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Posts published in “Day: February 12, 2002

Adriana Garcia named Mendel Spelling Champ

Mendel Elementary held their annual Chronicle Spelling Bee contest on January 30. Participants from several grade levels enjoyed the competition. The Chronicle Spelling Bee words were challenging, however, Mendel students were prepared. Mendel congratulates Adriana Garcia, a third grader in Mrs. Couvillon’s class as the representative for 2001-2002. Joshua Huerta, a fourth grader in Ms. Doyle’s is the runner up.

The faculty, staff and student body extend their congratulations to all the participants for their dedication and hard work. The district competition will be held at M.O. Campbell in February.

‘Rollerball’ a wretched wreck

It’s early yet, but “Rollerball” has my vote as the worst movie of 2002. I’d bet that at the end of the year it will still be in the top five of the worst. It’s bad. So bad, it almost – almost – turns the circle to being good.

The filmmakers get nothing right. The only scene that is halfway interesting opens the movie and has little to do with the rest of the all too long 90 minutes. The original 1975 “Rollerball” staring James Caan was about organized violence in a world that has outlawed violence.

It was futuristic and had style and edge; not that it was a great movie.

An old movie that has a good concept, but could be improved with advances in special effects and additional years insight is ripe to be remade. Alas, the current “Rollerball” is worst than the harshest critics of the original could even imagine.

Poor Chris Klein is no James Caan (one of the truly great tough guy actors of the last 40 years). He’s not even Keanu Reeves, who he appears to be imitating.

Klein was so good as the dumb jock in “Election” and he was not bad as the sweet jock in “American Pie.” Here he may be playing a jock again, but his part as Jonathan, a superstar Rollerball player in the Middle East stinks and by his consistently pained expression, Klein seems to know this.
LL Cool J (“Any Given Sunday,” “Deep Blue Sea”) plays Jonathan’s best friend, Marcus Ridley. He plays just to make money. I suspect that’s the only reason Cool J took the part.

French actor Jean Reno (“Mission Impossible,” “Ronin”) must have also agreed to the movie for money, plus the chance to do some of the hammiest acting put on screen since Robin Williams played Patch Adams. Thankfully, unlike “Patch Adams,” “Rollerball” is not sickly corny, poorly written and awfully directed – it’s just sickly stupid, poorly written and awfully directed.

And then there’s Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Jonathan’s love interest and fellow teammate. Let’s just say she does her best acting when she’s wearing a full-face red plastic devil like mask.

To illustrate just how tough these rollerballers are supposed to be, Romijn-Stamos works out bare chested. That’s dangerous. One could get a nasty pinch that way.

Rollerball is played on inline skates and motorcycles in a roller derby type ring that has jumps, bumps and even a tunnel. The goal is to throw the heavy metal ball into a half sphere after making at least two trips around the rink. Betting is encouraged and ratings are high, but not high enough for Reno’s evil character.

You’d think this could be exciting to watch, but the way director john McTiernan films the games it looks foolishly dangerous instead of even vaguely interesting. McTiernan has made some highly entertaining movies, mainly “Die Hard,” “The Hunt for Red October” and the remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair.”

I’d never guess he directed this movie if his name weren’t on it. There are so many instances where he blows opportunities for suspenseful action scenes.
The film-opening scene mentioned earlier has Jonathan speeding down San Francisco streets luge style. It’s kind of exciting, especially when you see he’s headed for a sharp turn. Cut to the next scene; there’s no turn just more hills and stop signs.

Jonathan and Marcus decide they must leave the team where they are virtually prisoners or they might end up dead. Two friends come to the hospital where the men are being carefully watched with a big rolling container of flowers.

One is led to think the friends will smuggle them out. No! The friends leave the hospital and the next scene has Jonathan and Marcus racing though the desert. McTiernan films the night desert scenes in green and black – like something you might see with night-vision goggles. It’s supposed to look cool, but I suspect it’s a cheap way to film because it hides lack of details.

There is supposed to be some noble message about how wrong it is to view violence as entertainment and the danger of doing anything for money – well the filmmakers need to take their own advise.

Rated-PG-13 for violence, extreme sports action, sensuality, language and some drug references.

Pet of the Week

February 12, 2002

“We are Siamese if you please” and we will make pleasingly loving companions for anyone wise enough to take us home.

We are both girls, happy, healthy and full of that famous Siamese spirit. We have been neutered and have had all our kitty shots.

If you would like to adopt us or any of the other wonderful companion animals at the Harris County Rabes/Animal Control shelter go to 602 Canino just west of Hardy. For hours and information, call 281-999-3191.

