Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Texas Giant Retires, for Now!

On November 1st, the legendary Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington gave roller coaster lovers its last ride. The wooden beast is being retired temporarily for an innovative $10 million makeover, which will give it a faster, smoother, and a more contemporary ride that will rival its competitors. The new incarnation of the Texas Giant will be introduced to the public during the park's 50th Anniversary Celebration in the summer of 2011 and promises to be a humdinger.

The coaster has been a favorite for park visitors and roller coaster enthusiasts from around the globe since it opened in 1990. At the time of its opening, it was the tallest of its kind, topping out at 143 feet above the ground. The 62 mph "woodie" thrilled riders with wicked turns and unexpected drops, carrying over 23 million passengers during its 19 years of operation.

Though official plans for the new Texas Giant are still under wraps, it's been suggested that the new ride will be smoother and faster, and incorporate elements never before seen in a wooden roller coaster. "'It's going to be a completely different ride when it's all said and done, but elements of it will remain,' said Sharon Parker, a park spokeswoman." Indeed, elements of the old Giant will be included in the new design, allowing visitors to revel in nostalgia as they create new memories of riding the "Big One."

The coaster took its last ride at 7PM Sunday evening, and plenty of loyal riders were on hand to say farewell, for now! Portions of wood from the ride will be recycled into Christmas ornaments and sold in park gift shops. Much of the remaining wood will be salvaged for use in other construction and maintenance projects. (Kudos to Six Flags for that!)

So farewell for now, Texas Giant! Personally I've never had the opportunity to ride, but I'm already making plans to visit the new "Giant" in 2011.


Mosier, Jeff. "Six Flag's Texas Giant closes for a facelift." Dallas News 02 November 2009: n. pag. Web. 13 Nov 2009. .

Monday, November 9, 2009

Some Questions for Today's Protester
I'm just curious as to all the fuss lately. It seems as if a lot of people have developed amnesia.
Read More

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Day Two Stars fell from the Sky

Thursday, June 25, 2009 is a sad day for entertainment fans around the world as two of its brightest stars met with untimely ends. One's death had been expected for some time now and the other's was a complete shock. With the death of Ed McMahon on Tuesday, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson's passings make up the proverbial "everything comes in threes." Rather than reporting on the already fast spreading news of their losses, I'd like to take a moment to pay homage to these stars that each brightened our landscape in their own unique way.

Charlie's Angel

Farrah Fawcett was best known for her role in the 1970's television series "Charlie's Angels." At the height of the show's popularity, Farrah quickly became a favorite among men, young and old, for her presence on the screen and her natural beauty. At the time, I had been in my early teens and hadn't come to the realization yet that I was playing for the 'other team.' That famous poster of her with her hand beneath her chin and sporting a big smile adorned the wall of my bedroom for years. I think back with fondness remembering it over my bed all that time.

In subsequent years, Farrah slowly faded from the television screens, appearing more in tabloid magazines for her publicized off screen relationship with Ryan O'Neal. She'd appeared now and then in a TV movie, but I'd never really paid much attention to her. What I will always remember when I think of Farrah Fawcett is that beautiful woman in the poster above my bed for so many years. It's how her life touched mine and many others. From what I have heard in gossipy tidbits over the years was that she was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. She will surely be missed!

The Tragic King

Michael Jackson's death is still being widely reported as I type this, as this news is somewhat of a shock and his fame was indeed celestial. Michael Jackson was a few years older than me, and I remember him as the front man (boy) of the Jackson Five on all of those variety shows that were popular in the early seventies when I was young. Back then, he was an adorable enigma, with a clear talent that no one would have expected to reach the heights he eventually achieved.

As he grew older, he continued to make music with his brothers, filling dance floors across the nation with great ditties such as "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" and "Can You Feel It?" Eventually he branched out on his own with the highly acclaimed and hit generating LP, "Off the Wall", but he really soared to mega-stardom with his "Thriller" album. During the time of the early eighties and beyond, Michael was at the top of his game, providing entertainment to millions with groundbreaking music videos, number one singles, white gloves, and a "moonwalk." Soon after the release of his "Bad" album, notoriety and bad press began to slowly consume the pop star.

