Take a cybertour of San Antonio. Look inside Phil Gramm’s skeleton closet. Check with the Aggies for the latest weather. E-mail a friend a virtual beer. A guide to our favorite places on the World Wide Web.

August 1996By Comments

One of the great virtues of the World Wide Web is that it can take you anywhere. But, then again, it’s always nice to know what’s close to home. Unfortunately, the Web doesn’t make it easy for you to surf the Net without wiping out. We have. Searching thousands of sites about Texas and Texans by different categories, we came up with one hundred (most based in Texas, a few that are not) where we like to hang our hats. Each one has something to offer—a service, an idea, a point of view—that makes it stand out.

Make that 101 sites. To check out our choices, visit the Texas Monthly WWW Ranch (http://www.texasmonthly.com), where the text of this story will appear, including links to our top one hundred. (All the Web addresses were current at the time we went to press. The Ranch will keep them updated, because addresses do change.) And be sure to let us know about your favorite destinations in CyberTexas by posting your picks at the Ranch’s Texas Talk area. The way the Web keeps growing, our next list may reach a thousand.


James B. Janknegt Did you miss Austin painter (and Web site designer) James B. Janknegt’s show “Suburban Allegories” at Austin’s LyonsMatrix Gallery? You can still catch the virtual version at his homepage. This isn’t the usual thumbnails hanging on a Web page; instead, he attempts to approximate the experience of visiting the real thing. Click through a couple of photos of the real gallery entrance to get inside—there’s even a reception desk—then start moving from one wall to the next; click on a canvas for a close-up. Janknegt’s site illustrates how an artist could go it alone, showing year-round, 24 hours a day, in a custom-designed digital gallery. http://www.utexas.edu/cofa/pac/janknegt/index.html

University of North Texas Art Galleries Most sites sponsored by Texas’ major museums—or the Louvre, for that matter—are basically digital versions of the glossy leaflets available at the information desk. But UNT’s page actually offers an in-depth look at the edgy art shown by this small, ambitious university museum. The site has an unpretentious but elegantly nested graphical structure: A year’s worth of exhibitions are represented by a menu of thumbnail images; click one image for thumbnails representing each artist, then click one of these for a menu representing each work. You can also find catalog essays, artist’s statements, and bibliographies. http://www.art.unt.edu/sova/galleries/

purepleasure Dallas artist Scott Barber combines the Web site for a real gallery, Dallas’ venerable 500X alternative space, with a virtual gallery called rawspace, where Barber and two of his colleagues show expandable images of their accomplished postmodern abstract paintings. There’s also a mini-gallery on the menu going under the name “obscure pleasure.” http://www.whytel.com/home/rawspace/index.html

The Paul Milosevich Gallery Portrait and golf artist Paul Milosevich of Lubbock has a state-of-the-art commercial site with lickety-split image display and a mechanism that allows you to e-mail your credit card number to order items like his limited-edition print of Ben Crenshaw’s 1995 Masters win. He can paint a portrait of you, your golf bags, your kids, your car, or your favorite country singer in a style that’s a cut above commercial schlock. But the real reason he’s here is his “Golf Widow Series,” each one a Wyeth-esque nude posed against the backdrop of a luscious link. You ain’t gonna find anything like the Makai Mona Lisa at the Louvre’s Web site, sports fans.  http://interoz.com/gallery/MILO1.HTM

Click Me Houston computational biologist Jim Clarage has established himself as one of the foremost practitioners of an as-yet undefined art form that has its roots in postmodern multimedia conceptual art but uses the hypertext interactivity of the Net to dizzying effect. Click Me is the second of Clarage’s collections of WildWorldWeb Rides, which combine sound, graphics, and his own prose and poetry. The works include Cerebrum Flautus, an irreverent update of the Faust myth; Fitness Channel, a hilarious indictment of the war on cellulite; and Rocco Rides Again, a sort of hypertext novel in which the eponymous hero encounters Italian porn star—politician Cicciolina, Mother Teresa, Sigmund Freud, Siskel and Ebert, and a couple of busty Japanese comic book heroines. http://www-bioc. rice.edu:80/~clarage/clickme/


Project Vote Smart Most political Web sites are better for surfing than for serving up useful information. The number one exception: Project Vote Smart, which provides voting records and ideological rankings of U.S. senators and representatives from Texas (and all other states). For example, Steve Stockman, the controversial Republican freshman from Friendswood, earns a 100 percent ranking from the Christian Coalition and the League of Private Property Voters, but only 10 percent from the National Council of Senior Citizens and a zero from the environmentally oriented League of Conservation Voters. Too bad similar information isn’t available on the Texas Legislature. http://www.vote-smart. org/congress/tx/index.html

The Texas Political Resource Page The political junkie’s best friend. Assembled by Houston political consultant George Strong, the page features the latest polls, political gossip and observations (Hillary Clinton’s speech at the state Democratic convention was “long and sometimes inspiring”), visuals of political buttons, and great links to related Web pages. Check out the Nando Times link for political headlines from around the country. http://www.political.com

Texas Electronic Ethics Reporter Have you ever wondered what our beloved state legislators are trying to get away with? Scan the Texas Ethics Commission’s advisory opinions to find out. Take number 319: An anonymous legislator asks whether it is permissible to use political contributions to pay rent and maintenance fees for a Travis County condominium owned by his wife as separate property. Hmmm. It doesn’t sound kosher, but the commission blessed it nonetheless. http://www.law.uh.edu/ ethics/eao_tc.html

