Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mavs Dig Dirk & Want You To, Too!

By now you should know the story. 

At 11:01pm North Texas time, Dirk Nowitzki will become a free agent for the first time in his career.  He and his advisor, Holger Geschwindner, are coming to Dallas on Thursday to meet with Mavs GM Donnie Nelson.  Nelson found out that bit of information while he was at DFW airport trying to get a ticket to go to Germany to woo Dirk.  He was standing at the ticket counter when Holger called to deliver that news.

Kind of weird turn of events, dontcha think?  I feel Dirk will stay in Dallas but wouldn't be totally shocked if he left.  Would you?  Maybe he feels he's done all he can with the Mavericks and the best opportunity to win a title is with another team.  Just sayin....

On to the fun stuff.

The Mavericks are putting on a fullcourt press to get fans involved in the keep Dirk in Dallas campaign.  It's got a fun title: DFW Digs Dirk

There is a video message saying just that currently scrolling on Dallas' Hunt Building overlooking Woodall Rogers freeway.

Thursday, the team will start selling DFW Digs Dirk t-shirts on and all team fan shops at the AAC, North Park Center and Willowbend Mall.  Plus, you amateur graffiti fans get to have fun, too!  With your purchase of a shirt, you get some shoe polish to decorate your car and show more support.  The best part is that all Dirk-related merchandise will be....wait for it......41% off. 
I can't believe the 2010 free agency summer is finally here.  We've talked about it for so long.  It's going to be a crazy few days.  At least the Mavericks want you to be involved and have a little fun trying to convince Dirk this is where he should keep playing.

Stay tuned!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The French Explained

You know the stereotype.  The one that persists that the French are rude, snooty and cannot stand "zeeee Ugly Americans in zeir fanny bags and tennees shoezz" (said in a thick French accent).

That label is almost as pervasive as the misperception that all Texans drive convertible Cadillacs with longhorns attached the hood, sporting cowboys hats and boots with oil wells and mustangs in the back yards.  

Granted, you could find someone to fit each of the aforementioned stereotypes but both are wildly off the mark.  When I was recently in Paris, I didn't encounter one rude Parisian,  not a snooty waiter or anyone who was beaten down with my attempts to recall and actually speak my high school French that would have Madame McBride exclaim "Quelle horreur!"

My crash course in French culture came to life in, of all places, Harry's American Bar.  Cliche spot to drink, I know, but we stumbled across it and were thirsty.  It was dead empty save for the bartender, a Frenchmen named Gerard, and a British man who now lives in Paris.  We gave our customary "Bonjour" to both men and went to the bar.  We waited for Gerard, who was sharing a glass of champagne with the expat Brit, to come to us at the bar to ask for our order.  We ordered our champagne and thanked him.

A couple of glasses later, the expat Brit left for his family's Sunday dinner and Gerard was deep in conversation with us.  About this time, an American couple walks in wearing jeans, tennis shoes and, yes, dual fanny bags worn tightly around their waists.  Already fitting the stereotype the gentleman barks "two Bloody Mary's!".

"You can always tell the Americans," Gerard whispers to me.  "They never say hello, please or thank you."

That was incredibly telling!  The French aren't rude or snooty.  What they want is politeness.  They are overly polite.  Think about it: any time you read a French guidebook or watch a travel show on Paris, authors and hosts always advise you to say "bonjour", "s'il vous plait" and "merci" when going into a store or restaurant because the shopkeepers and owners feel as if you are entering their homes.

The French just want us to make the effort: dress properly and offer a simple hello while enjoying and respecting the beauty, history and culture their country offers.  It's sort of a throwback to earlier era in the U.S. which is something I kind of like.

Post-Script with a post card from Barcelona:
The Ugly American thing hit me like a cinder block in the face in Barcelona.  I happened to run into someone I sort of knew from North Texas at a hotel in Spain (crazy!!!!).  This person fit every stereotype: wearing a Fox News Channel hat, sporting a LiveStrong t-shirt,  stark-white jogging shoes on the feet and, yes, the ubiquitous fanny pack.

