Friday, October 29, 2010



We went to the 50th annual New Braunfels Wurstfest tonight - I guess this guy is a German version of Dionysus!


We scurried in before 7PM so we could get in free on the first night of the fair. We were hungry so we headed right for the marketplatz to see what goodies there were...


More food on a stick than is right to report.


Seriously - on a stick -


Yes, the stick is run through the bun into the brat.

The marketplatz was jammed with people, most of whom seemed to be carrying around pitchers of beer in one hand, and some sort of meat on a stick in the other.


For dessert, corn on the cob... on a stick! See that cup? It was FULL of butter. The corn rolls around in it until it's pulled, dripping for your pleasure.


There were a few rides



but we weren't really in the mood.


It's a cute little festival. We had fun - glad we saw it. Wasn't much for the kids, so we were lucky we just had Little K with us.

There was some oompa playing as we walked around, but the tent with the band was really crowded, so after an hour or so, we made our exit.


New Braunfels is a fun little town, and not hard to get to from Cibolo. We'll be back up there again soon!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

San Antonio Rampage!

We went to the San Antonio Rampage game tonight against the Houston Aeros.

San Antonio Rampage

Sorry for the totally lame cell phone picture, but they wouldn't let me bring my Nikon into the AT&T center. I was close enough that I could have made some great shots.

Here's a little video, also shot with the piece of sh*t cell phone.

But here's the good news: we won 5 tickets to a Spurs game, and better yet, it's on Kandie's birthday! This is great because Kandie is the biggest sports fan in the house.

Rampage tickets are a really good value, especially if you can get down to the box office yourself and buy them direct. Our tickets were $10 each. The seats were high up, but not so high that you felt like you weren't appreciating the game. We paid the $3.75 processing fee to Ticketmaster, which was frustrating since that was almost a 40% service charge. But there really wasn't an alternative given our short decision cycle.

I had a good time, and I'd definitely go again. But I have one gripe - and it's not with the Rampage or the fact that the AT&T center wouldn't let me bring in my camera - it's with the state of American hockey itself. It seems to me that American hockey has institutionalized unsportsmanlike conduct. I'm all for slamming a guy into the wall if he's got the puck or he's in your way as you pursue the puck. But I saw one Aero player shove a Rampage player from behind, knocking him to the ground, when the two of them were not in play for the puck. I find that just sad. And of course there was the obligatory fight. Everyone could see it coming. The two contenders had time to circle each other several times, take off their helmets, toss aside their sticks, and take off their gloves. The other players cleared them space to their little show. The process took about 30 seconds, during which time the refs stood off to the side as well. Then they started wailing away wildly at each other, trying to keep their balance while pulling each other's shirts. After about 15 seconds of actual fighting, the refs finally broke it up.

I like a good fight. I like to fight myself. Fighting is an art and a sport. But I don't like watching men who are fighting because they lack self control. And I dislike being part of a crowd that condones and supports adult males acting in such fashion. I say this behavior has been institutionalized because there was nothing spontaneous about the fight that could have stopped the refs from stopping it.

Come on.

Stupid fighting aside, it was a good time. Rampage tix are a good value, and the AT&T center is a nice venue.

Retama Park Horse Races

Friday Night Races

We went to Retama Park to watch the horse races last night. I'd never been to a horse race before. It was interesting and fun.

rounding the bend

The races started at 6:45 PM, so it was already getting dark by the time they started running - so most of my pictures were hopelessly blurred even at high ISOs.

The Power

A night at the races was remarkably inexpensive. $2 to park, free admission for military ($2 regular). If you wanted to go up to the "Club House" it cost an additional $1. Programs were $1 - we got 2 and shared them between the four of us. The food stands were mostly run by private organizations conducting fund raisers - the VFW, a group of soccer moms, etc. Hot dogs, some Tex-Mex stuff. So don't go there for the food, but it's really cheap.

out of the gate

Betting started at $1. So theoretically, you could have a horse in all 10 races and if you lost everything, your night might have cost you $13.

Thunder Road

The best part for me of course was that I could walk right down to the rails and take pictures as the horses thundered by...

It's not if you win or lose

... and get some post-race shots of the jockeys up close.

After the race

Most of the races were run on dirt - I think it's called "slop" - water trucks wet it down before the races began. The jockeys were covered in it after each race.

after the race

Going with what I said about the Accordion Festival, people say they love live entertainment, but few actually show up. The park was maybe at 20% of capacity. There were free seats everywhere. The price really can't get much cheaper, and there was skill and beauty to be seen, and a cheap way to be an active part of it.

into myth

Granted, these horses and these jockeys are probably not top tier, but they are putting their all out there. That alone is something worth seeing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Remember the Alamo?

