Supreme Insult

May 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

24 May 2010

Texas has again been bypassed in the Washington power game. (Whine-whine, sulk-sulk) I am referring, obviously, to our complete absence on the U.S. Supreme Court. To fill another vacancy there, President Obama has, predictably, looked to the Ivy League to select Solicitor General Elena Kagan.

Her background is the usual. She is from the northeast and earned degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law School. If she is confirmed, every single justice on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS in journalese) will have studied law at Harvard or Yale. In addition, she was dean of the Harvard School of Law. You can’t be more wrapped in poison ivy than that.

With the elevation of Kagan, the Supreme Court would for the first time ever have no Protestant members. SCOTUS will be made up of six Catholics and three Jews. Where is the Protestant to represent that 51 percent of America? The very name, “Protestant,” means we protest a lot. Can’t we write dissenting opinions? If she is confirmed, four of the nine justices grew up in New York City. Instead of issuing the usual refusal to hear a case, they will yell, “Fughetaboutit!”

This incestuous situation is traditional. In the history of the court, half of the 111 black robes came from the Ivy League either as undergraduates, graduate students or law students. Their death grip is tightening: since 1950, the percentage is 70. Of these, 18 went to Harvard Law, 9 to Yale Law, and 6 to Columbia Law. Two members of the very first High Court were Ivy Leaguers.

In continuing this tradition, President George W. Bush (Yale, Harvard) and his successor, Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard), have shunned 99 percent of America. Are there no decent judges in Texas, South Dakota or Nebraska? What are we from flyover states, chopped elk?

Incidentally, not everyone is smitten by that Academic Axis of Ivy. When nominee G. Harrold Carswell (Mercer University school of law) was deemed “mediocre” in 1970, Sen. Roman L. Hruska said, “Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance?”

When President George W. Bush nominated Dallasite Harriet Miers to the high court, she was criticized by her conservative opponents because she had attended the SMU law school. Miers was also rejected because she made such a lousy appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judge Diane Wood, a University of Texas and UT law school graduate on the federal appeals court in Chicago, was on Obama’s short list for a second time. Wood moved from New Jersey to Houston with her family in 1966. That’s as close as we get.

If Kagan is confirmed, she will replace retiring John Paul Stevens, the oldest member of the Supremes, and the fourth-longest serving justice in the Court’s history. He’s an interesting guy. As a boy, Stevens attended the 1932 World Series baseball game in Chicago’s Wrigley Field, where he saw Babe Ruth call his shot. Stevens later recalled: “Ruth did point to the center-field scoreboard. And he did hit the ball out of the park after he pointed with his bat. So it really happened.” Stevens also met several notable people of the era, including aviators Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. Stevens’ father, Ernest James Stevens, was convicted of embezzlement (the conviction was later overturned).

Justice Stevens earned his BA from the University of Chicago in 1941 and was working on his master’s degree in English at the university, but enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 6, 1941. Great timing. As an intelligence officer, he helped break the Japanese code that led to the downing of Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto‘s plane in 1943. (You WW II history buffs will appreciate that accomplishment – it was a biggie.) After the war, Stevens earned his law degree from the Northwestern University School of Law with the highest GPA in the history of the law school.

He was our only justice from the Midwest, and the only military veteran. All of the nine justices, including Stevens, had arrived at the High Court after serving in an appellate court. Kagan almost got there. She was appointed to an appellate judgeship, but the Senate never confirmed her.

Stevens took his seat in 1975 after being confirmed by the Senate 98–0, but today we dwell in a different political atmosphere. Party of No had its anti-nominee signs already painted, just waiting to fill in the name. For decades confirmation hearings were rather dull until that of Robert Bork in 1987. His failed nomination was so heatedly and angrily opposed by Dems that it gave us “to be Borked” — to have one’s character assassinated. Example: “You sure got borked on that deal.” It can also mean just the opposite, to have screwed up, usually by doing something stupid. “You sure borked up that deal.”

Anyway, Obama has overlooked Texas again, but we must remember that he doesn’t owe Texas a thing. In the Texas Democratic primary, we voted for Hillary Clinton 51 to 47 percent over Obama. In the general election Texans went for John McCain 55 to 44 percent for Obama – a stomping. But Obama still won the Oval Office handily without us. And, to be fair, we didn’t complain when both George Bushes packed their administrations with Texans, from cabinet level – State, Treasury, Energy, Education, etc. etc. – on down.

