Sam Houston, Ad Man

Comcast's current Sam Houston campaign has made for some of the stranger local TV ads in recent memory. In them, a, um, statuesque General Houston reminisces on his life and career and touts Houston's favorite — well, only — cable provider.

Some in the local blogosphere are not amused. At Dos Centavos, Stace Medellín had this to say:

"Other than Big John [Cornyn]'s ad where he takes credit for the Red Cross, the newest dumbest ad has to be Comcasts' Sam Houston ad where he appears to be talking to a Latino family — a little Latina girl even calls her [sic] 'grandpa.' Ummm...yeah, right! The only 'Latino' thing that Sam Houston liked was Santa Anna's wooden leg, which he held hostage till the General signed over Mexico. (Texans have believed in mental torture for a lo-o-o-n-g time, huh?)"



Meanwhile, recent returnee to Blogopia Slampo weighed in. Two weeks after the passage of Ike, the still cable-less blogger weighed in with this:

"[W]hat has us riled is not so much that we're missing Project Runway and can't stay up-to-the-minute on the imminent collapse of the U.S. financial system, but that Comcast has done such a dreadful job of explaining itself to its customers (namely us, for starters). On top of that, since the hurricane passed the company has been airing an appallingly insulting commercial angling for new customers — while it can't even service many of its existing ones! — that desecrates the memory of Sam Houston, our town's namesake and the greatest Texan of all (greater than Willie Nelson, Darrell Royal and your grandma combined)."

Even as he was lighting the powder for this fusillade, Slampo's cable was restored, if not any fond feelings he may have ever had for the provider or their newest ad campaign. And oddly, Slampo the Anglo Southerner was, like Medellín, offended on a tribal level.

"Comcast is still a wretched outfit...and that Sam Houston commercial, especially that phony Hollywood-cracker accent they put in his mouth, is unforgivable."

Wow — only Comcast can make a Sam Houston that offends both sides of the Texas-Mexico conflict...

And yet the campaign does have its admirers. One such is Patrick Nolan, director of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, where, in the words of one Texas newsman, David Adickes's giant statue of Houston looms out of the Piney Woods like "a giant albino Sasquatch."

"I think they're clever. What the heck, I think they're funny," he tells Hair Balls. (He does doubt the historical accuracy of mannequin Sam's assertion in one of the ads that he literally caught a musket ball, like, in his hands, at the Battle of San Jacinto.) "He did catch one in his ankle, not in his bare hands."

Nolan disagrees totally with Slampo's slagging of Sam's accent. "As I remember from the advertisement, it sounded pretty good," he says. "He was born in Virginia, raised in Tennessee, so he would have had what today we would call a Tennessee/Southern accent. I didn't have any complaint about the voice."

As a fellow Texas-seean, I don't really either. And while the ads are corny, their bizarre portrayal of Houston is not defamatory on its own.

But on the other hand, Comcast's gall in merely trying to associate themselves with Sam Houston, during and after their absolutely Santa Anna-like Ike fiasco, is a rank offense to Houston's good name.
— John Nova Lomax

Aldine Schools — The Susan Lucci of Education

Remember, Aldine — it's an honor just to be nominated. It's an honor just to be nominated. It's an honor just to be ­nominated.

That's what school district officials will have to keep repeating to themselves as once again they have been denied the $1 million Broad Prize in Urban ­Education.

For the third time in the six-year history of the award, Aldine was one of five finalists for the nationwide competition, only to attend the ceremony and hear another district's name announced as the winner (this year, Brownsville).

"We're disappointed we didn't win, of course, but we're grateful for the $250,000 we did win and we're happy for Brownsville, of course," district spokesman Mike Keeney tells Hair Balls.

(Being a classy finalist is second-nature by now to AISD.)

Each finalist does get a quarter-­million, up from $125,000 in previous years, to spend on scholarships. So a "loss" isn't that hard to take.

Still, each year involves attending a ceremony in New York, waiting tensely for the winner to be announced...and then plastering on that fake smile that Susan Lucci ­mastered.

"We just gotta get over the hump one of these years," Keeney says.

Maybe — as he's no doubt heard before — next year.
— Richard Connelly

BOIs Make a Comeback in Galveston

If you know Galveston, you know what "BOI" means — it means "Born On the Island," and it means you're better than all those poor Johnny-come-latelies who come from the mainland.

Since Ike, though, there hasn't been a BOI. Until October 13.

Jennifer Ramirez-Hernandez, a healthy seven pounds, eight ounces, was born that morning in John Sealy Hospital, part of the UT-Medical Branch.

Five other babies have followed, all but one of them girls, UTMB spokeswoman Marsha Canright tells Hair Balls.

None have been named Ike. "Not even any Tinas," she says.

UTMB, which specializes in dealing with high-risk pregnancies, opened a 16-bed maternity clinic October 13.

The hospital does have power, but is extremely limited in the services it can offer right now. There's a mobile ER and intensive-care unit, but once patients are stabilized they are transferred to the mainland.

A normal month on Galveston sees more than 700 babies born, Canright says. It'll be some time before those numbers return to normal.

But Galveston's back in the BOI business, and that should count for something. And Jennifer Ramirez-Hernandez will have something to tell her grandkids.
— Richard Connelly

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