Pleasure Pier opens in Galveston

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Events

THE PIER IS BACK Summer has arrived and so has the new Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, bringing a new standard of waterfront fun to the Gulf Coast. The $60 million destination boasts a theme park of family attractions, with rides, games of chance and skill, entertainment, great food venues and retail shops. 

The Texas-sized Pier developed by Landry’s is 120 feet-wide and 1,130 feet-long. The Pier thrusts boldly into the Gulf of Mexico from 25th Street at the famous Galveston Seawall, welcoming guests for dining, rides, games and entertainment throughout the year. Rides from thrilling to gentle line the long Pier perimeter, creating an exciting sensation of being suspended above the water.

All Day Ride Pass

  • $21.99** for adults (48” and up)
  • $16.99** for children (under 48”)
  • Good for all rides all day and Pier access

Pier Pass (Walk-on)

  • $10* for adults (48” and up)
  • $8* for children (under 48”)
  • Pass required for admittance to pier; ride tickets sold separately at  booths/kiosks (good for day of purchase only)

Individual Ride Tickets

  • Starting at $4.00* per ticket
  • Must purchase a walk-on pass to gain access to the pier

* Plus tax

** All day come and go unlimited ride access

THRILLS GALORE 13 of the 16 exhilarating rides will open Memorial Day Weekend during the sneak peek, including:

Pirate’s Plunge Log Flume promises to thrill and chill you on warm days when your flume splashes 22 feet and 40 feet into cool, fresh water.

Carousel gives a beautiful, cheery greeting to guests as they enter the Pier’s Midway. In fact, this classic double-decker temptation to ride has horses, chariots or sea creatures galloping right in the Midway, so why not start here?

Revolution Up, down AND around. How fast? Try less than seven seconds a revolution! And did we mention it revolves you out OVER THE WATER?

Rock N’ Roll has a retro glitter style that would make Elvis blush. Climb in your car and ride backwards, forwards and around to the music. Cool.

Cyclone coaster loops 60 feet into the air to rotate passengers forward and backward, while the horizon does flip-flops.

Sea Dragon is a swinger with an ocean view. First it swings its 10 rows of riders up, up, up 50 feet over the Pier, then takes them down and back up, over the water.

Gulf Glider is a colorful classic swing carousel, with single and double seats that swing while you rotate and tilt.

Pier Pileup Bumper Cars let you channel those Interstate 45 aggressions into a million laughs in antique and classic bash-‘em vehicles. This is actually two rides: One for kids, with smaller cars, another for adults. Similar to most of the rides at family-focused Pleasure Pier, parents and their children can ride together in the big cars.

Texas Tea Cups is another Midway classic, fun for adults and kids, especially together. The cups twirl. The riders giggle.

Big Wheelin’ knows little kids like big trucks. Smaller kids can ride with an adult, bigger kids on their own in this safely circling convoy.

Frog Hopper gets its name from, well, hopping. It takes a load of kids up, and then – wait for it – drops them, not too far, but when they don’t expect it. And then, whoa, drops them again. They like it. They laugh.

Sky Shooter at rest looks like a huge blue and orange spider napping. Then it wakes and goes wild, spinning its 10 captive vehicles while taking them up and down, round and round, even out over the ocean. Wanna fly higher? Push a button and you do. Whew!

2501 Seawall Boulevard

Galveston, Texas 77550

PREMIUM PARKING

  • Peak Season $10 / 3 hours  ($2 every hour for a maximum of $16 for the day)
  • Parking lot opens at 8am until 2am (next morning); cars will be towed at 3am if lot not vacated
  • Lost tickets $16
  • Do NOT leave ticket in vehicle.
  • Only occupy ONE space. Vehicles parked inappropriately are subject to being towed at owner’s expense.
  • Pricing subject to change/seasonal.
  • Please leave items secure within your vehicle.
  • $10 validation for diners spending $25 or more at Bubba Gump and Fish Tales restaurants during specific time periods. Ask your server for details.
  • No tailgaiting, grilling or picnics.
  • Bus, tractor trailer & RV parking is not allowed in premium lot.
  • Vehicles may not be left overnight.
  • Unauthorized or abandoned vehicles will be towed at owner’s expense.

For additional information and hours of operations for the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, please visit www.pleasurepier.com or call 855-789-7437.

