Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

This gives a new meaning…

Monday, December 25th, 2017

…to a “white elephant” gift exchange:

A man was shot overnight on Christmas by what police say may have been a stray bullet while gathering with family for a gift exchange at a home in southwest Houston.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 25th, 2017

I’m having a hard time finding versions of this song on YouTube that I like. I might have to resort to something different next year.

But this year, you’re getting a twofer.

I like this video enough to post it. My quibble is that this is entirely instrumental, and I feel like this song needs vocals.

So I’ll throw this one in as a bone to all my prog-rock friends out there:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… (part V)

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

One more, I think, before Christmas. This is another military Christmas story, but does not involve General Mattis at all. It’s been widely retweeted by a whole bunch of folks, but if you haven’t already seen it:

Start there and follow the thread. Also for what it’s worth: I put this in the “funny” rather than “touching” category.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… (part IV)

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

Well, I got an early Christmas present this year. And it sits at the odd intersection of musical theater, law, politics, Christmas…and Rhode Island.

The folks at the Crimetown podcast did a partial reconstruction of “Buddy Cianci: The Musical”.

“There was this whole bunch of possibility. You could write a musical about pee and then you’d be on Broadway. We thought, you know what’s better than pee…is Buddy Cianci.”

—Jonathan Van Gieson

The musical had seven performances at the New York Fringe Festival in 2003. It has not been performed since, and there was no original cast recording.

This made me tear up a little: Jacksonville Jaguars fans decided to send trash cans to Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney after he called their quarterback “trash”.

Jadeveon Clowney’s response? Fill the trash cans and a van full of toys and give them to needy children. Like Lawrence, I’m still mostly checked out of the NFL, but this is a good story.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… (part III)

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Apropos of nothing in particular (no, really): the complete original Dragnet episode “The Big Little Jesus” is available on YouTube.

Christmas giving note.

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

I know we are inexorably drawing closer and closer to Christmas. I hope most, if not all, of you have your Christmas shopping done.

For the record, if you do not have your Christmas shopping done, and if you are, for reasons I cannot fathom, looking for a Christmas present for your humble blogger: please do not purchase this book for me. Thank you.

(If you do have someone in your life who is not cat allergic and likes spirituous liquor, Amazon does have this available with Prime shipping, so you can get it before Christmas. And there is even a Kindle edition, if you need to fill a gap on Christmas Day.)

TMQ Watch: December 19, 2017.

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Before we jump into this week’s column, we did want to make note of the not-technically-a-firing-but resignation of ESPN president John Skipper. We think it is appropriate to note this here because this is, and for reasons we will get into shortly.

We really don’t have much to say about this: we don’t care much for ESPN, or the way Skipper’s been running it. But substance abuse of any sort sucks, and we wish the man all the luck in the world.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas II: Electric Boogaloo.

Monday, December 11th, 2017

I’d like to give a little bit of love and publicity to a few charities that I’ve seen mentioned by other bloggers. I haven’t given money to all of these organizations yet, so don’t consider this to be endorsements of these groups. But all of these have touched me in one way or another (and not in the Harvey Weinstein sense), so if you’re looking for a place to give, you might want to consider these.

Respectable Lawyer put up a series of tweets yesterday about HDAP: the Houston Diaper Assistance Program. Basically, HDAP gets diapers (for free, or at a low cost) to people who need them: families who are at 133% to 200% of the poverty line.

This is an all-volunteer organization run by local lawyers in Houston. Every penny goes to diapers. They distributed over 50,000 diapers after Harvey. But, of course, Harvey also put a strain on their resources, and they’re trying to recover from that. So if you feel like it, you can give here, or you can read more from Respectable Lawyer’s tweets, starting from the one linked above.

I learned about HDAP and Respectable Lawyer’s tweets from Popehat’s twitter. And speaking of Popehat, Ken has a list of alternative giving suggestions up at that site.

Last week, Bethany Mandel was fundraising for Liberty in North Korea and their Refugee Rescues program:

Thousands of North Korean refugees have escaped their country, but are now at risk of exploitation & capture because they cannot afford the 3,000-mile journey to a safe country. LiNK helps refugees make that journey. Read more here:

It runs about $3,000 to get one refugee out of North Korea. Ms. Mandel has already met her fundraising goal (and I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to retweet this last week) but anything you can give is still going to help people get out of a literal Communist hellhole.

Finally, The Bloggess is doing the James Garfield Christmas Miracle again this year. The whole thing is too long to explain here, but it basically amounts to: people who need help asking for help, and people who can help helping them out. Go to the linked post for more details.

TMQ Watch: December 5, 2017.

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

The headline tells you all you need to know, in this week’s TMQ


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

This isn’t my Christmas post, but I heard this over the weekend, or at least I think I did: I was out and about and didn’t get a chance to ask the person behind the counter who was playing, but I’m pretty sure it was this.

Even if it isn’t, this is still the rocking-est version of “Little Drummer Boy” I’ve ever heard.

