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What Anthony Bourdain Knew About Mexico

Like millions of his fans, I was stunned to learn that Anthony Bourdain had left us so soon last week. I was sad because he had such a genius for expressing his brilliance: and, I believe, had so much more to teach. I’ve spent half my life trying to teach students at the university to…

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Where Have All The Horny Toads Gone?

A couple of weeks ago I read a book called “The Lion the Living Room,” which was about how our domestic cats are just little lions. I thought, ‘that’s nothing. I grew up with dinosaurs in the alley.’ They looked for all the world like little dinosaurs – at least to us kids they did….

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In 15 Minutes, Barbara Jordan Built A Legacy

Andy Warhol summed up our modern, technology-driven world: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” But Barbara Jordan turned this idea on its head. In 15 minutes, she delivered a speech that gave her lasting, worldwide fame. She was only 38 when she, on national television, argued for the indictment of Richard…

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Ten Songs About Lovin’ The Lone Star State

About six months ago, I took a look at songs about Texas towns – “Amarillo by Morning,” “Galveston,” “La Grange,” “Streets of Laredo,” “China Grove,” etc. Now I figure, why not just do Texas? Let’s talk about songs that show their love for Texas in a Texas-sized way – paying homage to the whole state…

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Texas Might Have Been Smaller

The Worst Land Survey in U.S. History By W. F. Strong You can never underestimate the value of a good friendship forged early in life. If not for such a friendship, Texas would be nearly 1,000 square miles smaller. Before I get to the friendship, come with me up to the northwest corner of the…

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Endangered Words

We have many endangered species in the world. Among the better-known at-risk animals are snow leopards, Asian elephants and orangutans. In Texas, we have the gray wolf and ocelot as endangered animals, among others. Endangered reptiles here include the Texas indigo snake and the horned lizard. But that’s not my focus today. That’s just a…

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Samuel Walker: The Real Walker, Texas Ranger

One of the most fascinating Texas Rangers of all time was Samuel Hamilton Walker — no relation, we should say right off the bat, to Chuck Norris’ fictional character Cordell Walker. Many Ranger aficionados rate Sam Walker the second-most-important Texas Ranger of all time, behind Jack Coffee Hays, with whom Walker rangered. Now that’s a…

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Windmills: A Memory of Spring

When I was fifteen, weighed down by concerns about high school – algebra tests, term papers, girls – there was no better spot in the world to silence the mind than on top of a 35 foot windmill at my uncle’s farm. In the spring, it was heaven up there on that platform. To the…

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Jack Johnson: The Galveston Giant

As I was watching the Olympics, I began thinking about all the great athletes who have come from Texas and gone on to be the best in the world. Though not an Olympic champion, I thought of one Texan who stood unexpectedly at the pinnacle of his sport for an impressive number of years. He…

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My Valentine

At 60, I didn’t expect ever to fall in love again. I thought that sort of euphoric madness that comes with infatuation was all in the past – reserved for younger people. But I was wrong. When she came into my life, the world stopped – and changed forever. I first saw her in photographs….

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Texas Standard: February 7, 2018

The Texas Governor reveals a plan to address issues surrounding sexual assault and harassment. We’ll have reaction from female lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Also, it’s no secret construction is big business in Texas, and more women are getting involved to reap the benefits. But they also face challenges. We’ll have the story….

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Plumbing The Depths of Jacob’s Well

When settlers first came upon Jacob’s Well near Wimberley around 1850, they did not encounter a swimming hole. They discovered a magical fountain of beautifully clear water, 12 feet in diameter, sometimes spouting four or five feet above the surface. They named it Jacob’s Well because of its Biblical magnificence. Over the next 70 years,…

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A Handy Guide To The Most Texas-Loving Pages On Facebook

Back when Facebook was new on the net, in order to spur participation on the platform, Facebook made a page for every state and issued a challenge: “Let’s see which state can get to a million likes first.” Texas won and won handily. It wasn’t even close. Given Texas’s galactic reputation for state pride, the…

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On The 20th Century, And The 22nd

With 2018 upon upon us, let’s look 100 years back at 1918, and let’s make some guesses about the coming year. In 1918, there were fewer than 250,000 vehicles on the road in Texas. No driver’s license was required, by the way. Given that there were only about 5 million of us back then, we…

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Judge Roy Bean

Texas has produced and nurtured a great number of colorful characters, but none more colorful than the prismatic Judge Roy Bean. He squeezed many showy lives into one lifetime. In fact, he didn’t become the Judge Roy Bean that Paul Newman immortalized on film until he was almost 60 years old. This proves my favorite…

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Jules Verne, Texas, and the Moon

The first word uttered on the moon was “Houston.” That was the first word of the longer phrase uttered by Buzz Aldrin: “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.” I know there are those who say that there were other jargon words uttered first in the process of landing such as “contact light,” but…

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Honorary Texans

I was looking at a list of honorary Texans recently. It is quite a long list. Only about a tenth of them would be known to most Texans. John Wayne – no surprise there. The only surprise is that it took until 2015 to make him one. Chuck Norris, born in Oklahoma, was made an…

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Missing Whataburger

What’s the best Whataburger you ever had? That’s a question a friend of mine likes to ask everybody. Seems a strange question, but in Texas it isn’t. When he first asked me I told him I could not tell him about the best Whataburger I ever had until I first told him about the time…

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Texas Contractions

Anytime I hear someone say something like this: “Y’all ‘bout fixin’ to head out?” I think it’s highly likely that they are from Texas. You have y’all and fixin’ to in the same sentence and a couple of contractions. We do love our contractions, which, if you don’t recall from your halcyon days of grammar…

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Cabeza de Vaca: The First Texas Tourist

The first person to waltz across Texas – okay, waltz is the wrong word (just tipping my hat to Ernest Tubb there). The first European to walk across Texas was Cabeza de Vaca. And he did it barefoot and mostly naked. Why? We shall see. His full name was Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. Bet…

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