Montrose Dine Around

June 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Foodie Events

Montrose was one of the city’s first grand neighborhoods. But it’s also long been accessible to nearly everyone, a place where mansions stand on tree-lined streets next to modest dwellings and multi-unit townhomes.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Montrose became a center for the burgeoning counterculture movement, featuring street musicians, artists studios, and second-hand shops, helping shape the neighborhood’s culture today.

Throughout the years, the main commercial corridor of the neighborhood, Westheimer Road, has been the central street for residents to shop, dine, and drink. Today, world class restaurants can be found next to tattoo shops and art galleries, a unique mix not found anywhere else in the city.

Our Montrose Dine Around combines a cultural, historical, and architectural tour with a progressive meal, held at four critically acclaimed local restaurants. The neighborhood has been a mecca for culinary diversity where indigenous cuisine mixes with more progressive fare, while authentic ethnic enclaves continue to grow in number. Restaurants and menus are subject to change.

On the Montrose Dine Around, you may enjoy the following cuisine:

Regional MexicanPhoto of diet and healthy mediterranean salad
Modern American
Italian
Locally-driven

BUY TICKETS HERE

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHEN: Monthly between 5:00 and 7:45 pm (please see the event calendar for current availability) July 16, 2014 , July 30, 2014, & August 6, 2014.

WHERE: Westheimer Road and Mandell Street (The exact meeting location will be provided upon ticket purchase)

HOW LONG: The food tour will last approximately 2.5-3 hours

WHO: All age groups and fitness levels are encouraged to take the tour

HOW MUCH: $89 per adult ticket (plus a $3 ticketing fee). We will be sitting for all dishes.

WHAT TO WEAR: Comfortable clothing and shoes

WHAT IS INCLUDED: All food and drinks are included in the tour. Guide gratuities are not included but always appreciated

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Food tours will take place rain or shine- tours may be rescheduled based on severe conditions.

Downtown Food Tour – June 26th & 28th

June 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Dining, Foodie Events

Historic, and hip, downtown Houston honors the city’s rich past while simultaneously embracing the future. Houston’s largest business district offers modern skyscrapers, historic facades, world-class athletics, cosmopolitan activities, and a variety of critically acclaimed bars, restaurants and shops. From historic Main Street and Market Square to Green Street, downtown Houston has something for everyone.

These three-hour walking food tours will discuss the evolution of the area’s history architecture and culture, while stopping at a number of establishments to enjoy a variety of food and drink.

The Food tour may include the following:

Tex-MexDifferent types of cheese with empty board on table close-up
Spanish Tapas
Regional American
Craft beers
Locally grown organic produce

June 26th & June 28th, 2014

Location: Downtown
Venue: Houston Culinary Tours
Phone:713-554-1735
Email: info@foodtourcorp.com
Times: 4:00-6:45 p.m.
Admission: $59 per adult ticket (plus a $3 ticketing fee)
Visit Event Website
Free Admission: No

Click Here to see a sample menu.

Beer, Bourbon, & Bull

June 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Bars & Nightlife, Events

On Thursday, June 26th, 100.3 The Bull presents its 1st annual beer, wine, and liquor tasting event from 6pm-10pm at Silver Street Station. Join them at Beer, Bourbon and Bull to sample drinks, eat from amazing restaurants and check out some live music. General Admission tickets include 15 drink samples and all the food you can eat!

Location: Silver Street Station
Address: 1501 Silver Street, Houston, TX 77007whiskey in glass with ice on wooden table
Phone:713-881-5947
Times: 6:00pm-10:00pm
Visit Event Website
Area of Town: Houston Heights
Free Admission: No
Adult Admission: 25

JULYDOSCOPE 2014

June 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Events

Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) has joined forces with Dance Source Houston to present the 4th Annual Julydoscope – a free evening of art, music, dance, and film at Discovery Green in downtown Houston on Saturday, July 19. Festivities begin at 7:00 p.m. with performances on the Anheuser-Busch Stage by five high-energy, multi-dance company acts curated by Dance Source Houston, followed by a screening at 8:45 p.m. of the 2013 Oscar© winning documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom.

Julydoscope 2014 features dance performances by Houston-based dance companies Hierro Forjado, Mnemosyne International, Dance of Asian America, Urban Souls Dance Company and Compañia Folklorica Alegria Mexicana. The performances will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. Ernie Manouse, the three-time Emmy Award-winning anchor/producer of InnerVIEWS on HoustonPBS, will serve as master of ceremonies at Julydoscope 2014.

Hierro Forjado (“wrought iron”) is a flamenco dance troupe founded and led by Alexandra Simmons, comprised of women from all walks of life. Mnemosyne International dance company, led by artistic director Kristina Koutsoudas, presents women’s traditional dances of the East and Mediterranean for contemporary audiences. Dance of Asian America promotes and preserves the rich cultural heritage of China through authentic Chinese dance. Compañia Folklorica Alegria Mexicana, founded in 2001 by Maestro Isidro Salas, is a group of 24 adults and 14 children that performed at the Latin Grammys at Houston’s Toyota Center in 2008. Urban Souls Dance Company is a professional modern dance company founded in 2005 by Harrison Guy, who trained in New York City at the Alvin Ailey School.

