Saturday, December 31, 2005

Year-End Wrap-Up

You know you're living in Austin when it's 77 degrees on New Year's Eve and you're watching little kids learn to ice skate on top of Whole Foods Market to the strains of AC/DC's "T.N.T." Our excuse for a winter wonderland is a little odd, but it sure beats having to shovel snow.

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Ron Titter Band debut on Thursday. It was a fun show and we're looking forward to doing more gigs next year. Special thanks to Attic Ted and Churchbus for sharing the bill.

Also, I found out yesterday that Ladies' Nite at the Continental Club raised $890 for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. That's a lot of flowers, kids! Thanks again to everyone who had a hand in that production.

I'll be spending New Year's Eve at David and Rachel Wyatt's annual house party. Good friends, sexy ladies, a cool buzz, and some Jackson 5 on the iPod is all I need to cruise on into 2006 like a pimp. Not a mean pimp, mind you, but a happy pimp. The kind of jovial pimp who's beloved by hos and johns alike.

I just hope I don't vomit in the bathtub again. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Trees is Falling

The venerable Dallas nightclub Trees is shutting its doors after one last show on January 1. The owners of the Deep Ellum music venue lost their lease to the building after declaring bankruptcy. Last week, a Dallas judge ordered Trees to vacate the premises no later than 3pm on January 2.

During its early Nineties heyday, Trees hosted all the up-and-coming alternative touring bands in addition to Metroplex favorites like Reverend Horton Heat, Baboon and the Toadies. Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer said Trees served a role similar to that of Austin's late Liberty Lunch.

Accordingly, the Observer ran a nice package of post-mortem Trees stories this week, including a must-read account of Nirvana's insane appearance there on October 19, 1991.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Titter Tonite

One more reminder that The Ron Titter Band plays for the first time tonight at 10pm at Room 710.

It's about time, too. David and I have been writing songs together for more than a year. I wasn't sure we'd start playing before 2005 ran out, but Ron willing, we made it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some Maalox to chug.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

No Fireworks for North Texas

We Texas and Oklahoma types are used to having the occasional grass fire when the rains don't come, but what's going on right now is an anomaly. It's not supposed to be this warm or this windy at the end of December. Wildfires jumping roads is something that happens in Montana, not suburban Arlington. Where's the next Woody Guthrie to chronicle these windswept infernos in song?

I don't know whether to blame God, Satan, Mother Nature, or some flap-happy butterfly in Mongolia, but whoever controls the weather is clearly still quite pissed off at us.

Mr. Butterfly, why do you hate America?!?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Triple Coupons Up to 75¢!

If you're a coupon clipper, now's a good time to head over to your friendly neighborhood Albertson's. From Tuesday through Thursday only, they're tripling all manufacturer's coupons up to 75¢.

Some restrictions do apply, but if everything works out, I'm going to make them pay me to buy deodorant!

Monday, December 26, 2005

R.I.P. Vincent Schiavelli

Actor Vincent Schiavelli died of lung cancer today at his home in Sicily. He was 57.

Schiavelli was one of those character actors you immediately recognized even if you didn't know his name. For years, whenever Hollywood needed to cast a menacing hangdown weirdo, Schiavelli was at the top of the list.

His best-known role was "Mr. Vargas," the Sanka-drinking biology teacher in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, who took his class on a field trip to the morgue.

More recently, he played washed-up kids TV star cum junkie hitman "Buggy Ding Dong" in 2002's criminally panned Death to Smoochy, uttering the memorable line, "Sorry if I smell like piss. You know how it is."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bloody Mary Christmas Morning

Today was a typical traditional Christmas day here in the Beets household. My folks woke up at 5am and I was awakened by them three and a half hours later with the strains of Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad" and my dad's attempt at blowing "Reville" on the bugle. For me, 8:30am is pretty good.

There are only three of us (four if you include Lucky the dog), so opening gifts doesn't take long even when we're leisurely and chatty about it. Once all the gifts are open, we have Bloody Marys. Because of an awful experience I had with Screwdrivers 18 years ago, Christmas is the only time of the year when I'll drink something with vodka in it.

