Home of the Day: Beautiful New Construction In Quiet, Gated Rice Military Community

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Charming Charlie reaches restructuring agreement, files for bankruptcy protection

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Dec 12,2017: Yoga at Levy Park

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Delta Air Lines is still the on-time champ, but the race tightens

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The Buckingham Honors Resident Dr. Jan van Sant at Dining Venue Sneak Peek

Within a matter of weeks, The Buckingham will unveil The Rosewood Grill, the newest casual dining venue at Houston’s premier senior living community. But residents had a sneak peek during a pre-opening reception honoring resident Dr. Jan van Sant, for whom a private dining and wine room in the new space are named.

Dr. van Sant, a wine connoisseur, is a former president of The Buckingham Resident Council, as well as the first resident to hold a full voting membership on the Board of Directors of Senior Quality Lifestyles Corporation (SQLC). Stocked with bottles of fine wines, the space offers a private dining experience. The Rosewood Grill is part of the Tower at The Buckingham expansion project.  The Tower is scheduled for move-ins by mid-November, shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Dr. van Sant is a fitting namesake for The Rosewood Grill’s private dining and wine room,” said Joe Anderson, president and CEO of SQLC. “As a beloved resident and board member, he has selflessly served The Buckingham and its sister communities, and he embodies the spirit of welcoming we feel in each of our communities. The Rosewood Grill and its private dining and wine room will be a special place where residents and their loved ones can spend time together for years to come. We couldn’t think of a more appropriate space to carry Dr. van Sant’s name and commemorate his legacy of service to The Buckingham and our organization.” 

“I was incredibly surprised and humbled by this honor,” said Van Sant. “In regards to the event itself, it was about the last thing I expected to occur. I’ve been privileged to serve not only the residents of The Buckingham, but the entire SQLC organization, while sitting on the board.  It’s truly something special in my life. Our goal is to ensure that residents living in our communities have everything they need to live life to the fullest, and I’m honored to have played a role in that mission.”

Dr. van Sant is a 34-year oil industry veteran with particular experience in the areas of exploration and production research and technology. After retiring, Van Sant was the executive director of the American Geological Institute Foundation, which raised more than $20 million for certain AGI-sponsored educational and other national programs. He later served as associate director of the Foundation. Dr. van Sant also served as Assistant to the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston, and was a member of advisory committees at various times at institutions such as the University of South Carolina, University of Utah, University of Kansas, and Rice University.

“There is no one more deserving of this honor than Dr. van Sant,” said Darrell Sheaffer, executive director of The Buckingham. “His contributions have helped tremendously in our community, and it is a privilege to thank him in such a public way. We look forward to meeting the needs of more seniors in Houston, and the dedication of residents like Dr. van Sant helps us positively impact the lives of seniors each and every day.”

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Dec 11,2017: Yoga at Levy Park

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Dover Corp. to spin off upstream business into Houston-area public company

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El Tiempo Cantina sets opening date for long-awaited location

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Earth Talk: Green Gift Ideas

Dear EarthTalk: I want to set a good environmental example with my gift-giving this holiday season. Any tips on how—or even better, what—to give greener? — J.P.

The holidays are a time for giving but it is also important to be conscious about spending your gift budget wisely to eliminate packaging waste, buy products that will last and patronize manufacturers and retailers known for social and environmental responsibility.

So, what are some ideas? The Waterpebble is a great gift for anyone trying to lead a greener lifestyle. This gadget tracks how much water you use in your shower. After programmed, it signals a yellow light at your half-shower mark and flashes red when it’s time to turn off the faucet.

Music lovers might like the iBamboo speaker. This portable bamboo speaker for iPhones 4,5,6, and 7 requires no batteries or electricity and has no wires — it’s just a simple block of bamboo that projects sound using natural acoustics.

If the iBamboo isn’t loud enough, try eco-amp from eco-made. While it does use electricity, the eco-amp is made out of all recycled materials and can in turn be entirely recycled when it’s useful life is over—and it’s made in the USA, which helps employ Americans while saving on transportation emissions.

The environmental clothes horse on your list may appreciate a shirt or some pants from Alternative Apparel, which uses non-toxic dyes on eco-friendly fabrics and makes 80 percent of its garments with sustainable materials. Another eco-friendly clothing brand is United By Blue, which pays to pull a pound of trash from water bodies for each of its fashionable and comfortable items sold.