 

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A MOVEABLE BEAST

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE CURB – Why am I out here in the driving rain selling soggy doughnuts? It’s because my current financial situation is somewhat lacking. But hear my story and it may save you a lot of trouble, not to mention threats and a possible lynching. My attempt to get rich failed when no one would buy my iPad literary effort, “Almost Honest: Goldman Sachs Business Ethics.” One critic wrote, “It’s on-line and off its rocker.” Another reviewer opined: “Failed to launch on the iPad.”

Next I opened a coffee house for members of the Tea Party. They kept paying in doubloons. My sulfur bathhouse for pyromaniacs, Arson Wells, was closed by the ATF.  But that government raid gave me an idea: escorts for traveling members of the Secret Service. You know how exhausting those presidential trips can be. I called my enterprise Undercover Agents and charged the $830,000 bill to the GSA which said it could handle the tab from petty cash, but only if its West Coast executives could participate. For some reason, this effort, too, was shut down by the authorities even through it is perfectly legal in Colombia.

“What you need to do,” said my financial adviser during visiting hours, “is go into the hottest fad around.”

“Super PACs, so I can rake in millions of dollars anonymously?”

“No, start a food truck. They have been around for years, but only as taco wagons for Hispanics at work jobs. Go to any construction site about lunch time and you would see silver-backed vehicles sporting Spanish words like ‘enchiladas,’ ‘tamales’ ‘matzah balls’ and ‘haggis.’ That’s changed. Today all kinds of trucks are touring towns with all sorts of food. Austin is the leading city in America for food trucks, but then Austin has always been the cutting edge for living off the fad of the land. Like the time they outlawed frowning and opened a day care center for pedophiles.” Just then the guard said time was up.

By selling my corneas, I had enough money to buy a food truck. Since it travelled on wheels, I called it Tired Food. No one came. A change was needed, so I specialized in Chinese food and called my rig, “Peking Truck – Bills and Feathers Go Together.” The Health Department branded me a “yellow peril” and took away my license. French cooking is always popular, so I changed my enterprise to the Driving-in-Seine Café. It was doing fine until it was invaded by a German food truck, the Pots & Panzers. I surrendered immediately.

I bought a double-decker London bus and converted it into a food truck. Then I hired a British chef and specialized in British food. My customers said it tasted like British food and left. The end came when, like the Brits, I was driving on the left-hand side of the road and got smashed by a double-wide Winnebago towing an F-16. The Irish like to eat and drink, which gave me inspiration for the Blarney Kidney Stone. I was severely beaten with shillelaghs.

“My economic world is crumbling,” I wailed to my financial adviser. He picked up another beer can from beside the road and tossed it into his sack. “They pay 10 cents a pound. Your problem is all that ethnic stuff has been done before. You’re not thinking original. Come up with something new.”

A week later I was back in business with a food truck aimed specifically at Madison Avenue ad executives and ranchers. I called it the Mad Cow. The ranchers said, “Get a rope.” The ad guys agreed, saying, “Let’s run him up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes.” Other food truck efforts proved equally disastrous. No one came to buy anything from my Detroit pancake café for children, the Edsel and Griddle. Once I thought my luck had changed when I opened a foodie wagon out on a highway for aspiring presidents, since there were hundreds of them. I called it the Truck Stops Here. No one did.

It was then that I noticed the difference in operating a food truck and a regular brick-and-rat-droppings restaurant. For instance, did you know that you can cook dumplings in slightly used 40 weight oil? Bugs on the windshield have a use, while I now call road kill “wheels on meals.” One DPS trooper issued me a ticket for DWP – Driving While Pureeing. Possibly I needed to change my menu to reflect my mobility. Muffler muffins stank. Hash on the dash failed, too. My hub cappuccinos died, perhaps because the cup was too big. I thought my Transmission Impassable was cute. No one else did. I stopped changing the menu after rejection of my Rear View Marrow.

“It’s all about location,” my financial adviser said as he showed me his new orange jumpsuit. “You’ve got to go where the customers are.”

He was right, as usual, so I got out a map and found the right spot. I parked my truck between the lanes of the I-20 expressway and hung up a big sign, The Happy Median. I had to close after TxDOT mowers cut the hose I used to siphon water from the state tourist stop. Moving to another highway during early spring, I revealed my newest effort, a drive-through for getaway cars, the Bluebonnet & Clyde. The FBI blasted me with Tommy guns. News stories said there were survivalists camped in the Big Thicket awaiting the communist takeover by the Osama regime. That’s the ticket, Thicket. I painted my food wagon camouflage, filled it with MREs and fried possum and, taking a page from “Apocalypse Now,” I played “Ride of the Valkyries” on loudspeakers. I had to leave when collateral damage wounded my tailgunner.