I imagine things would be a lot less mellow if there were children around, but I'm pretty sure we'd still drink Bloody Marys.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Hickoid Holiday

My pal Jonathan Toubin from New York Night Train rolled into Austin last night, which was quite a nice surprise. We met up at Room 710 to see the Hickoids. It was a real old school show with lots of long lost friends in attendance.

The Hickoids played a great set, rolling out standards like "Queen of the BBQ," "Brand New Way," "Corn Foo Fighting," and, just in time for the holidays, "If You've Got the Whiskey, I've Got the Eggnog." I could've stood to have a couple more adult beverages in me to complete the effect, but I had to drive and wanted to remain reasonably presentable for today's family events.

After a somewhat sluggish start to the day, I'm now in Houston chilling at my folks' house. We're about to eat some of my mom's delicious King Ranch Chicken with my uncle and his family. Good stuff all around.

From all of us at Beetsolonely, best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah (but not in that creepy Fox News way).

Friday, December 23, 2005

Osama's Niece is a Babe

This is Wafah Dufour, a struggling model-musician in New York who happens to be Osama Bin Laden's niece.

While some relatives of the infamous conceal such familial linkages, Wafah knows the value of an irresistible talking point. As long as you're unfortunate enough to have an Uncle Osama, why not parlay it into a sexy photo spread for GQ?

For the record, Dufour has never even met her Uncle Osama and is just one among hundreds of distant Bin Laden kin. She condemns her uncle's actions, too.

"I want to be accepted here, but I feel that everybody's judging me and rejecting me," laments Dufour. "Come on, where's the American spirit? Accept me. I want to be embraced, because my values are like yours. And I'm here. I'm not hiding."

I'll accept you, Wafah. Who needs 72 virgins in heaven with a dish like this right here on earth?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

One Week 'til the Titter Drops!

Time once again for yet another shameless plug...

My new rock combo, The Ron Titter Band plays its first show ever one week from tonight (Thursday, December 29) at Room 710. We go on around 10pm.

After us, my old friend and former high school bandmate Kilian Sweeney's band Churchbus rolls in from Chicago. Some of you old school Houstonians might remember Kilian from deSchmog. The warbly weird masked barkers of Attic Ted headline the show.

We've started a MySpace site where you can hear demo versions of some of the songs guitarist/keyboardist David Wyatt and I wrote early on. Hopefully we'll get in a studio setting to do full band recordings before too long.

I'm not quite sure how to describe The Ron Titter Band. It's the first band I've done in awhile that doesn't have a concrete schtick, which is both scary and liberating. We're trying to write more fully-fleshed out songs and incorporate the occasional non-rock idiom (soul, folk, country, etc.) where appropriate. At the same time, we're still a bunch of goofy dorks who love a good fart joke.

For his part, Kilian says I've gone directly from the "adolescent venting" of the Peenbeets to "the misguided torments of a 'single for the third time' grown man."

Hey, maturity is maturity!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Santa: To Believe or Not to Believe

A query from a concerned agnostic parent about whether or not to do the Santa Claus with his daughter thing prompted a very interesting thread over at Ask MetaFilter.

Many of the initial posts equated promotion of the Santa myth with lying, but more nuanced arguments emerged later about what really constitutes "lying" to children. Others brought up the role of make-believe as a healthy component of child development and suggested too much realism might be just as bad as too much fantasy.

In any case, this thread took me from ambivalence to leaning toward Santa if I ever wind up having kids. Of course, I'm still ambivalent about having kids in the first place, so it may be a moot point.

My upbringing figures into this, too. I was raised with Santa and believed in him until I was about six. An older kid down the street told me he snuck out of bed on Christmas Eve and saw his dad putting "Santa's" gifts under the tree. After thinking about that for awhile, I gradually realized there was no way one guy could do all the stuff Santa was supposed to do in just one night. Then I asked my mom about it and she confirmed my suspicions.

