Wednesday, January 30, 2019

In Praise of Tex-Mex

My brother was in town tonight and free.  That's part of why the blog is so late this evening.  Since he had an open evening from the conference, we decided to take him out to eat before he had to head back to Austin.  After tossing out a few options, we ended up at El Fenix.  The "original" location on McKinney.

I know it's trendier to like real Mexican food now.  To seek authentic street tacos, pozole, mole, elote, etc.  To look down on the flour tortilla.  And I like real Mex.  I enjoy the variety.

But, honestly, nothing beats good Tex-Mex.  Chile con queso.  Chile con carne on cheese enchiladas.  Beef crispy tacos with lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese.  Chips and salsa.

El Fenix is the original Tex-Mex restaurant.  Founded in 1918, it has been in operation now for nearly 101 years.  It was especially fun to be here on a Wednesday night, in honor of the Enchilada Wednesday Special, an offering at the restaurant since the mid-fifties.

The place was packed tonight, with patrons trying to grab a bite before the Dallas Stars game.  From shortly after we were seated right up until we were leaving, there was a solid line of people waiting for a table.

And while it may not be the absolute best Mexican food in Dallas, it can certainly hit the spot.  It's comfort food, just like good Tex-Mex.  Good Tex-Mex fills you up body and soul.  From filling up on chips and salsa (but continuing to eat nonetheless), to making room for the sopapilla.  It's go to snacks and extravagant meals and everything in between.

It's why Casa Ole or Crazy Joses (or Mi Pueblo using the Casa Ole recipes) is still a must when I visit home.  It's not the food, specifically.  It's the memory, the experience.  It's a part of who we are.  Why the food is one of the basic food groups of Texas.

On the subject, I have to agree with John Nova Lomax in Texas Monthly writing on the disappearance of Tex-Mex in Houston (March 19, 2015):

"But here's the dirty little secret we can all admit to now: in most cases, old-school Tex-Mex was, and is, objectively bad food.  It's bland by modern standards, overly filling, heartburn-inducing, and coronary-breeding.  In the big cities of modern Texas, it's so easy to find authentic Mexican meals that are cheaper, tastier, and healthier, all at the same time.

And yet, for me, if it came down to a deaht row last meal chocie of Hugo Ortega's Mariscos al Ajillo (sauteed lobster, shrimp, scallops, and octopus served with arroz blanco), or Spanish Village's Enchiladas a la Taylor ("prepared with Many Spices, Cheese, with Chile Con Carne and Rice, Beans, andd Guacamole Salad"), um, yeah, I'll take column B, Mr. Warden."

As will I.  So bring on the chips and salsa.  A large queso please.  Enchiladas and tacos.

And keep it coming.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Dear Texas Weather,

Dear Texas Weather,

We need to talk.

Listen, I know you are notoriously fickle.  It's promoted as a selling point.  "If you don't like the weather in Texas, wait five minutes and it will change."  We know it's true.  And we appreciate that in summer. That's when it can bring a little relief from your oppressive heat.

But we're in winter now.  Or at least what is supposed to be winter.  And I have to say, all these changes, they just aren't healthy.

I mean it was twenty-eight degrees this morning.  Parts of the state even hit twenty-four degrees.  That's great.  That's winter.  We appreciate it.  We're not used to it, but we appreciate it.

By this weekend, though, we're going to hit the mid-seventies. The low will be basically sixty.  That's a quick turnaround.  Any faster and you'd catch up to yesterday.

The new joke going around is that you celebrate all four seasons but just all in one day.  Spring at 9:00 am, Summer at 1:00 pm, Fall at 4:00 pm, and Winter at 8:00 pm.  It's too much, it's too fast.  I don't know that I can dress in sufficiently appropriate layers to address all those changes.  I mean, this upcoming weekend will be comfortably spring weather, and I'm just not ready for that.

So can we please stick to the cold for a little while.  And if you're really generous, can we get one good freeze/snow week day.  Just one; not hard and not heavy, but just enough to cover.  It really makes it feel like we truly got winter down here.  That way we can hold onto that memory when you turn it up to 100+ in the summer.

That's all and thank you for listening. I just felt like we needed to clear the air, so to speak.  Hopefully we can reach some sort of breakthrough.  A little consistency could do us all some good.


A Concerned Citizen

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Curse of Work and Human Evolutionary Development

To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
Genesis 3:17-19

I always find the intersection of faith and science to be fascinating.  And I may be stretching to reach a conclusion here, but I was at least struck by the possibility of the thoughts below.

On Friday night, driving home from an excellent date night dinner, I caught a bit of Think with Krys Boyd on KERA.  Always an excellent program, with very thought provoking guests and interviews.  The topic that night was "Why Chimps Can Be Lazy, But We Can't," a discussion with Duke University evolutionary anthropologist Herman Pontzer on his research into the human evolutionary need for exercise.  In his article, "Humans Evolved to Exercise," in Scientific American, Pontzer addressed how gorillas and chimpanzees could sleep for 10 hours, be otherwise lazy for the next 10 hours, and still have a low body fat composition, maintain muscle composition, and be considered "healthy," even in captivity.  He then contrasted this fact regarding our nearest evolutionary counterparts with the human need for movement and activity to maintain body composition and overall health.

In the portion I was able to catch, Pontzer connected the human ability to hunt and gather, and in particular, our movement away from a solely plant based diet, as a key reason for this evolutionary shift.  Our need to catch and gather better food sources developed into a metabolism that continually needed movement, exercise, strain, etc. to keep its status.

My brain, though, connected to another difference between humans and apes.  One from the spiritual realm.  To the curse of work.  As part of the curse placed upon Adam for his sin in the garden, man essentially punished with hard labor.  No longer would mankind enjoy the rest they had in the garden; now, we have to work for our provision.

That would seem to provide a reason for an evolutionary change like this as well.  A physical change in creation that would require hard work of the human body.  A physical manifestation of the curse.

And it's this intersection, that pushes my curiosity into both areas.  To learn more about the scientific explanation of the evolutionary development, to see if it has further support or divergence in the religious.

This is also why I will never understand a faith that requires an aversion to science nor one that eschews it curiosity of exploration and discovery.  Science and faith answer two distinctly different questions.  Science answers how; faith answers why.  And the overlap between the two is endlessly fascinating.

 Again, I may be reaching for a conclusion here, but it provides a little insight into the wandering thoughts from a late night drive listening to public radio.  It reveals my internal curiosity. 

After all, when you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  It commemorates the tragedy of the Holocaust, remembering the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jews, 8.7 million Slavs, 1.8 million ethnic Poles, 220,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, 312,000 Serb civilians, 1,900 Jehovah's Witnesses, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime.  Yesterday marked the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 1945 and the end of the Holocaust.

We remember and commemorate these events so that we never forget them.  So that we learn from them, for that is the purpose of history.  For us to be able to look back and see the events that led to such events and to be able to recognize them as they occur around us.

"The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights [...]

We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history.  We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today's world.  And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the United Nations stands."
Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, January 19, 2008

This day has taken on a greater significance in our household this year with the play Jamie will be putting up for One-Act, Ghetto by Joshua Sobol.  A 1984 play, set in the Vilna Ghetto during Nazi occupation in World War II.  It's a play about how we react when faced with the worst of humanity.  And it's a difficult play, as it shows the variety of responses that were found within that Jewish community.  

The research into this play has also led to stark reminders about the genocide.  That there were many preambles to the Holocaust: the Armenian genocide, the Ukranian genocide, the Herero and Namaqua genocide.  That every day citizens of Germany knew what was going on and would have had to turn a blind eye to it.  When Jamie visited Dachau, the first concentration camp, she was struck by how it was right there, next to the town.  The citizenry may not have known about the gas chambers and all the specific atrocities, but they knew of the camps and their purpose because they were prominently reported in officially inspired German media articles and posters.

