Sunday, July 31, 2005

New Pancho's in Temple!

While speeding northward through Temple yesterday on Interstate 35, I was pleasantly shocked to see a brand spanking new Pancho's Mexican Buffet by the side of the road.

I thought I was hallucinating at first, but this was the real deal, complete with a gaily-colored balloon atop the restaurant proclaiming "GRAND OPENING!" A mere 62.88 miles from where I sit, the Temple location replaces the San Antonio Pancho's as the closest location to Austin.

The Temple Pancho's sign uses their old school script logo, which leads me to believe it was repurposed from a closed location. While time constraints precluded a spontaneous buffet repast, a Temple road trip is definitely going down in the not-too-distant future. Glory be, the sopaipillas are on me!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Pride and Joy

I did a feature story about vocalist Ray Pride and the Crack Pipes for this week's Chronicle. They're all big music fans with stacks of records, so I enjoyed talking to them. The Crack Pipes' show last Saturday night at Hole in the Wall was extra tuff as well.

So long as you're there, check out the latest news about the big ass temple and secretive compound being erected in rural Schliecher County by the breakaway sect of fundamentalist Mormon polygamists led by fugitive Warren Jeffs. If you're a creepy looking white man looking to impregnate lots of 16-year-old girls, this might be the spiritual framework you've been waiting for.

I'm headed for the sleepy little B&B town of Glen Rose today on special assignment. It's almost a 400-mile round trip, but a mission is a mission.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Nate of Self-Hate

A TV review is no place to go and shake someone to the core of their being.

Instead of offering the standard chuckle-worthy snark, Heather Havrilesky's Salon column about this week's episode of Six Feet Under (warning: spoilers) is a wake-up call to the not-entirely-living. It's a big glass of ice cold truth in the face of anyone given to fits of cynical detachment, spiraling neurosis and/or self-sabotage.

I don't particularly like the character of Nate Fisher, yet he's the one I most often find myself identifying with. Why the hell is that, Heather?

"What's brilliant about him, as a character, is that he embodies the very worst of the so-called sensitive, liberal, enlightened, privileged white world. He has a cushy job, a smart, beautiful wife, a reasonably sane family, and an adorable daughter who never babbles on tediously like most toddlers. So what does Nate do? He goes crawling off to screw a relative stranger and tricks himself into believing that his infidelity is a piece of some greater search for meaning.

"In other words, Nate embodies all of our selfish urges and all of our pathetic rationalizations for indulging those urges. He's a big, sad child who finds it impossible to connect with those who actually matter to him, who are in his life, who care, and instead goes running after wholesome-seeming strangers whose complicated needs aren't apparent to him yet.

"But here's the sick thing: Nate has, from the very beginning, served as the perfect blank protagonist onto which the viewer is meant to project him- or herself. The degree to which we despise Nate is directly proportional to the degree to which we hate our own selfish, lazy, endlessly rationalizing selves."

Well, goddamn. That ruins my whole weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Texas Funk 1968-1975

I just got word this week from DJ Gabe Vaughn of the Second Line Social that the excellent Texas Funk 1968-1975 compilation is being released in the U.S. on Stone's Throw/Now-Again. The album features 21 rare Lone Star funk sides, including the amazing "Psycho (Parts 1 and 2) by Austin's own Fabulous Mark III. I wrote a story for the Chron about Texas Funk back in 2003 after buying the Jazzman U.K. import version at Waterloo and deciding it was worth all of $18.99.

The track listing for the U.S. version is different from the Jazzman release, presumably because of licensing issues. A stateside version of this disc has been in the works for some time now, so it's great to see it finally come to fruition. This is definitely worth checking out if you're into funk and/or Texas music history.

Gabe tells me he'll be spinning hard funk sides at the local Texas Funk release party on Friday, August 12 at Flamingo Cantina along with a couple of other DJs. Sounds like my kinda record party.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sony Settles with Spitzer

On Monday, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced a settlement in the pay-for-play case against Sony BMG Music Entertainment. Under the agreement, detailed here, Sony agreed to stop making payments and giving gifts to radio station employees in return for airplay of label artists. Sony also agreed to pay $10 million to provide music education to New York State residents.

