Saturday, December 24, 2011


The potential positive and peaceful influence of Christmas was always apparent to me even when I was a wee, optimistic and naïve lad. Even now in my optimistic and naïve maturity that potential is more obvious. Potential by its very definition is always there though now seems to be ever fleeting in a world engrossed with selfish, disposable, obstructionist even suicidal agenda (my way or the highway). The great irony is that the Middle East - fountainhead of that peace is now more than ever the venue for those who would perpetrate violence against the world to include even their own people.

That potential peace does not now appear to extend to Washington, DC either where civility and common sense have all gone up in smoke. We may not be setting IEDs or literally blowing each other up, though some folks claim that’s already happening metaphorically. Surely, our critics here and abroad are correct in their assertions that we have seen better days and are starting a steep decline to mediocrity and ultimate obscurity.

Not even the prospects of Christmas could initially convince House Republicans to timely cooperate with their compromising Senate like signs. Only when the realization that their latest obstructionist strategy would result in game-ending political disaster did House Republicans capitulate by passing a last-minute tax cut extension for an estimated 160 million American workers along with further unemployment benefits for millions more laid off workers. The Republican epiphany was prompted by their constituents, The Press, The White House and their own party. Methinks that we are finally seeing what Speaker Boehner and his fellow House Republicans are all about. We need remember this submission was their white flag – a surrender - and not of their own doing. It was a deliberate strategy backfired. Bottom line: there has been no peace (or progress) on Capitol Hill this year. The prospects for 2012 look even bleaker. No doubt the Republicans will try and spin this one – big time.
So much for peace and goodwill towards Men…

Back in the Middle East we usually by this time of the year see declarations of cease-fire – a brief truce - in war torn areas, a respite from hostilities and optimistically a platform by which a long lasting peace can be negotiated. It’s happened before, but we haven’t seen that this year… Everybody’s hunkered down in their corners looking for weaknesses in their adversaries to exploit.

We understand that since, “the world will never move to the rhythm of a choir singing Silent Night”, we will need another miracle to match that singular one over 2000 years ago. Christmas – the winter solstice – should be a time of reflection, contemplation and understanding just as it was for the ancient Celts and most everyone else thousands of years ago. The miracle we need is absolutely huge - one where everyone will see the potential good in collaboration - a mutual respect and trust where we can all start working together for the common good.

If not, that miracle might be the “modest proposal” offered by a frustrated, confounded and always objective Bob Schieffer, native Texan and CBS’s Chief Washington Correspondent who while also serving as anchor and moderator of Face The Nation has witnessed first-hand the ongoing Capitol Hill Drivel. Schieffer recommends (with tongue firmly in cheek) that a separate though empowered Congress whose members will only serve for one year before returning home (our original concept), come up with the solutions to our current policy deadlock. The existing Congress will be allowed to continue to assemble and deliberate any issue they so desire, without pay or the ability to create any legislation. Toothless, then as now, we can see that their only value (then as now) would be entertainment. The Greeks called it tragedy

Merry Christmas and a Happy Hogmanay! Please pray and work for the Communion of Man and remember that Christmas is 365 days a year. Your donation to your local food bank and the Children’s Miracle Network will allow you a very earthly state of grace and help a lot of folks.


Ned Buxton

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I just watched PBS station KERA-TV in Dallas, Texas offer up their annual Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) Christmas special. Smart as always KERA was using this special as part of their annual fund raising effort. I saw this program several years ago and remembered it well - TSO’s 1999 The Ghosts of Christmas Eve. You see, I remember because it featured then lead vocalist Daryl Pediford singing his incomparable and seemingly personal Music Box Blues. If you haven’t seen the extraordinary TSO before, this is a must - especially if you like Mannheim Steamroller.

Though Daryl Pediford died tragically and all too young in 2004 he made this Christmas 2011 season special for me just by his presence on the television. His singing was a generous gift to all that saw and heard him. He delivered his songs with such emotion and passion you lived and understood every word and nuance, let alone his superb vocals.

TSO guitarist Chris Caffery eulogized Pediford as, “a rock and roll Bing Crosby” and that fits OK for me though perhaps more rhythm and blues... If more folks had the opportunity to hear and appreciate Daryl’s Music Box Blues that song would soon achieve Christmas Hall of Fame status. It’s already that for me and at least one record company includes it in their album of the top 100 Christmas Songs of all time.

Mind you, this is not your traditional “European style” Christmas song – after all it’s the blues. The song can probably be sung and appreciated any day of the year. While it sadly reflects a modern loss of relationship, it talks of the constancy of love and hope all wound up in that music box gifted on a Christmas past.

So, Diamond Daryl, thanks from all of us for bringing and sharing your gift and spirit. We offer a link to Vimeo’s offering of Daryl’s Music Box Blues. This is dedicated to musicologist Austin and his passion and love of Jazz and the Blues. Enjoy...

Happy Holidays, Aye

Ned Buxton

Saturday, December 10, 2011


The Big East Conference just announced to the whole world that SMU, Houston, San Diego State, Central Florida and Boise State have now joined a league formerly mostly comprised of schools in the northeastern United States, well OK East. Navy, and two schools yet to be determined (Air Force declined) are expected to follow shortly for football only. God only knows what’s going to happen to the basketball program – the main motivator for the formation of the Big East which is now in survival mode.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is just the tip of the iceberg and no one is pretending anymore – it’s all about money, that big elusive automatic qualifying BCS ticket and national exposure with athletics seemingly driving academics. Now as for that automatic qualifier (AQ) for the BCS? Well, that’s not even guaranteed as the landscape of college football will surely change as contracts lapse, new ones are negotiated and the whole BCS system comes under even greater scrutiny. Having said that, the Big East does not appear to have strengthened their hand in football and unless there are some dramatic changes in fortune, this is a last gasp exercise in futility.

The good ole boy network is alive and well and the Deans, Chancellors and Presidents of our great Universities like SMU’s Gerald Turner (one of our bright spots) are scrambling to pay the bills and increase their exposure. Turner commented on SMU’s move to the Big East, “Coupled with our steady rise academically and athletically, we are in a good position to continue our rise among national universities.” Does Gerald mean that the ultimate success of SMU depends on what athletic conference they belong? No, Toto we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

That certainly appears to be the lay of the land for our major universities who feel this move is critical to their survival. Exactly what do San Diego State (SDSU) and Rutgers have in common? Well, absolutely nothing - up to now. SDSU was only invited to placate Boise State who wanted to link with another western school. And why does Boise State want in the Big East? The only reason is to secure a berth in the BCS, period. And what if that goes away?

However naïve, I have always believed that rivalries among those institutions that compete in the same geography and based on academics and that indispensable sense of Alma Mater (ie the 12th Man) are the necessary ingredients of great colleges and universities and a quality post-secondary experience. That those universities have successful athletic programs are the gravy on the biscuit. If you saw the 112th meeting of US Military Academy (Army) and the Naval Academy (Navy) today on the gridiron then you understand.

Many schools are now more of a means to an end for and unto themselves and there is no visceral sense of loyalty, fraternity - being part of a special Family. My anthropology genes are kicking in as I even evoke kinship as a major part of that paradigm. When we talk about our schools conversations seem to be limited to athletics not that Ole Miss was able to attract Dr. Daniel DiBardino who joined the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s congenital heart surgery team, moving here from the University of Michigan Medical School. Then there’s Dr. Jorge Salazar… but you get the idea. There is life after football.

For those colleges and universities thrust onto the national landscape and prompted to engage this conference merry go round, the challenge is now even greater to focus on academics. The great irony in a goes around-comes around world is that those small schools that comprise the Ivy League, New England Small College Athletic Conference and other like organizations may be the last bastion of a superior quality higher education. They may have always been as they are now - merely the best and not so ironically, where the game of American football started. Then, as now, they had the whole school environment and experience placed in a proper perspective.

To this day the Ivy League and schools like Amherst and Williams prohibit athletic scholarships. Their concession is that athletes will be admitted as students and, “awarded financial aid only on the basis of the same academic standards and economic need as are applied to all other students.” This would seem to guarantee that students will go to these schools for an education and not as a stepping stone to the NFL.

The point here is that the game started conspicuously as the opportunity for recreation and to solidify rivalries and relationships with other universities – all without the benefit of scholarship on that field of honor. It was the love of sport and, yes, Alma Mater.

Say goodbye to those “backyard brawls” and the traditional football rivalries that have made the game of college football special. College athletes in the Big East will now be required to travel thousands of miles to compete against conference schools. Fact: the University of Connecticut is 2,600.27 miles from Boise State University. Yikes! Potential dollars or not, as a parent I would certainly balk at those prospects. The academic life for the student athlete can’t help but be substantially compromised –and surely not enhanced.

Prepare yourself for more changes and know that in this circus atmosphere - the sky is falling. Think I’ll stick with the SEC who mostly seems to have their act together. Of course, I also have my personal favorites - Brown University or Williams and Amherst Colleges until they bolt – Nah

So what is the Big East going to call itself now? One person suggested the National Football League but was reminded it was already taken.


