.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}


reports and thoughts on legal issues, music, Orthodox Christianity and/or whatever else strikes my interest

My Photo
Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"An Irreplaceable Loss"

Moscow, April 28, Interfax - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia conveyed his condolences to Galina Vishnevskaya whose husband, the great musician Mstislav Rostropovich died recently.

‘Our Lord has called to himself an outstanding musician of our times, and this is an irreplaceable loss for the whole world. As a great violoncellist and conductor, he achieved ultimate mastery in violoncello and enriched his repertory with many modern composers’ works,’ the patriarch said in his letter of condolences published by the Moscow Patriarchate’s official website.

According to Alexy II, Rostropovich was ‘a tireless social activist and a defender of human dignity and spiritual freedom.’

‘He proved his love for his country with his deeds. Under the Soviet regime, he was not afraid to stand up for Alexander Solzhenitsyn. It was a courageous step for which he paid together with his family as they were exiled for almost twenty years,’ the primate added.

By doing that, Rostropovich ‘clearly brought out his faithfulness to the high Christian ideals,’ he said.

‘Indeed he was a man of deep faith and selfless love,’ the patriarch noted.


Friday, April 27, 2007


Photo Source

A Legend has passed.

Mstislav Rostropovich died today at the age of 80.

A tribute to this great musician can be found here.

Composers who wrote works for Rostropovich included: Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Britten, Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Dutilleux, Khachaturian and Bernstein.

He was a vocal opponent of the Soviet government for which he was forced to live in exile for a number of years.

In his later years Rostropovich began a charitable foundation with his wife to help Russian children.

A moving video clip of Rostropovich performing the Prelude to the First of the Bach Cello Suites can be seen here.

'Slava' will definitely be missed.

May His Memory Be Eternal!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Request for Vioxx Retrial

This article has the details on a request for a retrial of the Plunkett Vioxx case based on allegations that an expert witness misrepresented his credentials.


Investigated Physician Surrenders Medical License

April 21, 2007, 8:16PM
Investigated physician surrenders medical license
Thousands of silicosis diagnoses are under question
Associated Press

HARLINGEN — A doctor who made thousands of questionable diagnoses of the lung disease silicosis has surrendered his Texas medical license amid an investigation by the Texas Medical Board.

Raymond A. Harron, 74, agreed last week to no longer practice medicine in Texas and not seek renewal or reissuance of the license he got 44 years ago. His Texas medical license expires May 31.

The board was investigating violations of the Medical Practice Act after federal court testimony in 2005 into thousands of silicosis diagnoses.

Judge Janis Graham Jack said she sensed "red flags of fraud" in the way he and other doctors diagnosed plaintiffs for lawsuits against mining and other companies.

Jack had been openly skeptical about the way lawyers recruit clients with billboards and TV ads telling people they could get compensation if they showed signs of silicosis, a degenerative lung disease caused by inhaling quartz dust.

After an Alabama doctor withdrew about 3,700 diagnoses during a hearing, Jack ordered doctors and screening companies in hundreds of cases to back up their diagnoses. Several more doctors also withdrew their diagnoses.

Harron testified to making positive diagnoses off X-rays that were taken by a screening company using mobile machines in parking lots. There were no doctors supervising the X-rays. Owners of the screening company said they were working for lawyers.

Harron said he did not physically examine any of the patients. He said his secretaries interpreted his X-ray readings into diagnoses letters that were rubber-stamped with his signature and mailed without his final read.

He also testified to making silicosis diagnoses in the same patients he had once diagnosed with asbestosis. Defense experts in workplace respiratory diseases said it is extremely rare for a person to have both diseases.

Harron also holds medical licenses in West Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Mississippi, California and Hawaii.

Jill Wiggins, spokeswoman for the Texas Medical Board, said all the states would be notified of the disciplinary action in Texas.

"This could very well affect his license in other states," she said.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Judge Rules on Texas Vioxx Cases

As noted earlier in this post, a Harris County Judge has issued a ruling which affects all Texas Vioxx cases.

This article from Law.com has the details.

The Judge's Order can be found here.


Documentary on 2006 All-Diaspora Council

Photo Source

A documentary film has been made of the IV All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia that was held in 2006.

This press release has the details as well as ordering information for the DVD.


Saturday, April 21, 2007


It's Springtime in Houston and that can only mean one thing...it's time for festivals...lots of them.

The final two weekends of April host an impressive array of festivals across the city. Some of the required festivals on my list include: the Crawfish Festival in Spring, the International Festival and the Mediterranean Festival.