After Vice President Lyndon Johnson met for the first time with President John Kennedy’s cabinet — made up whiz kids from the Ivy League and such — he rushed back to tell his mentor, old Sam Rayburn. Mister Sam sighed, “’Well, Lyndon, you may be right and they may be every bit as intelligent as you say, but I’d feel a whole lot better about them if just one of them had run for sheriff once.”

Obama, Sam and LBJ wouldn’t let this happen.

Ashby is borked at

Walmart’s Footprint

May 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I heard that Walmart is having a bigger positive impact on the environment than any other U.S. institution. What are they doing along these lines?  –– R. Schlansker, Beaverton, OR

Walmart has indeed been working to clean up its image in recent years, and many environmentalists are pleased with the company’s commitment to reduce its massive carbon footprint. Many, however, view the company’s initiatives with skepticism, especially considering its overall impact on communities.

What’s noteworthy on the environmental front is not so much the significant energy and emissions the company is reducing at its stores and distribution centers and in its vehicles, but the ripple effect that its new carbon-cutting policies are having on the entire supply chain. This March, Walmart CEO Mike Duke announced a new goal of eliminating 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its global supply chain—the equivalent of taking more than 3.8 million cars off the road for a year—by the end of 2015.

“To find these reductions, Walmart will be asking its estimated 100,000 suppliers to cut the amount of carbon they emit when they produce, package and ship their products,” reports Dominique Browning of Environmental Defense Fund, which has been a key advisor to Walmart on green issues. Browning cites Walmart’s elimination of large laundry detergent bottles—since so much of them are water and energy-intensive to ship—in favor of concentrates sold in smaller bottles. As a result, concentrated laundry detergent is now the top seller at not only Walmart but at other stores, too. Walmart also convinced CD, DVD and video game makers to make their cases lighter to reduce transport carbon emissions, and they helped energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulb sales by spurring makers to refine their designs.

Many environmental and community advocates, however, consider Walmart’s pro-green efforts as too little too late or insignificant in relation to the company’s larger impact. Walmart Watch, a nonprofit group run by the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics, says the company has paid numerous fines over the last decade for violating air and water pollution rules, and that’s its green initiatives will easily be erased by its sheer growth which will mean more energy usage, more delivery truck trips and even more miles driven by consumers to get to Walmart stores that displaced smaller, more local ones.

Wake-Up Walmart, a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, says the company—which employs two million people in its 7,000+ stores—is also no friend to employees. Its average wage, says the group, is six percent below the Federal poverty level for a family of four and its move into urban areas, aside from destroying small businesses, often depresses other nearby wages where similar jobs otherwise pay as much as 18 percent more than Walmart. Further, says Wake-Up Walmart, the company pays $5,000 less yearly to full-time female employees than male ones, and its health plan is so poor that it forces many employees to rely on publicly assisted healthcare, at taxpayer expense.

Walmart Watch says the company has also been fiercely anti-union: “Labor law violations range from illegally firing workers who attempt to organize…to unlawful surveillance, threats and intimidation of associates who dare to speak out.” Meanwhile, Walmart made a $14.3 billion profit in 2009, and its CEO earned $12.2 million in 2008, 587 times the annual income of an average full-time Walmart associate.


From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: At a meeting of a local art association, an artist who paints in acrylics said that doing so is more eco-friendly than painting in oils.  I somehow doubt it. Aren’t acrylics petroleum based? And aren’t some oil paints made from natural materials? — Linda Reddington, via e-mail

Of course, there are no easy answers. There are environmental and health issues with both oil and acrylic art paints. The big downside of oil paints is the paint thinner required to clean them up. While some of the pigments in oil paint might be toxic or poisonous depending on color—reds, yellows, some blues and many whites are produced using potentially toxic heavy metals—the paint itself is typically made of food-grade linseed oil, which could hardly be more harmless to the environment (where it came from, after all). But oil paint is notoriously hard to clean up; getting those brushes, palettes and work areas clean requires the use of paint thinners, such as turpentine or mineral spirits, that are not only potentially toxic if used improperly but give off noxious odors and are highly flammable.

As for acrylic paints, they are water-based so clean-up is a breeze: Just wash it down the drain with some warm water, no paint thinner required. But acrylic paint is a petroleum-derived polymer, i.e. plastic. While cleaning it up might be easier than cleaning up oil paints, do we really want to be rinsing plastic down our drains? How good could this be for surrounding ecosystems? The other negative, of course, is that just buying them contributes to our reliance on petroleum.

