San Diego

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel Blog, Uncategorized

Set Your Sights on San Diego

By Kelsea Russo

SD3San Diego is a top destination for thrill-seekers and romantics alike. La Jolla, just 20 minutes outside of downtown San Diego is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. This small, coastal community is ideal for adventure, relaxation and year-round sunshine.

Day 1

Stay at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, one of the few hotels in the area. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, the amiable hotel is nestled on beachfront property. Ninety-eight guestrooms, 12 hard-surfaced tennis courts and a 9-hole golf course are just moments from the San Diego Underwater Park, a600-acre ecological reserve. August is Texas month! Snooze amid the sounds of waves crashing on the Pacific shore while the Lone Star Flag waves in the breeze above you.

La Jolla activities are abundant. Start your day with a soothing session of yoga on the beach. Trained professionals lead you through stretches and meditations for an hour of mental and physical relaxation in the cool, San Diego morning. Once you’re rejuvenated, embark on a free fall bike tour with San Diego Bike and Kayak Tours. Feel the wind on your face as you glide2 invigorating hours from the top of the historic Mt. Soledad to the famous seal harbor, an open community where dozens of endangered seals seek shelter.



For a peaceful afternoon, visit the Grand Del Mar, San Diego’s only 5-star and 5-diamondresort. Slightly east of the coastline, the resort combines Mediterranean charm and modern elegance; and activities that don’t involve the beach. Saddle up at the equestrian center for a romantic trail ride through lush greens and picturesque vegetation surrounding Los Peñasquitos Canyon.

One does not survive on activities alone. We need food! Power up at The Shores Restaurant where they combine healthy seasonal/regional menu selections with ocean front views and exceptional quality. Lunch on Burger Lounge’s patio in the San Diego sun as you sip their signature Lounge Milk shakes. They use only the greatest organic and grass-fed beef in their patties. The local eatery offers vegetarians Quinoa Veggie patties and fresh salads. Brockton Villa is a fairy-tale dinner setting. Request a table overlooking the La Jolla Cove and the light breeze from the coast will compliment wine and their renowned Cioppino. Brockton Villa is known for American cuisine, seafood and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding.

Day 2

Slip into your swimsuit and head over to Surf Diva for a stand-up paddle board lesson. Surf Diva is one of the world’s premier women’s surf schools, offering year-round classes on surfing and stand-up paddle boarding for men and women of all ages. The friendly owners match you with the correct wetsuit and paddleboard, lead you to the water and walk you through each and every step of the process. With these expert instructors you’ll stand-up and be paddling in no time.



The afternoon presents mid-day coastal winds on top of the hill of Torrey Pines Gliderport. That’s right! Gliders. Sail nearly 300 feet above La Jolla’s Black Beach and take in incredible panoramic views of the ocean, as you are strapped alongside a certified instructor in a comfortable seated position. Bring a camera so you can capture the 30-minutes of highflying adventure along the sparkling coastline.

At La Jolla’s best-known restaurant, George’s at the Cove, Chef Trey Foshee presents fish tacos and George’s specialty- smoked chicken, black bean and broccoli soup along with their house-made organic tea that highlights fresh ingredients of the region. The open-air rooftop terrace is spectacular, buzzing with chatter over the sights below. For something a little more secluded, try a romantic dinner for two on the beach at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. They will set up a candle lit table next to the ocean so you can dine and savor wine as you watch the sunset. A barefoot stroll along the beach with your loved one is a perfect end to the day’s activities.


The Lodge at Torrey Pines staff will guide your hike in the 2,000-acre Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Get your blood pumping as you make your way through the indigenous wildlife and natural landscaping up to the vista point, where striking views of Peñasquitos Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean will leave you breathless. Snap a few photos and head back to the Lodge’s in-house restaurant, the A.R. Valentien, for one of the nation’s top ten farm-to-table experiences.

Recuperate from your adventures with a treatment at the Torrey Pines Spa. With a full menu of holistic and specialty care services, the Spa aims to utilize local marine and botanical-based products for a truly rejuvenating experience. These professionals have you feeling relaxed ad restored.

Observe life on La Jolla’s charming streets from the covered patio at Roppongi Restaurant and Sushi Bar. This contemporary fine-dining facility serves excellent Asian fusion cuisine. Wine and dine with a glass or two of true Napa Valley vino and make sure to save room for a scoop of coconut gelato for a sweet end to this trip.

LaJolla’s floating sea breeze, clean air and adventures await you. This small jewel just outside of San Diego’s downtown is paradise.



Dine Out ONE Day and Help Fight HIV/AIDS!

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

Celebrity chef, Monica Pope and fellow restaurateurs serve up a delicious opportunity for Houstonians to give back to the community.

“Dining Out for Life” – Thursday, April 24th

“Dining Out For Life” is that single day of the year when everyone can help end HIV/AIDS by having a meal. How simple is that! On Thursday, April 24, 2014 over 30 Houston-area restaurants will donate a portion of their proceeds to AIDS Foundation Houston (AFH).