Ned Buxton

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Our first reaction when we heard about the so-called “Occupy Movement” was here’s more senseless, disjointed and irrational gyrations from wide-eyed liberals out to save the world – more of that, here we go again anarchistic crap. It has turned out to be all that and more because of its lack of focus, direction and some violence and vandalism. But there is, however small, an undercurrent of foreboding - the old “have vs. have not” paradigm that harkens us back to not so kinder and gentler times that seem to be upon us once again – if they ever left. So, this is not a new issue, rather a continuation of one that democratic societies have had to deal with since their inception.

To many, the Occupy Movement is a modern Woodstock and party with a sinister beat. Their mission and goals have been poorly articulated with most coverage revolving around Occupy’s right to camp out here or there on public property and to disrupt business activity – ultimately both losing propositions. This writer had to delve deeply to ferret out their goals and suspect that most other folks won’t expend that kind of effort. FYI – Wikipedia does a good job.

It has been almost comical to hear proponents of the movement waxing eloquent about the seismic effect these protests have had on our society? Don’t know what planet these folks are on but the effect has hardly been negligible. They have mostly mobilized law enforcement and city sanitation crews that have had to monitor, eventually arrest law breaking protesters and then the indignity of all indignities - clean up after them, all at taxpayer expense. That effort hasn’t been easy considering the group’s poor behaviors with protesters using public parks and sitting areas as latrines. Yes, lots of doggie bags were used in the clean-up and come spring we’ll find out just how much grass they killed.

Lots of folks converged on these occupy sites including the homeless and party goers looking for food, sex, drugs and a good time. It would appear that in some venues and to the chagrin of Occupy security, the “fornicators and poopers” have hijacked the movement. The Dallas Occupy’s pro bono and frustrated attorney, Jonathan Winocour is quoted as scolding the group – directing them to, “Stop partying and start protesting. The opportunity is yours to waste.” Good though unheeded advice. Eat drink and be merry is alive and well in Occupy.

As for effect on the public - pollsters report that around half of all Americans say they have heard of the Occupy Movement, though most of the public don't have an opinion about the movement, positive or otherwise. It’s been a very benign experience evoking mostly apathy among the populous. The Occupy protests are part of a larger network of demonstrations throughout the world where the "we are the 99%" protest the rising costs of health care, the mortgage crisis, the exponentially increasing national debt and the burdensome influence that large corporations have on our country and planet, among others. Credible issues all, but their answer is to block the flow of capital and stop commerce? Nuts…

I remember well the Civil Rights Movement and even the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s which were successful (1968 notwithstanding) because of better organization, a coordinated articulation of goals and a cause embraced by the many. Two of these three don’t exist here. Agree or not, you understood their objectives.

We will agree that the Occupy Movement has created the opportunity for a continuing dialogue on the issues but there is no new consensus or headlong rush to right the wrongs created by the irresponsible behaviors of the few. We put a huge band aid on the problem in 2008 and 2009 that allowed our survival but now appears exacerbated by the current political gridlock which has paralyzed our government. Protest that…

Recent surveys reflect that the gap between the have and have nots (the disparity of wealth between the top 1% and the rest of us) is growing to absurd proportions. It certainly appears that some who occupy the domains we call Wall Street and the boardrooms of the world’s largest corporations continue to earn irrational wages and dividends by manipulating an already volatile stock market or exploiting the planet’s natural resources to our collective detriment. Having said that, many more (the great majority) earn their huge salaries and dividends honestly. The big Occupy issues we surmise are that international/transnational corporations are pulling all the strings now with profit at any expense their business model and the ever evolving First Amendment debate.

The Vancouver-based, not-for-profit Canadian anti-consumer agency Adbusters Media Foundation seems to be, sorta, providing the inspiration for the Occupy demonstrations around the world. While local protests clamor for their five minutes of fame, the media doesn’t appear to be buying into it more than just the day’s news as they too perceive Occupy as an event that’s attracted the vagrant, homeless, party animals and space cadets in our society along with a few very righteously motivated and indignant whose overall numbers might be approaching a very vocal 1% - nowhere near their 99% claim. That’s sad because while some of their issues are credible, few seem motivated to join the cause. They might as well be protesting sun spots. Ghastly things those sunspots

Free Speech and Right of Assembly aside, Occupy pushes the boundaries of common sense and constitutional law. No one will dispute the right of this or any group to demonstrate and express their views. Hunkering down, however, with the avowed intent to “stop the flow of capital in the United States” and disrupting businesses while still expecting accommodations by the tax paying public is a huge stretch. That Occupy was being allowed to camp out for even one night in public areas without the benefit of utilities and sanitation is a huge leap and deserves our extra scrutiny. Indeed, many cities continue to bend over backwards to accommodate the Occupy protesters though we feel concerns over public safety and security will eventually trump these nocturnal protests.

Some advice to serious Occupy activists – if you haven’t already lost confidence in the system - get engaged in the process, educate yourself on relevant issues, boycott (don’t disrupt) companies you feel violate good business ethics and planetary imperatives, contact your representatives and lodge complaints and effect changes from within. If you don’t like your representatives’ performance – vote them out. Learn the real difference between rights and entitlements and don’t deny me my rights while declaring yours. Limit your protests to daytime/light hours and address “private functions” at other appropriate venues. Other than that with your very bad start you will always be on the outside looking in.

Happy Holidays.


Ned Buxton

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Joined Friends and Family in Houston, Texas for the 2011 Thanksgiving Holidays and enjoyed myself immensely. Great company and celebration of life was the obvious highlight with nine week old Charlie the focus of the entire trip. This is a special young man with a bright future. His support mechanism starts with parents without equal and a grandmother who is always there with just the right touch and perfectly timed insight. What a joy to observe

University of Houston mavens Dr. Linda and Dr. Don had already chosen our Thanksgiving Day venue – appropriately the certifiably green Haven Restaurant opened in December 2009 by Executive Chef Randy Evans, late the exec at Brennan’s in Houston. The highly regarded Texas Monthly magazine touts the Texas born and raised Evans as The Chef of The Future though our party would righteously argue that he is already there. In 2010 Esquire magazine acknowledged Chef Evans’ culinary skills by naming the chic, farm-to-table Haven one of the top 20 new restaurants in the U.S.

We didn’t order off the menu, rather opted for their Thanksgiving presentation which included all the traditional offerings mostly locally grown and supported by Evans’ restaurant garden that confirms his pastoral roots and commitment to fresh. Only one of our party chose the free range turkey while others opted for the Gulf flounder, shrimp/crab or even the vegan dish. Me? The Akaushi steak of Kobe fame, red skin mash potatoes all slathered with a red wine jus with mushrooms, country ham and green onions was my choice though I did look longingly at the quail with an enticing jalapeño sausage dressing and green tomato golden raisin chutney. I ultimately made the right choice that day and though only a snapshot of Haven’s potential, enjoyed what may have surprisingly been one of my top five dining-out experiences.

Dr. Linda made two outstanding wine selections that pleased everybody’s palate. Following the meal Chef Evans made our dining experience even more memorable by taking his bows and accepting the accolades of our very pleased party. Well done Chef Evans… Server Brad was equally competent.

Now, this post was never intended to be a review of Haven, but this restaurant will please all, even the most discriminating gastronome. Haven won’t hit a home run every time nor will they please everybody all the time, but in my estimation they do have the potential to please most of the people the great majority of the time. There are agenda driven whiners everywhere that seem to grasp even potential negatives and spin that top incessantly. Several reviews pounded Haven for their valet service and their open kitchen environment – ridiculous. Would that we were so lucky to have Haven in Dallas…

So how do you top Haven? Take a daytrip to the absolutely awesome world class Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) punctuated by the ultimate realization that we in Dallas will always be looking up at MFAH. The King Tut exhibition was ongoing with equal attention being paid to the current spectacular presentation of Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection that includes masterworks by Rembrandt, Gerrit Dou, Frans Hals, Willem Claeszoon Heda, Jacob van Ruisdael and Jan Steen. This national tour sponsored in part by the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, MA concludes with the current exhibition at MFAH which runs through February 12, 2012 so make your plans to visit Houston, soon. Thank you Peabody Essex Museum who from August 29, 2010 to January 2, 2011 also brought to the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth the very important, “Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea.” We need to pay attention to those folks in Massachusetts who are friendly to our environs.

Having sung some of these well-deserved praises just note that Houston’s roads suck big time and instead of getting better seem to lower the bar each visit. One source described Houston’s roads as “tattered, cracked, patched and pocked washboard.” We think that source didn’t go far enough. No amount of compliments can mask the fact that this city’s transportation infrastructure seems compromised and with no checkbook to fix their city roads most of the money seems tied up in Interstate widening that is off and sometimes on and seems to go on forever resulting in frustrating, dangerous and hours long delays that will cramp the style of even the most patient and ardent.

That said, we will go back and enjoy the nectar of one of the world’s great cities and the great company we keep. It’s worth the hassles and frustrations, especially to lovingly, exuberantly and proudly celebrate the continuing saga of Charlie.

Hope you had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.


GrandNed Buxton

Monday, November 21, 2011


I went through my clothes closet the other morning intent on purging outdated loose or tight fitting clothing that just didn’t make sense anymore (purpose or fashion) and once again was confronted by my neckties. I have three tie hangers that keep my neckties flat, accessible and always at the ready to appropriately adorn my person for any occasion. Even after a Goodwill run some five years ago, I still have one hundred and fourteen (114) neckties including one ascot, three formal bowties dedicated to specific cummerbunds and one bolo tie. Whilst assessing my collection I realized I still had a few favorites from my college years and several screamers from the sixties and seventies and might still be good for a nostalgic event. Yes, I have several Christmas, one St. Valentine’s Day necktie and, vexingly, no Halloween ties.

