Thursday, December 28, 2006

"18-year-old woman dies playing reverse Russian roulette"

This is odd, and sad.
A game of reverse Russian roulette early Thursday in a South Bexar County home ended with an 18-year-old woman dead and a man behind bars after he was charged with firing the fatal shot. ...
The three had engaged in a game of reverse Russian roulette using a .357 magnum. Rather than point the gun at their own heads, participants point the weapon at other people, according to [Bexar County Sheriff's Department Lt. Dale] Bennett.
Details of what happened next are unclear. The suspect said he was about 15 feet away from [Amanda] Studymire when he pointed the gun at her and accidentally shot her in the head, Bennett said. He also claimed not to know the gun was loaded.
Right. Then why play the game?

It's never smart to play with guns. It's even dumber to play Russian roulette. And it's even dumber than that to try out variations on the game.

And it's tragic when someone's plain stupidity ends up hurting or killing another.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Two truck stop deaths blamed on drugs

Lomi Kriel of the Express-News reports that two of the several mysterious deaths at area truck stops can be blamed on drugs.

The deaths of a man and woman discovered inside their idling big rig at a far East Side truck stop in November was an accident and the two overdosed on methamphetamine, the Bexar County medical examiner's office ruled Tuesday.

Harry Akroyd Jr., 35, and Michelle McLean, 32, were discovered inside their locked cab Nov. 1 at the Petro Stopping Center in the 1100 block of Ackerman Road, just off Interstate 10. A trucker who had parked next to them noticed a foul smell coming from the 18-wheeler and alerted managers. ...

The couple's deaths were the first of several in the area near the truck stop — over the course of a month, five truck drivers were found dead, none with any apparent trauma to their bodies.

On Nov. 20, Robert Monroe was found inside an 18-wheeler at a truck stop in the 11390 block of Interstate 35 South near Fischer Road, but it was determined the 69-year-old had died of heart disease.

On Thanksgiving Day, 42-year-old Byron Gonzalez was found dead inside his rig. The cause and manner of his death is pending a toxicology report.

Ray Hardestey was found dead Nov. 27 inside his rig at the Flying J truck stop, in the 1800 block of Foster Road. It was later ruled that Hardestey, 53, died because of a heart attack.


Truckers, be careful. It looks like there's nothing insidious going on here, but drugs probably should not figure into your job in the first place. And the truck stop owners probably appreciate people staying alive in their parking lots. Heart attacks are less easy to avoid, but the drugs can be overcome.

Just something to think about.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Taking a machete to church

This happened in Fort Worth, not San Antonio, but I thought the story of a man taking a machete to a Christmas Eve service was too strange to pass up.

From WOAI-TV (original story here):

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A man who scared churchgoers on Christmas Eve when he pulled a handmade machete from his pants and placed it on the altar while he prayed remained jailed Tuesday on a weapons charge.

Paul Ray Smith Jr., 39, was charged with unlawful carrying of weapons. Bail was set at $750.

He also had a dagger and a homemade gun on him.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Car crashes into house

Once again, a vehicle has been driven right into an abode. And, this time, it looks intentional.

KSAT-TV reports.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Just another odd mayor's race II

Back in August, I called attention to one of the candidates for mayor of San Antonio, R.G. Griffing (first post is here). This man runs a righty Web site he calls the San Antonio Lightning Newspaper, and he likes to shine his bright, muckraking light on local governmental organizations, politicians, and news organizations. He especially delights in skewering the San Antonio Express-News.

So, I wasn't particularly surprised when Griffing reported on his own site that the Express-News was refusing to run his campaign advertisements. I don't know what the daily newspaper's advertising guidelines are, but I can see where they would think running Griffing's ads would not be in their best interest, as Griffing himself says.

And, let's just remember the words he used to announce his candidacy:

You people make me sick!

Yes, you!

You are hicks and rubes and suckers. You lay down for every tax increase that comes your way. Every stupid political idea.

I sometimes doubt your intelligence.

You are a politician's dream.

Easy marks.

A carnival worker's delight.

Nothing but beasts of burden.

Sometimes you are oxen. Sometimes simply sheep.

You people make me sick!

Yep, that'll win over the voters.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Then, there was the polite armed robber

From KSAT-TV:
"She said that he apologized," said Sgt. Brian Custard of the San Antonio Police Department. "He thought she was a young lady and didn't realize she was older and crippled. (He) even offered to put the gun up if it would make her feel better."
Wow. I hope he gives up his ways before he comes across a young woman. He may not be so nice next time.

"Woman Tied Up in Home Invasion"

Looks like another less than succesful home invasion.

She claims three masked men barged their way into her home. They had two guns and an assault rifle. One of the men pointed the rifle at the woman's head and demanded money.

The woman was tied up with plastic ties, while the robbers ransacked her home looking for cash.

They got away with nothing.

It's sad that these terrifying crimes are happening, but at least they don't seem to be very profitable. Let's hope the dimwits get discouraged before long.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Cell Phone Stolen in Home Invasion"

You would think that if somebody went to the trouble of orchestrating a home invasion, they might take more than just a telephone. Wouldn't you?

From WOAI-TV:

Police say a pair of robbery suspects stole an unusual item during an overnight home invasion. Instead of grabbing cash or jewelry, officers say the two men made off with a cell phone. ...

Six people were home at the time. Officers say one of those people was pistol-whipped by the suspects.

I think there's more to this than just some thieves' desire to get a new cell phone. There must be something on that phone that's very valuable to the perps.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Elderly Woman Accused of Hiding Drugs in Underwear"

Maybe we should be frisking little old ladies.

From WOAI-TV:

A fourth grade teacher and an 81 year old grandmother are not the type of people you would expect to be charged in a drug smuggling ring. But that is the case with two women who went before a federal judge Wednesday. The elderly woman is actually accused of hiding cocaine in her underwear! ...

Prosecutors argued the 81 year old drug suspect is key to this investigation.

"Josefina Campos was a leader in the organization," said Asst. US Attorney Greg Surovic.

Campos is accused of carrying the drugs across the border in her underwear.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

San Antonio's official city seal: ugly

As far as municipal flags go, San Antonio has one that actually looks pretty cool (you can check it out at Flags of the World, or on the top banner on the city's Web site). But the same cannot be said about the city seal.


Witness this screen capture I got from a Defenders story on KSAT's Web site (it is taken from the video story titled "Some Upset With City's New Garbage Cans"):



















That is the most garish, gaudy, overdone, tasteless, uninspired, and just plain loud official seal I have ever seen. It's a little embarrassing, and I think the city needs a new seal.

There is a brief and somewhat charming history of how the current seal came about here, but I don't think an interesting background is justification for keeping such an eyesore. To be fair, the original designer apparently did not assign the colors for this seal (he carved it out of wood), but the current incarnation is downright ugly, and it should go.

Let's hope some inspired council member on some future council floats the idea of updating the city seal.

"Sewage Spill Damages Town Homes"

Yuck!

SAN ANTONIO -- Several town homes were damaged Monday on the Northwest Side after raw sewage spilled into the residences.

Residents said they woke up to find sewage water on the floors of their town homes in the 4900 block of Ali Avenue. ...

[Angel] Bustamante said his belongings, including Christmas trees and gifts, were damaged by the sewage.

He added that Christmas will not be the same this year because of the mess.

I'll bet. What's sad is that the sewage came into the homes because a main was blocked, but the local water utility says it is "not responsible for the damages because the sewer main was blocked by grease and rags." That's a drag.

Monday, December 18, 2006

"Woman Shot, Bound and Stuffed in Barrel"

This is scary strange.

The body of a 25-year-old woman was found stuffed in a barrel in the backyard of an east side house, and San Antonio Police were looking for her killer Monday. ...

Investigators told News 4 WOAI when they got to the house, the front door was open. Several shell casings were found on the front lawn. They found several pools of blood and an assault rifle in the backyard, officers said.

Moments later, [Chanell Monique] Dixon’s body was found inside a 55-gallon drum in the backyrad of the home, authorities said. ...

Dixon was shot, officials said. Her body was bound in a garden hose and wrapped inside a carpet[.]

Let's hope the police find the dirtbags that did this.

UPDATE: WOAI-TV reports that the police have a suspect.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Correcting an entire news story

The San Antonio Current has great coverage of local music and art events, but I have often found their news stories to be seriously lacking in journalist quality. Witness this correction from the December 13 issue. It is reproduced in its entirety.

