Central Texas top stories for October 31, 2023. Chilly halloween. Mayor Watson charter school permit. Lake Travis ISD stadium bond package. Open enrollment starts tomorrow.
A special session is at an impasse over one of the governor’s top agenda items: Gov. Greg Abbott says if the Texas Legislature doesn’t pass his proposal to use tax dollars to cover private school tuition, he’ll keep calling lawmakers back to the Capitol until they do.
Remembering Roky Erickson, a Texas pioneer in psychedelic music.
A marine science professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is leading a project to build an artificial reef to capture carbon and reduce global warming.
Why seasonal pop-up stores like Spirit Halloween haunt efforts at smart urban planning.
And we’ll talk to Paul Bowman, an archaeologist by profession – and also a Bigfoot expert who’s tracked the elusive sasquatch all over East Texas and Oklahoma.
Some blocks are trick-or-treat duds — no porch lights on, no one ready with the Halloween candy, no one home? Other blocks, are like the one that inspired this Typewriter Rodeo poem. (And maybe, there’s even the full-sized candy bar house!)
With the U.S. House of Representatives still without a leader, two Texans drop out of the race for the speakership. What happens next?
The White House is launching a new program for Ecuadorians who are trying to migrate to the U.S. We’ll have details on the change is and why it’s happening.
Miles and miles of Texas are usually traversed by car – but one writer says the train is the ultimate way to go.
Also, with Halloween on the horizon, we have the backstory on some of the spookiest places to visit in Texas.
The Texas Standard team is Tracking Texas Cryptids this spooky season. There’s La Lechuza, the Hairy Man of Round Rock — and the Jackalope? One of these is a bit more adorable than abominable. That was the inspiration of this Typewriter Rodeo poem.
This spooky season, Texas Standard is Tracking Texas Cryptids. The Typewriter Rodeo team is also in on the hunt. The target of this poem is said to live in Kimble County.
Did you gorge yourself over several days? Or were you patient? Are you still picking your way through what was collected that final night of October? That was the inspiration for this Typewriter Rodeo poem.
Tis the season for a trip to any retailer to make you feel very confused about the actual date on the calendar. Is it really time to buy egg nog already? What happened to that bag of Halloween candy I saw here last week? Are those — little Santas?? That inspired this Typewriter Rodeo poem.
The countdown is on: 8 days till election day. How are Texas voters leaning? In the past, political prognosticators turned to the science of polling and opinion surveys to determine things like voter outreach and messaging. But with confidence shaken in the polling process, could that have an impact on election day? We’ll explore. Plus comparing Texas voting laws with those of other states. And spooky stories from the energy sector, only these are true. Also how the Texas capitol city could be a test case for the health of the housing market. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:
A 500-year-old Mexican legend is still freshly scaring kids — especially in the border regions. The story about a crying woman called La Llorona no doubt arrived in what is now Texas with the earliest Mexican settlers. Ever since, this ghostly figure has haunted our rivers, lakes and streams. There are dozens of versions of her story. Commentator WF Strong shares a favorite. This story was originally published in 2018.
With voting in the midterms underway, we’ll take a close look at how political disinformation is playing out in Texas politics. A case study of disinformation in action as the Texas Newsroom hones in on how false claims are affecting the democratic process. Also a disappointing report card on the post-pandemic state of education for elementary and middle schoolers. What can be done to combat learning gaps. Plus a historic shakeup in the UK, and what it could mean for Texans. And a first of its kind effort to lift barriers separating the field of chemistry and students with blindness and low vision. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:
The weather is cooler — a little bit. The decorations are going up and football season is in full swing. But what are the other tell-tale signs of a Texas autumn? That was the inspiration of this Typewriter Rodeo poem.
Halloween costumes often reflect the news cycle. When that happens, the results can be disturbing. That was the inspiration for this Typewriter Rodeo poem.
Does the state have a duty to provide mobile voting centers? Texas democrats claim a new law unconstitutionally disenfranchises young voters, we’ll have details. Also, did Exxon Mobil have one set of numbers about climate change for investors, and a secret set for itself? Texan Rex Tillerson takes the stand in a closely watch trial involving one of the Lone Star State’s biggest companies. Plus, Twitter banning political ads? Tech expert Omar Gallaga on why and what it adds up to. And why you might see tarantulas crossing Texas roadways, and not just tonight, mind you. All of that and then some today on the Texas Standard:
Originally aired: Oct. 31, 2016.
