Thursday, July 23, 2009


I was looking in the mirror the other day and came to the stark realization that at my maturity eyeglasses are now an integral part of my persona. OK, I really can’t see well without them especially after I have been on the computer a while. This epiphany kind of melded with the realization that my hair continues to thin and I’m not in the greatest shape. I just renewed my Texas Driver’s License on-line (took over two months – another story) and decided to stick with the existing photo though convenience more than vanity had more to do with that decision. The photo is glassless and my hair is mostly brown… For the Texas DPS folks out there, you can still tell it’s me…

My most recent eye exam (thanks Dr. Pham) revealed that I have the very early start of the insidious and persistent cataracts that plagued my Mother and Grandmother. Doc Pham stated that there is no cure but that they may not manifest themselves for ten or fifteen years or more. So, should I worry about this diagnosis? Probably not, but it scared the heck out of me and I surely can’t “see” living without functional sight…

I fleetingly thought about getting implants to eliminate that potential and the necessity of glasses and to immediately improve my vision but the thought of someone operating on my eyes scares the Hell out of me (there it is again). I’ve been told by Friends, “It’s easy. They give you a happy shot that steers you to lala land and you really don’t know what’s going on nor do you really remember.” I wasn’t impressed with that answer so surgery is apparently not an option. That leaves me with my glasses and the reminder of a “maybe some day” visual complication.

If I am going to live with glasses in that interim then I need to come to grips with that reality and my recent characterization as, “the old guy in Recruiting.” The glasses probably contribute to that personification as they are generally the first thing that people see. I suspect that deep down inside maybe I want to choose a pair of eyeglasses that will stop the aging process and identify me with the “modern” young crowd, maybe even keep me from aging – an optical Dorian Gray paradigm, if you will. I always hear that, “everybody wants to be young and modern.” Well, I've come to the conclusion that I can never look young again nor do I care to do so. Maybe my glasses are part of my geriatric badge of courage and reward for a life well lived or maybe just lived.

All that said, I do wear conventional steel rimmed glasses noting that over the years fashions come and go and tend to repeat themselves in predictable cycles. I’ve always liked the John Lennon look that was more akin to the 18th century and that style seems to be returning along with the spectacle and what we used to call library or reading specs.

I noticed that there are many personalities out there (some that I even admire) who wear/have worn eyeglasses. They include Stephen Spielberg, Harry Potter, Randy Jackson, Sir Elton John, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, Sharon Stone, Sir Michael Caine, Catherine Zeta Jones, Queen Elizabeth, Gandhi, John Denver, Buddy Holly and the best damn president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, among others [no, not Michael Jackson (RIP)].

A major eyeglass manufacturer recently asked ordinary folks in a survey whether or not glasses affect attractiveness? Seventy-three percent of respondents indicated that it had no impact and almost seventy percent of men and women stated that glasses didn’t get in the way of a romantic moment (or more?). Nothing worse than an eyeglass lock during an intimate moment…

Paul Baird of the University of Melbourne's Centre for Eye Research in Australia assured us in a recent study that people who wear glasses are not geeky and introverted, rather are more likely to be agreeable and open. OK…

With those assurances maybe I should get into the mild mannered Clark Kent or Kal-el look with thick plastic black rimmed glasses though I would be scared that nobody would recognize me or that I would have to eventually show off my fanciful powers and abilities. I saw a thread the other day where a young lady was proclaiming her love and appreciation for this guy’s glasses. It went something like this.

Whew, I really like your eyeglasses. You look like a superhero… so really, really hot. Glad that you can see clearly now and, hey, wearing glasses really aren’t nerdy…

Think I’ll get the operation unless I can find the reincarnation of Basil Hallward…


Ned Buxton

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Far from the madding crowd, Michael Jackson and wedding cakes (thank you for your very positive remarks) are some vestiges of a not so calmer time when dragons ruled the air. Let’s take a little trip through the tulips and try and forget the news of the last few weeks.

The recent revival of the 1981 movie
Dragonslayer to cult status (DVD) has reminded us of several major issues pertinent to our domain: Good entertainment, Dragons and Virgins, Maidens to you sensitive folks. With this in mind we of the Might of Right engaged great tongue in cheek scholarship in researching the above query and found the answer in two popular entities.