“We’re delighted that celebrity chef and Houston restaurant owner, Monica Pope serving as the 2014 Dining Out for Life event chair” said AFH’s Chief Development Officer, Melody Patelis.

With Houston favorites like Sparrow Bar and Cookshop, Sorrel Bistro, Canopy, Shade, Américas and Ibiza as participating restaurants, Dining Out For Life 2014 is stacking up to be the best yet. Visit  to select from the list of participating restaurants. Then, grab your family and friends and have a meal!

“Dining Out for Life” in the Houston area will benefit AIDS Foundation Houston, Inc. and all monies raised will help support the thousands of clients the agency serves annually through its extensive supportive services, prevention education, testing, and housing programs.

“Dining Out for Life” has raised millions of dollars across the U.S. and Canada for AIDS service organizations. So on Thursday, April 24th, do your part to raise much needed funds for many who are in need—who knew being a philanthropist could be so easy!

Subaru is the international sponsor of “Dining Out for Life.”

About Monica Pope

Top Chef Masters Competitor, Bravo TV, 2010 and current owner of celebrated Houston restaurant, Sparrow Bar & Cookshop.

About AIDS Foundation Houston, Inc.

AIDS Foundation Houston, Inc. (AFH), founded in 1982, was the first AIDS Service Organization in Texas and remains a national leader in HIV/STD programming. Focusing on preventing new HIV infections, and providing housing and supportive services to those already living with HIV/AIDS, AFH provides care to almost 6,000 men; women and children affected by HIV/AIDS and will educate more than 90,000 people throughout Texas. For more information, please visit

A Celebration of Life

March 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Events


The movie will be showing at the Worldfest – Houston Film Festival on April 12th at 3pm, at AMC Studio 30 Dunvale, 2949 Dunvale, Houston. Visit the Film Festival website for more details.

Our website has a trailer and information about each of the survivors.

May 2014 Performance Calendar at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park

March 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

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

Free tickets for evening performances are available on a first-come first-served 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 ensure 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.

image009Swing, Jive & Pop! Into Dance
May 1, 11 a.m.
MET Dance’s “Swing, Jive and Pop into Dance” incorporates history, fashion, music and the arts into an interactive blast of excitement.
Presented by MET Dance

image011Philippines: Pearl of the Orient feature Leyte Dance Theatre
May 2, 8 p.m.
After 20 years of artistic pursuit, the Leyte Dance Theater can rightfully claim a place among the top dance companies in the Philippines.
Presented by People Caring for the Community, Inc.



¡Ritmo Latino! Featuring Pedrito Martinez Group
May 3, 8 p.m.
Recognized as the leader of the Afro-Cuban sound, with their roots planted firmly in the rumba tradition, the Pedrito Martinez Group revels in the Bata rhythms and vocal chants of Yoruban and Saterian music.
Presented by Society for the Performing Arts

image017Cinco de Mayo at Miller featuring Natalia Lafourcade
May 4, 8 p.m.
Rice University Mariachi Luna Llena kick off the festivities before Mexican pop-rock singer and songwriter Natalia Lafourcade takes the stage to celebrate and continue the tradition of Cinco de Mayo at Miller.
Presented by Miller Outdoor Theatre in partnership with the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston


May 8-9, 11 a.m. each morning
The witch Bruja has horrible hair and uses peppers to concoct potions to try and transform it. When Bruja’s neighbor, Rapunzel, stumbles into her garden, Bruja sees a chance to have luxurious hair another way – by stealing Rapunzel’s hair!
Produced by Houston Grand Opera/HGOco


image021Highlights of Houston Ballet
May 9-11, 8 p.m. each night
Houston Ballet will present an evening of ballet displaying the company’s growth and talent since Stanton Welch joined as Artistic Director in 2003. The program will include works choreographed by Mr. Welch that continue to engage and inspire audiences.
Produced by Houston Ballet

image025Houston Grand Opera presents: Die Fledermaus
May 16-17, 8 p.m. each night
Houston Grand Opera presents Johann Strauss’s witty farce, Die Fledermaus (The Bat). Prince Orlofsky’s costume ball – the most coveted invitation of the year – drives the action of this funny, clever operetta, set in 1920’s New York with beautiful art deco scenes and costumes.
Produced by Houston Grand Opera

image027Three Little Pigs
May 19, 11 a.m.
A bilingual (Spanish/English) show about three brothers…one messy, one a daydreamer and the other always has a plan for the future.
Produced by Express Children’s Theatre



image029Dancin’ in the Street… Motown & More Revue
May 22-25, 8:15 p.m. each night
Houston’s favorite Memorial Day weekend event, Dancin’ in the Street… Motown & More Revue is back for another soul-filler holiday weekend. Featuring Houston’s most happening entertainers and the Bacement Soul Orchestra, Dancin’ in the Street… is sure to thrill the hill all Memorial Day Weekend long!
Produced by BACE Entertainment and One Delta Plaza Educational Center