The December 5-12 news story “Reproductive Outlook?” incorrectly said a Southside Planned Parenthood clinic had closed; it was converted from a free-service clinic to a full-fee clinic in January 2006. Abortion care throughout San Antonio was provided to 1,400 patients, not 10,000. Texas elected six new pro-choice housemembers, not five. And $10 million in federal funding went to Federally Qualified Health Centers for family planning care, while $5 million went to crisis pregnancy centers. [emphases added]

That's four serious mistakes in a 680-word news story. Poor journalism. I wonder if alt-weeklies in other cities suffer from the same utter vacuity when it comes to news and commentary. But, as I said at the outset, at least they have good music and arts coverage.

"Tribute to furry friends"

I don't mean to make light of mourning, but this story by Scott Huddleston of the Express-News does seem a little strange and over the top:

The Austin resident was one of about 60 people of all ages, along with several cats and dogs, attending the 4th annual Tribute to Tails, a candlelight service celebrating the lives of companion animals, particularly the ones that have died.

For well over an hour, pet owners read poems, shared stories of beloved pets and contemplated one central question: Do pets go to heaven?

Pastor Ivan Ujueta of Family Vision Center Church, where the service was held Tuesday, said he believes they do — but that their owners have to keep God first, if they want a reunion in the hereafter.

I like dogs and all, but this is taking anthropomorphization to a new and absurd level.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"Fetus found buried in bottle in backyard"

This is weird -- a fetus found buried in a bottle in a West Side yard. And, the police found it by accident.

From the Express-News:

Police discovered the fetus on the 1300 block of Billings Drive around 4 p.m. Thursday, after being called to the home for a burglary in progress, police spokesman Sgt. Gabe Trevino said. ...

As they checked the house, they discovered drug paraphernalia and drug residue and secured the home while they obtained a search warrant, Trevino said.

During that process, a photograph of the fetus was found inside a shoebox ....

The woman in the home, who was in her twenties, claimed she had been assaulted during her pregnancy, causing her to miscarry around May.


She then told them she put the fetus in a bottled and buried it in the backyard, where it was found by police. I'm sure more details will be forthcoming.

Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn: the San Antonio Connection

Did a local college student cause two Hollywood celebrities to split up? WOAI-TV looks into it.

The co-stars of the movie, "The Break-up" ended their real life romance after Vince reportedly had a one night affair with a junior from Trinity University.

Star Magazine reports Vaughn met the San Antonio student while she was studying abroad.

UPDATE: The woman who broke up the celebrity couple talks to the Express-News. She's sorry that her e-mail talking about her night with Vaughn became public, but she's not sorry for spending time with him. And, she says she didn't have sex with him.

In an exclusive interview with the Express-News Tuesday, Lane, a 20-year-old Trinity University junior said she has no regrets about having spent a night with Vince Vaughn, a dalliance that reportedly led to his break-up with Jennifer Aniston. ...

“It was an innocent night of meeting a celebrity,” Lane said by phone from Rome about her one-night encounter that occurred in late November. “The experience itself is not what I am wanting to change because nothing happened,” she emphasized. “I was star struck. I didn't do anything that hurt anybody else.” ...

“I'm in Europe. I met a star. I acted in the way that any 20-year-old girl would. I don't feel I did anything horribly wrong — except maybe having a lapse in judgment by sending out the e-mail.”

Or, except maybe spending the night in a hotel room with another woman's man.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Burying records in Texas

Here's an odd thing. Until recently, it was legal in Texas for governments to just put private records under some dirt when disposing of them. And, apparently, they did not have to be secretive about it.

From the Express-News:

Thousands of pieces of personal information — a gold mine in this age of identity theft — was found buried in a park in Converse. ...

"Drivers license (numbers). Social Security (numbers). Lot of photographs. All the information you'd ever want if you were going to do any kind of fraud," said David Meyer, who is part of the crew that discovered the files. ...

Converse City Manager Sam Hughes did not want to go on camera but says the city never envisioned that all those files, which were buried in 1998, would ever be
accidentally dug up.

In 1998, it was perfectly legal to bury that kind of paperwork, but the state law was changed five years ago.

And while routine paperwork can still be buried all personal information has to be burned, recycled or shredded.

Monday morning the city sent in at least half a dozen dump trucks to haul out all of the buried files.

But it's where the files were sent that's concern [sic] some people. The files were sent straight over and buried at the other city park in Converse.


Converse is a suburb of San Antonio. If you live there, be careful with your identity.

"Burglars Target Day Care Centers"

Overall, it's not that strange that mothers distracted by small children are being burgled. But, it seems odd to call your child care facility a coop.

From KSAT-TV:

A month ago another woman, an employee, was targeted at the neighboring Kiddie Koop.

"I opened the doors and all the papers were on the floor and I went, what? So then I looked and my purse was gone and I went, oh!” said Christy Flores, a victim and employee at the Kiddie Koop.

Ms. Flores is quite expressive, isn't she?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Car crashes into house

Actually, it's a cell phone store.

From WOAI:
An elderly woman was parked out in front of the store on FM 78 Saturday morning when instead of hitting the brakes, she hit the gas, authorities told News 4 WOAI. The car came crashing through the window of the store.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Giving it to the anti-tollers

I've talked about the silliness of the San Antonio Toll Party before. Specifically:
In short, Ms. Hall and the San Antonio Toll Party seem to be low on reason and acumen and high on raw passion and invective. The debate is heated (check this link to Pat Driscoll's blog to see some of the arguments on both sides), but Ms. Hall's approach is blowtorch hot. I don't see her winning over many undecided citizens with that approach, but I don't think that's her ultimate goal. She just wants zero toll roads, no matter what anyone else may think.
Now, Pat Driscoll from the San Antonio Express-News takes on the Toll Party's tortured logic on his blog with "Myth vs. Reality".

Once again, Terri Hall of San Antonio Toll Party is spouting homespun fallacies and misrepresentations in her effort to shoot down toll roads.

For more than a year I've explained to Hall at different times why some of her so-called facts don't see the light of day in the Express-News, yet she keeps marching on with the same wrong information.

It's a shame, because legitimate concerns and questions about toll roads are being couched in a cardboard argument.

He goes on to pick apart her assertions made in a statement released by the Toll Party November 29, whipping her back to reality in a manner usually reserved for dishonest politicians. This woman is not seeking office, but she is being dishonest. And she's using scare tactics to bully people to her point of view.

Those tactics, however, are backfiring, and people are blaming her and the Toll Party for holding up much-needed road improvements in San Antonio. For a taste of the heated opinions on toll roads in the Alamo City, check out the comment thread to this post on Driscoll's blog.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Could Truck Stop Deaths Be Related?"

OK, this is getting really weird. Five mysterious deaths have occurred at local truck stops, and police still don't know why.

From KSAT:

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio police said Tuesday that they are looking into the possibility that foul play may be involved in the deaths of five people at three local truck stops.

Police spokesman Gabe Trevino said that someone may be giving truckers bad drugs and there could be a possibility that more bodies will be discovered. ...

The latest victim was found Monday afternoon at the Flying J Truck Stop at Interstate 10 and Foster Road.

The other bodies were found at truck stops at Interstate 10 and Ackerman Road and at Interstate 35 and Fischer Road.

Be careful, truckers.

Friday, November 24, 2006

"Third Body Found At San Antonio Truck Stop"

This is weird.

SAN ANTONIO -- Police were investigating the death of a truck driver at the same truck stop where two people were found dead earlier this month.

A friend found the body of Byron Gonzales inside his big rig Thursday morning, the Bexar County medical examiner's office said. ...

On Nov. 1, fellow truckers found the bodies of Michelle McLean and Harry Edward Ackroyd inside the cab of an 18-wheeler parked at the same truck stop. The rig's engine was running, and the bodies were partly clothed.

None of the three bodies had any signs of obvious trauma.

The medical examiner is still trying to determine what killed the first two people, but, if this death is related, that truck stop is going to start getting an unwanted reputation.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Accused Killer Claims Evil Forces Control Him"

And, apparently, they want him to outdo all other evil people.

Vincent Seard is accused of killing a man and a woman at a ranch in Comfort back in 2003. Several doctors told a judge they don't believe Seard is competent to stand trial right now.

They've diagnosed Seard as chronic paranoid schizophrenic. Doctors say Seard's multiple personality disorder has him believing there is a force in his life causing him to be the "evilest in existence."

Someone to keep an eye on, for sure.

