Today In History…

Hello everyone! Today is June 14, 2016. For some of you, it’s just another day; for others, it’s a day to celebrate. Whether it’s your birthday, anniversary (work, wedding, whatever), or you’re up for a promotion, live it up. It’s your day! Just make sure it’s legal. Know that you’re not alone though. Many historic events, and some not so historic will be celebrated alongside your special day. Don’t let them steal your thunder though.

Among birthdays today – Boy George (one of the pioneers, but certainly not the first, to make drag acceptable in music) celebrates his 55th birthday today. Some of today’s youth may already know this, but listening to Culture Club is still cool. Lucy Hale of Pretty Little Liars Fame also celebrates today as she turns 27. She’s looking better than ever. I wasn’t much of a fan until her on-screen appearance opposite Ghost Face in Scream 4. Does anyone remember how big a deal it was for a celeb to get a role in the franchise? Another birthday today is Republican candidate for the Presidency, Donald Trump. The entrepreneur turns 70 today. I’m sure nobody saw it coming when he announced his bid for the office, let alone watching him get this far.

For those of you Historians who really don’t seem to care much for the world of pop culture or the TMZ generation – on this day in 1777, during the American Revolution, Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the American Flag consisting of 13 stars and 13 stripes. It’s been said that the flag was designed by Betsy Palmer…..waiting for a reaction….ok, fine. It was Betsy Ross. Betsy Palmer played the mother of Jason Voorhees in the horror classic Friday the 13th, but kudos to you if you knew who Palmer was! Also on this day in 1954, President Eisenhower officially signed to have those famous words, “Under God,” inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance. How can any of us forget those words after about 12 years of reciting the Pledge every morning before class in school?

Congress officially adopts the Stars and Stripes as the official American Flag on June 14, 1777.

In other almost politically inspired history, on this day in 2003, the actress known as Helen Mirren (who up until that point had been known for Cannes Best Actress Award for The Madness of King George, Critic’s Choice Movie Award for Gosford Park, British Academy Television Award for Prime Suspect, and more) was officially named Dame Helen Mirren by Queen Elizabeth II as part of the traditional birthday honours. Others on that Queen’s list that year were tennis legend David Beckham and rock legend Sting.

Many sports fans may remember the day NBA’s Chicago Bulls won their sixth Championship title with the help of Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr. Technically, it was June 13….LOL….but I’m sure for all those Bulls fans, the day after was just as exciting! With about 25-seconds left on the clock in game 6 against the Utah Jazz, Jordan made that winning shot. So what are those guys up to 19-years later? Maybe we can save that for another blog.

Other famous facts about June 14 include: In 1953, the future King of Rock, Elvis Presley graduated high school in Memphis; Legendary Country singer Patsy Cline (I still say Country music died the day she did) was involved in a car accident, in which she sustained head and hip injuries in 1961; Paul McCartney recorded the timeless classic, Yesterday. I still voted against it as my high school graduation song. Of course I was with the group who opted for a more modern song. Looking back now, it really was a good song….still is, of course (I voted for 10,000 Maniacs’ These Are Days).

Now that you know what your up against, considering today is your celebratory day, go out and have the time of your life. After some of this weeks tragic events, you never know when you’ll have that chance again.



Great food in the unlikeliest of places.

By Chris Stouffer

I’ve heard over and over again that some of the best places to find amazing food are the small mom & pop restaurants….a hole in the wall if you will. La Gardenia on the near east side of San Antonio is no exception. I have to admit, after hearing about this place for the last couple of years, I finally gave in and decided to check it out one Wednesday afternoon while looking for a new place to eat.

La Gardenia is located at 1805 N Pine Street. Don’t let the neighborhood steer you away. The restaurant is nestled away in a cozy corner amongst what seemed like more of a residential neighborhood, which is perfect because you’re away from traffic and urban noise. I noticed people parking in the empty lot just across the street from the restaurant, but I opted to park along the side of the road. The outside didn’t seem very flashy or attention-getting, but the inside told a whole other story.

One of servers acknowledged us right away and asked that we sit where we pleased. Not even two minutes after sitting down, menus were immediately delivered to our table along with complimentary chips and salsa. Even the menus were very distinct, as each one had its own unique artwork on the cover so that no menu was the same. Interestingly enough, mine had a Mexican style wrestler in traditional lucha libre attire holding up a large flower, of what I’m guessing to be from a gardenia plant.

The menu offered many traditional Mexican breakfasts and lunch dishes including Chilaquiles, Migas, puffy tacos, and get this….BARBACOA! There was a time when barbacoa was only available in most restaurants on Sundays. I’m not sure why. Mexican tradition? Who knows? All I know is now that it’s available almost any day now, and I welcome it wholeheartedly. There were two barbacoa plates available on the menu. One clearly explained that the plate included: barbacoa, breakfast potatoes and refried beans. The other plate was simply named: barbacoa campesina.

Before I was even able to ask what the other included, as I told my server I wanted the barbacoa plate, she quickly asked if I wanted eggs. “SOLD,” was the first thing that ran through my mind, and no longer a need for an explanation as to the “campesina” part of the plate. I topped my order off with a Big Red for my drink. Big Red is a local favorite and goes hand-in-hand with barbacoa. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone in San Antonio. The plate wasn’t rushed out like many restaurants these days who sometimes seem to give me the impression the plate had been sitting there waiting to be ordered.

