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As with 's wannabee Barton Springs pollution series, the daUy compiled dubious statistics and again manufactured a crisis that didn't actually exist.

The paper's study of APD use-of-force incidents purportedly showed disproportionately greater levels of violence against minorities, but our study of their study showed that things just didn't add up - at least not to headline levels. See also "Top 10 Law Enforcement Stories. Forgetting eth- ics taught in high school journalism, Statesman Editorial Page Editor Arnold Garcia e-mailed golfing buddy Will Wynn, assuring the mayor he would "keep the lid" on a scoop and "shoot [him] a draft" of an editorial.

Exposed by an open-records request, Editor Rich Oppel acknowledged to readers that the incident "reeked of edi- torial favoritism and a newspaper in cahoots with those in power.

In the wake ofjanet Jackson's exposing her breast during the Super Bowl, the FCC started handing out big fines for anything deemed remotely "indecent," prompting a wave of piety and fear among broadcasters.

Corporate giants Clear Channel and Viacom announced zero-toler- ance policies, which hit a new level of righ- teousness when Austin's Viacom-owned KEYE-TV fired sports anchor Robert Flores after he muttered the f-bomb on an outtake that accidentally aired at 5: Just a few months after Statesman Editor Oppel, in the wake of Garcia's ethical boner, proclaimed, "We do not share news articles or editorials prior to publication," another staffer was caught in an overly cozy relationship with an official subject.

This time it was veteran and now retired political reporter Dave McNeely, who allowed District Attorney Ronnie Earle's office to review five different drafts of a story on the district attorney's campaign-finance investigation. The news just kept get- ting worse for Dallas-based Belo Corp. First there was the scandal about the cooked subscription books at flagship Dallas Morning News. Then it pulled out of its cable news partnerships. Next the axe fell on Texas Cable News.

After a year battling Hot Corporate parent Infinity wanted to create a slot for Howard Stem's show. Goodbye Beat; hello Howard. A few months later, in a fittingly ironic twist.

Stem announced he was jumping to satellite radio. Declaring that local college students are "begging" for a more conservative paper, the former adver- tising director for The Daily Texan, Evelyn Gardner, launched The Austin Student, a new weekly targeting local campuses. A few weeks later the first editor was gone, and the new managing editor was UT campus rab- ble-rouser Brian Ferguson, who had unsuc- cessfully campaigned for the Texan's editor job in the spring.

As ACTV board members began to contem- plate, unwisely and too publicly, fundamen- tal changes to the nation's oldest access-TV operation, the channels' local stars - most notably the redoubtable Alex Jones - manu- factured enough public outrage to, maybe, put the kibosh on such grand plans.

Thanks to the Internet, astonishing word-of- mouth, and generic public animosity, the hottest mmor of the year ran that Govemor Perry's house was in disorder - and the immediate cause was a gay paramour in the shrubbery.

When the story finally hit print - and was readily debunked - Ricky climbed on his moral high horse and blamed disre- spectful bloggers. Democratic pols, and just for a cheap shot. Comptroller Strayhom's political operatives some of whom once worked for Democrats! Since Perry's private life is very much the least of our Mansion- centered worries, it was the mmor without a reason. Both provide an altemative to the right wing in a state that desperately needs it, and - despite the very public disagreements we've had with KOOP - we hope both live to at least double their tenures.

Many familiar faces left the scene in Finally, longtime Statesman political columnist Dave McNeely, a local and Capitol fixture, also said goodbye. The law the Travis Co. Commission- er's Court is drafting to address the issue of loose dogs In unincorporated parts of the county is not a "leash law. That is, the county needs a way to deal with dogs that menace the neighborhood when they roam around unsupervised, without cramping the life- style of responsible pet owners.

The county has no such law; its only tool is a "dangerous dog" law that allows courts to force individual owners to keep specific dogs confined. But that law is as full of holes as a year-old chew toy. For one thing, Travis Co. Also, it doesn't help the county deal with abandoned, ownerless dogs roaming in packs.

And worse, a dog can't be ruled dangerous until after it has menaced a human - killing other animals doesn't count - and the human can't have "provoked" it, such as by trying to rescue poor Fluffy from its jaws during an attack.

She was one of a group of neighbors from the Foothills of Barton Creek who testified that the current law had failed them. For years, they said, the neighborhood had been men- aced by a lab-pit bull mix named Summer, who would run off its property to attack neighborhood dogs. Calling law enforcement was no help, she testified - the dog hadn't hurt a human, and it was always back on the owner's property when the officers showed up.

Then, this past New Year's Eve, Summer killed Grigsby's minia- ture dachshund, and a few hours later attacked another dog as it was being walked by its sitter. When the sitter tried to rescue the dog, she got bit in the face. While the commissioners agreed the current law was flawed, several pointed out the difficul- ty of writing a containment law appropriate for rural areas, where people often have large properties and no fences, and are used to let- ting their dogs roam around their land without incident.

This sentiment was echoed by resi- dent Gail Atwater, who said she had moved to the country for "personal freedom," and argued that the answer lies in enforcement, not more laws. The court will finalize draft legislation on Jan. All righty Texans, prepare to get your dust- ers in a bundle. We all knew that the Bush administration, despite the photo-op Crawford "ranch," doesn't exactly champion federal protection for wildlife.

But the mytho- logical irony reached monumental propor- tions last month when the Cowboy President signed into law the federal appropriations bill that included a last-minute amendment ending three decades of protection for wild horses. And we're not talking the kind of protection-gutting that simply opens habitat to drilling or develop- ment, and passes for innocuous to those who prefer not to look too hard.

Conrad Burns opens the possibility, forbidden since , that America's wild horses will be eaten. And eaten, most likely, by the French. Because the horses compete with cattle for food and water, but do not vote or donate to political campaigns, every so often the BLIVI thins the horse herd.