The fossil record reflects that dragons have consumed up to 20 tons of food everyday? They are reputed to have devoured cows, horses, sheep, people, cute little bunnies, dogs, beer cans and cigarette butts not unlike their modern cousin, the alligator. Not surprisingly, modern dragons now prefer eating pizza, cows and maidens, not necessarily in that order. The closest they will come to “sit down, high cooking” (haute cuisine for you fancy folks) is the Pitt Stop in Lufkin, Texas home to Blazing Butts, the incomparable Texas Frito Pie and some of the finest bar-b-que anywhere!

Most dragons today choose to live in Wales and Scotland given the great abundance of virgins, their preferred repast (please, no Susan Boyle jokes). Recent surveys, however, reflect their burgeoning preference for the Obama-style, thick-crust American Chicago style Pizza - a close second.

Dragonslayer has reborn what has been reputed by many as the scariest dragon ever cast in a movie and eons from our above friendly dragon. We are not surprised given that this writer’s personal hero - Jim Henson and his puppet factory (the precursor to the Creature Factory) - was responsible for the she dragon named Vermithrax Pejorative (The Wyrm from Thrace who makes things worse) who was animated by the good and talented folks at George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Vermithrax, far from Sean Connery’s amiable Draco of Dragonheart fame, lived in a sea of fire and, not surprisingly, didn’t converse with humans and preferred her half-naked female virgins on the half shell. We, of course immediately noted this same sex preference with Vermithrax adopting a subdued Rosie O’Donnell personality. We wondered what the end result would have been had half-naked male virgins been offered though soon realized that even males a la Chippendales probably wouldn’t have the same marketing appeal. Apparently, towel-snapping personas and the “vulnerable virgin” demeanors were the most difficult to maneuver. We continue.

The movie’s conundrum: the intimidated residents of Urland didn’t want to give up any more of their virgin daughters but still desperately wanted to appease Vermithrax. Playing to both sides they continue to supply Vermithrax with virgins and call in a wizard named Ulrich to dispatch their dragon.

The plot is confounded by the mandatory though rigged virgin lotteries, the surly and evil Knight Tyrian, the untimely, supposed death of Ulrich and his succession by the inexperienced apprentice Galen Bradwarden in an ultimate good over evil scenario. Galen’s love interest turns out to be Valerian, the blacksmith's daughter disguised as a boy to avoid the lottery and the lovely Princess Elspeth who in a fit of honor, rigs the lottery so that her selection may restore some honor to her inept and corrupt father, the king.

The really interesting thing about this collaboration between The Walt Disney Company and Paramount Pictures was that Dragonslayer was anticipated to be a “Bambi or Bunny Rabbit” flick. Instead, Dragonslayer turned out to be much more mature and realistic than any other Disney film of the period, literally scaring the Heck out of what had heretofore been a tame Disney fan base. The parental uproar was tumultuous with the Scottish Community roaring with delight at the reaction. We need note that this appeared to be a necessary transition as Disney sought to broaden their horizons by engaging more adult themes.

So, we have a scary dragon, virgin sacrifice and great entertainment. Yes, we recommend purchase of the Dragonslayer DVD for a nostalgic trip to medieval Britain and most appropriately a flick shot mostly in northern Wales (known for their dragons) and at the end on the Isle of Skye in Scotland (home to the feared Cairn Terrier).

Wikipedia’s collaborative review best reflects the movie. “Dragonslayer is set apart from other fantasy films by its historical accuracy in costume and set design, as well as by a script and performances that attempt to accurately portray Britain at the turning point between paganism and Christianity. Sir Ralph Richardson's portrayal of the wizard Ulrich has become one of his most famous roles. Also, the moral complications of the film, along with its realistic depiction of political and societal pressures, give it a greater sophistication than most movies of its genre.” We certainly agree especially since the film well defines at least one dragon’s (supposedly the last) culinary desires!

No, we’re not finished yet. Enter
The Brobdingnagian Bards of the 21st century who though recently disbanded, evolved into one of the most popular acts at Renaissance Faires around the country. I saw them at the 2005 Texas Renaissance Festival. Their romantic, comical and everything in between work remains intact. Lovers of Scottish, Irish and Celtic Renaissance music will love this group which pondered the answer to our initial question, What do dragons eat? Their song, Do Virgins Taste Better on their A Faire to Remember CD reflects the answer to the conundrum though the countryside may not survive. The Brobdingnagian Bards also of Real Men Wear Kilts fame tie in our good folks from Urland and Dragonslayer in admirable style and remind us why we no longer practice the virgin sacrifice in our domain. We should note that The Brobdingnagian Bards were Austin, Texas based and the collaboration of the very talented Longhorns Marc Gunn and Andrew McKee. And what the heck does Brobdingnagian mean? Visit their website and surf around for the answer, aye.
Do Virgins Taste Better?

