Is That A Light In the Sky Or Just A Spark In My Heart

We’re dying to be invaded and put the blame on something concrete

Waiting for the ufos.. waiting for the ufos
We are waiting for the ufos we know that they’re there

We’re just a joke they sometimes crack, they’ll get away with anything
The government is holding back, they won’t say a word
Now is that a light in sky or just a spark in my heart?
—-Graham Parker, Waiting for the UFOs

Bike riders waiting for the moon to rise, Trinity River Bottoms, Dallas, Texas
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I took this picture, a thirty second timed exposure, on this month’s Full Moon Ride along the Trinity Skyline Trail near downtown Dallas.

The white Calatrava bridge is the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge.

The red lights to the left, reflected in the pond (there wasn’t much water – Dallas in late August is very dry) are the other bike riders waiting for the full moon to rise. The white streak to the right is the smeared-out headlight of a bike rider coming around the trail to where I was.

One thing I didn’t notice – click on the image to view it full size – is that there is a subtle slightly curved line across the sky… with a series of evenly spaced dots caused by a blinking light in the long exposure.

Is it a UFO? Of course not. The extremely busy DFW airport is only a few miles to the left of the photo – it’s an airplane circling to land. Still, I never noticed it when I took the photo… it could be anything… now preserved in pixels.

We’re just waiting for the ufos – dying to be invaded.

one more song from the same album – always loved this one.

The Muncey Incident

It was a nice day today, the first really warm day (over 90) of the year. I wanted to get in a bike ride, so I sat down with Google Maps to figure one out.

Recently, the city of Plano has built a nice connector trail that runs from Oak Point Park in the east, across and under Highway 75 to connect with the Bluebonnet Trail and the rest of the trail system. I had stopped to explore this the other day on my way back from a visit to Frisco. That’s the nice thing about keeping my folding Xootr Swift in the back of my car – I can stop whenever I feel like it and explore.

I drive a tiny car - a Toyota Matrix. I always liked it because I could fold the rear seats down and get a bike (barely) into the back of the car (never liked exterior bike racks).  I was surprised at how small the Xootr Swift folded down. I was able to fit it easily in the small space behind the rear seat. Now I have a four-passenger car again.

I drive a tiny car – a Toyota Matrix. I always liked it because I could fold the rear seats down and get a bike (barely) into the back of the car (never liked exterior bike racks). I was surprised at how small the Xootr Swift folded down. I was able to fit it easily in the small space behind the rear seat. Now I have a four-passenger car again.

So I put together a fifteen mile ride (that linked map is backward – I decided at the last minute to ride the route in the opposite direction). I’d start in the north parking lot at Collin Creek Mall and take fifteenth street east and then P street north until I caught the trail that runs down to Oak Point. Then north through the park, and west on the new trail to the Bluebonnet Trail. I could it to the intersection with the Southeast heading Chisholm Trail which would take me back to my car.

It was a nice ride – with a lot of varied scenery. It stared in a real urban high-traffic area, then the woods and meadows of Oak Point, the odd urban pasture under high tension wires of the Bluebonnet trail, and finally a quiet suburban neighborhood.

Going through the park was interesting. First, in a wooded section, a bobcat ran across the trail right in front of me with a mouse in his jaws. I know they are there, but you don’t see too many bobcats, especially in the bright of the day.

As I worked north, I started coming across crowds of people walking along the trail. There was a huge music festival – the first Suburbia Music Festival – set up – giant stages, tents, rides – in the big open field that covers the hill at the park. It looked cool – but I don’t have the cash for admission so I rode on.

Finally, a little north of the festival (but close enough that I could still hear amplified music booming in the distance, I took a break at a picnic table along the trail. I had almost a gallon of iced water in a soft cooler attached to the CrossRack on the back of my Xootr Swift. I’ve found that carrying cold water like that makes riding in the Texas heat bearable and I wanted to get a jump on the season.

The spot was really nice. Even though it is in the middle of a giant tony Texas suburb, with miles of massive brick homes cheek-to jowl sprinkled with gas stations and chain restaurants… all this was hidden behind the riparian forest that followed Rowlett Creek and its tributaries. All I could see was my little strip of smooth concrete, a large expanse of tallgrass pasture (hopefully, they are trying to recreate a habitat that once covered the entire center of the country) and bordered by the thick bottomland woods.