So what’s a green painter to do? One option is to go for so-called water mixable oil paints that, according to manufacturers like Grumbacher, appear and behave in the same manner as traditional oil paints in every aspect except when it comes to clean-up—like acrylics, they thin and clean up with water instead of noxious chemicals. Water mixable oils are ideal for those sensitive to chemical fumes. Art supply chain Utrecht sells a wide variety of water mixable oil paints online and at its retail locations across the U.S.

If you must use traditional oil paints—many professional artists just prefer them for their thickness, color brilliance and other qualities—you can go with a brand that pays attention to the environmental impact of its products and operations. Oregon-based Gamblin Artists Colors Company uses only high-quality raw materials in its paints, avoiding preservatives that degrade the quality and release chemicals. Gamsol, the company’s paint thinner, uses mineral spirits that evaporate much more slowly than turpentine, which has a reputation for irritating breathing passages and inducing nausea. Every spring the company cleans its machinery, and instead of throwing the filter dust out, it recycles it and gives away tubes of the resulting gray paint free to artists through retail locations, and hosts a contest for art created with the unique color.

Another way to go would be truly all-natural. Berkeley, California-based GLOB crafts its paints from food-grade botanical extracts, so it’s even safe for kids aged three and older. Colored by real fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices, GLOB paints are all-natural, non-toxic, and free of chemicals, parabens, petroleum and synthetic preservatives. The palette is limited to just six colors, but creative artists should be able to mix to their heart’s content. The paints can be mail ordered, and they come in a dry powdered format, which saves weight, money and energy when shipped—users add water and start painting.

Second Battle of the Alamo

May 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                                        17 May 2010

Okie: If there was a backdoor to the Alamo, there wouldn’t be a Texas.

Texan: There was a backdoor to the Alamo. That’s why there’s an Oklahoma.

Hehehe. Just an old joke to start today’s discussion of who owns the Alamo? It would seem obvious the mission and adjacent grounds are owned by the people of Texas, but now a new fight has broken out over the name itself. This brings up a terrible prospect: How many times must we endure headlines reading: “Second Battle of the Alamo”? There have been so many second battles that we must be into our 145th.

The situation – it’s not yet a dispute — began when the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, or DRT, filed paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register a trademark on the name, “The Alamo.” The organization says the move would apply only to museums or historical sites and is not an attempt to prevent the use of the name “Alamo” by others. But the outsiders would have to get the DRT’s permission first and might have to pay a licensing fee.

When the state government got wind of the DRT’s move, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott obtained a 90-day extension to file an opposition, then passed the problem on to Gov. Rick Perry. Everyone hopes something civil can be worked out.

But the Daughters, a 7,000-member nonprofit group, are standing their ground. They say their filing is strictly a business decision because they need money to maintain the Alamo. That is believable, for they have always had financial troubles operating the mission. The group gets no state funds although several appropriations to improve the Alamo have been made, the largest being for the celebration of the Texas Centennial. There is no admission charge, so most operating funds come from the gift shop.

“If anyone should trademark the Alamo, it should be the people who have been running it for 105 years. This is not that big of a deal. There are no issues here, at all. We’re just looking for ways to raise money for the Alamo,” Patti Atkins, president general of the Daughters, told the Austin American-Statesman.

The newspaper scanned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website to find page after page of trademarks that include the word “Alamo.” There is the Alamo’s Best Smokehouse Meats; Alamo Café Tortilla Factory; Alamotorcycle Rentals; Remember the Alamo For All Your Trailer Needs; Alamocrackers; Alamo Bingo; The Alamo of Nashville and The Alamo Mexican Food Worth Fightin’ For. This last one was a now-cancelled trademark held by a Mexican restaurant named The Alamo on Main Street in Rosendale, N.Y.

My own research turned up the obvious Alamo Car Rental Co., plus two Alamo Steak Houses – in Tennessee. Here’s one: “Alamo Industrial is the world’s largest manufacturer of tractor-mounted mowers, bush cutters and land clearers.” There is the Alamodome which hosts the Valero Alamo Bowl. The on-line bookseller Amazon lists 3,869 separate books with the word “Alamo” in the title. There have been three movies called “The Alamo” plus offshoots such as “The Man from the Alamo.” The Handbook of Texas has 551 listings for the mission. There is even a registered trademark for “Friends of the Alamo,” a splinter group of two members who were kicked out of the DRT over a fund-raising feud. Must all these parasites pay royalties to the Sisterhood of the Siege?

