On Dog Food and Saddam

SAT 1/10

The danger in writing songs based on contemporary issues is that one day they inevitably become passé ("Pac-Man Fever," anyone?). The Austin Lounge Lizards are the latest victims of a changing world. A track off their ninth record, Strange Noises in the Dark, is called "Why Couldn't We Blow Up Saddam?" "Yes, we may have to write new lyrics for that one," Conrad Deisler, who co-founded the band in 1980, says dryly. "But we had a good couple of months with it." Their new songs contemplate the nose job of a Jewish American princess, voyeuristic window washers, the taste of dog food and even a hypothetical, post-Senate homosexual relationship between Jesse Helms and Phil Gramm. (Where was mainstream media on this one?) Deisler's own country weeper, a duet with Kelly Willis called "We Always Fight When We Drink Gin," was based on a title suggested by his girlfriend and inspired by their own imbibing, pugilistic habits.

The Lizards are no strangers to Houston. Deisler, who wants to visit the Orange Show while in town, lived here for a year while attending Memorial High School. "My feelings about Houston have improved considerably since then," he adds. The satirical bluegrass/country/folk band brings its unique mixture of fine musicianship and bizarre lyrics to town this weekend. Performance and signing: 3 p.m. Saturday, January 10, Cactus Music and Video, 2930 South Shepherd, 713-526-9272. Free. Additional performances at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk. For information, call 713-529-5999 or visit www.austinloungelizards.com. $18. -- Bob Ruggiero



The holidays were finally over, and it was time to get back to my regular drinking schedule. So many bars, so little time. The last time I was at Kenneally's Irish Pub (211 South Shepherd, 713-630-0486), the Astros were still contenders. Yet this cozy neighborhood joint has always been one of my favorite places. Corned beef pizzas, straight-shooting bartenders and one of the best jukes in town -- I just wish they'd crank it up a notch now and then when the mood's right. A new guy behind the bar introduced himself as Giovanni and claimed he had a recipe for a lemon drop martini that would make me sing. How was I to turn that down? Well, the singing never materialized, but three drinks later, I had a rattle in my right leg that wouldn't stop. Women were arriving in droves, and I was the happiest I'd been since the night before. A friend of mine showed up a little while later, and he challenged me in a high-stakes (loser picks up a round of drinks) game of Cricket. He kicked my butt the first time, but the night was still young. After a few martinis, my money was running out, but two overdue bull's-eyes kept me in the game.

1-3/4 ounces Heaven Hill vodka

Splash of nonalcoholic triple sec

Splash of Rose's Lime Juice

2 lemon wedges

2 lime wedges

2 packets of sugar

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and combine the above ingredients (save one packet of sugar for the rim of the glass). Shake vigorously. Using a wedge of lemon or lime, moisten the rim of a martini glass. Empty the remaining packet of sugar onto a small plate and spin the rim of the glass around until evenly covered. Strain contents of shaker into glass. Garnish with a lemon if desired. -- J.W. Crooker


A Breakfast Club

Joe Applewhite and Ryan Echiverri must be a couple of sentimental softies. Why else would they revive Tantra, the randy nightclub that was a southwest Houston staple in the mid- to late '90s? Revived in its old location, Tantra will give veteran night owls the chance to relive the clubbing they used to do back in the days of Clinton, the Spice Girls and Melrose Place. And to all those couples who've found a clubhouse in Encounters, the swinging spot that currently occupies that address, don't fret: Tantra will live on only as an after-hours hideaway, so couples can still hook up and get sticky on the weekends. 2:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 5718 Fairdale. For information, call 713-532-0840 or visit www.encountersclub.com. $10. -- Craig D. Lindsey


Latin Lovers

FRI 1/9

Listening to a little Spanish guitar is the perfect way to warm up a potential lover's heart (not to mention the lower parts of the anatomy). So grab a date and head over to MECA for Musica Iberoamericana, where Juan Gamboa, Jorge Mancilla and Efrain Silva will play music from Spain and Latin America. Their agile fingers should have no trouble tugging on your escort's heartstrings, so don't wait too long before you make your move. You wouldn't want your date to fall in love with the musicians instead of you. 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 9. 1900 Kane. For tickets, call 866-468-7621 or visit www.meca-houston.org. $5. -- Keith Plocek

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