Texas is number one in a great many things: oil, ranching, rodeo, cotton. But you may be surprised to know that we are also number one in horror. That’s right, our very own charming little low-budget film, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, is considered by many critics to be the best (and most horrifying) horror movie ever made.
At the time of its release in 1974, the famous film critic Rex Reed said that it was the most “terrifying” movie he had ever seen. When the celebrated master of horror, Wes Craven, first saw the movie, he wondered “what kind of Mansonite crazoid” could have produced such a thing. Stephen King praised the movie. He said it had achieved “cataclysmic terror.” And my favorite critique comes from Anton Bitel who said that the “very fact that it was banned in England was a tribute to its artistry.”
In honor of Halloween, I thought I would help you appreciate this hallowed film; here are 10-and-a-half things you may not have known about the film.
1. Ed Gein is the name of the real criminally insane killer who inspired the character of Leatherface. He did not wear a leather mask. What he wore was worse: a mask made of human skin.
2. Ed Gein only killed two people, not dozens. Hardly a massacre. He did not use a chainsaw. He used a gun.
3. Gein did his killing in Wisconsin, not Texas. I know, disappointing right? Wisconsin Chainsaw Massacre just doesn’t have the same poetic ring to it.
4. So where did the chainsaw idea come from? Tobe Hooper, the director, said that he was in a Montgomery Ward store a few days before Christmas. The store was annoyingly crowded with aggressive shoppers. As he stood in front of the chainsaws he had a disturbing epiphany. He realized that if he started up one of those chainsaws the sound alone would part that sea of shoppers giving him a quick path to the exit. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how iconic art is born.
5. One last thing about Gein. He inspired not only Leatherface, but he was also the demented muse for Norman Bates in “Psycho” and Buffalo Bill in “Silence of the Lambs”.
6. Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, for the actors at least, was that it was filmed in the middle of the scorching Texas summer. You can see the sweat dripping off, even streaming off, the actors. Hooper said everyone suffered mightily because there was no stopping to wait for cooler weather. And even though
some days were well over 100 degrees, they had to press on to get filming done in a month, come hell or high water – and hell is what they got.
7. In his much-praised book, “Chain Saw Confidential”, Gunnar Hansen, who played the character of Leatherface, said that the name of the depraved family in the first film is Slaughter, not Sawyer. If you look above the Coca-Cola sign at the gas station you will see “W. E. Slaughter BBQ.”
8. Hansen also said that the power of the chainsaw myth they created on film persists with such tenacity in Texas that people would not believe him when he said that no such chainsaw crimes ever happened in the state. People would say something like: “No, they happened. My cousin worked on death row over in Huntsville and saw Leatherface himself get the chair.” But this is understandable because the film falsely marketed itself as “based on a true story.”
9. The film cost less than $300,000 to make, and eventually grossed $30 million in the U.S. The movie had its opening in Austin, appropriately, since its director was a University of Texas professor and documentary cameraman. Though it is hard to believe, he tried to keep the gore and violence of the film to a minimum so he could get a “PG” rating. That didn’t work. He got an “R” rating.
10. Horror and humor are allies. The movie even spawned a hilarious Geico ad that has run the last couple of years – the one where four people are running from a killer and debating where to hide. One suggests they take the running car and another says that’s a horrible idea and suggests that they hide behind the chainsaws. Even Leatherface is astounded by their filmic ignorance.
10.5. The film’s gas station is now a kind of bed and breakfast in Bastrop. It’s called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s “Last Chance Gas Station”. You can get BBQ and spend the night in a cozy cabin. Chainsaw alarm clocks are certainly available. I understand the BBQ ain’t half bad. At least the owners are not, like those in the film, focused only on serving their fellow man.
W.F. Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. At Public Radio 88 FM in Harlingen, Texas, he’s the resident expert on Texas literature, Texas legends, Blue Bell ice cream, Whataburger (with cheese) and mesquite smoked brisket.