Twenty Feet From Stardom, directed by Morgan Neville, starts Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer as backup singers who live in a world just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now. Watch a trailer of the PG-13 film at http://cinemartsociety.org/julydoscope.

Julydoscope 2014 coincides with Discovery Green’s July Flea by Night, which takes place from 6-10 p.m. on July 19 in the shady southeast end of the park near The Grove restaurant. The monthly flea market features artsy, vintage shopping vendors and on-site food trucks including The Golden Grill, It’s a Wrap! mobile bistro, Churrasco To Go, Porch Swing Desserts and What’s up Cupcake?, plus live music by funky electro-dance duo Wrestlers from 7-9 p.m.

A Watched Pot Never Boils

I  sneak out to my garden every evening looking for progress. Until recently progress had slowed; it picked up after I did some tree trimming. I return from a three day trip to North Texas to find my pot boiling over! Cucumbers that were barely noticeable when I left are huge, some over a foot long. I picked 23 tomatoes from my Celebrity vine. Peppers are big and ripe, okra pods cover all three young plants and my two eggplant bushes net 8 fruits. Emotionally I swing from celebrating, to being overwhelmed. What the hell am I going to do with all this stuff?

 

I planted with recipes in mind, I just didn’t realize everything would ripen at once. And, this is a busy time of year for me; not a lot of time to be playing in the kitchen. I decide to do the easiest, funnest project first. I zip down to Pier 1 imports and purchase a 1.5 gallon, spouted drink dispenser. I hit the H-E-B on the way home and pick up some whole, peeled garlic cloves and visit Spec’s, I need vodka!

Onions

Onions

 

 

Serrano Peppers

Serrano Peppers

 

 

Assorted Peppers

Assorted Peppers

 

 

 

 

 

I got this idea from Woodrow’s on Durham. They have a big urn filled with veggies and vodka- great in bloody Marys. I throw 12 ounces of peeled garlic cloves into the pitcher, add a layer of jalapenos and cover those with dozen of my smaller onions. Then more layers of peppers: habanero, serrano, cayenne and finally poblano. Even with the pitcher crammed full of veggies, it takes nearly two big bottles of Teto’s to fill the decanter. This will be ready to start consuming in a few days; the peppers should last for months as long as they stay covered in vodka.

 

Vegetable Infused Vodka

Vegetable Infused Vodka

My next project involves the cucumbers. I’m going to combine them with onions and peppers to make Bread and Butter pickles, hopefully with a bit of heat to them.

 

 

Bread and Butter Pickles

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

4 ounce jars of pickles

4 ounce jars of pickles

 

15 cucumbers, sliced

4 onions, thinly sliced

1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced

1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup salt

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

2 1/2 cups granulated white sugar

1tablespoon mustard seeds

3/4 teaspoon celery seeds

1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

Combine cucumbers, onions, peppers, garlic and salt. Let chill for three hours. Drain and discard liquid.

Place remaining ingredients in large sauce pan and bring to boil. Add cucumber mixture boiling vinegar mixture; heat until beginning to bubble. Transfer into sterile storage jars and refrigerate up to two months. This made made enough pickles to fill 14, 4 ounce mason jars; perfect gift size.

Update:

The Bloody Marys were a hit around the pool on Sunday! I combined a 50/50 mix of Clamato and Mrs & Mr T’s Bloody Mary mix with the infused vodka. Finished with Worcestershire, Tabasco, celery salt and fresh ground black pepper. Served over ice in pint glasses garnished with celery and olives. The infused vodka added intense depth and flavor.

I served the pickles with home smoked Texas brisket and potato salad (homemade; store bought ingredients).  The pickles were well received, however, they had little to no heat. I’ll use hotter peppers in the next batch. Guests left with little jars of pickles.

 

The garden is still giving. Upcoming projects include eggplant, okra and tomatoes.

 

Texas Smoked Brisket

Texas Smoked Brisket

 

Garden, 6/21/14

Garden, 6/21/14

 

 

 

Cool Down in One of Houston’s Public Pools!

June 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Kid's Corner

Summertime and relaxing by the pool go hand in hand.  Don’t have a pool? Don’t worry! Take your kids to one of Houston’s 37 FREE public pools this summer!

PoolPublic Pools Northwest of  Downtown Houston:

Agnes Moffitt – 713-468-5666 |10645 Hammerly Blvd, Houston, TX 77043

Inde Heights – 713-862-1284 | 603 East 35th, Houston, TX 77022
Lincoln – 281-447-2525 | 1048 Grenshaw, Houston, TX 77007
Love – 713-867-0490 | 1000 West 12th St, Houston, TX 77008
Oak Forest – 713-684-1819 |1400 Du Barry Ln, Houston, TX 77018
Schwartz – 713-973-6310 | 8203 Vogue, Houston, TX 77055
Stude – 713-862-5762 | 1031 Stude, Houston, TX 77009
T.C. Jester – 713-686-6800 | 4205 T.C. Jester, Houston, TX 77018

Public Pools Northeast of Downtown Houston
Greenwood – 713-455-5165 | 602 Beresford, Houston, TX 77015
Hobart Taylor – 713-673-3774 | 8100 Kenton, Houston, TX 77028
Moody – 713-238-2215 | 3201 Fulton, Houston, TX 77009
Northline – 713-742-1512 | 6911 Nordling, Houston, TX 77076
Tidwell – 713-633-1618 | 9720 Spaulding, Houston, TX 77016
Tuffly – 713-674-3367 | 3200 Russell, Houston, TX 77026

