We ask people at Zilker Park – why do you love Austin?

By Cody McCrary — Special to the American-Statesman

During our gorgeous spring weather, Zilker Park is an Austin staple for locals and visitors of the nature-friendly city. We went out to Zilker to ask people what their favorite thing is about Austin in our new #whyaustin series.


Taylor Skinner, a 22-year-old University of Texas student, takes her dog Tinsley to play at Zilker Park several times a week. Skinner, who was born and raised in Austin, said she enjoys the dog-friendly nature of the city and the food scene.



Mia Foos was spending the day flying kites with her daughter and said she loves that Austin is so kid friendly. Foos, who is pregnant with her second child, was due the day after we spoke with her.



Erin Beck and Macey Taylor said they like Austin because it is such a culturally diverse city that still maintains a small-town feel. Beck moved to Austin from Florida three years ago and works in sales at the Driskill Hotel. Taylor is an executive assistant at Kasasa, a wholesale financial services company headquartered in Austin.



Spencer Young, who attends Tom C. Clark High School in San Antonio, was in town taking in the sights and sounds of South by Southwest. The 17-year-old was enjoying the warm weather and playing guitar with some friends.




Lilith Chenaux, who was visiting from Houston, said the Zilker Dog Park is her favorite thing about Austin. Chenaux works at an animal shelter and was spending her day with her sister and her dog Pixie.



Amanda Costanzo was watching her sister’s dogs, Mabel and Ginger, while spending the day at Zilker. Costanzo, who works at the Whole Foods at the Domain, said she loves how cultured Austin has become in recent years.



5 Lunchtime Links: Jon Lovitz reveals relationship on social media

Jon Lovitz in Rat Race Credit: Doane Gregory
Jon Lovitz in Rat Race Credit: Doane Gregory

1. Comedian Jon Lovitz announces unlikely romance.

It seems not everyone believes in love. Although comedian Jon Lovitz and former “90210” star Jessica Lowndes took to social media to reveal their romantic relationship this weekend, the 31-year age difference between the two has many still skeptical, CBS reports. 27-year-old Lowndes and 58-year-old Lovitz posted several pictures to Instagram showing the pair presumably sharing twin ice creams together and celebrating Easter. In fact, the two might be doing more than just dating. One post by Lowndes shows a picture of a large diamond ring on her finger. Many Twitter and Instagram users have stated their disbelief.

2. How to make the Facebook Messenger basketball game less frustrating to play.

Of course you’re going to play Facebook Messenger’s new basketball game. So why not make the experience slightly less frustrating? The American-Statesman’s Jackie Wang has a few tips (read: cheats) for getting that tiny ball in that tiny hoop. Most of them involve using some sort of straight edge to better map out your shot. Options include, a ruler, a pencil and a sheet of paper. To get the game going send your friend one of the basketball emojis over chat, and then tap to shoot it!

3. The other side of Justin Bieber.

Justin Bieber showed us another side of himself in an Instagram post Saturday he posted while on a camping trip with friends. Literally, it was his backside, and not one we’re wholly unfamiliar with. The nude picture, shot from behind, shows Bieber wading into a lake. The revealing shot is captioned “Dat a– doe @johnny photo cred,” but another picture showing Bieber sleeping outside on the ground was more sentimentally captioned, “My soul breathing, I found my life when I laid it down.”

4. Getting your perfect bluebonnet shot.

You don’t want to go up against the beauty of a Texas bluebonnet unprepared. When you’re out in the fields taking your wildflower pictures, during what promises to be a wonderful season for doing so, keep in mind a few tips that are sure to get you a better shot. Maybe opt for a late afternoon or early morning light, when the sun won’t illuminate everything as harshly. It’s alright if your subject isn’t looking right at the camera; less posing will make for a more natural photo! Remember to stay safe out there by avoiding sides of highways and opting for comfortable but protective clothing. Check out some of our readers’ bluebonnet pictures here.

5. What to do with your hard-boiled eggs.

You hunted for and found all the hidden eggs. Now what? If you’re looking for something to do with leftover hard-boiled eggs try spicing up an egg salad sandwich with some of the suggestions offered by the American-Statesman’s Addie Broyles. Adding bacon, avocado and red onion, or jalapeño and cilantro can bring a whole new dimension to your lunch experience.

How to make the Facebook Messenger basketball game less frustrating to play

Photo via Facebook
Photo via Facebook

Okay, this is more of “how to cheat at the Facebook Messenger basketball game.”

Facebook added their hidden basketball game (called “Messenger Madness,” an appropriate nod to March) to the Messenger app one week ago, and has already logged 300 million plays. To be totally fair, though, the game is not easy to do well in right away, and gets harder every 10 points you score.