Some background for newcomers: The mission was built by Spanish padres in  1718 and called San Antonio de Valero. Over the years it was occupied by Spanish troops, the Mexican Army, the Texas Army (briefly), the U.S. government — which used the mission as a warehouse – the Confederacy, the city of San Antonio and the Catholic Church. In 1883 the state purchased some of the property and put it in the custody of the city of San Antonio, again, on condition that the city care for the building and pay a custodian – one guy with a broom. In 1905 the state purchased the rest of  the old Alamo fortress, which was occupied by a business concern, for $65,000, then delivered it all to the DRT to run, which they have done ever since.

Ownership of the name of any icon might not be too clear. For example, the UT Students’ Association copyrighted “The Eyes of Texas” in 1936. That’s why at the end credits in the movie “Giant” the producers thank the Longhorns for the use of their song. The copyright expired and the song now belongs to UT-Austin. The name Bevo is state, or school, property. UT had to sue the city of Fort Worth to stop using for its logo a burnt orange longhorn head. The Seattle Seahawks were taken to court by the Texas Aggies for using the term, 12th Man.

This trademark move is not the Daughters’ only attempt at fund raising. Last year an Austin PR firm, pro-bono, created a fund-raising campaign that included a dues-paying support group, Allies of the Alamo, and snappy slogans such as, “Bowie defended it with a knife. Now all you need is a ballpoint pen.” “Support our troops. Even the ones from 1836.” “Real courage is fighting 2,000 men while wearing a hat with a tail.”

A great idea, so let’s help out. “The condition of the Alamo is a Travisty.” For the intimidated newcomers: “You don’t have to be a Crockett scientist to support the Alamo.” Here’s one: “I’m an Ally of the Alamo — Mission Accomplice.” We need a slogan for the federal bureaucracy-hating Tea Party members: “The Alamo was defended by government workers – deal with it.” Maybe the Daughters could turn a buck by installing a Ben & Jerry’s in the Long Barracks with the motto: “Remember the a la mode.” Finally: “If we had two Alamos to remember — Los Alamos – forget the knife, Bowie, we’ve got the Bomb.” Anything is better than some dumb line about “the second battle.”

Ashby is trademarked at

June 11th An Evening with Randy Travis

May 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

An Evening with Randy Travis: Standing Up for Houston’s Children”

When: June 11, 2010, 6:30p.m.

Where: Verizon Wireless Theater

Benefiting: CHILDREN AT RISK – Stand Up is an annual event benefitting CHILDREN AT RISK’s Center to End the Trafficking and Exploitation of Children, an action-based institute that works to generate solutions to this crisis through policy, advocacy, education, and collaboration.

Chairs: Dr. Carolyn Farb, hc

Honoree: Ted Poe, U.S. Congressman in honor of his tireless efforts to end human trafficking in Texas.

Tariff: (sponsors) $25,000, $15,000, $10,000, $5,000, $2,500 | individuals: $55 – $100

Sponsors: Mercedes-Benz of Houston – Greenway | Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land | Mercedes-Benz of Houston – North | Star Motor Cars

Contact: For more information, call Laura Nelson at 713.869.7740,


June 11th Swingtime

May 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Miller Movies: “Swingtime”

June 11, 8:30 p.m.

Classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers feel-good film – their best ever!

Presented by Miller Outdoor Theatre

June 9-11th My Son Pinocchio

May 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Experts

Disney’s My Son Pinocchio Jr.

June 9 – 11, 11 a.m.

The classic tale of toymaker Geppetto and his puppet Pinocchio takes on timely issues in this family-friendly Disney musical.

Produced by Theatre Under The Stars: TUTS Humphreys School

June 4th Sizzling Summer Dance

May 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

It’s FREE! It’s FUN!! It’s FOR EVERYONE!!!

There’s something for everyone on stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. From daytime programs especially for young children to family friendly evening performances of music, dance, theatre and more, this is Houston’s best entertainment value. Admission is FREE! For a complete schedule, log on to

Sizzling Summer Dance
June 4, 8:30 p.m.

The Houston Met explodes onto stage in a performance of color, movement, music, diversity and dance.
Produced by Houston Metropolitan Dance Company

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

May 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

Dear EarthTalk: Given the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last month, isn‘t it high time the government put a stop to offshore oil drilling once and for all? Short of banning it altogether, what can be done to prevent explosions, leaks and spills moving forward?

