Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fave Five Food Deals - 9/29/10

We're ending the month with fine weather and an even finer assortment of top Austin grocery deals. From Manchaca to Metric, our intrepid deal monkeys have you covered.

1. 5 lb. bag of Russet potatoes, .47/ea. at Newflower (through 10/7/10)

2. Columbia River Coho salmon filets, $5.99/lb. at Sprouts (through 10/7/10)

3. Organic Bartlett or red pears, .98/lb. at Sun Harvest (through 10/7/10)

4. Organic acorn, butternut or spaghetti squash, .88/lb. at Sun Harvest (through 10/7/10)

5. Blue Bell Ice Cream, half gallon/all rims, $3/ea.* at Fiesta (through 10/6/10)

*Limit two with $10 additional purchase.

Austin supermarket links (directs to weekly ads where available):
El Rancho Supermercado
Fiesta
H-E-B
Natural Grocers
Newflower Farmers Market
Randall's
Sprouts Farmers Market
Sun Harvest
Wheatsville Food Co-Op
Whole Foods Market

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trader Joe's in Texas? Ha, Made You Look!

Back in August, Fortune tried to uncover the very secretive world of Trader Joe's. The company is privately owned by an ├╝ber-wealthy German family that owns the worldwide Aldi supermarket chain, never talks to the press and leaves most of Trader Joe's business decisions to Americans. Most of the information in the story was gleaned from former executives and other off-the-record insiders.

While the discussion of Trader Joe's less-is-more approach to groceries is interesting in its own right, Texans hoping for an Lone Star expansion in the wake of Aldi's entrance into the Dallas/Fort Worth market may find the sentence below dismayingly revealing:

Texas and Florida have cities that boast consumers Trader Joe's covets, but insiders say the current distribution infrastructure makes it difficult for the company to efficiently get products to those states.

Well, at least they didn't say "impossible."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Southwest Plans to Buy AirTran

Massive airline news today as Dallas-based Southwest Airlines announced its intention to buy AirTran Airways for $3.4 billion in cash and assumed debt.

Assuming the regulatory gods approve the merger, this will give Southwest a big "in" at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Washington's National Airport. It will significantly expand the airline's presence at New York LaGuardia and Boston Logan. The acquisition will also make Southwest an international airline, with service to Mexico and the Caribbean.

One logistical hurdle of the merger is AirTran's fleet of 86 Boeing 717s. Southwest's operational efficiency has long been based on flying nothing but Boeing 737s, but you can't just '86' 86 717s, so we may get to see 717s decked out in Southwest's livery in the short-term.

We know AirTran will stop serving Dallas/Fort Worth International once the merger is finalized since the end of the Wright Amendment restrictions at Dallas Love Field were partially predicated on Southwest not flying out of DFW. Additionally, smaller airports served by AirTran but close to another airport already served by Southwest may not be able to sustain service. To name a few, I would not be confident about airports in Flint, Mich., Pensacola, Fla. and Newport News/Williamsburg, Va. being served by the combined airline in the long term. Here's a telling phrase from the merger website:

We are interested in serving the great majority, if not all, of AirTran's current markets.

Perhaps most importantly to passengers, how will Southwest/AirTran reconcile the bag fee issue? The first two bags fly free on Southwest, while AirTran charges $20 for the first bag and $25 for the second. Again, from the merger website:

Upon full integration, it is our intent to have a consistent product offering. It is our intent that the bag fees would not be part of that product.


Likewise, the combined airline plans to adhere to Southwest's policy of having only one class, no assigned seating and no change fees. Overall, I'd say this merger is a net positive - even more so if we get an Austin-Atlanta run to break Delta's stranglehold on that route.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fave Five Food Deals - 9/22/10

The vernal equinox equals big savings in this week's list of Austin's best grocery deals.

1. Utah peaches, .57/lb. at Newflower (through 9/29/10)

2. Bartlett pears, gala apples, black plums or vine ripe tomatoes, .88/lb. at Sun Harvest (through 9/29/10)

3. Yellow nectarines, red or black plums, broccoli crowns or baby carrots, .88/lb. at Sprouts (through 9/29/10)

4. Romaine lettuce or spinach, 2 for $1 at Sun Harvest (through 9/29/10)

5. Boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken sausage, $1.77/lb. at Sun Harvest (through 9/29/10)

Also, if you buy 12 double rolls of Quilted Northern Soft & Strong Bath Tissue at H-E-B before Sept. 28, you can get 12 double rolls of H-E-B Twice as Soft Bath Tissue with an in-store coupon for absolutely nothing.