I started to wax nostalgic about the ties including a few that once belonged to iconic good Friend and Mentor though now departed Bob Swanson, three 78th Fraser Highlander regimental ties and several that hail the cardinal red (Harvard) and navy blue (Yale) of Ole Miss. Most of those ties have great meaning to me and so I will stand pat, at least for a few more years.

While assessing my collection of neckwear I contemplated the state of the noble cravat and wonder how much longer this tradition can hold out. With assurances from and the urging of notable haberdashers Jos.A Bank, Brooks Brothers and others of that ilk, the tie and traditional clothing will seemingly prevail. Howard Duvall, rest in peace

Some versions of neckwear seem to have been around even since ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Roman times and we all remember from our history books paintings of Gentle Men and Gentle Ladies in big ruffled collars (the Elizabethan Ruff) of the mid 1500's to 1600's. Seems that so many aspects of our lives start modestly and then grow to exaggerated (Aye, foolish) caricature status. The Ruffs appeared to be poor bibs, had to be grossly uncomfortable and were a pain to maintain. Among others, we can thank England and Ireland’s King James I, a Scot, who opted for a more extravagant life style in England (“the Land of Promise”) for getting rid of this monstrosity. Perhaps it was James’ promise to parliament to curb some of his more excessive spending habits or maybe Elizabeth’s passing was enough. At any rate it was the end of an era.

Fast forward to the 1630s, where “unusual and picturesque” scarves worn by thousands of Croatian soldiers and knights, mercenaries to Louis XIII in the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) became the new fashion in France. Seems that the girlfriends or wives (maybe both) of Croat soldiers would give their beloveds a narrow scarf to wear around their necks to remind them of their love. This romantic tradition was noted by none other than French king Louis XIII who caught sight of these dashing neckerchiefs, started wearing one himself and eventually adopted them into acceptable, even preferable, French formal attire. Voila, a new fashion accessory was born. This, the cravat, ladies and gentlemen was the direct ancestor of the modern necktie and far more comfortable that the huge white starched collars and large silk maroon bowties we wore as choristers at St. Dunstan’s in Providence, RI.

Charles II brought this new neck fashion with him when he returned from exile in France to England in May of 1660. Over the next ten years, the use of the cravat spread across Europe and eventually across the pond to the American colonies. The cravat soon proved itself to be an essential part of a gentleman’s wardrobe and even to some historians, “a symbol of loyalty” to the restored English monarchy. Aye, the necktie not just as fashion but as a political statement… This neck adornment with high collars and bows like the ruff before it became more and more elaborate and impractical as members of the English court tried to outdo each other and reflect their status and wealth. These cravats soon joined the ruff on the junk heap of fashion history.

By the early 1800's, the cravat became known as a "tie" and then evolved to pretty much what we know today and was/is tied in a number of different ways/styles, according to the preference, formality and upbringing of the wearer. Options include the four-in-hand knot, the half-Windsor knot, the Windsor knot and the “reversed” Pratt knot, among others. No, we are not going to talk about colors or patterns though you may want to research the very interesting origins of regimental and club ties.

Then, of course, we have that odd though convenient bolo or bola tie that has now become the official neckwear of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and appears to be fast coming the new/old symbol of the American West. We suspect that like former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson before him we will see Texas Governor Rick Perry wearing some in his cross country Presidential-seeking sorties.

Bolo aside, some folks (especially my Mother) insist that there is a proper and not so proper way to tie a necktie. While Mother wouldn’t not let the three Buxton Boys (Ned, John and Seabury) venture forth to church, school or any other formal function without the proper full Windsor knot, we are not so inflexible here. If you have to wear a tie, do what you like and feels good though understand that (however preposterous it sounds) in some circles someone may be watching. The point is you/we always have the opportunity to impress – or not.

In a world dominated by “Business Casual” most of the younger generation don’t know how to tie a necktie and probably don’t care. For those folks that have no aspirations beyond digging ditches, cutting grass or plowing snow, then this advice probably won’t benefit them though they wouldn’t be reading this post anyway. Just note that we still have business, social and religious events where the wearing of a tie may be appropriate and even required.

In times where jobs are scarce (especially for recent college graduates) the job interview is the one opportunity to create that positive first impression with the interviewer who may make the final hiring decision. If you dress inappropriately, say casually for a sales job or a position with a bank or law firm, the interviewer may think that you aren’t taking the interview process seriously, aren’t motivated to pursue that position or worse yet, you don’t have the social, communication, consensus building or collaborative skills necessary to be productive in today’s workplace. The way you dress reflects who you are and can positively influence those gauging your abilities. Many times the centerpiece of correct dress is the necktie.

And that’s the conundrum we face – it’s all about perception and aside from fashion or keeping our shirt clean or wiping your nose – the tie has no real purpose, save adornment. It is a “convention in search of a reason.” At least with the bolo tie you can tie something up if need be like the now mostly ceremonial French-inspired aiguillette.

In my lifetime neckties have become shorter then longer, wider then narrower, colors and patterns bolder and then more subtle and then back again (save your old ties). Neckwear has passed through the full range of fashion, manipulated to the varigies of that industry and pursuit of the diminishing though still almighty dollar and what is in and what is not. For all that I frankly (my dear) don’t give a damn. I’ll wear what I like and what seemingly goes with what I’m wearing – or not. My advice to those otherwise mired in dismal lives - wear a tie with color and style and see what happens…


Ned Buxton

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Every Sunday for the last umpteen years I’ve always gotten up early to watch my favorite TV show CBS’s Sunday Morning. With a cup of coffee and scone I could enjoy an hour and a half of interesting and well-presented stories. Some of my mega heroes including the current host Charles Osgood along with storied traveler Charles Kuralt and occasionally my ultimate champion and king of opinion and curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, would appear. That said, Andy was mostly the indispensable fixture and last word on television's favorite newsmagazine, CBS’s 60 Minutes where he regularly ran sweep for 33 years. No football game or other event (including sleeping) could keep me away from either show when Rooney was on.

Aside from speaking for me most of the time and being the voice of and for millions of Americans, Andy, first and foremost, was a great writer. In style and technique he was everything I want to be, and more. Where I am verbose and tend to wander, Andy was always concise; making his point with brief and succinct verbiage packaged in that always believable, unpretentious natural delivery from his always cluttered office. Andy was pre-tech armed with wry opinion, the keenest wit and his manual Underwood typewriter. Though he would prefer that image, he grudgingly used a computer sometimes pointing out its foibles and faults all the while admitting to its efficiency.

Andy wasn’t afraid of anybody or anything, disdained celebrity, coveted his private life and refused to give autographs. To the end he always wondered, “What kind of an idiot wants my name on a piece of paper” and held those that did in contempt. A good Friend who met him several years ago and later was commenting on the short stature of a nearby Rooney, “He’s so little.” The mostly charming though always cantankerous Rooney acknowledged the remark, “I heard that.” Then even with apologies and assurances of no ill intent the predictable response, “Yes, you did mean it…” with Andy probably relishing that moment.

Andy Rooney was a regular guy many times with tongue in cheek questioning from the trenches everything in our lives from the trivial and mundane to the most significant. He was always entertaining and like one Friend opined while paraphrasing the late Caskie Stinnett, “Andy could tell you to go to hell and you’d look forward to the trip.”

While Rooney mostly made sense to this writer he lobbed an occasional out of synch and inappropriate hand grenade that spoke to his humanity and made him even more endearing. In our sanitized politically correct world he saw his truth and to the delight of millions, offered coherent rationale for his perspectives which included a, “delicious hatred for prejudice and hypocrisy.”

Rick Cohen of the The Nonprofit Quarterly commented the other day, “Andy Rooney was idiosyncratic, argumentative, and sometimes ornery, but his grouchy commentaries were worth listening to. That we will never hear another from Rooney reminds us of the dwindling quality of public discourse in American journalism.” Would that Congress had an Andy Rooney…

Scott Pelley, CBS Evening News anchor and correspondent for 60 Minutes remarked on Andy’s passing, “The Romans had Cicero. The English had Dickens. America had Andy. He hid a philosopher’s genius behind the honest prose of Everyman. Apparently, God needed a writer.”

In his final appearance on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago Andy Rooney commented that he'd lived a life luckier than most and wished he "could do this forever." We do too Andy…..

Job well done.


Ned Buxton

Saturday, October 29, 2011


As we used to say as kids, “close but no cigar”. That old carnival idiom seems so appropriate with the cigar being the World Series Championship. I’m a Texas Rangers Fan and however that plays with your perspectives and logic, also a Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves Fan. Mostly I’m an absolute fan of the underdog, the one who perseveres despite adversity until the victory is won. This is how legends are made and punctuates / demonstrates how teamwork is the essential ingredient of success.

The Rangers seemed to have all that going for them fighting through a tough season though ascendant at the end. The St. Louis Cardinals, however, trumped them in spades coming from a wild card position to win the ultimate pot of gold. They overcame tremendous hardship and while a few of their players stood out, a different player seemed to literally step up to the plate and deliver at the last critical nanosecond. They include Missouri local* boy and hitting phenom David Freese who hit for a .348 average (8-for-23) with one home run and seven RBIs against Texas setting the major league record for most RBIs in a single postseason (21) and pitcher Chris Carpenter who threw strikes when he had to in direct contrast to Ranger pitching.

