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16.4.14

The Magician



Juan Carlos can turn back time or preserve it.
by J.B. Blocker
  Juan Carlos is my friend. He is a very close friend. In terms of a long friendship, we have only known each other since 2009. That would be 5 years. In terms of the time we have spent together, we have years between us. Years of struggles and triumphs. Years of dashed dreams and disappointments. 

  But those were also years of support and faith in each other. They have been years of encouragement from both sides. And especially they have been years when each came to the aid of the other without hesitation. In those terms, our friendship has been a lifetime.

  Juan is a dreamer. I am a dreamer. He is a visionary. So am I. Juan is a photographer ‘for life’!

  But he is more than a photographer as most of us think of such professionals. A good photographer knows their equipment. They know light and height and distance and angles. They can crop and make adjustments on the front end and on the back end. They may even photo shop or digitally enhance with varying levels of skills. But they don’t all have a driving echo to devote any more time than simple due diligence requires.

  
They don’t have the memory of Juan’s beloved mother Cecilia that guides his spirit. They don’t have the life’s lessons that whisper to him to respect the moment and the subject of his lens. They don’t see his working moments  through his heart.

  Juan talks about what drives him when he sits at his computer and deftly manipulates the photos before presenting the subject with the final draft. 
  His mother was a Colombian beauty queen. But she was also a woman of joy and charisma that left people with a lasting memory of her spirit and her sparkling eyes. She was always impeccably groomed as were all of her eight children. She was an artist in her own right.

 

15.4.14

Great Coffee Moments, A Texas Sheriff's Tale


A Sheriff's Tale


Romancing the Bean 
A Series Of Short Stories

By J. B. Blocker

the Caffeine Cowboy




  

  
 In a little over 1000 years, coffee has been elevated to the second most traded commodity after oil and the most prepared beverage in the world. 
  From Kaldi the goat herder who is credited to have discovered coffees kick, to the French Lieutenant who brought it to the New World, stories abound.
   I’ve got a long list of these stories if you’re interested. Most of them are true! At least parts of them are!
   The story I am about to share may or may not be true. No matter, it is close to my heart and carries a modern day lesson somewhere inside.
Time rolls on and mysteries unfold. Everything that glitters is not Gold!  jb


   Our story begins on a New Year’s Eve. In a small community hospital in South Texas, two young couples await their firstborns. All the while the hospital staff anxiously anticipate the race for the first birth of the New Year. Two expectant fathers pace into the midnight hour. As the town clocks strokes of midnight end and the New Year begins, simultaneous declarations of triumph announce two births!
 

8.4.14

The Capital Grille in Plano

The League of Extraordinary Reviewers

with JB Blocker



On Top of the Food Chain
  Many top dining concepts have come to the Dallas MetroPlex, spent millions of dollars, and then tucked their tails and run! Among the notable failures are Smith and Wollenski, Flemings, Morton’s of Addison, McCormick & Schmidt's, and BLT.
  I have reviewed many eateries in every price range over the years. No matter if it is fast food or gourmet dining, the first thing I judge is the staff. All of them!  
  Secondly, I look for order and cleanliness no matter what the concept. Each of these is a direct and immediate reflection of the management and the things to come!
  General Manager Greg Cavanagh is recognized by vendors, patrons, and staff for being at the top of his game. As Roger Harris, the president of Metro Linens and McKinney City Councilman reflected, “Greg is as good as it gets”.
  OK, so you can expect impeccable service with the same honest smiles, attention to details, and royal treatment that is a direct reflection of Greg.
  I am tired of the standard reviewing practices. I want to have fun and see what others have to say. So I called Amanda Leese, the Sales Marketing Manager and offered a group review. When she told me to bring it on, I invited a Banker, a Gun Slinger, and a beloved Senator to join me.

 As an upscale brand over the years, The Capital Grille has played host to Celebrities, Athletes, Politicians and many other distinguished guests. Friday was no exception at the newest Capital Grille at the Shops of Legacy in Plano.
  Legacy Bank president and past Plano mayor Phil Dyer, Senator Ken Paxton, Super Attorney James Mosser, and the incomparable J.B. Blocker joined me here for a lively lunch on our beautiful patio overlooking the corner of Lone Star and Legacy Drives.