image031Tomas and the Library Lady
May 27, 11 a.m.
When he’s not working in the fields con su familia, young Tomas looks for more exciting cuentos like the ones his Papa Grande tells. The Library Lady loans him his first libros and helps him create his own stories. He even teaches her a little Spanish!
Presented by Young Audiences of Houston and Brave Little Company


image033Vivaldi Dances in the Park
May 30, 8 p.m.
Vivaldi Dances in the Park brings the best Houston has to offer in contemporary dance and classical music to the Miller stage. This impassioned evening of dance by CORE Performance Company pairs Vivaldi’s recorder concerto La Notte, performed by Houston’s own Mercury, with CORE’s inspired originality.
Produced by CORE Performance Company


image051East Meets West XII
May 31, 8:15 p.m.
Experience a mesmerizing evening of East Meets West. Dance of Asian America and Mitsi Dancing School bring you the latest award-winning choreography from China. Mitsi Dancing School won national fame last year by competing on “America’s Got Talent.”
Produced by Dance of Asian America


March 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby



THE YARD — If I put it right here it might blend in with the trees. As for noise, I’ll only drill at night so the neighbors won’t be disturbed. Eat your heart out, Bick Benedict and Jett Rink. Oh, hi. If you are wondering, I am going to drill an oil well in my front yard, or, if the block warden objects, I’ll put it out of view in the backyard. You might do the same and get your fair share. Texas has about $140 billion in “petro-wealth,” and I don’t have any of that except what’s in my car’s crank case or oil tank or whatever.  Of this fortune, corporations, not individuals, own most of it, about 80 percent. OK, Mitt Romney said, “Corporations are people, too, my friend.” Wouldn’t you love to be Mitt Romney’s friend? Think of those lazy days on the Cayman Islands visiting his money, and imagine the Christmas presents he’d send.

An Austin company that provides information on oil leases, Blackbeard Data Services, reported those figures and breaks them down to corporations owning about $112 billion, attributed to petroleum reserves, and individuals own about $20 billion. The rest is held by trusts, nonprofit groups, government, educational institutions and religious organizations. “This is based on the value of proven, producing petroleum reserves in Texas, accounting for entities that have a working interest in those reserves as well as individuals earning royalties.” I have no idea what that means.

Houstonians in the oil business, or awl bidniss, account for the largest share, about $48 billion. Midland came in a distant second, with $15 billion. San Antonio ranked eighth with $3 billion. Dallas doesn’t seem to be ranked. This omission may be because Dallas County is one of the rare counties in Texas that has never had a working oil well. (No one ever heard of the Dallas Oilers. Actually, few people ever heard of the Houston Oilers.) But Big D is Big Oil’s general store, bank and insurance company.

Blackbeard Data says that typically oil leases send about 80 percent of revenue to oil companies and 20 percent to mineral owners in the form of royalties. The report states: “That’s because oil companies that have a working interest in those projects essentially take on all of the risk. Over the last 20 years, they’ve generally seen their percentage of the revenue decline as modern production techniques have made their work less financially risky.” This is hard to believe since Irving-based ExxonMobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company by market value, posted earnings of $44.9 billion in 2012. For 2013, the earnings were $32.6 billion. In the last quarter of 2013 they earned $8.25 billion, which analysts called a “mediocre quarter.” Huh, $8.25 billion was a “revenue decline?” That’s like water-board torture is “enhanced interrogation” and Huntsville is full of “legally challenged” inmates.

The big deal these days is not only oil but gas and fracking. We love the tax money fracking brings into our state and local collections, but it is a messy business — tearing up our roads with big trucks, using our water, noisy and generally disturbing the neighborhood. Avid defenders of fracking include ExxonMobil and FreedomWorks, the well-financed anti-tax organization (thanks to the Koch Brothers of oil and gas fame).

The supporters had their work cut out for them when a fracking operation was to begin recently in Denton County. First reported by WFAA-TV in Dallas and picked up by other news media, a suit was filed to stop the operation because a huge, ugly water tower was being built next to a ranch. This means, the suit charged, the project will “sell water to oil and gas explorers for [hydraulic fracturing], leading to traffic with heavy trucks” that would interfere with the quality of life and the real estate value of the sizeable ranch. So the neighbors were outraged. One party to the suit is none other than Dick Armey, founder of FreedomWorks. Another party is the owner of  the ranch, Rex Tillerson, the CEO of the ExxonMobil Corp. As we can see, NIMBY is alive and (oil) well in Denton County.

As for my own neighborhood, Running Rats Acres, it would welcome a huge, smelly and noisy fracking operation with large trucks churning the roads into gravel. It would mean an actual improvement for our roads. We would get a monumental water tower where our kids would paint “Seniors ’14” on it if any of them got that far in school. Neighbors would find employment as security guards to protect the equipment from being stolen by other neighbors. Finally, who would complain, or even notice, my little drilling rig beside a monstrous machine?