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Police: Man Shoots Self During Standoff"

From time to time, police officers must deal with very stressful situations. And I'm sure they don't relish scenarios that end in "suicide by cop", where a suspect threatens officers to provoke them into firing their weapons, thereby ending his life at someone else's hands.

That's strange enough, but I wonder how often the person actually announces his intent, as in this story from KSAT-TV:

SAN ANTONIO -- A 56-year-old Fair Oaks Ranch man suffered a self-inflicted wound during a police standoff Monday, Fair Oaks police said.

According to Fair Oaks Ranch Police Chief Scott Rubin, the man called the police department at 6 p.m. Sunday and told the dispatcher that he wanted to commit suicide by cop. ...

After police tried to persuade to surrender [sic] peacefully, several shots were fired from the home around 6 a.m., Rubin said. Police then made a tactical entry into the home and found the man with a self-inflicted wound to his hand.

Poor guy. He needs help. Let's just hope he gets it before he seriously hurts someone.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pig Stands close

Bummer.

Initial plans to keep the restaurant once labeled the "World's Fastest Drive-in" open have been shelved -- at least for now.

Officials with locally based Texas Pig Stands Inc. said that the company's remaining Pig Stand restaurants in San Antonio and in Houston have been closed until further notice. The stores were closed by order of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.


Robber foiled by hair stylists

If you are looking for an easy place to rob, don't try to hold up the Hair Express on Marbach Road. The people who work there won't stand for it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The six flags over Texas

There haven't been too many strange things catching my eye lately, but I wanted to put something up here to show that I'm still around. So, here is a picture of a docent at the Alamo giving a little history of the place. The flags he is standing in front of are the Six Flags over Texas.

















The flags represent the six nations that have claimed sovereignty over the area of land now known as the state of Texas. From left to right, the nations represented are:

The United States of America (1845-1861 and 1865-present)
The Republic of Texas (1835-1845)
The Confederate States of America (1861-1865)
Mexico (1821-1835)
France (1685-1689)
Spain (1690-1821)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Claiming victory in the face of defeat

Critics of toll roads have been very vocal and very passionate about making sure those roads never get built in San Antonio. As I've said before:
In short, Ms. [Terri] Hall and the San Antonio Toll Party seem to be low on reason and acumen and high on raw passion and invective. The debate is heated (check this link to Pat Driscoll's blog to see some of the arguments on both sides), but Ms. Hall's approach is blowtorch hot. I don't see her winning over many undecided citizens with that approach, but I don't think that's her ultimate goal. She just wants zero toll roads, no matter what anyone else may think.
With the recent election, though, many of the people the toll road critics supported for their anti-toll stances were defeated. Yet, the San Antonio Toll Party is still claiming victory. Here's their press release on the topic, and Ms. Halls direct words: “Our preferred candidates may not have won, but their opponents, with the exception of Perry who didn’t win a majority, said they were anti-toll.”

So, their candidates lost, but the Toll Party still won.

And here's Pat Driscoll's take on it.

It also helps to not count a list of "good guys/gals" as endorsements — a distinction the Texas Toll Party didn't make — which cuts the local endorsements by half. Of eight left, four won, which doesn't sound so bad.

Then, let's see, assume that all the people who voted for Kinky Friedman would have voted for the Toll Party's horse in the governor's race, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, had Friedman not run. Though Strayhorn still would have lost by a large margin statewide, she would have carried Bexar County, a "major accomplishment."


The Toll Party is going to great lengths to make it seem like they had a big impact on the election in Texas, when it seems that their influence was negligible at best. It's strange to think your cause prevailed at the polls when the candidates you supported didn't get enough votes to win.

But, it's important to remember the Toll Party seems intent on doing whatever they can to prevent the construction of toll roads, no matter what form they might take or where they might be built. Now that the election is over, it will be interesting to see what the Toll Party does next.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Car crashes into house

OK, so it's really an SUV. And it crashed into a church, not a house. But it's still strange.

From WOAI:

Church leaders were cleaning up after an SUV slammed into the wall of building [sic] early Sunday morning, officials told News 4 WOAI.

The SUV collided with a car on Wurzbach and Ironside close to 3 a.m. Sunday, and the SUV ended up crashing into House of Prayer Lutheran Church, police said. ...

"I'm very shocked they could travel this far and cause this much damage," church member Doyle Griffin said. "It's a long way from the highway."

More from KSAT

.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"Man's Bullet-Riddled Body Run Over By Train"

Initially, it seemed that this was an accident, and then the police thought it was a suicide. But, now it looks like someone tried to cover up a murder.

From KSAT:

SAN ANTONIO -- The bullet-riddled body of a 23-year-old man was placed on some railroad tracks in south Bexar County where he was run over by a train, sheriff's officials said. ...

A railroad conductor told law enforcement authorities that he saw a dark sport utility vehicle turn off its lights prior to running over Garza's body.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Baby born on a city bus

Stories abound about the odd places where women have given birth, but have you ever heard of a baby being born on a bus?

From KTSA's script:

AN INCIDENT ON A VIA BUS GIVES A WHOLE NEW MEANING TO "BABY ON BOARD."

VIA SPOKESWOMAN PRISCILLA INGLE SAYS AN EXPECTANT MOTHER WENT INTO LABOR ON A BUS ON SUNDAY, THE DRIVER STOPPED AND HELPED DELIVER THE BABY ON BOARD.

Now that's going above and beyond the call of duty.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Who's bigger than Bigfoot?

In the Texas gubernatorial race, apparently no one.

We'll get back to Bigfoot in a moment. First, let's talk about two columnists.

Ken Rodriguez writes opinion columns for the San Antonio Express-News, our mainstream daily newspaper. Dave Maass writes for the San Antonio Current, our lefty weekly newspaper. And Maass seems to hold Rodriguez in contempt, so much so that he vents in a column about some recent work by Rodriguez. And, if Maass has a point other than he doesn't like Rodriguez, it is lost in his own words.

Now, some background:
The Texas governor's race is about par for the course for politics in the Lone Star State. The current governor, Rick Perry (R), faces opposition from Chris Bell (D), Carole Keeton Strayhorn (I), Kinky Friedman (?), and James Werner (L). So far, Kinky has been getting a lot of press (because he's strange), and Strayhorn has been getting a fair amount herself (primarily because of her opposition to toll roads). Bell, though running on the Democratic ticket, can't seem to turn anyone's head.

Earlier in October, Ken Rodriguez wrote a piece about Bell's lack of name recognition. He began that column talking about "somebody from the Chris Bell campaign freak[ing] over an unscientific MySanAntonio.com poll" (click here to read it all), and he finishes the piece saying, "The race is crazy. So crazy that back in July, a few Bell supporters with busy fingers and time to blow made an all-out attempt to win a local dot-com poll."

Fair enough. Rodriguez is an opinion columnist, and commenting on political antics is to be expected. But Dave Maass (who apparently disagrees strongly with Rodriguez's analogies and comparisons, even when light-hearted) took exception to Rodriguez's characterization of Bell as an unrecognizable candidate. Maas especially found this excerpt to be rage-worthy:

On July 21, the Web site asked readers: Who's your pick for Texas governor?

After two days, Rick Perry had garnered the most votes, Bell the fewest. That should have surprised no one since A) Perry is the Republican incumbent, and B) more people had heard of Bigfoot than Bell, the Democratic candidate.

Maass seemingly found the whole sasquatch comparison to be abominable, because he then devoted an entire column to trying to prove that nobody is bigger than Bigfoot. And, he seems to think that personally asking pollsters a bunch of questions is actually a scientific study.

Three weeks ago, Rodriguez penned a column explaining how politicians react to polls, illustrated by gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell’s spasm at his poor results to the daily’s online poll. The columnist wrote: “That should have surprised no one since ... more people had heard of Bigfoot than Bell.”

Huh? We called him on it.

“It was a one-liner,” Rodriguez said.

“It was a two-liner,” we corrected him.

“It was a joke. It wasn’t anything that was scientifically backed up. As you know, I write opinion. I am a columnist. I couldn’t get away with writing that if I were writing a news story about the gubernatorial race,” he blustered.

“But even as a joke,” we explained, “it doesn’t make sense because you can easily say more people have heard of Bigfoot than Rick Perry.”

And so we set about proving it, meticulously and scientifically, by canvassing the pollsters on our lists about Bigfoot’s name recognition. Here are our results. [emphasis added]

At first, I thought Maass was being humorous himself. But, he told me himself that he thought the Bigfoot comparison was ridiculous and that the Express-News editors should be watching Rodriguez more closely. So, I take him at his word that he thinks Rodriguez is ugly and full of shit. And, I can only wonder what he hopes to accomplish by actually calling pollsters with a question that asks who has more name recognition than a mythical creature.

