Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No new museum for you

Kate broke some not altogether good news in the ABJ earlier today with word that Houston-based Hines Industries is not renewing its option to build the proposed new home for the Austin Museum of Art and an adjacent 30-story office building on a museum-owned site just south of Republic Square Park.

With no MTV and no new museum, 2009 is looking like a real good year to go middlebrow.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BREAKING: Viacom/Time Warner Cable dispute

More good news for Time Warner Cable subscribers. According to this post on the Los Angeles Times blog, Viacom is threatening to yank MTV, Nickolodeon, Comedy Central and several other channels off Time Warner Cable systems just after midnight on January 1 if they can't reach a new carriage agreement. What a way to start the new year.

UPDATE (12/31): Time Warner subsidiary News 8 Austin says last-minute negotiations continue today with Viacom. Tune in tomorrow at 12:01am to see if you're going to be paying for a bunch of cable networks you're no longer receiving.

Monday, December 29, 2008

N. Austin prepares for mediocre BBQ war

The Bill Miller BBQ on Burnet Rd. is about to get some (re) heated competition from a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit going in at Northcross Center.

San Antonio-based Bill Miller and Dallas-based Dickey’s both specialize in middling, cafeteria-style barbecue along with faux-comfort side items and gigantic tankards of sweet tea. It is most definitely not the real thing, but if you’re a sullen worker drone in need of rapid sustenance, it beats a poke in the gut with a desiccated french fry.

I fondly recall going to the original Dickey’s at the corner of Central Expressway and Henderson when I was a lad. I also remember returning to that Dickey’s many years later and being sorely disappointed that it didn’t live up to my childhood memories. This summer, Dickey’s announced plans to open an astounding 85 new restaurants in 2009, which would make them the largest barbecue chain in the U.S.

For its part, Bill Miller claims to have sold seven pounds of chicken for every man, woman and child in San Antonio in 2001. Might be time to update the ‘ol website, yes?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Of Milk and Marley

Merry post-Christmas from Houston, where temps are expected to flirt with the 80 degree mark later this afternoon. Kate and I arrived here on Christmas Eve to enjoy some down time with family and friends.

Right now I'm feeling too lazy to do much of anything beyond drinking coffee and reading news feeds. We may catch a movie later today if I can overcome my aversion to crowds. To that end, I'm thinking "Milk" instead of "Marley and Me." I'm not expressly opposed to the cockle-warming holiday movie as a concept, but paying eight bucks to sit in a room with a hundred other people to watch something I know will make me weep doesn't sound like a good day off.

I should probably ask myself why the depiction of a dog's life and death is more likely to activate the waterworks than Harvey Milk being assassinated by a vicious, Twinkie-eating bastard, but that's a whole 'nother hour on the couch.

Friday, December 19, 2008

If you've got the money, I've got the song

If you have last minute holiday shopping or seasonal dining to do, be very careful. There's a song out there with its eye on your wallet.

According to this consumer blog entry from KVUE News anchor Terri Gruca, music can influence your purchasing decisions and businesses everywhere are searching for the perfect cut to make you hand over the dough-re-mi. "Research has shown it can make you feel sophisticated, wealthy or, if you're really caught up in it, music makes you forget how much you're spending," Gruca asserts.

It doesn't take science to make a believer out of me. I once purchased and consumed three corn dogs at a traveling carnival in the parking lot of a shuttered Woolco all because the Tilt-A-Whirl DJ was playing "Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo" by Rick Derringer.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Farewell to Texas Stadium

The Dallas Morning News published a special "Farewell to Texas Stadium" section last Sunday in anticipation of the Dallas Cowboys' final regular season game in the stadium against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. I was in Dallas that day and would've picked up a copy had I known, but at least they have it on the website now.

My own memories of Texas Stadium come from the four or five years my family drove there on Thanksgiving to watch the Cowboys play. As I recall, we always sat in above the end zone because season ticket holders already had all the good seats. The game always started at 3pm, and if you were seated in the end zone facing west, you could count on being blinded as the sun receded between the roof and the top of the opposite-facing stands. This was before Jerry Jones filled in that gap with more luxury boxes, which probably improved the sun situation inside but made the stadium look architecturally slapdash from the outside.

Parking sucked. We always had to walk across the freeway and over a levee to a remote lot that was at least a mile away. It was usually cold during that time of year, too.