In previous years, that meant finding them adoptive homes, which had to meet certain criteria for the horses' care. But under the new language, anyone can buy the extra horses at auction, including meat producers who want to slaughter them for sale in European countries like Belgium and France, where folks think they taste good, and where their fat is considered an unparal- leled medium in which to deep-fry potatoes.

Pass the Freedom Fries. In the meantime, horse advocates hope the publicity on the wild horses will help get some movement on a long-stalled bill like the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. The act would outlaw slaughter of both wild and domestic horses, the latter of which has been going on for years and, despite a legislative challenge last session and a pending federal court decision to shut down the slaughterhouses, occurs in exactly one state: CO we put people to work.

MAnKniM 1 The incentive package wasn't sweet enough. Throw in a fishing trip with Rick Perry to Bimini, and then it's a different story. I think it was called the Potlatch at Tech Ridge, but they all look the same.

Askew lost to incumbent state Rep. Patrick Rose, D- Dripping Springs. Todd Baxter, in an e-mail insta-spam to a neighbor who supported Baxter opponent Kelly White. A sheriff's deputy later caught the neighbor and four other women toilet- papering Baxter's house on election eve. A House challenge is pending. Terry Keel in races for district judge and constable, respectively, helping keep Travis County a blue island in the reddest of states. Lloyd Doggett in the radically re-redistricted CD Feels good, doesn't it?

Give me some really scummy on-the-pad capos with multiple mistresses and nanny problems, and we'll talk. Not naming names or nothing Fool me — you can't get fooled again. Guess what - he was wrong.

Call us to find out how you can Suite Hwy at Burnet Rd. After a "comprehensive" analysis of police records, the Austin American-Statesman declared that Austin police have used force against minority resi- dents at "significantly" higher rates than against whites.

The findings "defied easy explanation," the paper reported - in part because the paper's methodology defied logical explanation. The Chronicle pointed this out a week later and in so doing made our own stupid mistake - referring to stats of alleged worst cops as "mug shots". The APD and the city grumbled and muttered but apologized, and the political reverbera- tions continue. In February, Knee handed Glasgow a day disciplinary suspension for policy violations sustained in the wake of the shooting.

According to the cops, the band disobeyed orders to take the beat back inside the Parish and one allegedly whacked a cop upside the head with a drum. Videos and other witnesses disagreed, and charges were eventually dropped. In May, city voters handed a victory to the Austin Association of Professional Firefighters with collective-bargaining rights in future labor negotiations with the city.

The new negotiat- ing scheme - which offers public access to the process - will be used in the next round of city negotiations, in The midyear discovery by the Houston Police crime lab of hundreds of boxes of untested evidence resulted in numerous officials - including HPD Chief Harold Hurtt - calling for a moratorium on executions for Harris Co. District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal and Gov. Rick Perry insisted that the lab's ongoing problems couldn't possibly have thwarted justice for any of the condemned.

In short, the Texas death machine didn't even stutter 6 Questioning the Reaper: While the state seemed reluctant - at best - to ques- tion the Texas death penalty, the U. Last month the Supremes heard the appeal of Thomas Miller-El on grounds of race-based jury selection, tossed the capital conviction of Delma Banks Jr prosecutorial misconduct , and returned the case of Robert Tennard mitigating evidence.

In December, the court agreed to hear the case of a Mexican national who says Texas violated interna- tional law.

Nevertheless, the Texas death machine rolls on - at 23 for , we're still No. During the two-year wrangling, all the city managed to accom- plish was to damage its own case and dis- qualify its chief Mala Sangre lawyer, Lowell Denton.

The road is now clear for a trial - maybe in Sheriff Hamilton, who this week became the county's first African- American sheriff, gained early support from outgoing Sheriff Margo Frasier 9 Officer Down: The APD lost four of its own last year - all in vehicle accidents.

In October, rookie Officer Amy Donovan was killed by the patrol car driven by her partner pursuing a suspect. Shaunajacobson and her husband, retired Detective Malcolm "Kurt" Jacobson were killed when their motorcycle struck a guardrail on Highway 71 - toxicol- ogy results reported legal intoxication. The case was brought by 16 DPS lieu- tenants passed over despite strong written exams.

The Hemp Industries Association won its fight against the feds' proposed new rule that would've made it illegal to sell foods containing hemp seed and oil. In February, the U. In April, the Texas Department of Public Safety kicked off a statewide program designed to put an end to illegal drug use at "organized rave parties.

During its annual state convention in May, the Texas Medical Association the country's largest state medical association unanimously adopted a new policy recommendation sup- porting the right of doctors and patients to discuss medi-pot as a viable treatment option, without fear of legal recrimination. TMA delegates also reaffirmed the associa- tion's call for further research on the use of medicinal pot.

In Oregon, Kcrty said the feds should likely butt out of medi-pot matters, though he did not pledge support for the state's Proposition 33, expanding the state's medi-pot law. Both Kcrty and Proposition 33 bagged out on E- day, while the medi-pot fight slogs forward. In June, a federal judge struck down the Istook Amendment, which would deny fed dollars to any transit author- ity that accepts advertising advocating medi- pot, marijuana legalization, or dope decrim- inalization.

The court said that the amend- ment violated congressional spending power and constitutionally protected free speech. Supreme Court to Angel Raich receiving medical marijuana therapy argue that the feds should stay out of intra- state use of medicinal marijuana.

The feds say medi-pot inevitably affects the black market in illegal drugs; Raich and Monson say their use is noneconomic and wholly contained within state borders. A decision is expected this spring. In December the DEA denied a proposal by University of Massachusetts researchers to grow pot for research, effectively extending the bureau- cratic blockade that has kept research that could result in the drug's reclassification under federal law and enable doctors to prescribe pot.