According to the president of Genocide Watch, Gregory Stanton, there are eight stages of genocide that are predictable.
  • Stage 1 is classification, where people are divided into "us" and "them."
  • Stage 2 is symbolization, where symbols are forced upon unwilling members of the "them" groups.
  • Stage 3 is dehumanization, where one group denies the humanity of the other group.  Members of the "them" group are equated with animals, vermin, insects, or diseases.
  • Stage 4 is organization, where special army units or militias are trained and armed to combat the "them."
  • Stage 5 is polarization, where propaganda is deployed.
  • Stage 6 is preparation, where victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity.
  • Stage 7 is extermination.  Stanton notes it is extermination not murder or genocide because the killers do not believe their victims are fully human.
  • Stage 8 is denial, where the perpetrators deny that they committed any crime. It was a service.

This is why we have to combat any attempt to paint another group as a "them."  For while it can be slow and insidious, it is a stepping stone in dehumanizing the other group.  I can think of several groups where the first five stages might even be met, ranging from the way people treat political opponents, to ethnic minorities, to members of the LGBTQ community, and beyond.  All it takes is a demagogue to exploit these existing beliefs to make them truly dangerous.  

And I think we are, in fact, seeing this play out.  There is a global rise in Anti-Semitism, particularly in the United States and in EuropeHate crimes in general were up in 2018 in the largest ten American cities, with a spike between 2014 and 2017.

It seems history is more important to us than ever before.  If only we would listen.  May we never forget and may we ever be vigilant.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Top 10 Underrated Disney Animated Features

After watching one of the films on this list today with Avalyn and Jude, I thought I would put together a list of the Disney animated films that don't really get any attention.  Or are at least thought of as lesser pictures.  We own the whole animated canon and have watched each of the films that comprise it.  There are still films in the list that I have a tough time getting through (The Aristocats and The Fox and the Hound move a little slow).  The films below, though, have good bones to them or good moments that should not be ignored by the true Disney fan.

So without further ado, my list of Top 10 Underrated Disney Animated Features, in no particular order.

  • Bolt - This was the film up for tonight, as Avalyn had not seen it.  She felt the need to alert me to this fact several times in the beginning of the film.  This film had an odd development that left people a little wistful for what could have been, but the final product still has a good structure and story.  A dog that plays a superhero on television, who thinks the show is real life.  Worth a second look.
  • Meet the Robinsons - Of the post-Disney renaissance period, this film probably has the strongest heart and message.  About the longing for family and finding family.  The families we make in particular.  Some oddball comedy, but still a great message at its core. 
  • The Princess and the Frog - I adore this movie.  Beautiful hand-drawn animation.  Excellent music by Randy Newman.  Wonderful New Orleans setting.  And one of the best all around princesses in Tiana (plus the best best friend character in Charlotte).  It's a shame this didn't do better as to keep hand-drawn animation going.
  • Make Mine Music - I'm a sucker for the package films and the music films in particular.  Make Mine Music has one of my favorite segments in The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met by Nelson Eddy.
  • Melody Time - I love this film for similar reasons as to Make Mine Music.  Standout segments in this package film are Bumble Boogie, Little Toot by the Andrews Sisters and Pecos Bill by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers.
  • Treasure Planet - This is a beautifully animated and well told version of Treasure Island.  The animation of space in particular is a standout.  And Brian Murray gives one of the best performances of Long John Silver in any adaptation.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire - Another men's adventure animated film that is grossly overlooked.  The animation design by comic great Mike Mignola, in particular, deserves much praise.  A great assortment of character actors and an entertaining premise.
  • Home on the Range - This film gets blamed for the initial demise of hand-drawn animation, but I find it still has a few bright points to offer.  To me, the silly-ness is part of its charm.  Randy Quaid as a yodeling cow thief with his dimwitted nephews is particularly fun.
  • The Sword and the Stone - One of the best post-Walt films.  It has a very episodic nature, but the interplay between Merlin, young Wart, and Archimedes is great.  One of the first Disney films to bring in anachronisms as part of the story.
  • The Great Mouse Detective - A great version of a Sherlock Holmes story, with a bonus snippet of a Basil Rathbone Holmes adventure occurring simultaneously.  A film that signaled the beginnings of the Disney renaissance before the official start with The Little Mermaid.

What are your under-appreciated favorites?  What other animated classics do you feel deserve a second look?

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Shutdown

UPDATE: Of course, as this goes out, Congress and the President have reached a deal to temporarily end the shut down, a delay of three weeks to continue to negotiate for border wall funding.  I have my doubts that any such deal will be reached by February 15, but am glad for the federal workers to at least start receiving pay and hopefully back pay in the interim.  The sentiment regarding the movement discussed below remains.


We are now in day 35 of the longest United States government shutdown in history, with no clear end in sight.  I fear we've reached a point of no return.  A point where everyone loses regardless of whatever deal may eventually be made to reopen the government.  If Trump gets his way on the wall, what we have shown is that one party can take the nation hostage and refuse concessions until they get their way.  Literally a toddler throwing a temper tantrum until they get their way.  And yet, if the Democrats cannot come up with a deal that will be acceptable, they will still shoulder part of the blame.

We've seen this happen before, though.  I wrote the following at the close of the previous shut down in 2013, where the Republicans tried to push for the rollback of the Affordable Care Act.  At that time, the ACA had been in place for three years and the first exchanges were opening; the other provisions of the bill were finally nearing their implementation.  I think it still rings true.

"So the government has reopened and we've all lost. There are no winners in this and the victories are only pyrrhic. We've learned that a handful of Republicans can mistake sour grapes for principles and hold the nation hostage until they get their way. That the remainder of the Republican Party is too concerned about making sure they do not jeopardize their chances of being reelected that they literally do nothing. And that a finally united Democratic Party will resort to inflicting as much pain as possible on the American people (instead of the Republicans) in order to force the opposition to do their job. Dirty politics at its finest. The problem with political brinkmanship is that the stakes always get higher the next time. I'm done with all of them and am ready to begin actively campaigning to make sure that NONE of them will be reelected."
from Facebook, October 17, 2013

So far, the stalemate is hurting Trump's approval ratings the worst.  The majority of Americans are blaming Trump for the shutdown, though his base is sticking with him. Regardless though of political impact, the economic impact will have a lasting impact.  It is already having more than twice the negative impact than previously estimated, with economic growth reducing 0.13 points every week versus the previously estimated 0.1 points every two weeks.  There remain 800,000 federal employees going without pay for now close to a month.  Ten percent of TSA agents called out Sunday, not working without pay, increasing wait times and leading some airports to shutter terminals in response.  This doesn't even begin to account for the potential impact that we cannot even begin to fathom. What is slipping through the TSA, the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Agriculture Departments e-Verify system, the FBI or the Federal Aviation Administration with its 2,220 aviation safety inspectors furloughed? Like the govteach,  I fear there is going to be a disaster on some significant level tied to this shutdown.

As I was in 2013, I'm fed up with all of them.  To that end, I want to start a movement. A re-movement.  Regarding a movement or remove-ment of the people in charge. A pledge to vote out of office every person holding it.  To vote out every incumbent, regardless of party affiliation.  To remind them where the power lies.  Within six years, we could completely change the face of the government, at every level.   Maybe then Congress, in particular, would get serious about term limits.

I've got the domain, so watch for more details on the cause and the pledge.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Level 2 Legal Solutions Turns 10

Tonight, we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Level 2 Legal Solutions.  I've written about this before in the Milestones post, but this is a huge accomplishment for our firm and for the employees that have dedicated so much to this business.

We've had a bit of an interesting path to get here, as it seemed we were always called to be bigger, faster, and up to new challenges before anyone would have planned.  When Findlay Craft started, there was always going to be a document review component that would later spin out into its own separate unit.  The planned year-year and a half roll-out got quickly condensed into a couple of months based on project demands.  From there, we were going to be a niche or boutique review firm offering the highest quality review by a small band of attorneys in Tyler.  And while the high quality of review has remained, project demands pushed us into a larger number of attorneys and into the Richardson office far sooner than anyone could have anticipated.  Those same demands have pushed us to move from one office to our current space and to keep expanding our space to create more room for project associates and for more diverse company divisions.

