Sunday, September 30, 2007

The weekend has been pretty good. I've got Ryan and Jamie's dogs, Lucy and Mel, with me as Team Steans attends a wedding (one of Jamie's cousins) up in Wisconsin. Saturday I took Lucy and Cassidy down to the Greenbelt to do some hiking and swimming.

Here's Twin Falls. It was beautiful. We had a good time. I got a ticket on the way out for having the dogs off the leash. Darn it.
Saturday night I went over to Andy and Rami's house with Mandy. Team Bloom joined us as well. We had a good time.

On Sunday (this morning) I got up and took all 3 dogs down to Red Bud. Here's Cassidy, Lucy, and Mel enjoying a swim.
Mono E practice is cancelled today (Eric and Reed are going to our friend Jessie's wedding. Congrats Jessie!)
Anyway, Ryan and Jamie should be back tonight.
It's been a nice weekend. Except that ticket. Stupid ticket.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Well, I just got back from a legal conference down in Corpus Christi that a whole bunch of the prosecutors from our office attended. While we were at the conference, we got both good and bad news. On the up side, Kim Bloom got a phone call on the ride down to the beach confirming that she's got a new job as a felony prosecutor with the travis County Distcit Attorney's Office! We're all excited for her, although I'm going to be really sorry to have her leave our office. she's a good friend and an excellent attorney, and she's going to be missed a whole lot.

In more somber news, we got word that our former co worker, Cynthia Bell, had passed away. I've known Cynthia since she was at the D.A.'s office and had gotten to know her a little better more recently once she came to the County Attorney (she used to stop by my office on a fairly regular basis to just gossip and shoot the bull), and I always found her to be a good prosecutor and a really smart, funny, engaging person. I was really sorry to hear about her passing.
I took some photos during our trip to the beach. Wanna see a few?

And, to answer your question, yes, I did take that first picture just to prove that I did, in fact, attend some classes while at the seminar.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Going to be gone to that legal conference until Friday. Blogging may be light.
Howdy. I haven't got too much going on today. Tomorrow I motor down to the coast for a seminar for a few days. The majority of the attorneys in my office are going to this thing, and it's meant to provide continuing legal education for us.
Last night was the premier of a new show on CBS called The Big Bang Theory. Anyway, there's this guy named Jim Parsons who I went to elementary school with down in north Houston (ok, Spring). My brother went to school with his sister, Julie, and my mom and dad are friends with his mom, Judy, and were friends with his dad, Mickey, until Mickey passed away a few years ago. Anyway, I was friends with Jim in elementary school (we went to computer camp together- it's a long story), and then my family moved away to Austin. When my parents and my brother moved back to Houston during my senior year of high school, my family renewed their friendship with the Parsons (both Jim and Julie were in drama with Ryan and the Parsons attended the same church as my parents), and I would see Jim during the holiday breaks and stuff. Anyway, Jim moved to New York to study acting and to look for his "big break". He got work in some plays, eventually some TV commercials (you may have seen him plugging chewing gum or nursing from a wolf on a Quiznos commercial), and in supporting roles for some movies (he apparently wore a suit of armor and had an affair with Zack Braff's mother in Garden State, a movie I still haven't gotten around to watching). More recently, Jim went out to California, and he's had a couple of pretty decent supporting character roles in shows like Ed and (more extensively) Judging Amy.
Anyway, last night The Big Bang Theory premiered on CBS, and Jim's character, Sheldon, is one of the two main characters (the other main character, Leonard, is played by Johnny Galecki, of Roseanne fame). The show was actually pretty funny (it's made by the producers of
Two and a Half Men, which I like), and Jim was really good! Also, it's pretty cool that I now know someone who has their own, fairly well-developed IMDb site (check it out! - Jim Parsons on IMDb!)
Anyway, I'm done name dropping, and I haven't even seen Jim in a couple of years, but it's cool to see someone that you know and who you know has worked really hard finally having all of their work pay off. Jim's a nice guy, and his show is pretty funny, so check it out if you get a chance!
In a bit of less celebratory news, this morning on one of the morning shows (I'm sorry to say that I can't even remember which one it was now) there was a woman who was talking about neuroblastoma in support of her charity, The Loneliest Road Campaign. Neuroblastoma is the kind of cancer that John Thweatt, the son of my friends Lee and Sarah Thweatt, has, and it's primarily a sort of juvenile cancer affecting the nervous system that is contracted by about 600 American kids every year (I'm not certain of the exact form or stage of neuroblastoma that John has, but the Loneliest Road organization seems directed at addressing neuroblastoma as a whole). Anyway, The Loneliest Road Campaign is a fundraising program meant to help raise money so that a complimentary, less symptomatic antibody can be manufactured to help treat kids who have this disease (to probably oversimplify things, it sounds like this antibody could help treat kids with a reduced chance of the antibody itself making the kids sick- as opposed to some of the antibodies that are currently being used). It's estimated that this antibody, if developed, could help to treat 150 to 300 kids each year, but right now there's a lack of funding to for manufacturing (which will cost an estimated 2 to 3 million dollars). The name itself, The Loneliest Road, refers to the journey of 5 fathers of neuroblastoma patients who are cycling across the country to raise money and increase awareness of the disease. You can track their progress on the web site.
Anyway, I haven't thoroughly researched this group or anything, but the fact that they're working to combat neuroblastoma, a form of cancer I hadn't even heard of until John was diagnosed with it, caught my attention and sort of impressed me. Since neuroblastoma affects such a relatively small group of patients in the U.S., I would imagine that funding dollars to combat it are probably sort of difficult to come by. I'm not pushing you adventurers to donate to this group, but I recommend at least checking out the Loneliest Road Campaign website in order to learn a little bit more about neuroblastoma and the difficulties that families go through in dealing with it. It's a disease which impacts a relatively small population, but it has a tremendous, profound effect upon the children and families who struggle with it.