Horror of honors, how would the drug companies ever make money off the weed? Despite growing opposition to fed- eral mandatory-minimum sentencing, U. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, offered a bill to lengthen and strengthen man-min sentences. Under a fuzzy bunny title "Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of " , Sensenbrenner wants a year minimum for anyone con- victed of selling or conspiring to sell any amount of pot to a minor Keep your fingers crossed - at press time, the bill still hadn't made any headway.

Outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft also entered the man-min fray, with an AstroTurf cam- paign using the Justice Department to chum out prewritten op-ed pieces supporting man-mins but bearing the signatures of local U.

Elliott Naishtat had agreed to author the state's first medi-pot bill. The annual Texas Poll showed overwhelming support - whether that'll be enough to push the bill through remains to be seen. As the crowd murmured, Rummy said: Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning, and I'm gathering my thoughts here. Robert Loria of Middletown, N. Last February, he was in one of Rumsfeld's unprotected Humvees when it was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Loria's left hand and forearm were blasted off, and shrap- nel ripped through his body He spent months in rehab, trying to learn how to live without a hand.

Finally, just before this Christmas, he was due to be released and return home when he was hit with another bomb. Also, they billed him for some of the Humvee parts damaged in the bombing that tore off his hand! Loria was devastated, but the Army brass didn't care, demanding payment before they would release him. The Halliburtons rip off billions from us taxpayers, but the Pentagon is hounding the grunts!

Thanks to press coverage and intervention by some members of Congress, Loria's night- marish treatment by the Pentagon has finally ended. The Army was forced to clear Loria's hokey debt and send him home. But why should a soldier who's made such an extreme sacrifice be treated so shabbily in the first place? And how many others are get- ting the same back of the hand?

This is not merely another of Home Depot's big-box stores, mind you, but, by gollies, a high tech data center! To get the giant corpo- ration to choose Austin, state and local offi- cials approached it in the professional manner that corporations now expect: Actually, though, you wouldn't get one paying 58K. That average includes the sala- ries, bonuses, and such of those up in the new data center's executive suite.

Yet, the Austin school board is trying to pull a fast one on us by asserting that the state reimburses school districts for any revenue they lose when they dole out tax breaks to corporations. As one board member put it: The Austin taxpayer is also a state taxpayer! Home Depot is a superrich corporation. Why shouldn't it pay its taxes, like our home- grown businesses do? For more information, visit www.

C-t'Jiv ly - ibyui: In- ttir V IC- 'j'hlh'. I want a language program that makes me feel like one of a kind, not one of a crowd. Over 25 languages available. Call now to receive these January offers. Pay close attention and it becomes clear how much energy is being expended on pretending to make clear what really cannot be.

Look even more closely and there is always a small point in the text. This month celebrates the th anniversary of Cervantes' Don Quixote, the first great novel of Western literature and the most prophetic, in which deconstruction, postmodernism, and "literary theory" wind up bumping into one another and falling down hard.

From the first page, you can't be sure what book you're really reading, what the name of its protagonist may be, nor exactly where he's from.

Quotes are from Samuel Putnam's transla- tion. Cervantes begins, "In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to recall. Cervantes quickly reveals that he's not even writing this book, not really; he claims he's translating from an account in Arabic by "Cid Hamete Benegli. As for the name of his central character, Cervantes says that others "will try to tell you that his surname was Quijada or Quesada.

But all this means very little so far as our story is concerned, providing that in the telling of it we do not depart one iota from the truth.

He tells us the most likely name is Quejana, but insists on using Quixote. And doesn't say why. A mere two paragraphs have gone by and already we're in a hall of mirrors. Volume one presents Don Quixote or whatever his name is , the Knight of the Mournful Countenance, a humble squire of the then-advanced age of ish.

The man has read so many books of knighdy romance that he's obsessed with the notion of embarking on a knightly quest, though the era of knights real or imagined is centuries past. Ah, but a knight must quest under the banner of the chaste honor of a great lady. There are none about, so Don Quixote invents one: I contemplate her as she needs must be.

God knows whether or not there is a Dulcinea in this world or if she is a fanciful creation. This is not one of those cases where you can prove a thing conclusively. If Dulcinea were "real" in any way, then Don Quixote is merely a madman, and not a very bright one, for his antics would in no way impress a great lady. But if she does not exist and he knows she does not exist - as Cervantes makes clear - then Don Quixote is a poet-in-action and a sacred clown, imparting mysterious gifts, not the least of which is the gift of laughter "Now," Cervantes writes, "everything that this adventurer of ours thought, saw, or imagined seemed to him to be directly out of one of the storybooks he had read, and so, when he caught sight of the inn, it at once became a castle.

Never does he fight anyone who's actually a bad guy, never does he right a grievous wrong in the real world of the novel - never, in fact, does he do anything but cause all in his vicinity a lot of hassles and laughter He hardly ever wins a fight, always getting bested by unworthy beings windmills, sheep, escaped convicts, drunks , and always blaming his defeats on magicians who have changed real giants into fake windmills. But it is he who is the true magician - for wherever he goes, and as long he stays, life is livelier.

What is real is his courage and his goodness, his incorrupt- ibility and his honesty. And, too, his intellect: Sancho knows from the git-go that Don Quixote is trouble, but he doesn't care because Don Quixote is also a lot of fun.

To Sancho, who "doubts everything and believes every- thing," fun counts. Together they endure the funniest vomiting and bowel movement scenes in literature, and many a misad- venture. Says Sancho, "It's a fine thing to go along waiting for what will happen next. Nothing in life is certain. Mostly in pirated edi- tions. In spite of his success, Cervantes lived and died poor Then one Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda wrote a spurious sequel in Infuriated, Cervantes wrote volume two in Now a hall of mirrors becomes a labyrinth of mirrors.

