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February 19th, 2002:

They say it’s your birthday

It’s my birthday, too, yeah. I’m exactly the same age as Justine Bateman, and exactly one day older than Cindy Crawford. Here’s what else has happened on my birthday. Nice of the Senate to celebrate my 20th by outlawing genocide, doncha think?

And for a present

I finally got a Blackberry wireless email device. With my pager and cellphone, this means I am now officially a triple-threat geek. Tremble in my presence, mortals!

There’s a campaign finance reform joke in here somewhere

Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune lauds Tom DeLay for all his help to the airline industry after 9/11. There are many ways that one can be snarky about this sort of thing, but I’ll settle for the one that’s closest to my heart: Why is it that funds for rail require a local referendum, but funds for all other forms of transportation can be freely given?

Rodeo Report, Night 1

We showed up at the Dome a bit before 7 last night in anticipation of the Martina McBride/Lyle Lovett double bill. I, having never actually been to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, expected that the “7 PM” time listed on the concert page meant that McBride would start at seven, play for an hour or so as most opening acts do, then Lovett would take the stage for up to two hours.

Wrongo. First, we got the Catalena Cowgirls, followed by a wagon-train introduction of the rodeo head honchos and various special guests. The most notable special guest was former Oilers head coach Bum Phillips, who got a rousing ovation. Ask any longtime Houstonian, they’ll tell you that the beginning of the end of the Oilers in Houston was the day Bum got fired.

We then got about two hours of actual rodeo. As this was all new to me, it was interesting, though probably about an hour more than my attention span could handle. We saw various competitive events plus the calf scramble, which has to be seen to be believed. I don’t mean to make fun, here – the rodeo is very much about scholarships for kids, and the scramble is one way kids can get scholarship money.

At long last, it was music time. First up was McBride. I don’t follow pop country, so I’d never heard any of her stuff. She has a very good voice, and can really belt them out. She’s also a babe, which never hurts. She’s from Kansas and told about how her family would make a big event out of the annual airing of The Wizard of Oz (note to Mikey and any other obnoxious young’uns reading this: Some of us are old enough to remember life before VCRs), then launched into an excellent rendition of Over the Rainbow.

Next was Lovett and his Large Band. If your only impression of Lyle Lovett is “that guy with the funny hair who was married to Julia Roberts for 30 seconds”, I suggest you learn more about him, as he’s one of the most original voices in music today. If you countrified the 60s group Blood Sweat and Tears you’d have something close to Lovett’s sound.

I only wish there had been time for more music, but at least now I know not to get there too early on Wednesday for Bob Dylan. Here’s the Chronicle review of last night’s show if you want more details about it.

On a side note, this is the 37th and last year that the Rodeo will be in the Dome. Next year it moves to the new Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans football team. (Yeah, I think that’s a lame name, too.) The Astrodome is now officially called the “Reliant Astrodome”, but I’ll call it “Harris County Domed Stadium” before I call it that. I can accept “Enron Field”, and I can (barely) accept “Compaq Center”, but “Reliant Astrodome”? Never.