Well, I don't have much else. I watched some more of Ken Burns's World War II documentary, "The War", last night. It continues to get better as it goes along. Burns just finds really good interview subjects and combines them with amazing historical footage and interesting music from the period. He's doing a really good job of humanizing what was truly a globe-altering event.

That's it for now.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hey. Not too much has happened since I wrote to you guys yesterday. I snuck back down to the greenbelt before band practice yesterday to catch a quick dip and to let Cassidy play around in the water. We went to a slightly different spot than usual, but there were very few people, and it was very nice.

Here's another view of the stream.
Anyway, we had Mono E practice last night, but neither Jim nor Frank could make it, so we ended up playing as a power trio. Eric was recording us, but I think we sounded pretty rough, partially because we hadn't played our normal material in a couple of months (we'd been playing eighties roller skating songs to get ready for the party) and partially because we were all just sort of tired yesterday.
Well, I guess that's it for now. Rap at ya later.
p.s.- oh, yeah, there was some kind of weird booming sound in our neighborhood on Saturday night. It sounded deeper than a gunshot- more like a cannon or some really heavy fireworks. Anyway, if you're out there reading this and you're the person or entity responsible for creating explosion sounds in or near the Western Trails neighborhood on Saturday night, please knock it off. You're freaking out people who are trying to sleep. End of message.
p.s.s.- Oh yeah, I also watched a decent sized chunk of Ken Burns new miniseries documentary about World War II, called simply "The War". It was pretty good stuff, but given all of the hype I had read about this thing before it came out, I was a bit underwhelmed. Burns gets some good footage and some good interviews, but as anyone who has ever had the History Channel in their cable lineup can tell you, there are already A LOT of documentaries that have been made about World War II, and I'm not sure that Burns is bringing a lot to the table that I haven't seen before. Then again, I only saw about the first couple of hours of a 14 hour documentary, so I probably shouldn't be too critical. The Burns documentary was well done- it's just that I've seen an awful lot of work done that has covered this same topic.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chasing the Waning Days of Summer

After a really good, especially savant garde Crack practice on Friday night, I got up and went down to Gus Fruh with Cassidy in the late morning on Saturday. We're not sure how many more summerish weekends we're going to get, so we wanted to make sure we got in at least one more good one.
The water was clear (albeit a little lower than it has been lately), and the sun and the wind were very nice.

Cassidy was very happy to be back on the water after having spent most of last weekend alone at the house during ACL Fest.

