Monthly Archives: May 2008

New ‘Indiana Jones’ movie another good time!

Indiana Jones fans are in for another good time at “the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” It’s another rollicking good time with sixty-something Harrison Ford still doing his own lively stunts. This time “Indy’ and his sidekicks must find a magical crystal skull and return it to a legendary city of gold in the mountains of Peru before the Russians do and take over the world (or something crazy like that!). Actually the point of the movie – as usual – is not as important as the fun of seeing Indy cheat death over and over again throughout the movie. So that I don’t give away much, I”ll just say that in this movie Indy meets up again with a former girlfriend from a previous Indy movie, gains a new surprise sidekick, mourns the death of his father (Sean Connery) and gets mixed up with aliens. Although I enjoyed it a lot, my wife and others I’ve heard from didn’t really like it that much. The movie is kinda crazy – but includes lots of great special effects, like when one of the mean Russians is carried by giant ants down into their huge anthill. The waterfall scene is spectacular. Three times they go over gigantic waterfalls, which no one could ever survive – except in the movies! Well, it’s the number one movie in the country for good reason. “Adventure has a name again,” shout the promos. If you like fun and adventure, go see it and enjoy!

Sound system terrible at Jason Castro’s homecoming

What a disappointment the Jason Castro homecoming was for us, because of the terrible sound system!

At the biggest event that Rockwall has seen in years, with an estimated 5,000 people or more in attendance to witness Jason Castro performing in person and receiving a key to the City of Rockwall, the sound system essentially failed. It was just horrible. My wife and I sat on the hill below the Hilton Hotel and, although the view was actually pretty decent, we couldn’t hear much of anything – just some occasional sound waves came our way. How frustrating it was! And It wasn’t because of the crowd noise. That’s because everyone was really quiet, trying hard to hear something. Most of the several hundred of us on the hill just sat there quietly in the hot sun, hoping someone would finally improve the sound. But they didn’t. Of course, it didn’t help that the local Toyota dealership hired some airplane to fly overhead every ten minutes or so to advertise their dealership. Each time it did, the plane’s roar would drown out whatever little bit we could hear. I’ve gotta remember to call and thank the dealership! Oh well, the event was still worth attending. It was fun to see how many girls were screaming for jason. Even my wife seemed to want to see him up close or touch him. When he exited past us, she was really close to him. But she disappointingly said, “He didn’t even look my way!” He must have felt a bit overwhelmed with about a dozen policemen, family, friends, fans and the rest of the photobugs mobbing him! Everyone wanted an up-close photo, of course!

Jason Castro homecoming parade, concert May 29

The City of Rockwall will sponsor a homecoming parade for “American Idol” fourth-place finisher Jason Casto this Thursday evening, just prior to the weekly Thursday evening ‘Concerts by the Lake’ series.

According to the City, the parade will begin on Ridge Rd. at Summer Lee Dr. at 5:30 pm and wind its way down to The Harbor, including cars carrying Jason Castro, his family and friends, Mayor and Mrs. Bill Cecil plus some selected fans.

At The Harbor’s amphitheatre, Mayor Bill Cecil will present a key to the City to Jason and then the new musical star, well-known for his dreadlock hair-style, will perform several songs for his fans, including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with his ukelele.

Come early to enjoy the historic evening. It will be a madhouse!

Ace Hardware’s “Magician” Joe Baker passes away

My wife and I were saddened to learn this afternoon, while making a purchase at Ace Hardware, that long-time employee Joe Baker passed away suddenly April 27.

Anybody who’s ever been inside of Ace Hardware likely knew who Joe was. He was always smiling and told some of the silliest jokes. He was also quite the magician, doing card tricks, coin tricks and a variety of other sleight-of-hand tricks right there at the store, entertaining you while you shopped.

Joe once told me that he had been a street magician for years in New Orleans, putting on magic shows several times daily for crowds milling around at Jackson Square in the French Quarter, by the Mississippi River.

Those of us who knew him even in the slightest will miss him. He was a wonderful man, who passed away after helping neighbors carry groceries into their home. According to the cashier at Ace, he apparently complained of chest pains, but passed away before the paramedics could arrive.

We’ll miss you, Joe! No doubt he’s making people in heaven happy now, with his wit and magic tricks!

Nearly 300 art pieces from area artists selected to fill new Hilton Hotel

Betcha’ didn’t know that the ownership group of the new Hilton Bella Harbor Hotel was so impressed with the artwork created by basically little-known but highly-talented area artists that they chose to essentially fill the whole new resort facility with nearly 300 pieces of their work…with more to come!

Yesterday I was given an excellent tour by one of the local artists and definitely art promoter Vicki Hoarty of Heath, who thought up the idea to approach the Hotel’s owners and propose the gorgeous new property use the work of area artists. After they agreed to take a look at some samples of their work, and then approved the concept, she even supervised the whole project – serving as liaison between the Director of Design and the artists. Then she put out bids and helped create about 260 picture frames for virtually every room and suite in the hotel! It took over one year to complete, she said.

There are beautiful oIl paintings, colorful giclees, amazing bronze and intricate paper sculptures, dazzling photographs and more, throughout the Mediterranean-themed hotel.

