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As a wee, round-faced pipsqueak growing up in San Antonio, I had a strange conception of media. It wasn’t until I was embarrassingly old that I grasped that newspaper and magazine articles weren’t conjured out of binary code by some room-sized, Hitchhiker’s Guide-worthy super-computer (although sometimes it would seem so). Even as a writer for my middle-school newspaper — which printed once every four months — I was oblivious grown-ups held such splendid jobs as reporters and editors. My 11- and 12-year-old colleagues and I simply did the task manually because our school couldn’t afford a journalistic dream-machine.

Worse, perhaps, was that phase wherein I believed the actors and news anchors on television could look out through the screen to see me. (No, Mom, I didn’t watch The NeverEnding Story II non-stop because I liked the theme song — remember Atreyu?) I surmise the confusion may have had something to do with Poltergeist, but I can’t be sure. Anyway, I used to sit through the entirety of the local news each day due to an inexplicable crush on a news anchor who shall not be named (but who, for the sake of your speculating pleasure, I will admit is listed within these sacred Best Of pages). Like, had-to-go-to-the-bathroom, rocking-back-and-forth, I-WILL-NOT-MOVE-FROM-THIS-SPOT devotion. Someday, I thought, he’s going to stop reading from a prompter and tell me how nice my hair looks.

These days my perspective on media is a pinch more realistic, even if I can’t block the image of weatherperson Jennifer Broome zooming through the night sky, side-saddled on a sweeper, creating the weather she’ll predict. It’s a good thing I’ve got your quantitative stats on SA’s best local media (from print to internet-age), readers, to keep my feet firmly on the ground.

— Ashley Lindstrom

Best Film Teacher
George Ozuna and the Sundance Kids

It’s not every day a group of San Antonio students are invited to a world-renowned film festival — and I’m sure it’s not every day a teacher pushes as hard as George Ozuna, Director of the Film School of San Antonio and its lead filmmaking instructor, to make dreams reality. Although Sundance Film Festival passes were complimentary for 12 students, Ozuna sought to bring 12 more, estimating total costs, including travel, at about $22,500.

Ozuna says he did “every kind of push you can imagine,” including an email campaign, to raise the funds. “I just decided it was one of those necessary things to go out there,” says Ozuna, who solicited donations personally from banks and car dealerships.

But it was individuals from the community who made the most substantial dent (a big Best Of high-five to you, too, SA!), and eventually airline tickets were donated by Southwest. And so, the Film School students were able to attend the festival after all — you can read their stories here: Filmschoolsa.journalspace.com.

—Ashley Lindstrom

Best SA/Hollywood Scandal
Vince Vaughn/Laura Mallory Lane

I shook Julie Delpy’s hand in Austin once. It obviously wasn’t sex and it wasn’t “just as good,” but it was a special moment for me and I feel a little self-invasive mentioning it here. I suppose the real casualty of our favorite San Antonio/Hollywood/Budapest Vinnifer Vaughniston scandal of ’06 is the way celebrity has warped our sense of intimacy. There’s no second-guessing what someone will do with Vince Vaughn in Budapest, or George Clooney in Venice, or Mary Louise Parker in Prague. And the enduring appeal of studying abroad is linked with the possibility of all kinds of adventure that you might not get in Galloping Gulch, New Mexico — which is one reason why nobody does a semester abroad in a Benedictine monastery. But it’s one thing to hook up with a fellow expatriate in Berlin or with a charming townie in Lyons, and quite another to count coup with a celebrity — that changes the whole equation.  Because when I send an email to my 78 best friends in the whole wide world or post a blog on the world-wide web about what I may or may not have done in Helsinki with Fran Drescher, that’s not privacy, that’s broadcasting — and while it may be sex, it isn’t intimate at all.

— Willy Razavi

Best Food to Sneak Into the Movies
Crystallized pineapple

If you read Harry Potter And the Half-Blood Prince as lovingly as I did, perhaps you noted the existence of an all-too-unfortunately fictional wizardly treat called Crystallized Pineapple. In the same way I longed to know what butterbeer tasted like, I craved this magical tropical delight. Then, one day, while writing an article about a Mr. K. Costner, and in need of sustenance, I came upon a trail-mix containing dried pineapple. I’m not sure if this is what Rowling had in mind, but I like to imagine it is (just like I like to imagine that my apartment resembles, in appearance and odor, Professor Trelawney’s tower).

Dried pineapple has become my food of choice to sneak into the movies (although, I sneaked tacos into Norbit to make it bearable) — particularly because my favorite dried-pineapple vendor, Whole Foods, is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Alamo Quarry cinema, the nearest theater to my humble abode.

The trick, as those plastic bulk-baggies can be loud, is to rip it open during a particularly Dolby-enhanced preview, so as not to disturb other patrons. Position opened bag in cup holder and enjoy!