My financial adviser stepped from the lineup and said, “Stay with your dream but remember the motto of your type of food truck, ‘It’s hard to hit a moving target.’ Otherwise, you’ll end up selling soggy doughnuts in the rain.”

Ashby is mobile at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevis Travel Video

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

OVER OUR QUOTE-A

May 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

“Once I rob a bank in Texas. Your government get after me with a whole army. Whole army! One little bank. In Texas, only Texans can rob banks.” – Calvera (played by Eli Wallach) in “The Magnificent Seven”

“No other state commands such fierce pride and loyalty. Lesser mortals are pitied for their misfortune of not being born Texans.” — Queen Elizabeth II, visiting Austin, May 20, 1991, in front of the Texas capitol.

Yes, it’s time once more to look at what people have been saying about us, and what we’re saying about ourselves. So let’s start with something serious: football. “Three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad.” – Darrell Royal

“Football is only a game. Spiritual things are eternal. Nevertheless, Beat Texas.” — On a church sign in Arkansas prior to the 1969 UT-Arkansas game.

“I visit Austin, Texas, from time to time to lecture at the University of Texas and fully consider myself a long-distance Longhorns fan. Yes, I know, news of the Red River massacre reached even Somerset, but as an Arsenal (English soccer) supporter, I have been emotionally conditioned for calamity. — Geoffrey Wheatcroft, an English journalist

Speaking of UT: “I was stopped and questioned seven times by University police on my way into the physics building. Seven times. Zero times was I stopped going into the gym – and I went to the gym a lot. That says all you need to know about how welcomed I felt at Texas.” – Former UT professor Neil deGrasse Tyson, celebrity astrophysicist (you see him on TV a lot) and director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium. He’s black.

“In my mind, I wasn’t going to pay more than $1.2 million.” — Austin businessman Milton Verret who paid $1.8 million for a jacket worn by Michael Jackson in his 1983 video “Thriller.” Verret planned to exhibit the jacket to raise funds for children’s charities.

“If you’ve ever driven across Texas, you know how different one area of the state can be from another. Take El Paso. It looks as much like Dallas as I look like Jack Nicklaus” — Pro Golfer Lee Trevino.

Some people, for reasons which elude me, don’t like us. “How would you feel if Mexico took back Texas?” a British leader in London asked U.S. Ambassador William J. Crowe, Jr., on July 14, 1996, during a discussion on Northern Ireland. Replied the American ambassador: “You’ve asked the wrong man that question. I’m from Oklahoma. We’ve been trying to give Texas back to Mexico for a hundred years.”

“You know the good part about all those executions in Texas? Fewer Texans.” –  George Carlin

Everyone knows, “Houston, we’ve got a problem,” but how about a few more observations on, in and for the Bayou City?

“The view from the Warwick Hotel is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. It’s just like Paris.”– Bob Hope talking about Houston on The Phil Donahue Show.

“Houston is an example of what can happen when architecture catches a venereal disease.” — Frank Lloyd Wright on Houston’s skyline in the 1950s.

“It is an ugly, sprawling city, unprotected by zoning laws. Block after barren block of weed-infested parking lots and disintegrating houses stand close by upscale shopping centers and lushly landscaped residential Edens like River Oaks. Too many hours are spent in cars on the congested but indispensable freeways. Yet in its way, it is also a city of art and culture, of exciting museums and distinguished buildings and world-class performing arts organizations.” – R.W. Apple, Jr., in The New York Times

“When I was a kid in Houston, we were so poor we couldn’t afford the last two letters, so we called ourselves po’.” – George Foreman

Moving on: “Why doesn’t Texas simply close UT-El Paso?” – Prof. Richard Vedder of Ohio University, commenting on the poor graduation rate at UTEP (one out of 10 graduates in four years, 35 percent in six years)

“Give me an army of West Point graduates and I’ll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I’ll win the war.” – Gen. George S. Patton may or may not have said this. The Citadel, VMI and other schools claim the quote, too.

Turning to politics:  “I have been screamed at by total strangers in the street who recognize me.” – Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick, sponsor of the anti-abortion forced sonogram law.

“We already have term limits. They’re called elections.” – Former Texas House Speaker Rep. Tom Craddick.

“Y’all as tempting as it may be, don’t shoot Obama. We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we’ve EVER had!” — Texas College Republicans called for the resignation of the University of Texas chapter president, Lauren Pierce, who is also the state chapter’s secretary, after she posted this tweet.