Graham – Armstrong


Mr. and Mrs. Charles Youngblood of Spring, Texas are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Angela Janee Graham to Richard Cameron Armstrong, son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Armstrong.
Angela is a 1992 graduate of Spring High School and received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1996 from Sam Houston State University. She currently works for Reliant Resources as an Executive Secretary.

Rich is a 1992 graduate of Mayde Creek High School and received a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Texas A&M University in 1996. He currently works as a Financial Analyst for Suntory Water Group.
Angela and Rich will be married May 4th, 2002 at the Courtyard on St. James Place.

Gearing Up with the Right Tackle to Fish Coastal Waters

If you ask a bait camp operator or an old salt at the fish-cleaning table, “How’s the fishing?” you might get a glowing answer. They might tell you, “Man, you should have been here yesterday. They were absolutely jumping in the boat!”

In all my years of fishing the coast, I have never “been there yesterday,” and I’ve never had fish “jumping in the boat,” unless you count an errant jumping mullet or two. I have had my share of banner fishing trips when the tides and the waters were right and the fish were feeding. On those occasions when the fish are there, you need to have the knowledge, the skills, and the right equipment to catch them. You need to take advantage of the window of opportunity to put fish in the boat.

I may get some argument over this, but overall, the Texas coast is level-wind reel country. Most serious trout chasers and redfish rustlers are armed with a quality open-faced level-wind reel and a solid built graphite rod. When you spot someone with an inexpensive closed-face spinning rig and a tackle box full of cheap snap swivels and those stiff, store-bought, pre-tied leaders, it is usually the sure sign of an inexperienced novice.

I cut my saltwater fishing teeth on the old Ambassadeur “red reels”. In fact, I still have a shelf full of them of different vintages. Even though I have a few more modern Shimano, Quantum, and a shiny silver Ambassadeur Model 6500, I still revert to using the smooth working old red reel occasionally.

Although there are some quality bail-type spin-cast reels out there, I have never been comfortable with them. They have been popular on the East Coast for many years, but I have found them awkward and clunky. It’s a matter of performance and personal preference. No matter what style of reel you choose, make sure it is top quality. Buy the best you can afford, take care of it, and it will serve you well for many years. The world of saltwater fishing is a harsh environment. Don’t even think about going near the salt water with a cheap or flimsy-built fishing reel.

Although few macho fishermen will admit it, the reason many of them stick to closed-face spinning or spin-cast tackle is that they can’t effectively cast the level-wind reel without backlashing. My advice to those is to buy a casting plug, find some space, and learn to master the bait-casting reel before going on the next fishing trip.

As far as terminal tackle, I know that snap swivels are convenient and are easier and quicker to tie on. Using them, especially the cheap ones, is courting disaster. A big fish can pull them open during a fight and be gone before you realize it.

Another problem with snap swivels is that on days you may be fishing exceptionally clear water and the fish are spooky or finicky, they will avoid anything that looks unnatural. If you insist on using swivels, make sure they are the black ones, or you can spray paint your own to make them less visible.

Using those stiff, store-bought leaders with all those cute little red beads may be easy and convenient. However, if you tie your own terminal tackle, you can use lighter leader material, and this strategy will allow your bait to look more natural. Fish will only eat what looks natural to them. For example, it may be difficult to get a fish to eat a live shrimp that does not look or swim like the other shrimp he has been used to eating. If you are serious about your fishing, it only takes a little extra effort to fine-tune your tackle and fishing techniques.

No matter what terminal rigging is preferred, the salty coastal angler uses a short shock leader to guard against the sharp snaggle teeth of trout, flounder, or the occasional Spanish mackerel.

Too many people ignore the importance of the fishing rod. As the golfer would never go to the course with just one club, the experienced fisherman never goes to the water with just one rod. Most fishermen I know wouldn’t think of going on a serious fishing trip without an extra rod or two rigged and ready for action.

Whether wade fishing or fishing from a boat, an all around choice is a good, two-handed rod in the 6’ to 7’ range with a fairly soft tip. The softer tip provides a cushion for sluggish striking fish to get a better grip on a passing lure or bait. If the slow striking cold-weather trout is lightly hooked, the soft tip will prevent you from pulling out the hook.

There are two other often-overlooked things to remember about your fishing gear. Make certain that your reel is clean and oiled and working smoothly. Also make sure your reel is filled with fresh, top quality line.

There is no time to trust a balky drag and a brittle line when fighting a thrashing trophy trout. It can break your line, and it can break your heart.

Aldine ISD FFA students’ projects reap close to $64,000 at 43rd Annual Project Show

The Aldine community showed its support for the district’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) students by pledging close to $64,000 during the 43rd Annual Project Show and Country Fair, held Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at the M.O. Campbell Educational Center. Individual and group projects raised $63,190 at the Sale of Champions.

