Monday, January 31, 2005

Delta Closes DFW Hub

Today is a sad day at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport as Delta Air Lines finishes closing its long-time hub operation there. While Delta hasn't been able to compete effectively with American Airlines at DFW for many years, at least they provided a modicum of choice for Texas travelers. With bankruptcy looming just over the horizon, Delta really had no choice but to shift resources out of DFW to fortify its less-competitive hubs in Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Cincinnati.

Though the difference between American and Delta is slight, I always found service to be a little better on Delta. Unfortunately, it's hard to fly them out of Austin these days without winding up on a cramped regional jet. Those are okay for a short hop to DFW, but going all the way to Salt Lake City could get tedious. Hopefully they'll bring back some more mainline jets if the economy shapes up.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Ray Peterson and the Teen Tragedy Song

In reading through the Sunday obituary page today, I found out Ray Peterson died of cancer last Tuesday at age 65 or 70 (some say he subtracted five years from his age for publicity purposes). Born in Denton, Texas and raised in San Antonio, Peterson had his biggest hit in 1960 with the teen tragedy epic, "Tell Laura I Love Her."

In the song, Tommy is an earnest young man who desperately wants to buy Laura a fancy wedding ring, so he enters a stock car race to win a $1,000 jackpot (remember, this is 1960). Instead, Tommy flips his car and it bursts into flame. With his final breath, as the rescuers pull his charred, twisted, dying body from the blackened wreck, Tommy says to tell Laura he loves her. In the third and final verse, Laura tearfully prays alone in the chapel and Tommy's disembodied voice comes to her to profess his love one more time.

"Tell Laura I Love Her" wasn't the only blockbuster teen tragedy song with Texas roots. San Angelo's J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers had a number two hit in 1964 with the woeful car crash tale, "Last Kiss." Written by Wayne Cochran, the song was based on a real-life tragedy where three teen couples were killed after their car collided with a truck in Georgia. While promoting "Last Kiss," Wilson and his band were in a car wreck themselves that claimed the life of their manager. Shortly after the wreck, Wilson appeared on "American Bandstand" and lip-synced the song on crutches. While "Last Kiss" was Wilson's one and only hit record, he did rack up an impressive eight marriages before dying in 1991 at the age of 49.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

What To Do?

Last night's happy hour at Dog and Duck gave way to an electric, jam-packed rock show at Trophy's with the Rockland Eagles, the Good Looks, the Black Angels and the John Sparrow.

I wound up missing the always-entertaining Rockland Eagles because the smoke, the pints and the fish and chips were starting to team up on me. It was my first time to see the other three bands. The Good Looks have a commanding stage presence, shaking tambourines and bouncing off of each other. Their style might be described as garage rock meant to be played in big halls. Their first few songs didn't grab me, but the Looks got better as the night progressed. I definitely want to see them again.

The Black Angels sounded like the Velvet Underground mixed with Clinic. I believe they said their bassist was sick, which means this probably wasn't a "normal" set for them. Their sound was intriguing, but frankly, I prefer to wrap my head in this quasi-cerebral drone in a non-club setting. I just heard "Black Grease" on their site and found it to be the perfect soundtrack for a dull, gray Saturday afternoon at home. I mean that as a compliment.

I only saw three or four songs by the John Sparrow. Watching this Houston quintet made me feel like I'd stumbled back in time to 1979 L.A. in the midst of power pop's heyday. I could imagine them playing between the (Paul Collins) Beat and the Last. I wish I'd seen more of their set.

There's too much going on tonight. The Yuppie Pricks are celebrating the release of their Alternative Tentacles CD at Emo's with Young Heart Attack and the Put Downs. America is Waiting and the Arm are at Beerland. Castlesiege, featuring my longtime drummer buddy Lance Farley and Russell Porter from the Fuckemos, is playing at Room 710 with Hunt Sales and Suplecs. The Sapphires are at the Longbranch Inn, Low Line Caller is at the Ritz, and I found out last night that the Ugly Beats are performing "Bad Girl" by Corpus Christi's legendary Zachary Thaks at the Carousel Lounge tonight with that band's lead singer. With so much to choose from, I may wind up just staying home to catch up on my TiVo'ed "Seinfeld" reruns.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Strip Club DJs and a Good Deal On Oranges

Surely I'm not the only man out there with a latent fantasy about being a strip club DJ. Oddly enough, the prospect of hooking up with multiple strippers has nothing to do with mine. Instead, I put the "last night a DJ saved my life" motif into action by playing father figure, diligently helping the T-back clad ladies I spin for out of harrowing addictions and destructive relationships.