Anyway, it was peaceful and nice. Some random girl showed up with her pitbull, Boomer. We shared our boulder out on the river with her and found that her name was Ashley, she moved down here from Washington (the state, not D.C.) with some musician that she later broke up with (who plays fiddle for the South Austin Jug Band), she doesn't go to ACL Fest anymore because the heat makes her pass out, and that she wants to go back to school, and if she can't figure out something that she's passionate about to study pretty soon, she's going to give up and study business.

I just sat on this rock in the middle of the river with an iPod bud in one ear. If you just introduce yourself, I guess a lot of people will take it from there....
Anyway, it was a really nice day to be at the creek.

Here is Boomer.

Anyway, I spent a good part of the day out at the swimming hole, and last night I went and saw Resident Evil: Extinction with Chris Griego. It was pretty much what I expected- a fairly nonsensical plotline which seemed to flow in at least four different directions (none of them very successfully) coupled with lots of zombie fighting action scenes and kung fu. It was a medium at best, but it did have a few mildly scary scenes in it.

That's about it for now. I had breakfast with Ryan and Jamie. Mono E practice later today. Hope you guys are having a good weekend.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy Friday, guys!

Well, my mom, aka, The Karebear, left Houston on a flight for Upper Michigan this morning for a week (Michigan being the homeland for that side of the family), and my dad, aka, The Admiral, is returning to Houston today from a trip to Canada and around the U.S. to various manufacturing facilities and whatnot. Tomorrow The Admiral takes off again, though, and this time he's going overseas, although I'm not sure exactly where. I think he's going to China, and maybe India. Anyway, he's supposed to be gone for a couple of weeks. I'm not sure if he's going to Europe, because Karebear mentioned last night that he might be going to Italy again in December. I got me some globe trotting parents (they've already been to Italy and Canada this year, and I've given up on even keeping track of the Admiral's business trips). As for me, I think Travis County might pay for me to go to Corpus Christi next week for a seminar. That's about as far as my county employment is going to take me.

Last night I watched a movie called Vacancy with Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson. It was about a couple who get stranded at a motel out in the middle of nowhere, and lo and behold- it turn out there are crazy people running the place who want to kill them (I'll keep the motives for the killing a poorly guarded secret, since the motive is the only thing lending itself to any sort of surprise in the movie- although we've seen similar plotlines play out in other films and even though the motives for the killings are spelled out right there on the back of the DVD case). The movie was fairly well executed, but it really just didn't have anything new to offer. It just seemed like one more movie in which a director (this time Hungarian director Nimrod Antal) is determined to do a fairly generic American "thriller", but that this time they're going to do it in their own, fresh, signature way. We've seen tons of these movies, recreated and rehashed since the release of Psycho, and it never fails to amaze me that new directors continue to think that they're going to out-Hitchcock Hitchcock by making rip off films with sub-par plotlines. Here's the thing- adding a few new camera tricks or adding a bit of a plotline from some other well-worn, generic horror movie does not make for a new or interesting product. Anyway, Vacancy had some decent performances, but it was all just way too familiar.

Well, I don't really have a lot more to report on. I took Cassidy to the Petco to buy some dog food last night, and she managed to pull her leash out of my hand and go bounding into the middle of the dog obedience class that they were holding in the store. I had to laugh because she went leaping over their little divider ropes and into the middle of this circle of dogs, tail wagging, and just stood there proudly, as if waiting for applause. The dog trainer didn't look very amused, but all of the dogs in the class went nuts.
I'm glad it's Friday. Tonight Crack is supposed to practice, which is good, 'cause it's been way too long. I need to try to take Cassidy to some water this weekend. I can feel the first wisps on fall sneaking into the morning air, and we need to take advantage of some swimming time while we still have it.
That's it. Peace!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

further evidence that Bjork is from the future

Just in case anyone was wondering how this thing from the Bjork show worked...