— P. Greanville, Brewster, NY

The explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drill rig on April 20 and the resultant oil spill now consuming coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico could not have come at a worse time for President Obama, who only recently renewed a push to expand drilling off the coast of Virginia and other regions of the U.S.

The debate over whether or not to tap offshore oil reserves with dangerous drilling equipment has been raging since extraction methods became feasible in the 1950s. It heated up in 2008 when George W. Bush convinced Congress to lift a 27-year-old moratorium on offshore drilling outside of the already developed western Gulf of Mexico and some areas off Alaska. Despite public protests, cash-strapped governments of several coastal states wanted the moratorium lifted given the potential for earning windfall revenues.

Barack Obama had historically toed the Democratic party line on offshore drilling—don‘t allow it—but changed his tune during his 2008 campaign to compromise with pro-drilling Republicans if they would play ball with him on his carbon emissions reduction and energy efficiency initiatives. Then on March 31, three weeks prior to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed 11 workers and has caused untold environmental damage, Obama called for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic from Delaware to central Florida and in Alaska’s untapped northern waters. He also asked Congress to lift the ban on offshore drilling in the oil-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico, just 125 miles from Florida’s beaches.

The BP oil disaster is casting a long shadow over the public comment process now going on in Virginia and other coastal states that are considering putting exploratory oil wells in their offshore waters
© Sky Truth, courtesy Flickr
A key aspect of Obama‘s new plan is to assess the potential risks and benefits of each specific offshore site before drilling there can commence. While Obama’‘s plan wouldn‘t grant any new leases until 2012, the Deepwater Horizon problem is casting a long shadow over the public comment process now going on in Virginia and other coastal states otherwise ready to sign on the dotted line for exploratory wells to go into their offshore waters. Whether or not Congress and the American people are willing to let their government expand on what appears already to be some risky business is anybody‘s guess at this point.

Oil industry representatives maintain their equipment and processes are safer than ever. The U.S. Minerals and Management Service (MMS) blames the vast majority of the 1,400 offshore drilling accidents in U.S. waters between 2001 and 2007 on “human error,” not malfunctioning equipment, though some might argue that the distinction is irrelevant because there will always be human error. A small fire on the Deepwater Horizon in 2005 was found to be caused by human error, and most analysts agree some kind of bad judgment call also likely caused the rig‘s ultimate demise. The MMS says it was already in the process of drafting new regulations that would require rig operators to develop programs focused on preventing human error, including operations audits once every three years for each rig.

Some Congress members don‘t think the new regulations are enough, especially in the wake of the BP tragedy. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has led opposition to offshore drilling, has now called for a congressional investigation of safety practices at offshore oil rigs, and has asked the U.S. Interior Department to undertake a full review of all U.S. drilling accidents over at least the last decade.

CONTACTS: BP; U.S. Minerals and Management Service.

in the Heart of Houston May

May 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

    in the Heart of Houston

    MAY be you didn’t notice, but the year is flying by! What happened to your New Year’s Resolutions?

    OK, I’m going to NutShell Dr. Ox’s 10 Commandments for weight loss :

    Thou shall not wear pants that stretch

    Thou shall not keep “Fat Clothes” in your closet.

    Thou Shall not eat meat that walks on four legs more than one time a week.

    Thou shall not graze or browse in search of prey (plan your meals.)

    Thou Shall not eat after 7:30 at night.

    Thou shall not pile on food on a plate more than one inch high or two inches to the edge of the plate

    Thou shall not chew less than 20 bites.

    Thou shall not covet thy neighbors plate (or sample anything on it.)

    Thou shall not carry small bills (for vending machines)

Thou shall not eat standing up or in a car. (concentrate on what you’re eating.)

Now, are you thin?


Oil tycoon and philanthropist Oscar Wyatt at the Houston Grand Opera “Yellow Rose of Texas” Ball which honored his wife, Lynn, surprised the throngs by making a One Million Dollar donation in Lynn’s honor. The donation will establish the Lynn Wyatt Great Artists Fundwhich will be used to bring world-class artists to the city. At the microphone Lynn said, “I’m so proud of you, Honey. Thank you for everything you’ve done.” Good for you, OW, and we thank you, also.