Window on State Government Comptroller John Sharp’s creation is a surfer’s paradise. Among the factoids to be gleaned: Texas has seventeen outlet malls and fifteen more on the way; the major source of revenue for Texas state government is not the sales tax but federal funds (until Congress gets through with us, that is); the highway mileage across Texas from south to north is greater than from east to west (898.6 miles from South Padre Island to Texline, compared with 787.4 miles from Texarkana to El Paso); Houston ranks tenth among Texas cities in employment growth, right behind, of all places, Wichita Falls. If you really want to get serious, try downloading the Texas Budget Simulator and see whether you can balance the state budget without shutting down the University of Texas. http://www.window.state.tx.us/

Phil Gramm’s Skeleton Closet This is part of the Texas College Democrats’ Web site, so don’t expect a balanced discussion. Among the section headings are Sleazy Film Financier, Savings and Loan Scandal, Getting a Drug Dealer Back on the Streets, and Draft Dodger. The commentary on character begins, “We haven’t found any yet,” but it goes on to praise Gramm for showing “some guts and open-mindedness by marrying a woman of Korean descent.” Hey, what about love? http://www.realchange.org/gramm.htm

The Flat Tax Home Page The best treatment of an issue on the Web—pro, of course, since the site is sponsored by Texas congressman Dick Armey, the House Majority Leader and chief advocate of the flat tax before and after Steve Forbes. Read Armey’s speeches and correspondence, calculate how you would fare under the flat tax, and check out Flat Tax Questions and Answers, which rebuts the most frequent criticisms of the proposal. Sample query: “Wouldn’t a flat tax, which doesn’t tax interest and dividends, let wealthy investors off the hook?” Surprise, surprise, Armey’s answer is no. http://www.house.gov/armey.flattax/


Neiman Marcus As self-referential as it oughta be. Get the history of Texas’ most famous retail operation (Shop the Legend) and the latest fashion tips (for a while, the Fashion Frequency recommended that the stylistically challenged be draped in pareos and fed fresh fruit gelées). Click to the store calendar—so you’ll know when Todd Oldham will be back in Dallas—or read an agonized elucidation of the apocryphal chocolate-chip-cookie recipe that turned into a publicity nightmare for the store. (More than 25 Web sites are devoted to this mini-scandal.) The downside: Still no mail order, which, for shopaholics, might be a plus. http://www.neimanmarcus.com

Angel Sword As a general rule, Web malls offer few of the pleasures of the real thing—that is, good merchandise and great people watching. (The Texas Mall site, for instance, has products available in your better souvenir shops.) But the Hill Country Market pages are as eccentric as the Hill Country itself, and along with sites for hats and carousels, there is Angel Sword, which displays guys in chain mail wielding what used to be the only available weapons of mass destruction. Based in Wimberley, this company makes and sells swords of all kinds (including antiques) and even offers a swordsmiths apprenticeship program. Maybe you never pictured the Hill Country as a hotbed of medievalism, but, hey, this is the future. http://www.ccsi.com/yeeha/sword/sword2.html

Trendz Ikea beware: Trendz features furniture, lighting, accessories, and a place to put them—the site also offers real estate and insurance assistance. The Austin-based company currently has the hottest workspace around—picture a computer desk for a dominatrix—which goes for $1,495; and a multicolored, multifaceted lamp called an Orbital Terra ($750), which looks like it could have emerged from the bottom of the sea. Not cheap, but very clever—for the my-office-is-my-hearth crowd. http://www.trendzfurniture.com

University Co-op Bookstore Imagine visiting the Co-op in Austin without hassling with parking on the Drag: You can order almost any book in any language on any topic—business, art, textbooks, Texas books, out-of-print books. Coming soon: a Longhorn clothes collection for infants to post-grads for sale online. Also, great links to other sites, from the Jerusalem Post to the Texas Exes themselves. http://www.coop-bookstore.com/

Home and Garden

AGropolis Well designed and easy to use, this Texas A&M University site offers family farmers and gardeners “science-based information that is Aggie reliable.” Browse sections on gardening, farming, nature, and family living; you can also learn when to plant, how to identify plant diseases, and how to get rid of pepper weevils and buffalo gnats. If a subject isn’t covered on the site, e-mail them a query. http://agcomwww.tamu.edu/agcom/agrotext/agcommap.html

Austin James Southwest Furniture Design The Sugar Land—based site lets you design your own Southwest-style furniture in white pine, oak, or cottonwood. After viewing the company’s samples, you can specify the style, upholstery patterns, dimensions, washes, and wood you want. Then, after you place your order, come back to the site and watch the progress of your piece as it’s being built, week by week. http://bestweb.com/vistanet/AJFurn.htm

Garden Escape A commercial site with a staggering selection of gardening stuff to buy and lots of free advice. You can order everything from seeds and trowels to upscale patio furniture. Garden by Design lets you customize a garden from your desktop. You can figure out your climatic zone, then find out the best planting materials; also there’s an always helpful “tip of the day.” http://www.garden.com

Come Into My Garden This site astonishes you with the generosity of its creator, Tom “the Old Gardener” Robb, a past president of the Harris County Master Gardener Association. He has put together a comprehensive list of gardening sources and links, with a strong Texas showing—particularly of his alma mater, Texas A&M. This site is one of the most frequently visited gardening pages on the Web and a wonderful jumping-off spot for learning about gardening resources on the Internet. http://www.hal-pc.org/~trobb/horticul.html


Armadillo’s WWW Server A joint project between the Houston Independent School District and Rice University, this site has a Texas studies center with all kinds of interesting maps and a point-and-click travel guide; GirlTech, a math games page; and some swell side trips, like Kinkaid’s Backyard, a natural history tour of Houston’s Buffalo Bayou by the teachers and students of the private Kinkaid School. http://www.rice.edu/armadillo/index.html