I don't remember being particularly upset by this revelation. I also don't remember feeling any resentment toward my parents or anyone else for "lying" to me about Santa. My mom told me not to go around telling other kids who still believed that there was no Santa because it was mean.

Every year, there's a story in the paper about how some poor public school teacher (I've noticed this never happens at private schools) let it slip that there's no Santa. This year's story took place in Richardson, and while it's pretty clear the teacher intended no malice, the parental uproar that followed forced the school district to issue an embarrassing press release saying Santa talked to the teacher to prove he's real after all.

At that point, it's more about preserving the parents' lost innocence.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock 'N' Roll High School!

Rock 'N' Roll High School, one of my favorite movies ever, was re-released for the third time on DVD last week. The 1979 Roger Corman production was directed by Allan Arkush and starred P.J. Soles, Vincent Van Patten, Clint Howard, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel and, of course, the Ramones.

The first time I ever heard the Ramones was when Rock 'N' Roll High School aired on cable in 1981. I think I would've eventually discovered the Ramones anyway, but hearing their music against the backdrop of Soles' crush-worthy Riff Randell blowing up her high school certainly amplified their appeal at age 12.

In addition to being a very funny homage to the rock and roll movies of the Fifties, Rock and Roll High School's ironic positioning of Joey Ramone as teen heartthrob - an idea borrowed from John Holmstrom's Punk magazine comic - was geek empowerment at its best.

Likewise, the Riff Randell character is chock full of nascent riot grrlisms. Riff's undeniably hot for Joey, but rather than just making her a doe-eyed groupie, Arkush and screenwriter Richard Whitley imbue her with songwriting prowess (in the movie, Riff wrote "Rock 'N' Roll High School" for the Ramones). More importantly, she's the undisputed rebel leader of the entire school, a role traditionally held by males.

The new Buena Vista edition includes a new retrospective with interviews from Corman, Arkush, Howard, Marky Ramone and Dey Young, who played Riff's "straight" best friend, Kate Rambeau. There's also a new commentary track with Corman and Young. It's too bad they couldn't get P.J. Soles, who continues to be a prolific presence in the B-movie world, having appeared in Murder on the Yellow Brick Road and Pee Stains and Other Disasters just this year.

Arturo Vega's "official" Ramones Web site has some great "reunion" photos of the surviving stars from a prostate cancer benefit screening of Rock 'N' Roll High School that took place in July at Hollywood Forever cemetery, where Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone are buried.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Water Wars

In my quest to avoid drinking too much soda pop, I've taken to swilling an ungodly amount of sparkling mineral water. I usually go through four or five one-liter bottles every week.

Fortunately, our local epicurean supermarket concerns have kept up with my needs. First Whole Foods introduced its own 360 brand sparkling mineral water at 99 cents per liter. Then H-E-B came out with Central Market brand sparkling mineral water at the same price. Now Whole Foods has upped the ante by selling a six-pack of 1-liter bottles for just $4.99. The only catch is that the bottles are plastic instead of glass.

Where'ya at, H-E-B?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday at the Mall

For the Sunday before Christmas, the traffic at Highland Mall wasn't all that bad this afternoon. Perhaps that's because Highland is no longer the destination it once was.

It's not like they've let it all go to hell, though. The anchor stores (Foley's, Dillard's, JCPenney) are still there, as are most of the usual suspect stores like Foot Locker, B. Dalton and Hot Topic. Highland won't blow anyone away, but I'm not the kind of person who gets blown away by malls. I'm just glad it's close.

The Recliners were playing lounge music out in front of JCPenney, which was pretty fun. They did holiday tunes, of course, but the Recliners' meat and potatoes are easy listening covers of AC/DC, the Ramones and the like. I was surprised how well the mall acoustics suited their Rat Pack-style rendition of Radiohead's "Creep."

Highland also had a good mall Santa with a real white beard and everything. It was nice to see Santa as a bystander, but the line to sit in his lap was quite long and I was hella glad not to be in it either as a child or a parent. Being Santa must be a hard job. The germ thing alone would freak me right out.