Should I hit Texas Tea, I would join the Petroleum Club, dropping my membership in the Linoleum Club. I’d tear down my house, even the satellite dish by the mail box, build a huge mansion, and sue to get rid of that ugly fracking project down the road. It’s deflating real estate values. True, despite my wealth I might not fit in with the other oil barons. Got to learn their lingo. Rigs drill down, not up, right? A Christmas tree does not have a star on top and presents underneath. Depletion allowances are good, obscene profits taxes are bad. I can’t buy a member of the Texas Legislature or Congress, but I rent one for the afternoon.

Despite what others think, not every Texan has a rig in the driveway. On the other hand, once I interviewed Glenn McCarthy for an article in Texas Monthly. Behind  his desk McCarthy had this huge blowup of his face which had appeared on the cover  of Time magazine. I mentioned that he had a particular interest in the oil patch because it was his business. He leaned over his desk and said, “Son, we’re ALL in the awl bidniss.” I’m just trying to make his statement true.


Ashby is oily at


                            Is anyone else getting Clinton fatigue? Before you take sides according to your political beliefs, is anyone getting Bush fatigue? It seems like both names have been in our faces since the Boxer Rebellion. Just recall how many times they have sought our vote, not to mention, “I hope I can count on your support.” (read: money).There was a Bush or a Clinton in the White House or cabinet for 32 years straight. And does this cause us to be MIA on election day? Our no-shows are particular true if you have lived in Texas or Arkansas – especially Texas.

            Bill Clinton’s first race was for the U.S. Congress. He lost, then ran for Arkansas attorney general and won, then ran for governor and won, then lost, then won back the governorship. He was on the ballot twice as president. Hillary was a high profile First Lady, U.S. senator, ran for president, was Sec. of State, has two books about her just out, and now she will no doubt run for president again. A goodly chunk of our citizens have never known an America without a Clinton on page one. This just in: Bill Clinton is campaigning for daughter Chelsea’s mother-in-law, Marjorie Margolies, to be sent back to Congress. The beat goes on.

            Same for the Bushes It’s not generally known, but George the Elder first ran for political office in 1978 out in West Texas. It was for Congress, and, like Clinton, Bush lost. He was a Republican before that was cool. Even worse, he was from Connecticut. Here’s a story I picked up about that race: Kent Hance, the Democratic candidate and a smooth-talking good old boy, was telling a yarn about working in a field along a rural road. Then along came a fancy car. “It was a Mercedes,” drawled Hance, raising his eyebrows, and the audience tittered at the hint Bush was the kind of man more comfortable in a Mercedes than a pickup. “The guy rolled down the window and wanted to know how to get to a certain ranch.”  Hance recounted how he’d given the man directions, telling him to turn right just after a cattle guard. “Then,” Hance continued, “he said, ‘what color uniform will that cattle guard be wearing?'”

            Bush moved to Houston and ran for Congress again. This time he won — twice. Ran for the U.S. Senate and lost. But he was always in the news, usually for holding down some dirty job: Ambassador to the U.N., head of the GOP right after Watergate, emissary to China — sent me some notes with great panda stamps — head of the CIA (remember that bit of background when someone sneers that Putin was a KGB agent). Briefly ticking off the rest: ran for president in the GOP primaries, lost, two terms as vice president, one term president, etc. How many times has Bush the Elder  been on a Texas ballots?

            Then we have George Bush the Younger who Texans have voted on at least four times. But there’s more. Brother Jeb Bush served for eight years as Florida’s governor, and his son, George P. Bush, is running for Texas Land Commish, a well-worn stepping stone for seeking higher office. George P. easily won the Texas GOP primary so we will see a Bush on next fall’s ballot. Now Jeb is being mentioned as a presidential candidate. We may be able to vote for or against both a Bush and a Clinton in the same election. Even Bar Bush seems to getting tired of all her kin always running for something. And, Bar being Bar, said so.“If we can’t find more than two or three families to run for office, that’s silly, because there are great governors and great eligible people to run. And I think that the Kennedys, Clintons, Bushes — there are just more families than that. And I’m not arrogant enough to think that we alone are raising” presidential candidates.

            Perhaps Texans have a special fatigue, or at least it’s a good excuse for our miserable voting record that allows a handful of hard-charging citizens, some would day zealots, to decide who runs Texas. Just to refresh your memory, this is now a red state, a handy title invented by TV newscasters that is shorter than “a state that is dominated by members of the Republican party.” Any candidate who gets the GOP nomination here is almost certain to win, especially in a statewide election. Ah, who but picks these candidates? A small band of Tea Party members. Thus about 7 to 10 percent of eligible voters chooses our governor, lite gov, attorney general, and so forth. The Tea Party did not kick down the door, hold a pistol to our heads and demand control. Their actions were legal and effective.