Public Pools Southwest of Downtown Houston
Alief – 281-983-8137 | 11903 Bellaire, Houston, TX 77072
Memorial – 713-862-1426 | 6402 Arnot, Houston, TX 77007
Sharpstown – 713-272-3690 | 6600 Harbor Town, Houston, TX 77036
Townwood – 713-434-3508 | 3403 Simsbrook, Houston, TX 77045
Westbury – 713-723-2192 | 10605 Mullins, Houston, TX 77096
Windsor Village – 713-726-7112 | 14441 Croquet Ln, Houston, TX 77085

Public Pools Southeast of Downtown Houston
Beverly Hills – 713-948-9063 | 9800 Kingspoint, Houston, TX 77075
Clinton – 713-675-9336 | 200 Mississippi, Houston, TX 77029
Cloverland – 713-734-8948 | 11800 Scott, Houston, TX 77047
Denver Harbor – 713-673-7140 | 1020 Gazin, Houston, TX 77020
DeZavala – 713-923-7220 | 7521 Avenue H, Houston, TX 77012
Eastwood – 713-923-8058 | 5000 Harrisburg, Houston, TX 77011
Emancipation – 713-284-1977 | 3018 Dowling, Houston, TX 77004
Finnigan – 713-673-7311 | 4900 Providence, Houston, TX 77020
George T. Nelson – 713-748-0449 | 6900 La Salette, Houston, TX 77021
Glenbrook – 713-645-7187 | 8201 North Bayou, Houston, TX 77017
J. Robinson, Sr. – 713-672-8958 | 1422 Ledwicke, Houston, TX 77029
MacGregor – 713-748-0317 | 5225 Calhoun, Houston, TX 77021
Mason – 713-928-4826 | 541 South 75th, Houston, TX 77023
Reveille – 713-645-6544 | 7700 Oak Vista, Houston, TX 77087
Sagemont – 281-922-2312 | 11507 Hughes, Houston, TX 77089
Sunnyside – 713-734-0757 | 3502 Bellfort, Houston, TX 77051
Wilson Memorial – 713-948-9051 | 100 Gilpin, Houston, TX 77034

Houston Public Pools

Dates: Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Times: 1pm to 8pm
Location: 37 pools around Houston. Click here to see specific pools.
Phone: 832-395-7129
Admission: Free and open to the public

POTOMAC FERVER

June 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

When was the last time you met, or even saw in person, your Congress member? (We used to say “Congressman” but that is so 1860s if not 1960s.) For me, the last time was decades ago. I don’t expect him to come knocking on my door to chat, although that’s what he did when he first ran for office. My U.S. representative, and quite probably yours, too, is MIA. His face on the side of milk cartons. There have been sightings, but mostly of him dozing off in some House vote on herring subsidies. However, that could have been a tape — the speaker was Sam Rayburn. Wait. I do remember seeing my man in Washington. He was making a speech to a high school class and it was so bad that it was run on Comedy Central. That’s the honest truth. His official residence might be the District of Columbia, but members of Congress don’t actually live in Washington. They commute from the suburbs.

The reason we are discussing this lack of contact back in their home district is Eric Cantor. To refresh your memory, Cantor was majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the heir apparent to the speakership. As such he got respect, fear, lots of campaign donations. He represented the Seventh District of Virginia, going from the leafy suburbs of Richmond to near Washington, a strong Republican part of the state, where Romney beat Obama in 2012 by15 percentage points. Cantor had been elected and re-elected seven times.

In the GOP primary he faced an unknown economics professor at Randolph-Macon College named David Brat. Cantor had a 26-to-1 cash advantage. Brat’s entire election budget was $200,000, which was only slightly more than what Cantor’s campaign spent on steak dinners. No kidding. He was so worried about the primary’s outcome that he spent election morning in a D.C. Starbucks, at what The Washington Post described as a “monthly meeting with large donors and lobbyists.”

And he lost. Actually, he got clobbered by 11 percentage points. (Cantor’s own polls showed him up by more than 30 points.) He was the first House leader to be unseated in a primary. After the election, of course, pundits explained: “Obviously it was…” Or, “As I’ve said all along…” Many pundits blame his defeat on immigration. Brat somehow managed to portray Cantor as soft on immigrants, practically pushing for amnesty. Maybe so, but mid-Virginia is hardly a hotbed of illegal immigrants. The congressional district’s Latino population is only 5 percent while 77 percent are non-Hispanic whites, 14.5 percent are black and 4 percent are Asian, according to the 2010 census. I can’t buy that immigration was a top priority for the voters. There was also the matter of a nothing voter turnout. Not 14 percent of the eligible voters cast a ballot, and they were mostly Tea Party members voting for Brat who is even more right-wing than Cantor.

No, the real reason was a matter of priorities. The Congressman had a different set of priorities than his constituents. He lost touch. He succeeded in being a power in the Capitol, but forgot why he was sent there. Cantor was all over the TV screens, holding forth in the Capitol Rotunda, on Sunday morning talk shows, or raising funds in Idaho and collecting chits. His district’s farthest point was only a two-hour car trip from Washington, but he was never around. After-election polls, showed the voters believe they didn’t have a voice in Congress when it came to jobs, the economy, education and herring subsidies.

