Archive for October, 2005

It’s Over…

Astros Logo
Well, it was a good run, but the White Sox ended up winning the World Series in a sweep with today’s 1-0 victory.

If anything, the series brought some much needed life and attention to our city when lately it seems we’ve been getting bad press.

We’ll still the 2005 NL champions. Go ‘stros!

EVENTS – Critical Mass Bike Ride

Critical Mass Bike Ride
Downtown Friday the 28th

(Time: 0:51)

via This Week in Houston

Freedom Through Education – V

“I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.”

— Thomas Jefferson

Dear Chicago White Sox fans,

In response to the comments posted on this site from White Sox fans, I will point out that the last time to White Sox were in the World Series was 1919. And you blew it. On purpose.

The Houston Astros started as a franchise in 1962. Back then, we were the Houston Colt .45s. The name was changed in 1965 to the Houston Astros.

Simple math shows that we cultivated a World Series class team in less time than it took you punks to figure out how to get back in the game.

If we lose the World Series, let it be known that we do so on our own terms.

Just a reminder, as we approach voting day…

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
– Thomas Jefferson

A story of Mattress Mac, evil corporate pizza and ice cream truffles

I attended a West Houston Chamber of Commerce luncheon today at the fabulous Alamo Draft House. Talk about a killer-cool place for any kind of event — you can rent out their theaters for business trainings, private showings and parties. Very fun, plus we walked around the surprisingly pretty West Oaks mall to kill some time and looked at Willy Wonka jackets.

At this lunch, Mattress Mac gave a motivational presentation on the importance of customer satisfaction and loyalty. He was really a great speaker – no frills, just a good practical businessman who really has his heart in the right place (although these guys don’t think so).

His speech would’ve been a really great lesson for the jerks at our local Papa John’s (1420 W 11th St). Apparently their business model now relies heavily on poor service and insulting their customers. Hope things work out for them, but we won’t be ordering from anyone but Star pizza from now on. What were we thinking anyway?!?

So anyway, back to this luncheon. Our company won a free ice cream social from Carvel’s Ice Cream and I am now completely hopped up on sugar, courtesy of their gorgeous ice cream truffles. And that’s my lunchtime story. Thank you.

Skyline Screamers — Halloween storytelling at its finest

scream.JPG

The Houston Storytellers’ Guild is hosting a night of spooky stories in the Heights’ Marmion Park (18th St. at Heights Blvd.) this Saturday, October 29th from 7:30 – 9pm. Bring your friends, family, picnic blankets and earplugs for the really scary parts (okay, maybe not everyone is a huge sissy like me….).

I had no idea that Houston had any Official Storytellers, and I can’t wait to hear their creepy tales and maybe chow down on some candy corn.

The Houston Storytellers’ Guild also hosts the annual Houston Liars’ Contest – I’ve been thinking of signing up some of our favorite local politicians for it.

Popular Houston Night-spot expands, as FBI begins new construction…

Popular Houston night sport, Carnaval, has agreed to purchase an abandoned auto dealership on Bellaire Boulevard, close to Sharpstown mall. Residents in the area are outraged, having hoped that the location would go towards a new grocery or retail center. City counselman M.J. Kahn criticized the sale, Saturday, and has vowed to fight any expansion by Carnaval. Earlier this year, Kahn asked the TABC (Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission) to revoke Carnaval’s liquor license, citing high crime. Carnaval has seen its share of crime over the years, including numerous gang-related indicents. (reference)

Additionally, in Houston this week, the FBI has finally broken ground on a long-planned new headquarters for its Houston-area office. In a standard piece of propoganda, the FBI requested that the city council change the address of the new complex from 4651 Northmont Plaza Drive, to 1 Justice Park. The council oblidges, last July. It will take two years for the new eight-story office building to be completed. Resting on a ten-acre plot of land near the Northwest Fwy and West 43rd, the FBI paid just over two million dollars for the site. For more information, and the usual political hype, please see the story from Biz Journals.

The End of an Era is Fast Approaching

It all started last Friday, with a simple question…

“Excuse me, ma’am, why are you closing the park?” asked 12-year-old Matt Lemberg.

