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

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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).

Monday, March 31, 2008

Photos from the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers

Local Houston area Clergy pray the Trisagion prayers for the reposed in memory of Metropolitan Laurus during the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers held at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church.

More photos from the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers at St. George can be found both here and here.


Upcoming Shows

04/01 - Moodafaruka @McGonigel's Mucky Duck
04/03 - The McKassons @ the Mucky Duck
04/03 - Doug and Telisha Williams @ Mojo Risin'
04/04 - Randy Weeks @ the Mucky Duck
04/04 - James Hand @ Blanco's
04/04 - Cory Morrow @ Big Texas (Spring)
04/04 - Shake Russell @ the Corner Pub (Conroe)
04/04 - Mickey and the Motorcars @ Firehouse Saloon
04/05 - Blaggards @ the Continental Club
04/05 - Jack Saunders @ the Mucky Duck
04/06 - Tommy O'Sullivan @ the Mucky Duck
04/08 - Owen Temple/Adam Carroll/Jason Eady @ the Mucky Duck
04/10 - Paula Nelson @ the Mucky Duck
04/11 - Alejandro Escovedo @ the Continental Club
04/11 - Bob Schneider @ Bend Studio
04/11 - Jimmy LaFave @ the Mucky Duck
04/11 - Stoney Larue @ Big Texas (Spring)
04/12 - Hayes Carll @ the Mucky Duck
04/12 - Sisters Morales @ Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe (Galveston)
04/13 - Flying Balalaika Brothers @ KTRU Outdoor Show (Rice Univ)
04/14 - Bruce Springsteen @ Toyota Center
04/16 - Son Volt @ Continental Club
04/17 - Aaron Watson and Jason Boland @ Big Texas (Spring)
04/18 - Will Kimbrough @ Bend Studio
04/18 - Dana Cooper @ Anderson Fair
04/18 - The Infamous Stringdusters @ the Mucky Duck
04/18 - 04/20 Stingaree Music Festival (Crystal Beach)
04/18 - 04/20 Texas Crawfish Festival (Spring)
04/19 - South Austin Jug Band @ the Mucky Duck
04/19 - James McMurtry/Jon Dee Graham at the Continental Club
04/19 - 04/20 - Houston iFest
04/20 - Bonnie Bishop @ the Mucky Duck
04/23 - Michelle Schocked @ the Mucky Duck
04/23 - Jesse Dayton @ Puffabellys (Spring)
04/25 - Steve Earle/Allison Moorer @ Verizon Theater
04/25 - 04/27 - Texas Crawfish Festival (Spring)
04/26 - Band of Heathens @ the Mucky Duck
04/26 - Houston Marchman @ Anderson Fair
04/26 - Carolyn Wonderland @ Dan Electro's Guitar Bar
04/26 - 04/27 - Houston iFest
04/27 - porterdavis @ Anderson Fair
04/29 -
The McKay Brothers/Idgy Vaughn/Brennen Leigh @ The Mucky Duck


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Vioxx Claims Deadline Extended

From the Houston Chronicle:

March 25, 2008, 5:43PM
Vioxx Deadline Extended
Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS — People who think their heart attacks or strokes were caused by the once-popular painkiller Vioxx and want early partial payments now have another month to file paperwork backing up their claims under a settlement with manufacturer Merck & Co.

Claims are still coming in to BrownGreer PLC, the Richmond, Va., law firm appointed to administer them, Merck lawyer Doug Marvin said Tuesday. And, he told U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, some law firms _ especially those with many clients registered for the settlement _ are still working on claims.

Merck has agreed to put off the claims deadline from March 31 until May 1, he said. The deadline remains July _ and possibly as late as October _ for those who don't want an early partial payment.

Robert Johnston, whom Fallon appointed to help people who have chosen to act as their own attorneys, said his office sent letters last week to 314 who had not yet filed required papers, and was sending "another 900-some" letters this week.

As of Monday, 58,571 people were listed as wanting to join the settlement, Orran Brown of BrownGreer told Fallon. However, he said, 8,690 weren't eligible because they claim Vioxx caused a medical problem other than stroke or heart attack, the conditions covered by the settlement announced in November 2007.

He said at least some paperwork had been filed by Monday for 50,004 claims. But 3,720 were ineligible because they want compensation for "other injuries," leaving 46,284 eligible.

He also explained a private Web site set up by his firm to let attorneys see what paperwork has arrived for each client, whether it is complete _ and, if not, what is needed. The site also includes a spreadsheet to calculate claims from the dates for and number of pills in a plaintiff's Vioxx prescriptions and free samples.

