Selecting Houston's best supplier of over-the-airwaves music can seem like an exercise in picking the lesser evil. Between corporate-held stations controlled by focus groups and a public station run by a general manager who seems intent on destroying its democratic ways, our city's radio offerings don't exactly inspire listeners to switch off the CD player. But Rice University's KTRU is different -- very different. The 50,000-watt outlet is a throwback to a time when stations were programmed by people who really liked music. KTRU's weekly programming list is beautifully color-blind: hip-hop, classic rock, world music, spoken word, reggae, jazz, hardcore and forms of sound that defy classification. There's even a two-hour block each weekday morning dedicated to readings for the blind. That sounds to us like a station fulfilling its educational mission. KTRU likes to call itself free-form, and it is, not only with its music but also with its on-air "talent," which can be refreshingly awkward. For sheer audio adventure, no station tops KTRU.
Selecting Houston's best supplier of over-the-airwaves music can seem like an exercise in picking the lesser evil. Between corporate-held stations controlled by focus groups and a public station run by a general manager who seems intent on destroying its democratic ways, our city's radio offerings don't exactly inspire listeners to switch off the CD player. But Rice University's KTRU is different -- very different. The 50,000-watt outlet is a throwback to a time when stations were programmed by people who really liked music. KTRU's weekly programming list is beautifully color-blind: hip-hop, classic rock, world music, spoken word, reggae, jazz, hardcore and forms of sound that defy classification. There's even a two-hour block each weekday morning dedicated to readings for the blind. That sounds to us like a station fulfilling its educational mission. KTRU likes to call itself free-form, and it is, not only with its music but also with its on-air "talent," which can be refreshingly awkward. For sheer audio adventure, no station tops KTRU.
It's not precisely a cookbook, as Houston Chronicle columnist Leon Hale makes clear in his author's note, but he has subtitled this gastro-memoir "Recollections and Recipes," so fair game. Who cares if most of the recipes are for Depression-era fare like pinto beans and corn bread. We like these things too. Never mind that Hale prefers store-mix corn bread to scratch. We're as lazy as the next guy. We even forgive Hale his obsessive "soupwich" (bread in soup, get it?), because he clearly made such a good time of figuring out how to feed himself when he woke up an unaccustomed bachelor at age 60. Supper Time is more about Hale's relationship with food -- and characteristically, it's a deceptively simple one -- than about the food itself, but it's a fine read, and it makes you hungry, which is one thing a cookbook should always do.

It's not precisely a cookbook, as Houston Chronicle columnist Leon Hale makes clear in his author's note, but he has subtitled this gastro-memoir "Recollections and Recipes," so fair game. Who cares if most of the recipes are for Depression-era fare like pinto beans and corn bread. We like these things too. Never mind that Hale prefers store-mix corn bread to scratch. We're as lazy as the next guy. We even forgive Hale his obsessive "soupwich" (bread in soup, get it?), because he clearly made such a good time of figuring out how to feed himself when he woke up an unaccustomed bachelor at age 60. Supper Time is more about Hale's relationship with food -- and characteristically, it's a deceptively simple one -- than about the food itself, but it's a fine read, and it makes you hungry, which is one thing a cookbook should always do.

Only a couple of months after young buck Clay Farmer disbanded his four-piece earlier this year, the singer-songwriter was playing open-mikes whenever and wherever with three of his former four musical deputies in tow. So while technically the Clay Farmer Band remains dead, Clay Farmer the humanoid performer -- gettin' by with a little help from his friends -- has been trudging along, stopping every now and then to take an audience to his skinny lap and deliver his brand of sensible, nearly confessional country like a bedtime storyteller. He's working on an album for release this fall.
Only a couple of months after young buck Clay Farmer disbanded his four-piece earlier this year, the singer-songwriter was playing open-mikes whenever and wherever with three of his former four musical deputies in tow. So while technically the Clay Farmer Band remains dead, Clay Farmer the humanoid performer -- gettin' by with a little help from his friends -- has been trudging along, stopping every now and then to take an audience to his skinny lap and deliver his brand of sensible, nearly confessional country like a bedtime storyteller. He's working on an album for release this fall.
Adding up sound, clientele, drink selection and ambience, you couldn't beat the Sidecar Pub with a male Tennessee Williams character at your side. The owners, husband and wife Peron Einkauf and Marybeth Moore, have done somersaults to create the ideal joint, from the century-old Belgian chairs to the 140 international beers available. Einkauf is about six foot six, 200-some pounds, and Moore wears hats outlandish enough to make a Kentucky Derby blueblood envious. And while Moore makes the toasts and tends bar, Einkauf works the club's 32-channel board and eight sub-boards for the live original bands pumping through the Sidecar's high-ceilinged space, which holds about 300 max, 250 on heavy-metal nights. (Those bins of hair spray gotta sit somewhere, right?)
Adding up sound, clientele, drink selection and ambience, you couldn't beat the Sidecar Pub with a male Tennessee Williams character at your side. The owners, husband and wife Peron Einkauf and Marybeth Moore, have done somersaults to create the ideal joint, from the century-old Belgian chairs to the 140 international beers available. Einkauf is about six foot six, 200-some pounds, and Moore wears hats outlandish enough to make a Kentucky Derby blueblood envious. And while Moore makes the toasts and tends bar, Einkauf works the club's 32-channel board and eight sub-boards for the live original bands pumping through the Sidecar's high-ceilinged space, which holds about 300 max, 250 on heavy-metal nights. (Those bins of hair spray gotta sit somewhere, right?)
"There's a sucker born every minute," or so said Phineas Taylor Barnum, the greatest American huckster who ever lived. He honed his flimflam skills to such astonishing heights that he eventually became the owner and hawker of "The Greatest Show on Earth," a grand colossus of a circus that lately has turned into a lumbering behemoth of chicanery. To make things right, last Christmas the company that now bears the old trickster's name brought a whole new kind of circus to town. Barnum's Kaleidoscape harked back to the days of sideshow grifters, a mythical past where real corn popped, golden beer frothed and lithe, sequined performers danced close enough to be touched. Held under a real big-top tent, with clanky, brassy music drifting from an old-timey band, the show delighted children and adults alike with its amazing acts, which included brave trapeze artists, erotic gold-painted muscle men and a gaggle of silly geese that sent the kids into peals of high-pitched giggles. Trinkets got sold, money flowed like water, and everybody laughed as they spent their last dimes on piles of pink cotton candy. P.T. Barnum would have been proud.
"There's a sucker born every minute," or so said Phineas Taylor Barnum, the greatest American huckster who ever lived. He honed his flimflam skills to such astonishing heights that he eventually became the owner and hawker of "The Greatest Show on Earth," a grand colossus of a circus that lately has turned into a lumbering behemoth of chicanery. To make things right, last Christmas the company that now bears the old trickster's name brought a whole new kind of circus to town. Barnum's Kaleidoscape harked back to the days of sideshow grifters, a mythical past where real corn popped, golden beer frothed and lithe, sequined performers danced close enough to be touched. Held under a real big-top tent, with clanky, brassy music drifting from an old-timey band, the show delighted children and adults alike with its amazing acts, which included brave trapeze artists, erotic gold-painted muscle men and a gaggle of silly geese that sent the kids into peals of high-pitched giggles. Trinkets got sold, money flowed like water, and everybody laughed as they spent their last dimes on piles of pink cotton candy. P.T. Barnum would have been proud.

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