Internet for Kids Austin’s Victoria Williams targets a young audience. Her Get Your Baby on the Internet section includes a colorful point-and-click alphabet. (The D-for-Dog, S-for-Snake graphics may be a little slow to load for a two-year-old.) There’s also a Name the Puppies page and, for older kids, a network of e-mail pen pals and an interactive, never-ending story called “The Gates of No Return.” http://www.internet-for-kids.com/

Girl Games The Austin-based commercial-educational software company runs a site that aims to “prepare [girls] for a technologically advanced future.” The site has a definite feminist slant, but of the new, more relaxed “cybergirls” variety. There’s an online newsletter, a chat group where girls are encouraged to respond to current events, and puzzles and games. “If the timepiece with the least moving parts is a sundial, what is the timepiece with the most moving parts?” (Answer: an hourglass.) http://www.girlgamesinc.com

May Family Home Education Teresa May of Wichita Falls maintains a site that serves as a resource for home schooling and a fun drop-in spot for young people. Weird Web Tales lets visitors create “customized, nutty stories on the fly,” while Summer Fun in the Texas Sun has information on Texas vacation sites, links to virtual Texas museums, and recipes that “give the whole family something to do when the thermometer tops 100 degrees.” http://www.cyberstation.net/~may/ home.htm


Heart of San Antonio The tour of the city begins with a photo of the T-1 terminal your modem is linked to; then the point of view switches to the eye-of-the-camera, which leaps out the window to the streets. Just like a real tour, there’s a wisecracking guide, Nachi, who notes that the young Lutheran conventioneers at the corner of Navarro and Houston—in an accompanying photo—are wearing the official town garb: “a white shirt and a blue backpack.” The River Walk is seen by boat, with photo perspectives of landmarks both obvious (the Little Rhein Steakhouse) and obscure (the Nix Building and the Esquire, rightly recognized as the city’s best bar). http://hotx.com/sa/#tour/

Texas Ecoregions The most spectacular Texas scenery on the Web is at the Texas Nature Conservancy’s site, which divides the state into ecoregions and has stunning photos of Dolan Falls, Matagorda Island, the Roy E. Larsen Sandylands Sanctuary, and other hidden natural Texas treasures. Much attention is devoted to preservation projects at the locations. http://www.texas.net/users/tnct/regions.html

Texas Hill Country Information With its detailed topographical and highway maps, this is an essential bookmark for cyclists and outdoor recreationalists traveling in West Texas and the Hill Country. http://www.eden.com/~txinfo

Schlitterbahn Waterpark The homepage for the New Braunfels waterpark has gently rolling cartoon waves that invite users to “Dive In!” to directions, prices, the schedule, swimming classes, and more. There are also good graphics of Das Lagune, Blastenhoff, and other attractions and a video ride on the Master Blaster slide. Learn why the park is not affected by the current drought (in part, because it recycles its water). Good tips on when to go and what to bring, and the weekly ticket giveaway to Internet visitors, will keep you coming back. http://www.schlitterbahn.com

Travelocity Be your own travel agent at this site, which is put up by the SABRE Group, the Fort Worth—based airline reservation company. Type in your destination, the dates, times, and seating preference, search for the cheapest fare, and book a flight on any major airline. You can buy luggage, enter free-trip contests, chat on the bulletin boards, and click to pages on trips, hotels, advice on foreign travel, street maps, essays and profiles by travel writers, and more. The ultimate site for planning your next vacation or business trip. http://www.travelocity.com

Caldwell, Texas The self-proclaimed kolache capital of Texas sets the standard for small-town tourism on the Web, stuffing its site with info on the September Kolache Festival, including entertainment (Leroy Matocha’s Band and Chris Rybak—Master Accordionist, among others), award-winning kolache recipes, and bake-off entry blanks that can be e-mailed. Will it be prune or apricot in Fruit? Sausage or “other” in the Meat division? http://www.rtis.com/reg/caldwell


Weather Center If you just want the forecast or want to be a forecaster, there isn’t a better Texas weather site than the A&M Meteorology Weather Center. Opening with a nice campus street scene to show what the weather is like in College Station, this server has all the weathercaster’s essential technical measures—the latest atmospheric soundings, surface plots, and nested grid model images, as well as total coverage of severe storms, which can be pinpointed to any county in the United States. The site will blow you away. http://www.met.tamu.edu/weather.shtml


My Table Every large city should have a Web page like this. Inaugurated in June by food writer Teresa Byrne-Dodge, My Table presents a tasty grazing menu of the Houston dining scene. Highlights: a complete calendar of food events (including vintner and cigar dinners), cooking classes, cookbook signings, cookbook reviews, a civilized gossip column (nobody gets skewered), and a featured recipe. In June the Rainbow Lodge’s Jimmy Mitchell shared his formula for Texas cilantro pesto with toasted pecans and Monterey Jack cheese. Browsers with an appetite for more can subscribe to the paper edition. http://www.my-table.com

The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project  What happens if you drop a Twinkie from a tall building? If you set it on fire? These urgent questions are answered on the Twinkies Project page by two Rice University students with too much time on their hands. Only incidentally about Twinkies as food (the control Twinkie in each experiment was, however, consumed in the interest of research), the project is a science-class spoof. In the Twinkies Rapid Oxidation Test, the authors report: “After several minutes of flaming Twinkie, the fire went out, leaving a charred mass with brown liquid oozing out of it. It was really cool.” http://www.owlnet.rice.edu: 80/~gouge

Texas Wine Country The Web is awash in wine pages, but few give Texas a second glance. Texas Wines corrects that with a guide to Texas’ 26 bonded wineries (with addresses and visiting hours) and links to those with homepages (Llano Estacado’s well-designed site has their wine catalog and prices—a bottle of 1994 Texas Merlot for $12). The site also has a condensed history of Texas winemaking, a glossary of wine terms, and a (too brief) calendar of statewide wine events. http://www.neosoft.com/users/s/ scholars/texas.htm