The first Cowboys game we saw was against the Chicago Bears in 1981. Walter Payton was playing for the Bears and Danny White was starting quarterback for the Cowboys, but he got hurt. As the fourth quarter wound down, backup quarterback Glenn Carano drove to within field goal range and kicker Rafael Septien won it for the Cowboys 10-9 with seconds to spare. None of the other games we saw were as exciting as that one.

I think we quit going to Cowboys games when I got out of high school. My family and I still recall those games fondly, but it was always kind of a relief to watch it on TV instead of schlepping through the parking lot and freezing in the stands.

That relief was particularly intense when we watched the icy 1993 Thanksgiving game against the Miami Dolphins in which defensive tackle Leon Lett mistakenly touched a live ball after a botched Dolphins field goal attempt, allowing them to kick again and win. O.J. Simpson was working as a sideline reporter for NBC Sports and his kids were throwing snowballs at him. I remember my mom saying she thought O.J. was really going to let his kids have it once the cameras cut away.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beetsolonely's Secret Santa Corner

Need a holiday gift for a friend or loved one who happens to be an overly nostalgic child of the 70s? My old pal Chepo sent me a photo of this $28 T-shirt from Wire and Twine earlier today.

Yes, it's an authentic replica of the spiraling rainbow "CBS Special" logo that used to precede all those Charlie Brown specials. And who can forget the jazzy, vaguely Polynesian-sounding musical accompaniment?

If you really want to go all out, throw in A Charlie Brown Christmas on DVD and a box of Zingers.

Southwest 86'ing Austin-Midland

Southwest announced yesterday that it is ending nonstop flights between Austin and Midland when its spring schedule rolls out May 9. Tom Craddick is gonna be pissed.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Paul Benedict R.I.P.

Eminently likeable character actor Paul Benedict, best known as Harry Bentley on The Jeffersons, has died at age 70. I especially enjoyed him as the beleaguered hotel attendant in This is Spinal Tap and the elusive namesake “theater critic” in Waiting for Guffman.

Unbeknownst to me until I read this morning’s L.A. Times obit, Benedict wasn’t British - he was born in Silver City, N.M. and grew up in Boston. I also didn’t remember he played the “mad number painter” during the early days of Sesame Street. Here’s a clip of Benedict using condiments to paint 3s on bread that is voraciously wolfed down by a young, hot Stockard Channing.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Country music and rasslin'

If you were living in Houston in the late Sixties and early Seventies, you had yourself a whole mess of syndicated country music TV shows. Here's a telling promo from KHTV, which changed its call letters to KHWB several years back only to have the WB Network go away. Then they realigned themselves with the new CW Network by becoming KHCW. Now they're borrowing a page from the airport and going by KIAH. The station's new You Tube channel features several similar promo spots from throughout its 42-year history.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Huey Lewis meets Bigfoot

Wanna pay nothin’ to hear the hits of Huey Lewis and the News performed live by a band of people who have no association whatsoever with original artists? The New Drugs emerge from Huey-iatus again this Sunday at Birds Barbershop, 2110 S. Lamar, for Manfest ’08. We'll be going on around 5:30pm.

Here’s the full skinny from John Gross at PartyEnds

It's that time of year. Time for ascots, hot toddies, snowmobiles, hot tubs, ski lifts, and hot babes in bikinis and ski-gear. It's Manfest '08!

Last year was amazing, and if you missed it: confidence rock, knife throwing, a karate demonstration, arm wresting contest, flannel, deep fried snickers, pretty much everything a man could want. And this year, it's even bigger. Check out the poster; that's just the beginning. And no one is manlier than our guest of honor: Bigfoot.

Join us in a celebration of all things macho, and enjoy a strip of SoLa transformed into a ski lodge as you kick back with frosty beverages provided by Dewars and SteamWorks. Huey Lewis and the News cover band The New Drugs (5:30) will perform on the outdoor patio with Listener Project (4:30) who is making it in all the way from Arkansas. Listener Project head honcho Dan Smith was the champion of arm wrestling last year so he is coming back to defend the title. If ANYONE can beat him they get a YEAR of free haircuts and glory! As if things couldn't get any manlier - International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame member Cliff Hill will be chunking axes. That is right. AXES. Start growing your mustaches and we'll see you Sunday, December 7th 20-08 from 2-7pm. Did I mention that it is FREE?