among the college-aged tubing crowd. They must have to dredge that river weekly for drowned frat boys and beer bongs.
After tubing we had a yummy dinner at The Gristmill. Good food, good service, and almost no wait. Everyone was very tired, but we had fun! Thanks for going, tubers!!!
Friday, May 05, 2006
Steanso provides your answer....
Well, I hope everyone survived the storms that blew through our area last night. Winds were clocked in Austin somewhere around 74 miles an hour, and there was hail reported as well, although I don't think we got any at The Hop A Long Lounge. These spring storms have been intense, and a little bit scary given the big, old trees that Steanso has on his property and around his house. The power was out all night on Crackbass's side of the street, traffic lights in our area were out this morning, and a big ol' tree fell across the northern end of Tejas Trail, forcing Steanso to modify his route this morning on the way to work. More severe weather is in the forecast for this evening, so hang in there (and keep your fingers crossed for us if you don't live in the Austin area).
Cassidy had her visit with the vet yesterday and he gave her a clean bill of health. He also used her visit as a teaching opportunity for the interns and vet techs who work in his office (most of whom are younger people who appear to be aspiring veterinarians). He brought them in to talk about her "abnormailty" and show them how Cassidy's muscles in her front leg have compensated for her missing limb. Cassidy enjoyed the attention for the most part, although she immediately began to cower and hide her face in my chest when the needles came out for her injections (which is pretty amazing since she's only ever gotten injections once or twice before). Anyway, she was fine within moments and had a good time trying to wrestle with a pair of border collies in the lobby while I was checking out (despite having only three legs, Cassidy likes to be the boss).
In the news, a U.S. delegation appeared before a U.N. panel on torture today in order to defend American practices regarding detention and interrogation and in order to (theoretically) reaffirm america's commitment to the Convention Against Torture, a treaty signed over a decade ago. Citing Abu Ghraib as an aberration, the panel defended U.S. practices, flatly denying that the U.S. regularly engages in any systematic use of torture. The U.N. panel responded with skepticism, noting that the U.S. has frequently engaged in games of semantics in order to avoid describing its interrogation techniques as torture, and pointing out the fact that the U.S. remains unwilling to discuss many of the classified programs which constitute major concerns to the U.N. (such as secret detention facilities in foreign nations, American rendition programs, and the refusal of the American government to grant prisoners at Guantanamo Bay basic human rights as afforded to them under the Geneva Convention) .
Anyway, as ridiculous as this little meeting may have been, it's actually a wee bit heartening to Steanso. I was kind of surprised that the current administration was willing to attempt to justify itself to anyone. I mean, at least they cared enough about the subject of torture to send some people over to Europe to lie about it and deny that it's happening. I would have expected the more traditional Bush White House response- "Yeah, I'm torturing some motherf*%kers! Whatcha gonna do about it??!!"
And apparently "happy slapping" has become a problem of grave proportions in France. Before Crackbass gets too excited, let me clarify- happy slapping is apparently a sort of prank in which kids slap, strike, or otherwise physically attack another person while trying to get a picture of the event (usually by way of a camera cell phone) and then send it to other people. Good times!!! The fad hasn't really caught on here, which is kind of weird, because the U.S. usually leads the world in that kind of idiotic, jackass behavior. Kind of nice to shake your head in bewilderment at another country for a change, isn't it? Anyhoo, once word of this thing gets out it'll probably be a fad in this country by... probably Sunday. Watch your back, Andy.
Peace out!!! Don't let those storms get ya, and have a great weekend!!!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Last night, following a lovely taco dinner at casa De Wilson, we had another scaled down Crack practice with only Crackbass, Feral Andy and myself in attendance. It was a good practice. Our grooves were righteous and our lyrics were honest. Crackbass came up with a song which is all about how angry he gets when people talk loudly during rock and roll shows (well, actually the song is about one person in particular, but she will remain unnamed here under the "if you can't say something nice-" doctrine). In listening to the recording that Andy had made, I realized that maybe my drumming got a little repetitive, but for the most part we were good last night. We also discussed the formation of a more country oriented group called The Whiskeetos, and we spent some time trying to figure out how to outmaneuver Apple's absenteeism policy so that Andy could go tubing with us this weekend.
I guess not a lot.
I'm glad it's spring, and I'm even happy for summer. I'm just happier (on the whole) during those seasons.
Like I said, it's been a difficult week, but it's getting better.
"What good is a man
who won't take a stand?
What good is a cynic
With no better plan?
Reality is sharp-
It cuts at me like a knife,
Everyone I know
Is in the fight of their life.
I believe in a better way...."
-Ben Harper, "Better Way"
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Anyway, these are hastily jotted thoughts b/c I'm busy, but I'm glad the guy got life. Still, I hope prison sucks.
I wish I had more to blog on. I saw Charlie Roadman in court today, and he showed me a copy of the soon-to-be-released Buttercup CD (for those of you who haven't been paying attention, Charlie's brother, Jamie, is the drummer for Buttercup, and Charlie is their manager. Sort of. Their Austin manager, anyway). The CD looks pretty cool (great artwork), and I recognized a few of the songs contained therein (including Hot Love). Crack once opened for Buttercup, so I hope they become famous, because then maybe the Ruta Maya flyers with both Crack and Buttercup on them might become valuable collector's items (speaking of which, I'm not sure what happened to my copy of that flyer). Is Jeff Wilson in trial today? Don't know, but he's gone dark, which may indicate that he's busy attempting to perpetrate yet another miscarriage of justice.
On May 18th both The Violent Femmes and Neko Case are both playing shows. I don't know which show to attend, but it's a happy dilemma.
Ok, that's it for now, but it's better to keep it short if I've got nothing to say, right? (not a very lawyerly sentiment, I must admit....)
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
And one more reason to believe that the justice system will never be infallible enough to ethically support the death penalty.... (A four member panel of leading arson experts released a report today concluding that the conviction of Cameron Willingham, a Texas death row inmate executed by lethal injection in 2004, was based on erroneous interpretation of fire evidence. The panel, commissioned by the Innocence Project at Cardozo Law School in New York, stated that all of the indicators of arson relied upon by the state's experts in convicting Willingham have been subsequently proven to be scientifically invalid, and that much of the evidence collected in the case is of a type routinely seen after accidental fires. Willingham's last words as he lay strapped to the table awaiting lethal injection were, "I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime that I did not commit.") Write your reps. Oppose the death penalty.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Hopefully the Admiral has returned from his trip.
Hopefully Mel is recovering well from surgery and Erin is doing ok with her job search.