Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Restaurant Review: Hill’s Cafe

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Hill’s Cafe
700 S Congress Ave (Austin, 78745)
(512) 851-9300

Eaten at: July 25, 2015

Restroom Rating: 1.5 (Guys, when one soap dispenser is broken, and the other is off the wall and lying on the sinktop, your men’s room needs attention….)

Hill’s is one of those “Austin institutions” that has been around forever. We’ve eaten there before, and always thought they had good hamburgers and chicken fried steak.

Since Armadillocon was over in the Omni Southpark this year, and since Hill’s Cafe is evidently under new management, we decided to give them a revisit. This time around we had…hamburgers and chicken-fried steak. And I thought my chicken-fried steak was very tasty indeed, probably top 5 in Austin tasty, and I heard no complaints from the hamburger contingent. I also thought the onion rings were pretty good. (You’ll have to check with Dwight on the BBQ.)

They were out of banana pudding, and offered us some complimentary banana bread pudding instead. While I appreciate the gesture, the bread pudding just wasn’t very good, so you should probably avoid that.

Our waiter was pretty attentive, and pretty much kept up with our refills and other requests.

Overall the meal was more than satisfactory, offering up well-executed renditions of classic hearty Texas fare in filing portions at a fair price. Which makes me wonder why the place was half-deserted when we ate there.

Hill’s is never going to be a favorite with the “3 small pieces of seared fish artfully arranged with sculpted garnishes on a drizzle glazed plate for $30” crowd. But if you’re looking for good down home Texas food, Hill’s Cafe amply fits the bill.

Blue Bell Recalls ALL Products

Monday, April 20th, 2015

“Brenham-based Blue Bell Creameries is pulling all of its products from the shelves after more ice cream samples tested positive for a life-threatening bacterial infection.”

The voluntary decision, announced Monday, is the latest and most sweeping development to plague the Texas business icon since a recall last month, the first in the company’s 108-year history.

It came after an “enhanced sampling program” that found half-gallon containers of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream produced on March 17 and March 27 contained the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, company officials said.

Plus this:

“The latest tests mean the company had several positive tests for Listeria in different plants.”

Pretty hard to fathom a wide-spread outbreak in multiple plants. The only explanations I can think of:

  • A hardy new strain of Listeria is running wild in Texas cow herds
  • A mutant Listeria has evolved to survive pasteurization (a pretty scary thought)
  • There’s a problem somewhere in their additive supply chain
  • Sabotage/Eco-terrorism (PETA hates dairies).
  • Anyway, if you have any Blue Bell in your freezer, it’s probably safest to throw it out…

    Library Additions: Chacal #1 Signed by Tom Reamy

    Thursday, March 20th, 2014

    I just got a big box of books from a dealer holding a 70% off sale, which I’ll probably be cataloging for the next week or so. This is the item that made me start piling things in the virtual basket for immediate purchase:

    Chacal No. 1. First edition magazine original, a Fine- copy with slight bumping to top of spine. Signed by contributors Tom Reamy, Howard Waldrop, Richard Corben, Tim Kirk, and publisher Arnie Fenner.

    Chacal

    Reamy Sig

    Tom Reamy was widely acclaimed as the very best SF writer in Texas, winning a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer as well as a Nebula Award for “San Diego Lightfoot Sue.” Reamy died of a heart attack on November 4, 1977 at the horrifically young age of 42. Reamy had no books of his own published during his lifetime, and things signed by him are genuinely rare and seldom come on the market.

    Chacal was Arnie Fenner’s first magazine, a big color glossy magazine featuring first-rate fantasy fiction and art. (After two issues this would be followed up by Shayol, which had more of a science fiction focus, co-edited with Fenner’s then-wife Pat Cadigan.)

    Howard believes that this was almost certainly signed at the 1976 Worldcon in Kansas City, which is the only time he recalled all of them being together at the same place and time after it was published.

    Price paid: $29.99.