The first video for the title cut to the "Bad" CD world premiered with much anticipation, as it was the follow-up to the all time best-selling CD." When fans got their first glimpse of Michael in the video, they were in for a shock. With clear signs of surgical transformation to his face and apparently lighter complexion, Michael's appearance was astoundingly frightful. Rumors ran rampant. Stories abounded everywhere regarding this transformation and he became fodder for late night jokesters everywhere. Then came the infamous allegations of sexual abuse.

Michael Jackson clearly had a fondness for children, publicly hosting children's parties at his Neverland ranch. Eventually, allegations were leveled against him on separate occasions by two young boys. The accusations gave credence to long held suspicions about his sexuality and many now looked at in a whole different light. By the mid nineties, Michael had gained notoriety among many of his fans that eventually plunged him into the obscurity he's lived in for a few years now.

In the end, with all the fame and fortune Michael Jackson attained in his too short life, I can't help but believe that his is as tragic a story as anyone's. Living under the public eye since an early age and with all of the scrutiny that followed him in his later years had to have contributed to his sad story and sadder ending. His sudden death is a shock to many and I'm sure we'll be hearing much more about this tragic figure's life for months and years to come.

So long Sidekick

These two sad news items cannot go by without an honorable mention to Mr. Ed McMahon. Though not as heartrending as the deaths of Farrah and Michael (he was around much longer than his two, much younger counterparts), Ed was an integral part of the fabric of American culture of the twentieth century. I'll bet that Johnny has already begun his new version of the "Tonight Show" somewhere out there now that his sidekick has returned to his side.

So, so long Farrah, Michael, and Ed. This week we've lost three treasures, and each will be sorely missed by many!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tribute to a Father, Part II: The Day My Daddy Died

The Day My Daddy Died

I woke up this morning, as I do many mornings, with a song in my head. Only the tune that landed in my head today was related to what was going to happen in just a little while. The song, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone", by the Temptations opens with the lines I'm still hearing now as I
write this:

"It was the third of September.

The day I'll always remember,

Cause that was the day my daddy died."

Today George Myers, my father, passed on, and I awoke this morning knowing that it was going to happen. We'd been dreading it for four days now, knowing that any hope of survival was near zero percent. From the moment he was taken into the hospital, we were told that he had gone far too long without oxygen and that his brain was no longer functioning. As the hours and days passed, we knew this was the one time he wasn't going to beat it.

We'd decided late last night to remove the support machines keeping his body alive, but we had to put it off for today because one of us was unable to be on hand. It was an unpleasant situation, to say the least. We all wanted to get past this anguish. And having to wait until morning, waking up with the knowledge that your dad was going to die, is just too odious a circumstance to be in.

Twenty eight years ago, my dad was diagnosed with Diabetes. At first, none of us had been too familiar with the disease, but what we did know it was controllable one if you followed the guidelines associated with the having the condition. In the beginning, dad was great about it. He quit smoking. He stopped drinking. Changing his dietary habits, though, proved too difficult for him and this allowed this debilitating sickness to attack his body slowly and steadily for so long.

Early on, dad's kidneys began to malfunction and he was sent to undergo dialysis treatments three times a week. He was placed on a list for a kidney transplant. I hadn't known what dialysis was at first, and I don't wish to speak of it here, but I know from dad's experiences that it is not pleasant.

As is common with diabetics, one problem invariably leads to other problems. To make things easier for his dialysis treatments, his doctor placed a plastic shunt in his arm. I recall almost immediately there were infections, blockages, and other problems associated with the multiple shunts that were eventually placed within his arms. These problems foreshadowed the more serious and painful things to come. I can't possibly recall the numerous problems dad's experienced over the years, but here are some I remember:

-While working in a local supermarket, a 2 liter bottle of soda fell off a shelf and landed on dad's big toe. An infection began to materialize. That was in May. By August, the infection had gotten so bad; he had to be hospitalized for over six weeks. It was the first time we thought we were going to lose him, but he persevered and eventually pulled through.