.            Gov. Rick Perry’s disastrous campaign for the GOP presidential nomination gave us a couple of good quotes. “I am concerned that the unfortunate results of Perry’s performance on the national stage may confirm the stereotype that much of the rest of the country has about Texas – the impression that Texas is a bunch of yahoos and people of low intelligence. “ – Scott Caven, a Houston Republican who was Perry’s state finance chairman in his last two runs for governor. “There has never been a more ineptly orchestrated, just unbelievably subpar campaign for president of the United States than this one.” –A “senior Perry adviser.”

Molly Ivins: “Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.”

The Grand Slam winner for years to come (cringe, ye Texans) “Oops.” — Our not ready for prime time Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a GOP presidential debate.

Finally, I checked for quotes about Texas in “Bartlett’s Quotations” but found nothing, mainly because there is no such book. Everyone calls it that, but the true name is, “Familiar Quotations” by John Bartlett. You may quote me on that.

 

Ashby can be quoted at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

Cooking Demonstration and Dinner with Executive Chef Giancarlo Ferrara at the Italian Cultural & Community Center

May 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

HOUSTON—May 10, 2012: The Italian Cultural & Community Center (ICCC),

will host one of Houston’s best loved chefs, Giancarlo Ferrara of Ristorante Arcodoro, for an exclusive dinner and chef demonstration at 7 p.m., May 25 at the ICCC.  Giancarlo Ferrara will lead you through Italy’s Sicilia region during the evening, the third of a four-part culinary tour series of Italy.

The four course demonstration and dinner will include Grilled Eggplant Rolls stuffed with fresh tomatoes and smoked mozzarella, Penne Rigate al Pesto Trapanese, Pesce Spada ai Capperi di Pantelleria and Cassata alla Siciliana, a tradition Sicilian cake with marzipan, sweet ricotta and candied fruit.  This event is $70 for ICCC members and $80 for non-members and includes the demonstration, four course dinner and all wine and beverages.  Space is limited.  Please call 713-524-4222, extension 4, to reserve your spot.

Giancarlo Ferrara joined the Arcodoro family of restaurants in early 2003 and has quickly become a respected fixture on the Houston culinary scene.  Ferrara represented Arcodoro at the prestigious James Beard House in 2003 and has participated in the Share our Strength Taste of the Nation and captured the “Peoples’ Choice” award at the 4th Annual Risotto Festival.  Join Executive Chef, Giancarlo Ferrara at 7 p.m., May 25 for a dynamic demonstration of his skill and culinary knowledge of Italian cuisine. The Italian Cultural & Community Center is a 501c3 whose mission is to preserve, celebrate and advance Italian culture and heritage.

To learn more about the cooking demonstration and the Italian Cultural & Community Center’s multiple programs and offerings, please visit www.ICCCHouston.com.

Freedom Over Texas Celebrates America’s Birthday

May 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Events, Uncategorized

With Billy Currington and Sara Evans

City of Houston’s Official Fourth of July Celebrations to Light-up Downtown Skyline

WHAT:                          Mayor Annise D. Parker’s official Fourth of July celebration, Freedom Over Texas, will set the stage for an extraordinary patriotic celebration filled with family fun and a spectacular fireworks show. The 26-year-old tradition and lively outdoor festival will feature star-spangled performances by featured country music artists Billy Currington and Sara Evans courtesy of Reliant. The crowning highlight of Freedom Over Texas, a spectacular fireworks, show will light up Houston’s downtown skyline while combining specially choreographed music with pyrotechnic artistry.

During Freedom Over Texas festivities, KBR Liberty Park will showcase military artifacts and vehicles including representation from all five military branches, and on-site recruiting. Also, patrons can make a donation to H.O.T. (Honoring Our Troops) and send a care packet overseas. The Bud Light Zone will showcase its Budweiser Beer Garden, the Bud Light MXT Vehicle and offer a prime view of the eighth annual Bud Light Texas Volleyball Championship Series Finals. More than 30,000 square feet of free educational entertainment and programming and will appeal to children of all ages in the Walmart All-American Kids Zone and will feature a Radio Disney, Jr. Area. Southwest Airlines will host the Southwest Airlines VIP Hanger and the Sky Stage featuring vintage aircraft from the Lonestar Flight Museum including a B-17 Bomber, B-25 Bomber, a B-25 and two A-26 Invaders making fly-overs throughout the festival.

In the Family Fitness Challenge Area activities will be provided by all five of Houston’s hometown professional sports teams including the Houston Dynamo, Houston Rockets, Houston Astros, Houston Aeros and Houston Texans.

