CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs

The boys from Bedhead wipe the sleep from their eyes with Beheaded (Trance Syndicate), a volume of 1995 recordings that serves as the band’s second album. The brainy Dallas quintet’s three-guitar setup shimmers and creeps, foreshadowing the hypnotic bursts of woozy but assertive riffs and unassumingly catchy tunesmithing. . . . Fellow Metroplexer The Reverend Horton Heat tries preaching beyond the converted with It’s Martini Time (Interscope), which finds his psychobilly trio enhancing its usual cacophony with juke joint horns and hillbilly strings. Still, the Rev is best heard live, preferably while you’re sweaty and choking on stale smoke.   Jason Cohen

Earthy and sentimental, textured and spare, loose in spirit and tight in execution, 4 Aces (Reprise) is arguably the reunited Texas Tornados ’ most irresistible album yet, all whirling accordions and organ, multicultural Lone Star rhythms, and purposeful guitars and horns. Freddy Fender turns the country ballad “The One I Love the Most” into one massive throb, while Doug Sahm’s group-mythologizing title song is a weird piece of music even by his standards.  John Morthland

Hot Books

When did the Internet begin? Where did it come from? Who put the @ in your e-mail address? All is revealed in Where Wizards Stay Up Late (Simon and Schuster, $24), an engaging history of the global computer network co-written by Austin-based Newsweek contributor Katie Hafner and her husband, Matthew Lyon . Don’t be put off by the subject: Though the authors don’t shy away from jargon, they give enlightening explanations in English. And they concentrate as much on the men behind the machines as the machines themselves, vividly profiling the dozens of people who had a hand in creating the Net.  Josh Daniel

There’s a “Young Adult” imprint on Austin grade-school teacher Rob Thomas ’ first novel, Rats Saw God (Alladin, $3.99), but this decidedly unformulaic teen angst comedy is sharper than most “serious” Bratpack literature. Thomas, a former musician in the band Hey Zeus, has written an edgy, good-natured paean to high school rebellion and alienated individualism; it’s paper-bound fiction in the tradition of movies like Sixteen Candles and Say Anything.   Jason Cohen

Hot Game

Call it id pro quo: First Doom, by Mesquite’s id Software , ruled the action genre; then Garland-based 3D Realms topped it with Duke Nukem 3D. Now id fires back by releasing the long-awaited Quake on the Internet (download a free demo at http://www.idsoftware.com and then pay $50 for the full version). This time you’re charged with stopping an army of zombies, ogres, and the like from invading the earth (in Doom, remember, it was an army of zombies, demons, and the like). But that hardly matters—you’re here for the graphics, which draw you in, and the action, which keeps you coming back. Quake is groundbreaking.   Josh Daniel

Hot Sports

Mecca Every pro league, it seems, wants to pull a NAFTA and expand into Mexico, but the coveted choice isn’t Mexico City; it’s Monterrey, the country’s other industrial center. Granted, its population is only 2.5 million, but the city has two things going for it: geography (it’s only 150 miles from Laredo) and a tradition of conducting business in a fashion familiar to norteamericanos. The big test comes this month, when Monterrey hosts an NFL exhibition game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs, followed less than two weeks later by a major league baseball series between the New York Mets and the San Diego Padres. But the most interesting arrival of all may come this fall: The International Hockey League is looking into adding a franchise there—Mexico’s first-ever hockey team. Joe Nick Patoski

Hot Director

Critics are raving about Eddie Murphy’s performance in The Nutty Professor —and that’s great news for Thomas Carter . The Austin-born, Smithville-raised auteur (left) has just finished shooting Murphy’s next film, a thriller tentatively called Metro, and now that the raucous comedian is in comeback mode, everyone’s sure to pay attention. Actually, Carter has been worth watching since his acting days (he played Heyward on TV’s The White Shadow ), but he has really scored on the other side of the camera, where his most memorable project has been the CBS drama Under One Roof. If he has his way, though, he’ll parlay the Murphy flick into something even bigger: a chance to direct a sweeping epic about the life of Cynthia Ann Parker, the Texas woman abducted by Indians in 1836.   Evan Smith

Hot Online Forum

They’re the Click and Clack of chow: Starting this summer on America Online, San Antonio writer Kathy Lowry and Sandy Richards, the wife of David Richards, Ann Richards’ ex, are chewing the fat about food under the guise of the Culinary Cowgirls . Log on to AOL’s Thrive channel and click on “Eats,” and you’ll find an area filled with recipes (including one for the perfect margarita), dieting tips, and nutritional data for different foods; there’s also a lively bulletin board where you can post questions and check back for the Cowgirls’ answers. “It’s a lot of fun,” says Lowry. “The response is teaching me how relevant healthy eating really is to our daily lives.”  Evan Smith

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