The Crawfish Festival always offers an impressive music lineup. Last night I went there to see the triple-bill of the dedringers, Hayes Carll and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

I made it to the festival a few songs into the dedringers set. This was the first time I had seen them with a full band which added a new dimension to their sound. They played a good set but unfortunately there were some sound issues. Two of the three musical stages at the Crawfish Festival had been placed a little to close to each other and there was a lot of "bleed-over" from the nearby stage which always seemed to be featuring a particularly LOUD band. Still the guys valiantly played on and the numbers and appreciation of the crowd increased throughout the set. They played a number of songs including: "Dr. Jennings", "Heart of Gold", "Sweetheart of the Neighborhood", "I ain't Bad", "The Institution" and a cover of the early Townes Van Zandt song "Black Jack Mama".

Next up was Hayes Carll and the Gulf Coast Orchestra. This was the first time I had been able to see Hayes play the Crawfish festival which is always a home-coming of sorts for him. He related how he had grown up a few miles down the road and that during his teenage years he and his buddies would hang outside the festival gates and try and score beer. Hayes and the band put on a great show and played a number of songs from his first two cds as well as a few new songs. There were a few times during his set when you could hear a train siren from the nearby railroad as he was performing which was oddly fitting.

Finally...after much beer and funnel cake...Ray Wylie Hubbard took the stage. Ray was in his element and played a great set. He played a number of songs from throughout his career including: "Last Train to Amsterdam", "Conversation with the Devil", "Live and Die Rock and Roll", "Choctaw Bingo", "Screw You We're From Texas", "Name Droppin'" the obligatory "Red Neck Mother", and nearly all of his "animal" songs including: "Snake Farm", "Rabbit", and "Pole Cat".

I also couldn't help but notice that the local law enforcement seemed to be fans of Hayes and especially Ray's songs. : )


Mary Gauthier

Last Thursday night I was able to make it by the Mucky Duck to catch the second show of Mary Gauthier.

Mary Gauthier is an extremely talented singer-songwriter who was a late-comer to the music field. She wrote her first song at the age of 35. More info on Mary's background and life can be found here.

Mary's show was a very intimate and powerful performance. She opened her second show of the night with the song "Falling Out of Love" from her latest cd Mercy Now. She then performed a number of songs from her previous recordings including: "Karla Faye", "I Drink", "Camelot Motel", "Christmas in Paradise", "Mercy Now", "Wheel inside the Wheel" (inspired by the Biblical Book of Ezekiel, an old spiritual and Johnny Cash), and "Prayer without Words". She also included a few newer songs including "Can't find the way", "Sideshow" and a new song that she co-wrote with Fred Eaglesmith.

Mary also offered enlightening (and often humorous) introductions to some of the songs including the true story behind "Christmas in Paradise".

The highlight of the show for me was her performance of "Wheel inside the Wheel". Mary delivered an inspired performance of this song while forcefully strumming her guitar and singing...at times almost shouting...the words.

Some lyrics to Mary's songs can be found here.

Samples from her recordings can be heard here.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Texas Medical Board disciplines Doctor who provided diagnoses for Silicosis claims

The Texas Medical Board reports that Dr. Ray Harron has agreed to stop practicing medicine in the State of Texas.

Dr. Harron has been under investigation for his diagnoses of Silicosis that were used in a number of lawsuits.

The full press release can be found here.

It states that:

"On April 13, 2007, the Board and Dr. Harron entered into an Agreed Order pursuant to which Dr Harron agreed not to practice medicine in the period before his medical license expires, not to renew his medical license after it expires and not to petition the Board for reinstatement or re-issuance of his license. The action was based on allegations related to silica/silicosis litigation and Dr. Harron's determination and signature on x-ray findings of silicosis for numerous silicosis plaintiffs."

Earlier coverage can be found here and here.



Unfortunately I was not able to make it down to Crystal Beach last weekend for the Stingaree Music Festival.

HandStamp, however, did make it down for part of the festival and offers this review of the festivities. My favorite quote from the review is:

"Not 10 minutes here and someone is already naked? Carll's festival is already better than any other I've attended."

If nothing else, John Evans (viewer beware) apparently had a good time. : )


Florida Asbestos Attorney Agrees to Plea Deal

A prominent Miami plaintiffs attorney who was indicted on charges of fraud has accepted a plea deal that includes a 10 year prison sentence.

This article from Law.com has the details.

Earlier coverage can be found here and here.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Judge set to rule on Texas Vioxx Cases

This article from the Houston Chronicle has the details.

A Harris County Judge is set to issue an order later this week that could affect all Vioxx lawsuits in Texas.

The possibility exists that all of the cases would be essentially stayed pending clarification from the appellate courts on whether a 2003 tort reform law applies to Vioxx claims.

There are nearly 900 Vioxx lawsuits filed in Texas State Courts.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pascha at Jordanville

The audio excerpts even include a litany in (GASP!) English.

: )


Recent Vioxx Litigation News

A Securities Class Action lawsuit against Merck has been dismissed. Details here.

All of the Vioxx cases in Texas could potentially be dismissed as well. The Wall Street Journal has details here. (subscription required).