Nimitz High School junior Sarah Vitanza raised the grand champion steer, which was purchased by the Aldine Buyer’s Group for $7,000. The reserve grand champion steer was raised by Cody Tibbs of Nimitz High and was purchased by the Superintendent’s Group for $3,800.

The grand champion pig was raised by Ashley Gonzales of Eisenhower High School and was purchased by the Aldine Optimist Club for $2,300, while the reserve grand champion pig was raised by Samantha Skelton of Nimitz High and was purchased by G.E. Slater for $1,150.

The grand champion lamb was raised by Candice Catino of Nimitz High and was purchased by W.G.. Burchfield & Bro. for $1,600, while the reserve grand champion lamb was raised by Nicolas Gonzales of Eisenhower High and was purchased by Puma Construction for $700.

The grand champion goat was raised by Billy Igo of Nimitz High School and was purchased by W.G. Burchfield & Bro. for $1,400, while the reserve grand champion goat was raised by Chad Reese of MacArthur High and was purchased by Kidd Pipeline & Specialties Inc.

The grand champion fryer rabbits were raised by Daniel Buford of Nimitz High and were purchased by the Superintendent’s Group for $1,600, while the reserve grand champion fryer rabbits were raised by Catino of Nimitz High and were purchased by Republic Central Realty, Inc. for $700.

The grand champion broilers were raised by Clayton Weikel of Nimitz High and were purchased by First Southwest Company for $1,500, while the reserve grand champion broilers were raised by Matthew Ruscher of Nimitz High and were purchased by Republic Central Realty, Inc. for $700.

The grand champion turkey hen was raised by Ruscher of Nimitz High and was purchased by Vernon Masonry, Inc. for $1,300, while the reserve grand champion turkey hen was raised by Kenneth Taylor of Nimitz High and was purchased by U.S. Congressman Gene Green for $700.

The grand champion turkey Tom was raised by Igo of Nimitz High and was purchased by Congressman Green for $1,300, while the reserve grand champion turkey Tom was raised by Taylor of Nimitz High and was purchased by Component Sales & Services, Inc. for $750.

The grand champion horticulture project was produced by Cathy Matthew of Aldine High School and was purchased by Ed Kane’s Western Wear for $1,600, while the reserve grand champion horticulture project was produced by Lauren Mensik of Aldine High School and was purchased by Beasley Tire Service, Inc. for $750.

The grand champion scholarship cake was made by Aldine High School and was purchased by former Aldine ISD Superintendent M.B. “Sonny” Donaldson for $650, while the reserve grand champion scholarship cake was produced by Eisenhower High School and was purchased by Champions Electric for $600.

All of the money raised by the students is theirs to use to pay for college or to fund their FFA projects next year.

Fifteen Aldine ISD seniors sign national letters of intent

Fifteen Aldine ISD senior football players saw their years of hard work in the classroom and on the field handsomely rewarded when they signed national letters of intent on Wednesday, Feb. 6, the first day high school senior football players could accept college scholarships.

The AISD seniors accepted scholarships to schools all over the country, from Minnesota to Texas.

Nimitz High School led the way as 10 senior Cougars signed to continue their football careers and more importantly, receive a free college education.

“This is a special group of young men who have worked hard to reach this milestone in their lives,” Nimitz head coach Randy Rowe said to the audience, which included the player’s parents and underclassmen.

Rowe then directed his remarks to the sophomore and junior athletes in the audience about the sacrifices the 10 individuals on the stage made to reach this day.

”What these guys have done is they have paid the price and earned it (the scholarships) in the classroom,” Rowe said. “Football is a fun game to play, but we’re here to get an education. The first thing college coaches ask about you guys has nothing to do with how many yards you gained, how big you are or how fast you are. They want to know about your test scores and grades. These men paid the price and now they are going to college to further their education and to better their lives.”

Senior defensive tackle David Johnson signed with Syracuse, while offensive lineman Chris Phipps signed with Yale University. Phipps scored 1400 on his SAT and is following in his father Daryl’s (an assistant football coach at Eisenhower High) footsteps. Daryl Phipps also attended an Ivy League school, Cornell. “Isn’t that something?” his father said following the signing ceremony.

Also earning scholarships were defensive end Olushola Obafemi, who signed with Southwest Texas State, quarterback Eric Julien, who signed with Southern Arkansas, tight end Clint Lahman, who signed with Ouachita Baptist University, running back Dondtray Thomas, who signed with Harding College, running backs Ty Stewart and Eric Blanson, who signed with Trinity Valley College and linebacker Elijah Ridgell and Kentreal Means, who signed with Kilgore College.