Barbecue’n on the Internet Check out this Houston-based page and you’ll never need another barbecue resource. It has recipes, tips, sections on smokers, a guide to barbecue videos, links to other barbecue sites, and commentary by ’cue guru and scholar C. Clark “Smoky” Hale, who quotes a passage from the Iliad (Book IX, lines 205—224) that sure sounds like spit-roasted goat. http://www.nottingham.com/barbecue


La Onda Network For his tejano music page, Garland software engineer Abel M. Hernandez has assembled a massive amount of information—sound clips and pictures of more than eighty tejano musicians, CD reviews, news, lyrics, even a list of birthdays—and thrown in a live chat room and discussion groups. Selena gets her own section, with loads of photos and music samples, a biography, a discography, and more. The site looks great and doesn’t sacrifice speed for appear-ance. http://www.OndaNet.com:1995

Dejadisc On the Net, big things can come from little packagers, as the site run by Dejadisc, a small San Marcos—based record label, proves. It offers just about everything you could want: bios, photos, discographies, tour schedules, and sound clips for most of Dejadisc’s artists, among them Wayne Hancock, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and the Wannabes. There are record labels twice as big with Web sites only half as good. http://www.eden.com/~dejadisc/ index.html

The (Completely) Unauthorized Buddy Holly Discography Of the many pages honoring the Lubbock rockabilly hero, the most intense is Lisa Boffa’s. “[Holly’s songs],” she writes, “comprise a saga in which Buddy, like some strange Eisenhower-era Odysseus, moves from trial to trial in his search for True Love and the perfect prom date.” She has posted an extensive biography, discography, stats on dozens of his songs (recording date, release date, chart position), and a list of references to Holly in pop culture. Isn’t it comforting when an obsession finds a safe and useful outlet? http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~lsboffa/contents.html

Jimmie Dale Gilmore This isn’t one of those third-party sites; the Austin singer-songwriter is all over these pages. Besides the usual (photos, biography, discography), Gilmore is sending in missives from the road as he tours this summer, and he’s holding occasional live chat sessions. You can always post him a note and look for his reply later. Best of all, you can request tickets for upcoming shows through the site, then pick them up and pay for them at the venue. http://www.monsterbit.com/jdg/index.html

Texas Music Office Wondering if there’s a page for your favorite Texas artist? There probably is. The first place to look is the list maintained by the Texas Music Office, which links to hundreds of pages on everyone from the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra to ZZ Top. The TMO covers more than just musicians—record labels, publishers, public relations firms, and other industry contacts are there as well. It’s text only, but so is the Bible. http://www.state.tx.us/agency/ 301.html; click on Texas Music Office


Big Style and Hair Stumbling upon this page is like walking into the best honky-tonk on earth. Check out the latest cover of Texas Hair and Style magazine (featuring a beaming mega-maned lass and promising “Fast Big Hair at Home”). The site’s mission statement reels you in: “Big Hair is as much of a tool as it is a fashion statement.” Using text, photos, and video clips, the site explains how to get volume, demonstrates the vain attempt of the so-called fashion community to co-opt big hair, and displays visitors’ pictures of their big hair. The best part is the interactive Try Out Big Hair. If you have a graphics program and a scanner, you can paste in your photo and try a new style for yourself. http://www.dallas.net/~styletx

yeeHa! A directory of Texas sites with definite Hill Country leanings. Creator and Guinness World Record stone-skipper Jerdone McGhee touts his hometown of Wimberley with pages for Hill Country Sun magazine, Wimberley Carousel Woodworks, and Wimberley Lodging, among others. But it’s the links to statewide sites that make yeeHa! an essential bookmark for the Texas surfer. You’re a few clicks away from the Texas Center for Super-conductivity at the University of Houston; the Center for Relativity at UT; Larry’s Lawyer Jokes; Texas Folklife Resources; the Central Texas Blue-bonnet Travel Council; Texas Vegetarian Restaurants; and Hill Country Fly Fishing, to name a few. All arranged in a logical fashion. http://www.ccsi.com/yeeha

Elvis Is Still #1 Houston online photographer Bob Derr’s Elvis page is sort of like computer folk art. Derr leads you from screen to screen by deftly asking the obvious—“Did the King love Cars?” “Did the King love Jumpsuits?” The graphics of the cars and jumpsuits that follow are fairly amazing. You can e-mail in your favorite Elvis song too. http://www.NeoSoft.com/~kcderr/elvis

The Republic of Texas Okay, they may object to being included in CyberTexas rather than the Republic of CyberTexas, but you don’t need a visa to get into the Republic of Texas’ Web site, where the rebirth of the republic is boldly proclaimed. This is a fine way to understand the group’s point of view without having to listen to a diatribe. http://www.flash.net/~robertk

Bat Conservation International Before you go bat watching on Congress Avenue in Austin, learn the story of the largest urban colony in the world; check out the photo gallery of all 42 bat species (don’t miss the Mexican long-tongued bat—Choeronycteris mexicana—chowing down at a feeder); and pick up bat guru Merlin Tuttle’s secrets of bat photography (rule number one: Shoot lots of film). http://www.batcon.org/

Walter Miller’s Home PageStep inside “America’s most famuso dysfuntonal family relationship” as chronicled by Walter Miller, who lives somewhere in rural Texas and uses his site to relate family troubles and prove that he’s the worst speller on the Internet. Most of his wrath is directed at the crotchety granddad in a wheelchair, whom Walter is threatening to abandon for a good job in Houston. “I dont know if you play DOOM but he looks EXCACTLY like the pink demon who walks on his knuckels an bites you except more hairier and with yellow skin,” he writes. Walter claims his site is a form of therapy: “I am the snake that chasses his tail over an over faster and faster in a circle until he dissapears up his own annus. I express myself thru the website to deal with it.” Whatever. But you’ll want to keep reading until he’s gone. http://pages.prodigy.com/ Hell/walter/