In that thrilling though heartbreaking game six 10-9 loss to the Cardinals the Rangers on two occasions were within one strike of the World Series Championship, but they couldn’t close the door and deliver. As Ranger Manager and all around good guy Ron Washington reminded us, baseball is nine innings while football, hockey and lacrosse are a sixty minute competition – not one inning, out or minute less.

There will be no celebratory champagne (or ginger ale) and no trip to Disney World for the Rangers this year but, hopefully, accolades for a great 2011 season and with most of the Rangers returning - high expectations for next year. We won’t be meeting the Cardinals in 2012 regular season interleague play but perhaps another World Series meeting?

And for all you folks who think that, “What happened was supposed to happen”, think again. No disrespect, but that’s a cop out. We try to the best of our ability and resources and if we leave everything on the field and still lose – then the unalterable fact is the best team won. To think otherwise is to cheapen the St. Louis victory and diminish the Rangers’ incredible effort. No hocus pocus or divine providence here. God does not care who wins the World Series.

Thank You Rangers - Congratulations Cardinals.


Ned Buxton

*David Freese was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Aye.

Friday, October 21, 2011


The Sands Convention Center at the Venetian in Las Vegas hosted a Republican presidential primary debate on October 18, 2011. This turned out to be perhaps the last gasp for Texas Governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry. It was billed by many as his, “moment of truth” where Perry would either, “do or die.” It turned out to be his swan song and his poll numbers continue to fall following the debate. This writer had previously opined that he had done so poorly in the last two debates that by the law of averages he couldn’t help but do better this time around. Well, he didn’t and all the king’s men and all the king’s horses won’t be able to put Rick Perry back together again.

Instead of engaging in substantive policy debate Perry decided to go into attack mode and in a personal harangue assailed fellow Republican Mitt Romney on the issue that he had previously knowingly hired illegal aliens to work on his lawn. Perry kept interrupting a responsive and frustrated Romney who though coming out the better couldn’t look very presidential in that environment. Perry looked terrible with the camera catching him staring opaquely at Romney hence our “deer in the headlights” title. We note that this issue was first reported by the Boston Globe in 2006 and, needless to say, has been hashed and rehashed for almost five years. The facts are well known and it’s an old story.

So, did Romney retain the services of a landscaping company knowing that they hired illegal immigrants? I don’t know but as an old Human Resources guy I think it's the responsibility of contractors whether a lawn company, pest control, pool service or another business to comply with current immigration law. To insinuate that the customer (in this case the homeowner) should check the credentials of every person hired to work on their property is ludicrous. It appears to be nothing more than a smear job and old, regurgitated news - at best.

We wonder if Rick Perry has speculated if any illegal and/or undocumented aliens helped process the piece of chicken or vegetables he consumes or helped manufacture the carpets that cover the floors of his house. We think he never gave that a thought though those industries have been habitually guilty of hiring undocumented workers. It’s the same song though different verse.

It appeared that Perry (described as feisty by some supporters) was viscerally combative and confrontational. Because of Perry we won’t remember the positives of that debate rather just the highlights of his harangue and failure to let Romney respond to his allegations. And to what end? Perry’s strategy to counter his ever falling polling numbers was to get indignant and righteous like an angry Moses at Mount Sinai. No, there is no “burning bush” here.

Many see Rick Perry now hand in hand with Michele Bachmann striding towards the sunset… One by one they fade away in almost comical though pathetic political musical chairs to the last person standing or sitting. And then it all starts over.


Ned Buxton

PS: Today is October 21, 2011 and the focus of Harold Camping’s latest doomsday prediction. I guess that we have until 11:59:59 PM Central Time here in Dallas, Texas, USA when the rapture (lower case) occurs but then we have that old time zone thing so actually the date has already passed in the Pacific in such locales as Guam where it is a peaceful Saturday morning, October 22, 2011. Confusingly, Catholics around the world are celebrating and memorializing Pope John Paul's 1978 inauguration as Pope on this October 22. They must be unbelievers, “out of the mainstream” but probably not… I overheard one person opining today, “It is a rapture of morons.” Gees, I meant to ask Rick how he stands on the rapture…

Saturday, October 15, 2011


When SMU All American and NFL/Dallas Cowboy legend Dandy Don Meredith died last December I felt a great sense of loss - a major part of my generation and all that I embraced had died with him. I hoped against hope wondering if the Millennium and Boomlet generations will bother to remember Meredith and those of his ilk. Meredith who was renowned for his easy going center-stage sense of humor and naturally entertaining behaviors in his early career sought anonymity in retirement. Even with that Dandy Don opined, "I don't know how badly I'd feel if I wasn't remembered at all." That will, hopefully, never happen so long as we appreciate his inspiring All-American story.

Don Meredith was the real reason why the Cowboys were America’s Team though many fans never really understood his relationship with a mostly aloof Coach Tom Landry who more often than not threw Meredith under the bus in defeat. But, that’s another story...

Many of the War Baby and Boomer football icons are getting old and now meeting their maker with alarming frequency as calculated by this 68 year old writer. One by one they process towards those pearly gates. Some might argue that they are already occupying the other domain, but rest assured, most were good men worthy of the ultimate reward for a life well lived. If telling the truth, playing for no other reason than the love of the game, having a good time and being a good person condemns one to the everlasting fire, then I need to get my clothes fireproofed. Now I didn’t live those lives on the edge and never did drugs but like many I pondered and sometimes coveted the free-wheeling, outrageous and absolutely absurd lifestyles they embraced.

On September 30, 2011 another Dallas Cowboy bit the dust, Peter Gent of Bangor, Michigan who at 69 passed to greater glory. Gent was joined at the hip with Meredith, Buddy Dial, Dan Reeves and other Dallas Cowboy icons in a different time and place. While he enjoyed that wide open throttle with his cronies, he had a serious side which just might be his greatest legacy.

Gent may not have made the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor but he could be a footnote on either Meredith’s or Mel Renfro’s plaque. We all want to make a difference while we are on this mortal plane and Pete did it big time. Gent wrote the sorta autobiographical North Dallas Forty (ND40), along with several other significant books that exposed professional football’s unsavory side. ND40 became a dark social commentary of Texas and The South in the 1960’s where players were exploited and as commodities were property to be used and discarded and to be a minority meant you couldn’t live near the practice field in North Dallas. Yes, that’s where the name of Gent’s book came from. That offended the egalitarian and socially conscious Gent who always asked WHY and cooked his story from 1964 to the ultimate publication of ND40 in 1973 and the movie of the same name six years later.

As Gent noted later, “I kept asking why the white players put up with their Black teammates being forced to live in segregated south Dallas, a long drive to the practice field. The situation was not changed until Mel Renfro filed a fair housing suit in 1969." The antiauthoritarian Gent may have been the social conscience of the Dallas Cowboys because nobody else bothered to raise the alarm and call people out on their behaviors. Embarrassingly, no owner, player or even legendary coach Tom Landry with all their celebrity chose to address this and other discrimination issues (shame on them). Offering an insight to his writing in 2003 Pete Gent offered that, “Pro football shows you where your culture is coming apart.” Indeed it was then and is now a reflection of our society, culture and our value system. As we have pointed out in previous posts that includes not just the owners and players but the fans as well.

Gent was certainly a unique individual even to his athleticism. After an exceptional basketball career with the Bangor, Michigan Vikings and the Michigan State Spartans he was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets of the NBA. He tried out for the Dallas Cowboys in 1964 after he learned they would pay $500.00 to training camp attendees. That was a helluva lot of money in those days. And then, surprise, surprise – Gent made the team and basketball went by the wayside.

Gent was as tough as they come and the ND40 character of receiver Phil Elliott mirrored the abuse and subsequent daily pain that Gent and many other NFL players endured then and for the rest of their lives. ND40 along with other exposés like Dave Meggyesy’s 1970 Out of Their League and Jim Bouton's 1970 Ball Four helped shape current policy on injuries and treatment of athletes both at the college and professional sports levels. No, I don’t include Dan Jenkins' "semi-honest and half-funny" 1972 novel Semi-Tough in that same genre… We also need pay attention to great writers like sports columnist Bob Kravitz who likewise chronicled those darker days.

So we thank Peter for his life to include his contributions to society, for being a pretty good Father and for five passable years as a receiver with the Dallas Cowboys. We suspect and hope that Pete and Dandy Don are together again smoking cheroots, drinking Royal Crown Mists and listening to a little Willie Nelson.


Ned Buxton

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Like life, the injury faking controversy has seemingly taken on an energy and persona all its own. Our reaction to the issue is the real story. The continuing empty denials by the participants and their willingness to patently lie coupled with their teammate’s willingness to back them up despite the evidence goes well beyond having someone’s back. It is simply an issue of honesty and integrity.

The bottom line is that it’s cheating and at the very least not in the spirit of the game. Seems that many players and some fans think that anything goes, hook or by crook, to gain a victory. I’m still old enough to remember when honor and a high level code of ethics was the inspiration for life whatever the venue or activity. In an earlier post we reminded readers of that Williams College receiver who credited with a pass reception versus Amherst notified the referee that he had not caught the ball.