Friday, April 13, 2007

Stingaree Music Festival

This weekend marks the inaugural festivities for the Stingaree Music Festival in Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula.

The festival is the brainchild of Hayes Carll and hopefully will become an annual tradition.

You can check out the schedule here.

Directions can be found here.

Just find your way to Highway 87 and it's all good!

Go check out the first ever Stingaree Festival!



On Wednesday night I was able to attend the final dress rehearsal for Houston Grand Opera's new production of Verdi's Aida.

This is a new production by set and costume designer Zandra Rhodes. The cast for this production includes: Zvetelina Vassileva as Aida, Dolora Zajick as Amneris, and Marco Berti as Radames. At the final dress rehearsal Marco Berti was not feeling well and Dongwon Shin sang the role of Radames. Carlo Rizzi is the Conductor for this production.

This was the first time I had seen a production of Aida and I did not know a lot of details about the opera going in. The opera certainly has some beautiful music and I can see the reasons for its continued popularity. Still, I would not consider it to be one of my favorite Verdi operas.

Musically this production is very good. Dolora Zajick turned in a wonderful performance and is the real highlight of the production. I was also impressed with the singing of Zvetelina Vassileva (an artist who I had not heard of previously). Dongwon Shin did an admirable job of filling in on short notice for Marco Berti. There were a few truly impressive moments when he really displayed the power and depth of his vocal range. He is a performer to keep one's eye on. Carlo Rizzi also did a fine job of conducting and was constantly rehearsing the Orchestra and Chorus during the intermission and even after the performance. The Chorus, in particular, did an amazing job in my opinion. The choral responses during the temple scenes were sung beautifully. I could not help but be reminded of Russian Orthodox Choral music for some reason during these scenes. I will have to study the score for those sections and learn more about how Verdi composed them.

All that said, this is a production that is being billed primarily on the merits of its costumes and set design...and, unfortunately, I believe the results are a mixed bag. First off, I admit that overall the production was better than I had anticipated. I am really not a big fan of modern productions (or re-imaginings) of the standard Opera repertoire. I thought the costumes (which are VERY colorful) were done well and added greatly to the production. The production sets, on the other hand, I found to be too simplistic and mostly uninspiring. The ballet and the Triumphal March sections I found to be well done exceptions. The inclusion of the implied or "invisible" elephant was a highlight.

In general, I would recommend this production for the musical performances but not for the overall production. I am sure that these types of productions are meant to help draw in a younger crowd of first-time opera goers. Most of the younger audience members who sat near me, however, seemed pretty unimpressed with the costumes and sets.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Accutane Litigation

Law.com has this article on litigation involving the acne-fighting drug Accutane. The first Accutane trial is scheduled to start this month in Madison County, Illinois.


Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Laurus


Paschal Epistle Of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus

First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Christ is Risen!

Rejoicing in the Risen Christ, the Source and Fulfillment of our faith and salvation, I sincerely greet the Right Reverend Hierarchs, the all-honorable priests-concelebrants, and the God-loving children of the Russian Church Abroad, with the world-saving feast of Holy Pascha!

Paschal joy is first of all the joy of the Church. We each experience the Resurrection of Christ and we know that we must celebrate Pascha in a renewed state of soul in order to feel our own resurrection with the Lover of man, for only in this way is our participation in the feast expressed, as the Apostle Paul writes: For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (I Cor. 5:7-8). I wish everyone such participation in the celebration of Pascha, with the words of St. Gregory the Theologian: "Let your whole life be renewed, let all of your actions be renewed: thus a person is renewed in spirit, thus the day of spiritual renewal is honored."

The Lord creates each person as His friend; and this friendship becomes more close at the time of our baptism, when we enter His Church. Every person is a friend of God, as St. Lazarus is called in the Church hymns; and this friend of Christ has lived (been present) in each one of us, at one time or another: he has lived (been present?) through love, through constant prayerful communion and friendship with Him. Sometimes this has happened with people in their childhood, and sometimes later, but at sometime this friend of the Creator has lived in the heart of each of us. Over the course of time this friend in us dies.

Nevertheless, we do not become despondent, and in worshipping now the Resurrection of Christ, we worship hope, for when the Savior died on the cross, when it seemed that everything was finished and the tomb was sealed, it was then that the Lord resurrected.

Our hope is that there is no end for man, that each of us will resurrect not only in the future life, but also here on earth; that each of us can resurrect from the abyss of sin to a renewed, good, Christian life, for the Lord is stronger than death. He conquered it by His Resurrection and in the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus, and with our desire and active yearning for Him, He can perform this miracle in our heart, in our life.

While exchanging the Paschal kiss with you now, dear fathers, brothers, sisters, and children of the Russian Church Abroad, I prayerfully desire that this friend of Christ might resurrect in the heart of each of us, that we might be renewed and become better and draw near to our Risen Savior!