WHEN:                         Wednesday, July 4, 2012, 4:00 – 10:00 p.m.
                              

Detailed schedule
                                   4:00 p.m.                                  Gates open and festival activities begin

                                   4:00 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.                Continuous Entertainment on Stages

8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.                Featured Artists: Billy Currington, and Sara Evans

                                   9:35 p.m.                                  Fireworks extravaganza

                                   10:00 p.m.                                Event closes


WHERE:
                      Eleanor Tinsley Park @ Buffalo Bayou (along Allen Parkway)

ADMISSION:                 $8 per person, (children 5 and under, free)
      Special discount ticket offers courtesy of Reliant at www.freedomovertexas.org


EXPECTED                  
Gated attendance: 100,000
ATTENDANCE:             Total viewing audience: 2,000,000 (perimeter viewing + television audience)

SPONSORS:                 Freedom Over Texas sponsors include:
The Featured Artists Sponsor: Reliant;  Anchor Sponsors: Bud Light, KBR, Southwest Airlines, Walmart; Additional sponsors include; Sprint,  Silver Leaf Resorts, McDonald’s, Camping World of Houston, In-Kind Sponsors: Houston Chronicle; 100.3 KILT; HOT 95-7; Mix 96-5; SportsRadio 610 and Mega 101 FM, , Doubletree Hotel Houston Downtown, Radio Disney, Greenstar Recycling, Metro, Houston Aeros, Houston Astros, Houston Dynamo, Houston Rockets, and Houston Texans. Co-producers: City of Houston/Mayor’s Office of Special Events and KTRK-TV ABC-13. Our Community Partner is the Houston Food Bank.  The event benefits Central Houston Civic Improvement, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c)

MORE
INFO:
                          Visit www.freedomovertexas.org

Identity Festival Returns This Summer

May 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

North America’s First Traveling Electronic Music Festival Experience To Hit Fifteen Major Amphitheaters in July and August

Line-up to feature some of the most exciting names in EDM

Eric Prydz, Excision, Paul Van Dyk, Madeon, Wolfgang Gartner, Porter Robinson, Nero, Arty, Showtek, Noisia, and more

North America’s first and only touring electronic music festival experience, IDENTITY, will return this summer, visiting major amphitheaters in fifteen cities throughout July and August. IDENTITY will kick-off in the afternoon, running through into the night, and will be centered on each venue’s central amphitheater stage. A full list of cities and dates are listed below – tour stops include Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego, New Jersey, New York and more.

A $25 All-In early-bird ticket special will be available for a limited time when tickets go on-sale April 24, 2012.

IDENTITY’s line-up features the most cutting-edge acts in EDM presenting them in some of America’s most storied venues, arenas that were long reserved for rock bands.

Sweden’s Eric Prydz’s legendary Ibiza residencies, European festival smashes and chart-topping hits undoubtedly served as inspiration for his friends and collaborators, Swedish House Mafia. Prydz, despite huge demand, hasn’t toured the US since 2007 due to a fear of flying, but with a new album ‘Eric Prydz Presents Pryda’ (5/22/12) and a unique IDENTITY live show, this was one road trip Prydz couldn’t miss.

Dance music icon and DJ legend Paul van Dyk will also be bringing his monstrous live show and production to IDENTITY. French teen sensation Madeon will be playing in support of his debut album release, following his recent much-hyped headlining sets at Ultra and Coachella. He’ll be joined by fellow teen, Porter Robinson, fast emerging as one of dance music’s most promising young talents, who’ll be wielding his massive big room electro sound to IDENTITY festival-goers nationwide.

Other acts tapped for IDENTITY include EDM heavyweights Nero, Wolfgang Gartner, Hardwell and some of the most exciting names in bass music including Showtek, Excision and Noisia.

IDENTITY welcomes back Rockstar Energy Drink as its festival stage sponsor, as well as returning sponsors Emazing Lights and Slurpee. IDENTITY will also again have exclusive playlists on Rdio to accompany the festival.  New to the IDENTITY Festival this year are TIGI Bedhead and LifeStyles Condoms.  Stay tuned for a full description on what to expect from them this year at the IDENTITY Festival.