For the record, here is who Maass contacted with his "meticulous" poll and how they responded to him (according to him):
Gallup - wouldn't comment
SurveyUSA - "I'm trying to take you seriously ..."
Zogby - "Bigfoot wins out over everyone but Superman."
Rasmussen - wouldn't comment
Blum & Welprin - Bigfoot's bigger
Opinion Analysts, Inc. - Bigfoot's bigger than Rick Perry
Baselice & Associates - wouldn't respond

Maass then rounds out his research with a Google search, counting the number of hits generated by "Rick Perry sucks" and "Kinky Friedman blows". And then, somehow, he takes all of his collected data, analyzes it, and comes to the conclusion that Ken Rodriguez "is a tool".

Really.

At least, if you can believe him. Maass's piece might be an attempt at humor or parody. But, either way, it is poorly researched and poorly conceived. I'm not sure what he's trying to communicate other than inquiries about Bigfoot, when posed to people who conduct polls, might hint at stupidity in Rodriguez, but I don't think he even accomplished that. He simply showed that pollsters don't like to be bothered with silly questions.

If this is the fare that the Current truly offers as an alternative to the mainstream media, then the publication has slipped into utter vacuity. That's too bad, because they have a great music section.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Man crashes into house

Usually I will point out media reports when a car crashes into a house, mainly because it seems such incidents happen fairly often in this town. And I find that strange.

But, as WOAI reports, this time it was just a person who crashed into a house, with tragic results.
The man laid the motorcycle down on the street and hit a car. He was then thrown from the bike and hit the house, authorities said.
The 26-year-old man was killed in the accident.

UPDATE: The Express-News reports that the man hit a car, not a house.

Monday, October 23, 2006

"2 Men Accuse Deputies Of Forcing Them To Eat Marijuana"

I guess making them flush their pot down the toilet wasn't good enough.

"US bans Vegemite"

Because the stuff contains folate, Vegemite has been banned from the United States. It appears that only breads and cereals -- and not yeast extracts -- are allowed to contain added folate, which is why the Aussie treat is banned from our borders.

But, what's a bit strange is that this piece from The Courier-Mail in Australia somehow found a U.S. businessman that was flummoxed by the ban, and he makes his living in San Antonio:

"I was flabbergasted." Paul Watkins, who owns a store called About Australia in San Antonio, Texas, said he had been forced to stop importing Vegemite six months ago.

"We have completely stopped bringing it in," he said.

About Australia's Web site is here. The only other location for this international store is in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Perhaps that's where Mr. Watkins hails from.

A bit more on this at Overlawyered. At that site, I learned that you truly can buy anything on Ebay.

UPDATE: Ted Frank at Overlawyered thinks this might be an urban legend in development.

UPDATE II: Snopes has debunked the ban. It is an urban legend.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Man Slashed with Machete, Almost Loses Arm"

And, the man's buddy did it.

Richard Villaneda, 40, was cut about three a.m. Sunday at a home on Santa Monica, northwest of downtown, authorities said. Villaneda was been [sic] hanging out with 41-year-old Jerry Garcia. Garcia then pulled the blade and cut Villaneda, police said.

Officers arrested Garcia at his home next door early Sunday. Garcia had been sleeping.


Wait, I thought he was dead.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"Public Toilet Collapses under 300-Pound Woman"

Even if you weigh over 300 pounds, you would expect a toilet to hold you up, wouldn't you?

WOAI reports:

A toilet collapsed under a woman in a public restroom. She's blaming the city for it what she considers a humiliating incident. ...

The victim's attorney says the bowl in question literally crumbled beneath his client causing serious injuries and humiliation. That was in January of 2005. ...

"Poor Ms. Dilworth had to crawl to the door, and ask a security guard who was around the corner to page her mom," said Dilworth's attorney, Hugo De Los Santos. "She was seriously hurt. She's been unable to work up until today because of this."


It's a strange story, but be sure to check out the video link for images of an attractive newswoman putting her hands all over a public toilet. That's beyond strange. That's just icky.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Painting some big boots




















Hot dog! They're repainting them big boots in front of North Star Mall. Next, maybe they could give Paul Bunyan a shoe shine.

Monday, October 16, 2006

"Alligators Spotted In East Side Neighborhood"

An alligator sighting in East Texas won't raise too many eyebrows, but it will around San Antonio. As such, some East Siders are keeping their eyes on a nearby creek, as KSAT reports.

Neighbors along Rosillo Creek near Rigsby and Loop 410 have seen an alligator and two baby gators in the area lately. They said they don’t want to see the alligators killed, but they don’t want them around. ...

Officials said that if residents see the alligators, not to feed them, get too close to them or swim near them. And especially don’t try to catch one.

Nice bit of advice. Leave the alligator wrestling to the professionals.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

"Man Discovers Chop Shop In His Garage"

Sometimes, when a man comes home early from a business trip, he finds his wife or girlfriend in the act of cheating on him. For one local man, not only was his woman seeing another man, they were apparently using his property for an illegal business.

From KSAT:

Police said Homer Barrett, 26, arrived early from work, which usually keeps him away from home for weeks or months at a time, to find an unfamiliar pickup truck parked in his driveway, police said.

Suspecting that a burglary was in progress, Barrett called police.

Inside the home, police found Barrett's girlfriend, Gina Beaulieu, 25, and a man, Douglas Ewert, 24.

Police found two stolen vehicles, some motorcycles, including one that was in the process of being stripped for parts, police said.

I bet he broke up with his girlfriend after that.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"More than 50 Illegal Immigrants Found in Home"

Wow, first it was 50 cats. Now it's 50 people!

As WOAI reports:

Police were called to the home on Senisa Wednesday after they received a tip about stolen cars, officials said. When they arrived, they saw four people running from the house. They looked inside and found the immigrants — 38 men, 12 women and a teenage girl, authorities said.

“This is a case where we obviously just can't walk away,” Sgt. Gabe Trevino with San Antonio Police said. “We called the federal government to come out here and do their job.”

That's a crowded house.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Shocking the drunks

Electric chairs at a bar. San Antonio Daily Photo has the picture to prove it.

"Russian Roulette Turns Fatal For Teen"

Don't drink and play with guns. And, don't ever play Russian Roulette, even when you haven't been drinking.

From KSAT:

Police said that Juan Garcia, who had been drinking heavily, showed off a partially loaded revolver to several other people inside a home in the 1300 block of Swaying Oak at 2 a.m.

Garcia put the gun to his right temple and fired, but nothing happened, police said.

Witnesses told police that Garcia then put another bullet in the chamber and spun it and fired again, police said. This time, the gun discharged, instantly killing Garcia.


The Deer Hunter is an ugly movie. There's nothing beautiful about it. I wonder how anyone could ever watch that movie and actually think Russian Roulette would be fun.

It's strange, and sad.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The "Grotto" in San Pedro Springs Park

San Pedro Springs Park is the oldest public park in Texas, and the second-oldest in the nation. Established in 1729 by King Philip of Spain, the park has had plenty of time to amass an interesting history, and you can find out more about the park here.

Probably one of the oddest features of San Pedro Springs Park is the "grotto", a strange heap of a building covered in moss and other growth. Here's a picture:




















The origins of the grotto are unclear, and the structure is strange enough by itself. But, one day while strolling through the park, I noticed something a little peculiar about the low wall that surrounds the verdant pile. The wall is topped with shallow depressions that are vaguely crescent-shaped, and it took me a while to figure out their purpose, for I believe them to be more than mere decoration.

Take a look at these pictures I took, and see if you can figure out the purpose of the depressions.






























Figured them out, yet?
















Well, I'll let you know what I think they are, and see if you agree.

They're butt grooves.

Honestly, I think that's what they are. The wall is just the right height to squat down upon, and the depressions nicely conform to one's posterior when seated. Look again:

















It's quite odd, don't you think?

Seriously, though, San Pedro Springs Park is one of the gems of San Antonio. You can read more about the place here and here. It's full of history, and it's quite beautiful, too. If you're new to town, I urge you to check it out sometime.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"50 Cats Taken From Local Home"

Wow. Fifty cats in one house.

Investigators loaded up the cats up in cages Tuesday morning from a home on Cartwright Trail in west Bexar County, and said the home had a lot of animal waste inside.