The Walker Percy Project A massive and amazing labor of love from the late Southern novelist’s biggest fan and Webgoer, Henry P. Mills of Austin. There are more facets of the life and works of Percy, “artist, philosopher, and scientist,” covered here than any bound collection could contain: Percy’s notes, correspondence, various portraits, his study, his home, scholarly critiques, and bibliographies. This is love in the ruins and then some. http://sunsite.unc.edu/wpercy

Sandy Stone’s Homepage Step inside the strange universe of UT assistant professor Allucquère Rosanne Stone—otherwise known as Sandy Stone, all-around cyberwonk theorist, the director of the Advanced Communication Technologies Laboratory, and author of such treatises as “Split Subjects, Not Atoms; or How I Fell in Love With My Prosthesis.” The post-sex-change photos of Professor Stone will raise the eyebrows, perhaps. Her writings and the ACTLab page will stimulate the brain, for sure. http://www.actlab.utexas.edu/~sandy

Barbara’s Best Bookmark of the Day Barbara Odom, from New Waverly, sets you straight at the top: With dishes, the kids, and trying to have a life, she’ll update her homepage when she gets to it. She’s excused. The updates may be a few weeks old, but you’ll always find some keepers—we liked the link to Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula and one to the Cowboy Way hat company. http://www.shsu.edu/users/ std/stdkco/pub2/best.html

The Amazing Bull Creek There are countless Web auteurs out there pointing live cameras all over the place. Mike Bryant has his action cam directed either toward the window of his Austin office overlooking scenic Bull Creek or at himself—which, sorry to say, Mike, is considerably less so. It’s best to visit the site during normal office hours, though after dark, you can sometimes see the moonlight through the palm fronds. http://bigmac.bullcreek.austin.tx.us/realtime/realtime.html

La Paranoia Home Page The Paranoia site, maintained by KevinTX (his handle) of Austin, has several over-the-edge pages. There is Goat, who has a nice metal music primer (breaking it down into Black Metal, Death Metal, Grindcore, Heavy/Doom Metal, Dark/Atmospheric Metal) but a totally disgusting graphic to go with it. There’s Gyrotech, real name Bob, who introduces himself thus: “I am a white kid from Texas who drinks too much.” But he’s not afraid to post an anonymous e-mail death threat he received: “You not only disgrace the great state of Texas but you also epitomize the amoral and hedonistic generation that is leading to this great country’s demise.” And then there’s Lil the Stress Kitten, who describes herself as a highly sophisticated artificial-intelligence program modeled to emulate a redheaded geek. You gotta love computer people. http://www.paranoia.com

The Romance Reader The graphics are heart-heavy at the Romance Reader, which covers the world of the romance novel like a bucket of paint. Authors are interviewed and offer advice. Author Patricia Ryan weighs in on purple prose: “And don’t mention ‘stallion’ in reference to your hero.” She confesses, though, that she once wrote a kissing scene in which the hero’s and the heroine’s tongues were engaged in “a primitive mating dance.” An excerpt from webmistress Leslie McClain’s latest unpublished romance, Heard It in a Love Song, is also posted here. http://www.dallas.net/~rreader

Crimson Dragon Tattoo The real and online tattoo work of Donny and Miles at “Austin’s friendliest and cleanest tattoo and body-piercing shop” is highly imaginative and artistic, including cubism, underground comic-book characters, and traditional Singapore styles. http://www.eden.com/~mtat/page1.htm

El Paso FreeNet To understand why El Paso is not like the rest of Texas, drop in at the Rio Grande FreeNet, Texas’ first community access network. Cases in point: user Thaddeus Cunejo’s Native American Indian Friendship page, where you can learn about the principles of Kapulli Tonal Teokalli and get an update on efforts to protect the Hueco Tanks rock art; and a link to UTEP’s Laboratory for Environmental Biology, which posts the most comprehensive overview of the Chihuahuan Desert you’ll ever download. http://rgfn.epcc.edu

The NASA Shuttle Web This Johnson Space Center site let’s you follow the progress of shuttle flights with detailed, up-to-the-minute multimedia information right from the mouth of Mission Control.  http://shuttle.nasa.gov/


Spoetzl Brewery’s RamPage Shiner Bock is marketed as being brewed with an attitude, and the product’s Web site has got plenty of it. At the United States map, click on Texas and jump to an image of a series of tilted Shiner Bock bottles lined up in a field (a play on the cars at Cadillac Ranch). Besides nifty graphics, the Shiner site also gives a history of the brewery, explains the Shiner label, and lets you order T-shirts. Best of all, click on the virtual drinker to send a friend a beer via e-mail—an image of a bottle of Shiner Bock standing next to a frosty-looking glass. http://www.shiner.com

Power Computing The site for Round Rock—based Power Computing, which Apple chose as the first Macintosh clonemaker, is megahertz ahead of the competition. At BYOB (Build Your Own Box), visitors can configure their dream machine, with the desired amount of memory and accessories, get a price, and then call the toll-free number to place an order. Technical support and other customer services are available online. http://www.powercc.com

FRITOnet Click on an image of a bagof Doritos and you get an interesting slice of Americana—a history of the product line, which was introduced in its original flavor in 1966. There is also an astonishing collection of recipes that use products from Plano-based Frito-Lay, including, of course, Fritos chili pie. http://www.fritolay.com