The “representative” part of their job has been lost I Congress. Example: We are hurting in this economy, but for the first time in history most members of Congress are millionaires, according the Center for Responsive Politics. Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012. The richest of all is a Texan: Rep. Michael McCaul, Republican of Austin, worth over $294 million. He married it. Many among us are worried about their jobs. Congress doesn’t have that problem. Between gerrymandering and voter apathy, 90 percent of Congress members seeking election are re-elected. Bloomberg reports that 90 percent of House members and 91 percent of senators who sought re-election in 2012 were successful. Polls show we hold Congress in lower esteem than pond scum. But we always re-elect our own member because he or she is really terrific – or runs unopposed. This is particularly true in Texas, although Ralph Hall from northeast Texas was defeated in the last GOP primary, possibly because he was seeking another term at the age of 91, the oldest person to ever serve in the House, and promised to work with his political opponents from all 13 states.

To remind me who he is, I get a Christmas card from my Congressman, which I pay for, and an occasional newsletter extolling his fight against communism. Ditto the pay. His main priorities seem to be being re-elected and sending out Christmas cards. My priorities include the economy, global cooling and getting UT and A&M to meet in football again.

It’s called Potomac Fever. Once members, appointees and most journalists get to Washington they like to stay. Many become lobbyists or just retire to Maryland’s east shore, like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about Cantor. After his defeat, he resigned as majority leader, losing more than 25 staffers (he’ll still have 20 like every other member).This extra staff included bodyguards who drove him around Washington and to his district in an SUV. And his salary of $193,400 will be cut by $20,000 to the normal $173,000. He’ll move to K Street, become a lobbyist, triple his income and buy his former colleagues coffee at Starbucks – on his expense account. As for our Texas’ pols, when the Washington Redskins become the home team, it’s time to leave.

Ashby is unelectable at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

The World Turns

I’ve noticed a slow down. Plants that were surging, growing like crazy, have paused. Beautiful blooms are not turning into fruit; tomatoes refuse to take on color. The routine has not changed. I’m feeding weekly, watering daily and praying a lot. Today I notice shade covers the garden at 11:30.

How can this be? Back in the spring I meticulously tracked the sun, then removed and trimmed trees to ensure the garden was getting at least eight hours of sun a day. Now I see the world turned. The sun is no longer rising in the gap I created. It’s coming up behind my neighbor’s big oak tree and over one of my giant old crepe myrtles. It’s well after noon before the sun hits my tomatoes. Shade starts creeping back over the garden about 4:30, a tall fence and an awning covering the door to the storage area blocking the sun’s rays. Four hours of sunshine ain’t getting the job done.

The sun is rising behind the trees

The sun is rising behind the trees

 

Obviously these trees aren’t coming down, but after a couple days of research, I find some branches I can trim on the crepe myrtle and gain 90 minutes of sunshine for the garden. Not ideal, but every bit helps. I climb up a ladder and onto the roof of the guest house. I take a long stride from the roof into the tree and begin shimmying up the tall trunk with my trusty tree saw. The view is different from here and I can’t really tell which branches intended to cut. I’m not climbing all the way back down for a second look; I select a branch and start sawing. The limbs are heavier than they look and I worry about fences and pots below as they crash to the ground. It looked like a few little branches needed trimmed. Next thing I know I’ve got a ten foot pile of tree limbs in the yard that need cleaned up. There goes my Saturday!

The results were not instantaneous, but by midweek things are happening. Little cucumbers appear on the vines. Eggplants form and peppers that seemed dormant for weeks gain color. My Tabasco pepper plant had never produced a pepper; suddenly the bush is full. All it took was a few strokes of a saw, and gardening is fun again!

Cucumber

Cucumber

Tabasco Peppers

Tabasco Peppers

Serrano Peppers

Serrano Peppers

Eggplant

Eggplant

Assorted Peppers

Assorted Peppers

 

 

 

Butter is Better

June 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Remember when butter was good?  Then it was bad and margarine stepped in.  For almost the past 100 years there has been a debate on which is actually better for you: Butter or Margarine?

Fresh butter with knife on a chopping board

World War II brought upon us the great butter shortage which is when margarine stepped in as the “healthier” alternative and picked up the slack.  Around 1957 most of America was consuming just as much margarine as they did butter which was being marketed as the cheaper and healthier choice of the two.  After that, with the right marketing, the amount of margarine consumed in the 1970’s was almost three times that of butter!

Oh, the times they are a changin’!  Butter is back! New research has recently been presented on the subject showing what your grandparents always knew: butter is better.  The New York Times posted a blog recently that challenge what we have always been told about the link between butter’s saturated fat and heart disease.  Real butter is rich in fat-soluble vitamins. It turns out that what is best for your health is the most natural and delicious choice.

Here are just a few reasons butter is good for you:

  • Real butter is rich in fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Real butter contains healthy saturated fats and fatty acids your body needs.
  • Butter is rich in important trace minerals, including manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and selenium (a powerful antioxidant).
  • Real butter (especially from grass fed cows) is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (which helps the body build muscle rather than store fat.
  • Real butter is associated with a lower risk of obesity.