Because doing well on this game is essential to life, there already are many videos and tutorials on how to “hack” the game:


Photo via Metro.co.uk
Photo via Metro.co.uk
Photo via Digital Spy
Photo via Digital Spy

(Side note: how old is the kid talking in that last video? Is he allowed to be on Youtube?)

The overlying theme of the game “cheats” seems to be the presence of a straight edge guiding the way you “throw” the ball. While the tutorials call for rulers and thicker items, a piece of paper works almost just as well.

To start a game, just send a basketball emoji to your friend over Messenger, then tap the ball. You can play the way Facebook intended—index finger and eyes alone—or pick up some hints from the Internet. Either way, get ready to spend way too much time trying to raise your score.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embraces the feminist label, poses for meme

Photo via Vox
Photo via Vox

Vox sat down with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and with his consent, created some beautiful, Feminist Ryan Gosling-inspired memes featuring Trudeau and a few pick-up lines.

When Trudeau was elected last October, the Internet swirled with headlines from around the world focused on the prime minister-elect’s good looks. CBC/Radio-Canada, News.com.au, and US Magazine ran stories on Trudeau’s hotness the night he was elected. Huffington Post Canada rounded up several of the celebrities Trudeau was compared to days after the election, and Independent Journal Review maintained he was an actual Disney prince.

Photo via Independent Journal
Photo via Independent Journal

In the past five months, however, the new prime minister has built a more substantive brand for himself of progress. Vox’s interview with Trudeau asked the big questions: how Canada will handle the influx Americans planning to move to Canada if Trump wins, what is the importance of voting, and why do people need to be concerned with diversity?

Though Americans may see it as a better alternative to a Trump presidency, Canada has a lot of things it needs to fix, Trudeau said.

“Canada has, for generations if not centuries, broken its relationship and its partnership with indigenous peoples. We ignored the fact that thousands upon thousands of indigenous women and girls went missing and murdered over the past few decades, and we need to reengage with that responsibly.

We need to look at the fact that a kid who grows up in an indigenous community doesn’t have the same access to education or positive outcomes that any kids born anywhere else in the country have.

There’s more work to do even on feminism. Everyone is talking about how it’s 2016 and we’re doing well, and there are good things that we’ve done, but we’re still way down on the list of countries in terms of pay equity. Canada is worse than a lot of other countries, including ones we wouldn’t suspect we would be worse than, on are women paid as much as men. There’s a lot of work still to do.”

Trudeau has spoken on the label before. In January, he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that men should not be afraid to be labeled “feminist.”

“We shouldn’t be afraid of the word ‘feminist’,” Trudeau said. “Men and women should use that it describe themselves any time they want.”

Photo via Vox
Photo via Vox


Trudeau ended his Vox interview by saying he will continue to declare himself as a feminist until there is no more uproar in response to the label, because that’s the goal we should be striving toward.

“If you’re a progressive, you really should be a feminist, because it’s about equality, it’s about respect, it’s about making the best of the world we have,” Trudeau said.

Well said, Prime Minister McDreamy.

Photo via Vox
Photo via Vox


‘The Breakfast Club’ cast reports for detention this day in 1984

It might not be Saturday, but it’s still the 31st anniversary of the day a criminal, a princess, an athlete, a basketcase and a brain showed up to school for all-day detention in Chicago.

On March 24, 1984, the five students who make up the angst-ridden characters in John Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club” reported to school as part of their punishment for a variety of reasons. Last year, the film celebrated its 30th anniversary at South By Southwest by screening at the Paramount featuring a Q&A with actors Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy.

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

When Ringwald was asked why the movie still resonates with audiences, she said it’s because “We are all outsiders…that everyone feels alone…But people find out in the end that they’re not alone.”

So where are the stars now that they have nowhere to report?

Ringwald, who played princess Claire, has been on the road since she released her debut jazz album, “Except Sometimes,” in 2013. There was no mention of detention on her social media today, but she did commit another act of nostalgia by sharing an old photo of herself on Facebook that resembles Gwen Stefani.

At this year’s SXSW, Sheedy, a.k.a basketcase Allison, debuted her new film, “Little Sister,” on Austin screens. The sad comedy is about a young nun who avoids contact with her family in which Sheedy plays an estranged mother named Joan.

Brian the brain, better known as Anthony Michael Hall, is set to co-star with Brad Pitt in Netflix’s forthcoming new feature “War Machine.” The film, which will be released later this year, is a satire about the U.S.-Afghanistan war.