A quick peep at Zac Crain's enlightening exposé on Dallas-area strip club DJs in this week's Dallas Observer shows this ridiculous rescue fantasy to be just as delusional as the ones harbored by customers. Nevertheless, I found a new role model to aspire to in the Clubhouse's Dr. Rock, a motor-mouthed, feather-headed fiftysomething who's been DJ'ing at strip clubs for almost two decades. Perhaps there's still time for me yet.

Right now, I'm going to forgo the obvious boob segueway to mention H-E-B's very good deal on large California navel oranges for 39 cents a pound. While not as sweet and juicy as Florida's Indian River oranges, these suckers are as big as small grapefruits and filling enough to be meals in themselves. Sale ends this Tuesday.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Valentine's Day CDs

Now that every dinosaur act from America to the Moody Blues has cashed in with an extra-slight Christmas album, the music industry turns its big green eye toward another effortless permutation of holiday repurposing: the Valentine's Day "love song" compilation.

I can totally see why you might spend days making someone you love a Valentine's Day mix, but even a life-long music dork like me can't fathom a less sexy gesture than presenting the object of your affection with a shrink-wrapped compact disc from Best Buy. Nevertheless, the number of V-Day albums continues to grow, so it must be working for someone. This year's bumper crop includes albums by Chicago, Dionne Warwick, Nina Simone, Neil Sedaka and Air Supply.

The latter is especially confounding. Wouldn't any Air Supply album qualify as a "love song" compilation? Aside from their unreleased 1991 comeback single, "Heart On A Stick" b/w "Die Bitch Die," there's nothing in Air Supply's catalog that doesn't lend itself to sipping brandy on a beanbag by the fireplace, walking along the beach at sunset, or doing anything else loving couples do when posing for Cialis ads.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2004

It's a little late for year-end lists, but my friend Kent sent me this wonderfully acerbic letterbomb from Buffalo's The Beast counting down the top 50 most loathsome Americans for 2004. In addition to listing each loathsome person's crimes against the greater good, the list helpfully suggests a custom-built poetic punishment for every offender. This is just the sort of laughing mad snot rocket I'd expect to be hocked forth from the city where President McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

"The Audio Kitchen"

When I was a kid, I entertained myself for many hours by yammering into a tape deck as though I was on the radio. It was sometimes a lonely pursuit, but I now know I was just one of many closet entertainers playing to an audience of none. Otherwise, there's no way a real radio program like WFMU's "The Audio Kitchen" would've come into existence.

Aired for 16 weeks in 2003, "The Audio Kitchen" played found homemade recordings of fake radio shows, discarded demos, religious sing-alongs, audio letters between teen-agers, bitter divorcees drunkenly talking smack about their ex spouses and much more. Host The Professor gathered an entertaining array of aural detritus from thrift stores, garage sales and an informal network of found sound traders. It's a cheeky thrill indeed to eavesdrop on the slivers of detatched lives represented in these recordings.

Click here for the Real Audio archive of "The Audio Kitchen."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Goodnight, Johnny

Chepo and I appeared on Carson back in 1981, performing one of our naughty sailor songs to promote an upcoming engagement at the Westward Ho. We got the coveted "wave over" and life was good, but Johnny refused to have us back after learning I'd complimented Stefanie Powers on her "dynamite cans" in the green room. He may have been kingmaker, but not all were made kings...

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Why You Say Pong

Whenever a Red River regular like Pong plays the Continental Club, it's always a little like the kids taking over something normally reserved for adults. Or maybe I'm just stuck in a "loyal opposition" mindframe from growing up listening to punk rock. Either way, Pong rocked the house last night, setting off a mad dancing frenzy in front of the stage as they always do. The CD release show for their second album, Bubble City, is on February 19 at Room 710.

Cat Scientist was also pretty incredible, garnering a rare opening act encore. They're danceable like Pong, but instead of a full-on rock groove, Cat Scientist plays around with kooky samples and guitar riffs that seem to take cues from 70s and 80s Afro-Pop. If the Talking Heads started 30 years later in Texas instead of New York, they might sound a bit like this.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Two Tickets to Paradise?