Can you get the mental picture?  It was worse in person.  

I'm all for U.S. pride and wearing it proudly but forget American patriotism, this was just bad taste all around.  Unfortunately, it lent credence to every narrow-minded individual who buys into that Ugly American stereotype.

Bonus Hint:
Fanny bags are never good thing to wear.  NEVER.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hooey Diet Alert: Hoodia Ice Cubes Help You Drop Pounds?

Please.  What's the saying?  If it sounds too good be true.....

It's called the Hoodia Ice Cube diet.   In theory, you either drop one hoodia-filled ice cube into some liquid or just pop the frozen cube straight every day.  The hoodia frozen in the ice cube is from a succulent plant native to the African desert.  Desert Labs, the company that manufactures the little green cubes, says they contain a molecule called P57 that is supposed to suppress your appetite.

Hoodia started getting a lot of press a few years ago as a supplement that tricks your brain into thinking you're full .  60 Minutes even profiled the plant in 2004.  It does have some scientific evidence to back up the appetite-suppressing claims but it's still pretty cloudy. 
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cowboys Offensive Lineman Alex Barron Likes His Gum

It’s not often we get to chat with offensive linemen. They are, generally speaking, the most reluctant group on a football team when it comes to talking to the media even going so far as to institute a fine system if one of them “breaks the code”. Leonard Davis and Adre Gurode aside, you don’t see a ton of interviews (tv in particular) with Cowboys linemen. So it was a rare treat on Tuesday when a few of us interviewed new Cowboys tackle Alex Barron who Dallas acquired in a trade with the Rams for Bobby Carpenter.

Before we go any further, Barron is a physical specimen! He stands a pretty accurate 6’7 and is listed at 302.  It's not a soft, have-another-a-pastrami-sandwich 302, either.  Even fully clothed this man looked solid.

He would be a great addition to the Mavericks frontcourt. I tried to butter him up, or beat him down depending on your perspective, by talking some basketball with him. I knew he was a double-double guy at Wilkinson High School in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He admitted a few small area universities and community colleges tried to recruit him but he played football at Florida State.

Barcelona & Paris Trip Ideas. Any Suggestions? Here Are Mine

I am two weeks away from my European return to my absolute favorite city in the world.  I love beautiful, historic locations but no city has ever emotionally moved me as much as Barcelona.  From the architecture to the food to simply the smell, Barcelona is such a unique, colorful city.

When Woody Allen shot Vicky Christina Barcelona there, I thought there would be a surge in tourism (in sort of a bad way).  There really wasn't.  Barcelona is always widely regarded and publicized by travel pros but doesn't seem to get the true tourist attention as a Paris or Rome.

I'm also hitting Paris for a few days.  I know my way around Barcelona pretty well but have only done a few day trips to Paris.  Please share your favorite museums, restaurants and sites.

I happened to run into a Parisian couple recently who recommended I check out a plaque in the Place Vendome that cites the fact France was the first country to recognize Texas' independence.  Stuff that only locals know!  I love that.

In the spirit of sharing, here are few of my Catalan faves.  This is a cut and paste of an old Trip Advisor post I did after a Spanish trip a few years ago.   Jump for more.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

North Texas Summer Fun: For Fresh Fruit & Vegetables Think Ham's

May 15th doesn't just serve as a reminder for me that my taxes are one month late.  The date is much more important.  It means that Ham's Orchard in Terrell is finally open!  I discovered Ham'View Blogs when my parents bought some property in Mineola a few years ago and since then, every trip east involves a stop at Ham's.  Although, truth be told, it's not like I need an excuse to go, just a free hour.

Ham's is true orchard and roadside market about 35 miles east of Dallas on Highway 80.  It serves fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade ice cream, cobblers and all the stereotypical country kitchen stuff that everyone's Texas Grandma had in the pantry.