"She cares about animals and she had way too many, and it's just not livable in there", said Det. Jesse Vidal Bexar County Sheriff's Dept.

Phew! What a bad day to be an animal control officer.

"Unbelievable Chain of Events Trigger Chase & Explosion"

A man gets cut. He and his father confront someone at their home. Shooting from the home ensues. Three men from the home bolt in a truck. Father and son follow. Father and son ram the truck. Truck catches fire. Truck explodes. Ammunition in truck goes off. Men in truck exit burning truck. They are on fire. They get taken to Brooke Army Medical Center, an excellent burn facility.

Let's hope they make a full recovery. In the meantime, let's marvel at their adventure.

WOAI has the full story here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"School Bus Driver Accused Of Pinching Girl's Nose"

Hmm. I wonder what damages this man will claim.

SAN ANTONIO -- The father of a 7-year-old girl is threatening to sue a Judson Independent School District bus driver for allegedly pinching his daughter's nose.

Anastasia Mireles, who attends Coronado Village Elementary School, said that the bus driver pinched her after the children in the bus got rowdy. ...

An investigation into the incident continues and Judson officials will decide if further action is needed, although the driver will probably not be terminated, Hoffman said.

But Benjamin Mireles said the driver has no business driving a school bus and plans to file assault charges.

Assault? For a pinch on the nose? Assuming the incident did happen, I can't help but feel that Mr. Mireles is overreacting. A reprimand might be in order for the bus driver, depending on the circumstances (which I admittedly do not know the details of), but I think a lawsuit is a bit strong right out of the gate.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"Kinky Starts College Tour with Support from Jesse Ventura"

OK, this is really strange in San Antonio.

Kinky Friedman, making no apologies for recent racially charged remarks, began a three-day college tour [at the the University of Texas at San Antonio] Monday with Jesse Ventura, the former Minnesota governor whose surprise victory in 1998 is serving as the template for Friedman's independent populist run for Texas governor. ...

The independent Friedman faces Republican Gov. Rick Perry, Democrat Chris Bell, independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Libertarian James Werner in the Nov. 7 election.

Ventura is accompanying him on planned stops this week in San Marcos, Houston and College Station.

Ventura, wearing his long beard in a single braid and a SEAL Team cap, railed about Republicans and Democrats preferring a small turnout like the 29 percent voter turnout in the last Texas governor's race and urged the students to vote for Friedman and boost the overall voter count.

If you get a chance, check out this story on video [You can find video here. Look for the piece titled "Friedman, Ventura Court Young SA Voters", because they don't make it easy to link directly to it --ed.]. Ventura has really let himself go, and he looks like crap. I liked his bald look while governor, but the crazy braids he has now are pitiful.

UPDATE: I'm not a big fan of John Branch, the editorial cartoonist for the Express-News, but he did capture Ventura's nutty look quite well in this cartoon.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"West Side ice cream truck also allegedly stocked drugs"

We all scream for it. Except one ice cream truck one the West Side seemed to be drawing an older crowd.

Lomi Kriel at the Express-News has the story:

Wednesday, Edgewood Independent School District police arrested a 49-year-old ice cream vendor and accused him of selling cocaine, marijuana and Xanax through his van window.

"I haven't seen something this bold," Police Chief Charlie M. Peña Jr. said. "Right out of the truck, like you buy ice cream." ...

Most of his customers were regulars, Peña said, and, "at this point, it looks like their ages were between junior high and high school."

A system of codes was used by customers to indicate they were to be trusted, Peña said, and referrals for new customers were accepted.

One scoop of snow, one scoop of grass, and don't forget the sprinkles.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Four girls with cameras ..."

Here is a nice blog called San Antonio Daily Photo. There's nothing strange about it. It's just four girls posting pictures of the Alamo City. I only draw your attention to it because I like it.

Strange way to get free gas

If your car is about to run out of gas, and you have no money to pay for fuel, what should you do? Beg? Assault the clerk?

Or do both?

From the Express-News:

According to police the woman walked inside the store and said she needed free gasoline because she had no money and her car was about to run of gas.

When the clerk refused to give her free gas the woman pulled out a hammer and whacked him on the head. The suspect then grabbed $2 worth of rolled up coins.

The clerk called police and was taken to the hospital.

Police caught up with the woman stranded in her car in 4800 block of Military Drive.

Two dollars doesn't buy much gas these days.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Car crashes into house

OK, it's actually an apartment building, but the car still ended up in a dwelling.

From KSAT:

SAN ANTONIO -- While reportedly avoiding a dog in the road, a woman, 34, swerved into a pedestrian then crashed through a fence and into a building.

The crash happened early Sunday morning on the city’s north side on the 1900 block of Larkspur Drive.

Police said the 35-year-old man who was hit suffered serious injuries and was brought to University Hospital. He was walking his dog around 4:30 a.m. when he was hit.

No one was killed, thankfully, but that was some crash.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Worst getaway ever

From WOAI:
Two men ripped off a gas station at loop 410 and Roosevelt early Saturday, police told News 4 WOAI. After leaving the scene, both suspects bailed out of their getaway car. The driver was caught shortly after, but the other suspect led officers to an apartment where he was found hiding in a baby bed, next to a baby.
I suppose its less obvious than hiding in your own bed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Poisoned Dead Pigeons Mar Texas Festival"

OK, this didn't take place in San Antonio. It happened on the border of Texas and Arkansas. But it's so strange, I felt I had to include it anyway.

TEXARKANA, Texas -- The organizers of Texarkana's annual festival never counted on dead pigeons dropping from the sky.

In the midst of one of the Texas town's most anticipated events, authorities had to scoop up birds that were nose-diving onto the pavement and dying on downtown sidewalks.

A bank president said the pigeons fell victim to a pest control effort, eating poisoned corn that was put on the bank's roof after bird droppings fell on a customer.


That's so weird, I'm amused and revulsed at the same time. And, the situation brings to mind Les Nessman's turkeys.

Friday, September 08, 2006

"JP Gets Into Scuffle With Police"

Justices of the peace shouldn't be throwing their weight around in a police office. Especially after they've run afoul of the law before.

From KSAT:

SAN ANTONIO -- Bexar County Justice of the Peace Pct. 4 Albert McKnight got into a scuffle with a San Antonio Police Department detective Thursday.

One of McKnight's relatives was being questioned at police headquarters about an alleged kidnapping, when police said, Mcknight tried to stop the questioning and sparked a confrontation. ...

McKnight has had run-ins with police before.

Two years ago, he was charged with exposing himself to an undercover Park Police officer.

He was found guilty on a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and was fined.


Strange JP.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Car crashes into house

But, I have no proof.

Dang.

Last night (September 5, 2006), the 10:00 p.m. broadcast news of either KSAT-TV or WOAI-TV aired video of another car crash that involved a house. The problem is, I was flipping back and forth between the two newscasts and can't remember which station actually had the video. And, I can't seem to find the video on either of the two Web sites so that I can link to it.

Until I do link the story (if I can), I hope you will accept my word that I did see a report of a car crash into a house.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

"Man Killed In Unusual Accident"

After a night of drinking, it's best to get a ride home. Or else you might put your car in reverse, think it's in drive, and rocket off across a field.

That seems to be what happened in this story from KSAT:

Authorities said a 66-year-old man was killed in this accident. His body was lying in a nearby field.

Witnesses told police the man was leaving a bar from across the street. It seemed he sped off in reverse through the field, hit what appeared to have been a pole which pulled his door off, and, according to police, fell out of the truck.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police are still investigating.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Just another odd mayor's race

The race for mayor in San Antonio is heating up, even though the election isn't for quite a while. The incumbent, Phil Hardberger, will most likely win another term handily as there is no credible opposition. So far, it's just him and Patrick McCurdy, who plans to do a lot of praying for our city.

But there is another person who has just declared that he is running for mayor. This man's name is R.G. Griffing, and he likes to be a thorn in the sides of local governments, politicians, and news organizations by running his own bloggy newsite called San Antonio Lightning Newspaper. He is a bit of firebrand, and he barely minces his words.

Here is the preamble to his declaration of candidacy:

You people make me sick!

Yes, you!

You are hicks and rubes and suckers. You lay down for every tax increase that comes your way. Every stupid political idea.

I sometimes doubt your intelligence.

You are a politician's dream.

Easy marks.

A carnival worker's delight.

Nothing but beasts of burden.

Sometimes you are oxen. Sometimes simply sheep.

You people make me sick!

Ouch. Kinda makes you want to vote for him, doesn't it? But he is apparently quite serious about seeking office.