-A little over ten years ago, dad got a call that a person with a donor kidney had passed and he needed to get to the hospital ASAP. In what turned out to be his happiest hospital stay, dad's surgery was successful and he got to spend Christmas with the greatest gift he's ever received. Dialysis was now a thing of the past.

-About two years ago, dad began to have trouble hearing in his right ear. It was soon discovered that he had a massive, benign tumor growing on his cerebrum. With his state of health, surgical treatment was not an option, so he underwent 39 radiation treatments. Soon after the treatments had finished, his hearing improved once again, but his new kidney had begun to fail. In what turned out to be the beginning of his end, dialysis treatments once again became a necessity.

-A more recent infection on his foot hadn't been responding to treatments. Intravenous antibiotics were no help as circulation problems were preventing the medicines from reaching the infected site. A surgical bypass on his leg was ordered by his vascular doctor. During pre-surgical testing, though, a blockage was found in his heart and a resulting angioplasty put off the vascular bypass. The cardiac procedure was successful, and he was released from the hospital with the infected ulcer still oozing and painful on his foot.

-Two weeks ago, and six weeks after the angioplasty, dad was brought back in to the hospital for the original vascular bypass to help fight the infection, which had gotten so bad that he had developed tendinitis in his Achilles tendon which prevented him from walking anymore. He had had to give up his job and his car, which crushed him. This surgery was successful, and the infection had begun to heal.

These episodes represent only a fraction of the seemingly countless health-related issues dad has had to contend with. Late night phone calls became all too familiar. Every time there was a new emergency, the situation led from a dire to insignificant, a false alarm. Dad took each case in stride, with rarely an utterance of complaint, even through two toe amputations (Though he always hated the needles!). We became too used to these episodes, expecting the same result each time. We'd lulled ourselves into a belief that dad was a fighter who'd always bounce back and be around for years to come. But it wasn't meant to be this time.

The day after dad came out of the hospital, he experienced this episode which ultimately led us to today. Now I've skipped ahead a bit from the first part of this story, but this part of dad's story is more pertinent to the freedom from suffering he earned today. Having been faced with the decision we all made, we knew we had no choice. Dad deserved no more pain.

In the end, he passed peacefully with his wife, his six children and other significant people in his life all around him. The room was filled with anguish, devotion, love and a sense of collective relief as George finally let go of all that pain.

So long dad! I love you!

It was the sixth of May...

Tribute to a Father, Part II

Tribute to a Father, Part II
Today George Myers, my father, passed on, and I awoke this morning knowing that it was going to happen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tribute to a Father, Part I

George Myers is my dad. I want to share his story as a tribute to him, an acknowledgement to a man often overlooked by the people around him. My father's always been a simple, unassuming man, whose mere existence invoked few accolades. As a human being, he's had a lot to offer: a strong work ethic, a sense of humor, and a kindness towards others. As a father though, he showed another more personal and not so pleasant side to his personality. His influence has had far reaching consequences for those around him, namely his wife and his six children. At the moment, he's fighting for his life in the hospital, and it doesn't look good. It's clearly the latest, and most serious, of what seems like a lifetime of setbacks.

My relationship with my dad was very tumultuous during my formative years. In younger days, he and I clashed often, so often that for many years I wholeheartedly despised him. I used to pray to God nightly that mom would divorce him so that we could all be happy without the misery he brought to all of our lives. Growing up, life was miserable whenever he was around. None of us ever received the fatherly love that those around us always seemed to get. Looking back all I can remember is resentment towards his children that we all felt as the source of the financial burden he lived with for many years.

Life is the greatest teacher, and one of the things I've come to learn in subsequent years is that we all tend to mellow with time. Problems fade from memory and are no longer pertinent to our daily lives. My relationship with my father is no exception. As I grew older and eventually moved out on my own, things warmed up between him and I. As he began his long suffering bout with diabetes, his acrimony towards his family began to diminish. For the first time in my life, in my mid-twenties, I was able to have personal conversations with my dad, all the while looking him straight in the eye.