Next to the table was a tilted sign – a historical marker. Protected by plexiglass was a big poster outlining a terrible event – the Muncey Massacre – that had occurred near the spot a long time ago. I read it, took a photo of it, and typed it out here for you to read – save you a trip out onto the trail.

It wasn’t hard to imagine the wildness and hardships of that time. Even with the music reverberating in the background.

The Muncey Incident

The promise of free land offered by the Republic of Texas for the purpose of colonizing the unappropriated lands of the Republic resulted in conflicts with American Indians due to encroachement on their way of life.

The first Anglo-American settler in the Plano area is believed to have been Mr. McBain Jameson, who received his conditional certificate (land grant) from the Republic of Texas on January 2, 1840. The next family to settle in the area was that of Jeremiah Muncey, his wife and four children. Muncey received his grant on January 3, 1842. In 1844 Jameson, an older man, settled with the Muncey family rear Rowlett Creek. The chosen site was situated near the intersection of Legacy Road and Highway 5/Avenue K today. The homestead was at the edge of the densely wooded creek bottom near a spring. The Muncey family and Jameson reportedly were living in a temporary shelter while constructing a log cabin.

According to traditional accounts, in the fall of 1844, Leonard Searcy, his son, William Rice and his son went on a hunting trip down Rowlett Creek. They set up camp about ten miles from their home, near the Muncey homestead. The next morning, when Leonard Searcy went in search of the Muncey family, “…he discovered a heartrending sight.”

Mr. and Mrs. Muncey, their young child, and Jameson had been murdered. The three Muncey boys were gone. It was later discovered that the 15-year-old had gone to another settlement for provisions, but the 17- and 12-year old boys appeared to have been taken captive.

There was evidence the attack had occurred that morning, only a few hours before Searcy’s arrival. Believing the perpetrators might still be near, Searcy quickly returned to camp to warn the others. When he arrived, only the elder Rice was at the camp, as their two sons had ridden off to hunt. The two fathers immediately went searching for them and soon found the body of Mr. Rice’s son. They loaded his body onto a horse and with no sign of young Searcy, rode the ten miles home. They arrived to find Searcy’s son already home. The young Searcy had been with Rice’s son when they were attacked and told them the story of his narrow escape.

A party of men was gathered to pursue the suspects who “traveled fast and were not overtaken.” The two missing Muncey boys were never heard from again, but remains believed to be that of the boys were later found on the “flats” along the retreating trail. The true identity of the assailants was never known. Oral history attributes the attack to American Indians on the basis of young Searcy’s account of the death of the Rice boy. Such a confrontation would not have been unexpected, for the incoming Anglo settlers were taking away the homeland of the American Indians and threatening their very existence. Nevertheless, we will never know the true story of who was actually involved, for the telling of the story from generation to generation has likely introduced assumptions and biases that do not reflect the original event.

The Muncey incident, however, had no impact on the continuing influx of settlers, for Texas became a state in 1845 and Collin County was established the following year. Reputedly the Muncey confrontation was the last violent episode between settlers and American Indians in this area. Nevertheless, as one account noted “it…struck cold fear into the hearts of the early settlers and they lived with this fear for years to come.”

Produced by The Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation, Inc.
Funded by a grant for the City of Plano Heritage Commission.

My Xootr Swift along the trail near the site of the Muncey Massacre, Plano, Texas.

My Xootr Swift along the trail near the site of the Muncey Massacre, Plano, Texas.

The view of trail, meadow, and trees. You would never know you were in the middle of a gigantic city. The historical information was in the sign my bike is leaning on. Plano, Texas.

The view of trail, meadow, and trees. You would never know you were in the middle of a gigantic city. The historical information was in the sign my bike is leaning against. Plano, Texas.

White Rock Lake

I always seem to get sick between Christmas and New Year. Since I haven’t been able to breathe, I haven’t rode my bike since the day after Christmas. I miss it.

So I’m looking at photos I took not very long ago.

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. December 15, Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle. (click to enlarge)

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. December 15, Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle.
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White Rock Lake, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

White Rock Lake, Dallas, Texas
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Dallas Tweed Ride

Today was an event I was looking forward to, the Dallas 2013 Tweed Ride.