Every mall in America has a Deck the Walls, but Highland Mall also has a place called Happy Arts. I can understand selling those office motivational posters that make me want to vomit a river of blood, but I can't figure out why a place called "Happy Arts" would sell pictures of the Last Supper, Ground Zero and veterans consoling each other at the Vietnam Memorial. That's not the sort of thing that ties your breakfast nook together.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ladies Nite Recap Part 2

Welcome back to the Ladies Nite recap. Our story picks up with the Texas Sapphires doing a stripped down hillbilly rave-up on Kool & the Gang's "Ladies Night." I was particularly happy they decided to do this song because someone just had to do it. In return, Brent Malkus made me promise to never yell out "Ladies Night!" at one of their shows (Gruene Hall, here I come!). They also played "Ladyfest" from their forthcoming Lloyd Maines-produced album.

Going from the Texas Sapphires to the Transgressors made a good transition. The latter band commingles rockabilly, spaghetti western soundtracks, and a rather dark shade of post-punk. It's a pleasingly provocative combination made even stronger by Chad Nichols' presence as a frontman. The Transgressors started with their own "Lady Caroline" followed by an old Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra chestnut I'd never heard before called "Lady Bird." Guest vocalist Laura Phelan handled the Nancy parts. They finished with Donovan's "Wild Witch Lady," yet another fine song I was unfamiliar with and now wish would've been included on the Donovan box set I had to slam a few weeks back.

Hilary York laid claim to Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" right when we started putting Ladies Nite together. Together with the Fire Marshals of Bethlehem(the first of four bands Hunter Darby played bass for), Hilary channeled the Isley Brothers' version of "Lay Lady Lay" and totally got down in the groove.

Then FMOB vocalist Julie Lowery returned with Aerosmith's "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" and it brought the house down. I was impressed with the way Jenny Smith played the horn parts on violin. I'm not a very intuitive shutterbug, but I think this photo of Julie conveys at least a sliver of how much fun it was.

In between bands, I awarded about 15 bucks worth' of prizes to people who correctly answered Lady Bird/LBJ trivia questions. My favorite prize was this colorfully framed photo of LBJ being sworn in aboard Air Force One. I figured it would be the perfect way to introduce tots to Texas history. After all, LBJ was the only U.S. president ever inaugurated on Texas soil. Yee-haw!

The Diamond Smugglers are always fun and spot-on musically. Neil and company delivered a great version of KISS' "Ladies Room" before bringing out the big gun - Styx' "Lady." The older I get, the more I appreciate how Styx was able to penetrate the bubble-scripted romantic aspirations of teen-age girls (okay, perhaps "penetrate" is a poor word choice) while retaining enough balls to bring the boys into the tent as well. So of course "Lady" was a highlight. I even got to dance with my high school smoking area friend Leah, which made the whole thing seem like a re-enactment of the closing scene from the pilot episode of "Freaks and Geeks."

Seth Tiven from Dumptruck did a somber-but-inspired take on Dylan's "Sad Eyed Lady Of the Lowlands." He played the whole thing and sang four sheets' worth of lyrics. Every time he'd finish a page, he'd fling it from the music stand onto the floor. It was altogether different in tone from the other acts, but I really liked what he did.

When I introduced the Barons of Stilton and said it was their first show, they quickly added it was also their last. If that's true, I hope at least one of the guys carries on that band name. My Noodle/Summer Breeze drumming buddy Lance Farley and I always shared an affinity for middle-of-the-road R&B even when our own music was completely removed from that, so it was great to see him sing the Commodores' "Lady (You Bring Me Up)."

The fiery rawk spectacular of the Rockland Eagles made them the natural closer. They were totally kicking ass with Black Sabbath's "Lady Evil" from Heaven and Hell when a short-lived but frightening scrum ensued in front of the stage. It was an unpleasant end to an otherwise wonderful evening and I felt bad the Eagles couldn't finish their set. I'm not going to get any further into it here, other than to say cooler heads eventually prevailed and no one was seriously injured.

