What my hopes are for the new Taylor Swift album…

What my hopes are for the new Taylor Swift album…

If you watched the VMA awards (I did not), you saw one of the two major stories which came out of the evening. One was the first appearance of Johnny Depp post-defamation trial, so… y’know… gross. The other was the announcement that there would be a new Taylor Swift album, and that is always a big deal.

Continue reading “What my hopes are for the new Taylor Swift album…”

Deep in the Heart of Texas, Part II: Food, Frivolity, Freedoms, and Frontage Roads

Part I had us digging into Texas from a size, sounds, sites and overall silliness perspective. There is a lot of all four categories, and I tried to hit what I could given where I took my Texas trek. Could have there been more? I did not reach Dallas and Dallas is an article all its own. Okay, time to move on to Part II.

Food

Barbecue – all of it is good, some of it is pretty good and some of it is excellent. If they ask you if you want your brisket “lean” or “moist” say lean. Moist means more fat. I went to a few places, one of which was the Harris County Smokehouse. It’s main claim to fame is you can order breakfast all day with your barbecue – “Only In Texas!”… except when you can’t. The night I went I got there about 2 hours before their closing time. All they had left was what was on hand as the cooks closed the kitchen. What? Yeah. Closed it down. Harris County Smokehouse became cafeteria style so you told them what you wanted and they slapped onto a dish or into a bowl. No eggs, no waffles, no pancakes as those all cannot be pre-cooked well. So, no 7PM breakfast. Not that I was going to do it anyway, I wasn’t. I was able to get brisket and chicken and two sides… but they were running out of sides. I looked at the server, looked at what they had left and said to myself “shit…” then said to the server, “I’ll take the boiled (GAAAAACK) brussels sprouts” then quickly added, “wait… is that peach cobbler a side?” With a twinkle on her eye (it was “on” as she had glitter caking her eyelids) “It is tonight.” Damn fine woman!

The best barbecue I had I was used to having and knew it would be good. I drove from San Antonio after my Alamo and River Walk experiences (see Part I) to salvage most of the day via a heaping plate at Salt Lick Barbecue in the Hill Country. Lean brisket, pulled pork, some spicy sauce, tater salad (it’s not potato in Texas), coleslaw, and sweet tea and I was good.

After that I had a day drink called a Firecracker at the Fang & Feather located on the grounds of the Wizard Academy, a place worthy of its own article someday. It was tremendously satisfying, and I have no idea what was in it. I’m not much of a drinker but from what I hear these guys have tremendous whiskey and, at the time they started it, were the only crowdsourced whiskey distiller in America. Look them up at Crowded Barrel Whiskey Company.

Many many Whiskeys, Cigars, and Watch Your Step signs

Frivolity

Texans love their football. Whoo doggie there are massive stadiums all over the place, including for high school football. Yep, high school football. It’s plain crazy. However, let’s leapfrog to the pro teams. Houston had the Oilers who moved to be the Tennessee Titans then got the Texans. They have never won a thing. Then we have the Dallas Cowboys, AKA “America’s team.” America’s team? Really? Well, if you look at it they do go on quick streaks of being great and then they go long stretches of not winning a damn thing so “America’s Team” kind of makes sense.

More sports frivolity? Baseball. Texas Rangers, 2x losers of the World Series. Houston Astros? 2x losers of the World Series… and they cheated to win the one they did so technically 3x losers of the World Series. I know, I mentioned this in Part I but cheatin’ merits another mention.

This cannon at the Alamo will probably be moved to Minute Maid Park so the Astros can have a louder sound when a fastball isn’t coming.

And more? Texas has more pro championships in basketball (6) than they do football (5). As for hockey, they have one Stanley Cup victory, but no one cares.