Both volume one and Avellaneda's imitation function as characters in Cervantes' Don Quixote volume two. Our knight and Sancho set out on another quest, and everyone they meet has read either volume one or Avellaneda or both - thus Don Quixote is the first "media hero," and he meets his reflection in others wherever he goes. He must insist on his reality in the face of their images of him - though his reality is also a dream. Prescient Cervantes anticipated the existential dilem- mas of the 20th and 21st centuries - in So much for the "modern" in "postmodern.

And Sancho answers a question about their recent adventures, "That happened only six or eight days ago so it's not in the story yet. Best you make that journey for yourselves. Suffice it to say that Dostoyevsky another who would yawn at Derrida's supposed innovations called Don Quixote "the saddest of all books. And that is paradox. Kierkegaard would and did chime in: You know or at least suspect that you're living in a capital-T Trap. Measure a work of literature by one question: Does the book give you a key to unlock the Trap?

Or the means to make or steal the key? A nail file, even? A ruse to con the guards? Does it do anything to get you out of the Trap? Or is it just a way of passing your time within the Trap? No security deposit required. You accessorize [or not]. Simple, straightforward menu pridng. With newly enhanced English Supertitles.

That's the point when he routinely suffers a reversal of fortune or encounters a new obstacle that makes it even tougher to reach whatever goal he's been chasing since act one. And that's pretty much where the Austin arts scene was at the end of Beaten down by the economic tempests of the previous few years, it had seen ambitious cultural construction projects delayed or abandoned; artistic companies and organizations cancel projects, fire staff, and even fold their tents; city arts funds diminish by dangerous levels; and the process for distributing those funds fall into disrepair Still, the curtain hadn't fallen on this drama, and saw the third act open with the cultural com- munity picking itself up off the mat.

All through the year, arts organizations kept fighting their way back toward that dream of a new city, culturally revamped, envisioned in the late Nineties. The Long Center, forced to scale back its grand vision of a four-theatre performing-arts complex into one with two venues, unveiled a new design from local heroes TeamHaas and renewed its push to build it.

Over on Congress, another visual-arts institution, the statewide associa- tion Arthouse, announced a major step in its growth: The city's arts-funding process, which all but imploded in recent years, received an initial overhaul, led by new Cultural Arts Program Manager Vincent Kitch.

For the first summer in ages, the cries of unfairness and conflict of interest accompanying the annual pro- cess were muted. But Kitch is back at the drawing board, working with local artists and administrators to refine the reforms.

Then there was Tapestry Dance Company, which faced a financial crisis nearly as life-threatening to its season as the health crisis to Artistic Director Ada Gray the year before.

Granted there were undeniable losses during - the most heartbreaking of which was easily the murder of UT piano professor Danielle Martin by a student and friend with mental problems - but in large measure the spirit of the year was "never say die," with the Austin arts scene in the role of come- back kid. Whether the drama of "the kid" will end in triumph or tragedy is still in question and may take a few more years to play out.

But you can be sure that whatever happens, he'll keep swinging, and the artists and companies of this city will continue to produce memorable creative works. The lists in the following pages are testament to that.

Watching the dancers run, glide, and swing among a forest of towering pillars on a broad con- crete plain heightened our sense of human isolation and fragility, and as the beauty of the visuals grew more epic and emotion of the score more sweeping, with the per- formers' courage never yielding, it tore our hearts. Desmond Richardson made a powerful prince, but across the cast, the dancers communicated the anguish of their characters in every impassioned gesture and step. Moving drama, in every sense of the words.

My first Conspirare concert, definitely not my last. Denby Swanson, realized in deliciously creepy fashion by one of SVT's fin- est creative teams, notably actors Jeffery Mills and Jenny Larson as hysterically furious feuding twins. Abetted by jazz Death of a Cat whiz Hobizal on piano. Marsh infused pop favorites and standards with such tenderness and ferocious passion, it made our ears weep.

Edward's University Myths for modems - two shows that revived ancient Greek tales of supernatural transformation for contempo- rary souls. At MMNT, director Christina Moore and com- pany presented Mary Zimmerman's much-lauded setting of Ovid in a swimming pool with simplicity, understated feeling, and, yes, fluidity, letting the tales' timeless reso- nance wash over us.

Refraction's all-female ensemble, led by Julia Smith and Sonnet Blanton, took a bolder tack, getting in your face with ribald jokes, sexy dance moves, and wrenching confrontations that punched home the power of Philomel's story now.

Bravely performed and terrifically engaging. For her long-awaited return to town, this diva of the cabaret delivered a deeply intimate affair, rich with three-minute songs of love that she infused with the emotional complexity and heft of three-act plays. Despite the study in contrasts storywise - urban Surge concerned the blossoming romance between a Chicago vice detective and a massage parlor worker; rural Drawer followed a young actor's intrusion into the lives of two Canadian bachelor farmers - Webster found common ground in their wit, smarts, and rich characters, coaching splendid perfor- mances from all his actors, but especially Michael Stuart in a career turn as Drawer's Angus, the genial farmer with no short-term memory.

Edward's University This beautiful script about the nature of love affected me more than prac- tically any theatrical production I've ever seen. Simply recalling it moves me to tears. Directed by Christina J. Directed by Katie Pearl. Directed by Stuart Moulton. Directed by Scott Kanoff. But it wasn't about the men. It was about the women - especially Sara Kendrick in the titular role. Directed by Blake Yelavich.

Directed by Ken Webster. Directed by Jennifer Lynn Cameron. Staged by Villegas himself. Wake for the Dark Poet: Directed by Chronicle Arts writer Heather Barfleld. Edward's University Mills gave a fine portrayal of the naive, distraught, stuttering Billy Bibbit.