A dragon has come to our village today.
We've asked him to leave, but he won't go away.
Now he's talked to our king and they worked out a deal.
No homes will he burn and no crops will he steal.

Now there is but one catch, we dislike it a bunch.
Twice a year he invites him a virgin to lunch.
Well, we've no other choice, so the deal we'll respect.
But we can't help but wonder and pause to reflect.

Do virgins taste better than those who are not?
Are they salty, or sweeter, more juicy or what?

Do you savor them slowly? Gulp them down on the spot?
Do virgins taste better than those who are not?

Now we'd like to be shed of you, and many have tried.
But no one can get through your thick, scaly hide.
We hope that some day, some brave knight will come by.
'Cause we can't wait around 'til you're too fat to fly.

Now you have such good taste in your women for sure,
They always are pretty, they always are pure.
But your notion of dining, it makes us all flinch,
For your favorite entree is barbecued wench.

Now we've found a solution, it works out so neat,
If you insist on nothing but virgins to eat.
No more will our number ever grow small,
We'll simply make sure there's no virgins at all!
“Hello, this is Draco of the Hesperides. I’d like to order out, say thirty-five of your Chicago deep dish pizzas with extra Italian sausage, chorizo, pepperoni, double cheese, onion, green peppers, black olives, mushrooms and, of course, top it all off with some Scotch Bonnets. Aye!”

We of Might of Right dedicate this piece to Brobdingnagian Bards Marc Gunn and Andrew McKee who entertained us mightily for thirteen years in tandem and will hopefully continue to do so in their respective venues. Thanks for sharing your musical gifts.


Ned Buxton

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Atlanta’s 1940’s Retail Credit Company adage, “A pleased customer always returns to the place where he has been well served” couldn’t be truer in 2009 – even when it comes to wedding cakes. I recently accompanied my best Friend who was shopping around for that greatest wedding cake for her daughter’s September nuptials (never too soon). She was excited and anticipating what should be a memorable, almost magical experience for any Mother. The process involved careful forethought, inquiry, a strenuous and detailed hands-on investigation / research, checking of references and all topped off with that carefully choreographed bottom line – the cake tasting. Harrah, I have finally found my true calling! Needless to say, I was pleased to be part of that last stage and, as always, more than willing to offer my two cents worth. Now please remember that I didn’t have a dog in this fight and was just there to provide support…

The final choice was narrowed down to Dallas Affaires Cake Company (DA) and Jackie Spratt Cakes (JS), with DA being the more well known and very pricey cakery - almost to iconic status in Dallas thanks to multitalented founder and chef supreme Sibby Barrett who now resides near Austin and operates the Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farm. DA has a neat website that features some of the highlights of this once great and elegant high end cake company. We didn’t recognize any of the personalities featured in their website (too bad). In a business environment where yesterday is the past and you’re only as good as your last cake, you have to always be at your very best. They weren’t.

One of the services that the really good (or presumptively good) bakeries will do is offer free samples of their cakes with assorted fillings and icings. Our Friend ordered a wedding sampler that would likely seal what would be a minimum $1K US order with Wedding and grooms cakes, accoutrement, etc. You would think that they would want to impress, eh?

We walked into the Dallas Affaires Cake Company just a few minutes in advance of our pick up time and politely waited for ten minutes until one of the five employees present (some within arm’s reach) even acknowledged our presence. We identified ourselves, our purpose and after another almost ten very solitary minutes were told that our samples were not yet ready. We waited for another thirty minutes while our cake samples – remember they were vying for our business - were prepared in front of our eyes.

In order to kill some time we decided to investigate the neighborhood. As we walked out of the bakery I commented that something was very amiss in this work environment. Disservice aside, what struck me when we first arrived was that everybody was in a sullen tedium. While employees were seemingly going about their business - they appeared in a fog. By the collective looks on their faces nobody wanted to be there and the attitudes were all at the low end of the spectrum. There was no magic, no happy – just sad. After a thirty year career in Human Resources I knew that something was very wrong with this business establishment.

A woman with enough tattoos to marginally qualify for Ringling Brothers retrieved white and chocolate cakes heretofore butchered as the crust was clumsily cut off (I watched). She had several five gallon tubs of icing and filling that looked institutionally store bought (refrigerated?) and slathered icing onto the cake in a cosmetic attempt to straighten up the heretofore jagged sides. The filling samples were unceremoniously and clumsily spooned into small containers. I have seen wheel bearings packed with grease with more agility and grace.