Freedoms

Freedoms includes lack thereof and Texas history has got it good. When the state decided it wanted entry as an official state into the union, the Missouri Compromise was in effect and therefore no slaves could be above the 36°30’ latitude. Texas wanted to be entered into the union as a slave state. Therefore, this strip of land became what was known as “No Man’s Land” until Oklahoma took it, which is why Oklahoma is roughly the shape of a Jiffy Pop popcorn held upside down. I know I just dated myself and I do not care.
Dated is key here. Texas got wind the Civil War was over, the South lost and the Emancipation Proclamation was set in stone. However, they effectively kept it their own little secret for 2 more years until federal troops arrived in Galveston to take control of the state and make certain the still-enslaved people got their freedom. That was the short version of Juneteenth. There’s more here.

Plus, freedoms ain’t freedoms without guns. Based upon the ton of billboards seen on this Texas trek, the Uvalde tragedy has not slowed the Texas populations zeal for guns. Lots of Second Amendment folks out there still shouting the Demon-Crats are coming to take yer gunz! I saw more than one big-ass truck with such sentiment plastered all over their bumper and windows.

Frontage Roads

First, Texas has a lot of 3 and 4-level highways. There’s a crap-ton of concrete being utilized for roadways in this state. Good gravy. Second, most of Texas has a highway system where a side road – the frontage road – runs alongside the actual highway. Granted, Colorado has these as well but they are not nearly as sophisticated as Texas. In Colorado they are literally so close to the actual highway you’ll see dirt tracks running to them from the highway in what I call “fuck it” lanes, where when traffic gets bad if you have a 4×4 just say ‘fuck it’ and cut over to the frontage road.
Again, Texas has a more sophisticated frontage road system and it works like this – you see the place you want to get to, pass it and then 2-3 miles down the road you’re able to get off the highway, do a built-in u-turn (AKA “turnaround”) under or over said highway to enable driving back to your chosen spot. If you happen to miss it? No problem, there’s another u-turn spot further on up so you can go back under (or over) the highway, return to your original turnaround and start over again. You could make your own NASCAR race out of it if you want… and based upon the chunks of cars, black tire marks and damaged guardrails people have. This system, by the way, is a nightmare for Google Maps. To make it worse there was a lot of road construction too. My Google Maps virtual woman got so tangled up in the mess she stuttered “head south… head south… head south… head… head… head… head.” I finally released her of her duties and figured it out on my own.

Which BY THE WAY GOOGLE – when someone is not familiar with where they are the first set of directions which inevitably includes a direction – are USELESS. I know not where north is in a strange land like Texas so stop telling me to “head north.” RANT OVER – as is this article y’all.

Deep in the Heart of Texas: Part I Size, Sounds, Sites and Silliness

I just spent a four days in Texas. Was I deep in the heart? Not really. From an anatomical perspective looking at a person walking away, the ‘heart’ could be considered Santa Anna, Texas which is kind of ironic given he wanted to cut the heart right out of Texas. First, I was in Houston. Houston would be like the right shinbone if it was a severe compound fracture like you see in Stranger Things. Then I went to San Antonio, the normal leg with a twisted knee, and then Austin AKA the right hip. Very appropriate for Austin since it is the only hip place in Texas yet not appropriate since it should be the left hip.

Size

Texas. What to say about Texas. It’s big. Really really really big. It’s not the size of Alaska – you can fit 2.5 Texas’ into Alaska, but it’s big. It’s so big this is where Southwest Airlines was born. Who wants to drive to Dallas from Houston? No one. San Antonio? From Houston? Sure. From Dallas? No fucking way. Hence, Southwest first set of flights were the triangle from Houston to Dallas to San Antonio. And how, pray tell, did the good folks who started Southwest Airlines entice people to fly on said airlines? With colorful planes? Well… no. This is a marketing question for y’all as it was for me when I went to Northwestern. We had a whole half a day to try and figure it out. Us college kids thought we had all the answers. Free food. Nope. BOGO tickets. Nope. Buy 3 flights get one free. Nope. Free fifths of whiskey. Yep. Wait. What? Yep. None of us came up with that answer and therefore our professor thought we were idiots. Yeah, because that’s the FIRST THING we’d think of – handing out free booze.
“you kids need to learn what the audience is all about and you didn’t.”