Southwest Airlines Southwest now has ticketless travel via its site, and for multimedia entertainment value, it’s hard to top the virtual gallery of print and video advertisements dating back to 1971 (you need to download software to watch the video ads). Remember those flight attendants in hot pants?  http://www.iflyswa.com

H-E-B Grocery Store Whether you want to read about the grocery chain’s humble Kerrville beginnings or call up a list of store locations and hours, the HEB site is designed to be used. The page for Austin’s Central Market, HEB’s upscale European-style market, showcases the site’s inventiveness. Here you’ll get great gift ideas, holiday entertainment tips, recipes, which range from seared swordfish to ginger cactus sorbet, and more. You can also check the market’s specials, menus for its cafe, and live music schedule. http://hookem.com/heb.htm

The EnergySource Desktop A pipeline to the natural gas industry in Texas and elsewhere. Here is just about everything you might want to know about the it’s-better-than-oil bidness: spot prices for the five major producing regions in Texas, updated every three minutes; current stock quotes for major gas companies; the top news stories in industry publications; price forecasts for 1997 (brace yourself for bad news); job opportunities (Coastal Corporation is planning to build a pipeline in Zapata County); and of course, a lot of huzzahing about natural gas. http://www.naturalgas.com/

Hoover’s Online A quick way to get briefed on a stock is through Austin-based Hoover’s, which gives you a short company profile, stock performance, latest earnings, and a stock quote. Also there’s business news, corporate Web site lists, an initial public offering section, and more links (including one to ours) than an Elgin sausage factory. http://www.hoovers.com

Texas History

Lone Star Junction An almanac of Texas that is visually appealing and a lot of fun, especially for Texas newbies. Look at pictures of the capitols and the San Antonio missions, check out the money of the republic (called redbacks), post genealogical questions, download a red, white, and blue 3-D Texas screensaver, scrutinize postage stamps commemorating Texas figures (Davy Crockett, Babe Zaharias), and listen to elevator-music versions of Texas songs like  “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies (Grow Up to Be Cowboys)” and “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Plus links, including one to the text of the Texas constitution. http://www.lsjunction.com

Daughters of the Republic of Texas Unlike several other skimpy or cheesy pages on the Alamo, this one has dignity. Produced by the DRT (the organization that maintains the Alamo), the page is informative and designed with old photographs and period illustrations. It doesn’t delve into the nitty-gritty of Alamo scholarship, but it does include a list of the DRT’s eclectic holdings (such as their collection about the death mask of Pancho Villa) and a chronology of the mission from 1716 to the present. The entry for February 3, 1836, reads: “William Barret Travis and a small group of reinforcements arrive at the Alamo . . . ” http://www.drtl.org/~drtl

The Webb Site Texas history wonks can burrow happily for hours accessing the great list of fifty-odd links on the page maintained by the Texas State Historical Association and the Center for Studies in Texas History at UT-Austin. Be warned, there’s nothing here but lists of universities, societies, and other groups’ history-related Web sites. Click on the excellent Denton County History Page, for instance, and read former slave Andy Nelson’s account of his harrowing encounter with outlaw Sam Bass.   http://www.dla.utexas.edu/texhist/

Texas State Electronic Library Anyone doing serious research needs to know this leviathan site sponsored by the Texas State Library in Austin, with its multitude of links to search engines, dictionaries, reference books, and more. Sprawling but indispensable. http://link.tsl.state.tx.us/


The University of Texas at Austin From UT’s main homepage you can browse electronic versions of half a dozen campus publications, including the Daily Texan, and several useful university library pages. At the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, or example, you can call up digitized maps from around the world. The UT site includes an impressive bit of wizardry that neatly demonstrates how the Internet provides access to inaccessible vistas. During a tour of the campus, you can download a three-dimensional panorama of the view from the top of the University Tower, which stands 307 feet high. The Tower’s observation deck, where Charles Whitman went on his infamous shooting spree, has been closed to visitors since two student suicide jumps in the seventies. By moving your cursor around, you can gaze in any direction and even zoom in on the bullet holes that were left behind. http://www.utexas.edu

Rice University The Rice site has a brief biography of founder William March Rice, who was unfortunate enough to employ a valet and an attorney who wanted to get their hands on his fortune (he was ultimately chloroformed to death). You’ll find a lot of humor and quirkiness at Rice’s site, and the department pages are inventive. The anthropology department’s page includes links to fascinating online exhibits around the world. Click on “bui doi: life like dust,” and you jump to a multimedia account of the life of Ricky Phan, a Vietnam ese refugee and gang member. http://www.rice.edu

The Science Academy of South Texas The site for this magnet school just outside Mercedes is a model of how the Internet can further education. It includes a gallery of student artwork, student essays, science projects (such as a student-built wind-powered generator), and lots of interesting and sometimes wacky photos of the faculty, campus, and science equipment. http://riceinfo.rice.edu/armadillo/Sciacademy

The Rice School /La Escuela Rice The innovative bilingual school has some of the most intriguing student pages on the Web. Among the highlights: a sixth-through-eighth-grade multimedia project on the life of Renaissance astronomer Galileo; Kids Overcoming Prejudice, a dialogue among kindergarten-through-second-graders (as a little girl named Lizzie puts it, “Play, work, and pray together, accept differences, and learn about other cultures”); and the Time Capsule, where eighth-grade technology students express their concerns about the future and talk about themselves. http://www.rice.edu/ armadillo/Rice/