Many thanks to all the bands, the Continental Club and our stage manager Jenny for making Ladies Nite an (almost) unqualified success. As soon as I know how much we raised for the Wildflower Center, you'll hear about it here.

And by the way, Hunter and I are already talking about doing Man's Nite.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Ladies Nite Recap Part 1

Despite some Afghan Whigs-flavored closing time ugliness, Ladies Nite was quite a show. Lots of good performances and plenty of love for the Lady Bird. Here is a brief photo recap:

Friends of Lizzy started our marathon night off with what I believe was a Scott Weiland "lady" tune, but I could easily be wrong about that. The fact that Hunter Darby yelled "CHEAH!" at song's end is a good indication I'm at least in the ballpark, though.

Next up were the Daylight Titans, who played a slightly malevolent version of the Little River Band hit, "Lady" bookended by Cheap Trick's "Hello There" and "Goodnight Now" (as in, "Good night now, ladies and gentlemen!"). I'd ordered 20,000 screaming Japanese girls to complete the effect, but they got hung up in customs.

I knew Gretchen Phillips would do something unique for Ladies Nite and she did not disappoint. First she unveiled her new disco hit, "The Lusty Lass Is A Lucky Lady," then she brought my Ron Titter Band compatriot Andy Loomis to the stage to play a moving rendition of "Special Lady at the Waffle House." Next to the James Brown-styled "I Like What I See At the Waffle House" and "Waffle Doo-Wop," "Special Lady" is my favorite Waffle House jukebox song. Gretchen closed with a harrowing version of Kenny Rogers' "Lady" as done by a crazy woman who believed songwriter Lionel Richie had stolen it from her. Sheer conceptual joy.

I played next with the Dead Motley Sex Maidens and sultry sirens Julie Lowery and JenBB on backing vox. We did Tom Jones' "She's A Lady," KISS' "Parasite (Lady)," and the Corneilius Brothers' "Treat Her Like A Lady." Julie and Jennifer really brought the whole thing together and the band played great. All I had to do was remember the words, hit the ol' cowbell on the beat a few times and thrust my pelvis to and fro. Sadly, I forgot to hand off my camera, so there are no photos of us.

Masonic did a buzzingly good version of the Velvet Underground's "Lady Godiva's Operation" with vocalist Eryn nailing Nico's ice princess vibe to a tee. Then they totally shifted gears with LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade." They even snuck in a tune from their upcoming third album. I took it on faith that "lady" was in there somewhere.

Jeez, it's 11:30. I suppose I should finish my coffee, put my liver on overtime with some ibuprofen, and get my ass into work now. Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of "Ladies Nite Recap," only on Beetsolonely.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ford Backs Away From AFA

Looks like Ford now realizes the American Family Association doesn't carry that much water after all.

After last week's pile-on of negative publicity, Ford has decided to start running ads for all its luxury brands in gay publications. Before they were only advertising Land Rovers and Jaguars.

This is nothing more than good business sense at work. If you're selling luxury goods, you'd be a damn fool to piss off the gay market just to placate a bunch of backwards-thinking religious bigots. Still, it's nice to see a company change course after being ratted out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tomorrow is Ladies Nite!

Don't you dare forget to celebrate Lady Bird's 93rd birthday at Ladies Nite tomorrow at the Continental Club.

The show kicks off at 9pm, so get there early. The first 25 ladies through the door will receive a free small box of chocolates. I mentioned this to a young lady at a holiday party the other night and she asked if it was Russell Stover or Godiva chocolate.

"If it was Godiva," I replied, "I would've said it was Godiva."

Actually, it's a mix of Russell Stover and Whitman's Samplers.

The line-up of bands singing nothing but songs with the word "lady" in them now includes Friends of Lizzy, the Daylight Titans, Gretchen Phillips, the Dead Motley Sex Maidens, Masonic, the Texas Sapphires, the Transgressors, Fire Marshals of Bethlehem with Hilary York, the Diamond Smugglers, Dumptruck, Barons of Stilton, and the Rockland Eagles.

