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Posted: 10:20 a.m. Friday, Sept. 20, 2013

Barbara Cook, Melanie Chasteen, Pope Francis and more 


Photos of the Day, 05.15.13
L'Osservatore Romano
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis frees a dove during his weekly general audience in St. Peter Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. As Francis toured the square in his open-topped popemobile at his Wednesday audience with the public, someone at the edge of the crowd thrust a white bird cage at him. Looking puzzled, his security detail took the cage, containing a pair of white doves, and handed it to Francis. Without hesitation, the pope opened the cage door, thrust a hand inside and extracted one dove, and with a flick of his hand, sent the bird flying over the square.

MUSIC: I put this concert up there near Tony Bennett at ACL Live. Last night, Broadway, concert, cabaret and recording star Barbara Cook sang to an intimate audience seated on the Bass Concert Hall stage. At 85, she's still got it, singing mostly in a lower register jazz, blues and swing with a small combo. Before the set, Texas Performing Arts director Kathy Panoff said she'd been trying to book Cook for 20 years. Well, I've been longing to hear her in Texas for almost 50 years -- Cook's career goes back to the late 1940s. Kip and I sat in awe, just drinking in her exquisite phrasing, deep feeling and often silvery tones. (I cried. A lot.)

MEDIA: It's becoming one of my favorite things to do. We sit over coffee. Ask questions. Swap histories. Shoot the breeze. Years ago, I, like many reporters, felt like public relations folks were the enemy: Always at us with pitches that didn't fit what we needed, followed by complaints and anger when things didn't work out they way they expected. Not any more. Yesterday, Melanie Chasteen of the Center for Child Protection and I followed the more recent pattern of just having a conversation. Sure, some story ideas, such as profiling Dancing with the Stars Austin judge and KLBJ Sports personality Ed Clements, burbled up. But it was mostly just two people chatting about life. (Wisdom comes late.)

CITY: Just in time for today's flash flood watches. Reported by Ricardo Gandara in the Statesman: "Mike McChesney has lived in the Brentwood neighborhood in Central Austin for 16 years and never had a flooding problem. So he was surprised recently to get a notice from the city saying his home on Brentwood Avenue is now in the 100-year floodplain. “I thought about the economic impact,” he said. “It will cost me more to live here. I will have to get flood insurance.” McChesney is not alone. Three weeks ago, the city mailed out 11,000 letters to residents and businesses affected by the new floodplain maps. The boundaries didn’t change for everybody. But about 2,400 properties and 800 buildings have been added to the floodplain. Another 2,200 properties and 400 buildings were removed from it." http://shar.es/iLAu6  (Treat these maps like friends. It's Central Texas. It will flood.)

FAITH: I'm starting to like this Jesuit a lot. Reported by Nicole Winfield of the AP. "Signaling a dramatic shift in Vatican tone, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church had become obsessed by "small-minded rules" about how to be faithful and that pastors should instead emphasize compassion over condemnation when discussing divisive social issues of abortion, gays and contraception. The pope's remarkably blunt message six months into his papacy was sure to reverberate in the U.S. and around the globe as bishops who have focused much of their preaching on such hot-button issues are asked to act more as pastors of wounded souls. In interviews published Thursday in Jesuit journals in 16 countries, Francis said he had been "reprimanded" for not pressing church opposition to abortion in his papacy. But he said "it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time." http://shar.es/iLkEi (And not just because I graduated from a Jesuit high school.)

TECH: It's time for San Marcos to shine. Reported by Esther Robards-Forbes in the Statesman: "David Irvin stood in the small lab and carefully weighed a white powder that could hold the key to boosting the energy of Air Force jet fuel. The chemical breakthrough might have remained just a concept if Irvin didn’t have access to highly coveted, high-tech lab space and experts at Texas State University to help start-up firms like his get cutting edge ideas off the ground. The university opened the STAR Park — the acronym stands for science, technology and advanced research — less than a year ago, and the $7 million, 14,000-square-foot technology incubator is nearly full. Texas State officials, who hope the facility will put the university on the map as a technology innovator, already are planning to more than double that footprint with an $8 million expansion." http://shar.es/iLk3Z  (The whole region must look to the future like this.)