• Real first date spots, real bad date tips

    The upcoming fall semester brings more than just another four-year-graduation-rate slogan and a Dean of Students sponsored hashtag campaign – a crop of freshmen will soon be asking for directions all over the 40 Acres. While these students come from different places and have a diverse set of experiences and perspectives, at the core, they're all looking for one thing – love.

    With limited time to explore our student body, more Longhorns should focus on getting a head start on marriage, parenthood and their 401k plan. Hitting the ground running in the first few weeks of your freshman year will ensure that you're sending a “I'm absolutely ready to commit, this isn't a mistake, let's have a baby” message.

    Even if you aren't new on the Forty Acres, there's still time to catch up. Check out some of these great first date spots:

    Homeslice Pizza
    Situated in the heart of the South Congress culture district, Homeslice is the perfect first date dinner spot for a number of reasons. First and foremost – it's just good. Having a guaranteed good meal takes a lot of pressure off both parties, and instead of trying to impress her by ordering a duck confit, stick to the basics and grab something everyone loves. Splitting a medium pizza is more than enough food for two people, and allows for some flirty banter about the toppings. Put your name in and explore South Congress – Uncommon Objects or one of the many thrift stores are interesting and new every time.
    (Freshman Tip: Your future spouse should like all the same things you do – consider walking out if they suggest something you hate. Also, call it SoCo – she'll love it!)

    Halycon Coffee
    After pizza, head over to Fourth Street for Halycon Coffee. Right on the corner, it offers a calm, intimate setting which contrasts well with the late-night activities of downtown Austin. The fantastic coffee is coupled with one of the most unique Austin desserts – indoor s'mores served with a hibachi grill. Dim lights and whispered conversation make for a great place to get to know each other a little better.
    (Freshman Tip: Ask her about her family history, religion and her thoughts on Wendy Davis).

    Auditorium Shores
    At this point, make some value decisions on how the date's going. If it's going “really well” or above, take things up a notch by heading to Auditorium Shores. At night, it's nearly deserted, and the reflection of the Austin skyline on Town Lake is something you don't want to miss. Speaking of miss, don't when you go in for the kiss.
    (Freshman Tip: Push her in Town Lake to show her you know how to have fun!)

    Whole Foods
    For those of you who like a little break from the dinner-and-a-movie script in your dating life, Whole Foods offers a multitude of fun and unique dating experiences. In the winter, Whole Foods installs a quaint ice-skating rink, certain to remind you of the days of old-fashioned courting, days before “an evening out” meant practicing your gymnastics routine in a dimly lit nighclub. Year round, the cooking classes at Whole Foods allow you and your date to have fun together and learn something new.
    (Freshman Tip: When she's not looking, smear some red wine reduction on her dress – she'll appreciate that you know how to be “so cute”)

    Regardless of your age, dating in college is a rewarding and enriching experience. In subsequent dates, take advantage of all Austin has to offer – don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. For those of you who are hesitant to make the first move, there are thousands of quotes about early birds and worms to read, but just remember – you've only got four years.

    For the older crowd, Austin offers a number of great happy hours throughout the semester:
    Trifecta on Third

    • M-F 5-8
    • $3 pizza, wells


    • 7 Days, 5-7
    • Half priced bar food ($9 steak, $6 burger)
    • $2 of all beverages


    • T - All you can eat mussels 
    • M- F, $2 off drinks, 1/2 of pizza


    • T - Steak Frites $15
    • W - Half off wine
    • Th - $6 martinis
    • T-F - 3-7
    • $5 bar food

    Frank Hot Dogs

    • M-F, 4-6 
    • $4 wells
    • Half off waffle fries


    • Everyday, 5-7
    • 1/2 price lounge menu, cocktails


    • S-F, 4-7
    • $2 mimosa, $3 beer
    • 1/2 of appetizers and pizza


    • M-F, 4-7
    • 2 for 1 sushi, $5 dim sum, $3 shiner


    • M-F, 5-7
    • Half off Bar menu

    La Condessa

    • M-F, 5-7 
    • Half off drinks

    Uchi + Uchiko

    • Daily 5-6:30
    • Special menu ($3-$6)
    • $4 Sake

    Walton's Fancy and Staple

    • 7-9 AM
    • 15% of Food

    Z Tejas

    • MF 4-7
    • Dollar off drinks
    • $5-7 meals


    • MF 5-7
    • Food specials


    • M Quesadilla bar 4-630


    • Daily, 5-7
    • 1/2 off beer, liquor and bar menu


    • 4-7
    • Special cocktails


    • Mon through Sat 5-7
    • Sunday 5-10
    • Drink specials

    Fado's Pub

    • M-F 5-7
    • $4 Beer of Month
    • $4 dinner (mini-burgers, salad)