The Art School Spring Classes start every week! That said, of dozens of events attended in - theatre, classical music, and even the occasional visual art exhibit - the excellence of the local classical music scene stands out.

A rare Austin appearance saw her with the ASO for a Sibelius con- certo, upping the degree of difficulty from her Lalo symphony of two years ago. Okay, a nonclassical music event that lingers in the memory: Jan Heaton's sliow at Wally Workman Gallery.

Exquisite watercolors by a wonderful artist. Please visit the volunteer website for more information about crews, time requirements, and to fill out the online volunteer application. After completing the application, print out your confirmation form and bring it with you to the Volunteer Call. During the call, you will watch a brief informational video, have your photo taken for the volunteer database, and meet with SXSW crew chiefs and staff to indicate your crew interest and availability.

Plan to spend at least an hour at the call. If you are interested in volunteering, but are not able to attend the call, contact a Volunteer Coordinator as soon as possible. We will accept applications as long as we have space available, but the crews will fill up quickly!

Please call the SXSW office or e-mail vol sxsw. A limited number of paid positions are available from March 1 1 Please bring a resume, and a copy of your valid driver's license. He is describing his Cloud Atlas Sextet, which he goes on to call "lifetime's music, arriv- ing all at once. I don't know where it came from.

Will never write anything one-hundredth as good," and, through him, Mitchell is describing this churning, challenging novel, the third of his three Ghostwritten, number9dream to be nomi- nated for a Booker. The author's strings and wind here are any author's - his characters, his characters' encounters - and beside Frobisher's epistolary sets are notary Adam Ewlng's journal entries from a late- s Pacific voyage; a meta-noir concerning the exploits of Luisa Rey a reporter uncovering an American enviro-crime scandal in the Seventies; the aging, very unlucky publisher who receives that manuscript in London; the transcribed interrogation of an insur- gent "fabrlcant" in a 22nd-century Korean "corpocracy"; and a campfire-side chat with one Zachry the Cowardy about get- ting by Hawaiian-style after the apocalypse.

How they buzz and clatter across time is a thing of alloyed beauty, chaos theory, and a comet-shaped birthmark. Mitchell is experimenting here - the subject, as it turns out, is everything - and Cloud Atlas is a centrifuge of Identity, destiny, belief, despair, race, sex, memory, love, and hate.

Like Davies or Lessing or Pynchon each a notable Influence , he's not writing because he has to write. He's writing because he has to know. Few hear a higher calling, and far fewer translate with such grace. The Michener Center faculty member's first collection since 's Escapes Is a new needle still probing for that same vein: Our apprehension and even- tual in action in the face of everyday and life-alter- ing adversity, and the dreamlike pretense that we Inhabit when our lives just aren't quite right.

Sickness, displacement, and death of the physi- cal and spiritual kind wrap these 12 stories - some absurd and lyrical, others naturalistic and precise - in a quilt of decidedly mournful colors, yet, as a whole, they defy melancholia or melodrama. Williams is a master, has been for a while now, and her vision and command have only expanded with her output. In "Congress," a woman cleaves to a lamp fashioned from deer feet in the wake of her husband's debilitating hunting accident - "Nothing could happen anywhere was the truth of it.

And the lamp was burning with this. You better get your stories straight. The connection between Roman Polanski's disturbed psyche and the enigmatic last scene in Chinatown, the eerie similarity between the look in the eye of a Serbian war criminal and the sub- ject of Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring, Aristotelian ethics and the downfall of Slobodan Milosevic: This, dear reader, is why we need critics!

Should we have been surprised that, Just a year after Roger Ebert compared his acting in the confounding Masked and Anonymous to that of a "toad" and mere months after he appeared in a vaguely European and more than vaguely voyeuristic Victoria's Secret commercial, the year-old's autobiogra- phy would for weeks be comfortably nestled among the likes of The South Beach Diet and He's Just Not That Into You on more than a few bestseller lists? Maybe not, but what was surprising was Chronicles' depth and generosity, as well as the fact that it's "as much an epic historical prose poem as it Is a mind-blowing, elliptical, picaresque memoir," as we found out in December.

With an eye occasionally cataractous but most often clear, he describes friends and enemies, encounters and environments, insecurities and epiphanies. The guy, you might've heard, can tell a story, and he can tie It to, like, big things. The stories told here do not recount dead issues from our shameful past; instead, we see them with here- and-now vitality the eyes of the time. When founding editor Ronnie Dugger writes about Henry B.

Gonzales' anti- segregation filibuster on the floor of the Lege In , he does so not knowing what the future would bring. The conventional wisdom might be that yesterday's news belongs in the recycle bin, but for those who love and yearn for a better Texas, this book proves othenwise. But it is his depictions of individuals, from his parents, one-time lovers, surly bartenders, and final- ly, his stunning essay about his adored brother in the book's title essay, that Kleinzahler makes an Indelible mark.

Lovely elegiac, hilarious, and oh so stylish. Cutty, One Rock is an exquisite read. A brutal debut that finds its roots in Welsh and Selby, Walsh's study of a young woman adrift in addiction and empty sex lived up to all of its cross-Atlantic hype. It reads in quick, stab- bing jags, alternating in point of view between Millie, a university student in Liverpool, and her year-old male best friend, Jamie, the latter of whom has crossed over safely from years of "beak" and "eckie" abuse.

Millie, whose mother by the novel's opening has already left, is still navigating that passage, and it's a painful one for both her and the reader Smart, cyni- cal, and self-hating, she preys on pros and fantasizes about adolescent giris while falling further behind her assignments and falling deeper into self-medication.

Walsh spares little in charting this descent, and avoids cli- che and cheap resolution with restrained yet remarkable prose, brilliant characterization, and an authentic candor whose edge can be felt long after it stops cutting. In September, Listings Editor Wayne Alan Brenner wrote that the legendary Spiegelman's much- anticipated response to September 11, , "is an invigorating obstacle course for the eyes.