Not all butter is created equal though. When you go grocery shopping always read your nutrition labels and look at your ingredients.  The ingredients should be simple: cream/milk and salt.

Brands such as Falfurrias Butter and Kerrygold are two brands that sport just these ingredients.

This leads to the next logical question: How much butter should I eat?  That depends on your diet, fat intake,  and lifestyle.  When in doubt, just do what Grandma did and add a little pad of butter!

LOCK, STOCK AND CRACKER BARREL

June 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE RESTAURANT – What’s on the menu today? Roast beef, shrimp, calves’ liver. You can’t beat calves’ liver except maybe with rhino toes or hummingbird lips. Odd. That woman over there is pushing her kids under their table while her husband throws himself in front of them. A waitress is screaming and the bartender is reaching under the bar for something. Haven’t they ever seen an AK-47 before? Or a M67 hand grenade? Maybe it’s my 81 mm high explosive mortar that’s spooking them. Don’t worry, folks. I’m a good shot — usually.

This walking armory is my way of ensuring my Second Amendment rights, and they’ll get my F-35 jet fighter when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers. I am not alone in this battle for freedom, liberty and the American Way of Fright, because there is a movement to revise Texas gun laws. Right now, with a permit, in Texas you can carry a pistol concealed under your coat, football shoulder pads or flak jacket, but you can’t just let it hang there in a hip holster like Wyatt Earp for all to see. On the other hand (I guess if you’re left-handed), you can carry a long-barrel rifle in plain sight – over your shoulder, in both hands, in your teeth. That’s right: it’s illegal to show your pistol but OK to openly display your shotgun. These laws were given to us by the same genius Texas legislators who ruled you have to wear a crash helmet if you ride a bicycle but you don’t have to wear one on a motorcycle when weaving through freeway traffic at 80 mph. Only in Texas.

To right this gun-toting wrong, a group called the Open Carry Texas wants the pistol law changed so wannabe gunslingers can openly carry their pistols. To make their point, some Texans have been carrying their long rifles to eateries such as Sonic, Chili’s, Starbucks, Chipotle and Jack in the Box. Owners, no doubt a bunch of food stamp collectors, are urging customers not to bring firearms to their restaurants after armed demonstrators frightened customers at two San Antonio locations. So no gunfight at the Golden Corral. No lock, stock and Cracker Barrel. Target is thinking of making the same request. I’d think any store named Target, whose logo is a big red and white target out front, would be first in line. The over the mall gang also demonstrated in front of the Alamo. Hey, gun totters, you’re 178 years too late. Where were you when Travis needed you?

But the story gets confusing. The NRA, of all groups, issued a statement saying these demonstrations by Open Carry Texas were “hijinx” and said the practice “defies common sense.” “Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself,” the NRA statement read. “To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary.”     C.J. Grisham of Temple, founder of Open Carry Texas, was outraged at the NRA’s outrage. He said his group has no plans to halt demonstrations and said he was determined “to prove to the Legislature that we’re not yahoos or weird or anything like that.” He also said his group had stopped those public demonstrations, so it must be another group. Huh? Then he cut up his NRA card. Wouldn’t you think he’d toss the card into the air and drill it with his AR-15? To add to the confusion, in the midst of this rebellion the NRA said the press release was not quite right, “a mistake” was the term. We might assume the clueless low-ranking “staffer” in the NRA who wrote it was given a last cigarette.

Those NRA wussies are too liberal for us all-weather night fighters. The organization is probably in cahoots with that known radical former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her retired astronaut husband — astronaut? get a real man’s job — Mark Kelly. They have released a poll of Texas voters showing strong support for tougher laws to bar potentially violent people from possessing firearms. Giffords may not be thinking clearly since she was shot in the head by a looney. We can’t trust their poll, or a poll sponsored by Americans for Responsible Solutions. of 1,000 likely Texas voters: 85 percent of those questioned supported background checks on gun sales and 79 percent favored denying convicted domestic abusers access to guns. Sixty-one percent favored requiring subjects of restraining orders to forfeit their firearms. Those are hardly majorities.

The Second Amendment guarantees me the right to bear arms because, as the Founding Fathers specified: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” When I was in the militia — a group of pacifists known as the U.S. Marine Corps – they even issued me a gun. Actually, it was a 105 howitzer. After I kept trying to put a bayonet on the muzzle, I was transferred to the infantry. This guarantee is why I like to take my weapons to church, the voting booth and the neighborhood pool. Of course, the two ammo belts are a bit heavy in the deep end. One neighbor   objected to my carrying my semiautomatic A-45 Hippie Shredder. It is also why I went out to the Nevada desert with my blasting buddies to support a rancher who owed more than a million bucks in fees for grazing rights, but who doesn’t? OK, he so turned out to be a knuckle-dragging racist, I found his views on guns and government most interesting, and so did his main supporter, Sean Hannity. Need I say more? Strange. My fingers are feeling cold and dead.

 

Ashby is disarming at ashby2@comccast.net.

 

 

 

Things to do With Kids During the Heat of the Summer

June 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Kid's Corner, Parents' Place

One thing is for sure – summer is here! So. What do you do with the kids when its either too hot to play outside or they need a little quiet time to let mommy and daddy take a break  finish chores.