I suppose I should feel outraged, but it's not like the music business hasn't always been rotten in this regard. And it's not like this settlement has much chance of stopping pay-for-play, either. The money will just go someplace else.

If you really want to feel the ick factor, take a look at the 59 pages of Sony correspondence at the bottom of Spitzer's press release. The idea of some greaseball b-market jock hitting up label reps. for a free laptop or rental car in exchange for spinning shit records just seems sad and pathetic all around. If you're going to be on the take, at least have the decency to demand an 8-ball of coke and a hooker you can snort it off of.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What is Hip?

"So ya wanna dump out yo' trick bag.
Ease on in a hip thang,
But you ain't exactly sure what is hip.

"So you started to let your hair grow.
Spent big bucks on your wardrobe.
Somehow, ya know there's much more to the trip."

-Tower of Power, 1973

While no real "hipster" would ever cop to such a handle, those carefully- cultivated patinas of smug detachment are like porn: you know them when you see them in the aisles of Savers and the booths of Kerbey Lane.

If you're brave, smitten, and/or horny enough to want to hook up with these maladjusted creatures of the night, Austinist's hilariously helpful guides to snagging Austin hipster girls and guys might lead you in the vague direction of deliverance. Then you'll really be sorry.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Brady Season Two

Season two of The Brady Bunch drops on DVD tomorrow. Although I prefer the latter day episodes, there's plenty of immortal Brady lore to be had in season two, including:

1. The "itching powder in the sleeping bags" episode ("The Slumber Caper") where the boys ruin Marcia's groovy slumber party. I was quite a little prankster growing up, but I never saw itching powder, nor did I ever hear of its use except in this episode of The Brady Bunch.

2. "Mom always said don't play ball in the house." Peter hears Bobby say that over and over again as he slowly caves from guilt after breaking mom's vase and having his brothers and sisters cover for him so he won't get grounded and miss a camping trip ("Confessions, Confessions").

3. Jan and Cindy see Greg smoking (smoking!) after school and rat him out to mom and dad ("Where There's Smoke"). Hell, at least it wasn't dope, right? Significantly, smoking was more tolerated among youth in 1970 than it is now, making this one of the few Brady episodes that might be more relevant today.

4. Season two featured two classic "Crazy Jan" episodes, including one where she makes up a boyfriend named "George Glass" in a lame attempt to one-up Marcia ("The Not-So-Ugly Duckling"). This is the episode that birthed "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" Then there's "Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?," in which Jan shows up at a party in a hideous wig and gets laughed right out the door by her friends.

5. Finally, my favorite season two episode, "Our Son, The Man," in which Greg dons shades, lets the fringe fly and turns dad's study into a groovy little hippie pad.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Jody's Got Your Girl And Gone

Here's an interesting and depressing feature story from yesterday's Austin American-Statesman (via the L.A. Times) about the strain long wartime deployments are putting on military marriages.

After braving roadside bombs and snipers, some soldiers are coming home to divorce papers and empty bank accounts. One poor guy in this story called home from Iraq to check his voicemail only to hear sweet nothings spoken by his wife's lover. Aside from the "Jody" syndrome, some spouses left behind simply decide they like being on their own better. Whatever the reason, the Army divorce rate has jumped more than 80 percent since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Pet Voyeurism and Rick Santorum

Ever wonder what your pets think when they see you having sex? Do they know what it is you're doing? Does it excite them? Upset them? Do they feel like a kid who accidentally walks in on his or her parents?

According to a textbook human interest story in yesterday's Houston Chronicle, response varies from species to species and pet to pet. However, male pets are often protective of their lady owners when some Aramis-reeking lothario invades its territory, especially if the pet sleeps in the woman's bed.

By the way, Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Mr. "Man-On-Dog" Himself," is Jon Stewart's guest on The Daily Show Monday.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hump Day Honky Tonkin'

My pal David W. and I finally made it over to the new Brentwood Tavern Wednesday night. Neither of us had food, but their patio overlooking scenic Burnet Road was a nice place for a pint. Unbeknownst to us, the Tavern officially closed at 10, but they let us hang around until 10:30. It seems like a nice neighborhood place, but I'll have to try the food there before giving them a total thumbs-up.