Congratulations to PAUL-DAVID VAN ATTA, Catering Director of the Hilton Americas, for winning the Jefferson Award for his volunteer efforts. BRIAN TEICHMAN planned the outstanding celebratory cocktail reception at the historic Cochran-Hofheinz House, 3900 Milam. The heavenly hors d’oeuvres were prepared by Culinaire chef/owner, Barbara McNight who operates her business from the Cochran-Hofheinz House and is also lucky enough to live there.

THEATRE UNDER THE STARS continues to bring excitement to the city. Looks what’s coming in the 2010-2011 Season: Hairspray, 9 to 5: The Musical, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas” The Musical, Billy Elliot The Musical, Curtains and Rock of Ages! Thanks, TUTS!


MOST INSPIRATIONAL EVENT: CHILDREN’S DEFENSE FUND “Beat the Odds” Awards Dinner on April 15 presented six extraordinary youths with college scholarships. The honorees shared their individual life struggle, whether childhood mental, physical, sexual abuse, childhood arthritis or other major challenges. National President Marian Wright Edelman explained that the mission of CDF is to ensure every child a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start and a moral start in life. The organization’s logo is a big body of water with a tiny boat and occupantwith the caption, “Dear Lord, Be good to me. The sea is so wide and my boat is so small.” Believe me when I tell you that tears were flowing in the room.

BEST INVITATION DESIGN AWARD: The May 5 Houston Symphony Society “Flowers Flourishes and FaLa La” invitation is absolutely whimsical, fanciful and endearing. The event is chaired by GABRIELA DROR, DIANE GENDEL, APRIL LYKOS with President of the Houston Symphony League President JANE CLARK. The tag line: “Friendship Fun Fashion Frivolity Festivity Favors “Filanthropy” (why isn’t it spelled this way anyway?) The event is at the Houston Country Club.

Runner-up for BEST INVITATION DESIGN: The May 2 Legacy Community Health Services

invitation is outstanding for its 8 x 10 size and the beautiful photograph of DEBRA and MARK GRIERSON on the front cover. Well done!


April 29th Cancer Fighters luncheon at Lakeside Country Club

In the clever and most capable hands of DALLAS HILL, the ultimate Fashion Director, this luncheon fashion show entitled “We’ve Got You Covered” was a smash. Featured were the Blinn College dancers, under the direction of JAMIE EVERETT, the musical direction of ZACH “DOC” WEBB and the talent of Elvis tribute artist, DAVID PERRY,. President of Cancer Fighters, TERRI STRAUGHN joined member models in fashions by NIMA.


The April 30 Houston Children’s Charity”A Gathering of Champions .. Mingle with the Stars, Under the Stars” dinner was held at the palatial home of PAIGE and TILMAN FERTITTA. Where else are you going to see the likes of NOLAN RYAN, YAO MING, JEFF BAGWELL, CRAIG BIGGIO, RAY CHILDRESS, CLYDE DREXLER, ELVIN BETHEA, ELVIN HAYES, TERRY PUHL, astronauts, several Houston Rockets, and the list goes on.


May 2 – Chairs BOB DEVLIN, MELISSA MITHOFF and SUSAN PLANK and Legacy Community Health Services present “Where Fashion Meets Philanthropy: honoring DEBRA and MARK GRIERSON. FMI: 713.574.9736

May 4 – The American Heart Association’s enormously popular “Go Red for Woman Expo & Luncheon will feature Former First Lady, BARBARA BUSH as keynote speaker. Chaired by LEISHA ELSENBROOK, the LEILA GILBERT volunteer of the year award receipient is JOANN CRASSAS. FMI: 713.610.5020

May 5 – Men of Distinction Luncheon benefiting children’s programs at Texas Children’s Hospital. Chairperson is Jess B. Tutor and the honorees are Tom Barrow, Dr. John Mendelsohn aand Mike Stude at the River Oaks Country Club. FMI: 713.623.2244

May 7 – The Moores School of Music Society “It’s Off to the Races” luncheon at the Junior League will honor SUZANNE BRANDRETT, BETH MADISON, SUE SMITH, SHELBY HODGE Aand SHAFIK RIFAAT. Chairmen are MARY ANN MCKEITHAN, KATHI REVERE and CATHY MCNAMARA. FMI: 713.743.3168

May 8 – Circle of Life Gala benefiting Memorial Hermann Foundation’s Pediatric and Adult Centers of Excellence in Neurosciences. Chairpersons Alino and Roberto Garcia, Donna and Tony Vallone and Sheridan and John Eddie Williams are the Chairpersons and Celia and Albert J. Weatherhead, III are being honored. FMI: 713.448.5220

May 8 – Virtuosi of Houston Young Artists Chamber Orchestra present “Legend of the Future VIII: Under the Colors of Mexico,” a annual concert and dinner at the InterContinental Legend Ballroom. The event is chaired by Mr. And Mrs. Jack McCrary and Dr. and Mrs. Meherwan Boyce. Honoerary Chairs are The Honorable Consul General of Mexico, Carlos Gonzalez-Magallon, Sra. Gonzalez-Magallon and Mr. Monzer Hourani.