I can say this to you, without fear of offense, because I, too, am a hick and a rube and a sucker. I, too, am a lay down. I, too, have fallen for stupid ideas. ...

But no more, at least for me. Enough is enough. Time to stand up.

For that reason, I have filed the necessary paperwork to run for Mayor.

He doesn't have a chance against Hardberger, but I will give him credit for being passionate and motivated.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Parents Accused of Burglary While Leaving Kids Home Alone"

Jeez.

Police say the couple left their young kids home alone while they broke into a new home under construction on the northwest side.

Wow. Go to the link and watch the video of the WOAI story to see just how strange it is.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Car crashes into house

It's happened again, an automobile accident involving a house. Lomi Kriel of the Express-News reports:

Sylvia Guitron planned on remodeling her kitchen sometime. Just not quite this way.

Around 6 p.m. Wednesday, as she ironed a shirt to wear that night, a white Ford Explorer slammed into her kitchen, knocking a hole in her plumbing, demolishing her oven and washing machine, and smashing the flowered china she inherited from her mother, who passed away last Christmas. ...

Gina Rodriguez, 25, and Sandy Jimenez, 21, were popping over to H-E-B when Jimenez swerved to avoid an oncoming car flying around the corner at Imperial Boulevard and Allendale Drive. Jimenez overcorrected, slamming into the kitchen — passing between a wide tree and a parked van.

"Everything happened so fast," Rodriguez said. "The next thing we knew we were in the lady's house."

Strange, strange.

"Arrests of 5 more ex-firefighters expected"

Didn't they have enough to do, or did they need a hobby?

The Express-News reports the story:

With one former volunteer firefighter already charged with arson, Bexar County fire marshal's officials revealed Thursday that they expect to arrest five more volunteer firefighters suspected of setting brush fires in South Texas that injured one person.

Investigators said five former firefighters from the Poteet and Primrose volunteer fire departments should be arrested in the next few weeks and charged with arson felonies.

The firefighters are suspected of arson in more than 20 fires in Atascosa and Bexar counties that burned hundreds of acres of brush. Those brush fires also damaged several barns and sheds, fire officials said Thursday. In one case, the firefighters are suspected of lighting an uninhabited house on fire, according to fire marshal spokesman Ted Manganello, who characterized the home as "well-damaged." [emphases added]

That's just sad. In my book, firefighters are true heroes, for the most part. They dart into burning buildings to save human life, battle blazes in crappy weather, and perform high-water rescues when necessary.

But, "for the most part" is an important qualifier. Bonehead firefighters that intentionally set blazes that put other people in danger (like what is being alleged in the story mentioned above), are no heroes. They are boneheads at best, and villains most likely.

And they deserve contempt.

"Crook Steals ATM, Drags it for Miles"

Rather bold, I would say.

From WOAI:

According to officers, someone used a pick-up truck to pull a Bank of America ATM machine out of a parking lot on Blanco and Huebner overnight.

The machine was dragged to the 9100 block of Abe Lincoln, where it was abandoned. Police were able to follow marks on the road to locate the ATM.

The intersection of Blanco Road and Huebner is here, and Abe Lincoln is here. That's a long way to drag a big, heavy machine like that (through busy commercial areas and heavily-traveled streets), and it was probably showering sparks into the night the whole way. I wonder that no one saw the strange sight and reported it to the police.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

San Antonio is twelfth-drunkest city

Don't know exactly how strange this is, but San Antonio has been ranked by Forbes as the twelfth-drunkest city in the nation.

To do the study, Forbes ranked each city in five areas: state laws, number of drinkers, number of heavy drinkers, number of binge drinkers and alcoholism. ...

Forbes pointed out some surprising results. Some stereotypically "partying" cities didn't rank high on the list. Las Vegas came in at only No. 14; New Orleans, home to Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras, only ranked in 24th place. And a town known for spring-break revelers, Miami, was only No. 33 on a list of 35 cities.

Hoist that margarita, tip that cerveza; we're drunker than Las Vegas!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Worst customer -- ever

A family of six people suffered a home invasion. Three men forced their way int0 Charles Legnon's apartment, threatened the man and his wife with a shotgun, locked the children in a bathroom, and stole cash and jewelry before leaving. Thankfully, the Legnons were not hurt, though they were shaken up a bit. But the strange part is that Legnon knew one of his assailants -- because he did some work for him, as KSAT reports:

Legnon told police that he recognized one of the men as a customer who wasn't happy with a transmission he had fixed for him.

Wow. Most disgruntled customers will complain, call the Better Business Bureau, or just tell friends to steer clear the offending enterprise. This guy is bold and angry enough to actually rip off the man who did auto repairs for him.

But, however, apparently not smart enough to wear a mask.

No arrests have been made. Yet.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Fuentes keeping her secrets"

Brian Chasnoff at the Express-News talks about Naomi Fuentes's reaction when he went to talk to her:

When I dropped by the Bexar County Jail annex to chat with Fuentes, currently imprisoned on charges of credit card abuse and misapplication of fiduciary property, she jerked away from the glass, jabbed an unfriendly finger at me and vigorously shook her head.

Translation: Forget please. Go now.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fuentes returns

Naomi Fuentes is back in town.

Fuentes was arrested in New York last month on charges stemming from allegations that she took nearly $62,000 from Cox Radio, her former employer in Windcrest, and used it to pay down a credit card she took out in the name of a former boss.

Leak explained

Lucille Pope's leaky tree now has an explanation: it's a leak.

From a pipe.

The tree tapped into an active water line that runs to a sink in a shed in their backyard, SAWS spokeswoman Anne Hayden said. The water also tested positive for chlorine residue.

So, the mystery of the water-producing tree is now revealed, but it's still strange.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Follow up to the tree that leaks water

Cary Clack, a local newspaper columnist, wrote about Lucille Pope's amazing tree that spouts water from its trunk. He wonders:

So what makes a tree decide to impersonate a water fountain? What makes a tree decide that after 100 years of existence, it's going to mess with people, boggle their minds, have a little fun and, like Bonnie Raitt, give them something to talk about?

Damned if anybody knows. ...

My own scientific tests, beyond tasting the water, included making sure there wasn't a leprechaun inside of the tree with a water hose and invoking the name of TV prankster Allen Funt to see if we weren't on "Candid Camera."

Both tests proved negative.

Neither Davis' story on Friday nor this column has the address of the Popes' house. To print it would be to invite a pilgrimage to their residence that neither they nor their neighbors may want.

The reasons for The Leaking Tree may be mystical or scientific.

It's still the damnedest thing I've ever seen.

Odd enough, to be sure. But, why -- until they are sure of the source -- are they drinking the water?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tree sprouts a fountain

Let's say you have a tree in your yard. And let's say that one day it starts leaking water from the trunk. You would most likely be puzzled, but would you take a drink?

Lucille Pope did. And still does.

From Vincent T. Davis's story in the Express-News:

The knotted, towering tree, more than 100 years old, has become the root of scrutiny in her East Side neighborhood. The tree has gurgled water from its trunk for the past three months.

Pope, 65, has sought answers from several specialists, calling experts from the Texas Forest Service, the Edwards Aquifer Authority and nurseries for an explanation. ...

The odd occurrence started in early April when her son, Lloyd Pope, noticed bark smeared with sap when he went to fill his the water trough of his stepson's dog Neno. After moving the Rottweiler's tray, he saw a wide stain that ran from the root up toward the branches, with fluid dripping to the ground from above.

Days later, he saw water streaming onto the ground from the other side, and he showed his mother the sight.

Lloyd Pope, 47, said the water was cool, like it came from a faucet. The only damp spot around the tree trunk is where the water lands.


So far, no one has an explanation as to why a fountain has sprung from Ms. Pope's tree, and tests are still being done on the quality of water produced. Yet, oddly enough, Ms. Pope and her son have seen fit to start drinking the water.

After [hydrologist George] Rice and [executive director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance Annalisa] Peace left with their sample of water, Lloyd Pope continued to sit on the hood of the Cadillac, pressing the mouth of the nearly filled jug to the spout of water, just as he does every other day. Then he put the collected water, which he said is better than faucet water, in the icebox.

His mother cupped her hands to the tree, drinking the pooled water spilling over her fingers.

Strange, indeed.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Car crashes into house

Again, a car crash that involves a house. But this time it was because the driver was running from the police.

From WOAI:

While driving around the east side, officers say the men in the stolen SUV saw a police cruiser and panicked. They crashed the vehicle into a house at Iowa and Pine streets.

Both the SUV and the house suffered serious damage.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Tax-free undies

Here in Texas, one weekend before school starts is designated as a tax-free holiday. That means that certain items (clothing, mostly) are free of sales tax when purchased, ostensibly to give needy families a break when buying expensive items for their children (you can take a look at a list here). Among the other items of clothing that are tax-free are underwear -- panties, boxers, briefs, and the like.

This weekend is the sales tax holiday, and, just like other years, retail stores are jam packed with people looking to save just a little money on their school supply bills. This year, however, it seems that one store that normally would not get back-to-school-shopping traffic has chosen to capitalize on the tax-free weekend. That store is called Texxxas Nights. They sell underwear, and they're advertising.

From WOAI:

The majority of the things Shelley Welch sells in Texxxas Nights are sexy bras and underwear. There are adult movies and novelty items in the back.

She says as long as she has clothes to sell, the signs should be up.

"If my customers can benefit from the tax free weekend, then I felt I should let them know," Welch says.

Strange, but entrepreneurial as well.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"Woman Beats Neighbor Boy with Garden Hose"

Wow, neighbor women can be tough around here, as WOAI reports:

Investigators say Yolanda Perez beat her neighbor's 6-year-old son with a garden hose. The boy's grandmother says the [sic] he was playing outside, when he squirted the [sic] Perez with a hose. Investigators say Perez then lost her temper and beat the boy with the hose.

So, how bad was the beating? "He suffered some welts".

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Old man busted for drugs

If you're 68 years old, you're transporting $1.5 million worth of heroin through San Antonio, and you need to change buses downtown, you might try looking a bit more relaxed.

From WOAI:

Narcisco Rodriguez-Jaimes has been charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance over 400 grams, an arrest report stated. ...

Plain-clothes officers approached Rodriguez-Jaimes early Saturday afternoon during a random check at the Greyhound Bus Station on St. Mary’s. When police asked to see his identification, he started acting "very nervous," according to the report. Officers discovered drugs in packages on the man’s body when they searched him.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Seymour Perkins makes art, and gets inspected for his troubles

This is definitely strange.

A 75-year-old man feels like he's being persecuted by San Antonio's code compliance department, despite the fact that he has numerous code violations -- some dangerous -- on his property.

But please don't tell him to straighten things up. He is an artist, after all.

After the inspection, which included a dog trained to sniff out drugs, [Seymour] Perkins was issued citations for “accumulation of trash and debris,” “electrical hazards,” “gas lines not being used needing to be capped,” and “operating a church without a permit.”

It's so bad that even Perkins's daughter thinks the place should be cleaned up.

For Perkins, the inspections represented a slap in the face, a city declaration that his art is merely trash and his ministry is invalid. His voice nearly cracks with emotion every time he discusses the subject. For his family members, however, there are more pressing concerns than bruised feelings.

“We need someone to help us move all these things,” said Perkins’s daughter Chris, appealing to the reverend’s friends in the local art community. “We can’t do it alone.”


But, this being a story from the San Antonio Current, of course the man is just a misunderstood artist. (Oh, and he's not really a reverend. He just calls himself one.)

Perkins is living the sad contradiction faced by many so-called “outsider artists,” compounded by his advancing age.

Did I mention that Perkins also believes his home will be the northern end of a tunnel railroad to Mexico that will lead to "a Latino takeover of the Americas in 2010"? And that he has a "pregnant hookers' bench"?

And did I mention that this whole thing is strange?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Strange in Mexico City

I don't know what to think of this photo by Daniel Aguilar from Reuters. Acrobats on a police force?

Strange, indeed.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Naomi Fuentes Captured"

They caught her, the woman who was using a battered women's shelter to cover her tracks as she ran from the law.

From WOAI:

Naomi Fuentes was captured in the state of New York this morning.

News 4 WOAI learned that a task force made up of officers from several law enforcement tracked down Fuentes in Niagara Falls. Federal marshals took her into custody shortly after 11 a.m.

She'd started a new life in Niagara Falls, including getting herself a new place to live and a new job as a receptionist.

How nice. But it's good to know that someone who abuses a much-needed resource to hide from the police can be brought to face the charges against her.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Glue almost kills dog

Keep your pets away from the glue. They're curious, and it's apparently dangerous.

From KSAT:

SAN ANTONIO -- Amber Flores said she wants animal lovers -- and parents -- to be aware of her dog's nearly fatal encounter with a bottle of Gorilla Glue. ...

"I made the incision in the stomach. We actually tried to get it out of the stomach," said [Flores' veterinarian, Dr. Kristen] Rohde. "It was just like a big old, water-logged, soggy mass of rubber. It was like a rubber ball that had been in a swimming pool too long."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

"Soldier Arrested In Internet Sex Sting"

OK, this story from KSAT is not strange in its content. In fact, it is simply another example of someone trying to solicit sex from underage people online (and the trend of law enforcement to seek out and capture these sexual deviants before they can actually do harm). But, what makes it strange is how one of San Antonio's crack news teams refers to the accused.

SAN ANTONIO -- A soldier was placed under arrest for trying to have sex with a minor, according to the San Antonio Police Department.

It's the second time that an alleged Internet sex traveler has been arrested in recent weeks.

Mark Kolacinski, 26, said he was sorry about what happened.

Police believe Kolacinski attempted to have sex with a 15-year-old girl he met off the Internet.

He was charged with criminal solicitation of a minor.

According to investigators, Kolacinski traveled from the Corpus Christi area where he was stationed with the U.S. Navy. [emphases added]

That would make him a sailor, not a soldier in the Army. It disappoints me that our local journalists (who work in a city that has several active military installations) would get such a distinction wrong. Quite strange.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Mother and Son Arrested in Meth Lab Bust"

How nice. They're just keeping it in the family.

From WOAI:

Police arrested a mother and son after discovering a meth lab in their home on the Northwest Side. ... The mother was arrested on several counts. Her 16-year-old son is facing a possession of marijuana charge.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"Police: Man Exposes Himself, Leads High-Speed Chase"

From KSAT:

SAN ANTONIO -- A man allegedly exposed himself and sent police on a high-speed chase on Interstate 10 before being caught, KSAT 12 News reported. ...

After the man was arrested, he admitted to KSAT 12 News that he was under the influence of drugs [Dude! --ed.].

Police found the man's shorts and a crack pipe in the front seat of the car.

He also said he should have stopped when police tried to pull him over the first time.

It's good when a man can see the error of his ways.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Baboon!

From WOAI:

A baboon escaped from a local research center on Thursday.

The baboon was on the loose, running wild across a busy stretch of Loop 410. Thursday afternoon, workers at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, near Culebra Road were trying to figure out how the baboon got out.

That baboon apparently climbed a fence at the research center, crossed the access road, and 8 lanes of traffic on Loop 410.

Witness Rick Watkins was riding his motorcycle when he saw what he thought was a really big dog.

"Then out of the street and up to the center median, jumped this baboon," Watkins told us. ...

It took workers 30 minutes to capture the baboon. They shot him with a tranquilizer, and say he's resting comfortably in his cage, which is now securely locked.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Toilet Seat Museum

His name is Barney Smith. He is 85 years old. He lives in Alamo Heights. And he has a garage that houses the almost 800 toilet lids he has decorated with his artistry for the past 35 years.

The Express-News has the story.

Smith started the project when he was looking for a mount for deer antlers and found the idea of tacking junk to a toilet cover interesting. Since then, he's crafted designs on hundreds of seats (technically, they're lids) and hopes to get to No. 800 by the time he turns 86 next May.

He's also a celebrity of sorts. Smith, who dons a work apron in his museum and speaks with a Southern drawl, has shared his crafty creations on ABC's "The View" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

"'Missing' U.T.S.A. Student Now a 'Wanted' Woman"

Remember Naomi Fuentes? The UTSA student who disappeared, thus sparking an all-out effort to find her? And she turned up in a battered women's shelter up north, only to disappear again after police talked to her, and the shelter would not reveal where she went in order to "protect her privacy"?

Turns out she embezzled money from her company, and now an arrest warrant has been issued for her.

From WOAI:

An 'arrest warrant' was issued on Wednesday for Naomi Fuentes. Investigators believe she faked her own abduction to cover up a crime.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Windcrest police filed a warrant for the arrest of Fuentes. The investigation against her revolves around the misuse of a company credit card.

"From what we know on the credit card, there was initial usage of the card to almost $50,000 and about $47,000 for the total usage," said Detective Scott Purcell of the Windcrest Police Department. ...

