Webb Report: Booze soon to haunt House of Torment

Also: A San Antonio mom turns her hurricane experience into a coupon-clipping goodwill mission.


A haunted house, that seasonal nexus of community theater and Hot Topic aesthetic, is fun. Austin knows this. It’s why House of Torment has been sending children who overestimated their courage straight to a life of insomnia for 15 years. If you do not like being chased with a prop chainsaw by a ham in a pound of latex and Ben Nye makeup, you are simply Not My Kind Of People. Enjoy your “fall festival,” or whatever other kindergarten cakewalk you soothe yourself with come October.

If you’ve never been to House of Torment before, though, consider that this might be the year to bite the stage-blood-soaked bullet. For this year, you see, the Halloween attraction is serving alcohol.

Yeah, that’s right. Vampire vino. Ghoul glog. Jack-o-lantern juice. Spooky sauce. Babadook booze. Et cetera.

Like a Frankenstein’s monster getting really into body modification, this year’s House of Torment (setting up shop at a new, 40,000-square-foot location) promises scares grafted upon previously existing scares: “three unprecedented haunt attractions, a dark carnival with freak show performances, and an extended themed food menu that will include beer and wine for the first time ever,” according to a news release. We’ll glaze over the “dark carnival” thing for a second (whoop whoop) to linger upon this spirited (heh) announcement.

Yes, Kreepy Kabob Eats, House of Torment’s refreshment area, will sell carnival-themed food like popcorn, candied bacon, caramel apples and beer and wine “curated by Haymaker Austin.” So, if the “disturbing clowns roaming freely inside and outside of the property” get you down this Halloween (as they are wont to do), you’ll have a few stiff ones to comfort you.

Grab a drink. Run away from a grown man dressed up like an extra in a Slipknot video. It’s almost Halloween, Austin. You only live once … UNTIL YOU DIE, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. *retreats into coffin*

Clipping for a cause

“I’m just a little loud mouth country girl from the backwoods of Kentucky who’s been in this situation before and wanted to help.”

That’s what Kimberly Gager wrote in one post on her Facebook profile in response to the attention she’s received for her admirable mission: using top-notch couponing skills to help Hurricane Harvey survivors.

Gager, who lives in the San Antonio area, does indeed know the struggle of hurricane evacuees firsthand. In 1999, she lost her home in Newport News, Virginia, to Hurricane Floyd, according to ABC News, an event she told the outlet was “horrific”: “I lost everything in the flood. I was living in military housing at the time because I was in the Navy. The entire apartment complex was flooded. I was looking at all the stories and pictures of houses and everything under water in Harvey and knew I had to do something.”

When Harvey hit Texas late last month, Gager began seeing pleas for supplies on social media. She knew what she had to do and took to Facebook to offer her talents as a coupon clipper extraordinaire. In an Aug. 29 post, Gager wrote, “Many hurricane evacuees are asking for pampers, wipes and formula. I don’t have any of that stuff in my stockpile but I have tons of coupons for them.” She asked Facebook friends for donations to help procure the items.

Since then, Gager’s Facebook page has become a parade of photos and videos testifying to the power of kindness (and a good bargain): overflowing carts of diapers, mountains of baby food, a receipt so long with itemized toy purchases that the good Samaritan could wear it like a scarf.

According to CNN, Gager has turned her garage into a hurricane supply warehouse. She told the network that the effort has become like a second a job. And as anyone can see from her hilarious Facebook Live broadcasts from shopping trips, Gager is indeed an expert bulk shopper.

Gager’s kindness in Harvey’s aftermath hasn’t stopped at supply gathering. She’s also posted messages asking for people who need help doing their laundry to contact her — also offering to pick up them and their clothes — and putting out pleas to her Facebook friends for baby clothes donations.

Gager’s not slowing down, if a post from Sept. 11 is any indication: “This is a stretch but anybody know of Irma evacuees in the SAN ANTONIO area? Tell them to hit my inbox.”

As she told ABC News, “I don’t plan to cut it off until I know that people are OK.”

