"To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?" -- C.S. Lewis

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Hook 'Em 2006 Continues: My blogging has been pretty light over the past two or three weeks. The reason: my full-time gig has kept me extremely busy. But now that the Cowboys' season is over, I should be getting my blog back on soon enough. In the meantime, a couple of National Championship follow-ups.

If you're not in Austin, you can still enjoy the UT Tower's nightly tribute to the football team's National Championship via the University Co-op's TOWERCAM. The Tower's special lighting configuration will continue through the end of this weekend. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's an explanation.

Elsewhere, undoubtedly many of you noticed that the Texas players were given National Championship ball caps and T-shirts immediately after the game. So what happened to the boxes of USC gear that went unused? Slate has the answer.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Hook 'Em 2006: Damn it feels good to be a Longhorn!

The Day After: This is fun! I remember watching the Texas-OU game a couple of years ago when Vince Young was put in the game as a freshman. Oklahoma ran away with that game, but Vince Young was amazing--more amazing than any freshman had a right to be versus a team that would appear in the National Championship Game later that season. Witnessing his talent for the first time allowed me to remove myself from the moment--another loss to OU--and know that it was only a matter of time before Young would make it possible for Texas to end its losing streak in the Red River Shoot Out.

Of course, I only thought in terms of the Texas/OU game that day. I never considered a National Championship would be in reach. But damn if Vince hasn't made that happen, too.

And I'm no college football expert (my loyalties lie with the NFL), but I wonder how many schedules have been as difficult as this season's Longhorn schedule. Based on the final AP rankings, Texas beat the number two team on a semi-neutral field (USC), the number four team on the road (Ohio State); plus a couple of Top 25 teams: Texas Tech (20), and Oklahoma (22).

Damn it feels good to be a Longhorn!

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Oh, Dear: A hat tip to my wife Valier for discovering this bizarre toy in the Casual Living catalog in a pile of junk mail. It's a set of finger puppets endearingly named "Hands Full of Trouble." Here's the description:

They may represent turmoil, but finger puppets depicting the ten plagues that preceded the first Passover, are designed to be educational and fun. Set of 10 embroidered, fabric finger puppets are sized to fit little fingers.

As Christian as we are, I just don't see us pulling the trigger on a set of plague finger puppets for our little daughter.

Humor: Slate's Grady Hendrix offers a tribute to the genius of the special features on the new Dukes of Hazzard DVD. Best excerpt:

My viewing done, the question remained: Is The Dukes of Hazzard a modern day masterpiece? Have we returned to the great, auteurist-driven cinema of the 1970s? Judging by all the extras, the answer has to be yes. But I haven't actually seen the movie and I never will. I don't want to ruin the special features.

Too funny.

Happy New Year: I came down with a sinus infection a couple of days ago, so I was far too medicated and fatigued to make it to midnight last night. However my dad, who also lives here in Garland, TX, stayed up and recorded audio of the celebratory gun fire traditionally heard in these parts to mark the transition to the new year. A good reason to stay inside, since: What goes up, must come down.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

WMD Speculation: On last Sunday's Meet the Press, Ted Koppel and Tom Brokaw told Tim Russert that they felt Bill Clinton would have invaded Iraq--if 9/11 had occurred on his watch. This is pure speculation, of course. But I wouldn't call it wild speculation. Clinton's WMD rhetoric was nearly identical to Dubya's. Plus, I have no doubt that Republicans would have been reminding the public--on a daily basis--that Clinton had let Saddam kick inspectors out of Iraq. With such a huge mistake hanging around his neck, I don't know that Clinton would have had much of a choice.

Belated Merry Christmas: I hope everyone found a tasty meal, or received a thoughtful present, or just spent a bit of time relaxing over the Christmas weekend. Can't beat the simplest pleasures in Life.

And I pray that you all took a step closer to God. Being blessed with His peace in your heart is a gift beyond measure. Here is the Way to this peace.

The Rose Bowl: I was invited by DallasNews.com to make a Rose Bowl prediction. I went with: Texas 41, USC 34. My explanation here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Another Re-Mix: A few weeks back I posted a re-mix of The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice." I thought everyone might enjoy another re-mix that John Summers and I put together this year. It combines a live performance by Elvis with a relatively recent recording from Three Dog Night. It's been so popular with our radio station's audience that it's been put into normal rotation on our play list. Enjoy: "Never Been To Spain."

[ "Never Been To Spain" Direct Link ]

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ridiculous Toy: Just humor me for a moment and follow along: Three kids are looking for something fun to do one afternoon. The first suggests they play hide-and-seek. The second thinks a game of tag would be fun. The third says, "Let's play Patriot Act!"

Old Christmas Card: This from a story seen on a local newscast here in Dallas. Timely and interesting. The Bridwell Library at SMU holds one of the first (maybe the first) mass-produced Christmas cards.

The card caused a bit of a stir at the time, because it portrayed a child drinking from a wine glass. The Bridwell press release...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Harry Potter Theory: Okay, fair warning.
Spoilers follow. If you've never read Half-Blood Prince, but you intend to... then stop here.