Kids may not care whether their gifts are good for the environment, so it’s up to us adults to make sure we are setting a good example and spending our money on “good” gifts. You can’t go wrong for your kiddo with a bamboo bank from Jones and Mae. The eco-friendly three-way (share/save/spend) box teaches the importance of charity and saving. Meanwhile, Green Toys sells a wide range of 100 percent recycled kids products, including books, toy cars, baby toys and more at reasonable prices.

Of course, holiday presents do not always have to be physical items. A great idea for gifts that are personal and different are sports/active lessons. Would someone you love appreciate tennis lessons, an art class, or a yoga gift certificate? The holidays are meant to show those who are special to you how much you love them and there are no better gifts than those that are personal, thoughtful and not only good for those who receive but also the environment!

And let’s not forget that there is more to greener holiday shopping than just what you buy. Don’t forget that your reusable shopping bags aren’t just for the grocery store anymore: Bring them with you to the mall, as well, so you don’t have to waste your favorite retailers’ plastic or paper shopping bags. Also, if you’re going to wrap your gifts, make sure to use recycled wrapping paper, or even better, get creative and repurpose some other paper materials lying around as gift wrap.

CONTACTS: iBamboo speaker, goo.gl/qDVewi; Eco-made, www.eco-made.com; Alternative Apparel, www.alternativeapparel.com; United By Blue, www.unitedbyblue.com; Jones and Mae Bamboo Bank, goo.gl/QG6soK; Waterpebble, goo.gl/XGpFRD.

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Earth Action Network. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

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Dec 10,2017: Brian Setzer Orchestra


“There’s nothing else like this; it’s different than anything you’ve heard before,” says Brian Setzer. “I’m not stopping until everybody gets a chance to hear us and I get to see their jaws hit the floor.”

In 1992, before the swing phenomenon swept over dance floors and movie screens, before cigar bars and Swingers, Setzer created the Brian Setzer Orchestra, a musical adventure blending rock ‘n’ roll, jump blues, rockabilly and swing. For the first time in music history, an electric guitar fronted a Big Band. Just as he had with the Stray Cats, Setzer not only helped resurrect a genre but moved it to the present, made it “cool” again.

“If you just copy what they did in 1947, it’s not going to be bad, but it’s just doing it the same,” says Setzer, undoubtedly the most tattooed Big Band leader ever. “To make the music viable, you have to make it new and you have to make it your own. That’s why the Stray Cats burst out of the Eighties. Other rockabilly bands were stuck in 1956. They could ‘Hey, daddy-O,’ but not for long.”

The Dirty Boogie (Interscope Records), the group’s third album, is raucous and sweaty, rich and smooth. Produced by Peter Collins (Jewel, Sneaker Pimps, Alice Cooper, Indigo Girls, Nanci Griffith, Save Ferris), and recorded in Los Angeles in March 1998, among its dozen songs is the rippin’ “This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof,” the self-defining title track and a duet featuring Setzer and No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani (covering the Elvis/Ann-Margret duet “You’re The Boss”).
With The Dirty Boogie, The Brian Setzer Orchestra reasserts itself as the only truly big Big Band to emerge from the rock ‘n’ roll generation. Swing bands that have surfaced since have a smaller line-up than Setzer’s traditional 17-man complement. “I’ve got a BIG band,” he says. “You have to have five saxes, four trombones and four trumpets in the horn section. If there’s one guy late to rehearsal, I can hear it. ‘Where’s the second alto?’ It all has to be there to make that incredible sound.”

The Dirty Boogie brings a modern vibe to the charm of Big Band music. “I think the swing thing has substance because it’s good stuff to begin with; it’s based in American roots music. But we don’t get a lot of people at shows dressing up in Forties clothes. There’s much more of a mixture, which is like what happened with the Stray Cats. Not everyone wore a leather jacket and had a pompadour.”

For Setzer, The Dirty Boogie is a step up on the learning curve. “A guitar isn’t able to outpower 16 other instruments. I’m finally figuring out how to put a whole band behind a guitar, where to put the band and where not.” The album also marks the addition of a slap bass: “We used it in Stray Cats and I don’t know why I forgot about it, because it brings a live rhythm to the tracks.” With Bernie Dresel using a 1940s-era drum set with calfskin heads and Setzer a vintage Gretsch guitar, he says the tweaking added up to a ‘Wow!'”

