The Texas Bracket: Vote now for winners in the Excellent Eight

We knew this day would come: Music and the Arts Category Final … Willie Nelson vs. George Strait. Who is the most Texan of these two Texans? You can cast your vote right now. You don’t have to have voted in the preliminary rounds to participate now — you can join the voting at any time.



In voting on Monday, Willie rolled against Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Strait had little problem with author Larry McMurtry. In the Actors and Athletes category, the actors went down as Longhorns legend Earl Campbell easily topped No. 1 seed Tommy Lee Jones and Cowboys legend Tom Landry dispatched Matthew McConaughey in similar fashion.

In the Politics and History category, local favorite Ann Richards earned a surprise victory over No. 1 seed Barbara Jordan as Lady Bird Johnson upset “Father of Texas” Stephen F. Austin in the only close contest of the day. In the Wildcard category, No. 1 seed Audie Murphy put an end to Hallie Stillwell’s Cinderella run and Dan Rather stopped Molly Ivins, who had gained steam in the second round after a 1-vote win in her opening contest.

With Ivins and Austin out, the remaining contestants — two women and six men — were all born and raised in Texas. Let’s look at the last stops before Wednesday’s Final Four …



Willie Nelson vs. George Strait

This matchup was as inevitable as it is now unpredictable. Willie has been the juggernaut of the tournament, appearing unbeatable in his previous three matchups. But the George Strait faithful can emerge at any time. On one side there’s the clean-cut cowboy in hat and Wranglers. On the other, the pot-smoking artist in bandana and pigtails. It’s sold-out stadium shows vs. the Fourth of July Picnic. Who is the most Texan? The answer to this one is entirely subjective.



Tom Landry vs. Earl Campbell

Another impossible to call matchup. One of Texas’ most beloved and respected football coaches against one of Texas’ most beloved and then-feared football players. The only thing that was certain was that this matchup was going to be about football.



Ann Richards vs. Lady Bird Johnson

Two legendary Democrat women, two respected Texas icons, two beloved figures in Austin … and only one will make the Final Four. Your vote may depend on whether your interest runs more partisan (Richards) or skewed toward history (Mrs. Johnson).



Audie Murphy vs. Dan Rather

Texas’ most famous war hero vs. Texas’ most recognizable journalist. Murphy has been little challenged in his three wins so far, but Rather has won impressively as well. This category is likely to be a conservative vs. liberal fight.

Peek inside Selena Gomez’s $3 million Texas mansion now up for sale

Feb. 7, 2018 UPDATE: Selena Gomez’s Texas mansion is back on the market after failing to sell at a listing price of $3 million early last year, Mansion Global reports. The 10,00-square-foot Fort Worth mansion is now listed for slightly less than $3 million and was originally bought by Gomez for $3.5 million in 2015. 

What does it take to make Selena Gomez feel at home? A saltwater pool with a rock slide and an outdoor kitchen, for starters.

Selena Gomez arrives at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala, celebrating the opening of "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" on Monday, May 2, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Selena Gomez arrives at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala, celebrating the opening of “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” on Monday, May 2, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

It seems not even those amenities were enough, however, as Gomez recently listed her Forth Worth mansion where they’re housed for an asking price of $3 million. According to a release from Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, Gomez was initially drawn to the home’s two master suites, and says, “The media room won me over the minute I walked in.”

Gomez reportedly bought the house last year to spend more time with friends and family in the area. It’s Zillow listing boasts a 1.5-acre property with “tennis-sport court, putting green, saltwater pool, outdoor kitchen, cabana and more.” And seven bathrooms.

You can view pictures of the mansion here.

If you have an extra couple million dollars laying around, and consider yourself a true Selena Gomez fan, take the singer’s advice and come and get it.

What a scandal: List of top fast food takes Texas favorite for granted

We Texans can get pretty defensive about our state’s homegrown fast food treasure, Whataburger. So it’s clear as day that the staff at The Ringer made a few errors in regards to its list of the “Top 50 fast food items in America.