Once again, a nasty stomach virus strikes a cruise ship, turning at least 250 vacations of a lifetime into nightmares. The Norwalk-like virus aboard Royal Carribean's Mariner of the Seas has been traced to a passenger who was sick prior to the cruise but probably wasn't too thrilled about flushing a non-refundable cruise ticket down the bog along with his or her lunch. The stricken ship discharges its 3,465 guests at Port Canaveral, Florida tomorrow.

It's stories like these that keep me the hell away from cruise ships. I think I'd enjoy the nonstop food and plethora of on-board activities quite a bit, but my barely-repressed emetophobia would get the best of me if people started barfing left and right (not to mention up and down). Even a minor outbreak of seasickness among fellow passengers would probably be enough to keep me in my cramped interior cabin for the rest of the trip. That's a lot of SpectraVision, people.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Ant Farm

So long as we're on the subject of Houston, Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston just opened an exhibit celebrating the provocative, multi-disciplinary work of the Ant Farm. Conceived by architects Doug Michels and Chip Lord while teaching at UH in 1968, the Ant Farm was a San Francisco-based underground architecture collective most famous for its Cadillac Ranch installation on Route 66 outside Amarillo. They designed and built the futuristic House of the Century in Angleton (destroyed by flooding in 1985) and critiqued media reality versus lived experience by staging a video re-enactment of the Zapruder film in Dealey Plaza in 1975. The Ant Farm disbanded in 1978 after a studio fire destroyed most of their work.

"Ant Farm: 1968-1978" includes drawings, models, blueprints, publications, photographs and video footage documenting the collective's fascinating history. The exhibit runs through March 5.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Oiler Blues

Anyone unfortunate enough to have invested a significant part of themselves in Houston sports teams should take a look at Oiler Blues by John Pirkle (Sportline Publishing, 2000). Half Price Books should still have a bunch of remaindered $5 copies for sale, so buy it there instead of Amazon.

The Houston Oilers no longer exist for a reason, and it's not just because there's no oil in Tennessee. After winning the first two AFL titles in 1960 and 1961, the Oilers were cursed for the rest of their 38-year history by poor management, dumb trades and just plain bad luck. Only when they became the Tennessee Titans did they finally make it to the Super Bowl (only to lose to the Rams in the final seconds).

Pirkle approaches the Oilers like a Columbia blue-hued homicide victim and meticulously retraces each and every bone-headed, nickel-and-dime move the team made both on and off the field. A lawyer by trade, Pirkle occasionally gets mired in turgid prose about free agency and contract restructuring, but he makes his case that the Oilers were indeed the most frustrating team in the history of modern professional football. Fun stuff for those of us who grew up in the heady days of Earl Campbell, Bum Phillips and "Luv Ya Blue."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Happy Confederate Heroes Day

People from non-Southern states are always shocked when I tell them Confederate Heroes Day is an official state holiday in Texas. Personally, I'm of mixed minds about it. We already have Memorial Day and Veteran's Day to honor soldiers, which means Confederate Heroes Day is primarily a celebration of the Confederacy offered as a sop to those dead-ending apologists who still insist on saying the "War of Northern Aggression" was a glorious fight for state's rights that had little to do with slavery. On the other hand, it's a day off, so I'm not complaining too loudly. I'll be happy to observe John Wayne Gacy Day if it means I don't have to work.

If Texans would rather celebrate something more savory, January 19th also happens to be Janis Joplin's birthday. She would've been 62 today.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Best album notes EVAH!


DON HO has become more than a bit of a legend. At Duke's in Hawaii he's a bigger tourist draw than Mauna Loa. His seductive voice has laid more people out flat than the sands of Waikiki. London may be where "it's happening," but Honolulu, hun, is where it's getting done.

Don Ho's doing it...packing them in, swinging some songs, getting everybody to suck 'em up to the point of no return. He looks and sounds as if he's grooming himself to star in "The Return of the Sybarite." The hard life, Ho style: getting a little juiced, singing the good songs, getting nuzzled by the visiting ladies, making a good buck.

The Mainland is slowly but surely coming 'round. Don Ho is breaking down a couple of centuries of Puritanism quicker than a missionary can say, "Now girls, on with your T-shirts."

If there's going to be an Ambassador of Ho for the Mainland, it'll probably be H.B. Barnum, the spectacularly talented young man from California who flew over to Hawaii, dug, dug some more, had a couple more Mai Tais, really dug some more, then flew back to the Mainland before it all got the better of him. His assignment: write the arrangements for Don Ho.