I’ll throw this in as a little bonus: it isn’t Christmas related, but it is related to a book I’m in the process of reading. Plus, feel that authentic 78 RPM hiss.

(TMQ Watch is coming. It might be tomorrow before I get it up, but if I can get it done today, I will. Odd how busy the Christmas season is.)

Books in brief.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

I’ve ranted to some of my friends about Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me and I should probably post a longer review here. (Short version: now I know why there aren’t more books following an author during their writing process.)

But you know how it is. Mom likes Jack Reacher, and I kind of do as well, so when I found a copy of Night School at Half-Price I grabbed it.

And I think it’s actually a pretty okay book. It still has some of the things that have started to grate on me (Reacher makes women’s clothes fall off: Reacher takes on seven guys at once), but the annoyances are modulated by a couple of factors:

  • This is a “historical” Reacher rather than a “contemporary” Reacher. Night School Reacher is still in the Army, and the book is set sometime between 1993 and 1999.
  • Frances Neagley from Without Fail and Bad Luck and Trouble is a major character (introduced early on, and cleverly, so I don’t think this is a spoiler). I like Neagley, and not just because Reacher doesn’t make her clothes fall off; she’s smart, at least as smart as Reacher and possibly smarter, and there are hints of an interesting backstory. I’d read an entire “Adventures of Frances Neagley, PI” novel if Child ever decided to write one.

There’s an interesting MacGuffin (who is “the American” and what is he selling for $100 million?), some clever procedural work, and a satisfying level of ass-kicking (seven against Reacher aside). Night School isn’t a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I don’t have a Single Action Army (yet) but I grabbed a copy of Shooting Colt Single Actions in All Styles, Calibers, & Generations from Half-Price right after Christmas (it was 20% off, so I picked it up for relatively short money). It seems like HPB got in a fair amount of relatively obscure gun books from someone or somewhere. (I also got a copy of Compliments of Col. Ruger in the same purchase.)

Venturino’s book, while about 20 years out of date, is still informative. I don’t know that much has changed in the world of Colt Single Actions since 1995. (Except for prices, and I suspect some of his listed vendors have closed up shop.) The most interesting thing about my copy of the book, though? When I’m reading it, I can just faintly smell Hoppe’s #9 or some other form of gun cleaner/lubricant coming off the pages. Someone must really have loved this book, and their guns.

(It isn’t an annoying smell, at least to me. I own a few books that used to belong to smokers; as any serious book collector will tell you, that’s annoying.)

One of my Christmas presents from my beloved and indulgent sister was Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life, a book I was previously unaware of (but which was a NYT bestseller). I’ll confess that I was initially a little bit skeptical about Spy Secrets, mostly because the author set off my “reality show contestant” radar. (He apparently appeared on “Shark Tank” and got a deal.)

My reality show skepticism was offset early on when Jason Hanson came out and said: he’s a gun guy, who has a permit, carries everywhere he legally can, and hangs out in gun shops. But Spy Secrets isn’t a gun book, nor is it a text on mastering covert tradecraft. Hanson’s emphasis is on protecting yourself through:

  • awareness – paying attention and knowing how to spot possible trouble.
  • avoidance – staying out of trouble and, if you stumble into it, not making it worse
  • preparedness – if you do get in trouble, what do you have and what do you know that can get you out, or at least keep you alive until the cavalry gets there?

I’m probably not the best person to evaluate this book – I’d love to see a take from Weaponsman or Karl – but Hanson impresses me as sane and practical. I do have one small quibble with his advice, but beyond that I feel comfortable recommending Spy Secrets. And if you have a high school or college freshman around, I think you could do a pretty good deed if you bought them a copy of this book, a nice tactical pen, and a good quality pocket-sized flashlight.

(My one quibble? I disagree with Hanson about the value of smartphones and text messaging. I agree with him that smartphones detract from situational awareness: I’m conscious of that in my own life and need to work on it. But it is also a well known fact that, in emergency situations where the cell network is overloaded, text messages have a much better chance of going through than phone calls. If you’ve got someone to watch your six, or can dictate a text to Siri, texting “Meet me at the meeting place” may be the smart way to go.)

Obit watch: December 30, 2016.

Friday, December 30th, 2016

George S. Irving has died. He was 94.

Mr. Irving was a Tony award winner (for a revival of “Irene” in which he acted opposite Debbie Reynolds):

Mr. Irving was a regular on Broadway, in the musicals “Can-Can,” “Bells Are Ringing” and “Irma La Douce,” among others, and in plays like Gore Vidal’s political satire “An Evening With Richard Nixon and…,” in which he played the title role.

He was also a television spokesman for White Owl cigars, and narrated episodes of “Underdog”.

But he was perhaps best known as the voice of Heat Miser in “The Year Without a Santa Claus”. He was also in “A Miser Brothers’ Christmas” (which I’d never even heard of, but I was apparently in my 40s when that premiered).