I had what was, I guess, the bare minimum – a tweed jacket from Goodwill and a tweed cap a friend had found on Amazon. So I was ready, if only minimally so.

The ride was originally scheduled for a week ago, but had to be postponed because of the ice storm. The weather was impossible that day, but it was pretty cold today – low forties, overcast, foggy, with a wicked north wind screaming in like a wave of icy razor blades. The last tweed ride – two years ago – was on a preternaturally warm day and had a huge turnout. Today looked like the opposite. I had to think hard about whether I wanted to go. It was nasty outside and the house was warm. I had plenty to do at home.

I futzed and dutzed and prepared as best I could. I decided to ride my commuter bike, and strap on as much crap as I thought I needed onto it. One pannier was packed with my camera and tripod and the other one I filled with two vacuum bottles of hot coffee. I also filled a small flask with some rum, just in case.

Though it wasn’t authentic, I wore a modern thermal vest under my jacket – hoping to keep my core warm.

And I set out to ride my bike to the DART station. As I turned north into the wind, at the end of my block, I decided to turn around and go home. I was out of breath – since the ice storm I’ve been hanging around and am not used to riding… I felt ridiculous in my silly getup. But most of all, the cutting cold wind made riding simply too miserable.

But then I thought about how decisions about giving up go down. The problem is; the pain, the uncomfortable cold, and the icy wind are all too obvious negatives… while the positives of actually braving the elements were out there in the uncertain future, and not for sure. How do you judge the merit of something that you don’t actually do? If you give in to the immediately uncomfortable and reject the possible future… you won’t get out of bed in the morning.

So I sucked it up and pedaled on. As I rode toward the train station, I noticed the clouds breaking up to the north and by the time I reached it the sun was actually breaking through the clouds, and the vicious wind began to break. I bought my pass and the transit gods sent a train in at the exact second I arrived on the platform (that is rare – I’m usually cursed and get to see my train leaving as I pull up – and have to wait).

The ride started by the Grassy Knoll at Dealey Plaza in Downtown Dallas, behind the famous wooden fence. I had thought that the interest in the assassination site would die down after the recent fiftieth anniversary, but there was a huge crowd of tourists wandering around… looking askance at the small crowd of people wearing odd clothing, standing around with a motley collection of bicycles, and shivering.

The crowd wasn’t huge – the cold and the postponement had taken its toll – but there was enough. We set out and rode through downtown, looping past Klyde Warren Park for photographs, and then down Main Street – past the Dallas Eye – and across the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack into Oak Cliff.

About two weeks ago, some folks and I had spent a few hours sweeping the track clean. Unfortunately, the ice storm had forced the city to sand the bridge heavily and the traffic had pushed a lot of sand and rock into the bicycle lanes – making our work worthless and the track difficult and dangerous. I took my time crossing – I didn’t want to ride fast through that slippery gravel, but the sun was still out and the view was really nice.

We rode into Oak Cliff, through Bishop Arts and on to the Turner House, where there were refreshments and photographs. We couldn’t stay too long – it was a long way from home, so I rode back across the river and caught the train downtown.

The temperature dropped after the sun went down and the ride home from the station was very cold… but bearable.

Tweed is warmer than you think.

The Tweed Ride posing in Klyde Warren Park

The Tweed Ride posing in Klyde Warren Park
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Dallas Observer Article and Photos of the ride

Charming Portraits of People With Their Bicycles at the Dallas Tweed Ride

Sweeping the Cycletrack

There are a lot of cycling events in Dallas, this time of year… even though the weather is extremely iffy. It can be freezing, wet, windy, or even hot – but at least it won’t be toxic, like the days of summer.

There were three things bicycle-wise I wanted to do on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but I didn’t commit to them (in this day and age, lack of commitment is a “maybe” on a facebook event) because my son Lee was in for the holidays from New Orleans (my other son was in New York with some friends) and I wanted to be free to spend some time with him.

What was I thinking? He has better things to do than to hang out with me.

The first event was an eleven o’clock sweeping at the cycletrack that runs over the Jefferson Street Viaduct.

In its never ending quest to climb out of the basement of the worst city for cycling in the US – one thing that Dallas did was establish a two-way cycle track across the Trinity River on the Jefferson Street bridge. I think it is semi-temporary and the route will move to the Houston Street bridge once the trolley route has been constructed there – but that will be years into the future.