Austin supermarket links (directs to weekly ads where available):
El Rancho Supermercado
Fiesta
H-E-B
Natural Grocers
Newflower Farmers Market
Randall's
Sprouts Farmers Market
Sun Harvest
Wheatsville Food Co-Op
Whole Foods Market

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pixies Drummer Talks to Me

Although I'm not attending the Pixies' two-night Doolittle extravaganza over at the Austin Music Hall, I did interview drummer/magician David Lovering for the Chron a couple weeks back.

It was 9pm here in Austin and noon two days later (or something ridiculous like that) in Brisbane, Queensland when we spoke. I wound up having to edit the transcript considerably, but most of what I cut out was covered in the three near-simultaneous interviews conducted with the other three Pixies.

The only time I've ever seen the Pixies was when they played the ACL Music Festival back in 2005. That was a mob scene, so my pal Kevin Fullerton and I watched most of the show from behind the fenced-off backstage area, enjoying Lovering's monitor mix much more than the muddy sound up front.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dude, You Have No Qur'an: The Remix

Jacob Isom, the bespectacled, rat-tailed skateboarder who stopped a Qur'an burning in Amarillo by swiping the book and saying, "Dude, you have no Qur'an!" has been Auto-Tuned. I think the result has almost as much staying power as that "Teach Me How to Dougie" song, but see for yourself below.



According to an interview with Gawker, the 23-year-old Isom's goal was to parlay his moment of glory into an appearance in High Times. Mission accomplished, sir.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fave Five Food Deals - 9/15/10

This week's list of Austin's top five grocery deals is all that and a (free) bag of chips.

1. Asparagus, $1.77/lb. at Newflower (through 9/22/10)

2. Yellow onions, 5 lbs. for $1 at Sun Harvest (through 9/22/10)

3. Red, green and black seedless grapes, .67/lb. at Newflower (through 9/22/10)

4. Wild caught Mahi Mahi filets, $3.97/lb. at Newflower (through 9/22/10)

5. Italian white bread, $1.99 ea. at Central Market (through 9/21/10)

Also, if you buy an 8.75-9 oz. bag of Lay's baked potato chips at H-E-B this week, you can get a free bag of H-E-B baked potato chips with an in-store coupon.

Austin supermarket links (directs to weekly ads where available):
El Rancho Supermercado
Fiesta
H-E-B
Natural Grocers
Newflower Farmers Market
Randall's
Sprouts Farmers Market
Sun Harvest
Wheatsville Food Co-Op
Whole Foods Market

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Live Dallas Tornado Coverage

Yesterday's 6pm newscast on WFAA in Dallas was enlivened by real-time coverage of a tornado touching down to the west of downtown.



The Tropical Storm Hermine-spawned twister followed a somewhat similar path to the famous April 1957 tornado, striking first in West Dallas before crossing the Trinity River and tearing through industrial properties around the intersection of Irving Blvd. and W. Mockingbird Ln. KDAF has some pretty amazing tower-cam footage of this damage as it happened.



The tornado was headed in the direction of Love Field when it lifted just after taking a weak swipe at the area around the Stemmons/Carpenter Fwy. split. Fortunately, there were no reports of serious injuries.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Fave Five Food Deals - 9/8/10

Direct from the wholesome wad of grocery circulars I just pulled out of the mailbox, here is this week's belated and soggy edition of Austin's top grocery bargains.

1. Cantaloupes, 3 for $1 at Newflower (through 9/15/10)

2. Yellow peaches, nectarines or plums, .49/lb. at Sprouts (through 9/15/10)

3. California Bartlett pears, .77/lb. at H-E-B (through 9/14/10)

4. Organic broccoli or cauliflower, .98/lb. at Sun Harvest (through 9/15/10)

5. Texas Russet potatoes, 10 lb. bag, $1.97 at H-E-B (through 9/14/10)

Austin supermarket links (directs to weekly ads where available):
El Rancho Supermercado
Fiesta
H-E-B
Natural Grocers
Newflower Farmers Market
Randall's
Sprouts Farmers Market
Sun Harvest
Wheatsville Food Co-Op
Whole Foods Market

Thursday, September 02, 2010

New Drugs for Sale This Friday

Start Labor Day weekend off right with a heady dose of the New Drugs at the Beauty Bar. We'll be rolling the Huey Lewis canon in between the bombastic Queen tribute band Magnifico! and the Descendants of Erdrick, who play music from video game classics of yore. I haven't seen the former in ages and I'm excited to see the latter live for the first time.