Each law firm can see only information for its own clients, and people representing themselves can see only their own information, he told Fallon.

Brown said about 49,000 people had been found potentially eligible, and more than 46,000 of them have sent in at least some of the required documents.

Those include authorization to check their medical records, an agreement to drop all claims against Merck, and a signed list of the specific claims being dropped. People who want "extraordinary injury payments" also must agree to let attorneys check their employment records.


Houston...We Have A Podcast

As Fr. John and Fr. Joseph have already mentioned there is a new podcast available via Ancient Faith Radio and the Orthodox Houston Clergy Association.

The new podcasts will feature sermons and talks from the local Houston area parishes on a rotating basis.

The first podcast is of Fr. John Whiteford's homily delivered at the Pan-Orthodox Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers held at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

The podcast can be heard here.


Slaid Cleaves - Quick as Dreams

One of my favorite songs of Slaid's. Performed with Michael O'Connor at McDavid Studio in Fort Worth, TX.

Slaid Cleaves

Friday night I saw Slaid Cleaves in concert at the Mucky Duck.

Slaid was joined by his long time collaborator Michael O'Connor.

The two performed a number of new songs that Slaid has written in the past year including a tribute to Don Walser. Slaid mentioned that he is in the process of recording a new cd.

Slaid and Michael also performed many of Slaid's earlier songs including: "Sinner's Prayer", "Broke Down", "Drinkin' Days", his version of Karen Poston's song "Flowered Dresses", "One Good Year", "Oh Roberta", "Millionaire", "Horeshoe Lounge", "Lydia", "Wishbones", "Quick as Dreams", "Horses", "New Year's Day", and "Dance Around the Fire".

Mark O'Conor also gave a solo performance his original version of "Devil's Lullaby".

Every time I see Slaid perform he just sounds better and better.
I'm eagerly awaiting a new cd!

More info on Slaid and samples of his music can be found here.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Probe Into Alleged Overbilling

From CNNMoney.com:

L.Tersigni Probe Alleges Overbilling
L.Tersigni Probe Says Overbilling by Firm Could Reach $10 Million

March 27, 2008: 05:49 PM EST

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - A court-ordered probe of L. Tersigni Consulting, an adviser in several high-profile bankruptcy cases, has found evidence that the firm's now-deceased founder defrauded companies out of millions of dollars through overbilling.

In a report filed Wednesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Bridgeport, Conn., the investigator said overbilling by Loreto Tersigni caused "significant financial damage" to companies that were in bankruptcy because of asbestos-related liabilities. The companies included Federal Mogul Corp. and W.R. Grace & Co.

The investigator, Hugh Ray of the Andrews Kurth law firm in New York, said the Tersigni firm's bills were padded by as much as 23 percent between 2002 and March 2007. He estimated companies could have overpaid between $5.5 million and $10.3 million.

"These actions injured creditors by harming the ability of the company to continue its operations, thereby resulting in a complete liquidation and further loss," Ray said in the report.

Anthony Tersigni, a lawyer who represents Loreto Tersigni's estate and his wife, Nancy, on Thursday denied that Loreto Tersigni defrauded the companies. Anthony Tersigni's firm also represented L. Tersigni before it filed for bankruptcy in November.

"These are allegations," he said in an interview. "If these claims are asserted we intend to vigorously oppose them, and we believe there are very strong defenses."

The Tersigni firm was an adviser to creditors who were pressing claims against bankrupt companies for asbestos-related injuries. Although the firm worked for the creditors, the companies were paying the bills.

The firm, founded in 2001, earned $45 million in gross revenue over its six-year lifespan, according to the report. During that time, Loreto Tersigni pocketed about 65 percent of that money, or nearly $30 million, as salary, 401(k) contributions and year-end profit distributions.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Independence Day

Today marks an Independence Day in the Balkans that I can actually support.

: )

The Greek War of Independence began on March 25, 1821.

This was the same year that the rare event of a Kyriopascha occurred in the Orthodox Church.

Today also marks the Feast of the Annunciation on the New Calendar which the Church of Greece follows.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Arvo Part gives a Master Class

Here is a video of Estonian composer Arvo Part giving a Master Class on his piece Fur Alina.


My favorite contemporary Orthodox composer. :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Funeral of Metropolitan Laurus

Photo Source

The website of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has posted a photo report on the Funeral and Burial services of Metropolitan Laurus.

All of the photos in the report can be viewed here.