Full IDENTITY line-up *:

Eric Prydz
Excision
Wolfgang Gartner
Nero
Paul Van Dyk
Porter Robinson
Madeon
Showtek
Noisia
Arty
Bingo Players
Hardwell
Doctor P

+ More To Be Announced

* Check local listing for each city

Tour dates and cities:

7/19 Cincinnati – Riverbend
7/20 Detroit – Elektricity Festival Grounds
7/21 Toronto – Echo Beach powered by Rogers
7/26 Boston – Comcast Center
7/27 DC – Jiffy Lube Live
7/28 Wantagh – Nixon at Jones Beach Theater
7/29 Camden – Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing
8/2 Atlanta – Aarons Amphitheatre
8/3 Tampa – 1-800 Ask Gary Amphitheatre
8/4 Miami – Klipsch Amphitheatre at Bayfront
8/10 Dallas – Gexa Energy Pavilion
8/11 Houston – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
8/17 San Francisco – Shoreline Amphitheatre * Ticket on-sales 5/29
8/18 San Diego – Cricket Amphitheatre * Ticket on-sales 5/29
8/19 Phoenix – Pavilion Amphitheatre

FILLED UP OR FED UP?

May 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE GAS PUMP – Look at the prices twirl like cherries and red 7s on the face of a Louisiana slot machine. How much are you paying at the pump? Too much, and as economists like to point out, the more we pay for gas the less we have left over for Lotto tickets and a chaw of Red Man.
For us, this price escalation is a two-edged MasterCard. We have to pay more, but then Texas, oil capital of Texas, gets more out of the boom than say, Vermont, no matter what our business is. As the late Glenn McCarthy once told me, “Son, we’re ALL in the oil business.” Only he said, “the awl bid-ness.” In addition, south Texas is benefiting from something new in the industry called fracking. I’m not sure what this means, but I understand it’s been banned at Baylor.
None of this Texas togetherness eases the shock as I fill up my car’s gas tank because, no, I’m not in the oil business except as a customer, which is why I feel like my pocket is being picked. So I have come up with several ways to cut down on my gas bill. (Incidentally, by “gas” I am referring to gasoline, not to the nauseous fumes mixed with chopped celery which power those effete brie-and-wine environmentally correct cars that look like a Munchkin’s phone booth.)
Here are my tips: I always try to drive downhill, usually that’s south, possibly with a strong wind to my back. Being towed is always a help. I keep my car’s weight to a minimum, starting by cleaning out my trunk. Take out my bowling ball collection, any old Mafia snitches, sacks of slugs for the toll roads and that anvil I never got around to converting into a lamp for the den. They call that round thing a “spare” for a reason: I don’t need it. Keep my own weight to a minimum, too, especially if my seat belt is tighter than Boris Yeltsin at a vodka tasting. Look for other items to pitch. Do I really need a backseat? Anchors were invented before brakes.
Look for the cheapest gas. I found the lowest prices at a Shamrock station in Marfa. Don’t worry, it was down hill. My wife and I both drive Lexuses (Lexi? Lexxus? Lex Luthor?) which have the gas mileage equivalent to that of an M1 Abrams tank and slightly better than those Hummers the size of a ZIP code. Instead of miles to the gallon, it’s more like gallons to the mile. My other solutions are to drive less, bundle my errands, and car pool. This means completing my Christmas shopping by August, taking in my dry cleaning annually and car pooling with people who are not going where I need to go. This last step requires a lot of follow-up cab rides, but really cuts down on my own driving.
It is a known fact that gas expands in heat and contracts in cold, so you get more gas when you pump at lower temperatures. I only buy gas in January. Another step towards handling the high price of gas is the reverse of NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard. I favor PIMBY. Please In My Back Yard. I’m trying to have an oil well or two next to the pink flamingoes by the coyote traps. Ah, that grinding and drilling all night, the distinct aroma of sweat, blood, beer and thick crude. I agree with Newt Gingrich, as I usually do: Drill, Baby, Drill! We didn’t hear that a lot after the BP oil spill turned a large chunk of the Gulf of Mexico into a black ooze of life-killing puke. But we all have short memories. Besides, those Cajuns like monetary paybacks the same as the rest of us.
Then we have the Keystone XL pipeline. Build that sucker through my neighborhood, Running Rats Acres, and send me a check. OK, the line would have to be diverted about 450 miles, but that is cheaper than lawsuits from tree-huggers who don’t like a little 50-foot-deep slit trench in their street with the ever-so-rare spill.
Incidentally, while pumping, I note that one of the great inventions, right up there with unsliced bread and the TV remote, is the little string that attaches the gas tank top to the vehicle. It’s so simple, but how many times have you found yourself sliding under your Peterbilt to fetch a runaway gas tank top? Usually in the rain at night.
We must now consider our oil companies, which employ five out of every three Texans. (See “Glenn McCarthy” above) Despite their billion-dollar subsidies and tax breaks from a generous American public, Big Oil seems to be barely getting by: Irving-based ExxonMobil’s annual revenues of more than $400 billion are about the same as the GDP of Norway. Honest. The company made $41.1 billion in profits last year. Although that was 35 percent more profits than it made in 2010, when the company paid only 17.6 percent taxes — lower than the average American – its tax rate actually dropped. A Reuters analysis estimates that Exxon paid only 13 percent in effective taxes for 2011. Exxon paid zero taxes to the federal government in 2009. Did you?
We can blame OPEC. (Arabs and white males are the only safe targets these days.) Its founding members included such Mideast monsters as Venezuela, Ecuador, Gabon and Indonesia at the initiative of that sneaky Muslim, Venezuelan Energy and Mines minister Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo. Speculators are also blamed for part of the price increase. And we have taxes. The U.S. federal excise tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel fuel. Here in Texas we pay an additional state tax of 20 cents on both gas and diesel. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for PIMBY, then the price of gas will not be near high enough.