After all this wretched and tardy labor another less than cordial lady (she never smiled or identified herself) came out with a white bakery box, described the contents and sent us on our way. By this time the cake could have been heaven sent and I would have cared less. I expressed my displeasure as much while my Friend tried frantically to keep me quiet. Well, maybe we just caught them in a collective bad day?

We immediately spirited the cake samples off to the nearby digs of daughter and fiancĂ©e and started what was a long anticipated thorough, academic and objective analysis of DA’s offerings. I kept my mouth shut so I wouldn’t bias the proceedings (OK, sorta). Not surprisingly and much to my chagrin (silent delight), the cakes were dry and tasteless. The chocolate didn’t taste like chocolate and the icings and fillings were too sweet and just not spot on. They tasted like facsimiles and could very well have been. How the hell these people stay in business is beyond me aside from their still OK but once sterling reputation. It was an exceedingly sad consensus that these samples were far from even a minimally satisfactory nod (not even one star) and Dallas Affaires was eliminated from the competition. A few dozen superlative reviews on Yahoo from Highland Park socialites couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty or Dallas Affaires back together again… Sibby, they need you back and better sooner than later…

After a sufficient interval we all met at Jackie Spratt Cakes over near Southern Methodist University (SMU) where we were met by the very entertaining, sweet and sassy and bubbly Jackie Spratt. Jackie founded the very highly regarded Le Gateau Cakery in Dallas way back in 1981, developed it to a high level then in 1995 sold the business and moved to Florida (something about her horses). In 2004 after what she describes as a disastrous sojourn to the southeast she was back with us and opened up Jackie Spratt Cakes in University Park. As the ever knowledgeable and well informed D Magazine stated, “The Cake Queen is Back!”

Jackie was very patient and attentive, answering all questions with panache. This Lady had a ball hosting us and obviously answers to the beat of a different drummer, no lemming she. Our kind of people! Jackie with all her magic led us on a delightful tour of her cakes, fillings and icings and we could have been in the Dallas Museum of Art under the entertaining tutelage of four amigas Docents Brinker, Cuellar, Klion and Cook, en masse. It was an education and party all rolled into one event… Honest almost to a fault Jackie tells you how she feels whatever the consequences. You soon know that she going to cover your back and not see you (or her) embarrassed or disappointed. We soon developed the impression that she had turned the tables and was checking us out to see if we were worthy of her services. Jackie appears to be at the point in her career and life where she pretty much picks and chooses her customers.

Bottom Line: Jackie Spratt’s cakes were extraordinary. They were moist, rich and full of original flavor. The chocolate tasted like rich chocolate, eureka! The icing and fillings were all handmade on site and no institutional tubs were to be found in her shop. All her ingredients appear to be super fresh with everything made from scratch. The cakes, fillings and icing were all spot on and what about that Champagne Delight!. Mother of the bride was now the happiest of the lot. Another hurdle conquered and we had a great time! By the way, we couldn’t help also noticing her now legendary, huge cupcakes with a choice of fillings that can feed several hungry Texans.

By the way, we heartily recommend Jackie Spratt for other than just her extraordinary offerings and exquisite artistry. She demonstrates a real old fashioned caring personality and actually bonds with her customers. To boot, Jackie is Texas True through and through and anybody looking for the true spirit of The Republic need go no farther than Jackie Spratt.

Long Live The Queen!


Ned Buxton

PS. A recent anonymous comment on this post well entrenched in the Dallas Affaires corner insists that I just had a bad experience and surely I must have, "too much time on my hands." That could very well be true, but what does that have to do with reflecting the reality of our experience and ultimately holding people accountable for their behaviors? By the way, other folks have weighed in with similar negative experiences with Dallas Affaires. Appears to be more than the tip of an iceberg which we could really use here in Texas. I sincerely hope that they recover themselves though that won't start to happen until they acknowledge they have a problem... Thanks for sharing your opinion. Aye, NB

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


When Michael Jackson (1958-2009) passed to the other side I pondered his substantial musical influence on my life wondering what his ultimate legacy will be. Will I, like most everybody else, forgive and forget his blatant eccentricities and absolutely absurd, unacceptable behaviors of the last few years and choose to memorialize the showman, dancer, performer and musical genius extraordinaire he was? His now iconic music is unparalleled with several generations using his songs to script and accompany key rites de passage in their lives. His music means that he will never, ever really be far away…