Space Educators Handbook The Johnson Space Center site is designed for teachers. But anyone can view and download actual movies with sound from the space program archives: footage of the lunar rover driving on the moon, a space walk from the Gemini program, a shuttle launch. There is a brief but oddly exhilarating film of Alan Shepard hitting the first golf ball on the moon in 1971. “There it goes, miles and miles and miles,” Shepard said, although he later estimated the shot at only four hundred yards. The site also contains tools for using science fiction and “space comics” to teach space science. http://tommy.jsc.nasa.gov/~woodfill/spaceed/sehhtml/


Ultimate Longhorn Most Web sites covering the sporting life are duller than dirt. Would that they all were as well wired as the Ultimate Longhorn, which covers University of Texas athletics by going beyond the usual stats with daily updates and some heated fan discussions in the chat rooms and on the bulletin boards. More than 65 percent of 370 respondents believe that the track at Memorial Stadium should go. http://www.hookem.com

House o’ Hoops Plano Senior High School assistant basketball coach and middle-school computer teacher Tom Inman focuses on District 9-5A, his tiny corner of the b-ball world. But his enthusiasm is contagious and draws you in. Coach Inman does have broader interests, which happen to be the Big 10 and Big 12 college conferences, the Chicago Bulls, and the World Sports Exchange (dedicated to promoting sports competitions with other countries). userpages.nkn. net/tinman/

TheBoys.com No other sports team comes close to the Dallas Cowboys in Internet coverage. The most comprehensive news and fan feedback can be found here, with fan editorials, news reports, updates, anecdotes, and the You Make the Call ballot system, where you can vote on burning issues concerning the Cowboys (“Should Deion be a wide receiver or a cornerback?”—77 percent of the respondents picked cornerback). Plus, the site is archived for those who prefer their information with a history. http://www.theboys.com

How ’bout them Cryboys On Brian Gonzales’ anti-Cowboys page, the helmets are painted pink and every loss in the history of the franchise is detailed. “Will Mikey Irvin bear children his first year in prison?” Gonzales wonders in the 1996 summary. “Will Bozo Switzer drown in the next rainstorm?” http://www.nmia.com/~bmgonz/cryboys.html

Texas Scuba Divers This is exactly what recreational sports sites should be. Jim Yawn posts all the essentials—dive shops, dive locations both instate and in the Caribbean—but the best information is in the personal experiences and travel advisories. Mitch Istre’s report of his June trip to the Flower Gardens, off the Texas coast, will make you want to get certified. http://www.hti.net/scuba/

Surftex The page opens with the old saw “There ain’t no surf in Texas,” then refutes it with a useful report on Where the Surfers Are on the Gulf Coast, weather updates, and rad photos. It looks like S.P.I. (surfer slang for South Padre Island) is the best place to catch a wave. http://www.iwl.net/customers/shend/surftex.htm

Instant Sports For fans who can’t wait, there’s Instant Sports from Austin. The big draw on the Instant Baseball segment of the site is the Java-enabled simulations of real games in progress (where you watch animated players act out plays, like a video game). It’s fun and a good way to get to know your team. Because it uses the cutting-edge programming language Java, users need a high-powered PC and Netscape 2.0. http:// www.instantsports.com

Bass Adventures Pursuing bass in exotic settings accounts for the appeal of Pat McCarty’s page, where the licensed Texas guide posts tips on the best largemouth action on the continent, with specifics on five lakes in northern and western Mexico and expeditions to the Amazon. Trip requests by e-mail accepted. http://www.texs.com/bass/

Texas Gulf Coast Birding and Naturalist Web No flight of fancy here. Get the scoop on why High Island is one of the best observation points for viewing migrating North American species. Also, the site is full of great detail, with information on lodging, when to go, and what to see along the Texas coast and elsewhere in the state. http://www.io.com/~pdhulce/ index.html


Dallas Symphony Orchestra The Dallas Symphony’s site evokes the lively formality of a concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Viewers can go to a history of the symphony and of the I. M. Pei—designed center, get ticket and volunteer information and a symphony discography, and e-mail musicians. The round, smiling face of baton-wielding conductor—music director Andrew Litton seems to be everywhere you click. http://www. dallassymphony.com/menu.html

Houston Grand Opera The HGO’s site is considerably less avant-garde than its productions, but it is a useful guide to the current season’s productions—with story synopses and cast lineups. And it has links to other opera companies, including New York City and Santa Fe. http://www.hgo.com/home.html

Casa Mañana The Fort Worth theater site has plenty of information and some extra features, including snippets of audio from forthcoming stars, which can be played with RealAudio software. Speak to the Producer lets you send comments and instant reviews to Van Kaplan, the theater’s producer and general manager. There’s a newsgroup too for questions and gossip and a guide to eateries in the vicinity. http://www.iminet.com/casamanana/

Capital City Men’s Chorus The site has an eye-catching design with a “marquee” section that showcases upcoming events, the chorus, and its mission (including an open “no audition” policy). Also, you can read the gay chorus’ newsletters and link to other choral groups around the state and country. http://www.io.com/~ccmcaus/


Austin 360 Nearly every big-city daily in Texas has a Web site, and they’re all good; the most engaging is the newest. The Austin AmericanStatesman’s site (maintained by Cox Newspapers, its parent company) bills itself as “a true reflection of what Austin’s all about,” and for the most part it delivers, with the latest on the music scene, UT sports features, bat information, and news from the burgeoning high-tech industry. The Green Zone has environmental news, discussions, and lists of environmental groups. State, local, and national news, classifieds, and columns fill out the package. The site also has the archive of the Statesman back to 1989. http://www.austin360.com

The Austin Chronicle Austin again gets the nod for the best alternative weekly site. The Chronicle has thorough arts, books, food, music, and other entertainment listings; articles and columns from each week’s issue; and useful links to other pages run by alternative papers.  http://www.auschron.com/