The route is a lot of fun – one of my favorite rides in the city. When you think of cycling infrastructure that is used for transportation rather than recreation you begin to think in terms of “choke points” – place where you can’t cross easily or safely on a bicycle. Classic choke points are highways, rail lines, and rivers. A huge one in Dallas is the Trinity River and its river bottoms – it divides the metroplex in half and makes it impossible to commute the short distance downtown from Oak Cliff. Routes are opening up – such as the Santa Fe Trestle crossing, but they suffer from lack of connections on each end.

The Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack was a godsend. It runs right from the heart of Oak Cliff into the center of downtown and is a great commuting route with a killer view from the top of the bridge.

View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

The problem was that the city didn’t do a very good job of cleaning the track and it has been collecting a lot of junk, rocks, and dirt… and especially that bane of delicate bicycle tires, broken glass.

So on Saturday, local bicyclists banded together and a group was organized to sweep the entire mile and a half length. I wanted to go but didn’t realize until the last minute that I was able to work it into my schedule. I loaded up my car, dug out an old push broom from the garage and drove out. I have been trying to reduce the amount of driving I do (and have been more successful than I imagined) but today the timing was too tight so I cheated and drove. I parked in the old semi-abandoned parking garage (the place where I took the photos of Reunion Arena with fireworks after the Omni Hotel light show), walked out, and started sweeping.

Working in several crews spread out we swept the whole length in a little over an hour and a half. It was surprisingly fun, though my back reminded me of it the next day.

Sweeping on the Jefferson Street Cycletrack, Dallas, Texas

Sweeping on the Jefferson Street Cycletrack, Dallas, Texas

Sweeping on the Jefferson Street Cycletrack, Dallas, Texas

Sweeping on the Jefferson Street Cycletrack, Dallas, Texas

Sweeping in the other direction, towards Oak Cliff

Sweeping in the other direction, towards Oak Cliff

Santa Fe Fall Pub Ride

It seems longer ago – but it was only last May that I rode a fun bike ride sponsored by the Friends of the Santa Fe Trail (my favorite bike trail in the Metroplex). Today they were doing another one… and I didn’t want to miss it.

For outdoor stuff – this is the good part of the year here in Dallas – the weather can be iffy, but at least there is a possibility of a comfortable day – unlike the killer summer heat or the bitter winter windy cold. It turned out to be almost perfect – a little overcast (but that’s OK) and the temperature flopped around from cool to warm to cool and back again… but it was nice bike ridin’ weather.

I was planning on riding my commuter bike, but at the last minute I switched to my road bike. As always, going out for a day on a bike makes for some packing decisions and I left my Nikon at home – so my only photographs are from a crappy little point-and-shoot. It’s a lot safer and easier to carry, plus I wanted to enjoy myself and not have to think about taking pictures all the time.

The transit gods were kind today and I made it downtown in plenty of time – rode over to Fair Park where the ride started at Switching Gears Cyclery. We rode through Deep Ellum to the Traveling Man Sculpture, for a quick photo op stop.

Bike Riders under the Travelling Man

Bike Riders under the Travelling Man

Dallas Skyline and the Travelling Man's legs

Dallas Skyline and the Travelling Man’s legs

Then we wound through near East Dallas – which brought back a lot of memories of riding the Belmont #1 bus through there when I lived on Lower Greenville and worked downtown. A lot of changes to the neighborhood (most of them good). The best… really the only way to see a city is from a bicycle. Walking is too slow and a car… forget about it.

Next stop was at the Anvil Pub in Deep Ellum. I have never been there before but will be back. They have Temptress on tap… and that’s a very good thing.

Then it was on to the Deep Ellum Brewing Company – a place I have been to many times before. A great time, as always.

Bikes lined up at Deep Ellum Brewing

Bikes lined up at Deep Ellum Brewing

And then we finally hit the trail that the ride was named after. It has so much going for it – an urban hotspot (Deep Ellum with access to downtown and Fair Park) at one end – the greenery of White Rock Lake at the other, with a vibrant urban neighborhood in the middle. Plus, the highest point is in the middle, so you always finish up downhill.