Otherwise, here we go.

Many of you have come across the site, DumbledoreIsNotDead.com. If you're clinging to the hope that J.K. Rowling hasn't really killed off one of her most endearing non-Harry characters, then you'll find hope at DumbledoreIsNotDead.com.

Some background: Long before the release of Half-Blood Prince I had come across a post on J.K Rowling's official web site that led me to believe Dumbledore was destined to die (or appear to die) and later return. In an answer to an "F.A.Q. Poll" Rowling writes:

"...as many of you have deduced, Dumbledore's Patronus is indeed a phoenix."

At that point, I decided Dumbledore's character, his very identity, was so entangled with the phoenix symbol that Rowling must intend to kill him off and then bring him back. (Also consider the title, Order of the Phoenix: Just as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince can be read as Harry Potter and Snape, I think you can read the former as the Order of Dumbledore. It's his order, he's the "Phoenix.")

So from the moment in Book 6 when Dumbledore began throwing down helpings of potion, I began preparing for an Albus death scene. Sure enough, in reasonably short order (no pun intended) Rowling took care of that sad business.

So... to my theory. DumbledoreIsNotDead.com includes a section titled, "The Flying Avada Kedavra." Dave Haber, the author of that site, notes that, in other instances in which Avada Kedavra is used in the HP canon, the victim immediately slumps or falls to the ground--and is dead before hitting the turf. In Dumbledore's case, however, Snape's spell blasts him into the air and back over the castle's battlements. Haber finds this suspicious, and so do I. As Haber points out, either Snape did not "mean" his unforgiveable curse (check Bellatrix's explanation of unforgiveable curses at the end of Order of the Phoenix), or he was thinking a different spell than he seemed to be verbally casting.

The purpose of my post today is to add to Haber's theory. I've found a precedent for Snape saying one spell while casting another. In fact, this precedent is so perfect, I actually think I'm on to something.

In Chamber of Secrets, Snape and Lockhart put on a duel for the students. When Snape casts the Expelliarmus spell at Lockhart--a spell that should only cause the victim's wand to fly out of his hand--Lockhart is shot up and backwards. Sound familiar?

From the context of this scene, we know that Snape appears to be furious with Lockhart. Seeing the look on Snape's face before the mock duel, Harry thinks that, if he were in Lockhart's shoes, he'd run. I think Harry's Spidey senses were on target. Snape was pissed. And so I'm guessing that Snape ostensibly used Expelliarmus, but nonverbally cast something with a bit more power to rough up Lockhart.

And thus, I think, we have an important precedent for Dave Haber's theory that Snape was thinking something other than Avada Kedavra when he sent Dumbledore flying off the castle.

On the other hand, maybe Rowling simply thought Dumbledore's death deserved more drama than did the average bear's. And who could blame her?

[ "Harry Potter Theory" Direct Link ]

Monday, December 12, 2005

Republican Stereotype: When I think of the worst of Republican stereotypes, this is the sort of story that comes to mind--brought to us by Idaho's Republican Senator Larry Craig. A stooge of Big Business who treats Nature like something to be scraped off of the bottom of his shoe.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Nike Commercial: I downloaded this from the Internet a few years ago (I think Ain't It Cool News had linked to it), and I'm always prevented from e-mailing it to friends because the file is too large for most e-mail boxes.

So I'm posting it online where it can be enjoyed. It's the full-length version of Terry Gilliam's Nike "football" commercial, which features the re-mix of Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation."

[ "Terry Gilliam Nike Commercial" Direct Link ]

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Vanity Fair Goes Dirt Digging: Editor & Publisher reports that Vanity Fair has been interviewing New York Times staffers who don't like Judith Miller. Ignoring the fact that E&P describes this pretty blatant hit piece as full of "fresh details," suffice it to say that most of the charges are rather catty. I've been most interested in whether journalistic ethics were violated by Miller, and thus whether the Times was right to offer Miller a robust legal defense. I continue to believe that the Times was on the right side of journalism--and history--in its defense of Miller.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Christmas Tune-age: My Top 5 Christmas song recommendations, as this season's CD burning gets underway:

1. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (Pine Cones & Holly Berries), The Osmonds.
2. It Must Have Been The Mistletoe, Barbara Mandrell.
3. Christmas in Hollis, RUN-DMC.
4. The Man With All The Toys, The Beach Boys.
5. All I Want For Christmas Is You, Vince Vance And The Valiants (featuring Lisa Layne).

Honorable Mentions:
-- Happy XMas (War Is Over), John Lennon.
-- Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal), Vince Guaraldi Trio (A Charlie Brown Christmas).

Album Pick:
-- Sing We Christmas, Chanticleer.

Friday, December 2, 2005

Waste Of Time & Effort: When I read someone from the far left--like Newsday's Jimmy Breslin--attempting to dress down Hillary, I must ask: Why waste the effort? Really. Think about it: There's absolutely no realistic election scenario in which Hillary won't get Breslin's vote. I know it, Breslin knows it; and most importantly, Hillary knows it. So why should she--not to mention we the readers--take Breslin the least bit seriously?

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