And while we have had our share of dips in projects, as any company in a project based or "gig economy" faces, the demand for our services has continued to blossom and grow, pushing us into new and exciting territories.  Last year, we worked on a record number of matters with a record number of project associates.  Over our tenure, we have become a trusted partner for countless individual trial attorneys, AmLaw100 law firms, and Fortune 500 companies.  We've even made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018 (ranking 3112 and 1993, respectively).

Through it all, we've still been that scrappy little start up.  We've fought and fought hard to maintain our reputation in the industry and to continue to make the magic happen for our clients and partners.  Over the coming decade, we face the challenge of moving from that scrappy start up to an established industry partner, with all the headaches that the change will bring.  We have a need to expand our business model, moving to the left in the EDRM model into processing and consulting.  This will also necessitate a move to the right into production, making us more of a one-stop shop.  We'll need to cement the new divisions of marketing, human resources, sales, and strategy, that will provide us the framework to continue to grow this office and hopefully beyond into new locations and frontiers.

Our promise is to continue to do so with the same valued care, competence, and courtesy that we bring to any matter.

I'm grateful for the ten years we have behind us and look forward to the, hopefully, ten years and more we have ahead.

To find out more about Level 2 Legal Solutions and who we are, visit our website here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

2019 Oscar Nominations

The Academy Award nominations for 2019 were released yesterday and contain some surprising inclusions and snubs.

Nerd culture continues to show its strength with the inclusion of Black Panther in the Best Picture nomination, and with the two favored animated features being Incredibles 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Won't You Be My Neighbor being snubbed for Best Documentary Feature is surprising, as was Bradley Cooper's lack of a directoral nod for A Star is Born.

The impact of streaming services can also be seen with the nominations for Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, both of which were Netflix releases.  Netflix had 15 nominations this year, with Roma accounting for 10 of them.  With Netflix joining the MPAA, this is only likely to increase.

Jamie and I have only seen one of the Best Picture nominations this year (but two of the Best Animated Features).  We hope to remedy that soon. We have a date weekend coming and hope to catch up on at least three thanks to streaming, Redbox, and a trip to the theater.  We used to try to see them all and come to our recommendations, but that has been much more difficult after children.

It will be interesting to see how this ceremony progresses, as the plan as of now is to still proceed without a host.  While the Muppets do not seem to be imminent, there may be an Avengers reunion in the works.  Synergy at its best.

What have you seen of this year's nominees?  Let me know your thoughts.

A complete list of the nominees can be found here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

301, and continuing...

Time again for a celebratory post, as the blog hits post number 301.  We're nearing the home stretch of closing out a year of nearly daily posts.

I want to thank you all for your readership and your kind words.  I remain humbled by the response.  To everyone who has let me know you are reading, ever liked a post, or commented, thank you.  It is appreciated more than you could know.  And to those of you who read in silence, thank you as well.

I also wanted to use this time to post a reminder of the blog rules and regulations, and to provide advance warning.  There will be blogs that will either make you mad or will upset you or challenge your position on a particular topic.  The blog is my personal writing exercise and soap box, so it will reflect my biases and my contrarian streak, but I am open to civil discourse on almost any topic.

I also wanted to pass along a reminder that I have an email subscription option on the page.  With that, you'll receive an email link each time a new post is added.  There is also an RSS feed option, in case anyone prefers that method.

With that, an update of the reminders previously posted:
  1. This blog represents largely a writing exercise and an outlet for me to get thoughts out of my head.  It contains my opinion on variety of issues from serious to silly and is filtered through my experiences, biases, etc.
  2. I promise, I will post on topics that are so niche-focused, so utterly nerdy that anyone but me is going to be bored to tears.  I try to keep those to only once or twice a week and to rotate through a variety of topics throughout the week to keep it interesting.  I use the labels so that you can screen out certain topics if you want to.
  3. I will post things that you will disagree with and that will potentially make you upset.  I know I am more liberal than the majority of my audience.  Probably regarding doctrine and politics both.  These are both topics I'm going to write on from time to time.  I personally favor moderation and lean center-left, but will post on a variety of viewpoints from center-right to hard left (maybe even hard right in a few instances).
  4. I am going to be harder on Republicans than I am on Democrats.  While I am not a fan of many politicians of many different political parties, I am growing to despise what the Republican party is becoming.  And I reserve the sharpest criticism for them due to one fact above all: the perverse mixture of politics and religion that Republicans promote. Because they purport to hold themselves out as the Christian party, I'm going to hold them to that impossible standard.  I also hold them more accountable partly because they are in power, and I'm going to criticize whoever has power more than those in the minority.
  5. I am likewise harder on churches and Christians than I am on non-believers.  Those who profess to believe have identified themselves as recognizing a higher standard.  To put it simply, "we should know and act better."  And do so based on a reading of the entire Bible.  Sadly, we all to often fall far short of this.  While I do want to extend grace to those that slip, when errors occur as abuses of power in the church  or in ways that belittle the faith they claim to hold, I will be discussing it. 
  6. I am completely open to disagreement and debate. Honest and open dialogue is the only way we can move forward in any civilized society.  However, I have a few ground rules for debate:
    • I will not tolerate name calling or muckraking.  When the thread resorts to calling each other racists, "liberal snowflakes," "libtards," or four-letter words, I will shut it down.  Likewise, I'm not going to let stereotypes and sweeping generalities go unchallenged.  All liberals do not want the destruction of our country, all conservatives are not bigots, etc.
    • I hope for discussion that will foster conversation, not end it.  So I expect more than "guns don't kill people, people kill people" in a discussion on gun control, for example.  I will not let those conversation-enders stand unchallenged.
    • Compromise is not a dirty word.  And likewise, I do hope people change their mind from time to time based on what they learn. Including me.
    • I follow this hierarchy for the value of information: facts then informed opinions then general opinions.  Saying "that's just my opinion" is going to get nowhere with me if it is not supported by the facts.
Again, thank you for reading.  Please let me know if there are topics that you particularly enjoy or there is changes you could envision.  Here's to the many more posts to come.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we set aside to recognize the contributions of a man to the cause of equality.  A recognition of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contributions to non-violent protest, equality, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

An ordained Baptist minister, you can see the inspiration he drew from the commands to love the Lord your God above all, to love your neighbor as yourself, and to love your enemies.  His call for non-violence from Jesus' instruction to turn the other cheek.

He serves as a reminder to us that we are all derived from one creator; that there is "neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  We could add to that list that there is neither black nor white.  And he reminds us that our founding documents declare that "all men are created equal" and it is our job to hold our country to that truth.  "All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on."

One of my favorite passages from his speeches is the discourse on the Good Samaritan in his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech.  I've included it below as a great reminder to us all that we are our brother's keeper and we succeed or fail as a human race on how well we treat each other.

"Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base....

Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother.

Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn't stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that "One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony." And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem -- or down to Jericho, rather to organize a "Jericho Road Improvement Association." That's a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I'm going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It's possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, "I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable." It's a winding, meandering road. It's really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles -- or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you're about 2200 feet below sea level. That's a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass." And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked -- the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" The question is, "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you."
from “I've Been To The Mountain Top,” April 3, 1968

Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Top 10 Lost Austin Spots

With a family get together in Hutto, my thoughts are about Austin, my history with the location and my feelings about it now.  As much as I loved Austin and will always hold it in a special place in my heart, it's clear to me that the Austin I loved doesn't really exist anymore.  It's a vapor, relegated to memory.

In particular, this can be seen in the number of restaurants, stores, and other locations in Austin that played a big part in my time there, which no longer exist.    And from this time of reminiscing, I've derived my Top 10 Lost Austin locations.