May 12 – The 14th annual Strong, Smart and Bold Celebration Luncheon benefiting Girls, Inc. inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Chaired by CORTNEY R. COLE, Mayor ANNISE PARKER is the keynote speaker and will receive the Strong, Smart and Bold Award; Center Point Energy will be accepting the Corporate Vision Award. FMI: 713.802.2260

May 14 – Kick Out Kidney Disease “Pump-A-Licious” Luncheon. Chaired by MERELE YARBOROUGH, the fashions are presented by Neiman Marcus.

May 13 – Evening in the Park, benefiting Hermann Park Conservancy. Chairs ANNE and NOBLE CARL, LUCY and WILLIAM CARL are chairing and the evening honors Peter Brown.

Saks Fifth Avenue is providing fashions from famed designers. FMI: 713. 524.5876

May 16 – 2010 Cardiac Cup benefiting Texas Children’s Hospital Heart Center at the Houston Polo Club. Houston Texan’s KRIS BROWN and his wife, Amy are the Honorary Chairs and the event is chaired by Dr. Aashish Shah and Roseann Rogers. FMI: 832.824.6818

May 16 – The Mission Incredible fundraising event benefits The Mission of Yahweh, a homeless shelter for women and children. At River Oak Country Club, the evening consists of a silent auction, dinner, dancing and award presentations to honorees Laura and Dave Ward, Monica Hartland and Pines Presbyterian Church. Chairmen are Pam Lockard and Lisa Lee Wilson. FMI: 713. 334.1800


Elizabeth Taylor has definitely experienced adventure in her life! There is a rumor that La Liz is getting married again, but this is certainly not confirmed. Now, let’s see .. there was Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton, Ditto, John Warner and Larry Fortensky. So why not? If anyone deserves to be happy, it’s Ms. Taylor. Friends who have worked with her for many years say that she is one of the kindest people in the world.. with the biggest heart of anybody. And, so very shy. Ah love .. Ah Liz.

And hometown singing superstar, STEVE TYRELL is singing It Had to be You not only on his new CD but while he’s looking at our town’s KAREN PULASKI. They seem to have fallen right smack in the middle of it .. Ah, Love..Ah, Spring.

A local charitable organization had hoped that two time Oscar winner, Denzel Washington would appear at their fundraiser; but as fate would have it, he got a gig on Broadway in the revival of Fences co-starring Viola Davis.


One of America’s favorite actresses died in Houston’s medical center -DIXIE CARTER, who the Alley Theatre’s artistic director GREGORY BOYD describes as “an astonishingly versatile actor – everyone knows her expertise in contemporary comedy, but she also excelled in Shakespeare, in Wilde, in musicals. She was a sublime cabaret artist, and her act at the Carlyle in New York was the best cabaret act I’ve ever seen. She had the thing that the theatre at its best, though only rarely, sees in an artist – an inner light, a spiritual depth and an abiding sense of grace.” Whew..what a review. I’ll always remember her entertaining performances on television’s Designing Women and now I’ll remember Mr. Boyd’s beautiful recollections of her.

Houston lost a great philanthropist, DAN L. DUNCAN, the richest man in this city and one of the richest in the country and the world, when he unexpectedly passed away recently. There were so many accolades given to him at his funeral, which was attended by thousands; but for me, the best story was one where Duncan had invited people he had just met to visit he and Jan at his ranch. When they arrived, DUNCAN met them, dressed in his jeans, grabbed their bags and showed them to their room upstairs. The man, unaware that the person carrying his bag was Duncan, promptly offered him a tip of two dollars. Dan graciously accepted, said “thank you,” turned and left. I also came away with the three words that others used to describe DAN DUNCAN: humble, hard-working and honest…the three “Hs.” This is a man who lost his mother when he was seven, his only brother when he was 7 and his father when he was 17. He learned this mantra from his grandmother, “Always do the best you can.” I believe he did just that.