A little more off the grid than his co-stars, Judd Nelson’s whereabouts are a bit harder to peg down. The actor, who starred as the film’s young criminal, John, has four movies in post-production, including a biographical drama piece called “Billionaire Boys Club,” co-starring Taron Egerton, Kevin Spacey and Ansel Elgort.

Lastly, there is Emilio Estevez, who took on the role of Andrew the jock. He’s made his name not only as an actor, but a director, having worked on television shows like “The Guardian,” “Cold Case” and his film “The Way.” He recently attended this year’s Sundance Film Festival where he declared his love for Cincinnati and his hopes of moving there.

In honor of the day, pop a copy of “The Breakfast Club” into the DVD player, jam out to the Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” and remember: “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”

5 Lunchtime Links: David Letterman debuts new look

A picture of David Letterman hangs outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. After 33 years and 6,028 broadcasts of his late-night show, David Letterman is retiring. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A picture of David Letterman hangs outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. After 33 years and 6,028 broadcasts of his late-night show, David Letterman is retiring. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

1. Have you seen David Letterman?

David Letterman isn’t looking like himself. Or at least not like the clean-cut, suit-and-tie, bespectacled, late-night show host we’ve come to know. Some pictures showing Letterman on vacation in St. Barts have gone viral. A very bearded, but totally bald, Letterman jogging on the beach have spawned a lot of comments likening the comedian, who has reportedly kept a low profile since passing over his hosting gig to Stephen Colbert, to Santa Clause.

2. Vice reviews forgotten mixtapes that litter the streets during SXSW.

Sure you want to know what critics think of big SXSW acts like Santigold or Drake. But what about the hundreds of mixtapes by unheard artists trying to get there name out that litter the streets come the end of the festival? One Vice writer brought new meaning to “underground” when he made it his mission to review a few of the forgotten dreams he picked up off the streets of downtown. Find out what he thinks of Moneybagg Yo’s “Federal Reloaded,” or Big Runts, in this piece by the American-Statesman’s Jackie Wang.

3. Uber Eats to now offer all-day delivery.

What started with a few restaurants during lunch hours on the weekends, food delivery service Uber Eats announced Thursday its largest expansion move yet, the American-Statesman’s Matthew Odam reports. The service, which has recently extended its geographical reach, will now deliver meals everyday from some 100 restaurants between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight. Some of the new restaurants you’ll be able to order from include include Hillside Farmacy, Unit-D Pizzeria, Freedmen’s Barbecue and Krispy Kreme. The instant delivery from a select menu will still only be available during lunch hours.

4. X Games announce lineup featuring Blink-182, G-Eazy and more.

The X Games are looking to take you back to the days when Hot Topic meant something to you with its announcement of a musical lineup Thursday. The Games will feature performances by not just Blink-182 (although it’d be enough), but also All Time Low and Logic. And also G-Eazy. Although a strange mix, G-Eazy is bound to meet your mainstream hip-hop needs. But he is no Kanye in 2014. Tickets for the Games, which will be held at Circuit of the Americas June 2- 5, are available at www.xgames.com. Or you can enter this giveaway and win tickets to the Games for free!

5. Where to eat for Easter brunch.

If you’re not planning on going all-out this coming weekend and baking yourself a proper Easter ham, consider having brunch at one of the many spots in Austin that will serve Easter-themed meals this Sunday. The American-Statesman’s Matthew Odam has compiled a list featuring plates like a barbecue Benedict at Freedmen’s and a huevos rancheros bar at Tacos and Tequila.

After SXSW, unheard artists’ albums litter the streets

Photo by Kyle Kramer via Noisey
Photo by Kyle Kramer via Noisey

Noisey, Vice’s music blog, sent a writer to South by Southwest 2016 to cover the music festival. But his most poignant article talks about the aftermath of SXSW: the tossed-aside CDs.

The writer describes the tragic post-festival streets:

“Artists who had come to the city with the hope of finally catching their big break were quite literally ending up in the festival’s garbage pile. As I strolled down Sixth Street in the late night hours after the end of the festival, I noticed hundreds of CDs, once so hopefully handed out, tossed to the ground to be carelessly and indiscriminately stepped on. The same people who had come to SXSW to discover new music were now walking over it on their way home from watching an invite-only Drake concert.”

Handing out CDs feels like it’s going against the Spotify world we live in, but not everyone included CDs with their promotional materials, the writer said.

He then proceeded to collect CDs still in working condition and reviewed them to “rectify this wrong.”

Among the CDs and artists he reviewed (plus a song per artist):

Rip Tha Rula

Big Runts

Moneybagg Yo, “Federal Reloaded”

OG Beno, “I Stopped Trappin”

To read his reviews in their entirety, click over to Noisey and ready your headphones.