The Corpus Christi-born chain landed in the No. 37 spot with one of the “All-Time Favorites” menu items, the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich. The Ringer left off the “strip” in its name, which is the first of many mistakes (in my opinion) made in this ranking, which include:

  1. Ranking the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich way too low at No. 37
  2. Only placing one Whataburger item on the list to begin with
  3. Placing three burgers from California’s In-N-Out ahead of Whataburger

The Ringer is based in Los Angeles, so perhaps there is a slight regional bias. Whataburger has a Texas-sized online personality and is deeply embedded into our state’s food culture. How could a list of the greatest fast food not mention the expansive menu of items like chicken strips, burgers the size of your head, milkshakes and the holy grail of breakfast food, the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit?

Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries landed in the top spot of the list. A truly eclectic ranking, somehow enough people are convinced Arby’s is worth visiting that the curly fries and roast beef sandwich ranked higher than Whataburger. Other items ranking higher than the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich:  Taco Bell’s chicken quesadilla, McDonald’s baked apple pie and Chipotle’s soft tacos. Auntie Anne’s pretzel landed in the top 20!

Since the list was decided by The Ringer’s staff, I asked my colleagues what they thought of the whole ranking. Here are some choice comments from our newsroom:

  • “HBCB in the middle of the night or bust.” – assistant online editor Gabrielle Munoz
  • “I won’t be reading any list that starts with Chick-fil-A fries. Gross. That being said, the Whataburger honey butter chicken biscuit is fast food nirvana.” – assistant features editor Emily Quigley
  • “Honey BBQ chicken is to die for.” – sports columnist Kirk Bohls
  • “I used to work at Raising Cane’s, and I’m very proud of that, so I take it very personally that their sauce didn’t get its own list item on this list. And – biggest mistake of all – they didn’t even mention the Whataburger Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. THEY DIDN’T EVEN MENTION IT. I’m pretty sure it’s scientifically proven to be the best thing to eat at 3 a.m. ever.” – Rachel Rice, reporter for the Westlake Picayune and Lake Travis View
  • “I’m disappointed that Taco Bell’s Cinnamon Twists aren’t on this list. Crunchy pieces of fried dough dusted with cinnamon sugar… what’s not to love?! These treats kept my sister and I happy on plenty of family road trips during our childhood.” – multimedia producer Tina Phan
  • “Wendy’s chili is getting so screwed over here.” – online content producer Joe Harrington
  • “It is absurd to rank a Shake Shack burger under a McDonald’s burger. This is not a slight on the Big Mac: I believe that every fast food item has its relative merits. There is room for, say, a Taco Cabana taco and Taco Bell taco in all our lives, on their own terms. But when one considers the objective values assigned to each component part of the hamburger – freshness of bun, flavor and texture of meat, melt of cheese – ranking a Big Mac over a Shack Burger is a farce of the highest order and an attack on the very concept of fact-based evidence. And why even bother placing Popeyes menu items in contention if you are going to exclude red beans and rice, which are the perfect side dish? Also: Blizzards are Beyonce, McFlurrys are Rita Ora. Correct placement.” – social media and engagement editor Eric Webb
  • Another one of our multimedia producers, Alyssa Vidales, just sent me this video of someone trying to burn a Big Mac using molten copper.

If fast food is your thing, go ahead and try out everything on the list. Austin is home to every chain ranked (yes, even a Culver’s!).  And if you go a little overboard, head on over to our Fit City blog for fitness tips or Relish Austin for fresh cooking ideas.

The Texas Bracket: Vote now for winners in the Lone Star 16

Which Texans will make the Excellent Eight? Voting is now underway among the Lone Star 16. With the first two rounds in the books, we are on track to vote in the Championship on Texas Independence Day. You don’t have to have voted in the preliminary rounds to participate now — you can join the voting at any time.



Let’s take a look at the best matchup in each of our four categories.



Willie Nelson vs. Stevie Ray Vaughan

Willie Nelson has absolutely dominated in the first two rounds, winning by an average of over 95% — though he also enjoyed the benefits of being a No. 1 seed. He’ll face his first formidable competition in Stevie Ray Vaughan, who had no trouble dispatching Lyle Lovett in the second round. Will Willie continue to roll?