As such, in no particular order, the places and things I miss most are:

  • Threadgills on Riverside - I know the original is still there on North Lamar, but this was my location for Gospel and chicken fried steak.  It's where Jamie's folks brought the guys that helped her move out of her Austin apartment.
  • Serranos in Symphony Square - Again, there are a few locations of Serranos still left, but the Symphony Square location was an integral one for my college years.  Working at the Symphony, I ate many a lunch at this location.  It just seemed synonymous with Austin and with downtown in particular.
  • Frank and Angie's - A great pizza location behind Hut's, and the location of a couple of great dates with Jamie.
  • Tower Records - This is more of a national item that is missed, but I definitely miss the location on the drag.  There was many an hour spent browsing through Tower records and their video section in particular between classes.
  • Funny Papers at Dobie Mall - This was my comic shop during undergraduate.  It was so easy to walk to Dobie on Wednesdays, grab new books, and head upstairs to the food court to read and eat lunch. Austin Books may have grown into a favorite, but this was the first choice.
  • EZs - On North Lamar.  This was a great location for a burger or pizza.  Expansive menu, but reasonably priced.  I'll have to go to San Antonio now to reminisce.  
  • Texadelphia on Guadalupe - Again, multiple locations still left, but the original on the Drag seemed so iconic.  This was a great undergraduate lunch, when I was on the North part of campus.  It also holds a special place as one of my undergraduate Business School projects.
  • Katz's Deli - Katz's finally klosed.  The iconic location on Sixth Street that was a staple of childhood trips to Austin and late night fare closed in 2016, after 31 years.
  • A skyline no taller than the capitol - I miss the old capitol view corridor.  This one started changing shortly after I left, but it's no secret that I'm not a fan of all the towering skyscrapers that have popped up since I left.  People can argue their necessity, but the impact its had on the skyline is a negative to me.  
  • Frank Erwin Center - I still cannot get over this is going away, to site to be replaced by an expansion of the Dell Medical School and a new basketball arena to be built near Memorial Stadium.   This was the place for concerts, for basketball (both UT and the state basketball championship), and for graduation.  This will be a significant change to the view on the I35 drive.
For those of you that are former Austinites, what's your lost Austin?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Happy Winnie the Pooh Day!

Today commemorates Winnie the Pooh Day, celebrating the birthday of author A. A. Milne.  Born January 18, 1882, Milne a playwright and author by trade, became internationally famous for the stories celebrating his son Christopher Robin and his playmates from the Hundred Acre Wood.  And though Milne and Christopher Robin may have felt trapped by the success of Winnie the Pooh, there is no doubt that these stories have delighted children of all ages for nearly a century.

In celebration of the day, I thought I would share my favorite wisdom from the silly old bear.

"People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day."

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude."

"Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo."

"And really, it wasn't much good having anything exciting like floods, if you couldn't share them with somebody."

"You're braver than you believe and stronger and smarter than you think."

So, enjoy a pot of honey and enjoy a day with friends, in celebration of the one and only Winnie the Pooh.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

If I Were Disney CEO Part 34 - The Disney Channels

Disney has always had a unique connection to television.  From Walt's days with the Disneyland program used to promote his new theme park to the upcoming streaming service, television has played an integral part in Disney's business model.

In 1983, Disney launched it's premier cable channel The Disney Channel, aimed at the whole family.  Over the subsequent years, Disney has gone through several permutations in in its cable channel offerings.  Currently, Disney's cable offerings include Disney, aimed at kids ages 9-16, Disney Jr., aimed at preschool aged children, Disney XD, aimed at children ages 6-15, and Freeform, aimed at teenagers and young adults (primarily females ages 14-34).

The cable offering represents a good start to coverage across the demographics, with an opportunity to improve.

Primary Goals for the Division:
  • Give each channel a niche - Each channel in the lineup should have a specific unique focus that appeals to a broad enough segment, but works in concert with the greater whole.
  • Be brand appropriate - Disney has enough brands to reach each market demographic, but it should be done in a brand appropriate fashion.  Put another way, there is no desire to have a channel with adult themes and content with the Disney brand.  FX can cover that niche.  Further, there is no need for a Disney Sports Channel.  ESPN is the stronger brand.
  • Reach deep into the library - With the combined libraries of Disney, Pixar, the Muppets, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ABC, and now Fox, Disney has a deep well of material for programming, including television programs.  I understand the impulse to focus on the new, but there are ways of presenting the library that make it relevant and fill time slots.   Plus, there is an audience for this material that will never go to streaming.  
  • Take advantage of the changes in viewing habits - since these are cable channels, there is a lot more flexibility with regard to scheduling.  Programs can be scheduled to take advantage of binging, released over a series of consecutive days or taking up a full days worth of programming. There is no need to stick to a conventional seasonal schedule.
With that in mind, here are a few notes for the specific Disney cable channels.

The Disney Channel - I would bring back the full name for this channel, with Disney being an acceptable shorthand.  This is the channel that I would propose the most changes, as I believe it needs to get back to a full family demographic focus and not the kids age 9-16 demographic. In many ways historically, this was supposed to be girls age 9-16, as Disney XD was focused at boys.  With the changes in the other channels, that age range is currently overlapped with Disney XD and Freeform.  Accordingly, I would look to allow those two channels to have a greater focus on the kids, teens, and young adults.  The Disney Channel should be a place for full families to enjoy content together.  Family oriented sitcoms (ala TGIF), family dramas (in the vein of 7th Heaven), and family focused films.  The latter should include the Disney film catalog as well as Pixar, Muppets, and classic Fox properties.  Shirley Temple, Blue Sky, etc.  To me, this channel would be a lot like the Disney Vault nights on TCM, a Disney Classic if you will, taking the best of the movie, short, and television library, as well as new programs that fit the style (like the new Ducktales).
  • Example programs I would add - Country Bear Jamboree, Disneyland
Disney, Jr. - Disney, Jr. is probably the channel I would change the least.  With two toddlers, we watch a lot of Disney, Jr. and I am a fan of their current offerings, in particular the way they tie into Disney franchises, but in a very specific way and with a learning focus.  Each show teaches a message.  I would recommend a little more consistency in the schedule.  Currently it's a mystery as to when new episodes air.  There will be a few weeks of new shows, then six weeks of reruns, and then a new episode.  I know they think it does not matter to preschoolers as they will watch reruns just as well as new episodes, but it makes a difference for the parents.  It helps us keep our sanity.
  • Example programs I would add - Journey into Imagination with Figment, It's a Small World, Ewoks or Droids Cartoon
Disney XD - With Disney XD, I would look to cement the demographic of the channel as children (boys and girls) ages 6 to 15.  This is a little more action based, a little more comedy based, but it should not be seen as skewing to boys only (as it has in the past).  This is for everyone who likes that kind of programming.  On this channel, beyond Disney and Pixar programming, Marvel and Lucasfilm programming would also be very appropriate.  Some Fox content could even fit into the channel, as I could see the Simpsons airing later in the night on this channel, if Disney retains the Simpsons.
  • Example programs I would add - Marvel's Power Pack, Zootopia series, 
Freeform - Freeform should continue to focus on teenagers and young adults (16-34).  In many ways, this is Disney's CW. It should offer original programming leaning into soap opera and sitcoms.  Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Fox library would all be appropriate here, particularly the ones that focus on teen and young adult protagonists, such as Marvel's Cloak and Dagger or cable airings of Marvel's Runaways off Hulu.  The most successful blocks of this channel are the 31 Nights of Halloween and 25 Days of Christmas and those should be maintained and reworked to focus on brand appropriate offerings (i.e. not promoting other studios material).  I would also explore whether the name could be changed to Oh My Disney! to bring it in line with the internet brand or something like DisneyLife, to further tie this to the Disney brand.
  • Example programs I would add - Marvel's New Warriors, Fairest of Them All
This would give the Disney cable channels coverage of all children and young adult demographics, as well as a full family channel (which is most in line with the overall company target).  Combined with the other channels in the portfolio, this represents a great place to start from.