            So where are the other 90 to 93 percent of us? Texas ranked 51st in voter turnout  in 2010 — behind every other state and Washington, D.C. We’d probably be behind Saudi Arabia and Oman if they ever had elections. The situation is so bad in Texas that not long ago in several counties not even the party chairmen voted. Santa Anna was right – Texas is not ready for self-government. This same survey, conducted by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at The University of Texas at Austin and the National Conference on Citizenship, determined that we rank 49th in the number of citizens who even bother to contact public officials.

Our laziness continues when it comes to civic participation rates, ranking 43rd in donating and 42nd in volunteering, according to the Texas Civic Health Index. And 61.6 percent of eligible Texans reported being registered to vote in 2010, but just 36.4 percent reported voting in the general election when the outcome had already been determined. For Texans, when it comes to running the government, it is a spectator sport. Where are you, Santa Anna, when we need you?


                                    Ashby is running at

MFAH Presents Ninth Annual Film Festival

March 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

Latin Wave: New Films from Latin America

Thursday–Sunday, May 1–4, 2014

What:      The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in association with creative partner Fundación PROA (Buenos Aires) and sponsor Tenaris, announce the return of Latin Wave: New Films from Latin America. Continuing the tradition of the previous Latin Wave film festivals, the ninth edition brings to Houston the best and latest trends in Latin American cinema: a diverse collection of work by emerging filmmakers.

Once again, a delegation of filmmakers will travel to Houston to introduce a number of the screenings during the four-day event, and Festival programmer Diana Sanchez will also be in attendance this year. The countries represented in Latin Wave 9 include Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, and for the first time, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.  The 2014 Latin Wave lineup also has a strong presence of films directed by women.


When:      Thursday, May 1, through Sunday, May 4

On May 1, the festival kicks off with a special Latin Wave-infused Happy Hour Thursday. With extended hours this year, guests are invited to celebrate the premiere with drinks, beats, and food-truck bites inspired by Latin Wave, beginning at 6 p.m.

Cash bar. Must be 21 or over to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages.

Visit for a continually updated list of films, screening schedules and related events.


Where:      The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Caroline Wiess Law Building

Brown Auditorium Theater

1001 Bissonnet at Main


Tickets:      $10 General Admission

$2 discount for MFAH members, students with ID and senior adults

 *Students with ID are admitted free to all screenings on Sunday, May 4 only. Tickets must be obtained for entry.

Tickets are required for entry into each screening. Advance tickets may be purchased at and on-site at any of the MFAH ticket stations (in the museum lobbies and at the film box office).


Media Contact:      Dancie Perugini Ware Public Relations / 713.224.9115

Laura Jones:

Brooke Grisebaum:


March 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

My fellow Longhorns, and you Aggies, Cougars, Owls, Spiders (U. of Richmond) and anyone else who attended an institution of higher learning — I don’t think the University of Phoenix counts — stand by for the blitz, and I’m not talking football. Well, in a way I am. The new athletic director at The University of Texas at Austin, Travis County & NFL Lite, aka UT, has announced that the school’s “brand” is up for sale.

The new AD, Steve Patterson, wants to spread the school’s name, colors and reputation far and wide — for a price. He’s looking at endorsements, more ads in sporting facilities and more corporate sponsors. He is thinking of the Longhorns playing a football game in Mexico City, going international, finding at least three fans who can receive the Longhorn Network. (The Longhorn Network’s rollout must have been handled by the same wizards who brought us the opening of Obamacare.) “Do I think we’re maxed out? Absolutely not,” said Patterson. “College athletics is a largely underleveraged asset. The potential here is even bigger than I expected.”

Not maxed out? UT Inc. is certainly the current maximum. Texas led the nation last year with $165.7 million in athletics revenue, a whopping $22.3 million ahead of second-place Alabama. A major source is the corporate sponsorship, which currently includes Nike USA, Coca-Cola and Joe Jamail. It is interesting that one of the sponsors is Gatorade which was invented in 1965 by researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine for the football team, the Florida Gators. Today that university receives 20 percent share of Gatorade  royalties.As of 2009, it came to more than $150 million, approximately $12 million per year. Hey, UT researchers, How about Burnt Oranges and Bevo Beef?

The school initially was going to limit the sponsors to six, starting at around $300,000 each per year. But it quickly discovered that lots of deep pockets wanted in on the action, so today the number is 20 and growing. Business profs call this “maximizing the marketplace.” Others might call it “greed.” Patterson said he’s not simply selling the UT football or basketball teams. He’s selling everything about being a Longhorn. Right you are. Barnes & Noble would like to donate $300,000 to get some street cred with the UT Library Science Dept. Go ask Hearst and Fox for $300,000 each so the Dept. of Kommunications & Speeling Gud can endow a journalism chair. They’d like a desk, too.