Ashby is gassed at ashby2@comcast.net

Swing, Jive & Pop Into Dance

May 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

May 31, 11 a.m.
Miller Outdoor Theatre

Houston Metropolitan Dance Company’s “Swing, Jive and Pop into Dance” incorporates history, fashion, music and the arts into an interactive blast of excitement. The company dances through the eras of the 1930’s Lindy Hop, bops into the 1950’s, grooves into the 1970’s and ends with the hip-hop music of today. Students, teachers and audience members have the opportunity to converse with the dancers and participate in an energetic hour of dance while learning fun history.
Presented by Houston Metropolitan Dance Company

There’s something for everyone on stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. From daytime programs especially for young children to family friendly evening performances of music, dance, theatre and more, this is Houston’s best entertainment value. Admission is FREE!
For a complete schedule, visit www.milleroutdoortheatre.com.

Free tickets are available on a first-come first-serve basis (four per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30 a.m.―1 p.m. for assigned seating under the canopy. If tickets remain at 1 p.m., the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill.

Under normal circumstances, all unoccupied/unclaimed seats are released five minutes before the show is scheduled to begin. We encourage all patrons to be in their assigned seats at least 10 minutes before showtime to insure that their seat is not released. Again, there is NO charge for tickets. Tickets may not be reserved by phone. Only four (4) tickets per person. At managements’ discretion, all unoccupied seats may be released at any time for any reason.

Dancin’ in the Street: Motown & More Revue

May 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

May 24-27, 8:15-11 p.m.
Miller Outdoor Theatre

Dancin’ in the Street: Motown & More Revue is back to “thrill the hill” at Miller for yet another soul-filled Memorial Day Weekend! The 2012 spectacular will pay tribute to Etta James, Whitney Houston, Don Cornelius, Ashford & Simpson and many more. Dancin’ in the Street is an annual concert event celebrating soul and its enduring influence on music and culture – featuring Houston’s most talented performers.

Produced by ODPEC & BACE Productions

There’s something for everyone on stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. From daytime programs especially for young children to family friendly evening performances of music, dance, theatre and more, this is Houston’s best entertainment value. Admission is FREE!
For a complete schedule, visit www.milleroutdoortheatre.com.

Free tickets are available on a first-come first-serve basis (four per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30 a.m.―1 p.m. for assigned seating under the canopy. If tickets remain at 1 p.m., the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill.

Under normal circumstances, all unoccupied/unclaimed seats are released five minutes before the show is scheduled to begin. We encourage all patrons to be in their assigned seats at least 10 minutes before showtime to insure that their seat is not released. Again, there is NO charge for tickets. Tickets may not be reserved by phone. Only four (4) tickets per person. At managements’ discretion, all unoccupied seats may be released at any time for any reason.

Bayou City Outdoors & REI Present: SUP 101 – Stand Up & Paddle!

May 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Tuesday, June 12
Bayou City Outdoors & REI Present: SUP 101 – Stand Up & Paddle!
REI Westheimer 7538 Westheimer Rd; Houston, TX 77063
7:00 to 8:30PM

‘Sup, y’all? It is the hottest new sport that will cool you down in the blistering Houston summers. With miles of bayous, plenty of lakes and the almost flat surf of Galveston in the summer, we have an unlimited playground to try Stand Up Paddle boarding. Anyone can do this sport. It is low impact, uses practically every muscle in your body, is great for cross-training and is a ton of fun! While you work on your balance, you’ll work on your core. Plus, you can saunter along the bayous or paddle fast and turn it into an BIG aerobic workout.