Don Ho came to Hollywood to record this album. The sound and the excitement should please longtime Don Ho fans. It should knock down and drag around three times anyone who's never been near the Don Ho magic. With the aid of an augmented orchestra and a sneaky little group of girls who keep putting delights behind Don's voice, Don Ho pulls off his most "with it" album to date.

If you thought Don Ho swung, then listen again. Lolled in a Hollywood recording studio. In white pants and boots. His velour shirt tossed over his shoulders. His thick black hair falling like a palm frond over his forehead. Grinning, relaxing, concentrating, grooving. A different kind of Don Ho session, producing a new kind of Don Ho music.

From Tiny Bubbles grows much music.

-Author Unknown

Monday, January 17, 2005

San Antonio Sojourn

My pal David and I took a nice drive down to San Antonio this weekend. The origin of this trip was a postcard we found at an antique mall several months back for a bar called "Hipp's Bubble Room." We wanted to go, but L.D. Hipp's Bubble Room closed in 1980. A restaurant run by L.D.'s son Dick called "Little Hipp's Gimmedraw Parlour" also closed in 2002. Just when we thought we were born too late, we found out some of Little Hipp's employees had opened a burger place north of town called "Timbo's." So off we went.

Located on U.S. 281 in Spring Branch, Timbo's serves decent bar burgers at a fair price along with "Shypoke Eggs," Little Hipp's specialty dish consisting of round nacho chips with melted white and yellow cheese on top to make them look like fried eggs. They were kind of bland, but putting beans or salsa on top would've spoiled the clever egg effect.

We drove on into San Antonio, admiring several commercial structures in the north central part of town like the Jim's Coffee Shop on Hildebrand that retain elements of the Sixties space age school of design now referred to as "Googie." You don't see as much of that in Austin because we're too new and culturally driven by a desire to be "cool." Driving out Austin Highway past the run-down motor courts and old neon signs would be like driving back into 1960 if not for the slow, inevitable creep of Super Wal-Marts and the like.

Parking the car in a pay lot downtown (Saturdays aren't meter holidays in S.A.), we sauntered by the Alamo and eavesdropped on a twangy description of the glorious battle for Texas freedom. Jan Hooks' portrayal of an Alamo tour guide in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" immediately came to mind, but we decided to leave before one of us said something obnoxious. We wound up at the Menger Hotel Bar next door, downing expensive but potent gin and tonics in slurry homage to Teddy Roosevelt, who recruited some of his Rough Riders in that very bar.

After dismissing the almost-always bad idea of eating on the Riverwalk because the one decent place I knew of (Boudro's) was jam-packed, we drove back up Broadway to Earl Abel's, an ultra-modern coffee shop built in 1940 that retains its curves, wood paneling and red carpets. You can still order baked hen, pickled beets and Canadian cheese soup there. I opted for the house specialty fried chicken, which was satisfying if not extraordinary. The apple pie wasn't bad, either. Of course, it's not like you go to someplace like Earl Abel's strictly for the food. I'm happy just to go there and soak up the atmosphere.

All in all, a most delightful day trip.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Blood Screening Too Sexy for Utah

Most people who donate blood do so to help save the lives of others, but not me. I do it because those Red Cross blood screening questions inflame my heart and loins with the red-hot lust of transgression. Nothing turns me on like stepping aboard the blood bus and having a strange phlebotomist ask if I've ever had sex with another man.

Unfortunately, Diane Ogborn of Orem, Utah has folks like me all figured out. Last Wednesday, Ogborn asked the Utah Board of Education to ban high school blood drives across the state in order to protect students from sex-related questions asked of all potential donors. Her argument was that the questions violated a state law limiting the sexual content students can be exposed to in the classroom.

"As a parent (which obviously inflates the worth of her opinion exponentially), how I read it, it looks to me like it violates the law," says the 37-year-old mother of four. Never mind the fact that no one under 17 can donate blood in the first place, or that these underage students already have to have their parents sign a consent form containing a frank description of the sex-related questions asked of donors.

The board ruled that blood drives weren't covered by the state law Ogborn cited, but they are going to develop a policy that essentially does nothing more than codify the parental consent process already practiced by the blood bank. "That kids have access to that language concerns me, too," said sympathetic board superintendent Patti Harrington.