We finished at The Lot – a nice place that has built a bridge over to the trail. It has been an oasis for me more than once when I was riding too much in too much heat and had to stop for refreshments and recovery.

I rode back downtown with some folks, hung out at Klyde Warren for a bit, then caught the DART train back north. The sun was setting for the trip and I was a little worn out. A good day.

Fourteen and a Bonus

Now that the bicycle photo scavenger hunt for October that Bike Friendly Richardson did is over I wanted to do an entry with my photos and write about the riding. The idea was to ride a bike around the city and take photos of sculptures or fountains with your bike in the picture. There were fourteen sculptures and a map to help you out.

I did all fourteen sculptures (and a bonus) in three rides. It would not have been too hard to ride them all at once – but I didn’t have a whole day. As it was – it was a lot of fun. Quite a few folks did the hunt and posted their photos – pretty cool.

The photos are in the order I took them – the numbers on each description are the ones given on the original scavenger hunt list. These are all hosted on Flickr – click on an image to open up the flickr page.

I had a little time one Saturday Afternoon so I decided to take a quick loop and grab a few sculptures that weren’t too far away. The day was overcast – terrible light for photography… but nice, cool, and windless for bike riding.

14.2 mile loop

4) The Block Cylinder Sculpture

4) The Block Cylinder Sculpture – This one is the closest to my house, though it is more isolated from the rest of the sculptures. I rode over there, realized I had forgotten my tripod, then rode home and picked it up. This is an HDR photo made from three shots at different exposures. The day was overcast, the light was terrible.

7) City Hall Fountain

7) City Hall Fountain – I rode across Highway 75 on Arapaho and was almost hit by someone making a left turn – rushing to avoid an oncoming truck, they didn’t see me. Another HDR image. I tried to take some shots by riding by and hitting the remote release… but that didn’t work very well. Need to work on that technique with a model on a bike and me behind the lens.

1) Humpty FOL Sculpture

1) Humpty FOL Sculpture – Nearby, next to the library – this is the smallest sculpture on the list. It’s a nice peaceful reading area on the north side of the library.

12) Horse Sculpture

12) Horse Sculpture – Rode down to Beltline to get this photo. The light was bad (still overcast) and the parking lot full of cars… didn’t work too hard – took the photo and took off.

11) Asian Sculptures

11) Asian Sculptures – After crossing 75 on Beltline into Downtown Richardson, I popped up a couple blocks to get this shot. The DFW ChinaTown center is an old strip shopping area now dedicated to a wonderful selection of Asian Dining Establishments. Everything from Vietnamese Pho, to Ramen, to bargain Sushi, to Dim Sum, to Korean Bar-B-Que and everything in between. They have a whole collection of concrete statuary littering the parking lot. I chose to pose my bike, helmet, and glasses with this guy. I should have gone back with an extra tire and tube and had him pose with a pump in his hand… call it “Fixing a Flat.” I know that sounds disrespectful – but it’s only concrete decorations.

A couple weeks later I took the DART train downtown for a Bonnie and Clyde historical bicycle tour – but the event was rained out. I had my camera, so I rode back to the Galatyn station and rode around, trying to get as many as I could. I would have finished, but the sun set before I grabbed the last three. It was another overcast day, with spitting rain – again, terrible light – but it is what it is.

20.4 mile route (plus another ten miles or so on my trip to downtown)

14) Galatyn Park Fountain

14) Galatyn Park Fountain – Right off of the DART train is this fountain. Everybody likes this thing. If you look in the background, you can see a train pulling into the station.

9) Critter Garden

9) Critter Garden – Only a little ways north is this familiar group of sculptures – a childrens’ playground along the nature trails that loop through the creek bottom.

6) Palisades Sculpture

6) Palisades Sculpture – I crossed 75 on the trail by the Heights Church, then made my way down to this one. The Palisades Tower piece is one of the sculptures on the list I was not familiar with. I had to lie down in the wet, muddy grass to get this shot – I need to re-do it in brighter light so I can get a little bit better depth of field. Another shot.

5) UTD Sculpture

5) UTD Sculpture – This sculpture, informally titled “Love Jack” was really hard for me to find. I thought I knew my way around the UTD campus… and I thought that I knew where it was… but I was wrong on both counts. It was fun circling around and around, up and down sidewalks, past all the student and cool buildings – all over the campus for a total of a few miles and well over an hour – but I was getting pretty frustrated and was going to give up when I finally spotted the thing.