As always, thank you for reading.  Next in the series is ABC.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Best Men Can Be

Gillette released a new ad this week entitled "We Believe."  In the ad, they seek to challenge the image of masculinity that the company one promoted by calling out and exposing toxic masculinity.  Particularly in this post #MeToo era. The ad calls for men everywhere to step up, to be protectors, to be heroes, to be role models.  It ends with a change in Gillette's old slogan from "The Best A Man Can Get" to the new "The Best Men Can Be."

It's a good ad. Actually, it's a great ad.  It goes to the core of the image Gillette previously presented and makes it relevant and inspiring for our time.

And apparently for some, that's a bad thing.

Hundreds of comments and replies to the Twitter post above and to the YouTube video that debuted the ad are decrying it, criticizing the tone of the ad, missing the point completely, accusing it of being an example of the worst forms of feminism, somehow.

As one comment put it,
"Gillette: *showing a video about how men can and should be better*

[large population of] men: *actively proving them right*"

For example:

And that is just a sample of the 128,659 comments on the YouTube video.  154,000 likes compared to 470,000 dislikes.

Are we that fragile as men that something like this offends us instead of inspiring us?  Are our egos that sensitive?  Or is it paranoia?

It's this kind of response that proves toxic masculinity.  Toxic masculinity refers to norms of accepted behaviors among men that are portrayed as good and natural but are, in reality, physically, socially, and psychologically damaging.  It's not just being male or masculine.  It's when masculinity requires one to be dominating, violent, sexually aggressive, self-reliant to the point of absurdity.  It's the kind of masculinity that hides and buries all feelings, that refuses to ask for help, that cannot show weakness of any kind.  That cannot be seen as "soft" or "feminine" in any form.  Cannot be nuturing.  Cannot be protective.  Cannot be caring.  Cannot emote publicly.  And its the kind that says that anyone who does not conform is not a "real" man.  The kind of masculinity that has messed us up since the dawn of time.

It's the kind of masculinity and thinking that says I "help out" with my kids instead of parent.  That I have "babysitting duty" instead of it being a natural part of the expectation of my experience as a father.  That acts as if a husband or a father doing laundry, housework, dishes, or cooking is somehow unique.  That my wife was "lucky," instead of those tasks being something that any functional human adult should be doing.

We can do better.  We should do and expect better.  Be the best we can be.

Because if the response to this ad is any indication - we have a long way to go.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Thou Fair Eliza (c) - Act 3, Scene 2 Addition

Today, I'd like to share my favorite addition to the script.  Act 3, Scene 2.  The garden party.  In My Fair Lady, the event was changed to a grand ball.  In the original Pygmalion, the event is referred to as a garden party.

Here, the goal was to show what Shaw only alluded to, and in particular, to lay the seeds for Eliza's choice to head to Mrs. Higgins house after the fight later that evening.  This should be the moment where Mrs. Higgins a glimpse into the depths of her son's narcissism, something she likely dismissed before.

In particular, there are a few lines in here that I could hear coming from the voices of actor's I would associate with the characters.



[The garden party.  The garden is situated in such a way that upstage center there is a stair with a terrace landing overlooking the garden.  This balcony is being used like a stairway at a grand ball; everyone entering and exiting the party are using the stairwell.  

Down stage center, a section has been reserved for a dance floor, the patrons swirling around the floor as the party continues on.

Throughout the party, the footman will be announcing names offstage, after which, the guests will enter upstage center, take the stairs Stage Right to go down into the garden.  

Mrs. Higgins has previously arrived at the party and is on the landing, watching the events of the party unfold.]

FOOTMAN. [offstage]  Colonel George Mayhew Pickering.

[Colonel Pickering enters on the landing and acknowledges Mrs. Higgins.]

PICKERING. Mrs. Higgins.  So good to see you this fine evening.

MRS. HIGGINS.  And you, Colonel Pickering.  I trust my wayward son has not been treating you too terribly.

PICKERING.  Oh, no.  Quite the contrary.  I dare say these last few days have been some of the most rewarding of this entire process.

FOOTMAN. [offstage] Professor Henry Higgins.

[Higgins enters brusquely.]

PICKERING.  Speak of the devil.  Ah, Henry.  I see you’ve made it in one piece.

HIGGINS.   Yes, and no worse for wear.  Though I must say, you should have seen the dreadful row that occurred before we could head out the door.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Really, Henry.

HIGGINS.  Hello, mother.  I trust you are enjoying yourself this evening.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Certainly, though it sounds like I missed the highlight of this evening’s festivities.

HIGGINS.  No, no.  Just a misunderstanding.  She, of course, decided to pick tonight of all nights to become obstinate.

PICKERING.  Now Henry…

HIGGINS.  Don’t “now Henry” me, Pick.  She knows this is exactly what she has prepared for.  She has been to enough luncheons and afternoon teas.  Tonight is the real test.

MRS. HIGGINS. Why Henry, if I did not know any better, I would say you were concerned.

HIGGINS.  Of course I’m concerned…

FOOTMAN. [offstage] Professor Francios Nepean.

HIGGINS. And that is why.

[Professor Nepean enters, and passes the party by on the balcony.]

NEPEAN. Higgins [nodding]

HIGGINS. Nepean.

[The trio watches as Nepean descends the stairs and begins to work his way around the party.]

HIGGINS.  That vulture.  If Eliza slips even for a second, he’ll see right through her.

PICKERING. Henry, she will be fine.  She could not be any more prepared.

HIGGINS.  We shall see if that has proven enough.  Ee, gods, what other calamities will this night entail?

FOOTMAN. [offstage]  Mrs. Glennis Eynsford Hill, accompanied by Master Frederick Eynsford Hill and Miss Clara Eynsford Hill.

HIGGINS.  Of course.

[The Eynsford Hills enter and begin their introductions.]

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL.  Mrs. Higgins, what a pleasure.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Likewise, my dear.  I trust you have been getting along well since our last luncheon.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL.  Oh, yes.  I hope Freddy has not been too much of a bother in the days since.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Not at all.  He is a splendid conversationalist.

MISS EYNSFORD HILL. [to Mrs. Eynsford Hill]  Mother, may I proceed down to the festivities below?  I want to begin rounding out my dance card as quickly as possible.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. Unaccompanied … - … I …

PICKERING. Mrs. Eynsford Hill, would you permit me to escort you and your daughter.  It would be a privilege

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL.  Yes, that would be wonderful.  Thank you, sir.  Come along, Clara.

FREDDY. [to Higgins] Will Miss Doolittle be attending this evening?  I do hope to see her.

HIGGINS.  She should be here by now.  I wonder what the devil could be keeping her.

FOOTMAN. [offstage]  Miss Eliza Doolittle.

[The pace of the scene slows tremendously as Eliza enters the scene.  All eyes immediately go to her.]

HIGGINS.  There you are.  It’s about time you made your entrance.  Now..


FREDDY.  [to Eliza, fumbling over his words]  Miss Doolittle, … you look….  That is to say… Would you grant me the honor of this dance?

[Eliza nods and they both descend the stairway stage right and make their way to downstage center.   Leaving Mrs. Higgins and the Professor on the balcony.  Debussy’s Claire de Lune begins playing in the background.  All eyes continue to be on Eliza as she dances and makes her way around the room.  

After several moments.]

MRS. HIGGINS.  Henry, she’s radiant.

HIGGINS.  She is doing fairly well, isn’t she?  I dare say, this whole gambit make succeed after all.

MRS. HIGGINS.  It may well indeed, but that is not what I am referring to, Henry.  Surely her beauty cannot have escaped even your notice?

[Professor Nepean approaches Eliza.]

HIGGINS.  Mmmhmmm.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Henry [slightly exasperated] I fear this damned contest of yours has gone on long enough.  What is to be done with Eliza after this evening’s performance?