On the other hand, athletics, not academics, is where the fame lies. T. Boone Pickens has given the athletic department at his alma mater, Oklahoma State U., more than $400 million, the largest donation to a university’s athletic program in collegiate history. At halftime during a game at (what else?) T. Boone Pickens Stadium, he was asked by a TV reporter, on the air, why he hadn’t given some money to, for example, the school’s English Department. “Because if I had given that money to the English Department you wouldn’t be interviewing me now.”

Back at the Forty Acres, during sporting events orange bloods needed a suite or know someone who had one to start hitting the liquor when the Horns were behind four touchdowns and three field goals. But now UT has found yet another way to turn a buck. It has decided to sell booze at its athletic events. (They’d probably do a lot better to copy Colorado and Washington State’s examples and sell weed.) This bar-keeping is not a bad idea since one of the department’s new corporate sponsors is MillerCoors. Then there is the new head football coach who is named Charlie Strong, so Austin has T-shirts reading “We are Texas, We are TEXAS STRONG, We are Texas StrongHorns!!” And more marketing is on the way. Look for the Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium to be called the Ty-D Bowl. Athletes’ uniforms will sport sponsors’ patches like NASCAR drivers. “Students, today we are taking up the next generation of iPods, but first this word from Apple.” We’ll see coin-operated desks. Just call it the Comcast Power Tower with antenna sticking upwards 100 feet, and instead of the Tower lighting up orange after a victory, the bells will ring out theme songs from Concast/NBC’s new comedy series. The last words in “The Eyes of Texas” will be slightly changed to “till Buick blows its horn.” “This commencement our speaker is Bose. Surround your sound with Bose.” Oh, yes, and tuition will still go up.

At this point you may be thinking about longhorning in on this bonanza. Don’t, because UT has always protected its brand. A few years ago the City of Fort Worth came up with a new logo: the burnt orange silhouette of a longhorn’s face and horns. It didn’t last long. The best school-brand flap came when the Seattle Seahawks launched a unique campaign to woo their fans with the catchy title, the 12th Man. Well, the Aggies who can grow moss on a rolling stone, didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, although if they did you can bet they would be world-class turnips. They went to court. The Seahawks paid Texas A&M $100,000 and another $5,000 annual licensing fee for five years. In 2011 the Seahawks renewed the agreement for another five years, taking the deal through 2016. A lousy $100,000? Johnny Football spills that much.

A Houston Chronicle columnist, Richard Justice, once wrote: “Texas is divided into two kinds of people: those who went to UT and those who wish they had.” That is undoubtedly true, but while Patterson is looking into new marketing, other schools are looking at Patterson. Other colleges may soon be following his lead. SMU has a slam-dunk on the Ford Mustang. Yale has a lock on locks. Horned Frogs? Good luck, but Rice is a natural for Uncle Ben. Finally, it isn’t clear whether anyone has had the nerve to tell Bevo there will be more branding.


Ashby is burnt orange at






Lake Tahoe

March 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel Blog


Fried Zucchini from Gar Woods

Fried Zucchini from Gar Woods

No matter where you stay in Lake Tahoe, you really should take a moment to look at the lake.


When we visited, a light snow replaced the heavy dump from the previous night. Nevertheless, we headed down to famed Gar Woods to dine by the water.

The fare here is comfort food at its best. Deviled eggs, fried zucchini and French onion soup were just some of the non-diet items we enjoyed.

We continued on to Truckee for a historic tour which includes a stop at the Old Jail Museum, one of only a few surviving 19th century jailhouses of its kind in the West. Dinner at Moody’s is divine. Don’t skip the Moody’s Salmon Creek Pork Chop and Whoopie Pie.

Where to stay: The Ritz Carlton, of course!


Old Jail Museum in Truckee, CA



Whoopie Pie at Moody’s in Truckee, CA


March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

How many U.S. presidents were born in Texas? How many people watched last season’s Texas top high school football final? How much is our gas tax? Not sure? Then let’s take a stroll down Texas’ Numerical Lane. We begin with 10.6 years — the average length of stay on our death row. Although Wendy Davis got wide publicity for her senate filibuster, Texas ranks 33rd for its percentage of female legislators. Women make up more than half the state, but only 21 percent of the 181 state legislators who served last year were women, down from 24 percent in 2009.

You know those foam hands with the index finger sticking up at sporting events proclaiming, “We’re Number 1.” They were invented by a San Antonio company and are manufactured at a plant in Montgomery. Their biggest problem is pirates turning out their own version. So far the creators and makers have filed eight lawsuits against copycats, and won them all. Seven: The number of Texas Aggies who have received the Medal of Honor. Soon it will be eight when Clarence E. Sasser (1969, Vietnam), who subsequently attended Texas A&M, joins them. Moving on: $2.75 million — The amount UT-Austin paid to buy out fired head football coach Mack Brown. He also got a one-time payment of $500,000 as “special assistant” to the university president, although no one knows exactly what that entails.

