Monday, July 30, 2007

Order of the Phoenix

On Sunday afternoon, the whole family went to see the newest Harry Potter movie: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. As usual, the special effects were excellent. This story is the first one that is not almost entirely set in either Privet Lane or Hogwarts. Many of the scenes of the book are missing from the movie. Of course, if they added event half of them, the movie would be six hours long.

Two new major characters were introduced: Luna Lovegood and Dolores Umbridge. A new minor character was also introduced: the mad witch, Bellatrix Lestrange. For both the evil characters, the director cast British actresses held in high esteem with impressive acting careers.

For Lestrange, he chose Oscar-nominated Helena Bonham Carter. Her outstanding career covers everything from science fiction (Planet of the Apes, for example) to historical drama (Henry VIII) to cartoon voice over (Tim Butron's The Corpse Bride) to contemporary drama (Magnificent 7). She is excellent as the out-of-control manic mad witch.

For Umbridge, the director cast the multi-award winning Imelda Staunton. Her career spans twenty-five years. Her portrayal of the pompous, self-important Umbridge was perfect. I have worked in many companies with pompous asses lake that in critical positions who had to be either placated or surreptitiously bypassed constantly just to get my job done. I simply love it when Umbridge implores Harry to tell the centaurs that she means no harm and Harry replies, "I must not tell a lie."

For Lovegood, the director cast a newcomer - Evanna Lynch. This 15-year old Irish actress does an fantastic job as the strangely detached, motherless waif. Her platinum blonde hair and round face remind me of an owl when she appears over the shoulders of other characters.

My family enjoyed the movie very much, and can hardly wait for the next one!

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Concert in Copperas Cove

This evening, we went to a concert in a park. The nearby city of Coppearas Cove runs a series of concerts each summer at their Ogletree Gap park to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs. See their web site:

Tonight's concert featured, from right to left (Hey! What can I say? I'm dyslexic.): Jud Caswell from Maine, Saylor White and his son, Keynon, and David Allen.

I am almost positive that we have seen and heard David Allen before. Since he mentioned that he owned a house on Lake Buchanan, it was probably at the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) park, Canyon of the Eagles. There is a good, but pretentious (and, thus, expensive), resteraunt in the park and some times they have local artists perform.

My wife liked Jud Caswell and David Allen. She did not like the music of Saylor and Keynon White, although she and I were impressed by Keynon White's ability with a guitar.

For a change, weather was not a problem. The music is played in the group picnic pavilion. Both the musicians and the audience have a roof over out heads to protect us from the rain. Of course, if the wind is really blowing, that roof alone will not help much!

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

More on the Gatesville Collapse

I drove through Gatesville today. Just east of the courthouse square, right on US Highway 84, is the collapse site. I took some pictures.

As you can see, not only is the originally collapsed building gone, but also the one to the east.  I suspect the building to the west may also have to come down.  Notice the major sag in the roofline and the large blue tarps covering some significant damage to the bearing wall.  At the very least, I suspect major damage to the plaster of the interior walls.

If you look carefully, the brickwork of the remaining wall segment between the originally collapsed building and the one to the east is not in good shape.  It displays a very definite westward bow.  All that remains of the original building is its back wall.

I wonder how they will rebuild this space.  If this area has been declared a historic distirct, it will have to be rebuilt within the district's rules.  In most places in Texas, this means that the building front must be restored. Whatever they do, they must do it quickly. Further rain will very quickly cause the buildings on both sides to deteriorate.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Maybe, Just Maybe, the Rain Will End

Good News! Both Laura Skirde of KXAN and Rusty Garret of KWTX agree - the rain will end next week! Finally!

Last year, everyone was complaining about the drought and the damage it was causing to crops and livestock. We were hurting, also. Major wildfires were a real threat.

What a difference a year makes! This year, the complaint is flooding. Again, crops are being destroyed and, not so much livestock, but people are suffering. Fifteen people, so far, have drowned due to very severe flooding. High-water rescues make the news almost daily. In nearby Gatesville, the heavy rain caused the roof on a historic building to collapse.
These photos are from the KWTX web site and show where the roof and second floow collapsed into the first floor.

This building is right on Main Street, just a block east of the Court House. This is also US Highway 84, THE major road through town. As you can imagine, this is causing a traffic nightmare. Looking at the mess, I believe both the building on the east and on the west will also have to come down.

Many, if not most, of the buildings in these "historic" rural Texas towns have suffered with years of substandard maintenance - the owners just did not and do not have the money to keep up with the repairs. The Court House squares are no longer the center of local commerce. This has moved to the strip malls and the "big box stores", such a Wal*Mart, that are located on the outskirts of these towns. The drought years have caused the caulking to dry out so when the rains began, the gently sloping flat roofs leaked.

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