Ann had the best balls in Austin
When Ann Richards was sworn in as governor four years ago, she brought along pals Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker. Win or lose, the woman with the big hair has been true to her Texas roots.

Governor Ann delivered the opening address at Austin's South by Southwest Music Conference and even contributed a celebratory note last fall to Rhino Records' Texas music series, with selections ranging from Bob Wills to T-Bone Walker to noted acid-dropper Roky Erickson.

But, as the pols like to say, the winds of change are blowin'.
When George W. Bush is inaugurated next week, Austin's balls will reverberate with country sounds (Janie Fricke, Steve Wariner, Colin Raye, the Oak Ridge Boys, and regional coasters Dallas' Dixie Chicks and Austin's Geezenslaw Brothers) better suited to Mel Tillis' place in Branson, Missouri.

Dennis "Wemus" Grubb, whose Wemus Entertainment of Midland is booking the inaugeration talent, says he had hoped for a broader musical spectrum, but Van Cliburn and "Dreamgirl" Jennifer Holiday backed out because of other commitments.

"Now it looks like a country-western 'Hee Haw,'" Grubb says. "But the Bushes love country and so does Bob Bullock, so it's a big country bash."

Don't honk if you luv Irving
Chalk it up to holiday crankiness. Bill Dempsey of Dallas was innocently making his way down Highway 114 the day after Christmas when a passing motorist extended his middle finger in a post-holiday greeting. Dempsey, naturally, responded by laying on his horn.

Unfortunately, Dempsey was passing a parked Irving Police officer who was ticketing another motorist. Irving police officer Chris Guilfoyle pulled Dempsey over and issued him a citation for a violation defined on the ticket as "loud horn, unreasonable."

What's unreasonable, Dempsey complains, is the amount of taxpayer money spent on the whole honking affair. While Dempsey sat in his car fuming, Guilfoyle called in another patrol car. The two officers, Irving police confirm, were tied up for 20 minutes over a mere toot.

Hold the manna
Item in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's religion calendar:
Hurst--The United Methodist Women of the First United Methodist Church will have its general meeting at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 3 at the church. Prayer and self-denial will be discussed. No lunch will be served.

Who needs baseball and hockey?
If all goes according to plan, Dallas sports addicts may have a backup fix if the boys of summer fail them. Rob Schneider, a former North Dallas stockbroker, has been working feverishly for the past several months to raise money to buy the Atlanta-based roller hockey team, the Fire Ants, and bring it to the Metroplex. Promoters of roller hockeya fast-paced, rough-and-tumble sport played on roller blades instead of ice skatesorganized a 24-team league two years ago that competes June through August.

If the deal goes through, the Dallas team will be renamed the Mudskippers, after a fish that can live out of water. No word yet on whether the team will demand a new arena of its own.

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