1720. That was the year the Spanish government maintained more soldiers in San Antonio than had been employed throughout the conquest and subjugation of the Aztec and Inca empires. Dallas/Fort Worth has more shopping centers per capita than any other city in the nation. A new study from the Center for an Urban Future estimates it takes $123,322 in Manhattan to enjoy the same middle-class life as someone earning $50,000 in Houston.

In 2009, Texas oil production made up just 19 percent of the total U.S. oil production. It now makes up 36 percent. A big part of Texas oil production – about 31 percent – comes from the Eagle Ford. Texas produces more oil today than Nigeria and it’s only 200,000 barrels per day less than Venezuela, another major oil producer. If Texas were a country, it would be the world’s 12th-largest producer. On the other hand, Texans are Number One in consuming the most energy in the nation both in per capita and as a whole, and are Most Wanted by the EPA. The EPA’s compliance for ozone, or smog, standard is 75 parts per billion. Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth are 87. This brings us to  28 and 17. The 28 is the number of times Attorney General Greg Abbott has sued the Obama administration, and at least 17 of those suits were against the EPA in Abbott’s opposition to cleaner air rules. Our grandchildren will thank him, if they live that long.

Who was that mosque man? 1.7 percent of Texans are Islamic, which is twice the national average of Islamic population. Texas’ total headcount stood at more than 25 million residents in the 2010 U.S. Census, as the state population increased 20.6 percent since 2000. Much of the growth in the past decade was due to increases in our Hispanic population. They accounted for 65 percent of Texas’ growth between 2000-2010, and, today, make up nearly 38 percent of our population. That’s up from 32 percent at the end of the 1990s. And while Texas as a whole is growing rapidly, 96 counties lost population from 2010 to 2012. They were mostly in West Texas and the Panhandle.

As of the 2013 estimate, there were 26,059,203 people living in Texas, but it’s still early in the day. That breaks down to 8.97 million households, 16.39 million of us are age 25 and up, 81.4 percent graduated from high school, only 26.7 percent have a college degree — bachelor’s and above. We have 1.6 million veterans, and 14 percent of families are under the poverty level.

One explanation for our population growth (and high poverty rate) is that more than half of the births in Texas are paid for by Medicaid. Let me explain the connection: That Medicaid number has grown in recent years, topping the 50 percent mark in 2006 and every year since. With the huge legislative cutbacks in women’s health care and Planned Parenthood, we can expect those Medicaid bills, which we pay, also to jump. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission estimates that the Legislature’s cuts will result in 23,760 additional births among low-income women in 2014-15. The additional cost to taxpayers could be as high as $273 million. You like higher taxes? Thanks, Texas legislators.

            Texans pay 20 cents per gallon in state gasoline taxes on top of the 18.4 cent federal taxes. Californians pay more than 52 cents per gallon in state and local taxes and fees. Small and midsize farms and ranches in Texas — those under 2,000 acres — have been declining by 250,000 acres a year, apparently to make room for new houses. From 1997 to 2007, Texas lost about 1.5 million acres of agricultural land and is expected to lose a million more by 2020. It may seem to out-of-staters that Texans have taken over the Oval Office in recent decades from Lyndon B. Johnson to George W. (Can Ted Cruz be far behind?) But only two of them were actually born in Texas, Dwight Eisenhower and LBJ. Ike thought he was born in Kansas, even stated so on his West Point ‘pointment. He was a five-star general commanding Allied forces when he received a letter from a woman in Denton who remembered babysitting him there. The Bushes senior and junior are from New England.

Finally, about our Friday Night Rites: The Class 5A Division I state championship between Allen and Pearland last December drew 54,347 fans to AT&T Stadium, setting a new state attendance record. That was bigger than 21 different college bowl games last season.


Ashby is counted at




The Enchilada Queen to open her Third Location

March 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs

Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen

Houston, Texas. March 4, 2014. Sylvia Casares, owner and executive chef of Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen, 6401 Woodway, and 12637 Westheimer, will be opening her third location in late May, 2014, at 1140 Eldridge Parkway, in the heart of Houston Energy Corridor. “This restaurant will look similar to the Woodway location,” stated Casares. “It will have the ‘kitchen’ behind the hostess stand, a private room, a large, wrap-around patio and will be named simply, Sylvia’s. Everyone knows we are famous for our enchiladas. I want them to look at the rest of my menu, and discover my amazing mesquite wood-fire grilled fajitas, Carne Asada, quail and sea bass.” The restaurant will seat approximately 150 diners. The private room will seat about 25 and the patio about 50. For more information, please call Woodway at 713-334-7295, or Westheimer at 281-679-8300.



Westheimer: Sun-Thurs: 11am – 9pm; Fri-Sat: 11am to 10pm.

Woodway: Sun-Wed: 11am- 9:30pm; Thurs, Fri. and Sat: 11am-10:30pm; Sun: Brunch: 11am-3pm.


Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen is famous for its eighteen regionally specific enchiladas, fajitas, and hand-made corn and flour tortillas. On most Saturdays, Casares teaches hands-on cooking classes to individuals and groups at her restaurant. For more information about Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen, 6401 Woodway and 12637 Westheimer, please call 713-334-7295, or visit our website at


March 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

FORT WORTH — This is the annual meeting of the Philosophical Society of Texas, a little-known group and justifiably so. Membership is made up of 200 of the state’s top scientists, academics, lawyers, authors and other assorted philosophers plus guests. (I am the official hemlock taster.) Each year they gather to discuss a major situation facing us, with outside experts to lead the sessions. So what earth-shaking topic needs the attention of our brightest thinkers? Immigration? Education? Ted Nugent’s mouthwash? Nope. It’s water, not real sexy, but water in Texas is of gathering importance. We don’t have enough, desalination costs too much and the San Antonio River uses yesterday’s baths.

Here are some disjointed notes I made, along with info stolen from the meeting’s papers: Our major problem with water is all the new people flooding — so to speak — into Texas from across the Rio and the 49 other states, and our birth rate. We can build more schools, roads and garbage dumps. We can add more Congressional seats and print more ballots, but we can’t add to our rainfall or make our rivers bigger. We have a finite amount of water. A noted heart surgeon asks, “If we can neither create nor destroy matter, including water, and since our bodies are 90 percent water, where’s it gone?”  Good philosophical question.

Agriculture takes up half of our water, but the urban explosion has made things worse. That irrigated cotton field didn’t consume near as much water as the 1,000 new houses that sit there now. Fracking has brought newcomers to town (Cotulla, heart of the boom, used to have four hotels. It now has 21), but fracking uses lots and lots of water. And, of course, we are in the middle of an extreme drought — 2011 was the driest year on record. Lake Travis is down to 38 percent of capacity while rice farmers downstream on the Colorado from Travis are screaming for more wet stuff.

However, there is good news. Managing our water supply began with the early Franciscan missionaries who had extensive knowledge on the subject. Their work in the El Paso areas and around San Antonio are still evident and in some cases still used. Page after page of the Texas Constitution deals with water and water bonds. In the 1950s Texas endured a terrible drought which today is still the Drought of Record — our benchmark for dryness — although if we don’t get some rain soon the current drought may be the new yardstick. So, in 1957 the Legislature created the Water Development Board and more recently Texas voters approved $2 billion to deal with our water problems. To be fair to ourselves, we know there is a growing crisis and we are trying to get ahead of the new Dust Bowl.

We are second among the 48 continental states in inland water areas (Minnesota is first). We have 3,700 named lakes and rivers, and we keep building more (every single lake in Texas except Caddo is man-made). But our water is mal-distributed. El Paso is drier than Tucson and Orange is wetter than New Orleans. In 1968 there was a plan to run a big pipe from Texas across Louisiana to tap the Mississippi River. No one bothered to ask the Cajuns if we could build our own Keystone pipeline across their state, and the pipe dream was laughed into oblivion. However, that plan looks better each drought, so we might need to deal with Louisiana politicians. Anybody know how to say, “Just consider it a campaign contribution, governor.” in French?

San Antonio and El Paso have experienced huge population increases in recent years, but their water usage has stayed the same or even dropped. Conservation and education are the key, their water experts say. As mentioned, the river alongside the  San Antonio Riverwalk uses recycled water. So do the town’s Toyota plant and golf courses.  To the north, restaurants in the Metroplex could well put up signs in their restrooms: “Please flush — Houston needs the water.” According to a National Academy of Sciences study, during  summers almost all of the Trinity River, which is Houston’s main water supply, is wastewater discharged from Dallas and Fort Worth.

Comparing per capita water usage among cities is impossible. Example: Dallas has 325,000 people coming in each workday. They use water, then depart. That skewers the figures. One water expert pulled out a bottle of Ozarka and pointed out that it cost 2,700 times what the same amount of water would cost coming from the Austin water works. Incidentally, Austin gets its water from dammed-up lakes built in the 1930s. Today Austin has 13 times its 1930s population, but the same lakes.

Do you know where that water which comes out of you faucet originates? Only 20 percent of Texans do, but almost every San Antonian knows that theirs comes from the Edwards Aquifer. TV stations and the newspaper run daily dip-sticks. We have surface water — rivers, lakes and reservoirs — and ground water, which should be called underground water. But pumping out the latter causes subsidence, and today one-third of the San Jacinto Battlefield is under water. These two sources of water have two different sets of laws, and both keep lawyers busy because owners, cities and the State of Texas are always suing one another for water rights. Earlier this month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas could sue New Mexico about water near El Paso.

I see the philosophers are packing up their togas and ending another meeting. The society began in 1837 to discuss “the collection and diffusion of correct information.” Its original members included Sam Houston, Mirabeau B. Lamar (its president), Anson Jones, Ashbel Smith, Rusk, Wharton, several other Texas movers and shakers, and a founder of the City of Houston Augustus C. Allen. The minutes do not reveal whether Houston & Co. drank water, but probably not.


Ashby is wet at