Hey. How's it going?
Last night I took a ride with Reed over to the house of a friend of his who's selling a drum set. Mostly I play bass and guitar, with a little bit of banjo thrown in, but I've been slowly developing some minor drumming skills ever since I started playing with Crack a few years ago. I'm not a very good drummer, but the drums are incredibly fun to play, and banging away on them is sort of therapeutic in a way that you just don't really get from stringed instruments. Anyway, in the interest of having my own drum set (so I don't have to trnasport Reed's drums if Crack ever plays another gig), I went over to this guy Dan's house to check out a set of drums that he's trying to unload.
It's a Pearl drum set that looks to be in pretty good shape, but it's a BIG drum set with a lot of pieces, and I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to store that thing at my house if I bring it home with me (I already have an entire room crammed full of music gear, and my closet space is fairly limited). Anyway, I put off the decision until the weekend.
Other from that I didn't do too much last night. I went over to Subway to get a sandwich for dinner, and there's this lady who works there who always talks to me because she's seen my badge, and she knows I'm a prosecutor, and she normally seems to think my job is funny (she always asks me how many people I put in jail today). Well, last night she was in a bad mood, and I asked her if she was having a bad night. It turns out that her husband/boyfriend (I'm not clear) got into a drunken argument with her daughter and stabbed her with some kind of knife. I guess the daughter is ok and ended up just getting two stitches, but this lady's husband now has an aggravated assault charge. She asked me how much jail time he could get on something like that, and she started really crying when I told her he could get up to 20 years. Anyway, I didn't really want to give her legal advice (I'm a prosecutor, and giving out advice to defendants kind of cuts against the grain of what I'm supposed to be doing), but I did end up telling her that her husband probably wasn't going to get 20 years if he had a clean record and if her daughter only ended up with two stitches.
Anyway, the whole situation made me depressed. Normally this lady is happy and in a good mood, but last night I couldn't avoid criminal law drama even when I was just going to get a turkey sandwich.

In other news, I don't talk about it a whole lot, but my good friends, Lee and Sarah Thweatt, have a son named John who has cancer. The Thweatts live down in Houston (they have two other young sons as well- Jacob and Henry), fortunately within fairly close proximity to the hospital complex, and I just saw them last month when I made a trip down to Houston to visit them, along with my folks. It was great to see Lee and Sarah, and I had a really good time playing with the boys out by the pool. Anyway, I've been friends with Lee since sixth grade (I lived with him for a year of high school and three years of college), and I've known Sarah since our sophomore year at Trinity. Their son, John, is about two years old (I'm not exactly sure of his exact age, but he seems to be about in that age range), and he has neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that effects his nervous system. John is undergoing chemotherapy, and he's suffered a number of infections and secondary illnesses due to his weakened immune system as he fights his way through his treatments. Well, I got word this morning from Lee that although the chemotherapy seems to be helping to shrink John's existing tumors (which is very good), John has now developed some kinds of spots on his lungs which could be either some kind of new infections or cancer. Apparently the doctors are leaning toward the theory that it's an infection in light of the fact that John's other tumors are reacting pretty well to the chemotherapy, but infections are also dangerous and require aggressive treatment when you're dealing with a young kid with cancer. Either way, he'll need to undergo a biopsy and treatment.

I'm not sure why I decided to talk about John's situation at this point, except that the Thweatts are constantly on my mind these days, and because I'm sure they would appreciate all of the prayers, positive thoughts, and support that they can get. They're a great family, incredibly tough as well as fun, friendly, and loving, but I know that they must be getting worn down by the seemingly endless numbers of medical battles that they've had to face. Two steps forward, one step back- that sort of thing. I mean, it must be pretty exhausting to just have three young boys under one roof in the first place, but then to add constant hospital stays, doctor's appointments, and the general emotional exhaustion of dealing with cancer treatment to the mix must make life extremely difficult.

Anyway, for those of you who know the Thweatts, send them a prayer, some positive thoughts, or maybe an email. For those of you who don't know them, trust me when I say that they are worthy of your concern and support, anyway.

And congratualtions to Janette Thweatt (Lee's sister), who just got married last weekend while the Steans brothers were bopping around ACL Fest!! Sorry I couldn't make the wedding, Janette, but I have no doubt that you were a beautiful bride, and I wish you the best of luck as you set out into married life!