It's a workout for the reader's mind, too, as the artist has ditched his recent straightfonward narrative style to return to the more complex architecture of his days as an underground car- toonist. Of course, it's not that Spiegelman was bored with comix-as-usual; it's that he was - and still is - jarred by his WTC experience; and the overlapping narratives, the fractured panel layouts and stylistic contrasts They also jar the deep history of New York newspaper comics: Characters from the past are mixed into the artist's response, as if they - Happy Hooligan, Ignatz Mouse, the Katzenjammer Kids, and others - had to deal with the towers crashing into their reality.

Thomas' poetry brims with 'dangerous' thoughts, expressed in phrases and images that are his alone. The class is free to those who purchase a copy of the Random House Webster's College Dictionary, the January Lit Fit featured title, and five dollars to those who bring their own dictionaries from home.

She discovers that she is well-suited to understand how our society has begun to mimic autoimmune disorders, as efforts to better protect ourselves result in self-destruction. Hey, you wouldn't bring your own beer to a bar, would you? Lamar shop onUne at: Leasing to Selective Beauty Professionals. Fom color schemes to choose from. We do the rest. Enjoy the freedom to be truly independent. First place they'd call would be Star magazine A Biight The lovely and ubiq- uitous yellow ones were designed here in Austin with the money going to the very worthy Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Now there are cheap imitations in every convenience store touting sup- port for our troops, breast cancer, and even a black one that says Live Wrong. And of course the money goes into the promoter's pocket. She's just too too, you know?

They look like watermel- ons with varicose veins and stretch marks. How about a little less of them and a little less of you? Who'da thought you had it in you, you little domi- natrix, you? When your hideously overpub- licized wedding dissolved, it got really ugly. The lawsuits over the alleged beatings, drunkenness, and sexual harassment have completed the tarnishing of your formerly glittering career.

Your cooter on the Internet? We can forgive him anything because he's so lovable Will he be the David Hasselhoff of tomorrow? Or the Wiiiiam Shatner of next week? Law is perfect for any part. And now he's hop, too, after recording a new album of hip-hop music.

Where are my sedatives? The Most Notable Blonds of - Seen at a New Year's party on Mars, crime- fortune heiress, novelist, and reality-show participant Victoria Gotti - I practically had to keep her separated from her alleged bitter enemy Paris Hilton, who snubbed Gotti's three hair-gelled hooligan children at a nightclub; the strangely, almost unnaturally effervescent Donatella Versace, who is said to know how to use a fingernail like you can't imagine; Your Style Avatar, without whom no party is complete; and Heiress Paris, without whom no sex tape is complete.

LOCAL Every year, like clockwork, the investiture of those tired, ratty Christmas decorations on the Congress Avenue Bridge throws a pall over the city during an otherwise festive season. The Congress Bridge trumpets downtown, and the ascent to the Capitol should not be like driv- ing through Taclcy Town.

The city has worked so hard to revitalize downtown, and Congress is such a lovely thoroughfare; why drop the ball during the Season of Light? It needn't be elaborate to be effective, but we should appear as if we didn't purchase our city decorations at Wai-Mart. A lovely idea is to have lights down the South Congress strip as well. Perhaps the South Congress Merchant's Association could consider doing a fundraiser and get SoCo decked out in a manner befitting its status as one of the finest shopping avenues in Texas.

Even better, imagine the beauty of having the Congress, South First, and Lamar bridges decked in lights: Our city is so beautiful and gracious, why would we want to settle for less?

Write to our Style Avatar with your related events, news, sind tiautey bits: After completing the application, print out your co. K mark your calendar, bookmark ours. Check where we ve WWW. Not valid with other offers or Thurs. Mow with 2 locations? My friend Suzann Dvorken gave antique apothecary jars of this rich, tangy spread for Christmas gifts, and I was lucky enough to get some.

I've been spreading in on toasted scones every day. It's topped with a huge scoop of Amy's cinnamon ice cream when they serve it here - an Austintatious match. Matt Lee of Tec's whipped up my favorite summer flavor to complement my birthday feast. Tangerine and Lemon flavors helped chill out the summer, and the Cranberry added some sparkle to the holidays.

Splendid refreshers from Whole Foods. Fresh pressed cider was the highlight of a fall visit to the Downtown Farmers' Market. Rick Bristow's voluptuous gold- flecked bonbons are truly divine. Tom Pedersen roasts the finest cocoa beans, then dips them in chocolate and rolls them in cocoa - chocolate candy at its most basic and distinctive. Vespaio pastry chef Barrie CuUinan's crisp, buttery shortbreads were my cookie addiction this year in plain, dark chocolate, spice, and cherry almond.

Mary Lou makes many different flavor combinations, each one more decadent than the last. Bring on plenty of good coffee or cold milk. Savory 1 Dinner at the Roger MoUett benefit: Everything from Amuse Bouche's appetizers and Salad Lyonnaise, Larry Perdido's Bouillabaisse, assorted pates from Le Marseillais and the marvelous stinky cheeses chosen by Ike Johnson, an exquisite salmon fillet with Dupuy lentils prepared by Aquarelle, to the creme caramel from Marta's Desserts and petite sweets from the Texas Culinary Academy came together to make a truly remark- able meal and an unforgettable evening.

We braved the summer heat and devoured huitlacoche quesadiUas and unique rellenos. My visit to Cafe Caprice was very early in the year, but the taste memory of the deli- cate fried batons of chick-pea flour, the cool salmon, and tangy mayo still lingers. A sprinkling of orange zest was the perfect grace note in this deeply satisfying dish at TinTinNio.