The crime didn't surface until this spring. Two days after her boss was contacted by authorities about the card, Naomi Fuentes disappeared. She was last seen at the Downtown U.T.S.A. campus. Authorities later found out she had left by choice. ...

Windcrest police are now contacting authorities in New York and Canada to see if they can find Naomi Fuentes. They plan to bring her back to face charges.

The battered women's shelter was a convenient way for her to evade the law. That's low, and that shelter should help the police find this criminal instead of covering for her in the name of privacy. Such actions will only encourage other female criminals to abuse a valuable resource in order to further their crimes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

When cartoons attack

From KSAT:

Police said that Debra Tijerina struck her uncle and her cousin over the head with a 10-pound frying pan after the pair had allegedly stabbed the woman's husband and her father outside a home in the 6200 block of Birch Valley at 10 p.m. Monday.

"You do what you got to do to protect those that you love," Tijerina said.

Strange, in a Looney Tunes sort of way.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tolling like a tea party

Oh, I can't believe I haven't pointed this out yet: The San Antonio Toll Party.

To get you caught up, the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, is considering putting in some toll roads here in San Antonio. There are currently none in this city, though Houston and Dallas have some.

There are some people who are adamantly opposed to toll roads in the Alamo City, and Terri Hall is one of them. She is an open and vocal critic of TxDOT and the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, or RMA (the group tasked with handling local toll projects). Ms. Hall denounces anything having to do with toll roads, and she has started the San Antonio Toll Party as "a non-partisan, grassroots movement to STOP the DOUBLE tax tolling of our existing FREEways and rights of way" [capitals in original].

Fine and good. Ms. Hall is entitled to her opinion on toll roads (I am neither pro- or anti- on the issue), and she has the right to voice that opinion. But the way she presents those arguments -- and the tactics she uses -- can be a bit off-putting.

For one, the tolling of a road seems morally neutral to me, yet Ms. Hall refers to people who are against tolls as "good guys" and people who are not sufficiently anti-toll as "bad guys". I fail to see how you can persuade anyone to see your point of view if you start them off in the bad guy camp.

For another, the Toll Party has teamed up with environmental groups to file a lawsuit to stop construction of toll roads on U.S. Highway 281 north of Loop 1604. This is odd, since Ms. Hall seems to want road improvements on U.S. 281, just of the non-tolled kind. And, an environmental lawsuit would probably halt all construction for a long time, whether of tolled roads or "free" roads. That's not going to win very many people over to Ms. Hall's side, especially if they like toll roads or don't care as long as some kind of upgrades come along.

The Toll Party also has ready-made fliers that refer to the whole planning process (complete with public involvement) as "madness" and "highway robbery". The higher-ups at TxDOT and the RMA may not be elected officials (the main sticking point with the Toll Party, it seems), but calling them insane criminals is not the best way to present your case.

In short, Ms. Hall and the San Antonio Toll Party seem to be low on reason and acumen and high on raw passion and invective. The debate is heated (check this link to Pat Driscoll's blog to see some of the arguments on both sides), but Ms. Hall's approach is blowtorch hot. I don't see her winning over many undecided citizens with that approach, but I don't think that's her ultimate goal. She just wants zero toll roads, no matter what anyone else may think.

Car crashes into house

I haven't seen in on the station's Web site, yet, but WOAI-TV reported tonight that another car crashed into another home.

I wonder how prevalent this is in other cities. Seems to be somewhat common here, and that can be strange.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"San Antonio Woman Finds Furry Rodent In Canned Green Beans"

Sorry, but after that whole flap about the woman who slipped a human finger in her Wendy's chili to try to make a little money off the company, I'm taking these kinds of stories -- at least at first blush -- with just a little skepticism.

From WOAI:

One mom says she opened a can of green beans like this..and gave her kids some of them out of the can. When she poured them out, she says she found a creature inside.

Stabbings in San Antonio

Wow. What's with all the knife attacks?

A man stabs his girlfriend in front of her kids.
Carjackers slash a woman.
Two men force two women off the road and cut them.
A man bites and stabs a teenager.

All in the past 24 hours. Calm down, people.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Stolen Birds Are Returned"

Good for the birds.

From WOAI:

A pair of exotic birds are safe and back in the hands of their rightful owner. The parrots were stolen over the weekend from a west side pet shop.

According to workers at Pets R Us, the birds were found dumped in a box. Now police are trying to figure out exactly what happened.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

More stolen birds

Bird burglar strikes again in San Antonio.

From WOAI:

A bird bandit was on the run Sunday night after stealing two rare parrots from a pet shop on the northwest side, News 4 WOAI learned. ...

"Whoever did this, knew what they were doing,” store manager Justin Sullivan said. “They knew what they came in for. They went straight for the bird cages, didn't hesitate.”

Strange, indeed. Is a pattern developing?

Friday, June 30, 2006

"SA Councilman Impersonated; Man Tries To Prevent Car From Being Towed"

If you are parked illegally, it's probably best not to impersonate someone the police might recognize.

From KSAT-12:

SAN ANTONIO -- Someone allegedly tried to use District 10 City Councilman Chip Haass' name to get out of a jam.

According to Haass, a man illegally parked his 2000 Audi in the 2000 block of Jefferson on Wednesday. When it was about to be towed away, the man told police he was Haass.

Police told Haass that the man said, "I'm a city councilman, please don't tow my car." ...

Despite the man's pleas, the car was still towed away.

I guess claiming to be the mayor would have been too obvious.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Woman Receives Severed Finger In Mail"

This is not quite in San Antonio (it happened a couple of hours away in Corpus Christi), but a strange dude gave his ex-girlfriend the finger. Literally.

From KSAT:

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- A woman received a severed human finger in the mail along with a threatening letter from her ex-boyfriend that read, "This is my last chance to touch you," police said.

Corpus Christi Police Capt. John Houston said police weren't sure which finger was removed or how, but that it appeared to have been washed before it was mailed Friday. ...

The man faces Class A misdemeanor charges from that incident and additional charges because of the threatening nature of the letter.

Weird. Also scary since the guy is obviously unbalanced, and -- though he was apparaently last known to be in Spring, near Houston -- his current whereabouts are unknown.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

First declared candidate for S.A. mayor will pray for city

Patrick McCurdy is a former pastor who owns a restaurant and bakery and feels he is called to lead San Antonio. And he thinks the town needs a lot of prayer.

From the Express-News:

The former Baptist preacher's platform: citywide prayer for forgiveness.

"I absolutely, unapologetically believe that is the answer for San Antonians," said McCurdy, 52. "My calling is to lead San Antonio to prayer, and the vehicle is mayor."

I suppose, all told, that's not too strange. After all, there is a Jewish cowboy on the ballot for governor.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Stranded Braunig Lake boaters get unconventional rescue"

If you're on Braunig Lake south of San Antonio, and your boat gets stuck on a cable in a remote area, don't expect a helicopter rescue.

From KENS 5:

[Jessica] Valdez said she and her father were trapped, and when nearby boaters refused to help, she called the lake's office.

"She said, 'Where exactly are you?' and I said, 'I don't know, we're in the lake,'" Valdez said. "And she said, 'If you don't tell me exactly where you are, I can't help you.'"

Valdez said when help finally arrived a couple hours later, it wasn't the lake staff or trained rescue personnel who showed up.

Apparently, the clerk — who was working alone — made a deal with some park visitors. She let them in for free, in exchange for promising to rescue the Valdez family.

A bit strange, but just a bit. Was it really something to alert the media about?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Is the point of art to have a point?

OK, I know artists can get a little weird, and I know they don't expect us pedestrian types to "get" their work all the time, but shouldn't they have at least one or two themes they explore at a time? According to the Artpace Web site, local artist Katie Pell is all over the map.

Through drawing, ceramics, performance projects, and comic books, Katie Pell irreverently explores personal and cultural identity, as well as the potential for greatness in everyone. Pell has completed two bodies of work focusing on the dormant fame in each of us. The pastel drawings show ordinary people Mick Jaggar-a-fied, while the comic book humorously tells of the fantastic effect of a Mick apparition on the otherwise humdrum life of a teenager. A more recent series portrays a parallel universe in which women use their disposable income to customize domestic appliances with the competitive zeal of male car fanatics. In these projects, and others, Pell delves into the role of fate and circumstance in creating a disconnect between how we appear and who we would like to become.

I could be wrong, but I think Pell needs a little focus.