Ultimately for most of us who participated in organized team athletics whether it’s football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, et al the game is surely about recreation/exercise but with an ultimate much higher purpose. Sports in all its myriad forms was for us the great metaphor for Life. The greater lesson is learning to function cooperatively as a team and within the rules of the game to honestly gain the ultimate prize – Victory. We were taught that in defeat that prize can also be ours. The Greeks gave us that lesson which has been forwarded via the modern Olympic movement.

One blogger who echoes the sentiments of this writer recently stated, “I truly believe that the sport actually DESERVES to be played competitively by men with integrity.” Then you see and hear football fans who seemingly don't mind if members of their own team cheat successfully, only objecting when their opponent cheats. That hypocrisy stinks with many of the opinion that this “victory at any cost” mantra could ultimately ruin the game.

Now having said all this we certainly understand tactical fouling when one player deliberately breaks a rule for an advantage. That would include, among many other examples, a defensive safety obviously beaten, interfering with an offensive receiver so as to prevent a touchdown. That’s part of the game where that player trades a penalty for the surety of six points. That’s part of the reward-penalty aspect of the game where the rules anticipate and account those infractions. We doubt that the blue collar workers or the Ivy League blue bloods who played the early version of the game would have feigned injury for an advantage.

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi (photo above) did say, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” but he was parroting (knowingly or not) another football coach, Red Sanders of Vanderbilt and UCLA fame. For those revisionists this writer heard him say it and there is archival video as proof positive. We guess that his intent at using this was to basically motivate and inspire his players in the heat of the moment and to set the stage for his heavy handed, disciplinarian coaching style – all in a different time and place in history. Lombardi in the latter stages of his life, understanding the detrimental effect of that admonition on younger athletes bemoaned, “I sure as hell didn’t mean for people to crush human values and morality”. Lombardi died regretting that he ever said it with Friends, sportscasters and even historians trying unsuccessfully to disassociate him from that phrase.

For many that now famous quote highlights what is wrong with competitive sports in America. As Steve Overman of Jackson State University so keenly observed, sports have become our, “cultural currency.” Randy Roberts and James Olson, in Winning is the Only Thing: Sports in America Since 1945 remind us that, “Football became a lens through which Americans interpreted their country, their communities and themselves.” And that’s both the good and bad of it.

Within the context of this issue I was reminded most recently by a European footballer about the Italian coined term, furbizia, which is literally translated as the art of guile. With much of the rest of the world embracing a fair play approach to the game, they perceive Italian footballers as cheaters and the, “dirtiest footballers on the planet.” The Italians, however, see themselves as doing nothing more than tactically exploiting the soft underbelly of their opponents – winning by hook or by crook. And, yes, those strategies include “diving” and no doubt where some of our NFL players took their inspiration.

Diving is considered “classic furbizia” and according to one blogger is yet another manifestation of the, “use of guile and gamesmanship of the Italians with the referee serving as the object of total distrust and disrespect.” So for the Italians it would appear that this win at all cost attitude has trumped any sense of fair play and ethical values and therein lies the lesson for us. It would appear that we are certainly trying to catch up with the Italians.

A recent blogger challenged us all by asking, how should we participate in competitive sports and then offered we should look to, “Our higher sense of self.” Indeed, we create our own destinies and depending on our choices take either the high or low road. Those choices are: 1) Embrace those high level tenets of sportsmanship and ethics or 2) succumb to victory at any cost – even to cheating and the extent of changing the nature of the game. Copping to the lesser option then cheapens victory and those who gained it.

A great football coach summed the issue up for all of us, “Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good.” The Italians notwithstanding, apparently a lot of players in the NFL have lost their sense of taste…


Ned Buxton

Sunday, October 2, 2011


The Very Reverend Kevin Martin, Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew's in Dallas (Episcopal) being aware of my passion for all things Scottish asked me last Sunday about any “Celtic” service that might be appropriate for The Cathedral. That inquiry prompted this post.

Those that know me understand my enthusiasm for and involvement in the American Scottish Community for many years. Thanks and all credit go to an attentive Mother who always reminded Ned, John and Seabury of our Buxton/ Littlefield/ Seabury/ Gorham/ Armstrong/ Shreve ancestors and our revered Keith Scottish lineage. If anything, it has kept me occupied for lo those many years and was a good segue for my honestly earned anthropology degree. Scottish Highland athletics was a major focus for over thirty years thanks to the mentoring of Ross Morrison, Guy Soule and the Friendship of many more in that select community. I thank all of them for their contributions allowing my life to have meaning beyond my threshold.

My activity in and commitment to the re-raised 78th Fraser’s Highlanders, 2nd Battalion of Foot, America have allowed me to live and interpret history for all those so interested. Great thanks to Colonel Ross Oborne, Colonel J. Ralph Harper, Tex Dallas and my many other Canadian compatriots. God speed, Ross.

There is one other “Scottish” activity that captured my interest and commitment. Aside from the myriad Scottish Festivals and Highland Games held annually in the United States and Canada (even to Australia and New Zealand) there is another significant event that literally captures the spirit and essence of all that is Scottish, “Here and away from Home”. That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the The Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans and while the ceremony didn’t originate in Scotland – the motivation and spirit surely emanated from the auld sod. I helped coordinate myriad Kirking services in many denominations across the country with the level of enthusiasm in each church equal to the level of influence of their Scottish members. They are legion…

I’ve seen some explanations (some absolutely absurd) that romanticize the so called history of this ceremony. I saw some recently that proclaimed the Kirking as, “commemorating the persecution of Scottish Protestant Christians”, “the remembrance, how the Christian faith was passed on to us through our Scottish ancestors” and “recognizing the authority of God as sovereign over the affairs of Scottish clans.” While some pious Scots and others may want to embrace those statements, they are not accurate.

One of the most embraced and widely accepted legends follows on the 1746 defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Scots at Culloden (Drummossie Moor) by the English and a lot of other not so enamored Scots. This was the last pitched battle fought on British soil and occurred near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. Following that defeat and the flight of Charlie across the sea to France the Hanoverian English fully intended to weaken, indeed eliminate, the Gaelic culture, disembowel the Scottish clan system and remove once and for all this thorn in their side. What better way to accomplish that task by banning the iconic trappings of that culture. The English proscribed (banned) the wearing of the tartan (“Scottish war dress”) and the playing of the pipes (“instruments of war”) and the bearing of arms among other liberties. It has been related that Scots anxious to embrace and hold sacred their sense of intimate kinship with their homeland would secret small swatches of their tartans into church (kirk) services to be blessed and re-consecrated in anticipation of their ultimate release from bondage.

Whether the Kirking of the Tartans ceremony really ever took place/originated in Scotland remains hotly debated even among history and church scholars. There is some evidence that while it could have happened, there was absolutely no formal protocol, ceremony nor a specific Sunday or day (including St. Andrews, etc.) in the year when this occurred. Rather, this could have been a spontaneous expression of the Scots allegiance to Family, Clan and Country.

Somewhere between a, “silly bit o' Brigadoonery” and this speculation lies the truth. Had I been alive then and identified myself and my Clan/Family with a specific tartan, then I would have probably done it just out of spite and plain defiance. I know many native, highly educated Scots including a baker’s dozen of Scottish Chiefs who never heard of the ceremony until they came across the pond to the US or Canada. Could it have happened and then been lost in the mists of time? Perhaps, but in a culture that prides itself on such rich pomp and ceremony – I doubt it. In fact, we think it absolute poppycock. The irony is that much of the widely ballyhooed mythos that has enveloped the rite continues to drive and energize its acceptance and continued celebration. We’ll take it

Now this post isn’t about the history of Tartan, save its integral role in the contemporary Kirking Ceremony. We will relate to that work in progress in a later post. In the meantime we’ll just make a few points about Tartan and move on.

Tartan in Scotland originally was a woolen material woven in a distinctive, specific sett/pattern (warp & weft) that among other entities now has significance to and recognition by specific Families or Clans. The Scots took full advantage of the flora in their geographic areas and soon different patterns and colors innocently presented themselves. So, many tartans were created and evolved simply because each area liked to weave a certain design using local herb or plant dyes. That naïve though utilitarian approach was soon embraced by Clan and Family leaders who ultimately saw it as another way to establish their separate identities. If one knew what plants and flowers grew in a particular region (generally their badges) then you could probably surmise where someone came from by those colors.

The Wikipedia site does a pretty good job of calculating the history and origins of tartan. What we will say now is that some Scottish Family or Clan tartans are probably much older than speculated or validated by history. No doubt the widespread association with a specific Family or Clan is modern though would appear to have history in Scotland dating back as early as the 12th or 13th century CE. We have noted the recent evidence that the use of tartans or tartan like material was used in other parts of the world seemingly by the Celts.

Whatever the intrigue and impetus of the recognition and growth of Scottish tartans, they have become synonymous with Scotland and her Families and Clans.

Now comes along the Reverend Peter Marshall (A Man Called Peter), originally from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. Marshall was called to the ministry, immigrated to the United States, where he studied and eventually settled in as pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. in 1937. Marshall built an incredible influence and was twice appointed U.S. Senate Chaplain, serving from January 4, 1947 until his sudden death just over two years later at 46 years of age.