Here is a quick list of fun websites that will help keep the little one’s busy:

  • Smithsonian Institute: Learn about art, history, science, and more! : www.si.edu/kids
  • hotNational Geographic for Kids: Activities and experiments, cartoon factory, games, and more!: www.nationalgeographic.com/kids
  • FirstGovForKids: For older kids to sites about fighting crime, computers, space, careers, and more: www.kids.gov
  • Official NFL Football site for kids. Fun football facts, game highlights, games, be a play, sound off, and more! : www.playfootball.com
  • Time Magazine for Kids: Bringing the latest news to kids, poll zone, kids scoops, research tools, and more! www.timeforkids.com
  • Sports Illustrated for Kids: Top stories, contests, videos, news and blogs, league standings, games, and more! www.sikids.com
  • United States Mint: Fun and education tool that teaches kids about coins, the Mint, and US history. www.usmint.gov/kids
  • Ask for Kids: A search engine that is easy to use and with answers geared towards children. www.askkids.com
  • PBS Kids: A safe place for kids to explore and play hundreds of fun educational games with their favorite characters! www.pbskids.org
  • Brain POP: Animated science, health, technology, math, social studies, arts, quizzes with help for k – 12 kids.  www.brainpop.com
  • 3 – D Virtual World: Kid fun zone learning through play-access activities , video games, mobile apps, and more. www.jumpstart.com
  • Yahoo for Kids: Busy site with games, videos, movie trailers, jokes, sports, ecards, and more. www.kids.yahoo.com
  • Crayola Fun:  Have a creative type? Find coloring activities, arts and crafts, card creator, lesson plans, and so much more. www.crayola.com
  • Last but not least….www.funology.com

 

Say Anything Premiere Brand New Song “Six Six Six” Exclusively With Billboard

June 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

hebrews

New Album “Hebrews” Out June 10th via Equal Vision Records

Album includes 16 Special Guest Vocalists

Tickets on Sale Now for Upcoming Tour with The Front Bottoms, The So So Glos & You Blew It!


Say Anything will be headlining Warehouse Live in Houston on June 15th!

Pura Vida

June 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Words and Photos by Dick Dace

Costa Rica is a quick, three-hour, non-stop flight from Houston via Continental Airlines. With the right connections, one can turn a weekend jaunt into a trip of a lifetime.

On September 18, 1502, Christopher Columbus discovered Costa Rica during his third visit to the New World. Its rich vegetation, natural beauty and indigenous wildlife has inspired millions to explore its rainforests and pristine beaches. For those who want to experience “the wild in luxury,” they call upon Mead-Brown.

My impression of Costa Rica as a backpacker’s paradise was swept away by a cool Pacific breeze when I met Mark Mead and Michael Brown – the major domos of Costa Rica, who are conveniently located in the private resort of Los Suenos on Herradura Bay.

With more than forty years experience in the diplomatic corps between them, during which they planned and executed countless state visits for presidents, premieres and royalty, Mead-Brown have established themselves as the leading purveyors of private luxury vacations in

extraordinary villas, condos and apartments that become your home-away-from-home. Like the perfect hosts they are, they take care of every detail associated with your visit, from airport pickup and stocking your refrigerator and bar, to arranging a driver to help your explore the incredible beauty that is Costa Rica. But first you must choose your home.

Selecting the perfect home from their exclusive accommodations can be daunting. Safely ensconced behind the security gates of Los Suenos, where even the hedges are made of indigenous orchids, one can find a five bedroom, 9,500 sq ft Italianate villa with a live-in maid that is frequently visited by holler monkeys from the National Forrest next door; or Casa Mono Loco, a thatched three bedroom open-air compound perched on one of the highest mountains in Los Suenos and overlooking the 200 slip marina and the Pacific. Maybe a three bedroom, 3,500 sq ft modern condo in Jaco is more your style, situated in the heart of that international beach town known for its nightlife. Any and all of there properties are perfectly located to explore the surrounding natural beauty.

Mead-Brown had their kayak guides, Leonard Jimenez and Jose Ventura take us ocean kayaking off Playa Aqujas. The gentle waves made it easy for us to paddle past the surf and glide next to a flock of gray pelicans. We explored volcano caves and the craggy shoreline eye-level with Roseate Spoonbills and a fishing White Ibis. The adventure made us hungry, and we were most interested in exploring the local cuisine.

Our driver Rubier Chinchilla, who was with us during our entire visit, took us to one of his favorite lunch places, Soda Kathia. Ticos, as the Costa Ricans are called, enjoy small family-run cafes that cater to locals, and adventurous travelers. Their specialty is the working man’s lunch, or Casados, a marriage of food, consisting of plates of rice, beans, salad and a choice of pork stew, grilled fish or fried chicken. Today, it was the perfect fuel for flying through the treetops.

Recent government legistation has protected all indigenous and undomesticated plants and animals, thus ensuring the nation’s natural riches for generations to come, while at the same time, opening them up for exploration.

One ingenious way to allow visitors to explore the treetops of century old trees and their unique habitat, are zip lines. The “world’s longest” zip line, consists of sixteen interconnecting zip lines that zigzag down a mountain overlooking the Pacific. As one flies through the air at speeds that seem like 25 – 30 miles per hour, wild turkeys called for their mates, parrots made nests and iguanas seemed to laugh as we zipped passed. And there were butterflies, everywhere.