    That’s It? That’s Your Guest Lineup?

    Thursday, March 13th, 2014

    I haven’t gone to Aggiecon for about a quarter century for reasons too detailed and annoying to get into here. But I have watched from a distance as serial administrative blunders have reduced the con to a shadow of its former self.

    With that in mind, I thought you might be interested to know that Aggiecon has announced its guest lineup this year.

    Both of them.

    That’s right, a convention that used to boast such guests as Jack Williamson, Fred Pohl, Harlan Ellison, Roger Zelazny, Greg Bear, Joe R. Lansdale and George R. R. Martin now has a guest list of two: a guy who co-writes a podcast and an anime voice actor. I’ve had better guest lists in my living room. Hell, I’ve had better guest lists in my living room when it was just me and Howard Waldrop.

    I think I’ll be missing it again this year…

    Updated to add: Someone has alerted me that Aggiecon has announced more guests on their Facebook page. Still no names to conjure with, but at least there are more of them. It also suggests that they’re so organizationally dysfunctional they can’t update their own website less than a month before the con…

    Neal Barrett, Jr., RIP

    Monday, January 13th, 2014

    Dang. Just heard that Neal Barrett, Jr. has died. One of the great Texas Gonzo writers with an impressive body of work.

    He will be missed.

    Condolences to his widow Ruth, his family and friends.

    Bum Phillips, RIP

    Friday, October 18th, 2013

    Former Houston Oilers football coach Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips Jr. has died at age 90. It’s pretty much impossible for anyone who didn’t grow up in Houston during the “Luv Ya Blue” era of of the Earl Campbell Oilers to tell you how much Phillips meant to the city. He may be the most beloved NFL coach never to even reach a Superbowl. Bud Adams firing Philips (and then trading Campbell to New Orleans for a sack of doorknobs) was one of the many, many, many things Oilers owner Bud Adams did to earn the enmity of the city he would eventually deprive of the Oilers.

    Philips was an ornery cuss, but a classy one, and 100% Texan. He will be missed.

    Edited to Add: Oiler player tributes to Bum. “Everybody loved Bum.”

    Fertilizer Plant Blows Up in West, Texas

    Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

    Crap. Supposedly leveled portions of the town.

    I have relatives in West, albeit it ones I haven’t seen in over 30 years.

    Very brief video:

    Updated: Explosion caught on video (might take a few minutes to load). Holy crap…

    Update 2: Now embeddable video of explosion

    Sold a Story to Rayguns Over Texas

    Saturday, December 29th, 2012

    My story “Novel Properties of Certain Complex Alkaloids” will be appearing in the Rayguns Over Texas anthology edited by Rick Klaw that’s to be published for LonestarCon 3, the 2013 San Antonio Worldcon. It’s sort of a Greg Egan story by way of Timothy Leary and H. P. Lovecraft…

    Texas Tax Free Weekend August 17-19

    Thursday, August 16th, 2012

    It’s that time of year again. Texas is having it’s annual tax free weekend this weekend, August 17-19, for back-to-school goods like clothing under $100, school supplies, etc. And this year, the previously tax-free but now-tax-covered Amazon is participating as well.

    Official state guidelines for what is and isn’t covered.

    Serial Killer Followup

    Friday, March 30th, 2012

    You may remember my mention of Robert Ben Rhodes (the truck driver accused of torturing, killing and raping as many as 50 women) who was awaiting trial in the same Big Spring, Texas jail that also housed child-abusing polygamist Warren Jeffs.

    Rhodes has been sentenced to life imprisonment rather than the death penalty. This is disappointing, since he was already serving a life sentence for murders committed in Illinois and if any U.S. criminal currently behind bars in the U.S. deserves the death penalty, it’s Rhodes. But he’d been awaiting trial since 2009, which suggests there was some problem with prosecution evidence. And since he’s already 66, there was a good chance Rhodes would have died behind bars before the sentence was carried out anyway…