Marshall was a member of St. Andrews Society of Washington, D.C. and was primarily responsible for starting the Kirkin’ ceremony. During the early years of WWII the very eloquent and always inspired Dr. Marshall preached many sermons on behalf of British War Relief and the Scottish Clans Evacuation Plan. Marshall’s sermon delivered on Sunday, April 27, 1941 is generally credited as the first "Kirking" service though it was not yet called that at the time – more later. Need we say that Peter Marshall became one of America's greatest preachers. His messages still resonate with those of good faith, or not.

Marshall spoke about the oppression of the Scots during the days of the Act of Proscription drawing his congregation’s attention to the global threat of cultural annihilation and genocide posed by the Nazi dictatorship. All funds raised from the service went directly to a mobile kitchen in Scotland.

We need note now that Marshall was no doubt familiar with the term Kirking which had been used for several hundred years (still is) to describe annual church services aka the Kirking of the Council where councilors, officials of a town council along with other dignitaries with great pomp and circumstance are reminded of their responsibilities to the community. The Church blesses these public servants while noting their affirmation to faithfully serve God and their fellow citizens. Some of these services date back to the 1600’s, well after the Reformation reached Scotland. We have also seen Kirking of the Court ceremonies in Edinburgh. Marshall knew these Kirking ceremonies were historic and meaningful events witness the Kirking of the Scottish Parliament which has been held since its rebirth in 1999.

Dr. Marshall's sermons were so popular that requests were made for their publication with the proceeds designated for British War Relief. The term Kirkin’ o’ The Tartans was coined by Dr. Marshall after the fact when asked what to name his sermon of May 2, 1943. This was the sermon that recalled the years after 1746 and the defeat of the Scots at Culloden when the bagpipes and tartan were outlawed by the English who were literally trying to emasculate the Scots by depriving them of their heritage. We believe it was Dr. Marshall, who recounted in that sermon how the Scots would at their worship services, touch tartan swatches secretly at the signal of their pastor thus starting the controversy that continues to this day. Where he got that inspiration, nobody knows, though it certainly served its purpose.

Side Bar: Mary Wood, Peter Marshall's Secretary for many years recounted how Peter Marshall prepared his sermons. Seems his office was on the top floor of a two story annex adjoining the church proper. There was a spiral staircase that led down from his office to Mary's office below. Consistent with the day and time Marshall would draft his sermons by hand, page by page. When Marshall completed a page, he would drop it down the staircase. Mary would retrieve each sheet and type into a finished product. What Peter Marshall could have done with a computer…

The St. Andrew’s Society of Washington D.C. formally participated in these services of unified prayer for the many subjects of the British Isles with special emphasis given to the Citizenry of Scotland. This developed into an annual event at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C formally sponsored by the St. Andrew’s Society. it drew the attention of many including the, then, Bishop of Washington, D.C., The Rt. Rev. Angus Dun, D.D. who after becoming a member of The Society invited them to celebrate the annual ""Kirking" in the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul on Mount St. Alban (Yes, The National Cathedral).

Dr. Marshall died in 1949 and though no Kirking was held that year, it was resurrected in 1950 and has been held ever since.

The St. Andrew's Society of Washington, DC has formally sponsored the Service annually in The National Cathedral since 1954. Good Friend David McKenzie of the St. Andrew’s Society of Washington, D.C. has coordinated that event for many years. I take this opportunity to again thank David for his watchful eye while son Geb attended American University.

The worship service has a traditional content, using much of the Church of Scotland form. Central to its theme is the presentation of various tartans-through flags and the wearing of tartans-for a blessing (Kirkin’). Great Highland bagpipes, Scottish hymns galore and prayers and words that lift the human spirit abound. The Kirkin' is intended to encourage all participants to reflect with thanksgiving on their own Family and cultural heritage, and “to celebrate God's grace poured out for all generations.”

So, yes, the true Kirking ceremony while springing from the soul of a Scot is a uniquely American affectation and has only been held off Scottish soil as it has always been, “A celebration of Scots, away from home." It has been observed by many denominations especially including the Presbyterians along with the Methodists, Catholics and others.

Many Episcopalian and Anglican parishes celebrate the kirkin’ by offering their churches as a home for the service in grateful tribute to the Scottish Episcopalian bishops (Right Rev. Robert Kilgour, Bishop of Aberdeen, and Primus of Scotland; the Right Rev. Arthur Petrie, Bishop of Ross and Moray and the Right Rev. John Skinner, Rector of the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew and Coadjutor Bishop of Aberdeen) who on November 14, 1784 consecrated Samuel Seabury as the first American Episcopalian bishop following London’s refusal to do so. The consecration took place in Bishop Skinner's private chapel in Long Acre, in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. The bad blood fomented by the successful American Revolution even to the See of Canterbury eventually cooled though the Episcopal Church in the United States essentially evolved independent of the Church of England.

In 1884 the Rev. William Tatlock, D.D., Rector of St. John's Church, Stamford, observing the Centenary of Bishop Seabury’s consecration appropriately validated the reverence held for the Scottish Church, "Wherever the American Episcopal Church shall be mentioned in the world, may this good deed, which the Scottish Church has done for us, be spoken of for a memorial of her!" That great bond of affection and mutual respect exists to this day.

The Kirkin’ service like so many other aspects of our society has evolved from the singular purpose of British War Relief (they don’t need it anymore) to a contemporary extension/continuation of ''The Scottish Experience'' to the extent that those of us with Scottish roots continue to push the envelope and influence of the Scottish Diaspora with the Kirkin’ tradition.

The Rev. Dr. John Mckay, head of the Princeton Theological Seminary, a native Scot and guest at the Kirkin’ at The National Cathedral in 1951, was heard to comment that he would like to export the ''Kirking'' tradition to Scotland because it would renew some lost pride and traditions and with the inclusion of the pipes in the service, ''...might draw people back into the churches where the sermons might not!''

The Right Hon. Sir James Ian Keith, the 12th Earl of Kintore, 2nd Viscount Stonehaven, Chief of the Name of Keith (25 July 1908 – 1 October 1989) and Friend to this writer commenting on the American Highland Games and Kirking experience told me at the 10th annual Stone Mountain Highland Games in 1979, ''You know, you Americans do this so much better than we do or ever did.''

To all our Scottish Ancestors: We remember that we are your children and you and those of your Ilk paved the way and provided the inspiration. We will say your names and invoke your memory until the end of time.

And to answer Dean Kevin’s query… the Scots and Irish community in north Texas would be very pleased and honored to celebrate our common heritage within the hallowed walls of St. Matthews Cathedral.


Ned Buxton, FSA Scot

Friday, September 23, 2011


What a great (NOT) revelation happened this last Monday night during the St. Louis Rams - New York Giants National Football League (NFL) game. All of a sudden the NFL which has known about the rampant faking of injuries during games for a long time has now decided to enforce penalties up to and including fines, suspensions and loss of draft choices (ouch!). Why now? Well, because the faking of injuries has become so increasingly blatant that it is to the obvious detriment of the game. They have no choice.

The proverbial cat was finally out of the bag after two New York Giants players, Deon Grant and Jacquian Williams simultaneously and inexplicably hit the deck as the Rams came to the line in their no-huddle, hurry-up offense that had the Giants back on their heels. A rabid NY Giants fan since 1953, I watched the video over and over looking for an excuse to believe them. The charade, however, was so obvious that even the usually stoic and impartial ESPN announcing team called Grant and Williams out for their illegal ploy to slow down the Rams offense and probably save a timeout. It looked rehearsed, practiced…and poorly executed.

To make matters worse, when Williams saw that Grant was down he realized the fait accompli, stood up and walked away as if nothing had happened. Despite whatever assertions of injury or protestations by Grant or any other player past, present or future - he and others of his ilk have absolutely no credibility from that point.

Some folks counter, “So what?” alleging that the NFL has no rule specifically against faking an injury. While that may be true there is one rule in the books which (given what appears to be a broad interpretation by an official) specifies that behaviors intended to stop the clock or deliberately slow the game are met with (Ta-Da) a delay of game penalty. Having said that, much of the injury faking is no longer even discreet or a hand well-played. These flops are so badly performed that there is little doubt as to their purpose and that’s what tipped the NFL to action. These poor actors may even ultimately fail to effectively promote a legitimate injury or health-related issue that should result in a time out. When player safety has to be the top priority, Chicken Little is close at hand.

Present NFL players including Reggie Bush, Scott Fujita, Ed Reed, Frank Gore and Bryan Kehl among others have publicly admitted and verified to the whole world that faking injuries in order to slow down an opponent and give your team a break has been an accepted tactical part of the game for quite a while. Several NFL coaches when asked about the practice gave winks and nods while admitting nothing. Tony Dungy, the highly respected former player with the Steelers and Forty-Niners and successful Colts & Buccaneers head coach and now color analyst with NBC Sport’s Football Night in America commented that it was, “…part of what's happening now in the NFL.”

So, faking injuries isn't a new thing with players who even talk about being taught to flop and even individuals being designated for that duty. We’ve seen it mostly in soccer and, of course, in wrestling where dedicated combatants even use blood packets/capsules or in their manic enthusiasm cut themselves with hidden razors. But now these “embarrassing flop jobs” could cost the NFL valuable credibility it cannot afford to lose after the most recent extended labor dispute.