One morning while walking through the Carara Parque Nacional, we came upon one of the 1001 indigenous butterflies, the Morpho peleides. As it flew toward us, its’ brilliant, electric-blue wings would flap closed, and just for a moment, it would disappear, perfectly camouflaged to confuse its predators, then reappear. It was like watching a blinking light move about, and it was marvelous.

Another enjoyable adventure Mead-Brown sent us on was horseback riding with Lucasta Rogers, a Brit who came for a holiday and never returned to England. She led us on her runaway steed over mountains and across streams to where Scarlet Macaws made their home. They seemed to welcome us with their loud calls and lead us on an adventure as we followed them from tree to tree while they ate their breakfast. On the backs of our horses, we had an up close encounter with Costa Rica’s serene natural beauty. Osprey and Mangrove Black Hawks flew overhead as we gazed across valleys to the gentle surf of the Pacific.

With the help of Mead-Brown, we were able to understand what the Ticos meant when they would greet us by saying, ‘Pura Vida.’ Living in Costa Rica, if even for just a few days, is ‘the good life.’

 

Resources:

Mead-Brown, www.MeadBrown.com

 

 

STATE OF THE STATE

June 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE LINE – It snakes back and forth like those security rows at the airport, with ropes keeping us in order. The line goes out the door and down the hall. There must be 150 to 200 patient people here, each clutching papers. This office is either the ICE citizenship application department or a VA hospital’s out-patient clinic for today’s heart attack victims. This scene reminds me – and, no doubt you, too — of bodice rippers. More, later. Actually, this is the local office of the Texas Dept. of Motor Vehicles where we go to change vehicle ownership registration, get a 150,000-mile checkup or obtain new license plates since the DPS is looking for your old set, something about an armored car robbery.

I am here to change my car’s registration title, but knowing how bad the wait would be, I brought along some reading materials (Hustler slipped into a Gideon Bible), dinner, a bedroll and a calendar. But something is wrong here. After a long period of waiting, I notice that the line has not moved. Not an inch. I shall be here until they finish the Florida presidential recount. Probably this problem is because there are 45 windows and four clerks working. Finally, they wear me down and I get ready to leave. Maybe if I come back some day when business is slower. Like Christmas. Then again, there are so many state holidays (147) Bob Cratchit will probably close up shop mid-November. The guy in front of me says, “There’s a shorter line I know of. Only used car dealers go there to change registrations.” Great, I say. Where is it and I’ll go there? “El Paso.”

I won’t ask if this has happened to you, because it has. Every Texan has had to deal with car registrations papers, new plates, DWIs. Even if you can afford to pay someone to stand in for you, that doesn’t help with driver’s licenses. Incidentally, not knowing just which state agency to deal with, I accidentally went to the closer DPS’s driver’s license bureau. There were people waiting in the parking lot to get in the lobby so they could wait in line. The next day, upon finding the correct state building almost in my time zone, I came here and got in a line, only it was the wrong line. That one was for people paying off misdemeanor fines for violations such as disrespecting hobos, standing your ground or voting Democratic. There was an express line for those with six violations or less.

It seems there are long lines at every state agency, bureau and pay toilet. At the Walls unit in Huntsville, do convicts on Death Row have to wait for their turn with the needle? You’d think our state leaders, like the gov and lite gov, would have dealt with this problem, as they’ve been in office since Sam Houston retired. All these people want to pay off fines or buy license plates or complete some other way of paying the state money. So wouldn’t you think Texas would make this process as painless and quick as possible, even by phone or mail, email or carrier pigeon?

This obviously brings us to bodice rippers. I knew you’d wait. It is the year 2000, and I receive a registered letter from a small East Texas town I’ll call Small East Texas town or SETT. Inside the envelope is a large yellow form. Across the top in bold letters is: “Small East Texas Town.” Below is: “Public Works Department.” The rest is fill-in-the-blanks and goes like this: In the interest of the Health, Safety and Welfare of the people, I have 10 days to throw myself on the mercy of the court “to avoid prosecution by this department. If this condition is not corrected with the allotted time given, a complaint will be filed against you in Municipal Court. A fine may be levied against you as authorized by City Ordinance.” Huh? I am about to be fined by a town I’ve never visited? Should I pay property taxes on no property?

I call up SETT’s law people and a deputy explains that a car registered to me was found in a vacant lot. He describes it as a gray ’92 Buick. I had a car of that description, but got rid of it three years earlier. Yet, unbeknownst to me, since that time my old car has been riding the streets and highways of Texas and wherever else. Clearly no one ever changed the registration. But don’t you have to show the state your ownership papers or a DNA sample to get tags and stickers and all the authentication the State of Texas requires? Obviously not. In how many bank robberies has the Gray Ghost been the getaway car? Should the deputy check the trunk for bodies? Mine was a trade-in on a new car. The dealer was supposedly reputable. The salesman had told me, “We wholesale these off the lot.” Meantime, the State of Texas lost all those state fees, licenses and inspection costs because our lawmakers make it so hard to follow the law.