Instead, I was made to wait at least a good 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, I was able to enjoy sitting in the midst of all the natural lighting pouring in from the outside. Large windows surrounded the place giving me a great view of the old neighborhood. I watched as one person walked their dog and a couple of others waited at the corner for a bus. Oddly enough, I never heard a bus go by. Maybe I was just too entertained by the conversations around me. It seemed every time a patron walked in, the servers instantly knew who they were, as if this were a daily ritual. And by the delicious food that came out a short while later, I wouldn’t doubt it.

The food seemed as fresh as fresh could get. The service was not only friendly, but it seemed like the servers were genuinely concerned we were getting the best possible service. They were on top of it! And if the food weren’t enough, adjacent to the restaurant portion of the business was a bakery where everything is baked fresh daily. How can you go wrong with food, baked goods, and amazing service to boot?

If you haven’t yet tried this place, I’m telling you, you can’t go wrong. La Gardenia is on the northwest corner of N Pine and E Carson Streets in the historic Government Hill area of San Antonio. It’s Mexican cuisine at it’s finest with more than reasonable prices. Come for the great food, leave with something for your sweet tooth. Keep in mind they’re open Monday – Saturday from 6:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. For more information, call (210) 229-9702.

Two flicks to check out in theatres now

Two flicks to check out in theatres now

by Chris Stouffer

My partner was never much of a moviegoer before meeting me. In fact, he shared with me once that he rarely made it through a full motion picture in a theatre without falling asleep!? WTF! I offered to take him out and revisit the full movie experience all over again, and soon we were hitting the big screen new releases almost weekly. Although we don’t go as often these days, we still make sure we keep up with what’s trending in theatres while also attempting to keep up with the Kardashians at home. I’m not the biggest fan either, but TMZ is all about them AND I will admit that I occasionally get sucked into one of their marathons. Yeah, I tell myself, “OMG these people are such a waste of my….wait! Khloe don’t do that!” Next thing I know, I’m on my third episode. Stop letting me stray from what I was really talking about — movies. We checked out two movies in the past two weeks that I consider totes “big-screen” worthy for any cinema nut.

First up, the indie film Hello, My Name is Doris, which stars Sally Field in the title role of Doris Miller. The movie opens with a funeral where we are introduced to Doris and learn her mother has passed away. She has very little family, and later learn that the little family she does have had been estranged from her for some time.

She’d been living in her mother’s house all her life, so as they all pay their final respects, Doris’s brother and sister-in-law ask Doris to leave the house and move to the city where she can be closer to work (but we all have family, so the audience knows what’s really up). Of course Doris tells them its her home and she would have no where to go, but this arrangement had been made many years before as the audience later finds out.

Doris returns to work, but with a new outlook, and somewhat of a new journey in life having no longer her mother to look after. Doris returns to work, so that she can adjust to this new life, but we also get to see some of the life she’d been living. Having a cluttered house with piles of junk in every corner (and having convinced her brother she’s a hoarder), we see Doris pick up a small lamp on her walk to catch the ferry taking her from Staten Island to New York. All I could do was laugh. Fields plays such an adorable 60-something-year-old woman who just seems so new to everything.

Her wardrobe is wildly eclectic, but the audience knows it’s been in her closet for years. Still for some reason, it seems very trendy and just makes fashion sense for the time. Upon returning to work, she is introduced to one of the Directors for the company played by Max Greenfield (New Girl) who transferred from their Los Angeles office. This of course is immediately after an awkward run-in with him on the elevator ride up to their office.

Doris is instantly attracted to the 30-something guy, but it’s not until she attends a self-confidence seminar with friends Roz and Val played by Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacey, Judging Amy) and Caroline Aaron (The Secret Life of Zoey, The Young & the Restless), that she’s convinced to pursue this new crush. Not knowing much about….well, anything really, as far as dating goes, she recruits the help of Roz’s granddaughter, Vivian (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) who teaches her the basics of Facebook stalking.

I had to take a step back for a minute to understand Doris. I first thought she might have had mental issues, but it turns out she’s just a woman with wants and needs. You know what I mean, ladies, don’t ya? After an emotional outburst with her brother we learn of the heartache and sacrifices she made which brought her to this stage in her life. You’ll laugh, and maybe cry, but you’ll honestly love this flick. Hello, My Name is Doris may or may not still be playing in theatres since I saw it a couple of weeks ago at The Bijou.

X-Men: Apocalypse opened last Friday. This one finally introduces us to the young Storm, Jean Grey, and Scott Summers/Cyclops. Of course our other favorites are also back, but this time to take on the most powerful mutant, and the first recorded in history, En Sabah Nur/Apocolypse played by Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Drive).

Just as they did in X2: X-Men United, the newbies have to quickly learn that although they may technically still be children, they have to grow up fast and learn to fight. And unlike X-Men: The Last Stand, we get to see Grey, played by Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) unleash The Phoenix in one of the most intense battles of the franchise.

If you’re anything like me, who grew up on movies and pop culture, then you too will be saddened by a cameo from Ally Sheedy as Scott’s high school history teacher. How could they only give her a minute of air-time! It’s pure madness. You will however enjoy a cameo from one of our most beloved mutants.

I’ve never followed the comics, but I’ve seen all the movies. The thing that never makes sense to me is the fact that the timelines never seem to match. Am I missing something here? Is it Groundhog’s Day revisited….almost. It’s like characters die, but then they’re back. Or characters are “re-introduced” but at a later of even earlier time than their original appearance in another installment. If you know the answer, please school me on this because it seems to me just as perplexed as math.

X-Men Apocalypse is in theatres now. Don’t miss it.