I admire Wayne Dyer, the great motivational speaker and author, who at this moment is facing a challenge with cancer. He said recently, “I remember that I am a spiritual being living in a human body temporarily. Everything is fine.”

And, that reminds me of when I interviewed Billy Graham he said, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out alright.”

Paramahausa Yogananda said: “Never mind the past. Have the unflinching determination to move on your path unhampered by limiting thoughts of past errors.”

Recently a good friend of mine, LISA MOSCARELLI had an overwhelming feeling that she MUST help Mount Carmel Academy raise much needed funds. This small school started out of the ashes of Mount Carmel High School which suddenly was forced to close. Like the Phoenix rising out of those ashes, students at the Academy have for the two years it has been open, excelled beyond all expectations. It is, one might rightly say, a Miracle School. Well, LISA took on the challenge, forged through the frights of producing a first time fundraising event and did a magnificent job. There is such a joy that comes with helping others.

Have you done something good for somebody today?

Houston’s Mexican Riviera: PUNTA MITA

Imagine taking a short two-hour flight from Houston and finding yourself in one of the most enchanting resort developments of Mexico’s Pacific Coast.  With activities ranging from high-end golf, tennis, hiking, horseback riding, sailing, surfing, fishing, yacht charters, rare bird and whale watching, Punta Mita is the new “It Destination” for Texans seeking a relaxing vacation home with all the amenities and none of the hassle.

Known primarily for its Four Seasons resort and private villas– the first Four Seasons unveiled in Mexico-Punta Mita is becoming much more than a vacation getaway.  The area, encompassing ten miles of Pacific Coast, is now a significant resort community, offering a range of homes to suit nearly every budget.

Prices in certain communities start around $400,000 and go up to $25 million for the most exclusive oceanfront homes.  Non-qualified financing on a range of products with 30% down means that the resort development is appealing to a broad range of potential buyers, and is selling out fast.

According to Gary Pepin, Vice President of Sales for Punta Mita Properties, private single-family villas that would cost over five million dollars in Los Cabos, Hawaii and the Bahamas can be purchased for significantly less than half in Punta Mita.

“The value for dollar is significant for American homebuyers seeking a 2nd, 3rd or 4th vacation home.  And since Punta Mita is so convenient to Texas, the opportunities make sense.”

Residential options at Punta Mita range from Mexican-designed luxury condominiums and villas to exclusive private homes and estates.

For Texans looking for an ease-free vacation getaway, the Four Seasons resort, private residence club, and private villas offers several restaurants, top notch service from experienced hotel personnel, a sexy stretch of white sand beach, and some of the best cuisine in the area.  For weddings or honeymoons, ask the concierge to arrange a sunset cocktail on top of “The Rock.”

The Four Seasons has a great fitness center, a large freeform pool, as well as an adult pool complex.  Don’t miss the bento box sushi at the adult pool bar.

A beach sports center offers kayaks for guests, snorkeling equipment, and anything else you need, including complimentary bottled water, sunscreen, books, newspapers and magazines for all your beach reading.

Punta Mita’s newest resort is the St. Regis, styled around the concept of “barefoot elegance.”  The guest rooms feel like a luxury private oasis, as each one boasts its own terrace, Remede bath amenities, and both indoor and outdoor showers.  The bathrooms are opulent, as is the décor. The setting is both serene and dynamic.  Wireless Internet is actually strong enough throughout the entire property so that you can Google to your heart’s desire while sitting in a beachside lounge chair with a laptop – making it effortless for guests who need to combine both work and play.

The St. Regis offers the newest spa in the area, and romantic guest rooms that you won’t want to leave.  Don’t miss the chef’s five course tasting menu at Carolina, or the fresh catch of the day at Sea breeze.  Special Mexican wines to try include small vintners that cannot be found in Texas, such as the red wine named Jala.

Puerto Vallarta is a short hop away, as is the neighboring arts community of Sayulita.

Punta Mita is fast becoming one of the world’s most famous golf destinations, and was recently voted the #1 Golf Resort in North America by readers of “Conde Nast.”  The newly opened Bahia course, compliments the famed Pacifico course-both Jack Nicklaus Signature Courses, including Punta Mita’s most original landmark, the “Tail of the Whale,” the world’s only natural island green.


For vacation ownership options in Punta Mita:

U.S. toll free:  (888) 647-0979


For the Four Seasons:

(800) 819-5053

For the St. Regis:

(877) 250-8871