The Red Cross Lewis & Clark Blood Region estimates that some five percent of Utah's blood supply comes from high school blood drives. If Ogborn is ever the unfortunate victim of an icy smash-up on Interstate 15, I trust she'll refuse to be transfused with that five percent.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Spencer Dryden: 1938-2005

Spencer Dryden, drummer for Jefferson Airplane during their most prolific period (Surrealistic Pillow through Volunteers), died of complications from colon cancer this week at age 66.

I didn't get into Jefferson Airplane until 20 years after the Summer of Love. By then, the band had mutated into Starship, fouling the nation's airwaves with slave-pop like "We Built This City." Although the Airplane's psychedelic ballroom jam leanings probably wouldn't have aged well in any case, Starship's commercial success ensured that most people would remain unaware of the Airplane's greater legacy save for twin classic rock staples "White Rabbit" and "Somebody To Love." I prefer "She Has Funny Cars," "Plastic Fantastic Lover," "Comin' Back To Me" and especially "Lather," which Grace Slick wrote for Dryden when he was standing uneasily at the precipice of his 30th birthday. I'll have to break that out this weekend.

Friday, January 14, 2005


Though my ability to booze into the wee hours and still show up for work the next morning has been compromised by the passage of days, I decided to hit the Carousel Lounge for Thursday's Roger Miller Hoot Nite. It was a packed and chatty house, which meant some of the quieter acts got washed out by crowd noise in the absence of a sound system. I couldn't help but contribute to this by having a good man-rap at the bar with Steve Hunt while his lady friend (and my grad school-era ex) Rebecca Cannon enthusiastically belted out "You Can't Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd" with the Sapphires.

Then Roger Wallace galvanized the crowd with "Dang Me" and the lesser-known tearjerker, "The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me." Wallace's classic country vocal phrasing is both free-flowing and inpeccable. He's been receiving positive notice about town for many years now, but I'm embarrassed to say this was the first time I've seen him play. It won't be the last.

The show ended with almost everyone in the bar singing and snapping along to "King Of The Road," which was one of those awesome, greased groove moments in time that keeps me from becoming a sallow-faced existentialist bastard. You can't get that sort of thing from NBC's Thursday night line-up anymore.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Deep Impact

In a bizarre instance of life half-imitating Mr. Show's "America Blows Up the Moon" sketch, NASA launched the double entendre-baiting Deep Impact spacecraft yesterday.

On July 4th (!), the craft is scheduled to collide with Comet Tempel 1, leaving a stadium-sized crater and hopefully exposing the comet's icy core for long-distance scientific inquiry. If we're lucky, the resulting explosion of debris will be visible from earth, which would beat the hell out of Black Cats and sparklers. Folks smarter than me have concluded there's no chance that blowing a hole in the side of a comet 83 million miles away will somehow come back to bite our planet on the boo-boo.

NASA's spacecraft got its name from the 1998 big-budget comet disaster flick, "Deep Impact." My personal fascination with the idea of heaven raining death on us all started with a 1978 made-for-TV movie called "A Fire In the Sky" with Richard Crenna and Merlin Olsen. It was about a comet on a collision course with Phoenix. In a last-ditch effort to save Arizona's largest city, the military launches nukes to destroy the comet, but that big ol' booger of flaming ice just keeps coming. The city is evacuated, then destroyed. Great stuff for a nine-year-old to sleep on. This scenario seemed unspeakably horrific until I actually visited Phoenix.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

James Brown and "Citizen King"

Alamo Drafthouse Downtown's Music Monday series has lined up a gem for MLK Day: James Brown's April 5, 1968 concert at Boston Garden, shown as it aired live over WGBH-TV. The concert took place the night after King was assassinated as cities across America erupted in riots. Boston mayor Kevin White initially wanted to cancel the concert, but Brown and local civil rights leaders correctly convinced the mayor to let the show go on and to televise it live as a means of keeping people at home. When kids from the audience jump onstage and tense cops scramble to restore order, Brown calls them off and restores order himself. In a city not exactly known for racial tranquility, it was a poignant, remarkable moment in music history. And now you can see it for yourself on Monday, January 17 at 9:45 p.m. for only a buck.

This past Monday, the PBS series American Experience (produced, coincidentally enough, by WGBH in Boston) showed "Citizen King," a captivating two-hour documentary following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life from the 1963 Lincoln Memorial "I Have A Dream" speech to his 1968 assassination in Memphis.