We went from the Tavern to Ginny's Little Longhorn, where Justin Trevino was playing his regular Wednesday night gig. Vocalist/bassist Trevino was joined by a steel guitarist and a drummer. The classic country trio's sound was fuller than you'd expect, and they had the tears in beers vibe down pat. Trevino's voice reminds me a bit of Don Walser, too. He's a worthy compliment to Dale Watson's long-time Thursday night stand at Ginny's.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Clocks, Cows and Udder Confusion

Hope ya like daylight savings time because it's on the verge of becoming the new standard time in the U.S. On Tuesday, a House-Senate conference committee agreed on language that would extend daylight savings time by two months as part of a comprehensive energy bill.

Under the proposed plan, we'd "spring forward" the first Sunday in March and "fall back" the last Sunday in November, giving us nine months of daylight savings time and just three of "standard" time. However, the resulting hue and cry over the time change now has Congress stepping back and reconsidering their zeal to mess with the clocks of 250 million people.

Supporters say we could reduce nationwide energy demand by as much as one percent, or 100,000 barrels of oil, per day. Some research indicates the extra hour of daylight would reduce the number of car accidents since people tend to drive faster on the way home than they do on the way to work. It might also cut down on crime since it's harder to do crimes without the cover of darkness.

Naturally, there are also some drawbacks. At the top of the list is the idea that little kids would be walking to school in the dark. It doesn't seem there are as many kids walking or biking to school these days, though. At least not in my (relatively safe urban) neighborhood.

Then you have dairy farmers complaining about how any time change messes up their cows' milking schedules. I don't quite understand that. Why can't they just milk the cows an hour earlier or later? Is there anyone out there who can explain this to a teat-shy city boy?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

This is an Emergency!

When I was in third grade, I'd come home after school each weekday and watch reruns of Emergency! on Channel 11 in Houston. Seeing Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe save people's hides just in the nick of time made me want to become a paramedic when I grew up.

As I got a little older, seeing Julie London in those form-fitting Rampart Hospital nurse pants made me want to grow up to be Bobby Troup, London's bandleader/songwriter husband, who played Dr. Joe Early on the show.

Since this was a Jack Webb production, Emergency! relied on curt dialogue and tightly boxed plotlines moved along by repetitious prompts like the memorable dispatch tones heard whenever Station 51 got a call. Watching the show now, I crack up every time they cut to the same ragged stock footage of a speaker on the wall broadcasting the location of the latest emergency. If you drank a shot of tequila every time they showed that speaker, you'd be plastered by hour's end.

Fans of Emergency! are fortunate to have Erika and Rozane's exceptionally thorough tribute site to visit for episode guides, character sketches, cast news, bloopers and MP3 files of those unforgettable dispatch tones. Even better, a DVD of 12 season one episodes is set for release on August 23.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Shacking Up, Marriage Down

A new census-based study by Rutgers University's National Marriage Project finds the annual U.S. divorce rate for married women has fallen from a peak of 22 per 1,000 married women in 1980 to just under 18 per 1,000 in 2004. But don't chalk this up to traditional values. The decline is largely because fewer women are getting married and more are shacking up.

In 1976, 77 out of every 1,000 single women got married. By 2004, the study found fewer than 40 per 1,000 single women got married. Meanwhile, the number of unmarried opposite sex couples living together has jumped from less than half a million in 1960 to more than five million today.

The National Marriage Project is alarmed by these findings. The Project bills itself as nonpartisan, but their primary mission is to promote the institution of marriage, which of course is inherently partisan. They question the commitment of cohabitating couples and worry about the progeny of these unions, yet you won't find them advocating to extend the magical elixir of marriage to same-sex couples. That would just get in the way of their agenda, so they make like abstinence-only advocates and pretend same-sex couples simply don't exist. Clever, no?