With that, there could only be one answer. A hung head, and an honest response that Six Flags, Inc has decided to close Astroworld, was all that was needed to dash a young boys dreams of summers spent on roller coasters, and autumns spent in haunted houses.

Come this Sunday, October 30th, Houston’s Astroworld will close its gates for the final time. On Monday, October 31st, employees will be busy shuttering the park and prepping every ride and every attraction for dismantling. That’s right, Houston… the era of summer fun that has been with us since 1968, has come to an end.

Earlier this year, Six Flags, Inc, made the decision to close it’s primary Houston park, Six Flag’s Astroworld. Astroworld, which contains one of Houston’s two main water parks, Waterworld, has provided millions (perhaps even billions) of Texans a place of summer fun for thirty-seven years. Citing lowered profit margins, Six Flags, Inc decided that it would be more profitable to sell the park’s land as office and retail space, than to keep it open for further years. Once again, the removal of a Houston icon came down to the all-mighty dollar. At this point, it is impossible to save Astroworld, it has entered it’s final days.

Houstonians wishing to relive the memories of Astroworld still have time to visit. Astroworld will be open next weekend as it’s final event of the year, Fright Fest, comes to a close. Those who want to relive memories are encouraged to pay it a visit.

I, for one, will not be able to go to visit my beloved Astroworld, one last time, as I simply cannot afford a ticket. Even though I can no longer fit on the rides, and walking for extended periods of time runs me the risk of badly injuring my left ankle (an old laser-tag injury from back in the day), I long to return to a park at which I spent many summers.

I remember waiting in line for Batman: The Escape, when it first opened. Sweltering in the summer sun for over two hours, before finally basking in the cool air conditioning once we arrived inside the mock “factory.” I remember the thrill of making a loop while standing. I remember other rides, as well, including one of my favourites, X-L-R8. Sure, X-L-R8 was not very fast (it had actually been slowed down from when it was first installed, citing whiplash as a reason), but it was the only hanging coaster in the park, never had a long line, and was a nice refresher when you were tired, hot, and sweaty.

I remember when they installed the Mayan Mindbender, Astroworld’s only indoor coaster. I remember how wonderful it was, during it’s second season, when the novelty had worn off and the lines were short. It was so wonderful to stand around in the nice, cool line indoors, and then spent a couple of minutes zipping around in the air conditioned dark. The best rides aren’t always the ones with speed, loops, or weird features.

Who can forget my absolute favourite attraction of Astroworld, Horizon’s Theatre. Featuring a round roof, Horizon’s utilized a special film and projector to project a movie on half of their giant roof, allowing Houstonians to put their ability to quell motion sickness to the test. It was wonderful, for twenty minutes, you could sit around in air conditioned comfort, and even experience the “thrill” of “zooming along on a roller coaster” or, one year, a race track. It wasn’t high tech, it wasn’t fast (if one was smart, one wouldn’t move at all, and just enjoy the cool air), it was just a break from the heat of the day, and a place to sit (or lay) and rest. Horizon’s closed its doors several years ago, having been made into offices and dressing rooms for the park employees. Horizon’s proved that the best attractions are not always twisty, high-speed rides.

I remember going to concerts at Astroworld, many times. Usually Christian shows, but I went to the occasional rock or country event. That was a little-known fact about Astroworld… they had a great outdoor live-music setup. Speaking of music, I remember the little recording studio where, for ten dollars, you and a friend could sing a duet and have it recorded on to a tape. I remember my friend Paul and I singing “Lean on Me.” The enginner of the studio asked our “group name.” We answered in high style, “Jake and the Fat Man.” …I was Jake.

It is with tears in my eyes as I conclude this entry, it having brought back memories of spending times with friends who have moved away, or passed on. Astroworld will always hold a special place in my heart, and I hope that every current and former Houstonian will pause for a moment on October 31st, and stand in silent rememberance of a great theme park, as employees begin to shutter and dismantle it, for good.

(For more information on the closure of Six Flags, Astroworld, see the article from which I took the above quote at The Houston Chronicle: For AstroWorld Fans, the Ride is Over. For more information on current and past rides (as well as a lot of park history) at Astroworld, see Six Flags Houston.com.)

Eight Wheeled Glory

I was probably one out of 4 bazillion guys who didn

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