The Brian Setzer Orchestra began without exclamation. In Los Angeles in late summer 1992, a group of horn players were holding an impromptu jam at his next-door neighbor’s house when one of them saw Setzer and yelled, “Hey Brian, go get your guitar and come over!” He joined in with one of his Gretschs and a small practice amp. “They thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up. They had charts from Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, some pretty hard stuff they were trying to get me with. But after a while it was, ‘Gee, this guy’s all right. He can play.'”

After a few sessions, Setzer decided to work up some charts and put a Big Band together, hoping to do a few shows in Southern California. In December, The Brian Setzer Orchestra debuted at a West Coast club. By the end of the third song, the audience was on its feet. After its second gig, at a Sunset Strip rock club, The Brian Setzer Orchestra was the hottest ticket in town. The critically-acclaimed The Brian Setzer Orchestra (1994), produced by Setzer, was followed by a 50-city North American tour that included an extraordinary performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival the following summer.

“When we started it was like any new band, whether there’s three people or 17. It has to turn into a band, come into its own. This was even harder than usual because we had no reference. If you want to do a punk band, you start with the Sex Pistols. But these were basically jazz musicians and I can’t explain a rock gig to them. But we got on the road and by the time we hit Cleveland they got it and by the time we hit Montreal we were a band. They’re doing this for the love of it, crossing the line into rock ‘n’ roll and diggin’ it.”

The band’s second album, Guitar Slinger (1996), produced by the legendary Phil Ramone, was its first on Interscope. Unlike its debut, Guitar Slinger sported more originals than covers, as does The Dirty Boogie. A sold-out six-week national summer tour followed, with stops in Chicago, Detroit, and San Francisco. The tour finished in Los Angeles with a sold-out show at the 7,000-seat Greek Theatre, which was more an event than a concert, with custom cars lining the entranceway, cigar and martini lounges, and the venue staff dressed in Hawaiian attire.

Setzer is not new to Big Band music. Born in Greenwich Village and raised in Massapequa, Long Island, his first instrument was not the guitar but the euphonium. Beginning at age eight, he played the tuba-like instrument for 10 years, winning numerous awards. His first guitar teacher, in fact, was also a sax player. The influence of horns on his music has been strong ever since.

As a teenager, he’d cut class and take the train into the city to hang around jazz clubs, sneaking into the Village Vanguard and Village Gate. Once, when he saw the Mel Lewis Orchestra, he remembers thinking, “What a great idea if you could get a guitar player to lead a Big Band,” however, history had conspired against that notion. The acoustic guitar was not traditionally a lead instrument in Big Band music and the electric guitar had only begun to make its mark in the Fifties, just as Big Bands were being overwhelmed by rock ‘n’ roll.

At the dawn of the Eighties, his rockin’ Stray Cats left America for London. Within months, the trio became a sensation throughout the U.K., Europe and Japan. Still, two early albums, The Stray Cats and Gonna Ball, found their way to the U.S. only as imports. Then came the breakthrough: Built For Speed (1982) included three Top 10 hits (“Stray Cat Strut,” “Rumble In Brighton” and “Rock This Town”), reached #2 on the pop chart and was certified platinum. But the Big Band idea still percolated in Setzer’s head. On the tour bus, he’d listen to Gene Krupa and Bobby Darin, practice jazz chords, and imagine how his songs would sound arranged for a Big Band.

The gold Rant N’ Rave With The Stray Cats (1983) followed, as did Rock Therapy (1986), Blast Off! (1989), Rock This Town: Best Of The Stray Cats (1989) and Choo Choo Hot Fish (1992). Mixed in were Setzer solo efforts Knife Feels Like Justice (1986) and Live Nude Guitars (1988). He was also featured on albums from Robert Plant, Bob Dylan, Paul Rodgers and Ricki Lee Jones. Then came this crazy idea to do a new Big Band.

“I didn’t know how many records we might sell or gigs we might do, but I knew this was musically valid.” It wasn’t easy from a business standpoint; the cost of touring with such a large band is enormous, and, at the start, there was no radio airplay or music video exposure. The Brian Setzer Orchestra had to be built on word of mouth. “But once people saw us, they’d talk about us. If people hear us on the radio, they get it. We went from 33 people at a club to selling out L.A.’s Greek Theatre.”

All it took was creating a sound that had never been heard before. As Setzer puts it, “The music won.”

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