Picture it. You're sitting on the front porch of your rustic cabin, which is perched on a bluff over the Frio River's crystal-clear headwaters. You're sipping a Shiner Blonde on a hot summer day, and all you can hear is the Frio rushing over the nearby crossing and the wind whispering in the cypress. A hummingbird zips past, burning nectar and seeking to sip more. Maybe in a little while you'll walk across the lonely highway to the rough-hewn restaurant and grab a chicken-fried steak, or maybe you won't. Maybe you'll just sit there and watch the sun play on the rocky hills. If you get a wild hair, Acuña's an hour to the southwest, and Brackettville -- home to the famous Alamo replica where John Wayne's Davy Crockett went down fighting -- isn't far either. But you probably won't get much past the river on your first visit to this stunning Hill Country Eden.
Picture it. You're sitting on the front porch of your rustic cabin, which is perched on a bluff over the Frio River's crystal-clear headwaters. You're sipping a Shiner Blonde on a hot summer day, and all you can hear is the Frio rushing over the nearby crossing and the wind whispering in the cypress. A hummingbird zips past, burning nectar and seeking to sip more. Maybe in a little while you'll walk across the lonely highway to the rough-hewn restaurant and grab a chicken-fried steak, or maybe you won't. Maybe you'll just sit there and watch the sun play on the rocky hills. If you get a wild hair, Acua's an hour to the southwest, and Brackettville -- home to the famous Alamo replica where John Wayne's Davy Crockett went down fighting -- isn't far either. But you probably won't get much past the river on your first visit to this stunning Hill Country Eden.
Shorty, Oscar Meyer, Razzle, Slinky and Conan. They're wiener dogs, dachshunds, charging down a greyhound track, their long low-to-the-ground bodies undulating, their floppy ears flapping, their pointy muzzles yapping, to the amusement of anyone willing to make the trip to La Marque. You don't normally hear laughter at a race track. Sobbing is more likely. But when Cinnamon, Rambo II, and Elmeaux lollygag out onto the track and look around in confusion, a body can't help but giggle. And when Nutmeg and Mortimer make a mad dash for the finish line a few yards away, but hook a sharp right instead to greet the cheering kiddies for a nice head-scratch, those giggles erupt into guffaws. For about $2 a head, you can't beat entertainment like this. Except maybe with the other annual kooky dog race, the Chihuahua World Cup, October 12.
Shorty, Oscar Meyer, Razzle, Slinky and Conan. They're wiener dogs, dachshunds, charging down a greyhound track, their long low-to-the-ground bodies undulating, their floppy ears flapping, their pointy muzzles yapping, to the amusement of anyone willing to make the trip to La Marque. You don't normally hear laughter at a race track. Sobbing is more likely. But when Cinnamon, Rambo II, and Elmeaux lollygag out onto the track and look around in confusion, a body can't help but giggle. And when Nutmeg and Mortimer make a mad dash for the finish line a few yards away, but hook a sharp right instead to greet the cheering kiddies for a nice head-scratch, those giggles erupt into guffaws. For about $2 a head, you can't beat entertainment like this. Except maybe with the other annual kooky dog race, the Chihuahua World Cup, October 12.
Last season, Houston Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes heard the three most dreaded letters known to an athlete: ACL. Those three letters stand for a sports injury that often means the end of a career. But while Swoopes missed all last season with a torn ligament in her knee, she returned this year to take her team to the playoffs. So impressive was Swoopes's comeback that she was named the WNBA's most valuable player (her second such title in three years), beating Los Angeles media darling Lisa Leslie, the first woman ever to dunk in the WNBA. Swoopes gained stardom as part of the dynamic duo that included Cynthia Cooper, who brought Houston the first four WNBA championships. Yet Swoopes has proved easier to embrace than the retired Cooper, who wears a scowl even when smiling. Swoopes displays a casual star attitude. She left to have a baby and came back to win a title. Even her name sounds fast. Also voted the WNBA's best defensive player, Swoopes drew throngs of fans to watch her swoop, steal passes and glide down the court like a gazelle, ending with her signature spin move and a kiss off the glass for two. For that, she's hearing three new letters: MVP.

Last season, Houston Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes heard the three most dreaded letters known to an athlete: ACL. Those three letters stand for a sports injury that often means the end of a career. But while Swoopes missed all last season with a torn ligament in her knee, she returned this year to take her team to the playoffs. So impressive was Swoopes's comeback that she was named the WNBA's most valuable player (her second such title in three years), beating Los Angeles media darling Lisa Leslie, the first woman ever to dunk in the WNBA. Swoopes gained stardom as part of the dynamic duo that included Cynthia Cooper, who brought Houston the first four WNBA championships. Yet Swoopes has proved easier to embrace than the retired Cooper, who wears a scowl even when smiling. Swoopes displays a casual star attitude. She left to have a baby and came back to win a title. Even her name sounds fast. Also voted the WNBA's best defensive player, Swoopes drew throngs of fans to watch her swoop, steal passes and glide down the court like a gazelle, ending with her signature spin move and a kiss off the glass for two. For that, she's hearing three new letters: MVP.

Baseball announcers have traditionally been genial, low-key companions who take you through a hot, lazy summer night. But more and more are turning into Dick Vitale-like screamers shouting, "There's a looooong fly ball that has a chance! -- but it's caught by the shortstop." Luckily, Astros fans have someone from the old school who's been doing a solid job below the radar for quite a while. Bill Brown doesn't overwhelm the listener with convoluted stats, and he leaves the detailed analysis to his broadcast partners. What he does do is keep the viewer informed of everything he or she needs to know, with a minimum of fuss or ego gratification. It can almost make watching the Astros bearable.
Baseball announcers have traditionally been genial, low-key companions who take you through a hot, lazy summer night. But more and more are turning into Dick Vitale-like screamers shouting, "There's a looooong fly ball that has a chance! -- but it's caught by the shortstop." Luckily, Astros fans have someone from the old school who's been doing a solid job below the radar for quite a while. Bill Brown doesn't overwhelm the listener with convoluted stats, and he leaves the detailed analysis to his broadcast partners. What he does do is keep the viewer informed of everything he or she needs to know, with a minimum of fuss or ego gratification. It can almost make watching the Astros bearable.
There used to be many more sports-talk shows on the radio in Houston, but thankfully the best has survived. Rich Lord and Charlie Pallilo have the afternoon-drive slot on all-sports KILT, and they've made many a rush hour less frustrating for Houstonians. Lord's a bit of a goof, and Pallilo's more of an acerbic know-it-all; together their chemistry is impeccable as they ricochet through sports, movies, current events and babes. Their regular guests are solid: former Astro Kevin Bass and Chronicle NFL beat writer John McClain. Now that KILT has the Rockets, the hosts aren't as dismissive of the hoopsters as they used to be, but perhaps that's too much to expect.
There used to be many more sports-talk shows on the radio in Houston, but thankfully the best has survived. Rich Lord and Charlie Pallilo have the afternoon-drive slot on all-sports KILT, and they've made many a rush hour less frustrating for Houstonians. Lord's a bit of a goof, and Pallilo's more of an acerbic know-it-all; together their chemistry is impeccable as they ricochet through sports, movies, current events and babes. Their regular guests are solid: former Astro Kevin Bass and Chronicle NFL beat writer John McClain. Now that KILT has the Rockets, the hosts aren't as dismissive of the hoopsters as they used to be, but perhaps that's too much to expect.

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