Tommy Lee Jones vs. Earl Campbell

Though Texan to the core, Tommy Lee Jones has shown he should not have been a No. 1 seed in this category, struggling early in the first round against Richard Linklater before pulling away and barely defeating Babe Didrikson Zaharias in Round Two. Earl Campbell crushed the first round and took down heavyweight Nolan Ryan in the second. This is likely where the taciturn actor bows out.



Barbara Jordan vs. Ann Richards

Two Democratic giants go toe-to-toe, with No. 1 seed Jordan facing her first true test in local favorite Ann Richards. Jordan might have the more impressive resume, but Richards has home-court advantage. Only one will emerge the winner by the end of the night.



Audie Murphy vs. Hallie Stillwell

Hallie Stillwell has been the Cinderella of the tournament, defeating Mary Kay Ash and Red Adair by impressive margins. It would be the upset of the tournament if she could continue her run against No. 1 seed Audie Murphy, who has been the only unquestionable favorite in the chaotic Wildcard category.

Famed broadcaster Bill Walton changes into ‘Keep Austin Weird’ T-shirt on air while announcing Texas game

It’s no secret that retired basketball player, famed broadcaster and unashamed Deadhead Bill Walton really, really loves tie-dye. So on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center, it seemed only fitting that Texas head football coach Tom Herman presented Walton with a tie-dyed “Keep Austin Weird” T-shirt at the Longhorns’ game against Kansas.

Walton, who was, of course, already wearing a tie-dye shirt, decided to take the gift a step further and changed into the new shirt on live television.

Some Twitter users watching the game were a little salty that Walton seemed more focused on his new T-shirt than on the game itself, but one thing’s undeniable — the guy’s a national treasure.

The Texas Bracket: The Lone Star 16

The first two rounds of the Texas Bracket are in the books and we are left with the Lone Star 16. Voting resumes Monday morning, so be sure to return and cast your vote for the most Texan of all Texans.


In the meantime, let’s look at who is left and what happened on Friday.

Our remaining Texans are 11 men and 5 women. Seven are still living, nine are not. Only two were not actually born in Texas — Molly Ivins, born in California and raised in Houston; and Stephen F. Austin, who had not invented Texas yet.

The Lone Star 16 are: 2 country musicians, 1 blues musician, 1 author, 2 politicians, 1 First Lady, 1 historical figure, 2 actors, 2 sports legends, 2 journalists, 1 West Texas character and 1 war hero.

During the second round of voting on Friday, Willie Nelson again crushed the competition, gaining 93% of the vote. Stevie Ray Vaughan easily defeated Lyle Lovett and George Strait eventually pulled away from Janis Joplin after close early results. But the story of the Musicians and the Arts category was author Larry McMurtry, who upset favorite Selena by a single vote.

In the Actors and Athletes category, former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry emerged as a favorite, easily defeating actress Sissy Spacek. He’ll face Matthew McConaughey, who cruised to victory against Farrah Fawcett. It was Earl Campbell who won the clash of the sports titans, defeating baseball legend Nolan Ryan. And No. 1 seed Tommy Lee Jones struggled mightily against Southeast Texas’ Babe Didrikson Zaharias in a battle that was close all the way to the end of the night.

In the Politics and History category, the women took control. Lady Bird Johnson easily outpaced husband Lyndon B. Johnson and Ann Richards and Barbara Jordan had no problem defeating William B. Travis and Sandra Day O’Connor, respectively. The Father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin, never struggled with upstart Judge Roy Bean.

Lastly, the Wildcard category continues to live up to its name, with only No. 1 seed Audie Murphy a clear favorite. Audie had no problem with Liz Carpenter. Hallie Stillwell, the Cinderella of the tournament, continued her run through the first two rounds, squelching oil well fireman Red Adair. Perhaps unsurprisingly for an Austin-based tournament, the conservatives lost two more matchups in tough fashion: Dan Rather defeated Special Forces soldier and Medal of Honor winner Roy Benavidez and Molly Ivins easily dispatched Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson.

Check out the bracket here. Voting resumes Monday morning.


Texas sheriff who inspired ‘Hell or High Water’ heads to Oscars

What does a Texas sheriff wear to the Oscars? A tux with a few Texas touches. Namely, “my black boots and my hat,” McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara told Waco’s KWTX.