Oh really? Alcoholics? Yeah, because coming to the conclusion only alcoholics would be brave enough to get on a fledgling airline’s flights makes so much sense.

They don’t drop whiskey into your lap anymore, but Southwest still does the triangle flights everyday – San Antonio to Houston to Dallas. Good to know, but watching people wait for a delayed flight from San Antonio to Houston – a 3-hour(ish) drive – is kind of hilarious.

Sounds

Your ears will pick this up more than you want, trust me – the actual song Deep in the Heart of Texas. I swear to baby Jesus someone told June Hershey (lyrics) and Don Swander (music) the morning after a massive drinking binge they had to write a song about Texas.

The stars at night are big and bright (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas

The prairie sky is wide and high (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas

The sage in bloom is like perfume (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas

Reminds me of the one I love (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas

GEETAR PICKIN’

The coyotes wail along the trail (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas

The rabbits rush around the brush (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas

The cowboys cry ‘Ki Yippee Yi’ (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas

The dogies bawl (MOOOOO!) (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas

PRODUCER: Hey June? Don? That’s only a minute 45 seconds. Do you have any more animals to add to it? Deer? Armadillo? Chupacabra? Hello? June? Don?
JUNE & DON: Fuck off.
PRODUCER: Ok, wrap it up. All done!

Speaking of sounds, we have the Cheatin’ Astros. Minute Maid Park is a nice facility, but the Astros cheated to win the 2017 World Series. They had center field cameras key on the opposing catcher to steal signs then relay it to their hitters what pitch was coming. It if was a curveball or any other non-fastball pitch BANG BANG went the trash can lids then bye bye went the Yankees then the Dodgers.

Sites

The Alamo, where white guys lost, yet they won. It seemed like every single statue of a person at the Alamo that I read about at the Alamo started off with “after a series of business failures back east, so and so moved to Texas” or “after a bad marriage and a business failure back east so-and-so fled to Texas.” Out loud, I said, “oh so they were losers who ran like chickens” and some guy laughed loud enough it broke the unwritten rule of the Alamo Code of Silence (not sure that’s a thing but everyone was super quiet).

I am certain during their last breaths Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett had a discussion that went kind of like this:

“I hope this becomes a tourist attraction.”

“Tourist attraction ?”
“Oh yeah, we’re going to lose this battle and we are going to lose it bad. Yet somehow, through tourism, we will make this a victory.”
“And a movie.”
“A what?”

“A movie – moving pictures on a screen. It’s coming. And maybe they’ll get a huge conservative movie star to make it so it looks like we were wronged.”
“But we’re trying to claim this as our own.”
“Never mind that.”

(Cannonball hits wall)
“Jesus Hosea Jebediah Santa Anna is pissed.”
“He probably has a right to be. I mean we did kind of shell game him a bit.”
“Are you saying we…”
“Swindled him? Well… does it matter now?! We are not going to survive this! But what will… maybe… just maybe… become a legacy so it becomes a tourist attraction.”

“Oh that again.”
“Yes, with tourist trap crap attractions like Ripley’s Believe it or Not, an IMAX theatre, a Haagen Dazs, a Starbucks, an entire shopping center… and a coffee shopped named after you Davy.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake. Coffee?”
“Yeah and…”
OK, so you get my point. The Alamo is surrounded by everything crappy. There’s even a Tussaud’s Wax Museum. It’s not Madame Tussaud’s either it’s Larry or Big Head Todd Tussaud or something like that but after I saw the massive Trump head (and I think Eric Trump) in wax I refused to pay any more attention to it. The only thing it should be surrounded with are Mexican restaurants. It’s close, but not quite there yet.

They may as well move the Alamo to Branson. If they can move the London Bridge to Arizona, they can move the Alamo to Missouri. There I said it.