I'll be doing a few "lady" songs myself with the Dead Motley Sex Maidens. Ably handling the backing vox are Julie Lowery from the Fire Marshals of Bethlehem and Felt Up's own JenBB.

I'm psyched so many bands have signed on. It should be a really fun show, and all door proceeds benefit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Who can argue with that?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Protecting My Filth From Children

I’m so sick of hearing people whine about how we have to protect children from what’s on cable television. Unlike over-the-air channels, cable is something you voluntarily pay to have come into your home. The reason I continue to pay ever-escalating cable bills is specifically to circumvent the puerile indecency standards of American broadcast television. If you don't like what's on cable, you don't have to buy it.

Moreover, the tools to keep children safe from shows or channels you don’t want them watching are already there. You can probably learn how to use them in less than 20 minutes if you read the directions. If you’re too stupid or too lazy to figure out how to block objectionable programming using the V-chip or your cable box, your children should probably be placed in foster care or sent to Russia.

While it’s true the more enterprising kids will figure out a way to see exploding heads and bouncing bosoms regardless of V-chips, at least they’ll have to work to see it and they’ll watch with the tee-hee knowledge their parents don’t approve. That alone can go a long way toward steering them clear of moral degeneracy.

In order to avoid further regulation, the cable industry has proposed creating a “family tier” of channels that no one will buy. Predictably, this isn’t good enough for the Parents Television Council. That’s because groups like the PTC use children as pretty little bumper ornaments to disguise their real goal of regulating what adults read, watch and listen to.

Nevertheless, I’m all for consumer choice. As long as we’re going to be creating a “family tier” at the behest of the religious right, how about a “godless tier” for those of us that don’t want our cable bills subsidizing dominionist wankers like Pat Robertson?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Supremes to Reexamine Texas Redistricting

I’m cautiously heartened by the Supreme Court’s decision to review the constitutionality of Tom DeLay’s 2003 gerrymandering that divided Austin into three congressional districts extending from Midland to Houston and all the way down to Mexico.

The court’s review comes on the heels of revelations that Justice Department staff lawyers who said DeLay’s map violated the Voting Rights Act were overruled by Bush appointees. To make sure that doesn't happen again, our Justice Department has banned staff lawyers from issuing such opinions in the future.

Whether the court would overturn a congressional map, however discriminatorily drawn, after it has already been used in an election is anybody’s guess, but anything that keeps DeLay’s name where it belongs - down in the gutter alongside used condoms and blood-flecked loogies - can’t be all bad.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Farewell, Richard

We lost a good one yesterday when Richard Pryor left us at age 65.

With all due respect to Lenny Bruce, the most far-reaching, influential, and revolutionary voice in American comedy was Pryor. He was one of our greatest all-time shit-shakers, right up there with Twain and Mencken. But even as Pryor lobbed "motherfuckers" around with Olympic grace (will anyone ever put that term to better use?), he never let cynicism completely overwhelm his humility.

The title of Desson Thomson's well-done Washington Post appreciation - "So Funny It Hurts to Laugh" - kind of says it all.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Low-Flying C-130 Buzzes Austin

I was out taking my regular morning stroll across the Austin State Hospital campus yesterday when I noticed a large military aircraft making a controlled but highly irregular descent toward the western edge of downtown. The plane quickly dropped below my line of sight and I wondered if maybe I wasn't just seeing things. Then he came barrelling back upward toward the northeast and flew away.

Fortunately for all of us, this wasn't some insurrectionary psychotic aviator taking aim at the Frost Bank Nose Hair Trimmer. It was a C-130 support aircraft for the Blue Angels with FAA clearance to do a low flyover. The Statesman didn't report the occasion for the flyover, which strikes me as sort of odd.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Invincible Nutcracker

These are the Invincible Czars. They may look a little out of their minds in this photo, but they're actually very nice boys from good families who play art rock without forgetting how to roll.