— Ashley Lindstrom

Best Video-Store Privy
Blockbuster Video
3910 McCullough Ave, 930-2190

I think I’ve shown my loyalty to Current readers with this critic’s pick. The category was both inspired by a journalism mentor’s one-time assignment (which I believe was more a punishment), and what is only appropriate to call “an emergency” I experienced a few month’s back at the Hollywood Video in Sunset Ridge shopping center on N. New Braunfels.

You notice video-store employees are never very happy to give you the keys to their bathroom. At least I notice that. (All right, who warned everyone about this category?). But I braved the wrath of Laura and that un-nametagged-Blockbuster drone (with exposed Dorals in his shirt-pocket) and countless others for you. Because I care. Because I know there’s nothing worse than a flash of irritable bowel syndrome as your significant other peruses the Kung Fu section. There’s no way you’ll make it home, and the last thing you want to walk into (after getting hassled) is a bathroom with a hairy sink, a toilet that won’t flush, and the inevitable fear of God-knows-what washing over your special places with that dreaded backsplash. Gross.

On my quest I discovered that bathroom cleanliness seems to have a direct correlation with video selection: The better the selection, the worse the bathroom. So the grand prize goes to the Blockbuster on McCullough and Hildebrand: Down a hallway decorated with framed inspirational posters, I was greeted by a sparkling ivory throne, a spotless sink, plenty of TP and paper towels, soap, and … do you smell that? Me either!

— Ashley Lindstrom

Best Non-Theater Movie Theater
Blue Star Brewing Company
1414 S. Alamo, Ste. 105, 212-5506

San Antonio is home to many inventive and fabulous movie-screening spaces that aren’t just theaters. The Slab, for example (and, I’m told, Kevin Cacy’s place on a good night). Food-and-drink freedom, I think, is a big part of the desire for unconventional, un-Regal film venues. The Alamo Drafthouse, the reborn Bijou, the Rialto Piccolo, and Santikos’s newest SA addition, the Palladium, have made the meal (and/or alcohol) + big-screen movie taboo a thing of the past. But those multiplexes don’t fit in this category. A good alternative movie theater allows you to prop up your legs however you like, and doesn’t put a cup-holder between you and your lover. (Plus, it’s just got to have that college film club feel.)

With that, my favorite makeshift movie theater of last year was in the back room of Blue Star Brewery during the ¡Adelante! Film Forum, where I saw the documentary Morristown. A patron played the piano in the corner before the show, and I was able to participate in a Q&A with director Anne Lewis after the film played. And, no matter how you slice it, country-fried mushrooms beat the batter off the Bijou’s recently-defrosted-tasting mozzarella sticks any day. And a foamy stout to boot? Hallelujah, I have seen the light.

—Ashley Lindstrom


Best Webcam

As loath as we may be to direct traffic to Mysa.com, we must admit our fascination with its live webcams, which are placed at University of Incarnate Word, SeaWorld, and a segment of the River Walk. But the Alamo is really where the action is at. The cam’s refreshed every 30 seconds (and easily embedded into your personal website) so you can watch the tourists ambling by, the cyclists circling, and if you stay tuned late into the night, when the cobbled courtyard takes on the texture of a misted pond, you might just catch SAPD bouncing a bum.

— Dave Maass


Best Local TV Mascot
Ancira’s “Little Robert”

Little Robert, the omnipresent (at least on basic Time-Warner cable) face of Ancira Chrysler-Jeep, saved my wretched soul.

Imagine me during my first holiday season in San Antonio: alone, friendless, sinking into an old Archie-Bunker chair in front of a flat-panel television in my unfurnished apartment. Perhaps I would’ve thrown in the poncho and abandoned Say-Town if it hadn’t been for that pint-sized zoot-suiter, who kept reminding me, with a double thumbs-up, that I’m in a place “Where the people are cool, and little prices rule!”

Despite the ramblings on AOL’s Spurs Blog, Little Robert isn’t actually the son of Robert Horry, but 13-year-old Nathanael Sherrod, a seventh-grade actor attending San Antonio Academy (he also played Travis in Renaissance Guild’s 2006 production of A Raisin in the Sun). The slick zoot-suit style is his own, Sherrod says, carried over from his primary performance passion, gospel singing with Maranatha Bible Church and the San Antonio Boys & Girls Club. He’s repped Ancira for three years, and looks forward to three more, even if he is putting on the inches; one day he hopes the “Little” is ironic, like  “Little John” of Sherwood Forest.

God bless you, Little Robert.

(Note to Jackie, the Ancira Nissan Mechanic Girl: Love the smile, those swoon-worthy Zellweger cheeks, but baby, you gotta lose the cap. And puhlease, stop with the “Oh, yeah!”)

— Dave Maass


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