Round Top Register Texas’ quirkiest Web publication is “The On-line Newspaper From the Biggest Little Town in Texas,” which offers a sampling of goings-on in and around Round Top (population: 81), local shopping information, and a serialized novel, Children of the Sunrise. http://www.rtis.com/reg/ roundtop

The Big Bend Quarterly A beautiful site with striking photos of Big Bend along with listings, a general store that sells Big Bend—themed products online, and articles on everything from the Marfa lights to James Dean and the making of Giant. http://www.webcasting.com/bigbend/

Toasted Posties At the disillusioned end of the journalism spectrum is “The first-ever dead newspaper online,” which is devoted to the memory of the Houston Post, the city’s dear, departed daily; it offers where-are-they-now items about former staffers, along with job possibilities at other publications. It’s wistful and informative. http://rampages. onramp.net/~basses/toast2.htm/

KEOS-FM Most Texas radio sites settle for the predictable—weather and traffic and sometimes downloadable music. Campus and noncommercial stations are the liveliest and most innovative; the best so far is KEOS-FM, a nonprofit, community-oriented station based in Bryan—College Station. Its site offers the CMJ (College Music Journal) Top 35, the albums being played most at KEOS, and interesting links to alternative media resources. The station also stays on top of news and events in the Bryan—College Station community. http://www.ipt.com/ keos/whatsnew.html

CompuTalk Tom King’s CompuTalk is the best source for news about the computing world. Naturally, the site touts King’s syndicated radio and television call-in talk shows, programmed from Houston (the listeners’ line is 888-NO GEEKS) with celeb guests from the online world like Matt Firme, the publisher of PC Gamer, and Michael Zisman, the CEO of Lotus. It has business news and stock quotes too. http://www.computalk.com

KXAS Channel 5 The NBC affiliate for Dallas—Fort Worth is the first commercial TV station in Texas with a Web page. There are the usual weather and road conditions, local news, and the latest from the Dallas Police Department, the Texas Rangers, and the Dallas Cowboys. KXAS also has features such as how the Metroplex rates when it comes to crime (Safe Cities) and unexpected links (you can use the BosniaLINK, an e-mail connection to U.S. troops in Bosnia). http://www.kxas.com


Greetings From Digitrix Featuring Shelley, the self-appointed Aggie sex queen of the more wholesome side of Web sex (if there is such a thing). Like a lot of sex purveyors on the Web, her entrepreneurial skills are more impressive than her physical attributes. In other words, Shelley doesn’t look like a model in a Versace ad. Shelley’s nude photos are available only between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. (“Due to the ever increasing traffic this site is generating . . .”). Other links direct you to her 1997 calendar—Shelley nude in front of various Texas attractions (the Capitol, the Alamo). Yes, Shelley mousepads and autographed posters are available. There’s a direct link to A&M too. Bet they’re glad. http://www2.cy-net.net/~digitrix/ index.html

Kevin’s Twisted Home Page “No Smut Here,” the homepage declares, and indeed, in the over-the-top world of Web sex, this site is tame, and it’s useful, providing a good listing of Dallas gay and lesbian bars, along with directions to Oak Lawn. (“This is the queer area of town,” the site declares, franker than any guidebook. “Look for all of the pride flags.”) http://www.cyberramp.net/~callahan/

The Ultimate Strip Club List A guide for horny guys and armchair anthropologists who wonder what on earth goes on inside Texas’ famous (or infamous) so-called gentleman’s clubs. Which dancers are the most attractive, which celebrities prefer which clubs (“. . . if you want to see professional athletes, Rick’s is their hangout whenever they play in Houston”), and where you’re likely to get more than the law allows. During one round of illegal contact, the site’s correspondent writes, “I noticed [the owner] watching me . . . He smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I loosened up after that.” http://www.tuscl. com/usa/strip_tx.htm

Safe Sex Inc.The Dallas-based company’s page aims to make safe sex fashionable by promoting a casualwear fashion line with the words “Safe Sex” as the logo. (Since Guess? and No Fear are style buzzwords, why not?) The merchandise, especially the Safe Sex University designs, looks pretty sharp. http://www.safe-sex-inc.com/index.html


MedInfo The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas offers a good mix of basic consumer health information—how to treat a burn, how to preserve a finger, toe, or limb amputated in an accident—and more exotic scientific research. Of special note is a listing of important new clinical trials under way. You can also look at departmental pages (from neurology to otolaryngology to psychiatry), search the center’s massive library, and take a tour of Parkland Hospital. http://www.swmed.edu

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center The Houston center has an international reputation in cancer research and treatment, and its Web site does nothing to tarnish it. You’ll find a wealth of information on America’s most troubling pathology, including copious data on support groups for patients, loved ones, and survivors. The site also lists clinical trials and keeps close tabs on newly approved medications. http://www.utmdacc.uth.tmc.edu/

Texas Department of Health Stats, stats, stats—the TDH has enough disease and health data to numb the mind. But it also has reprints of its excellent newsletter, Disease Prevention News, which contains reports on everything from hepatitis E to mercury poisoning. Check on just how healthy Texans are through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from the Bureau of Chronic Disease, Prevention, and Control. http://www.tdh.texas.gov

CyberPsychologist Houston psychologist Rob Sarmiento’s site invites visitors to take a lively personality test featuring questions that might be pondered by us all, such as, “Is it necessary to tell the truth if you want to be loved?” And, from the lighter side of self-help, there’s a dandy of a personality inventory, which asks you to agree or disagree with such propositions as “I salivate at the sight of mittens.” http://www.onramp.net/cyberpsych/althome.html

Dallas AIDS Services This site has perhaps the most comprehensive listing of AIDS information, from support groups to advisories on new medications and insurance claims. http://users.aol.com/Ready501/aids.htm

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