Not surprisingly, the Project also has a long history of tweaking research to support conclusions designed to discourage any intimate relationship other than marriage. The Alternatives to Marriage Project provides a useful summary of how they do it here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Two Hours I Want Back

I can't believe I lost two hours of my life watching the disgraceful 1999 movie Pushing Tin on FX this weekend. It's a Lifetime-style TV movie of the week that somehow got made as a big budget Hollywood film. I figured I'd at least enjoy the air traffic control aspect of it, but that was just a phony backdrop for an overwrought, poorly-realized love story. John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton compete for wives and airspace while learning a bit too much about each other in the process. My hope for a catastrophic mid-air collision grew more fervent with every scene.

Pushing Tin isn't a noble kind of failure. It sucks without taking risks. They aimed right at the middle and made the Applebee's of filmed entertainment.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Inertnet Security

I've spent most of the weekend trying to undo the damage wrought to my PC by trying to install a demo version of Norton Internet Security that came with my Linksys router. Because of an apparent licensing conflict with my existing Norton SystemWorks software, I can't install Internet Security.

However, the installation shield did throw a bunch of common files into my shared folder that I couldn't delete. When I tried to get rid of them manually, Windows quit running. After reinstalling Windows, all of my old settings were gone and I still couldn't get online. I guess that's what they mean by "Internet Security."

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Time to Ditch the Land Line?

Yesterday I discovered yet another drawback to having VoIP (Voiceover Internet Protocol) phone service as opposed to a traditional land line: you can't split the signal. I normally use a cordless phone, but I keep an old Western Electric-style slimline model on hand for whenever I record phone interviews. When I tried to plug in that phone, my cordless stopped working. Naturally, Time Warner tells you none of this when they sell you digital phone service.

Wednesday's Dallas Morning News had a story about how cell phones now outnumber land lines in Texas (registration required). Lots of people are reaching a point where it just doesn't make sense to maintain a land line. I have to keep one because wireless reception and fidelity are still pretty terrible by comparison. That's no good for phone interviews. VoIP's reception isn't as sharp as a traditional land line, either, but it's still way better than what I'd get from wireless.

Then again, my cell is an cheap-ass Virgin Mobile Kyocera base model I bought three years ago for $59. You'll think I'm really glad to see you if I hug you while it's in my front pocket.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Arabic Assassin Fired as Baggage Screener

The mad lyrical flow at Houston Intercontinental Airport suffered a major setback last week with the firing of Basaam Khalaf - a.k.a. the Arabic Assassin, from his job as a baggage screener.

While Khalaf passed his background check and worked at the airport for seven months, TSA officials were unaware of his rap career until they peeped his website. Just so you know, the TSA doesn't want musicians day jobbing among the Samsonites if your songs "applaud the efforts of the terrorists on September 11th, encourage and warn of future acts of terrorism by you, discuss at length and in grave and alarming detail various criminal acts you intend to commit, state your belief that the U.S. government should be overthrown, and finally warn that others will die on September 11, 2005."

Khalaf insists his Arabic Assassin alias is only for publicity and his violent rants are merely flights of fancy, not terror. "Everybody wants to label all Arabics terrorists just because a couple of people messed up," he told the AP. "Well, I'm going to play along with that character. I'm going to let you think I'm one."

That'll show 'em.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Little Ol' Ex-Homeowner Me

My ex-wife and I are selling our old house today. What a weird, bittersweet feeling that is.

I moved out almost a year ago, so I've had some time to process the loss of what I thought would be home for many years (to say nothing of the marriage itself). The finality of signing the house away brings a lot of that stuff back to the surface. It's tough to think about what's gone, but it feels good to be moving on.

Now who wants a piece of divorce cake?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Smiling Face of American Malignance

The complacent press corps finally is waking up to the ugly truth: Karl Rove is a pus-filled tumor on the American body politic that needs to be excised, dissected to benefit future generations and thrown in an incinerator with the dirty needles and soiled sheets.

You just know Ol' Turd Blossom breathed a silent sigh of relief when London was bombed last week. Surely he thought we’d return to lockstep post-9/11 nostrums about standing united in rage on the corpse of irony. Crank up that threat level and everyone stands down, right? Not this time, Blossom.