Over the years I came to realize a lot about my dad, and I began to understand the circumstances surrounding our tumultuous childhood with my father. I've come to recognize that in many ways the mistakes he made were not his fault, but were derived from the circumstances of his own upbringing. Here's some of his story:

George Myers was born on April 2, 1941 in Trieste, Italy. Trieste is a small city located in the northeastern tip of Italy, and has had a chaotic history of war and occupation, much like my dad's life. Though no one, including him, knows the true story of his birth, we believe he was fathered by a Hungarian soldier passing through the city during World War II. Whether this man was killed in the war or simply was an anonymous donor of sperm none of us will ever know.

Dad's early childhood years were marked by War. Nazi's occupied the city for two years, and my grandmother Vittoria, did what she had to do to survive. Eventually, once the tide of the war had turned, Allied troops moved in, and Vittoria met an American soldier, Norman Myers. Norman fell in love with Vittoria and eventually brought her back to the States along with George, whom he adopted. Dad was seven years old when he arrived in the US.

For the next ten years or so, the Myers family lived a soldier's life, moving around from army base to army base in various parts of the country. I recall photo albums of happy, albeit brief, times spent in places such as Kentucky, Alabama, and Alaska (one of dad's favorite places!). Apparently, after several years of marriage, Vittoria, for reasons none of us may ever know, began to have extra-marital affairs. The result was a bitter divorce from Norman. Once again, Vittoria and George were on their own, settling in the Bronx, New York. The bitterness of the divorce had been so deep that Norman never contacted my father again.

To this point in time, although there had finally been a father figure in dad's life, daily living still centered mostly around George and his mother. Dad was left to learn life's lessons on his own, as Vittoria tended to her own needs over that of my father's. The consequences of this childhood led to an adult life full of heartache, financial trouble, and hardship as the head of his own family of six children. He unwittingly created a difficult life for himself and his family without the valuable foundation needed to raise a family.

As I watch his lifeless body in the hospital, I feel remorse for all he's been through in his life. He never deserved many of the pains he got in life. The past twenty-plus years of his life have been filled with a lot of anguish for him, his family and those around him who love him. Much of the mental pain experienced in the past is now nothing but a distant series of insignificant memories. We're all here with him now, giving him the love he deserves.

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jones Beach Theater Announce Summer 2009 Lineup

Earlier today, the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York announced the lineup for its Summer Concert Series 2009. The Jones Beach Theater is a long time favorite venue of local music fans n the New York Metropolitan Area. The amphitheater, with its stage situated between concertgoers and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, provides an intimate, almost magical atmosphere for enjoying performances by favorite musical artists.

Each year, New York music fans eagerly await the upcoming summer schedule. The theater, currently sponsored by event promoter LiveNation, is offering its usual array of musical artists with appeal from all reaches of the musical spectrum. Here's the low down:

Among some of the more notable acts of the season include some notable reunion/comeback shows. The long-awaited Phish reunion opens the season with three dates in June (2, 4, 5), followed by Nine Inch Nails/Jane's Addiction (on a double bill, June 7)), New Kids on the Block (June 12), No Doubt (June 27), Creed (August 15), and Loggins and Messina (August 23).

Rock fans will enjoy Aerosmith, together with ZZTop (June 26), Def Leopard with Poison (July 8), Judas Priest with Whitesnake (July 12), and Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd (August 2). Seventies super-groups the Doobie Brothers (with Bad Company, June 28), Crosby, Stills and Nash (August 8), and the Allman Brothers Band (August 27) all make summer stops at the venue.

Modern rock/pop favorites the Fray (June 25), Nickelback (June 15), as well as the Dave Matthews Band (July 21, 22) all make appearances.

Tropical sensation Jimmy Buffet attracts his "Parrotheads" to his annual Jones Beach stop on August 26.