No doubt the NFL realizes that if they don’t crack down on this corruption of the game, the disease will spread to the rest of the sport. A wink and nod today becomes blatant disregard tomorrow. We already know The Game is mostly about money with some fans now pondering whether it’s nothing more than bad theater.


Ned Buxton

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Our high temperature of 107° yesterday marked the 70th day this summer that the temperature has attained triple digit marks. The old record of 69 days was set back in that horrendous summer of 1980, but we were better or worse, like the heat or not. Putting this all in perspective – our average number of summer days at 100° or above is eighteen (18) so we are literally in a rarified atmosphere all thanks to La Nina and a dome of high pressure that just won’t move. Despite some thundershowers to our northwest this morning we will probably hit 100° again today further solidifying our hold on the record.

We are not alone with cities and regions all across the southwest setting equally impressive marks. Even in the deep Piney Woods of east Texas my old haunt of Lufkin set a new record this year. Horror of horrors with their recently extended burn ban, no barbecuing is even allowed…

Long after this record fails to impress and is lost in weather history, the effects of this heat wave will be felt. As we have reported in earlier posts, already compromised building foundations, streets and other utilities are continuing to deteriorate. The Texas power grid has been pushed into the red zone and beyond. Texas agriculture and ranching have been substantially compromised and probably changed forever. The long term effects of the drought will soon be seen in the trees and landscapes of our area. Already over three and one half million acres have burned in Texas including numerous new fires and the horrendous Bastrop fire near Austin which after two weeks and the heroics of firefighters is still only 60% contained. The area has been described alternately as a war zone and “volcanic” by state officials.

No sense of pride here, just survival. Questions heard on the street include, “Where’s a hurricane when you need one?” and “Can a tee shirt be far behind?”


Ned Buxton

PS. That morning rain never arrived save a few scattered drops that just seemed meant to tantalize. The Bastrop fire is now 75% contained though has now attained status as the worst fire in Texas history. Last night the recovery process was in full swing as the Bastrop Bears defeated San Marcos Rattlers, 48-23 in football. During the halftime ceremonies the community honored and thanked all the first responders and firefighters who continue to work on their behalf.



Saturday, September 10, 2011


As we have seen recently many politicians, especially those on the far fundamentalist right are inclined to interpret all they see within their domain in Biblical terms. That especially includes evolution which is consistent with their mostly literal interpretation of the Bible and Genesis. Like GOP presidential candidate, Governor Rick Perry of Texas recently opined to a youngster in Manchester, NH, "I know your mom is asking about evolution. It's a theory that's out there and it's got some gaps in it.”

So Perry is either incredibly naïve about science and the differences between scientific laws, hypotheses and theories or he’ll just say anything for votes. Either option is a sad indictment and certainly not qualities we want to see in a world leader in the 21st century. It would appear that Perry will continue to blur the lines of distinction between Science and Religion as, "a firm believer in intelligent design (creationism) as a matter of faith and intellect."

We understand the “faith” part of his statement, but the “intellect” component scares us. Everybody has a right to embrace their own belief systems but when they try and shove it down our throats under the guise of credible, mandatory education (even public policy), we have a problem. Perry and the Republicans have been trying to do that in Texas, witness the scary logic and machinations of former chairman of the Texas State Board of Education, Don McLeroy, a Perry appointee.

But let’s get back to basics and put this issue in perspective by acknowledging that it is to the obvious advantage of those with a literalist, far right agenda to discredit science and evolution. In order to justify their thoughts, words and deeds they borrow credible and seemingly scientific terms like “intelligent”, “design”, “creation” and even “scientific” to denote a belief system that incorporates none of these aspects.

So, we need to define what the scientific method is and the not so subtle differences in scientific Laws, hypotheses and theories. During our research we came across several great articles/posts but none were as clear and understandable as and their post Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories. We can do no better and heartily recommend.

Confusing this whole issue are individuals who don’t understand or won’t credit the concepts, protocols, disciplines and the attendant vocabulary and terms scientists use. That includes use of the term theory which conveniently for some can also mean that based on limited knowledge, a conjecture or assumption - a mere guess or something that hasn’t yet been proved. Again, it has a whole different meaning in science and that’s the Perry Blur.

Theories including the Theory of Evolution are based on the application of the scientific method where scientists propose one or more hypotheses or explanations for the process and then test them for accuracy and correctness. Evolution has passed thousands of such tests and is accepted to be true by the scientific community and most of the rest of the world, including this writer.

Here’s the kicker and perhaps why we retain the term theory. Scientists will always assume that there may be an opportunity to refine, fine tune and perfect all theories as new evidence is discovered. Simply put, they can build on an existing and proven truth. Scientists are always willing to alter any theory when and if new evidence is discovered, presented, tested and found to be valid. This scientific method allows any theory to ultimately become more and more accurate as research progresses. Ultimately, there is no agenda, no right or wrong in science – rather just what the record reflects.

A great example would be the discovery and analysis of DNA evidence that from the mainstream perspective squarely puts the origins of modern man in that part of the world we now call Africa. We know that to be true because of the distribution of archaic DNA material in Homo sapiens sapiens around the world today.

Will that theory be tweaked? Absolutely! As new evidence is discovered we will add to our already credible body of knowledge. That same tested, tried and proven “Out of Africa” theory is also irrefutable evidence for evolution. The question now remains, rather, the extent of regional interbreeding and exchange between modern humans and archaic forms in Africa, not whether evolution is a viable theory. That debate has been over for some time.

So, when you see the word theory used to describe a scientific conclusion that may include Relativity, Plate Tectonics, Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Evolution, etc. think in terms of science and find comfort that these theories have passed incredible scrutiny.

So, don’t sell yourself short by believing the nonsense and irresponsible statements you hear from politicians like Perry and Bachmann. The next time Perry tries to lump science and, frankly, all that doesn’t fit into his very, very small universe as nothing more than conjecture, call him on it and judge him accordingly. Questions? Refer to the non-partisan or to see where the truth lies.

Sometimes being a “straight talker” isn’t enough especially if that talk is all palaver. If enough of us don’t hold radicalized public officials like Perry and Bachmann accountable for their outrageous perspectives and judge them honestly on their beliefs and attitudes then go and pick out your club for evolution or not we are all going back to the Stone Age. But, irony of ironies, Perry doesn’t believe the earth is older than 6,000 years old…


Ned Buxton

Monday, September 5, 2011


Since I was a kid in the 1950’s I remember Jerry Lewis as a comedian who was mostly paired up with Dean Martin (Martin & Lewis) and also as the actor comedian who hosted fund raising events for sick kids. We didn’t exactly know what muscular dystrophy was back then but we had seen lots of kids come out of the 40’s and 50’s with the dreaded polio virus and neuromuscular diseases like Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).

Lewis at the behest of a staff member began hosting local telethons to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Associations of America (MDA) in 1952. These benefits were held in New York and some were reported on Providence, RI TV (seen by this writer) and received widespread attention. MDA approached Jerry about hosting a national telethon and thus was born the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, since renamed the MDA Labor Day Telethon. Lewis hosted that show from 1966 to 2010 and according to MDA raised over $2.6 billion (US). Equally important, Lewis with his celebrity raised awareness about muscular disease throughout the international community.

From 1966 to last year – no matter where I was – I watched at least a snippet of that Labor Day ritual. Sometimes I even tried to emulate Jerry and pull an all-nighter but I was never as strong as Jerry and his incredible crew. I didn’t watch this year – not one second – though I will write a check.

That show with its attendant emotion and sometimes not so predictable success was the heartbeat of America over that Labor Day weekend. The world watched in that grueling, knee buckling and exhausting LIVE marathon as Jerry poured his heart out (OK, punctuated with some good acting) wondering in cliff-hanger, soap opera fashion whether he would make the goal. Jerry always got the job done.

That telethon was never boring and given the spontaneous nature of the event you never knew what Jerry was going to say or do next (“unpredictable, in a good way”). That show will now seemingly morph into a bland, shop-worn showcase for corporate America and groups of responsible citizens from firefighters to cheerleaders to walk on camera, present a check and take their bows. While these groups deserve the accolade it will be mostly staged from this point on. That’s predictable given the year round macro management now required to put on such a huge event. On the local level the true spirit of the telethon is still epitomized by kids motivated to run neighborhood lemonade stands to raise money for, “Jerry’s Kids.” We saw one flourishing the other day in Dallas.

On May 16 Lewis announced his retirement as telethon host though would remain on as MDA National Chairman and at least do a walk-on in 2011. On August 3, 2011 MDA tersely and unceremoniously announced that the now 85 year old Jerry Lewis had been removed as MDA National Chairman and would not participate in the telethon. An incredulous public including this writer gasped. The reaction was universal and for me was epitomized by David Letterman’s very talented bandleader (actor, author, comedian and composer) Paul Shaffer who opined that Lewis’ absence seemed hard to believe. Shaffer often praised for his own charity work (Epilepsy Canada) and with his own star on Canada's Walk of Fame commented further, “I think it’s insane.” And it is…

The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon to the current MDA hierarchy had become an albatross - another time capsule not unlike the one recently discovered in a wall of the old Hall Elementary School building in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Jerry Lewis Telethon had become a vestige of the past and the way we used to do things. The world has changed and however unceremonious and distasteful, MDA felt it was time to move on.