HIGGINS.  [barely listening] Done with what, Mother?

MRS. HIGGINS.  Eliza, Henry.  What will be done with Eliza?

HIGGINS.  Eliza seems to be doing splendidly.  I suppose we shall know soon enough.  Here comes Nepean.

[Nepean ascends the stairway stage left and approaches Higgins.]

NEPEAN.  Henry, you have truly found a star in your new pupil.  I would watch myself.  I dare say she may outshine us all.

[Nepean nods and exits.]

HIGGINS.  Did you hear that, Mother?  A triumph.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Yes, dear, but what does this mean for Eliza?

HIGGINS.  Mean?!?  It means I’ve done it.  I’ve taken a dirty little guttersnipe and turned her into the most genteel of ladies.  There is no limit to what she can do now.

MRS. HIGGINS.  [Resigned]  There is no getting through to you, is there?

HIGGINS.  Yes, dear.  Now look, she’s approaching the duchess…

[Mrs. Higgins and the Professor continue to observe from the balcony.  As music continues to play and we have a sense of the passage of the evening, we hear the Westminster chimes toll 11:30 pm.  We see a spark of recognition and resignation in Eliza’s face.  She looks for and finds Colonel Pickering and after a brief exchange, takes his arm and ascends the stairwell stage left.]

MRS. HIGGINS.  Leaving so soon, Miss Doolittle.  I believe you have them eating out of the palm of your hand.

LIZA.  Yes.  Thank you.  I believe I could continue dancing well on into morning, but I feel I should return home.

PICKERING.  I tried to convince her to stay and enjoy herself, but she insisted.

LIZA.  It has been a wonderful evening, but I should be home before my fairy godmother returns.

HIGGINS.  Fairy godmother, what on earth are you…

MRS. HIGGINS.  It’s nothing dear.  Why don’t you take Miss Doolittle on home?  I’ll expect to hear from you in the morning.   And Miss Doolittle [almost an aside] … you were marvelous.

Eliza silently nods demurely in recognition.

HIGGINS.  If you insist.  Good night mother.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Good night, Henry.

PICKERING.  A pleasure as always, Mrs. Higgins.

HIGGINS, PICKERING, and LIZA all gather to leave.

LIZA.  [as they exit] It really was a wonderful dream.


*Thou Fair Eliza, (c) Keeler, 2018

Monday, January 14, 2019

Thou Fair Eliza (c) - Act 2, Scene 1 Insert

With the copyright secured, and with the play not being produced this season, I'd like to take a couple of days to share a couple of my favorite inserts and revisions from the reworking of Pygmalion into Thou Fair Eliza*.

The first piece I'd like to share is an insert of a beat into scene 1 of Act 2.  The goal was to provide a greater insight into Eliza's mindset in this introduction to the Professor's world.  The challenge was to make the insert appear seamless, blending with Shaw's text and not drawing attention to the new material.

To that end, I've included a bit of the lead in and followup that originated in Shaw's text, along with the new insert.


MRS. PEARCE [patiently] I think you'd better let me speak to the girl properly in private. I don't know that I can take charge of her or consent to the arrangement at all. Of course I know you don't mean her any harm; but when you get what you call interested in people's accents, you never think or care what may happen to them or you. Come with me, Eliza.

HIGGINS. That's all right. Thank you, Mrs. Pearce. Bundle her off to the bath-room.

LIZA [rising reluctantly and suspiciously] You're a great bully, you are. I won't stay here if I don't like. I won't let nobody wallop me. I never asked to go to Bucknam Palace, I didn't. I was never in trouble with the police, not me.

MRS. PEARCE. Don't answer back, girl. You don't understand the gentleman. Come with me. [She leads the way to the door, and holds it open for Eliza].

LIZA [as she goes out] Well, what I say is right. I won't go near the king, not if I'm going to have my head cut off. If I'd known what I was letting myself in for, I wouldn't have come here. I always been a good girl; and I never offered to say a word to him; and I don't owe him nothing; and I don't care; and I won't be put upon; and I have my feelings the same as anyone else—

[Mrs. Pearce and Eliza exit into the hallway. Pickering comes from the hearth to the chair and sits astride it with his arms on the back.  Main action and focus will be on Mrs. Pearce and Eliza, with dialogue below.]

MRS. PEARCE.  This way girl.  Keep up.  And do stop fidgeting. 

LIZA. Ma’am…?

MRS. PEARCE. [Slightly exasperated] My name is Mrs. Pearce.  You can address me as such.

LIZA.  Yes’em.  Mrs. Pearce, can I ask you a question?


LIZA. What kind of man is the professor?


LIZA. You called him wicked.  Is he?

MRS. PEARCE.  The professor is a gentleman, I can assure you that.  I know not what he intends for your future, but you can be assured that no harm will come to you in this house, under my watch.

LIZA.  And Colonel Pickering?

MRS. PEARCE. I do not know the Colonel well, but from what I can observe, he appears the perfect gentleman.

LIZA. And how does the professor treat you?

MRS. PEARCE. Dear girl, the professor gives me no more regard than the phonograph in his study.  So long as I function properly and keep the house in order, we get along fine.


MRS. PEARCE. It would serve you well to remember that.  And if you have any issues, bring them to me first.  Are we clear?

LIZA. Yes’em

MRS. PEARCE.  Good.  Come now.  You best not go back into that study until you are spotless.

[Focus shifts back to Higgins and Pickering in the study, as Mrs. Pearce ushers Eliza offstage.]

PICKERING. Excuse the straight question, Higgins. Are you a man of good character where women are concerned?

HIGGINS [moodily] Have you ever met a man of good character where women are concerned?

PICKERING. Yes: very frequently.

HIGGINS [dogmatically, lifting himself on his hands to the level of the piano, and sitting on it with a bounce] Well, I haven't. I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me, she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious, and a damned nuisance. [He sits down on the bench at the keyboard]. So here I am, a confirmed old bachelor, and likely to remain so.

PICKERING [rising and standing over him gravely] Come, Higgins!  You know what I mean. If I'm to be in this business I shall feel responsible for that girl. I hope it's understood that no advantage is to be taken of her position.


Tomorrow, I plan to share my favorite scene and addition to the text.

* Thou Fair Eliza, (c) Keeler, 2018.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

One Another

Today we looked at the "one anothers" of the new testament.  The commands that have been given to us as followers of Christ regarding how we should treat each other.

There's a bit of this in the infographic below, but while the words "one another" may be two words in English, it is just one word in the Greek New Testament.  The graphic below lists that it appears 100 times in 94 verses the New Testament.  Other sites list 59 one another mentions.  Either way, the majority come from Paul's epistles to the churches.  This makes sense, as Paul's writings were exhortations to the members of the body regarding how they should live.

I am reminded that one way to place emphasis is through repetition.  It seems that the Lord wants us to know how to treat one another, as He has placed such emphasis on it.  He has to keep reminding us.

We are to be at peace with one another.  Be devoted to one another.  Honor one another.  Accept one another.  Instruct one another.  Wait for one another.  Have equal concern for one another.  Bear with one another.  Forgive one another.  Be kind and compassionate to one another.  Admonish one another.  Encourage one another.

And we are to love one another.  Love one another.  Love one another.  Repeated more than any of the others.  I guess this was the one we were going to have to work on the most (and it shows).

So this week, let’s work on how we treat one another. 

And if we need the reminder, I've included the list below.  I know I'll be circling back on this one.  

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Age Challenge

So there is a new challenge going around social media.  To show how hard aging hit you, post your first profile picture and your last profile picture.  While I'm not one for all social media challenges, this one is actually fun.

The photo on the left is in the Northern coast of France, looking toward the white cliffs of Dover, circa 2008.  The photo on the right is from Walt Disney World, circa December 2017.  Nearly a decade between.

My face shows a bit in the years. Bigger bags under the eyes. More lines at their corners, thanks in large part to the additions in the second photo.