Want to be in ‘Hamilton’? Then don’t throw away this shot

Attention, “Hamilton” nation. Much like your young, scrappy and hungry founding father hero, you have a big opportunity.

Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton in "Hamilton." (Joan Marcus)
Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton in “Hamilton.” (Joan Marcus)

According to Playbill, producers for Broadway mega-hit “Hamilton” have announced that they are holding open auditions for the New York production and upcoming national tours, looking for singers who can rap. The production seeks “non-white men and women, ages 20s to 30s,” according to the announcement. And good news: no acting experience necessary. But also, bad news: auditions are in New York City on May 3.

Playbill also reports that “Hamilton” will hold open calls in Los Angeles and San Francisco in April. For more information, visit HamiltonBroadway.com/auditions. To make your day better, watch stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonathan Groff rapping below.

And to save yourself some time, here’s the “Hamilton” soundtrack you were immediately going to search for:

The best-selling jersey in Texas belongs to this former Houston Rocket

Jersey collecting is a big business in America. Some throwback jerseys go for as much as $300 at Mitchell and Ness, a sporting clothes store that specializes in nostalgic items.

Mitchell & Ness
Mitchell & Ness

Recently, the store released its numbers for the best-selling jersey from each state, and the results aren’t too surprising.

Former Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon was the best-seller in Texas, beating last year’s reigning champ, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. You can buy an Olajuwon jersey from the site for a cool $250.

Other states had similarly predictable results. Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway is still No. 1 in the hearts of Coloradoans, while former Orioles third baseman and shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. naturally holds a best-selling streak in Maryland.

The best-selling jersey for the nation, though, goes to former Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird, who edged out L.A. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant from 2014’s top spot. Bird was also the top-seller in Massachusetts (naturally). The price of both of those jerseys? $250 and $260, respectively.

Check out the rest of the results and a full breakdown of the map here.

5 Lunchtime Links: Adele slams Brussels attacks

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 15: Singer Adele performs on stage at The O2 Arena on March 15, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Singer Adele performs on stage at The O2 Arena on March 15, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

1. Adele denounces Brussels attacks, dedicates performance to city.

Adele joined the many celebrities who have condemned the terror attacks in Brussels that left 34 dead and many more injured during her London performance Tuesday night, People reports. The songstress dedicated her rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” to the city and asked the crowd to sing along saying, “I’m hoping you’ve all come to be entertained by me. I’m here to entertain you, so we’re all united, so that makes us much better than them (expletive). You’re on your own, you (expletive).” Finishing her performance Adele said, “I don’t think I’ve actually ever been so moved in my life.”

2. Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest dies at 45.

The lyricist behind many of hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest’s songs, Phife Dawg, has died from complications related to diabetes at 45-years-old, the Associated Press reports. Dawg was also known as the “Five Foot Assassin” and grew up in Queens, New York with Q-Tip, who was also a part of A Tribe Called Quest. The group released its debut album 25 years ago, and is known for ground-breaking raps including “Scenario,” ”Bonita Applebum” and “Can I Kick It?”

3. Jordan Spieth denies choosing Salt Lick for Champions Dinner.

Put down your celebratory brisket. Remember how Jordan Spieth reportedly announced he would be serving Salt Lick at the Masters at Augusta National? Well, Spieth has come out denouncing the rumor saying, “I didn’t select Salt Lick. I don’t know where that was spread from. Augusta National always makes the meals.” Spieth confirmed to GolfChannel.com that he did in fact ask for Texas barbecue, but that Augusta National will “kind of go out and search for a way to make it based on popular places.” If that’s true, there’s bound to be a little Salt Lick influence in the meal.

4. Happy National Puppy Day!

Happy National Puppy Day to you and yours! Whether the pup you’re thinking of is actually still young enough to be appropriately called so, or whether your heart belongs to an older companion who hasn’t lost the spirit, today’s a great day to show your puppy a little extra love. Take a look at 130 local puppies in our readers’ photo album, and scroll through our list of dog-friendly spots around Austin that you can make a special trip to today.

5. Via 313 to begin offering catering.

What has quickly become one of Austin’s pizza staples, Via 313 has announced that it will now offer catering, the American-Statesman’s Matthew Odam reports. Now customers won’t have to make it out to the restaurant’s new brick-and-motar location to get a slice of one of the Detroit-style pies. Via 313 will offer catering of its salads, sides and pies to groups of up to 100 people, given a 48-hour notice ahead of time. So… lunch today is out of the question?