Weiss Pleads

Mel Weiss of the power-house law firm Milberg Weiss agreed to plead guilty on Thursday to charges relating to a kickback scheme involving his firm.

This article from Law.com has the details.

The article also links to the plea agreement which can be viewed here.


Pannikhidas for Metropolitan Laurus

Photo sources here, here and here

"With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sighing, but life everlasting." - from the Pannikhida Service

The photos above were taken at the Pannikhida services served on Wednesday and Thursday for the newly-reposed Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.


Scruggs' Son Pleads

Richard "Dickie" Scruggs' son David Zachary Scruggs plead guilty to federal charges relating to judicial bribery on Friday.

This post from the WSJ Law Blog has the details.

The post also links to the Plea Agreement which can be viewed here.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Funeral of Metropolitan Laurus to be Simulcast

Link to Simulcast:



Wednesday, March 19, 2008

St. Patrick's Day at the Duck

Photo from last year's festivities (Source)

On Monday I dropped by McGonigel's Mucky Duck to enjoy some of their St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

The festivities were a tad bit early for this Russian Orthodox admirer of St. Patrick, as I have to wait several more days for his Feast to officially fall on my Church's Calendar. : )

With the holiday occurring during Great Lent it made it difficult to refrain from all the great-smelling food, but fortunately there is a Russian tradition of allowing beer during the Fast. So I did sample some Guinness and Strongbow Cider in honor of the Feast.

Out of the many bands and performers I was able to catch some of the performances by Wyndnwyre, the O'Maoileidigh Irish Dancers, the "Celtic" Gypsies, and Clandestine.


Former CEO of Biotech Firm Indicted for Fraud

The former CEO of InterMune has been indicted on fraud charges. The criminal charges relate to the CEO's promotion of a drug for uses other than those approved by the FDA.

This article from the Wall Street Journal has the details.

A press release from the Department of Justice can be read here.

A statement from the company in response to the charges can be read here.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gorbachev a Christian

Mikhail Gorbachev admits he is a Christian
By Malcolm Moore in Rome
Last Updated: 3:04am GMT 19/03/2008

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union, has acknowledged his Christian faith for the first time, paying a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi.

Accompanied by his daughter Irina, Mr Gorbachev spent half an hour on his knees in silent prayer at the tomb.

His arrival in Assisi was described as "spiritual perestroika" by La Stampa, the Italian newspaper.

"St Francis is, for me, the alter Christus, the other Christ," said Mr Gorbachev. "His story fascinates me and has played a fundamental role in my life," he added.

Mr Gorbachev's surprise visit confirmed decades of rumours that, although he was forced to publicly pronounce himself an atheist, he was in fact a Christian, and casts a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1989 in a new light.

Mr Gorbachev, 77, was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church and his parents were Christians.

In addition, the parents of his wife Raisa were deeply religious and were killed during the Second World War for having religious icons in their home.

Ronald Reagan, the former United States president, allegedly told his close aides on a number of occasions that he felt his opponent during the Cold War was a "closet believer".

Mr Reagan held deep religious convictions himself. However, until now Mr Gorbachev has allowed himself to express only pantheistic views, saying in one interview "nature is my god".

After his prayers, Mr Gorbachev toured the Basilica of St Francis and asked in particular to be shown an icon of St Francis portraying his "dream at Spoleto".

St Francis, who lived in the 12th century, was a troubadour and a poet before the spiritual vision caused him to return to Assisi and contemplate a religious life.

Even in his early days, St Francis helped the poor, once giving all of his money to a beggar. As well as spending time in the wilderness, he also nursed lepers and eventually became a priest.

"It was through St Francis that I arrived at the Church, so it was important that I came to visit his tomb," said Mr Gorbachev.

"I feel very emotional to be here at such an important place not only for the Catholic faith, but for all humanity."

He also asked the monks for theological books to help him understand St Francis's life.

Father Miroslavo Anuskevic, who accompanied the former Soviet leader, said: "He was not recognised by any of the worshippers in the church, and silently meditated at the tomb for a while. He seemed a man deeply inspired by charity, and told me that he was involved in a project to help children with cancer.

"He talked a lot about Russia and said that even though the transition to democracy had been very important for the world, it was very painful for Russia. He said it was a country which has a great history, and also a great spirituality."


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Today, the First Sunday of Great Lent, the Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy.

This Feast was instituted as a commemoration of the victory of the Orthodox over the Iconoclasts.