    Roaring Fork

    • Daily, 4-7 in lounge
    • Food specials ($4 salad, $9 burger
    • Cocktail specials

    Maria Maria

    • M-F 5-6 
    • Daily 10-12
    • $2 Corona
    • $5 Margs
    • $5-8 Dinner specials


    • Sunday, Monday - All night 
    • T-Th 4:30 - 7:00
    • Discounts on rolls, drinks


    • MF 4-7
    • $3 Pizza
    • $3 wine



  • 10 new TV series to watch this fall

    Cobie Smulders and Clark Gregg reprise their "The Avengers" roles in "Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D."
    Cobie Smulders and Clark Gregg reprise their "The Avengers" roles in "Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D."

    After a long day of productivity and hard work, it's ideal to kick back, relax, grab the remote and watch your favorite TV shows. TV Guide reports 35 new shows will air this fall on primetime. Viewers should filter out shows that are worth their time to watch. (Unless there are viewers who have absolutely all the free time in the world to watch every new show, but that’s a small percentage.)

    There are 10 TV shows in particular that stand out in some way from other shows in themes and premises.

    Family-oriented shows will dominate about one third of primetime air. Four of these shows should be on viewers’ watch list.

    1. From Chuck Lorre, the creator of “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory,” comes CBS’s new comedy “Mom,” starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney, who play Christy and Bonnie, respectively. Christy, a single mother who quits drinking, pulls her life together to care for herself and her kids. Bonnie also tries to rehabilitate herself and her relationships. Three generations in one household is one of the most fun settings. This show should be a hit, because not only are Faris and Janney excellent actresses playing likeable roles but the show’s premise based on recovery of a dysfunctional family is appealing.

    2. Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar are “The Crazy Ones” in CBS’s new comedy about a father and daughter working in an advertising agency. Their relationship keeps the show unique and dynamic, but it is also fresh to see a new world centered on advertising and marketing — this is creative on the writers’ part. How many times have we seen shows that had its characters work in food services, hotels, law firms and hospitals? Plus, a goofy, lively father and a driven, organized daughter are yin and yang. 

    3. Worlds collide when a Caucasian family and a Latino family are brought together after their teenage children fall in love and are expecting a child. Although the unexpected teenage pregnancy storyline has been overdone, NBC’s “Welcome to the Family” brings a new angle in focusing on cultural differences between the two families as they adjust to life changes, which is realistically appealing because of the diversity of U.S. population. Interracial couples haven’t been explored very much in entertainment, so it’s a nice change to look forward to.

    4. Fox’s new comedy “Enlisted” explores at two types of families: an American family and a military family. Sergeant Pete Hill (Geoff Stults) gets assigned to lead a base in Florida where his two younger brothers are stationed. They serve in the Rear Detachment Unit, where soldiers not good enough for overseas and not bad enough to get kicked out of the army reside. This group of eclectic personalities brings humor and mischief to the base. The show stands out from other comedies in its setting of a military base portrayed in a heartfelt humor where Pete takes care of his own family and his fellow military brothers and sisters.

    About two-thirds of the new shows coming this fall are dramas and several fall under the sci-fi and action genres. Three shows in particular — NBC’s “The Blacklist, ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Fox’s “Almost Human” and The CW’s “The 100” — should be on viewers’ watch list.

    5. When a wanted criminal surrenders to the FBI, viewers know he’s got an agenda in mind. “The Blacklist” starts with Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) turning himself in to the FBI, with an offer to help catch a terrorist under the condition that he only speaks to Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). This show offers suspenseful, plot-thickening drama with a smart and patient anti-villain whose sole purpose is to rid of all of the criminals on his “blacklist,” using the FBI and its resources. Not many shows on primetime explore the plots and psychological effects of anti-villains as puppeteers.

    6. Unlike Marvel’s summer movie blockbuster “The Avengers,” its TV spinoff “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” centers on a group of agents who serve to protect ordinary citizens from extraordinary super humans. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) returns from the dead and Agents Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) join him. This ABC action thriller is one of the most anticipated dramas of the fall. It is reminiscent of the X-Men universe, except the sides are switched: The heroes don’t have superpowers and the villains do (but the heroes do have awesome high-tech, spy-like gadgets and weapons). These heroes are just as extraordinary as their villains. 