Seemingly because of all the outrage surrounding Lewis’ ouster, the beginning of the MDA Telethon included Jerry Lewis tributes delivered by the show’s new hosts though MDA and Lewis would not comment or elaborate on the remarks.

From this point on there is nothing but speculation abounding about what really happened between Jerry’s announcement on May 16 and MDA’s lynching on August 3rd. Something happened, words spoken but nobody’s talking now. If you go on the MDA site some of the pages that relate to Jerry are now inaccessible. The MDA site disrespectfully has no mention of Jerry Lewis under “Telethon History.” That by itself makes MDA look very bad. We all needed a better outcome.

So, whether it was the disability activists who thought Jerry was throwing an annual pity party; Jerry’s very personal identification with the cause; Lewis’ recent dissing of the new telethon co-hosts; shrinking revenues and TV markets/coverages; corporate big wigs who couldn’t appreciate Lewis’ slapstick, sometimes irreverent and inappropriate shoot from the hip actions and comments; Jerry’s own failing health or something we haven’t even fathomed – it doesn’t really matter. Any further speculation about the reasons still won’t bring Lewis back. It seems more prudent to look forward but still somehow find a way to show our appreciation and gratitude for the absolutely heroic life’s work that Jerry Lewis has performed. That, of course, is continuing our support for MDA and encouraging a reconciliation.

Whatever the reason, Jerry’s gone for now and MDA did OK this year. No doubt this whole issue was handled very badly, much to the discredit of MDA, even if they turn out to be good guys.

As Jerry would still dutifully say, nothing else matters, it’s all about the kids…and the adults. Thank you Jerry.


Ned Buxton

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Our October 2007 Water, Water Not In Atlanta post outlined some of the misery when Atlanta and north Georgia was in a severe drought crisis, seemingly the worst in the history of that region. We commiserated with our north Georgia cousins invoking our own similar experience just two years earlier and assured them the rain would return. It did, though that Georgia drought exacerbated the ill feelings and further compromised the already precarious environmental relationship Georgia has with the states of Alabama and Florida who also depend on the waters of the Chattahoochee River to supply water to residents and irrigate crops. That controversy continues and we wonder if it will ever be amicably (or reasonably) resolved. It’s a modern war over water now a scarce commodity here in Texas.

You’d be right if you assumed that many of us here in Texas have a great appreciation for our water resources. Well educated Texans know that there are no natural lakes in our area save Lake Caddo which is well east over on the Louisiana-Texas border. Even then Caddo was the result of water backed up by a 100-mile log jam on the Red River in Louisiana. The removal of the jam was accomplished by Buxton ancestor, steamboat builder and river captain Henry Miller Shreve (1785–1851) who opened the Mississippi, Ohio and Red rivers to steamboat navigation and was memorialized forever and a day with the naming of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Given the scarcity of this natural resource and spurned on by the record drought of the 1950s Texas built dozens of reservoirs (now almost 200) designed to maintain an adequate water supply in the event of another inevitable severe drought. We wonder, however, if regional planners have accurately conjured the meteoric growth of our state and the ultimate demands still to be placed on our still limited water resources. We have seen low population projections that in the opinion of the water folks will see the state of Texas unable to supply water to the great majority of its residents by 2060 in the event of severe drought. More pragmatic folks say that figure is closer to 2025.

This year (the hottest and driest on record in Texas) thanks to La Nina we have been faced with a true test of our plan and the jury’s still out whether we passed or failed. If the citizenry of our state doesn’t wake up and listen to those that monitor those precious water resources, then many feel that we will have an ultimate failing grade. Simply translated: if we don’t change some attitudes and conservation practices then someday we won’t have enough water for everybody.

The north Texas DFW region has a humid subtropical climate, though situated so that we also experience the heat and drought typical of the semi-arid region to our immediate west. This is all capped off by spring cool fronts that move south out of the high plains and Midwest only to collide with the warm, humid air streaming north from the Gulf of Mexico. That spawns severe thunderstorms, many with hail and tornadoes prompting our inclusion in the southern aspect of Tornado Alley. In short, we get a wide variety of weather that can include cold bitter wind chills from storms that sweep down from Canada in the winter, witness the 2011 Super Bowl fiasco at Cowboy Stadium.

So our precipitation in Texas has always been boom or bust, either too much or too little as the folks in Vermont can now attest. We aren’t getting enough rain at present and area lakes are being quickly depleted. North Texas area lakes have more water than other regions of the state and, thankfully, as of this writing it looks like the excessive 100°+ degree weather may be on the wane starting next week. Huzzah!

Even with our good fortune most of north Texas and for that matter most of the state is now rationing water. The DFW metro cities of Richardson, Plano, Frisco, Allen, Forney, Wylie, Rockwall, Garland and many others get their water from the North Texas Municipal Water District and are now in stage 2 mandatory restrictions. Many other cities are in voluntary water restrictions limiting any watering from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. That would include Dallas and Fort Worth who appear close to implementing mandatory restrictions. The fact that nearly 500 water systems throughout Texas are now under mandatory restrictions is unprecedented.

It’s easy to identify folks who are abiding by the water restrictions. A quick drive thru of any DFW neighborhood will feature dead and dying brown or yellowing lawns - proof positive that those homeowners are serious about conserving water. Lush, green lawns that are obviously being watered every day are the scarlet letter for those who care only for themselves and not for the good of the many. Even in the best of times we know that despite all our proactive conservation efforts roughly 50% of all the water consumed ends up on our lawns. The conclusion is obvious – we all have to change how we, first of all, perceive, then use and preserve this resource.

I drove through our neighborhood the other day and saw sprinklers on during the middle of the day, one guy washing a car in his driveway and another hosing off the gutters in the street in front of his home. A drive down some of the business and apartment thoroughfares will find sprinklers going strong during the day with all its attendant runoff. These incredibly stupid and callous acts are those that will tip us to an increased water rationing and the potential that some folks might not be able to get a drink of water. Ultimately that kind of irresponsibility will put us out of business.

Our infrastructure is already taking an incredible beating with almost daily water main breaks where the earth has moved mains and water supply lines where they didn’t want to go. Many roads have buckled and heaved and even if passable, drivers need to use special caution when traversing these areas. Railroad tracks have warped (so-called sun kinks) prompting a super heightened maintenance vigilance and much slower train runs. Rolling power outages have started to hit major population areas as record demands are placed on energy sources. The reduction and outright loss of trees and other vegetation is exacerbating the superheating effect that our cities (already heat islands) have on their surrounding environments.

As a youngster and even young adult I would never have dreamed that we would actually pay for water in a bottle. There was a lot of controversy when it was first introduced though now with its mostly guaranteed quality, portability and availability, it’s a major industry and a seeming harbinger of water in the future a la macro blue gold futurist T. Boone Pickens.

This week amid all this heat and drought I saw hope and promise in a mass planting of Texas Sage profuse with extraordinary amethyst blooms on silver leaves along the George H. W. Bush Tollway north of Dallas. They were magnificent and perhaps along with the succulent Red Yucca and other plants more suitable for our summer heat, a harbinger of what more of us should and will be planting around our homes in the near future.

And speaking about responsible plantings of native trees and plants, who were the yahoos (municipal arborists?) who brought in the Bald Cypress to the very alkaline and dry soils of north Texas? I was dumbfounded when I came back to north Texas and saw these trees which require acid soil and very wet feet. Tree of the Year or not, while they have survived and even flourished in good times with reliable irrigation, in this unprecedented severe drought and heat they are not just dropping their leaves, rather dying all over the metro area. They may be our canary in the coal mine – a foreign species of life brought into a hostile environment and now succumbing to Mother Nature.

Our reality is much crueler than a misplaced species of tree, however. Because of the drought and heat many Texas ranchers and farmers have quit or retired never to return again. So - no cattle, no auctions, no transportation and a whole industry – in a state where cattle far outnumbered people – now gutted. No plants, no insects, no pollination, no birds or other animal life and no agriculture as we have known it. The cycle of life and the food chain, all linked together has been compromised. And what about our continuing record-breaking wildfire season?

What about the effects of the heat and drought on John and Jane Doe? At work folks have commented about the changes they see in the overall demeanor and heightened stress levels of individuals including drivers who appear less cautious and respectful. Many are on edge what with the recession, increased cost of food, power, water, gas – the list goes on. The heat and drought have put a fork in it. One gentleman recently observed, “Everybody’s not in quite as good a mood as they could be. It just kinda beats you down.”

We wonder about Texas Governor Rick Perry’s blustery posturing against the Federal government and President Obama despite their substantial and apparent uncredited support fighting the wildfires and all the while hypocritically cutting the budget of the Texas Forest Service, the very agency charged with fighting those fires. Now how about Perry’s very public strategy to deal with the drought and heat – prayers. Perry is as we say in Texas, “A hat with no cattle.”

This chapter in Texas history is a reminder that we are only temporary occupants in a self-correcting system where we are the ones who have to make concessions to our environment. Our Native American Brothers and Sisters had it right all along: the Earth will sustain Homo sapiens and all other life on the planet to the degree that we choose to be good stewards of its controllable resources. Failing that we will go the way of the dinosaurs. Just ask the folks left in Happy, Texas. The state of Texas, Ladies and Gentlemen, has been changed forever.


Ned Buxton