It was a pleasant surprise to see reporters asking about the Plame leak over and over again on Monday, holding that Son of One Tough Grandma’s feet to the fire for a change. Maybe they’ve figured out they should be mad as hell about their own complicit role in Rove’s treachery. After all, this is a government official who blew the cover of a CIA agent in a time of war to get back at her husband for not towing the line on Bush’s crooked justification for diverting the war to Iraq in the first place. I’d say that equals roughly 1,000 Oval Office blowjobs.

Although he deserves worse, forcing Rove to resign would be cause for celebration. I don’t expect we’ll see him go to jail, though. Rove’s legal defense – saying “Joseph Wilson’s wife” instead of “Valerie Plame” – is just Clintonian enough to let a rich, well-connected white man skate.

They’ve really restored dignity to the White House, haven’t they?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Grande President and CEO Step Down

Today's Statesman reports that Grande Communications president Joe Ross is stepping down. Ross plans to stay on as an adviser until a successor is found. The news comes just six days after Grande CEO Bill Morrow stepped down.

Interim CEO W.K.L. "Scott" Ferguson says the resignations don't indicate problems with the company. With Grande's initial network build-out well underway, Ferguson says "It's more of a marketing game and more of an operational game now."

I don't have the knowledge to comment any further on these developments, other than to say a brand new high-speed network doesn't count for much if you can't even squeeze clear local signals from it.

As a local (San Marcos) company, Grande can really capitalize on residual animus toward Time Warner, particularly in a city like Austin where a lot of people are predisposed against multinational corporations as a matter of principle. It would be a real shame if that opportunity was wasted on something as basic as making sure Fox 7's Simpsons reruns don't cut out.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Free Chili Dogs Tomorrow!

I've never seen an appetizing photo of a chili dog, and this one is particularly repulsive. However, that shouldn't stop you from getting a free chili dog at Weinerschnitzel tomorrow from 5-8pm in honor of the hot dog chain's 44th birthday. While you're there, you can also get a free thimble-size Tastee Freez cone.

Weinerschnitzel may be America's largest hot dog chain, and Nathan's Famous may be the most venerable, but my favorite is still James Coney Island in Houston. Austin had its own James Coney Island on Congress for a year or so, but it closed down in 2003. Downtown Austin wasn't a good location for them. People in suits don't like taking a chance with chili cheese dogs. More importantly, there's no drive-up business downtown. I wish they'd talked to me before moving in.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Who Wants Pork?

Having followed the Albertson's circular religiously for several weeks now, I can authoritatively say this week is a good one for their 10 for $10 promotion. Particularly if you like pork. I purchased five heaping pounds of pork loin chops for $5.26 yesterday.

A lot of single people living alone are scared of buying family packs of meat, but the savings is too substantial to pass up. When I get home, I carefully separate the chops into single serving portions and freeze them in Zip-Loc bags. Whenever I'm in the mood for pork (insert bad double entendre here), I defrost a Zip-Loc bag in cold water and grill it up. I'm sure this seems like well-duh stuff to some, but I still get plenty of satisfaction from my meat maximization system (here, too).

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Baseball, Hot Dogs and Crack Pipes

Last night, I went to my first Round Rock Express game with Rev. Ray Pride of the Crack Pipes. We were doing an interview for a story I'm writing about them. Baseball moves slowly enough to where you can get into pretty involved conversations without missing too much of the action.

The Express were coming off a road trip and their equipment got delayed, which delayed the start of the game by more than half an hour. Between that and the impending All-Star break, Round Rock had no gas in the tank. Nashville won easily 4-1.

I can't watch baseball on TV unless it's the playoffs, but it's always fun to go to a game. Especially when the most expensive ticket is $10.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Dirty Pitts Screws Austin Out of Vote

The Texas House of Representatives passed a regressive school finance bill this week by one vote. Now it turns out that the deciding "yes" vote came from Rep. Jim Pitts of Waxahachie, who signed a paired absentee voting agreement (see below) with Rep. Dawnna Dukes of Austin, who would've voted "no." Then Pitts changed his mind and voted anyway. The bill won final House approval Thursday and is headed for the Senate.

Aside from being an egregious violation of parliamentary procedure, Pitts effectively robbed East Austin of its vote on a bill that would lead to tax increases for the vast majority of its citizens. Be sure to remember that if you ever have the misfortune of conducting business with this thief.