26.3.14

The Real Andy of Mayberry, Sheriff Booger Pruitt

 
  I started this 1200 mile plus road trip from Dallas to Amarillo and on to Dalhart in the far northwest corner of Texas. The return trip takes me back down west Texas before cutting east to DFW. I will pass through 37 of the 254 counties along the way and I try to fill my memory banks with identifiers for each of these counties.  
  On the way back from Dalhart and back to Dumas on the way to Amarillo I am seeing my home in a whole new way. I am thinking of bank robbers, cattle rustlers, and the evolution of the sheriffs of Texas all the way to it's modern day technology.
  I have sheriff friends all along the way, but I can't visit them all, I have to be in Garden City by morning for a very important interview.

21.3.14

HATS OFF? The when, where, and why.



Cowboy Hat Etiquette
 by J.B. Blocker
  After a long talk with Sheriff Tom Maddox of Sabine County, Texas and several other Texas Sheriffs we felt that the etiquette concerning the the Cowboy's hat needed to be clarified. Tom's grandpa gave him his first boots and hat at age 3, and he's been wearing them ever since! Thanks for additional input from Sheriffs Bob Holder of Comal County, Dan Law of Caldwell County, Don Sowell of Grimes County, Randy Brown of Medina County, and Keith Gary and the boys of Grayson County.
Grayson County Sheriff Keith Gary and his staff

  The rules aren’t complicated. Heck, I’d just suggest the use of common sense. Of course, there are plenty of folks lacking in that area. They need some guidance. 


  Here are some traditional rules for wearing a cowboy hat.

19.3.14

It is time for a great Gazpacho!



Shrimp Gazpacho
By J.B. Blocker

  I have been craving fresh veggies in the recent 80+ heat wave. Maybe it’s the eat healthy gene that often kicks in. I have a tendency to go on auto-pilot when I grocery shop and that gene takes over.   
  This happened to me recently. There I was, looking at my cart filled with asparagus, avocados, cucumbers, peppers, celery, romaine, red onions, and tomatoes without realizing I had spent a half hour or more in the fresh produce section.
  Back at home, I am looking at my sink filled with veggies and I am thinking of what I am going to do with them.
  That’s when the spirit of my recently passed chef mentor, the great French Master Chef Jean La Font spoke to me.
  “Gazpacho”, he whispered!
   I quickly went into my seafood recipe files and dug out a recipe he had shared with me when I was the chef consultant for The Shrimp Station, an indoor shrimp farm south of San Antonio.
   For a full year in ’97 all I did was drive all over Texas from DFW to Austin and San Antonio, down to the coast, across to the greater Houston area and back with my company van filled with live shrimp.
  Great chefs could hardly wait to play with shrimp that was clean and still flopping in the ice.
   I stood toe to toe with All-Star chefs as we cooked in DFW at the Mansions of Turtle Creek, the Crescent, the Adolphus, and on and on.
  Country club chefs were easy prey as were dozens of the Boutique hotel chefs, and many of the name plate chefs with their signature restaurants.

  I needed to show up with my own recipes so I turned to Chef La Font who always welcomed me and enjoyed sharing his knowledge with me. He shared methods, styles, and recipes from a grand old recipe book that now sits at the Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas. I drank in his stories and skills with awe and pride.

11.3.14

LONE STAR SHERIFFS


 

A Herd of Sheriffs
 I mentioned going to the Sheriffs Association of Texas Annual Convention to a great friend and well traveled businessman in New York City. Doug's response was, "When people think of sheriffs, no matter where they come from, they think of cowboy hats and boots, sidearms, and a badge with a Star. They think of Texas!"
by J.B.Blocker


7.3.14

"HONOR THE FLAG!"


  Recently, I saw a post about the Ralph Loren line which used distressed, torn, worn, and battered views of our flag in the clothing. It sent me into a rant.
  Once as a teen, I gained possession of a 48 star American flag that was as big as my wall in my bedroom. I proudly put it up! It stayed there until.....