3) Heights Rocket Sculpture

3) Heights Rocket Sculpture – this is the only sculpture on the list that I don’t like. It’s fine, as it is, but I don’t like what it represents. See, for a couple of generations, there was a famous rocket slide piece of playground equipment. It was removed due to “safety concerns and federal ADA regulations.” Instead of a cool retro playground they got this monstrocity. I am not happy.

10) Silver Tower Sculpture

10) Silver Tower Sculpture – This was another one I was not familiar with, though I have driven through the nearby intersection hundreds of times. It is set off behind a drug store and a parking lot – hard to see from the road. Cool, though. After I left – even though it had been a long day, it was starting to rain, and I was tired…- I wanted to get the last three sculptures, but the sun was setting so I clicked on my lights and headed home.

Another overcast day, not much light – but not much time left. So I headed out for one last ride to catch the last three sculptures. Ironically, these are the three that I am most familiar with – the ones I ride past the most – and the easiest ones for me to get. Also, I wanted to get one bonus sculpture – one that nobody else had bagged.

12.6 mile loop


13) DART Spring Valley Station Sculpture – I go by this one on my commute to work, but never really looked at it. It’s pretty cool, isn’t it?


8) Box Sculpture – I found this sculpture a while back and wrote a blog entry about it. I didn’t notice the name “Egri” welded into the steel until now – that confirms that the sculpture is called “Strange Romance” by a late sculptor named Ted Egri from Taos, New Mexico.


2) DART Arapaho Station Sculpture – This sculpture is as familiar to me as any – I ride out of that station a lot. I have used some photos of it in a blog entry before. The sculpture is called Gateway by Hans Van de Bovenkamp. There is a bigger version in Oklahoma City.


Bonus Sculpture – I stumbled across this bronze a while back. It’s hard to find – you will never spot it from the road. But it is definitely in Richardson – but I don’t think I’m ready to say where.

Two Rides – Forney plus Dazed and Confused

As always, I slept later than I wanted to and had to hurry a bit. I loaded my bike into the Matrix and drove to Forney, Texas for a bike ride.

Across the Metroplex cities and neighborhoods are establishing “Bike Friendly” groups. Where I live is Bike Friendly Richardson… one of the most progressive and active groups is Bike Friendly Oak Cliff… I’ve done a ride with Bike Friendly Cedars – and so on. These groups serve as advocates for the cycling communities within their areas – plus organize rides and other events.

Today was the inaugural rode for a relatively new group, Bike Friendly Forney. We met up at a nice little local Catfish/Cajun/Creole joint – Doe Bellies – and rode out around a local route.

Summer is here and the temperature is hovering up around the century mark. That’s not really too bad for a bike ride – you do create your own breeze.

Back at the restaurant, I had an excellent Shrimp Po-Boy. I hate to think how many miles of bike riding it takes to burn off the calories in a Po-Boy – but still….

The start of the Bike Friendly Forney Ride

The start of the Bike Friendly Forney Ride

Bikes waiting for Catfish.

Bikes waiting for Catfish.

I drove back home and installed my riding lights on my Technium (my commuter bike has a broken chain and I haven’t bothered to work on it yet). I had another bike ride to do in the evening.

Candy was going to a concert, so we grabbed a quick beer at Haystack Burgers – one of the rapidly growing number of establishments that serve a good selection of local craft brews (I had an El Chingon IPA from Four Corners). I stashed a folding chair in my car and parked it behind a Buddhist Temple – then rode a couple miles north to a taco joint where another local group would be meeting for the ride back south to a free showing of Dazed and Confused.

There is a well-known Austin-based chain of movie theaters, Alamo Drafthouse, that is building a new theater in Richardson at Beltline and 75. It’s pretty much finished and will open in August. To stir up excitement they are showing some free movies on a giant inflatable screen in the parking lot. The Alamo has a truck that contains some powerful ancient projectors they can wheel around for these events.

Back at the taco spot, I was an hour early and settled in to write a bit. Folks with bikes started to show up and after a while, right before I was going to walk over there by myself, they invited me over. We chatted it up a bit and then rode the short, interesting route back down to Beltline.

