Last Man Standing

Amid all the changes in state government brought about by the November election, Joe Straus remains the most notable constant. The San Antonio Republican was first elected speaker of the House in 2009 after widespread dissatisfaction with the heavy-handed leadership style of Tom Craddick, the first Republican speaker since Reconstruction, led to Craddick’s ouster.

Meanwhile, in Texas . . .

A hummingbird that had flown off course on its migration south was taken by airplane from Minnesota to Texas, where it was released into the wild. A Woodlands house with a three-story closet was put on the market for $12.9 million.

•Fathers at Lakewood Elementary School raised money to buy a car for the longtime crossing guard, whose vehicle had been repossessed following his wife’s costly illness.

The Checklist

Music

Make Some Room, The Suffers (self-released, January 20) 
Yes, this is a four-song EP from an unsigned Houston band. But when that band dominates the Houston Press Music Awards, attention must be paid. And given this ten-piece ensemble’s razor-sharp funk revivalism and front woman Kam Franklin’s powerhouse voice, it’s tough to imagine they’ll remain unsigned for long. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, watch out.

Abnormal Mycology

It all started with a dog. My friend’s bulging-eyed, pointy-eared terrier that I said looked like a gremlin. Or was it a mogwai? As the hour and the wine waned, she explained the difference between the two, a conversation that put me in mind of gnarly creatures that emerge when conditions are just right.

Old News

“Beaumont has made a record for herself that has perhaps not been equaled before in any other city in the state. Beside the disagreeable distinction of claiming the heaviest snowfall, she also thinks she can claim the distinction of having had used on her streets the first snowshoes ever used in Texas.”
Galveston Daily News, February 17, 1895

 

Justice Was Overserved

After DWI charges against Justice Nora Longoria, of the Thirteenth Court of Appeals, were dismissed, outraged Hidalgo County Republicans pointed out that Longoria and the district attorney and district court judge who decided to let her off are all Democrats—and a police dash-cam video that showed her bombing her field sobriety test went viral.

The Dogs of War

In the farm country just outside Commerce, the front door of a red-brick-and-limestone house opens and a stout dog with a black face and pricked ears emerges. Its wide, shining eyes are fixed on a 22-year-old man wearing a thick black suit of padded, densely handwoven linen. Matt Davis squares his shoulders and glares at Tigo, a Dutch shepherd.

Death and Twitter

The truth is an elusive, much disputed, and highly valuable commodity in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, a sprawling border city fifteen minutes south of McAllen. Residents witness a shootout that leaves dozens dead, and the government reports a minor disturbance. A businessman receives a call from “kidnappers” demanding immediate ransom, then discovers there is no actual kidnapping. Fireworks are mistaken for grenades. Grenades are mistaken for fireworks.

Meanwhile, in Texas . . .

•  A Richmond woman suffering from lingering injuries caused by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing wrote a lighthearted “breakup note” to her leg before it was amputated.
•  Houston fans of the violent video game Grand Theft Auto were held up at gunpoint while standing in line awaiting the release of the game’s latest edition.
•   A Weatherford bus driver was fired for sunbathing nude next to a middle school.

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