How does this years playoff team compare to a decade ago? Click  here to find out.
How does this years playoff team compare to a decade ago? Click here to find out.

Snakes|Dalai Lama at Rice Univ.|Houston Rockets|Missing Pets

State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran has gone all Samuel L. Jackson on us. There's no other way to put it — he has had it with these motherfuckin' snakes in this motherfuckin' state.

Hilderbran, a Republican from Kerrville, is fed up with all the poisonous snakes and deadly constrictorsÉthat he's seen on Animal Planet, not in any actual Texas locations.

He originally introduced a bill this session requiring permits to own any snake that was not indigenous to Texas; a rebellion amongst Lone Star snake owners (a group of people who, we're guessing, you don't want to piss off) forced him to withdraw that piece of legislation.



But he still wants the state to require permits for anyone who owns a non-indigenous venomous snake, not to mention five species of really big snakes.

Why the hate, Harvey?

“I have observed for a number of years in the media and the animal channel” stories about bad snakes, he says.

Do you watch a lot of Animal Planet?

“I watch a lot of Animal Planet, sure do. Not every day but, I mean, when I'm home I do. I don't watch it during the [legislative] session. But I enjoy it.”

Despite such extensive research into the issue, Hilderbran admits non-indigenous snakes currently aren't causing any problems in Texas, but says, “Why wait until we have a problem?ÉI don't want to see a feral population of poisonous snakes and large constrictors.”

Needless to say, snake fans here aren't happy. “It's going to be like a police state,” says Char Close, owner of Char's Reptile Store & More in Montrose.

The Texas Reptile Breeders Association is offering sample letters for members to send to Austin. Among the highlights: “What in the world is going on when an elected representative has nothing better to do than go after people's pets instead of working constructively to improve our great state?” And “Did you ever stop to think that many children and adults who are allergic to dogs and cats have found an alternative with snakes and other reptiles?ÉWe are a huge group of voters and we want our voices to be heard.”

Like we say, don't mess with the snake people.

It's probably a good thing Hilderbran doesn't watch The Weather Channel. A couple episodes of Storm Stories and he'd be writing a bill to ban hurricanes.

Doggone It

Speaking of pet stores, Joyce McGill has troubles of her own, and they don't involve snakes.

McGill took her cocker spaniel Max into Houston's Luv Ur Pet Grooming (Motto: “We put fewer letters in our name and pass the savings on to you!!”) for some maintenance. The store called later to say the dog was ready for pick-up, but by the time she got there the animal was gone.

According to a complaint McGill's daughter filed with the Better Business Bureau, a store employee told her “an unidentified man just pointed to my mother's dog, said he was there to pick it up, paid in cash and left.”

Her mom was heartbroken, Yvetta McGill says. “It was a member of the family,” she says. “She has two children, but this was her third child, you could say. So she's been absolutely devastated, to say the least, regarding this dog.”

An ambulance had to be called to the store's parking lot because her mother had gotten so distraught.

Lawyers have been engaged. “But I want to stress the fact,” Yvetta says, “we don't want money. We don't care about anything but getting this dog back.” (Although in their BBB complaint, there's this: “In the event that our dog is not returned, we are seeking reimbursement of the full replacement cost of a similar breed pedigree dog, a public apology and admission of responsibility.”)

The folks at Luv Ur Pet wouldn't comment on any of this to us, but they told the BBB that the man who picked up Max had asked about a specific flea treatment McGill had also mentioned. “Needless to say (the employees) were shocked that Max was released to the wrong person,” the response says.

(It also mentioned that Max was “extremely overweight” and that someone from the McGill family had been “very profane.”)

Things aren't looking too good. It's been a couple of weeks, and no one's shown up to say, “Hey, sorry; took the wrong dog.” Luv Ur Pet told the BBB they'd posted reward signs and called vets' offices and other grooming salons, with no luck.

You know, if they could get this on Animal Planet somehow, there's a legislator who might just try to helpÉ

Crushing the Entrepreneurial Spirit

While you were sitting on your ass doing nothing, David Moore of Houston was thinking up ways of getting ahead.

His way, specifically, was to scalp tickets to the Dalai Lama's appearance May 1 at Rice. Which puts him miles ahead of everyone else, all those losers who didn't think of profiting off a spiritual event.

Moore put two tickets up for auction on eBay. He got some bids, but then he got an e-mail from Calvin Preece of Rice's Boniuk Center for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance.

“You are in violation of eBay policies for ticket sales,” it said. “We are planning to prosecute to the fullest extent of the lawÉScalping is against the law in TexasÉ Pull this listing immediately or face the consequences.”

Geez, doesn't sound too tolerant to us. Not to mention that eBay doesn't ban scalping tickets, and neither does Texas law.

“I overreacted,” Preece says. “But we felt that our charity was being abused.”

General-admission tickets to the Autry Court event are only five bucks. “We're not making a profit on this,” he says.

Moore says he pulled his auction because he was “afraid Rice was coming after me.”

He says he will make a donation to one of the Dalai Lama's charities with “a portion” of his profits if he re-posts the item, but that doesn't assuage Preece.

“It's just bad karma,” he says. “If it's not against the law, it ought to be.”

It appears the Dalai Lama has a whole lot of healin' to do at Rice.

Playoff Fever

For the first time in a long time, the Houston Rockets look like they may stay alive in the NBA playoffs for more than the absolute minimum of games. For fans of the team, thats a novel and wondrous thing. For most of the city, though, the Rockets are an afterthought, brought to mind only when the bandwagon is rolling. The bandwagon hasnt moved much since the double-championship teams of a decade ago, so here's a primer for newcomers.


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