What the photos do not show are the events in between.  A marriage nearing a decade ago, a daughter, and a son. New in-laws and four nephews.  Lots of travels all over the world.  The loss of an uncle, a grandfather, a grandmother and two aunts.  Laughter and tears.  Lots of sleepless nights.

Thankfully, we have those moments documented too.  And I'm grateful for the part this blog is helping in documenting the events of our life.

Let's try this again in another ten years, and see how much else has changed.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Comics and Congress

I think we may have reached peak nerd culture - the point where comics references get thrown out by Congressional Representatives.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been a flash point of criticism and analysis from both the left and the right.  As the youngest woman ever elected to Congress she has been both a popular and polarizing figure in social media, news, and culture.  She has over two million Twitter followers and is quick to fight back on social media when attacked.

Regardless of what you think of her politics, at times it seems she is playing a completely different game than the other senators and representatives.  When the different groups attack her or criticize her, she is able to turn it around quicker than any other politician I've seen.

This morning, an article on Politico suggested that nearly 20 members of the House Democratic Caucus was "exasperated" with her threat to back primary opponents against members of their ranks she deems too moderate.  They are worried that she is not using her notoriety in the best benefit of the Democratic Party.

Her response was to re-tweet a post that said you "cannot rein in Latinas," adding a quote from Alan Moore.

The quote is from Watchmen, referencing a scene where the damaged vigilante Rorschach has been put into prison with a number of criminal that he himself put behind bars.  The criminals thought they could get a jump on him.  After one criminal tries to shiv him and he scars him with hot grease from the food line, he responded with the quote above.  Indicating that he was glad to be in prison because it affords him the opportunity to continue to punish them.

Ocasio-Cortez makes it clear from her use of the quote she is a reader and a fan.  She not only includes the quote but attributes it to the author Alan Moore.  It shows her youth, it shows her nerd culture, and it shows the depths that nerd culture has just become pop culture.

We've had touches before.  Obama was a self-proclaimed comic reader, particularly an avid collector of Spider-man and Conan the Barbarian.  But that was always an exception.  A rarity.    Now, as the age of our representatives gets lower/as more Generation X-Millenials become elected officials, the connection to deep fandoms will become more common place.

That's a long way from the Wertham hearings.

Thursday, January 10, 2019


After checking the mail yesterday, I'm pleased to report that I'm the proud owner of a United States Copyright. The Copyright Office accepted the registration on Thou Fair Eliza (c) Keeler, 2018.

Jamie will not be staging this adaptation of Pygmalion for one act this year, so we're exploring options.  She'd still like to be the first to stage, so we're evaluating when that might be and whether/when to share with other directors.  It's an exciting decision to be facing.

With this year's Tinsletown, Texas Christmas Chronicles story finished, the goal is now to turn to The End of Civil Discourse.  The overall plot is there, it just needs to be committed to paper.  Something to plan for the months ahead.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

If I Were Disney CEO Part 33 - Television and Streaming Overview

As I transition between corporate units, from Studio Entertainment to Television, I wanted to preface the change with an overview post, similar to how I started the the previous divisions.  The goal for this post is to outline overarching ideas and goals for the television division as a whole and how that will impact decisions for the individual channels and offerings.

Television and home entertainment represent an exciting opportunity for Disney to be at the forefront of a massive shift in the way media is presented.  With the increase in "cable-cutting" and streaming options, the change in the form of television consumption should lead to requisite changes in the form of television presentation. This opens big opportunities for experimentation and innovation.

Further, the structure of Disney's television offerings should allow for complete coverage of all demographics as well as increased synergy with the other content generating departments, particularly Studio Entertainment.  The overall strategy then will be similar to Studio Entertainment, focusing on redevelopment and rebranding to fully flesh out the television and streaming slate.

As before, there are a few goals that will carry through this division:

  • The primary goal is to cement each offerings unique identity.  To identify why each television channel and streaming option exists.  This also plays into identifying what demographic the offering serves.
    • This applies across non-Disney network offerings as well.  What does ABC represent compared to NBC, CBS or Fox?
    • The individual channels within Disney's offerings must likewise be unique among themselves.  The Disney Channel should be a unique offering from Freeform.
  • A secondary goal will be to identify gaps in the current television offerings and fill those with appropriate content.
    • For example, in comparison to other media conglomerates, one offering that Disney does not offer is a 24-hour news network.  Should an ABC News channel be offered?  Does this fit a core competency of the network and the company?
    • Further, you could compare The Disney Channel as it currently exists and Disney XD as appealing to the same age bracket, but one focused on tween girls and the other on tween boys.  Is there a need for gender-specific networks anymore?  Or would should they be offered to reach different age brackets with offerings for both girls and boys?
  • A further goal will be to coordinate between broadcast and streaming options such that each fill a purpose, recognizing the both division and overlap between the audiences.  
    • For example, content could flow both directions from broadcast to streaming and from streaming to broadcast and reach additional viewers in each direction.  This can even be expanded to cover broadcast and cable.
  • A final goal will be to leverage synergies with the Studio Entertainment brands in the appropriate channels.
    • ESPN Studios films would be natural fits for ESPN and so on.
    • Further, Studio Entertainment offerings may cut across various television offerings.  Spider-man may be appropriate for Freeform, whereas the Defenders and the Punisher may be better suited for FX.

With that framework, the following television and streaming options will be discussed over the coming weeks:
*Please note, while Disney has participation in A&E, History, and Lifetime, I've decided not to focus on those networks and would even recommend them for divestiture.

This should give a little bit of a preview for some of the changes that I would implement and will serve as a continuing guidepost for the entries over the coming weeks.

As always, thank you for reading and continuing through this journey with me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


For my daily reading this year, I'm working through the Apocrypha and other non-canonical books of the Bible.  It's something that I've always wanted to undertake, as I think it provides fascinating insight into what we consider the Biblical canon.  It's also making an interesting parallel to Jamie and my study of Kings and Chronicles.

For example, I've started with First Esdras, a particularly interesting book as First Esdras seems to be an ancient Greek version of the canonical book of Ezra, with one additional section added.  Comparatively, the text of First Esdras covers two chapters of II Chronicles, the whole text of Ezra, and a segment of Nehemiah.

In studying the background of First Esdras, it has taught me a few things about the canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Like the fact that Ezra and Nehemiah in many ways could be considered another "double book" in the Old Testament, like Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.  Ezra was sometimes recorded as Esdras 1 and Nehemiah was Esdras 2.

The most interesting study so far has been the part that is omitted from the canonical book of Ezra.  The "Darius contest" or the "Tale of Three Guardsmen," the story of a speech-writing competition between three bodyguards of Darius I, in which the winner would receive honor and riches from the King.  It's used to explain how Zerubbabel is given sanction to rebuild the temple and return the sacred Temple vessels, through his victory in the contest.

The speech writing competition is an interesting one, as the topic for argument is what the strongest force on Earth is.  The first argues that wine is the strongest, given how it can control men through addiction, through change in temperament, through intoxication, etc.  The second argues that the king is the strongest as he has the power to compel, whether by loyalty or by force.  The third bodyguard, Zerubbabel wins by proclaiming that woman is the strongest, but truth is stronger.  Zerubbabel particularly points out woman's power over the king.  "If she smiles at him, he laughs; if she loses her temper with him, he flatters her so that she may be reconciled with him.  Gentlemen, why are not women strong, since they do such things?" 1 Esd. 4:31-32.  This makes for an interesting omission in the canonical text, particularly when other historians like Josephus include the account in his Antiquities of the Jews circa AD 94.

The passage on the ultimate supremacy on truth is also a beautiful inclusion regarding the higher power that we recognize in all things.  "O ye men, are not women strong?  Great is the earth, high is the heaven, swift is the sun in his course, for he compasseth the heavens round about, and fetcheth his course again to his own place in one day.  Is he not great that maketh these things?  Therefore great is the truth, and stronger than all things."  1 Esd. 4:34-35.  "As for the truth, it endureth, and is always strong; it liveth and conquereth forevermore." 1 Esd. 4:38.

