Archive for March, 2004

Saturday evening at the Toyota Center

March 28, 2004

I finally saw the new Toyota Center, Houston’s new downtown basketball/hockey arena. I went to my first Houston Aeros hockey game, with Thomas and Lori Gray, and Thomas’ brother David.

The Aeros beat the San Antonio Rampage 3-2, with all of the goals scored in the second period. The quality of the hockey was not as high as I had expected, but the game was enjoyable anyway. The extra entertainment that the Aeros provided—the dance team, the contests, the music, the animations—was pure cheese, but it passed the time. There were a couple of fights, and the hardest check I’ve ever seen live.

The arena itself is impressive. We arrived late (middle of the first period), and sat in nosebleed seats, but still had a great view of the action. The seats were comfortable. The scoreboard is (for better and worse) state-of-the-art. The popcorn is the best I’ve ever had at a sporting event.

The Aeros season is almost over, so there aren’t many more games to see this season. Keep them in mind for next winter, though—at $11 for a seat in the rafters, you’d get a good deal for your money.


Thursday evening at Cafe Brasil

March 26, 2004

I went to a John Kerry Meetup at Cafe Brasil last night.

Cafe Brasil is a relaxing hangout in my neighborhood, about three-quarters of a mile from my apartment. It’s best known for its coffee (hence the name), but the wine and food are worth trying as well, and the prices are reasonable: I paid $15 for dinner with wine.

I arrived early, just after the first organizer, and helped set up for the meeting. About 40 people showed up, in a variety of ages and colors. The meeting was brief—about half an hour—and its focus was to inform people about the local volunteer efforts for Kerry. There will be a more formal organizational meeting on Thursday, April 1.

After the meeting, about 15 of us stayed for dinner. Most were pleasant people; only one or two were the fanatical type who can make participating in politics so excruciating for everyone else.

This campaign will be the first presidential one I’ve been involved in since Bush 41 in 1988. It looks to be an interesting year.

HPD officer killed in the Montrose

March 25, 2004

HPD officer Frank Cantu, Jr. was killed by a drunk driver while on duty earlier today. The accident happened three blocks from my apartment. As I was walking down West Dallas this morning, I was passed by the flatbed trailer carrying away Cantu’s wrecked patrol car.

To my local readers: If you see an HPD police officer this week, please offer your condolences and express your appreciation for the work they do for us. And for God’s sake…I know drunk driving is a sport in Houston, but can’t we all just play racquetball instead?

The Amazon primary, as of March 23

March 23, 2004

Since February 3, John Kerry has collected $76,742 in the Amazon primary, while George W. Bush has collected $20,221.

Since March 13, the Kerry advantage has been $21,441 to $2,013.

St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2004

Next March 17, I want to wear no green, and a button that says:

Kiss me — I’m not pretending to be Irish.

Wallace by Marshall Frady

March 15, 2004

I recently read Wallace, a biography of George Wallace written by Marshall Frady (who died earlier this month). My two main reactions:

1. What a hatchet job…

2. …but it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

The Amazon primary, as of March 13

March 13, 2004

Since February 3, John Kerry has collected $55,301 in the Amazon primary, while George W. Bush has collected $18,208.

Since February 24, the Kerry advantage has been $38,847 to $6,120.

One explanation for the Bush campaign’s recent slump

March 13, 2004

According to 18th-century American politician Fisher Ames:

A monarchy is a merchantman which sails well, but will sometimes strike on a rock, and go to the bottom; a republic is a raft which will never sink, but then your feet are always wet.

When a political party is dominated by people who obediently follow orders, it can fade fast when the order-givers blunder.

Ralph Nader: Not the first vanity candidate

March 7, 2004

In the last 50 years, several Presidential candidates who had been liberal or Left darlings during their serious runs for the office have been unable to resist going on to make a final vanity run that upsets and divides their erstwhile supporters.

Adlai Stevenson sought the Democratic nomination in 1960, and was predictably squashed at the Democratic National Convention by John F. Kennedy.

Eugene McCarthy ran as an independent in 1976, and finished about 38 million votes behind second-place Jerry Ford.

George McGovern sought the Democratic nomination in 1984, dropping out after finally losing Massachusetts.

And now Nader.

(Props to Jesse Jackson, who resisted the temptation to seek the party nomination in 1992.)

The Heart of “The Heart of the Matter”

March 1, 2004

The local Kroger’s supermarket played Don Henley’s “The Heart of the Matter” earlier this evening. Henley wasted that song. It runs a bloated five minutes, 21 seconds. Cut the pretentious, meandering crap out of the lyrics, strip down the arrangement, and add a gospel feel, and you’d have sub-three minutes of beautifully mournful longing.

You might find that hard to believe. For you, “The Heart of the Matter” might be too permeated with the stench of 1990.

But me…when I hear, “The more I know, the less I understand / All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again,” the regret and pain moves me. If only I didn’t have to endure so much musical mediocrity to get there.

I’m not a musician. I can trim the lyrics, but I can’t re-write the song’s arrangement, program a Casio, and post a WAV file; and you need the tune to feel the words. With that caveat, here are my shortened lyrics: