College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets

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Parker Anderson via Flickr
My girlfriend Amy and I moved into a new house this week, and as is bound to happen, the cable and internet installation is about five days behind our move-in date. Unfortunately, it's arguably the five best days of the year to sit around and do nothing but watch television and surf the internet.

So forgive me if this is one of the shorter Best Bets posts that I do, but right now I'm operating with a laptop that is getting internet from a daisy chained connection to my iPhone that is acting as a wi-fi hotspot, all while watching DVD's of the first season of 24.

No cable, no conventional wi-fi, no Netflix, no xBox Live. It's the first world equivalent of rubbing two sticks together in the middle of the woods. I'M DYING OVER HERE!!

Still, this will not stop me from sharing my money making secrets for this week. I'm like the post office -- come hell, high water, or delays from the cable company, I will get you your pick!!

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Texas Gay Marriage Campaign Gets Personal

Categories: Texas

Photo by Max Burkhalter

A few years ago the thought of a Texas campaign to garner support for gay marriage would have been both depressingly pointless and just-this-side-of-the-Marx-brothers laughable. But now, with gay marriage legal in 35 states and a Texas case set to be heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in January, the idea doesn't seem so ludicrous.

Freedom to Marry launched the campaign Texas for Marriage earlier this month and has announced plans to invest about $200,000 in the campaign before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral arguments for the case in January. (Unless the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take up the issue before then.)

It's an interesting campaign, because the players involved obviously seem to have a good handle on Texas, Texans and the best way to approach them. In addition to a website, there will be state-wide TV ads, town hall meetings and young pro-gay marriage Republicans out voicing their support. That's right. Even the young Republicans are getting in on this, which is impressive considering the Grand Canyon-like divide that is apparent with so much of U.S politics these days.

However, despite the old school politicking approach, the focus won't be on the politics, campaign director Ward Curtin says. "It's been a political issue for so long that the debate has been devoid of the human story," he says. "This campaign is all personal story telling. It's about loving committed couples who want to marry the person they love. This is focused on communicating to the public that they want to get married for the same reasons everyone else does."

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Kelvin Sampson Begins The Biggest Challenge Of His Career

John Royal
Kelvin Sampson watches his team in action last week against Morgan State
An writer was at Hofheinz Pavilion Saturday night working on a story on new Cougar head coach Kelvin Sampson. He stood in one of the bunkers ringing the top of the arena, looking out over the mostly empty stands. He asked when the crowd was going to show up. Those of us in the local media standing next to him just shook our heads and said he was looking at the crowd, that this was the best it was going to get.

The Cougars won the game, defeating a winless Morgan State program by a 72-57 score. It was only the second game of the season for Houston, and it looked it. The Cougars only shot 32.9 percent from the floor (going only eight for 32 in the second half). When the players were missing badly with shots, they were turning it over with an ease not seen since Matt Schaub suited up for the Texans (23 turnovers for the game). And the free-throw shooting brought back memories of Phi Slama Jama, an era back when the inability to hit free throws probably cost the team a NCAA title.

It was an ugly game to watch. It was an ugly win. But the team pushed the ball up the court at a quick pace and pulled down 60 rebounds, a rebounding figure not seen from a UH basketball team since 1995.

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If You're Buying a Cheap TV on Black Friday, Here are Some Reasons to Watch Yo' Ass

So there's a good chance some of you are planning to venture out on Black Friday, intent on throwing yourself into the hordes of people fighting over an iPod knockoff. Well, we kinda think you're nuts.

But the good thing is, you're not alone in your nuttery. Plenty of Houstonians will be out there along with you, all clawing their way to the electronics bins at Walmart in a fight to the death for whatever that super cheap thing is everyone's after.

But there are plenty of reasons you should watch yo'self during Black Friday shopping. No one needs to be robbed at gunpoint in a mall parking lot. So here are just a few reasons to be cautious as you head out tomorrow (or tonight, or whenever the hell stores are opening for Black Friday these days):

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2014 Thanksgiving Day Football Gorging Guide

Flickr/Toby Jagmohan
This is going to sound a little strange, but there's a small part of me that was always jealous of the old bedridden grandparents in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

I mean, sure, they were all pushing 80 and sharing a full size double bed with three other octogenarians. And yes, their entire diet appeared to consist of some sort of rancid cabbage water. And I would imagine if they were unable to get up period, then that means they were unable to get up to go to the bathroom, so yeah...rancid.

(Also, why was everyone cool with Grandpa Joe buying tobacco when the family clearly had no money? I mean, they're all drinking cabbage piss and he's noshing on some Red Man and smoking a pipe. What a dick, right? Anyway...)

Still, there's something to be said for being allowed to just lay horizontal all day and watch television with no fear of reprisal. And for one day a year, America gets to do this exact thing with unbridled sloth and joy (and WAY more food).

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24 Reasons We're Thankful We Live in Houston (Hint: It Ain't Dallas)

Katie Haugland via Flickr Creative Commons

Just kidding! We're also thankful for Dallas, which might share a high-speed rail with us one of these days, so we should probably play nice.

Here are the actual reasons we're thankful we live in Houston, presented without an ounce of snark, of course.

24. The Lady Bird Johnson wildlife beautification people plant bluebonnets and all that business along the roadsides so when we sit in traffic for hours on end, we have something nice to look at.

23. J.J. Watt, what with his pizza-schleppin' badassery and all.

22. Conversation at local parties can always be livened up -- so long as the battle over what to do with the Astrodome still rages.

21. We brought the world Anna Nicole Smith (#RIP).

20. We don't have alligators in the bayous ... because the polluted water killed them all. And oh, yeah, now the water is coming after us.