The troparion of the Feast states:

We worship Thine immaculate Icon, O Good One,
asking the forgiveness of our failings, O Christ God;
for of Thine Own will Thou wast well-pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh,
that thou mightest deliver from slavery to the enemy those whom thou hadst fashioned.
Wherefore, we cry to Thee thankfully:
Thou didst fill all things with joy, O our Saviour,
when Thou camest to save the world.

and the Kontakion states:

The Uncircumscribable Word of the Father was circumscribed when He took flesh of thee, O Theotokos;
and when he had restored the defiled image to its ancient state.
He suffused it with divine beauty.
As for us, confessing our salvation, we record it in deed and word.

A translation of the Synodikon of Orthodoxy, which is traditionally chanted on this day in Cathedrals and Monasteries, can be read here.

On a personal note, today's Feast was bittersweet due to the passing of Metropolitan Laurus. While I only met the Metropolitan on a few occasions his personal warmth and humility were readily apparent. He was a true Hierarch and Shepherd and led the Russian Church Abroad through a very turbulent period ending with the reestablishment of Unity within the Russian Church. In my opinion I do not think it is a coincidence that he reposed on this Feast.

This evening I attended the Pan-Orthodox Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers with Clergy and Laity from all the local Houston-area parishes participating. It was inspiring and heart warming to witness the brotherly love and unity exhibited during the service.

Most moving was the Trisagion service which was sung for the newly departed Metropolitan Laurus by the assembled Clergy and Laity from the Antiochian, Greek, OCA, Romanian, Russian and Serbian Churches.


+ Metropolitan Laurus (1928-2008)

Photo Source

His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, reposed this morning on the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy.

A biography of Metropolitan Laurus' life (compiled for the 50th Anniversary of his pastoral service) can be read here.

May his Memory be Eternal!


Friday, March 14, 2008

Scruggs Pleads


After a long day at work and a long evening away from home I get back late to find out about the guilty plea of Dickie Scruggs in his bribery case.

This article from the Houston Chronicle has the details.

I guess I should not be too surprised. The wiretaps were pretty damning in my opinion. Pretty risky to go to trial with that much evidence against him even though there were weaknesses in the government's case.

Folo has the pleas and reaction.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

$250 Million Settlement for Libby, Montana

Photo Source

W.R. Grace & Co. has agreed to a $250 million settlement with the Federal Government relating to the cleanup of asbestos at Libby, Montana.

This article from the New York Times has the details.

The press release on the settlement from the Department of Justice can be read here.

The Settlement Agreement can be viewed here.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Metropolitan Kallistos

On Saturday I had the rare privilege of hearing His Excellency, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia speak at a retreat held at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral here in Houston.

Metropolitan Kallistos is the author of what is probably the best known book in the West on the Orthodox Church. He has also written a number of other important books and aided in the translations into English of Orthodox writings such as the Philokalia, the Festal Menaion and the Lenten Triodion.

The theme of the retreat was on "The Orthodox Understanding of the Human Person".

Metropolitan Kallistos delivered two lectures and took open questions from those attending the retreat.

His first lecture was entitled "In the image and likeness of God: Offering our Whole Created Personhood - Body, Soul and Spirit - to the Creator". His second lecture was on "Transfiguring the Passions and Exploring the World of Dreams".

The retreat was very well attended with over 350 people who had registered for the event.

Metropolitan Kallistos is a true scholar but also has a very good sense of humor so his talks were anything but dry.

The Metropolitan touched on a number of different subjects throughout his talks and in answering questions. I wish now that I had taken notes while at the retreat. Some of the topics that I remember him discussing in addition to the specific themes of the retreat included: the differences between the Catholic conception of Purgatory and the Orthodox understanding of the mystery that takes place after our physical death, the Feast of the Transfiguration, the depiction of God the Father in iconography and the question of the possibility of ordaining women in the Orthodox Church.

One of the specific points made by the Metropolitan that struck me was his discussion of how Orthodox should answer the question "Are you saved?" from Protestants. His suggested answer was "By the Grace of God I trust that I am being saved."

He also made a comment at one point (while admonishing not to give in to despair or despondency) of something to the effect that people are all too often simply lazy and that people usually have the ability and capacity to accomplish much more than they think.

Another statement that struck me (in response to a question regarding the fate of mass-murderers and other clearly evil persons in the after-life) was that even these persons are made in the image of God. He stated that no matter how disfigured or distorted that image has become we must never fail to recognize that they (no matter how evil) are still made in the image of God even if this is hard for us to accept.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Battlefield Band

Seeing the Battlefield Band in concert at the Mucky Duck and drinking Belhaven Scottish Ale has become something of a tradition. I was able to enjoy this winning combination again Tuesday night when the band made a stop in Houston on its current tour.