    7. From J.J. Abrams and the executive producer of sci-fi mystery drama “Fringe” comes Fox’s sci-fi action drama “Almost Human,” based in a not-so-far futuristic society where cops partner up with androids. John Kennex (Karl Urban), a depressed and outcast cop with a synthetic leg, is issued a robotic partner Dorian (Michael Ealy), whose built-in humanistic personality ironically reminds John that it’s ok to be human. The show’s ironic concept of machine reminding humans to feel and to learn despite hardships is unique in that many other shows and movies will use machine to juxtapose humans, but here, machine complements and works with humans.   

    8. The CW presents its sci-fi drama “The 100” where in the far-off future, humans live in space stations and Earth has been abandoned and desolate. About a century after a nuclear war destroyed civilization, the surviving humans who moved to space decide to send 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to rebuild society. If they are successful, their track records are erased. This show is similar to William Golding’s book “Lord of the Flies,” because both are about a group of people trying to re-colonize society, and of course, they run into obstacles where there’s no set leader guiding the group. “The 100” sheds light on human nature in both positive and negative ways. It takes teamwork to build a colony but rebellion can easily spread through pressure and group mentality.

    Vampires are still in. Werewolves are still in. All things supernatural are in. Two supernatural/fantasy dramas should be on viewers’ watch list.

    9. Mystic Falls’ favorite hybrid — half vampire, half werewolf — Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is determined to take back his old home and kingdom in New Orleans, which his former mentee vampire Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) has reigned since Klaus’s departure. “The Originals,” the CW’s spin-off of “The Vampire Diaries,” presents allure, scheming, bonding and the embracing of vampirism. This show explores Klaus’s journey of not just reclaiming his kingdom but re-bonding with his family, old and new. As Klaus's brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies) said, “Family is power.” 

    10. Speaking of vampires … watch out folks, because Dracula has risen out of his coffin. Again. And he’s back for revenge on those who betrayed him from centuries before. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as the lead who poses as an American entrepreneur in London during the Victorian Era in NBC’s literary/fantasy drama “Dracula.” From the producers of “Downton Abbey” and the director of “The Tudors,” “Dracula” takes literature’s favorite vampire and gives him a new story. This show looks like a guilty pleasure and fans will indulge.

    The TV fall season is just a month and a half away. Viewers can check out the official TV trailers for these shows and decide for themselves which shows they want to tune in to. 

  • Bruno Mars and the Moonshine Jungle Tour

    Grammy Award winner, platinum record producer and artist Bruno Mars performs at Staples Center on July 28 in Los Angeles, Cali.
    Grammy Award winner, platinum record producer and artist Bruno Mars performs at Staples Center on July 28 in Los Angeles, Cali.

    Admittedly, when I first found out Bruno Mars was coming to Austin in support of his second album, Unorthadox Jukebox, I may have shoulder shrugged and peeped out a “meh.” It could be the endless looping of “Locked Out Of Heaven” on the radio, or the feel-good lyrics of past singles, but something had me turned off about the Hawaiian pop star. Maybe it was all the fedoras.

    Fashion choices set aside, there’s something Bruno Mars’ songs have that make them stick out from other top 40 hits — he’s got talent. Mars is everything a musical performer should be. He’s got the pipes, he’s got the moves, he charms the audience and he plays instruments, all of which was brilliantly showcased at Wednesday night’s stop of his Moonshine Jungle Tour at the Frank Erwin Center.

    The show began with a short set by Ellie Goulding, who admitted she was feeling uncharacteristically shy, but still managed to dance around the stage with a seemingly endless amount of energy. Her crystalline voice charged fans during “Anything Could Happen,” the lead single from 2012’s Halcyon.

    The performance prompted one fan to hold up a sign reading “Bucket List: Kiss Ellie Goulding!” during “I Need Your Love.” Goulding finished her set strongly with fan favorite “Lights.”

    A glittery curtain of palm trees shrouded the stage while jungle animal noises and drumbeats sounded out throughout the sold-out stadium before the curtain fell revealing a high energy Bruno Mars and The Hooligans, his band, performing “Moonshine.” It wasn’t long before Mars was showing off moves and signature choreography with his band. 

    Mars wielded a guitar for a medley including his part in “Billionaire,” even including a lyric change to “Oh, every time I close my eyes/I see my name in Austin lights,” making the crowd roar. After a Texas tip of his hat, Mars finished the song with the final lyric “I wanna be a fucking billionaire so fucking bad,” seemingly taking the time to bask in the cinematic moment.

    Mars and band members also took time to be playful and flirt with members of the front row, making audience members squeal with delight. 

    The night ended with upbeat “Gorilla,” maybe the most sexily sang song about the unsexiest animal, but the first encore, “Locked Out Of Heaven,” surprised the audience. The song was livened with an impressive intro featuring Mars stepping in with a drum solo and a thoroughly entertained audience.
    Follow Elyana Barrera on Twitter @elyana