Eisenhower High School had three players sign on Wednesday. Head coach Richard Carson also held a signing ceremony for the player’s families and added he was proud of what the three had accomplished during their four years in the football program.

”We’re proud of these young men,” he said. “The best thing about this group is that they come from great families. I want to commend you (their parents) for the job you’ve done with these young men. I know they’ll make us proud.”

Carson then presented the three, quarterback Ricky Murphy, and defensive ends Reginald Kelly and Brandon Perkins, with a challenge.

”You guys are going to places where we really haven’t sent guys before, so I’m putting pressure on you to be our ambassadors so these three schools come back here in the future.”

Murphy signed with Southwest Texas State, while Kelly signed with Sam Houston State University and Perkins inked with the U. of Kansas.

Aldine High School had two players sign Division I scholarships. Defensive end L.C. Kirkpatrick signed with the University of Houston, while wide receiver Bobby Scyrus signed with the University of Minnesota.

Aldine High head coach Bill Smith said he was happy for his two players and the opportunity they have before them.

”This is a big day in these two young men’s lives and for their families,” said Smith, a graduate of the University of Houston. “I wish them well and I hope they realize the great opportunity they now have, to earn a college education. That’s the most important thing.”

MacArthur High School head coach Terry Forga said he did not have any players sign on Feb. 6. He is hoping to have a couple of players sign at a later date.

Redistricting results in change to Rep. Kevin Bailey’s state district #140

A lawsuit over the shape of Texas’ legislative districts has been settled by the Federal District Court for the Eastern Districc of Texas resulting in a significant change to the boundaries of District 140 according to State Representative Kevin Bailey. The three judge panel upheld the districts that were drawn after the end of the 1egis1ative session by the Legislative Redistricting Board.

“1 hate to lose good friends that I have made in the areas that are moving from District 140” Bailey said. “I have enjoyed representing them and working very closely with the neighborhood representatives on both community and legislative issues.”

Several community leaders had written letters protesting the division of Aldine neighborhoods to no avail. Under the redistricting plan, residents living in Sequoia Estates, Aldine Place and Castlewood in the Aldine area who were in District 140 will now be in District 141. In addition the North Lindale neighborhood in the Loop 610 area will be moved to District 148.

Many of the new additions to District 140 were part of the district prior to redistricting that resulted from a lawsuit that was settled in 1995. Neighborhoods returning to District 140 include Northline Terrace, Belmar, Meadowlea, Cliffside, Glen Oaks and Rose Garden.

“However, the boundary change will benefit some neighborhoods. Where before the Northline Park Community was divided into two state representative districts, now they will be united into one district,” said Bailey. “I believe this will allow for greater quality representation for those neighborhoods. I will work closely with the new and returning citizens of District 140, to determine their needs in order to represent them in Austin.”

Recovery of stolen vehicles from Mexico rises

More than $25 million in stolen vehicles were recovered from Mexico by the Texas Department of Public Safety Motor Vehicle Theft Service in 2001 – an increase from $19 million in 2000.

DPS recovered 1,967 of the 4,575 stolen vehicles identified south of the border, raising the recovery rate from 42 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2001.

Credit for the increase in vehicle recoveries goes both to the dedicated staff of the DPS Border Auto Theft Information Center (BATIC) and to Mexican law enforcement.

“Much of the praise goes to the BATIC employees and the Motor Vehicle Theft Service investigators along the border, all of whom invest their time in nurturing relationships with Mexican authorities,” said Motor Vehicle Theft Service Commander David Griffith. “Before BATIC was created in the early ’90s, less than 50 vehicles a year were recovered from south of the border.”

BATIC acts as a link between Mexican and U.S. law enforcement, simplifying the process of identifying and recovering stolen vehicles. The bilingual staff operates a 24 hour 800 line seven days a week, accessible to law enforcement on both of sides of the border.

BATIC staff members work closely with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in identifying stolen vehicles. Funded by approximately 1,000 national insurance companies, NICB assists DPS with investigations, tracking vehicles and accessing manufacturer’s shipping records.

Motor Vehicle Theft Service created BATIC in 1994 with a grant from the Texas Automobile Theft Prevention Authority. It is the largest DPS Motor Vehicle Theft office in Texas and the only resource of its kind in the nation. In addition to Mexico, it serves all 50 states, with the majority of U.S. contacts coming from border states like California, New Mexico and Arizona.

“Of course, we think they’re the greatest,” said Susan Sampson, director of the Texas Automobile Theft Prevention Authority. “It’s one of the best programs we have working on both sides of the border.”