The Texas Bracket: George Strait voted Most Texan

Six rounds of voting are in the books, Texas Independence Day has come and gone and there’s only one Texan left standing tall in The Texas Bracket: George Strait.

George Strait

Voters have selected the beloved country singer as the Most Texan of all Texans — no small honor. Along the way, Strait defeated such Lone Star legends as Tom Landry, Lady Bird Johnson, Willie Nelson, Larry McMurtry, Janis Joplin and Billy Joe Shaver.

The victories were narrow in some matchups — Strait defeated Willie and Mrs. Johnson by a handful of votes each. But “King George” had no such problems defeating the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach. Strait topped Landry with 70% of the vote.

The 64-year-old Strait was born in Poteet and raised on a cattle ranch in Pearsall. His popular “cowboy” image comes honestly. After a short stint in the Army, he attended Texas State and graduated with a degree in agriculture.

Strait’s career really kicked off in 1981 when his first single — “Unwound” — was a hit, and reached an end (or, possibly just a rest stop) with his retirement from touring in 2014. In between he had more than 60 No. 1 songs, sold more than 68 million records and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Among his hits are: “Amarillo by Morning,” “All My Ex’s Live in  Texas,” “Baby Blue,” “If I Know Me,” “I Cross My Heart,” “Write This Down,” “Run,” “I Hate Everything,” “Give it Away,” “Wrapped” and “Let it Go.”

Thanks for participating in the inaugural Texas Bracket. If you’d like to examine the round-by-round results, click here.

The Texas Bracket Finals: George Strait vs. Tom Landry

It all comes down to this: Texas’ cowboy culture vs. Texas’ love affair with football. Texas Independence Day has brought us a classic matchup of Lone Star legends.

There’s no bad boys in the finals of the The Texan Bracket. George Strait is as clean-cut as they come. Tom Landry perhaps even more so. Which one will take the crown* when voting ends at midnight tonight?

(*The “crown” is purely figurative. We’re not asking either one to remove his iconic hat.)



In the semifinals, Tom Landry was never threatened by World War II hero and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy. The legendary Dallas Cowboys coach (who never gained less than 60% of the vote throughout the tournament) won with 64% of the vote over his fellow veteran.

Surprisingly, beloved country singer George Strait had a much harder time getting past Lady Bird Johnson. Mrs. Johnson, a No. 6 seed who barely defeated Father of Texas Stephen F. Austin in the Lone Star 16 and beat out fellow hometown favorite Ann Richards to make the Final Four, led in early voting and the contest was even through much of the day before the after-work crowd gave Strait a 53% victory.

Today’s final pits fedora vs. cowboy hat. Cowboys vs. cowboy. Suit and tie vs. Wranglers and boots.

If you’ve played along throughout the tournament, you already know your vote. If you’re just joining us, you know your pick, too. Happy Texas Independence Day, everyone! Click here to vote!

Typewriters used to write ‘Lonesome Dove’ up for auction in New York

Tommy Lee Jones starred as Woodrow F. Call in the 1989 miniseries “Lonesome Dove,” based on the Pulitzer-winning book of the same name by Texas author Larry McMurtry. Photo by CBS
Tommy Lee Jones starred as Woodrow F. Call in the 1989 miniseries “Lonesome Dove,” based on the Pulitzer-winning book of the same name by Texas author Larry McMurtry. Photo by CBS

“Call saw that everyone was looking at him, the hands and cowboys and townspeople alike. The anger had drained out of him, leaving him feeling tired. He didn’t remember the fight, particularly, but people were looking at him as if they were stunned. He felt he should make some explanation, though it seemed to him a simple situation.
“I hate a man that talks rude,” he said. “I won’t tolerate it.”

— Passage from “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry

You could own the typewriter that first pieced those words and sentences together. And you just thought you were the “Lonesome Dove” fan who had everything.

Lonesome Dove book cover
Lonesome Dove book cover

Actually both typewriters author Larry McMurtry used to write his Pulitzer-winning Western novel will be up for auction March 8-9 in New York.

McMurtry kept one of the Hermes 3000 portable typewriters at his Washington D.C. residence and the other at home in Archer City.

The prized typewriters are part of Heritage Auctions’ Rare Books Signature Auction. The auction includes first editions of such classics as “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Grapes of Wrath,” as well as more unusual items such as a copy of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America and a stagecoach trunk once owned by Mark Twain.