I'll finish First Esdras tomorrow and then transition to Second Esdras, a kind of Revelation of Ezra or the Jewish Apocalypse of Ezra.  I look forward to the new discoveries in this process throughout the year and will keep updating here as new passages and revelations come to light.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Olivia De Havilland "Feud" Closed

And so it seems that Olivia de Havilland's feud with the Ryan Murphy produced FX television series Feud will come to an end.  The 102 year old actress (!) had sued FX, Fox 21 TV, and produced Ryan Murphy for the use of her name and persona in the "Feud: Bette and Joan" miniseries, claiming in particular that Catherine Zeta Jone's portrayal painted her as a gossip who spoke casually and disparagingly of friends and acquaintances like Davis, Crawford, Frank Sinatra, and her sister Joan Fontaine.    De Havilland took particular umbrage with the show de Havilland character's use of the word "bitch" twice to describe Joan Fontaine.  De Havilland's attorney argued that no record exists of de Havilland ever using that word, much less in regard to her sister.

De Havilland originally filed suit in Los Angeles, which was allowed to proceed by the Los Angeles judge. A California appellate court reversed that decision back in March 2018 and the California Supreme Court previously declined to take up the case.  Today the United States Supreme Court has decided not to take up the suit.

The MPAA is celebrating the news, stating that they are "pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the De Havilland v. FX Networks case" and that this is "great news for filmmakers and other creators, whose First Amendment right to tell stories that depict real people and events was resoundingly reaffirmed by the Court of Appeals, and for audiences everywhere who enjoy a good biopic, documentary, docudrama, or work of historical fiction."

De Havilland's attorneys in turn state the "California Court of Appeal has turned the First Amendment upside down and without doubt more harm to individuals and public deception will result.  One day someone else who is wronged for the sake of Hollywood profits will have the courage to stand on the shoulders of Miss de Havilland and fight for the right to defend a good name and legacy against intentional, unconsented exploitation and falsehoods." (emphasis mine)

I'm going to have to side with Miss de Havilland here.  The First Amendment does not extend to protecting falsehood.  Historical dramas have enough issues with addressing inaccuracies with long dead figures.  At least in those instances, there are more gaps to fill in people's character and mannerisms.  The danger of portraying a living figure is that they can point out the specific inaccuracies and blatant misrepresentations that are presented.

I really think the creators of the series may have forgotten Miss de Havilland is still alive.  She has lived in relative quiet seclusion in Paris since her retirement.  They never reached out to her for permission to use her likeness nor did they reach out for any background information that would inform or corroborate their take.  And while the feud between Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine may be legendary in its own right, that does not make the portrayal in Feud accurate.

The California Court of Appeals had determined that a person does not "own history" regardless of stature, nor "does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove, or veto the creator's portrayal of actual people."

Maybe not, but we at least used to make certain that the portrayal had truth in it.

Sunday, January 6, 2019


"A manifestation of a divine or supernatural being; a moment of sudden revelation or insight."

Today marks Epiphany, or Three Kings Day.  Twelfth Night has ended, and the magi have arrived.  A celebration of the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and the physical manifestation of Christ to the gentiles.

After today, the twelve days of Christmas are over and we enter Carnival.  King Cake season.  A celebration in preparation of the coming fast.

I think the Biblical account of the Magi provides us a blueprint for how to approach this new year with the appropriate viewpoint.

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold and frankincense and myrrh."

What would it look like if we started the year with exceeding great joy, celebrating our encounter with the Messiah?  If we brought Him the best gifts we can, that reflect His character.  Gold celebrated His kingship, frankincense celebrated His deity, and myrrh celebrated His death.  What would we bring, what aspect of His character would we celebrate?

So, let's celebrate the season.  Let's start the year with joy.  And may we carry that spirit forward throughout the year.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Top 10 Underrated Songs from My Childhood

This one almost got away from me.  We went to watch Mary Poppins Returns on Christmas Day.  And since then I've been listening to the soundtrack.  It's not the Sherman Brothers original, but I think it's getting a little overplayed in the reviews of the film that the songs are not as good.  They are different, to be sure, and there is a magic to what the Sherman Brothers write, but the new songs for the film are very well written and very smart, especially for the styles they are trying to pay homage.

This whole process got me thinking of underrated songs from my childhood.  The ones that no one else may remember, but really stuck out to me.  Not the chart toppers, but the B sides.  From there, I've put together of my Top 10 Favorite Underrated Songs of My Childhood, particularly from the movies I grew up with.

Please note, I'm using a loose definition here of my childhood, containing material written long before I was born, but that got major play in the Keeler household.  I've also included at least one song that stretches the length of my childhood a little far, but to me represents one of the most underrated Disney songs of all time.

So, with that introduction, in no particular order:

  • The Girls of Rock and Roll - The Chipmunk Adventure - The Chipmunk Adventure was a favorite movie of mine (and as I would discover, a favorite of Jamie's as well).  Released at the time the Chipmunks were big on Saturday Morning Cartoons, the film had the Chipmunks and Chipettes on a world trip adventure.  The song The Girls/Boys of Rock and Roll is a great call and response where the two groups are arguing over who is greater.  I may still know too many of the lyrics to this song.
  • God Help The Outcasts - The Hunchback of Notre Dame - The most underrated Disney song ever written and perhaps one of the most beautiful songs ever written in a Disney film.  It's the Feed the Birds of the Disney Renaissance.  The juxtaposition of an outcast asking for protection of others like her with those in the church asking for wealth, power, and fame will always resonate.  God help the outcasts or nobody will.
  • Let's Make Music Together - All Dog's Go to Heaven - Ken Page and Burt Reynolds duet as a blues alligator and guardian angel dog in a song about making beautiful music.  Ken Page's voice is amazing and it shines through here even more than it does as Oogie Boogie.
  • I Hope that Somethin' Better Comes Along - The Muppet Movie - Kermit and Rowlf commiserating their luck with women.  Surprising lyrics for a "kids movie" but very enjoyable.  "Made a monkey out of old King Kong, I hope that something better comes along."  All the more impressive that these were both characters Jim Henson voiced, so it's Jim Henson in a duet with himself.  
  • Good Company - Oliver and Company - Oliver and Company is an overlooked Disney film and Good Company is an overlooked song within it.  If any song is remembered, it's usually Why Should I Worry by Billy Joel.  Good Company is a great friendship song that is accompanied by piano practice.  A lot like Scales and Arpeggios in The Aristocats.  Always in good company.
  • Mother Earth and Father Time - Charlotte's Web - A Sherman Brothers classic lullaby overshadowed by Hushabye Mountain.  Debbie Reynolds sings this wonderfully, a beautiful song about time. How very special are we, indeed.
  • Together Again - The Muppets Take Manhattan - Another Muppets classic, this time from an overlooked film, The Muppets Take Manhattan.  A song about reunions that was reused cleverly in Muppets Most Wanted as Together Again Again.  It's not starting over, it's just going on.
  • Gratifaction - Tom Sawyer - A Sherman Brothers madeup word song.  From the version of Tom Sawyer with Johnny Whitaker and Jodi Foster.  How Tom gets the boys to paint the fence.  A deep down inside gratifying satisfaction - gratifcation. 
  • The Neverending Story Theme - The Neverending Story - Released by Limahl in both English and French, this was the song for epic fantasy as we grew up.  The answer to a neverending story.
  • On the Front Porch - Summer Magic - though released well before I was born, I saw this film a lot as a child.  This is the most beautiful song in the film.  An anthem to a slow life, written by the Sherman Brothers, sung by Burl Ives.  One of my favorite songs of all time.  Just a beautiful simple melody.  Oh how I long to linger here like this on the front porch with you.
What are the favorite songs of your childhood?  What other underrated masterpieces can you recommend?