This image released by CBS Films shows Jeff Bridges, left, and Gil Birmingham in a scene from "Hell or High Water." Bridges was nominated for a Golden Globe award for best supporting actor for his role in the film on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. The 74th Golden Globe Awards ceremony will be broadcast on Jan. 8, on NBC. (Lorey Sebastian/CBS Films via AP)
Jeff Bridges was nominated for a Golden Globe award for best supporting actor for his role in the film on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (Lorey Sebastian/CBS Films via AP)

McNamara will be among Hollywood’s biggest stars Sunday night when he attends the 89th Academy Awards; not as a nominee, but as a muse. According to KWTX, McNamara and his brother Mike were the inspiration behind “Hell or High Water,” which is nominated for four Oscars this year, including best picture.

The screenplay for the movie, which stars Jeff Bridges as a Texas sheriff looking for one last adventure before retirement, was written by McNamara’s cousin Taylor Sheridan who saw how the former U.S. Marshal struggled with possible retirement.

More: ‘Hell or High Water’ boasts a soundtrack full of Texas country artists

McNamara and his wife Charlotte won’t be forgetting the Lone Star State out on the red carpet. “We’ve got the red carpet, we’ve got his white shirt, and we’ve got the blue dress, so we’ve got the red white and blue,” she said.

The couple also expect to share a limousine ride to the ceremony with Bridges, who McNamara developed a friendship with and helped prepare for the role.

READ: ‘Hell or High Water’ hits most of the right notes

The Texas Bracket: Vote for top Texans in round two

For the most part first round of the Texas Bracket pitted celebrities from Texas against Texan legends and little-known Texans against Lone Star giants. No. 1 seeds Willie Nelson and Audie Murphy crushed the competition, while Barbara Jordan and Tommy Lee Jones cruised to victory. Earl Campbell joined Willie and Audie as the only three to gain more than 90% of the vote.



But there were some upsets and near-upsets, too. Most notably, Dr. Red Duke — who, on closer inspection, proved to be much more awesome than a No. 15 seed — lost to columnist Molly Ivins by ONE VOTE. Duke was down big early, but rallied late and nearly made up the difference.

Another notable early exit is George W. Bush, who was neck-and-neck with Judge Roy Bean for the most of the day, but faded late. On the other hand, Ranger Joaquin Jackson rallied from a muddled contest with TV reporter Marvin Zindler to crush him late and Special Forces soldier Roy Benavidez was down early to Texas Country Reporter Bob Phillips, but came back strong. Perhaps late voters looked up Benavidez’s incredible story before voting.

In the Music and the Arts category, the favorites all won without drama, with the exception of heavily-nominated Beyonce, who lost large to Janis Joplin. In the Politics and History category, Ann Richards easily won her rematch with Clayton Williams, perhaps unsurprisingly in an Austin-based bracket. In the Actors and Athletes category, Sammy Baugh was the only favorite to lose, never having a chance against Sissy Spacek.

But enough recap … ONTO THE SECOND ROUND!

This is where it gets interesting. Round 2 still has a few heavy favorites, but in some instances, Texas legend is pitted against Texas legend. Voting closes at midnight. Let’s look at the best of each category:



Lady Bird Johnson vs. Lyndon Johnson

The top matchup of Round 2 features husband vs. wife. Lyndon was the president of the United States and clearly as Texan as could be, but Lady Bird is equally legendary, especially in Central Texas. There’s no clear favorite here. We’ll be watching results of this one closely. Vote here.



Nolan Ryan vs. Earl Campbell

Clearly, both of these Texas legends should have made the Sweet 16, but the intricacies (or goofs) of seeding have brought us this clash of titans in Round 2. (Also a shout-out to Matthew McConaughey vs. Farrah Fawcett, the best-looking matchup.) Vote here.



Stevie Ray Vaughan vs. Lyle Lovett

While Vaughan is the favorite here, the Texan-ness of Lovett could give him an advantage with voters. Vote here.



Joaquin Jackson vs. Molly Ivins

After defeating Dr. Red Duke by a single vote, No. 2 seed Ivins looks vulnerable against the Texas Ranger, who will rally the conservative vote. Vote here.