The band put on a great show featuring a number of traditional Irish and Scottish tunes as well as many original compositions. Some of the highlights included: "My Luv's Like a Red Red Rose", "Ballad of Accounting", "I'm Going to Set You Free", "Road of Tears", and "Nancy's Whiskey".

More information on their new cd can be found here and their other recordings here.


Things Not To Say In A Deposition

If you are a witness in a deposition do not drop the F-bomb at least 73 times during your testimony.

If you are the attorney representing the witness do not "snicker" at the dropping of said F-bombs and fail to stop your client's behavior.

Otherwise it could cost you both $29,000. Judges tend to frown on that sort of thing.

This post from the WSJ Law Blog has the details.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Property for Parish

Glory Be To God!

After years of searching St. Jonah Orthodox Church has purchased a piece of property as a permanent location. This will ultimately allow for the construction of a proper Church building for services.

Details can be found here.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Shake Russell at Anderson Fair

Photo Source

Saturday night I saw Shake Russell in concert at Anderson Fair.

It's always good to see Shake perform. He was one of the first artists I posted a concert review on when I began this blog.

I had not been to one of Shake's shows in quite awhile so I decided not to pass this one up.

Shake was joined on stage by his band members Mike Roberts on bass guitar and Doug Floyd on mandolin. Mr. Floyd also doubled as the bartender before the show and during intermission which just goes to show what a unique venue Anderson Fair really is.

Shake and his band played a great concert as always. They played all of his best known songs from throughout his long career.

Some of the highlights included: "Hank Williams Moon", "Something in the West Texas Wind", "Deep in the West", ""You've Got a Lover", "My Acadian Angel", "Cowboy Coffee", "Today's the Day", "Travelin' Texas", "Dare of an Angel", "That Wandering Indian", "Gypsy Silver", "Starlight and Shoestrings" and "The Girl Just Loves to Dance".


ROCOR Delegation Visits Moscow

Photo Source

A delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia recently returned from a visit to Moscow.

The delegation was led by Metropolitan Laurus and included several Bishops, Priests and other clergy.

During the visit Metropolitan Laurus received the Compatriot of the Year award from the Moscow city government and addressed the World Russian People's Council and St. Tikhon's Orthodox University.

The delegation also visited many monasteries and other holy sites in the Moscow region.

Metropolitan Laurus' address at the Moscow awards ceremony can be read here and his address to the World Russian People's Council can be read here.

Photo reports can be viewed for the delegation's visits to: St. Catherine Representation Church of the OCA, Danilov Monastery, Sretensky Monastery, Christ the Saviour Cathedral, and the Martha and Mary Convent.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Upcoming Shows

3/01 - Shake Russell @ Anderson Fair

3/01 - Two Tons of Steel @ Armadillo Palace

3/01 - Sonny Boy Terry @ The Corner Pub (Conroe)

3/01 - Monte Montgomery @ The Mucky Duck

3/04 - Battlefield Band @ The Mucky Duck

3/05 - Pat Metheny @ Verizon Theater

3/07 - Adam Carroll @ Anderson Fair

3/07 - Joe Ely & Ryan Bingham @ Fitzgerald's

3/07 - Sideshow Tramps @ Dan Electro's Guitar Bar

3/08 - Ray Price @ The Crighton Theatre (Conroe)

3/08 - Carolyn Wonderland @ Dan Electro's

3/13 - John Evans Band @ Armadillo Palace

3/13 - Sean Reefer and the Resin Valley Boys @ Blanco's

3/14 - The Hudsons @ Anderson Fair

3/14 - Jesse Dayton @ Brennen Leigh @ The Mucky Duck

3/15 - Junior Brown @ The Mucky Duck

3/17 - Saint Patrick's Day @ The Mucky Duck

3/18 - Andy Stewart & Gerry O'Beirne @ The Mucky Duck

3/18 - Gogol Bordello @ Meridian

3/19 - Brennen Leigh @ Puffabellys (Spring)

3/20 - Reckless Kelly @ Big Texas (Spring)

3/22 - Tom Russell, Eliza Gilkyson, Ray Wylie Hubbard @ Crighton Theater Conroe

3/22 - porterdavis @ The Corner Pub (Conroe)

3/22 - Bruce Robison @ The Mucky Duck

3/28 - Slaid Cleaves @ The Mucky Duck

3/29 - The Belleville Outfit @ Anderson Fair

3/29 - Charlie Robison @ The Mucky Duck