Whether it was the mus- tard cream sauce with the mussels, the marinara served alongside the fried artichokes and risotto balls, or the elegant brandy and peppercorn reduction that bathes the veal ravioli, the sauces here are very impressive.

Luxuriously marbled and packed with flavor - really excellent beef - available at Henry's Butcher Block and the Westlake Farmers Market. The garlic is great on grilled meats, the chipotle salt adds zing to com on the cob, and the orange variety enhances steamed, sauteed, or roasted veggies. Look for them at Grapevine Market.

Chronicle contributor MM Pack whipped up a batch of these for a wine dinner at Spicewood Vineyards, and they disappeared in a flash. Lm keeping my fingers crossed that the Boggy Creek Farm tomato crop makes it this year, because my stash of smoke-dried tomatoes is officially gone now.

I've developed a short list of my favorites over time, and because I trust you with this valuable informa- tion, I now divulge: At Mam's, you'll find the most authentic Thai food that I've eaten outside of Thailand. They present a widely varied menu of dishes made from fresh ingredients, in big portions, at very reasonable prices. Kismet offers a somewhat limited menu of authentic Middle Eastern cui- sine, heavy on the pita wraps and salads.

It's all great, and you have to try really hard to spend more than 10 bucks. Greek salad with chicken, hummus, chicken schwarma, falafel: Sometimes nothing but a burger will do, and this Korean- run spot has the best. Exceptional burgers, bulgogi burgers, and tempura onion rings. An added plus, you get to dress them just the way you like from the toppings bar.

You'll be packed in like a sardine, but the large menu of veg- etarian and vegan offerings is a delight. Authentic Chinese flavors, low prices, and nice portions. For Korean diversions, Oma's is the real deal. Mother and daughter cook up a storm at this small street-vendor-style paradise in the food court of Dobie Mall.

Stick to the Asian dishes and you can't go wrong. When you need some Southern soul food comfort, Hoover's is just a short jaunt down Manor Road. Plate lunches to die for, and it's easy on the budget for big portions of satisfying goodness. Top it off with a slab of cobbler and try to resist the nap.

Most Austinites don't even know this bona fide New York-style pizza joint is here, but they have dynamite thin crust slices and whole pies that are just as good as those from the Big Apple. The eye candy is a plus. Brazilian hits the spot when you're in a quandary for something a little different.

Genuine flavors from Rio and Salvador - gimme those cheese holinhos, the moqueca, and a steaming platter oifeijoada. We love those crazy siganos Brasilenosl 9 Yen Ching Guadalupe, My favorite comfort Chinese dish is ma po dofu, loosely translated as "Mrs. Po's Pocked Bean Curd. It's Worth it at Opal Divine's phone wvimr.

When you have a hanker- ing for a slab of smoked ribs, Mueller's is the place. The sides are a tad pedestrian, but the barbecued meats hit the spot.

You may have to fight your way through the business lunch crowd to get in, and you'd best go early. I've tried so many outstand- ing dishes at Uchi that I can't mention just one. Every single time I eat there, chef Tyson Cole wows me with something exquisite, unique, or completely new to me. His understanding of food is tremen- dous, and every combination he dreams up is a winner.

I love adventurous dining, and, in my opinion, this is the best place for it in Austin. Some of the best rea- sons to visit the Westlake Farmers Market are the fabulous pates, vinaigrettes, tap- enades, and other French culinary special- ties from chefs Eric and Martine Pellegrin. Not only am I addicted to these products, but their "supper club" was one of the finest dining experiences I have ever had.

I can't wait until they open a permanent location. My vote in the Official Drink of Austin contest went to this inventive and tasty cocktail made using local products.

Straight-up, ice-cold Tito's vodka with a dash of Sgt. Pepper's Chipotle del Sol hot sauce and a touch of tequila, served with a side of spicy sangrita made with other local ingredients, including a splash of Live Oak Pilz beer.

Lively and zesty, like our city! While this is nothing new, one of my favorite things to do in Austin is sit at Vespaio's bar in the early evening to munch on the wonders from the antipasto case while drinking a glass of wine.

I love the roasted tomatoes and goat cheese, and this summer the fresh Texas melon slices with paper-thin prosciutto and a glass of prosecco was my favorite combination.

I certainly traveled for food in , and while my gastronomic discoveries in Brazil were many, it was the flavors of the unique fruits of the state of Bahia that captured the essence of my trip. I sampled ice creams and cocktails made from tropical treasures such as caju, cajd, jaca, cupuagu, jenipapo, and mangaha.

Send some to Austin, please. I need a fix. This unique event, complete with Hawaiian dancers, great wines, and sublime food, exceeded all of my expectations. I tasted two fabulous custom-cooked meats from Cooper's Meat Market in Then, for Thanksgiving, the smoked turkey was absolutely the best ever.

Kudos to Lee and her crew! OK, now I am bragging. But dining at Patricia Quintana's Izote restaurant in Mexico City was the highlight of my trip back home last fall. From the tequila shots served in an ice- coated glass to the miniature shrimp sopes, the exquisite squash blossom broth, and the fish in huitlacoche cream, every dish was superbly executed and elegantly served. I got some of these luscious, rich, and decadent local hand- made chocolates as a wedding gift and found that they are the ultimate treat for the chocoholic: The extra endorphins don't hurt, either.

Almost too good to be true. If it's Sunday and there's no football to watch, I can be found at Marco Polo having dim sum with friends. We love the fried eggplant with shrimp, the pork and leek pan-fried dump- lings, the shrimp toast, and those awesome crispy pork ribs.

We chase them down with a cold Tsing Tao or a cup of hot chrysanthe- mum tea. JC's Steakhouse worth the effort South at call for today's features 51 2. Just bring this coupon and your appetite to our restaurant. TOGO Our full menu is available for take out. You might have to go ask for some of these, but all will be worth the effort. Held every April in Austin, it is a four-day gastronomic blowout, with a focus on the local bounty of Central Texas.