Last year, I saw the Czars perform the Nutcracker Suite at the Church of the Friendly Ghost. It was a packed house and they sounded great. My patience for Christmas music usually starts to wear thin around noon on the day after Thanksgiving, so it was seasonally refreshing to see them reinterpret Mr. Tchaikovsky in a fresh new way.

If you've had it with being constantly bombarded with the same old holiday spirit, go see the Invincible Czars do their Nutcracker thing this weekend. On Saturday, they're doing "dance-along" shows at 2pm (kids) and 8pm (all ages) at the Austin Boys & Girls Club, 303 W. Johanna. Costumes are encouraged. Then on Sunday, they're doing a more traditional performance at Ruta Maya, 3601 S. Congress. The Czars play at 8pm, followed by the Golden Arm Trio's Christmas show at 9pm.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ice Storm 2005: The Update!

Braving over two miles of not-so-treacherous surface roadery, I drove in to work at 10am only to find out my government agency made a last-minute decision to close for the day.

No big deal for me, but it sucked for the people already in transit from places like Leander and Georgetown. It's hard to stay mad when you get to turn around and go home, though.

Ice Storm 2005!

Ice storm fever (how's that for an oxymoron?) has gripped our fair city by its grapes this morning. Schools and businesses alike have delayed their openings until 10am and my dental appointment was canceled. It's pure animal madness here. I just had to kill an old lady across the street for her melba toast.

In better news, the Albertson's circular arrived yesterday with a coupon that enables you to buy 10 boxes of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, 10 cans of Progresso soup, or 10 bags of Lay's potato chips (among other things) for just $1 each. But don't brave the freezing roads just yet - this sale doesn't begin until Friday.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ford Lied About Deal to End AFA Boycott

In 25 years, will there still be an American auto industry? I ask this question because none of the Big Three seem to have a clue at how to rapidly respond to the needs of consumers. Aiming for the steadily-eroding goodwill demographic that buys an American car regardless of foreign competition is no way to increase market share. The only way I’ll ever buy another American car is if they build an economical car that matches or surpasses Japan’s output for long-term reliability.

And now we have Ford pulling ads for Land Rovers and Jaguars from gay publications, quite possibly at the behest of the American Family Association. The AFA, led by longtime fundamentalist busybody Donald Wildmon, started a boycott of Ford in May because they felt the company was too gay-friendly, offering benefits to same-sex couples and such. On November 30, Wildmon called off the boycott, saying, “we feel that our concerns are being addressed in good faith and will continue to be addressed in the future.”

Ford initially denied making a deal with AFA to end the boycott, but further investigation by John Aravosis at AMERICAblog revealed two Ford executives with ties to the Bush Administration went to Tupelo, Miss. on November 29 to meet with AFA leaders. This meeting resulted in the boycott being called off. The smoking gun is this seemingly innocuous article published in, a industry trade rag.

You'll also notice Dallas-area dealer Jerry Reynolds is mentioned as one of the architects of the Ford/AFA agreement. Reynolds owns the Prestige chain of dealerships, and is apparently doing what he can to carry on the John Birch-flavored legacy of Big D aristocrats like H.L. Hunt. Would you buy a used car from this man?

"The dealers are basically our kind of people who share many of our concerns," Wildmon notes.

Our kind of people, eh?

Until Ford finds some new friends, they can kiss my Honda-driving ass.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hey, Cookies!

Last night, I found myself with a jones for sweets that could not be denied. Popsicles weren't doing the trick, so I moseyed on up to the neighborhood H-E-B.

They had two 20-count packages of Nestlé Toll House "Break-N-Bake" chocolate chunk cookies on sale for just $4. That seemed like a good enough deal.

Then I noticed another Toll House cookie package came affixed with a $1 instant coupon if you bought two. I got out of there with 40 cookies for just $3. Clearly that's far too many cookies for one man.