Well, I guess that's it for today (at least for now). Hope you guys are doing okay.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hey, guys. I actually got some sleep last night, so I'm feeling a lot better today. A couple of people have asked me to publish The Mono Ensemble's set list from the roller rink party the other night. I had to get it from Eric, so it took a few days, but here it is, in all of it's unvarnished, 80's glory:

we got the beat
summer of 69
*jason's impromptu song about andy (eric changes a string)
take it on the run
any way you want it
like a virgin
i ran
hungry like the wolf (w/andy)
my sharona
the reflex (w/andy)
love will tear us apart
girls just wanna have fun (eric & stephanie duet)
separate ways
sister christian
rio (w/andy)
authority song

We had a couple more songs locked and loaded, but we ran out of time, so they got put on the backburner for next year (or maybe we'll bust them out at some other party or gig). I want to send a shout out to Andy for singing with us, and for really putting his heart and soul into those Duran Duran tunes. I want to sincerely thank EVERYONE who came out to the party for making it so much fun. It was honestly one of the best times I've had playing a gig in some time. Watching everyone skate while we were playing was awesome (although I messed up on guitar a couple of times when I saw people take especially hard falls out on the rink- it made me cringe and kind of lose track of what I was doing).

I didn't do too much last night. I watched the series premier of K-Ville, which is this new police drama on Fox that takes place in post-Katrina New Orleans. The show is kind of interesting in that it's obviously trying to tie its plotlines and characters in to the devastation that was caused by the hurricane and the city's slow, painful subsequent efforts to rebuild (the plotline of the first episode dealt with corrupt real estate investors who were committing high profile crimes in order to drive down real estate costs so that they could continue to snatch up cheap property). The show deals with the impact of the hurricane and the rebuilding efforts on a number of levels- from plotlines dealing with ex-cops who fled the police department in the hurricane's aftermath, to supporting characters who talk of wanting to leave the city as their neighbors have done, to the actual sights and sounds of the ninth ward and other parts of the city which have been ravaged by the hurricane (there are a whole lot of damaged, abandoned buildings for the film crews to get shots of). Anyway, the show definitely wasn't perfect, but it was interesting, and I think it's admirable that Fox (of all channels) is willing to invest in a show which is trying to draw attention to the ongoing problems of The Crescent City. I'm sure that some critics will try to peg the show's location as exploitation, but like anything else, I think the truth will ultimately lie in the way that the subject matter is handled and the overall quality of the show (and these are qualities which are hard to judge off of the pilot episode alone).

Anyway, I watched this new show and I did some reading, and I went to bed way early because my schedule was still way out of wack after ACL Fest, and I was really tired. I think Cassidy was annoyed with me for not taking her out to play somewhere.

Oh yeah- I just remembered that I also watched part of Spawn 2 last night. I put it in my Netflix cue at some point, and it showed up last night. I was so impressed by it that I had already suppressed most of my viewing by this morning. That Spawn. He's so angsty.

Well, I hope you guys are having a good day. Talk to you later.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Well, at least we know they didn't just cancel because they didn't like us.... The White Stripes have now cancelled all of their 2007 tour dates due to Meg White's "acute anxiety".