Perhaps Austin restaurants should start asking for Pitts' credit card before he's allowed to order. If he's out shopping, it might be prudent to have an employee follow him around as a precaution. Maybe Pitts' name and photo can be posted by the cash register next to all the bad checks. Just be sure his money is in your hand before lifting a finger.

The Rains Came

After being teased with a 20 percent chance of rain for well over a month, the summer skies finally put out for Austin last night.

It was a real gully-washer, complete with thunder, lightning and some impressive wind gusts. Early reports say the rain came down too fast and ran off too soon to make a huge dent in the drought, but a little bit is better than nada. Especially when you've been through dry spells that didn't break until late August or early September.

I took my daily nightly walk of contemplation around 10. The night air was still humid, but much cooler than it's been since mid-May. Although the thunderstorms had passed, there was an excellent lightning show in the eastern sky. Arroyo Seco wasn't seco at all. What a nice respite from the oppressive, energy-sapping triple-digit heat we've been having.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Having Fun in the Workaday World

As I reported some months back, the location of my Government Job is about to move. Like all but the most senior staff, I'll be going from having my own office to having a cube the size of a handicapped toilet stall. That means we have to get rid of a ton of crap.

Instead of just having a plain old Get Rid of Crap Day, they've decided to try and make the process fun by having a contest to see who can get rid of the most crap. We've been divided into teams and everything.

My knee-jerk reaction to this can politely be described as bemused cynicism. I don't quite understand the need to make taking out the trash even more time-consuming by coming up with ways to pretend it's fun.

Nevertheless, I don't want to be the annoying asshat who takes the piss out of well-intentioned efforts to make the workplace more pleasant. That's no fun, either. In fact, I feel sort of guilty for even thinking this way. So I'll be cooperative and go along to get along because that's Just the Kind of Guy I Am.

Capitalizing words that don't need capitalization for artistic effect: now that's fun!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

All Connections Go

After one last trip to Best Buy, I finally found a USB network adapter that works with TiVo. What a good feeling it was to have a successful program information download after all these weeks. I think I know how those boys in Mission Control must've felt after Apollo 13.

Having gotten TiVo up and running again, I now realize I could've saved myself hours of anger had I not opted to redo the initial guided setup when Time Warner's digital phone service wouldn't call out. I could've installed wireless hardware right then and there as opposed to taking the TiVo box to a friend's house with a land line and tying up their phone for over an hour. Don't ever opt to redo initial guided setup on a TiVo DVR unless you absolutely have no other choice.

And here's something else: even if I wasn't getting HBO, I'd still like Time Warner Cable's channel line-up better than Grande's. With Time Warner, I get News 8 Austin, TXCN (Belo's Dallas-based statewide news network which gets feeds from WFAA in Dallas, KHOU in Houston and KENS in San Antonio) and KLRU 2 (which shows the BBC News weeknights at 6:30). That's what happens when you have a journalism degree.

The only Grande channel I miss is Boomerang from Cartoon Network and its Bullwinkle reruns. However, Time Warner does have some of Boomerang's programming on one of their On Demand channels.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Dr. Hartley Kept Me Sane

Between the oppressive 100-degree heat and making several fruitless trips to Best Buy in unsuccessful attempts to reconnect TiVo to the outside world (apparently standards mean nothing when it comes to USB network adapters), I can't say yesterday felt like being "on holiday."

The one thing that kept me from throwing something at the wall in a fit of pique was decompressing with a couple of Bob Newhart Show episodes when things got tense. I'm slowly working my way through season one on DVD. It's hard to imagine such wry, subtle humor surviving on American network TV today. People don't have time to wait 2 or 3 seconds for a joke to become funny anymore.

I think Suzanne Pleshette's Emily Hartley is the best TV wife of all time. She's smart, she's funny and that rasp in her voice is sexy as hell. The mellowing of Lorenzo and Henrietta Music's opening theme as Bob gets on the train to head home to Emily is another intoxicating aural cue that curries my favor. I can't think of a better advertisement for the "button-down" life.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Single and Lovin' It!