Along with millions of other folks I listened to some of my favorite Jackson songs the first few days following his death. Those songs included one of my all time favorites, the 1995 Platinum, You Are Not Alone, the first song ever to debut as #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Though the melody was written by the mega talented twins, Eddy and Danny Van Passel (If We Can Start All Over), Michael made it his own with his lyrics and delivery. It seemed to fit Jackson just when his world started to change, seemingly for the worst. The semi-nude scenes against an ethereal backdrop in the You are Not Alone video of Jackson and then wife Lisa Marie Presley documented his transformation from a handsome medium-brown African American Man to an almost opaque lily white caricature. Vitiglio, lupus and a near (and maybe) lethal identity crisis had taken their toll and Michael exacerbated his soon to be bizarre appearance with a series of disastrous plastic surgeries on his face. I don’t know how I could have dealt with the trauma of such identity transforming illnesses so I’m not throwing any stones. From that point Michael was seemingly always trying to be or evolve into something else – the butterfly eternally struggling out of its chrysalis.

I then saw the Dallas Morning News editorial on June 27, 2009 re Michael and they mostly said it all for me…


Michael Jackson's life, from beginning to end, was mythical and mysterious, triumphant and tragic. He represented both the best and the worst of American pop culture of the past half-century.

His meteoric rise as the youngest performer in the Jackson 5 seemed like something out of a fairy tale. The charmed prince went on to become the King of Pop when he and the talented music producers around him recognized that his talents could not be captured only in sound. He needed video.

He moved in ways we'd never seen before. He transformed pop music. He redirected the spotlight to good causes. And he became the biggest star in the world.

But along the way, his fame seemed to close in on him like a prison.

The higher his star rose, the deeper he sank into an insular world few understood. The glimpses we got into his life made us uncomfortable, skeptical. Then we were repulsed by the sexual abuse allegations, never proved, involving children.

A pop icon the world once could not get enough of was fully transformed into a shadowy, suspicious figure we'd rather not see. We hoped he would just disappear from the headlines. And he did, for the most part, until his recent plans for a comeback.

The whole tragic story of his life could be seen – literally – on his face as it changed through the years. The pressure of stardom, the yearning for a real childhood, the insecurity and, finally, the frailty.

He often said he was most comfortable on stage – gliding across the floor to a good beat, lost in his own world, yet connecting with fans from multiple generations.

We aren't sure that we can, but we will try to remember him that way.”

Michael wasn’t afraid to confront the major issues of our day including genocide, famine, discrimination/bigotry and war, among others in the guise of entertainment. Michael’s dramatic and poignant Man in the Mirror video can be used to gauge one’s understanding and awareness of a major part of the Modern Human Experience.

From a pure entertainment perspective don’t hesitate to also view Michael’s performance of
Mirror at the 1988 Grammy Awards. – breathtaking

Michael Jackson was time in a bottle and like other celebrities and their affectations, we probably contributed to his malaise and given his/our expectations, pushed him in that direction.

But, enough already, let Michael rest and allow us to move on with our lives without being bombarded 24/7 by yet another Jackson revelation, the location of Jackson’s animals, innumerable memorials or analysis of his children’s needs and states of mind. A totally consumed media has apparently successfully engaged an infotainment paradigm and is seemingly transforming itself into a tabloid institution. The second autopsy, the toxicology tests, his alleged abuse of prescription medications, the interviews with Jackson’s physician - Texas cardiologist Dr. Conrad Murray (who now has an attorney), Michael’s insolvency, his last will and testament, Big Daddy Joe, Neverland, the involvement of Jesse Jackson, the speculation that Jackson’s body will lie in state and the competition for and chaotic speculation of Jackson’s final resting place (heart and brain?) all seem to point to an endless parade of Michael this and Michael that, ad nauseum. Count on Daddy Joe and the owners of Neverland to keep The Gloved One’s legacy flowing. It’s all about money…

While we need to pay tribute to Michael Jackson, the Media’s over the top homage to an incredible and irrational excess cheapens and renders irrelevant the real world and validates the observation that the media is using this as another last hurrah to bolster their sagging revenues. Hopefully the memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles will allow for a proper and dignified goodbye. Michael deserves that...

Maybe someday Michael can finally sleep and the rest of us who have to continue our mostly “mundane” trials and tribulations on this earthly plane can move on - though at this time that reality seems a very distant prospect.


Ned Buxton