I greet all the God-preserved Russian people with a triple kiss, rejoicing that, although "Hell is king over mortal man, it is not for ever," as we read in the Canon on Holy Saturday. What do these words mean? This means that hell continues to exist, but, glory be to God, it will not reign forever over man, and everyone who actively strives for God, piously communes with Him in the Mysteries of the Church, and struggles with his weaknesses according to his strength, will be delivered from the power of hell thanks to the three-day Resurrection of Christ, will overcome the effects of the Soviet period, will be drawn towards Christ, will return to his historic roots, will be reborn and renewed.

May the holy New-Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who shed their blood which became the seed for the genuine rebirth of all the ends of the Russian Land, be our intercessors before God for this Paschal grace of renewal. To be included in the process of Her gradual rebirth, and to help in it—is our duty before God, the Church, and history. The saints who shone forth in our Russian Land and our pious forefathers, who lived according to the ideals of Holy Russia, summon all of us to this great work by their personal example. The much-suffering Russian people call all of us to this great work. The Risen Lord has called us to this work! May He strengthen all of us before the approaching events, which will serve for our resurrection with Him, and the establishing of peace and unity in the Local Russian Orthodox Church.

I prayerfully desire that all of you may spend these joyful days in health and prosperity, in spiritual joy, experiencing the mighty power of the Perfect Good and Divine Beauty, illumined by the Light of the Resurrection of Christ, Whom the darkness of this world cannot overcome!

Truly Christ is Risen!

With Paschal joy in the Risen Christ and asking your prayers,

+ Metropolitan Laurus

First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad

Pascha, 2007


Friday, April 06, 2007

Holy Week Hiatus

I won't be blogging over the next few days as Holy Week concludes, and in preparation for Pascha, the Feast of Feasts.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Houston Marchman at Anderson Fair

"Houston has thrown down the gauntlet that all other Texas songwriters will have to aspire to. The music is righteously cool, his lyrics are stellar." - Ray Wylie Hubbard

Last Saturday night I was able to hear Houston Marchman in concert over at Anderson Fair.

This was the first time I had heard Houston perform. I had only heard one or two of his songs going into the show. I was mostly going off some good recommendations I had heard about his music. Luckily I wasn't disappointed.

Houston was joined on stage by the very skillful guitarist Gabe Rhodes and Jessica Wilt on bass. Houston had a very relaxed stage presence and told some hilarious stories concerning the origins of a few of his songs.

The song list included: "Radio Flyer", "Working Girl", "Gorilla Pit", "Custer", "Greasy Hand", "Suzanne", "Cosmolene", "Plano Texas Girl", "Bill Longley", "Wheels", "Pump Jack Blues", "Wichita Falls", and of course, his best known song "Viet Nashville". Houston also played a number of new songs. Hopefully a new cd will be forthcoming soon.

All in all another very enjoyable show at Anderson Fair.

You can sample some of Houston Marchman's music here.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Upcoming Shows

4/1 The Gypsies at McGonigel's Mucky Duck
4/3 McKay Brothers at the Mucky Duck
4/5 Chip Taylor at the Mucky Duck
4/5 John Evans at Blanco's
4/6 Sean Reefer and the Resin Valley Boys at the Continental Club
4/7 Ray Wylie Hubbard at Armadillo Palace
4/7 Shake Russell at the Mucky Duck
4/7 The Hudsons at Anderson Fair
4/12 Hayes Carll at the Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe (Galveston)
4/13/14/15 Stingaree Music Festival in Crystal Beach (Bolivar Peninsula)
4/13 Clandestine at the Mucky Duck
4/13 Gary P. Nunn at Blanco's
4/14 Billy Joe Shaver at the Firehouse Saloon
4/14 Two High String Band at Anderson Fair
4/14 Sisters Morales at the Mucky Duck
4/18 Shake Russell at Puffabelly's (Old Town Spring)
4/19 Mary Gauthier at the Mucky Duck
4/20 Nickel Creek at Meridian
4/20 Clay Farmer at Armadillo Palace
4/20 dedringers/Hayes Carll/Ray Wylie Hubbard at Texas Crawfish Festival (Old Town Spring)
4/20 Greg Trooper at the Mucky Duck
4/21 Sean Reefer at Texas Crawfish Festival
4/22 Shake Russell at Texas Crawfish Festival
4/26 Audrey Auld Mezera at the Mucky Duck
4/26 Bleu Edmondson at Big Texas (Spring)
4/27 Solas at the Mucky Duck
4/27 Two Tons of Steel at the Firehouse Saloon
4/28 Gougers/Miss Leslie/John Evans at Texas Crawfish Festival
4/28 Kelly Willis at the Mucky Duck
4/28 Dale Watson at the Continental Club