San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 13th, 2009
The Weekend: Speed, chips and aliens

Allstate Racefest is scheduled for Saturday at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle.

By HAP MANSFIELD
Scene Editor

The invention of the potato chip is a peculiarly American story. A chef at a Sarasota Springs, NY, resort, frustrated by a customer’s constant complaining about how thick his French fries were, sliced and fried the potatoes extra-super thin. The customer loved them and they caught on.

One can almost picture the irritated chef standing in the kitchen and retorting, “Still too thick, eh? I’ll make ’em thinner!  So thin you can see through ’em! Just see how the jerk likes that!”

Our country’s favorite snack food and that chef’s finest hour were born from aggravation. It figures because as a whole, anyone who is not American will tell you how inventive, whiny and aggravating we are as a nation. The potato chip sums this up in one delicious, fattening salty crunch.

Leave it to Americans to make the second most consumed food in the world, potatoes (the first is rice), into something so uniquely ours. It’s also worth noting that the Puritans who settled into New England felt the “low” potato was only good for pig fodder because as well as being a slipshod root vegetable, they felt it contained a dangerous aphrodisiac. Which could explain, we suppose, why potatoes are the second most consumed food in the world.

And doesn’t it just figure that the chef, throwing up his hands in despair and making a resentful last-ditch effort, would end up with a great culinary treat because Americans, when they are angry and frustrated, are cheeky and inventive? Since that time, potato chips have gone through many innovations and flavors as useful as the extra-strong rippled dip chips and as unusual as ketchup or roasted chicken flavorings.

This kind of resourcefulness just might possibly save this ailing country, which is something to ponder in times of trouble and economic woe. It may be time to pull out another potato chip. Especially since Saturday is National Potato Chip day.

There are few who need reminding to buy chips since, according to the Snack Food Association, Americans eat more than 1.5 billion pounds (yep, billion) of chips per year. That’s 4.7 billion dollars per year for those who want to cash in their chips, so to speak. Just remember to hoist a few chips in celebration of the potato chip.

Since Resident Evil 5 is due out today, (Friday the 13th was certainly a purposeful release date), that terrifying zombie game for Xbox 360 and the Play Station 3, chips will be consumed this weekend even without a holiday as gamers stare at the game, fight off bad guys and crunch on those ubiquitous chips in lieu of a meal so they can continue to play.

If you’d like a little music or some amusement for the weekend while your “gamier” comrades are fighting off zombies and munching chips (and they’ll get a little “gamey” sitting there all day and all night), there’s plenty of stuff to do this weekend in San Marcos. And you can still eat the chips at home later.

Friday, March 14

Today starts the Alamo Dog Obedience Training Club Competition at the Hays County Civic Center. If you enjoy watching the Ekanuba competitions on television, you will be even more delighted to see local American Kennel Club Registered Dogs go through their paces in person. Today from 1-5 p.m. the “Excellent” dog category will be balancing, catching and jumping. Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. will be even more categories and athletic dogs. Admission is free. Phone (210) 364-1179 for more info.

This might be a good weekend to take at look at “What Isn’t, Is”, the art being shown at the Joann Cole Mitte Galleries at the corner of Sessom and Commanche on the Texas State campus. “What Isn’t, Is” features three Artists – Allyson Fox (Austin), Mimi Kato (New Mexico) & Misako Inaoka (San Francisco) – whose works address issues of identity and culture. The exhibit is a compilation of sculpture, drawings, paintings and photographs. The exhibit runs through April 7.

The Geronimo VFW Hall on SH 123 in Seguin is having a $5 spaghetti supper, followed by a swinging dance to work off all those carbs. Call the post at (830) 379-9260 if you need more info or directions.

The Triple Crown (206 North Edward Gary) is featuring Austin-based and highly praised alt-country singer-songwriter Clay Nightingale. Gleeson and Nate Grace are also on the bill. The Cheatham Street Warehouse (119 Cheatham Street) presents Texas FX, Hays County boys with a lot of rhythm and grooves. Texas Saints will be rockin’ the Grey Horse in Crestwood Center tonight, as well.

Saturday, March 14

Possibly the biggest event this weekend is the aptly named Allstate Texas Thunder and Lightning Racefest taking place at Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle. The track, which is a three-eights mile, D-shape with a curved front straight, is similar to larger tracks like Texas Motor Speedway and the Daytona International Speedway. The racing should be action-packed and the Allstate Texas Racefest is the only place in the country where fans will see both a NASCAR race (the Texas Thunder 150) and a USAC race at the same time. Miss Texas will be there to sign autographs and pose for those “Hey, I’m standing next to Miss Texas!” pictures. Should be a pretty exciting day for the whole family.

If the race is not your speed (sorry, bad pun, had to be made), the Geronimo VFW Post is host to an IBCA (International Barbecue Cookers Association) sanctioned barbecue cook-off today. A sausage and biscuit breakfast in the morning will be followed by a barbecue lunch. Judging takes place in the categories of desserts, beans, chicken, pork ribs and brisket. The participants are cooking for points, which will be added up at the end of the season to crown a barbecue champion. There’s nothing quite like the enticing smells of these cook-offs. The only thing that equals it is the food, which will be awesome.

Music abounds tonight with Jo Beth Henderson at Wake the Dead Coffee House (1432 Ranch Road) and the Midnight Ramblers rambling on in to the Grey Horse. At the Triple Crown is the explosively titled Sock Hop Apocalypse, an evening featuring dark metal-punks The Belmonts, The Horrifics and Los Bones. A Goth time will be had by all.

If you follow the beat of a more country-styled drummer, do not miss the Nathan Daniel Band at the Cheatham Street Warehouse. Daniel is a Texas State grad who plays an original alt-country, Americana, folk-rock music that is as unique as it is catchy. Also with Daniel are Austin Hartley Leonard and Shawn Nelson. Should be a great night of music.

Sunday, March 15

Today is the Ides of March so if your name is Caesar, beware. All others, we guess, should just be wary.

There’s still one more day of the Alamo Dog Obedience Club competition at the Hays County Civic Center if you missed the excitement on Friday or Saturday. The Texas State Bobcats baseball team will play one more game against Sam Houston State at fabulous Bobcat Field this afternoon starting at 1 p.m.

The Grey Horse Saloon at the Crestwood Center uses Sundays for its own particular brand of open-mic night called “Jazzie-Oke.” You just have to experience it to describe it. The mic is also open at the Triple Crown tonight, so let that vocal talent out of the box and be a superstar.

A Company of Voices: Conspirare in Concert, will be on KLRU at 8 p.m., featuring Texas State music professors Ian Davidson, Faith Debow and Cynthya I. Gonzales, along with alumnus Ashley George. Filmed before a live audience in October 2008, the show features Davidson as the oboist with Debow as his accompanist. Gonzales and George sing.

In preparation for St. Paddy’s Day, you could tune in to ION tonight at 6 p.m. and watch four hours of Randy Quaid struggle with photo-shopped leprechauns in “The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns.”

For those with a taste for the magic of art, Ovation is running its “This is Civilisation” series (you can tell it’s a product of the Brits/Aussies from the spelling) tonight starting at 7 p.m. The series explores how art reflects the fantastic leaps that civilization has made. Each episode tells a self-contained story about how the art of the past has given us new ways of thinking and feeling that still inform our lives today.  This series is fun to watch and would go well with some popcorn, potato chips or even more appropriately, a Caesar salad.

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