Furthermore, Nestlé has a long history of promoting infant formula in Third World countries to low-income mothers who don't have access to clean water. But when they're practically giving cookies away, what choice do you have?

I broke, I baked and I ate.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Charlie Brown Christmas Turns 40

A Charlie Brown Christmas will air for the 40th time this Tuesday at 8/7 Central on ABC. I wish it still aired on CBS, prededed by the exciting "CBS Special Presentation" musical bump. I also wish it was interspersed with spots for Zingers and other neat-to-eat treats from Dolly Madison.

Before TiVo, DVDs, cable and VCRs, the airing of Christmas specials was something to plan an evening around. Especially this one. The lump in my throat when Linus reads the story of Jesus' birth from the Book of Luke gets bigger every year.

Next to Phil Spector's Christmas album, Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite music of the season. The fact that Guaraldi, who passed away in 1976, is not on trial for murder nudges him even closer to the top spot.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

South Africa Legalizes Gay Marriage

Remember South Africa? The oppressive country whose apartheid policies made them the scourge of the thinking world up until about 15 years ago? Well, now their high court has gone and legalized same sex marriage.

This is a bold move on a continent where many religious leaders openly call for gays to be stoned to death. Unlike the United States, South Africa expressly prohibits discriminating against someone on the basis of sexual orientation in its 1996 constitution.

When it comes to same sex marriage, South Africans now have more freedom than Americans do. Think about that next time you hear that stupid Lee Greenwood song.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Dick Van Purina

Actor Dick Van Patten, loved as the father on Eight is Enough and reviled as the death doctor in Soylent Green, is vying to become the George Foreman of dog food with Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Eatables for Dogs.

The food comes in several flavors, including Irish stew, Chinese takeout and hobo chili. Van Patten illustrated Natural Balance's great taste by chowing down on some for the cameras at a recent media launch party.

It's always sad to see America's senior citizens reduced to eating dog food, but at least Dick's getting paid for it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Coming Soon: Love to Missouri

A significant pillar of the Wright Amendment toppled Wednesday when President Bush signed a bill opening Dallas' Love Field to passenger flights to and from Missouri. Southwest plans to begin nonstops from Love to St. Louis and Kansas City as soon as they can reposition the aircraft.

In response, American has already slashed fares between its D/FW Airport fortress hub and Missouri. They will also be reactivating three Love Field gates to go head-to-head with Southwest. American last competed against Southwest from Love in 2001 on the Dallas-Austin run, but 9/11 put an end to that. The coming dogfight is particularly welcome news for beleaguered St. Louis, a former hub that has seen significant service reductions since TWA was absorbed into American.

Ultimately, the key to dismantling the anti-competitive Wright Amendment is eliminating the restriction on through-ticketing from Love Field. Although you can now fly from Love to St. Louis, Southwest still can't ticket you through to Chicago.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Oh Yes, It's Ladies Nite!

If you love the ladies and you love the flowers, you’re really gonna love Ladies Nite on Thursday, December 15 at the Continental Club.

To celebrate Lady Bird Johnson’s 93rd birthday this month, Hunter Darby (Wannabes, Diamond Smugglers, Dung Beatles) and I are putting on a Hoot Nite-style jamboree with lots of bands singing songs with the word “lady” in them. Expect to hear hits like “Lady” by Kenny Rogers, “Lady” by Styx, and, of course, “Lady” by the Little River Band.

All proceeds will benefit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I suppose one of us should let them know that.

So far, we've got the Diamond Smugglers, the Texas Sapphires, the Fire Marshals of Bethlehem, the Rockland Eagles, Gretchen Phillips, and the Daylight Titans.

Although the TCB blurb in today’s Chron might imply Summer Breeze is playing, that is not the case. Instead, I’ll be belting out a few tunes with the DeadMotleySexMaidens, the live karaoke band helmed by my old Peenbeet comrade Chepo Peña. As always, the whole damn thing is subject to change.

Why are we doing this? I’m not entirely sure. Unlike most schemes hatched over pints at the Dog & Duck Pub, this one somehow sprouted legs.