There's been something truly hideous going on in Reliant Stadium, and we're not talking about the Houston Texans' offense.
Owner Bob McNair had inflicted a new fight song on the paying customers.
The team's Web site said the song would "energize the fans and capture the spirit and tradition of Texas football."
So far it has fans squealing in pain. Imagine a high school band -- Spring High School, to be exact -- playing incredibly hokey-sounding, generic marching-band music to these lyrics:
Houston Texans, fight to the end / Houston Texans, we're gonna win / Houston Texans, living the dream / We are Texas's Team!
"We encourage all Texans fans to incorporate the song into their tailgating activities and other game day 'rituals,'" the Web site said.
Luckily the song was to be played only "after all Texans touchdowns/field goals," so at least it remained relatively obscure. In the end, the Texans sacked the tune, saying they allowed the fans to decide. And Clay Walker has been brought off the bench to repeat his '02 team theme song. -- Richard Connelly
Digs to Die For
Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch? In Huntsville, you can get that and a roof over your head. You just have to be related to someone who is about to be executed. And before long, you'll have it if you're kin to one of the victims, too.
For 17 years, the Texas Baptist Prison Family Ministry Foundation has offered a free, Ronald McDonald House-style inn to the families of the condemned. (It's a compassionate place -- they don't have ticking "Your relative will die in x hours and y minutes" clocks on the walls.) And now the Baptist General Convention, in conjunction with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, has plans to build a house for relatives of victims who have come to watch executions.
The tentative plans will provide victims' families with free food, lodging and a "meditation garden" in which they can honor their murdered loved ones. "Not all victims of crimes can afford lodging when they make their journey to Huntsville," said TDCJ public information officer Michelle Lyons. "This home will offer them a comfortable place to stay, and it will also provide them a place where they can meet with Victim Services representatives as they continue with the healing process."
No word on the name of the place, but we bet Motel Styx is not one of the contenders. -- John Nova Lomax
Not So Paranoid
Debra Foster, the Harley-riding, helmet-haired bail bondswoman who took on the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, has negotiated a truce.
Foster claimed employees in the Montgomery County Jail were trying to sabotage her business by cutting off phone calls to her office from inmates, telling defendants they'd get out quicker with another bonding company, and rejecting her bond applications for minute errors that were overlooked on her competitors' applications.
Defense attorneys labeled her paranoid but she got much of what she was seeking in the settlement, which U.S. District Judge David Hittner signed August 4. Hittner will appoint a monitor who will have unfettered access to the jail for at least a year, looking for any violations of a long list of no-no's on the permanent injunction the judge issued.
Not to mention the $100,000 the county paid Foster to settle the suit. That's almost half of the $215,000 the county has paid out in settlements for all of the fiscal year that ends in September, says county auditor Linda Beazeale.
"This will allow a level playing field," says Joel Androphy, Foster's attorney. "There'll be an impartial person monitoring things, and no more 'he-said, she-said.'" -- R.C.
A Perfect Storm Were you excited when the new hurricane names came out? Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) sure wasn't -- apparently none of the names on the World Meteorological Organization's list are "African-American" enough for her.
"All racial groups should be represented," were Jackson Lee's words as recorded by The Hill, a publication that specializes in Congressional coverage. (We tip our hat to their fearless investigation into The Man's stranglehold on tropical cyclones, i.e. "Hurricanegate").
Names for the next few years include the lily-white Bret, the commie Ivan and the simply unaccountable Hermine. But there's nary a well, what exactly is an African-American name?
How about Nkenge? That's the first name of Jackson Lee's D.C. press secretary, who vaguely denied that the congresswoman uttered the words attributed to her in the article.
"None of what I've seen has come from us," Nkenge Harmon said cryptically. "We're not doing the hurricane story."
The Hill Editor Albert Eisele stands by his paper's story. But maybe he's in on the conspiracy -- after all, the name "Alberto" appeared on the 2000 hurricane list. -- Craig Malisow
After weeks of hype about how he digs deeper than anyone in Houston, new Chronicle columnist Rick Casey finally printed his first effort August 10. And it had some Houston journalists -- the ones who apparently don't dig as deep as Casey does -- chuckling.
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Casey cited the "dozens of interviews" he's done in Houston getting ready for his thrice-weekly gig. But the first two sources he quoted or paraphrased to form the basis of his initial column were Barton Smith and Stephen Klineberg.
If that doesn't mean much to you, it's because you're not a reporter who has ever done a story on Houston. Smith (of the University of Houston) and Klineberg (of Rice) are two of the most-quoted experts around these parts.
Chron archives show Smith's been in the paper 444 times since 1985; Klineberg 267 times.
It's not that the two academics don't know their stuff, or that Casey won't go on to great things. But leading with those two guys is kind of like the foreign correspondent who flies in to get the pulse of some city and quotes the taxi driver. (Editor's note: Casey's next two columns were apparently based on a press release.) -- R.C.