Now Vicki wasn’t braggin’ about her own work (even though she has about 12 oil paintings and giclees presented there in various galleries and certainly should!), but she sure was braggin’ about the other area artists! One of them, Trish Biddle, for example, is so successful that she was even chosen as the official artist of this year’s Kentucky Derby horse race, plus Westminister Dog Show. Wow! Two huge events!

Vicki emphasized that many local residents do not realize how exceptional the talent level is of the area artists, nor do they realize that they can commission and purchase fabulous art pieces here locally – generally for far less money than in DFW or beyond – but she’s doing her very best to spread the word!

Judging from what I saw, she’s absolutely right! Go see their pieces at the Hotel now.

For more info about the Rockwall Area Artists group and what they can do for your home or business, see, or call Vicki at her studio, 972-771-1612.

For the whole story with photos, please check it out

New Hilton Bella Harbor Hotel celebrates grand opening, raises $4,000 for CASA

The new Hilton Bella Harbor Hotel on Lake Ray Hubbard celebrated its grand opening last night with over 200 Rockwall area residents in attendance in tuxedos and ball gowns. The event raised about $4,000 for Rockwall’s Lone Star CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), which assists children who have either been abused or who are suspected of having been abused.

My wife and I finally arrived at 10 pm, just in time to enjoy the great fireworks display. We’d been babysitting earlier for two of my grandchildren in Forney. Although it was getting late, there were still over 100 guests still there enjoying the beautiful night on the patio.

The event began about 7 pm with a fundraising dinner, followed by drinks, dancing in the ballroom, plus evening excursions on the lake on Scott Self’s new 40-ft. catamarand. The former Rockwall mayor and Rockwall County Commissioner recently completed building the ship and started a new cruise business on the lake.

While there we enjoyed visiting with Rockwall Area Artists liaison Vicki Hoarty, her mother, business partner Sharon Edmunds, plus some other friends.

We also said hi to newly-elected City Councilman Mark Russo, who admitted he was surprised by his election victory last week. He invited me to call him soon. He’s interested in helping us to promote our new website and blog.

Grand opening of new Hilton Bella Harbor Hotel this Saturday

A gala black tie affair with proceeds going to Rockwall’s Lone Star CASA organization will begin at 9:30 pm this Saturday evening as the new Hilton Bella Harbor Hotel celebrates its grand opening.

According to the hotel’s public relations agency, music, dancing and plenty of food and drinks will be provided for the hundreds of expected guests. Colorful masks will be available for purchase for about $20 each to raise money for the non-profit agency which assists abused children.

We hope to go and will provide a report tomorrow.

Commissioners trick voters, approve courts building anyway

In a stunning announcement yesterday, Rockwall County’s commissioners used some trickery and voted 3 to 2 to approve the building of a new $30 million courts building on a site where voters have twice rejected it over the past few years!
I’m infuriated! How dare these lawmakers!
Quoting from the story in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News:


Rockwall County commissioners this week voted to build a $30 million courts building on the site where voters twice rejected a $29 million government center.
Commissioners in a 3-2 vote decided to issue limited tax notes, which don’t require voter approval, to plan and build the 117,000-square-foot building on county-owned land at T.L. Townsend Drive and Interstate 30.
Who voted how:
Commissioners Bruce Beaty, who will leave office Jan. 1, and Jerry Wimpee voted with Mr. Florance. Ms. Grinnan and Commissioner David Magness voted no.
What was their justification for ignoring voters, to issue “limited tax notes” which don’t require voter approval?
County Judge Chris Florance said officials could wait no longer because they need the space and construction costs are rising 9 percent a year.
“We felt like we needed to make some hard decisions, so we did,” he said. “We’re going to save the taxpayers millions and millions by getting a building out of the ground now.”
Quite coincidentally, on the same day that California’s Supreme Court voted 4 to 3 to overrule California voters and legalize gay marriage in that state, both that Supreme Court and our County Commissioners decided to take the law into their own hands.
Apparently they think they know better! Time to show them differently!

Weekly “Concerts By The Lake” Series Starts Successfully

(Click on photo to enlarge)

As the photo reveals, the weather was gorgeous, hundreds of people were on hand and the City of Rockwall’s all-Summer-long weekly “Concerts By The Lake” started off with a rousing success last night at the amphitheater at The Harbor.

“Jeanne Lay and Fat Tuesday” was the band that kicked off the highly-enjoyable, completely-free concerts for the whole family, which start at 7:30 pm and last until about 9 pm every Thursday evening.

Where else in DFW can you go for a free concert, while simultaneously eating a picnic dinner with family and friends and witnessing beautiful sunsets while sitting by the lake? Nowhere, to be exact! We really have to compliment the City of Rockwall – in particular, the Parks & Rec Dept. – for putting on such a superb show – especially for families. It’s tough to find great family entertainment anymore – especially for free! Parents bring their children and even the family dogs.

We highly recommend attending each and every concert. The music is excellent and the atmostphere couldn’t be better! We plan on going almost every week. For more info, including a concert schedule, check out the homepage on the City’s website:

Jason Castro fourth-place finisher on American Idol!

He may not have won the title of American Idol and may have been voted off the hit Fox TV show this evening but Rockwall’s Jason Castro once again received millions of votes for his extraordinary performances week after week. We’re proud of you Jason and wish you the very best in the future! Here’s his rendition of Bob Dylan’s classic hit “Mr. Tambourine Man,” during which Jason unfortunately forgot some of the lyrics, but kept going anyway as a true professional does.