Oh yeah. And I forgot to mention the fact that OJ Simpsons is back in jail, this time for armed robbery of a sports memorabilia collector. Well, up here in the prosecutor's office we frequently comfort ourselves when one of the bad guys gets away by saying that they'll be back- after all, if they're dumb enough to commit a crime and get caught the first time, then a dismissal or an acquittal is probably only going to give them the self confidence to reoffend and probably get caught. Anyway, that's what we tell ourselves when a case doesn't work out. Looks like in OJ's case it was true.
Back to work today. I'm still pretty tired. Last night I went and had dinner with Mandy, Andy, Rami, Kellie, Greg, and some friend of Greg whose name I can't quite remember. We went to Hyde Park Grill. Apparently roasted carrots have been taken off the menu at Hyde Park, so Kellie and Mandy are prepared to boycott the place (seriously- if anyone from Hyde Park by any chance ever reads this blog - for the love of god, just put the freaking carrots back on the menu. You will have made two women very, very happy).
Yesterday was very quiet. I did some reading, played some guitar, and took a nap. Had lunch with Ryan and Jamie. I watched Geronimo (I'm kind of on a Walter Hill kick lately, having rented The Warriors and Streets of Fire without realizing they even had the same director). I watched Streets of Fire over a couple of days with Ryan as we were getting ready to leave for ACL Fest in the mornings. That's a strange movie. Lots of style and some interesting ideas, but the acting and the dialogue have some serious problems. I guess part of the clunkiness can be attributed to the melodrama of the script, but it's still a strange movie)
Anyway, not much to report on today. Back to the rat race.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Well, the whirlwind, heat, and flash of ACL Fest is over. Today is kind of strange, quiet, and a wee bit lonely following 3 days of nonstop chaos (well, 4 days if you count the roller rink party on Thursday night).
I'm still a little sore, and physically tired from the last few days, but it's all been a lot of fun.
Thanks to everyone who turned out for the Playland skate party to hear The Mono Ensemble! We had a lot of fun playing all of those eighties songs. Hope they were fun to skate to. A couple of people have asked me to publish a set list from the skate party, and I'm working on getting one.
ACL Fest was really fun, too. It was a little warm, as usual, but the weather was ok, overall (the dust seemed fairly minimal, we didn't have to deal with mud, and at least the temperature never got over 100). It did seem even more crowded this year than it has in some years past. I really question the 65,000 person figure that I've heard mentioned as their official count.
I think my favorite show of the festival was Arcade Fire. Their music just conveys a ton of energy, and it's really fun to watch a band with 10 or so people jumping around on stage like that.
I also really enjoyed My Morning Jacket (probably second favorite). They came out dressed in some kind of tropical island theme (including the placement of various women around stage who just posed with fruit), and their far out space rock was both pretty and powerful. I can say without exaggeration that almost everyone I saw was really good (Peter, Bjorn, and John, Bjork, Spoon, Stephen Marley, etc.). I only got to see a few minutes of Wilco, Regina Spektor and The Decemberists because of crowd issues and logistical difficulties, but they all sounded good from what I heard. Ghostland Observatory was pretty cool, but I think Ryan and I both decided that the outdoor venue might not be their best setting. Dylan was really cool, too. I wasn't sure what to expect, because I know he likes to play some obscure stuff and mess around a lot with the old classics that everyone knows. His set was really good, though. Dylan's voice sounds a little like Tom Waits these days, and his band was really, really tight and good. For some reason Dylan apparently refused to let them show close ups of his face on the jumbotron screens beside the stage, so maybe we never even really saw Dylan. Maybe we just saw his evil twin. Anyway, whoever we saw was really good. Sitting out there in the beautiful weather at Zilker listening to Bob Dylan last night was just another one of those amazing moments that make me happy to live in this city.
Well, I'm tired, but I thought the blog deserveda little attention.
Thanks to Ryan, Chris, Mandy, Reed, and all of the other people who helped make it another fun year. It's hard to believe that we've now been through six of these things. I remember Jeff talking me into buying a poster the first year, saying, "Man, just buy a poster. Maybe this festival will take off, and it'll still be around 5 or 10 years from now, and maybe you'll have a poster from every year."
Well, this was year six, and I've got a poster from every year. Jeff would've loved this year's Arcade Fire show, I think. Or maybe he did.
Anyway, peace, everybody.

p.s.- Thank you to all you ACL Festers for getting along together so well out there, and also for not panicking when that fire sprang up on day one (4 people to the hospital, but it sounds like they're doing ok, I guess). See everyone next year!

ACL Fest Photos- Day 3

Chris and Ryan at the gate.

Ian Ball


Collin and Alisha

Bloc Party

Rose Hill Drive

Regina Spektor

My Morning Jacket

Roundball, the space cowboy.

Ghostland Observatory

Sigmund on the iPhone

Bob Dylan

Sunday, September 16, 2007

ACL Fest Photos- Days 1 and 2

Day 1

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones


Peter, Bjorn, and John

LCD Soundsystem


Kim and Brydie


Day 2

Stephen Marley

Camp X-Ray

Team Bloom

Zap Mama

Arctic Monkeys

Kim, Alisha, and Mandy

Roundball at Camp X-Ray

Eric and Weedo

Arcade Fire

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pictures from the Playland Skate Party

I know that The Mono E had a blast! Hope everyone else did, too!