Here is where the bodice rips: The deputy, who sounded big, tough and not the kind of guy you’d mess with, was quite nice. We got to talking about my job, and he finally confessed: “I write, too, romance novels, under a different name, of course.” He even joined the Romance Writers of America and went to their annual convention in Dallas. “I was the only male there.” He didn’t give me a ticket and I didn’t tell his colleagues Officer Bubba McMean was also Miss Olivia de Quincy Featherstone. (The Romance Writers of America is headquartered in that hotbed of racy literature, Houston, Texas.) Wait, the line is moving. “This may go even faster than the El Paso line,” I say to my fellow waiter. He replies: “This IS the El Paso line.”

 

Ashby waits impatiently as ashby2@comcast

 

 

 

 

ANCHORS AWAY

June 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

 

THE TV – “A man was shot last night at the Bar None Cantina and Muffler Repair Shop after he shot two other men who shot….” The screen switches to blinking red lights from a scrum of patrol cars as the reporter stands in front of yellow police tape. A few minutes later: “A wreck on the expressway left three people in serious condition when an 18-wheeler crashed through…” More blinking red lights, this time from a fire truck and an ambulance, plus the ubiquitous yellow tape. “An apartment fire left twelve people homeless but Fluffy, the pet cat, survived as….”

There’s a local TV news adage: If it bleeds, it leads. Have you noticed that our local evening TV news reports consist of shootings, car wreck and apartment fires, with an occasional teacher-molests-student story thrown in? If there’s not a juicy tragedy in town, they’ll hunt one down. I swear, not long ago I saw a TV news program showing an apartment fire in San Antonio. I was in Houston. A program will lead with a shot of a truck plowing through a barrier and into a river. Then they will show it again, and again. It happened in St. Louis.

It used not to be this way. Serious TV journalists with a BJ in radio/TV dug up serious stories – OK, with a few bits such as: “It’s so hot you can fry an egg on this car hood.” What happened to them? As usual, I shall explain. It’s all about money and pride. When TV first came in, many stations were started or bought by the local newspaper publishers who earlier had started or bought radio stations thinking they were a cute toy that would never supplant newspapers. Actually, the radio stations didn’t take over from newspapers, but TV stations were a cheap addition to the local media empire.

But over the years, with new generations of owners taking over, we saw locally owned TV stations bought up by national corporations. Examples are right here in Texas where in Houston, the Chronicle owned KTRH radio and KTRK-TV. The Hobbys had The Houston Post, later KPRC radio and then KPRC-TV. These families were pillars of the community and had pride in their products. The new owners were out-of-town or out-of-state faceless corporations who care not a fig about local stories, local watchdogs and quality journalism. All they care about is local profits. Today, think of Texas’ TV stations as our end of a long vacuum cleaner hose sucking money from Texas to New York or wherever. At least we still have one Texas-owned TV network: the Belo/Dealey family, owners of the Dallas Morning News, also own a local radio station and WFAA-TV in Big D plus stations in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and…. This just in. Belo Corp. has been sold to Virginia-based Gannett Corp.

These new owners cut back on good reporters. When one gets too experienced and too expensive, he or she is let go to be replaced by some just-graduated kid, who thinks the mayor runs the school board and change of venue is a rock band. Circuit City tried this – replacing its experienced sales people with young, clueless clerks. The company went bankrupt.

A few years ago someone, a highly paid consultant, no doubt, came up with Happy Talk. That’s often a segue from one anchor to another: “Speaking of apartment house fires, it’s sure fiery outside, isn’t it, Mister Weatherman?” Or, a time killer at the end of the show when there are still 60 seconds to kill. “That’s sure a pretty tie, Charlie. Did your wife give it to you? “Thanks Mike. No my daughter. And she’s sure pretty, too.” Laughter all around. Can you imagine Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow acting that way?

The shallow and silly news on local TV stations stands in stark contrast to the major TV networks’ news programs. (I’ll let the laughter subside.)Let’s not run network news’ obit just yet. In the evening, an average of 22.1 million people watch one of the three major network news programs on ABC, CBS or NBC. Fox News came in fourth with 1,097,000 viewers. Almost three out of four U.S. adults (71 percent) watch local television news and 65 percent view network newscastsover the course of a month, according to Nielsen data from February 2013. While 38 percent of adults watch some cable news during the month, cable viewers spend far more time watching cable news than broadcast viewers watch local or network news. And Fox News greatly outstrips MSNBC and CNN in viewers. A small but very select audience watches PBS NewsHour. It’s a really good half hour of news. Then they have to pad it out for another 30 minutes (no commercials) with right-left, yes-no experts on the cabbage crop in Yemen.

Two points to make: Some local news reporters and anchors are excellent journalists — knowledgeable, witty, wise, and they have good hair. Also, this absentee owner problem covers most newspapers, too. So we ink-stained wretches can’t be too condescending. No, make that three points. Many people miss the 5:30 p.m. national news. Just look at our freeways at that time. So all they get is the 10 o’clock version. More car wrecks.

What’s on tonight’s local news shows? “A lost dog shows up after…. Is too much vinegar bad for you? World War Three is just minutes away…. But first….” At least once in every program we hear a breathless “Breaking news!” I read recently that a TV station manager in Indiana, I think, announced her station would stop that panic button. She probably lost her job. The one bright spot in Texas’ local TV news is Austin. Perhaps because it’s our capital city, those stations cover state judges, the legislature and various state agencies. This just in: Austin-based LIN Media, owner of three TV stations in Austin, has been sold to Media General in Richmond, Va.

Ashby changes channels at ashby2@comcast

 

 

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