The celebration embodies the Project's motto, "Cook globally, grow local- ly," with cooking demos by local chefs and terrific tastes prepared by premier Austin restaurants and caterers.

Appropriately held in blistering August in Waterloo Park, it's an opportunity to hear local music, swill cold beer, and taste entries from very serious sauce makers, both commercial and amateur. Where else can you enjoy green eggs and Spam, fried Spam, and Spam queso and chips?

And don't forget the Spamalympics and Spam sculpture contest. It opens with a Buddhist ceremony and features terrific vendor food, cooking and vegetable carving demos, Thai music, and dancing. Beginning at 6am, they serve up cowboy cof- fee, sausage, doughnuts, pigs in a blanket, steak sandwiches, breakfast tacos, hot pan- cakes, flaky biscuits, and groovy gravy. Also, the newly annual Chuckwagon Cookoff features old-style trail wagons authentically restored or replicated, right down to the cookbox and dutch ovens.

As part of the competition, wagon owners prepare trail food over open fires all day and serve up the delicious results to the hungry hordes. Free to the public, it showcases Philippine and Polynesian foods, music, dances, and crafts. Get your lumpia here, folks. Volunteers host elaborately themed dinner parties around the city, ending with everyone con- verging for a champagne and dessert gala. Wine flows under the stars and twinkling lights, and Austin shows off its party clothes.

Held each October on the church grounds near the Capitol, the two-day event features locally handmade Greek food and appetizers from around the Mediterranean. It's all accompanied by appropriate music and the requisite belly- dancing. Still the undisputed best place in town to take your small children.

Central Market absolutely buzzes with activity all days of the week. The cafeteria offers a wide variety of dishes guaranteed to please not just little palates.

Great wines, live music, and one of Austin's loveliest outdoor porch- es make it easy for both you and your kids to relax, eat, and take in some music. Once the little ones are done, you can relax some more while they play with 50 of their new friends on the adjoining playground. Kids eat free on Tuesday nights. With a menu that kids love hamburgers, french fries, chicken strips, quesadillas , occasional live music, and a casual, kid-friendly envi- ronment, Waterloo is quickly becoming a regular on our rotation list.

The Waterloo on Loop has a huge outdoor play-ground in a fenced yard. The one on 38th has arcade games one from the prevideo era that keep the kids entertained. They have all the things that little kids love, from ham- burgers and fries to pizza and pasta to roasted chicken. The fast-paced, noisy envi- ronment guarantees that your child won't be too much of a menace when they use outside voices.

Quick, cheap, and good. Kids will love being able to see it first, then pick out what they want at this Seventies-style cafeteria. The place is usually full of blue-hairs who will ooh and aah appropriately over your Uttle angel. Almost all kids love pizza, and this is the quintessential crowded, noisy pizza joint that serves great New York-style pies. Don't forget to order a chocolate chip and dried cherry cannoli for dessert. Probably the best place in the city to enjoy an American-style breakfast.

Fantastic pan- cakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, and iced cinnamon rolls. They have a whole wall of toys to entertain kids during the meal. My son begs to go there for breakfast on weekends. This is a fun way to expose your kids to new flavors. They can choose little portions of what they want from the carts that go by. My son loves the sticky rice in a lotus leaf and the fried radish cake smothered in soy sauce. The fortune cookie at the end is like a little present.

Burgers, pizza, kids' combo meals, and blaring TVs make this a stellar restaurant for a family night out. The film My Gal Sal will be shown. Pack a lunch and picnic in Perinton Park at noon Friday. Meet friends and stroll along the canal. A garden walk at the George Eastman House will be held Aug. A three-part series on living with arthritis will continues Friday at 10 a. Other session held Aug. Out-to-lunch-bunch will meet at Pittsford Senior Center, 35 Lincoln Ave. A chocolate extravaganza will be held Sept.

Sweden Senior Center, State St. The center is looking for items for a flea market to be held Aug. Call for information and registration. Monroe County residents 60 or older, living at home but in need of assistance or help with daily tasks may be eligible. New Horizons, the Jewish Home of Rochester's social adult day services program, has increased its hours from one to three days: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a. The Elder Line, , a hotline with information for seniors and their caregivers, has new hours.

Information will be available from 8 a. The Health Advocacy Service, can help with Medicare, insurance and prescription problems. Call for appointment. The pass, good through the end of this month, offers a 50 percent discount to many activities. Rochester Friendly Senior Services has a care planning service to assist seniors and their families in locating appropriate services in Rochester.

Sports events include tennis, basketball, bocce, golf, racquetball, bowling, swimming, track and field, horseshoes, table tennis, dance and soft-ball, as well as euchre and bridge. Call for infor- Wm. Not your typical "garden center", visitors to the nursery follow a wooded nature trail to a secluded sanctuary for flowers, birds, and the people who enjoy them. Hawk's Nest Nursery has been in operation for over six years,- and has found success by doing things just a little differently.

For example, to insure vigorous, healthy, true-to-name plants, they produce their plants from vegetive propagation cuttings or root division. Plants are grown on and wintered over outside to verify their health and hardiness. This process is time consuming and costly, but produces plants ready to flower in your garden this season.

Their other specialty is water lilies and aquatic plants grown in natural, earthen ponds on the premises. More than varieties of water lilies and margin plants are potted and ready to bloom in your pond. Pond keepers with plant, fish, or green water problems find the answers at Hawk's Nest.

Things don't slow down in the summer and fall at Hawk's Nest! Exhibitors with gardening or bird related expertise gather under a huge festival tent for the weekend of September 14 and Visit Hawk's Nest soon for a complete schedule of events, and a peek at what's blooming!

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