Country Music sensation Kenny Chesney (June 24), reggae show "Rock the Bells" (July 19), WKTU's annual "Beatstock" (August 16), featuring acts from the dance music world, and the Harvest Crusade Musical Outreach Christian music series round out the lineup thus far. New shows are often added as the season gets closer, so stay tuned.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Top Ten Janet Jackson Tunes

Straight out of the very large shadow of her big brother, Janet Jackson emerged in the mid 1980's to achieve her own status as a bona fide superstar. Over the last two-plus decades, Miss Jackson has amassed an incredible array of music, adding her own voice to the thread of American culture.

Though her success has waned in recent years, (ostensibly ever since the backlash against her "Wardrobe Malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl), Janet Jackson has continued to entertain us with her keen aptitude for making great music. It's difficult to pare her catalog down to a top ten, but the following is my personal best of Miss Jackson. I've included the popular and the not so popular, the ballad and the up tempo, the happy and the hopeful. Surely some will hearken memories in your own minds.

10- Feedback - Janet's most recent hit from 2008's Discipline album reached #19 on Billboard's Hot 100 and #1 on its Hot Dance Tracks. The song is a throwback to past Jackson songs, with up tempo beats and great vocals to match.

9- Son of a Gun - As with many Janet Jackson songs, this one reflects her love for the music she grew up listening to. Oftentimes, she's employed the use of samples, lyrics, and even guest vocals by the original artist to make her homage instantly familiar to the listener. "Son of a Gun", coupled with its prelude "Clouds" is loosely based on Carly Simon's hit "You're So Vain". Ms. Simon provides original guest vocals on both tracks, and its bass-driven beat is an irresistible sensation Unfortunately, the use of vulgar language in the chorus didn't convert well to a radio-friendly version (which featured the likes of Missy Elliot, as well) prevented the tune from becoming a successful hit. It's a great song anyway!

8- Again - This ballad, off the 1993 album, "Janet", is a beautiful love song that's easy on the ears. The tune was featured on the soundtrack to "Poetic Justice" (in which Jackson starred) and garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

7- (tie) When I Think of You / Escapade - (Yes I know this is a top ten list, but these two songs, to me, are similar in nature and I just couldn't decide between them.)

When I Think of You - This song is classic Janet Jackson from a younger, more innocent period in her life and career. The fun hit was the third release off of her 1986 "Control" album and was her first #1 single.

Escapade - Much like the previous song, "Escapade" is another fun ditty that's simply irresistible. The carnival-like music of the song and its catchy chorus make this one a fan favorite.

6- Black Cat - This one showcases the rocker side of Miss Janet, with memorable guitar riffs and blazing vocals. Off the "Rhythm Nation" LP, this fan favorite reached #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 and is always enthusiastically received in all of her shows.

5- Got Til It's Gone - Though not a major smash by Janet's standards, this song is an innovative veneration of Joni Mitchell's hit "Big Yellow Taxi". This is yet another example of Janet's reverence for the wide variety of music she listened to growing up and its arrangements are created to update the song to accurately reflect the sounds of the day. Featuring a guest appearance by rapper Q-Tip and a groove reminiscent of "That's the Way (Love Goes)", this one's a Jackson classic in my eyes.

4- Nasty - Who can forget this naughty tune from Janet's 1986 breakout CD "Control"? The song typified the popular sounds coming out of Minneapolis at the time and begat the catchphrase, "No, my first name ain't baby...It's Janet! Miss Jackson if you're nasty."

3- Together Again - Although the music to this #1 hit, from 1997's "Velvet Rope" CD, is upbeat and danceable, the reasoning behind its composition is not as pleasant. The song represents the dream of a day when Janet will be reunited with the many loved ones in her circle lost to the specter of AIDs. "Together Again" hearkens within all of us a relevant yearning to be together once again with people we've lost.

2- That's the Way (Love Goes) -

"Like a moth to a flame, burned by the fire...

My love is blind, can't you see my desire."

So begins the sultry groove that garnered Janet a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1994. The tune is a feel-good song from beginning to end and surely belongs towards the top of any Janet Jackson fan's list.