Remember the Alamo?

yeah, that Alamo.

Kandie's folks are in town this week, so we did a little sight-seeing down town today. Went down to the Alamo, then over to the Riverwalk for lunch at County Line.

Mmm, brisket.

Brisket sandwich (diet back on Sunday,really). Mmm, brisket. I had never had brisket before we moved to El Paso. I had never even heard of it. I guess that shows the regional differences that still existed in the 70's and 80's - I grew up in New England and bbq wasn't quite as readily available as it is now.

Then off to the Japanese Tea Gardens again for a quick after lunch stroll.

San Antonio Japanese Tea Gardens

San Antonio Japanese Tea Gardens

Tonight we're heading to Retama Park to see the thoroughbred races. Hoping that's a good photo-op.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The International Accordion Festival

International Accordion Festival

Last night Kandie and I went to the 10th Annual International Accordion Festival down on the River Walk in San Antonio.

Admission was free - is free, I should say because there is another day of it today.

International Accordion Festival

People were enjoying the music, dancing, clapping, and tipping back a few - a generally happy time. We sat across the river from the stage on rock steps. It was fun to see the river boats go by the stage as the performers played.

The first band we saw was a newly formed composite of two groups who are apparently going to be touring together now - a Cajun duo called Jesse Lege and Joel Savoy, and a country band called the Caleb Klauder Country Band. They were terrific, but it was hard to get a decent shot of the whole band because we got there late and the place was completely packed and I had to elbow my way through the crowd to find a place to stand.

International Accordion Festival

Fun, high energy performance.

International Accordion Festival

The second band we saw was called "Solas" - they came in from Ireland for the festival. They played a variety of Irish music with terrific presence and energy as well. It really just felt like they were genuinely having a good time performing.

International Accordion Festival

(they are actually in the first photo of this post, too, but it's so far back, it's hard to see them)

International Accordion Festival

International Accordion Festival

The guy on the left played at least 5 different instruments during the performance - banjo, guitar, sitar, and two different flutes that I remember.

International Accordion Festival

They had a new vocalist with them who had a lovely Irish voice.

Here's a very muddy recording I made with my cell phone (without the vocalist).

But perhaps the most entertaining member of the band to watch was the fiddler,

International Accordion Festival

who you could just tell was entirely a part of the music from the way she jumped and stomped while she was playing, and tapped her bow when she wasn't.

I have to admit, at first I wanted to go to the International Accordion Festival out of a strict sense of irony. But being there, it's hard not to get caught up in the passion these people have for their music. It was a genuinely good time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sonrise Sprinklers

I haven't been posting much because, frankly, we haven't been doing much worth writing about. Kandie and I are both on diets, so we haven't been going out to try restaurants, and work and kids' activities have kept us grounded from going and doing much of anything.

But I wanted to throw out an endorsement for Sonrise Sprinklers (no, that's not a typo).

I first called Terry Ragan, the owner of Sonrise Sprinklers, at about 7:30 PM one night shortly after moving in to our new house because I had stepped on what I thought was a part of the sprinkler system in our yard, and something had broken and water was gushing out into a hole under ground.

Terry came out without hesitation, evaluated the situation and informed me that what I had stepped on was not in fact a sprinkler head, but the main water line to my neighbor's house. A neighbor I had not even met yet. So after, "Hi, I'm Mark, your new neighbor, and I just wanted to let you know I broke your water main", Terry set to work for the next four hours working on a fix for my neighbor. Needless to say, there was a lot wrong if I could break it by stepping on the box over it. His rates were remarkably reasonable and you could just tell he was such an honest guy that I've had him out to work on my sprinkler system twice (my sprinkler system was thoroughly trashed by the prior owners).

It's rare that I feel like I completely trust a repair person - since there's usually such an asymmetry of knowledge - but I really can't say enough about Terry. I'd recommend him to anyone looking for sprinkler service or installation.

Terry's contact info is:

Terry Ragan
Sonrise Sprinklers
5806 Sun Farm
San Antonio, TX 78244
(210) 661-2622

Sunday, October 3, 2010

3 amigos

3 amigos
Originally uploaded by Mark Bonica
More soccer down at San Antonio's STAR complex - really such a nice facility. Just a few more Saturdays left in the season - then I think we might be able to get out and see a bit more of the area.