In honor of Independence Day, your neighborhood H-E-B has a real sweet deal on a prime bachelor meal.

First grab yourself a Night Hawk frozen dinner for $1.58. I'm partial to the Beef Patty 'n Gravy meal, which consists of a charbroiled beef patty, potato rounds (guess someone copyrighted tater tots) and sweet corn with sauce. Then pick up an in-store coupon and get one pint of H-E-B Creamy Creations ice cream for absolutely nothing! Night Hawk dinners are made right down the road in Buda, and they're loved by starch-happy playboys throughout the American South. There's even a tribute page!

If by chance you've got a hot Fourth of July date, buy two Night Hawks and two Creamy Creations (chocolate for your lady friend, of course) along with a quart of beer to split. If H-E-B says you can only use one coupon, try going through another checkout lane. But don't tell your date you used a coupon or she'll think you're a cheap bastard.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

I Just Wasn't Made for These Times

Yesterday I took my TiVo DVR to a friend's house and managed to successfully run the setup program using a traditional phone line. Unfortunately, TiVo still won't download program information via my own Time Warner VOIP-based digital phone line. I was hoping a DSL filter might help, but it hasn't. Unless I manage to make a successful phone connection in the next two days, I'll no longer be able to record programs with TiVo.

From here, it would appear hooking TiVo up to a wireless home network is the only workable long-term solution. I suppose that's not the worst outcome, but I'm still pissed off because neither Time Warner nor TiVo is particularly forthcoming about these incompatibilities. I've had to spend hours figuring it out myself through rage-inducing trial and error.

This whole episode has made me a less desirable person to be around. Colleagues at the office comment on my uncharacteristically swart demeanor. My tense, robotic gait scares women and children alike as I barrel through supermarkets and shopping malls. That little Michael Douglas in Falling Down character I'm normally able to keep in check is just a little too close to the surface.

People are starving to death, dying of disease and getting blown apart in wars. And I CAN'T EVEN WATCH because my TV won't work right! What kind of existence is that? ANSWER ME!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I'll Have To Run It By My Editor

If you're in a band (or if you're a budding publicist), take a look at Sam Machkovech's column in this week's Dallas Observer to learn how not to pimp product to the local press. Rule number one: don't force a writer to listen to your demo over dinner at his mother's house.

My one beef with Machkovech's piece is that he reveals the magical line, "I'll have to run it by my editor" for what it often is: a polite way of brushing off the overly zealous. I thought that was a trade secret!

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Laws Have Changed

Remember how hard it was to be an underage drinker, hanging out in the U-Tote-M parking lot on a balmy Friday night, trying to convince a sympathetic adult to buy you a six-pack? Well, it's about to get a whole lot harder in Texas. Under a new law that goes into effect September 1, any adult convicted of knowingly purchasing or furnishing alcohol to someone under 21 faces an automatic six-month driver's license suspension.

Although providing booze to minors is already a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail, that law is primarily used to go after errant retailers and clubs. The automatic license supsension takes aim at the cool uncle types who are just trying to help a (younger) brother out. Parents and guardians can still furnish alcohol to their own kids, but who wants to get drunk with their parents?

When I was a teen, I remember thinking how good the teens of the late Seventies had it. The drinking age was 18, Vietnam was over and penicillin took care of what ailed you down there. Now it seems like I'm the one who had it easy with regard to the consequences of vice.

For most of the time I was in high school, the drinking age was 19. While that effectively removed legal drinkers from high school, obtaining alcohol was still relatively easy. Most retailers and clubs carded, but not with the same tenacity as today. If a 17-year-old guy couldn't pass for 19, there was usually a 15-year-old girl nearby that could. Getting booze was more of a fun challenge than an ordeal.

I can't say I'm entirely opposed to making it more difficult for teens to drink anymore, although it still doesn't seem right to let 18-year-olds join the military if they can't even get a beer. I'm surprised no one has proposed letting underage soldiers drink as an incentive to prop up sagging military recruitment levels. If Bush was able to partake of "youthful indiscretions" while ducking Vietnam, it only seems fair to let the kids who have to fight and die in his war to booze it up.