To catch a weed dealer, Waco Police takes to Twitter

Looks like the Waco Police Department has a sense of humor. Or, at least, whoever runs its corporate Twitter account has a good sense of humor.

On Thursday, the department quoted a tweet from a user named Roquell (@Roqianderson) which read:

“My weed dealer in Waco is legit the most annoying one I’ve ever had.”

The Waco Police department quoted it and responded, saying:

“Who is it??? We will talk to them for you and get it straight! We promise, he won’t be annoying anymore. Well…for awhile anyway.”

Roquell’s original tweet has since been deleted, and the privacy controls on that account is set to private, but a screenshot of the exchange is below.


Marijuana is still completely illegal in Waco, unlike in Houston, where former Austin Police chief Art Acevedo is helping to lead the charge to decriminalize possession of less than 4 ounces of the drug.

That’s not the first time a Texas police department has used social media to solve crime. Last year, an Austin police officer used a fake social media account to catch a man police said was a Cedar Park gun trader who was also a convicted felon.


The Texas Bracket: Who is the most Texan of them all?


Who is the most Texan Texan? Is it an Alamo defender? A political giant? Legendary singer? Gruff actor? Dignified football coach? Maverick businessman? Enterprising businesswoman?

The Lone Star State turns 181 a week from today, and with that birthday will come the chance to choose the most Texan of all Texans. But today we introduce the Texas Bracket and its field of 64 nominees.


CLICK HERE TO VOTE  — The Texas Bracket: Who is the Most Texan?

That’s right, 64 Texans from all corners of Texas history, each ready to advance through a “March Madness” style bracket — depending on your votes. We have selected the field of 64 from at least twice that many nominees and organized and seeded them (no doubt controversially) … but the rest is up to you. Vote for (or against) whomever you wish. If you haven’t played the Statesman’s UPickem game before, you’ll have to register to vote, but there’s no cost involved.

(Don’t forget to vote in all four “regions” — Musicians and the Arts, Actors and Athletes, Politics and History and Wildcard.)

Today’s 32 matchups predictably feature some heavyweights who are likely going to win big, but also some very intriguing matchups. Let’s look at 4 of them …

Musicians and the Arts Region


George Strait vs. Billy Joe Shaver

“King” George has one of the most devoted fan bases of all Texans, but faces a very difficult road to the quarterfinals. In the second round he’d likely face off against Beyonce, just to have a chance to face favorite Selena in the third round.

But first, he has to beat out underdog Billy Joe Shaver. Not a problem when it comes to album sales, but when it comes to being “Texan” … a young Billy Joe threatened to beat up Waylon Jennings in front of God and everybody in the Nashville street. An old Billy Joe shot a man in the face at a bar in Lorena. And in between he wrote some of the most authentic Texas music ever. Vote here.

Politics and History Region


Ann Richards vs. Clayton Williams

The Texas Bracket is meant to be non-partisan. Republicans should be able to appreciate the “Texan-ness” of Richards the same as Democrats should tip their hat to Williams’ Lone Star bona fides. But if you aim to vote by party, this rematch of the 1990 gubernatorial race offers you the chance.

Richards won in 1990 after a series of gaffes by Williams. But there’s no guarantee she’ll win this time around. Vote here.

Actors and Athletes


Babe Didrickson Zaharias vs. Bum Phillips

A pair of Southeast Texans who could not be possibly any less alike.

A quote from Babe: “Before I was ever in my teens, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. My goal was to be the greatest athlete that ever lived.”

A quote from Bum: “He can take his’n and beat your’n, and he can take your’n and beat his’n.” (Talking about Alabama coach Bear Bryant)

Vote here.



Hallie Stillwell vs. Mary Kay Ash

When it comes to Texas women, who ya got? The Dallas entrepreneur who built a cosmetics empire? Or the Big Bend ranch wife who could ride and shoot and handle rough living? (Also a shout-out goes to the matchup between Houston TV reporter Marvin Zindler and Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson. And we wish good luck to Texas Country Reporter Bob Phillips … who has to face Special Forces soldier Roy Benavidez. Nobody wants to go up against Roy Benavidez.)

Vote here.

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