I stopped at my car and strapped the folding chair across my chest, bandoleer-fashion. It was spectacularly uncomfortable and stupid-looking, but it worked. I am going to have to figure out a better way to carry a folding chair on a bike.

Crowd in the parking lot of the Alamo Drafthouse, waiting for Dazed and Confused

Crowd in the parking lot of the Alamo Drafthouse, waiting for Dazed and Confused

Classic colorful street bombers at the movie.

Classic colorful street bombers at the movie.

There was a huge crowd for the movie. I had thought of getting something to eat and maybe another beer, but the lines were too intimidating, so I sat down, settled in, and watched the film. I had never actually seen all of Dazed and Confused all the way through – though of course I had heard of it. If you aren’t familiar with it, Dazed and Confused is a little comedy set in a small Texas town on the last day of high school in 1976 that has become an iconic touchstone for a generation.

I’m familiar with the times (I graduated in ’74) – though my high school experiences were much, much different than those in the film. What’s cool about the movie is the number of show-biz careers that started out in this little film – Linklater, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey… and more. Even Renée Zellweger was an uncredited extra – “Girl in Blue Pickup”. I’m afraid Dazed and Confused doesn’t hold together very well as a complete work of art – there’s no plot at all – but it has a lot of classic, fun set pieces, killer soundtrack, and has its time and place nailed exactly.

Renée Zellweger as an extra in Dazed and Confused.

Renée Zellweger as an extra in Dazed and Confused.

And, of course, the classic Matthew McConaughey line – “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”

“Yes they do.” “Yes they do.”

What I learned this week, October 19, 2012

Terrible news from here… a Dallas Icon for the last sixty years, Big Tex, has burned.

RIP Big Tex

Big Tex destroyed by fire at State Fair

Why are you reading my stupid blog? Why aren’t you reading Cloud Atlas? The movie is about to come out and you have to read the book first.

David Mitchell basks in ‘Cloud Atlas’ boost

With the Wachowskis-directed film version of his intricate book ‘Cloud Atlas’ out soon, David Mitchell finds himself ‘happily bewildered.’

A User’s Guide to Watching (and Keeping Up With) ‘Cloud Atlas’

Dallas Skyline from the Soda Bar on the roof of the NYLO Southside hotel.

48 Hours in Dallas

Trammell Crow Center and the Winspear Sunscreen

Trammell Crow Center and the Winspear Sunscreen

Happy 35th, Atari 2600!

Yes, I had one of these… and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. The sounds of the Space Invaders guys as they moved down,  inexorably, faster and faster,  is burned in to my memory forever. For some reason, I enjoyed the crude golf game. And I was really excited when the ultimate twitch-game Defender came out – though it wasn’t as cool as the arcade version – it must have really pushed the console’s capabilities. The thing only had 128 bytes of RAM. That’s bytes, not kilobytes.

You Built What?!: A Tesla Coil Gun That Produces Foot-Long Sparks

Kristen Wiig, Hailee Steinfeld to Star in ‘Hateship, Friendship’

Guy Pearce, Nick Nolte also are cast in the indie dramedy from “Return” writer-director Liza Johnson. The project starts shooting next week in New Orleans.

Based on Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, a book of short stories by Alice Munro, the project centers on a nanny (Wiig) hired to care for a rather wild teenage girl (Steinfeld). Using email, the girl orchestrates a romance between the nanny and the father (Pearce), a recovering addict living in a different town.

I am a huge fan of Alice Munro – I think she’s the best Short Story writer… pretty much ever. Sometimes her stories are too subtle to translate to film or video very well, but still… this has to be pretty good.

12 quotes about reading to inspire writers

1. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
— George R.R. Martin

2. “Show me the books you read, and I’ll show you who you are.”
— Unknown

3. “If you cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use reading it at all.”
— Oscar Wilde

4. “For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”
— Eudora Welty

5. “These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.”
— Gilbert Highet

6. “We don’t need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts; we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”
— Philip Pullman

7. “The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.”
— Ross McDonald

8. “Never judge a book by its movie.”
— Unknown

9. “A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
— Mark Twain

10. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
— Stephen King

11. “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
― Charles William Eliot

12. “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
― James Baldwin