Free market fundamentalists, bootstrap-happy welfare reformists and affirmative action alarmists love to isolate and highlight the part of King's dream where he talks about not being judged by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character. They'd rather forget about the last five years of King's life, when he began actively opposing American arrogance abroad and calling for redistribution of economic wealth at home.

As Southern Christian Leadership Conference board member Joseph Lowery eloquently states, "Someone wrote a poem that said, "Now that he is safely dead let us praise him, for dead men make such convenient heroes, they can not rise up to challenge the images we fashion for them. Besides, it is easier to build a monument than it is a Movement"

In "Citizen King," filmmakers Orlando Bagwell and Noland Walker deliver a crisp, much-needed antidote to the misguided revisionism wrought on King’s legacy by the knee-jerking "content of character" crowd. If you're a night owl, have TiVo or can actually program a VCR, the show repeats on KLRU this Thursday, January 13 at 2 a.m.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Think YOUR cheer camp was tough?

"Don't cheerleaders all over America make pyramids every day? It's not torture."
Defense attorney Guy Womack, representing Spc. Charles Graner, Jr., the first U.S soldier to be tried in the Abu Gharib prison abuse scandal.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Rock critic clichés and the shock of recognition

My Oaktown-based friend Tamara sent me Rob Harvilla's "Like Clichés on Acid" from this week's East Bay Express. I think she thought I'd think it was funny. And it is, only I'm laughing at my own embarrassment over the fact that I've used almost all of the lazy rock crit jargon Harvilla talks about. At least I've never used the word "coruscating" in a review. I'm counting on that to get me through the coming sleepless nights in which I try to find a workable substitute for "angular." Jeez, why didn't I go to law school?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Pee for victory?

Like most men, I've always enjoyed voiding my bladder out of doors. (except for the time it almost got me arrested behind Circle K). According to "Liquid Gold" author Carol Steinfeld, free-range urinators deserve handshakes not handcuffs for helping complete the circle of life by showering the vegetation with nitrogen-rich affection.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Today would've been Elvis Presley's 70th birthday. In honor of the occasion, here's the recipe for Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches from Elvis Presley's Memphis restaurant on Beale Street:

4 ounces whole peanut butter
2 slices thick white bread (whole grains are for commies)
1 whole ripe banana
4 ounces whole butter

Spread peanut butter on one side of each piece of bread. Slice banana in 3/4-inch slices and place on 1 piece of bread with peanut butter. Banana slices should be close together, and cover 1 side completely (usually 9 slices). Top with the other slice of bread. Heat butter in frying pan on medium heat. Place sandwich in pan and brown for approximately 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add 2 ounces of butter to the pan and flip sandwich to other side and continue cooking for 2 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and peanut butter is melting. Cut into quarters and serve very hot.

And be sure there's a defibrillator nearby.

Friday, January 07, 2005

2004 Top Tens

For someone who grew up with an unhealthy obsession for "The Book of Lists," I don't enjoy doing year-end Top Ten lists. The air of finality stresses me out. Nevertheless, here are my Top Ten Texas and National picks from this week's Austin Chronicle.

There was plenty of good music in 2004, but nothing stood out for me as much as OutKast did in 2003. That snipe aside, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by Green Day's American Idiot and Brian Wilson's SMiLE, but they've both grown on me with repeated spins.

20/20 bassist turned Austinite Ron Flynt got my nod for best local recording with the autobiographical pop song-cycle, L.A. Story. Originally from Tulsa, 20/20 became one of L.A.'s biggest bands in the late 70s on the strength of new wave-flavored pop gems like "Yellow Pills" and "Remember the Lightning." L.A. Story uses 20/20's rise and fall to illustrate a more universal theme of coming to terms with life's unfulfilled expectations. Flynt's sharp-eared pop intuition keeps ambition in check just enough to make the whole thing work. Highly recommended for power poppers young and old alike.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Good gumbo in a can?

While it's no substitute for the real thing, Blue Runner Foods' Creole Okra and Shrimp Gumbo is far and away the best gumbo you'll ever eat out of a can. Pour it over some white rice, add a few Tabasco shots and you've got yourself a meal. Best of all, it sells for a mere $1.59 at the IGA around the corner from my house. Unfortunately, it's been out of stock for almost a month now. You can order it online, but frankly, the thought of ordering a can of soup online makes me sad.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Is this thing on...

...or did it fall off while I was dancing?