Larry Dierker Color commentators are often former players or managers. Good ones have a background in the game and can tell the listener or viewer what's going on in the minds of the players and explain the strategy. This year, Houston Astros fans are lucky. This year, the Astros welcomed back Larry Dierker to the broadcast booth. Dierker is a special kind of color commentator. He's a former player. He's a former manager. He's a newspaper columnist and an author. He knows the game well. He has a passion for it. Whenever he speaks, the viewer is educated. Even the lifelong fan learns something when Dierker works a game. Dierker's skills are such that he's even worked games on the networks (NBC and ABC when they had the Major League Baseball package), and in past years, the occasional game on Fox. Unfortunately, the Astros have yet to bring Dierker back full time. He's just a fill-in, working a schedule only Roger Clemens could love. So, Astros, finish the job and bring Larry Dierker back full time.

Astros outfield deck We see George and Barbara down there near home plate, a looming, presidential presence behind every televised pitch. They don't know what they're missing. Way up here in the nosebleed section, we've got the whole damn north 40 to ourselves. We can stretch out and curse without offending small children. And since the seats set us back only five bucks, that leaves lots of cash for beer and dogs. And more cursing. If only the team on the field looked as consistently pretty as the skyline out the left-field window, this would be heaven (of course, it seems like we're already at that altitude anyhow).

Astros outfield deck We see George and Barbara down there near home plate, a looming, presidential presence behind every televised pitch. They don't know what they're missing. Way up here in the nosebleed section, we've got the whole damn north 40 to ourselves. We can stretch out and curse without offending small children. And since the seats set us back only five bucks, that leaves lots of cash for beer and dogs. And more cursing. If only the team on the field looked as consistently pretty as the skyline out the left-field window, this would be heaven (of course, it seems like we're already at that altitude anyhow).

Porretto Park Everybody knows about East Beach, where Playboy models and other assorted hardbodies gather during the summer. Not as many folks know about No-Name Beach off Condominium Road, where the topless and queer crowds commingle behind the dunes. But our favorite place to drop the beach towel is also Galveston's best-kept secret. Despite the fact that the seawall has been declared alcohol-free by the city, there's an exempted zone along the beach between Sixth and Tenth streets at Porretto Park. The quirk in the ordinance was created because a local Italian family privately owns this stretch of beach, and that means you can unashamedly break out the malt liquor. Just don't chug it while you walk along the concrete part of the seawall, or the cold steel of a jail cell might be cooling your sunburned hide later.

Porretto Park Everybody knows about East Beach, where Playboy models and other assorted hardbodies gather during the summer. Not as many folks know about No-Name Beach off Condominium Road, where the topless and queer crowds commingle behind the dunes. But our favorite place to drop the beach towel is also Galveston's best-kept secret. Despite the fact that the seawall has been declared alcohol-free by the city, there's an exempted zone along the beach between Sixth and Tenth streets at Porretto Park. The quirk in the ordinance was created because a local Italian family privately owns this stretch of beach, and that means you can unashamedly break out the malt liquor. Just don't chug it while you walk along the concrete part of the seawall, or the cold steel of a jail cell might be cooling your sunburned hide later.

Tour 18 Tour 18 is the Epcot Center of golf courses. What they call the "cathedrals of golf" are exact re-creations of the 18 most heralded holes on famous courses worldwide. What club would you choose on the famed Amen Corner at Augusta National? Could you shoot par on Harbor Club's 18th hole? Tour 18 gives you the chance to step out from the role of armchair golfer and put your Titleist where your mouth is. With reasonable greens fees ranging from $39 to $95 (depending on day, time and season), your PGA dreams are only a 20-mile drive north of town. Now go get 'em, Tiger!

Tour 18 Tour 18 is the Epcot Center of golf courses. What they call the "cathedrals of golf" are exact re-creations of the 18 most heralded holes on famous courses worldwide. What club would you choose on the famed Amen Corner at Augusta National? Could you shoot par on Harbor Club's 18th hole? Tour 18 gives you the chance to step out from the role of armchair golfer and put your Titleist where your mouth is. With reasonable greens fees ranging from $39 to $95 (depending on day, time and season), your PGA dreams are only a 20-mile drive north of town. Now go get 'em, Tiger!

George Bush Intercontinental Airport Like riding horses? Hate terrorists? Well, now's your chance to trot ol' Trigger around the trail and keep a lookout for Osama at the same time. The Houston Airport System's Airport Rangers are volunteers who patrol the 34-mile perimeter of fencing around Intercontinental. You have to pass a background check, of course. "It's not just Joe Blow coming in," says airport spokesperson Ernest DeSoto. "You have to be badged." The airport system has set up 25 miles of trails with water stops and port-a-potties for volunteers, but those hankerin' for more rugged country are welcome to veer off the paths, DeSoto says. If a ranger sees anyone unusual (vagrant, poacher, dude with a rocket launcher), he or she must report it to airport authorities. Otherwise, Airport Rangers are free to ride from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport Like riding horses? Hate terrorists? Well, now's your chance to trot ol' Trigger around the trail and keep a lookout for Osama at the same time. The Houston Airport System's Airport Rangers are volunteers who patrol the 34-mile perimeter of fencing around Intercontinental. You have to pass a background check, of course. "It's not just Joe Blow coming in," says airport spokesperson Ernest DeSoto. "You have to be badged." The airport system has set up 25 miles of trails with water stops and port-a-potties for volunteers, but those hankerin' for more rugged country are welcome to veer off the paths, DeSoto says. If a ranger sees anyone unusual (vagrant, poacher, dude with a rocket launcher), he or she must report it to airport authorities. Otherwise, Airport Rangers are free to ride from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week.

Fit Holy biceps! Fit's got more hot bods than an I-10 traffic jam in July. And they've got state-of-the-art equipment and a really nice view of downtown, plus helpful trainers who aren't annoying. At Fit, there are fewer cheesy, too-tan bimbos and beefcake macho men than you'd find at other chain-type gyms in town. Here, there are just nice folks who work hard. But that's not the best part. Fit rules because they have so many lazy-people amenities: massages, steam rooms, Internet access, tanning booths, meditation classes, gigantic plasma screen TVs and Starbucks. Since working out is beginning to feel more like being a lazy slob, Houston could be on its way to skinniest-city status.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of