Back side of the Alamo from inside the walls. Pretty sure that’s the Alamo Marriott in the background where Santa Anna and his men stayed before attacking.
Continue reading “Deep in the Heart of Texas: Part I Size, Sounds, Sites and Silliness”

Everything That Could Break Down Broke Down

I started this in the small downtown of Edmund, Oklahoma. It was bristling with activity. Sitting in a cozy coffee shop, Café Evoke, I watched as people milled about, popping in and out of small locally owned stores; checking out the colorful diner across the street that looked like it was built from a retro gas station. Clean, bright blue, crisp white and popular. The Sunnyside was its name. Very appropriate for the day filled with brilliant blue skies and a soft breeze rushing down Broadway, a breeze pushing the American flags around.

I was as ready, I guess, as I could be to start my article for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Conference Finals are pretty much set and a jump on it before the final team gets decided might be a good idea. But the flags wouldn’t let me push aside the malaise having crept into my soul.

All of them were melancholy, waving at half-staff.

I couldn’t write about hockey.

Just couldn’t.

Continue reading “Everything That Could Break Down Broke Down”

FBC OSCAR COVERAGE 2022, PART VIII: Predicting The Winners (Part 4)

FBC OSCAR COVERAGE 2022, PART VIII: Predicting The Winners (Part 4)

We’ve knocked down the acting and writing categories. We’ll do Best Director and Best Picture later this week. But let’s do ALL OF THE OTHER CATEGORIES right now! Let’s party!

Continue reading “FBC OSCAR COVERAGE 2022, PART VIII: Predicting The Winners (Part 4)”

FBC OSCAR COVERAGE, PART VII: Grappling With Licorice Pizza’s Age Gap

FBC OSCAR COVERAGE, PART VII: Grappling With Licorice Pizza’s Age Gap

Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t made a bad movie, and I don’t think he could if he tried. Well, I mean maybe if he tried. He could keep the camera out of focus or give all the actors shrooms or make a shot-for-shot remake of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. And Licorice Pizza, Anderson’s ninth film (and the third nominated for Best Picture) is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a bad movie. It’s anchored in two amazing lead performances (neither of whom have acted before) and has very funny and touching moments and definitely has a light and easy feel with which Anderson drives the film effortlessly.

But Licorice Pizza does have one big problem. Perhaps, more accurately, the movie has two problems rolled into one. The first has to do with the core of the relationship between the film’s two main characters. And the second is the film’s (and filmmaker’s) complete lack of interest in even wanting to address the first problem. If this sounds layered and confusing, it shouldn’t surprise you.

After all, it’s a Paul Thomas Anderson movie.

Continue reading “FBC OSCAR COVERAGE, PART VII: Grappling With Licorice Pizza’s Age Gap”

FBC 2022 Oscar Coverage, Part V: Predicting The Winners (Part 2)

FBC 2022 Oscar Coverage, Part V: Predicting The Winners (Part 2)

Ok, in my last Oscars column, I predicted the screenplay categories. On to supporting performances!

One of my favorite things about the supporting categories this year is that both Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst are nominated for The Power Of The Dog, in which they are a married couple both in the movie AND in real life. Something about that just warms my heart, y’all.

Ok. Let’s get predicting!

Continue reading “FBC 2022 Oscar Coverage, Part V: Predicting The Winners (Part 2)”

Are You (Joe Rogan) Experienced?

Are You (Joe Rogan) Experienced?

This is going to be another one of those stories where we talk about something that many comedians have been discussing on social media. Maybe you’re a comedian and this interests you. Maybe you’re not a comedian but keep your finger on the pulse of comedy news. Maybe you’re an alpaca and your farmer is reading this to you.

Like the other stories I’ve written in this vein about people like Shane Gillis and Dave Chappelle, this is a story where I take a look at speech and consequences and the concept of a “cancel culture”, though the fact that I’ve put quotes around that term should tell you where I stand on it. There’s a lot of stuff you could also cover, from toxic fandom to how so many people are using a climate of fear for their own personal gain.

So, strap in, kids. Let’s talk about Joe Rogan.

Continue reading “Are You (Joe Rogan) Experienced?”