FOOD: Flour & Vine adds a gustatory twist. Smart move: Flour & Vine, which took the place of Hugo’s on upper South Lamar, self-consciously caters to the Zach Theatre crowd. Dinner, drinks and a show go together, so it makes splendid sense. We tasted a few selections chosen by chef John Kramer and owner Chak Yarlagadda on Tuesday, part of the build-up to the eatery’s Gypsy Moon party on New Year’s Eve. What we sampled — including Beef Wellington and crispy skinned striped bass — were all quite delish. The NYE dinner is priced at $49 and, with wine, $75. (Not bad as NYE prices go.)

MUSIC: Mining Austin’s pop past. After the Flour & Vine tasting, I repaired to the bar with musician and music writer Ricky Stein. The native Austinite has written a book on this city’s Sonobeat Records and how the company fit into the music scene here in the 1960s. I know virtually nothing about this period, so his stories keep me rivetted. Stein, who has put out at least two albums and plays Austin’s rootsy venues, stumbled on Sonobeat through a KLRU connection and wrote its history as a senior thesis at the University of Texas. You can pre-order it at Amazon.com. (He also resembles a young Thomas Haden Church, which adds tangentially to the deep Texas connections.)

FAITH: Time’s person of the year is … From David Bauder’s article via AP: "Time magazine selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year on Wednesday, saying the Catholic Church’s new leader has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short time. The pope beat out NSA leaker Edward Snowden for the distinction, which the newsmagazine has been giving each year since 1927. The former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected in March as the first pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit. Since taking over at the Vatican, he has urged the Catholic Church not to be obsessed with "small-minded rules" and to emphasize compassion over condemnation in dealing with touchy topics like abortion, gays and contraception." http://shar.es/OHCtM(You gotta admit, he’s intriguing.)

LAW: Racist emails surface at quasi-state agency. From Tim Eaton’s story in Wednesday’s Statesman: "While poring through an ocean of legal documents, a Houston-based trial lawyer stumbled upon several emails to and from employees of Texas Windstorm Insurance Association that disparaged Hispanics, Arabs and African-Americans, often using racist language. Lawyer Steve Mostyn, who is representing the Brownsville Independent School District in a case over unpaid claims, found the offensive emails among nearly a million other documents from the often-maligned Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, or TWIA, that he obtained through the discovery process in the case. The offensive emails demonstrate a culture of racism within the quasi-governmental agency that directly led to the refusal to pay legitimate claims for damages caused by Hurricane Dolly in 2008 to more than 50 campuses belonging to the Brownsville school district, Mostyn said. The district was 98.2 percent Hispanic when the storm hit, according to an official report by the Texas Education Agency." http://shar.es/OHCEp (I warn you: Don’t mess with Mostyn.)

ARTS: Who knew about industrial musicals? From Greg Beet’s book review in the Austin Chronicle: One of the stranger manifestations of postwar American prosperity was the industrial musical. Staged during sales conventions to build morale, reinforce product messaging, and keep liquored-up Willy Loman types away from strip joints, corporations paid for elaborate musical productions written by genuine Broadway veterans and starring name actors like Hal Linden and Florence Henderson. Eventually, recordings of these shows found their way to garage sales and secondhand stores, where they were snapped up by enthusiasts like Late Show with David Letterman writer Steve Young and onetime Kill Rock Stars artist Sport Murphy. "Everything’s Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age of Industrail Musicals" pokes fun in all the right places, guffawing at shoehorned homages to sheet vinyl, surgical gowns, and birth control pills." http://bit.ly/1bxJXip(A complete surprise to this musical maniac.)