It’s a Texas contest for U.S. Congress that may add up to more than a single congressional seat. We’ll take a look at that race and why the stakes are so high. Also, signs signs everywhere signs: a conspicuous number of Texas front yards enlisted in the 2018 midterms. Signs of the times you might say, but do political yard signs move the needle? We’ll take a closer look. And a Politifact check from the Texas Senate contest, and General Motors calls for the Federal government to issue its first zero emission standards. Should truck huggers across Texas tremble? Fasten your seatbelts and turn up the radio, because its Texas Standard time:
By W. F. Strong
La LLorona (the crying woman) is a Mexican legend that is at least 500 years old. It no doubt arrived in Texas with the earliest Mexican settlers and La Llorona has haunted our rivers, lakes and streams ever since, particularly in the border regions. There are dozens of versions. Here is one.
La Llorona was a poor girl in a small village. She was extraordinarily beautiful with raven black hair and large almond eyes. One day when she was getting water from the town well, a handsome man on a fine horse rode up and asked her for a drink. She had never seen such a perfect man or felt so wonderfully nervous in the presence of one before. He felt the same way about her. They fell in love on the spot. He could not marry her, though, because she was a poor village girl and he was from a the richest, most prominent family in the region. But he could not live without her so he bought her a big home and showered with jewelry and gifts and gave her two children. He came to visit often and adored playing with their children. It was not perfect, but she was happy because she loved him so much.
After a few years a period of time came when he did not visit at all. She was worried about him and did something she had never done. She went to the big city to visit his mansion to see what was wrong. When she arrived she quietly asked a servant if he was there and she said, “Oh, no, today he is getting married to a famous princess from Spain.”
La Llorona was so angry that she wanted to do something to hurt him. In that jealous rage, she went straight home and took their two children to the river and drowned them. When she regained her sanity she was plunged into such despair over what she had done that she died of grief right there on the river bank. As she attempted to enter the afterlife, an angel asked her where her children were. She said she didn’t know. She was told she must find them before she could rest. So she was forced back to earth and condemned to wander rivers and lakes and streams looking for her children forever.
If you go out near water at night you will sometimes hear her crying, “Mis hijos, mis hijos.” My children. They say if she sounds near she is really far away, but if she sounds far away, she is very near you. Those who’ve seen her say that she wears a moldy shroud and has jet black hair, but no nose and no mouth, only luminous violet eyes that are horrifyingly red-streaked from her eternal crying. If you see her thrashing around the middle of a creek or river, don’t go in to try to save her because she will drown you.
You should also never let your children stay out late near a river or creek or lake – or even a backyard swimming pool because La Llorona may think they are her children and steal them away from you forever.
So La Llorona is a legend, a cautionary tale and the boogie man (coo-cooey) all in one. Particularly Hispanic mom’s have used her to enforce good behavior for centuries. “Come inside now or La Llorona will get you.” “You come straight home from David’s house. Don’t wander. La Llorona is always looking for lost children.” And some even say that La Llorona makes children respect their mothers. She has appeared to children who have left their homes angrily, saying bad things to their mothers as they’ve left. La Llorona finds them walking in the dark and says, “I’ll let you go this time, but go back to your mother and be good to her.”
Excellent advice for Halloween and all the other days of the year.
I’m W. F. Strong. These are stories from Texas, via Mexico. Some of them, are true.
Don your face paint, costumes and masks for Halloween, but don’t forget that it’s not always movie monsters or villains that are the scariest ghouls to haunt our waking days. That was the inspiration for this Typewriter Rodeo poem.
You know about the looting as Harvey struck Texas? You sure about that? We’ll explore why the numbers and the narrative don’t match. Also, With Joe Straus not returning as house speaker, social conservatives in the Texas GOP are cheering, but some politics watchers out west wonder if that’s not premature. Why some think a race in the panhandle could reverberate across Texas. And veterans from the fighting in Afghanistan blame military open burn pits for health care issues, but their options for seeking relief are closing. Also, a fix for hackable voting systems developed in Texas and why it may never be deployed. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:
Some people believe in ghosts, others stand their ground and say they don’t exist. And some don’t quite believe in ghosts – but cautiously respect them when the lights go out at night. No matter what kind of (non)believer you are, we can all agree that spooky clowns are worse.