1-Love Will Never Do (Without You) - This irresistible charmer from 1991 was an unprecedented fifth Top Five single off of the previous year's "Rhythm Nation" album. Coupled with the typical Minneapolis sounds made popular by Prince, (taken to further heights by Prince alum and the album's producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis), and Janet's nasally vocals, was a memorable black and white video (produced by Herb Ritts) and featuring Antonio Sabato Jr. and Djimon Hounsou, two popular male models of the time. The video was stylistically produced and is as memorable as the song.

Source -

A Day of Silence
Every year, on the "Day of Silence", I wear the rainbow ribbon. This year, however, I'm feeling more and more like a hypocrite lately, living a lie when it comes to young people to whom I perceive myself as a role model.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Madonna's Erotica

Classic 90's Music Reviews: Madonna's Erotica
The uproar against the latest in Madonna's ever-pressing efforts to spark controversy for attention overshadowed what was in reality a great collection of tracks showcasing her latest metamorphosis in musical style.
Erotica - Madonna

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Classic Comedies: The Birdcage

I love comedies. Laughter gives me a temporary and pleasurable escape from the rigors of life. One of my favorite movies of all time is also one of the funniest. "The Birdcage", a 1996, Mike Nichols directed adaptation of the French classic "Le Cage Au Follies" and starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams is a uproarious tale of what happens when you try to be something you're not.

Val Goldman (Dan Futterman), the son of Armand Goldman (Williams) and his lover Albert (Lane), has a surprise for his not-so-traditional parents on a visit home from college. He's fallen in love and is getting married to the daughter (Calista Flockhart) of a notoriously conservative Senator from Ohio (Gene Hackman). Val convinces Armand that he's got to 'play it straight' for the impending meeting between the future in-laws. The only problem is what to do with Albert.

As his alter-ego, Starina, Albert is the ultimate diva and star of the show at Armand's Miami nightclub, the Birdcage. Upstairs from the cabaret, Albert plays the resident wife, mother, and drama queen. As expected, Albert doesn't take too kindly to the suggestion of leaving and what follows is a series of side-splitting scenes as the Goldmans prepare for the arrival of the Keeleys (Hackman and Dianne Wiest).

Here are some highlights:

-One of the funniest scenes of the movie is when Armand tries to teach Albert how to 'act' straight. Albert's hysteria at not being able to hold his pinky down while drinking coffee and trying to walk like John Wayne make for terrific hilarity.

-Hank Azaria gives an added comic presence as Agador Spartacus, Armand and Albert's faithful houseboy. With a thick Spanish accent and an inability to wear shoes without tripping all over the place, Agador provides random laughs throughout the film.

-When the Keeleys finally arrive for dinner, Albert comes out as Val's mom, much to the horror of Val, Armand, and Agador. The Senator becomes smitten with Mrs. Goldman, much to the dismay of his wife. The entire dinner scene is a series of hilarious moments, like this one:

o"What interesting china! Why, it looks like young men playing leapfrog" (Mrs. Keeley, commenting on the dinner dishes at the Goldman house).

- One of the most sidesplitting moments comes at the end of the film. Once the Goldman's secret's been let out and the families are about to go their separate ways, the Keeleys are blocked from leaving by a media circus parked outside the Birdcage. The press had followed the Senator all the way from Ohio looking for a scoop on a political scandal he's embroiled in. With no apparent escape, Albert has an idea that closes out the movie leaving the viewers in stitches. The two clans make their escape through the Birdcage's finale number ("We Are Family"), unassumingly meandering through the crowd and out of the club in full stage attire. Let's just say that Gene Hackman makes for one ugly drag queen!

The Birdcage is a great, funny movie. If you love to laugh, this is one film that's sure to tickle your funny bone. Here are a few places to pick up The Birdcage:,

Buy Cheap DVD,

Deep Discount,

Movie Gold Mine,

Museum of Broadcast Communications,

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Classic Must Have Party Songs for Deejays

Classic Must Have Party Songs for Deejays
The mark of a good deejay is the ability to keep the seats empty and the dance floor full of bodies up and dancing. Here's a list of must-haves for any mobile deejay's catalog.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama Lifts Moratorium on Coverage of War Dead

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Pentagon would be ending an 18-year moratorium on coverage of the return of the war dead to Dover Air Force Base.