19. IN THIS ECONOMY...we are still nailing that job opportunity thing.

18. Virtually no winters = virtually no snow. But when it does (sort of) snow, we are so excited that the whole city shuts down.

17. The humid climate keeps us all looking much younger than our Texas counterparts.

16. The pollutants in Stinkadena smell horrible, giving us all fair warning when we're about to drive through what is probably a haze of carcinogens.

15. Given item no. 10 on our list, it's nice to know that we have MD Anderson Cancer Center so close...

14. Food lovers across the nation are jealous of our restaurant scene.

13. There's a Whataburger (properly pronounced as "Whut-a-burger") every five miles.

12. This ain't a hipster haven a la Austin.

11. No zoning means an...uh...interesting array of buildings sit alongside one another wherever you go.

10. We get to claim rights to not only a ridiculous local rap scene, but artists like Beyonce, Slim Thug, Paul Wall and Willie D. Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

9. On that note, you (as in the rest of the nation) can all thank us for Screwed Up Records & Tapes. You're welcome.

8. The local art scene is enviable, isn't full of those dreaded sellouts, and they put on an Art Car Parade in the middle of summer that's impressive enough to make people want to suffer in the Houston heat.

7. Houston has nicknames with actual street cred, like Screwston and H-Town.

6. Our city is the smart kind of fancy, with big brains leading research at places like NASA, the Medical Center, and the Baker Institute at Rice University.

5. The traffic. Without it, we'd never have the time we need to listen to all the podcasts we've synched to our phones. We've learned so much about history being stuck in traffic on the way to and from work that sometimes we feel like we're enrolled in a mobile community college class. So thanks, fellow Houston drivers, for keeping the lanes slow and our minds active.

4. Bars like Alice's Tall Texan and West Alabama Ice House are a thing here.

3. Where else can you find the Rockets, the Dynamo, and the Texans? No where, that's where. There's even those good ol' Astros, who we'll secretly always love, even if they're never going to get any better. Ever.

2. It's still relatively cheap to live here.

1. The city is vastly diverse, rapidly evolving, and yet is full of our favorite kind of people: Houstonians.

High Court: Warrantless DWI Blood Draws Are Unconstitutional

Categories: Courts

Be careful out there.
Just in time for the holiday weekend, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld a lower court's ruling that warrantless blood-drawing in DWI cases is unconstitutional.

In a split 5-4 decision Wednesday, the majority justices disagreed with prosecutors' argument that driving on Texas roads is a privilege -- not a right -- and that "the driving public" is presumed to have read the statute outlining no-refusal blood draws. (We must say, there are plenty of roads in Houston that don't really feel like a "privilege" to drive on.)

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Lawyer of Accused Tutu Flasher Says His Client Was Wearing Underwear While Exposing Himself

Harris County Constable file photo
There's nothing like getting caught with your down.

While it may be embarrassing, the attorney of a man accused of flashing a local salon says baring your balls from underneath a tutu is hardly indecent exposure. After all, his client, who has been accused of doing just that, had on some sort of "shielding" undergarment, too.

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Reminder: Houston Grand Juries (Almost) Never Indict Cops For Shooting Civilians

Michael Barajas
Protesters marched down MLK Blvd Tuesday night
Hundreds of Houstonians joined protestors across the country Tuesday night, voicing anger after a Missouri grand jury chose not to indict Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown this summer.

Signs and placards carried familiar names that have sparked national headlines, like Trayvon Martin or John Crawford, the young black man shot and killed by cops in an Ohio Walmart just days before the Brown shooting for walking around with a toy gun he picked up in the store. But other names scrawled on protest signs hit closer to home. Like Eli Escobar Jr., an unarmed 14-year-old boy shot and killed by a rookie Houston cop in 2003, or Brian Claunch, a 45-year-old wheelchair-bound double-amputee who suffered from mental illness who was shot in the head by police in 2012 after wielding a ballpoint pen in a scuffle with two HPD officers.

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Blood in the Streets: Harris County Suing Texas Farm Fresh Halal Over Alleged Violations

Photo by Dianna Wray
The Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meat

After more than two years of alleged violations, Harris County is suing Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meat.The Harris County Attorney's Office filed a lawsuit against Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meats last Friday requesting an injunction and civil penalties against Irfan Sheikh, the owner of the slaughterhouse. The suit alleges that Sheikh has discharged industrial waste into state waters, improperly stored animal parts and discharged contaminated storm waters without a permit. And according to the recorded violations, this has been going on for years.

It started with blood in the streets.

Well, bloody water, technically. On Dec. 31, 2012, someone called in to complain about a slaughter house, Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meats, located on 13221 Old Richmond Road out on the very edge of Harris County. Bloody water was filling up the parking lot and slopping into the streets, the caller reported, according to court documents.

A Harris County Pollution Control investigator went out to the scene and "observed blood and smelled a metallic odor" in a ditch in front of a property just east of Texas Farm Fresh Halal. There must have been about 500 gallons of blood, she figured, according to court records. She noticed a small pool of blood, just a few inches wide, next to the fence bordering the two properties, with a 25-foot trail connecting the small pool of blood to the larger amount in the ditch, according to court documents. And this was just the beginning.

The investigator continued following the gory trail, tracking pools of blood to the animal holding pens and then to the kill floor. She watched the blood flowing from the site at a rate of about a quarter of a gallon per minute. And then a violation was issued against Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meats. A couple days later the investigators came back and managers of the company said that the kill floor waste is set up to flow into a septic tank, but the septic tank was clogged, hence the blood in the streets.

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