Coop queen

One can safely assume there were no questions about “the perfect date” during the proceedings, but a Bastop hen can now lay claim to a beauty contest title.

Moon, a Salmon Faverolles hen owned by Bastrop’s Morgan Hay, won Miss Congeniality this month in the second Purina Poultry Miss Flock-Tober pageant, according to a news release.

A description from Hay shows that Moon doesn’t like to stay cooped up.

“Moon likes beard scratches and eating frogs,” Hay wrote with her submitted photo. “Her favorite activities include: waiting at the front door until I let her inside, dust bathing in my flower pots and running like a dinosaur!”

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff

Speaking of royalty

Want to give a butterfly a helping hand? As the Dallas Morning News reports, the super monarchs are nearing their Texas arrival, expected at the end of September. But what’s a super monarch?

According to the Morning News, scientists have learned that there are four generations of monarchs every year. The first three generations live for about a month. The fourth generation, called the super generation, not only completes the farthest migration (nearly 3,000 miles), but also lives the longest — a reported eight times longer than its aforementioned ascendants.

This generation, according to the University of Minnesota’s monarch lab, is incapable of laying eggs. Instead, the butterflies focus on storing up nectar and energy for their more than 80 days of travel.

So what can you do to help the creatures along their way? According to the report, plant nectar-rich flowers; remove tropical milkweed from your yard; and help fuel monarch research by becoming a “citizen scientist” who tracks butterflies.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

True Texas treasure

Any Willie Nelson fan knows that the Red-Headed Stranger’s songwriting career started decades ago, but did y’all know he wrote a song about “the hangover blues” when he was 11? The lyrics to that song, and many more from his youth, will soon be on display at Texas State University.

According to KUT, the Wittliff Collections at Texas State is working on assembling a collection of artifacts from Texas musical history. The Wittliff already has Nelson’s songbook and is looking to add “hand-written lyrics by Jerry Jeff Walker; a Western Swing treasury with a fiddle played by Bob Wills; and major research archives on artists ranging from Selena to Stevie Ray Vaughan,” the public radio station reports.

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Austin360

Straight from frozen: A rock-solid plan for your rock-solid Thanksgiving bird
Straight from frozen: A rock-solid plan for your rock-solid Thanksgiving bird

When producing a Thanksgiving meal becomes a last-minute affair - and there are plenty of reasons that happens, no judging - you might think getting a bronzed bird on the table presents the toughest challenge.  Nah, you've got this. Cooking a whole turkey from a rock-solid, frozen state can yield respectable results. If you stick it in the oven...
This comfort food leads a double life, but only some of us know the secret.
This comfort food leads a double life, but only some of us know the secret.

It was one of those volunteer duties, the one where you agree to talk to your kid’s class about your job. I figured it would be easy: I’d ask the kids what their family eats at Thanksgiving and we’d do a middle-school version of Brillat-Savarin’s old saw, “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are.&rdquo...
Asian-American chefs are changing our palate
Asian-American chefs are changing our palate

As an Asian-American born in Los Angeles and raised in Honolulu, I’ve thought a lot about what it means to grow up in multiple cultures at once — my Filipino mother’s, my British father’s, and my America. For a recent piece on how Asian-American chefs are changing the American palate, I spoke with some two dozen chefs and restaurateurs...
These five wines will see you through the holidays
These five wines will see you through the holidays

Here are five delicious wines that will complement your Thanksgiving feast - or any dinner party for that matter: We have two outstanding sparkling wines from Oregon, a delightful pinot blanc from Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula, a surprising pinotage from Mendocino and a rich syrah from California's Central Coast. 3 stars Willamette Valley, Oregon...
Austin360 arts list, Nov. 24-30
Austin360 arts list, Nov. 24-30

Theater & dance “Annie.” This feel-good rags-to-riches musical brings a headstrong redhead, an irresistible dog named Sandy, fellow orphans, mean ole Miss Hannigan and the heaven-sent Daddy Warbucks to the Georgetown Palace Theatre stage. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. $15-$32. 810 South Austin Ave., Georgetown. 512-869-7469...
More Stories