BEN BARNES Under fire by federal authorities, the former lieutenant governor gives up his $25,000-a-month lobbying contract for Gtech, the company that runs the Texas Lottery. Not to worry, though. Later it is announced that Gtech agreed to pay Barnes and an associate $23 million to buy out the contract.


TEXAS TECH All-American running back Byron Hanspard is found to have completed the fall semester with a grade point average of 0.00; an audit later indicates that 76 athletes in eight sports have competed while ineligible.


MARSHALL APPLEWHITE The onetime Houston choir instructor and leader of the Heaven’s Gate cult persuades his followers that an alien spaceship is lurking in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet. The rest is history. So is the Heaven’s Gate cult.


VAN CLIBURN Scheduled to play at the grand opening of the Texas Motor Speedway, the pianist is a no-show when his helicopter is delayed from picking him up by an aerial traffic jam.


RICHARD MCLAREN The leader of the Republic of Texas separatist movement gives up his demand for a referendum on Texas independence and surrenders on charges of organized criminal activity—to Texas Rangers.


FARRAH FAWCETT She appears on the David Letterman show—appears lost, that is. Once she stops in the middle of a sentence, stares at the show’s set behind her, and says, “Wow.”


DICK ARMEY and TOM DELAY The House majority leader and majority whip decide that the time is right to join a conservative rebellion against Speaker Newt Gingrich. It isn’t.


BARRY SWITZER Dallas–Fort Worth airport police arrest the Dallas Cowboys coach after security guards discover a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver in his carry-on bag.


JOHN MACKOVIC His eleventh-ranked Longhorns lose to twice-beaten UCLA, 66–3, the worst UT loss since a 68–0 defeat by the University of Chicago in 1904. By the end of November, the Longhorns aren’t his anymore.


YVONNE GONZALEZ The Dallas school superintendent, already under fire for ordering $92,000 in renovations to her office, pleads guilty to a federal charge of misapplication of funds for using $16,000 worth of DISD money to purchase furniture for her home and office.


BUD ADAMS After the owner of the former Houston Oilers moves the team to Tennessee, a Vanderbilt University poll finds that 76 percent of Metro Nashville residents want the Oilers to change their name and only 51 percent are pleased that the team has moved to Nashville.


RUDY GIULIANI New York mayor to Houston: Don’t elect former New York police chief Lee Brown the next mayor of Houston. Houston to New York: Drop dead.