Oh, and if you’re aiming to bring those typewriters home to Texas, be sure to pack a hefty wallet — bidding will begin at $10,000.

Pulitzer prize winning author Larry McMurtry among his books in Archer City, TX, in 2012. McMurtry has also written classics such as "The Last Picture Show" and "Terms of Endearment." Photo by David Woo/The Dallas Morning News
Pulitzer prize winning author Larry McMurtry among his books in Archer City, TX, in 2012. McMurtry has also written classics such as “The Last Picture Show” and “Terms of Endearment.” Photo by David Woo/The Dallas Morning News

Hot fries and misdemeanors: Police warn against swiping Whataburger table tents

This table tent at the Southpark Meadows Whataburger was photographed in place on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and did not leave the store.
This table tent at the Southpark Meadows Whataburger was photographed in place on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and did not leave the store.

As tempting as it might be to take your Whataburger table tent to go (hey, that’s my lucky number!), it is actually, you know, stealing. And one police department in Denton County has had enough.

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

In a Facebook post last week, the Northeast Police Department in Krugerville, Texas, warned area residents that they were on the case:

We have learned that it has become a game for area teens to be removing the plastic “order numbers” from the restaurant when in attendance. Removing these items without consent is a theft, which could result in a citation being issued for Theft of Property under $100.00.

The post also pointed out that the police sometimes had more of the numbers than the local Whataburger did, and shared photos of seized table tents spread out on the hood of a patrol car as if they were so many kilos of drugs or stacks of ill-gotten cash.

RELATED — Your Whataburger vs. the Whataburger she tells you not to worry about

The post has been shared more than six thousand times and gained more than half as many comments, many taunting the officers and boasting of their own table tent collection.

For the record, if you want a Whataburger Table Tent bad enough, you can buy one on eBay (here’s one example, though there’s no guarantee that it’s not “hot”). Sadly, the Whataburger online store does not offer them, though you can get a “Fancy Ketchup Mouse Pad.”

RELATED — North Texas pastor soulfully serenades a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit from Whataburger



The Texas Bracket Final Four: Vote now for the winners

It was bound to happen. Willie Nelson had been cruising through the bracket with very little competition. It’s not surprising at all that George Strait, who endured a second-round battle with Janis Joplin, would upset the tournament’s up-until-now hottest Texan. And he did. Though Willie had a commanding lead through most of the day, the after-work crowd apparently voted Strait ticket all the way. By midnight, “King George” squeaked by the Austin legend with 53% of the vote.



In the other contested matchup of the day, Dan Rather held a considerable early lead over Audie Murphy in the Wildcard category, but the newsman’s bid to upset two Medal of Honor winners (he defeated Roy Benavidez in the second round) was defeated in a late flurry of voting for the World War II hero. Murphy ultimately came away with 56% of the vote.

Tom Landry never was in danger of losing to Longhorns and Houston Oilers legend Earl Campbell — he remained near 60% of the voting throughout Tuesday. And Lady Bird Johnson is now the de-facto Cinderella of the tournament. The No. 6 seed defeated fellow hometown favorite Ann Richards convincingly with 61% of the vote.

Tomorrow is Texas Independence Day and the day you select the Most Texan of all Texans from the championship matchup. Before then, you’ll have to vote in the two semifinal matchups:



George Strait vs. Lady Bird Johnson

The cowboy gentleman would no doubt remove his hat for the well-respected First Lady, but his fans aren’t likely so chivalrous as to give up the contest. After defeating the Willie juggernaut, Strait has to be considered the favorite among the Final Four. Mrs. Johnson is extraordinarily well-respected by Texans of all political stripes for her efforts to maintain and improve the beauty of her home state. She was clearly a Texas icon whose gentle dignity is fondly remembered, but … Strait is not called “King George” without reason. His unblemished image and No. 1 hit song after No. 1 hit song is likely to send him to the championship. Click here to vote.



Tom Landry vs. Audie Murphy

The legendary Dallas Cowboys coach is likely the favorite over the tournament’s only remaining No. 1 seed. But Murphy has come up against worse odds than these before and succeeded spectacularly. For his actions during World War II, Murphy won every award for valor that the U.S. Army had to offer (including the Medal of Honor) as well as significant honors from France and Belgium. Landry, a Christian man of quiet dignity who also served during World War II, would no doubt give way to Murphy, if given the choice. But Landry is near-deified by many Cowboys fans for his 29-year stretch as coach and his two Super Bowl titles. Click here to vote.

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.

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.

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