Tonight we will talk about:
• How to choose a board and a paddle
• Where to paddle
• Common terminology
• Safety
• Strokes
• Cross Training, stretching & posture

Come join Bayou City Outdoors and R.E.I. as we explore all aspects of SUPing in and around Houston – we’ll have you up in no time at all!
7:00 to 8:30PM REI  7538 Westheimer Rd; Houston, TX 77063
For more information call 713 524 3567 or www.BayouCityOutdoors.com

Bayou City Outdoors Hiking in Houston

May 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

June 10
Bayou City Outdoors Hiking in Houston
Cleveland Park, Scotland St. & Jackson
Houston, TX 77007

Want to go hiking without having to travel outside of the city? Come discover all the trails and hideaways along the Buffalo Bayou! Get lost exploring the winding flat trails, bridges, and modest hills while exercising at an easy to moderate pace. Along this 6 mile hike we will pass the bat viewing area, art sculptures, and maybe even one of the rumored Buffalo Bayou alligators or Osprey couples!
We meet at Cleveland Park on the north side of Memorial Dr., there is a foot-walkway over Memorial here. The hike will start here and then we head towards downtown on the north side of the bayou. There is parking along the street for free.

When we reach downtown, we’ll stop for a water/coffee break so bring a few dollars. At the end of the hike you will have worked hard, made new friends and discovered all sorts of Houston secrets along Buffalo Bayou in our Bayou city!
As long as it is cool outside, this is a dog-friendly event for your canine friends who are up for six miles.
Free for Members and Non-Members alike. Meet at 8:15AM; depart 8:30AM on the dot! Cleveland Park, Scotland St. & Jackson RSVP & Directions to Jackson Park www.BayouCityOutdoors.com

Bayou City Outdoors Farmer’s Market Ride

May 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

June 9
Bayou City Outdoors Farmer’s Market Ride
Onion Creek,
3106 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77007

Come out and stretch your legs biking to the Farmer’s Markets of Houston to shop for local organic produce! Hop on your bike and let’s take a ride through the side streets, trails, and residential areas in the heart of Houston. This is a very social ride and all levels of riders are welcome. We will start the morning off with coffee at Onion Creek and then cruise through 2-3 markets to shop for fresh produce, sauces, jams, and bread. This is a 12-15 mile ride that lasts about three hours so bring plenty of water and a backpack to carry your goodies! If you’d like to join us but don’t own a bike, West End Bicycles rents bikes for $25 per day at 713/861-2271 or www.westendbikes.com.

If you are a member of Bayou City Outdoors and do not have a bike, we can loan you a bike for the ride. But you MUST call the office one week in advance to arrange for the loaner bike. Meet at Onion Creek, 3106 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77007. Please DO NOT park in the Onion Creek lot – there is parking on the surrounding streets but look out for ‘no parking’ signs. Meet at 8:00AM – leave at 8:30AM – Noon. Free for Members and Non-Members alike. RSVP 713-524-3567 or www.BayouCityOutdoors.com

The Barber of Seville

May 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Photo-by-Leroy-Gibbins

May 18 May 19, 8-10:30 p.m.
Miller Outdoor Theatre

HGO presents Rossini’s madcap comedy The Barber of Seville featuring artists from HGO Studio as well as the HGO Orchestra and Chorus. A lecherous old man is no match for young love and sheer audacity, especially when Figaro is involved. Dr. Bartolo is love with Rosina, but when she falls in love with a “poor student,” (a count in disguise) the stage is set for laugh-out-loud comedy. Rossini’s score is punctuated with brilliant ensembles and some of opera’s most familiar arias, including Figaro’s ode to his own fame.

Produced by Houston Grand Opera

There’s something for everyone on stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. From daytime programs especially for young children to family friendly evening performances of music, dance, theatre and more, this is Houston’s best entertainment value. Admission is FREE!
For a complete schedule, visit www.milleroutdoortheatre.com.

Free tickets are available on a first-come first-serve basis (four per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30 a.m.―1 p.m. for assigned seating under the canopy. If tickets remain at 1 p.m., the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill.

Under normal circumstances, all unoccupied/unclaimed seats are released five minutes before the show is scheduled to begin. We encourage all patrons to be in their assigned seats at least 10 minutes before showtime to insure that their seat is not released. Again, there is NO charge for tickets. Tickets may not be reserved by phone. Only four (4) tickets per person. At managements’ discretion, all unoccupied seats may be released at any time for any reason.